Depart

<p>I had arranged for my visa paperwork to be sent to my parents' place &mdash; I'd go there for thanksgiving, and maybe we'd drive down that weekend, or maybe I'd bring it back to Ottawa with me. Either way, the key was to try to be in Ottawa for the Tuesday night election results to roll in, and then to get back to New York on Wednesday, to start work on Thursday.</p> <p>My papers didn't arrive on Friday. When the London office opened on Monday morning, I got a tracking number which said it would be delivered on that day by 17:30. Not bad, I hoped: I'd be able to catch, at worst, the overnight bus to Ottawa, and be in the office for election day. But 17:00, then 17:30 came and went. I called the London office of the courier company, and they said it was maybe misrouted. By Tuesday morning, it turned out it had gone to <a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?q=from:windsor,+on+to:orillia,+on&ie=UTF8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&z=7">Windsor instead of Orillia</a> and would take another day.</p> <p>After much scrambling, I decided to redirect the package to Ottawa, to get ahold of a high-quality scan of the original, and then to bus my butt to Ottawa. I'd get there just in time for the election night party, and then try my luck at the border crossing the next day. One of my friends-from-Finland who now lives in Ottawa with her fella has family in <a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=binghamton,+ny,+usa&ie=UTF8&ll=42.098222,-75.915527&spn=8.980439,19.467773&z=6&iwloc=addr">Binghamton, NY</a>, so she was going to take me across the border and visit family. Good deal for all, assuming the border crossing was seamless.</p> <p>The election night party was...well, we lost our only seat, didn't come really close anywhere, and increased our vote by less than 50%. The party was still fun, but there was certainly a degree of deflation. However, some <a href="http://www.greenparty.ca/en/node/8361">further analysis</a> gives a pretty good impression...not the success discontinuity that I had come to hope for, but strong steady gains. I think we left around 3am, and I finally made it to bed by 4am. At 7:30, alarm clocks started going off; by 8:15 I was out the door to head to Avis to get our rental car. We took care of that, picked up my stuff, and rolled out. </p> <p>Fingers crossed, we got to the border. I have only done one land-border crossing in my adult life, and I've never applied for a US visa, so I only had a rough idea of how it would go down. Basically, you talk to the normal border guard, he gives you a yellow piece of paper with your plate numbers on it, and you pull off and go into an office. By then, they have your car keys, your passports, and one (of three) copies of the visa paperwork, so you're pretty stuck. They took my paperwork, and mostly just disappeared, popping out to ask a few questions, then to collect a once-in-a-lifetime 500USD "fraud charge," (presumably you have to pay it again if you are trying to use a different identity. ha.) and to take my fingerprints on the fancy scanner machine. They were friendly and efficient and clear about how the visa worked. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by the whole experience, having braced for the worst.</p> <p>From there, we drove on to Binghamton, I boxed up my bike and repacked my stuff (it was pretty hastily and hungoverly packed) and I caught a bus onwards to New York.</p> <p>(Note that this marks the end of my sabbatical; if you've got a sabbatical-specific RSS subscription, it will end here; consider the <a href="http://rob.infinitepigeons.org/blog/index.rss">general feed</a>.) </p>
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