Day 31 - 8/1/07: Winnipeg, MB to Hudson, WI

Day 31 - Winnipeg to Hudson
Sunflower Field GPS - USA Border US Border
     
Bike at Border Bike at Border Rest Area

Today I made it back to the USA! I didnít bother to fill up on the way out of Winnipeg this morning as the border is only 60 or so miles away. On my way to the border I found a sunflower field. I stopped and took pics. It was rather nice seeing a huge field of sunflowers.

 Later I stopped to get a pic of the GPS with the border displayed. After taking the pic I noticed that I had picked up a hitchhiker, a grasshopper was on my right thigh. I must have picked him up at the sunflower field. He seemed content to go for a ride, so I figured what the hell, letís go! He stayed with me until the border crossing. I looked down and he was gone. I guess he just wanted to get down the road a bit.

 I was stuck in line at the border for around 45 minutes. The lines were very long and apparently I got there right at the shift change. When it was my turn the border guard seemed more interested in the bike and my trip than the possibilities of me smuggling items into the country. He asked me why I was in Canada, I said I had traveled to Alaska. He asked if I had come all the way from TN, I said yes. Then he wanted to know how far I had gone, what I had seen, how the trip had been. Every now and then he would throw in an official question, much like this:
So you rode all the way from TN?
How far did you go?
To the Arctic Ocean, cool.
How was British Columbia?
Do you have any weapons or pepper spray with you?
Did you see any bears?
It sure has been hot these past couple of days.

 After he eventually got through all of the official questions we talked for about 5 more minutes. He told me how he really wished he could take a trip like this. I asked him for a stamp on my passport. After all, I had paid $170 for the thing, and Iíd only gotten 1 stamp from Beaver Creek, YK on my way into Canada from Alaska. He said that the guards donít have stamps, but I could go inside and get one if I really wanted one. We said our goodbyes and I parked the bike around the corner. I went inside and asked for a passport stamp. The girl looked at me like I was crazy, but I didnít care, I just wanted my stamp. I went out and took some pics of the bike. I parked next to an obelisk. I donít know why it was there. Iím figuring it probably marks the border between Canada and the US, but there were no signs letting you know why it was placed there. I took some pics anyway, just in case it turns out that itís an important item. I gave Patty a call on my Verizon cell phone. I had checked it every day of the trip and I had not had service since entering Canada. I did not check it between Winnipeg and the border, but I found it quite humorous that the phone worked as soon as I entered the US. I told her Iíd call her later on in the day when I got farther into the US and had better service.

 I got some gas in Pembina, just over the border. I also helped some Canadians pump their gas. Apparently the US pumps are different than the Canadian ones. It turns out that they didnít push the right buttons on the pump. I switched the GPS over from Metric to Statute and was happy to be able to see distances in miles instead of having to convert the kilometers in my head.

 I got on the interstate and passed by many more sunflower fields. Some of these were much better than the one in Canada, but I didnít feel safe pulling over to the side of the interstate in North Dakota. I had thought about turning onto a side road and backtracking to the fields, but the opportunity never came. I had become used to riding on the Canadian Hwys, and had to reacquaint myself with the American Interstate.

 I gassed up again outside of Fargo at Fergus Falls and I met a guy at the gas station. We talked about the trip and the bike. He owns a Harley (it seems everyone does but me), and is planning an Alaska trip for next year. He was most fascinated by British Columbia and the Yukon Territory. He had only planned on Alaska, but after hearing about all the beautiful mountains and wildlife, he is going to look into adding the Alaska Hwy to his trip.

 About an hour outside of Minneapolis I stared hearing conversations over the CB. The first one talked about a lot of cars. I thought they meant cop cars. Later I heard one of them mention something about a lot of cars at the bridge on 35. Cop cars at a bridge I thought, no big deal. I didnít hear the whole thing, so I didnít understand the 35. Was it I-35? Mile 35? I had no idea, but I saw a sign for hwy 135 and thought this must be what they meant, so I slowed down. Finally, about 10 minutes later I get the whole story. A bridge that crosses the river on 35 West in downtown Minneapolis had collapsed with around 50 cars involved. Luckily I was nowhere near there, but I still had to plan a route through the city in case traffic was bad.

 I kept heading southeast and stopped the ďBig SpunkĒ rest area (I swear the name is real). I called Patty and we talked for about 30 minutes. I watched the people at the rest area while we chatted. I saw 3 other people take pictures of the sign while I was on the phone, it was pretty funny. I tried to look up an alternate route on the GPS, but gave up and hit the road.

 Traffic turned out to be fine, but the GPS directions were not. It had me get off of 694, do about 2 miles on a back road, then right back onto 694. Then it had me get off on an exit, and while I was on the off ramp going around 50mph, it says ďtake the next right in 50 feetĒ. I was like WTF!!!!!!!! Needless to say I missed that exit. So the GPS recalculates the route and heads me west onto 35, the same highway that the bridge collapsed on. I have no idea where I am, or how close to the bridge I am, but traffic sucked. Luckily enough as soon as I got on 35 West, the GPS had me get on 35 East. So I had to fight my way across bumper to bumper traffic to get to the left side of the interstate and 35 East. Once I did this the GPS did the wacky again but I caught it in time and made the correct turns. I ended up riding for about 30 min in the dark and got to the hotel at 9:45. This getting dark stuff is starting to piss me off. Last week I had 24 hours of daylight, with the sun in the sky! Oh well, Iíd better get used to it.

 At the hotel I asked the front desk girl for a good pizza place, after all why should I break my tradition. She gave me some coupons and I headed for my room. Every place I tried closed at 9:00, and I didnít even get to the hotel until 9:45. So I decided to go for a swim and a soak in the hot tub. I had carried my swim suit with me all the way to Alaska and back and had not yet used it. I should have used it in Deadhorse, but being the genius that I am, I left it in Anchorage when I made my Dalton Hwy run. But I figured better late than never. I swam for around 20 minutes or so, then soaked in the hot tub for 15, then floated in the pool for another 15. I dried off and asked the front desk girl if there were any other delivery places. She gave me 2 sandwich places and a Green Mill menu (kinda like Applebeeís). I called all of them. The 2 sandwich places were closed, and the Green Mill stops delivering at 10:00. So much for that, so I walked to Burger King and got a value meal.

 After dinner I checked my email and watched some TV. I hit the sack at 1:30 or so.  

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