Monday May 9: Don’s Motel did offer a mostly pleasant night of slumber, except for a brief thunderstorm and a tornado watch! When I return the key to the office, I find Dan with an extremely large cat on his lap! The cat’s name is Stretch, who gives me a bored, lazy look and resumes napping – what cats do best!
I drive through Linton’s tiny downtown area and spot “Model’s Bakery” and park the car. A sign on the door says “We sell cheese butter.” Sounds promising. I open the door and the smell of freshly baked bread wafts over me! “Smells are free” another sign says. I buy a caramel roll, because North Dakotans know how to make absolutely the best caramel rolls. And I am not disappointed! The bread is rich and yeasty and full of cinnamon and is melt-in-your mouth soft! You can taste the cream in the thick caramel topping. I’ve died and gone to pastry heaven!
After I post my blog at the local library, I hit the road to Bismarck. First stop – ND Job Service. Staffer Linda and I talk about how the oil exploration is affecting the economy in western North Dakota. She mentions Rockin’ the Bakken, a new term to me. It refers to the oil rich area in western ND. http://www.rockinthebakken.com/ where the economy is booming. Although jobs are plentiful in the Bakken area, many of the jobs involve hard labor, such as working on an oil rig – a young man’s job! Linda tells me that Minot is also part of the Bakken area and that many oil exploration companies have located their headquarters in Minot, due to its desirable infrastructure, boosting the economy and causing real estate to skyrocket. She says you can make a killing if you have a home to sell in Minot. Although Bismarck is not part of the oil boom area, it also has a robust economy, low unemployment rate and reasonable cost of living.
I also get some useful information about using the Job Service web site, and we look at a few jobs that might be a fit for me. I then leave for an informational interview with a local company, and then go back to the job service.
Later that afternoon I head to Halliday, a small town northwest of Bismarck, where I will spend the night with my friend Bonnie the Beekeeper. Bonnie and her husband are friendly, funny, delightful people, who I got to know during my job at the National Honey Board. It’s my first visit to their home, and Bonnie, a fellow foodie, has prepared a delicious dinner, a welcome sight to this cash-challenged, hungry traveler. Over dinner, Bonnie and her husband fill me in how the oil boom has affected the local economy and lifestyle, and not all of it is good. The heavy oil field trucks and equipment have damaged the local country roads. Many traffic accidents have occurred, in part due to weary workers coming off of 12-hour shifts. The young oil field workers, who often live in temporary “man camps” due to the housing shortage, often frequent a local bar called 27-8 (a drill bit term?), where heated, boisterous fights occur on a regular basis. Perhaps these young gentlemen need another outlet to let off steam. Maybe I should open a brothel, only serving as the Madam Manager of course! 😉
On the plus side, the local Harley dealership sells a Harley a day to these modern-day cowboys, making buckets of oil job money. And car dealerships and many other businesses have benefited as well!
Next stop – Dickinson!