My brother-in-law was getting married. So that meant that Leah and I would have to make the long drive to North Carolina once more. On the way down, we made great time: we pulled out of Thompson on Sunday at 2pm Central and reached Yonder Mountain on Tuesday Morning at 2am Eastern. Thats 35 hours. Pretty good when you consider that last time it took 41.
Well, Leah is staying in NC to spend some time with her family. So I made the drive back alone. I left Monday at 5pm. I stopped at the Bass Pro Shop in Sevierville, TN. I stopped in Indiana somewhere and tried to sleep for 3 hours, but only got about 1 hour. Oh, we made a bed in the back of our Prius, which is surprisingly comfortable. I got up and drove some more.
For some reason that I can’t remember, I ended up driving through downtown Indianapolis. I stopped in Lafayette to get my oil changed and ended up being there for about three hours. Then came Chicago and traffic. It took me 14 hours to go what should have been a 7 hour drive. Granted I stopped at both Cabela’s in chicago and a couple of Gander Mountains as well.
Then I stopped to sleep. I pulled over at 6 pm and woke up at 4 am completely disoriented. But I pulled myself together and kept on driving.
Then I got an idea. Instead of going through Emerson North Dakota, I decided to drive north of Minneapolis and cross the border at International Falls. It was a really nice drive most of the way. It reminded of the wilderness of Northern Canada, except the trees were fatter, but not as tall. And there were plenty of gas stations.
I almost hit a big wild pig. It ran right out in front of me. Then I kept hearing on the radio that there was a storm in some county. Minnesota doesn’t do like the rest of the states and post signs at the county lines so that you’ll know where you are, they just let you guess. So I didn’t know where this storm was. There were clear, blue skies where I was. Until I got about 15 miles from Canada. The sky in front of me was dark, but it was clearly moving eastward, that is, until I got right next to it, then it started moving westward.
I passed a little store and thought about stopping, but I did not. But when I saw a tornado form just a few hundred yards from me, I decided to turn around. I drove through the most awful rain I’ve ever driven through. Then I stopped at the little store and waited it out.
Then I made it to the border. I went into the Canadian Tire in the Canadian part of International falls, which is called either Francis Falls or Francis Fort, I think. Though I explain Canadian Tire as the product of a romantic fling between Walmart and Advance Auto to my American friends, this Canadian Tire would have Advance Auto wondering if Walmart had been fooling around with Lowe’s.
The road through Ontario was pretty and it was curvy, but as soon as I got into Manitoba, I entered whitetail country. Underneath the “prancing deer” signs, they had signs that read “night danger.” And it was true. Deer were all over the road. Standing in the middle of the road. Looking at me. No bucks. Just does. I guess the bucks realize the risk of being seen by people. There is a pretty high mortality rate for bucks that are bad hiders. So driving slowly to let the deer pass set me back quite a bit.
I pulled over at Ashern and slept for an hour. Then I drove on a little. I saw the biggest black bear I’ve ever seen. I thought it was a grizzly, or maybe two black bears in a giant black bear costume. It was big. It got into the woods before I could take a picture.
At this point, one must know that I really like seeing wildlife, and the one thing that I’ve wanted to see the entire time I’ve been here is a moose. So when I looked in that opening and saw that moose playing in the water, I turned on a dime and parked to look at it. The thing just sat there looking at me, then continued playing in the water.