The Daily EO: September 7th, 2012

Greetings from Cranbrook, BC and the Levang Family Resort!

Hours on the Road:  7
Kms Travelled: 606

Today was a short jaunt home comparatively speaking.  Just 1/2 of Montana left to go until Cranbrook – Emile flies to Vancouver on Sunday.

I was anxious to get started being so close to home, and I watched Emile intently while he tried to enjoy a leisurely breakfast.  And today promised not to be a 15 hour marathon – there were only really 600 kms to travel – it was nothing really.  But I am coming home to British Columbia after 16 years away.  I wanted to get home for that reason and because I was so tired of seeing the inside of the Honda Fit.

Our travels took us through the flat prairies right into the Rocky Mountains.  On the way, we journey through Glacier National Park and Cut Bank “The Coldest Place in the Nation”.  Doesn’t that strike you as odd?  The coldest place in the nation is in Montana?  Not Alaska?  Or maybe just considering the lower 48, Minnesota or something?  Nonetheless, someone found the time and money to build a talking penguin statue that makes the claim.  And seriously, if a penguin actually talks to me, I tend to believe what they have to say.

Weird

The BC places started to get more and more prevalent as we neared the border.  At the gas station in Eureka (10 kms from Canada), there were more Canadian plates than American ones.  I understand first hand the challenges that a strong Canadian dollar gives for Canadian companies trying to do business in the US, however, as a consumer, it works out pretty well.

We stopped at the duty-free shop in Roosville, Montana, USA called “First and Last Chance”.  I am not sure who in the dark, dingy bar/store/casino was on their first chance, but there were some hard living people in there.

I insisted on a stop in Cranbrook before heading home because I wanted it official:

After 16 Years

 

September 7th, 2012 Extra-Ordinary: 

Home

 

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The Daily EO: September 6th, 2012

Greetings from Havre, Montana and the Town Inn and Suites.
Hours on the road:  15 hours
Kms Traveled:  1366.2

After a short night in Grand Rapids – well it seemed pretty short – and a grand breakfast, we hit the road again.  You know “Breakfast included” in an American Hotel is significantly better than the lousy “continental breakfast” offered in most Canadian hotels.   In every hotel we’ve stayed in during the last month, the American ones include make your own fresh waffle, oatmeal, biscuits & gravy, yogurt, fresh fruit, eggs, bacon/sausage, or a various combination of these.  It’s fabulous.  Emile usually grabs a hardboiled egg and I an extra yogurt and we’ve got our stops for the day.  Pay attention Commonwealth!

We were excited to get to North Dakota – it adds another state to both of our collections (we only count states that we have actually been outside in – Emile’s 2 hour layover in LAX does not count).  I’ve been to 21 (California, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming).  Emile has been to 23 (Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, Washington DC, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming).

The most exciting part of North Dakota was visiting the Geographic Centre of North America.  I guess that should be Center – but I think that is ethnocentric of the US to use their spelling, don’t you think??  There it is.  Built in 1932 (the monument not North America) Emile was more excited about the fantastic cloud formations, I think.

Rugby, North Dakota

As we crossed into Montana, the Big Skies were evident:

Montana

Both of us had to sit as tall as we could with the sun visors down while squinting and wearing sunglasses to be able to see.   Fortunately, Highway 2 – north of the main freeway  – is very quiet.  It is not uncommon for us to spend a half hour without seeing another vehicle.  The sun sets in the west, I’ll tell you – I hope there is no permanent damage.

Blinded

While in the US, we don’t use our cell phones due to the high data/roaming rates.  I engage in the practice of War Driving – so named from the movie War Games.  I race to see if I can connect to unsecured Wi-Fi and download my messages before Emile pulls away from a red light.   I like to see what people call their Wi-Fi points:  hurricane, tornado, getyourown, notyours, mine, thelassie, or my favorite “Linksys”.   If you laughed when I said “Linksys”, you failed the geek test.  Each time we stop for gas (or peeing), I am wandering around the parking lot trying to find a strong unsecured connection.

We had an early evening relatively speaking and pulled into Havre – land of the low-end casino – at 10 pm.  We’d stopped to get Oreos and milk for Emile and he was eager to relax while watching TV and eating his American treat.

September 6th, 2012 Extra-Ordinary:  Being exceptionally disappointed that the honeymoon suite bed (the only room left at the hotel) didn’t have the heart-shaped king bed like the clerk said it did.  Who doesn’t want to sleep on a heart shaped bed once?

The Daily EO: August 4th, 2012

Greetings from Gillette, Wyoming and the Country Inn and Suites!

Hours Driven: 7.5
kms Travelled:  743
Money Spent:  $307

“Are you Serious?  ARE YOU SERIOUS?”

I wouldn’t have been more surprised and abruptly awoken if Emile jumped up on the bed and shouted “Google provides 1000 mbps to select customers in Connecticut!” as loud as he could.  Which in fact is what it sounded like.  Not the Connecticut part, but the on our bed part.  At 6:30 in the morning, some crazed woman started screaming at her child.  Our hotel was not soundproof and I would have sworn she was right there.

“What did I tell you?  We are GOING to Have a Good Day!  And here you are being Difficult!!  ARE YOU SERIOUS?”

I laid there wondering where she was and what this child did to deserve this wraith.  What time is it?  Where are we?  What is going on?  What is it that happens to some people that have children?  The ones that become overbearing and borderline abusive to their kids.  Lady, its 6:30 in the morning and no doubt you have driven the Great American Road Trip, feeding your kid sugar, getting them to bed late and then awakening them at 6:00 am to “get a good start”.  So give us all a break!

“Your FACE will STOP being RED in 5 Minutes!!  Stop Crying!!  Are you SERIOUS??”

Finally this delightful mom and family left and we were able to go back to sleep.  Emile grabbed an extra pillow to cover his ears, built a pillow wall to block out the dawn sun that was streaming in and promptly returned to peaceful slumber.  I lay awake a little longer convinced I would never get back to sleep.  But soon I awoke at 10 am.

Our hotel included breakfast and we certainly were going to take advantage of it.  As Emile ate my waffle and his, I sipped at a tea and wondered if I would ever feel rested again.    I gathered the free condiments I always do, as I reminded Emile what our Nutbar Neighbour was screaming at the crack of dawn.

So, a bit of a late start.  The sun shone and the hotel parking lot was empty.  We were the late departure.

There is a reason Montana is called big sky country – it truly feels like the world is vast and open.   It was a tremendous drive and we both enjoyed it – being able to see the scenery this time.

We debated and debated whether to swing through South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore as it would add extra hours to our trip.  Emile said “Well, I think we should go, then we can scratch it off our list”.  I am not sure what the list is that we have, but well, he knows me.  Crossing something off a list is my motivation.  Of course we headed south!

That meant a dive into Wyoming, and the instant we crossed the state lines, the highways turned pink.  And I thought Wyoming’s borders were arbitrary!  What an incredible feeling – I want to come here and buy cowboy boots and find a ranch and do cowboy things.  Wide open like Montana, but with unique pink and black rock formations.  Exploring Wyoming goes on this list we apparently have.  But probably just after returning to Paris.

We pulled into Gillette – debating the pronunciation – at 7:30 pm and could not bring ourselves to risk driving further despite our paltry 700 kms.   We were tired, hungry and road weary and needed a good night’s sleep. Surely Gillette had a room for the night.  First hotel we tried – internet, fridge, breakfast and less than $100.  We are in.

The clerk told us we were lucky that we were here tonight (double the rate) instead of next week – it’s the big Motorbike Rally in Stugis next week.  And the connections were made – no wonder there have been so many bikes on the road!

Despite my assertion that Wal-Mart is destroying North American society, we went to the Super Centre across from our hotel.  We wanted the real modern American experience you see – and Wal-Mart fit the bill.  All we needed were some “pry it from my cold dead hands” guns and cheap tacos.

We crawled into bed with the alarm set for the first time in weeks.  I have the idea of running in Wyoming because it sounds really cool.

Aaah.  Bed with a new box of Cheeze Its, some weirdo Key Lime diet soda pop and Family Feud.

August 4th, 2012 Extra-Ordinary:  Finding a hotel before dark – new, clean, friendly, and cheap with fresh baked cookies and chocolates at the front desk.

You’re immortalized, Crazy Lady!

The Daily EO: August 3rd, 2012

Greetings from Butte, Montana and the Copper King Conference Centre and Resort!

Hours driven:  16 hours
Kms travelled (door to door):  1197.2
Money spent:  $215.43

Well, we didn’t get an early start because we wanted to catch up on some sleep.  After some concern about the border crossings into the US on the Canadian long weekend, we were happy to find the delay was only about 20 minutes.   Emile – accustomed to the large bridges for border crossing in Ontario – was disappointed to find that the Peace Arch was as small as it is it.  He thought the Peace Arch referred to a glorious bridge stretching across a river (like Niagara River).

Cell Phones are now switched off and we began probably the longest period either of us has spent disconnected in over a year.  Can’t look up hotels, maps, or settle arguments without the internet.

I always find adjusting to the road signs in the US is such a problem.  In Canada, you know if the road sign says “Regina 193”, you’re going to be there in 2 hours give or take.  In the US, you see “Missoula 193”, you’ve got another 3+ hours.  It makes the next distance sign feel like you’ve accomplished very little.

We stopped in . . . um. . . some city just outside Seattle to get some groceries and bought ourselves some American Only goods.  This included Keebler Cinnabon Cookies, Triple Double Oreos (three wafers, 1 vanilla icing and 1 chocolate icing), Reduced Fat Cheeze Its (you know, we have a strict diet), and a large Mexican Beer (just for the thrill of purchasing alcohol in a grocery store).

After that, I typed e-mails into Word, and we drove across Washington, into Idaho (Emile wonders why they got that little panhandle) with plans to stop in Coeur D’Alene.  We weren’t tired in there, so decided to keep pushing on, not knowing what was awaiting us.

Arrogance again led us to believe that we’d easily find a hotel room in Montana.  We started stopped in St. Regis, and by the time we asked at the third hotel in Missoula, we thought something might be up.  I asked the girl what was going on.  She looked at me like the ignorant Canadian I am and said “It’s Friday night.  It’s Montana.   It’s summer.”   Well.  Hmmm.  Well that pulls me down a couple of pegs.   Its midnight by now, but what to do? Park with the Truckers, and snuggle in the fit?  Or keep driving.  Emilie cracked open a diet cola, and some American Only Chili Fritos and said “I’m good to go.”

We headed towards Butte, while I slept for the next stage of driving if necessary.   When we got to Butte, we asked at 3 hotels before someone said “Copper King” might have rooms.

The clerk wasn’t the most attractive man – drinking a 7-11 Super Big Gulp at 2 in the morning might give you a clue about why – but I almost leapt across the desk into his arms when he told me there was a room.

August 3rd, 2012 Extra-Ordinary:  Staying at the former “it” spot from 1985.  But who cares?  It was a clean, well-appointed, and friendly with soft flat surfaces to sleep.

Leaving Vancouver. Goodbye Grandpa.