Friday, July 29, 2005


My New Passport has Arrived!

I have held a U.S. Passport since 1987, when I took my first overseas trip to Sweden for the 50th Anniversary of SAAB. I carried it to Finland and Norway also on that trip, and it was with me on journeys to France, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria and another trip to Sweden. I was disappointed that they seldom stamp the country in the blank pages any longer. In fact there were many times when there was no Passport control at a border crossing; it was just like traveling between states.

[A quick history of SAAB, for those who may not know. The name stands for Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolag, the Swedish Aircraft Company. It was created in 1937 to build planes for the Swedish Air Force, which it continues to do today. After WWII, the directors realized they needed to diversify if the company was going to survive, so they began building cars. The first SAAB car, the Model 92, rolled off the assembly line in Trollhattan in December 1949.]

I renewed my Passport in 1997, prior to another trip to Sweden for the 50th Anniversary of SAAB Cars. (SAAB made the decision to build cars in 1947, therefore 1997 was considered the 50th Anniversary.) With that renewal, my current Passport was good until 2007. Renewal was uneventful, with the booklet arriving in plenty of time. But the four people traveling with me were not quite so lucky. They sent in the paperwork with months to spare, but there were a lot of people applying for new Passports in 1997, so all were delayed. With only a few weeks to go, they started making phone calls. As the day of departure grew closer, the calls became more frequent. On the day before we were to leave, there were many phone calls, letting the gang know where their package of Passports was on its route to Duluth. The package arrived at the Duluth P.O. in the evening, after normal hours, with only about 12 hours before our flight was to leave MSP.

The last time I carried that Passport was on a trip to Canada for the Targa Newfoundland. Then I put it someplace really safe... so safe that I have been unable to locate it. Despite several months of searching, and intense searching over the past few weeks, in all of the known really safe places, it has continued to elude me.

With my departure to Germany approaching rapidly, I gave in to my fate. I picked up all of the necessary forms and instructions at the Duluth Post Office, had my photo taken at Walgreen's, and returned it all for a 5-day turnaround. All in all, nearly $200 including the RUSH fees. At least it is good for another 10 years and not just the time remaining on the previous one.

Now to put it someplace safe, really safe.

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