Border Crossing: The Journey Begins ~ Alaska Bound

Our fortune cookies the night before our Alaska Adventure started. I don't know if the bottom one was referring to the ferry crossing we faced in Dawson or if it was really meant for The Wynns.
We left the U.S. a day ahead of schedule on May 31, 2015. The only reservation we had were a pair of tickets at will call for the Alaska Goldpanners Midnight Sun Game held on the Summer Solstice (June 21). That gave us 21 full days to drive roughly 2,201 miles and, even though that was about 14 days longer than most of our fellow RVers were taking, it still felt rushed.

The Mutiny and the SnowMobile on our last night in the U.S. free camping at the Silver Reef Casino in Ferndale.
By now our friends, Gone With the Wynns, had made their crossing and posted a video about it. We also received reports on our special Alaska 2015 Facebook page from other nomads who had made smooth crossings at various points along the US/Canadian border. We felt pretty confident that we, too, would have zero issues at the border since we had actually (and honestly) bothered to removed any guns, alcohol, raw chicken (even frozen), fruit, eggs and house plants. Not only that, we paid an exorbitant amount of money to obtain health certificates for all the pets on board (our two cats, Avi and Miso, and our new dog, Nellie)...which were never checked. By anyone. At any border crossing.

The Snows, with their Jeep toad, right in front of us...
We caravanned with Jason and Kristin of The Snowmads, getting in line right behind them at the check point. After a few minutes we saw that they got waved to the side, which meant they were either going to get inspected or had some other issue to deal with inside the border patrol building. I'll admit ~ I was secretly relieved because I thought, "Surely they won't pull two RVs over in a row. We're golden!". Boy was I wrong. We were pulled over, boarded and given the complete cavity search. Okay, not really ~ but they did snoop around and questioned us about a few things. Mainly, they wanted to know if the rifle Clark was holding in a photo above the passenger's seat was on board the RV (seriously, they take this gun thing...ummm..seriously). Now, this photo is one of those old timie deals where the guys dress up like bandits or bank robbers and the ladies like saloon girls. So there we were, trying to explain to the Canadian Border Patrol that it wasn't a real gun, it wasn't our gun and that we paid for a photo that made my sister and I look like old time prostitutes. They also asked about the cats (but not for any health records) and how they handled traveling and eventually let us go. Travel Tip: Don't assume Border Patrol isn't going to search your rig. Granted, they didn't give us a hard time about the fact that we had slightly more alcohol than allowed, but they can and will search your RV for reasons that may not make any sense to you.
 

The infamous photo...
 We caught up to the Snows, who had been let through after a paperwork check, at the nearby Costco. All of our cell phones became useless about 5 miles after crossing the border so we got a set of walkie talkies, which worked well as long as we stayed within a 1/4 mile of each other...and if we kept off of them rather than making jokes about everything we saw along the way. Man those batteries drain fast! Travel Tip: Traveling with friends can take some of the stress away. You can split research duties or catch wayside attractions the other might miss. It's also nice to have friendly company to share a drink with after a long or stressful travel day.

Canada let us in!!!
Kristin was a saint and had already scoped out our first stop for the night. Our travel day wasn't planned to be excessively long because we didn't know how long the border crossing would take (the lines alone can make for a long wait, let alone getting picked for the search) and well, being in a foreign place, even if it is only Canada, takes a little getting used to (there's a lot of math with the whole kilometers per hour and gas prices in liters, it can be exhausting). Travel tip: Make a quick conversion table for common measurements if you're not accustomed to using the metric system. For instance, a short list of km/h to mph taped to the dashboard near the driver is helpful (some speedometers make it near impossible to read the km/h). Likewise, knowing how many liters are in a gallon can help you figure out how much fuel cost by the gallon (but you may not really want to know). 


Mindi, Nellie and Chloe (Toby's around somewhere) stretch their legs in the dog park at Canyon Alpine RV Park.
Our first night in Canada was spent at Canyon Alpine RV Park and Campground in Boston Bar, B.C. The campground Internet was useless, none of our phones worked, our mifi hot spots lay dormant, we had no chicken to cook for dinner and no eggs for breakfast the next morning. But we were officially on our way to one of the greatest adventures we'd have in all of our fulltime travels. Travel Tip: If you can swing it, plan for a shorter day when you cross the border. Having the option to stop early in the day can take some of the pressure off of a potentially rough day. Also, plan ahead and have some dinner and breakfast options available unless you have time to shop immediately after the crossing.

Comments

  1. Did you cross at Sumas WA? We're planning on using the Silver Reef Casino as our last US overnight crossing at Sumas. We're about a month behind you.
    Jeff

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We did cross at Sumas. =) Our AK trip was actually LAST year (2015) so you're a year behind us. Haha. Enjoy your trip! I hope we get some more helpful posts up before you go.

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  2. Hi Lynn, We are going to take this trip next year and plan to take 4 weeks. We can't leave until mid June. mDo you think that this timing will work ok in general for weather, etc?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Terry,
      Yes, I'm sure the weather will be great in mid-Jun. The only thing you'll need to think about is a return date. Most travelers tend to leave Alaska by Labor Day...but there are always exceptions and some stay through mid- to late September. I'd just advise you to keep an eye on weather conditions and allow yourself enough time to out run the snow. Enjoy your travels!! You'll likely see more than we did on our way up!

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    2. Ahh, thank you for your speedy reply Lynn! I am really learning a lot from your blog and also from the blogs of those who connected with you in Alaska! I'm so excited for this adventure.

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