Crossing the Border

“Anybody who travels knows that you’re not really doing so in order to move around. You’re traveling in order to be moved.”

Pico Iyer, in Krista Tippett’s book, Becoming Wise
Slocan, British Columbia

Even though I didn’t have much of a logical reason, I was nervous upon approaching the border. As I waited for the light to change to green, I prepped my passport, vehicle information, and the dogs’ rabies certificates. In my mind, I rehearsed what I would say about our route, which I had only just invented the night before. I launched on this journey without too much of a plan, aside from the idea that I wanted to explore Canada and Alaska and try to find some remote pretty places in the mountains.

I had decided Slocan would be our first destination, because the campground there supposedly had wifi, which would allow me to begin setting up and posting to this site. The wifi would turn out to be about like the equivalent of dial up in the 1990s, but the area where we were staying was definitely a remote pretty place in the mountains!

Valhalla Provincial Park

At the border, I waited until the light turned green and pulled forward.

The border official was a white guy in maybe his 50s, with thick white hair and an unsmiling face. I handed him my passport, and he looked at it and did some things on a computer.

“Where are you from?”

“Wallace, Idaho.”

“What is the purpose of your visit?”

“Vacation,” I said, “I’m going to Alaska.”

He quizzed me on where I was going in Canada and whether I was bringing anyone anything or visiting anyone here. I told him the plan was to spend about two weeks in Canada, through Revelstoke, Golden, and Jasper, and then head north to Whitehorse.

“Do you have any alcohol or tobacco?”


“Do you have any fresh produce?”


“Any cannibis?”


“Not even in gummy form or chocolates?”

Apparently I look like an edible eater?

“No,” I said.

“Do you have any firearms or weapons?”


He looks at me a little sideways. “I’m going to need a hard no on that one,” he says.

I must look like a gun-toting edible eater?

“No, definitely not,” I say nodding my head and speaking from my diaphram with confidence. “My dad was trying to get me to bring a gun, but I didn’t.”

“Your dad’s an idiot,” he says.

I laughed.

“How about a TASER [yes, it’s an acronym]?”


“Mace or pepper spray?”

“I did bring a canister of bear spray,” I said, not sure if this was actually allowed or not.

He nodded. Apparently it is allowed. Not an idiot move.

He looks into the back of my pickup cab. “And pets?”

“Yes, two dogs.”

“Can I see their rabies certificates?” He asks.

I hand them over. When I brought them over for our spring break ski trip to Fernie and Castle Mountain, the border guard there was not concerned about their papers.

“I’ll have to tell my dad you said that about him being an idiot,” I said, as he examined my dogs’ forms. I was a little bit trying to distract him because I was worried they might not be good enough for some reason.

He looks up at me and says, “you should quote me exactly.”

As he gave my passport and the girls’ rabies documentation back, he asked why Alaska. I said I’m a school counselor, so I get some time off in the summer and this seemed to chill him out a little. You forget that people don’t know anything about you and just have to make assumptions based on appearance until you reveal more.

He waved me through. “Enjoy your trip!”

Then I discovered I have a border crossing jingle. It is the third time I sang it (the first two were during spring break), but I didn’t know it was a thing until this crossing. Here’s how it goes:

International Dogs [Dawgs?]—Crossing the Border Jingle

(We Made It, We Made It!)
Our First Camp

We arrived at our first campsite, and I tied the pups up to the picnic table as I leveled the camper and got it all sorted out.

Waterfall Outside My Window!

Then I discovered the mosquitoes had been enjoying Hazel and Ginger for dinner.

Mosquito Welts on Hazel

This would not be our first encounter with the Mosquitoes…

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