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   passport mishap
Wednesday, January 9 2013
Tomorrow morning we'd be leaving for the Dominican Republic for five days on the beach at a resort where everything except internet access is included. But this morning when Gretchen went to check us in our flight, she encountered a problem: my passport had expired back in January of 2012. The problem with passports is that they last a long time and are infrequently needed, so it's easy to just assume (as we had in this case) that the one that had worked last time will work again this time. Another problem special to this case was the proximity of the Dominican Republic. The whole idea for going there was that it is a warm place that doesn't take long to fly to, and so it was easy to overlook it as the kind of place one would need a passport to enter. After this shocking discovery, what followed was a long series of phone calls and plans hurriedly made and aborted. It might have actually been possible to get a replacement passport today, but it would have required driving to the nearest passport office in Stamford, Connecticut (an hour and a half away). But then it turned out that the Stamford office would be closing at 1:30pm, it was already after 11:00am, and there was no way to be sure that I'd actually be granted an emergency passport even if I did drive to Stamford. But if anyone was going to be able to fix this problem, it was Gretchen. She even called the father of her childhood friend Dina, a guy who works in the State Department, but he said he couldn't do anything. So eventually we had to accept the fact that we would not be flying to the Dominican Republic tomorrow. Gretchen called Cheap Caribbean to see what might be done to reschedule our vacation, and it could be done, but it was going to cost us about $600. Such shit happens in a world where paperwork must be in order.
Despite this dispiriting development, Gretchen went off to work at the bookstore in Woodstock for her customary shift, leaving me to make the call to Cheap Caribbean to cancel our vacation. But then some hours later she called trying to get me to call Cheap Caribbean again to uncancel our canceled vacation. She'd talked to Nancy and Sarah the Vegan (who'd wandered into the store) and they'd suggested she fly down without me and that I should get my passport tomorrow (drive to Stamford) and meet here there a day late. But I'd already canceled the vacation irrevocably and in any case I didn't want to do all that driving. That's an anti-vacation, and I didn't want to take it. I was in the acceptance part of grief, but Gretchen was still in bargaining. Happily, though, as she soon found out when she called Cheap Caribbean on her own, the cancellation of our vacation really was irrevocable, and so now we'd have a chance to do it right on some date in the near future.
In the meantime, though, both Gretchen and I had blocked out our calendar for five days and had arranged to have house sitter. We both thought we might as well take advantage of these things and go somewhere. But where? I did some research to find vegan-friendly bed and breakfasts in the near south (Atlantic Virginia and Outer-Banks North Carolina), thinking it wouldn't be too much of a drive to get down to warmer weather.
I also went on a half-hearted cleaning jihad to make the house nice for our housesitter in case we really did go on some form of vacation. Also brought in six or seven armloads of wood so she wouldn't have risk her neck walking on the slippery ice path to the woodshed.
When she came home, Gretchen researched vacation possibilities within close driving distance and finally settled on a makeshift Adirondack lodge get away. We'd start out at a hotel outside Saratoga Springs, and after two days drive up to a resort in downtown Lake Placid. The idea would be to eat whatever good food could be eaten, soak in hot tubs and swimming pools, and hang out in our room reading magazines and perhaps watching crappy television.
In addition to cleaning, I found that doing web development was a good way to get my mind off the setback with my passport. Off and on today, I spent several hours working on the AJAX-driven website I'd started on this past weekend. By this point I was mostly just buffing out the rough edges on the user interface, hoping to make it appealing to some investors who might be persuaded to invest in further development.

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