Coming back to Canuckia on Wednesday night, I knew catching my bus back to Montreal from Magog would be tight, but wasn’t really stressing. We were driving the back roads of New Hampshire and Vermont—militia country if you will—and ended up at the border in a small town called Stanhope.
So, we get to the border and Mark, my climbing partner, is having fits of ecstasy over how attractive he finds the border guard. (Mind you, we haven’t washed in over a week, we look battered from over 9 days on the rock and in the sun and sleeping in the woods, and we both have week-old growths of salt-and-pepper stubble.) We’re in a pick-up, he’s got New York license plates, we’re two states over from his home town, and we’re heading back east via Canada. Enough to arouse some suspicion, I suppose.
The guard asks her usual questions, and seems obsessed with whether we have any guns. Um, nope. No drugs either, although we do have the remains of a bottle of bourbon in the back. The guard takes Mark’s passport and my driver’s license into the office, asking us to wait awhile. She comes back out, sans our documentation, telling us that this will take a few minutes. We figure that everything will be okay, and wait again. She then goes back inside, comes out and tells us to pull off to the side, because they’re going to search the vehicle.
Wonderful, no way am I getting back to Montreal that night. Two more guards come out, Mark and I are told to stand in front of the truck where they can see us, and the guards proceed to go through the truck with some high-powered flashlight, taking everything out, opening everything, etc., etc. Now, two guys off on a road trip are going to have a lot of stuff, being at least two pack sacks each (one for camping, the other for climbing gear). Mark is a carpenter, so he also has all of his carpentry stuff in the truck as well.
Here’s where it gets interesting: One of the guards calls me off to side and, staring directly at me for a reaction, asks, “Have you ever taken cocaine?” What?!? I’m freaking. Me: “Um, no sir, coke isn’t on my list of prescriptions. In fact, what with a transplant and all, it might actually kill me.” Guard: “Well, we passed your license under an ion scanner (or something, I wasn’t comprehending much by then), and found traces of cocaine on your license. There’s nothing we can do about it right now, but you should know.” No idea how it got there, and I go back to standing in front of the truck, wondering how this could have happened.
After about 30 more minutes, the guard who questioned me tells the others, “nah, these guys are too active to be doing coke.” They call us over, tell us that everything’s hunky dory and, after commenting on all the gear we have, let us go. Get to Magog, where I’m sure we were followed, and after parting ways with Mark, I try the door of the bus station.
No more buses that night. Fortunately, my mom lives in Magog, so I give her a call, she comes to pick me up, and I spend the next day with the ‘rents, who drive me back the next day.