On my recent trip to British Columbia, I drove the last 150 miles to Nelson.  The drive was perfect and easy.  Today my friend Joyce is making the same trip, and there is a live traffic camera at Metaline Falls, Washington, and the contrast could not be greater.


We both grew up in St. Louis, and have driven in this stuff; now we are both southerners.  I have lost my skills for sure.  Hope Joyce has not.

Below is the little customs house that occupies the border.

metaline border crossing

This view is from the Canadian side, entering the US.  There is a nice woman who smiles working this side most of the time, I gather from my Canadian friends.  Met her when entering the country the other day.  “Do you have anything that should be declared?  More than 10,000 in cash, guns, alcohol, cigarettes? ”

I wondered that anyone would buy alcohol in Canada and bring it down here.  Everything is so expensive there! Why would anybody do that?

Said no to her question, but then admitted that I did have something illegal.  My friend Madelyn packed me a goodie bag for the trip, and included oranges.  “Oranges you cannot take to the states, so eat them on the way.  If you don’t, offer them to the nice lady customs guard.  For the rest of the stuff you don’t eat, offer it to the homeless at the Spokane airport. ”  So Madelyn!

Got out and opened up the trunk.  “Look at all the gifts my friend packed for me!  See the oranges? How am I going to consolidate my purse and these three extra bags for the plane?  Please take these muffiins!”

Those in line must have wondered at my badness having to open up the trunk.  After we did, the customs lady said I was good to go.  “Aren’t you going to take the oranges??”  I desperately needed to lighten my load.  “Since they are illegal, I will.”

I described while in Nelson the interchange that the Canadian border official conducted with me when I entered the country.   Was told that he used the new “conversational” style of getting and judging information.

“What is your reason for coming to Nelson, ma’am?”  I told him that my oldest friend from 4th grade had been diagnosed with colon cancer, that I had had it in the 1990s and it was my job to be there when she started her chemotherapy.

“So you went to school together?  How did she get to Canada?”  Madelyn went to Smith College,  and when there met a Canadian soccer player attending Amherst, who after observing all the freshman newbies, chose her right there and then.  They married fairly soon after, and she immigrated to Canada after they graduated.


Guess there was enough detail to my story, and not any hesitation in getting it out, that it was believable.  Interesting job, judging people’s motives.

Yeah, I was going to Canada to buy wine at incredibly high prices!


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