Great Canadian Road Trip Leg 4: Sandpoint, ID to Calgary, Canada

I’ve had many people ask me just what does 31 hours in the car by myself with two kids look like? Take a gander:

It wasn’t pretty but certainly was functional. I packed oodles of snacks, DVDs, DS games. travel easels and books (see the full list of activities here), which I plopped in a large laundry basket in between the kids’ seats for easy access.

We caravanned with my parents from Sandpoint, Idaho to Calgary and stopped in Sparwood, British Columbia to check-out “The Titan,” the world’s largest truck.
I couldn’t have asked for my kids to be better behaved and our final seven hours in the car were seamless except for two factors:

1) The Hail Storm.

We’ve had pretty great weather the entire trip with the exception of a stretch of road leading into Nanton, Alberta when we passed through a horrendous rain/hail storm. At one point, the hail was pounding my windshield so quickly my windshield wipers couldn’t keep up and my 70-year-old father didn’t slow down. As I sweated profusely (and in places I didn’t know I could sweat), the only reassuring words were from Hadley: “I CAN’T HEAR OUR MOVIE!”

Remind me not to bring her along when in extreme diress.

2) The U.S.-Canadian Border.

I’ve traveled with my kids to Canada many times by myself but never by car. When flying, Customs requires I provide a notarized letter from Jamie stating I have his permission to take the kids out of the country.

Since I was driving this time, we called the border to ensure I didn’t need the letter. They assured me I was fine but I was still paranoid (I’ve spent many past lives being detained in the “Taliban room”) so I schooled the children prior.

“Now Bode and Hadley, when we get to the border, you need to tell them that Daddy is coming later.”

I didn’t tell them any more than they absolutely needed to know. I figured dropping the word “attempting kidnapping” could lead to trouble but as it turns out, trouble is what I got by withholding information. We waited about 45 minutes in line at the border and when it was finally our turn, I pulled up to the Customs officer who initially looked friendly.

Him: “Hello, Ma’am. Where are you traveling today?”
Me: “Calgary.”
Bode: (Frantically Interrupting) “OUR DADDY IS COMING ON THE AIRPLANE LATER!”

From there, our easy-going exchange turned suspicious. He peered into the car at Bode and Hadley.

“Ma’am, what is your license plate number?”
“Err…. I can’t remember.”
“Please step out of the car.”

After a painful interrogation, we eventually crossed the border but I learned an important lesson. When relaying important information to the kids, I need to disclose, “Only speak when spoken to.”

Come to think of it, I’ll make that our family motto.

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