Across the border

Going across the border is progressively less appealing every year.  But I like going to Canada, so we put up with whatever the border agencies come up with.  The crossing this time was about as expected: a 30 minute wait in line, then questions about our car (which is currently on a temporary registration from Arizona), and an inspection of the Airstream.

The last is always the fun part.  More than once I’ve been asked by US Customs this question: “What have you got in the trailer?”  It always makes me pause, while I try to figure out what the “right” answer would be.  It’s an Airstream, so the literal answer would be, “Everything,” since it contains all our personal possessions, plus all the components of a complete house.  But I expect that would not be a welcome answer. It sounds flip, and might even imply that we are carrying a few bales of marijuana, three undocumented aliens, a nuclear device, and a six month supply of Canadian pharmaceuticals.

This time I just said, “It’s a travel trailer,” and that seemed to have the same effect as any other answer I’ve given in the past:  “I’ll need to take a look inside.”  I’m starting to think they ask the question only to see if I suddenly get nervous and say something like, “Uh, nothing …”

So a Customs agent looked around inside and admired the interior, then asked me what I do for a living. I told him I publish the official Airstream magazine and his next comment almost made me laugh out loud.  “That must pay pretty well.”  Not really, I told him — it’s more of a lifestyle than a living.  But I think he didn’t believe me.  Like the guy yesterday at the diesel pumps, people will tend to believe their preconceptions before they listen to me.

dsc_0947.jpgOther than the border, our only stop all day was a Flying J for the ritual Big Fill & Dump.  Diesel for us, gas for Brett, full tanks of water, empty the black & gray tanks, fill up the propane.  This routine takes about 20 minutes, after which we are fully prepared for boondocking.  The next two nights we will be parked in Cazenovia NY, courtesy of our friend Randy Miller and his country gentlemen friend who owns acreage out here.  Randy, you may recall, is the son of the famous Airstream photographer Ardean Miller.  We did a big article on Ardean Miller’s iconic photos of Airstreams in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, back in our Winter 2007 issue.

dsc_0951.jpgIt has been raining for most of June and early July in the northeast, and everything is still soggy.  Venturing off gravel or pavement with a travel trailer or motorhome is asking to get stuck in clay.  This meant our  usual courtesy parking spot in Randy’s back yard was off-limits.  Fortunately Randy was able to call one of his buddies and secure space for us to park on firm gravel, nearby.  We are parked next to an airplane hangar, which contains a Piper Cub and two biplanes, all of which appear to be flyable.  The hangar also has a vintage Ford Mustang, two wood powerboats, and parts of several other airplanes in various states of restoration.  It’s like boondocking next to a really cool museum.

Our purpose for being here is pretty vague.  It’s just nice to drop in and see a friendly face on our way.  Staying with Randy’s friend is an opportunity to make a new friend of our own, and in my opinion it’s always nicer to boondock on somebody’s lawn than to have full hookups in a campground.  You never know what might happen when you courtesy park, which is a big part of the fun.  The plan is to spend two nights and then proceed east.  I’ll let you know how it turned out, tomorrow night.

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Editor & Publisher of Airstream Life magazine