Summer road trip stories: Crossing the U.S./Canadian border
Published: January 17, 2011 at 11:25 AM
Like many Americans, I was born with a big ego and a lot of pride in my country. Which is why I felt so depressed at the Peace Arch border crossing last summer, going into and coming out of Canada.
Leaving the United States and entering Canada was like driving into a Disney theme park - a beautifully landscaped building that looked like a ski lodge flanked a long row of booths, staffed with customs agents who moved the queue of waiting cars swiftly.
And few days later, returning to America, the road narrowed to a couple of lanes that crept through a construction zone, guarded by a hand-written sign that read "No Public Access."
The world's most popular theme parks spend so much on creating impressive entrances for a reason - they make visitors feel welcomed and comfortable. (Which, in turn, encourages them to spend money.) Canada's entrance did that. America's did not. And, as an America, that frustrated me. My country ought to be better than that.
Yes, I know that we're in the process of building a new Port of Entry at Peace Arch. But why did we let ours get in such bad shape in the first place? Canada got its new facility built in plenty of time for the Olympics last year. We should have, too.
Too often in America, we think in terms of what kind of country we can afford instead of what kind of country we want to be. Trust me, Walt Disney didn't create Disneyland thinking first about only what he could afford. He thought of what he wanted his theme park to be, then found a way to pay for it.
In that respect, I wish that we Americans thought more often about our country the way Walt thought about his theme park. Why shouldn't we always strive for the best, and instead of settling for the cheap?