Last Thursday on our way to Fleming Field to get our airplane to fly north to Rainy Lake in Canada and our cabin, I had to make a quick stop at Target to pick up my prescription. I grabbed my billfold, ran inside, picked up the package and headed back out to the pickup where Butch was waiting. A little under two hours later with the help of a great tailwind, we glided into the bay in front of the cabin. Let the weekend begin!!
Friday morning we had errands to run in International Falls which meant we would fly in to Fort Francis, Ontario and drive back across the border. I decided not to take my entire bag. I’d just take the billfold once again – no problem! BIG PROBLEM – no billfold which meant no passport to get across the border and back. This was the third time this summer that I arrived in Canada with no passport. We have a remote border crossing permit from the Canadian government to cross into Canada without stopping for customs. However, upon re-entering the USA, a custom stop is required. I knew I had my passport with me. I always keep it right in my billfold.
Right – my billfold. When I returned to the pick-up, I threw the prescription into my bag and my billfold on to the pick-up’s center council where it certainly still was only back at Fleming Field inside the hangar! No trip for me into the Falls today. Butch would just have to make the trip alone – unhappily to say the least. What would happen Sunday when we tried to cross back into Minnesota through customs at Scott’s Seaplane in Crane Lake?
- First time: We cross the border coming home just about every weekend. The custom agent knows us on a first name basis. “Butch, do you know this woman? Will you vouch for her?” asked the agent. “Well, it’s pay now or pay later”, Butch responded. “Yes, she is my wife Diane Davies.”
- Second time: U.S. Customs is closing the Crane Lake Office at the end of this season. They have been rotating officers for most of the season for that reason. We pull up to the Customs Dock and are greeted by another new face. “Passports please”, requested the agent. Butch handed him his passport and I pulled out my passport card. The card works for driving or walking across the border but not for crossing in an airplane of any size. The agent took my card and returned to his office with me sweating it out on the dock. Upon his return, he handed me my card and told me that all of my information popped up when he punched in my numbers, picture and all. “Welcome back home!”
- Third time: Another new face greets us at the Crane Lake dock. “Passports please”, comes the request. Butch hands his over and the agent looks my way. I explained to him where my passport was and smiled my best 70 year old smile. And waited . . . A grin broke out across his face and he remarked, “I have all of your information on the EAPIS you file before each flight crossing the border. Your good.” The EAPIS is a manifest that private aircraft must file since 9/11 before crossing the border in either direction. That means two of those manifests every time we go to the cabin. I’ve always moaned and groaned filling them out. Guess what? No more moaning and groaning for me. The EAPIS got me back home! I’ll gladly fill them out from now on! I’ll also remember to get that passport in the billfold and the billfold into the bag!!!!