Day One (Friday) – Getting There

Clear Lake, Minnesota to Lethbridge, Alberta via I-94, U.S. Highway 2, I-15, and AB-4

Planning out trip, we almost always either leave late at night or early in the morning. For this trip, we pulled out of Clear Lake, Minnesota (50 miles northwest of Minneapolis) at 3:30am. We wanted to get to our first stop (Lethbridge, Alberta) at a reasonable daylight hour.

Heading out on I-94 through Minnesota and North Dakota, our first stop was to see “Salem Sue”, a humongous cow in the middle of the prairie in New Salem, North Dakota (about 30 miles west of Bismarck).


The author’s granddaughter Ava with Salem Sue.

Salem Sue is 38 feet high, 50 feet long, and weighs 6 tons. She was built in 1974 by local residents, cattlemen, and the business community to highlight New Salem as one of North Dakota’s premier dairy areas.

Through western North Dakota and Montana, the landscape shifts from prairie to steppe. As we moved off of I-94, we experienced over 200 miles of 2-lane road in Montana, from Glendive to Shelby. The open road really takes on a new meaning along US Highway 2, as it evokes thought of how people road-tripped before the building of the interstates!

Crossing the Canadian Border

At Shelby, Montana, we went back on a freeway (I-15) for 30 miles until we got to the Canadian border at Sweet Grass. If you need to fill up or top off your gas tank, do it at Shelby instead of Sweet Grass; the gas prices there at much higher due to the location at the border. Also, plan on lines at the border crossing, as it took us 35 minutes of waiting to get to the customs agent. We were fortunate in that the agent only asked for our passport cards, where we were going, and how long we’re staying. There have been times at other crossings where a full inspection of our vehicle was performed!

Finally, in Canada! Be careful to notice that speed limits are in km/h and not mph. If you have a metric converter on your dashboard, now is the time to change it over.

After about an hour in Canada we arrived at our first destination – Lethbridge, Alberta, a city of around 70,000 people. We found our hotel and settled down for the night.

Read on to Day 2: “Heartland” and Horseback Riding