Archive for Canadian Border

Crossing the Border into Canada

We decided to do the Circle Tour around the northern shore of Lake Superior…which means we needed to enter Ontario, Canada.

The last time I crossed the border into Canada, the Border Police got to know my belongings intimately.  This time it was decided to have Ralph do all the talking…and we breezed right thru!  Well, besides the hour long wait on the Sault Ste. Marie Bridge.  Travel Hint: Best NOT to try to enter Canada at 4 pm on a Friday.

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Olympic National Park, Washington

August 12, 2008

I made it across the border to the states with no problems.  There were border police both sides, but they didn’t “swipe” my passport [in a computer] and just asked a few questions.  Ya!

While I was waiting for the ferry to come in to board, I was in my car reading about things to do in WA when a different border police guy came up and started asking me why I bought a Jetta and how do I like it.  We had an unusually long conversation about my car.  I couldn’t figure out if:
* he’s just “making time” with me
* he truly is trying to figure out if he wants to buy one or not
* he is asking me what appears to be innocent questions, but secretly is gauging my responses.

The ferry ride was 18 miles, which took 1.75 hours.

So…I was back to the land of cherry dip for my dairy queen ice cream cones [and $1 less expensive for a small].  Back to the land where when you pump gas, you can lock in the handle to fill your car up, instead of standing there holding it.  And as we all know…cheaper gas.

Olympic National Park is right here, so I thought I would check that out.  I decided to travel 2/3 of the loop around it, traveling going west route and ending up in Olympia.

First off, apparently Mt Olympia is here.  However, nowhere on my AAA map does it show Mt Olympia.  Nowhere in any of my info materials does it mention Mt Olympia.  As I drove the one road around the circumference of the Park, there are no signs stating “this way to Mt Olympia”.  So, I’m not sure what the deal is.

The ferry docks in Port Angeles, which is an ok little town.  I decided not to spend the nite, but to keep going and do some hiking.

First stop is Elwha.  I hiked to the pretty waterfall.  Deer were everywhere.  Huge trees with moss all over them with the light from the sun setting sprinkling in.  One can hear the various waterfalls and streams the entire way.  Came across a really cool dam, with the lake water a pretty blue color.

I started driving up a path that probably would have been a fantastic view, but it was rocks/stones and 1.5 cars wide, twisty with blind turns every 40’ – 50’ with a drop off over one side.  I realized I was NOT enjoying the drive, so decided to turn around.  However, how do I do that?  Sheesh.

It gets dark around 8.30!

They have an odometer check here!  Just when I mention it a couple weeks ago in Canada, I found one here.

I then went to Crescent Lake and hiked around and spent the nite.

In the morning I got a very early start to the day. I hiked to a waterfall near Crescent Lake, and kept seeing these ?? 6” olive green snail like things, but without the shell.  Crescent Lake is really pretty.

I had a much needed bfast at the Hungry Bear Café, near Forks.  I like the name.  I should have known the size of the bfast by the name…it was huge.  There was a sign/xerox in the place with the names of the kids from the area who are in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I went to the farmers market, and again, there was that sign.  The town of Forks is around 3,200.  They claim the “area” is 5,000 people.  They have 36 kids who are in Iraq and Afghanistan!  Unbelievable.  They said that “that’s where our young boys go when they leave here”.

I certainly don’t want to get into a war discussion with the locals here, but I did want to know what their view of the war was…since this affects the whole town so greatly [the main woman I was talking to – her son just got back home from his second tour].  I can understand reasons that they would be either for or against the war.  They were FOR the war: “we’d rather have us over there, than to have terrorists over here”.

They have coffee kiosks [in parking lots] here.  I got my Ice Rage…exceptionally tasty!

I then hiked thru a rainforest and the moss growing all over the VERY tall trees.  Went to Ruby Beach with the monoliths in the ocean and driftwood on the beach.  And as you know, checked out the huge cedar and spruce trees.

It was pretty much dark, rainy and 58’ along the coast.  NO ONE was on any beach that I stopped at [besides tourists for a few minutes] except one fisherman.

They have a bunch of signs stating the years when trees were planted and then harvested.  50 – 65 yrs between planting and harvesting…”next harvest 2036”…

Saw only 3 cyclists on the road.

Along this loop, there is really nothing besides nature.  Here and there are trailers/trailer parks and small run down houses.  Be sure to have all you need before you arrive here.  Also, and this is a MUST, have your accommodations booked in advance.

I didn’t know if I wanted to spend the nite in Aberdeen or Olympia.  I had thought Aberdeen – cuz I like the name, and besides as I mentioned the other day, I was expecting Olympia to be dumpy.  However, I went with Olympia and made the right choice.  Aberdeen is the dumpy town. I need to add it to my “small” town worst list.  It’s a real undesirable looking logging town, with 90% of the houses that look exactly alike [one story, square, front door in the middle and windows on each side, with an additional foyer ?? built to enclose the front door].

I’ve read that Kurt Cobain was from Aberdeen, and couldn’t wait to leave town. I now understand why.

For some reason, Aberdeen makes USA Today’s weather map.  Wonder why.  East of Aberdeen is really pretty.  Farmland with 2 nuke plants.

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Crossing the Canadian Border [again] and Winnipeg, Manitoba

July 21, 2008

 

I had problems at the border again.

 

If I thought the US border patrol went thru my stuff, well, that was nothing compared to the Canadian patrol.  These 2 women went thru everything.  And I mean EVERYTHING. They opened up every bottle, unfolded/unrolled each piece of clothing, unrolled my yoga mat, sleeping bag, undid the lining of my suitcase, went thru every book…literally went thru everything, every nook and cranny my car has.

 

* They didn’t look under the car, under the hood or in the gas cap area.  Note to self: hide things here.

 

* They didn’t look in my purse.  They asked me how much money I had, and they believed me.

 

* I have a baggie with Calcium pills, aspirin and baby aspirin [which we all are supposed to take once a day].  To save room I took them out of their original bottle and put into the baggie.  I originally had them in one of those really small baggies, but that blew out, so I put everything…little baggie and all, into a slightly bigger, quart size baggie.  This got their attention.  ESPECIALLY since I had the smaller baggie inside the bigger baggie.  She couldn’t understand that.  I really wanted to tell her that I don’t have OCD, and don’t even notice, nor am bothered that the little baggie is in there.  They let me keep this.

 

* REALLY interested that I have 20 – 25 in euros in my money belt.  Which I have in case I decide to travel to Europe.

 

* There was always a lot of quiet discussion amongst the 2, but what really seemed to be of interest is:  I have a little purse-like thing that I keep my Baltimore condo keys in.  Inside there is a little yellow envelope that has “337 – to be picked up” written on it, and a key inside.  What is this???  Well, if you look at my address, it will state that I have a condo – number 337.  This is the key to the A/C room, which was left at the front desk for me to pick up.  For some reason, they couldn’t understand why I kept the key in the envelope…and telling them I don’t want to mix it up with the other keys apparently didn’t make sense to them.

 

* There is an armrest in the backseat that comes down between the 2 seats. One can also access my trunk thru a door behind the armrest, which I keep locked [there is NO way to access my trunk if someone should break into my car].  The really “fun” part of all of this was watching them try to open the door.  I could tell there was suddenly a certain excitement and energy with them and they both hovered near the door and tried to open it with the key – apparently it’s hard to open.  And the more it was hard, the more…and I’m serious here…they were almost wringing their hands with excitement…I suppose in hopes of finding what I’m hiding.  I of course was secretly laughing at them.  Ha ha ha.

 

* learned that I need to lie – NOT to say that my trip is open ended and I’m passing on thru exploring CN on my way to Vancouver.

 

The only thing they took was my mace, which I freely gave up in our initial discussion with them…before I was pulled over.

 

Then I was on my way to Winnipeg.

 

Hated Winnipeg.  Reminds me of Indianapolis.  Winnipeg is the capital of Manitoba, and was founded at the intersection of 2 rivers.  As I was driving there, I was wondering how long I would want to stay and cycle around the river.  How long…as in…1, 2 or 3 days.  Well, I lasted an hour.

 

Driving into the city, it’s very industrial.  Lots of places that make/sell sausage and pork products.  Once in the city, well, it’s just nasty.  Lots of people just hanging out. 

 

There were lots of cars and people, even though it’s Sunday.  I headed towards the water, thinking, like Duluth, I would enjoy being down there, but I couldn’t seem to find the water. I kept being diverted [the streets] and would end up at a big ugly industrial building.  There wasn’t a restaurant/café that even looked “cute” that I would stop for lunch – and I was hungry.

 

I had booked ahead and got a room at an historic B&B.  So, I drove there and asked to be released from my reservation.  She wasn’t too happy with me…and slammed the door on me.  I thought I should have gotten “something” for at least doing it in person, instead of calling.  But…oh well.

 

I was off west.

 

The next “big” city, Regina, is 6 hours away.  This is the capital of Saskatchewan.

 

The little towns along the way have between a couple hundred to a couple thousands residents.  I stopped in a few, but they were all the same.

 

The countryside is flat farmland.  Pretty, but 6 hours was long.  I wasn’t being tortured driving, so I thought I would just keep going until I was.  I made it all the way to Regina.  From the little I saw last nite, seems like this is a dumpy town too.  There is a Dieppe Memorial that I will check out, and the downtown area, then head to Calgary…which is a 7.5 drive.

 

Unsure if I’ll make it all that way.

 

I have a lot of ground to cover, so I need to just suck it up and sit there and drive.

 

I contacted my Canada Man friend – the Smoke Jumper I met a couple years ago on the ferry to Ottawa.  He gave me lots of suggestions from Calgary to Vancouver.

So far, I have found that it’s been expensive.  The little I have eaten costs about twice as much as I think it should.  I didn’t camp last nite, but I’m thinking that I will need to figure that out…how to camp in the cold.  The hotels here are, to me, expensive…and from what I’ve been told, it is only going to get more expensive as I head towards Calgary, Banff, Lake Louise.

 

The dollar conversion rate:  1 US = 1.007 CN.

 

I was driving last nite and the sun sets around 10 pm.  Impressive.  Then I realized I should look at my cell phone…and yep…time change.

 

At least in Saskatchewan, they believe in full employment – gas stations are full service.  Do I want my oil checked and my windshield washed?

 

I have driven thru 2 odometer check areas.  They have signs along the highway at every km for 10 km.  Went thru 2 of these…unsure why this is needed.

 

Saw a sign for “saskatoons for sale”.  I still need to google to find out what those are.  Later I saw a “U pick saskatoons” sign, so that helps narrow it down.

 

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Crossing the Canadian border [and back]

July 20, 2008

 

My story is:

I was going to spend the nite in Fort Francis, Ontario, which is just on the other side of the Canadian border.  However, Ft Francis is equivalent to Osh Kosh.

So, I decided to keep on moving and head towards Winnipeg.

I was going to go north thru Canada, and then cut west.  However:
* I was advised NOT to drive at dusk or in darkness, due to moose
* This is a longer route

The other option to Winnipeg is to cut back thru the states [MN].
* The route is marked as scenic on my map
* This is a more direct route – cuts diagonally to Winnipeg

I decided on scenic and shorter.  That means I drive along the Canadian border for about a 1.5 hours, and then cut back thru MN.  No big deal.

Well, apparently for the border police, it is a big deal.

I got pulled over, asked a zillion questions, and my car searched very nicely, thank you.  They REALLY scrutinized any receipt I had, and also my little spiral notebook which I keep notes and things to do suggestions.

Unsure what they were looking for, but my car really looks as though someone has been hiking, camping, traveling, picnic’g for the past few weeks.  AND traveling thru an area where it is OK to have stuff in the back seat [in Baltimore and Houston I don’t keep anything in view site in my car], so I am “spread out”.

I am in Warroad, MN which is a small border town.  It has been raining all morning.  I leave soon for Winnipeg.

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