Day 4 – Leaving North Dakota
North Dakota seemed like the loooongest state to cross ever, with vast sunny-yellow fields of canola flanked by sometimes shiny, sometimes imposing silos. The flat road deceived us into thinking we had an easy drive, but we didn’t account for the gusts of wind throwing us off and keeping us with both hands on the wheel at all times.
Our much needed overnight rest stop was the Roughrider Campground, in Minot, ND. The map provided was incorrect or at least very confusing, and it took us a few passes through the gravel campground trails to find our spot. I found the layout to be a bit odd, with large trees blocking or too close for comfort to open slides. We had no trees around us, so we had plenty of space, with the outside area being large pebbles/small rocks.
It was surprising to have plenty of daylight until late at night – the sun set at 9:55 pm local hour, which was 10:55 pm in Knoxville. However, this gave us the chance to enjoy the cooler part of the evening outdoors, only interrupted by a gaggle of ladies jogging by a few times, and a man who decided to fly his drone over our heads to take photos
After catching up on some work, and David victoriously fixing our TV display connection, we enjoyed a restful sleep throughout a comfortably cool night (cool enough for our A/C not to kick in).
Day 5 – Canada
The excitement level went up as we finally reach the day when we crossed into Canada!
The last part of our drive through North Dakota brought views of water among gentle hills – or so we thought. On a closer look, the pretty blue lakes flanking the road turned out to be blue flax flowers. The blue fields, alternated with more yellow canola fields, and green meadows, dotted with seemingly content cows.
In just a couple of hours, we reached Portal, ND. The border experience was great. We first got into the car line and then realized that we needed to be in the line where the big trucks were. We put our blinker on and mentally flipped off the guy who ignored it and blocked our way. Luckily, the guy behind him was nice enough to let us in. I found that most truckers are good about playing nice on the road.
When we reached the agent’s booth, a jovial man greeted us and asked us about our visit. Although, as many had told us, we were asked about dog vaccinations papers, we didn’t have to show them (I had them in my hand). The process only lasted a few minutes and then we crossed over into Canada, with the agent’s good wishes.
We pulled over to figure out our phone and WiFi situation. David patiently got a hold of AT&T (repeatedly) to inquire about our connectivity. We finally figured out that we’d pay $10/day to include phone, text, and the data we have in our regular plan, without getting charged extra for roaming. The bad news was that our WiFi would not work while we are in Canada :-(.
I don’t know why we were expecting the landscape to change drastically and immediately…. What we found was a LOT more of the same lovely yellow fields and long straight ongoing roads – for many hours!! We passed towns with interesting names such as Moose Jaw, Drinkwater (which we did!), and Yellow Grass. We passed even smaller towns with a sign indicating a point of interest, the arrow pointing toward a cemetery – I guess people are dying to get in there!
At some point, we noticed some really beautiful clouds and I delighted in take photos of them. However, behind the fluffy clouds I saw a disturbing background of their dark and menacing relatives. I asked David to pull over at a gas station in the town of Weyburn, which just happened to be on our way and nearby. As soon as we fueled, we parked on a side street and waited out the downpour, thunder, and lightning. In minutes, waves of water almost reached the bottom or our towed (aka tow vehicle, also known as Jane Tow).
We hit the gas and left as the rain was moving out and proceeded on Saskatchewan Highway 39 towards our day’s destination, Gull Lake RV Park. The park was small but accommodating, and we gladly settled inside with a local chicken burger and salad from the only place open nearby. Even if the weather was pleasant enough, we chose the indoors as soon as the waves of mosquitoes started greeting us.
Today I realized that 2,325 miles (3742 km) of driving is a lot of driving. However, everyone who’s been to Banff promised it would be well worth it. One more day, and we’ll finally meet our reward!