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North American Circuit: Traveling Back Across Canada

Traveling anywhere, anyway is better than returning back the way you came.

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SOMEWHERE in Alberta, Canada- Crossing the border into Canada wasn’t as easy as it usually is. They wanted to check me out a little more closely. My wife and kids waited outside in the car as I sat in the immigration station, in the row of shame.

Sitting next to me was a bearded young guy in a stained gray t-shirt. I could see the immigration officers digging through his jam-packed minivan out the window over my shoulder. Standing up at the counter was a fat woman paying a massive fine for trying to bring in few too many cans of beer. Another lady had to file some paperwork for her horses.

Across the station I watched as a portly, beat-down-by-boredom-looking inspector in navy blue run a background check on an PC that was so aged that the plastic casing on the monitor had yellowed. It looked the old IBMs that were state of the art when I was in grades school. My passport sat to the left of the equally yellowing keyboard.

I knew what was coming. I would be taken into a little room and have to explain what I was doing inside of a dumpster when I was 20 years old, which would prompt the story of how I obstructed a government official’s fist with my face. It was the tale of a legal ordeal that quickly ended in a draw: I wouldn’t sue the Buffalo PD and the court would let me walk away without any type of penalty. It was a BS arrest, which even the guy who booked me attested to. “This didn’t really happen, did it?” he asked as he looked up from the arresting officer’s report. No, no it didn’t — at least not in the way it was written.

I didn’t think too much about this ordeal then, but it comes up from time to time whenever a background check is run on me. It doesn’t really amount to a big deal — I tell the story, endure a contorted facial gesture and bewildered look or two, and then I’m sent on my way.

“That’s not anything, I just wanted to check,” the Canadian immigration official said after a final glance down at my almost embarrassingly uneventful dossier. “You can go now.”

North American circuit

We decided to travel back to the east coast of the USA via Canada. Traveling in a circuit beats going back the same way you came every time. We drove out from Rochester, NY to northwestern Montana and we aim to return across Canada to Bangor, Maine.

None of us have ever been to the western and central parts of Canada. We want to see what’s there, which is perhaps the best reason to travel anywhere.


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Filed under: Alberta, Border Crossing, British Colombia, Canada, Road Trip

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3717 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

2 comments… add one

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  • Rob August 13, 2018, 1:24 pm

    I’m in Maine, my first time in this part of the world and it is nice country, nice people too. Bangor is where I went to find the corporate Verizon store in the “big city”….

    Safe travels!

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    • Wade Shepard August 13, 2018, 3:47 pm

      Haha cool. I have a bit of a different impression of the place but I’m glad that you’re having a good time here!

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