Please send bail money in care of the Havre Daily News. There. I like to make arrangements for every contingency. Last week I didn’t have a plan in place and, whew, it was crazy.
Here is what happened. My friends David and Vidya were visiting from Washington . They always help me with projects around the house. We readied the yard and garden for winter, pruning and raking and wheeling loads of plant debris into a mountainous pile to haul away. The guys from Public Works, driving by in their truck, accused me of cracking the whip over my slave labor, but that is not so. We had fun working together. We had fun going places. Our fun nearly landed us in—but I’ll get to that later.
I want to tell you some things we did. First we headed to the “What the Hay” festival. We had breakfast in Lewistown, and then drove the route from Hobson to Windham , stopping to eat our way through the Utica fair. Vidya jumped out of the car at every display of hay-bale art to take pictures with her new camera. We moseyed on up the road to Square Butte, which consists of about four houses, a bar, and an historic jail. (No, that is not why I might need bail, but we got a great photo.) We quickly toured Ft. Benton , promised to return. We wrapped a full day into a full circle on the map, ate dinner in Havre and returned home. Another night we went to Chinook to see a macabre play about Edgar Allen Poe, brilliantly performed by the young actors of the Montana Repertory Theatre. We shoe-horned the Havre Festival into our itinerary, a full feast of a day, with the parade, farmer’s market, quilt show, crafts, and book sale. Who says there is nothing to do around here?
To top off our adventures, like pouring hot fudge over ice cream, we spent three days in Canada . Next time you are in Watson , Saskatchewan , stop at the Quick Stop Diner and say hello to my friends, Ron and Sharon. Tell them I sent you. We carved another circle on the map, exploring the short-grass plains through Regina on the way to Watson and then on the way home traveled the lake country through Saskatoon . We headed to the border crossing at Monchy, promising ourselves a juicy steak dinner at the GN in Malta .
We pulled in to the port of entry. I handed the guard my passport. David reached for his jacket for their passports. They weren’t there. Vidya searched her bag for the documents and they were not there either. A terse conversation ensued. “What did you . . ., Why did you . . . , Why didn’t you . . ., I remember that . . .” We had documents in hand when we entered Canada at Turner/Climax. As we drove off David handed them to me and I handed them to Vidya “to put in a safe place”. More conversation about “safe place”. The search continued with a strained earnestness. I looked through the glove box and found nothing. I got out of the car, stepped back and watched.
The next few minutes were not pretty. David dumped his wallet. Vidya dumped her knitting bag which had accompanied her everywhere. David looked under the seat. They both started rifling through the luggage. From my vantage point the car looked like a front-load washing machine with a port window. I watched the contents of the car cycle through agitate to spin. A second-time search began with renewed vigor. The trunk was open. All four doors were open. The luggage, clothing, yarn, books, papers, maps, gifts and blankets continued to spin. David and Vidya agitated. I watched David move from Auto-soak into the Heavy-duty cycle. I wisely refrained from giving sage advice, such as “Calm down”. They dumped every container in the car except the camera case. They knew the documents were not there. The camera had been in continuous use each day. I contemplated having to wave good-by to my friends, trapped on foreign soil, while I trudged on down the highway to Malta .
The customs officer joined the fray, I mean, the search. He methodically lifted, peered and sorted. Eventually he picked up the camera case and opened it. Bingo. Passports found. He gave their papers a cursory glance and motioned us on our way, down the road to freedom.
In a few weeks I will fly to Mexico . I always stow my passport in the same pocket of the same bag which I take with me everywhere. However, one cannot be too careful. You never know. A momentary distraction and my passport could end up inside a shoe. I could end up in the Stoney Lonesome. So if I call for help, please send me bail money in care of the Havre Daily News.
Havre Daily News: Home Again
October 8, 2009