Let the Road Trip Begin!

We spent Wednesday, the first night of our 2500-km road trip from Edmonton to San Francisco, at a Day’s Inn in Ponderay, Idaho. I don’t know what it is about Idaho, but not one person in our van can say the state’s name without laughing.

Idaho. No, you da ho. No, I da ho. Ho ho ho.


Actually, when we reached US Customs and Immigration at Kingsgate, BC, Idaho was no laughing matter.

This is the fourth time we have brought Elizabeth’s pal Maxine with us on a trip to the US, the fourth time her dad has had to write a letter and have it notarized, giving us permission, and the first time a US border crossing guard has ever asked her, “What about your mother? Why isn’t your mother mentioned?”

Maxine said, “My father has sole custody.”

Meanwhile, I was thinking, Maxine, tell him your mother is dead. But for some reason that did not occur to her, and the guy began going on about how he needed to see paperwork from two parents.

Maxine was trying to explain the concept of sole custody, but Mr. Stickler had a one-track mind. Finally I blurted out, “Her mother is dead,” hoping that would elicit a sympathetic, “Oh, I’m so sorry. Please drive through and enjoy the United States.”

Instead, Mr. S. launched into a lecture about how he likes to see two parents. I thought to myself, “Really? I just told you the girl’s mother is dead and you’re telling me you want to see two parents. I’m sure she’d like to see two parents, too, but the only two parents you’re going to see in this car are the two in the front seat, and neither of us are biologically HER parents.”

And Maxine was thinking, “I’d like to have two parents, too, but that’s not going to happen.”

Then Mr. S. said, “Well, this is a problem,” and he handed her passport back to Dave, who was driving.

I thought, Is this happening? Is he going to refuse her entry into the US?

Then he said, “How old is she?”

Maxine said, “17.”

He said, “15?”

Maxine said, “17.”

I said, “She’ll be 18 in a few weeks,” and he said, “Okay,” and gave us back the other four passports and we high-tailed it out of there.

That was the second trauma of Day 1. The first had occurred less than an hour earlier, when we ran headfirst into a rainstorm of Biblical proportions. At times the rain was coming down so hard we literally could not see out the windshield.

Dave was driving and we were all yelling at him. “Stop! Stop going so fast! Pull over!” but I think he felt if he kept going he’d drive through the storm. As usual, he turned out to be right; the storm was going north and we were going south, and once our paths had crossed we were fine.

However, when the rain let up we saw branches in the road, and when we passed buildings, we noticed that no lights were on. We arrived in Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho (no, you da ho!), just over the border, and stopped at the first place we saw for dinner. It was dimly lit, but lots of restaurants are dimly lit. But not a lot of restaurants have a manager walking around armed with flashlights for patrons who need to use the bathroom.

Indeed, the restaurant had no power. The manager told us he could serve us burgers – because he’d gone home to get his barbecue. They certainly are resourceful there in Idaho (no, you da ho). Apparently the storm had been a whopper; 70 mph winds, downed trees, and a tornado in Couer d’Alene, an hour and a half south. Power was out up and down the highway.


Was it that famous philosopher Katy Perry who observed, "After the rain, there is a rainbow"? Here is the rainbow we saw in Bonner's Ferry -- biggest and most perfect one I've ever observed. I didn't have a wide enough lens to do it justice.

Was it that famous philosopher Katy Perry who observed, “After the rain, there is a rainbow”? Here is the rainbow we saw in Bonner’s Ferry — biggest and most perfect one I’ve ever observed. I didn’t have a wide enough lens to do it justice.

The Days Inn Ponderay had not lost power, but a lot of people in the area had, so the hotel was full. This is not our first time dealing with power outages on a summer trip. Two years ago, heading home from our LA road trip with Maxine, we crossed the border at night, and planned to stay in Cranbrook, BC, but the town was dark. Cranbrook had been hit by a storm about a half hour earlier and all the power had been knocked out. (We stayed in Fernie, where only half the town had lost power.)

I wonder if this means we Waldman/Wishart/Maxine people have magical powers over power, or just really bad luck.


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