How I Survived Living at the Worst Base Ever


Ask anyone in the Air Force, what the worst base is/where do you absolutely not want to get stationed. Nine times out of ten you will hear…Minot.

I’m here to tell you, we not only survived, but we thrived…and even requested to go back.

Our family was stationed at Minot AFB, in North Dakota for three years. It is so far North, it is practically Canada. It is winter nine months of the year and many times I found myself asking, why in the world did the pioneers stop here? Surely after one winter season, they would have said, forget this, let’s keep moving West.

Hands down the best part of the worst base ever were the people. The community was so tight-knit. My husband was gone a lot while we were there, my middle son was born there, and I never had to worry about feeling alone. Friends showed up with birthday pancakes, neighbors shoveled our driveway, and people delivered my deli meat when I forgot it at the commissary deli counter. 

It can be really hard living somewhere where the temperature will freeze your face off, but stepping out of the house and connecting with others was key. We had young babies while we were stationed there and most days we just threw on cozy pants and figured out which house was hosting the playdate and we’d let the littles play until nap time. We’d met at the indoor playground when our spouses were working late and had all the pizza you could eat while letting the kids literally bounce off of the walls.

One of my favorite parts about living on the base was that you did not have to leave. This was great on those super snowy days, but also awesome in the summer. We had a playground on our street, a base library, a swimming pool, friends, grocery access, and a gym. I like to think I have an adventurous spirit, so we’d journey to town or neighboring areas frequently. Downtown Minot is super cute. We loved visiting the local bookstore, and pottery place.

Being in that part of the country allowed us to explore a lot of new places.  Short trips into Canada and further trips West.  We got to see the occasional moose off of the highway, the majestic Northern Lights, and a firepit going in our driveway with neighbors gathering around more times than not. 

Sometimes it can be really hard to bloom where you’re planted. Many people go to Minot with a negative outlook and stay that way. I’d encourage you to find that one thing that’s going to help you go from surviving to thriving. Whether it’s at the worst base ever, or just somewhere you didn’t expect to be stationed.

Join a book club, or a moms group, visit every donut shop in town, or pick up a new hobby…did you know you can learn to ice fish or take curling lessons in Minot? As military spouses, we have the opportunity to live in some places we would never choose to go, and that’s when magic can happen.

You may find yourself even asking to go back sometime.

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Ellen Kehs
Ellen Kehs was born and raised in Evanston, Illinois where she met and later married her high school sweetheart, Mason. Together they’ve traveled the world, most recently touching down in Florida in June 2022. She’s a mom to three little boys, Theodore (eleven), Woodrow (nine) and Maximus (six). Life is never boring with her boys! Ellen loves being a military spouse and she embodies the “bloom where you are planted” mentality. In addition to soaking up whatever current city she’s living in, she is passionate about reading and getting books in the hands of children, as well as helping other mamas connect with each other. She has a bachelor’s degree in secondary English education, a master’s degree in adolescent literacy and technology, and she teaches full-time online, in addition to being a stay-at-home mom. Her hobbies include, exploring, reading, swimming, napping, snapping pictures, playing games, baking, and loving on the little men in her life.