Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My defective passport

Today I went to Halifax to renew my recently expired passport. I had been warned about long wait times if I didn't arrive early so I did try to leave the Harbour early in the morning, but not very successfully. I arrived in Halifax around 10.30am, and at the passport office a half hour later. At the door I was required to take a number, but I didn't even have a chance to sit down before my number was flashed on the screen. So much for wait times!

I had not yet completed the renewal form, I thought I was going to have lots of time for that while waiting my turn. In fact I also brought two books to read and some knitting to pass the time. So I laboriously filled in the form while the woman at the counter waited, she was in no rush so we chatted and joked our way through the form. She checked it over for me and then brought to my attention a small glitch.

Apparently the US border folks are suspicious of passports that contain an initial instead of a name, and my old passport is written that way. In order to change my passport to make it more innocuous, in other words to include my full name instead of an initial, I would have to complete a longer application form and provide a guarantor's signature and personal details. The renewal form only requires two references. Well, that means I would have to return to the Valley and try to find someone who qualified as a guarantor (doctor, lawyer, engineer) and fill out a completely new form. And I am under a bit of a time constraint as it is, a further delay will make the whole project less than useful.

So I decided to take my chances with my existing name. I guess border crossings are going to be a lot slower for the next five years. The passport woman said, just bring along ID with your full name on it, but the problem is, I don't have any such ID! The last piece of ID I had with my full name was my BC medical card and that is long gone. My birth certificate has my full maiden name on it, but I don't use that surname now. She said, get a new driver's licence. As if that is easier than getting a new passport.

Well, I'll just have to see what happens. I do think this business of vastly increased border security has been a rather gross over-reaction, but my opinion on the matter is of little consequence.

I took the pictures for today from the elevator of the office building where the passport office is in Halifax. I went up and down a couple of times to get them, on either side of the building.

Since I was finished at the passport office within half an hour, rather than head immediately back to the Valley, I tried to think of other errands I could accomplish in Halifax. I decided to go looking for parts for the kayak, or at the very least a line on a source for them. Mountain Equipment Co-op was close by but not helpful. Mike had mentioned The Trail Shop on Quinpool Road, so I went over there and drove slowly down the street until I spotted the shop. Amazingly, they had everything I needed and were very helpful. I only bought one item for now, a pair of adjustable footrests that will bolt on to the inside hull walls.

I also checked out their book section and ended up spending $60 on a night sky star chart, The Backroads Mapbook of Nova Scotia, Gibson's Guide to Bird Watching and Conservation by Merritt Gibson, and The Last Billion Years, A Geological History of the Maritime Provinces of Canada. I've had my eye on this book for a couple of years, several friends have copies of it.

Dr. Merritt Gibson is a retired biology prof at Acadia University, I took histology with him. His book is illustrated by Twila Robar-DeCoste, who was a biology student when I was. She has illustrated a number of local natural history books, including other books by Merritt.

The mapbook is part of a series of mapbooks produced by two brothers originally from New Westminster, they started with mapbooks of rural BC and have since expanded to the rest of the country. It is not quite as good as the Atlas of Nova Scotia, the maps are smaller but just as detailed so they are a bit more difficult to read. However it is considerably cheaper and takes up less space.

I returned to Wolfville shortly after my Trail Shop shopping, did a little grocery shopping and went to Carolyn's to check email. Carolyn got home late and had to rush off immediately to a meeting that she was already late for, but we agreed to go out for dinner after 9pm. Boy was I hungry when she finally got back from her meeting! There were only a couple of places in town where the kitchen was still open so we settled on Joe's Emporium, formerly Elmer's Pizza.

Joe's is one of the original restaurants of Wolfville. Carolyn had fish and chips, I had a burger and fries, we both had a glass of wine. When we got back to her house her son Kurt and his girlfriend were watching the tail end of O Brother Where Art Thou, so I stayed long enough to see the end. A very youthful looking George Clooney and some good gospel and old-time music.

My midnight drive back up the Mountain was kind of neat, I still had a bit of a buzz from the glass of wine, and I was listening to Bruce Cockburn's "Bright Skies" on the radio, the stars were out but it was otherwise dark and cool, no moon. Something about that road up the Mountain and then down to the Bay is quite uplifting, makes me very happy to live in this country.

On the road through the woods to my parking spot, the baby bunny I saw the other day appeared right in front of me. I was driving slow enough to stop before hitting it, but in its panic to get away it ran straight ahead of me on the road instead of off to the side into the trees. So I was forced to drive the rest of the way home at baby bunny speed.


Anonymous said...

Hi Anne!

I'm with you on the stupid over-reactions to us humble folks at border crossings. Give us all a break! Hope your initials passport will work without any silliness.

You do make good use of your time when out and about, don't you?! Way to go!

Love the "baby bunny speed"!


Anonymous said...

p.s. Your books sound great!!