in recent years

   

   

nuclear anecdote

i was trying to shorten this anecdote into a manageable thread for twitter but i couldn’t, so now it’s here. YOU’RE WELCOME.

so there are missiles in north dakota – this is p common knowledge, there’s even an abandoned site called the north dakota pyramid that was literally operational for like three days that you can visit – about 150 of them, minutemen i guess, and they’re just… scattered around this big relatively empty state. fine.

well, there’s a silo p near the highway from williston (where i live) to minot (where target lives) that crystal and i have passed prooooobs about 100 times in the five years we’ve lived here. we talk about it maybe 1 out of every 4/5 times we pass it, mostly bc one of our coworkers had a flat tire near there once and a military vehicle appeared out of nowhere, changed her tire, and escorted her until she was well on her way again, which is, obviously, both kind of understandable and creepy as fuck.

ANYWAY, we drove by last week on our way to get our fog light fixed from when crystal hit a raccoon the last time we drove back home on that highway and i noticed that there were a couple of military vehicles at the silo-ish area and i didn’t think anything about it because there is occasionally one or two there, doing whatever they do to ensure that a freakin’ MISSILE SILO is functioning optimally, i assume.

but then on the way home, i looked again because when i’ve seen vehicles there before, they’re usually only there on one half of the trip, but this time they were still there. like a lot of them. like a half dozen military vehicles at the underground MISSILE SILO next to the highway. and i took mental note of it, but went on with our drive because i have the memory of a goldfish and the tiny attention span of the millennial that old people write op-eds about.

it took me a couple days, but like, there were military vehicles at the side-of-the-highway underground missile silo in middle-of-nowhere bumfuck north dakota because our piece of shit president is a FUCKING WAR MONGER and if he decides to launch NUCLEAR WEAPONS there is a very good chance they’re going to be launched from a missile silo very near me.

it’s one thing to know there are 150 nuclear weapons in the ground near enough to your home. it’s another thing to suddenly realize they might actually be launched, used against other living people across the world.

i am, to say the least, unsettled.

also, just for funzies, minot air force base that is in charge of those nuclear missiles AND bombers that drop the more traditional weapons of mass destruction is one of the worst maintained with the worst morale in the country! drug abuse! domestic violence! missile scandals!

living in a country at the whim of a violent man-baby is just the best!

places i’ve been: epping, north dakota

Epping, North Dakota is a really, really small town 20 miles north east of where we are here in Williston. It was founded in 1905 along the Great Northern Railway.

epping cemetery
When I say “small town,” I really, really mean small. Like, unbelievably small. Small like it has a total area of 0.38 square miles. Small like it had a population of exactly 100 in the 2010 census. Small like for the entire twenty minutes we were driving around the whopping three blocks that make up the city, we saw one other human being.

buffalo trails
The Buffalo Trails Museum was closed just like every other business we saw. They’d just had their annual Buffalo Trail Day event which includes a pancake dance and church services and an ice cream social. We figure they must have been recovering.

o. ellingson
There isn’t much here except a grain elevator and oil storage. This is where most of the oil pumped in and around Williston goes to meet the train and head for processing because despite the massive amount of oil coming out of the Bakken formation, it’s all got to be shipped to refineries elsewhere.

epping grain elevator
sons of norway

People in North Dakota are very serious about their Scandinavian heritage. I didn’t know the US was so into their viking-ass history until I got here. Seriously. Wait ’til you see the pictures of Minot.

epping hardware & pool hall
wildlife sculptures
Epping is weird as hell. The weekend we were there it looked abandoned. It didn’t just look like, you know, people were inside or out of town, it looked like the remains of a city after war.

Western North Dakota is really just like that though, a series of wheat and oil fields dotted with places like Epping, places like Zahl, places like Van Hook. It’s hard to believe there’s somewhere in the United States today with so few humans in it.

North Dakota is the third least populous state in the US and the fourth least in population density. There are more populated areas, even areas that are growing so rapidly that there aren’t enough homes — I know, I live in one — but there are less than ten people for every square mile of North Dakota territory. And trust me, when you live here — even in a place that seems crammed with people — you know it.