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Published: March 21st 2015
Roadtrip SW USA...Snow Canyon Utah.
No one told us USA had invaded Canada...yet Homeland Security in Toronto made it clear they had...serves us right for avoiding the news while travelling.
Lucky I had stopped talking or he would have carried out his threat that I would never enter the USA again.
Talk about catching us by surprise.
Even so, I couldn't help snapping my disgust...that he had made her cry.
So began our foray into the USA...kicking off with a roadtrip through Utah, Arizona and Colorado...ending at the snow charged chateau of Home & Away for some homestay USA hospitality.
A polar vortex from Canada had followed us...caught up with us good and proper.
Resulted in snow in some areas for the first time in many years...and we were there!!!
Buckle up...'tis quite a ride.
****** USA has invaded Canada...now who's in charge?
Up at 5am for 6am taxi...box of grapes, blackberries, chunks of apple, rockmelon & watermelon from our hotel...another with pastries...asked for two breakfast packs...thanks a lot.
Into the lines at Toronto Airport...United Airlines to St George, Utah via Denver...cargo baggage easy as.
Bit harder to go further.
All those entering the USA staggered at a gate as to what time their flights leave. So together with a pile of others we had to wait.
So we ate our box of grapes, berries and fruit and having so much we shared them around.
When we got the go ahead directed down a corridor...got about 6 bits of fruit left...can't eat another thing..."You'll find a bin down there" we were told.
Next were massive lines to the passport checks which was about 10 metres before the security scanners.
Handed the usual customs declarations which we filled in as we waited..."No" to all the usual questions.
When we got to the head of the line approached the USA Customs guy and handed our passports and declarations and he processed Denise first then me.
"Where is there a bin please? I have some fruit to throw out" as I showed him the remains in the breakfast box.
You'd think I had produced a bomb...or pulled the pin from a hand grenade.
He froze...stopped in his tracks.
"Have you made a false declaration?" he asked.
Making one feel welcome since 1492
"No. I just want to know where the bin is. I want to throw out these bits of fruit before I go through security."
"This is the U.S. border. Are you verbally amending your Customs Declaration?"
"No. I am asking where is the bin. I was told it is somewhere around here. Is there one over there?" pointing to the security scanners ahead.
"You have entered the USA and have made a false declaration."
"Well...is there a bin back there?"
"No. There is not."
"Where is it then?"
"There's one over there" he said pointing to the security area ahead.
"Thanks" I said as cheerfully as I could...somewhat mystified why he couldn't tell me that earlier.
He then whacked big yellow stickers on both our passports and said "Go there" pointing to an ominous enclosed area.
We entered there...and the Homeland Security guy in there was twice as big...but not as "friendly" as the first as it turned out.
"The guy back there said there is a bin here. I want to throw out some fruit" I said nonchalently as I handed him our passports.
"Have you made
a false declaration? he said coldly.
"No" I said.
"Yes you have" he snarled. "We don't accept liars in USA."
"I'm only asking where the bin is" noticing the air in the room was getting decidedly chilly.
"Have you made a false declaration?"
"No I have not."
"Yes you have."
"I have not. I am not taking fruit into USA. I am going to throw it out before I go through security scanning. Where is the bin please?"
"This is not a rubbish disposal service" he barked. "You have made a false declaration."
"No I haven't."
"Don't you say another word. I can stop you ever entering the USA again."
We eyeballed each other. If I offered him a grape he probably would have flattened me.
Time ticked on...looked at my watch. Our Denver flight not far away. Gotta get out of here.
Denise started panicking.
"There is obviously a misunderstanding. We thought there was a bin where we could throw out the fruit and some pastries we got from the hotel." she said.
"Don't mention we also have pastries" I thought.
interested where you got it. We don't accept liars in this country" he snapped at Den.
"Well sir. What can I do to rectify the situation?" Den asked softly.
"I could fine you $300 and make sure you never enter the USA again."
He then tried to force Denise to say we had made false declarations...even offerred we could amend them in front of him.
No way that is going to happen. Do that and he's got you! We are not that stupid.
Eventually he amended our declarations himself and crossed "yes" to the fruit question and he said "Yes I have fruit"...and handed us our passports.
He then took the nearly empty breakfast box...and dropped it in a bin immediately behind him.
So there was a bin!!!!
"And the pastries are OK" he said handing them back.
"You are lucky I am not fining you $300. Be on your way."
Denise turned and the tears started to flow...getting out of there.
I got to the exit...checked myself. This has delayed us 20 minutes.
"I didn't know USA had invaded Canada" I wanted to say.
happen in Australia" I wanted to say...but remembering what happened when I said that in LAX on a previous trip I thought better of it.
See my blog LONG WAY TO PATAGONIA...Battling Homeland Security with a necrotic leg
"I hope you are happy you made her cry" I called out to him as he looked up and smiled.
But I wasn't smiling. Delays. Delays there's a polar vortex coming
Then into an interminably long line for security. Passengers for various destinations pushed to the front of lines, ours included. Running to our plane...at least 20 others behind us.
Slept all the way to Denver arriving in heavy snow.
Our 11.10 am flight to St George delayed so did not board until 12.30pm. Then we sat in our cramped seats to 2.30 pm while they de-iced 30 planes ahead of us!
Arrived in St George, Utah at about 4pm...no snow here...icy wind cutting the air.
Collected our Dodge Durrango...let's get out of here.
But the vehicle was empty of petrol so our papers were so marked...you can get gas over there.
Couldn't help but notice the scenery...vistas of red and pink cliffs...tumbleweed beckoning me.
got out of the car and started snapping away.
The most incredible pain...I'm not getting out of the car without gloves again.
****** Seven Wives Inn
After our torturous day...what a delight to stay at this 1842 colonial mansion...the home of the famous Mormon, Brigham Young across the road...the Painted Pony for an incredible meal washed down with the best of Napa Valley wine.
The friendliness of our waiter...the warmth of Vanessa at the Inn...changed our perceptions of the hospitality of Americans...the hostility of Homeland Security a dark hole now concealed.
And everywhere we went after that the warmth of the Americans cheered our cockles...gotta love 'em.
We can now echo "God bless America" and really mean it. Snow Canyon
Due to our late arrival the day before we decided to check out Snow Canyon State Park just north of town then get to Zion National Park.
Had a feeling TBers may not be familiar with the former so determined to check it out.
Located in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, Snow Canyon S.P. was established to protect the desert tortoise.
What one finds
is the setting they say for Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, the Electric Horseman and Jeremiah Johnson.
Vistas of sandy desert framed with vivid orange and yellow striated walls...petrified sand dunes...white outcrops seemingly out of place with the reds and oranges...contoured rocks as if the giants of yesteryear stroked the ground this way and then that.
No rhyme or reason for how or why they did that.
We started at Jenny's Canyon with its monoliths looking on.
Lava Flow Trail where black basalt chunks remained from volcanic eruption.
Petrified Dunes Trail that mesmerized us as we traversed its lips and edges of Navajo sandstone...readying to glide into its gorges and back again.
Our fleeting visit passed 5 hours and we are only getting started.
Snow Canyon State Park may be Utah's best kept secret...never heard mention of it before.
But the vistas of purple, red, orange and white Navajo sandstone punctuated by black lava flows is out of this world.
Time to head towards Zion National Park...like to dally longer but better not.
And as we entered Zion it was dark...and it started to snow.
A deer wanders
onto the road...sidles to the side of our car looking in.
The snow is falling harder...blanketing the road.
The deer cocks one eye at us and wanders off.
It's New Years Eve.
What has the New Year in store for us?
Don't know about you...but I can hardly wait!
Relax & Enjoy,
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