Extravagant Trek to Alaska and Thereabouts: Day 1

Vee and me standing in front of the Manitoba Welcome sign

My girlfriend, Veronika, and I spent the night at my sister’s house in Wausau, WI yesterday, which was just a short, two-hour trek north of our home in Madison. We arrived later than expected because we didn’t anticipate how long being blessed for safe travels would take (her mother is just the wee bit nervous of our adventure.) Nevertheless, we made it and spent the rest of the evening listening to rap songs from the 90s and 2000s and watching the movie Hook. (RIP Robin Williams) I was very pleased to learn that while packing Veronika thought of practically everything. All that was missing was my tooth brush and deodorant. (But who needs that anyway. =P)

We awoke early this morning to get a head start, but ended up leaving about thirty minutes late. My concern throughout the day was that we wouldn’t end up at our destination until after sunset, which would make setting up camp and cooking dinner quite a bit more difficult.

We swung by the nearby Starbucks before directing ourselves westbound toward Minnesota so I could fill my venti-sized Google thermos with Earl Gray. To my dismay (and to the dismay of my burned- off taste buds) the tea didn’t actually cool to a drinkable point until nearly 1:30 in the afternoon! That’s one effective thermos!

Our drive was mostly featureless, and I mean that in every imaginable way. Hardly any traffic, save for a brief spot in the St. Paul area, and absolutely nothing to look at all the way to our campsite in Manitoba. Actually, as we were nearing Riding Mountain National Park of Canada, I was a little skeptical that a National Park could exist here because it was flatter than Iowa and the terrain was virtually all plains and farms, as far as the eye can see.

We did run into a little border patrol trouble at Emerson. Apparently, there’s some sort of bird flu thing going on? Yah, I thought it was over already, too. No, nobody told the Canadians yet. So, I had to sign a document acknowledging that I was giving up my dozen chicken eggs to the crown, and without any expectation of return or compensation. That was no problem, though. We simply bought another dozen in the nearest town for $4 CAD. Yes, we exchanged for Canadian Currency because we’re good tourists. ;-)

We did end up making camp just as the sun was setting, so it wasn’t much of a bother; however, we found ourselves dodging towering-cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds of variating shapes and colors on the way–oh! and we were purportedly in a tornado warning. Camp was a little wet, but the storms moved quickly southeast-bound and we didn’t get rained on once after arrival.

I setup the tent and bedding while Vee prepared dinner. She made pan-fried zucchini and cut up some avocado with hot sauce. She also boiled some potatoes for breakfast. During cleanup, we deposited all of the garbage and food remnants in the bear-proof garbage canisters nearby and left all of our food, dried goods, dishes, and everything else that has a scent in the car. Afterward we discovered challenges with washing the dishes. Even though we had a ready water pump at the campsite, as it turns out, it’s not a good replacement for a faucet… And it’s awkward to clean dishes with. We agreed that next time we would boil a bunch of water and add it to our largest Tupperware container to use as a sink.

Tomorrow, we’re Saskatchewan-bound!