Lesson learned

They almost didn’t let me in this time.

I left Calgary yesterday, bound for Spokane and two whole weeks with My American. He didn’t know. He wasn’t expecting me until Wednesday.

Thus, the day could not go by perfectly. You know this. It’s Murphy’s Law, right?

I  missed the 520 and figured, ah heck, I’ll just scoot across the 540 to the 22 and bust on down to Highway 3 and Crowsnest Pass.

Except the 540 is a dirt road. Something I did not know.

And it’s been raining an awful lot in southern Alberta. This, we all knew.

It was a stressful, bouncy ride and intermittent downpours on my way through B.C. did nothing to wash the layers and layers and layers of muck off my wee truck.

Then it happened …

“You bringin’ any fruits or vegetables with ya, ma’am?”

Yep, sure am. I have some strawberries and some peppers and some salad stuff. It’s just the kind of stuff I bought last week and didn’t have time to eat … because, well, I’m surprising my boyfriend three days early than I’m supposed to arrive. You know, just harmless salad stuff.

“You got any tomatoes?”

Oh yeah, yeah, I do. I have some tomatoes.

“I’m gonna need you to pull around to the corner so we can have the egg-guy check out what you’re carrying.”

OK.

Egg-guy? Egg-guy. Oh, ag guy, as in agriculture.

Right. I knew I should have paid more attention when my 4-H classmates were making presentations.

As it turns out, I’m a bad ass.

I had mangoes.

Never never never mangoes. I don’t know why.

I had four red peppers.

Tomatoes and peppers are prohibited, unless they’re cut up or I can prove they’re of U.S. origin.

Ultimately, my tomatoes were fine. I had to surrender my mangoes and red peppers, though.

And I got a stern talking-to.

With reading material.

The U.S. has some pretty strict rules about ‘ag’ items that we can bring in while we’re visiting. British Columbian corn is OK. Corn grown in all other provinces, even our famous Alberta Taber corn, is allowed only to certain destination states. Washington, home state of My American, is not one of those destination states.

You are responsible for knowing all items that you’re packing into the States. I kinda knew that but figured the veggies wouldn’t be that big of a deal.

But they are. And Border Protection Officer Fox could have issued me a pay-now, on-the-spot fine of $300 for smuggling contraband across the border.

Even pet food has restrictions. If it’s manufactured in Canada and contains lamb or goat, it ain’t gettin’ in. Pet food has to be in its original container in order to prove country of origin and manufacturer contents.

My heart was beating erratically as BPO Fox explained the potential charges. I was panicking.

How stupid of me. What if they told to go home and never try to come back again? What if I had driven all this way only to send back to whence I came?

I knew about my shopping restrictions coming back. I knew about my 1.5 litres of wine or 1.14 litres of hard liquor for when I come back.

But I didn’t know about produce.

Until now.

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