Well, in retrospect, everything worked out fine and we were definitely glad we got to a point yesterday fairly close to the border. It would have been a lot less amusing if we’d been dealing with things at the end of a long day.
When you buy something big, like a trailer, in another country there are things you must have in order when you cross the border. Safari Condo does a great job helping facilitate all of this and they use a brokerage service to generate a nice orderly pile of paperwork for you. Everything was explained to us in detail; which line we needed to get into, which papers to show, which numbers were important. We arrived bright eyed and bushy tailed at the Houlton-Woodstock border crossing with a nice packet of papers neatly stapled together. We knew to say the words “electronic manifest” and were good to go. When we approached the check point, we rightly got into the “Trucks” lane and comically drove our small rig up to the window with the armed officer posted in a booth waaaaay up high so as to be able to talk to truckers and still maintain authority. Already when we pulled up, he looked slightly annoyed. We happily said the magic words “electronic manifest” and handed him our paperwork (which required Richard to get out of the car and hold them up high for the guy to take. After some typing and scowling, he told us there was nothing in the system for us. Oh dear. We knew it must be a simple error but remained as submissive and compliant as we could appear to be. He then told us to pull up “out of the way” (he used that phrase a couple of times) and to come in the door. We followed these directions and attempted to look as out of the way as we could.
Coming inside, he now took our drivers licenses in addition to our passports and again told us the number we had issued to us was no good. He also said something about needing to enter through “New York”, which we didn’t understand, but were fairly alarmed about. Then he directed us over to another building which we later came to understand was the brokerage company that had supposedly arranged this. We complied.
The first thing the people inside the small office said was that they didn’t recognize any of our paperwork. Richard politely asked: “Isn’t this your company?” as he pointed out their name on the paperwork. It was, and that was the first positive sign.
So after many phone calls to Safari Condo, and the brokerage office in Montreal, it looked like what happened was that another couple had somehow used our entry number (and, it seems, our names) when they crossed the border a week earlier. Unbeknownst to us, we had apparently entered the states through a New York crossing the week before. Huh. Both of us were starting to wonder if we were going to have to return to Quebec, go up to the New York crossing, or just stay in Canada. At least there were cute little chipmunks and pretty birds to watch while we waited.
Eventually (after a couple of hours) a new number and corresponding paperwork had been generated. We were off to present a new nicely stapled packet to the grumpy armed customs guy. Again, we complied. Richard handed him the papers and said: “Ok, we got it fixed.” Officer Grumpy: “I don’t know.” We were silent.
We waited another stretch of time listening to truck drivers being asked questions. Finally, another armed guy, an armed woman, and a friendly armed guy, all filed through the door and went and looked at numbers displayed on the side of Dory (they also poked at the caravan mover a bit because, you know, it’s interesting). Seeming satisfied that numbers were now “good” instead of “bad”, they all three returned through the back door where we were being quiet and well behaved and the armed woman handed us back our driver’s licenses and passports. We knew then all would be well. Papers were stamped and grateful thank yous were given. And we drove off into the U.S.
After that, we took a lunch break at Tim Horton’s and I had a freaking donut.
We agreed that, all things considered, that wasn’t so bad. Also, we now had cell service and we’re suckers for that. Life was good again.
The rest of the day was honestly gorgeous. We took Highway 1 down the coast of Maine and it was simply stunning. Richard found us a place called Sunset Point for the night and it came complete with little walking trails by the water to watch the sunset. We had a cozy dinner inside and, despite the first part of the day, noted that this was the life and that everything is awesome.
I accidentally got into black and white mode for a while until I noticed. Let’s pretend I’m being “artsy”.
Total miles: 208.5, Engine time: 6 hours, 03 min, MPG: 16.9