Mr. Noodle

Mr. Noodle
Mr. Noodle

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

crossing the border

Well that was easy.

But it was not without its stresses. My interview was on January 24th, a Thursday, and my visa should have been issued within three business days, but was not issued until January 30th. It wasn't even sent until February 1st, when it left Dorval, Quebec, just after midnight local time.

Turns out Loomis doesn't deliver on weekends, so we spent the entire weekend wondering what was taking so long for my visa to arrive. Then, yesterday (Monday) morning at 6:00am, I checked the status - it had arrived in Richmond (basically the Vancouver Airport) at 05:15. So I knew it would arrive on Monday.

We got up a little later and started packing. I was checking the status every half hour, so when at 8:00 my document's status was "Undeliverable", I panicked. I phoned. They said it was ready for pick up. All "Undeliverable" meant was that they weren't delivering it to me, but that I had to go retrieve it.

We had started packing on the weekend and Dan had the truck just about ready to button up when we couldn't find the document from Ford saying the truck was clear of any problems. I had a fax of the original but not the original itself. We unpacked the truck, looked through just about everything, repacked, looked again, and ended up being delayed for a few hours which included no small amount of anxiety. What if they required the original and wouldn't let us across the border? Where was the document, it was just here a few days ago....

Dan did point out that the National Visa Center did lose our documents several times, so it's no great surprise that we couldn't find this. Even so, I felt terribly negligent. Our departure time kept getting delayed and delayed and stress was mounting. At some point we made the decision to just go, see what they said at the border, and hope they let us in.

Saying farewell to the family that had so well taken care of me all these many months was emotional and I was really trying hard to keep myself together. I have not slept a full night in, well, I don't know how many days now, and with the mounting stress I was really starting to feel like I was going to crack. Luckily, Dan is great at holding me together. He reminded me that my visa was the most important thing. We rolled away at 1:52pm, had a couple of stops to make (including getting my visa from the courier), and lined up for the 5:00 ferry.

That felt okay. I'm so used to taking the ferry (especially these past few weeks - this was my third trip to the mainland) and I had my knitting so it felt fine. The ferry landed at 6:35pm, and it was about a half hour to the border, not including a pee stop.

So let's say we approached the border just after 7:00pm. The line was moving fast and we barely had time to get our documents out when it was our turn at the window. As we were not just passing through, we had to go inside for secondary inspection.

I must say, they have done a really nice job at renovating the US side of customs at Peace Arch. Some beautiful blown glass from some uber famous guy that of course Dan knew, having studied blown glass. Again we weren't in line long, and we got the cheerful border agent said "who's in a good mood? Who is next?" Already we felt at ease.

We had some nice easy conversation as he looked at our passports. Asked Dan what he does "I make beer" he said, and our new friend Agent W-- bowed to Dan. (I'm told this happens a lot). Agent W-- got up to get some tissue with some cleansing agent that was white and milky, had me put down a couple of fingerprints, then handed me the tissue with lotion on it and said "It's not what it looks like!" He was going through my documents and Dan said Agent W-- was really good at his job. Agent W-- said "This is my second day." I said "You're full of shit!" And Agent W-- laughed so hard this colleague down the way asked what was so funny. He said "I said it was my second day and she said 'shit!'". I corrected him "No, I said you are full of shit!" which was even funner, and he got out the handcuffs. It was entirely jovial and gosh, we were even having fun!  He appeared to barely look through my documents when he decided early on to grant me entry, so that was all good.

Then there was the issue of the truck and the cat. Turns out the piece of paper we spent hours looking for wasn't even the one they wanted (Thanks, Ford), so we'll have to import the truck from inside the US anyway. Our man was okay with that. Kitty was of no consequence. He popped outside to look over the truck (which by then had already been scanned and sniffed), told us to look at the art, and we barely had time to remark on it when he called us back to the desk. He was the first to welcome me to America and shook my hand and Dan's hand. I could have cried, I suppressed a squee. It was easy. We had been led to expect we would be there two hours, but I think we were out of there in under 30 minutes. Finally one step of this process was easy!

Dan and I were elated. We rolled in to Blaine, Washington, and started tweeting and texting. Cheers and yays and congratulations started rolling in immediately. We could finally get on with our trip and the rest of our lives!

Next we went hunting for food, settled for Safeway sandwiches, and decided to just drive through the night to Missoula where the family condo is. Gas kept getting cheaper and cheaper (the lowest we have seen is $2.93/gallon) as we headed east, and I have been tweeting our progress. We did stop to nap at some point in the early hours, in eastern Washington, and eventually made it to Missoula around 11am local time.

We brought Sam inside (and she had only this morning gotten used to the idea of driving) and then went out for breakfast/lunch. We got clean when we returned and the plan was to get some sleep before starting the next leg of our journey, sometime this evening. Do you think with how little sleep I have had these many days that I could get any rest? It's getting annoying, and I want to be able to take my turn at driving. Dan has been sleeping for hours, he's so lucky he can sleep anywhere, any time. I can't turn my brain off. I was hoping to be able to relax by now (though I did nearly fall asleep in the bathtub). I wish I was less high strung.

So I thought I'd get this post up, since I'm awake, and to let everyone know where we're at. I think I'm honestly more relieved than anything now, and I can get down to the business of living with my best friend again as I learn how to become an American. Sam is restless just now too, I think she wants to play, which is really a good sign. I'm glad she can relax.

The plan from here - not sure our exact route because we haven't sussed out the weather in all locations, but I believe we'll be headed through Wyoming next and then possibly South Dakota or Nebraska. We'll drive through the night again (less traffic!) and during the day tomorrow, then stay in a Motel 6 or something on Wednesday night. I'll hopefully post more then, we'll see how tired I am!


  1. I know I'm not the first, but "Welcome to the U.S.!!" I know that eventually you'll be able to look back on all this and laugh....

  2. Stace, I'm just so happy for you both; can't believe how long you've waited to start this new chapter of your lives together. I'm sure Sam's just happy she's WITH you both on this journey! Good luck resting up and getting some sleep. I'm sure you'll get more relaxed as you go along and you'll probably sleep for days when you finally reach "home"! Lots of love to you and Dan, and safe travels.