Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sleeping in the Middle of an Oil Field

Just as I was nodding off to sleep around 10pm out in that oil field, the lightning started. I got in the front seat of the car and decided to drive off the hill I was sitting on. There wasn't any rain, just the bright flashes and rumbles. I parked next to a large metal building that must be some kind of oil pump house and tried to sleep in my backseat. I pulled my down comforter over me, as if it was an extra layer of my cocoon to protect me from a deadly lightning bolt. It was hot, and I really wanted to roll down a window, or plop my bare legs on top of my nest of covers and pillows, but fear kept me under the covers. 3:30am came, I should have drove back up the hill and hiked to my point, but I was so tired I didn't. Then around 6am I heard a door slam shut and could see two figures come toward my window through the rain drops that clung to it, plaid shirts blurred right outside.

I opened my door, aware I was just in my underwear and a tie dye t-shirt, it was so hot in the car. The cowboys peered in at me on my bed with curious looks, and one just came out and said it "Mam, did you realize that you are sleeping in the middle of an oil field?" there was a slight twain to his voice, having never lived in a city I'm sure. I was so tired I could barely talk, I wish I didn't look like a hippie in my tie dye, sleeping in my car like a homeless person.

"Sir, B.W. himself gave me permission to be on his land, I talked to him a couple of days ago." The cowboy relaxed a little at the mention of his boss' name. I explained that I was a biologist doing bird points and their rigid faces softened into sympathetic looks as I explained my sad story of the lightning and how the I felt safest next to the large metal building surrounded by telephone poles. Then almost broke into tears as I mentioned that I wasn't even able to call my boyfriend for comfort because I hadn't had cell service since early yesterday morning, and couldn't call his boss to remind him I was coming either. Then I added "Believe me, someone does not find this spot to camp in without a very specific purpose, hours of driving through the middle of nowhere, help from the neighbors, not to mention that 17 mile drive down B.W.'s ranch road. I have full permission to be here." They both apologized for waking me as they slowly backed away, and wished me luck with my bird surveys. The care taker said he probably just missed and email or phone call from B.W. and they got in their truck and left me in peace.

I drove up the hill and walked 3k to my bird point across some of the prettiest fields of flowers with butterflies everywhere. The birds were the most abundant on this point with all the oil wells than I had seen them anywhere else. The hike out was easy, and even though I got lost a little on the drive out and mixed up with big oil trucks leaving with black gold, I found my way out of there. I stopped at a small town that had a grocery/hardware/auto parts store for some tea and breakfast. The spark plugs were on the shelf next to the brownie mixes, something that made me laugh. The owners had a flat screen TV turned to CNN with oil spill coverage. We talked a bit about the tragedy and I explained I hadn't seen TV for weeks, so they filled me in on it. They said I was still in Montana and wished me well on my way back to Wyoming. The sign on their door said "Take off muddy and oily boots before coming in here." I giggled as I left this strange place.


  1. Lol, the store u stopped at reminded me of this Chinese restaurant I ate at recently. Behind their cash register they had things from hair dye to matches to intimacy gel to pencils.

    My niece had wet her diaper and my sister in law forgot my nieces diaper bag .... and of all things they didn't carry diapers.... : /

    Nice story, though! I'm surprised that those hard-faced folks almost shed a tear ... hehehe :)

  2. Thanks for reading Michelle! Nice to see an old friend here. That is pretty funny about the Chinese restaurant. My dad once had a student's parents invite him to their Japanese restaurant, she was failing math. The owner kept giving us free stuff like oysters, green tea ice cream, and of course dinner was free. We finally rushed out of there as she was giving my mom soaps and stuff that they sold behind the counter like tea cups, hoping my dad would change her daughters grade no doubt.

  3. Haha. That is cool. If I were your pops I would "fail" her every chance I could! >:D

    Mmmm, Green Tea ice cream, never tried it but sounds hella good!