Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Trip to Sydney, Nova Scotia, Part 1

Before it is too distant a memory, let me tell you about my trip to Sydney, Nova Scotia at the end of January. I went with DH, who needed to go for business. My mother's ancestors made the trip to Nova Scotia from Spinningdale, Scotland in the late 1700s. My great-great grandmother Mary Jane Ross is from Cape Breton (Sydney Mines), and I wanted to have a look around.

A trip to Sydney from Middle America is a four-flight proposition. This pales in comparison with the voyage across the Atlantic in a boat, but it certainly was harrowing enough! We slogged through security in our small local airport, dutifully taking off our coats, sweaters and shoes. Security at our bitty regional airport is tighter than any international airport I've ever experienced. My knitting bag (with the Cameron shawl in progress, scroll below) was waved through. I had been a bit concerned about my Swiss Army clipper in my notions bag. It's a small Swiss Army knife without the blade, but has a little nail file, a wee screwdriver, an ingenious pair of nail clippers, and a tiny pair of scissors. My sister had given it to me for Christmas, and the package said it was TSA approved. To my relief, it passed muster. I was soon knitting away.

We flew to Detroit, and then to Dulles/Washington DC, where we had to change airlines. Dulles is a nightmare, BTW - stay the heck away from there, if you can. United Airlines employees were surly, disorganized, harried and astoundingly rude to absolutely everyone. Other passengers, unsolicited, assured us that such treatment is the norm at Dulles. It took us over two HOURS simply to get our boarding passes.

From Dulles, we flew to Halifax. Welcome to Canada!! Canadian airport officials were just as efficient as their American counterpoints, only friendlier. However, as my bag went through the security checkpoint for the third time that day, my knitting bag was stopped.

"What's this?" asked an agent, digging out a small object.
"Oh, that's the new Swiss clipper. It doesn't have a knife. Our TSA approved it for air travel." I politely replied.
"Well!", he huffed. "America is NOT in charge in Canada. We have our own rules here!"
"Oh", says I. "Of course Canada has its own rules! I had just assumed they wouldn't be as silly as the US ones."
"I'll have to take this away from you. No scissors allowed here in Canada."

I looked in disbelief at the scissors. The entire exterior length of the gadget is 2-1/2 inches long. Allowing for an inside mount, pivot point, and a center rivet holding the scissors together, the scissor blades could not have measured more than an inch. I don't imagine I could have even snipped through bulky yarn without a couple of passes. (Post note: I have since replaced the Swiss Army clipper, and the scissor blade measures 5/8".)

Even if I could have theoretically posed a real threat with that diminutive thing, I have three questions:

  1. After flying all the way to Detroit, and then to Washington DC, the Capital of America; and then to Halifax, the Capital of Nova Scotia, did they really imagine that anyone might choose to threaten the puddle jumper to Cape Breton?!
  2. Who knew that the terr*r*sts the Canadians are expecting are different from terr*r*sts potentially threatening the USA? (Why else would there be different rules?)
  3. Did they ever get a good look at a 29" circ - sharp and shiny and connected with a long, strong wire?

Best not to point to too much absurdity here. I suspect that most of us knitters are more dangerous without our knitting needles. I know it's safer for everyone if I have them with me on those long flights!

Phew! Finally to our final destination. We were the last two out of the Sydney airport save the sentry, sipping coffee at his lonely post.

And the hotel was very nice (white building in the foreground above, pictured without the actual snow and ice).


Anonymous said...

Ah, well at least they didn't take the knitting needles! It's neat that you travelled to a place with such history for your family.

Diane said...

If you want a real thrill going thru Canadian customs, try telling them that you have a canister of pepper spray! I did just that when we took the ferry over to Yarmouth from Maine. Not only did they relieve me of my pepper spray (hey, I forgot I even had it in the door pocket until the guy ran thru the list of no-nos), I had to go inside to turn it over and get a second reprimand and then they came out and went thru the whole car. Did they suppose I'd admit to pepper spray and then try to hide something more dangerous? Or did they not realize I was armed with knitting needles?? Factotums are the same the world over...a pain in the neck (or ass, if you prefer!).