Rough Notes from Minot, North Dakota

Some quick photos from the overnight trip Molly and I took to Minot, North Dakota in the last 36 hours. Upon arrival to Minot, we tracked down Molly’s good friend (and my cousin) Jessica. Housing and lodging is tough to come by in the Bakken, but Jess managed to track down a 250-square foot abode for $600/month. No griping, though. Jess is thoroughly happy to have a place to lay her head and make a meal. But crunch the numbers. This is Minot, North Dakota, folks, and not Harlem, home-sweet-home NYC.

Anyhow, here are a couple photos from Minot, October 25 and 26, 2013. Historians have been known to talk about Nature’s Metropolis. A historic specific of this is the rise and establishment of Chicago, say, in the latter half of the 19th century. One of the reasons Chicago happened was because of the agrarian and natural resource commodities pulled in by rail from the American West. Chicago, of course, used to be a cow town, originally a cattle off-loading and exchange point. It is different today.

With Minot, and other established village and population centers throughout the Bakken, historians are often watching these and wondering which cultural directions they will take. Pulling oil out of the ground is a messy and toxic business, and the flip-side of that is how it monetarily energizes cities and urban centers. The world, at least since the turn of the 19th century, has increasingly relied on petroleum as a dominant source of energy. It kind of just crept up on us over the course of 100 years, and has been the source of handy plastics and war.

I do wonder if the lot of us in the professional world of North Dakota could speak frankly about these dynamics: “Oil is getting spilled. Can we develop a statewide database that everyone can see to keep an eye on that?” Or, “How do we make oil money today and figure out how to use those profits to develop non-petroleum energy sources for when the black gold runs out?” Or, “How did over 850,000 gallons of oil over the course of 11 days get put into one end of a pipeline tube, and not get discovered until it covered some 7 football fields in some farmer’s field in northwestern North Dakota? Don’t we have some red buzzer that goes off if even 10,000 gallons goes missing from the outlet of the oil pipeline tube? If it goes in one end, and doesn’t come out the other end, how does that get missed?” Check out the stories here and here. Stuff like that.

But to return to the original point of this blog entry, here are some grand photos of the energized culture in Minot, Ward County, north-central North Dakota. The first is an established place, one of the last old wood-frame structures in the downtown known as the Blue Rider, owned by Walt Piehl.

Blue Rider

The next photo concerns the Souris River Brewery. Molly and I had bison meat balls there, as well as a great black bean sandwich. And excellent perogies. The glass of beer I had was, as expected, delicious.

Souris

And the next morning (or this morning), we took Jess’s recommendation to breakfast at Sweet & Flour Patisserie. We had French pressed coffee and an chevre-apricot croissant. Here is a shot of that from this morning.

Sweet and Flour


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