For various reasons I won't post all the conversations I've overheard while in the coffee shops in Williston. I wish I could. But it is so incredibly wonderful to hear things that make this country so unique.
First of all, I've not heard one discouraging word about the downturn in oil prices. Speaking of which, I saw one deer playing on the highway coming north; and I hope to see some buffalo on the range when I head south again, on the return trip to Texas. I plan to take my time getting back (I always say that); I will stop at the "North Unit" where I will see buffalo, and if I miss them there, I can see a herd on the east side of US Highway 85 north of Bowman.
Yesterday, while in one coffee shop, a 20-something woman had come in to do her Bible study. She asked us some questions about the definition of some words. Later, a male friend joined her. She needed to know the finer points of the law regarding a license to own and carry a handgun in Montana, concealed and open carry, I suppose, though she did not use those exact words. The word "ex-husband" came up quite a bit while discussing handgun licenses and reading her Bible.
While leaving a high-end restaurant last night, there was another 20-something woman, jumping up for joy, when on her cell phone she had been told she won a shotgun. Must have been a lottery.
This morning at the coffee shop, the barista asked a regular customer, a 20-something male, who came in for some fancy latte, whether he "got any" coyotes last night. He said they called a lot in but were unable to bag any. He says he hopes he has better luck tonight.
The other barista was drawing "broncos" and "panthers" on the "chalk-board" in anticipation of the Big Game today. For a panther, she drew a kitten which looked a lot like a pig (she only drew the "face"). Her "pony" looked more like a cartoon cow -- again, only the face, straight on. Oh, I see, she has re-drawn the cat in a classic style and now it's perfect. She is very, very, very happy with the pony but I think it needs some work. But I wouldn't change it for anything; it's precious and priceless all at the same time.
She mentioned that the weather was so great yesterday she had planned to go out riding (her horse) but the horse was in such high spirits -- due to the great weather -- she decided "maybe not today." She let the horse enjoy the beautiful weather in its own way.
I drove my dad out east of town yesterday to see the oil activity there. State Highway 1804 was deserted for the most part. We did not see any rigs. We saw no activity in the oil fields. I saw four flares, pretty much near each other. What struck me was the number of multi-well pads. Until you actually see a multi-well pad, you really can't understand what the Bakken is all about. Besides being "multi-well," the pumpers are huge, absolutely gigantic compared to the older ones in Oklahoma, for example.
The other thing that is striking is that the NDIC GIS map exaggerates the drilling activity in the state. There is so much work yet to be done. One can see vast, wide-open areas between single wells and multi-well pads. All that will be filled in, eventually, and the single-well pads will become four-well pads, and the four-well pads will grow to eight, and eventually most drilling units in this area and the Watford City area will have six to ten pads with a total of 32 wells in each drilling unit. Unless they find a way to reach all that Bakken/Three Forks oil with fewer wells.
Back to my dad. He lives in a home for folks who cannot live alone, for whatever reason. He could live alone, but it's better for him where he is now. For one thing, all his friends are there. He says one of his friends passed away last weekend at the age of 100. He said it was a bit young, but sometimes that happens.
He has had a falling out with one of his other friends, Harry (not his real name). Apparently Harry doesn't get along with most folks at the home. Harry is Norwegian who married a Native American, an "Indian" in the local parlance, some years ago, of course (like seventy years ago).
Harry is still mad -- and I am not making this up -- at some general at the Big Horn -- sometimes he calls him Custer -- sometimes he just calls him "some general." The folks have learned not to bring up the General Custer story when talking to Harry. I've never asked if Harry carries a concealed handgun. Maybe it's time to ask.
And to think some southerners still hold a grudge about the Union.