Strong side winds were about the only note-worthy feature of our ride up to Moncton. As we began to get a little cold, we welcomed the opportunity to pull off the highway, even if only to don an extra layer of clothing. There was nothing exceptional about the little town of Sackville, but it landed us on a convenient loop and gave us a bit of a break. Had we but known it, route 106 also offered a shortcut of sorts to Moncton, and the little communities we passed through were marginally more interesting than the eternal pine forests, as far as the eye could see from the highway.
The light was already fading when we got in, so we had a quick shower and hurried out to find something to eat. Moncton is pretty well served for eateries. We had dinner in The Pump House, a popular micro brewery that also serves wood-fired pizza and a good line in grills, as well as its own home-brewed beers. In the morning, we discovered Cora’s, a French-Canadian restaurant chain, whose specialities are breakfast and lunch and whose dishes mostly include at least one type of fresh fruit. I’m not generally a great lover of fruit. Sticky juice, pips, stones and inedible skins are such a chore. Even so, such is the appeal of Cora’s, that John and I found ourselves ordering delicious, freshly made, fruit smoothies with our bacon and eggs.
Just as well we were in good humour, as we arrived back at the motel to find that John’s efforts to repair his puncture had been unsuccessful. That’s the thing about repair kits. They are great if they work according to the instructions, but having failed to prise the ‘removable’ cellophane strip off the rubber plug, we suspect that it had been unable to expand properly. There didn’t seem much point in trying again, so it was lucky that John was able to track down a motorcycle dealer with a suitable replacement tyre.
Our departure delayed, once again, we eventually left the motel around 2.30pm.
My arrival at the US border was somewhat less than dignified. The Borrowers appeared to have been at work. My current passport, driving licence and motorcycle registration document were where I had put them: in my pocket. But where was my previous passport, the one with the US Visa in it? Certainly not amongst my travel documents, nor in any of my pockets. The Homeland Security officer was not overly concerned. I could always have a Visa Waiver for the duration of our stay. The bike’s French registration plate was, however, proving to be a bit of a conundrum. The computer simply didn’t want to know and bounced each successive attempt as “invalid State”. John watched nervously from a distance, seeing the officer bobbing in and out of his booth, and me hunting frantically amongst my luggage. By the time his turn came, the officer had decided he needed a cup of coffee and a cigarette and handed over to his younger colleague. Meanwhile, inside the office, things were not getting any better. I filled out my green entry form, carefully ticking the boxes to reassure Homeland Security that I was not intending to engage in terrorist activities, kidnap babies or hit anyone. I can’t help wondering whether these forms work as, ignoring my rising panic concerning the apparent loss of my US Visa, the officer clearly saw me as no immediate threat. Without looking up, he stamped my form and clipped it into my passport. Job done. “That’ll be $6, ma’am”.
As I went to dig out the foreign exchange wallet containing my US dollars, I suddenly realised that it was not only my old passport that was missing. My foreign currency and travellers cheques had gone too! They must have been stolen! But where? And, by whom? In a few moments I had gone from Mrs Slightly Eccentric, to Mrs Dim and Disorganised, to Mrs Downright Paranoid.
Fearing I might be about to turn green and burst, John suggested that I should go and check the bike again. “I’ll hold on to your travel documents, so they don’t get displaced as well”, said a female officer, slightly disparagingly. So, making some sort of feeble protest about being normally so well organised, and being absolutely sure that I knew where I had put everything, I began to unpack
I found my old passport and money, would you believe, in amongst my t-shirts. Now how on earth could they have got there, I ask you? “Well wasn’t that a stroke of luck”, said the disparaging security officer, as I reappeared, slightly red-faced clutching my ‘stolen’ documents.
I meant to take a picture as we crossed the State line into Maine, but somehow I didn’t feel like hanging about