Almost Canada: A prize before the journey even starts

September 2019 Posted in Columnists & Opinion

I am standing on a spit of land that curls into the Pacific Ocean. As the sun drifts lower in the evening sky, the far-away islands take on a golden hue, basking in the summer twilight. I’m thankful that I’m standing on the northern precipice of the U.S., a place I never had any intention of visiting.

I have the federal government to thank.

I should back up a bit. It all comes down to my dislike of lines. I don’t like them at the grocery store, at the fast-food restaurant, the movie theater – or anywhere else, for that matter.

I especially don’t like the security lines at the airport, where our friends from the TSA – short for Terribly Slow Annoyance – manage to both increase my stress and reduce my chances of making a flight.

My plan was to get those “Pre-Check” cards that would allow my wife and me to casually waltz through security without having to disrobe or unpack. I went to the federal government’s website to see what that would take, and I ran across another option – Global Entry. It’s like Pre-Check, but on steroids. Not only do you get the express lane for airport security, you get the express lane when you come back into the Good Old U.S. of A.
from overseas.

That sounded like it was right up my alley. We signed up online, telling the good folks at the federal government everything about ourselves except my shirt size and what my favorite dessert is. Those are both closely held secrets.

Once we got the OK from the good people at Homeland Security, we had to set up a personal interview. I presume that’s because it’s easy to fake being a 66-year-old duffer online. They wanted to see this 66-year-old duffer in person.

That’s where things got a bit complicated. I started to look for a place for my wife and I to be interviewed. I figured we could take an afternoon and go to some office in Portland and that would be it.

Oh, no! It couldn’t be that easy. I looked at the interview schedule for the Portland office. No appointments were available until January. We have a trip planned in November, so that wouldn’t work.

I looked around at other offices, and the only place I found two appointments together was in Washington state –
in Blaine.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure, Blaine is approximately two inches from Canada. I figured it would be worth the trip, if for no other reason than getting it out of the way. I’m one of those guys who likes the “doneness” of a project as much as anything else about it.

I figured we could drive to Blaine, hang out for a day or two, do the interview and head home.

The only problem was how gorgeous it was there. I mean Gorgeous with a capital “G.”

We stayed at a resort called Semiahmoo, which I presume is Native American for “You won’t believe the view.”

That and the seals, otters and other critters roaming around the area made the trip well worthwhile. By the time we got to our appointment for the Global Entry thingie, I was already thinking about our next trip – to Blaine.

Carl Sampson is a freelance writer and editor. He lives in Stayton.

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