Next stop: Minot, North Dakota, with a fuel stop in Pine River, Minn. Minnesota's license plate advertises "10,000 Lakes," and sometimes it seems they all look alike. Here are a few lakes near McGregor. If they're viewed side by side, the real view and the sectional chart don't seem to look much alike (the chart has been oriented to match the view from the airplane). Rice Lake is 'way off in the distance. The four lakes in a row don't pop out from the chart because of obstruction markings, and the lake on the left is obscured by an airport symbol. The airport itself is well hidden from this distance. Fortunately, none of these features were crucial for navigation.
VFR navigation isn't always that arcane. This view is from the following day, near Bowdoin, Montana. Here, the chart matches the pilot's view very well.
Back in Minnesota, we found Pine River with no trouble, got some gasoline and went along our way. This is the kind of airport I like for a fuel stop. No control tower, single runway, fast service. In this case, self service – the pump is hidden behind the airplane.
We did our day's sightseeing at the
International Peace Garden. The Peace Garden straddles the U.S. and
Canada, and so does its airport (there are a handful of such airports, most
of them in very lonely places along the 49th parallel). Here, the runway is
entirely in North Dakota, but there are parking areas on both sides of the
border. Before departing, pilot and passengers must clear Customs for the
country where they will be landing next. If you arrive by car, you will also
go through Customs when you leave the Peace Garden.
This is how the Garden's entrance looks to a pedestrian with his left foot in
North Dakota and his right foot in Manitoba. Today's Peace Garden comprises
2300 acres on both sides of the
border. It was the brainchild of Henry Moore, an Ontario
horticulturalist who is not to be confused with the sculptor of the same
name. Dr. Moore proposed his plan for an international garden dedicated to
eternal peace, at horticultural meetings in both Connecticut and Toronto, in
1928-29. The project was approved almost immediately, but funding would take
a couple of years. Dr. Moore selected the site while on a flight over Turtle
Mountain, when he saw "the blue jewels of the West" for the first time.
Within a few years he had persuaded two national governments to donate the
land he needed, and had raised some money through subscriptions for the
corporation that was to build and maintain the Garden.
By 1932, it was evident that the corporation had enough wherewithal to hold a
dedication ceremony. There was nothing on the site yet, but 50,000 people
turned up for the ceremony on 14 July. William and Edroy Paterson,
stonemasons from Rugby, N.D., quickly built this cairn in June 1932, so that
the ceremony would at least have something to dedicate. The cairn was
originally flat-topped. The red granite globe was added in 1960, given by
the Great Northern Railway of St. Paul.
The cairn's inscription is the Peace Garden's charter:
To God in His glory,
We two nations dedicate this garden,
And pledge ourselves
That as long as men shall live,
We will not take up arms
Against one another.
In the 1930s, great advances were made in construction. Roads were laid, land was cleared, and lakes were built. On the North Dakota side, Lake Udall honors the Manitoba publisher who championed the project. In Manitoba, Lake Stormon honors the American judge who served the Peace Garden for over forty years in several rôles. The main lodge was also built at this time.
If you turn around after visiting the dedication cairn, you will be facing this floral clock. The Bulova Watch Company has maintained it since they donated it in 1966. The clock's face is 18 feet in diameter. It is a duplicate of Bulova's original floral clock in Geneva, Switzerland. (Some accounts say the original is in Bern, but you won't find a floral clock there. It's in Geneva.) Evergreens are not indigenous to this area; the thousands of conifers in the International Peace Garden have all been planted here.
Like the two men here, many people come to be photographed standing astride the 49th parallel, one in Canada and one in the United States. The Peace Tower behind them, the Garden's signature structure, was dedicated in 1983. The tower is about 3000 feet from the entrance gate.
Look up. Waaaayyy up.
One hundred twenty feet or thirty-seven meters tall, the four columns of the Peace Tower are seen from miles around. These concrete columns each consist of seventeen pre-cast sections. Each section weighs an incredible 45,000 pounds. They were lifted into place by a huge crane in 1982.
Fifty years after a peace tower was listed as an objective by an early Garden board, this structure became a reality. What does the Peace Tower represent? The four columns symbolize the four corners of the earth, from which thousands of immigrants arrived in Canada and the United States in the 1800s and 1900s to build better lives for themselves. The foundation stands for our common base of democratic beliefs. The tower's height represents the early immigrants' soaring ambitions.
Two columns stand in Manitoba and two in North Dakota, facing each other in two similar but separate societies. The 4000-mile long border that lies between them is the longest undefended boundary in the world. Trust, it seems, is a good guarantor of peace.
There are a few little obelisks in the Peace Garden that mark the international boundary. This one is in front of the Peace Chapel. At the western end of the Garden, the Peace Chapel is the only building that straddles the boundary. This non-denominational chapel was dedicated in July 1970.
The chapel's floor is made of brick pavers from Charleston, West Virginia. The limestone walls are a native Manitoba stone called Tyndall stone. Some of the stones are marked with the fossils of ancient marine creatures. The front and two side walls are engraved with quotations from dozens of "people of peace," from ancient times to very recent. All of the illumination you see here is from skylights.
The Veterans' Memorial Bell Tower sounds Westminster Chimes every fifteen minutes. Only four sets of these chimes exist in the world, all cast by Gillett and Johnston of Croydon, England. These chimes were formerly in the First United Church of Brandon, Manitoba. They were donated to the International Peace Garden when the church reorganized in 1969.
Ten steel girders from New York's World Trade Center were brought here in May 2002. The arrangement is the result of a competition that was won by Derrick Wolbaum, Marcus Lund, and Tim Kennedy, students of Landscape Architecture at North Dakota State University in Fargo. The beams are laid out in three distinct but interdependent groups:
Recall. Six beams form a gateway to the memorial.
Reflect. A single beam filled with water lies on the ground, where visitors can make a personal connection by touching both the beam and the soothing water it contains.
Remember. A bronze plaque stands in remembrance, and a native oak tree is a living memorial to the power of life and the benefits of growth beyond tragedy.
The government of Japan presented the seven Peace Poles to the International
Peace Garden in 1997. These hand-crafted obelisks carry the message "May
Peace Prevail on Earth" in 28 different languages. This is not an isolated
Peace Pole Project has placed more than 200,000 Peace Poles in nearly
every country on Earth.
Although the International Peace Garden airport is an Airport of Entry for both the U.S. and Canada, this fact is not indicated on U.S. or Canadian charts. Neither is it obvious in the Canada Flight Supplement; although the information is there, if you look hard enough. I didn't. So we returned to North Dakota for the night, which in retrospect I wish we had not done. Getting into Canada one day earlier might have let us avoid some nasty weather.
I changed my original plan because of a dire forecast for Regina, Sask., and planned instead for a route to Havre, Montana, and Lethbridge, Alberta. Havre is named for Paris's harbor city Le Havre, but it's not pronounced the same way. To pronounce the name, you need to know a local story. Back in Gold Rush days, two men were competing for the affections of the same woman. After a while, one of them got tired of the fight, and told the other one "Aww, you can have 'er!"
The photo on the left shows a reasonably friendly cloud forming a few miles west of Havre. So far, so good. But there were thunderstorms forming farther west over Cut Bank. So we requested clearance direct to Lethbridge, which was quickly granted. After clearing Customs and waiting out some rough weather on the ground in Lethbridge, we took off when things looked like they would be calm enough for the next couple of hours – more than enough time to reach the good VFR weather we knew was waiting for us in Red Deer.
The photo on the right shows what things look like when you guess wrong. These are
not friendly clouds. We finally did pop out into a nice flying day,
but only after "paying our dues" for half an hour or so. This was the only
really bad weather we encountered for the whole trip, at least while flying.
on to Drumheller