The Rest of the Trip

2 Oct

I realized that I haven’t updated the blog since I left Canada….so here is a quick and dirty rundown (it was fairly boring the rest of the way so no pictures).

Day 5 – Edmonton – Jamestown, ND

This drive was flat flat flat. And in the debate between following road signs to the border or trusting the GPS (which occasionally gives bad routings), I chose the road signs, and I chose wrong. I essentially made a wrong turn into eastern Montana out of Saskatchewan, rather than going down into North Dakota. It didn’t put me out of the way too much, maybe an hour, but after 5 days of driving even an hour was a bit much. The scenery in that part of Montana (and southern Saskatchewan) was pretty though – rolling hills of harvested gold. I suppose this was the one spot I wish I had taken a photo.

The big negative was the border crossing. I’m not sure if this guy was bored, given the remoteness of the post, or if US Customs and Border Patrol are now on a mission to harass US citizens, but he was out of control. I was queried on three separate occasions about my work in Afghanistan (twice in the beginning and once at the end, as if he was hoping to catch me out), why I was going to the lower 48 (umm, I’m a citizen, dummy!), where I was going (none of your business, last I heard I have freedom of movement as a US citizen, dummy!), what I was planning on doing (umm, none of your business, last I heard I can do whatever I damn well please as long as I’m not breaking the law, dummy!), what my employment was (umm, last I heard, employment is DEFINITELY not a requirement for a US citizen to be in the US, dummy!), where I was planning on staying that night (umm, last I knew I could stay wherever I wanted to, dummy!), and how long I was planning on staying (umm, last I heard I could stay indefinitely given that the US is my country of birth, residence and citizenship, dummy!!!!). Wow. I decided to answer all his questions politely, but the more I thought about it later, the more it just burned me up. Their decision to treat me as a foreign national, and a dubious one at that, just goes to prove how out of control our government is on the infringement of our rights as US citizens. I feel like most people don’t care or notice, but believe me folks, this is like being in a pot of water that’s slowly being put on the boil…by the time we realize we’re cooked, it’s too late. As you can imagine, I will have a different strategy for my re-entry to Alaska should I receive the same treatment.

Anyway…I continued to drive in North Dakota until I couldn’t manage anymore and my fiancee could find a room for me. I had forgotten that ND is a hard place to find a hotel or motel, given the oil fields. I ended up in what turned out to be a really cute midwestern town called Jamestown. I stayed in a very clean but hilariously decorated hotel room. I was in the “Stadium Suite”, and my bed had a headboard that looked like a baseball glove, the ceiling was painted like a football field, and the walls were covered in pennants and jerseys. It was funny, but clean, and I was wiped. It was a long day.

Day 6 – Jamestown, ND – Minneapolis, MN

A flat drive through the midwest. Nothing to write home about, uneventful, and a pretty short drive. I did drive through Fargo and every time I saw a sign for Fargo I let out a loud “Faaahrgooo” in my best super strong midwestern accent. (Yes, was getting a bit lonely and bored by then, can you tell?) I stayed with my aunt and uncle in Minneapolis, which was great fun as I hadn’t seen them in years. I stayed for 3 days and it was great to have a breather, enjoy family, and relax!

Day 7 – Minneapolis, MN – Chicago, IL

A short, fairly boring, but very familiar drive as I used to do this every summer and winter as a kid when we still lived in Illinois. From that perspective it was kind of fun, and an actual trip down memory lane, but that’s about it. Illinois tollways are killer, I paid maybe $15 in tolls? Insane! Stayed with an old friend in Chicago and met her new wonderful family, which was a lot of fun.

Day 8 – Chicago, IL – NC

Last day. Down to North Carolina. A pretty long day, but after you get out of Indiana it’s hilly and pretty. It poured rain for a good 2/3 of the trip though, which was a bit of a drag. But 4,300 miles later (or about 7,000 km for you metric types), I made it alive, with a very stiff neck, and was glad it was over!

I easily could have cut down the trip to 7 days had I not scheduled stops with friends and family, and possibly even 6 (very long days!) now that I know the route through northern Canada and where I can stop. But I think for driving through so much unfamiliar territory, not to mention driving alone with no relief, I’m happy I took my time, and took lots of time to stop and appreciate scenery and the rest.

The route back up will be through different US states, and will head up to the border through western Montana (different border post!!), skirting past Calgary and then up to Edmonton, and repeating the rest of the trip. I have scheduled the days a bit differently though, and I think they will lead to more sensible driving lengths. Stay tuned….

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