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.|
|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|
|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.
|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.
|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.|
|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|
|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.