AmeriCanada 2015

NOTE:  When Sharon adds comments, they will be in {curly brackets}. 

Day 1. Saturday, July 15, 2015. The Purpose of the Passport. Leaving Home.

Having decided to do this two-month on-the-road vacation, exploring North America, Bob lets his passport lapse, ignoring Sharon's 3-year's worth of pleading to do it {Well, maybe 6 months worth when I notice his expires in August 2015 and we know they won't let you into Canada if your passport is about to expire.}. Finally Sharon gathers the necessary paperwork to fill out for Bob and Bob promptly (in HIS world) fills it out, with Sharon "helping". Those quotes tell the actual story of Sharon filling it out, and letting Bob "say" he filled it out by inserting his Social Security number. {Again, he exaggerates. He has filled out the application and I noticed it on his desk. He had about a BILLION other things to do, especially building our new deck (see directly below), YEA BOB. All I did was fill out the check, take his passport photo (more on that later) and mail the application.}

Timeout for The Deck Photo Story:

Yea Bob!!!! The deck looks beautiful and adds to our "entertaining" space. It made a huge difference.

But back to the Passport story.

The application was submitted in May. We are relaxed about it, certain that adding their turn-around approval time to our submission date will get it here before we leave home July 26th.

EPISODE 1. THE PASSPORT (When we run into trouble, which our friend Bill Petrick loves to read about, I am going to call each an EPISODE, so Bill won't have to search and search each report to see if we have had trouble).

Approximately July 15th: I get a letter from the PPP (PassPort People) saying my application has been rejected for two reasons:

" First, they say the photos submitted do not have a white or off-white color (which makes no sense, as the paint color of the closet door we took the photo in front of, is about the color of the snow on top of Mt. Everest {And we have used this closet door for MY photos in the past and they accepted them}). And second, the photos are not of sufficient resolution for the passport CARD I requested, though they are good enough for the passport (I paid extra to get the card, because it seemed cool, our friend Nancy B has one and uses it, and also, what the heck) WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? YOU HAVE THE ACTUAL PHOTOS. THERE AIN'T NO RESOLUTION INVOLVED, UNLESS YOU YOURSELVES SCAN THEM FOR YOUR OWN PURPOSES."

Anyway, we're in a mild panic, but we're both super busy doing non-vacation-planning things - me building our new deck, and Sharon winding down her counseling practice, baby-sitting the twins, turning over running her support group to others, and maybe more she'll add here when she reviews this before we issue it. {No, that's enough to show how crazy I make my life. All things I love doing but next year, I'm going to take one week "off" to get ready for the trip because this is silly trying to get ready AND keep my regular schedule. Also, all four Weese grandkids are here from Colorado and we are trying to do fun things with them too. (Thanks, Carrie for arranging the fun things.)}

Sharon digs in AGAIN and explores the myth that you can drive to San Francisco and get your passport in one day. Maybe it's true, if you make an appointment for about two weeks from today, then prove to them that you are leaving the country within 10 days or so, then MAYBE they can do it in one day. But we don't have that much time. By the time we get to it, there's only a week left. {The passport agency in San Francisco says unless you can prove you have an emergency, like plane tickets leaving the next day, a death in the family, etc. otherwise it is an eight-business-day turnaround.}

Bless Sharon's heart, she finds a way to get the passport in "about" a week. {I called their "question" number, get a very nice lady who tells us how to "Expedite" his passport application. He goes to the Copy-Print shop where they take a new set of photos that we overnight to the appropriate place along with a hefty check for them to rush it.} We plan to leave Sunday the 26th, so our fingers are crossed.

So in that week, I finish the deck, we have a little deck party, have some friends over, Sharon gets her job turnovers done, I get the truck in for oil-change and checkup, we have the trailer checked and maintenance done, have a ritzy-spitzy super-duper satellite antenna installed on top of the trailer (a Dish Network Travl'r, with automatic satellite locking, plus there's bells and also whistles).

I review the itinerary from home to International Falls Minnesota and decide we need to add a "bank" day - an extra day that, if we don't have to use it, we will arrive a day early, but whose purpose is to be in the bank, in case we run into mechanical problems. Then we can still arrive on time. So we change our leaving date to Saturday July 25 - a day earlier than first planned. We get notification that my passport re-application information (e.g. a professionally-taken photo with a white or off-white background) has arrived and they are working on it. That's on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. We get a website to access, with our passport application number, to find the the status of our prioritized application. It says Friday or Saturday. We decide that we can go ahead and leave Saturday even if its not here, and have a neighbor or our house-sitter overnight the passport to Arnold's RV Park in International Falls, where we will pick it up. {When we later see Arnold's, we realize it may not have worked, because it is a pretty casual RV park and don't know if they would have been there to sign for the delivery.}

Another day goes by. It's maybe Thursday and the app still looks good; we check, and it says the passport is finished and on its way - has been sent to the overnight delivery people. That means it'll get here today or Saturday. We realize that we have a ton of stuff to do and can't possibly leave Saturday anyway, so we change our leaving day back to Sunday.

xxxx(Friday morning comes and I pick up clever and talented, four-year-younger sister Shirley at SFO at 8 o'clock in the morning. She says this is to make up for all the times they had to meet us at the KCI airport. I think that's what she said. I never pay her much attention.) Friday morning I check again to make sure it is going to arrive today. The website now says "your passport is still being processed" and that it will get here "on or about July 29". What????? This contradicts and un-does what they said was already happening earlier. I tell Sharon and continue my last-minute prepping. Sharon calls a number, and is assured that it has actually been completed and she gives me the tracking number for the package which says it will arrive Saturday by NOON! {Saturday morning, as we are getting ready, the USPS tracking says the package has left Little Rock Ark. and should be delivered that day.}. I'm away from the house when she calls me and sing-songs "Guess what I'VE got?" I make a correct guess. Excitement ensues! I finish off my shopping, and realize that we COULD leave today, Saturday, about noon. {The "overnight" package comes at 11 AM and Shirley and I thank the postal worker woman VERY MUCH!.}

I get home, we talk it over, and Sharon is all for it. So we finish packing, and hit the road. Jack.

We stop for lunch after crossing the Carquinez Bridge, noticing a sign pointing to a scenic view turnoff we have never observed before. On the spot, we decide to have our lunch there. After driving through some seedy looking areas, we arrive at a nice park, looking back at the bridge, with vistas and picnic tables and a nice shade structure. It's hot so we eat in the trailer. Here are sample photos:

Left: Carquinez Bridge. Right: Mothballed Navy Ships. Twenty years ago there were probably a hundred ships here.

Shirley wants to get going. Right: Imported autos ready for distribution around the country.

Sharon (left) and sister Shirley, returning to the truck. Right: Our travel home, with the popout popped just a few inches for lunch.

I have a turkey sandwich, the ladies have what they want, and we take off again.

We pass through Sacramento, and after getting into the Sierra Nevada Mountains, we come upon smoke that we see from a long way off, and you see what it looks like as we are almost upon it.

As we continue on, over the pass, and begin the downhill leg to Truckee, as I depress the brake pedal, there is a horrible wobble in the steering wheel. After a shot of adrenaline, I know where to do an adjustment, but can't do it right here in the middle of the downhill slope. I put the truck into a lower gear to let the engine slow us. The wobble is far less at lower speeds. This is somewhat troubling, but we make it to our RV park for the night, and because of the hour, we just pick up our packet on a table outside the office, which is now closed.

We find our spot, and it is beautiful. Wide spot, very level, big trees around, and what appears to be a nearly-full camp. To our great surprise, there is only one bathroom here, and it consists of one door, behind which is a toilet and shower. One each for the men and women, of course. But we have never heard of an RV park so big with only one bathroom for the men and one for the ladies.

Sharon fixes us dinner, after we set up in space 61. Macaroni and cheese with tuna and green beans on one of the set of flower plates and bowls she has picked up at a bargain somewhere. I have some fruit and a fudgsicle after the meal, and it feels great to be off, on the first leg of our trip. Our goal tonight was Winnemucca, but because we left at noon instead of 7 am, it is easy to see that we didn't want to drive that hard on the first day.

We have a few rounds of Rummikub, organize the trailer a bit, and go to bed. With no TV, as there is no cable here, and the trees prevent our initial use of our satellite tv antenna.

It's great to have Episode 1 (late arriving passport) out of the way.

Began: Home in San Jose, CA
End: Truckee, CA
Miles Today: 240
Miles for Trip: 240
Would stay here again? Yes. But bring your own bathroom.
Next Report 2. Truckee to Elko, Nevada. Getting Boulder.
Niagara 2015 Report List
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