Friday morning we got up early, hooked up 14 dogs to the snowmobile and took them for a 20 mile speed run. After the run, we loaded the dogs into the truck, checked to ensure we had everything and then headed to the UP to pick up Lloyd. Lloyd was packed and ready to roll. We stuffed all 6 foot something of Lloyd into the backseat and hit the highway. We weren’t going to make the mistake we made going west this year by trusting our GPS. Oh no, that wouldn’t be a problem as we quickly discovered that our GPS had no road data for Canada. So we started out the manual way with the Atlas. It was like doing math with your fingers and not the calculator. Resorting to antiquated methods must have made us a little nervous and it was Lloyd that first dialed Yellowknife into the navigator on his phone. I decided to give it a whirl, as well. At one point we had three devices all screaming directions to the driver, “Turn left at highway 11,” said the radio. “In 600 feet, turn left on highway 11,” said one phone, which would be interrupted by the other phone, “…..on highway 11 turn left.” I would then jump in to try and interpret, “I think we’re supposed to turn left. Did she say 7 or 11?” By this point, the driver would be so confused that we usually missed the left turn. All three devices would start bossing us back to the route and unconsciously we were all talking back to one or more of the devices. “Good, idea. I think I’ll turn left.” “Shut up, I don’t want to go that way.” “Hold your horses, I’m working on it.” The madness had already started to set in and this was only day one.
Bruce drove, then Lloyd drove, then Bruce drove and I’ve already lost count. I haven’t driven. I’m the navigator and entertainer. I must keep everyone abreast of the latest dog sled race stats. This is an important job when you have sleep deprived drivers. It was not a problem until we hit Canada. I’ll tell you about that later. Let’s talk about the border crossing first. Since I’ve been going to Canada, I have always hated going through the border crossings. These things are nerve wracking. I’m an honest, law abiding citizen that winds up ready to confess to murder, sex trafficking or drug smuggling by the time they are half way done with the process. It is my nature in these situations to try and make light humor. YOU MUST NEVER DO THIS AT THE BORDER. The guards are trained to be Supreme Buttheads with no sense of humor; NONE. Any attempt at humor usually goes sour fast. On this crossing it all appeared to be going well. The guard was stamping away at our Visas. We had answered the questions and it looked like we were home free. Ohhhhh no, we were instructed to park on the side and head into the office …. “ALL of you,” he commanded. Great, as I feared there might be a rumored anal cavity search in a sequestered room in my near future. I have it all planned in my head. I’m going to fight. This won’t happen to me. I’ve already got my jail cell picked out. I grab the vet book and we head in. There are three unsmiling, unfriendly buttheads in uniform. It is so quiet in this office you could hear a pin drop. I wonder how in the hell anyone can work like that. After about 15 minutes and no communication, two of them put their coats on and say they want to look at the dogs. We are instructed to open every door and show them 16 dogs. They ask the ages. Bruce stutters and says with doubt, “ummm I believe I have everything from 2 to 6 years old.” They look at him odd. Can you blame them? I can see the little thought bubbles above their heads, “This guy doesn’t even know the ages of his dogs? Hmmm that’s odd.” Little do they know that when you have more dogs than you can count, half the time you’re not even sure who you have with you let alone their age. We didn’t share that though. On the 2nd dog they say, “What type of dogs are these?” “Alaskan Huskies” The guards look at each other and go to the next box. “What did you say you do with them?” “We race them in dog sled races.” The guards look at each other. “How OLD are they?” Repeat question, crap they don’t believe us. “They don’t have any FUR? They don’t look anything like what we pictured????” We’re thinking, “OH GREAT, how the hell do we explain this and make it sound believable.” Bruce manages with a few smooth and a few not so smooth efforts. Finally, after dog 16 they give us the blessing that we are free to go. WHEW, I’m practically running to the truck.
So we are in Canada. We are way overdue for an Iditarod update. Awesome, we have 5 bars. Several frustrating attempts and we cannot connect. What the hell? I ask Bruce, once again, “Did you order global service?” He insists he did. I spend another hour only to work myself into a mini sense of rage. This will require a phone call and it’s not going to be me. Bruce is much more suited to sitting on hold forever, plugging through an endless menu of options until you finally reach Bob from India. Bob hooks us up for a little more cash and we are elated. We will have entertainment. No, we won’t. Does not work. Repeat process until we reach Harry from India. Finally, we are able to get updates. It was like walking the desert and coming across a can of cola.
We powered through the night and into the next day. Thus far it has been a mind numbing ride. Some of the flattest and most boring scenery and it never changes. It’s as if Nebraska became a continent. No offense to any of you that call these places home. It is just very hard coming from the land of trees and hills to endless stretches of white nothing. I was barely inspired to blog. I see white. Yep, some more white. Ohhhh, look a bush. Hmmmm nearest town is 300 miles; can’t wait. We’re here? Really? Did I miss it? There’s only one gas station? It’s closed. Nice. Let’s keep driving. Look another gas station. It’s closed. What the hell, it’s dark behind the dumpster; throw the feminism out the window we are peeing outside.
Amenities are few and far between on this route. Bathrooms were a daily issue. At night they are all closed and during the day they are too far apart. Today when we finally found one, the water system had frozen and it was out of order. Thankfully, they are friendly here and guided us to the local community center. Food was also an issue. I had wanted to pack a bag of goodies, but was denied due to time. Soooo it has resulted in an endless stream of gas station junk to get through the trip. When we were unable to stand it any longer we would attempt to stop for food. This morning we were all geared for a good breakfast after making it non-stop through the night. We found a café and it was closed. A nice local fellow guided us to the only place for breakfast; A&W. Not exactly what I was looking for. I choked down a burger at 8AM or something. My spirits were brightened when I realized we would be in Saskatoon at lunch/dinner time and our friend JR had recommended a great place to eat. Unbeknownst to me at the time was how big Saskatoon was and so we expected this restaurant to be right off the highway where we couldn’t miss it. No such animal. I searched feverishly on the internet. No such place. We settle for the first place in our vision only to discover we entered a very scary buffet only restaurant. One looksee at our options and we headed out the door. Right across the parking lot is a bar and grill; we go for it. The appetizer was our first clue there was danger ahead. We ordered Mexican fries; fries smothered in cheese, onions, sour cream, salsa and tomatoes. We received dried up tater tots sprinkled with the above accouterments. I’m frightened now. I ordered dry rubbed ribs, buffalo style and a Cesar salad. When it arrives I have a plate of salad and next to it a pile of deep fried chunks covered in a pink sauce. I choked through a few of the over fried meat croutons slathered in buffalo wing sauce and prayed I wouldn’t be hurling later. We made a mental note to stay far away from this place on the way home.
Satellite radio has been a savior, especially when we were without internet. You don’t do four days in the car listening to AM 760; trust me. That would drive a person mad. You must have variety. When this trip is complete, I will have the world at my fingertips. After endless hours of listening to several different subject matters, I feel as if I’m an expert on some. Hours of Doctor Laura, political discussions and a variety of how to shows have enriched me. After just two days I’m sluggish from junk food but inspired to fix my dysfunctional family, plant a garden and fight the white house.
Stay tuned; there’s more fun to come on this trip as we reach our destination!