Progress to Date (in red):
I had planned to start cycling today, but decided to delay our departure by a day. I was not able to get the tire on the U-Haul fixed until late morning anyway, and after observing the truck traffic in and out of Williston, decided to preview our cycling route by car first to find the safest way out of here by bike. I've also made changes to my planned route over the next week, so that we are on roads with less truck traffic.
Over the past two years, Williston has gone from a quiet, small North Dakota city with light traffic to a booming oil town struggling to handle the influx of workers and equipment. The U.S. Geological Survey recently estimated that the oil and gas reserves in the basin around Williston may be the second largest (to Prudhoe Bay) ever found in the U.S., even eclipsing the famous East Texas field that gave Texas so much of its wealth. The impact on Williston is dramatic and inescapable: we passed dozens of oil rigs along the highway as we drove into town; a steady stream of large oil and gas field service trucks rumbled past; and the local news is filled with stories of crime and housing shortages. I chatted with an oil worker in our hotel who left his family to work here alone. He marveled at the amount of money people are making, then said, "A lot of the guys I work with piss away their money going out each night, but I don't. I send all of it back to my wife and kids."
Sho, Saya and I likely benefited in a surprising way from the dramatic wealth that is being created here. We ate lunch at a local restaurant, and when I went to pay the bill, the waitress said that the man sitting at the table next to ours had already taken care of us. She assumed he was my boss. I never spoke to the man, and he had already left when I found out what he had done, so I never got to say thank you. It was a random act of kindness by a stranger.
Getting a glimpse of its impact on Williston reminded me of my own complicated and uneasy feelings toward money. I used to make a lot, which gave me stability and comfort, but I didn't like how I was beholden to others above me in a corporate hierarchy. And I didn't like having my goals set by an institution. Now I don't make much money, but I set my own goals and have the freedom to create these family adventures with my kids and teach them firsthand how to tap their tremendous potential. And I give talks and write exactly what I think without worrying about a corporate PR department's guidelines. But I don't know if it will last. My savings will run out eventually, and, like most human beings, I may have to work for someone else again. That's reality. But at least I've created some amazing memories with my kids.
Fixing the tire
Returning the U-Haul truck
Saya outside the restaurant where we received an unexpected free meal from a kind gentleman who left before we could say thank you.
Back of the bike trailer, which includes a sticker from Zevlin, one of our cool sponsors.