Thursday, October 18, 2012

Areyouacouncilhouseboy?

After nearly four weeks travelling around the southern states of the USA I was on my last day before flying back home to Winnipeg. I have done about 5000 miles driving - the equivalent of driving from Manchester to the Afghanistan/Pakistan border!! I have also added 13 more states to my done list:- Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. All ticked off - making my total now 33 states done!!
The route!! (Roughly)


The last day was a short journey, 4 hours down the coast of South Carolina and just over the state line to Savannah, Georgia. I was actually dreading my final night in a cheap motel as after booking the 'Super 8', I had seen a few reviews that had slated it. Reviews telling me of dodgy characters hanging around outside. Of people getting arrested in the car park and of a truck stop next door that made loud noises all night and kept people awake. There was even a review of someone who had gone out and bought cleaner and disinfectant in order to clean the scum of the walls and floor in the hotel before they could get some sleep. I wasn't looking forward to it, but I can take anything for one night!!

I was very pleasantly surprised then, when I arrived to be greeted by a nice clean room, a cold fridge and working air conditioner. The hot water was hot and the TV had about 100 channels. There was no dirt, no smells, no dodgy characters getting arrested and I didn't even notice the truck stop even though it was right outside my door. I don't know what some people expect from a $45 a night motel, but you don't get The Ritz!! However, for the price I thought it was excellent and only a 5 mile drive early the next morning to the airport, where I dropped off my little Texan rental car and finally flew out of Savannah just before lunchtime.

Sunrise in Myrtle Beach

My first stop was Chicago, where I had a 21/2 hour layover before my second flight from Chicago to Winnipeg. I landed at 5pm.
Not bad outside!!

Not bad inside!!


Now, I m sure you have heard of my troubles getting back into Canada in the past. Lots of questions from Canadian security officers and checks of bank accounts and passport details are the norm for me while drug taking hippies and terrorists with rocket launchers are welcomed with open arms!! (Not really!) I hoped this time it would be a little different as I had my paperwork showing that I had applied for and been given another 6 months as a legal visitor to Canada - allowing me to stay until the end of March 2012. No such luck!

I knew as soon as I had spoken to the first security officer I would have a long wait. He asked a few questions, misunderstood my simple answers and then asked the same questions again, finally understanding what I was saying and thinking I was winding him up. Here is a transcriptions of what he asked me:-

Security:- When was the last time you were here?
Me: I flew out of Winnipeg on September 18th.

Security:- You arrived on September 18th?
Me:- No, I arrived in April, but left on September 18th and have been in The States for a month on holiday.

Security:- You arrived in the states in April?
Me:- No! I arrived in Winnipeg in April and went to the states in September.

Security:- So when were you last here?
Me:- I was in Winnipeg until September - when I went to the states. That's what I just told you.

Security:- You said you went to the states?
Me:- That's where I'm coming back from (Starts to tear my own hair out) 

Anyway, after a few minutes and showing him my paperwork, he let me through after writing 'IMM T', in red writing at the top of my immigration card. I wonder what this meant and so took a quick photo, so I could remember what he had written. Now one of three things could happen:-

1. I give my immigration card to the exit security officer and he lets me into Canada, no questions asked.
2. I give him the card and he points me to 'the green chairs', where bags are checked for drugs and dodgy stuff. (That's what happened last time)
3. I get pointed towards 'the red chairs', where you are interviewed by another officer about how long, why and how you are going to look after yourself in Canada. If you fail the interview, you leave Canada.

Guess what - I got 'The red chairs', again. Bugar.

Bugar

THE RED CHAIRS OF DOOM!!

Luckily, when the next security officer came and started the interview, I heard a Northern English accent. I asked where he was from and he said 'Preston'. Bonus!! I told him I was from Manchester and he asked if I was a 'Council house boy'? ( Was I a Man City fan?) I told him, no I was a red and I knew I was going to be OK! It turned out he had moved to Canada 24 years ago after leaving the army! Yep, he was an ex squaddie. He used to be an RMP (Royal Military police), but that wasn't a problem. He actually spent about 30 minutes giving me hints and tips on how to stay longer in Canada and explaining the immigration rules in an easier way than they are written on any website! What a good bloke and I could have stayed longer talking to him, if it wasn't for the fact that Buffy was waiting and flapping about why I hadn't yet appeared through the exit doors.

I finally got away and thanked him for his advice before making it onto Canadian soil just about 6pm!

I have been back 2 days now and am settling in again. We have been to quiz night at the pub and had another night in front of the TV, The laundry from the trip is now done and I have even managed to fit in a short run. The weather has turned since I went away a month ago. It is now quite chilly outside - about 6 to 8degrees Celsius and has been steadily raining for the last 30 hours or so. We expect it to get chillier in the coming days and weeks before winter starts. For now though, its actually really pleasant to be out in the chilly wet rain. It feels a lot like December back in England.

Snow on theground as I head north on the plane....




..but chilly ran in Winnipeg!!

That's it for now from me. I'm not going away for another month at least, but I will keep you all up to date with the cold winter here in Canada as it starts and I also have lots of stuff to blog about before I go away again. Keep your eyes open for a big update to the blog in the next week or so........

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