Williston Man Plans To Brave Winter Storm In A Tent

Jim Menter sets up a tent in Williston, N.D., late Thursday to see what it’s like to ride out a blizzard in a tent. Amy Dalrymple/Forum News Service

WILLISTON, N.D. – As most people prepare to hunker down for the weekend storm, one new Williston resident wants to see what it’s like to ride out a North Dakota blizzard in a tent.

Illinois man Jim Menter bought a tent this week after hearing about the forecast.

He doesn’t need it for housing – he recently moved into an RV – but Menter is curious how comfortable of an environment he can set up in a tent during a storm.

“I just want to try it,” Menter said. “It’s a bucket-list thing, basically.”

Menter bought an eight-person tent that is about 6 feet tall so he can set up a space heater in the middle without it getting too close to the tent.

He set the tent up next to his RV as the sun went down Thursday and worked through the night attaching blankets to the windows using zip ties. Menter isn’t sure if he’ll actually sleep in the tent or go back to his camper, but he wants to be in the tent during the peak of the storm.

If the blizzard proves to be stronger than the tent, Menter has his RV just feet away with enough propane to last him for two months.

“I’ll be warm,” he said.

Menter moved to Williston from Decatur, Ill., in late April to look for work. But this is not his first winter in North Dakota.

He moved to Grand Forks in the fall of 1998 to gain experience as a carpenter while people rebuilt after the 1997 flood. He returned to Illinois after deciding it was too cold.

“Now I’m back here again,” Menter said.

Until about a week ago, Menter lived in his pickup, sleeping on foam mattresses in the bed of his pickup that is covered by a topper. Menter, who works at Walmart, moved into the RV about a week ago after buying it from a co-worker who moved into an apartment. He rents a spot for $700 a month in an RV park on the northwest edge of Williston.

“I’m so comfortable now compared to what I had in that truck,” Menter said.