A couple of weeks ago I decided to take a short road trip to join some friends for some spring skiing at Smuggler's Notch in Vermont. Every once in a while I love a good road trip, I don't mind driving and sometimes being alone at the wheel gives me a chance to think and reflect, although on this particular trip I found myself missing my canine friend Massie at times. I did enquire at the border, and apparently he is welcome to cross the border as long as he has his shots up to date and documentation readily available. I let my GPS do the navigating, and she took me along the 401 to Cornwall, where I crossed into Akwesasne territory. My first reaction to the conditions on the American side of the border, a collection of falling down houses and barns, closed down businesses and general signs of despair was that all the news I had been seeing about the state of the U.S. economy was evident in real time, was soon replaced with the realization that this was more a case of how the indigenous people of North America have been neglected much longer than this current economic cycle. Once I crossed the state line into Vermont, conditions were much better with very few "signs of the times." Another thing that caught my eye over the state line was a highway sign pointing to Ste. Anne's Shrine. I was on a bit of a tight timeline, so I decided to leave this diversion for my return trip. I got to Smugglers just in time for a warm Canadian welcome and a good home cooked meal. The next day we tackled the mountain - ski conditions were OK, but a little icy. Then the sky opened up with rain, and that introduced a whole new skiing experience. The weather cleared after lunch, enough that I decided to cut through a patch of brush to another hill, hitting a patch of mud on my way. Well, I found out that skis prefer snow to mud, so while my skis came to a dead stop in the mud, my body kept going and down I went. Other than a bruised ego and a sprained thumb, I was none the worse for wear. I made the mistake of checking in with work when we got back to the chalet, which resulted in me deciding to head back home the next day to tackle some pressing issues. On the way back I made 2 stops - one at the Ste. Anne's Shrine, and one at the Akwsasne casino. The shrine was pretty much closed for the season, but was still quite moving. Ste. Anne's statue has a great view over Lake Champlain, a crucifix and the stations of the cross on the lake shore. After a self guided tour and some prayerful meditation, I set out for my final stop where I donated my last American dollars to the casino.