Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Mile is a Mile is a Mile. Or Not.

When I first moved to this very remote area of Minnesota I had a hard time acclimating to the distances here.  The nearest neighbors are a mile away.  The nearest very small towns are thirteen miles away.  Cities are further yet and they are still small cities. 

I had reason to chuckle at this relativity of distance last night.  A friend who lives in the Chicago area was searching his on-line resources to see what national banks were near us.  He said, "Oh,  nope, nothing within 30 miles." 

I quickly said something like, "Oh, no, no, NO!  The closest we'd find one of those might possibly be Fargo, and that's 150 miles.  And really, the chance is slim there.  Otherwise the Twin Cities is almost 300 miles."  We get used to such distances.  But I remember when we first found out we were moving here.  We did a search, just out of curiosity, to see how far to the nearest Starbucks.  The nearest one at that time was Winnipeg, MB, Canada. 

Just out of curiosity, and to illustrate just how remote we are, I made up this little chart to give a little picture of where we live.

City (metro areas) Miles from us Population in 2010
Firstly, the two closest towns to us. They each have a gas station. Oklee has a local bank and a grocery store. The each have a liquor store and an eatery or two. 
Oklee 13 435
Goodridge 14 132
This next round of distance. Thief River has most small city services such as a hospital and clinic, several locally owned businesses and industries, multiple gas stations, two hardware stores, a Wal-Mart and a K-Mart, and a few national chain stores. This is where we do most of our regular shopping.  There are a handful of fast food joints and another handful of full service restaurants.

Fosston and Red Lake Falls each have a few gas stations, a grocery store, bank, hardware and drug stores, branch library, an industry or two, and some locally owned businesses.
Thief River Falls 26 8,573
Red Lake Falls 30 1,427
Fosston 30 1527
Following, you see, we're getting into the next level of distance, and the next level of urban convenience.

Bemidji is still quite a small town, but caters to tourists, has several big box retailers, and even has its own mall. Albeit a quite small one with, I believe two or three department stores, and Minnesota State University, Bemidji.

Grand Forks has a pretty nice small town mall, many big box retailers, and many of the things people consider part of city life. As you can see by the population, it's still quite a small city, but it's the big place to go for all the area towns that are much smaller. Grand Forks is home to University of North Dakota.

But these towns area about 70 miles away each.  We only get to either Grand Forks or Bemidji a handful of times a year.
Bemidji 71 13,431
Grand Forks/East Grand Forks 68 98,461
Oooh, now we're really getting places. We're up into the hundreds of thousands in population. Fargo/Moorhead has a very nice mall, but still probably quite small compared to a big city shopping experience. This area has multiple hospitals and colleges and much business and manufacturing.

We might or might not get to the Fargo area a time or two each year.
Fargo/Moorhead 122 216,312
The closest really big urban area is the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. This area is still comparatively not as urban as many areas, ranking only the 16th in the US. We've only been to the Twin Cities perhaps 4 times in the last 12 years.
Twin cities 285 3317308
The following cities I've included only to give a reference for the next biggest metro areas near us. We do not use them for shopping unless driving through on the way elsewhere.
Winnipeg, MB, Canada 165 730,018
Bismarck,ND 315 61,272
Souix Falls, SD 378 228,261

And so you see, Sudesh, why I chuckled when you said you didn't see any within 30 miles of us.  Basically, within 30 miles, ... There is, well, nothing.  And of course I don't mean to say this nothingness ss a bad thing.  I very much love where we live.  But to those unaccustomed to such an extreme rural existence, this is rather empty.


Anonymous said...

I read this post after seeing you comment on Stephanie's on FB. I love it, only as it brings back such fun memories of everything up there. Really when we go to our cabin on Maple Lake we know we need to bring what we need, as it is a trek to find anything otherwise!

Blessings, sweet lady, as you are willing to suffer the remote life to serve where the Lord has placed your family!
Kathy (mom to 5, fellow pw (in the LCMS) and homeschool mom, whose in-laws grew up in Oklee and Mentor)

theMom said...

Oh, how fun, Kathy! It's not often I run into someone who knows where I am. When we moved here, friends from the Green Bay, WI area asked, "How far north are we talking. I mean, give me something equivalent in Wisconsin." My response was, "The middle of Lake Superior." And when I lived in southern Minnesota, anything north of the Twin Cities or St. Cloud was "up north." You'll have to send another comment, I won't publish it if you'd rather be less public, ... but I'd be curious to know who your in-laws are. Everyone knows everyone around these parts, you know.