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?