Thanks for the encouragment!
It goes on...
The next morning, well, this was the plan...I often travel with a friend, two friends actually. One is, on this trip, my friend Michter's Rye
My other friend is a Ruger 40 caliber pistol. Never have come close to using it, but I sometimes stay in some sketchy enough areas, or travel through such, that I like my companion.
The Peoples' Republic of Canada does not share that regard, so traveling with the gun across the border was a non starter. So, I decided to stay 2 nights in Hallock, and, make a day trip to Winnipeg, take my picture at the plaque, have a GOOD lunch and head back. I would leave Mr Ruger in my luggage in the hotel room.
That was Plan A and it actually worked out as planned!
I head out the next morning, filling up, not knowing what the ava of gas would be North of the Border.
So many choices...NOT
The Red River of the North separates Minnesota from North Dakota. It flows eventually into Hudson Bay.
For a swamp boy, that's NORTH. Also, as I was growing up, I doubted the existence of North Dakota. I never knew anyone from there, I'd never seen a license plate from there. Does it really exist? Is it where the edge of the known world is?
I do now believe that North Dakota exists. I've been there unless it was a very elaborate hoax.
The Red River of the North. North Dakota on the left, Minnesota on the right. See the difference?
Am I being punked?
I take a right and am I 29 in North Dakota. On this Sunday morning I approach the customs station that will grant entrance to Canada on the Lord Selkirk Highway.
Thomas Douglas, Fifth Earl of Selkirk [Lord Selkirk] (1771-1820)
Not really sure why the highway is named after Thomas Douglas. He was apparently an agent of the Hudson Bay Company who had run ins with the locals, the Nor'Westers, from as far away as Montreal all the way to Winnipeg. He was given 116,000 acres, by the Hudson Bay Company, and told to "settle" the area around what is now Winnipeg. He comes in, after previous corporate intrusions into the local fur trade failed, he comes in with Swiss mercenaries to "develop" the area. He was probably viewed as a corporate stooge or thug.
History is written by the victors, though, and Manitoba 75 is named after him.
But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you about Canadian customs.
They have already built a wall.
Figuratively...a somewhat hostile bureaucracy with all the friendliness of our DMV.
I approach the drive through, passport ready. I stop, first I am chided by the officier for using the truck lane. Ok, my bad, but when I pulled up there was a sign listing all the lanes that were closed, and it appeared there was maybe only 1 or 2 open. There was no traffic, no other vehicles to suggest which one to take, so I pull over to the one green light I see.
you're in the truck lane
ok, so what do you want me to do?
Just give me your passport (huff) and license, see? and he nods to the truck now behind me. (huff) He's pi$$ed. Life is so unfair, you know? Imagine his plight. Having to deal with "THIS." A motorcycle in the truck lane, could it get any worse?
Mea frickin' culpa! A tragedy at the border, A motorcycle in front of a truck. I smile in abject apology.
He stamps my passport and tells me I have to go into the office...over there and to park in the car places. The exchange takes about a minute.
He was the good cop of this exchange. I park at the expanse that is Canadian Customs, in the car park, under the overhang, and walk into the large single level glass and concrete building. Double glass doors with stainless frames. A very long L shaped counter separates those crossing the border from the protectors of the realm.
It is a very large building, far bigger than US customs that I vist later in the day. Canada has deemed it necessary to build such a fortress to separate this
because you just can't tell who people are these days!
There is a maze of bank style dividers that make you weave back and forth for about 100 feet to get to the point where you can be appropriately called, "Next." The only other supplicants for entry is a group of 5, a grandmother, a mother, and three children, being interrogated by those given the charge of protecting the homeland. They are there when I arrive and they are still there when I leave.
The border guards are manikin-like. All 30 something males, all fit, all about 5'10" and 195#, all dressed in swat gear minus the helmets, but complete with flak jackets, Darth Vader like, and not a smile or good morning to be had. I don't know if I qualified for extra scrutiny, because I went into the truck lane, or I am a single male ( a grandpa one) or I'm on a motorcycle, or what, I don't know if this is actually "extra" scrutiny. Maybe they do this to everyone as I am certain our border people do on our southern border, right?
Anyhow, Officer Creamer (yes, that is his name) begins the questioning which winds up taking about 15-20 minutes. Maybe I just have that "look," though that could be "profiling?" Then again, I'm not in Kansas anymore. Maybe he doesn't like my answers?
Where are you going?
Why are you going to Winnipeg?
To take a picture.
That really got him, and he now looks up from my passport. I start telling him about the Jefferson Highway, the first trans-national route, from New orleans to Winnipeg, motorcycle ride, sounds like an adventure, etc... And there is a plaque at the end where I will take my picture for the Travel Section of out local paper.
He's not buying it. None of it.
I am ON the Jefferson Highway; his customs fortress is in ON the Jefferson Highway and he is totally incredulous.
You mean you rode 18 hours to take a picture?
No, I rode 5 days to get to this point and today I will take a picture.
He tells me that he's heard a lot of stories over "his years"--his years! He's in his 30s, "his" years! No one is legitimately allowed to use that phrase until your 50s at least, His Years. Are they like dog years, Officer Creamer? I didn't say that, btw, as these guys were armed to the teeth so prudence dictates that sarcasm is best held in check.
He goes on to ask me why would I do that, ie make this trip, suggesting that I could "take a plane, take my picture and be back in a day." I tell this kid that there is no adventure in that, that this is an historic route, that I am riding a route done by Americans and Canadians a hundred years ago.
He then goes on to ask me what my job is. I tell him. Now, he wants to know how I have this much time off to do this. I tell him I am semi-retired, so I have the time, and my wife lets me, and I enjoy it.
Officer Creamer, just shakes his head. No humor is in his brain. No acceptance, almost disdain, almost a sneer at what I am doing, like it's a colossal waste of time. If this is the face of Canada, it needs another face.
I am released and I hit the road, Lord Selkirk Highway, for my way into Winnipeg.
I didn't know what to expect, though from the countryside I expected a flat dusty cow town with boring architecture.
I was SO WRONG! Winnipeg is a very neat and cool town!
Winnipeg is an old city, at least back to the mid 1700s and a trading crossroads before that. It has beautiful architecture, green parks, two rivers and a confluence, is cosmopolitan.
Lots of millenials, and post hippies. It has food! On this sunny spring late Sunday morning, lots of people are out, the restaurants are packed and there's a really good vibe, like a big city should have! I'll bet Officer Creamer hates it.
I find the plaque and record it for posterity, and The Times-Picayune
The plaque is located in the sprawl part of town, a distance from the city center
I ate at one of the Stella's Cafes and it was terrific. I sat at the bar with the Sunday brunch crowd and being a single and willing to sit at the bar, I jumped ahead of the formidable line of hungry diners. The people were very friendly and as often happens when you sit at the bar, you get into conversations with your fellow diners and the servers. I had a pasta with Mediterranean veggies dish that REALLY hit the spot and whose taste was only exceeded by the aroma of the roasted garlic. A far cry, a different planet, than the Caribou Grill. As Stella's was also a bakery, I got some provisions for the evening, something to hold me overnight, and then hit the road.
There was another way back, I am now finished the Jefferson Highway part of the ride, so I am now meandering back toward the Gulf of Mexico, far, far away.