2013, Trip Six, The Northwest, July 26

Mazama, WA Friday July 26

We are guilty. We committed the ultimate crime. We will always be embarrassed about this day.

Leaving Tasawwassen

Leaving Nanaimo

Friday was another driving day. We left Campbell River around 7 AM for Nanaimo to catch the ferry to Tsawwassen, BC south of Vancouver. The ferry seemed larger than the MV Coho, was on time, and the ride over was easy.

We are coming up to the border. (Okay, this is going to sound like a lot of alibis becuase it is.) Signs along the highway indicate that truck traffic for the border crossing should take a specific route. The signs also indicate a 80-90 minute wait at the border. That must be for the trucks, right? I mean, 80-90 minutes to cross the border?

Now, we have done two border crossings so far on this trip. In North Dakota on our way to Winnipeg and in British Columbia on our way to Idaho. Both of those took 3-7 minutes in line and in discussion with the border people. This included the admission and inspection of the bear spray we were carrying in the car. (Bear spray okay, people spray not so okay.)

The signs also indicated three lanes to go across the border. The rightmost lane was kinda empty (there was a rise in the hill leading up to the border and we could only see a little ways ahead. We debated, should we get in the right lane? Was there a reason it was emptyish?

Well, two other cars zipped down the lane so we got into the right lane. NOW, the signs read right lane duty-free shop and Nexus lane. What the hell is a Nexus? Why is there a multi block long line in the two lanes to our left? By now, we were well past where we had been in line and there is a solid wall next to us of cars. We could not get back in most likely, who would say Oh, sure fella, hop in here.

Diablo Lake along North Cascades scenic highway

Diablo Lake along North Cascades scenic highway

We had one last opportunity. As we got real close, there was a kind of opening similar to payment at a toll booth where people are backed up and try to switch lanes from cash to Easy Pass. I actually rolled down my window and asked a neighboring car what a Nexus was and did we need something special to be in this lane. He had no idea. It had taken us maybe, at most, five minutes to reach this point.

So we stayed in our Nexus lane and prayed for divine forgiveness.

View from Washington pass scenic overlook on North Cascades scenic highway

View from Washington pass scenic overlook on North Cascades scenic highway

We reached the border and it is a Canadian checkpoint, not U.S. The guard is unsmiling as we fumblingly explain we had no idea what we were doing and thought we were in the wrong lane. He quizzed us as to where we were from and why did we think there was such a backlog in the other two lanes we did not take? Our answers did not impress even me but he gave us a warning and let us go through.

2nd view from Washington pass

2nd view from Washington pass


So, I guess we line jumped. Or maybe are now partners in crime. Still feel embarrassed about it.

On the good side, it saved us at least an hour in time that we had not projected to have to spend. AND it appeared that the entry into Canada at this point seemed simple and short so our return to Canada next week should not encounter a problem. AND our final re-entry to the U.S. will be in rural British Columbia into Wyoming – hopefully a simple situation. AND I will never do it again.

The rest of the drive to Mazama was pleasant. We are driving the North Cascades Scenic Highway which was only built in 1972.
We passed Mount Baker, a massive mountain that looms on the horizon like Mt. Ranier did further south.

Our cabin in Mazama

Our cabin in Mazama

We made a few stops at overlooks and short hikes to scenic views. We are staying at a small cabin in the woods so we wanted to make sure we checked in early enough to find the cabin. Mazama is more of a gathering along the highway than a town but there seems to be a sense of community here. Local artisans and food growers and community built walking trails. We ate at a restaurant down the road that is into using local foods as the trend is nowadays.

I had hoped that we would have an Internet connection that would allow us to watch the two Sarahs’ hockey scrimmage but it did not work well enough. Bernie was kind enough to send us several video texts of the scrimmage though. Go Sarahs! Glad that Bernie, Tony, Kathy,Heidi and Jim were able to watch and support them.

I looked up Nexus today. Besides the smartphone, Nexus is a process for expedited entry between Canada and the U.S. It seems like you need to go special hoops get a card. Obviously most of the people in line had not done so. This experience helps explain why we are not excited about international travel.

Ed and Chris July 27 5 pm

Categories: road trip, travel | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “2013, Trip Six, The Northwest, July 26

  1. Jude

    A couple Hail Mary’s and a quick stop in the confessional should take care of things.

  2. Deb

    Thanks for the honest story! I’ve driven to Toronto twice and had long lines both times. Good to be reminded where I get my guilt for breaking societal “laws” from though!

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