Saturday, June 16, 2012

Burlington bound

We left Montréal at mid-morning and headed south, passing through St.-Jean-Sur-Richelieu on the way to the US border. It's a town that Ken wanted to see and maybe have lunch in. We drove around and saw the place, but nothing really grabbed us for food so we decided to wait until we got to Burlington.

View from an island in northern Lake Champlain, in Vermont. Click to champlify.

The American border guard was slightly less than polite. I know they're trying to trip up the bad guys, but why do American immigration and customs agents always make me, an American citizen, feel like a criminal suspect every time I come back into the country? The Canadian agent smiled and welcomed us. The worst I get in France is a Gallic shrug.

Island lodging, North Hero Island, Vermont.

I've never had a problem getting back into the country, it's just that the agents seem to start with the assumption that we're up to no good. This time we just got the twenty questions, including why did we pick this particular "podunk" station at which to cross the border. Ummm, because it's there? Because we've been through all the others and this is the last one before we're eligible for a prize? Because we're carrying a shipment of illegal drugs in the trunk and we thought no one would notice?

None of the above. It's always best to tell the truth: we're on our way to Burlington and we wanted to drive on the small highway over the islands in Lake Champlain. We're tourists. The agent let us go without looking in the trunk. The only reason I mention that is because he looked in the trunk of the car just ahead of us. They must have been foreigners.


  1. Whenever I went to my dentist on foot in Mexico, I crossed the border back to the States with hordes of Mexicans entering California to buy a lot of things because they’re much cheaper in the States. Even though I was polite and said hello with a smile never did any of the agents smile back or anything. I think they must be trained just to scare people.

  2. I too have crossed the Mexican border many
    times and received the same treatment. I've
    concluded that they know they're being
    video taped and want to appear very serious.

    Yes, please, photos of the salmon doings.
    Bet that's Ken's next "red."

  3. I've crossed the border countless times from Canada into the USA. Since 9/11, they've become a lot more severe and less friendly in their manner. But I've always gotten across without delay.

    As other commenters have suggested, I think that severe, almost aggressive manner is required of them.

  4. When Danny and I came back from a Europe trip a few years ago, they asked where we visited. Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels. On hearing Amsterdam, the guards ears picked up ('cause they sell reefer and who knows what in that there place). He took our luggage, put on plastic gloves and dug through everything including toletries. And 2 weeks worth of dirty underwear. He handed the open suitcases back to us with the insides left like scrambled eggs, disappointed to come up empty handed.

    IMO, I suspect that there would be less need for border security if the US did not prop-up corrupt regimes and remove democratically elected governments around the world at will.

    Hello Grand-dad above, hope Paris is treating you well.

    1. Hello Grandson,
      Paris is treating me badly, it's cold and rainy. I do miss my desert.

    2. Bonjour Cousin

      You should move to Montréal for the summer months : It is going to be in the 30's ( celsius next week) and so far we have been very lucky "mercury wise"

  5. American immigration and customs agents are just another example of what happens when the wrong people are entrusted with authority. It's the American way.

  6. You say all "legal residents" are eligible for the national insurance. Do you have to be a full-time resident or can you qualify with only a six-month stay each year? Do you have to be a citizen?

  7. chm, scary, indeed!

    sheila, I've been taking salmon photos, hoping to make a post out of them. Today we (well, our friend John) will do the actual smoking.

    buddy bear, I agree. Serious.

    diogenes, tell me what you really think. LOL!

    starman, I don't know, I think it's just the culture of security. As for the national health service, I think what you need is a titre (also called a carte) de long séjour. You don't have to be a citizen (I'm not).

  8. I feel the same about entering the US. It's not unfriendliness that bothers me; it's the false friendliness, the pretending to be interested in why you are entering the country in order to get you to talk. That bugs the hell out of my husband, who doesn't speak English and who struggles to come up with answers to their questions. Also, the whole rigamarole of going through different lines US citizens and residents versus others. Once, when the kids were little and we were coming in through Maine very, very late, because our flight was deviated from NY due to storms, my husband was with me in the US line and the immigration officer remarked testily that he should be in the other line. I remarked, somewhat more testily, that I was a US citizen carrying two US citizens in my arms and my husband was carrying two more US citizens in his!


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