This story chronicles my return to the mountains of Wyoming, since 2012 I’ve been granted a small section of land and intent to build it up into a holiday home / hunting cabin / Summer / Winter Retreat. Next-door is the legendary Mountain Man Mike who is busy completing his cabin, I’ll help him and he’ll help me but it’ll still be one heck of a challenge. There are three major factors: It’s at 9.500 feet and I / we only have a short 4 month window to build on AND the land is Lord of the Rings steep and partially inaccessible. The snow still bars the way from winter so at least I have some time to prepare and be ready for when the snow-drifts melt, opening the way in once more to the 'Mountain Hold...' So it begins… The flight from the UK was smooth enough, the vid screens buzzed with Pax Americana. ‘Sit back and enjoy the ride!’ said the automated air hostess cheerily while their live counterparts went through the motions. The video screens were set into the bulkheads and there was no turning them off, thankfully a chatterbox woman was next to me and our ramblings breezed away the hours. On my other side a Portuguese fellow fiddled and diddled with his psp videogame – the old ways and the new I thought during my musings. We landed at Chicago and once off the plane the fun and games really began. Some women ushered us all into the DHS lanes – one of them reminded me of a Hispanic grandmother, hard bitten and mean. The other was like something out of King Herod’s harem – all dusky and beguiling with her professional reserve. I didn’t have time to chit-chat and I went forward for the rigmarole of fingerprinting and questioning. ‘What is your purpose of visiting the USA?’ Asked the oriental man in uniform as the questions came thick and fast. He viewed my passport as he did so. I told him my doings. ‘How long do you plan on staying?’ I responded. ‘How much money did you bring with you?’ I answered truthfully once more and placed my fingers onto the scanner as directed. SLAM A big stamp slammed the appropriate months of stay into my gleaming new passport, complete with embassy approved visa A big red circle was made around a section of my immigration form and I was waved on through though and the arrival / transfer ritual common to international airports unfolded. A carousel with all our bags open turned on and after collecting my jumbo-bag and backpack I trundled them towards the next set of Gatekeepers who barred the way ahead. Upon reaching them they perusing my immigration form and directed me sideways to the dreaded secondary inspection zone! It looked like I was going to have to have another barrage of inquisitive questions… As I rounded the corner I faced two mega-sized cargo canners and a long steel counter against the wall. All three areas were manned and occupied by others being inspected via baggage or words. I waited for one of the three areas to become free. Another oriental man of the DHS calling was at the counter and he called me forward. I couldn’t help but notice him to be not unlike a character out of one of my short stories – a Jade smuggler lord called Mr Paeng in this case. However, instead of being shrouded in opium fumes with his own army of henchmen to call upon it was three DHS folks who toted sidearms and uniforms. I showed him my immigration form and he deciphered the various notes and jottings the previous DHS guy had written on there - I hoped it was nothing negative… Churning information from the bowels of DHS / NSA / CIA and-who-knows -what-else blared out onto his screen as he began tapping in keys. A silence set in. ‘So Mr Ryder why do you come to America?’ Asked Mr Paeng in pigeon English. I answered with my reasons, showing this and that from my docs folder. He made a few clicks with his cheeks the way some Orientals do when mulling something over. ‘So have you brought a firearm with you this time?’ I responded I had not, the shenanigans at Manchester airport in previous times had put paid to that avenue. The area was quiet now, as only I remained and the other DHS forces loomed in towards me, curious no doubt at this European man with a jumbo bag at my side and a huge military backpack on my shoulder. Of the two other DHS dudes one was a Wasp and the other a Celtic mix. Hearing the word ‘firearm’ they became excited. ‘We should put his bags through to see if the alarms will go off.’ Said the Celtic-looking one with a mischievous vibe about him. I made some banterish responses explaining my past doings in the Americas. ‘Fill this in’ Mr Paeng said sliding a customs form declaration towards me. He didn’t offer me a pen so I reached for my EDC and pulled one out. As I wrote it out Mr Paeng asked more questions and the two DHS folks behind me drifted away to attend to fresh meat wandering in bewilderedly with their bags. I explained all the reasons while I filled it out. I handed it back and Mr P seemed satisfied, he returned my passport and allowed me and my baggage through unmolested. I walked forwards and two big security doors opened before me. The way into America was open and I was now free to continue….