Minot to My Property

I’m glad I hung out this morning because I got a call from Sheree at GCR Tire Centers about my service call yesterday and that I wanted to dispute the $100 service call fee I hadn’t been told about. I said that if I had known the bill was going to be that high, I would have likely left the motorhome, gone to Minot in the toad to pick up a used tire, and then followed a service truck back.

She was very understanding and said she would speak to her manager then get back to me. She did so very quickly and told me she could take $50 off the bill since they had sold me the tire at cost (!). Good enough! I recommend GCR Tires for mobile tire repair in the Minot area. They got to me FAST and got me back on the road in no time at all.

I left Minot at about 9:00. I had about a quarter tank of fuel left so I decided to wait till Kenmare to tank up (60KM) so as to arrive in Canada with as much U.S. fuel as possible.

That first part of the day SUCKED. It was just soooooooooooooooooo windy. And, spoiler alert, the rest of the day’s driving was like that, too. πŸ™

I was surprised that the folks at the Kenmare gas station (the one right on the highway) let me gas up without prepaying.

From there, it was about a half hour to the border.

The Portal crossing really confused me. There was a sign saying commercial vehicles thataway to an area with no overhang. The non-commercial lanes were under an overhang marked with a 12′ clearance, but in front of that was another sign saying that the clearance was just 10′ 5″ (I need 11′ 3″). The obvious thing was to get in the commercial lane, but I know better than to presume in such situations! I waited at the junction until a lady came out of a booth and waved me over to the commercial lane.

She was really nice! She asked me how long I’d been gone, how much I had to declare, where I’d gone (nodding when I mentioned the Mexico trip, so I obviously pre-empted her on that), and the usual questions about booze, firearms, and tobacco. She then asked me to park so that someone could look inside and confirm there was no one with me. This was, of course, a reasonable request, but her tone really made me okay with the search as it felt like routine, not suspicion.

Would you believe that my secondary inspection guy looked like the secondary inspection guy who interrogated me at Coutts? Just a mini version of him, shorter and less muscly.

He started by asking me a few questions about my trip, why I went to the U.S., why I stayed as long as I did, how I supported myself, and how I met the friends I visited along the way. His tone was neutral and I didn’t know yet how the inspection was going to go. He then asked me to go to the rig with him because of Neelix.

I knew I was clear the minute we stepped outside because he handed me my passport.

The two times I had a difficult crossing, my passport was held until the very end. Last night, I Googled what my rights are reentering Canada and basically you have NO charter rights until you are detained, at which point you have the right to remain silent and get counsel. What being ‘detained’ means is fuzzy. For me, the line is crossed when I lose control of my passport.

As we walked, I brought up the subject of food, and his, “We really don’t care about that” made me realise that I have never been asked about food coming back into Canada! Yes, there are rules, but it’s at the bottom of their priority list. Dang, I should have smuggled in more cheese!

He asked me if I wanted to go grab Neelix and I suggested instead that I just guard the door. He thought that was a good idea. He continued to ask his questions as he poked through the rig and I made a mistake, not telling him that all the renovations were done in Canada (they are worried about mods being made to hide drugs). This wasn’t a huge deal, but I wish I had thought to tell him.

We talked about work and money and whatnot and his tone was 100% American: curious and open-minded, not suspicious. SO REFRESHING. He asked to look in the cab of the motorhome and then asked me one more time about any mods or repairs made to the vehicles. I told him what I had told the lady, about the throttle cable and the three blowouts (all tires declared), and then he told me I was clear, to be safe on the road, and to have a nice day.

Not anywhere near the easiest border crossing of my life, but that’s two good ones coming back into Canada in a row and I think I will be A LOT less stressed next year.

I’m just surprised that I wasn’t sent to the cashier. Between new batteries, a watering system, several tires, glasses, a computer hard drive, and all the goodies I bought this winter with Amazon gift certificates, I was WELL over my limit. And, yes, I declare everything. I can do basic math and know roughly how much I’ll be asked to pony up. Last month, some morons imported an RV at the same crossing, underdeclared the purchase value by about $13,000 to save about $300 in taxes… and had to pay $9,000 in penalties to get their rig back. Stupid!

From the border, it was a quick drive to Estevan. It was only 11:00 (I had gained an hour) and super windy out. It seemed stupid to hang out at Walmart when another 3.5 hours or so of driving would get me to my property. I grabbed lunch and then figured out where The Source store is located. It was just 1KM away, but I’d been to the mall before and knew it was barely walkable from the Walmart. So I just drove out there and, thankfully, found a place to park.

I went into the mall, found The Source, and was greeted by Joel. I told him I wanted a Turbo stick. The only Bell product they had in stock was a Mifi 2. I really didn’t care what the device is as long as a) it has the flex plan that starts at $10 and gives you up to 15GB for $100 and b) it doesn’t need 120V power to run. Joel made several calls to make sure that the Mifi 2 was eligible for the plan and then he got it up and running for me and we tested it on my Macbook Pro. What I like about it is that it’s like a wifi router, so I can connect my computers, iPad, and iPod Touch to it all at once. The stick would have been $0 down for a two-year commitment and the Mifi 2 was $50, withΒ  no activation fee. Good enough. The device has an 11-hour lithium battery that can be recharged through the computer (like I charge my phone) and it also comes with a wall wart.

From Estevan, it was another windy hour to Weyburn, where I planned to refuel. Halfway there, I glanced in a side mirror to see the plastic wheel well cover over the driver’s side rear dually snap loose and fly away! CRAP! Thankfully, I saw this happen, it didn’t hit anyone, and it happened at the first place I could pull over in about 40KM! I parked and then walked the side of the road until I found the part. It is really banged up, but I can likely effect a decent repair. Anything will look better than no cover at all! I’ll have pictures of that later.

There was a gas station right at the junction of 13 and 39 that looked like easy access, but I had to make a sharp turn into the pumps and I really didn’t think the toad was going to get clear without damage when I pulled out. I inched my way out of there and discovered that I really do know how to handle my rig because I was able to effect the necessary corrections to not only get the toad clear but also still make a very tight turn away from the pumps. A guy coming out of the c-store actually complimented me on my driving skills!

I think the GPS has the wrong speed limit programed for highway 13 because it always way overestimates how long it will take to get to my property. My ETA was 6:00 and I got there at just past 5:00. The drive in was scenic beyond description. In terms of wintering options, it would have made so much more sense to buy land in B.C. (never mind that I will never be able to afford to live there, much less buy property), but I so much prefer the landscapes and climate here (sunny hot dry summers, sunny cold dry winters). This is the land of my dreams and I am so lucky to own a piece of it.

I unhooked and made many failed attempts at backing Miranda into the lot. There is the beginning of a driveway entrance where the curb drops and it took several passes to finally get lined up with the entrance and backed in. The ground was SOFT and I completely failed at getting onto levelers, with my rear tires now in pretty deep. Dang. πŸ™ But the front ones are on cement, so I am optimistic that I will be able to get out of there once the ground firms up a bit. For one thing, I’d like to be much further back.

As I suspected, the village is too low in the valley to get a cell signal! πŸ™ So no internet at home. πŸ™ πŸ™ πŸ™ I only have to go 1KM to get a signal and 3.5KM total to get to a spot where I can pull over safely. So I will head here once or twice a day to do online stuff. I’m going to make the back of the truck comfortable for hanging out so that I can do what I need to do without feeling too put upon. I just don’t like not being more reachable. I’ll figure out how to make this work. At least, the Mifi 2 is FAST. I came up here tonight to download some files for work to do over the weekend and thought I’d be here for hours trying to download stuff. Nope. So that almost makes up for no signal at home.

I’m wiped. I’m in work mode for the next bit, so the blog will be quieter than it has been. I’ll check in with pictures at some point tomorrow.

22 thoughts on “Minot to My Property

  1. Sounds like you made it to your property okay. Maybe a booster antenna would get you Internet on your property. Can’t wait to see some pictures.

  2. Unfortunately, the Mifi 2 doesn’t have an antenna port. πŸ™ I may end up having to return it if Bell says that’s the solution.

  3. Maybe an antenna would help with the wifi signal? I have one I use on occasion and it works very well.

    Welcome back to Canada!!!

  4. Try sealing the MIFI device in a zip-lock bag and putting it a) on the roof or b) tape it to the end of a long stick fastened to your ladder. Sometimes a few feet of elevation makes a lot of difference. Worth a try.

  5. LOL I had the EXACT same thought! Too funny! I thought that I could get it on the roof in a weatherproof fashion and if there were bars there, I could use the USB cord to connect it to the computer to make sure I am within range!

  6. Another thought would be to throw a line over a high tree branch and use it to raise the device even higher. Those trees beside you could provide the solution, however temporary.

    The WIFI function will work well with the device outside and above the RV. The signal only has to got through the roof so a cable should not be necessary (except for charging).

  7. There is what they call a “universal” antenna that attaches by velcro to any cellular phone or modem. I use one and it works great. Here’s Andy’s write-up about it and all things antenna/booster related:


    On my rig, the former owner had a friend install a Wilson trucker’s antenna to the TV antenna mast, so that I can crank it way up in the air from inside, and back down again when I’m ready to roll. He brought the cable down the bathroom vent to the cupboard right above where my desk is now, and is attached to a Wilson booster. I then run the universal antenna from the booster to my USB modem, which is in inserted in a router, which I connect to my laptop by cable, but I can also turn on a WiFi signal so my iPhone can connect to it or for guests to connect their laptops/devices. The antenna installation is described here (with photos) by the guy who installed it:


    The whole thing works superbly well, and since my work is “location independent” as long as I have internet connection, I wouldn’t be without it. I wonder if a similar setup wouldn’t pull in a signal for you since you don’t have to go far to get a good strong one.

    • Thanks for this info, Fern. I don’t know how any of these would work with a Mifi, though. Still doing research!

  8. I would think that the universal antenna could be attached to the Mifi, but not ever having used one nor researched it, could not say with certainty that you can. If you can’t attach the antenna to it, I think it’d be worth returning it for a device that you can, since the booster/antenna can make a huge difference between not having a signal and having one.

    You’re resourceful and will figure out a solution, I’m sure! πŸ™‚

  9. The Bell guy said to look for a passive antenna that is attached with Velcro.

    The thing now is to find a solution that will fit my budget. :-S

  10. He’s probably referring to that universal atenna, so it sounds like that should work. I would start with a Wilson trucker’s antenna on your roof using the passive/universal velcro antenna to attach it to your MiFi (both of which are relatively cheap), and see if that does the trick. If it doesn’t, then spend the big bucks for the booster or save up for one. πŸ™‚

  11. Yes, you would need this also, which is the universal/passive antennat that attaches to your MiFi:


    Not sure why it’s called an antenna, as it doesn’t really pull in a signal. Also, disregard the one-star reviews as they obviously don’t get it: it is designed to be attached to your phone/device, not transmit a signal over a distance between them.

    But then you will also need a connector to connect the trucker antenna which you linked to, to this passive antenna. They both have a FME female end, so you need something that will connect them together. I’m looking but haven’t found one so far, but hopefully that will give you enough info to look also. πŸ™‚

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