The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

July 7, 2007

Montana or (almost) Bust


However, I am happy to report that I and my 1996 Ford Contour, made in Kansas, did survive my 2,000-kilometre trip through western North Dakota and eastern Montana.

But not without some difficulty.

After a particularly testy encounter with a U.S. Customs weenie at the Canadian/American border at Emerson, Manitoba, I got into the Over-Excited States.

Apparently all of my anti-George Bush posts were not detected by the CIA or whatever "war on terror" government agency has taken over for it.

And if I hadn't made it clear before, it really is America The Beautiful. And its people are just that and so is the country they live in.

I always thought North Dakota was a flat wasteland that no one cared about, just a home for missile silos. But western North Dakota is an incredible sight.

And while I was preoccupied taking pictures of the hoodoos and hilly terrain that pop up right after you get past Bismarck, my car decided it wasn't all that happy with the heat.

My "check radiator" light came on. I pulled off on an exit ramp called "Enchanted Highway," complete with a structure that showed a whole bunch of Canada Geese.

Here are some pix from that particular moment of stranding, when I had no idea whether my car was going to survive or not...

This was actually one of my most memorable parts of the trip, when I gained yet more confidence and trust in the human race -- and certainly in Americans.

Two North Dakotans, one Oregonian and one Manitoban stopped to ask if I was OK. I assured them I thought I was, that I just had a radiator leak and needed to top up my engine coolant.

But I thanked them.

For the duration of my trip, I had to do this about six times, leading me to draw the conclusion I have a leak somewhere (NO JOKES ABOUT THAT)!

Nonetheless, I continued westward. And this is what I saw.

Many of you may be yawning at such pictures and wonder, why is he showing us this? Well, it's because Manitoba is flat. In fact, we are affectionately referred to as "Flatlanders," among other things.

These hills and hoodoos were amazingly beautiful to me. Their colour, their 3-D appearance, the way they sprout out of's novel to a Manitoban. And very cool.

Part of the reason for my journey was to accept a nomination into the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, from my many years of riding bronco-busting horses in the American Midwest.

(Just kidding).

The sign above DOES say Home on the Range. I imagined it as THE place the cartoons always spoke about in the song: Home, Home on the Range, Where the Deer and the Antelope Play...

I had to take the pix from my car at 75 mph. Indulge me.

And yes, this sign does say "Bad Route Road." Oh, goodie! For sure I want to take that exit! Doh!

By now I was in Montana, an absolutely gorgeous state. I was able to meet with a good friend and spend some time. But the time had also arrived for me to return to Canada.

I decided, to try to preserve my fragile car in the 100 F heat, I would turn north towards Saskatchewan to avoid the up and down hills of Montana and North Dakota on the way back.

It was beautiful country.

This is a place called Froid, in northern Montana. Or was it Saskatchewan? In any event, I wondered what if Sigmund Freud had been born here as Simon Froid, and how that might have changed the world...

Once I got back into Canada, I came down to Earth, so to speak: terrible (comparatively to the U.S.) highways. I decided not to travel all the way up to Regina to the TransCanada.

On my adventurous, but stupidly circuitous route, I encountered the sign above. And my question is, BROKEN PAVEMENT? What pavement?

But I loved taking the less-travelled route back to Winnipeg.

I could see this huge storm in front of me, and even though I was still 500 kms or so from home, I wondered if that system was directly over Winnipeg. It taught me a lesson about perception and distance.

Within a few short minutes, I was right underneath it and into it. The rain lasted about 10 minutes. Ha! Just like life! You think something you're heading into is going to last a long time.
It lasts seconds, then it's gone.

Yes, the sign above in Saskatchewan really does point to a town called Forget.

I loved the yellow crops (mustard seed?) against the purple sky here...

My favourite pic (above) of the trip, the colours...

Ever feel like the rain's falling just on YOU?

But that everything's going to turn out all right in the end?


  1. What a lovely trip! And stunning pictures. Thanks,WW.

  2. Wow ! great views !! and an adventure that ended well. An attractive photo on top of your blog, that's a good opener, I liked the ostriches too.

  3. I like looking at hills and mountains too when I'm on a road trip. But, can never be bothered to take pictures. Am glad you did.

    Sounds like you had a good trip.

  4. Dinahmow:

    Glad you liked the pix.


    It ended well in that I got home with my car being what it is and was. Glad you like the photo.


    I'm just glad I didn't crash while I was taking them!

  5. WOW wut A trip WW! Great pics. ty!

    btw check my blog to see if recognise the current music..


  6. Oh, you lucky bugger to go on a trip like that! Isn't there just something so refreshing about travelling? What I mean is -you come home hyped up with a head full of new visions and thoughts -well, that's how it makes me feel, anyway (been along time, though). And so you have no hills at home, huh? That seems odd to me :).

  7. Keshi:

    No, I didn't recognize that music, although I like it; and I didn't recognize those legs either :-)


    I think any time people can get out of their environment they become kids again, full of wide-eyed curiosity and shedding more light on where they DO live.

    I remember being shocked when I returned from my India trip and I wanted to tell my friends all about it.

    They listened, but it was so foreign to them -- they were so insulated in their own little bubble -- it was like, "Yeah, that's cool...did you hear about so-and-so?"

    We have very few hills here in Manitoba. I love our wide, open skies but to see something different is always so exciting...

  8. just lovely WW - as you're a famous Bronco Buster perhaps you'd like to visit next year and see if you can stick to Freddie! Everyone round here's far too scared.
    Great pix even the ones at 70mph :)

  9. Ziggi:

    I can stick to anything! Although my cowboy hat, boots and chaps might look a bit odd in the UK...

    Maybe he just doesn't like the name Freddie? I'll be the horse whisperer and find out...

  10. You could come to Awstraylyah and ride Brahmin bulls.You'd simply disappear into the crowd..Rodeos are big down here.So's the music! (Creeps away to play Mozart...)

  11. Dinahmow:

    Why would I want to disappear into the crowd? Gimme the biggest Red Roo you can find and lemme on him!

  12. Great pics! ~ the yellow crop is rapeseed; thats where your canola oil comes from. Happy travels.

  13. Mari:


    I'll trust you're correct about it being rapeseed (I wondered about mustard seed and admit being a Prairie boy, I should know better).

    Thanks for dropping by. I see you have no blog yourself. If you get one, let us know.

  14. Gorgeous landscape! I also love those clouds in the 16th picture from the top (yes, I counted).

    I think that picture of you is my favourite to date.

  15. Anna:

    I THINK I found the 16th picture from the top. Thanks.

    As for the pic of me...I'm squinting in the sun, sweating like a pig, am windswept and sunburned and pissed off with my car, and you like that pic?

    OK, girl...thanks!

  16. I was so happy to see your photos of your trip!! Thank you for posting them -- GREAT shots. One question, though, were you really taking photos while you were driving at 75 mph -- well done!! And it's cool that people stopped to see if you needed help when your car pooped out. I'm glad you are back safely.

  17. Clare:

    Yep, I really was taking most of those snaps while driving, and the speed limit was 75 mph (120 kph). In Canada, the max is usually 100 kph.

    Yikes! I drifted sometimes, but only took pix when no other vehicles were close, coming or going.


  18. Anonymous11:33 a.m.

    Mustard seed? You city boys. The yellow crop would have been canola, once known as Western Canada's Cinderella crop, because prices were good, and we were major exporters. Among other things, it's used to make canola oil.

  19. Lis: Well who died and made YOU queen Of the Yellow crops? How do YOU know it's canola? They call it Mello Yellow!

  20. Anonymous8:10 p.m.

    Nobody died . . . I simply declared myself Queen. I thought it would have been all over the news by now . . . I grew up on a farm, and like any good overseer I watch my subjects hew and toil in the canola fields whilst riding in their $500,000 tractors. It hearkens back to a simpler time . . .


If you choose to use anonymous to comment, it is only fair that I reserve the right to obliterate your comment from my blog.