Ready For Takeoff

In preparation for our upcoming camping trip -- and by "preparation" I mean that we have reserved a campsite and purchased an industrial-strength outdoor Aerobed, because my ass is not sleeping in the dirt for seven nights -- we took Shae to the post office yesterday to get her picture taken and submit the paperwork for her passport.

Yes, I know how crazy it is to get a passport to go camping. But we will be in upstate New York, on the St. Lawrence River, literally within swimming distance of Canada, and Montréal is only about 2½ hours away by car. If the weather gets bad for too long (i.e., more than 36 hours of rain) or if I get sick of fishing or if we just want something to do that does not involve dirt, worms, mosquitoes, or fire-charred hot dogs, we might take a road trip.

(I've always wanted to go to Montréal. They have poutine there. That particular foodstuff fascinates me, in theory anyway. It seems like one of those things you absolutely must try in its place of origin before you die, like eating french fries slathered with mayonnaise in a pub in Amsterdam. Plus, I heard it's a beautiful city, if you can stand the Québécoise. And I understand they have an above-average hockey team -- or they did once, anyway.)

It seems weird to have to get a passport for a three-year-old, but of course it's such a different world now than it was when I was Shae's age. Not just in the post-9/11 sense, either, although of course that figures pretty prominently. Now, if we miss a turn off the 1000 Islands Bridge and end up in Ontario by mistake, who knows what might happen? I don't know the rules, the protocol, the necessary procedure for getting back into the country if you cross the border without the proper documents. The last time I went camping, it just wasn't an issue, you know?

But when I look at pictures from when I was a wee little one ...

Pith Helmet

... I know, without a doubt, that that person had not the foggiest of clues what a passport was, or what it was for. I didn't get a passport of my own until I was almost 18 years old, for when I went on a school trip to Greece. Until that time, passports were mysterious and glamorous. Only spies and diplomats and international businesspeople needed passports. Peace Corps volunteers and soldiers and ex-pats. Not nerdy little high school seniors who only wanted to go to Europe at all because that's what all her friends were doing. Nobody expected it to be a profoundly life-altering experience.

Mediterranean Beach

Of course, that was almost twenty years and practically twenty lifetimes ago. Shae not only knows what a passport is, she knows what it's for, and now she wants to know when we're getting on an airplane to go somewhere. She doesn't even care where we're going, she just wants to go. I didn't know wanderlust was contagious. I blame Dora.

At least we're prepared. If we ever find a smokin' hot deal on a trip to Paris, or Rio, or Madagascar, we're ready for takeoff, she and I.

Photo Collage Credits: Passport photos, visa stamp scans, and airline ticket from my personal collection. Map of St. Louis, Mo., from the Internet. Airline buttons and luggage tag from "Wish You Were Here" digital scrapbooking collaboration kit by various designers (some parts still available at Divine Digital).


  1. Thanks for reminding me. Joe and I need to get ours too. Oh, did anyone talk to mom and dad about getting theirs?

  2. i wonder if we should get joey one. technically, under 16 (i think it's 16, definitely under 5) you only need a birth certificate for canada-usa crossing. but the passport seems cool. we'll see.

    and i'll mention to mom & dad.

  3. I'm not sure who will actually be within swimming distance of Cananda... Michael and Gregory maybe!