North Dakota???!!!

About five minutes after my son got off the plane – after multiple connections and that pesky year-long deployment in Iraq – he was told, “You’re going to Minot.” We’d heard rumblings about the possibility of his re-assignment, but the decision from the A.F. kept going back and forth –  yes, he’s going, no, he’s not. I didn’t give it much credence.

I’d lived in my born-and-raised home state of Delaware for 43 years. Mom was there, my second mother, Aunt Agnes, was there, my best-ever brother and his wife were there, I went to high school there, I had a job and friends there. Delaware is the first state, south of Pennsylvania, north of Maryland, a little to the left of New Jersey.

After just a little encouragement from my SW-deployed son, I followed him to his new home in New Mexico. I watched as he was married to his beautiful bride, had two sons, had a few promotions, made friends, lost friends to military re-assignments and overseas deployments.

I have always been the only grandparent within 600 miles, so I participated frequently in their day-to-day (trying not to be one of those mothers-in-law). I helped with my grandsons, and I spent a lot of time at their house while my son Kenton was deployed to Iraq – cooking dinners, doing laundry, running errands. And my daughter-in-law is (really, no lie) my BFF.

It’s always been our understanding that if Kenton, Chris, Wayne, and Shawn were re-assigned, I’d go too. They asked me to go, and I’m willing to go. I’m the perfect babysitter – I’m the MoMo. And there is no way I could give up life with my grandsons.

So, North Dakota? I knew where North Dakota was on the map, even knew the capital (Bismarck), but I had to look up Minot. I found it about mid-state, or rather the NW quadrant, about 50 miles from Canada. I’m glad I renewed my passport a couple years ago. Where’s the nearest MLB team?

My first few forays onto the web to investigate North Dakota (in addition to finding lots of pictures of snow), I found out that the unemployment is the lowest in the country, found lots of farms, and found that it’s one of the best places to raise kids. That is, if you don’t want to go outside in the winter. I considered the possibility of trading in my Mustang GT for a snowmobile. I found out you need to have an engine heater installed in your vehicle if you want to start your car in the winter. Hey, I’ve seen the movie, Fargo, so I get it.

My next foray into North Dakota via the internet was FaceBook fan pages, more internet maps, weather, the local AFB. I have to admit, I was surprised to hear how everybody loved it – I love this state, the people are so friendly, it’s clean, best place I ever lived, great schools, great place to raise children (as a grandmother, this appealed to me).

Everyone loves the weather …wait, huh? I saw a picture of a snow bank that was twice the height of a man. My friend Lynne said “from the frying pan into the freezer”, said phrase I’ve used over and over again to much laughter. Okay, I can put up with a lot of snow to get away from the gangs and crime and grime that has become Albuquerque. I’m ready for some clean living.

So now I start to tell my far-away family and friends that I’m moving to North Dakota and everybody’s response is the same – “North Dakota?!” I’m afraid that some of my aunts, uncles, and cousins will never find me or remember me – I was in New Mexico for five years and they were still asking me “So, how do you like Arizona?” I hope they don’t go to North Carolina looking for me.

I’ve been cleaning out, culling clothing and stupid possessions, and packing since I found out I was moving. I’ve been searching for a small place in Minot – just an efficiency or a studio at a price I’m willing to pay. Thank goodness we have friends in Minot who were reassigned about a month ago and can help in the housing search. With the boon in energy and jobs, housing seems to be coming at a premium. Hey, all I need is a garage, preferably with a heater.

I’m re-evaluating all my wool and flannel clothing; and I’m looking at my 35-year old, water-proof, lace-up, Maine hunting boots as a good save. I guess most of the t-shirts I own will now be part of my layered look. I’m sure glad I saved the long-underwear during my last spring cleaning. Forget shaving my legs – I can use the extra fur.

We leave around the end of October, in a caravan (we have three vehicles, maybe a moving van), with Kenton’s aunt and a cousin helping out, too. We plan on stopping at Mount Rushmore – that’s in South Dakota for those of you who are geographically-challenged. I hear we’ll be driving right by this monument and have been told we absolutely have to stop.

Just today I watched a YouTube production by the Taylor Bros. of Watford City (North Dakota, very west in the state) So now I’m not so scared – although I think all the pictures included in this Taylor Bros. production are summer pictures.

I’m looking forward to a White Christmas…and as Lynne says, a white Halloween, a white Thanksgiving, a white New Year, a white Valentine’s Day, a white Easter….

If you are wondering what may be on my Christmas list … anything with goose down, snowshoes, and tinted goggles. Oh, and please send some wool socks.

Mount Rushmore –

North Dakota –

Minot AFB – Where Kenton will serve –


Filed under Personal Articles

2 responses to “North Dakota???!!!

  1. Welcome to ND! I think you will be pleased at all of the surprises and gems you will find here.

  2. Kristie

    A white last week for that matter 😉 I live North of Watford City, but I want to reassure you that you will be fine. No, you will be GREAT!

    I am also a military wife(now retired), and if this California girl could not only love North Dakota but actually retire here, you know it must be good 😉 for me to give up moving back to the beach where all my family lives after an entire adult lifetime of following my husband, you know it must be worth it.

    The people are what captivate you. It is like a force field of “North Dakota Nice” that keeps you chained here; voluntarily of course 😉 The people here are outrageous….outrageously AWESOME!

    You know it is good if we fought for three years to get back to North Dakota after getting orders to a much more climatically hospitable New Mexico, closer to my family and the ability to have a very spare winter wardrobe. Just don’t do as I did the first time we were stationed at Minot. NEVER, EVER go outside in below zero weather with WET HAIR. NEVER. Frozen hair isn’t a pretty thing I must say!

    We got order to Minot while in Turkey. I cried and cried. I had never cried about any other orders, even horribly humid Oklahoma, but oh my…North Dakota???!!!

    Fell in love with North Dakota within about 10 minutes of moving on base. Got orders to New Mexico, fought for three years to get back to Minot via a special duty assignment. Got orders to Arkansas and had zero trouble finding somebody who would rather go to Arkansas(our orders) or anyplace else on the planet frankly, than come to North Dakota. We were able to get orders to Grand Forks. Were told we would probably end up on our last assignment to Arizona, and again took a special duty assignment so we could retire here in good ole’ North Dakota.

    The only thing we did, was move out west to the Badlands(which you will LOVE!).

    You will be just fine 😉 Welcome to North Dakota and enjoy your stay 😉

    Oh my, one more warning. NEVER do the “Fargo” accent…lol North Dakotan’s are very polite, so you may not notice it, but want to irritate a North Dakotan do

    The movie Fargo is actually set in a town in Minneeeeee-soooooo-ta 😉

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