I just wanted a photo. You know, me in Canada after thousands of miles on the road. Commemorate being in this part of the world that in all likelihood I will not return to any time soon. A photo to show the distances I have traveled, the far North to the Keys of Florida. Mark the occasion. That is all I wanted to do. Just because.
I saw the border area. I looked and looked for a place to park. This is not my first time traversing international boundaries. In times past, there have been areas just outside of the actual border crossing that allowed for one to park and exit their vehicle. My game plan was to walk across the border, snap some photos, then return. See, I have guns in the Jeep. I neglected to leave them at camp today. I am not licensed to carry in any capacity in the annoying state of Minnesota, so they are unloaded, in a gun case, and locked up-top. Just in case I come into contact with any unexpected law enforcement. There are a lot of boundaries I am willing to trounce upon, but anything to do with guns is off limits. No pushing of those boundaries. Not me, anyway.
I set out after my morning tea, as is my custom. My plan for the day was to head to the north part of this Northshore. If I got close enough, I wanted to hit Canada just to say I did it. Just to mark my travels. I mean, I am staying just outside of Finland, after all!
I chose to do more driving than sight see, at least at first. I do have to return the same way I came and there will be nothing new to see. I stopped at a commercial fishing museum to support the little guy and take some photos for some fishing friends. That was interesting and helped me to learn more about this strange and unfamiliar area.
Next stop was Grand Portage National Monument. This was not a “thing” but more of a place. I enjoyed learning about the indigenous inhabitants and the history of the area. Part of what I love about this journey is learning about each area where I spend time, be at least able to talk about the area with some knowledge and basis from which to share that knowledge. Collecting random facts and tidbits. Go me.
The boarder was only 6 miles away, so off I went. I mean, it was only a few more minutes. I cautiously approached. I kept looking for that parking area. I saw a turn around, but there was still some way to go before the actual border. Where is the parking area? Eyes open, knowing full well that I cannot come into Canada with my guns. Oh, look, there was the WELCOME TO ONTARIO sign! Snapping photos at this monumental occasion. Oh, look, no turn around and no parking area. Shit. There was no stopping this process and I was too scared to try anything out of the ordinary. Do NOT turn around anywhere, do NOT drive outside the boundary. Do NOT pass GO. Just behave.
Like a good and law abiding citizen, I pulled up to the crossing station.
“Uhm, sorry, I made a mistake and did not want to be here”, says me.
“You came to Canada by accident?”, chuckles the border agent.
“Well, no, but I thought I could park and walk in, snap a photo, and be on why way”, says I.
He asked me if I had any of the following on board – fresh fruit or vegetables, mace, firearms.
“Yes, I have two guns, which is why I did not want to bring my car in. I thought I could park, walk over, take a photo, then leave”.
“What guns do you have?”, he asks quizzically.
“I have a Kimber 9 mm Eclipse and a Smith and Wesson 357”, I say proudly.
“You have good taste”, he quips back. “Thanks”, say I, feeling proud for a moment.
I tell him I have a passport, but did not get it out, and show him my driver’s license. He tells me where to go to return and that he will not need my passport. He says that he will call the other agents and tell them I am coming. Whew, crisis averted, back to the USofA I go. He tells me the route back and says that if I go up the hill and do not turn, all sorts of bad things will happen and there will be sirens and guards and such. No worry, not heading that way, not me. No way, no how.
In the line to return I go. I had seen this line and it was much longer than the line into Canada. I took photos of the WELCOME TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA sign. How could I be so close and yet so very far away???
I pulled up to the guard in the kiosk and offered my license. Did I have a passport? Yes, but it was buried in the back. Could I get it? Yes, I can, but it will take me a little bit. That was apparently fine. I turned off the engine, crawled to my tote with important stuff in it, accidentally laid on my horn, and got out my passport. OH, sorry for the horn. Just me. No need to worry.
I gave her all my documents.
“How long were you in Canada?”, she asks. “About five minutes”, I reply. “”What did you want to do there?”, she asks. “Take a picture”, I reply. “Why did you want to go?”, she says. “Because”, is my reply. Because I am here and close and when the hell will this happen again? Because I can. My business there? Turn around. I just wanted a photo and did not realize I could not walk across. Oh, and that is because I have firearms in the Jeep.
Sure, I will park over there and then come into the building. Should I worry? I sure as FUCK hope not!! I mean, I told the truth and was honest and shit, now I have to pull over. Shit. Shit. Shit.
I am asked where Pullman is, and I tell her. Southeastern Washington, home of Washington State University, I explain. All I wanted was a photo and the firearms are unloaded, in a case and locked above the Jeep. Sure, I will wait over there while you have ALL OF MY FORMS OF IDENTIFICATION!! Where else would or could I go?
She does some bullshit on the computer and then hands me back my documents. I give a warm and friendly parting salutation, pack my passport away, and get the fuck out of dodge. No stopping, no bathroom, just get as far away from this area of possible trouble ASAP.
Well, that was stressful!! I crossed into another country, and a different time zone, and then came back. It was an experience, but not quite the one I was after. Such as it goes.
I type this from my happy place. I am at a local brewery having a bite to eat and sampling their beers. I am held up in a corner, with copious amounts of electricity, listening to the ladies at the next table get their “girlfriend” bonding time on. Deep breath. Good beer. Food. All is well again with the Universe. Well, that did not go as planned. Not at all. Insert nervous laughter here.
Pilgrim, walk away from that which you do not love. But, get the fuck out of dodge when you mess up at a boarder crossing. Thank you lucky stars when you avert crisis and land on terra firma in your country of origin.
Cheers to the USA. Cheers to exploration and MotherFucking Cheers to this journey with all of the bumps and twists and turns thrown upon me.