January 20, 2010

Bracing for a long winter

By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer

It’s a great time to be living in Watford City. The economy is good, there are jobs available and the community is growing. The tricky thing about living in Watford City during this great time is finding a place to live. A dilemma that has forced many people to live in their campers during a North Dakota winter, something most North Dakotans would never imagine doing.
“I’m used to living in my camper,” says Gary Jordan, a Three Way Inc. mechanic. “For my last job I lived in my camper for four years in Oregon. I think I’m pretty well equipped for anything the winter has to offer because I was living in the mountains of Oregon. However, I may have a different opinion at the end of the winter, but so far it’s been OK.”
Jordan, is one of several Three Way Inc. employees living in a camper. Some are only here temporarily, but others like Jordan plan to make Watford City their permanent home if they can find housing.
“I moved out here five months ago and they warned me that housing was hard to find and that I may have to live in my camper for awhile,” adds Jordan. “Early on I had some problems with freezing water lines. But now I have a heater under the trailer and skirting around it, so other than ice building up on the inside windows, I haven’t had problems.”
Dora Prince, Accounts Payable administrator for Three Way Inc., has also been living in her camper. But unlike Jordan, this is Prince’s first experience living in her camper and her first time camping in the winter.
“I am fortunate to have the camper I do,” says Prince. “It is the smallest one out here, but it truly is a four season camper. Most of the pipes are heated and my husband made sure that the ones that weren’t have heat tape around them. So other than my cold water freezing occasionally, it has been good.”
Prince left her home in Banner, Wyo. for a temporary position with the company so her husband and 160-lb. Great Dane are still in Wyoming.
“I’m staying in an 11½ -foot camper, so when it’s only me it’s fine,” adds Prince. “I enjoy only having to cook for one and I spend my evenings quilting and doing other little projects to keep myself busy, so it’s not that different than at home.”
Jordan and Prince are part of a small camper community located on Three Way’s property which gives them the opportunity to watch out for each other.
“We look out for everyone,” says Jordan. “If someone is leaving for a week we check to make sure they don’t end up with any broken pipes, and we’re always checking to make sure everyone has drinking water. It’s nice to know that if a problem arises, there will be someone close by to give a hand.”
With only a few weeks of extremely cold temperatures and half the snow of last year, this winter has been a pretty mild one by North Dakota standards, so far anyway. A mildness the many McKenzie County residents living in campers hope to see continue.