Tuesday, April 9, 2013

October 11, 2008, Part 1: Crossing the medicine line

Supposedly at one time the Indians referred to all white man's magic as "medicine," and no medicine was as potent as the 49th parallel.  Crossing this invisible border was a way to earn salvation, a wall unbreached by American armies.

It can still be a place of changing fortunes.

I had always worried a bit about the border crossing.  Crossing on a road meant I wasn't just sneaking over like I considered doing if I cross via the river, but still I was worried what response I was going to get as I walked down the line, pushing my contraption in the long line of cars.  The worst scenario I could imagine was the border agents deciding my vehicle wasn't road-worthy.  In that case they could turn me around and the Canadian agents might stop me too, until someone came to rescue me from the no-man's land between the borders.

As it turns out, I had no problems at that particular point.  The agents maintained serious faces, but I felt like I amused them.  One only asked what the mysterious powder in one of my unlabelled canisters was, and was satisfied by my insistence it was just brown sugar.  The other questioned me at length about my trip: where I had come from, where I was going, and whether I was being treated well on the road.  He spoke at length about his son's trips: walking across Spain, biking across the U.S., and later north from Tierra del Fuego.  In fact, I think I was the one who cut the conversation short, trying to look out for the long line of cars behind me.

I stopped at the first gas station I saw.  It was my friend Calvin's wedding day and I was determined to get ahold of him.  My calling cards were dead, and I had no American cash or bank cards.  I knew I would eventually have to make it to a Bank of America since I had lost my check card, and I needed to free some of my long-term savings to use it.  I assumed a BoA would be findable relatively early on entry into Minnesota.  In fact, there are no Banks of America anywhere in the state.

So, I decided to withdraw money from my Canadian bank at an ATM.  First, I needed to check how much was available, so I asked for Account Balance, which resulted in the puzzling response "Invalid Operation."  So I blindly attempted to withdraw first $60, then $40, then $20, to be met with, respectively, "Insufficient Funds," "Insufficient Funds," "Insufficient Funds."

Scrounging around in my canoe, I found a few loonies and toonies, and the $20 bill Sarah King had left in the Tilly hat she gave me.  I had been saving it for a special occasion, and this was it.  I bought a phone card and counted my money: $6 US and $13 Canadian plus change.  Money was one less burden on the trip.

Calvin has organized a bicycle flotilla of groomsmen for his wedding; I interrupted their grand ride from a little gas station in Minnesota.

Day 112 continues.

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