As their minivan rolled north, they felt their nerves kick in - but they kept on driving.
At the wheel: Lija Greenseid, a rule-abiding Minnesota mom steering her Mazda5 on a cross-border drug run.
Her daughter, who is 13, has Type 1 diabetes and needs insulin. In the United States, it can cost hundreds of dollars per vial. In Canada, you can buy it without a prescription for a tenth of that price.
So, Greenseid led a small caravan last month to the town of Fort Frances, Ontario, where she and five other Americans paid about $1,200 for drugs that would have cost them $12,000 in the United States.
"It felt like we were robbing the pharmacy," said Quinn Nystrom, a Type 1 diabetic who joined the caravan that day. "It had been years since I had 10 vials in my hands."
They're planning another run to Canada this month to stock up on insulin - and to call attention to their cause. This time, they'll be taking the scenic route, driving from Minnesota through Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan en route to London, Ontario, where insulin was discovered nearly a century ago.
Like millions of Americans, Greenseid and Nystrom are stressed and outraged by the rising costs of prescription drugs in the United States - a problem Republicans and Democrats alike have promised to fix.
Insulin is a big part of the challenge. More than 30 million Americans have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. About 7.5 million, including 1.5 million with Type 1 diabetes, rely on insulin.
Between 2012 and 2016, the cost of insulin for treating Type 1 diabetes nearly doubled, according to the nonprofit Health Care Cost Institute.
Some pharmaceutical companies, under pressure from U.S. lawmakers, have tried to reduce the cost for some patients. But many who rely on insulin still struggle. Large numbers resort to rationing - a dangerous and sometimes deadly practice.
Some diabetics and their families are taking matters into their own hands. They meet in coffee shops and strip mall parking lots to exchange emergency supplies. An unknown number travel outside the country to buy the lifesaving drug for less.
None of this is recommended by U.S. officials, and some of it might be illegal, under Food and Drug Administration guidelines. But the organizers of the caravan - their word, a nod to the migrants traveling in groups through Mexico to the U.S. border - are speaking out about their trip because they want Americans to see how drug prices push ordinary people to extremes.
"When you have a bad health-care system, it makes good people feel like outlaws," Greenseid said.
"It's demeaning. It's demoralizing. It's unjust."
The caravaners aren't the only ones looking north. Republicans and Democrats have produced federal and state proposals to import drugs from Canada.
Those ideas aren't necessarily popular in Ottawa, where many worry that bulk buys from the United States could cause shortages or drive up prices.
Barry Power, director of therapeutic content with the Canadian Pharmacists Association, said the group is tracking both U.S. drug-buying proposals and reports of cross-border trade closely, but has yet to see a disruption to Canadian insulin supplies.
He said insulin prices in Canada are controlled through policy, including price caps and negotiations with manufacturers.
"This is something the U.S. could do," he said.
When the Canadian scientist Frederick Banting co-discovered insulin in the early 1920s, he balked at commercializing it because it seemed unethical to profit from a critical drug. He eventually sold his share of the patent to the University of Toronto for $1, in the hope the drug would remain widely accessible.
In the nearly 100 years since, insulin has become a lifeline for millions. But the price in the United States has surged in ways its discoverers could not have predicted.
When Nystrom was diagnosed with diabetes as a child in the late 1990s, she said, her family paid about $15 to $20 a vial. Now, at 33, she sometimes pays more than $300 for the same amount.
Nicole Smith-Holt, who drove north with Greenseid and Nystrom, said her son spent about $1,000 per month on the drug. Alec Raeshawn Smith, an uninsured Type 1 diabetic, rationed his insulin supply due to cost, his mother said. He died in 2017.
Elizabeth Pfiester is founder and executive director of T1International, a British-based nonprofit that advocates for people with Type 1 diabetes around the world.
"It's kind of a myth that America has the best health-care system in the world, because it is set up to allow Americans to go bankrupt or die because they can't afford their medicine," she said.
Pfiester grew up in the United States. One of the reasons her organization is based overseas, she said, is because the cost of treating her diabetes in the United States is so high.
"What I think is quite clear is that these companies will charge what they can get away with," she said. "They have been able to get away with costs going up because of a broken and opaque health-care system."
A spokeswoman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America noted that drug companies are increasingly offering rebates on insulin in the United States - but they aren't always reaching consumers.
"Too often, these negotiated discounts and rebates are not shared with patients, resulting in the sickest patients paying higher out-of-pocket costs to subsidize the healthy," PhRMA spokeswoman Holly Campbell said in an email. "This is the opposite of how health insurance is supposed to work."
Greenseid, who has purchased insulin for her daughter in six countries, said U.S. prices stand out as not just high, but unpredictable. As people bounce between insurance plans and navigate rebates, she said, you often "have no idea how much you are going to pay."
In the United States, you can buy some types of insulin without a prescription. But to get the newer analog insulin on which Type 1 diabetics rely, you need to visit or call your doctor.
If Nystrom forgets to pack enough for an extended trip, she said, she needs to get her endocrinologist on the phone. In Canada, she can walk into a pharmacy and get the analog insulin she needs.
"The attitude up there is: 'Why would someone buy insulin if they didn't need it?' " Nystrom said.
On their first trip north, the caravaners received support from Canadians, they said, but also accusations that they were looting drug supplies.
"We heard a lot of comments like, "Canada needs to put up a wall," Smith-Holt said. "I was like, 'Oh, come on.' "
Before the group set out for Fort Frances, they said, they called ahead to check that the local pharmacy had enough to fill their order without disrupting supply.
They see buying in Canada as a short-term emergency measure and a way to call attention to U.S. pricing - not the answer.
"I don't think that the solution is going outside the United States," Greenseid said. "The reason they have lower prices is because they have put in regulations to make sure their citizens are not paying too much. We have not yet made that decision in the U.S."
LaShawn McIver is senior vice president for government affairs and advocacy at the American Diabetes Association.
"Insulin is not a luxury, it is a matter of life and death," she wrote in an emailed statement. "Action to reduce the high out-of-pocket costs that endanger the lives of the millions of Americans who depend on this medication is critical and urgently needed."
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the FDA, said the Trump administration is focused on lowering drug prices.
"President (Donald) Trump and (Health) Secretary (Alex) Azar are firmly committed to getting drug prices down," spokeswoman Caitlin B. Oakley wrote in an email. "They are both very open to the importation of prescription drugs as long as it can be done safely and can deliver real results for American patients."
Until things change, the caravaners say, they'll keep driving.
Their first trip led to queries from families across the country, they said, including Type 1 diabetics, parents of children with diabetes and family members supporting elderly relatives with diabetes. Some want to join.
So when they head north in a few weeks, they'll switch from family cars to a chartered bus.
Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. began the Supreme Court's term last fall seeking to assure the American public that his court does not "serve one party or one interest."
He will end it playing a pivotal role in two of the most politically consequential decisions the court has made in years.
One initiative is to include a citizenship question in the 2020 Census, which has fueled a partisan showdown on Capitol Hill. The other could outlaw the partisan gerrymandering techniques that were essential to Republican dominance at the state and congressional level over the past decade.
The politically weighted decisions, by a court in which the five conservatives were chosen by Republican presidents and the four liberals were nominated by Democrats, threaten to undermine Roberts's efforts to portray the court as independent.
They are among two dozen cases the court must decide in the next two weeks, and never before has the spotlight focused so intently on the 64-year-old chief justice.
Roberts sits physically at the middle of the bench in the grand courtroom and now, for the first time since he joined the court in 2005, at the center of the court's ideological spectrum. With the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy last summer, the most important justice on the Roberts Court became Roberts himself.
Roberts in the past has shown himself to be far more conservative than Kennedy, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggested recently that has not changed.
Kennedy's retirement, she told a group of judges and lawyers in New York, was "the event of greatest consequence for the current term, and perhaps for many terms ahead."
Roberts has been on a mission to convince the public that if the court is ideologically split, it is about law, not politics.
"We do not sit on opposite sides of an aisle, we do not caucus in separate rooms, we do not serve one party or one interest, we serve one nation," Roberts told an audience at the University of Minnesota in October.
He repeated the message at Belmont University in Nashville in February. "People need to know we're not doing politics," he said.
In between was the well-publicized spat with President Donald Trump, who just before Thanksgiving criticized an "Obama judge" serving on a lower court who had ruled against his administration in a contentious case centered on immigration policy and border security.
Roberts issued a rare public statement: "We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them."
Trump shot back on Twitter: "Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have 'Obama judges,' and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country."
So the citizenship question and gerrymandering cases, which have generally split along party lines, do not come at an opportune time.
The battle for Roberts has been joined.
Brianne J. Gorod, chief counsel of the liberal Constitutional Accountability Center, said the many questions about whether Trump's citizenship question is intended to benefit Republicans should be a warning for Roberts.
"If Roberts votes to uphold this plainly unlawful administration action, it will give credence to Trump's claim that he can simply look to the conservative justices on the Supreme Court to save him," Gorod wrote on the Take Care blog.
"That would be a deeply troubling state of affairs - both for the court and for the country."
Lawyers challenging the census question seemed to make a similar overture in an unusual motion filed Wednesday, months after the case was argued.
They asked the court to either affirm lower courts that have ruled the question can't be added to the census form, or delay a ruling until those courts can examine new evidence about a Republican political operative's role in Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross' decision to add the citizenship question, which critics contend is discriminatory, politically motivated and will result in a significant undercount of the nation's immigrant population.
"This court should not bless the secretary's decision on this tainted record, under a shadow that the truth will later come to light," they said.
The administration has said the new allegations are more like conspiracy theories than legal analysis. Conservatives said it was a familiar ploy to portray the court as apolitical only if one of the conservative members agrees with liberals, not the other way around.
"Whenever you read 'legitimacy' in a sentence about the court, you know it's a political missile aimed directly at Chief Justice John Roberts," wrote the conservative editorial board of the Wall Street Journal.
Josh Blackman, a law professor at South Texas College of Law and a frequent conservative legal commentator, picked up the theme on Twitter: "At some point, the 'legitimacy' missiles will begin to bear diminishing returns. Abortion: legitimacy. Census: legitimacy. Gerrymandering: legitimacy. Obamacare: legitimacy. Death penalty: legitimacy."
The focus on Roberts is unsurprising, said Curt A. Levey of the conservative Committee for Justice. Although the jury is still out on Trump appointee Brett Kavanaugh, the justice who replaced Kennedy, Roberts is the conservative most likely to be in play, Levey said.
"I think it is a predicament for him," Levey said. The chief justice is the member of the court most sensitive "to what history and the nightly news says about you."
Levey recently wrote that proposals from Democratic presidential candidates and members of Congress to restructure the Supreme Court - increasing the number of justices, for instance, or trying to impose term limits - are better seen as attempts to push Roberts to more moderate outcomes in the court's decisions.
"Such a shift, after all, is progressives' only real hope of avoiding a conservative majority," Levey wrote.
After arguments in the census case, it appeared the court's conservative majority would agree with the Trump administration that Congress has given it wide authority to add questions to the form.
Lawyers for the government said Ross considered objections from his own experts - who said the question would cause an undercount of those reluctant to disclose that noncitizens lived in their households - but decided the additional information would still be worth the risk.
Lower courts said Ross' stated reason for adding the question - that it would aid enforcement of the Voting Rights Act - was pretext. Challengers contended that adding the question would lead to undercounts in Democratic areas and be beneficial to future Republican redistricting plans. But the justices seemed more focused on whether Ross had the authority to add the question than his motivations.
But since those April arguments, the case has gotten only more political.
On Capitol Hill, the House Oversight Committee voted to hold Ross and Attorney General William Barr in contempt for not turning over documents about the administration's decision to add the question.
The nearly party-line vote came hours after Trump asserted executive privilege to shield the materials from Congress.
In the gerrymandering cases, the court's decision could have far-reaching results for how elections are conducted in the United States. The court often polices redistricting plans drawn by the states to ensure they do not discriminate based on race, but it has never found a plan so infected by politics that it violates voters' rights.
On the surface, a decision that courts have no role in trying to decide when there has been too much partisan interference would not help Republicans more than Democrats. The court is considering a North Carolina plan drawn by Republicans to give the party a huge edge, and a Maryland congressional district drawn by Democrats to oust a longtime Republican incumbent.
But as a practical matter, being able to draw districts to help the party in control currently benefits the GOP. The party is in control of both the governorship and legislature in 22 states, compared to 14 for Democrats.
The Republican National Committee, the Republican National Congressional Committee and the National Republican Redistricting Trust filed briefs supporting North Carolina's plan. Democratic committees stayed out of the cases.
Decisions in any of the 24 remaining cases on the court's docket could come as soon as Monday.