We left Sabetha and headed north. We were originally going to try for the Gretna Nebraska KOA between Lincoln and Omaha. We had breakfast at a Macdonalds and checked the forecast on the internet. The weather had turned nasty on us. South Dakota north of Sioux Falls and most of North Dakota was under a winter snow storm watch. The forecast was for a foot of snow and freezing rain and zero visibility. South of the snow storm area, in Gretna area the forecast was for potential severe thunderstorms storms. We set the GPS to go for the North Sioux City KOA instead where we might finally get to experience thundersnow where the two systems met. We pulled into the North Sioux City KOA just as the rain started.
We had one minor problem. The check engine light came on again after we passed Omaha. Recalling the advice of the mechanic in Sabetha and the fact that the truck was running perfectly, we pushed on the last 150km to North Sioux City. We settled in loving a full service campsite with water, electric, sewer and excellent WIFI and cable. There are times when a full service KOA is the best and sitting out nasty weather is one of those times. The snow was cold and miserable and we didn’t get to experience thunder snow. That was farther south.
The next morning we woke up to a screaming forecast about how bad the roads were north of us so we decided to stay put another day. I tried the truck and lo and behold, no check engine light. I had spent some time reading up on the effects of bad gas and reading the bulletin the mechanic in Sabetha had told us about. Bad gas will cause the engine light to turn on but it will go off after some driving and an eight hour rest for the engine to move to a full retest next start up. If the bad gas has worked its way through the check engine light will go off and not come back on. I concluded it probably was bad gas, and we probably could have done without the valve change but it had not been too expensive, it should have been done anyway due to the bulletin, and it was done now so I felt good about that. We had no more issues with the check engine light the rest of the trip. That was a good thing because we had enough to cope with.
We departed Sunday morning fretting about a forecast of low probability for freezing rain but ready to push on for Fargo. The roads were great, basically dry. Still, the sky had a funny heavy look as we got further north so we pulled into a rest stop with WIFI and I checked the forecast. I was horrified to find the slight chance of freezing rain had morphed into yet another full fledged winter weather advisory and by the radar. It would be a race to see if we got into Fargo or got storm stayed somewhere on the interstate. As it was, we rolled into the Fargo Flying J with the wind howling and snow flying. We spent the night boondocking there and it was freezing cold even with the propane furnace going full speed. We don’t boondock at a Flying J very often but it sure is nice to have such a stop when you need it. That is why we keep our Flying J reward card and buy their gas when we can.
We awoke to more bad news at 7:00am. The storm system to the north had moved on but a new third system was just descending on Fargo from the southwest. We scrambled to get ready and drove out. We had to get five miles out of town to get ahead of this new foul weather system. We crept out of the truck stop and slipped and slid our way onto the interstate. The ramp down was ghastly. It took everything I had to keep us from going off the ramp even with just letting the truck roll, foot off the gas pedal ding a lot of braking. The interstate itself was just wet but visibility was very poor and we crept along at 40 mph until we got out of town. We were not being passed by anyone, the roads were that bad. I really appreciated our high quality Hankook winter tires and the truck’s four wheel drive for that few miles! One of the nice things about being in North Dakota is these folks know all about winter driving and know how to deal with snow and sleet. They slow down, way down, and actually drive to conditions so I felt safe and I didn’t worry about a yahoo rear ending me.
By Grand Forks we had left this third storm behind so we had a nice breakfast at an iHop. Even though they had just had 12 inches of snow dumped on them the night before, the parking lot was cleared and the interstate was in good shape. North Dakotans know about snow and how to handle it. We continued north, stopping to fill up with gas in Drayton while we could take advantage of the much lower American prices one last time. We got to the border at Winkler and crossed easily with a cheerful welcome home. We made our usual joke about how amazing it is that they keep letting us back in to Canada. We then finished up our drive home. We got home two hours before dark and immediately switched back to stick house life. I winterized the trailer’s water system while hubby dearest moved stuff into the house. We were home!