Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

August 8, 2007

Homeward Bound

Saturday morning, July 28th, it was time to head up the Saanich Peninsula to Sidney, to get in line for the Washington State Ferry that would be taking me home, by way of the San Juan Islands. This is a beautiful, serene and peaceful cruise and at 2 hours, far too short. Here's a good map showing the route from Sidney, BC to Anacortes, WA. This is also a good map to depict where the whale watch cruise went around the Victoria point and up to San Juan Island.
I had already made reservations at a hotel in Anacortes to spend Saturday night, so as to avoid the hellish SeaFair Weekend and Mariners game traffic through Seattle at 4:30 in the afternoon. It didn't matter what time I got in line because I had nowhere to go once we arrived, but me being terminally early for everything, I was in Sidney by 8:00, ate breakfast at Smitty's, and was 3rd or 4th in line. They open the lanes at 9:00 so it was a quick trip through customs and immigration, although I have to say, the American officers are way more brusque than their Canadian counterparts on the way in. After I parked in my designated lane, I killed time in the gift shop to use up the rest of my Canadian money, and also read my book till it was time to board The Chelan. Oops! Don't drive too far to the front or you'll drive off the edge!

The ferry left at 11:30 or so and as I said, was a tranquil ride through the Channel and San Juan Islands.
Bye Canada.....see you next time!
Orcas Island, Washington.
There's my car angled in the corner.
Occifer Otto and the Customs Interrogation

Once we arrived in Anacortes, it took an inordinant amount of time to get through customs and immigration on this side. Three lanes were open and we all used a small fortune in gasoline waiting our turn. I was one of the first people off the ferry - probably in the top 20-25 - and it was 45 minutes before it was my turn. I was saying to myself, "For the love of god people, let's step it up!" As I finally got to the front of my lane, before they allow you to pull up for inspection, I watched as 2 of the cars popped their trunks. "Great" I thought. They're searching everyone. I observed the owner of the RV in my lane, which was being inspected, walk around the side and put the steps down. The officer made the owner wait outside, as he boarded the RV and looked around. OK, I already have to pee as it is, but seeing these searches is making my bladder swell with nerves pee. The guy in the middle lane has just handed out of his window what looks like a bag of tomatoes. Uh-oh, the officer has told this guy to pull over and the officer has now coned off the middle lane. This is not good.

Let's just put it this way, I would suck at poker and no police department would ever hire me to do undercover work.
It's finally my turn. My heart is pounding. Why would my heart be pounding if I have nothing to hide? Ah yes. There's the rub. There's a Cuban cigar secreted in my clothes in my suitcase and 2 big 40-capsule bottles of Extra Strength Robaxin, which is available by prescription only in the USA. Ahm not supposed tah be carryin' contraband into the You Ess of A. But I am.

Leave it to me to end up with the jackbooted, crewcut-haired, sunglass wearing (even though it's cloudy) stormtrooper, who I have affectionately dubbed "Occifer Otto", who approaches my window and literally barks, "PASSPORT!" at me. Now, passports are not yet required for sea or land travel to and from Canada, only for air travel. Normally a birth certificate and drivers license will suffice. Fortunately I have a passport. But I got so flustered that when I went to hand it to him, I dropped it out the window and he had to bend over on the ground to pick it up, with me apologizing profusely for being Mrs. Butterfingers. I swear it looked like they trucked this guy in from one of those white supremicist camps in Northern Idaho.

Then come the questions:

"WHERE ARE YOU FROM?"

"Bonney Lake, Washington."

"I SEE YOU ARE WEARING A RING. WHERE IS YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER?!?!?!"
"Home taking care of our dogs.....I take a solo vacation every summer."

"WHAT ARE YOU BRINGING BACK THAT YOU DIDN'T TAKE WITH YOU????"

My mind goes completely and totally blank. I can't think of one single thing I bought, except of course for the 2 things I'm not supposed to be bringing back into the USA. So I'm stammering, "umm, umm, postcards, a tour book....ummm ummmm, a tshirt...uh....oh some jewelry..." (God forbid I let slip that I've visited Butchart Gardens or I'll get the extra special "did-you-bring-any-seeds-back-into-the-United-States" interrogation.)

"HOW MUCH DID YOU SPEND ON THE JEWELRY????"

"Eighteen dollars for a bracelet...."

"WHAT ELSE?"

"Um, uh......" My mind is racing! What the hell did I buy? I can't remember! Think damnit, think! "Um, oh yeah, a pencil sharpener shaped like a double deck bus..um....." Good one Jo.

"SHUT OFF YOUR ENGINE AND GIVE ME THE KEYS SO I CAN OPEN YOUR TRUNK!!!!"
I comply and watch hopelessly in my rear view mirror as Occifer Otto pops the trunk. I can hear him unzip my suitcase. The jig is up. The cigar and Robaxin are in that suitcase. I am in for the full on Body Cavity Search and please god don't let his hands be cold. I'm about to feel the long icy finger of the law, I just know it.

SLAM! The trunk goes down. I fully expected to hear "PULL OVER, SHUT OFF YOUR ENGINE AND WAIT FOR ME OVER THERE!" But to my utter relief Occifer Otto sent me on my way. I was practically wetting my pants by this point.
I raced to my hotel, the Anaco Bay Inn, and headed straight for the bathroom, still a bit shaky from that questionning. What I found out the next day is that earlier on Saturday, there had been a bomb threat on one of the BC Ferries traveling from Tsawwassen to Sidney, so I can only assume that all the customs/immigration officers were on high alert, especially on the Sidney to Anacortes route.

Since I was spending the rest of the day in Anacortes, which is on Fidalgo Island, I thought I'd have a look around. I've always wanted to see the Deception Pass Bridge, which connects Fidalgo Island to Whidbey Island, so I bopped down to have a look.

And yes, I drove over it. If the parking lots at the bridge hadn't been so full, I'd have stopped and walked onto the pedestrian paths to take pictures as the view was beautiful.

Then I drove up to Mt. Erie, on Fidalgo Island. I have made the all important discovery that my desire to take a good picture suppresses pesky things like my fear of heights. I carefully edged my way out to a rock ledge to take this picture and it was dizzying to say the least. I had to lean my back against the rock before I lifted the camera to my face because I thought I was going to fall forward. But hey, I got the shot and that's all the counts.

Looking northwest from Mt. Erie, at the San Juan Islands.

I left for home at 5:00 a.m. last Sunday morning and arrived in Bonney Lake by 7:15 a.m. I wish I could do it all over again!

10 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:18 AM

    julie...

    Beautiful Shots, JoJo. Man.

    What a dickhead, asking you where your significant other was. I wonder why.

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  2. Anonymous10:36 AM

    Jean.....

    JoJo, your pictures are awesome as usual, but I love reading your descriptions of all that occurred. You do have a way with words, can just picture you going through customs, what a trial, but when you found out about the bomb threat it made sense.
    I am sure that your vacation was great and hopefully you feel much better as well.

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  3. Thanks Jean and Julie! I had a BLAST! It sure was hard to come back to work.

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  4. JoJo, I've run out of pre-Bobby time for the second time in 2 days, so I'll read and comment properly tomorrow (I hope!)

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  5. Sounds like you had a wonderful (and eventful?!) trip; and it's nice to see places I've actually been to as well :0)

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  6. I certainly feel a lot safer after reading your border experience description -she said sarcastically
    :)

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  7. Every time I see your photos, it makes me miss Washington more and more. Now I'm even more determined to save up money and vacation out there.

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  8. When he asked you where your significant other was, I wish you'd said, "In the trunk" or "I killed him and threw him overboard"...

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  9. Val - very tempting but these guys have NO sense of humour....it was bad enough I was sneaking contraband into the USA w/o getting mouthy. lol

    Vpdzoo - Come on up! The weather's beautiful!

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  10. your pictures are just gorgeous...worthy of national geographic.
    about customs...you are so right about the inspectors on our side...it takes us about 10 minutes or less to get into windsor...then it can take an hour or more, just to get back into detroit!
    too bad you didn't tell them about the 2 kilos of uncut heroin or the pornographic material that you were smuggling back in!!

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