A Vacation in the United States

My wigwam
My wigwam

The Need to Travel

A few days ago I decided it was time to pick up and do a little travelling. The old feet were itching to move. The urge to roam was calling my name. Life would be better somewhere else.

What brought this on, of course, was the growl of Old Man Winter lurking just around the corner. The night air had taken on a definite chill in northern Canada. It was downright misery trying to sleep in my wigwam. And, according to the igloo contractors I'd hired a couple of weeks earlier, I wasn't about to get my winter igloo anytime soon. Global warming, they said, was melting the ice blocks as quickly as they could carve them out of the glacier wall.

Whereupon I succumbed to clinical depression. The diagnosis was pure speculation on my part, of course, because there was no clinic within a thousand hectares of my wigwam. I don't know how big a hectare is but I'm pretty sure a thousand of them is more than a country mile. Which made my diagnosis as good as any other within a country mile.

So, to cure myself of clinical depression, I decided to take a little jaunt south. The United States seemed to be a reasonable destination.

Crossing the Canada-US Border

Pretty soon I found myself at the Canada-US border. I won't pinpoint the exact location of the border station because I think the Department of Homeland Security might still be looking for me. There was a bit of a kerfluffle that sprang up while I was there and the DHS decided to blame me. I'm innocent, of course, but that's beside the point when the DHS has an opposing view.

I had been worrying about whether I'd get hassled at the border because I knew there was a little issue with my passport. The issue was that I didn't have one. So I'd been hanging around out in the parking lot hoping for a busy spell during which I might slip past the guardhouse unnoticed. My hope was fulfilled when a couple of long-haul truckers showed up and one of them was hauling hogs. One whole tractor-trailor load of hogs!

That was good news for me because hauling livestock across the Canada-US border is a messy process. You know, one or two of those hogs might have Mad Cow Disease or something. Such high-stakes security responsibilities definitely require the full attention of the border guards.

So, while I was waiting for the situation to reach its full potential, I wandered over to say hello to the hogs. I like hogs. Then, as I was petting the nose of one of the littler hogs, I accidentally bumped against the release pin for the trailor's rear gate. I swear to you, the bump was 100% pure accident!

Accident or not, the gate came crashing down. In no time at all there were hundreds of pigs running around the parking lot. And soon there were Homeland Security personnel running around the parking lot chasing pigs.

And at exactly that moment a local farmer in an open-top truck was waved through the station. Recognizing the opportunity, I sprinted to the truck and leaped over the canvas tailgate in a single bound. And just like that, I was headed down the highway, cocooned in a soft, spongy material that filled the back of the truck.

The malodorous characteristic of the material bothered me not at all. I fell asleep expressing my gratitude to Manitou because I didn't have to worry about water dripping from the roof of my igloo.

Good morning New Yor City!
Good morning New Yor City!

Moving By Truck

I don't recall how, but I next found myself in the company of a long-haired, belt-buckled, cowboy-booted trucker heading south. He didn't talk much. So I assumed responsibility for the long spaces that would otherwise have been silence.

I talked about my life in northern Canada. I told him about talking to trees, listening to the moon at night, communing with nature and other such spiritual experiences. But none of it much impressed my silent friend. That is until I mentioned the ganja crop I grew in the garden out back of my wigwam. Suddenly his interest in me became genuine and intense.

I told him I used ganja for spiritual purposes, to get closer to God. He said he always wanted to get close to God. I told him I used ganja for heath reasons, to ward off diseases like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cancer, He said good health was high on his list of priorities.

It was like a miracle! It was as though a pipeline of communion had magically opened between us! The more we talked the more common ground we found!

Our communion flowed even more freely when it became known that I had a bag of ganja in my pocket, fresh out of my garden. We smoked and talked of spiritual things; we opined in great swaths on the meaning of life. We let fall away from us mundane matters like highway numbers. Direction seemed to mean so little when there were the great truths of life to ponder. It was a magical journey!

But then we ran out of ganja. And we found ourselves in the parking lot of some old diner with a flashing sign saying something about New York City. New York City? We'd been heading south...

I thought things might look a little better if we had a cup of coffee. I told my trucker friend so. He mumbled something unintelligible which I interpreted as agreement. I climbed down out of the truck and started across the parking lot toward the diner. Something told me to look back. The truck was pulling away...

Home is where the heart is.
Home is where the heart is.

Too Soon to Come Home

Still somewhat influenced by the ganja, I experienced no emotion at the loss of my trucker friend. In fact, I experienced no emotion about much of anything at all. With a vague recollection of having wanted to get something from the building in front of me, I shuffled the rest of the way to the diner and went in.

I sat at the counter and asked a short plump lady for a cup of coffee. (Coffee! Yeah, that's what I wanted to get from here!)

"That'll be a dollar, mister," the lady said, making no effort to be friendly.

I didn't see my coffee yet but I reached into my pocket for money as a show of good faith. Uh oh... no money! I searched all my pockets... still no money. A distant memory of placing my wallet on the truck dashboard crept into my mind...

By then, a big burly facsimile of Andre the Giant had come out of a back room. Without a word he grabbed me by the collar with one hand, opened the door with the other, and threw me ten feet across the parking lot.

I landed with a heavy "thud" followed by a "boing, boing boing." At first I thought my head had come off and was bouncing along beside my body. But when I opened my eyes, I saw that Mr. Giant had thrown an old guitar out behind me. I made a disconnected note that things must be okay for now: my head is still attached and I have a guitar. I didn't question the origin or ownership of the guitar. I just picked it up and limped off down the street.

So I'm making a life of it on the streets of New York right now. I play my old guitar and sing songs for folks which earns me enough scratch to get by. I'm beginning to catch on to how a certain style of song earns a particular type of compensation.

For instance, if I do a soft rendition of an old gospel number such as "Jesus Saves" I'll get a bunch of sermons, get my soul saved from Hell a few times, and at least twice a week get invited to some kind old saint's house for dinner.

Then maybe another day I'll do a couple verses of "Blowin' In The Wind" and pretty soon I'll have four or five old hippies gathered around singing along with me. Then the next thing you know one of them pulls out a bag of ganja and life takes on new meaning. Which means we spend the rest of the day sitting around talking about the good old days and ruminating on the purpose of human existence.

So I don't think I'll be going back to Canada for awhile yet. Between the saints and the old hippies, New York City is beginning to feel like home.

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Comments 48 comments

Linda Myshrall 7 years ago

Sing on Niteriter, sing on! I just love these dry, whimsical pieces.

ralwus 7 years ago

Yeah, but what was it Jim Croce said about NYC? Don't get too comfortable, the wealthy are in Exodus from there, soon it will be like Detroit. Nothing much better than good coffee, good company a guitar and ganja, throw in a blues harp an' I'll join ya. I also see you have found the remains of a Bigfoot teepee up there. I hope the rain don't melt yer new home. Great humor here, thanks, I enjoyed it immensely. CC

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 7 years ago from Canada Author

Oh, Linda, your words mean the world to me. If you keep it up I just might do an all-audio Hub of me singing "Blowin' In The Wind". Now where'd I put that bag o' ganja?

Ralwus, me and the gang can't wait for you to show up with that harp. And could you bring along a sharp young lawyer? The Wall Street bankers are trying to charge us rent for our singing space.

ralwus 7 years ago

Would it be OK if I just bring my sexy older blond lawyer? She has nice legs and toes too. I ran out of ganja, will salvia do? I don't have enough wind for the harp anymore, will bring a stick or too and just drum on you box while we watch my pretty older attorney do a dance. Free space is no more, no free lunches. What is the world coming to?

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 7 years ago from Canada Author

Ralwus, you have evil and perverse inclinations which grants you immediate membership in our club. Oh yeah, and if you're coming to NYC, make sure you bring along those legs and toes you were talking about.

Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

Niteriter, you have NO idea what you're getting into! I'm trying to imagine the two of you trying to look saintly as you sing that hymn - and I'm cracking up with laughter!

Write on Niteriter :)

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 7 years ago from Canada Author

I admit to having difficulties looking saintly, Shalini, but I think ralwus can pull up the slack on that end. His new avatar has a rather angelic aura, don't you think?

bayareagreatthing profile image

bayareagreatthing 7 years ago from Bay Area California

Good travels, good health, good times, and good laughs all rolled into one :)

Quilligrapher profile image

Quilligrapher 7 years ago from New York

Welcome to New York City, Niteriter. It is good to know that there is another worm living in the Big Apple. There is a mission at 30th Street and 7th Avenue that hands out hot soup and a sandwish every morning at 8AM. Just mention my name to get a good place at the end of the line.


Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 7 years ago from Canada Author

Hi Laura. The "good laughs" part is about all I aim for. The other stuff seems to happen all by itself! Thanks for stopping by.

Quilligrapher, I'm happy to see a familiar face on the NYC tourism committee! I'll see you down at the mission real soon; mornings are getting chilly now.

Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 7 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

Well done, it looks like you are a son of the Skypeople like me? I think in Canada they call us First Nation people. I like your adventure, metaphorical or not. I like my President's new take on medicinal ganja down here, if we elect him again policies might actually start to resemble sanity. A well written anecdote Niteriter. Gnite!

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 7 years ago from Canada Author

I tried to rework our family tree so I could be of First Nations ancestry; unfortunately the rest of the family voted against the idea. The trauma of that rejection is what turned me into the vagrant portrayed in this piece! Thanks for your visit.

Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 7 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

Haha! Vote against the idea! My ancestors hid the fact years ago because of prejudice so now we're not sure which tribe we're from, maybe Huron or Ojibwa from my research.

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 7 years ago from Canada Author

Any time I find myself at an appropriate level of inebriety I still proudly proclaim my oneness with the Beothuck tribe on Canada's east coast. The tribe is now extinct so my proclamations go unchallenged by the unlearned and apathetic subjects to whom I proclaim.

nicomp profile image

nicomp 7 years ago from Ohio, USA

I am on the lookout for you. The US ain't big enough fer the both of us...

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 7 years ago from Canada Author

The chill has really set in here in NYC now. I'm gonna sing a couple more songs and then I'm thumbin' it further south. You won't need to worry about me stealing your homebrew until at least April of 2010.

nicomp profile image

nicomp 7 years ago from Ohio, USA

You migrate slower than African killer bees.

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 7 years ago from Canada Author

Oh, did I forget to mention that Keith Olbermann will be with me when I come by in the spring? I've been telling him about you and he's all excited about the Robin Hood story he can make out of me stealing your homebrew.

prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

oh, good humour indeed, welcome to the BIG NY city... nice one again,,,Maita

nicomp profile image

nicomp 7 years ago from Ohio, USA

I have a special place in my heart for Keith Olbermann. Anyone willing to sell his soul for a few ratings points deserves a bowl of soup.

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 7 years ago from Canada Author

Keith has no soul and has never become acquainted with the truth. All of his personal identifiers have the numbers "666" encoded in them somewhere. Keith is my friend.

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 7 years ago from Canada Author

Prettydarkhorse, how did I miss you sitting up there above nicomp's comment? Maita... such a pretty name. I's a name I'll murmur in my sleep for weeks to come!!! Thanks for the visit.

wyanjen profile image

wyanjen 6 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan


When you've got buckets all around your igloo to catch the ceiling drips, things are rough.

Fleeing was the right thing to do.

Next time, call me first. I'll hook you up. The river is totally swimmable here, and the border patrol doesn't seem to be too interested in old hippies anyway.

Come to think of it, swing by my place when you're headed back up. I have a handful of loonies and twonies from my old Casino Windsor days... and without a passport, I don't see myself spending them anytime soon. The cut-off point at which Americans stop pretending that Canadian currency is identical to our own seems to be the quarter.

Yeah, I won't just give them up to you though... You'll have to earn them...

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 6 years ago from Canada Author

I don't know exactly where I am at the moment but it does feel warm and cozy. But, without a doubt, I'll be swinging by your place on my way back north, all fresh-faced and tooth-brushed to take on the job of earning those loonies.

Oh, and could you drop a note to nicomp to let him know I probably won't be dropping by to see him after all? Any spare time I might have will most likely be spent with you.

I figure if I hang around long enough you might let me run my PC-calloused fingers over your Mac.

Petra Vlah profile image

Petra Vlah 6 years ago from Los Angeles

Reading this hub was a lot of fun and reading the comments was not less. I can see the DHS running after those pigs to prevent them from using the precious ganja.

Your sense of humor is great and I will be back soon to read some more

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 6 years ago from Canada Author

Hi Petra. It's quite an honour to have you visit my Hub Space. Here, nonsense undelies just about everything you'll find and "perfectly useless information" (as my good friend nicomp so cheerfully labels it!) is the usual soupe de jour!

If you had fun during your time here, then I will mark this day as a proud one. Thanks for dropping by.

SweetMarie83 profile image

SweetMarie83 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

While you're in good ol' NYC, even though you're not planning on returning home anytime soon, maybe you should come up with a way to get back into Canada! And winter's nearly over, you won't have to worry about melting igloos anymore when you do return. ;-)

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 5 years ago from Canada Author

Ah, my fine fellow Canadian Hubber, we Canucks are a resourceful bunch. Slipping back and forth across the border undetected is a fine art, the intricacies of which we hold to our chests with a diligence matched only by the Masonic Order. Even at this moment I am somewhere "in an undisclosed location" while Dick Cheney keeps emailing, begging me to share my crafty ways!

Thanks for visiting. Best wishes.

pennyofheaven profile image

pennyofheaven 4 years ago from New Zealand

My partner is sitting beside me cocking his head as I laugh at the screen in front of me. Probably thinks I am nuts laughing at the screen heartily. I can see him as I continue to read and laugh but don't want to stop reading. He moves closer to get my attention (he doesn't like reading, so would rather I tell him) He couldn't get my attention because your hub was to engrossing and funny. I eventually told him and he too laughed. You are absolutely talented! I am so glad you write. You made my day!

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 4 years ago from Canada Author

Penny, I am ever so grateful for your visits to my Hubs. That you get a laugh out of my nonsense is all the reward I need. Your comments lead me to feel sorry for those who write for AdSense only!

Thanks again. We'll chat soon.

Hollie Thomas profile image

Hollie Thomas 4 years ago from United Kingdom

I'm still chuckling at the hog scenario. In fact, I can't think of anything funnier than Homeland Security chasing a bunch of hogs. I hope you have found somewhere warm, safe and comfortable Nitewriter, with plenty of ganja to boot. :)

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 4 years ago from Canada Author

Thank you, Hollie, for visiting my Hub. Reflections on hogs, Homeland Security personnel, and ganja make for many a pleasant daydream when evenings begin to grow longer.

Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

Another great hub which I save in with my favourites ;here's to so many more to come.


Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 4 years ago from Canada Author

Hi Eddy. I enjoy many of my journeys for the first time as they emerge from my imagination. Then I enjoy them over and over again as each reader tells me of the pleasure they received from sharing the experience with me; life truly has no limits. I appreciate your visit.

grinnin1 profile image

grinnin1 4 years ago from st louis,mo

I'm really glad I came across your writing- this made me laugh and I'm impressed at the same time. I am not so brave. Great hub-

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 4 years ago from Canada Author

I am truly glad to see you here on one of my Hubs. You probably know by now that the things I write are of little value beyond the entertainment they provide. If I made you laugh then I have met my objective!

Thank you for coming by.

Diane Woodson profile image

Diane Woodson 4 years ago from Evansville, Indiana

Great work! I am looking forward to reading more of your work and like this Hub allot!

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 4 years ago from Canada Author

Thank you for the visit, Diane. It is truly a pleasure to have a person of your spiritual depth find value in one of my Hubs. I doubt that I have the capacity to reflect on life with the sincerity that is part of your nature, but your visit makes me think I should try.

expertscolumn profile image

expertscolumn 3 years ago from New York

The imagery is hilarious "old man winter" LOL

I'm imagining a cold hard face, rustic and emotionless, tarred and wearied down by life.

What is the difference between a wigwam and a tepee?

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 3 years ago from Canada Author

Hi, expertscolumn; your visit and your question are much appreciated. Without doubt, I took a fair amount of liberty with the use of the word wigwam, opting for poetic flair rather than literal accuracy. Now that I've been exposed... well, I'll try!

Even though many people use the words wigwam and teepee interchangeably, there is a substantial difference between the two. First, a wigwam (relatively speaking) is a permanent structure and a teepee a temporary shelter for use when on the move. A wigwam is (again, relatively speaking) large and spacious while a teepee is small and portable. In shape, a wigwam is round and dome-shaped, much like an igloo, whereas a teepee is tripod-like and framed with straight suspension poles rather than the bent poles which form the arch of a wigwam. The image I used here, for instance, is more indicative of a teepee than a wigwam... ahem!

There is more to the answer - coverings, regional applications, cultural nuances, etc. - but I'll leave those out for the sake of brevity. Typing the phrase "teepee or wigwam" into a search engine will give you many detailed descriptions to choose from.

Thanks again for coming by. Cheers.

habee profile image

habee 3 years ago from Georgia

Wow - you're a talented writer! I love the way you can spin a tale. I'll be back!

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 3 years ago from Canada Author

Well, well, well. Just look who came by to visit! I am flattered in a really superlative kind of way. And that you love the way I "spin a tale" adds even more of flattery's excess to the giddy frame of mind you've put me in. Lord forgive me, but I may never know humility again!

Seriously, habee, I value your comment. Thank you.

James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 3 years ago from Chicago

Impressive. Excellent story, outstanding story telling, I love your use of the language. I enjoyed this. Thank you for the pleasure.

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 3 years ago from Canada Author

Thank you, James for coming by to visit my Hub. Your input is important to me and the effort you made here has brightened my day. Best wishes to you as you carry on your own great work.

jacharless profile image

jacharless 3 years ago from Between New York and London

So, this irritating but most innocuous smirk requires I ask if you, having explored the concrete tundras -err wonders-- of the South, ventured back this winter? :D James.

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 3 years ago from Canada Author

In my imagined little world I am always where the sun is shining!

Thanks for visiting, James. I truly appreciate your taking the time to drop by. Cheers!

bodylevive profile image

bodylevive 3 years ago from Loachapoka, Alabama

Ohooo, I love your story, So well written. When you get the chance, I invite you to visit me at Bubblews/bodylevive

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 2 years ago from Canada Author

Hi, bodylevive. That you love my story makes the day so much more enjoyable. Thanks for visiting.

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