Dispatches from the Field: True North Strong and Free.

Welcome to BC

Last year we had some issues crossing into Canada. We had stopped at a market on our last stop in the US to load up on California wines before crossing the border. And that was wrong. Being foolishly honest when asked if we had any alcoholic beverages, we were boarded by three armed agents, wearing full body armor. The lead agent took pity on my stupidity and let us off with a warning. Best of all, she did not remove any of our wine for her own collection.

(The return to the US last year was equally adventurous. US Homeland Security, it seems, was really, really concerned about our citrus, and the flawless rack of lamb I had just bought. A team of armed agents escorted us to a waiting area while, for 45 minutes, they removed the contraband lamb, and checked out our collection of CD’s. I sincerely hoped the lamb ended up in one of their fridges, and was disappointed that they did not take the Billy Ray Cyrus album.)

This time we made sure NOT to bring any wine, also no citrus, no lamb. The Canadian customs agent only asked five questions, two of which were “any firearms?” and none of them were about food or alcohol. He asked where we were from and what we were doing in Canada. When we described our trip he asked if there was room for two customs agents to come along (“we’ll share a bed if we have to”), smiled, and waved us on.

Wearing my “True North-Strong and Free” t-shirt, I had queued up Gordon Lightfoot’s Canadian Railroad Trilogy to play as we entered Canada. Seeing no Kevlar vests running after us in the rear-view mirror, we slowly pulled away from the customs gate and I hit “play.” It felt good to be back in the country of my birth. I tried to sing along but I started to tear up and choke on the words. So with watery eyes, and Gordo on the radio, we pressed on through the Okanagan Valley to spend a few days in Kelowna BC.

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