It was a weekday morning last beautiful June when we entered into Canada via a rural Alberta check point. All three of us had showered the night before, an unfortunate rarity of the road trip, and all of us were wearing glasses (an important image to save for later on in the story).
We were asked to pull the Civic over, present our passports for further inspection, and exit the vehicle. Standing in a line, the boarder cop asked a few harmless seeming questions and then told us that they were going to search the car. We watched onsnickering as the contents of the car included dirty socks, sleeping bags and some contraband firewood. No beer, no fishing poles or anything more menacing than a box of nasty looking Velveeta mac n’ cheese. The male officer came back to us and questioned our past drug use, probing for illicite use. We all answered that we had nothing to hide, except Sam’s brother sneaking an underage brewsky a few months back.
The cop reminded use that he had the right to strip search us and I told him that we showered last night, so he was welcome to. By this point, I was annoyed. Three nerdy looking kids, excited about visiting Banff on a cross-country road trip, were standing perplexed as he told as that they had found drug paraphernalia in the Civic and asked what we knew about it. The car was a friend’s grandmother’s old vehicle, so obviously he was suspicious. More snickering ensued as I imagined my Wellesley friend lighting up in some dark alley, in the Civic. Not possible. I pushed my glasses up my nose and told him he was welcome to continue to tear the car apart, but that he would find nothing as we had nothing to hide.
Anyway, another obnoxious screening later, added to our communal belief that the border officer had planted the item in question, and we were finally on our way. Unfortunately, our grudge against Canada continued throughout our tour. The glacier we visited was just a ton of melting ice; Banff felt like Disneyland for the 60+ crowd; and it was more than difficult to find a place to pitch our tent.
Don’t get me wrong, the waterfalls were stunning, Lake Louise was a gem, and the peaks in Jasper/Banff were breathtakingly beautiful. We booked it to Vancouver with regrets of limited hiking, but the sights of those mountains would stick with us throughout the rest of our trip. Although this story turned out to be more woe than whoa, I was excited to move on to the west coast to find friends waiting with big hugs and delicious food.
Funny a similar thing happened to me many years ago –think early 70’s. There was no suggestion about a strip search though–but they tore apart the car and delayed us at the Canadian border for no apparent good reason.
That first photo is stunning. Bummer about the hassle.