Wednesday, June 19, 2013

North Dakota and keeping the love alive

I can not tell you how hard it was to be away from family while I working in North Dakota.
I missed them horribly. I'm not sure how I kept the cute girlfriend she was not happy at all with this arrangement. As for my sanity while in North Dakota I will have to say I was about as blessed as I could be living with my North Dakota Family.

I saw a lot of guys come up to North Dakota because they needed work, but although the money was good they just couldn't stand being away from their families. Those types would be gone in a few months. A lot of the guys at our company were from California and some moved their families up to North Dakota. There is no comparison with the North Dakota winter and the Southern California winter.  Those guys wives would last a few weeks of sub-zero temps and usually they would make it a living hell for that guy and they would all be back in Cali before spring.

Then there was the other side of the coin. Single guys that might want to find a girlfriend but there wasn't any to be had. Some of those guys didn't last long either.

Thank goodness for Text messaging. I was very busy almost everyday I was up there, but I could send a message to cute girlfriend, my kids, and my brother at spare moments to tell them I was thinking of them.  With the Smart phones you can even do email easily from your phone and even send money to those that need it.

Cell service sucked bad when I first got there but with in 6 month of my arrival most of the carriers had put in new towers and there was 4G over most of the Bakken.

I would call my cute girlfriend every night before I closed my eyes and most mornings I would call her to say good morning and tell her I loved her.  It was very hard on her being down there in Southern California all by herself. Her family was all up in Washington State and that Rat Bastard Boy Friend upped and left her so he could go play up in North Dakota.

I know it was very hard on her. I tried to spoil her as much as I could when I came down for a visit. Like last year I took her to stay at the Grand Californian Hotel at Disneyland.  She had wanted to stay there since she saw it several years ago.
It is set in the Craftsman Style of the turn of the last century.
This is the Grand Room near the Hotel front desk, there is a huge fire place tucked in behind those huge stone pillars.
This was one of the beds in the hotel room...a craftsman aficionados dream bed.

She was very happy I took her there, and we had a wonderful time. She was very happy that I spoiled her when I came down. Alas that did not solve the loneliness part.

One thing is for sure it did make us know how much we loved one another even though I was still a Rat Bastard for leaving her there alone.

I doubt if I would have been there more than a month if it wasn't for my Minot Family. I have a friend of mine from High School that I was living with.  He has been a close friend, and brother for 35 years now, we are very close, so much so the cute girlfriend calls it a "bromance".  I was the best man at his wedding. Back in High School his family welcomed me in as one of them when I was there.  He and his wife have emulated that.

To round out my Minot Family was my friends daughter's family, her husband and their 3 wonderful children.
Children actually make my day, I love watching them grow and learn and interact with the world. These children were a great joy to me while I was with them, they helped me not be too homesick. I recently called up there to see how things are going and one of my little princesses got on the phone, her nickname is Penguin, she still can't do her K's yet, so my name is Dis instead of Kris.  She told me it was time to come home, she is so cute.

Living with this family and in this situation was the most drama free living arrangements I have ever had.  Living like this with most other people would be tenuous at best. I would ask if everything was ok sometimes because I was expecting drama.  The answer was always "why would there be any".  It was an honor being part of that family and I will miss that part of my North Dakota experience.

My advice to those who can stick it out and have strong relationships with their significant other,  call them as many times a day as you can.  To you spouses stuck at home, support them with all your heart it is tough as hell up there away from home

Been In North Dakota!

Where have you been Mister?  Well, long story short I have been working my ass off in North Dakota.  I made what could be my second and last post over at the Trucking Blog I started a couple of years ago.
Larsen Trucking Chronicles. It Explains some of what has been happening since I last posted.

I will start where I left off at the Trucking Chronicles blog. 
A friend on Facebook posted about his new blog and his adventures as a Chef at a fishing camp in the Aleutian Islands in Alaska and it got me thinking I really need to get my butt in gear and get the defibrillator put on my blog and revive it. His Blog...I like the name...playing with fire and knives....He has a Quirky writing style that is catchy, so I will be following that from time to time.

To my story.  So My friend Kevin talks me into driving up to North Dakota to get a job in the Oil Fields. I stepped into the place he was working looking like crap from being in my car for more than 35 hours and they hire me on the spot. I stayed up there for over 18 months and made a hell of a lot more money there than I would have made going over the road. I think there was a little Providence in me ending up in North Dakota, how everything fell into place so I could get there was a little interesting.

For anybody that is new to this blog that wants info on going to North Dakota to work pay attention. It is a hard life and long hours and rough conditions. Here is my story

In August of 2011 I took my little blue convertible Geo Metro up to North Dakota to get work.  I'm glad I took that car, it gets 48 miles to the gallon on the highway. I spent the next 3 months sleeping on the floor of my good friends trailer. This was a blessing because housing was very hard to find at that time. It has gotten a lot better now with all the man camps and apartments that have been built in that corner of the state.  We lived 80 miles east of the epicenter of the oil boom in the nice town of Minot, but even there the oil boom was a huge influence. When you went shopping you would go into Walmart and the shelves would be bare like it was going out of business, except the lines at the cash registers were all 20 deep. Weirdest thing I have seen.

Living in N. Dakota was actually very nice I thought. Even the very cold winters were not that bad, and I'm from California.

I will slow it down here and start telling my story.
I got hired as a Fuel Truck driver and back up driver for all the rest of the trucking in the fleet. Safety is huge out there in the Oil Fields, so I went through a few days of training of the procedures in place out there. I was put in a fuel truck with a guy and told I needed to pay attention because the next day I would be going out alone because this guy was going on vacation the next day.
Side note here, my friend had been telling me about how places to stay were hard to find at this time in 2011 and I had been studying Google Earth's maps of that corner of N. Dakota and had memorized where all the little towns were and some of the highways, trying to find them a town to stay in.  It came in very handy when I was thrust out onto the roads of the Bakken Oil Fields and had to drive some 55 miles out from the shop to fuel some equipment and find my way back. I love maps hand love looking at them and learning my surroundings.

As I said before we were living in Minot ND, some 80 miles east of the town we had to work in. The Company had supplied vans to drive out in, which made the commute more economical. So started the get up at 3:45 AM, home by 7PM or later, 6 days a week work schedule that was my life for 18 months.

The living situation was a little rough at start.  My friend had his 5th wheel trailer up there in a makeshift trailer park and he and his son-in-law and now I were living in it. A new side note, 4 weeks before I got to Minot one of the worst floods in the towns history swept through the lower section of town and displace a huge amount of families. This put a huge burden on the poor community that was already hip deep in oil workers. FEMA set up a bunch of temporary trailer parks for the displaced, some people are still living in those FEMA trailers to this day because of disinterest by the US powers that be.

Well my friends wife was coming to live in the trailer soon and she was coming up with the son-in-law's family, DUH their Daughter and 3 children. It all worked out they stayed at the home of a relative that also worked for the company. Thus started the adventure of looking for a better place to stay. The makeshift trailer park had to close by Nov. 1st of 2011 and we needed to be out.

Where do you find a inexpensive house in a town that the housing prices have almost tripled in the last 9 months. Proof that from Chaos comes order. Buy a flood home!....God Bless all the people that were displaced by that horrible flood. Many of them lost everything. Peoples dream homes flooded to the roofs.  It will be etched in my mind until I die, the saddening sight of all those once nice homes with mud on the windows and the piles of what was once their treasure sitting on the side walk in huge ugly piles. Alas by Sept. of that year many people who just couldn't go back to their homes or were underwater in more ways than one started to put their homes on the Market.

My friends had put offers on several houses in the surrounding area that were outside of the flood zone but none were ever taken. Finally they were looking at this poor house that was for sale for 15K, but was nothing worth saving, and where measuring things to see how they could fit the now 2 fifth wheels on to this lot and pray the city would let them stay that way for a year or two.  Across the street from this place was a "For Sale by Owner" sign in the yard of this nice American Four Square house. I saw that and told them that was the house they needed to buy. They all looked at the price and scoffed. This type of house is a staple here on the prairie. It is a classic home that will have great resale value. There was no way to get a loan on it. We spent several more weeks looking at houses and every time we drove my that Foursquare I mentioned that it was the house that we need. 2 story with a basement and usable attic. Lots of room for the 2 families that were going into it. Here she is.
It was getting close to do or die time on moving the trailer from the park, and the daughter, who is also my god-daughter, was moving all her stuff up from Colorado soon. I get this text message on my phone.  We got the house! I typed back "what house".  the return message was...."your house". The owner wanted to be rid of the house and had lowered the price. If you look close to the picture, on the left side over the fence you can see the two 5th wheel trailers we wedged into the back yard.

We had to live in the back yard until the house was livable. The back yard had a two car garage that was on one side and there was about 1 inch on either side between the fence and the garage to fit those two huge 5th wheels, both had pop out sides. It took us most of a day to get them shoe horned in there.

That House is 100 years old this year and she is a wonderful old lady and it has been wonderful to put her back in working order. I will post more on the rehab of this beautiful old lady.