August 26th Up, showered, and on the road by 10:00 (we must do better at getting up early). We scooted back through Lake Louise, Banff, and Calgary. We stopped for lunch in Calgary, and kept going along the Trans-Canada towards Medicine Hat, AB. Along the way, I noticed that the gas gauge was showing tremendous gas consumption. We filled up after only 250km! However, we were only able to squeeze $17 of gas in. Hmmmm. Later, after closely watching the gauge (that is, watching it oscillate between 1/4 and 3/4 of a tank) we determined that it was buggered. To be sure, we filled up a couple more times, and I compared our calculated gas mileage with what we had from the beginning of the trip. Except for differences due to mountain or city driving, our mileage was unchanged the whole trip. So, ignoring the gas gauge from now on, we continued through to Medicine Hat. It was very dry, hot and windy in southern Alberta, in fact the air was thick with a smelly dust, almost a fog. It cleared up a bit in Saskatchewan, but was still super windy by the time we got to our campground (Lac Pelletier Regional Park) near Swift Current. We had an awful time finding the actual campground. We followed our guidebook directions, which led us to the lake. From there we could find no signs leading us to the park. We drove clockwise around the lake, but it looked like boony-land, so we turned around. We then drove counter-clockwise around but the road came to a dead-end. Finally we went back the other way again, and drove further (~5-10 min) to eventually come across a sign saying we had entered the park, "please pay at the office". Where was the office? We drove on, past some tents (ahh, the campground), then some houses (huh?), then to what looked like a restaurant. We asked the un-interested looking teenager in the restaurant where the office was, and she pointed us to a building off into the trees. Did I mention that there where a lot of bugs around? There were clouds of annoying mosquito-like bugs everywhere. We set up our tent/tarp in the gail force winds, tried not to swallow any bugs, and got our butts to bed by 10:30.
a view from our campsite on Lac Pelletier
August 27th Woke up to a gorgeous day; one would never have expected it with the high winds the night before. There were still plenty of bugs to choke on, so we ate and packed up quickly. We continued due south for the U.S. border. We drove for a couple hours past nothing but wheat fields and grazing cattle, but made excellent time (speed limit 100, cruise control 110). We chatted a bit with the U.S. border guard...you don't often meet a friendly U.S. border guard. He gave us advice on the quickest route to Windsor. From the border we pushed on south and east, and eventually picked up the I94 in Glendive, MT. We pushed on through the rolling prairie of Montana (appearance similar to SK), and through the very scenic sandstone canyons of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park (western side of N. Dakota). We continued through more rolling prairie (I am typing this as we do so) to Bismark, where we stopped for gas and a supper of noodles and sauce (prepared in one of the very nice roadside rest areas along the I94). We decided to find a hotel for the night so that we could drive later, and get up early. We pressed on to Jamestown, ND, and got a motel room there (the Ranch House Motel). The motel was the cheapest in our CAA guide, and the lobby smelled of old cigarettes, but the room was very nice. We were amused to find a pile of stained but laundered towels in the washroom, with the accompanying note encouraging us to use them for removing make-up, cleaning guns, etc. We were in bed by 12:00.
scenery just after entering Montana / lookout near Painted Canyon, ND / notice found in Ranch House Motel room
August 28th Got up grudgingly by 7:00, had breakfast and got showered. Got out of the hotel by 8:30. We cruised on through the rest of North Dakota, through Minnesota, and Wisconsin to Rock Cut State Park in Rockford, Illinois. We had a pretty boring, eventless day of interstate highway driving. The scenery was pretty much the same as driving along the 401; dairy and corn farming mixed with sprawling suburbs. The campground (Rock Cut S.P.) was pretty nice (all state parks I've been to have been very well kept). The park was a large green space with hiking trails and lakes, with the campground in the middle. We had subs on the road for supper, so we just set up camp and went to bed ~10:00. We took a chance (to save time) and did not set up the tarp. At 11:00 we were awakened by the sound of rain on the tent. We rushed out and threw the the tarp over the tent, finishing just in time for the rain to stop. As far as we can tell, it did not rain again all night. Sigh.
August 29th Up and on the road ~10am. We continued on I90 to Chicago, then the I94 through to Detroit. We stopped only once for gas in Gary, IN. It took us a while to fill up with the gas station's policy of "pay before you pump". Apparently you can leave your credit card as a deposit, but you can't pay with it...cash only!...and we were at a Shell! Welcome to the 20th Century. We made it safely to Ontario; no muggings or car jackings. We stopped in Windsor to visit with A-M's brother Andrew. We went for supper at a local restaurant (Gilligan's), and then packed it in around 12:00.
August 30th - Sept. 4th Visited with my Mom in Belleville on wed-thurs. Up to A-M's parents in Pembroke area (Sheenboro) for Labour Day weekend. Finally home on Sunday. Unpacked and sanitized belongings on Monday. Spent Monday evening preparing mentally for the challenge of returning to work after being off for a month.
who's that behind the wheel? / oh man, we have to unload all this stuff when we get back!
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