Friday, July 9, 2010

PNW Trip - Day 2

We had decided that today we would drive up to Canada (about 2+ hours away) just so we could go, get a cache, get our passport stamped, and head back. Having done some research ahead of time, I found out there is a park that is half in the US and half in Canada. Peace Arch Park. And was further told that we could walk through the border to the new welcome center that was built just for the Vancouver Olympics.

So, here I am at the park next to the concrete country border.

And the other sides of the marker showing at an international boundary. How cool??

The Peace Arch Park was beautifully maintained and landscaped. A great collaboration between the two countries.

The standard cheesy picture that everyone was doing here...

A full view of the Peace Arch. The Arch is truly in both countries as it was built on the actual boundary line.

As we were walking to the customs building to get into Canada, we saw this line of cars returning to the US. This line ended up being miles and miles long. I'd say 6-8 miles easily.

So let me pause here in the pictures to tell you all about our experience into Canada...

We get to the custom station to "check in" to Canada with our passports. It's designed for cars, and it set up like a toll both, with probably 20 lanes, but no clearly defined spot for pedestrians. There is a door to the far left of all the lanes, attached to a building, but right along the travel lanes.

We go in the door, and a border guard leerily asks if he can help us. We explained that we just wanted to walk to the new visitors welcome center (which, by the way, was in sight of us about 1000 feet away). The conversation went something like this:

BG (Border Guard): You want to walk to the visitor's center?
US: Yes Sir
BG: Where are you parked?
US: In the park parking lot
BG: So let me get this straight. You parked on the US side, and now you want to walk to the visitors center.
US: Ummm. Yes?
BG: What's in your bag?
US: Uh, batteries, a camera...
BG: Is anyone waiting for you back at your car?
US: No sir.
BG: Is anyone waiting for you in Canada?
US: Um, No sir.
BG: Are you carrying more than $10,000 in cash on you?
US:Uh, No sir.
BG: Are you going any further than the visitors center?
US: No sir.

He let us through. Mind you, it wasn't quite as quick as that, and I'm sure I've forgotten part of the interrogation as I was quite flustered by this time. But we were in!

And were welcomed by this:

We found the visitors center, and wandered around and enjoyed it. Met a couple of other geocachers there, and then headed back.

Sounds simple enough, right? Well, we walked back through the door that we exited, expecting to find our friendly border crossing agent again, but alas, he wasn't there. In his place was a woman, who was actually quite pleasant. But told us that we needed to check in on the US side. HUH? Where is that???

It turns out, it was at the front of the line of cars. Problem was, there was no sidewalk, no pedestrian way to get there. There was construction all around. AND, we were technically already in the US, and within sight of our car where we could just get in and drive away.

However, this poses a problem, because our passports showed us "checked in" to Canada.

We wandered around the park for a little while pondering what we should do. We asked some folks, and they didn't know either.

One of our party has a security clearance that we were worried about, so it was tough pondering for a bit.

We ultimately decided to make a break for it, and walk to the car. Up in the park parking lot, there was a truck that had US Border Control on it. Was he there to bust people like us? Did we look guilty? Was he going to stop us from leaving the park?

Nah, he was just hanging out in his truck talking to other officials who stopped by.

We stopped and asked him. He kinda scoffed and said we were fine. Hmmmm... Who knew?

So to celebrate being back in the US, here is a couple more pics...

This US Flag topiary was HUGE and beautiful. There was a matching Canadain Maple Leaf one on the opposite side of the park.

And this little guy was tucked right near the bottom of it. So many pictures taken of the topiary that day, I wonder how many people missed this little fellow.

And this sign sums up the end of our Canada trip!

Oh yeah - And did you know that they don't actually stamp your passport??? I was extremely disappointed!!!

Day 3 - A date with an APE!


1 comment:

Quilting in My Pyjamas said...

AMW Its great to finally see you!

Looks like you had fun. I actually got a little thrill seeing that USA sign.