Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Glacier National Park, you little tease, you!

We had been in Montana briefly last year, but were chased away by a snowstorm. Although we had less time to enjoy it now due to our impending date with the Canadian Border, we were determined to enjoy it as much as possible.

We spent our first night in Montana with an Tent Space Hosting ADV Rider in Missoula. Lance was very welcoming and we spent
the evening chatting about travels, bikes and eventually hashing out my bikes list of ailments. Lance offered some interesting alternative solutions to the Transalps problems, but eventually, he also concluded that she probably needs a top-end overhaul. Although he knew a great guy to do it and has his finger on the pulse of eBay parts ordering, we didn’t have the time to stay. So after Roel changed his oil the next morning, we were off and running to make the most of Glacier National Park.

We got there late in the afternoon, just in time for hordes of mosquitos to give us an idea of what we will have to look forward to in Canada. But, we found a nice place to camp along the lake and settled into the tent just as the rain began to fall around us.

The clouds still hung low over the mountains when we woke up. We packed up our soggy home, which was drenched, not due to rain, but likely due to our own breath creating condensation within the tent (if anyone has ideas on how to remedy this, we’re all ears!) and rode a few kilometers up to where the “Going to the Sun” road was still quite closed. This disappointment fit well with my mood as we rode around the park knowing that stunning mountains and glaciers were being hidden from our view by stubborn clouds.
By the time we made it to the East end of the park a few hours later, the clouds had begun to part and things were looking “up” as we spotted a grizzly moving through the thick brush alongside the road.
It was a lovely ride to the border, and we made it just in time before the officials called it quits for the day. Roel was able to explain his EPA clearance to the US customs official and get them to “stamp out” his bike paperwork. Who knows if this is actually necessary, but we figured it would be better to have something official to send back to Roel’s “buddy” at the EPA who told him that his bike could be impounded and he could be fined $37,000 if his bike was not out of the country by the end of his 365-day allowance.
I watched Roel hand over his passport on the Canadian side and on he went into Canada. No problem. 

Since my last incident crossing the Canadian border, customs and immigration makes me nervous now. You’d think I was trying to smuggle children in my panniers the way my palms began to sweat and my breath got shaky as I pulled my bike up to the Canadian Customs Booth. This guy wanted to have a little fun with his job, though, and with every response I gave him, he gave me flak… not like “I’m not going to let you into my country” flak, but like “you’re my little sister, buck up” flak. Which only made me more nervous.

Agent: “Where is your home?”

Me: terrified that he will sense a lie, because, let’s face it, I don’t really have a home, I point to my the dry bag that holds our tent

Agent: “No, like where will you go to when you leave Canada.”

Me: Stammer. Stammer. “Well, still, the tent, but I mean, my permanent family residence is in Vermont, and um, my Mom lives in Florida.”

Agent: “Ugh!!! OK!!!” Stamp.

Phew. But really, how am I really supposed to answer that question. 

Apparently, he called Roel a "bum" before stamping his passport. If that gets us into Canada, fine by us!

We were out of the USA and back into friendly Canada. We continued riding until we got to Pincher Creek, Alberta and found a Walmart with a McD’s wifi hotspot just as angry dark clouds rolled in and it started to pour. We waiting out the rain and being so far North, it was just starting to get dark at 10pm as we rode out to find a place to camp. We unrolled our still soggy home, and crawled in for what was a crappy night of sleep with howling wind adding to our damp chill.

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