After a good time in Chicago, including a trip to an awesome Park built in an ex-quarry on a beautiful day, and an afternoon getting to know the true scale of a blue whale heart on a sleety windy day, it was time to head off again.
I headed North to Winnipeg for a few days, more than anything else as a dare… it’s a long story.
On my way back to Winnipeg, I came through a small border crossing where Canadian Highway 10 turns into US route 281S.
The border guard took one look at me and told me to pull over for a routine check.
I don’t blame him. There’s not much reason for a single girl in a Kia Rio with a French passport to be driving that way. He’s probably mostly used to 18-wheeler traffic, civilians coming from Canada and going into the states would barely (if ever) use this entry point, especially not foreign ones, with perfect English.
I was greeted by a young fellow who told me he’d be searching my car while the officer inside asked me some questions.
Nothing to hide, and pretty much nothing in the car, it shouldn’t take him too long.
The sweet little old man behind the desk whom I wanted to call grandpa, not so much officer, took my passport started asking me where I was going and where’d I’d been, what I do for a living, and all that regular border stuff.
So I told him, I’m coming from Winnipeg, I’m going to Yellowstone National Park, I’m not employed at the moment. The more questions I answered the more he seemed to have. It was baffling to him.
“You left you life in Montreal, to drive around by yourself?”
“Well I’ll be damned if that’s not just the strangest thing I’ve ever heard.”
“Thank you sir”
“And when do you plan on going back?”
“I don’t plan on going back sir.”
He mumbled something under his breath, more out of puzzlement that anything else, right as the young lad walked in and said “alright ma’am, seems everything is good with the car’s far’s I’m concerned.” shaking the cold off as he shut the door behind himself.
So I looked at sweet ol’ pops and he gave me a nod, from whatever land he was still in, that I took to be my go ahead…. so I headed off and as I crossed the door the officer threw me a “You take care now” and I threw him back a smile and a wave.
And off I went.
Well I crossed some cows, and some wind farms, and some old barns, but I’d been looking for a nice shot of some of those round hay stacks and I finally found a few, about a half hour from the border, close enough to the road for me to snap pics without having to be threatened at shot-gunpoint for trespassing; so I parked my car on the side of the road and took out my dad’s 35mm Pentax.
I hadn’t snapped 2 pics that a police car pulls up.
“Are you serious?!?! You guys must be really bored around here!!” I think while putting on my best looking smile. “They can’t possibly have called the cops ALREADY!”
“Hello Officer” I shout over the prairie wind as he steps out of his vehicle. “Lovely day isn’t it?”
“Sure is.” he shouts back with a smile much like mine, as he approached the barbed wire I’d crawled under, a smile that confuses me a lot, because he doesn’t seem to be here to give me trouble.
“They need you to go back to the border.” he tells me cooly with a sideways smirk as he gets closer. “Something about missing identification.”
“Excuse me?” I say now very confused. Last I checked, once they let you through the border, you’re good to go.
“Seems you left a piece of ID with them at the border office, ma’am. You’ll probably want to be headed back to grab that.”
And on that note he got back in his car, tipped his hat to me with a “You take care now” and pulled a U-turn to go back to wherever he came from.
As I stood there dumbfounded and watched his car get smaller and smaller on the perfectly straight road, it hit me.
On the road map, under the glass counter, where the old man was scrutinizing it, my passport! He never gave it back to me!
And I burst into laughter.
I crawled under the barbed wire again and got back in my car, headed back north to grab my passport, laughing the whole way there.
The border guard on the way into Canada didn’t ask any questions, just told me to pull a U-turn and park in the lot.
I walked into the same door I’d walked out of an hour ago.
Both officers now behind the counter, the older one seemed to have come back down to earth.
He hands me the passport and says to me “You always want to make sure you’ve got your passport with you ma’am”
“Yessir!” and I walked right back out that door as if it had been revolving, and drove down the same 30 minutes of farm land for the third time.
“You take care now” good lesson officers….
That’s all for today kids, but comeback next week for more.
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Episode 1 Driver’s High
Episode 3 (out same time next week)