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A One-Way Ticket to Alaska (Part 8)

November 7:

We are heading to the US border today!

Once we finally rolled out of bed, the reality of being in the car for another day was daunting. Plus, today seemed to be the end of beautiful views.

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I didn’t know it was possible, but southern Alberta is as flat as the Texas panhandle. My husband had told me that Alberta was the Texas of Canada, and he wasn’t joking. The only difference is that blue mountains fill the horizon to the west in Alberta.


For five hours, there was nothing but farmland and ranches for as far as the eye could see. Neutral-tone houses, red barns, and metal siloes spotted the landscape. The soil is so dark it seems black, only adding to the dreary color palette. Freshly plowed fields look like the scars of a controlled burn.


The wind was panhandle-worthy as well. Trying to keep the Jeep on the road was like trying to fly a kite in a straight line during a storm. My stomach churned as we were pushed back and forth. When we pulled over, my legs felt uneasy as if I had just stepped off a boat.

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a-one-way-ticket-to-alaska-part-8

Cows, horses, and the occasional herd of sheep were the only distraction from the monotony of the never-ending plains. Today, we talked a lot about what kind of animals we want one day. J.T. told me about his ideas for his alligator pond and reptile barn. I don’t think I’ll be spending much time at his house. I think I’ll stick to my horses, goats, chickens, donkeys, and maybe a cow or two. His alligator is not allowed to come over.


We also discussed what we wanted to do once we were back in the lower 48. We talked about Yellowstone, J.T. tried to convince me to go to the Hoover Dam. Instead, I think we’re going to try to camp in Wyoming.

The US Border:

These had been the longest five hours of my life; but as we approached the US border, I became anxious. We had heard of a few people who had a harder time getting back into the US than they had coming into Canada. The idea of having another terrible experience made my head hurt.


We stopped at the “Duty Free” store right before the border crossing and grabbed some last-minute souvenirs. I grabbed a mug for myself, a sweatshirt for my mom (she’s a sweatshirt addict), and a sticker for my dad for his cooler. We nearly forgot his sticker, and I think I would have been disowned if that would have happened.


The store is literally thirty seconds from the border crossings. I quickly gathered all of our paperwork and crossed my fingers as we drove up to the window.

We handed our paperwork to the border agent, and I held my breath…


“Welcome back to the United States!”


He was hilarious and so kind! It took maybe five minutes for us to make it through the border. We were the only ones there, and the gentleman quickly processed our information and sent us on our way.

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We both hooped and hollered in excitement as we drove into Montana.


Until we saw the speed limit sign…


The fastest speed limit we ever saw in Canada was 110 km/hr, which is about 70 mph. Because of driving conditions and the Jeep being loaded down, we rarely drove that fast.

Well, as soon as you drive into the US, the speed limit is 80 mph! If that’s not a prime example of America, I don’t know what is.

We laughed as cars flew past us as we limped along. That poor Jeep has seen a lot these past few days. Somewhere along the way, we even got “Please clean me!” written on the back window.

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Northern Montana was a lot hillier than I was expecting. I feared another three hours of nothing but was pleasantly surprised by the change in scenery.


Maybe I’m just homesick, but the sun seemed brighter, the air felt warmer, and I felt safer knowing I was back in the US.

a-one-way-ticket-to-alaska-part-8
a-one-way-ticket-to-alaska-part-8

I stared out the window and basked in the beauty of this state I had never been to. As the sunset drew nearer, I impatiently waited for the colors to change in the sky.


As the sun dipped closer to the horizon, it lit up the cloud-covered mountains. If I saw a painting that looked like what I saw, I would have scoffed and said that nature doesn’t look like that. But I would be wrong. Pictures don’t do it justice and words pale in comparison.

a-one-way-ticket-to-alaska-part-8
a-one-way-ticket-to-alaska-part-8

Once the sun had disappeared, we pulled into Great Falls, Montana, our home for the night. We pulled into our hotel and decided to try the sushi place across the street. I showered, did my hair, and even put on makeup. It felt good to feel clean and presentable. Five days of looking homeless was getting old.


It was delicious. And we were so hungry I forgot to take a picture…


After dinner, we headed back to our hotel, talked to loved ones, and now I think it’s time for bed.


I’m thankful we’re one day closer to being home.


And I can’t wait for tomorrow’s adventure!

Who knows... maybe I’ll take a nap and end up halfway to the Hoover Dam.

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