Through the U.P. Along the Shores of Gitche Gumee

I made it to the Soo Ontario!!!!!!!!! I left Thief River Falls, MN, at 5:45AM CST and pulled into my final destination at the Soo (no room at the first inn) at about 9:00PM CST (10:00PM EST). It’s been a very long day, not aided by the fact that the fastest speed limit all day was 55MPH. At least, most of it was through the U.P., the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, a gorgeous stretch of country.

This long day was soooo scenic. I love northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan! I went through a little bit of this area between the western and eastern tips of Lake Superior back in ’05 when I did my grand tour of the Great Lakes. I highly recommend making that road trip once in your life!

I really wanted to get across the border tonight to get it done, figuring that a couple more hours waiting to cross and then being interrogated wasn’t going to kill me at this point. So, of course, I only had to wait a minute and I got the nicest Canadian Customs officer I have ever dealt with!

Her: “Where are you from?”
Me: “Lethbridge, AB.”
Her: “My God, dear, what are you doing all the way out here?!” (that is verbatim, LOL!)

I explained that I was coming to visit family. She asked where I crossed and then we had a discussion about the fact that Montana extends into Saskatchewan. Bla bla.

Her: “Did you buy anything en route?”
Me: “I didn’t have time; I just drove straight through.”
Her, handing me back my passport: “Well, you be safe now. Have a good trip!”

No questions about booze, drugs, guns, nothing. She made my day. I wish I could have hugged her. πŸ™‚

Tip: Like at Sarnia/Port Huron and, presumably, Detroit/Windsor, there is a bridge connecting the US and Canada. You will need to have some small change with you as there is a fare. Today, it was $3 both CAD and US. When I crossed at Sarnia/Port Huron in ’05, the dollars weren’t close to par so the amounts were different and I remember opting to pay in US dollars as it was better value!

My destination tonight was the Super 8 motel. That chain is my standby on road trips as it is always clean and sometimes is very nice. But they were full and told me to try the Comfort Inn across the road. I did and blanched when I entered the lobby in my super casual skirt and tee-shirt to discover this is a much more luxurious hotel than I normally stay at. Everyone in the lobby was dressed to the nines and the next person in line with a suitcase had on a business suit. But I was there and the clerk didn’t even blink when she saw me so I figured I might as well inquire about rates even though I was sure I’d be turning around and sleeping in my truck at the casino.

I asked about a single, non-smoking, and was told that the singles were actually mini-suites with king beds, and their least expensive option at $99. What?! Had the Super 8 had room, it would have been $88. What was an extra $11?! I took a room, went back to the truck to get all my valuables, and then hoofed it to my ‘tower’ room. Pictures are below. It is insanely luxurious. I love the shower and that there is a proper work desk. I actually feel comfortable walking barefoot in here.

First order of business was a very long shower, which included a test of all the bath products available. This is such a fancy place that there is both body and facial soap. πŸ™‚

I’ll be heading to bed shortly. It’s 11:15 here, so I’m pretty sure a super early start tomorrow is unlikely. I have another 14 hours or so of driving to do, but it’s all familiar territory, so I’ll get home when I get home.

Driving the truck for such a long day has really made me see my Accents in a new light: I’m not even remotely sore. Moya pretty much drives herself, making her name very appropriate! I laughed when I stopped for gas just before lunch when a guy came up to me and said, “So, how do you like YOUR Ranger?” I looked up and saw Moya’s fraternal twin, a dark green topperless 2000 ‘sport’ Ranger. Not sure what makes it ‘sport’ since it’s not a side step model.

The pictures below are out of order as I finally got my camera pics dumped onto the laptop. So far on this trip, you’ve only seen what I’ve taken with my iPad. Tomorrow, I will see if there’s anything worth sharing from the phone since I didn’t bring the mini card reader adapter. That’s a crazy number of camera options, but I finally learned how to add pics to my posts from the iPad, so I’ve been favouring that camera since I’ve only cracked open the laptop a couple of times.

nice to land here tonight!

nice to land here tonight!

nice to land here tonight!

nice to land here tonight!

nice to land here tonight!

nice to land here tonight!

nice to land here tonight!

nice to land here tonight!

I gave a lady toilet paper at a rest area and she felt obligated to reciprocate with a box of Raisinets. Raisins and chocolate, I could not refuse. As for the drink, McDonald's sizes are ridiculous! But all the sizes were $1 and I wanted a big cold drink. So half the cup is ice, two thirds of the rest is water, and there's a shot of juice. :)

I gave a lady toilet paper at a rest area and she felt obligated to reciprocate with a box of Raisinets. Raisins and chocolate, I could not refuse. As for the drink, McDonald’s sizes are ridiculous! But all the sizes were $1 and I wanted a big cold drink. So half the cup is ice, two thirds of the rest is water, and there’s a shot of juice. πŸ™‚

bird near Donna's RV park

bird near Donna’s RV park

bird near Donna's RV park

bird near Donna’s RV park

park near Donna's RV park

park near Donna’s RV park

lovely bridge in Stettler

lovely bridge in Stettler

the spiral maze

the spiral maze

the spiral maze

the spiral maze

the spiral maze

the spiral maze

this reminded me of the pingo in Tuk!

this reminded me of the pingo in Tuk!

looking at the spiral maze from the top of the hill

looking at the spiral maze from the top of the hill

Stettler sunset

Stettler sunset

Stettler museum

Stettler museum

Stettler museum

Stettler museum

Stettler museum

Stettler museum

the Roving Acres + half of Travels With Miranda :)

the Roving Acres + half of Travels With Miranda πŸ™‚

Rugby, ND, the geographic centre of North America

Rugby, ND, the geographic centre of North America

entering Minnesota

entering Minnesota

the truck ahead of me is one step up from the Ranger, the F150. Same colour as my truck but definitely beefier!

the truck ahead of me is one step up from the Ranger, the F150. Same colour as my truck but definitely beefier!

entering Wisconsin, a sorely under rated state

entering Wisconsin, a sorely under rated state

I love the French names in Wisconsin, like Eau Claire and Fond du Lac

I love the French names in Wisconsin, like Eau Claire and Fond du Lac

It was noon when I hit the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland, WI. I had a nap, then took the time to tour the museum before grabbing lunch and dinner (a Subways sandwich) down the road

It was noon when I hit the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland, WI. I had a nap, then took the time to tour the museum before grabbing lunch and dinner (a Subways sandwich) down the road

Monarch butterflies land in Wisconsin in droves during their migration

Monarch butterflies land in Wisconsin in droves during their migration

more about Monarch butterfly migration

more about Monarch butterfly migration

Lake Superior has the largest surface area of all the fresh water lakes on the planet

Lake Superior has the largest surface area of all the fresh water lakes on the planet

"The oldest task in human history: to live on a piece of land without spoiling it." Aldo Leopold

“The oldest task in human history: to live on a piece of land without spoiling it.” Aldo Leopold

Lake Superior

Lake Superior

Lake Superior

Lake Superior

Lake Superior

Lake Superior

Lake Superior

Lake Superior

Lake Superior from a viewpoint where I had my dinner

Lake Superior from a viewpoint where I had my dinner

Lake Superior

Lake Superior

I'm a direct descendant of Grosseillers, a French-Canadian explorer of this area

I’m a direct descendant of Grosseillers, a French-Canadian explorer of this area

a hole in the clouds after an impressive storm (had I been an hour behind where I was, in Marquette County, MI, I would have had to find shelter because of a tornado warning!)

a hole in the clouds after an impressive storm (had I been an hour behind where I was, in Marquette County, MI, I would have had to find shelter because of a tornado warning!)

At a Familiar Starbucks, or Stettler AB to Minot ND

I’m back at the Minot Starbucks where I got online last time I was here before getting my cell phone connection to work. It’s been a long couple of days and today is not over!

Going back to Stettler for a bit, there was a lot to celebrate on Tuesday night, so Donna, Ken, and I treated ourselves to dinner at Stettler’s White Goose Restaurant. The food was excellent and reasonably priced! I enjoyed their chicken souvlaki and would go back to this restaurant without hesitation.

Wednesday morning, I dropped the truck off at CR Glass at 8AM. The other glass place in town looked at me like I was an alien on Tuesday when I asked about the possibly of having my windshield replaced that day or first thing Wednesday. CR Glass said on Tuesday that they didn’t have one in stock, but that they’d have it by 8AM Wednesday and I could be on the road by 1:30ish. They were true to their word and the cost was only $262 with the tax. Thanks, CR Glass!

Goodbyes are always hard, and especially so when you know you won’t be seeing dear friends for another year. I mean, what would be the odds that I’d have to come back again to Alberta before my expected return date?! So I made sure to have everything packed up so I could leave straight from CR Glass instead of going back to Donna and Ken’s.

Donna made sure I was loaded down with electronic rejects, including a little inverter to charge my laptop and iPad when I’m driving! Croft had mentioned such a device, but I misunderstood what he meant, thinking he was talking about a 12V charger. Thanks, Donna!

Google Maps said I was looking at 10+ hours to my property, putting my ETA at about midnight, which was too late when I factored in breaks. But my GPS put the ETA at 11:00, which meant about midnight with breaks. I decided to try for it and reevaluate as I approached Swift Current.

The drive was smooth and uneventful until I got to about 30KM shy of Brooks and I discovered that my gas gauge is not properly calibrated. I went from having a quarter tank of fuel to being in the red in a matter of a couple of kilometres! I was on fumes when I pulled into the first gas station I could find and put in a full tank and then some. Talk about stressful! But my nerves were soothed when I was told, “You got plenty of gas. How about a free hot drink?” So I came out of there with a nice coffee with hazelnut creamer.

It was coming on 6:30ish or so when I hit Medicine Hat, so I took a bit of a detour to a Safeway to pick up a semblance of a picnic for dinner and breakfast.

By the time I turned onto SK highway 37 at Gull Lake, my ETA to my property was only 10:45. I was going to make it!

Next time I go to my property, I will stay on highway 1 to Swift Current and only turn to highway 13 from there. Highway 13 from Cadillac to Weyburn is beautiful, but the bit between the junction of 37 and Cadillac was pretty rough.

I was coming onto a quarter tank of fuel when I hit Cadillac (hilarious, I used to live in Pontiac, but I digress). No problem, there’s a Husky there. Except that I arrived at about 8:30 and it was closed, with the next gas station being more than 100KM away and just as likely to be closed. I just about had a heart attack! And then I noticed the note under the closed sign, that gas was still available after hours with a credit card. There was two pages worth of instructions, but I quickly ascertained that the process was just like getting fuel at AFD Petroleum in Dawson City. So I had no trouble getting my fuel.

It was just starting to get dark when I rolled into Assiniboia and there was still pink at the edges of the sky when I landed on my property at bang on 10PM! I was able to set up camp and was snug in bed by 10:30. I read till 11:00 and slept soundly till 5AM when I was awoken by the sun since my temporary window covering (garbage bag + duct tape) had come loose. That was still a good night for me and I dozed till 7AM, so I was quite well rested this morning.

It was pretty cold through the night and this morning, but my sleeping bag and blanket were sufficient even though I was just sleeping in a t-shirt and shorts. I even left the canopy door cracked open. My fleece was sufficient to ward off the morning chill. All in all, a very successful first night sleeping in Moya!

looking towards the rear of my property

looking towards the rear of my property

this whimsical addition to my radio antenna cracks me up!

this whimsical addition to my radio antenna cracks me up!

looking towards the street (kind of annoyed the for sale sign is still there, but anyway)

looking towards the street (kind of annoyed the for sale sign is still there, but anyway)

I pulled out of my lot at about 7:30. I put Duluth, MN, into my GPS, knowing that I’m not getting there tonight, but it would at least plot me on the shortest route to Quebec. I thought I would be stopping in Weyburn for coffee and internet a couple of hours later, but Moya scrapped those plans. You see, a pick up truck, even a small one, makes light of gravel roads, so I was able to take the road to Willow Bunch that I swore I would never take again in my Accent. That put me at only about a half hour from the US port of entry at Scobey, MT. It meant hours of rural driving and no internet break till Minot, but also immediate access to cheap US fuel!

I stopped just before the border in a town with a small campground and visitor centre with public washrooms (rough but clean). I had breakfast, washed up, and threw out my trash then drove the 10KM to the border.

This was the first crossing where I was asked why I had chosen that port of entry, a very sensible question considering the remoteness of the crossing and how far I was from ‘home.’ I explained that I’d spent the night at my vacation property in ____ and earned a ‘That makes sense! Have a great trip to Montreal!’ in reply.

Fuel was running low as I pulled into Plentywood, MT, around 10:00 so I stopped for gas and coffee. They were having trouble with their POS system, so I was there a bit since they would not let me go to the bank right next door to get cash. That earned me another free coffee, and a really good one at that. πŸ™‚

It poured rain most of the way to North Dakota, but has since cleared up a little.

I’m heading to a casino in Minnesota about five hours away. That will make a full day, but I can do it now that I’ve had a rest.

The truck drives like a dream. I am so happy with it. πŸ™‚

In the Footsteps of Lewis and Clark

I’m parked at the Walmart in Council Bluffs, IA, which is just across the river from Omaha, NE, if you have your map out. Today’s drive was long but uneventful except for one tiny detail. When I left North Dakota, I felt seriously under dressed in relation to the weather while it is hotter than sin in Council Bluffs!

Dakota Magic Casino sits right on the North and South Dakota border. I got back on the highway and was able to take this picture before merging onto the interstate:

I pulled over shortly thereafter at the rest area in Wilmot:

It boasted a scenic overview of the Whetstone Valley, but it was really tough to get a clear shot of it:

I learned that all South Dakota rest areas have a no camping rule:

I stopped a few more times before having to make unexpected repairs at the last rest area before Iowa:

Believe it or not, all of the Eternabond tape I’d applied to the loft came loose!!! I was just driving along minding my own business and suddenly noticed flapping out of the corner of my eye. It wasn’t an emergency, so I drove almost 200KM like that before hitting the rest area. And not a moment too soon because I went to the shower to get my step-stool and, bam, the shower door toppled onto me. I don’t know who designed it, but it is not made for RV use. There is a pin that holds the door in place and when I am on a rough and bouncy road (which describes all of I29 in South Dakota) the door bounces up and down until the pin gets loose. I haven’t come up with a way to secure it and am growing increasingly annoyed with it. Once, the door even bounced right out of the frame, denting both itself and the floor!

After I rolled out of that rest … oh, wait. Eternabond! Yes, after I wrestled the shower door back in place, I applied some new Eternabond over part of the old stuff to stick it back in place. I am definitely going to be trying my hand at fiberglass this summer, so I just wanted this to hold till I get to Quebec.

By this point, the weather had gone from ‘getting warm’ to ‘infernal’, so I put on the AC and headed out of South Dakota to enter the state where two favourite fictional characters were born:

I stopped at the rest area to see if there was anything interesting there. Yup:

information about the only man who died on the Lewis and Clark expedition

The names of the men on the Lewis and Clark expedition were written around the building. Lots and lots and lots and lots of French Canadians, including:

I thought these benches were cute:

A good day of fishing on the expedition:

Driving along, I noticed smoke and, HOLY RANDOM FIRE, BATMAN:

you can’t really see the flames in the pic but they were THIS BIG

And then, the Omaha skyline:

I decided to overnight in Council Bluff since there were a number of casinos, a camping world, a Bass Pro Shop, and the Walmart as options. I was hoping Walmart would work since I had some shopping to do. I phoned the manager and he didn’t seem to like the idea, but when I said that I had shopping to do he grudgingly gave his okay for one night.

I was excited to see an Applebee’s just a couple of blocks (walking distance) from the Walmart, making this the second best Walmart I’ve ever stayed at. πŸ™‚ I had dinner then came home to find a note on the windshield from reader P.J.! I have no idea how she found me, but she’ll be over shortly and we’re going out for dessert. I don’t care where as long as it has air conditioning. πŸ™‚

Summery Weather At Long Last

Today’s weather was unbeatable! I had the front door and a bunch of windows open all day. My obligations were completed by early afternoon and I then spent a couple of hours sprucing up the rig before heading out for dinner at the casino. The Monday night Mexican buffet is $16, which I thought was way too much. So I instead went to the restaurant and had a delicious chicken club-type sandwich with honey mustard instead of mayo and a pot of decaf coffee (complimentary). Gosh is the decaf good here! With tip, dinner was a reasonable $10.50. I liked that the server called me Miss. I can’t get used to Ma’am, but Miss sounds appropriate for a gal in a full ankle-length skirt and a kerchief. πŸ™‚

The RV park is filling up and I have neighbours from Manitoba. I’m almost sorry to be pulling out tomorrow, but it’s definitely time to head off. I’ll be heading in the direction of Omaha tomorrow, which is not something I ever thought I would write. I flew over Nebraska once. It was flat! πŸ™‚

One More Night in Hankinson

I’ll be heading over to the hotel shortly to renew my RV spot for another night. This delay will give me some time to tend to chores so even with having to really get a move on, I am quite happy to spend one last night in North Dakota. I can’t believe that four nights and a seafood dinner will have cost me $50!

These last few days on FHU have really given me a chance to feel at home in Miranda again. It’ll be nice to set off on the next part of my journey with a full water tank and empty holding tanks, plus I have time to do laundry today and I can also vacuum the rig. I may even get ambitious and figure out the next step in the office set up to start taming my crazy nest of wires.

This is my first morning since I left Lethbridge that I awoke to SUN. I hope that this trend continues when I am back on solar power. πŸ™‚

Tabitha enjoying the sunshine Sunday afternoon

Tabitha enjoying the sunshine Sunday afternoon

Neelix enjoying the sunshine Sunday afternoon

Neelix enjoying the sunshine Sunday afternoon

Dakota Magic Golf Course

Dakota Magic Golf Course

Dakota Magic RV Park at dusk

Dakota Magic RV Park at dusk