Friends, I'll have to narrate this story over a series of blog posts. The whole trip was Toronto then head south to Chicago, all the way west to Montana, north back into Canada to Calgary, then turn south and drive all the way south through Montana, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, California, then turn the car around and head north, back into Canada via Montana, Alberta, back south through Montana and east all the way to Michigan and north into Canada.....and finally my resting place, Toronto! Total Days = 12. Total Distance = 11,050 kilometres / 6,900 miles. (Somehow, I was averaging 1,000 kilometres / 600 miles a day, and having fun!)
If you think you got a headache just reading the itinerary, what about me? I had to DRIVE it!
So here's the first part of the story
I left Toronto in the evening of Friday December 23....and by the time I got to Fargo, North Dakota very late the next day....the road conditions were just treacherous. My car had brand new winter / snow tires .. . .. and even they were acting as if they didn't want to be on the trip!
Woke up Christmas morning in Fargo, with the goal of reaching Calgary, Alberta, 1,500 kilometres / 900+ miles away, by sleepytime. Sometime about noon, I stopped at a rest stop to stretch out my body parts.....and by the time I got back into the car, I could barely see one car length in front of me.
The highway (Interstate 94), was desolate. I got back on the highway and the warnings came on the radio that due to extremely hazardous blizzard conditions, the snow plows were being pulled off the roads and that the highway was going to be closed at 4 pm.
My main goal at this time was just get to a gas station or rest stop that had humans around. Somewhere I could get food, gas and maybe if I was really lucky....INTERWEBS!
I was lucky! Just before 4 pm, shutdown time, I got to this Flying J Tractor Trailer Truck Stop in Beach, North Dakota..( I have no idea where these folks got that name from....but I can tell you categorically, there was absolutely NOTHING beachy about Beach, North Dakota).
I parked. The Flying J (that's the name of the gas station), had washrooms, showers, coffee donuts, fries, chicken parts...even a TV room with couches and such and suches!
The Highway Police came over and I asked if he knew what the future held...….He advised that he doesn't see the highway opening before noon the next day (Boxing Day).
Beach, North Dakota was going to be me and Altima's home for the next 22 hours! (4pm to 2pm next day). They also had Internets! (it wasn't free though). So for Christmas dinner I had Chicken nuggets (if you close your eyes while eating them, they taste like turkey), mashed potatoes , green peas and water.....and I spent it with about 20 of my very close trucker friends.
These "friends" of mine never ceased to make fun of me....They'd say stuff like "who's the guy driving a Nissan Altima sedan through a North Dakota blizzard?".....and I'ld promptly reply, "hey, what good is your 18 wheeler truck, if IT and MY Altima are BOTH stuck here?"...That usually shut them up for a few minutes, until they got bored of the TV....and start ribbing me again with stuff like "why don't you flip your car over
and use your skis to get through the snow? (They were calling my bike's roof rack, skis)
I had an awesome, fun Christmas with these folks …I'm still in touch with 2 of them...In all I wouldn't trade Christmas 2016 in Beach for anything!
Finally, the highway was reopened at 1 pm but I couldn't leave because I was snowed in! (see the picture?). I had to wait for the little bobcat snow plow to clear the whole gas station.
Fun fact: I was advised to leave the car running, all through the closure. 22 hours on.....and the car went through a quarter tank of gas!