Today was our last day in Canada for quite some time, and conveniently enough it was our first day in America. I feel privileged that we were able to spend Canada Day in Canada and now get to celebrate the 4th of July in the US. We are stopped for the night in Billings, Montana. Which is a nice enough city although I’m not 100% sure if the people know that it’s the 3rd of July right now and not the 4th. Judging by the amount of fire works going off outside our hotel, I suspect people don’t know or don’t care. (And yes, I will be purchasing some fireworks tomorrow. It’s my right as a explosion happy parent to do that.)
Our drive was pretty uneventful, it was the stopping that took up the time. I had known that we needed to stop and import our van and guessed it would take about an hour. It ended up being three. But it’s done! Here’s how it went down in semi-broken-English-point-form.
Me: I need to import our van
Border guard: OK, come inside and we’ll do that.
(we go inside)
Border guard: do you have the import paper?
Me: Don’t you provide that? I have the registration.
Border guard: I don’t need that. I need the paper. Or I need to see both stickers of compliance on the vehicle.
Border Guard: let’s go look.
(I have to note that the border guards today were the most likable and helpful guards I have ever met. Super experience all around. And I’m not being sarcastic. )
Border Guard: well, here’s one sticker. But you don’t have the other one. You’re going to have to call an import broker, take the van back to Canada to get pictures done and then come back here with the proper paperwork. Then we can process it. And I’ll also take your fingerprints then to make sure you’re who you say you are.
Me (thinking): crap
Michelle (seeing my face): uh oh
So I called the first import guy on the list who had a toll free number. Luckily I was still in range of the Canadian cell phone tower since my phone doesn’t work on the American network (surprise!). The guy was willing to help, but had to find someone to take the pictures. He’d call me back in 5 minutes.
After 15 minutes I called him back. He couldn’t find anyone to take pictures. BUT, if I pinky-swore that I would take the necessary pictures and email to him then he’d go ahead and get the paperwork done.
I double super pinky-swore on that. And then proceeded to give him all the info he needed. He said to call him back in an hour to see how things were going.
Now Sweetgrass, Montana is known for many things. Wait, no it’s not. It’s got a border crossing. And a bar. And a cafe that serves sandwiches from Monday to Friday (today is Sunday) and a duty free shop. And a rest stop with clean bathrooms and lots of amazing facts about Montana.
Fact: Montana was part of the Louisiana purchase where President Jefferson grossly overstepped his constitutional limits in paying Napoleon Bonaparte $15 Million dollars for what is now over half of the United States. Take that US constitution. That little deal sure paid off.
After 3 hours of me talking on the phone (and making sure we didn’t get too far from cell phone coverage) we finally had our paper authorizing the van. We had lost Michelle’s dad who is hauling the trailer with all of our stuff. He had gone on ahead to Great Falls to shop and generally not be in Sweetgrass. We wouldn’t see him until Billings. You’ll have to ask him about his day.
Since this post is getting long, and also because nothing else really happened, we’ll just summarize by saying we ate some food, drove some miles and then threw the kids in the swimming pool at the hotel. Supper didn’t happen, but since lunch was late and consisted of more calories than a person should eat in a day (A&W in the US, SO MUCH better than in Canada. Who knew?) we are good with skipping a meal.
Back on the road again tomorrow to get to Denver. We’ll try our hardest to not lose Michelle’s dad, but sometimes I think he tries to lose us. He’s so proud of his truck and how fast it can go with our slightly (50%!) overloaded trailer.
Oh, here’s a fun game to play with the kids (apparently) when driving down the road and you can see lightning in the distance. Anytime anyone sees a bolt, yell out a game title. Like “Balderdash”, or “Trivial Pursuit”. Then you can randomly switch to sports. Or foods, or restaurants. It really doesn’t matter what you switch to as long as one of the kids just does it because they can’t think of anything else for the current topic and decide to change. This little game killed the last hour of the trip.