Part 1 can be found here.
Around the fire were two couples, and they were drinking beers while listening to Led Zeppelin. Lots of Led Zeppelin; all night long. I was impressed. The wives did not talk much, but their husbands sure made up for it. Their names were Bobby and Jim, and they were both Vietnam War veterans. As a Canadian, this was a demographic that I was unlikely to ever encounter back home, so despite how much overlap there truly is in the Canadian and the American experience, this would certainly be a treat for me. They quickly got me involved in their game of blow darts, which involved shooting foot long darts out of a long pipe towards a target which was about twenty feet away. When I reasoned that my beer intake was starting to affect my aim, I bowed out of the competition. Jim would not be reigned in so easily though, and he began to flip throwing knives up into the air in an attempt to have them land point down in a target near his feet. Bobby admonished him that one day he might stab his own foot, and that got us onto the lovely topic of healthcare.
I quickly learned that these men were extremely libertarian, and believed that it was wrong for the government to furnish them with healthcare. They referred to Obama’s health care reforms as “Commie Care” and bemoaned that they thought they had fought the Cold War to stop the evils of Communism which were now manifesting themselves in their own government under healthcare. I pointed out that Canada has had universal healthcare for decades with nary a complaint, and that if you gave us the option of getting rid of it, nearly everyone would rather keep their healthcare. While we had conflicting points of view on nearly everything (military, guns, healthcare, laws, race, gender etc.) our conversations were very respectful and insightful, with Bobby often stopping to consider that perhaps things are not as black and white as he had believed. While some of their views certainly proliferate key problems in our societies, I was mindful that we are all products of our environment, and they were not genuinely bad people. Just before bedtime, Bobby’s wife made me a deliciously American sandwich, full of meat and cheese, and I bid them a warm goodnight.
The next day I was able to contact my friends in Wenatchee, and by a stroke of good luck they were both in town! I met Lucas and Alex for a coffee and a chat, and then after Lucas departed, Alex and I made a visit to the smoke shop. I am not too sure what he was doing there, but I knew what I wanted: a carton of Camel Filters to take back and sell in my tree planting camp. We then had a beer over a game of pool before I said my goodbyes and began my long 140 mile journey back to the border. I had one more essential stop to make though, and that was to pick up some cheap alcohol for my duty free allowance. I ended up buying a bottle of Buchanan’s 12 year old blended Scotch in a Walmart, and then, late at night, I crossed the border after a mere one minute of questioning. Wahoo, I was back in Canada! And I didn’t even smuggle anything across, except a one quart bottle of Miller High Life which cost me about $2.
Back at tree planting camp, I successfully sold my Camels at a reasonable mark up while saving a couple for my own enjoyment. Then one night, with considerable difficulty, one of my coworkers and I managed to open up my bottle of Scotch and extract some liquid from it. The opening had a strange device to prevent spillage that also had the annoying ability to prevent drinking. Eventually I wrote down some tasting notes.
Buchanan’s 12 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky
Appearance: Very gold, I suspect added colour for appearance.
Nose: Sweet grain, dandelions, Toppables crackers, faint hints of gingerbread, and finally a bit of a harsh alcohol taste. Overall, nice and inviting.
Palate: Initially quite sweet and smooth, butter toffee, cookie dough, and Indian cheese (paneer) then becoming a bit harsh, raw scallions, and citrus flavours like Sprite.
Finish: Alcohol, then sweet malt, then Sprite. Quite a cleansing swallow.
Overall: This blend sounds a bit all over the place, but apart from the odd moment of harsh alcohol, it really is quite nice and pleasant to consume.
Rating: Blend rating 88/100. The price I paid was Good, 30 something USD, slightly less than Walmart’s Johnnie Black, which arguably would have been a way better bargain, but I wanted to try something new.
All in all it was quite the American adventure!