11 January 2008

Get out the map

I was trying to locate all the passports this morning. Mine, of course, has been wandering all over the house since September, the last time I used it. I can't quite seem to get it back into the safe.

Although maybe it would be better if I lost it. I've now had three or four passports over the years, and the photo on this one is by far the most unflattering official photo I've ever had taken, and that counts all my DMV pictures, too. I'm not sure which is the worst part: the long stringy hair, the pink fuzzy turtleneck or the baleful expression on my face. The photographer told me very specifically that Homeland Security did not want me to smile.

"Look!" D. howled when she saw it last summer. "It's Natasha, the Russian spy!"

Which is a pretty accurate assessment.

It's shaping up to be a busy travel year. Not that that's necessarily unusual around here. You're as likely to find us in Anaconda, Montana, as you are to find us in Tallinn, Estonia. Or at least one of us. The bizarre collection of monetary instruments that lives on the bureau in my bedroom tells the tale of that tape. Some of them are from the spouse's far flung jobs, some are from my roamings, some are left over from skipping around the Baltic.

We always wanted the children to be comfortable with travel because it's something the spouse and I really enjoy. Pregnancy didn't stop me from visiting Costa Rica, Panama and parts of South America, so the son became a world traveler when he was a tadpole.

The daughter's maiden voyage came at 3 months when her father was speaking at a conference on the Big Island of Hawaii. She visited her first volcano, which may partly explain why she's such a little rock hound.

They've seen a good bit of the contiguous western U.S. as well. We drove up to Mt. Rushmore at the daughter's behest some years ago, stopping at places like the Black Hills and the Devil's Watchtower and every single fish hatchery along the way (they make excellent, generally uncrowded picnic spots). We saw Mt. Rushmore first thing in the morning, and it was pretty spectacular.

"I've wanted to come here my entire life!" the daughter told the nice lady behind the cash register.

"How old are you?" the nice lady asked very seriously.

"SIX!"

They've fed fish; they've fed reindeer. They've eaten fish; they've eaten reindeer. They've eaten nasi goreng in Amsterdam. What more could a kid ask for?

"You don't like Puerto Rico," the spouse said to me with no little exasperation a month or so ago as I began to quietly hatch a plan.

"But I was there at Christmas that time," I said reasonably. "I don't like anywhere at Christmas. That's why I don't travel at Christmas."

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" he yodeled, in full knowledge that he was losing this battle. I could hear the formation of a very loud thought: Can't you just stay home?

But he doesn't ask that question. Not that Dr. Sorry-Hon-But-I-Have-To-Fly-To-Hawaii-Next-Week has a leg to stand on.

Anyway, he knows the answer.

"Of course not!"

Go listen to some good music: "Get Out the Map" from the album Shaming of the Sun by Indigo Girls.

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