Phase - 2 : From
Calgary to East
Day-6 : Lethbridge
This was Day-6, the Trouble Day whole day.
The trouble started from my planning for the
day. According to the plan I prepared with Rand McNally's "Trip Maker"
program, which I have been using to plan all my trips giving miles and
driving time, if I input two locations. The distance between Lethbridge and
Billings was 442 miles to take 9 hours of driving time according to the
"Trip Maker". Therefore, adding 1
hour for lunch, gas station, and some breaks, I planned 10 hours to leave Lethbridge at 8:00 AM to arrive Billings by 6:00 PM, which means it will be
one of the hard long days to drive many hours. Fortunately, Holiday Inn Express
started breakfast service very early 6:00 AM and we could leave Lethbridge
earlier at 7:22 AM. However, when I started a car in the morning, the
navigator showed to arrive Billings at 1:45 PM, 6 hours 15 min. of driving
time only, almost 3 hours shorter than my plan.
Which one should I believe?
I had almost half tank of gas and I thought there must be a gas station on
the way to fill up. Well, there was no gas station in Canada and none in
Montana too when I got into U.S.A.. Just flat straight road but no village
with gas station while gas tank gauge dropped to lower than 1/8 of the tank.
I was scared and was thinking I might have to call AAA emergency road
service. When I saw the sign of "Exxon 12 miles - Shelby" sign, I was so
glad to see it. When we arrived Exxon gas station in Shelby, gas tank was
almost empty, but not zero yet fortunately !!!
Well, The original plan was to have a lunch at Great Falls as it seemed to
be the middle point of the day. However, not only on the Highway-4 in Canada
but also all roads in Montana including Interstate Highway 15, there were
not many cars on the road. No car could be observed in front or back most of
the times. Therefore, I could drive 90-95 miles an hour naturally for whole
day. No car on the road, therefore, no police car too.
We arrived Great Falls at little after 10:00 AM, too early for lunch. We
passed Great Falls and continued driving expecting any place to eat on the
way. Sorry !!! For next 174 miles, no restaurant at all !No big enough
village to have a restaurant !! Where is one of so many McDonald in the
world? At around 12:30 PM, we arrived Lavina, the junction of 87 and 191,
and there was just one house doing all kind of business - gas station,
shop, coffee service,
rest rooms with several tables offering hamburgers and sandwiches. Oh thanks
Well, problem was not over yet!! After the wonderful(?) lunch, we drove 191
to the point only a few miles to junction 191 and 12 and all cars were
stopped there for more than 30 minutes due to road works. For next about 2
miles, all cars were allowed to drive one way only alternatively. Therefore,
we had to wait more than 30 min. until cars from opposite direction to pass
this 2 miles and the 2 miles becomes clear for us.
Well, the problem was still not over yet!! We have finally arrived almost to
the Billings, only a few more miles. At the start of the city, the road was
down grade and car was running at 50-60 mph without accelerating. I was
looking for the hotel and had no time to look at speed meter. Then, a black
car followed me flashing. Finally, Police Patrol !! He said I drove 65 mph
at 50 mph zone. I excused "It was down grade. I didn't accelerate. I was
busy to look for hotel sign and had no time to see the speed meter. Sorry if
I have over-speeded." He asked where are we from and I answered "from
California". He said " I will give you warning only this time but drive
slower." Thanks. This is 2nd. time I got warning only in Montana. I got
another warning many years ago visiting Glacier National Park.
Well, this was the day and we finally arrived hotel at almost 4:00 PM, still
2 hours earlier than plan !! Great !! I can have a good rest for 2 extra
Day-7 : Billings -
Day-7 of 6/12 was the similar situation but little better as
we were driving transcontinental interstate highway 94 whole day.
There were little more cars. We could see 5 - 10 cars
within our sight most of the day and there were more gas stations. I don't
think the cars will face gas problem in Highway-94. However, food problem
was very similar. After we left Billings at 7:32 AM, for more than 2 hours
driving of 139 miles, until we hit Miles City at 9:42 AM and found McDonald
there, there was no place to buy a cup of coffee. Thereafter, another
McDonald could be found at the end of the trip of the day, Bismarck.
Meantime, we could see several food signs with knife and folk but we didn't
check to find out what kind of places they are.
As you can see at the following picture, there is not many
cars on Highway-94 all the way during the day and we could not see any
patrol car. No car, no police again. The speed limit is 75mph all the way
and I drove at 90-95 mph for most of the day but NO TICKET!!! Interstate
Highway-94 had some up and down with many curves compared to other
transcontinental freeways in south, though they are not serious and there
are very many straight roads too as shown in the picture.
The time zone is changed from Mountain Daylight Saving Time to
Central Standard Time and we lost 1 hour at some place within North Dakota.
North Dakota use Mountain Standard Time in west 1/4 of the state but Central
Standard Time in east 3/4 of the state. I don't understand why one state
uses two different standard time. ?? It looks like we drove 8.5 hours but we
drove 7.5 hours actually. We left Billings at 7:32 AM, 28 min. earlier than
plan, and arrived Bismarck in North Dakota at 4:04 PM, 26 min. earlier than
plan, which means we drove only 2 min. less than the plan today. How
accurate the plan was? Quite different from yesterday. I drove faster but
road works here and there slowed down.
When we see the
McDonald sign, we were so happy to see it.
Day-8 : Bismarck -
On Day-8 (6/13
), We continued to drive Interstate Highway-94 whole day,
But two different worlds divided by Fargo
which is located at the border of South Dakota and Minnesota. The first half
in South Dakota was just the extension of Day-7, speed limit 75 mph and
almost no car. The second half in Minnesota was more like any interstate
highways in the United States, speed limit 70 mph and a lot more cars on the
road. But still no police car whole day.
Today, I remembered the cruise control of the car and found this must be the
best place for the cruise control. In South Dakota, I set the cruise control
at 85 mph (10 miles higher than limit) after we left Bismarck at 7:47 AM and
didn't touch it for whole morning until I hit Fargo city. There was not many
cars and I didn't need to touch it. What a wonderful driving!! My leg was so
comfortable whole morning. Why didn't I think about it earlier in Canada and
However, the situation was changed after Fargo. There were more and more
cars as we drove to Minneapolis. I still could use cruise control set at
80mph most of the time but had to give it up as we approached closer and
closer to Minneapolis. Would I be able to use this extremely convenient
cruise control in the future days during this trip somewhere? I don't know.
Anyway, it was really comfortable way to drive !!
Well, we had same problem in North Dakota. No place to get coffee for more
than 2 hours until we hit Fargo. There were lot more gas stations but no
restaurant. AND no Rest Room !! After we pass the Fargo, we returned to
civilization with many restaurants here and there, as there were more and
more cars on the road. One thing bad was ---- when we arrive Minneapolis at
3:27 PM, we have found our hotel was under remodeling with construction work
here and there. The clerk said it started Aug. last year and will be
finished Aug. this year --- one year work. Though, there was not much
inconvenience to stay one night.
Well, the CRUISE CONTROL was today's topic !!!
Day-9 : Minneapolis
- Green Bay
Day-9, 6/14, was
another problem day - How can I drive slower as much as possible, while my
objective had been to drive as fast as possible usually?
The problem started from the planning stage when my planning
program "Trip Maker" showed it would take little more than 6 hours from
Minneapolis to Green Bay, which means if we leave Minneapolis 9:00 AM, we
would arrive Green Bay, Wisconsin, at 4:00 PM. However, when I turned on the
navigator at 7:44 AM to leave Minneapolis hotel, it told me we would arrive
Green Bay at 11:45 AM - only 4 hours later !! When "Trip Maker" said 6 hours
driving, I thought we have to drive local country-side road of Highway-29
much slower than freeway, taking much longer time. However, when we get in to
Wisconsin State Highway-29, we found it is not a freeway but the country
road with speed limit of 65 mph - same as most freeways with not too many
cars. I could drive 85-90 mph if I wanted.
Well, the problem was we shouldn't arrive hotel any earlier than 3:00 PM
check-in time, as the room might not be cleaned yet if we arrive too early.
Therefore, I have targeted 2:00 PM arrival hoping the room might be cleaned
by that time. To drive slower, I set the cruise control at 70 mph (5 miles
faster than legal speed limit) and drove right lane all the way. Usually, I
passed all cars driving at left lane and no car passed me. However, today,
every car passed me and I didn't pass any car. It was not easy driving for
me. As I was using cruise control which was the only way to drive slowly,
all I had to do was to hold steering wheel at straight road mostly, which
made me sleepy.
During the driving, I was thinking to cancel the hotel and drive longer
today. I stopped at a restaurant and checked hotel beyond Green Bay with
notebook computer and smart phone. However, it was mostly forest area and
there was no city with Holiday Inn Express or Holiday Inn, unless I wanted
to drive all the way to Sault Ste Marie, where we were going to stay
tomorrow, driving more than 10-11 hours. I gave it up and decided to stay at
Green Bay as planned.
In addition to the slower driving, we stopped more places for the coffee
breaks and had longer lunch hour. Finally, we arrived the hotel in Green Bay
at 2:02 PM (very accurate arrival. right?) and found our room was ready for
immediate check-in fortunately. It was one of the hardest day for this fast
driving driver but I did it accurately as targeted somehow.
Day-10 : Green Bay
- Sault Ste Marie
On this Day-10, 6/15, the plan was to have 7.5 hours of easy
drive from Green Bay to Sault Ste Marie, back to Canada. This would be the
last day just to drive without meeting anyone for 5 days crossing continent
from Calgary to Ottawa.
However, it was another terrible day due to single lane
roads and lake side fogs. We drove lake side road of Lake Michigan for most
of the day and had quite a fog whole morning, though the visibility was not
too bad. This fog caused some difficulty but did not cause much driving
problem. The real problem of the day was - There is no freeway between
Minneapolis and Sault Ste Marie and we had to drive single lane road for
most of the time !!
Not having a freeway was OK. The real problem was most of the
roads in Wisconsin and Michigan have single lane only and we had to pass the
car at the broken center line passing section while there are quite a cars
coming from opposite direction continuously. There were passing lanes here
and there but not too many. To make the situation worse, people in this area
do not drive as fast as Californians. They were mostly driving at the speed
limit or just few miles (but no more than 5 miles) faster than the max.
speed limit. They do not pass others but mostly following other cars though
they are also driving slow. If I follow them without passing at all at 55
mph speed limit, it might take at least 1-2 hours longer today. But..... If
I want to pass, I had to pass about 99% of them, 5-6 cars at a time !! Which way to go?
Well, I am a fast Californian driver!! I started to pass the
cars and passed 99% of the cars in front of me. If I see any coming car from
opposite direction, I didn't start to pass. However, I had to pass 5-6 cars
in one passing many times, as they were driving too close to the car in
front, not passing the car but just following the car too close. Therefore
there were several times, I could not pass a few cars at the same time and
the car from opposite direction had to yield to shoulders little bit. I was
just a few seconds too late? It was a kind of circus but I had no choice.
What a great states Wisconsin and Michigan are !! It seems they don't think
they need double lanes roads and people there are used to this kind of
driving. Perhaps, that is why they are not driving fast but slow always.
I think my mistake was to drive this most northern
transcontinental Highway-94, rather than Canadian Transcontinental
Highway-1. There were too many problems I have never experienced at other
places. You will understand what kind of problems I had in last 5 days in
Montana, North drive, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, if you have read my
stories. Unless you like this kind of
driving as a fun, please do not attempt to drive this route to cross
U.S.A.!! I will never again. Never. Never again !!!!
One thing I have noticed there. Most cars in Canada and above
5 northern states I mentioned drive cars with headlights on during the day.
I have asked to a few people whether it is a legal requirement or not. No
one really knows but they are just doing it as a habit. (Tony in Calgary
confirmed it is legal requirement in Canada.)
Day-11 : Sault Ste
Marie - Ottawa
On the Day-11, 6/16, We left Sault Ste Marie
little early at 6:48 AM as we have to drive long distance to Ottawa, 493 miles
for about 10 hours estimated including lunch, gas and a few breaks.
found again most of this day's road were single lane with mostly slow cars
driving within legal speed limit. However, there were much less cars coming from
opposite direction and much more frequent passing lanes, which made my driving
much easier. Rather than single lane problem, here again no gas station nor the
place to get a cup of coffee were greater problem. We had to drive almost 2
hours to get the first place we could get a cup of coffee.
Anyway, I could make to arrive Mr. Hyung-Bo
Kim's house in Ottawa by 5:00 PM as I have committed to him (4 minutes earlier.
Isn't it accurate enough?). He is my old ham radio friend since he operated ham
radio station in Korea HM1AX. (VE3HLM now.) We have visited him in 2008 during Trans-Canada Trip (The 3rd. Trans Continent Trip). Mrs. Kim prepared
a wonderful dinner for us and we stayed one night in their home. Mr. Sang-Maun
Lee who was a great tour guide of Ottawa city in 2008 and ham radio operator of
HM9C, Hanyang University Club Station in Korea when he was the student, was
invited with his wife and we have enjoyed whole evening talking old stories
until 11:00 PM.
He had arranged a Round
Table QSO (ham word : contact or talking) with many Korean hams in northeastern Canada and
U. S. A.
and we could talk with :
AD1AD in Boston. Korean call sign - HM1AHK.
NB2O in New Jersey. Korean Call Sign HM1KT. We will meet in New York a few days
K3PGA in Delaware and a great golfer
KF0BJ in New Jersey
WV3U, all in U. S. A. and
VA3PMM in Toronto Canada. We had a great and
interesting talk for about an hour over the ham radio.
We, HM1AJ and
HM1AM (Jane), have really enjoyed this Round Table QSO on the air for about
an hour and appreciate those Korean hams who joined to this QSO (contact and
talking). Korean hams in Los Angeles also tried to join but failed as the
propagation of radio wave was poor to L.A. direction. MNI MNI THX (Many Many
Since we were going to Boston next day and to
stay one night there, we made an appointment with
AD1AD to meet in Boston at the
next day evening to have an eye-ball-QSO (To talk looking at eye ball each
other, not the radio contact. To meet face to face)