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Where Are the Nice Canadians? | IDBDR #10

July 26, 2019.

Positioned well above the horizon, sunrise would have been one of the best if just a few clouds had made an appearance in the sky. Without them, an orange glow an hour or so before the sun peaked out was all we got. Shucks, right? 😉

The mosquitoes were out in full force again, buzzing and gathering around the windows of the tent - our scent like sweet sweet nectar to them. Not that our scent - after 10 days on the road - was anything but a sweet sweet nectar, mind you. 😉

Not wanting to hang around the swarm any longer than we had to, and the tent already warming up in the hot early morning sun, we donned our long pants and sleeves before exiting our protective enclosure for the outdoors.

A quick teardown - and no breakfast, even granola bars could wait - and we jumped into our seats, rolled down the windows to get good air movement and pull out all the blood suckers, and took off - the sweeping vistas around us belying the inhospitable reality of this place!

Down the mountain we went - the more room between us and the mosquitoes the better - until we finally reached the edge of Lake Pend Oreille, and pavement.

Less than halfway through the final stage, we joked to each other that from here, the IDBDR planners were just ready to be done with their confounded adventure - I mean, it's not really about the dirt, right?

Little did we know... we were closer to right than we would have liked.

We continued on - the track criss-crossing but avoiding the highway for the most part, while at the same time also avoiding several dirt tracks that we could see on the map would have taken us nearer the border. Hrm.

Eventually, after a good 20-30 miles of pavement, hoping that the next windy turn would be dirt, we decided it was time to air up. Plus, we ran into a sign that couldn't be passed by.

The 3.4l V6 much happier with firm tires on paved ground, we quickly ticked off more miles as we made our run for the border, reasonably convinced at this point that it would be paved the rest of the way. As we crossed a set of railroad tracks that would dump us out on the highway, I happened to glance down the line and see the lights of a train - stopped in the distance.

Hoping it would start up again, I parked the truck and got out with the camera. Dorking around for a bit, I happened to look the other way on the tracks and saw a second train approaching. "Huh, that's strange." I thought, before realizing that we were about to witness something pretty cool. We were at a crossing loop, where two trains - running in opposite directions on the line - could navigate past each other.

We were definitely waiting to see this. Sure enough, as the northbound train pulled entirely onto the crossing loop, the southbound train started moving and passed along the main line. It was a ballet of steel that I've never seen before.

We cruised along for the remainder of the stage, eventually hitting a few miles of highway-grade gravel as we skirted the west side of the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge - the grading so nice that we were still very glad to be aired up and able to travel at a high rate of speed.

And then, well before lunch and only three hours after breaking camp - we were at the border!

Not wanting to cause any trouble, we pulled over to remove the plate cover before proceeding forward to the Rykerts, BC customs station.

We'd made it! Pulling up to the window, we were asked the usual questions - "Where are you from?" "Do you have any guns, alcohol, or tobacco?" "Are you carrying over $10,000 in cash?" "How long are you going to be in Canada?"

Our answers were of course mundane. We were from Washington, but had just traveled on dirt roads all the way from Nevada to Canada - can you believe it? We had no guns, alcohol, or tobacco...much less $10,000 in cash. And we were going to be in Canada for about five minutes.

And that, apparently, was a problem. "You mean you're just going to turn around the office and head back to the United States?" The border service officer asked.

"Yep." I responded.

And with that, he held on to our passports and asked us to park the truck, letting us know that if we'd just wait a few minutes, our passports would be returned to us. Awesome.

With that, two additional offers exited the building and asked us to empty our pockets, even going as far as to pat me down when all I produced was my cashless wallet and a few credit card receipts. Then, they asked us to sit in a windowless room while they searched the truck.

Fifteen minutes later, and quite obviously disappointed, they returned our passports and let us know that we were free to leave. We thanked them for their hospitality and the extra time in-country, and proceeded to repack the interior of the cab that they'd left a mess after ransacking it in their search.

And then, we headed for home! Well, for the United States anyway.

The border crossing here went much more smoothly - our answer to "How long were you in Canada?" being, "Fifteen minutes, though we only expected to be there five." drawing a raised eyebrow.

Seeing that, I quickly shared our story which got a good laugh from the US Border Patrol officer and we joked that they were probably just bored and wanted to get a closer view of the awesome truck - you know, ideas for their own builds.

Now nearing lunch time, we pointed the truck south toward I-90, found a bite to eat, and watched as a train full of planes passed us - likely heading the same place we were. Home.

Hope you enjoyed our adventure on the Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route. Now get out there and make your own adventure!


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  1. Durwin
    Durwin August 27, 2019

    Awesome! I've been wanting to run the IBDR for a couple of years now, and life continues to get in the way. Your trip report inspires me to just make it happen. Thanks so much for taking the time to 'journal' your adventure and for sharing your awesome pics. Very well done!

    I don't see your 'cool road shower' on this trip? Care to share why?

    How would you compare the IBDR to Oregon and Washington BDR's?

    Thanks again


    • turbodb
      turbodb August 31, 2019

      Glad you enjoyed, I'd definitely recommend running the route when you find the time :).

      No shower on the truck anymore because I found that it never really got hot enough to use as a shower - for a couple reasons: first, because a lot of trips are to climates/elevations where it's simply not hot enough. Second, because even on trips where it is hot, the wind chill of air moving along the tube would never really let it warm up. Since I never really hang out in one place for hours/the day, that means the shower wasn't really useful to me, unfortunately - so I removed it a year or so ago.

      I think the solution is to have a clear tube around the black one - that way the black absorbs heat, and the clear gives a blanket of still (warm) air around the water, which isn't sucked away by movement.

      As far as Idaho's BDR vs. Oregon and Washington - I'd rank them Oregon, Idaho, Washington. But really, there are parts of each that are really cool, and parts of each that are meh, hahahaha.

      The best parts of Idaho were actually the little side trips to lookouts and whatnot - so I think running it requires some pre-planning to know what's nearby, and taking the time to do those things too, to add some interest.

      Same is true for any BDR I think - the point of the route isn't actually to see the really cool stuff the state has to offer, but is instead to get you across the state on dirt roads. So, it's always a good idea to spice it up a bit.

      @mrs.turbodb and I toyed with the idea of putting together a IDBBDR - the Idaho Better BDR - that would be based on the BDR route in places, but would go to some of the cooler places in Idaho along the way. It'd be a longer route, I'm sure - but also much more spectacular.


  2. Durwin
    Durwin September 3, 2019

    Thanks for the informative reply. I appreciate your insight and honesty, regarding what works and what doesn't. I will eventually make this (IBDR) happen, and will definitely make time for the 'side trips'.

    Thanks again


  3. Keith Upton
    Keith Upton December 19, 2019

    Yet another great trip report and it covers a trip I've been thinking about for a year or so now. 've not done any of the BDRs before, so I was not really sure if this one could be done in a four wheeled vehicle or if parts of it were only big enough for motorcycles. Now I know I could do the whole route and should add some side trips to it.

    Also, just FYI, but at the end of part 7 there is no links to the other parts of this report.

    • turbodb
      turbodb December 19, 2019

      Glad you enjoyed it Keith, and thanks for the tip about #7, I'll get that updated now.

  4. Mitsy
    Mitsy May 1, 2022

    Not surprised at the Canadian Border experience. Am Canadian and find the American Border guys so much nicer and friendlier. Would always play with our pooch when we would travel over but not the Canadians. Even as a Canadian coming back into Canada they act the same way. That's why we love travelling in America. People are awesome there. That whole Canadians are nice and peaceful is a con job. Americans in our opinion have always been way more friendlier and kinder to strangers than Canadians. We have several awesome experiences to back that statement and the contrary experiences in Canada.

    • turbodb
      turbodb May 1, 2022

      Hey Misty, it's so strange how folks on both sides of the border feel like the other is friendlier, hahahaha! I've never had a really nice border crossing going into Canada, but my worst was coming back the other way. We were asked to pull over for a search of the truck, and the USBP left the inside a complete mess; a real power trip if you ask me. And, as far as people go - I've always felt like Canadian's were super awesome when I've been up there! Perhaps in both cases, it's people being on their best behavior with foreigners. Whatever it is, we should get more of it in our world these days!

      • Mitsy
        Mitsy May 3, 2022

        No you won’t have a real nice crossing into Cda as our border officers are all the same, very cold/rude (I worked for Fed gov’t my whole life so understand the mentality ingrained in them.) As a Cdn they treat us the same way coming back and I’ve crossed all across Cda in my travels. Guess you can get a bad US BO, we had 1 rude one who turned us away for unsubstantiated reason in all our travels so they do exist. The best was the one who told us to move over and he would drive when we told him we were headed to Disney in Florida (made our trip). Cdns would never joke like that.

        Believe you’re right with Cdns trying to be on best behaviour with foreigners, but I gave up travelling in Cda many years ago because of rudeness. Travels in the US have been so great and found the people more easy going. Especially love the individuality ingrained in Americans as not a Cdn trait. The experience in Cda during Covid when people were turning on each other very very aggressively solidified that for me. Now that borders are opening up again without all the insanity looking forward to coming down again.

        Cheers and happy travels,

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