Trip of a Lifetime
Part 1: To Iceland!

Where's Your Hall Pass(port)?

Friends and relatives have been asking for an account of our 25th anniversary trip since we returned from it in early August, 2007. I'm finally getting it together and posted now that 2008 is here. The first couple pages cover the incidents we experienced leading up to our arrival in Norway, the main venue for our trip. To get past the dullsville stuff, skip ahead to Page Three of this report, which covers our brief stay on Iceland. If you want to skip to Norway, you will have to wait a bit...hopefully not another 5 months!

This summer, my wife and I celebrated our 25th anniversary by traveling to Norway, with a layover in Iceland; so of course some dilemma had to enliven the otherwise mundane affairs surrounding the trip of a lifetime.

For a long while, we thought my passport was the calamity of note for the trip. Although I had applied for it with plenty of time, my application coincided with the great Canadian passport debacle of '07. Consequently, mine got buried under subsequent applications from anyone and everyone thinking Canada might ever become a destination, and further entombed under the wave of applicants worried about the gargantuan delays that made headlines just days after I applied. Being at the front of any trend is never wise.

We began to fidget a month or so before our scheduled departure. We tried calling the passport help line, but by that time they were overwhelmed, and the powers-that-be thereat instated a policy of helping no one until they were within two weeks or less of their trip date. They held fast to that policy, too. We tried calling late the night before the magic date and actually got a human being, who took all our information and then refused to do anything because our case wouldn't be allowable until the next day, less than two hours away!

The next day, all phone lines were swamped and we could not contact anyone; we were unable to make a connection until Sunday evening. Once we did manage that task, the rep was upbeat, telling us that my passport would make it on time, and to call back only if it did not arrive by the end of the week. So, nine days before our departure date, we were back on the phone. Of course, it took several attempts to reach a real human being; and when we did, we got the same reassuring line, the Passport Bureau's version of "Don't Worry, Be Happy!"

By now, we weren't going to wait very long. Sunday night Robin got back on the phone, and that's when the hammer fell. Apparently, the ganja at Passport Central was all gone, because the rep sang a very different tune that evening, now less than a week before our flight. The passport would NOT arrive on time, no way, no how, no hope. Suddenly, it looked like our big trip was getting cancelled, a Big Bust, compliments of the U.S. Passport Bureau.

Needless to say, there was little cheer in the household Monday morning. I went to work at the Beav, where I told my workmates I would probably be available that weekend. Pete suggested I contact my U.S. Representative, Kirsten E. Gillibrand. He had heard that federal representatives could help expedite passport problems such as mine. That afternoon I followed his advice. I looked up the number and started what I knew would be my last roll of the dice. I left a message, and a short while later, a lady at the regional headquarters called with reassuring news. She would get call the Passport Bureau herself and expedite my passport, personally tracking its progress. I probably wasn't very positive in return, having heard the Bob Marley line before. The countdown was dwindling into little numbers and nothing had worked thus far.

To make a long story short, they came through with the goods. Thanks entirely to Kirsten Gillibrand's help, my passport came, though its arrival two days before our flight certainly made things interesting. By then of course, another calamity, the Real-Deal Disaster, had reared its ugly head.

On to Another Dilemma!