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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Through the Border

May 23

We started in Weyburn searching for a gas station with an air pump. One tire on the trailer needs more air and, of course, we wouldn’t think that that would be a great problem, but in Weyburn it is.  When asking at the Co-op Truckstop I am met by some lame excuses and vague directions to a different station. We drive over to ESSO and they have an airpump --- mounted in an inaccessible corner of the station with a hose way too short. After 3 more stations we give it up and drive on to Estevan. Finally I find a station on the way out of  Esteavan with a pump in the back yard in front of a car wash. Not very accessible either --- but we manage.

Shortly after we reach the U.S.-border at North Portal. The officers want me to open the lower compartments in the bus. Another officer, checking the interior re-appears with a tomato he found in our fridge. The rest of  our vegetables are in bags marked with: “Made in the USA”, and we can pass on with them.

The road from Estevan to the border is not of the best to say it mildly. In contrast, Hwy 52 beyond the border is as smooth as can be. At Kenmare we pull up at the Diesel Pump. The entire yard of the gas station is one muddy dirt pool. The rain has done major damage to the facilities and the truckstop in the back.

The sun disappears and a darker cloud cover promises rain as we go on further south to Minot.

Minot is the town known for a major annual event, the 
Norsk Hostfest, which attracts thousands of campers and visitors from Scandinavia. Minot has a major Scandinavian population and names like HANSEN, ANDERSON, SORENSON, or PETTERSEN are witnessing about their heritage. Also a copy of a Norwegian Stave Church has been set up in Minot. It was pre-built in Norway and shipped in parts to Minot.

From Minot we follow Hwy 83 south. It is the main road to the City of Bismarck.

Our destination for this afternoon is the town of Underwood. Just north of Underwood, behind the Garrison Dam, lies the huge Lake Sakakawea. 
This is NOT Lake Sakakawea but flooded fields
The name is after the Indian girl who was the scout of the Lewis and Clark expedition, which in their search for a way to the Pacific Coast followed the Missouri River upstream. 
So the lake is fed by the waters of the big Missouri River and the free flowing Yellowstone River. Both rivers run out of Montana.
The dam was build to produce electricity and control flooding downstream.

It is 3,4km (2,1mi) long and 64m (210ft) high. Hydro-power turbines at Garrison Dam have an electric power generating nameplate capacity of 515 megawatts. Average production of 240 megawatts serves several hundred thousand customers.

The Garrison Power Station
Just below the dam lies the Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery. It is the world's largest walleye and northern pike producing facility and also works to restore endangered species, such as the pallid sturgeon.

We are visiting friends at Underwood this afternoon and evening and are enjoying a great welcome dinner in their cozy home.

Read more tomorrow: In the woods of Minnesota

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