642 things to write about: Your first time in a foreign country

I don’t know if the States really count as a foreign country. They’re right there. The older sibling just a few hours away. I grew up watching their tv and movies. I could pick out their cities without blinking like they were as real as my own city that I barely knew.

There are two cool places to grow up: the ocean and the mountains. We grew up by the mountains. They linger on the edge of our minds just an hour drive away. We can see them if we look to the east. Our parents took us hiking, which I have a love hate relationship with.

Best of all we went camping. We went camping a lot. Sometimes up in the mountains where my mother would fret about bears and the temperature drops below zero at night. Best of all was when we decide to head to the border. We’d drive through Southern Alberta staring out the windows as the foothills melted into prairies.

Small prairie towns would fly past the window. I’d want to stop in all of them to explore. My parents would usually say no. Stopping that often is fun but inefficient. We’d stop for food and gas when needed.

Eventually we’d hit Medicine Hat, a span of older looking buildings on either side of the highway. Nothing was as tall as in Calgary. We could glimpse the giant Easter egg.

Soon we’d be at the border. Billboards promoting duty free stores popped up. My mom told us that duty free is really cool when you fly but pointless on a trip like this. At the border we slowed down and border guards in booths looked at our passports. They never stamped them. We were always disappointed not to have them stamped.

As we pulled out of the border crossing, an area filled with tiny buildings and people in impressive looking shirts with Dockers, we were in a whole new land. This was the United States of America, a big place that based on this crossing was pretty much exactly like where we were leaving.

This was Montana, a wonderful land that was home to the greatest campground known to mankind. This may seem like an exaggeration but this was the truth to my young mind. It had lots of trees, fire pits, a nice gift shop and a waterpark. By waterpark I mean a shallow pool with a few slides. As a kid it was paradise. I insisted on stopping there each and every time we passed through here. It was a standard KOA campground but that was only to the untrained eye. To me it was worth driving all the way to another country to visit.