Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!
Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Accidental Terrorist ... I Mean Tourist: Part II

In the summer of 2000, John and I were hiking for two weeks across various parts of Washington state. We had hiked the Northern Cascades and Olympic Peninsula and now were headed for Vancouver Island for the next week. We decided to take an auto ferry from Port Angeles, Washington to Victoria, British Columbia. It takes about 1 ½ hours. We settled back into relaxing aboard in the lounge as we churned across Puget Sound.

Hiking for two weeks leave you pretty grimy and smelly. We both had with full beards, dressing in a combination of camping, hunting, and camouflage gear making us look like Rambo Boy Scouts. I had become immune to the smell of myself. People though, seemed to part like the Red Sea while I walked through the lounge.

John and I decided to wash up in the ferry’s restrooms and try and remove the apparent hiker/camp fire stench that covered us and everything we were wearing. I was done first and told John I would meet him in the lounge.  After about 5 minutes, John and still not appeared. I figured he had got “lost” in the bathroom and I would wait for him in the central hallway of the ferry.

The bathrooms were on one side and curiously enough the door to the engine room stairs were right across from the bathrooms. I paced the hallway for a couple minutes. Someone in an official ferry sailor uniform stopped, looked at me, and asked if I needed help. I said in a chipper voice, “Oh no, I’m fine! Just waiting for someone!”

Another 5 minutes passed and John still wasn’t out. He was obviously busy in there so I just hung out in the hallway looking at stuff on the walls, peering around corners, looking into darkened windows down staircases in apparently areas which are off limits to Rambo Boy Scouts!

The same ferry guy, passed me again and said, “Sir, are you sure there isn’t anything I can help you with?”
I responded, “No, I am FINE. I am just waiting for a friend.”
“Well most people WAIT IN THE LOUNGE!”
I must have seemed nervous because he started looking at me up and down as if trying to “get a description.”

Finally John came out and we went back to the lounge and settled in for the rest of the boat ride. We eventually docked in Victoria, BC, and went down to the car to drive off the ferry. As with any foreign country, we had to go through customs for entry.

At customs, we pulled up and stated to the agents our purpose for entering the country: pleasure of course! The agents were taking a longer time than usual going through our information. Something was wrong! We were asked to step out of the car. They were going to have to search the entire vehicle! After 2 weeks of hiking and camping, we had about 2 backpacks and 5 other bags filled with miscellaneous camping gear. We were searched physically and asked to step away from the vehicle.

Things really got interesting when they discovered a bag of Native American tobacoo that John and I had picked up to smoke fireside. John stated he was a cop and it wasn’t illegal. They confiscated it anyway and ordered us to stay put while they searched the vehicle from bumper to bumper. They also confiscated all of our fresh fruit and veggies.

John and I could not figure out for the life of us why we were pulled aside to be searched. It wasn’t even a random type search. It was premeditated and thorough. Even John mentioning to the customs agents that he was law enforcement didn’t help. We wracked our brains trying to think of why this was happening to us? Just then a very dull, dim night light bulb of an idea went off in my mind!

I said to John real meekly, “Uh … I think it was me.”
“What?” he asked.
“I … I think it was me …” I trailed off.
“WHY? What did you do Marc???”

“Well …,” The flood gates opened and told him how I was nervously hanging out between the bathrooms and the engine room waiting for him and they must have thought I was suspicious and looked like some back-country terrorist and it didn’t help that I had words with the ferry man!

“Marc!” He exclaimed, “Why is it that something always has to happen when you are around!!” He just stood there and shook his head.

After an hour of questioning and searching, the customs agents finally let us enter Canada. We laugh about it now. So remember this story, Marc the International Man of Mystery … or rather, Marc the American Master of Disaster, almost set off an international border incident!

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