By DARREN HANDSCHUH
It is the Mecca of family fun and widely agreed upon to be the ‘happiest place on earth.’
I speak about Disneyland, of course.
It is a pilgrimage that has been made by countless millions of families over the years - a journey to the land of merriment, fun and really expensive food.
Where else could you spend $11.50 in American cash for a hot dog and a pop? That’s around $200 Canadian I believe.
When we walked through the front gates, I could almost see Mickey sitting in one of the towers wringing his hands with joy as two more teenaged boys entered the grounds.
“Dad, I’m hungry.”
“I know son, it’s been at least 20 minutes since you last ate. Hang on a second, we just have to refinance our home and I will buy some more food.”
But the price of dining at Disney was to be expected, it’s just the way it is at any tourist destination.
Anyway, before we could spend a king’s ransom on a pauper’s meal, we had to get there and that in itself was a bit of an adventure.
Upon boarding the propeller-driven plane for the short jump to Seattle, I quickly learned the ceiling of the plane was only six-feet tall, I am four inches taller than that, so after bonking my head more than once, I developed a Quasimodo kind of walk to get up and down the narrow aisle way.
Upon reaching my spacious seating area I was quite appreciative of the short flying time as I squished into my assigned spot. Having to use the facilities mid-flight, I quickly learned the bathroom on said plane was just slightly larger than a hamster cage.
But before we knew it, we were landing in Seattle, where we would hop on a jet and head to sunny California – that is once we cleared the 357 security check points required to enter the U.S.A.
There was the typical checking of our passports and our luggage, carry on items and, of course, our shoes.
People have to take their shoes off for inspection before boarding a plane because of that nut job who tried to take out a flight with a pair of loaded loafers a few years back.
By stuffing his footwear with explosives he became known as ‘The Shoe Bomber.’ I am just grateful he was not known as the ‘Suppository Bomber,’ or taking flight would take on a whole new meaning.
Entering the U.S. would become a very personal experience, a little too personal actually.
Even though I was doing nothing wrong, I still felt a kind of nervous, especially after entering the immigration area of the Seattle airport and the first thing I see is a border guard snapping on a pair of rubber gloves.
I began to wonder just how thorough the search would be and if he would send me flowers when it was over.
The border guard we had was actually quite friendly and even joked around with us a little bit.
But despite being completely void of any wrong doing, I still felt somewhat intimidated. Maybe it is because everyone with a uniform on had a gun strapped to their hip. That is just not something you see in Canada.
After scanning our passports through a passport-checking machine, the guard compared our faces to the passport pictures, determined we were not a threat to national security and let us in.
The return to our homeland a week later was much more relaxed. There were two customs guys sitting in their booths, where as in Seattle there were about 3,000, and in Canada nobody had a gun.
A quick check of the passport was followed by a friendly welcome home without a rubber glove in sight.