Best and Worst List

Trip Start May 11, 2008
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Trip End May 24, 2008


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Flag of Canada  , Ontario,
Monday, May 26, 2008

Well, we're finally home... it was a great trip!  We've done some reflecting and made a "Best/Worst" list.

Best Hotel:  Mystic Lake Casino Resort, Prior Lakes/Minneapolis, Minnesota Well, we had a suite, and a package deal, so we enjoyed the luxury on the last night of our vacation. Perfect way to end a holiday!
Worst Hotel: The Days Inn, Jamestown, North Dakota. I'm surprised that Days Inn has allowed this franchise to carry its name! Dingy room. Bathroom appeared to still be under construction ... drywall mud that hadn't been sanded/painted. Chipped tub so rusty metal showed. Bathroom so small the toilet and tub were practically touching . Vanity actually part of the bedroom. Smoking rooms across the hall from non-smoking... meant the hallway smelled like tobacco smoke and it drifted under the door so our room smelled stale too. Thin walls so you can hear everything outside the hotel, other rooms, hallways.

Best Internet Service: Mystic Lake Casino Resort, Prior Lakes/Minneapolis, Minnesota AND Best Western Medicine Hat, Alberta. High speed wireless - fast, easy to connect. Mystic Lake didn't use a password. Medicine Hat had a password but you only needed it once as it never lost connection.
Worst Internet Service: Days Inn Jamestown, North Dakota:  although supposedly high speed wireless, they had a complicated password and 3 servers to pick from and you kept getting dropped and not always reconnected. Sometimes 3 or 4 tries to reconnect - and we both have new laptops capable of all kinds of stunts! Also, the Best Western Seven Oaks in Regina - dishonorable mention:  have to get an Ethernet cable from the front desk + password. could only sit on the bed to use your laptop. although connection was good, the Ethernet cable was a pain.

Best Price for Gas:  Rapid City, South Dakota at $3.49 a gallon (equal to .95/litre)
Worst Price for Gas:  In the USA: Grand Portage, Minnesota = $3.99 a gallon (1.09/litre)  AND all Canadian gas stations where we paid a few cents +/- $1.25/litre (equal to +/- $4.59/gallon)

Best Breakfast Restaurant: Novia Cafe, Regina, Saskatchewan:  Excellent coffee, freshly cooked food (no re-heated bacon), hot food, delicious hash browns, friendly service, good atmosphere.
Worst Breakfast Restaurant: Clark's Crossing, Livingstone, Montana: Well good coffee was about it. Mixed up our orders. One plate had orange slice, the other didn't (both were bacon-and-egg breakfasts). No butter on rye toast. My hash browns undercooked, N's hash browns overcooked. Bacon deep-fried (or reheated via deep fryer)Service was poor. Carts of dirty dishes from previous night's event in adjoining room pushed through restaurant, and past our table.

Best Free Continental Breakfast: Best Western Medicine Hat, Alberta:  plenty of choices, fresh options, good coffee - in a room of its own
Worst Free Continental Breakfast:  Days Inn, Jamestown, North Dakota:  few choices, set up in a small corner of the lobby and being frequented by hotel staff,  and a warning that it was only available while supplies lasted. We went to Perkins instead.

Best Lunch:  A tie:  The Bumpin' Buffalo, Hill City, South Dakota AND Alien Bar and Grill, Albertville, Minnesota. Both had good food, good service, and the servers knew their menu.  Both restaurants made sure we were happy ... not hard to do with quality food and service.
Worst Lunch: Dairy Queen, Belfield, North Dakota:  Okay, it was a fast-foot joint on I-94 ... what more can I say???

Best Dinner:  A 3-way tie, here. Joey's, Winnipeg, Manitoba AND Tumbleweeds, Medicine Hat, Alberta AND Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. All three were memorable meals - delicious, tasty, different, used fresh ingredients. Servers were knowledgeable about food and beverage menu, atmosphere was great. All 3 meals were things I don't/can't do in my own kitchen and thus were more enjoyable.
Worst Dinner:  Only a 2-way tie:  First Gold Hotel restaurant in Deadwood, South Dakota AND Pizza Ranch in Jamestown, North Dakota.  In Deadwood, the portions were huge - family size for an individual. My teriyaki chicken was so salt-ridden it became tasteless. The rice was Uncle Ben's. The waitress was terrible, the service was slow , people who arrived after us got their food first. In Jamestown, the name Pizza Ranch says it all!  Although it probably is a good place to take kids as it is primarily a pizza and chicken buffet. Strange pizzas - study the pizza to discover what was served and not eaten yesterday! The taco pizza was interesting.  Many of the American restaurants lack fresh veggies - hot or cold.

Best Weather:  Yellowstone = we experienced +30C/90F and got the sunburn to prove it! But because we were up in the mountains it wasn't hot and humid... just wonderful!
Worst Weather:  The drive from Deadwood, South Dakota to Jamestown, North Dakota = well it really wasn't that bad. Cool in the morning (7C/45F) warming up to 16C/60F. But it was overcast and super, super windy with gusts up to 80 kph/50 mph.

Best Drivers:  Montana = polite, courteous, and accepting of tourists who were in awe of the Rocky Mountains and often confused on which way to go.
Worst Drivers: North Dakota/Minnesota along I-94 = okay people, put down the cell phone when you are A) passing people on the interstate B) merging onto the interstate C) in rush hour traffic on the interstate D) when you are pulling recreational vehicles + all of the above!   I did like the woman we passed on I-94 near Fargo - in one hand, a cigarette. In the other, a tall tumbler of something amber with ice: iced tea? rum and coke?  But she held to 70 mph (115 kph) pretty good with 2 hands full!

Best Beer:  Galena Pale (on tap) - enjoyed in Butte, Montana AND Moose Drool (on tap) - discovered in Gardiner Montana  AND Fort Garry Dark (on tap + in the bottle) - a Winnipeg Manitoba high lite.
Worst Beer:  Teton Dark (bottle) - purchased in Gardiner Montana

 All in all, a GREAT VACATION! 

I hope you enjoyed reading of our adventure across the Canadian and American West.

And now .... back to the real world :)
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