We crossed back into the US this afternoon at the border crossing in Portal, North Dakota. Following the instructions of the border guard, I pulled up to the booth where he was waiting. Our conversation then proceeded thusly:
He: Hello Joann.
Me: Hello….wait….did you just say my name?
He: (smirking): Yes, I did. Hello Joann. Where are you coming from today?
Me: We started in North Battleford, SK today, but we are really coming from Alaska.
He: Alaska? Why did you go there?
Me (pointing to my sister): We drove up to visit her daughter who works there.
He: Do you have any firearms, tobacco, or cigarettes?
He: (as he was looking in the back of the car) Do you have any fresh fruits or vegetables?
Me: No. Do we look like we’ve been eating fruits and vegetables for the past three weeks?
He: (laughing as he notices our snack bin full of chips and chocolate). No health food snacks here.
He: Did you make any purchases in Canada?
Me: Only gas and doughnuts.
He: Ah….you discovered Tim Horton’s!
Me: Indeed we did.
He: OK. Welcome back to the United States!
I was just glad he hadn’t asked me about my birthplace (Pakistan) or the 7 Chinese visas in my passport.
We are now in the Canadian Rockies after spending the last two days crossing the North Dakota, Saskatchewan, and Alberta prairie. We couldn’t help thinking of (and admiring) the early pioneers who crossed the same land and settled the farms and ranches we were seeing.
We also came to understand why the slogan for Saskatchewan is “Land of the Living Sky.” I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a beautiful sky in my life, changing from brilliant blue to puffy white to dark and ominous — and back again as the days wore on.
We crossed the border at Portal, North Dakota, stopping first at a gas station on the US side to fill up one last time without having to do math. I asked the station attendant how far it was up to Moose Jaw, SK. “I don’t know,” he said, “I haven’t been to Canada for 11 years.” (never mind that it was across the street)
When I handed my passport to the Canadian border guard, he asked me if I travelled much. I stifled a chuckle and said, “yes, quite a bit.” After deeming that we three were not a threat to Canada’s social stability he sent us on our way.
Here are a few photos of the prairie.
A quintessential ND prairie town
A prairie sky
Inside the storm
And just for fun, here’s an interesting video clip about the border between the United States and Canada. As they say, “who knew?” (if you get this blog by email, and can’t see the video player, please click here.)