We spent our last night in the U.S. (for a while) in Couer d’Alene, Idaho and headed north to cross into Canada. We had been looking forward to exploring our northern neighbor for a while and were full of adventure and excitement as we cruised up to the border crossing.
Handing over our passports and answering the agent’s questions seemed easy enough, until something I said piqued her interest. She asked us to park the RV to the side and enter the office to speak with an agent, something you never want to hear at a border crossing. I have spoken to multiple Canadians since this incident who warned me that crossing at slower checkpoints often invites increased scrutiny. Perhaps that’s what happened here.
We went inside and checked in with an agent who took our passports and asked me some more questions. He ended up with the keys to the RV and the Jeep, the code to the safe in the RV, and headed out with a second agent to take a closer look. They were out there for about 30 minutes while I tried to play it cool in front of the kids. I knew we didn’t have anything to be worried about, but my mind started playing tricks on me while we waited as I racked my brain for anything that I possibly could have had to get in trouble.
They came back with some cash and Melody’s purse and wanted to know why we had cash on us. I explained to them it was for emergencies and they seemed ok with it, took my hemp-derived CBD oil (legal in the U.S., legal in Canada, somehow illegal at the border) and wrote me up some seizure paperwork, and sent us on our way. As we journeyed on into Canada, a sense of relief hit us as we released some of the tension that had built up over the past hour.
Ransacking aside, we’re having a great time in Canada. We stopped for a night to rest and then made our way to the Calgary-area.
We stayed for five nights at Aspen Crossing in Mossleigh, Alberta an hour from Calgary. The park itself is really cool; they operate legit train excursions out of there on the 14 miles of old Canadian Pacific Railroad tracks they own. The bad news is, there is absolutely nothing else to do here within about 45 minutes.
On Friday night we rode the Twilight Tour that cruised through the prairie for 2.5 hours. The boys loved it, venturing back to the Candy Car (caboose) to buy some treats and blowing the whistle at the back of the train at least three times. We were held up at gunpoint multiple times along the route and at one point were robbed by bandits right on the train! The boys handed over their loonies (Canadian dollar coins) and loved the gunfights and drama.
We also had tickets for the Sunday Special which was a similar ride but during the day. We did a lot of the same stuff as on Friday with one special exception. I had been chatting with the train’s conductor for a while on the ride, a really nice Canadian (aren’t they all?) who had some full-time RV wisdom to pass down. About 20 minutes before the ride ended, he asked me if the boys would like to ride in the locomotive the rest of the way. Are you kidding me? Yes!
They unceremoniously unboarded us on the side of the tracks while the other passengers wondered why we were no longer riding. “That’s what you get for smoking on the train!” said the conductor as the train thundered past us. Of course, the engine slowed to a stop a moment later and we jumped on. Noodles and Goosey were able to drive the locomotive from the engineer’s seat, blow the whistle, and had a great time. It especially made Wyatt’s day.
We’ve gone into Calgary a few times and have loved it. Apparently we’re here at the right time of the year because locals constantly tell us to try it when it’s “30 below with six feet of snow.” Hmmm…
It feels almost like the U.S. with some little things you notice. Here you go to the parc in the city centre. It’s metric most of the time, which makes you feel like you’re flying around doing 110 everywhere. There are no pennies, which is genius. I’ve only seen a handful of police, which made me realize how I’m used to seeing so many cops in the states. People really do say “eh?” and “you betcha!” It feels a little friendlier than home, if that makes sense.
Yesterday we spent the day in Banff National Park. The boys did great on a 3.5 km hike to a vista point overlooking Lake Louise, which was an amazingly beautiful sight. We cruised through the town of Banff grabbing ice creams and hitting the farmer’s market before settling down next to the river and lying down for a while. The town had a similar feel to Jackson Hole and other mountain town we’ve been through.
We’re heading back into Calgary today for a final excursion before we head north to Spring Lake, Alberta outside of Edmonton and looking forward to another month up north!