The Passport

On August 13th, I applied at the local post office for my passport (book and card, let’s go the whole nine yards, I thought). And on August 20th, the passport arrived in the mail.  I know, right? One week! I didn’t think it would arrive until October at the earliest.  Well, I looked at every single page and I signed it and I filled in the appropriate blanks. I put it down and snapped a photo of it with my trusty old cell phone.

Then my breath caught – oh, the infinite possibilites that have just opened up before me! I can go anywhere on this planet! – and I just simply squealed with joy and excitement, dancing a happy dance. My dog still doesn’t understand what I was doing but that’s okay. She saw me being joyous.

I love maps and dictionaries. I love the allure of place names, near and far, and the journey a word has taken to join the 21st century English language. (If a dictionary doesn’t have the word heuristic listed, it isn’t worth a second glance, let alone space on my bookshelves. Go look it up. It’s a pretty cool word that I first encountered in a documentary on dinosaurs some 20 years ago.)  Maps are full of dreams and potential and intriguing place names and funny ones, too. Let your finger trace a line from wherever you are to a place that catches your attention. Or close your eyes and place your finger, sight unseen, on that map and see where you’ve landed, and let your imagination run riot.

Before the mid-1970s, a lot of schools had maps (the roll-down kind) supplied by AJ Nystrom, and my grandfather was a salesman for that map company.  One year he sent me a 6×4 map of the United States. My younger sister and I would remove that map from the thick cardboard tube and unroll it and I’d read out the states and cities and we’d make up stories. Each state was a different color. That was one of the seeds that got planted…

…and another one was when a film-maker, Robert Churchill, came to my elementary school to start work on a documentary.  At the time, in 1964, my class had taken a field trip to LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) and we’d seen the newly-opened building with the white arches. We learned about airports and travel. Here, I am seven or eight and my teacher, Mrs. Alice Baldyga, and I are earnestly discussing Florida. (The documentary was titled “Silent World, Muffled World.”) Mrs. Baldyga was one of my favorite teachers and my mother saved all the notes she wrote and sent home with me.

Well, in planning my Iceland trip, I knew I had to have a map, so I ordered one on – but when I ordered a couple of guide books, I didn’t know they came with pull-out maps as well! I’m as happy as can be with these three maps!

I also looked at the flight path – I’ll take American Airlines from LAX to Denver and transfer to IcelandAir – and I was thrilled to see that the flight from Denver will go over or near the North Pole to Reykjavik! (If I see any reindeer making practice runs, with or without sleighs, I’ll let you know. Pinky-swear.)

Oh, the endless possibilities! I want to take my daughter to the coastal town of Kopervik in Norway, whence her father’s Jorgenson grandparents and great-grandparents came, for her 21st birthday. And I’d love to see Wales and Scotland and Ireland.  Tuscany in the spring (see the movie “Enchanted April” and you’ll see why).  The lavender fields in Provence.  The wine regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy. Nepal and Tibet. New Zealand. Australia. The savannahs in Kenya and Mount Kilimanjaro (another enchanting place name). Wildly and most improbably, the Illyria region that is somewhere between Hungary and Yugoslavia. It calls out to me.

Where would you go, if you could go anywhere in the world?



  1. I remember those roll down maps. We had them in Sweden too (not the same brand, but you know..). It was always a big thrill when the teacher rolled one down to see where in the world we would end up.

    There are so many intriguing places I’d love to go. When I was younger, and the Bhutan borders were closed, I really, really, REALLY wanted to go there. Now my dream places seem so much more approachable (maybe because flying has become so much easier in the last 40 years). I’d love to go on the Orient Express, re-visit the fjords in Norway, see some of south America, see Egypt and the Nile… I could go on.

    • Weren’t those roll-downs special, Carin? Oh, the Orient Express! Egypt! (Indulging in an image of Cleopatra floating down the Nile in a barge…) But Bhutan is the most exotic on your list – I hope you make it there!

  2. Even in New Zealand we had pull down maps of the world, but ours were different to yours as we were part of the British Empire which was all coloured in pink! Things are a lot less British here these days, but we are still part of the Commonwealth.
    Oh, a passport is essential – even if only as a document to dream on! Possibility opens up when you own one and think about where it could take you! Mine’s taking me to Thailand and Cambodia in a few weeks! I so love South East Asia. But I would love to travel further afield to Italy, France, England…oh, and Greece and Morrocco and Croatia…
    Now you have me dreaming when I need to be working :)…

    • Lesley – I love what you said: “Oh, a passport is essential – even if only as a document to dream on!” Yes! Morocco…Marrakesh…I just realized I forgot to add the Greek Isles to my list. How exciting that you’re going to Thailand and Cambodia – will you get to see the temples of Angkor Wat? I hope you blog about your trip upon your return – that’s one blog I do want to read!

  3. Congrats on getting your passport, the world is your oyster! Isn’t it exciting to know that you can have the freedom to go anywhere you want?
    I just got back from a trip to Spain with my daughter so that was a check off my list of places I wanted to go. I’m not sure there is anywhere I wouldn’t want to go given the opportunity. It seems the older I get the more intrigued I am with learning about new places and people. Keep us up to date with Iceland!

    • Sue, I enjoyed your blog post on the highlights of your trip to Spain, and I agree, the older I get, the more intrigued I am with learning about new places and people, too. Actually, I like being out in the middle of nowhere wherever I go – and then staying where there are people. Can’t wait to hear where you’ll go next!

  4. What wonderful fun! My husband, Eric, and I are going to India next year so I had to renew my passport. I felt a similar thrill as you described. It has been some time since I have been overseas. We will be staying in the Himalayas and now that I know that we are staying in a resort I feel a bit better about the whole thing. Have fun on your journey!

  5. Sue, I could feel your excitement all the way here to Canada. :)
    Love the photo of you with your teacher. Our next trip might be to Scotland where my husband’s ancestors came from. And I’d love to go back to France one day to visit the place where my ancestors came from before coming to Canada. I want to visit the rest of our country (Canada) that I haven’t seen yet. Our country is so beautiful, and it covers quite a large distance. The last 4 years we have done 3 trips and it’s been great to have had the opportunity to see so much. I have to renew my passport if I want to go out of country. Actually in today’s mail a few minutes ago our son who has special needs just received the ID card he needed so we can get his passport as well. So now there’s no excuses. :)

    • Oh, Suzanne, what part of Canada are you in? My great-grandmother was born and raised on Prince Edward Island. I think Canada would be pretty cool to visit – and there are parts of the US I want to see, such as Alaska and the autumn scenery in New England. Yep, no excuses to renew your passport now! ;-)

      • I live an hour east of Ottawa (Canada’s capital city), in Eastern Ontario. PEI is beautiful we went there 28 years ago, must return one day. In June we went to Newfoundland. Loved it. BC and Alberta we did 2 trips the last four years, again beautiful. All were so different as well. Enjoy planning all your trips. :)

  6. Oh, the places we can go…I’ve never had a strong desire to travel much outside of the US until the last 5 years or so. If I could only pick one place, it would probably be Greece but I couldn’t tell you why. My heart just calls out for it. Anywhere to see the northern lights would be cool too as would India.

  7. Hello Sue! Great post – I love the rush and excitement that a fresh passport and strong desire for exploration can bring :) SO fun. I too, love maps, and favor the U.S. for whatever reason, but I would love to go to Greece, Spain, Croatia, and my “homeland” of Sweden. Happy trails!

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