Saturday, May 19, 2007

Adventures in Traveling...

Today's lesson, kids, is this: Don't procrastinate. Get your passport NOW 'cause you just never know when your company is going to up and demand that you travel to Mexico to visit a supplier... in a week.

I've had all of the paperwork filled out for MONTHS. I did not have my birth certificate until last week, and I didn't get the pictures taken until I was home at Easter. But guess what I did yesterday? Yup. I drove to Washington DC, which is the location of the closest regional passport office and I spent the day getting my passport.

Aye carumba! I love my Jeep Cherokee, but it gets lousy gas mileage and it already has 104k miles, so I rented a car on Thursday. I now live in a tiny town. It does have a regional airport, and that is where the only car rental places are located. (This is important later.)

After managing to haul my carcass outta bed, I was on the road by 4:30 am. The drive wasn't bad. Okay, so most of it was through a torrential downpour, but it still only took 6 hours. It was easier than I expected in large part because in addition to Mapquest directions, I went to and printed a TripTik as well. It took FOREVER to print but the maps were SO much better - it actually gives road names and everything! The passport place has a parking deck in the same building, which made things easier so I was through security and standing in the first line at 10:30 am.

At 11:30, my turn came around and I handed over my compulsively organized packet o'required information: birth certificate, 2 acceptable pictures, application form, itinerary to prove that I needed to leave the country on Sunday, and driver's license and the nice man behind the thick window gave me a slip of paper with my appointment number on it. Have you ever seen Beetle Juice- at the end where he's waiting in line and has some huge number and they're calling, like, 5? Well, I now have an all new appreciation for that. An hour after that, my number came up and I scurried over to another really thick window and handed over the packet plus the credit card to pay $157 for expedited service. The guy stamped some things, and had me sign some things and then handed me a receipt and told me to be back in the building before 3:00 'cause that's when they closed the doors.

I spent a couple of hours wandering around Washington DC. You know, it's a beautiful city, very architecturally interesting. I found a couple of really nifty stores and quite enjoyed myself. At the Chocolate Moose, I found this, which I HAD to have. All the holy grilled cheese samiches I can eat from now on! Eat your heart out, Golden Palace Casino! And I found a Borders. Oh, how I miss thee, temple of crisp new books! Then I scarfed down food and hustled through the doors at 2:55.

And that brings us to the next chance to wait in a really long line - to hand in the receipt, which apparently tells them that I'm in-house and waiting to pick up the passport. And then I waited. For a couple more hours. Then they called my name and I picked up the passport, checked to make sure it was right and scooted outta there... and right into rush hour traffic. Yay.

The drive home took a bit longer than I expected and I went straight to the airport to return the rental car... only to find that the airport was closed. Totally dark, not a soul around. I didn't know that airports did, in fact, ever close. You learn something new every day. So the most exciting part of my day was at one this morning, breaking my Jeep out of the long-term parking. I hope there aren't cameras there, 'cause I had to go bouncing over the curb, the sidewalk and some grass to escape.

And then I fell into bed around 2am, and I'm sleepy. *yawn*

I leave for Mexico tomorrow, and (hopefully) return on Friday. I'm sure my adventures will be many and varied. Have a great weekend!


Suldog said...

Have a great time in Mexico! Glad to hear you were able to get the passport on such "short" notice.

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to hear about your adventures in Mexico - Now that you have your passport, you can also visit exotic destinations like CANADA!!! WooHoo! ;)