Tuesday 2 August 2016

Me versus the road trip

Arrived in Medicine Hat, Alberta the night of July 29, 2016 to get a start on the long weekend and a road trip with a half-formed plan of where I wanted to go.

Wake up Saturday morning. The last time I stay in an inexpensive motel unless necessary. The place was like a sauna and got chunks of sleep. Take my stuff outside and there are some very filthy clouds in the sky. This was not in the forecast. Off to grab a quick coffee and my phone slips from my fingers and dies a quick death. There are a few places where I can get a cell phone. None of them open until ten. A few hundred dollars later I have a replacement phone. On the plus side the weather dumped some rain and passed while I was getting a new phone.

Highway 1 east until Highway 41 to head south. Stopped in Elkwater because I had never been there before and topped up the tank. As soon as you are back on Highway 41 south signs warn you there is no gas for the next 145km.

July 30, 2016 Highway 41 in Alberta southbound a bit north of the Canada/USA border.

Crossed at Wild Horse into Montana. One vehicle ahead of me, no one behind. Not a busy crossing. Two US border guards come out to question me. Both look like they should be retired. Crossing into Montana is uneventful.

Montana Highway 232 to Havre is an excellent highway. While in Montana I asked how Havre is supposed to be pronounced. I was told "Havver" and "Hay-ver". I still do not know. Fill up in Havre and get something to drink. It is hot and Mountain Dew Code Red goes down quick and might get addictive. Premium is $2.659/gallon. I am living in the wrong country. Havre seems to be a busy place. East on US Highway 2 to Harlem, Montana.

Harlem has some activity however anything that resembles a business seems to be closed except for the gas station right beside US Highway 2. North from Harlem on Montana Highway 241 to Saskatchewan. Before I get to the border I slip into Turner, Montana which looks dead and is dead except for the tavern that serves excellent draught. Back north to the border.

I am coming up to the border and there are flashes of fork lighning not too far off in the distance. The skies are getting dark. Of course there is no shelter anywhere and there are better ways to die than being struck by lightning on a motorcycle. Ways like being shot by a jealous husband. After answering the usual questions the CBSA (Canadian Border Services Agency) tells me I can wheel into their garage and wait out the storm. They are not particularly busy at the moment and I pass the time talking to him and an older couple that was also inside waiting out the storm. I think a tornado warning sounded. Some rain and everything was quickly over.

The Turner border crossing is a shared building between the Canadians and Americans. Apparently a number of rural border crossings were supposed to be set up this way then September 11, 2001 occurred changing everything. This crossing was built before then. The CBSA guys were great to pass the time. One pointed out a row of pot lights in the ceiling that marked where the border ran through the building. The staff kitchen is upstairs. If you are Canadian you have to cross over the border to go upstairs where you cross back over to the Canadian side to get to the kitchen. He told me one amusing story where a guy and his girlfriend were crossing over from the USA into Canada. She was denied entry. They turned to back to the USA. The US guard ran him through the system and he was denied entry to the US. That would definitely crimp the relationship.

North on Highway 37 to Climax - Saskatchewan has some great names - to Shaunavon. A bit north of Shaunavon to take Highway 13. Somewhere along Highway 13 the top of my one gallon jerrycan that I carry for emergencies broke and spilled half of the gas over my back seat where I had it secured. I pulled over and emptied the rest in my tank. Back on the road east where I wound up in Assiniboia where I thought I would get a room for the night. Not happening. Everything in Assiniboia is booked. This could be a problem. I should be able to get a room in Moose Jaw which is about an hour away. North on Highway 2 at speeds of 140 to 150 km/h in the dark where I stopped at a hotel. No rooms are available. In fact the guy manning the desk told me Moose Jaw is booked solid. He knows as he phoned every place for other people that asked before me. Well, Regina is seventy kilometres away. I hit Highway 1 east to Regina. 

Arrive in Regina after destroying the speed limits yet again and stop at a nice big hotel where the front desk tells me they are booked solid. At this point I am thinking of drinking coffee in a twenty-four hour coffee shop and just waiting until the sun comes up. That would likely be fully booked as well. I ask the guy at the desk if he knows anything available. He calls the hotel next door and they have one room. I told him I would take it. I get there and end up with a room at fifteen minutes to midnight. Nice room too, two queen beds and I only needed one, flat screen television, very comfortable and a decent rate. Blazing fast internet as well. A little further than what I planned to travel.


  1. What an interesting time you had! One mishap after another...but you handled them with a great sense of humor and traveled on! Sounds like a pretty good time!

    Great read! Good shot of the bike too.

  2. I like your photos, but it is a bonus to learn that you can write as well as take great pictures. I really enjoyed reading about that trip, the good and the bad. Thanks for sharing the details.

  3. Ah, the joys of the open road! Sounds like a great trip - met some nice folks and you solved all the problems, too. I miss those carefree days of just doing what you did!