Strange Possessions Seized by Customs

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Typically, “seized by Customs” brings to mind the usual suspects; gold, jewels, counterfeit goods, even people. However, there exists a whole world of unique and strange “things” that get intercepted during the attempt to smuggle them into the country (occasionally even leaving the country). During the last few months, I have come across some rather fascinating articles about the absurd possessions that people attempt to sneak past customs (or forget to declare). From African Snails to Ivory Bagpipes, here are some of the strangest possessions seized by Customs.

The “Good Luck” Primate Skull

A primate skull with attached feather, that is suppose to be a luck charm

http://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/local-media-release/2014-07-15-000000/cbp-encounters-unique-threats-america%E2%80%99s-agriculture

Who wouldn’t want a “Good Luck” Primate skull? What a perfect piece for the mantel! This skull was taken from a Russian traveler that purchased it in Togo, Africa. Sadly, the sullied nature of this luck charm presented a very unfortunate avian disease risk, and it had to be disposed of. Shucks!

Read here how dead bats and a primate tooth Voodoo necklace suffered a similar fate. Personally, I don’t think I would want the bad juju from taking a Voodoo Priest’s prized necklace.

A Batch of Giant African Snails

A picture of a Massive African Snail

http://news.yahoo.com/giant-african-snails-seized-los-angeles-airport-174803958.html

The credit for this excellent internet find goes to Tyler Zaichkin. These half-pound monster snails were purportedly intended for human consumption(or perhaps vice versa?).  Unfortunately for the importer, it seems that Customs deemed these burly beasts a threat to the U.S. agricultural system and had them incinerated.

The Ivory In Those Scottish Bagpipes

A set of bag-pipes made out of ivory

http://www.tennants.co.uk/Catalogue/Lots/44423.aspx

Recently, a van full of teenage bagpipers, who had just performed in Canada, was prevented from crossing the border for attempting to transport Ivory into the U.S. The Ivory in question was a functioning part of an heirloom set of bagpipes handed down from a grandfather to a grandson. In a rare turn of events they were able to get the bagpipes back, but not before being issued a cool five hundred dollar ticket. Why? For crossing at a “non-designated crossing”. Read the whole article here.

(Honorable Mention) Noah’s Ark, Heathrow Airport

A Heathrow airport employee holding a massive lizard

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/stuck-at-heathrow-the-live-animal-cargo-smuggled-into-britain-9617452.html

Heathrow Airport is certainly not in the U.S. However, this is a rather bizarre case of what happens with exotic animals after the attempt to traffic them through Heathrow Airport is thwarted. Enter Noah’s Ark at Heathrow Airport, where exotic (usually endangered) animals are stuck until airport authorities can ship them back home. More about this animal oasis here.

(Honorable Mention) $1 Million Dollars Worth of Counterfeit Guitars

A sampling of seized, counterfeit guitars

http://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/local-media-release/2014-05-05-000000/cbp-intercepts-over-1-million-counterfeit-guitars

While not common, counterfeit guitars are certainly not out of the realm of reasonable targets of things to be counterfeited. This deserves an honorable mention out of the sheer volume of goods confiscated by Customs. That is a lot of knockoff guitars! The picture barely does justice to the quantity seized.

Other Odd’s and End’s

For a look at some other odd items specific to Kennedy Airport, check out this link. Scroll near the bottom to find a plastic juice container full of salami. Delicious!

An excellent ploy, let’s just write “Toy Train Model” on the side of the box, Custom’s would never think to X-ray our shoddily packaged container. What was inside? Find out here.

Five Things To Do While In Bozeman

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Are you just visiting Bozeman, or perhaps you are struggling to find an exciting Saturday adventure. Well, look no further than this list of excellent ideas for things to do in, or around, Bozeman. My credentials you ask? Although I am not native to Bozeman, I have trekked, fallen, jumped, traversed, crawled, bumped, rolled, bounced, skipped, dipped, flipped, cartwheeled or otherwise navigated my way through an exceptional amount of amazing (occasionally disastrous) mountain adventures in the surrounding area. The depth of this article will cover my five favorite activities to do in Bozeman, Saturdays not required. 

 1.  Go for a Bozeman Hike!

Hiking Sacajewea Peak Bozeman, MT

Gregg Cummings (TRG Direct) taking in the surreal view from Sacajawea Peak.

Montana has a hike for everyone, I kid you not, everyone! To illustrate this point, you need look no further than the paved 1/2 mile trail to Palisade Falls in Hyalite Canyon. The flip side to this is that there are also plenty of challenging trails, that may require more technical gear,  and occasionally a trusty can of bear spray. Here are a few hikes that are easy on the soles, yet amazing on the eyes. First, the Lava Lake Trail (my personal favorite) which is a quick, yet satisfying hike that lets out into to a pristine mountain lake. Second, Storm Castle, this is an excellent hike if you are strapped for time or looking for a quick way to burn some calories to a stellar backdrop. Storm Castle also features a special treat upon the summit. Finally, Sacajawea Peak (Pictured Above), has stellar views of The Crazy Mountain range as well as the greater Bozeman area. Check out TRG and TRG Direct Facebook pages to view more great photos of our crew on incredible adventures around Montana.

 2. Go Skiing Near Bozeman!

Snow tunnel on the highway through the Beartooth Pass, MT

Nick Esposito conquering a snow wall after skiing around the Beartooth Pass in Montana.

Really, I must say I was rather tempted to place this as the first choice. But alas, it rolls in as a very close second. We are incredibly lucky in Bozeman to be close to so many differing skiing opportunities. There are two very large ski hills near Bozeman, Big Sky Resort and Bridger Bowl, but the ultimate jackpot lies in the exploration of the secret powder stashes in the back country. I find myself fortunate to be able to live in a place, that with a little effort, I can ski year round.

3. Float or Swim a River in Montana!

TRG floating the Madison River in Montana.

TRG Floats the Madison!

There are few things in life that are more refreshing on a hot summer day than plopping down on a tube, for a casual float in a river cooled by numerous mountain streams. Life is swell when the most arduous task of the day is agreeing on the same river. Which happens on occasion, as each river has unique and intriguing features that make it distinct from the others. The Jefferson for example features, a natural cliff to take a plunge off of, charming countryside, as well as a bridge that also serves as a place to launch your body into the depths below. There was an attempt to eradicate the aforementioned cliff, however it still exists and now serves as an even greater dose of adrenaline.

4. Visit a Local Bozeman Brewery!

Bridger Brewing in Bozeman, MT

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g45095-d4027185-Reviews-Bridger_Brewing-Bozeman_Montana.html

Montana is 2nd in the nation for microbreweries per capita. Within a small radius around Bozeman we have at least six that I can think of. Each brewery serves its own unique lineup of tasty local brews, some even have food! The majority of breweries are family friendly, so there is no need to worry about leaving the rug-rats behind, bring ‘em on down. So, if you find yourself parched on a hot summer day or dying of thirst after a rippin’ day on the ski hill, why not stop by a local brewery and wet your whistle. For more information about Bozeman breweries, as well as Montana Breweries, check out the Montana Brewers Association webpage.

5. Visit The Museum of the Rockies!

T-Rex Skull at the Museum of the Rockies

http://www.museumoftherockies.org/Exhibits/ExhibitDetails/tabid/73/Type/View/Exhibit/8/Siebel-Dinosaur-Complex.aspx

 To be frank, I waited six long years before I ventured to this treasure trove of time worn relics, and what a mistake it was to wait so long. The Museum of the Rockies (MOR) has a massive dinosaur exhibit that houses an astounding array of all elements dinosaur. That’s not all they have to offer though, the MOR features an impressive collection of artifacts from cultures that date from early native american to end of the wild west. They also have rotating exhibits that change as new exhibits are cycled in. These exhibits add even more intrigue and allure with such exotic collections as: Egyptian Mummies, Amazonian Tribal Treasures, even a Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame. Learn more at The Museum of the Rockies.