When we left upstate New York, we drove into Canada near Ottawa and drove along the Trans-Canada Highway.
For those that would believe a highway with such a name would be a huge 4 lane, or larger, highway, you would be wrong. Nearly all of the part my wife and I drove along was just one lane in each direction with a 90kph (55mph) speed limit. The engineer in me believes that there is no reason to enlarge the road because outside of the towns we would encounter only one or two cars every few minutes.
The route is very beautiful and wonderfully rural. I would recommend that people should put driving this route on their “bucket list”. It took us 3-1/2 days of easy driving, camping each of the three nights in the very nice Provincial Parks to make it around Lake Superior and back to the USA.
One thing that makes me wonder about the climate, though, is the availability Diesel #1, Winter Blend Diesel and Diesel #2. Diesel #1 is one of those products that I rarely encounter in the deserts of the USA. 🙂
After we drove back into the USA we camped at a county park/campground in Minnesota about 15 miles from the start of the Mississippi River. It was a Sunday night and we were the only humans in the park. The mosquitoes, however, were *NUMEROUS*, *HUGE* and *HUNGRY*. The 100% strength DEET insect repellent on our clothes and 25% strength DEET on our exposed skin kept the mosquitoes mostly at bay. After awhile we quit noticing the loud whine of the clouds of frustrated mosquitoes.
I wasn’t able to get a picture of the road sign, that I think was a joke (but I’m not sure). It was the typical road warning sign–a yellow square set so that the points of the sign are at the noon-3-6-9 clock positions with a black symbol warning of an upcoming road hazard. In this case, instead of an arrow or a picture of a large truck tipping over, there was an image of a mosquito flying off with a human.
We stopped at Itasca Lake State Park and waded across the Mississippi and then walked across the Mississippi River Bridge. It’s hard to tell from looking at this picture, but the bridge is only about 30 feet (not quite 10 meters) long and the water would barely cover one’s feet.
We then drove on US Interstate Highway 94, and camped west of Bismark, ND so that we could stop at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. There were a huge number of Prairie Dogs and it was interesting watching them. Prairie dog lookouts were stationed at various points, watching for predators and at any sign of concern, the lookout would sound an alarm “bark”, which resulted in every prairie dog scurrying for their burrows.
We also had to wait for a herd of bison to finish crossing the road, which I thought was amazing. In the car behind us was a family and the man (father/dad, I’m guessing) was grumbling about how long it took for the bison to cross the road. His wife and children were much more patient and they even laughed at my “The reason the bison, or chickens for that matter, cross the road is to prove to the armadillo that it can be done.” joke.
At the park is a cabin that was used by President Theodore Roosevelt and what amazed me were the examples of cookware displayed in the cabin’s “kitchen”. It wasn’t the age of the items that amazed me, rather it was that I have similar items in my own kitchen.
From there we drove on into Montana and camped just outside of the Little Big Horn Battlefield Monument. The interpretative park ranger was a retired history teacher and it showed. His narration of the battle was nothing short of amazing. I hope the US National Park Service recognizes the talent in that man! This site is also a US National Cemetery (for US military veterans) and I saw grave markers with dates up through the mid 1970s. For what it is worth, this is probably the most emotion producing place we visited during the 7,000 mile (11,000Km) drive.
Our route then took us through Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks. Even the smallest of parks deserves a few days of time for a visit and, like the Grand Canyon National Park, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons deserves many days. We didn’t have that much time, so we didn’t even try to “drive in, get a T-shirt and say we ‘did it’.” We will visit these places again when we have more time.
The final two places we visited were Bryce Canyon and the Glen Canyon Dam. We camped inside the park at Bryce and spent quite a bit of time wandering around the park, watching the light of the sunset play on the rock formations.
The last place was a “I didn’t know they offered tours” so it was an even more spur of the moment thing. My wife and I are both engineers and her dad worked at a small low head, high flow hydroelectric power plant on a river in upstate New York, so there was no way we would not stop to see a “high head, lower flow” large hydroelectric power plant.