Boom or bust

New Town, North Dakota

Some thoughts on a day where I drove far further west in North Dakota than I originally intended to...

- North Dakota is going through what has been described as an oil boom. It's hard to comprehend the magnitude of this boom without witnessing it first hand. Highways in the middle of nowhere are chock full of semi-truck after semi-truck, all covered in red-brown dust. In fact, everything is covered in red-brown dust. There are oil and natural gas rigs all over the landscape being watched by men wearing hard hats that drive large pick-up trucks with license plates from all over the country. In New Town (aptly named after everyone was forced to move when Lake Sakakawea filled with water in the 1950's), the two-lane highways are so congested with traffic that a semi waiting to turn left at a temporary stop light can back traffic up from one side of the town to the other.

- Bugs. Bugs. And bugs. At times, it sounded as if I was driving through a steady rain. It was actually the thud of thousands of little flying insects slamming into the windshield. After a while, using windshield wiper fluid does little more than just smear them. You know it's bad when you can visually see black clouds of insects heading towards you on the highway.

- If you like wide open skies, then North Dakota will not disappoint. I did not make it far enough west to see  much of the badlands that cover the state, but the small bit I did see was quite great. I look forward to making it back again to see Theodore Roosevelt National Park someday.

Also visited: Bismarck, Harmon, Center, Stanton, Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site, Hazen, Beulah, Zap, Golden Valley, Dodge, Halliday, Dunn Center, Killdeer, Mandaree, Keene, Crow Flies High Butte Historic Site, Parshall, Plaza and Ryder, North Dakota.