Wednesday, February 11, 2009

My Passport

My passport expired a few months ago and I finally applied for a new one today. I really hate not having one, knowing that I can’t leave the country on a moment’s notice if I want to.

It’s not like I gadabout all over the world and leave the country on a moment’s notice. Far from it. I went to England back in ’86. I had to have a passport when I obtained a Canadian visa back in ’97. But other than that, I’ve not put one to much use.

However, now you need a passport to get into Canada so I’d better have one on hand if I ever decide to spend a weekend in Toronto. I’ve been saying I was going to do that for the past eight years, but the land of the Maple Leaf has yet to see me cross its border since then.

I thought I might need to show my birth certificate so I pulled it out in case I needed it. What really shocked me was that it had that old, musty book smell – you know what I’m talking about. I like that smell, but not on the document that has my baby footprints on it.

Traveling in and out of Canada has always been interesting. When driving, the Canadian officials would be ever-so cheerful and practically wave you right on in. They wouldn’t even check any of your documents and you’d hardly even have to slow down.

Upon returning, the U.S. officials were quite intimidating and would often surprise you with various questions. What did you buy? How much did you spend? Do you have any Canadians in the trunk?

Things like that.

If you were flying in or out of Canada, things would get a bit more cumbersome. It was usually best to have a passport, but you could get through with just a driver’s license. You'd have a scribble out a customs form. There were usually lines to wait in.

Getting across the border on a train (Amtrak) was an entirely different story. It usually took an hour or two. The train would stop, some very serious-looking officials would board the train accompanied by some very serious-looking sniffer dogs. You would have to fill out customs forms, show a passport and point out your luggage in the overhead bins.

Occasionally, you’d see a passenger escorted off the train and into a little building. They usually wouldn’t return.

I was once with a very non-serious friend of mine on the train while traveling from Toronto to New York. The very serious-looking official asked him if he had anything to declare and my friend replied, “I declare I don’t know how your run a country without ice!”

I couldn’t help but laugh and I’m glad we didn’t get whisked away in the little building.

Hopefully, my passport will arrive soon and I’ll be free to vacation in some exotic locale. I don’t have any plans as of yet, but you never know.


At 11:19 PM , Blogger Miss Healthypants said...

Don't they have Bigfoot up there in Canada? *grin*


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