More than 68 years since I was thrust into this world in Beautiful Downtown Burbank, I finally crossed into Canada.
It seems my life has been a slow-moving north-bound glacier that took me from Southern California to Northern California, to Southern Oregon, Northern Oregon and Central Washington, with an eight-year gambling stop in Nevada.
They say there is a magnetic pull as we rotate through the universe, so it could be that my Canadian crossing is more about science, than deliberation, or planning. I was pulled, not pushed, north and there I sat, smack in the middle of Osoyoos, British Columbia, wearing bike shorts and admiring the Canadian currency, which is…by the way… a lot prettier than ours.
I am a Left Coast guy, through and through. I know there is a whole other part of the U.S. on the east side of the Rockies, but it’s mostly sweaty and filled with tornadoes, hurricanes and giant insects.
I spent time in North Dakota and Texas and Florida and New York, but none of those places could compare to my Left Coast, so I came back.
If asked to choose my favorite part of the Left Coast, I’d have to say Oregon. I live in Eugene these days and people here are either Beavers or Ducks. Both of those creatures thrive in wet, crappy, months-long gray climates that make you crazy by February, unless you fly to Arizona or Palm Springs for some tequila and baseball.
What gives Oregon an advantage over the Golden State is the price of gasoline, lack of a sales tax and inexpensive vehicle registration. I registered my truck for $100 and don’t have to do it again for two years. They also pump my gas and it’s still cheaper than it is in California, where you have to pump it yourself.
We don’t have someone pump our gas in Oregon because we are incapable of pumping it ourselves. I think they do it to keep gas station attendants employed, which is actually kind of stupid. Under that argument, we shouldn’t have ATM’s or self-service car washes.
But, I’m not complaining. If given a choice, even Ducks and Beavers would rather stay in the car when it’s raining.
Speaking of Beavers…lawmakers on the Left Coast are always busy. They are united in their belief that citizens of the Left Coast are too dumb to make good decisions, so they take that responsibility off our hands. Capitols in Salem and Sacramento and Olympia turn out more bills each session than the U.S. Mint.
As a result, they now hide straws at coffee shops and force you to carry your groceries home in your pockets. It’s easier to ban straws and bags than to find a way to clean city sidewalks of needles and human waste. Visits to the “Sanctuary Cities” of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland and Seattle require rubber gloves and steel-toed shoes.
California has been bad for Oregon and Oregon has been just as bad for Washington. I suspect that’s because the same magnetic pull that delivered me to Canada also pulls stupid ideas from one state to the next.
That might explain why the Canadians have beefed up security at their border.
“What’s the purpose of your visit?”
“I have some good ideas I brought from California that might make your lives better.”
“Turn around and go home.”
The Canadians must be doing something right. They are never in the news and — except for an occasional threat to move there from Hollywood’s elite — you’d never know they were up there. Kind of like a great neighbor who you never see or hear.
In fact, most know very little about our neighbors to the north.
“Who is the president of Canada?” one member of my bike group wondered. We’d stopped for a night where there was no Internet or Google.
“I think it’s Justin Trudeau and he’s not president, but prime minister,” the smart one in the group replied.
“The guy who does Doonesbury is prime minister of Canada?” another member of the bike group chimed in. “How cool is that!”
“That’s Garry Trudeau, not Justin, idiot,” chimed in a fourth member of our biking group. We’d been riding for days and tempers were short around the dinner table.
Justin Trudeau’s dad Pierre was also prime minister. Lately, Justin has been in the news because Trump likes to communicate with him via a Sharpie pen, writing notes on articles ripped from various magazines.
The Zodiack killer communicated with law enforcement in a similar fashion in the 1960s.
Fortunately, that didn’t prevent the Canadian Customs agents from welcoming our group at the border.
“What’s the purpose of your visit?”
“We are going to ride our bikes across a good chunk of British Columbia.”
“How long will you be staying?”
“As long as it takes us to ride that far.”
“Can you be more specific?”
“How about a week?”
Had they asked us to name the capital of B.C., or maybe sing the Canadian National Anthem, we’d have been turned back.
It was embarrassing enough when one of our group of bicycling Mensa rejects asked the agent why all the signs were in French.
Jeff Ackerman is a former publisher of The Wenatchee World. He spent 40 years in the newspaper business before retiring this year. He lives in Oregon and may be reached at email@example.com.