The Oil Patch:  On the Way

The Oil Patch:  We Arrived!

The Oil Patch:  Gymnastics at Williston

Amtrak didn’t leave Union Depot in St. Paul, MN, until 2:30 a.m.  It was more than four hours late.  We had a sleeper car and in no time at all the sun was coming up.  It was February 14th, Valentine’s Day.

We turned our beds into two comfortable seats, got a cup of coffee down the hall, and watched the peaceful rural landscape go by.

We’re still in Minnesota.  Hawley is about halfway between Detroit Lakes, MN, and Fargo, ND.

Corn crops were so good last fall that some of it had to be piled on the ground, next to full bins.

A few cars are up early, and waiting for the train to go by.

We also watch the trains go by.  We’re on a double track and I caught this engine in motion as it sped by next to us.  See Allan’s morning stare reflection?  See my coffee cup reflection?

We don’t see bins and grain elevators in Victoria, Minnesota.

And we don’t see oil tankers strewn alongside the road in Victoria because of train crashes.  I remembered hearing about the train crash at Casselton, ND, and we were seeing the wreckage.

Amazing, how explosions treat steel tankers like milk cartons.  Two trains collided and derailed on December 30th, 2013, exploding 10 oil tankers and sending fireballs high into the sky — or so I read. 

Residents were instructed to stay indoors to avoid the smoke from the mushroom cloud flames, as shifting winds raised concerns.  Residents were then urged to evacuate.

Six weeks later, we see some of the damage.  One of the reasons Amtrak is continually not on time is due to the freight trains having priority on the tracks.  Oh, well, when on vacation we must be patient.

Looks like a sea of snow.  Flattest country we’ve ever seen … except for on our way to Ghent, MN.

They seem to sprout up like trees on the landscape wherever we go.

Sometimes there are whole fields of windmills.

Whether it’s a river basin or fertile valley , this painting outside our train window was not by human hands.

Oh, oh.  There goes that oil!  When they’re going east, they’re full.

We’re warm and comfortable on the train in our private sleep car.  I guess it’s called a roomette.

We had eggs, sausage, toast, and orange juice for breakfast in the Dining Car.  Very good.

As I said at the beginning, it was Valentine’s Day.  Hi, Addie.  We arrived in Stanley, ND, about 2:30 p.m. and so did Jenny and the kids to pick us up at the train station there.

If anybody was peeking in the windows, they would think it was Christmas.

We opened Valentine presents by the Christmas tree, which Jenny saved for me to see.  I recognize many of the ornaments that I gave her every year when she was growing up.  Nick has his, also.

Hi, Gunnar.  Grandma Sue wanted you to stay warm, and your mom said you needed long underwear.

Hi, Jenny.  Good to see you again.

Hi, Christopher.  I wanted you to stay warm too, and Jenny said your old ones are totally worn out.

When we got home, Allan read this book from Jenny in three days.  It’s the fourth in a series by Rhonda Kulczyk, the author who became a good friend of Jenny’s in Tioga.

It was already dark outside, but the day was far from over.  Jenny lets Goliath lay on a rug by the door when it’s below zero outside.

Goliath doesn’t like anybody to hug his girlfriend.  He jumped up on Chris until Chris went outside.

Addie, who spends as much time on her hands as on her feet, liked the new house pants I gave her.

Gunnar has his elbow on some good reading material.  His drawing is on page 5 of that issue.

Limber young lady.  Try saying that fast three times in a row.

Then it was time for a Valentine’s Dinner of Steak and Lobster.  Chris made reservations for the six of us in the new Conference Room at the big new Cenex Station just down the road.

It was delicious and fun.  Afterwards we collected all the table scraps in a doggie bag for Guess Who?

The fancy desserts we took home for ourselves, for later.  The girls each got a rose to take home, too.

Ready for bed.  This is the first time our Two-fers (Jenny and mine) became Three-fers.

Saturday was Addie’s big day.  Her gymnastics class was performing at two basketball games at Williston.

Perfect and pretty as a picture.

Gunnar is ready to go!

First we had to watch the basketball game and the cheerleaders.

Then Addie.

Good job, Sweetie Pie.  You were the best one.

Then it was time again for three-fers.

Talking to Goliath before we turn out the lights.

“Good night, girlfriend.  I promise I won’t get off the rug.”

After tasty Mexican fare at Don Pedro’s in Williston, we drove back to the farm and the kids still had energy to spare.

They take turns pulling each other on a sled to the stations and stops they create all over the place.