Tag Archives: North Dakota

Back online for the moment…

A raging thunderstorm in Missoula took out the Internet connection of our hotel, and we haven’t had Internet here in Walla Walla until we had the chance to stop by a Web cafe today, so this is my first chance to update the blog. I’ll start back at Lang, Saskatchewan, where my Mom grew up. (Please note that WordPress won’t let me rotate vertically-shot photos! I don’t know why…) It’s as small a town as she suggested. Here are some shots:





Train driving through Lang

Train driving through Lang




Grain storage in Lang

Grain storage in Lang



United Church of Canada

United Church of Canada

It was a lot dustier than I’d imagined, though just about as flat as Mom had told me. Emphasis on “flat.”

We barely made it through immigration the evening before, the Canadian officer asking us “Why Lang,” as if to say, okay, I’ll bite, this ought to be good. Susanne did all the talking. We made it through, thinking crap, we shouldn’t have gotten rid of all that wine (each person can only take two bottles across) because three times through, nobody looked at anything other than our ID. But four times is the charm, as I’ll mention later.

The towns were very small in the flats of Saskatchewan, but none smaller than tiny Ralph, which apparently consisted of one house. One. Probably Ralph. I had this image of a stubborn farmer who went to the provincial monthly hearing insisting he get his own town name, and 30 years later, he had a sign on Highway 39. That persistent Ralph! Wish we’d taken a picture.


Grain silo in SK

Grain silo in SK

So the plains were interesting, lots of farms, steer, farms, steer, farms, steer . . . and by the 14th hour it was much less interesting. I suppose people are born there and live their whole lives there. Every so often we’d pass a graveyard right next to the state highway, in North Dakota, Saskatchewan, or eastern Montana, marked only by a wrought iron gate with the name of the cemetery. For being such an Easterner, it seemed very lonely to me out there, in the same way that being used to lots of green suburban lawns made me find Phoenix, with its miles and miles of desert dirt, seem unfinished.

I wonder how long it will take to adjust.

We spent about twenty minutes driving through Lang, where we didn’t see another person, but they must have seen us. I can only imagine what a big guy and little lady in a car from Washington DC who kept getting out and taking photos of random things looked like to the townsfolk. We’d have gone into the local grocery but it wasn’t open for the day at that point.

We turned around and headed back down Hwy 6 into the very eastern corner of Montana, and alas, they pretty much looked through the car, checking the amount of wine we had and calling out Chuck, their agriculture “specialist” to read the label on our cherries that we’d bought back home.

Chuck: Where’d you get these?

Us: In the states. At Costco.

Chuck: Where?

Me: The Pentagon City Costco, in Arlington, Virginia.

Chuck: Oh.

Other Customs Guy: Do you believe them?

Chuck: Oh, I believe them.

Me: That’s also American ice in that cooler.

At that point I felt Susanne’s virtual foot kicking me in my virtual shin. So I shut up. They let us into the US, cherries, wine, and all. I think after telling them about how we got married, they thought we were on the stupidest honeymoon they’d ever heard of. If only they’d seen us on the Maid of the Mist!

We pulled into Montana and my camera battery gave out. Susanne’s got some photos on her camera, so hopefully I’ll upload those soon.

Meanwhile, another list of animals we saw from SK through Missoula, Montana:

porcupine (combing his hair like a narcissist)

several elk

many, many cows

young buck deer and female deer following him


two prairie dogs on separate occasions



bison (! amazing !)

Miles traveled by the time we pulled into Missoula: 3,140.

Next up: driving through Montana, the state with no fixed identity, and Trixie’s restaurant at the top of the storm, Missoula and late dinner with Anna, driving across Idaho

I don’t understand the behavior of cows

This was Susanne’s favorite quote from today. I of course am the utterer.  I was noticing how the cows out west here seem to all clump together in one part of the field, having no sense of personal space whatsoever. The New York cows, I noted, on the other hand, seem to have cliques. Susanne asked, seemingly genuinely, why I thought that was, to which I shrugged, giving the above response. We had other memorable lines today, including:

1. Looking at the following on the way to Weyburn, SK, we saw this:


Chieftan Motel

Chieftan Motel

Susanne: The funniest thing about it is why is he giving a Hitler salute?

2. Everett: You are the queen of the missed photo. This was said when we were driving past four semis, each carrying one propellor blade of a new windmill going up west of Minneapolis. She did not, however, find this humorous.

3. Susanne: You are the king of the missed photo. This in response to her needing to drive around the block so that I could get the picture for item #1.

Other stats from today:

Our total miles so far are 2420.

We’ve killed about 20 butterflies and thousands of other insects, mostly on the windshield. Oh, and one of those creepy orange millipedes, which apparently stowed away and made the poor decision to crawl across Susanne’s legs. He now lives no more.

We’ve driven past roughly 30,000 bales of hay. (Haaay, Jesse!) Here is proof.


Hay bales

Hay bales

If we drove past 30,000 bales of hay, we must have driven past 1 million sunflowers, all groomed nicely in fields in North Dakota. I suppose that’s where we get our sunflower oil.

We also saw this:


Canada Pacific rail

Canada Pacific rail

Awesome. I’ll try to get pictures of the ginormous granaries tomorrow, where the trains pull in and get tons of grain dumped into each car. After miles and miles of farmland, and possibly some missile silos, it’s been a bit monotonous. Today Susanne and I drove more in silence than any of our other days. I still feel like it’s all one grand adventure, which is good, but it’s starting to sink in that I don’t exactly have a home at the moment, even though I know I’ll make one. It’s exciting, this endless possibilities thing. Kind of like how the telephone lines in Saskatchewan go on and on forever. Susanne captured it in a shot.




We drive into Lang tomorrow morning. I’ll take lots of pictures and see if I can find Mom’s old farm, or at least the farm plot. I’m sure there’s more to say, but it’s time to turn in.

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