Saturday, November 29, 2008

Day 2 --> Madison, WI to Grand Forks, ND

Day 2 --> Madison, WI to Grand Forks, ND 938 Kms.
Just how far is 938 km well to compare, if you were to drive from Niagara to Quebec City it would be 916 km. This makes the two day total up to 2,018 km or the distance from Niagara through Canada to just outside of Kenora.

I know I said I would probably be skipping the Great Wolf Lodge but I had to go right beside it. I don't understand why there are so many waterpark/resorts in Wisconsin Dells. I like the look of our Lodge better than this one. Although if we could get one of the big rides like they have it would be fun. This is a picture taken from the highway going past it.

There were a few ski hills along the way and it was nice to see some different elevations as I am headed toward the prairies. There were a lot of farms as expected and it is clear to see why this state is the dairy capital of the USA. This next picture I just can't explain. I was trying to get a picture of the St.Croix River, the border between WI and MN and snapped out the drivers window. Later at the hotel when I went through the pictures after downloading them I realize what in fact I had captured. You might have to rub your eyes but that is a St.Catharines Transit bus! What is was doing 1,500 km from the garden city escaped me but there it is. I wonder if the Standard would want to do an story on this?

I decided to drive the I-94 through the Twin Cities (nearly 60% of the population of the state lives here) rather than taking the by-pass. If you are wanting to see the cities this is the way to go. you get to cross the Mississippi and you also get a pretty good look as traffic practically stops about three or four times going through the city centres. It especially slows as as you head into a tunnel that is shorter than the Thorold Stone Road Tunnel. Other than having the football stadium, I think I like the skyline of St. Paul more than Minneapolis. This is the approach to St.Paul.

Once I got past the cities the speed picked up and the sun started to set and gave a great effect with the clouds. Being in the Central Time Zone it gets dark early. Everything was going well until Todd and Douglas Counties where a light snow started to blow in. It was hard to tell what exactly what was happening with the road conditions, I could tell something was going on by looking to the I-94 South lanes coming towards us were the traffic was bunching up and slowing down. As traffic approached West Union cars started braking. This is where leaving space and not tailgating comes in handy. I am also thankful to the firefighters for getting me my new snow tires. BLACK ICE for about 15 miles! This meant slowing to about 30 mph. In the span of about twenty minutes, I counted nine cars off the road. Where the Dept. of Highways was, I don't know but I do know they weren't salting or sanding the Interstate. I got off at Alexandria for a coffee and to plan the rest of my travels for the night. I spoke with someone who had driven in from Grand Forks, ND and he said that the roads were bare but planned to wait the weather out a bit (maybe wait for the salt) in Alexandria. I re-entered the highway cautiously and headed out for the two hour drive to Fargo my intended destination. Looking behind me I was puzzled as there was very little traffic after that. Maybe (speculation) there was an accident that closed the highway behind me. Not to far along the road was bare and driving conditions excellent. Wat a relief.

I got into Fargo and was pretty disappointed with North Dakota that their Welcome Centre was closed and dark. However, I was able to park and plan out my route to Grand Forks about 70 miles down the road. This was a sculpture outside of their welcome center. Think the Bulls in Chicago or the Moose sculptures in Toronto (and at the Ontario Fire College.)

Got into Grand Forks at about 10:oo PM and decided to stay at the first hotel which also happens to have some restaurants and a mall right beside it. The hotel is actually in the middle of the mall parking lot. Tomorrow I cross back into Canada and up to Winnipeg and then across to Saskatchewan.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Day 1 --> Queenston, ON to Madison, WI

Day 1 - Queenston, ON to Madison, WI

The day started out pretty cloudy and grey. Early in the morning (after a very late night) I thought it would be appropriate to start my travel blog off with a picture of my hometown sign. I finished packing by about 10:00 AM and was on the road by 10:30 with a stop at Country Cravings for a Chicken Club and a coffee. (No lettuce or tomato on the sandwich though) The drive through Ontario was rather uneventful. I stopped off along the highway to stretch out at about Woodstock and then drove right on through to the bridge in Sarnia. The half metre of snow has nearly all melted there were traces in Strathroy but not too much in Sarnia or London. There was a bit of snow and hail on my drive on the 402. I went through the Nexus lanes where I was asked my citizenship and where I was going.

Michigan - The state speed limit for highways is 70 MPH what a wonderful speed. I traveled I-69 past Flint and Lansing stopping for gasoline and dinner in Charlotte. I continued to the I-94 and into Indiana.

Indiana - While on the I-94 you travel a small portion of the state. Every radio ad seems to be for Notre Dame. I drove over to the Indiana Toll Road I-90 where I paid $.60 to enter and $1.75 to exit. This was so I could get over to the Chicago Skyway.

Illinois - Or should I say IllANNOYING with all the tolls. First they want $3.00 then They charge you $.80 then $.80 again then $1.50 then another $.60 then to finally another dollar. I did get to see the downtown and Sears tower from my window as I drove by but their highway system is a lot like in Montreal with the expressways being sunken. I went pas Nathan's old street and followed the subway line out past O'Hare. When I got to Des Plaines I stopped again for a stretch and to fill up again. I left there headed out towards Beloit. I had heard on the radio about the Beloit College Mindset List. Please have a look at your year if you are the class of 2002-the class of 20012.

I will digress and tell you a few of the things for my year...
The people starting college this fall across the nation were born in 1980.
They have no meaningful recollection of the Reagan era, and did not know he had ever been shot. They were 11 when the Soviet Union broke apart, and do not remember the Cold War....

Wisconsin - I crossed into Wisconsin on the I-39 North and drove through to Madison. I am near Wisconsin Dells but do not think I am going out of my way to see the first Great Wolf Lodge. On NPR Radio Wisconsin there was a one hour program on ways to cook and hunt moose, otherwise it was pretty much just Christmas carols on the radio. The CAA/AAA book said that the Super 8 had free high speed and 15% off listed price for members so that is where I am writing you now. My plan for day two is to head for Fargo and see where I am at from there. Stay tuned...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

What About The Weather

Some people have told me that it is so cold in Yellowknife that the weather even freezes! Today is one of the first really cold days in Niagara. Holiday Valley opened up on Thursday with a twenty inch base and "lake effect" storms happening as well. I was told that it was the third earliest opening in their history down in Ellicottville.

I thought I would share with you a little snapshot about the weather here in Niagara compared to in Yellowknife. I did some research on wikipedia and and here is what I came up with. I just got back from Outdoor's Oriented where my Uncle bought me a new pair of winter boots and some high-tek wool socks. At least my feet will be warm.

Friday, November 21, 2008

T-Minus One Week

T-Minus One Week

In one week I will be leaving the tropical south (Canada's banana belt) Niagara-on-the-Lake headed out on a one week Odyssey across this great land we call Canada. At the urging of Audrey Epp and in the footsteps of Ryan Androsoff I have started this blog. Having not much experience at his I will have to learn along the way. 

For those of you who haven's heard, I am moving to the Northwest Territories, Yellowknfe to be precise to take a job with the City as a lifeguard and water safety instructor, and before you start laughing, it is at an indoor pool.  In the past few weeks I have given up my responsibilities with the different board's I am on (Fort George, Willowbank, NDFFA) and have wrapped up my jobs with the Niagara Parks Commission, Great Wolf Lodge and Niagara Classic Cars. With one week to go, I still have some planning, packing, cleaning and tying up of loose ends.  

Thank you for supporting this move I am making. I am thankful especially to the Queenston Volunteer Firefighters' who without my knowledge or permission took my car while I was in Montreal last week and put snow tires on it. I am going to miss Spike's cooking on Monday nights and especially our Friday routine with the usual suspects. My last night in town is going to be at the Niagara District Firefighters' Association Christmas dinner in Willoughby and it is going to be a lot of fun.  

I am going to head to the CAA today to get some maps and associated resources and will also pick up some travel insurance for my excursion through the States. I haven't quite decided on my route because as it is winter here in most of Canada I will decide along the way. My main choices are going to be where to cross back into Canada (Manitoba or Sask.) do I travel north from Regina to Saskatoon and on to Edmonton or do I head west to Calgary and then up to Edmonton. I figure that it is at least twenty hours from Edmonton to Yellowknife! And yes there is a road that goes up there however there might be a problem when I get to the Mackenzie River in Fort Providence but they tell me that what they do is put an excavator on the front of the ferry and get you across until the ice bridge is in. If any of you have suggestions on routes that you have taken or know of, I would be happy to hear them.

I hope you enjoy reading this Blog and I will make my best attempts at updating it as I go along heading into the darkness that is North of 60. Please keep in touch as always, my e-mail is going to stay the same: 

A little bit more about how the name of this blog was created. Those of you who are from Niagara-on-the-Lake should catch on right away. I wanted to bridge the gap between the north and south and so I blended the two with the name Nwt-O-T-L. 

Here are some of the links mentioned in my blog: