We were excited to see no traffic lines delaying our entry into the USA
at the border south of Vancouver.
It was a large and expansive crossing with this monument and park.
This structure represented the gate between the two countries and the words:
"Brethern dwelling together in unity" expressed goodwill and friendship.
We thought of so many other border crossings in this world that are places of strife, tension, debate and even death. We were grateful that our crossing would be uneventful and simple, or so we thought...
We answered with honesty the questions asked by the
US Border Patrol Officer.
Simple answers, passports shown, Shoeless's ID and shot record handed over.
Just as we casually planned to drive on through, the guard told us to pull into
the area of "secondary inspection". What? Where? Why?
He had no answers, just commands.
We gingerly drove into this other area and left the car to go into a large
building. There were others who had been told to go here, as well.
But we noticed that they were all of different ethnicities and some spoke other languages.
To our dismay, we watched as the contents in their cars were being spread in a wide area surrounding their vehicles. We glanced nervously at our own car, packed tighter than a drum with all of our luggage, some gifts, a cooler, neat looking rocks (ALWAYS rocks from wherever we travel), cameras, etc. etc...
We'd actually filled the back of the little Mazda 5 with so much that the rearview mirror was of no use, if you can understand how piled the stuff was.
We had to put Shoeless in a wire cage before the men went out to rummage through our car while we entered a big building.
The traffic lines we had avoided ended us being people lines waiting inside this cavernous building. Perhaps the size was for reasons of intimidation.
Called to a station, the guard was all business and NOT your friendly neighborhood cop.
He demanded to know if anything questionable was in our car.
"If you don't tell us now and we find it, you'll be breaking the law!"
That's enough to make anyone forget things like oranges and apples.
And homemade jelly.
Jack mentally reviewed the contents and said, "Some snacks."
No weapons, no big cash, no Canadian purchases.
The wait seemed longer than it was. They held our passports hostage.
Finally 2 guards arrived--holding our bag of little oranges.
Seems that some fruits are serious criminals that cannot enter the US.
But they were purchased in Alaska, we explained, also part of the USA.
Did you know that once fruit crosses into Canada it "loses its citizenship".
Honest! That's the reason, verbatim.
Once we relinquished those rather bruised and unappealing oranges,
we were given our official "leave". Just before walking away,
one (more pleasant) officer apologized for opening our little box of jellies.
(Oops, we hadn't mentioned them!)
He also remarked that we had some good looking rocks.
And they were still ours!
A bit timid to look at the damage from the car inspection, we were relieved that our car was pretty much intact. The duffle of maps and tour books was pillaged but, for the most part, we were good to go.
Just had to break Shoeless out of jail first.
Whew. Unexpected. Tense.
Why? Each border guard has to make a 15-second decision of the safety of each vehicle crossing into the US. Due to our jam-packed car, he obviously didn't feel secure in determining nothing sinister lurked in the boxes and luggage within. Our honest faces weren't enough.
Another price we Americans have to pay for our homeland security.
Is it worth the cost?
You decide. I'm still thinking about this one...