It's a melancholy evening.
It's my last evening in the Bakken (this trip), and one could not ask for a nicer evening, weather-wise. It's clear, big-sky country; it's currently 87 degrees, having hit a high of 90 degrees earlier today.
Dad wanted to go to the restaurant "on the hill" tonight. He couldn't remember the name (of the restaurant). I had no idea what he was talking about; there are no "hills" in Williston. He said he would give me directions once we started driving. And here we are, well, actually, here I am: at Fuddruckers, at "the top of the hill," overlooking Williston. It's an incredible view; I'm actually eye-level higher than the water tower on the Williston State College campus way off in the distance; one would not see if one did not know where to look. And just beyond that is the wide Missouri, just a few miles downstream from the confluence (where the Yellowstone empties into the Missouri). I can see the bluffs across the Missouri, the bluffs that mark the northern rim of McKenzie County.
It's funny how things work out. Fuddruckers was not the first "new" restaurant to come in during the Bakken boom but it was one of the first. How it happened to pick the site at "the top of the hill," no one will ever know, but it was a stroke of luck or serendipity. This is where the steak house for Bakken millionaires should be located. Far off to the east is the Little Muddy River.
I took Dad out to dinner to this restaurant "on the top of the hill." After dinner, we drove out to the recreation area just above the Little Muddy Bridge/Highway 1804 east of Williston. The boat landing was filled with pick-ups and boat trailers. It appears the boats were down on the Missouri River. At this point, the Little Muddy is very, very wide -- it's about as high as I've ever seen it. Lots of water this year.
Troop 368 is out here in several canoes; they must be earning their canoeing merit badge. There is one swimmer -- and now a "mom" with a stopwatch is coming out to greet him; he must have been looking to earn a swimming merit badge or looking to set some kind of personal swimming record.
I told Dad I was going to the Lewis & Clark Bridge, asking him if he wanted to go. He declined, saying he gets restless and would like to head home; he retires fairly early these days. I dropped him off, took a short drive, and then back up to Fuddruckers. I told the hostess I was only there to have a beverage and use their wi-fi. So here I am.
Back to the canoes and Troop 368. A couple of years ago, Kathy told me that anyone who says they are "bored," should be slapped. I don't think she meant that literally; she seems to be a pretty gentle woman, a quilter. But I know exactly what she means, and on a night like tonight in the Bakken, if anyone says they are bored, they need to get out. I assume many, many roughnecks are not bored, but exhausted tonight. They are putting in some very, very long days with this incredibly good weather and long hours of daylight.
By the way, I will be seeing Kathy tomorrow, on my way back to Texas.
Before I forget: again, truck drivers are not paid enough. Maybe they are well paid in the Bakken; I don't know, but whatever the average pay for long-haul truck drivers, it's not enough.
One piece of advice for drivers in North Dakota: DRIVE FRIENDLY.
If you are like me, and simply a tourist, exploring the Bakken, drive carefully and drive friendly. If on the back roads, even if have the right-of-way at a intersection with stop signs for cross traffic, and you see a truck coming, slow down, and let the truck go through the intersection. If you stop far enough back, they will know what you are doing and will appreciate the gesture. It's called "driving friendly." But it's also called "Defensive Driving." Some of the truck drivers are new to the area, and do not know which roads are through-ways and which have stop signs at the intersections. Some will simply not have time to stop; they will do what they can, but I would rather have a trucker coast through an intersection while I watch him/her through my windshield, rather than seeing his Peterbuilt hood ornament up close and personal coming through my passenger side window.
So, tomorrow, I head back to Texas. I will stop along the way before I leave North Dakota, but it's going to be a tough day for me, emotionally, to be leaving.
Before I leave, a big "thank you" to Steve for meeting with me at "The Daily Addiction" on Wednesday and Thursday mornings, 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. He comes up from Texas two or three weeks each month to help folks with their financial planning. It's a long, long story. He's a native of eastern Montana but currently works for an "investment" company, living in Plano, Texas. We both find great joy in sharing stories about the Bakken. He flies into Minot, and then rents whatever SUV they give him. Today, the SUV he had looked like it was about the size of of a Bakken water-hauling truck. A good truck for the Bakken, a Toyota Sequoia. I wouldn't know; when he mentioned Sequoia, I did not even know the manufacturer. I honestly thought it was made by the company with the ignition switch problems. LOL.
A big thanks, also, to Michael, who gave me a great Knife River baseball cap. I will get a photograph of me wearing the cap sometime and post it. It was strictly a social visit, but I learned a lot about road construction in the Bakken.
I spent limited time at "Books on Broadway." I was just way too busy this trip, and my time was really, really limited. However, in a later posting, I will recommend a book that Chuck is featuring; I can't do it tonight because I've sent a letter to the individual who sent me the book, and I want to make sure he gets my "thank you" letter before I talk about it on the blog. It's another long story.
Perhaps more later, but now, back to the business of the Bakken.