Thank you all so much for your welcomes and congratulations. It was really exciting to download my mail and see them all. I'll backtrack a bit, probably make this a few separate posts.
Our final day in New York was busy and exhausting. The last-minute errands mushroomed, but we managed to get everything accomplished, and even worked in an afternoon tea break with the wonderful Alan With One L, and a visit with my mom. Saying goodbye to her, I was suddenly 10-years-old again. It was visiting day in summer camp. I felt homesick. But that's fine. My mother and I have already picked out a date for her first visit.
After a late night of preparations, we were up at 5:00 a.m., naively thinking we'd be on the road by 6. Ha! It took Allan - The Master Packer - nearly two hours to pack the van. I certainly never could have done it. There was just about enough room for the dogs, Buster between our seats in the front, and Cody in a cave of boxes in the back.
We drove The World's Fullest Minivan down Bennett Avenue at 7:45 a.m. Yes, I cried. And we shouted and hooted and stared at each other in disbelief.
The trip itself was really very easy. We stopped frequently to let the dogs stretch their legs and relieve themselves, listened to REM and the Stones and a little Katrina news, and watched beautiful New York State roll by. Some friends and family called to wish us well and see how we were doing. The dogs mostly slept.
As we approached the border, Allan and I both got excited and nervous. Not surprisingly, Buster started to whine and bark anxiously. It's amazing how sensitive he is. My heart beats faster and he starts to whine.
At the border, to the usual question, "What is the purpose of your visit to Canada?" we stumbled over the answer. "To live... we are moving here... we live here..."
The man in the booth said, "You mean you're landing today?" Oh yeah, that's what I was supposed to say! He directed us to pull over, I got out, and an immigration official came over.
"Can I help you?"
"I'm landing today." (Got it!)
He said we all had to go inside. When I asked him if we could go in separately, because we had dogs in the car, he said I could ask the agent inside, but he didn't think they'd allow it.
The agent inside said, sure, no problem. Which one of you is the primary? (That's me.)
He asked me some questions, and I was able to rattle off my new address - including postal code! - and phone number.
"Do you have employment arranged in Canada?"
"Um, no." What am I supposed to say, what am I supposed to say...?
"So you have proof of funds?"
Oh yeah, proof of funds, baby, I got that! I proudly showed him my bank balances.
He asked some more questions, and explained how we get our Permanent Resident cards, and how to apply for our Social Insurance Numbers before the card arrives.
I initialed and signed some forms, and then he stamped my documents. I was wearing an ear-to-ear grin and my eyes were welling with tears. I walked outside and raised my arms in victory, holding my passport and visa.
In the van, we hugged and kissed, and I cried. Allan went in, and came out two minutes later wearing that same ear to ear grin.
Then I went back into the building to clear customs. That was a breeze. (Americans who are emigrating, ask me about this when the time comes. I have some pointers.)
After customs, we hugged and shouted some more, then drove down the QEW to our new home.
Exactly 10 hours and 516 miles after leaving New York, we pulled into our driveway.
A bit of the day in pictures.