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My wife and I were just brainstorming what we’d like to do for our 50th wedding anniversary (still an undisclosed few years off). She really, really wants to see New England during peak fall color season. Having grown up in the north, I can appreciate that, though having been-there-done-that, it’s not my top choice. Still, just that nice driving trip might be a really nice experience – and since she’s my best friend, it wouldn’t matter where we went – I’d still enjoy it. SO, that idea went to the top of the list, since it would be so nice for her.

Thinking back to growing up, with many trips into and through Ontario, I came to appreciate that area as well (and the people). Drive in, declare your reason for visiting, answer a few quick questions about what you’ve got on board, and “have a nice day.” Coming back? Same thing, with the addition of whether we had anything to declare. No problem – ever. Our US state license plate was all I remember being used for ID back in those days. Heck – going to Canada was simply visiting nearby neighbors. When I lived in western NY, I used to enjoy crossing at Niagara Falls, then driving down along the river to the Peace Bridge in Buffalo to come back across. Never, ever any hassle whatsoever. I used to do a lot of curling, and took teams over to Canada all the time, and we had a lot of beach parties on Lake Erie (Canadian side) during college – all just normal, unremarkable events. And when I was stationed in Texas we decided to drive down to a border town, walk across the border, shop for the day, and come back. It was so uneventful I literally don’t even remember crossing the border itself – just the enjoyable shopping trip.

Now, if we want to go up and see their leaves, we need a freakin’ passport?!? I remember just a few years ago when I learned that, I was furious. So we’re now US-confined. We refuse to get passports. For that matter, I’m not sure we’ll ever fly anywhere again due to TSA, the hassle just boarding a plane, and also the high level of theft from luggage (already experienced it, as well as having the humiliation of watching our carry-on bags being hand inspected across the room, with laughter and unnecessary close inspection of personal items in the bags (nothing X-rated here – just nothing I care to mention).

The feeling of powerlessness is substantial, having experienced the other side of that coin growing up. There HAS to be more to it, including better/easier routine tracking of everybody. All they really need for most American citizens is a drivers license, and if they really question who you are, a fingerprint. I had a top secret clearance for close to a decade while in the military. So why do I need a freakin’ passport to spend a day in southern Ontario before coming back home? (Rhetorical question. And I recoil at the answers.)

No Sledjockey, you’re not out of line at all.