It was just another typical Thursday night.
My dear friend Ryan and I were packing up the dingy old jungle-car, as we had for so long and fondly called it, for another of our weekly road-trips. The jungle-car was thus named due to its durability and origins. It had carried Ryan tens of thousands of miles, and myself probably thousands as well. Our vehicle of choice was an old white Kia, and it had been produced in some remote jungle in the heart of Vietnam, or so the story goes.
While standing in my driveway ensuring that we had all we needed (which equated to our wallets and a 12-pack of Canada Dry) we debated whether or not we should make this trip extra special. Ryan and I had a nasty habit of taking off on a road-trip every Thursday night that Summer, almost always determining where we would end up long after departure.
Once, we had driven north for a few hours with no real destination ever emerging. We made a similar trip, simply driving north from home, but had in mind to drive up to Muskegon, MI, which is essentially at the lower knuckle of the pinky of the state. trip almost deserves to be put into writing. But let’s not kid ourselves, it’s Muskegon.On still another of our Thursday nights, we took to Kankakee, IL simply because that’s where a good friend of ours determined we should go, based solely on an aimless choice. There were various others, but these were the highlights, at least in my memory. Over many Thursday nights, we visited many a town that we otherwise had no reason to visit, and consequently made some awesome memories together.
However, after many relatively short trips together, we had decided it was time for something more. There was only so much to see in Southern Michigan and the areas within a few hours of our rural hometown. We wanted to do something big, but weren’t yet sure what that might look like. After some deliberation, we decided just to go with the flow like always.
We hit the road, fueled up and began our trip north. Along the way we discussed many facets of life from school and work to love and faith, all the while slurping down too many cans of our favorite soda pop. This was common on our trips, and of course one of my favorite parts. Three of my great passions are travel, friends and Canada Dry, after all.
After hours of driving and contemplating the intricacies of life together, we finally began to mull over how far we were actually prepared to go that night. With inspiration primarily derived from our driving drink of choice, we came to the conclusion that there was only one logical option. It was the end of Summer after all.
About three hours later, we found ourselves in a line of like-minded drivers and passengers waiting to cross the border – to Canada! As we approached the kiosk, a friendly man with an obvious accent invited us in upon presentation of our passports. We made it! Along the way, we had decided that it would be fun to try out a casino on the Windsor side of the border, as we weren’t of age yet to go to any in Indiana, and had both always wanted to try one out. By the time we arrived though, it was near midnight and we opted for something more low-key.
Shortly after crossing over, we made for what we thought to be a Canadian restaurant by the name of Tim Horton’s, where we picked up some delightful coffee and donuts. Given the sporadic nature of our trip, I had not considered to notify my bank that I would be out of country, and so my card was denied several times before the cashier determined to waive the charge and allow me my consumables on the house. Canadians really are as kind as the stereotypes say!
Following our pause for refreshment, Ryan got the great idea to check out “a Canadian grocery store,” since they were “bound to have stuff we couldn’t find in America.” It’s true. They really do. Though most is honestly just the same stuff we have but with a different brand name. As we departed the store, we decided that it was time to go home, so that Ryan might still get up for work the next day. Yup.
While all of this makes for a rather lackluster trip to another country, border patrol certainly had other ideas. This time, they weren’t so friendly (this was the Americans, of course). I do not recall how they knew that we hadn’t been across the way long, but they knew. The officer caught us off guard by inquiring exactly why we were only in Canada for just over an hour, to which we responded honestly. He didn’t seem to like “Tim Horton’s and the grocery store down the street.” In fact, he really didn’t like the Tim Horton’s part, as he pointed across the bridge to the tall neon sign designating the existence of the restaurant in Detroit. Oops.
With quickly failing tact Ryan began to explain to the officer that he had been working hard all Summer and that he had a “disposable income.” With that, we were escorted from the vehicle to a detainment facility while several officers and K-9 units searched the vehicle for drugs. Yup.
For nearly an hour we sat in the increasingly small, white room where a very unpleasant woman sat glowering down on us silently, apparently not thrilled to be babysitting two young miscreants like ourselves at 1am. We attempted small talk, but again this was the American side and she was not having it. The clock ticked by until we were finally given the all clear. I still remember the woman’s face scowling all the more when she learned that we had been telling the truth the whole time. Her eyes screamed “dumba***es” as she turned away and went back to her office.
At once we were escorted back to our vehicle and sent on our merry way. Within a few long hours, we made it back from Canada. What a grand adventure it was. I leave you with this:
Much Love & Many Blessings,
Brady J. L. Smith