7 Strategies To Deal With The North Dakota Cold

Winter hiking in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

It’s been a busy few weeks for Watford City and for yours truly. Lots of holiday events have been going on and I have this compulsive need to get to every single one of them. I want to one, support what is going on here and two, get ideas and stories for the newspaper.

I think I’d be fooling myself though, if I didn’t acknowledge a third, and probably most accurate reason for being busy. The weather is quickly changing, getting cold and windy, and I can feel my spirits dropping a bit. Without even being super conscious about it I know that when I start feeling like this I become compulsively busy. I blame my mother, the queen of being busy and accomplishing a million things.

Last year the winter was a little bit novel. What did it feel like to go outside in temps below zero? When the wind swept right through my windows and doors and put a breeze through my apartment it was a little bit funny. Figuring out how to winterize was kind of interesting. Wearing my new coats and boots were fun.

This year, though, this year I know what is coming and I feel sort of down about it.

It’s bad when I start cursing the shoddy builders of my apartment in November when temps are in the twenties. You have a long way to go girl, you better muster up some happy or it’s gonna be a loooooong winter.

While it seems easiest to walk around as a grumpy grouch complaining about the damn cold all winter, that seems like a person no one wants to be around and I really really need friends who will let me come over to their homes. So I’m on the prowl for better strategies. 

Looking for prairie dogs in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

So, I’ve been implementing a bit of a game plan the last few days:

  1. I’ve started to wear layers to avoid being miserably cold. Miserably cold = there is no way I can keep my mouth shut about being miserable cold. So, I need to dress accordingly. And you know the old problem, you dress warm then go inside where the heater is cranked then you sweat and then you are ticked again. Answer? Layers. If I need to wear 2 down jackets in order to feel warm, I’ve got no shame. If I want to put a few of those hot hand warmers in my boots, no one will know but me. If I put on a fleece face cover just to walk the 10 feet from my front door to my car, no one’s gonna judge me. So plan ahead, and dress accordingly.
  2. Winterize my apartment GOOD. No more wind sweeping my papers off the counter or wearing 3 pairs of socks to bed. Also, just so we’re clear, by winterize my apartment I mean, encourage my husband as he winterizes my apartment and boss him a little if he is not doing it fast enough. We (he) put plastic over the windows and used a blow drier around the edges with some sticky stuff and put foam around our outside doors. It’s amazing what a difference that made in keeping our apartment warm.
  3. We finally gave in and bought a heater for my bathroom (the one that is always cold like an outhouse). We did this last week and my life is already better. Have you ever sat down to do your business with a heater aimed right at ya? Heaven my friends.
  4. Plan a trip to somewhere warm. This was not possible last year because we had just moved to North Dakota and were flat broke. So I understand if this is not an option for you. If you fall in this category, you are allowed to be a little sad. Many people told me last year that escaping to somewhere warm is the only way they survive the winter. This advice made me feel angry and poor. But this year we have planned a little something. This Christmas we will be going to Palm Springs, Cali with my family and then I will be looking at pictures of Palm Springs, Cali for the rest of the winter. It is not crazy hot there, will probably be in the 70’s or, if we’re lucky, the low 80’s. I will let you know if that counts as warm enough to help me have a good attitude. I’m wondering if laying in a tanning bed while listening to a beach soundtrack might help as well? 
  5. Last year every Saturday we would layer up and drive out to the National Park and hike a little. So far in November we’ve followed suit. Benji loves it, Danny loves it, I tolerate it. But it does give us a family activity to do outside of our home for a few hours. 
  6. I do a lot of projects. As mentioned above, if I am bored or have nothing that feels pressing in my life I spiral into binge watching Netflix, ignoring my child, and eating lots and lots of Kum & Go cookies. Last winter I started really sewing and writing. This winter I have been taking in a lot of  sewing jobs ie: alterations, hems, simple stuff. It gives me a little extra cash in the pocket and makes me get off the couch and do something. It is the time to organize closets, learn how to crochet or take good pictures, clean your baseboards and actually cook.
  7. Lock in friends! That sentence may have come off a little creepy but I’m not kidding when I say that to survive up here, you need people. I notice in the last few weeks I’ve really been reaching out to my people here more than I did in the summer. I know making friends and finding people you really click with take time and is sort of hard. But here’s the thing you need to understand, even if you find people who aren’t the most interesting or your top favorite people ever, you still need them. You need people to check on you and people you feel responsible to check on. You need the friend who can help you fix something and the friend who likes to cook you up delicious treats and the friend who will tell you hilarious stories. You need someone you can drop your kids off at in a pinch and the friend who you can plop down on their couch and have a good cry. Moms and sisters are FAR AWAY for most of us North Dakota ladies and we gotta lock in some people before hibernation time. If you need a friend I’m not kidding when I say message me. You can’t survive up here alone. I’m not the coolest most interesting person you could hang out with but I am a person who lives here who is nice. That goes a long way.

So there you have it, the 7 things I am doing to welcome winter with a smile. Ok, not a smile but less of a grimace.

There are plenty of people who do just fine in the cold. They act like it’s no biggie. My friend Crystal WALKED all around town, regularly, last winter with her kiddo in a stroller bundled up. That blows my mind. She acts like it is really no big deal. And get this, she was even happy and smiling as she did it. That I do not understand but I admire.

I’m definitely not on Crystal level but I’d really like to somehow maintain some positivity. We can do this people.

What are your strategies for getting through the winter?



Oh, before I move on I guess I should tell you one more thing we do in the winter. We lay around and take lots and lots of selfies and text them to people who are obligated to tell us how funny/cute/hilarious we are ie: family.

2 thoughts on “7 Strategies To Deal With The North Dakota Cold

  1. You are a phenomenal writer. I just love it. Love to read your writing. Love to feel “you” in those words. And, bytheway, you are the most interesting person in Watford City. Good you didn’t advertise as such, least you be overwhelmed with locked in friends galore. Love you, girl.


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