Hankinson to Minot

Well, I made it to Minot only three hours later than expected. Too late for dinner. 🙁 The only thing that makes me feel better about today is that the tire that blew is NOT one of the original tires, but rather the one that was put on in Brandon. And the one that blew in Oklahoma also wasn’t one of the originals. Moral of the story: buy Michelins.

It was a good morning in Hankinson, a little cold because of the wind, but the sun was warm. It took about two and a half hours to get all my chores done, with the longest one being trying to get Google to load a satellite image of the Minot Walmart (which did not happen). It was exactly 10:00 when I pulled onto I-29, with my ETA being 15:45.

The wind was horrible, but otherwise the driving was easy. When I pulled into the Oriska rest stop at noon, I was unusually smart and had lunch!

I then decided to try the diagonal route on US-52 from Jamestown rather that 90 degree angling it through Bismarck like I did in the opposite direction last year, just to avoid driving through Bismarck. I’ll take US-52 from now on; it was an easier drive.

The gas at the casino was surprisingly expensive (still cheaper than the environs), so I hadn’t left with a full tank. I had a quarter left when I hit US-52, with the next gas station being just 50KM away. I can usually do 125 to 175KM on a quarter tank. I was on fumes when I got to the gas station!!!!!!!

Getting out of the gas station was surprisingly tricky because I needed to make two sharp turns, one right, one left. I was certain that was going to end in disaster with the toad hitting something, so I walked the area and discovered that I could just pull ahead into the neighbouring bank’s parking lot and make my right turn from there. Well, that wasn’t going to work either; too much traffic. I decided to turn left since I would have had to turn left at some point to rejoin US-52. That took me through downtown. The GPS told me to turn right to rejoin US-52. Uh, not going to happen, there were low lying branches in the middle of the road! Next right turn option had construction. Thankfully, the absolute last option worked out and I was able to rejoin US-52. Have I mentioned recently how much I loathe getting gas?

The wind died down after and I was making good time to Minot when the blowout happened. I am convinced that the rumble strip caused the tire to fail. Don’t look at me like that! I have had a rumble strip shred a tire before, and a much newer one than this. If you hit it at just the right angle with a hot tire, BOOM. And I had gone into the rumble strip to avoid a hole. 🙁

There are only two things for which I can be grateful. Number one, I was on a very narrow road with almost no shoulder and this happened right at the entrance to a nice big scenic turnout. Two, I had cell service, albeit barely.

My GPS wasn’t too helpful this time, so I got online (in text mode only, and even that was sloooooow) and Googled ‘mobile tire repair minot.’ I called the first number and not only did they not do mobile service, they didn’t know who did. The next number also didn’t do mobile service, but gave me the number of those who do.

It took about an hour for the repair guy to get to me. Besides having a hard time getting the old tire off the rim, the job seemed fairly easy. I am not going to name the company until the payment issue is resolved. I was quoted $300 over the phone and when I got the bill it was $400, the difference being a service call fee on top of the mileage fee. The driver said he would have the manager call me before putting the charge through. So I don’t want to say anything about the company before I know if I should advise the world that they took advantage of my plight or if they did right by me.



The turnout was scenic, so you might wonder why I didn’t just spend the night there. Well, I didn’t have a good feeling about the place. This hasn’t happened many times in my five years on the road, but I got a very strong “you don’t want to be here after dark” vibe. So I hooked the truck back up while the guy was packing his tools and preparing the invoice and then drove the final 40 minutes into Minot.

The Walmart is as it was last time, crowded and busy. I am going to try to get myself turned around into an easier departure location if the cars thin out.

I had planned to stock up on some dry goods here and then do a good grocery in Estevan, but those plans and those to cross the border with a full tank of gas in the truck went out the window with my $400. 🙁 I had a little breathing room and it’s all gone again. What is the universe trying to tell me?

What makes me most mad about today is that I absolutely needed to be relaxed tonight since the border crossing is tomorrow morning. That’s enough to fret about. 🙁

I don’t know how I am going to reconcile this conflict of mine, my love for taking my home with me everywhere and my absolute hatred of actually driving it anywhere. 🙁

Another Blowout

Yes, I know I need new tires, contrary to what every person who has looked at my tires lately has said. That’s going to happen before I leave SK in June.

That’s pretty much all I have to say right now. I’m 35 miles east of Minot and there is a tire repair truck on its way. They are the only mobile tire place in Minot and they only have new tires. So this is going to end up costing about $300 ($170 for the tire and the rest for the service call).

It was a good driving day until about 15 minutes ago. Now, I just feel really cursed and even more broke than I did a couple of weeks ago. And I’m exhausted.

A Clear Evening

Ugh, the afternoon wasn’t pretty. Very dark and damp and overcast with a spitting sky. My productive mood went right out the door since I got so little sleep last night and I wound up rewatching The Long, Long Trailer. That movie should be mandatory viewing for all new RVers!

It’s cleared right up and now I’m enjoying watching the clouds. I hope that I’ll have a semblance of a prairie view from my property, but being boxed in the way I am, I doubt it.

I did some more research about my municipality, Willow Bunch, and the largest town near my property, Assiniboia, and I am starting to feel like I won’t be nearly as isolated as I thought I would be. Assiniboia has a lot more services than I realised and I’ve come to the conclusion that I really won’t need to schedule monthly stock up trips to a Walmart (four hours round trip). If I don’t have easy access to water from my property, which is my determination for doing laundry by hand or not, there is a laundromat in Assiniboia.

Both Willow Bunch and Assiniboia have community campgrounds, so I will check them out and see if one of them would serve as a viable place to go dump and take on water every few weeks. Propane isn’t a concern as I don’t mind hauling my 30 pound tank. I will land with a full on board tank and see how long it lasts me.

I had hoped that one of the communities would have an indoor rec complex with fitness facilities and a pool, but nope. There are exterior swimming pools, but that’s it. Since there is nothing to walk to around my property, I am concerned about getting exercise, so I will have to investigate nearby hiking trails and the like.

I really do want to land with the attitude of putting down a semblance of community ties by getting to know the neighbours, attending town meetings, shopping locally etc. so that people will get to know me and I won’t be seen as this interloper coming in once a year. I really do want this land to be more than just an investment for me and for me to be able to use it if I want.

Landing day is Saturday and I’ll have about a month before I head to Donna and Ken’s. That should be long enough for me to know if the property will work well as an RV base and how much I want to invest in improvements.

Tomorrow’s the final long stretch. I thought of leaving today and getting as far as the Walmart in Jamestown, then decided that one more night on FHU would do me better than two short driving days. From Minot, I’ll have about two hours (plus the border crossing) to Estevan on Friday, then about three and a half hours to my property on Saturday.

I am looking forward to landing for a bit, but I’ll have to be back on the road before I know it. For a nomad, the journey is never truly over.

Not In the Mood to Drive

I just renewed for a third night here at Dakota Magic. If I really just wasn’t in the mood to drive, I would have gone anyway because I know that that’s just an excuse for not wanting to face the border crossing.

But I’m being really productive and making good use of my FHU, so I can justify another night. This morning, I defrosted the freezer and washed it and the fridge, then made an inventory of the food on board. I found bacon! It will be demolished shortly when I go make lunch. 🙂

It looks like it might rain, but if it doesn’t, the next project is the cab.

Besides that, I need to put away yesterday’s laundry (almost dry, YAY), wash out Neelix’s litter box, and then I’ll be good to go. There’s really nothing to do now to prepare for the border besides making sure I don’t have any illegal food on board, have a full alcohol inventory (one Texas beer that I am saving for the first crazy hot summer day), and that I know how much I need to declare.

I hope internet in Saskatchewan will be decent (although I will settle for existent). I get a very low signal in North Dakota, so I keep getting disconnected. I might not have found the connection in San Antonio to be so bad had I remembered my online experience in North Dakota last spring.

Dining Out

One of the biggest challenges this winter was consistently finding good coffee to make at home. In Canada, my compromise for taste and price is Nabob Full City Metropolis. My coffee choices have been hit or miss all winter, and my latest purchase has been thoroughly a miss. L spoiled me rotten in Wichita, having a fresh pot of really good stuff available to me every morning. My morning coffee has been disappointing since Kansas.

I remembered from last year that the Dakota Magic restaurant has really good coffee. So I planned on having a lunch here, for both the coffee and to use up the rest of my U.S. cash.

I ordered a full pot of coffee (did not get through it) and a club sandwich, which came to $10. I brought half of the meal home for dinner. I’m going to miss this price/portion ratio when I get to Canada.

The coffee was sooooooooooo good. Since I only ate half my meal, I asked for a slice of pie to go with my final sips.

When I came into the restaurant, the server didn’t see me be seated and I was apparently invisible because it took AGES for her to see me. I was actually about to walk out, figuring they were too busy to take on any new customers, when she came to take my order. So when I asked for pie, she pointed to the buffet ($13 for lunch, OUCH), and told me to help myself to whatever looked good, plus ice cream if I wanted it, and that she wouldn’t charge me. That doubled her tip! I enjoyed their pecan pie with just a dollop of chocolate ice cream.

When you live alone in a small space, dining out is practically a survival mechanism. It’s an excuse to get out and do a little socialising. For me, food is food when it comes to my budget. Said budget goes further in the U.S. than in Canada and allows for more meals out, but regardless, so much per month goes to food and I eat very simply at home to cut costs (I so rarely buy desserts and junk food, for example, that saying that I never buy them is barely an exaggeration). Dining out is not a place where my budget needs to be trimmed, contrary to what some readers may think.

I’m off to do more laundry. I did three loads this morning and now I have the heavy denim stuff to do, which will take FOREVER to dry since it’s almost impossible to wring out by hand.