Monday 30 August 2010

Antonia's passport

Mount Rushmore seems to have been created in the same artistic spirit as the new US passport.

 The nice thing about having a blog is you have a clear record of when things happened.  If I hadn't recorded the date we went to apply for Antonia's US passport, I would never have believed it took the best part of 4 months to arrive!  OK, they did have to send it from Lyon to Paris to London to Paris to Lyon to us.  I don't know why they couldn't cut out a few of those steps, they just couldn't.

I think Mike was starting to get a little anxious about this passport and we joked about calling the consulate and crying at them:  "Oh, noes, we've been waiting for so long, we fear our daughter's identity has been stolen by terrorists!!!"  When he did call them the lady at the consulate said she was sure she would never have said it could take a few weeks, she meant months!

Anyhow the passport arrived last week and it reads a bit like an Usborne picture book of the USA.  It has different pictures on every page of things like the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore and an American Bison.  You could practically use it as a checklist of Things To See. Also, it has some dinky little quotes on each page.  I wondered if it was just for kids (or maybe just for 'foreign Americans' like Antonia, so they can have an image of the place).  But apparently it is for everyone and Mike's new passport will be like that too when he gets one.  It's a bit of a kitsch concept, and this being America, I'm not sure if it's supposed to be some form of cultural propaganda, or if they just thought it would be nice to decorate all the blank pages.  I somehow can't imagine my new French passport with the Eiffel Tower, the Pont du Gard and a picture of an old man in a beret riding a bike with baguettes strapped to the back! I rather expect it will be a lot plainer. Still, Antonia's new passport may well be a future piece of collectible Americana.

Wednesday 18 August 2010

RTW update - 8.5 months to go

GOOD NEWS #1 - Bookings
We have the first two major legs of our RTW trip reserved!  They are the boat into the USA in May, and on again to Australia in October.  It seemed like a reasonable idea to make the reservations now, as these were the only two boats that would do, and we were quite keen on the idea of getting round the world without taking a plane.  Obviously that project implies there will be more boats later on.  I am really, really happy to have a date set in rock.  There's a lot of work to do before we go and I think it will give us all a bit of psychological focus.  It also means I can start sketching out the second leg of the trip, where we're hoping to coincide with a friend in Australia or Tasmania for some of the time.

GOOD NEWS #2 - Adventures
After thinking of loads of cool things to do on the first section of our trip, then taking them all out again, on the grounds that they were impractical or expensive or whatever, we've added them all back in again.  Every single one!  Yes, we're taking boats across the oceans.  Yes, we're taking the train across the US.  Yes, we're hiring a campervan.  We even managed to fit our Grand Canyon backpack trip in again (provided we can get a permit of course).  We even managed to fit all the things in at near ideal times of year (Yosemite in May, Grand Canyon in October).  And we still managed to have five longer periods of renting houses so we can get some work done.  Mike and I have also made some headway in figuring out what that work might consist of.  See the 'View our calendar' link in the banner for the general outline.

GOOD NEWS #3 - Budget
I made a provisional cost estimate for the US part of the trip, which does include specific quotes for all the major expenses and guesstimates for costs like food.  It comes to almost exactly the same as staying at home, even including the boats, which are not the cheapest part, I must admit.  That seems like an acceptable outcome to me, since I'm hoping that one source of income or another throughout the trip will cover the cost.

GOOD NEWS #4 - Income
We happened to run into the ex-director of one of the big research centers around here and we asked him about possibilities for renting our house through the center.  They're really our best hope of renting the house furnished, which would be desirable for us.  He was really encouraging about it, and it made me feel relatively optimistic of finding our idea tenant(s). There is still quite a lot to do on getting the house ready.

GOOD NEWS #5 - Paperwork
We got our French nationality some months ago, but things do move quite slowly.  Yesterday, we completed the applications for our French ID cards and passports.  Antonia's US passport is still pending, but they assure us it's just a matter of time.  It's now imperative that Antonia and I get new UK passports, but that's more of a formality and we already have the forms done.  I just need a US visa, which I'll think about in the autumn. I will be in the US for almost exactly six months, since the second boat visits Hawaii and American Samoa, and I'm hoping it will all work out.  Still, the worst that can happen is we lose our $100 reservation fee.