Matt Forney
Spread the Word!

Escape from North Dakota

I know what I said last week, but the monkey’s dead and the show’s over. Barring divine intervention, I’m leaving the Bakken next week and will be in Portland before Christmas.

What caused this change of heart, you may ask?

I’d been planning to hang around Fracking Country until April or May, signing on as a roustabout and spending the rest of my trip exploring America with a five-figure wad of cash in my bank account. And while I do have some cash, my efforts to carve out a semi-permanent lifestyle in Williston have been stymied by a combination of government idiocy, corporate skittishness, and my own failures.

Getting work in the Bakken isn’t difficult, but finding a place to stay is. As one of my friends joked, Williston is the only city in America where you can be homeless and have $1,000 in your pocket. Demand for housing has massively outstripped supply, resulting in $2,500/month studio apartments and $400/day hotel rooms. Even RV hookups cost an arm and a leg: around $2,100 a month. As a result, a lot of people sleep in their cars and shower at the gym… the former of which is becoming untenable due to the winter weather and a new city ordinance cracking down on overnight parking.

My current housing arrangement ends next Monday. I’d been trying to get a job that provided housing, and in the event I couldn’t get one in time, I had a backup plan. It fell through a couple days ago. Obama’s reelection has Halliburton and company running scared and reluctant to hire new people, because the Congressional Democrats are making noise about banning or regulating hydrofracking. The idea of freezing to death on the prairie (temps can get to around thirty below at night due to wind chill, and even lower out in the country) doesn’t really appeal, so I’m going to hightail it to Portland as quickly as possible, where I’ll have a much easier time getting hooked up.

It looks like I might have been right about the oil boom busting, albeit for the wrong reasons.

I’m not happy about having to cut my plans short like this, but I am looking forward to getting to my destination. Additionally, I’m finally close to completing one of the projects I’ve been working on since the summer. With some downtime in Portlandia, I can devote my full attention to finishing it.

And I’m not done with hitchhiking.

I can’t describe it; I just have this feeling that I should keep going and see the rest of the country. This excursion was just the first act in a long and exciting drama. But right now, I need to get out of here.

For those keeping score, I’ll likely be taking this route: Billings -> Bozeman -> Missoula -> Coeur d’Alene -> Spokane -> Seattle -> Olympia -> Portland. If you’re in any of those burgs, get in touch with me via email, Twitter or Facebook if you want to hang out, though my Internet access might be limited between cities (I had to switch to a crummy prepaid Verizon phone when I got to North Dakota).

Read Next: Escape from New York