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Veeder: Some days the Bakken ain't so rockin'

Jessie Veeder

The view out here is something to be seen this time of year. The birds are singing, the pink coneflowers are scattered across the hilltops, the horses are sleek and the sunsets paint the landscape gold in the evenings.

This season, these fleeting months, are the reason we suffer the long winters and temperamental springs. I couldn't be happier to be tucked away out here at the end of a scoria road 30 miles from the nearest semblance of civilization.

Most days anyway.

But then there are the days I'm reminded that civilization is out there, moving in from all walks of life, building roads and kicking up dust in what I like to refer to as the Big Bakken Truck Parade.

Most days we wave, slow down and take note of the new traffic and how it has or hasn't really changed us and we're fine with it all.

And some days it rains, like a 48-hour torrential downpour, and the dust turns into sloppy red mud as the water pools and makes rivers and rivets in the country roads. And the Bakken Truck Parade slows down to chain up, wait it out or, you know, get stuck sideways across the road you take to get to your mailbox and up the hill to town where you have an appointment you would have been late for even without the rain and the 1-ton roadblock that, if you consider the physics and geometry of the situation, looks like it's going to be a while.

Yes, some days not even four-wheel drive can help you get the groceries.

And then some days that four-wheel drive goes out on you in the middle of a similar monsoon-style thunderstorm at the beginning of the three-hour obstacle-course-style trip to Bismarck and you find yourself sliding sideways on what you were certain was a road yesterday but now, clearly, is a swamp.

So you call your husband to discuss what it would take to move to the suburbs.

You never see an SUV stuck in a spontaneous swamp in the suburbs.

And in the suburbs you would not see a woman waiting in line at the bank with half the prairie stuck to her boots, up the back of her legs, and, oh, yup, there's some mud in her hair too, isn't there? Poor dear.

Yes, some days the beautiful bird songs and golden sunsets come with a price, and when you fail to check your gas gauge, keep tabs on your toilet paper situation or factor in the extra time it might take you to get the 30 miles to town in a flash-flood behind the 17 trucks it takes to move a rig at 13 miles per hour, that's when country living moves from tranquil to annoying.

Sometimes the Bakken ain't so rockin'.

Yes. I said it. I'm sorry.

But that's life. And when I'm clenching my fist and waving it in the air behind the safety of my cracked windshield, at the end of the day it's all just a story as long as someone doesn't get hurt. At the end of the day we're all just out here trying to get our work done, make it to our kid's baseball game on time and to the grocery store before it closes because we're out of toilet paper, dangit.

Yes, we're all just trying to survive the best we can until the rain stops and we can get home to our safe and comfortable spot between the buttes or busy city streets.

And really, sometimes you can't blame the traffic, the rain, the Big Bakken Truck Parade or the 30-mile drive out of the middle of nowhere. No.

Sometimes on the haul to get the four-wheel drive fixed on one car, the pickup quits for no discernible reason, and there you are, with your dearly beloved, standing on the red road under a hill dotted with wildflowers as the summer sun sinks down below the horizon, scratching your heads, wondering what went wrong and going nowhere.

Some days.

Veeder is a musician and writer living with her husband on a ranch near Watford City. Readers can reach her at