After Campobello Island, we had to reenter the US and drive an hour north to the next border crossing to enter the New Brunswick mainland. Coming back into the US was easy enough, just a twenty minute wait or so while they checked out our bus, and when we were ready to go, everything was back in its place. Unfortunately, our cross back into Canada at the much larger station in Saint Stephen was another story.
The problem so ironically evolved from us trying to be totally prepared to enter Canada without issue, and what resulted was the opposite. What happened is, we knew that we couldn’t carry firearms over the border, so Steven bought a gun case to ship his guns home. When he took his guns to the Mount Dora, FL gun shop to have them shipped, the shop owner insisted he could get us a better shipping rate by packing the guns in some makeshift boxes instead of using the plastic case. So we ended up not needing the case, but thought we would just take it back home and use it later. If we had known what trouble this would cause us, we would have gotten rid of that thing much sooner.
When the Canadian border officials searched our bus, they found the empty gun case and went into panic mode. After waiting a very long time for them to let us go, we were beckoned outside to the bus. What we found was all our belongings that were stored in the outside compartments dumped all over the parking lot. This didn’t bode well. Immediately, Steven was questioned about his firearms and while we explained how the guns were back in Oregon, they did not believe us. We were ushered inside the bus and discovered that they had turned the place upside down, having torn into every compartment and every box and they left everything laying in heaps on the floor. Our home was trashed.
Needless to say, tempers were high, and we did not appreciate the attitude we got from the border officials as we did our best to comply with the rules. I was very scared as they threatened to send Steven off to jail, and threatened us with dogs, and we had done nothing wrong. I know they were just doing their job, but we expected a little more courtesy, and not to be treated like criminals. Steven was asked repeatedly to just tell them where the guns were hidden, as if we are some kind of smugglers. When they finally confirmed that we had no weapons, they continued to berate us with accusations and threatening messages. After they confiscated my tiny pepper spray (I didn’t realize it was illegal), I asked how women were expected to protect themselves. I got a very sarcastic reply from the male border official, who stated, “With their fists”. Wow. He proceeded to make fun of American gun laws and to complain about how hot it was inside the bus as he had to dig around every single box we have in there. Like I’m supposed to feel sympathy for the guy.
Now, believe me, we by no means wish to speak illy of the country of Canada. We just happened to have a terrible experience trying to vacation there. We are aware that our bus is unusual and draws extra attention where ever we go. We expected to be searched. We just didn’t expect to be treated so poorly. It is a sad truth that there are people who try to sneak weapons and other things into other countries. But we would never try to pull anything like that over anyone. We were intensely disappointed how the whole thing was handled. If any of you have had good experiences with Canada, please share your experience. We had heard such good things about entering Canada, and actually heard bad things about the US customs. Coincidentally, the US was nothing but quick and courteous each time we crossed over.
After re-packing the whole bus and cleaning up from that disaster, we continued east. The view was gorgeous! Dense forest on either side of the highway, with an occasional peak out onto a river or brook. The fog rolled in and created a very interesting effect on the landscape. We took note of the fence line along the road, which we heard is to keep wandering moose out of the way. After some time we finally came upon our stop for the night and into the company of some fellow boondockers. We stayed the night at Bill and Janet’s place near Petitcodiac, and they welcomed us with a cooler full of beer on their huge and wonderful farmhouse porch. We really have had the best luck with meeting such gracious hosts on this trip.
We were ready to head up to Nova Scotia the next morning, but we decided to take pause and reevaluate our situation. First, there is a large storm approaching Canada (thanks to hurricane Arthur from Florida). Secondly, buying diesel (or much of anything) in Nova Scotia is extremely expensive. And thirdly, we are looking forward to visiting our friend in Michigan next weekend and have already planned a camping trip there. With such little time before we need to reach Michigan, and the other factors against us, we eventually decided that our energy would be better spent heading back into the US and making our way over to the Great Lakes. It would be fun to see Nova Scotia, and/or Prince Edward Island, but to really appreciate it and take it all in, you need several days there. To spend one rushed weekend driving back and forth would have been a waste. On a trip like ours, with a limited budget and a pressed timeline, you have to cut your losses and decide what is more worth your effort. We rather enjoy our time spent in a few places, than run all over the Earth without taking the time to appreciate every stop.
Therefore, we find ourselves back in the States for the fourth of July, taking in the fireworks and some good American brew in Bangor, Maine. Cheers!