Tuesday, June 4th – Wednesday, June 5th, 2013
What followed Tuesday morning’s bear porn exhibition would be nerve racking
We took US-89 North to head to the Canadian border from Glacier National Park. This was our first time going to Canada, so we were excited. We approached the border crossing and the officer at the station asked us a few questions: What’s the reason for your visit? How long do you plan on staying? What color is your underwear? etc. We didn’t really know how long we were going to stay. We were playing it by ear, but I guess not having a proper answer raised some red flags. Our van didn’t really help either, I suppose. If it could talk, it would probably ask random people on the highway, “Wanna get high? Puff, puff, give! Do you have any Cheetos?”
She told us to pull over to the side and to step into their office building. They took our passports and drivers licenses and told us to have a seat. One at a time they pulled us into the back room to be interrogated. I’m alarmed, but neither of us had anything to hide so I tried to remain calm. I think I’m not alone when I say that when I’m around authority figures, I have the tendency to behave as if I’m guilty even when I’m not. Maybe I should watch fewer crime shows.
Some of their questions: “Have you ever been to Canada?” “Have you ever been denied access to Canada?” “Have you ever been arrested?” “How do you know the gentleman that you came here with?” “How long have you known him?” “Why are you going to Canada?” “How much money do you plan to spend?” “How much money do you have access to?” “How much money do you have on you?” and so on.
They had us follow them out to the van and he asked if he could search inside for drugs, alcohol, missing persons, child pornography, guns, etc. After scraping our jaws from the ground, (Child pornography? Really?), we gave him permission to proceed. Trevor pointed to the sticker on the van with Willie Nelson and a pot leaf on it and said that that was as close as he would find to anything illegal in or on the van. Then he found the 50 kilos of un-cut cocaine and the 4 Mexican children I was smuggling through the glove compartment.
Kidding! After a quick sweep, we were clear to go, and he said, “Welcome to Canada!” We relieved ourselves in their restroom before heading across the border.
After a couple hours of interrogation, we finally made it to Canada in the Alberta province and hopped out of the van to get a picture with the sign. I imagine the officers looking out their windows laughing at us.
We drove to Cardston, AB and stopped at their visitor center to get some information. It seemed like there was a thick Amish presence in the area. We took Highway 2 and made a stop at a grocery store to eat before making our way to Calgary. We were stuck in a traffic jam upon arrival, but it was fine. We actually got a lot of love from our van in the backup. Friendly honks, waves, thumbs up and peace signs (Yeah, yeah, it looks like a hippy van. We get it). We located a Walmart (our first one in Canada) and decided we were going to grab some Canadian snacks to try out later.
We left the Calgary Walmart and headed into town taking a walk through the park to the business district. We needed to exchange some currency so we headed to the BMO (Bank of Montreal) to do so. The bank teller suggested we try “Earth Trader Coffee” near the hospital for our caffeine fix, so we headed that way.
After we revived ourselves, we decided to take a long walk to the Mac Store located in the Chinook Center. I was on a mission to find a way to save my photos from my iPhone since e-mailing copies of them to myself was getting tedious and took forever. The guy at the Mac store was absolutely no help at all, and on top of it, his passive aggressive little smirk and wobbling head was infuriating. I even asked if it would be okay to use their computers to save my photos to so I could save them on a USB, if I purchased one. He violently shook his head with that little smirk. It took all I had not to punt that smug head off his shoulders. Thanks for absolutely nothing.
Before walking back to the downtown area, we ate some Thai food in the mall food court. On our way back, anytime we smiled or said “hello” to people as we passed them by, we were met with an almost insulted scowl. Even though we were living out of our van, I have to say we seemed to keep up on hygiene and appearances well, so it wasn’t because we looked homeless. Hell, the homeless people we ran into on the trip so far were begging us for money too, rather than glancing at us up and down and saying, “Oh, competition. Find another street to scavenge from ya bums!”
Our first full day in Canada was off to a sour start. In fact, our whole trip in Canada was off to a sour start if you want to throw in our border crossing experience. We walked back and grabbed juice from Jugo Juice and the cashier almost gives me a heart attack when he accidentally nearly charged over $9,000 off my card for my drink (which I certainly didn’t have)! While on the topic of debit cards in Canada, we didn’t have “the chip” that they were all talking about, so we were unable to withdrawal cash from the ATMs. We had never heard of the chip since at the time it was still in the works in the U.S. Aside from the little Canadian cash we had, we had to use the debit card as a credit card and use it whenever possible since there was no easy way to get more cash for smaller purchases and parking.
We wandered around the stores on 17th Avenue for a while and watched some gutter punks get several food handouts. I debated purchasing a big-headed squirrel bird feeder (just because), and Trevor debated a “Hoser” t-shirt (he’s a “Bob and Doug McKenzie” fan). After getting our fill of Calgary, we decided to move on.
We took TC-1 to Banff National Park and were planning on stopping for the night at the rest stop prior to the park, but missed it and ended up in line to the entrance. Fortunately, the guy at the booth who gave us our 2-day pass didn’t charge us for the day since it was so late.
We headed to Tunnel Mountain Village 1 to get a campsite. Trevor loves how everyone says, “Bonjour” instead of, “Hello.” Maybe that’s where we’re fucking up. After we got a campsite, we headed into the town of Banff. Most of the stores were closed at the time and it was beginning to drizzle, but we walked around anyway.
Trevor located the “Rude Boys” board shop he had been looking for and we walked around. They played some good old school hip hop over the loud speaker and one of the guys working there was overwhelmed with joy on account that Trevor looked like the guy from Duck Dynasty (He gets that a lot. Jesus too). I laughed, and Trevor forced a smile. He’d take Jesus any day over “that Duck Dynasty guy”. Even though it was still bright outside at 10 pm, we returned to camp to try to sleep. I was feeling exceptionally home sick that night. I was missing my two and four-legged family.
Jump Back to Part 44: Pancakes, Glaciers & Grizzly Bear Fun Time
Jump Ahead to Part 46: Rude Boys, Electric Fences & Metrics
Start Over at Part 01: The Blue Bubble, Freebies & A Rude Awakening