As many of you know, Barb and I have been keeping a close eye on the Canadian border for well over a year now. Last year was obviously a bust and it looked like this year was going to be a bust as well. But then Trudeau announced that the border would open on August 9th to fully vaccinated Americans coming into Canada!
Once that was announced Barb and I quickly started changing our plans and make arrangements to get up to our favorite Canadian destination; Pasha Lake Cabins!
But it cannot be as easy as just driving up to the border station on or after August 9th right? Apparently a lot of people thought it was just that easy and created a huge mess at the border crossing with 7-9 hour waits in some cases.
Luckily, I have a wife who does a lot of research (See here for most recent information). First when they say “Fully vaccinated” That means 14 days after your final shot. In addition you have a negative Covid test within 72 hours of your crossing and upload your passport and vaccination card to the Arrive CAN app again within 72 hours of your arrival. Then you have to select the date, time and location of your border crossing. But wait, there is more! You have to have a quarantine plan in the event you do get sick while in Canada and be prepared to take another covid test at the border should you be randomly selected.
We were next in line and when they came out, I told the nurse that if we can get my wife down on the ground I could put her in a headlock so we can do the test. Luckily, she had a sense of humor….. Oh, the test Canada requires is a PCR Molecular test and the paperwork has to have the patient’s name, D.O.B., doctor’s name as well as the date and time on it. Some people had been showing up with incomplete or wrong tests. They said it would take 12-36 hours to get our results and since we were two days from the border we had to just take off and head that way in the hopes they were negative.
We drove North and East towards Minnesota stopping every few hours to let the dogs out. At one stop, Zoey saw a park and just had to go on some of the rides!
The dogs are incredible little travelers. Dakota will just lay in the back for ours on end. Zoey will lay for 3 hours, get up for 1 then day down for another 3.
That night we stopped in Watertown, SD at the Walmart for the night. Barb spent a couple hours in Walmart loading up on groceries while I sat with the dogs. While she was in shopping we received a call from the clinic saying that our results were negative. Hoop 1 completed! Barb then downloaded an electronic version of the results and luckily they included all the required information. She then went onto the Arrive CAN app and uploaded our passports, vaccine cards and answered a few other questions. Hoop #2 completed!
The next day we hit the road and arrived at Dino and Lisa’s super-secret undisclosed location about 2:00pm. We haven’t been there since October and their palace is amazing! They even gave us the grand tour. We were shocked, however, at their selection of the light switch in the bathroom. Lisa and Barb went for a walk with the dogs while Dino and I hung out in the man cave. The dogs had a great time swimming at their private beach. Dino prepared a feast while Lisa prepared a variety of cocktails and we hung out and talked until bedtime and hit the hay. Would you believe I did not even get a picture taken?!?!?
At 7:30 the next morning we said our goodbyes and headed to Baudette, MN where we had a 12:30pm crossing time set up. We arrived at 12:27 and pulled up to the window.
I rolled down my window, shut off the truck and handed the agent our passports. She asked all the same questions we have been asked for years; How much booze?, Do you have any weapons?, Are you leaving any gifts? We answered all of them like we always do; “We have two 750ml bottles of booze, we have no firearms but do have two bows with us, and we are not leaving any gifts” Then she asked us if we owned any handguns? “Yes”. Have you ever had a handgun in that truck? “Yes” Where was it? “Center Console”. Then she went on to ask us about our health and any symptoms we may be feeling. Then she said “You two have been randomly selected for a more thorough search AND another covid test, please pull over to the side and two officers will be out” Lucky us!
We pulled over and two officers came out, had us take the dogs out of the truck, had us stand to the side and started asking us questions. “Am I going to find a handgun in the truck?”, “No”, “Where is your handgun?”, “At home”, “Where are home?”. We answered all their questions and then they spent 30 minutes going through the truck, trailer and camper. Once they were done they said we passed and handed us two “At home” Covid tests that needed to be administered via a tele-nurse. So we pulled over to the other side of the parking lot and called the number on the home kit. “Have you registered with Switch Health?”, “No, we just crossed the border, were handed these boxes and were told to call this number”. “You need to go on line, create an account and follow the instructions on the website”.
Luckily we were still close enough to the border that we still had good cell service so Barb went on line and created my account. She also had to open the kit and input the serial number of the vial in the kit. Then she selected “Start Test” and it put us in the queue to connect with a Tele-Nurse. The first screen she received was that they were experiencing a higher than normal volume and to call back after 6pm. She pushed “Continue” and it said there were 40 people in front of me. While I was waiting, Barb was setting up her account on her phone. About 5 minutes later a face appeared on my screen. He had all my info on his computer. I told him we were randomly selected for a test and he said. “There is nothing random about it, the border agent picks and chooses who gets a test” I guess I did not charm that agent!
He walked both Barb and I through our tests. He had to witness us doing the swabs and sealing them in a Purolator bag. That took about an hour start to finish. He told us to drop the bags off at the nearest Purolator pick up site. The border agent said there was one nearby so Barb walked back to the crossing station to see where to drop them off. “Drive up around the corner and you will see a red garage on the left, there is a Rubbermaid container there, put the bags in the container”. So off we went. Sure enough, up around the corner there was a red garage on the left but no Rubbermaid container. Barb got out and was going into the garage to ask them where to put them. I watched her from the truck. Before she got to the door I see her put our tests into a garbage can! She then turns around and walks back and gets in the truck. I look at her like she is crazy and she says there was a sign on the garbage can saying “Put border covid tests in here”. Apparently the garbage can IS the Purolator pick up container!
We woke up the next morning and drove one hour in to Thunder Bay, fueled up and carried on to Nipigon where we fueled up again. It was only an hour between fuel stations but this would be our last fuel stop for the foreseeable future and we wanted as much in the tank as possible. An hour after that we pulled off of Highway 17 and onto a ride road. 3 miles later we saw the sign we have been longing to see for over 18 months!
We will be here for 3 ½ weeks of fishing, hunting, and who knows what other adventures await!