Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Road Trip Day 4

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I wanted to make it home on this day but I knew we were still deep in the heart of the USA. It's Saturday August 22, 2009.

Bryan and I got moving pretty early. I wanted to leave Oshkosh in the dust along with all the troubles in tribulations of the day before.

We hit Scottsbluff by 9:10 in the morning, an hour and a bit in and we had 79 miles under our belt.

It was a beautiful morning and I had the NPR going on the Satellite radio. Car Talk with Click and Clack seemed appropriate. It was just a nice Saturday morning drive.

By noon we were in Casper, Wyoming. I was now so relaxed we had a sit-down lunch at a Carl's Jr. Not something we get in Canada. Bryan then dragged me around looking for diet Cherry Coke.

By 3:30 we crossed into Montana. Here I saw a truck with a wheel off, a motor home that had caught fire and other vehicles broken down on the side of the road. I was praying that we weren't going to be one of these people. The air condition in Dad's truck is gone so we had to suffer through some 30 degrees Celsius temps. If that was to be the worse part of the day I would be fine.

We reached Billings by 4:45 pm. Between Billings and Great Falls the decision was made to take a different route then the one through Lewistown that claimed our time on the drive down. We went further west then north at about Bozeman.

This route took us through some grand vistas. There were long stretches of roads were you could see in mile on both sides. After a while it began to tighten up and we headed through a mountainous area similar to interior BC. As the Sun went down we were among long stretches of cabins and lodges. It was a beautiful route.

By 9:00PM we in Great Falls once again. I decided to push onward to get across the border as I was concerned that whether the documentation had made it there.

It was a long dark trip north of Great Falls. Night had fallen and it was pitch black. We stopped in Shelby, Montana to check the rigging and it was good that we did because the chains had loosened and the chaining point on the front of car had broken off. The car could have come off the trailer again. I bought two cases of Coors for spoils. Bryan was concerned as with his case and these two we could be over our limit at the border.

The easiest part of crossing the border was dealing with the American side to get my paperwork to import the car. I had sent everything ahead correctly and it was a snap. We then reached the Canadian side.

Even now sometime later it's still hard to remember back to this:

I presented Canadian customs with my documents and they asked me inside. I parked.

It's important to point out here that there is an import tax on non-domestic cars.; even ones that are 36 years -old. It's also important to point out that I am idiot.

When I purchased the TR from Craig we did the bill of sale and signed the title over for 1000 dollars. In essences we committed fraud. The actual price of the car was about 3600 dollars. By doing this I was to save about 400 dollars in taxation at the border.

What I didn't know was that Canadian customs can query Ebay to see what I paid. I got busted and I got busted hard. I was out-smarted by a customs agent. Granted I was tired and could think well on my feet after driving 18 hours but no excuse - I got busted.

When the gig was up they said that were seizing the car and if they found anything in the truck (remember: three cases of Coors) they were going to seize the truck. I was royally screwed.

"Take a seat."

All I could think now was that I was going home with nothing after all this. It's the closest I have come to crying in a long time. I was beaten... destroyed - and it was all my fault.

There were three border guards handling this. -a punk that seemed to be about 25, a middle-aged dude and a fat chick who seem to be new . They were walking the trainee through my various infractions. It was quite a production.

After about an hour of abuse - and it was abuse - the punk was power tripping and kept asking me if I thought he was stupid. I answered no but I actually did think he was stupid. Working knowledge of whatever ebay tracking software they trained him on didn't make me think he was particularly smart.

But the truth is that I was stupid or naive. I underestimated the technology that boarder program puts into protecting a lucrative revenue stream. This hero in a vest was a tax cop and had just protected the Canadian government from being screwed out of 400 dollars.

In the end I had to pay a massive fine. It was a ridiculous fine. But they didn't take the car or check the truck for that matter. I could have had tow kilo's of Coke strapped to the steering column.

I think I'm on a list now.

We arrived in Lethbridge, AB at 2:30 in the morning. I felt destroyed - defeated and not great. We checked into a motel on Mayor Megrath. I had a restless sleep watching the car through a slit in the courtains as I was sure something was going to happen to it.

I was glad to be back in Alberta.

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