Unsanctioned Mad Mavis in a land of metric rule.

Fluttering to the ground a small blue and white card escaped the clasp of my passport whilst removing it from within my documents pouch. I stood astride Mavis with an air of nerves, which I seem to get whenever crossing a border or entering a country (I don’t believe I’m alone in having this repeated feeling?). “Think you’ll be needing that” exclaimed the Canadian border official, chasing after the piece of paper twirling in the light breeze, her jet black boots stomping it to a halt. The morning was fresh and I’d finally reached Canada, be it a small backwater border crossing, a gateway between Montana and Alberta. “Got any guns?! Mace? Any weapons?!” she barked whilst examining my passport and Social Security card. “No” I replied. “Any bear spray?!” she persisted, almost puzzled by my answer to her last question. Perhaps I was reckless not having such items in my possession? “Any drugs, alcohol, cigarettes?” she continued. “Only a can or two of beer” I replied in turn and pointed to the pillion cases either side of Mavis’ girth. The banter continued, “What’s the nature of your visit to Canada?”. “I’m riding through on my way North to Alaska in pursuit of work”. “What do you do” she asked. “I’m a photographer, but I’m looking to work in the GIS area.” An expression of confusion passed over her face. After further verification of my details inside her small hut I was free to travel onwards.

Go figure I got the third degree, there I was, some Aussie guy, producing an American passport, riding one Hell of a motorcycle sporting Texas plates crossing into Canada from bum-fuck-nowhere Montana in the tourist off season…

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Initial nerves of crossing the border were not founded on my alleged possession of illicit drugs, nor a consignment of hidden contraband. Rather, my naive assumption the motorcycle on which I rode would not be allowed to travel any further due to unsanctioned modifications, of which she was covered handle bars down. Her speedo displayed only in mp/h, not the metric kmp/h used in Canada. I was certain in my mind to be pushed back to the Lower 48, only to return when Mavis was up to Canadian automotive standards. I guess after all these thoughts were not unwarranted, she never did get the tick of approval by the DMV back in Austin, Texas…

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Open roads of Alberta a plenty, Mavis and I hurled ever closer to what awaited in Alaska. What did await in Alaska? A simple question in form, but in context, complex… A question to be answered by time itself, the memories of which the only foundation and basis on which to compare and recount.

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