Saginaw, MN to Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada
Jun 20, 2010
|Day 3 (Sunday)
Wow, we slept really well – woke up early & just enjoyed NOT having to tear around. Ron wanted to review Canadian gas prices again, but we keep talking in circles & not connecting so we decided to go ahead into Canada, but cross the border W of International Falls. If the gas is as high as he has figured, we will reroute & not go to AK after all. I think he is thinking it too much & that it won’t be so bad, time will tell! On the road about 8 A (CT), it is cool (sweat shirt felt good first thing) but the sky is blue & the sun is doing its best to warm things up. Stopped right down the road for coffee & we are off on M 53N. Ron saw a rabbit right after we left the RV Park.
Nearing Virginia - the hwy is mostly good, some bumps at expansion joints, very light traffic. Seeing some small farms, mostly forests. Pretty little lakes along the highway. 9:00 A (CT) Virginia is a bigger town than I expected – looks like a lot of manufacturing, logging & mining. Lots of large wind turbines on the hill tops. Stopped for gas - $2.73/gal = $52.61. The temp. is ~70˚, perfect! Hills are getting larger, but the road is level, traffic light. Just after leaving town we saw a deer crossing the road, she slowed down to watch us watching her!
I love some of the names of small towns – wonder how they were named – we just passed “Embarrass”! There are lots of really big boulders everywhere along the road, in the fields. Looks like glacier country. There are also lots of pine trees, some hardwoods – even birch. Still no traffic – saw another deer just off the road. Our 4-lane hwy turned to 2, but traffic is very light – no problem.
Ron is still stewing about possible gas prices – we will wait to see what they are. I love all the pretty wildflowers along the road. 10 A (CT) going thru Orr, MN – the Bluegill Capital – the lake is huge, lots of fisherman out. Gas prices here are $2.83/gal. Passing by Voyager National Park, good place for real outdoors people – canoeing, fishing, etc. This road reminds us of M-2 thru the UP! It is getting more cloudy the further N we go. Saw a big walleye Fish Sign along the road – Walleye Capital!
11:30 A (CT) got to International Falls, MN – stopped at a nice little city park to get photos of Smokey the Bear – he was a favorite of mine when I was young (my uncle, a DNR officer was Smokey for school presentations- it wasn’t his favorite duty!). There are huge factories/mills along the river; 3-M is one of them. It is so nice out, right on the edge of being humid – but a little breeze & the shady park was a good stop. Are there falls in International Falls? We didn’t see any. We have opted to put off the Canadian gas price issue for a couple more hours as we drive W on the MN side of the river. If we cross into Canada here, we would drive about 90 miles before crossing back into MN for 30 miles and then back into Canada – didn’t make a whole lot of sense. We are hoping to see some of the river as we drive along & think of all the money we are saving!
Well, the scenic drive (M-11) wasn’t what we expected, there were only a couple of places where we could actually see Rainy River. Looks like the water is really low, even w/all the rain they’ve had. The road is a good 2-lane, almost no traffic. We are passing by some small farms, few homes & large areas of forests. It is getting quite overcast. E of Burkdale we saw an old fire tower rising above the trees, what a boring, but important job that was back in the day. We stopped at a small rest area for a photo of the Rainy River, then saw some canola fields. Had to wait for some bridge construction for a couple of mins., it is hot & there are lots of BIG black flies! When we were crossing the bridge I saw a beautiful river tumbling over huge boulders below – very pretty! Just a little further we crossed the Silver River where it empties into the Rainy River – didn’t look as pretty as the names sounded!
Stopped in Baudette, MN for gas - $2.83/gal = $54.11 – neat little town – proud of their fishing! It is ~80+, looks like a big storm to the W! Went thru the little villages of Blueberry & Roosevelt. The farms here are much larger – feel sorry for the farmers, many of the crops are standing in water & mud.
The town of Warroad is proud of their Indian heritage, it is said to be the site of 4 clans, but there is the 7 clan casino – would like to know more of that story too. Wouldn’t you know, gas is only $2.69 here!!! We turned N on Hwy 313 for a few miles to the Canadian border. The border agent was very business-like, wanted to know all about Ron’s guns, etc. – and then sent us on our way – its 1 o’clock (CT). Only 178 K to Winnipeg (that’s about 100 miles). The road is very flat, fairly smooth & there is no traffic at all. It is Very humid & hot – lots of storm clouds all around us. Saw a Sand Hill Crane in the ditch along the road.
Looks like we are driving right into a big storm; rain, lightening and winds – the whole package. Ron wanted the storm radio out, but I couldn’t tune it in to get anything I could understand. We had really hard rain for about 25 mins. – at least we got all those bugs off the motor home & the windshield! The new rain smells soooo good! Steinback – lots of big hatcheries – another gas stop – 9.49/liter = $43. Very nice young man pumped the gas for us – and we were on our way – VERY RELIEVED! Just a little ways down the road we passed a Mennonite Restaurant that was offering a Father’s Day buffet – I offered to buy Ron dinner – but it’s only 3:20 P (CT) so we travel on. I would have liked to stop as the restaurant is part of the Mennonite Heritage Village Museum – a re-created Dutch-German village. But we have to get thru Winnipeg tonight. Traveled thru more flat land, large farms & flooded fields. Something different – they speak French here – the signs are bi-lingual! Onto hwy 1 – lots of road construction. Photo of Ukrainian Orthodox Church – very pretty, very unusual!
About 4:10 P (CT) we got back on Hwy 101 W, to go thru Winnipeg, we got turned around somewhere right downtown & didn’t get out of town as quickly as we wanted. Winnipeg is the geographic center of North Am. It is very large & really old, looks like it would be fun to spend some time here – there are awesome parks, a lot of history, and great restaurants. A very special little bear was named after WINNIEpeg! OK, grandkids – who is that little bear? The city of >650,000 people is located where the Assiniboine & the Red Rivers meet. There appears to be large populations of Ukrainians & First Nations (Indian) – at least in the areas we traveled thru. We were barely out of town & the farm country was all around us again. Almost ran into some very rough road where they had been working, sign said CAUTION, but the cones had been moved off the road. The outside lane was down several inches below the paved side & the gravel was very uneven – very dangerous. Thank heavens the traffic was light & Ron was able to get into the left lane quickly. There is a lot of new building going on, stores & homes – looks like this area is doing ok!
We are now on the Yellowhead Highway (Canadian Hwy 1) (also part of the Trans Canada Highway), passing huge fields of canola. Looks like it just rained here, the roadway is quite wet. Large black clouds all around us & the wind from the S is very strong. We only got a few sprinkles – then it was sunny again – we sure have been fortunate dogging those storms today! About 5 p (CT) we pulled into Miller’s Camping Resort – in the Good Sam book it shows it located just beyond where we turn onto Hwy 16 – but it is actually ½ K before the intersection, so we can hop right on tomorrow morning. It is located 6 mi E of Portage la Prairie. The campground is pretty nice – manager very helpful. The grounds are wet (no surprise there) & the mosquitoes are small, but really thick! We don’t even want to go outside. There is some road noise & the required train travels nearby, the older bathrooms are large & clean and there is a large – “grandma”- warm swimming pool. I even thought about getting in to relax, but didn’t bring my suit. What are the chances of finding a really warm pool!!! Fixed a quick supper of BLT sandwiches & tried the WIFI – when they said “limited” they weren’t kidding – I think I am limited to communicating w/the office! The rate was quite fair at $25.20. The humity is getting better, I think we will sleep well again tonight – a lot of “issues” are off our minds tonight!
Oh my gosh, I looked in the mirror this evening – think the “grey hair fairy” hit me head-on; the last week has been stressful, but this is ridiculous – I did a double-take! Maybe it’s just the lighting. . .
Hours on the road today: 9 Miles traveled today: 457