I woke up early today, at around 0430 and realized there was no point hanging around our hotel until the restaurant opened. We were rolling by 0530. We’re home now, but it wasn’t easy. Eight hundred kilometers, almost all of it on icy roads. It was well below freezing today, and although North Dakota once again had snowplows out in full force, the ones we saw were striking sparks from patches of bare concrete with their blades, but not dropping any sand. I don’t know if they had run out and not noticed, or if they thought they could blade off black ice. Conditions were worst from Grand Forks to Winnipeg. Glare ice and strong crosswinds were making life miserable for truck drivers. Some were driving in the fast lane if it was less icy. Some were driving half on the shoulder if it was less icy. Some vehicles just gave up and pulled over, and some went in the ditch. We saw over a dozen cars that went off the road, and countless places where the car had been rescued but the tracks remained to tell the tale. We were very glad to have brand new ice tires on. This was one day when ‘all-season’ or even snow tires just weren’t good enough.
Our timing must have been good – there was freezing fog forecast for Jamestown, but we didn’t see any, and there was still a flashing sign by Winnipeg’s floodway that said a little bit of the Trans-Canada highway was closed, but it was open when we got there. After we got home, I found that our car was caked in waxy brown ice built up from salt slush.
One last note. We had to drive by the house on our street that burned down while we were away. A backhoe has already demolished it; nothing remains but a depression in the ground filled with blackened timber and rubble. Unfortunately, early reports that no-one died in the fire turned out to be premature. Although the owners were away on vacation, they had a tenant in the basement and I’m sorry to say that he died. I didn’t know him personally, but this is a small town, and I have already heard that he’s related by marriage to a co-worker.