Quit your job. Give up your apartment. Sell all your belongings on a street corner. Throw yourself a big party and say good bye to all your friends. You’re young. There is nothing holding you back. Put what little you still have into a backpack and head for the nearest border crossing. You have Yellowstone geysers in your heart and Arizona desert stars in your eyes.

What happens next?

Through talking to people about my travel plans for this summer, I’ve come to realize that most people think about cutting all ties and hitting the road from time to time. But there’s always something holding them back. They can’t face the idea of giving up their treasured possessions; they might not get career opportunities like this again; there’s someone they’ll miss too much; They’re not brave enough.

In the past, I’ve been the person who can’t give up their things, job, friends, and fear, but I’m finished with all of that now. I swear I really am, but if that’s the case, then what the hell am I still doing in Canada? What is holding me back?

What happens next is that you spend 90 minutes at the border, answer a million questions as conservatively as possible, then be denied entry to the United States of America without even having your bag searched. Reason given: insufficient ties to Canada. It was explained to us that since we had no jobs or place to live in Canada, there was no reason for us to not adopt lives as illegal immigrants. How’s that for cruel irony?

After that, Adrian and I were escorted back to the Canadian port of entry by six (six!) border guards. Back on our home turf, we were welcomed with a full dog sniffing and search of our bags and clothing. The Canadian guard was gracious enough to explain to us why he was searching us when we hadn’t even made it into the states, “If you guys have got something you’re not supposed to, I want to be the one to find it. Especially since that would mean that the Americans missed it.” What an upstanding guy!

I’m now writing this from the patio of my Uncle Ron’s vacation property in Penticton. The last of the light is fading from the sky, leaving only the dramatic silhouettes of the mountains across a wind-tossed Lake Skaha. Our tent is pitched on the lawn and I am looking forward to a fantastic night’s sleep.

It’ll definitely a be a step-up from last night. The first hour of last night’s sleep was in a bush, and the next five hours were spent in rain-soaked sleeping bags on concrete under the eave of a Kwantlen University building. Let’s just say that I’ve had better nights.


When life gets overwhelming, a list works wonders. So here’s a list of serious thank-you’s.

  1. Thank you to the man who drove us away from the border for telling us “I love you guys.” at least two dozen times in a ten minute ride.
  2. Thank you to the waitress at the Original Joe’s for figuring out that we weren’t going to order anything pretty quickly and not giving us a hard time about it.
  3. Thank you to the man in McDonalds at 6am for letting us hold your insanely well-trained and soft bunny rabbit.
  4. Thank you to the white water kayaking Brit for taking us to the very same on-ramp that we started our trip to Revelstoke from back in December.
  5. Thank you to the guy who once had sex with three girls at the same time for being a baller that one time when you were 16. Thank you for also for the ride and for not actually being as creepy as you could have been.
  6. Thank you to the hitch hiker in the cool hat for greeting us as if we were guests in your home when we showed up to the same shoulder on the Crow’s Nest Highway as you. Thank you for the food and for the most excellent conversation.
  7. Thank you to Fiona the dog for being extremely cute and fluffy. I hope that our lovely driver treats you extra nice for your 13th birthday.
  8. Thank you to my Uncle Ron for use of his gorgeous property and open-ended offers of help.

Adrian and I spent the afternoon collecting documents in preparation for a reattempt at the border. What happens next? Well, I know now since I’m now posting this 24 hours later from the first wifi hotspot I’ve found since then. But that story will be for the next post. Stay tuned.

One thought on “Setbacks

  1. SHHHHIIIIEEEE-IIIIITT! I can’t believe they didn’t let you into ‘Murica! Good ol’ Canadian border guard. “JUST DOIN MY DOOTY HERP DERP”. Fuck Canadian rule-loving mentality.

    It’s awesome that you just went back the next day and got across. I lol’d. So wait, you just have to play up the “student” bit? I guess I’ll travel with my student card, then.

    Good luck moving through ‘Murica. Hope you make it (or made it) to Yellowstone!

    – Reyn


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