We’re in Vancouver B.C. with Debbie’s daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren. Debbie visited soon after Henry was born six months ago, and while I’ve been to Vancouver many times over the past five years this is my first visit to this house.
The last time we visited over Christmas holiday was five years ago and before we had quit work. We flew into Seattle’s airport, rented a car, and drove to the Aldergrove crossing to enter Canada. It was funny, we felt as though we were awakening the RCMP officer at the border as we slowly crept our rented car up to the barrier — we had no sign at all the station was attended until we were almost at the barrier.
Our border crossings In the ensuing five years have been a very mixed bag of interactions with RCMP and with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. Every crossing has been a little different and ony one (check it out here) was at all contentious. Still, we prepare for the event and keep our fingers crossed for an uneventful border crossing each time.
Today we checked out of our Bellingham motel, shopped Christmas presents at Bellis Fair mall and Best Buy, and headed for the border crossing at Aldergrove. We did our typical rehearsal — what’s our home town this year?; how long are we staying?; are we bringing anything we will leave in Canada?; if so, what’s the value of gifts?; what about alcohol or tobacco? How much alcohol (we now try to remember oz and ml, just in case).
Okay, we’re ready for a huge line-up at the border, we’re ready for the questions, we’re ready to pay duty or taxes on the Christmas gifts, we’re prepared for whatever as we reach the border station. There are initially only four cars ahead of us, this is great! And it only gets better.
Our turn at the barrier starts with the officer asking for our passports then asking some of the standard and now anticipated questions. Where are you from? Where are you going? What is the purpose of your visit? Do you have any alcohol or tobacco? Will you be leaving anything in Canada?
This was one of the smoothest and nicest interrogatories we’ve faced. We were ready with our answers to the questions. And we were expecting the follow-ups on alcohol and gifts. We were almost certain we would be within the limits on alcohol with a 12-pack of beer and a fifth each of whiskey and wine. We knew the values of (and had receipts for) the gifts we were bearing for the kids. This all went great and we were pretty surprised when the interview ended quickly. The officer said, “You’re okay, go ahead.”
The weather in Vancouver B.C. is damp and cold. But we are indoors with family and all excited to be sharing Christmas this year in Canada.
Jim and Debbie