Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: Day 6: Give the International Peace Garden a chance. It's worth it.


Day 6: Give the International Peace Garden a chance. It's worth it.

**This series of posts recap my two-week trip to Billings, MT and back from July 1-16, 2013. For the entire list of my featured rides, click here.**

The International Peace Garden is one of the most extensive tributes to the peaceful relations between United States and Canada, two countries who share the longest undefended border in the world. I learned about this place from a fellow rider friend who had traveled there more than 20 years ago. Out of curiosity, I had to make this a part of my journey to Billings. It was so worth the detour.

For reference, Minot, ND is just a short, 100 mile ride from the Canadian border. The town of Dunseith is the "gateway to the garden" and has its own special sights (which you'll see at the end of this post).

Imagine this for 100 miles. Nothing but open skies and flat straightaways. Beautiful during the day but can be eerie at night.
The entrance to the garden is pretty obvious. Note the small white sign that says "Leaving the USA" at the bottom right corner. That'll play a role in why I had to prove my American citizenship leaving that place. Fortunately, I always bring my passport, because being out in these parts, you never know when you'll accidentally end up in Canada.
The physical boundary between two countries can't get any more obvious than this.
I left Eleanor in the United States to take this photo. Not too many places where you can ditch your vehicle that way.

That stone in between the two flags is another exact marker of the international boundary.
Here is a close-up of the cairn at the entrance of the International Peace Garden, erected in 1932 out of native stones. Having the longest unprotected international border in the world is a pretty special thing. As long as it isn't hockey season or the Winter Olympics, we're still friends.
The inscription reads, "To God and 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."
The Latin phrase on this plaque, "Palman qui meruit ferat" or "Let whoever earns the palm bear it" is also the motto of my alma mater, the Unversity of Southern California.
Mandatory selfie somewhere on the Manitoba side of the garden.
I'm in Canada, eh!
And yes, Eleanor gets her selfie too. It was just a gorgeous day for a ride.
The Peace Tower is the tallest structure in the garden, with one portion in the United States and the other in Canada. The post in the middle is the official international boundary.
Directly facing the Peace Tower is the Peace Chapel. This structure is the only building that straddles both the United States and Canada (standing at the doors puts you right in front of the border post). Inside this small chapel, many inspiring quotes are engraved in the walls. Here are a few of my favorites.

I was hoping I could get a good shot of this. There is a neatly, cleared-off line going off into the distance through that wild forest. That is the international border again!
Playing country peek-a-boo with Eleanor again. I'm in America! Now I'm in Canada... I can't make up my mind!

Okay Eleanor, it's your turn to hang out in Canada now...
Some of the many beautiful sights of this place. Did you know you could camp here for a small fee? I want to do that next time.
Even in a place of peace, there are still some somber reminders of what happens during times of conflict. Below are shots of the 9/11 Memorial, made of actual beams from the fallen World Trade Center towers. Canada lost quite a few of its citizens in this attack, and this display is another reminder of our unity during tragedy.

The Peace Garden Interpretive Center is one of the newer buildings in the garden and is home to some interesting art and greenhouses. This is probably one of the few places this far north where you'll see cacti.

If you're a United States resident and want to visit the International Peace Garden, bring your passport, birth certificate, drivers license, green card, etc. with you to get back over the border when you're all done. There is an actual border crossing you have to pass through to reenter North Dakota. If not, you could be sitting there for a while. Fortunately for me, the border agent was more intrigued by the stickers and the mileage of my bike so it wasn't too big of a deal. Besides, it's always a good idea to bring your passport with you on motorcycle trips like this. As I mentioned earlier, you'll never know when you'll randomly end up in Canada.

"Your papers, please. What is the reason for your visit to the United States, ma'am?"
"Um...I kind of live here."
Hey, America! Long time, no see.
Stop in Dunseith to say hello to the Wee'l Turtle, a sculpture made out of steel vehicle wheels of multiple sizes. Whoever was bored enough to make this thing was awesome.

Random fuzzy alert: This cutie followed me around while I was taking pics of the turtle. She didn't have any tags and I couldn't find its owner. You know, taking it home did cross my mind...but where would I put her?
I leave you with Tommy the Turtle on a snowmobile in Bottineau, ND. These North Dakota people certainly love their amphibious reptiles. Next post will be the ride to Billings, MT and the 27th WOW International Ride-In™!
You're looking at the largest snowmobile-riding turtle in the entire world. No joke.
For more information about the international border between the United States and Canada, watch this video.