Thoughts on Williston, North Dakota

I did not know what to expect when moving to Williston. I have lived in a small town before (Ithaca) but Williston is even smaller than that. I have learned that 36,000 people makes this a very large city to many people here. Williston does not have as much to offer in terms of activities and restaurants as other cities though. Because the influx of people is fairly recent, there has not been a lot of time for the social side of the city to catch up. But it is true, it's rockin' in the Bakken. Or as Sam says, "People are flockin' to the Bakken."

This needs to be established: We live in NORTH Dakota. There are two of these "Dakota" states. If that is over your head, just go away. We do not live at Mount Rushmore.


One thing Sam and I agree on is that the Williston we read about isn't as bad as the Williston we live in. For some reason people really like to exaggerate life here. I have noticed there are a few mindsets of people here. One group doesn't want to be here. They gave up good homes, jobs, and friends to accept a "promotion" in Williston. Another group thinks this is the Promised Land and pray that everyone will be led to the Bakken. There are people like us who are somewhere in the middle. We are here. We will make the most of it while we are but we won't be broken-hearted to leave.

People are nice, but we have had a few experiences with small town people. One person said that although the doctor's last name is Chinese, she is "Normal." She meant white. Another person was talking about how Minot (the nearby "big" town) has a Target. She was so excited because there are only a few of those in the country. Sam just told me a story he heard about someone recommending this amazing Italian restaurant in Minot. They were talking about Olive Garden.

Housing is very difficult to find. Many, if not most, jobs include housing with the job. We saw this sign at a fast food restaurant.


After we found our new apartment on our first day here, we went to Walmart. I was very curious about the Walmart here. I wasn't sure how much it would have to offer and I imagined myself doing a lot of online shopping. I was very surprised to see that it was a very large one! We had heard that everything was brought in on pallets and the shelves were not stocked. I have not noticed that being the case, although people here still talk about it so I am not sure why. Most things are on the shelves and only a few things are on pallets. Everyone is very friendly at Walmart. I have had shorter checkout times and better service there than any other Walmart ever. I couldn't find something in the toy section so I asked a worker and she said that they didn't have anymore but she thought they might have something similar to it in sports equipment. So she walked me over there and they didn't have anything. So she walked me to pet toys. Nope. So then she walked me to gardening. Seriously. I couldn't get rid of her!

The Walmart is full of men. Most of them are still in their work clothes. I have never seen so many men in a store. Everyone is so friendly. I can't decide if I look really good or really bad when I go shopping, because everyone is moving out of my way and saying hello. I really like it.


While checking out one time, I was buying ginger root. The cashier looked at it and turned it over in her hands a few times looking for a sticker, then she pulled out her cheat sheet. I guess she couldn't find it listed so she set down the ginger. Then she picked it up again and looked at her cheat sheet again. Still no luck, so she just stuck it in my grocery bag. It was hilarious.

There was a guy who in his sacrament meeting talk said that he would not let his daughters shop at the Walmart here. I have not had any problems and I think when people say things like that it is very inconsiderate to the people who call Williston "home" and aren't just here for the money.

There have only been a few times I haven't been able to find something I am looking for but usually I am able to find it the next time I go. Except for shallots. They do not sell them here. This picture is of the bottled water aisle. Some people do not get very good water and so they only drink bottled. That is the only item that is regularly cleared off shelves. Our water tastes great though so we drink it out of the tap.


Because of the high number of unattached men, I now carry pepper spray. Hopefully I never need it. I heard that some men carry around urine with heat packs in case they ever get drug tested. There are also "Babe Buses" that run from the man camps to the strip clubs. Williston knows how to keep it classy.

The very first thing I noticed when we left the airport was how many trucks there are on the roads. It is scary. Most people drive trucks and there are hundreds of semi trucks driving around. Everyone's cars are very dirty. We thought there were a lot of trucks in Texas. We hadn't seen a lot of trucks. This was our church parking lot of the first Sunday. It is like this every week.


Some people in our ward live 1.5  hours away. I was able to make a friend on our very first Sunday and it turns out that she lives just one street away. It has been so nice. Sam learned that they play basketball at 6am at the church four days a week so he has enjoyed that.

The boys sit on our balcony and watch all of the trucks, tractors, and "race cars" drive by.


North Dakota is called the Peace Garden State. I had never heard of that before and don't know what it means. But getting my driver's license took about ten minutes. It was so easy. I also really like that it says, "Legendary." It makes me feel special.


There is a restaurant nearby called South of the Border. It is not Mexican food. It means South of the Canadian border. We did find a pretty good Mexican restaurant though.


When we first arrived in mid-July, the sunset was at 10pm. It is strange because I feel like the night passes very quickly once it is dark. I get the boys in bed and then don't start doing anything I should be doing until dark. Then suddenly it is bedtime and I didn't do anything.


The weather here is strange. I feel like the only dependable thing is the wind. It is always windy. Some afternoons we are sweating and burning up, but one day at playgroup I was bundling in a blanket. The wind doesn't bode well for winter.


We heard that more Corvettes are sold in Williston than anywhere else in the world. I am not sure if it is true though. It is nice that even though there are a lot of men here, they are here to work. There aren't lazy people sitting around. I really like that. However, everyone smokes which makes me gag and then I get angry because smokers are habitual litterers.

The drive to Sam's work is only 10 minutes (it was 20 minutes in Sugar Land). I feel like I get to sleep in every day. Sam has his own office. It has a window and everything so now I won't surprise him when I make a comment about the weather. We are working on decorating it. It is fun to live where everyone has heard of SLB. In New York, no one had. In Texas, some had. Here, it is one of the biggest oil companies.



The boys love hearing Daddy come home. The problem with an apartment is that they hear neighbors coming home throughout the day and think it is Daddy. When I took this picture, Alex was trying to peek out the door and was saying, "Is it Daddy?"


Our apartment complex is surrounded by mobile homes. It is like the entire city is a trailer park.


Every time I really start to like Williston, we have a setback though. Such as our car getting scratched in the Walmart parking lot, or a mouse getting in our car and chewing the center console. But it has been good overall. I have been trying to watch my attitude very carefully. When Lehi was commanded to leave Jerusalem, some of his sons chose to murmur while others went where they were needed. I am trying to be the obedient child.

I feel vulnerable here though. It is strange. There is no big city to protect or provide for me. I feel like we are in a different country. The experiences we have here are up to me to plan. There aren't professional sporting events or zoos.

Lot's wife was looking to the past and was turned into a pillar of salt. Salt is a preservative that seals our situation and does not allow anything to grow. I do not want to be looking to the past so much that I miss my chance to grow here. This reminds me of the time Michelle and I cleaned our 50 gallon saltwater fish tank and thought we would be good and water Mom's rose bushes. Although the water/past is good, I don't want to poison the current situation which could be beautiful.

I know that if I humbly submit myself to the Lord's will, He will add upon me. I am here to learn. I look forward to our experiences here in Williston. Now I just have to get through the winter.


Geevz said...

I'm not sure I could handle a small town. I think your attitude goals are admirable and I wish you the best of luck!

jeanene c said...

You don't have to get through the winter, just today. Tomorrow takes care of it'self, or sufficient unto the day is the crisis thereof.

Andrea said...

The picture of all of the trucks in the church parking lot was pretty ridiculous.

I commend you for realizing that you are in control of your life and your reaction to living in a place you didn't necessarily choose. Like you said, you have an opportunity to grow while in Williston, so don't get bogged down in looking back. Good luck!

Jershelly said...

Way to have a good attitude Emily. Moving and change can be hard. I'm sure you will learn a lot from this experience.

Katie said...

Can't wait to read more about the adventure :-)

What a strong woman that Emily is...

Blog Archive