Last weekend was my Girls’ Getaway Weekend with my friends, R and M. We left bright and early on Friday morning heading for the border our minds on yummy food, shopping and a weekend with no kids. We were pumped.
Crossing the border into the States can be hit and miss. Sometimes it’s easy. Present your passport, answer a few simple questions – What’s your citizenship? Where do you live? What’s your destination? How long will you be in the US? – and then away you go to begin your adventure.
This time took a little longer. We were waiting in line to cross the bridge at Sarnia (Ontario) into Port Huron (Michigan) and noticed that the line was moving rather slow. The border guard was taking about 5 to 10 minutes with each carload and was opening every second trunk. We had nothing to hide, but certainly didn’t want to be detained any longer than necessary before we started having our fun time.
When our turn came we answered the usual questions then he asked M to pop the back on the Jeep. Crap. Even though we had nothing to hide the tension in the Jeep sky-rocketed. He unzipped one bag and asked if we had any drugs in the vehicle. We all answered no, there were no drugs, no marijuana, no crack, no heroin – no drugs. Then he opened my bag and sitting on top was my Cipralex. He started to say something about the Cipralex when I said, “Do you mean medication? Oh, in that case there’s Cipralex and Seroquel.” (medications aren’t drugs in my opinion). This seemed to satisfy him.
He then asked us what we did for a living. M answered that she had just started a new job, R told him that she is on Employment Insurance (the warehouse she worked at for close to 18 years just closed down) and I told him I’m on Ontario Disability. He then asked R and I how we could afford to go shopping.
I was flabbergasted. I wanted to ask him how that was his business but maintained my polite composure and told him I wasn’t really planning on shopping (which I wasn’t). R explained that her husband has a decent job so she was able to go. He then asked M and R what their husbands do for a living and how much money we had in the vehicle. Finally, he let us go.
I’ve been across the border a number of times and can honestly say that was the first time I’ve felt that the questions violated my personal privacy. I respect the border guards, they do a challenging job and I understand that the safety of their country is on their shoulders. One missed bad guy can mean tragedy. However, I don’t think my ability to save money for a shopping trip warranted that much scrutiny.
Once he released us we wasted no time and were on our way to the Birch Run outlet mall. Woo hoo!!
Our first stop was at Bob Evans for lunch. Since I know the portions are HUGE at Bob Evans, I ordered a small cup of broccoli cheddar soup. M and R, who were super hungry since they both skipped breakfast, each ordered soup, fries and a sandwich. Needless to say their eyes were bigger than their stomachs – not so good for them. However, good for me since that meant I was able to complement my soup with fries and part of sandwich (I am not above accepting treats from friends, the feeling that I’m a scavenger only lasts a few minutes when I’m offered yummy food).
Now that we were refueled it was on to shopping. And shop we did. I insisted on hitting the outlet book store and scored a few Christmas presents (I am a sucker for a book store). We stopped at Old Navy, Tommy Hilfiger, Columbia, Rue 21, Underarmour and a few other stores. The girls spent about half an hour at Bath and Body Works (I can’t go in that store, all the scents give me a massive headache). Our shopping excursion was extremely successful since we managed to hit all the stores that were on our lists in one afternoon.
We drove back to Flint, checked into the motel around 7:30 and lugged our booty inside. We lounged around the room, watched a bit of TV and ordered pizza. The next morning we headed out for breakfast, back to Bob Evans, where I indulged in a farmer’s breakfast of bacon, eggs, hash browns and pancakes (I love pancakes). Then we headed to the mall.
The mall was huge. I’m talking Toronto-sized huge (I looked up Flint, Michigan on Google and much to my surprise it has a population over 450 000; I live in a town with a population just over 30 000). The best part of the mall trip for me was that I wasn’t bothered by the people at all. There was no social anxiety. It was great. I still wasn’t overly talkative and still felt foggy but I wasn’t have a panic attack because I was surrounded by hundreds of people in an enclosed space. I even enjoyed people watching, smiling and winking at the babies and little people.
That night we went to Olive Garden for supper which was a real treat. Back at the motel we sorted through our purchases, organized and condensed. Then we settled in, ate chocolate and watched Dirty Dancing and then Grease.
Sunday was our last day stateside. We breakfasted at Bob Evans again, then headed to Frankemuth, Michigan to go to Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland. Bronner’s advertises as the world’s biggest Christmas store (here’s a link to their virtual tour). It was packed with both Christmas decor and people!
We each managed to find a few little things we wanted then we turned the Jeep north and headed home. It took 10 minutes to cross the bridge due to the line-up at the border. This time the border guard asked us the usual questions – What’s your citizenship? How long were in the States? How much did you spend? – and then sent us on our way. Another hour and bit of driving and I was home sneaking the bags into the house so the kids wouldn’t see anything.
It was a great trip and I’m looking forward to the next one. And, yes, I’ll start saving now.