We had a smooth departure from Saint Anne, and got on the road heading for Saskatchewan and beyond. Because our days were longer than planned, and some of our gear was damp, we decided to stay in motels for the rest of the trip. Even though we were increasingly efficient at getting going in the morning, and during our breaks and dog feedings, it still took awhile.
One of the big differences from June 2015 was the temperature. In 2015, we minimized stops during the day, because the dog box would get quite warm and we worried about the dogs overheating. In October 2020, though, that was not a concern: we were able to stop for pee breaks and meals, without worrying about the heat.
On a typical day, we would get up early (6:00-7:30 am, depending on how late we arrived the night before), and spend around 90 minutes feeding the dogs, giving each one a little walk, and packing up our gear.
Getting the dogs out of their boxes involved hooking up some chains to the truck and trailer, then lifting each dog out onto his or her chain. We’d bring around bowls of water, and then food. Every dog got a little walk, often both before and after their meals.
On Tuesday, our destination was near Dafoe, SK. This was a roadside travel motel (the 24/7 Travel Centre) catering to truckers, alongside a railroad loading area for grain. We were seeing a whole lot of grain fields, and lots of farming industry, in Canada’s heartland.
Early in the day, the small utility trailer being towed by the Subaru had a blow-out 84km from Brandon, Manitoba. The tires on this trailer were over 5 years old, and had spent much of that time out of doors. We had a spare, which was also 5 years old but had never been used and had been stored in a garage.
Changing the tire would be easy, if we had the needed tools. Unfortunately, in the packing frenzy, all of Greg’s “must be easily accessible” items were packed deeply in the truck. We had a jack and a spare, but no tire iron or impact wrench to remove the lug-nuts.
It was time to call a tow truck for help. Surprise! There was a mechanic literally at the next turn off the highway, only 1/2 km away. He came to us, and within a few minutes the tire was changed and we were on the way again.
We were on the road again! We made a stop at Canadian Tire, and were pleased to discover that they sold pre-mounted tires and rims in the right size. They only had one, and we bought it. But Greg forgot to get a tire iron.
As luck would have it, a second tire on the utility trailer blew out shortly before Dafoe around 8km past Foam Lake, Saskatchewan. The rest of the group carried on to the hotel, and Greg stayed with the Subaru to wait for another mechanic. This mechanic took longer to arrive, and charged much more, but got the job done quickly.
The next day, one of our first stops was at the next Canadian Tire, to get another spare and a tire iron.
The rest of the evening was uneventful. We got some take-out food from the motel restaurant and had another not-quite-sufficient sleep.
On a long trip like this, it’s desirable to sleep on the road, while someone else drives. Sarah and Ilana did pretty well at this, and Sarah was quick to pick up how to drive the Subaru’s manual transmission. Nicole and Brittany didn’t really sleep, though. They were fantastic at leading the pack, including navigating, watching for problems on the road (including fox, alpaca, bison, caribou, and some fat and happy dogs), and keeping an eye out for good places to stop. They didn’t get to rest much.
Greg got to drive all the time, since Rosie was a passenger, not a driver. This got exhausting after several days, and the frequent breaks for gas helped to allow a little down-time from all the driving. On day 5, we would do it all again, but we were getting closer to our destination.
[This is Post 6 of 11]