Nov 272012

So, as I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve got lots of travel coming up the next few weeks. Part of the planning was to apply for a visa to Myanmar to take advantage of the great deals that were out there for tickets earlier this year. Well, long story short, even though I have two passports, the Myanmar Embassy here in DC is holding onto one for a longer time because applications are way behind for visas, leaving me with only one passport I can travel on…and it expires in 3 months. I know, poor planning on my part.

I can’t be without a valid passport for any period of time, so managed to convince the passport folks down to give me an appointment at the National Passport Centre for same day processing. The entertainment started when I got to the window. The agent called over several colleagues, who all had to have a look at my expiring 196 page monster…they’d never seen anything like it. Then, I asked the impossible. I know a standard book has 24 pages, and the new large one has 52 pages. Could I please get 100 pages to start – a standard book plus two sets of 24 page inserts. No way…not possible….

But then I learnt…she was saying no only because nobody had asked before. Lots of waiting, consulting, talking to people higher up the State Department food chain, and it was agreed. They would “try” and please come back later today. Well, to illustrate just how awesome these people are…she called me a couple hours later to tell me the photo I submitted wasn’t acceptable since it was an exact match of the one I used for my other passport a year ago, and pictures must be within the last 6 months. I showed up 5 minutes before closing with a new picture, and voila…they did it. Informing me in the process that I now had…

THE FIRST EVER 100 PAGE PASSPORT that’s likely been issued in the United States. Lots of passports (including the one I turned in) have over 100 pages, but according to the agents never before have they issued a brand new one with 100 pages up front. I feel special!

Here they are – the expired 196 pager with 10 years of memories on the left, and the new 100 pager on the right.

Nov 202012

I have to confess, I’ve been a bit negligent in updating since I made my first West Africa post. Work was so busy while there that there was absolutely no time to sneak away for a weekend to a neighbouring country. I still owe the rest of my posts on that trip, and I’ll be making them shortly I hope.

The reason for the lack of posts is pretty simple: a crazy amount of travel. Lots of things coincided that ended up putting me on the road every weekend from October – December of 2012. After returning from Senegal, I headed to Europe with a friend to visit two new countries – Macedonia and Kosovo. I had an amazing time, and hope to blog on them shortly.

Then, it’s time for Thanksgiving with family, followed by short trips to Hawaii and the Cayman Islands. The last weekend of the year will see my big annual “New Years where you don’t expect it trip” – stay tuned. It’ll be hard to top the last three years of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia, but I think I’ve come up with a pretty interesting destination and I’m very very excited for the trip!

I’ll also be adding blogs on Alaska Airlines first class to Hawaii as well as some other random musings that come up as I notch up 60,000+ “butt in seat” miles in three months. This is also due to needing to re-qualify for status with both United and American – probably the only year I’ll try and do that. I want to use the American status in 2013 to finish off my remaining countries in South America – namely Ecuador and Bolivia. Hopefully later in the year!

Safe travels…after flying Skopje – Istanbul – Munich – Newark – DC today I’m exhausted!