Life on the Frontier


When I refer to myself as living on the frontier, I don’t think I’m being dramatic.Frontier quite literally means on the border, or the furthest extent of civilization. While if you continue up north you’ll come back into civilization Canadian style, I am definitely on the border of the U.S. Although, that’s not the definition I’m talking about.

I’m talking about limited resources and lack of amenities. Rough people and rough climate. Hopefully you’ve read my other posts that talk about the charm and humanity that comes from those two things. People come together, we need each other more, and the adventure of it is pretty fun. I want that perspective to be the assumption of my overriding feeling as I go on to describe some of the hardships. I’m asked most often about the circumstances I function in and I want to talk about it without feeling like I’m complaining.

Ok, disclaimer out of the way.

I want you to do something for me today. Drive to your McDonald’s or Arctic Circle or Chik Fil A or whatever other fast food you have WITH a play place, look in the window and let out a longing sigh on my behalf. Then go inside and buy a diet coke, send your kids in those toys and take a seat. Put your feet up and let out another long sigh for me.

Never have I realized the greatness of indoor playgrounds. The other day we had to get out of the house. I mean, 3 days of lying around for Christmas and we were so stir crazy. Benj was acting like an insane maniac. Do you know the only thing we could think of to do? We bundled up, piled in the car and drove to the new fancy car wash. We waited in a super long line, got our car sprayed down, and came home. There was really no where to go. We already had groceries. Days like that frustrate me, when I’m jumping out of my own skin with no where to go. Makes me feel like I’m just enduring our time here. I don’t like feeling that way.


This is a Christmas morning attempt at making our own indoor fun.

A few weeks ago I got strep throat. The closest doctor that my insurance would consider in-network was an hour away. I felt horrible I could barely put on decent clothes and drag myself out of bed. Danny took a half a day off work so I could leave Benj home (thank goodness) then I drove an hour, waited an hour, saw a nurse practitioner for about 5 mins wherein I got a positive strep test and a prescription, went to a pharmacy to get my antibiotics then drove another hour home. It was about a 4 hour ordeal.

Ok ok, I get it, I’m not a pioneer trekking across the plains, I have friends in developing countries who would consider a 4 hour sacrifice that resulted in access to cheap antibiotics a miracle, I get that, but compared to the way I’ve always lived, that experience made me feel like I was living on the frontier. I feel worried when I have to face that with a sick child or when he breaks a bone or needs stitches. We have a little hospital here, but the general consensus is that if you go there they will make you worse, it is worth the haul up to Williston.

When you think of the frontier what comes to mind? Lots of men and everything is super dirty? Probably both sleazy dirty and mud dirty. According to that definition I am most definitely on the frontier.

Lets talk about that mud. It’s everywhere. Every car is brown, my pants always have mud smudges on them from rubbing against the car when getting in and out, my boots are covered, every store has so much mud trekked in, many have little boxes of blue disposable booties to put over your boots before you come in.

About the sleazy part of dirty. I have not been confronted with anyone acting inappropriate to me. The worst its ever gotten was the guy checking out the red box next to me talking about needing to take a shit (his word not mine). Gross. But there is this underlying something around here. What is it? It makes us feel cautious, less likely to help a stranger in a parking lot, made my husband worried about me going to the grocery store alone on a Saturday night. Perhaps it is helped by the media and the idea we have that this place is rough, I do think it is legitimate though. I have a friend that’s been followed by a creep out of a store, Danny’s female colleague was attacked while pulled to the side on the highway not far from here, and then there was that employee at Subway jumping over the counter trying to stab a customer.

On Christmas Eve I ran to the Kum and Go to get some eggs. I was a little shocked at what I saw. It was really busy, men everywhere. In groups, by themselves, in a long line at the redbox. I felt a little sad, all these guys away from family just clumped together on Christmas Eve standing in the slushy mud. Maybe they don’t care? I don’t know but it is definitely different than conventional traditional America.

I asked our single male friend what about living here makes him feel like we’re on the frontier. His quick response was the lack of women to date. He recently joined and it was comical, the no-available women empty black radius surrounding this zip code. He says its even hard to make guy friends here. There are so many men here but they work tons of hours and besides that, where would you go to meet new friends? Work, the bar, the end.

Limited housing is a big one too. People living in RV’s and mobile homes everywhere, more the standard than the exception I think. Apartments are popping up everywhere with investors hesitant to build single family housing because of our population demographics. If you don’t have a connection for housing through employment it is next to impossible to get anything decent and affordable, you’ve got to pick one or the other.

My biggest complaint this morning? That my bathroom feels like an outhouse. We don’t have central heating at my place, just baseboard heaters. Perhaps the lack of one in the bathroom was an oversight but the temperature in there can’t be much warmer than outside. When I’m in there shivering you can just assume I’m irritated.

That is just a little taste of life up here on the outskirts of civilization. Because of Danny’s great job at this early stage of his career, we can put up with a lot. I really try not to be one sided on my analysis of this place though. Many have lived here for generations and don’t seem to mind the cold and the dirt and the no McDonalds thing. The women I hang around with act like its no big deal to drive an hour or more to do anything.They spend 10 minutes bundling their kids just to walk them the 2 minutes out to their cars and I don’t hear complaints.

In other news, I spent more to ship my Christmas gifts than on the gifts themselves. I need to get smarter about giving gifts from here. It hurts me not to send something wrapped with a bow and a hand written card but I might need to just start Amazon Prime-ing stuff directly to people. That makes my eyebrows furrow.

Watford friends – What about living here makes you feel like you’re on the frontier?

3 thoughts on “Life on the Frontier

  1. I’m one of those that braved RV living to have our precious family together. I lived in an RV for 18 months. Dealing with cold is an understatement when you have a 25 -65 mile an hour wind and you’re trying to keep your pipes from freezing. I have seven children that were in a 32 foot RV with me. But my one main concern that whole time was the size of my bathroom.
    It was a 12 x 12 square that I got to stand on when I pottyed or got in and out of the shower. Whenever I went in I always had anxiety.
    However having a home now hear up on this frontier I do believe that things are pretty good! It’s close knit and remote to say the least.
    And you do get used to driving an hour to be in civilization. I noticed when I go to town now I always spend a lot more than I ever would have. I have to grab anything that I might need between now and our next trip.
    All in all the women are strong and good, the men are kind and patient. I have always had men hold the door for me and my children and offer to help with my groceries or what not. This is our home… Welcome to Watford city.


    • Joy i love your comment! This is exactly the optimism that is so prevalent out here. So many moms act like the tough stuff is no big deal, you amaze me and make me feel like i can do it😄 and also, that bathroom haaaaa lol


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s