Crossing the Border

Tuesday, August 11, 2015 Road Junkies 0 Comments


CANADA OR BUST, CHAPTER 4:  IN WHICH WE EARN OUR DECODER RINGS

Day 4:  Sioux Falls, SD to Winnipeg, MB.  With nothing on our agenda today except getting from point A to point B, we slept in a bit and didn't leave the Hilton Garden in Sioux Falls until 8:30.  Not a cloud was in the sky, and the temperature was a pleasant 65° when we set out north on I-29.  This Midwestern freeway, which originates in Kansas City, offers a straight route to Canada along the eastern border of the Dakotas, never straying more than 30 miles from the state lines.

Just as we saw in several other states, gigantic cornfields were situated off both sides of the road.  Unlike in the South where dry weather has left its mark, crops here are verdant green—lush vegetation with virtually no signs of irrigation.  North of Brookings, SD, occasional herds of cattle could be seen in roadside pastures.  Another fifty miles north, the corn had played out, and livestock pastures dominated, as the land became a little hillier with more trees in evidence.

Flat land in South Dakota
Our morning was spent in a steady drive north.  Though the speed limit on South Dakota interstate highways is 80, we felt safer at a speed closer to 70.  Once we crossed into North Dakota around noon, the speed limit dropped to 75—when we weren't passing through the many construction zones.  

We were back into flat lands, vast corn and wheat and soy and sunflower fields.  At 1:00, we stopped in Fargo to fill up with gas and search for a couple of letterboxes.  With a population of 105,549, Fargo is the largest city in North Dakota, encompassing nearly 16% of the state's population.  Founded in 1871, the city was named for William Fargo, the same railroad executive who founded Wells Fargo Express Company.

Fargo, a North Dakota metropolis
Our second letterbox in Fargo was at Riverside Cemetery, where we watched half a dozen wild turkeys making their sentry rounds while we prepared and ate our picnic salads in a shady spot accompanied by a soundtrack provided by the Bluesville XM station.  By 2:15, we were back on I-29 with half the day's mileage behind us.

Tom, the security guard
Focused on putting down miles, we made just a couple of rest area stops in North Dakota before getting into the border crossing queue for Canada at 4:50 p.m.  Three stations were open for autos, one of which was not moving at all.  We were fortunate to avoid that lane and exited into Canada by 5:20 with only 65 miles (in local speak, 105 kilometers) to reach our hotel in Winnipeg.

It came as no surprise that Manitoba Highway 75 (MB-75) looked very similar to I-29—divided highway, well-maintained, kilometer markers (rather than mileage).  Signage was in English (and French), and the speed limit was 110 kph (about 68 mph).  Just off the shoulder on the right side of the road, spaced about 150 feet apart, were 4-foot snow poles with reflectors, to show drivers where the road is when the snow is deep.

As in the Dakotas, round bales of hay were a frequent sight along the right of way and in the median.  By 6:15 we entered the Winnipeg city limits with another ten miles to go to our hotel.  Between construction issues and rush hour traffic, we didn't make it to the Homewood Suites for another 40 minutes.

Winnipeg traffic
After driving almost 2,000 miles in the last four days, we have decided to take a "zero day" tomorrow and relax before checking out the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba's capital, the following day.

Daily Stats

Miles driven:  477 (Trip total:  1,824)
Letterboxes found:  3
States:  SD, ND
Provinces:  MB
Cornfields:  249
Hay bales:  2,616
Gas:  $2.759 (premium) in Fargo, ND