So much has happened since the last post. For starters, I have been in Denmark with my husband for 2 months now but I want to wait to talk about that. There is so much I had to do to get here I want to cover it all first.
I did not get to make the post about filling out the paperwork for the visa, I will cover that in the next post when I talk about the trip I made to Houston for the visa meeting. For now I’m going straight to the passport office trip.
After setting an appointment for Hot Springs, AK to get my passport changed, I made that trip. It was not a pleasant trip. I got up about 1 AM and headed out on my own to drive straight there from Wichita, KS, have the appointment, then drive straight back so I could go to work the next day. I realized much too late that I am too old to do things like that anymore!
I got up and got on the road in good time and with few issues. The car was packed with maps in case the GPS quit (which I have had happen on trips) and a few emergency supplies and of course, snacks!
As I was leaving Wichita, I was driving on I-235 heading to the turnpike when the only other car on the highway with me decided to play car leap frog. This guy kept speeding up to pass me, then would slow down so I’d pass him, then speed up and slow down, over and over for several miles on the highway. I wasn’t too worried because I knew I was going to be getting on the turnpike soon and I was pretty sure he wasn’t going to follow me all the way to Arkansas. But it was still annoying.
The rest of the drive to Hot Springs was pretty uneventful. I made a few stops to stretch my legs and get a drink or some fruit. I was very happy to find the 2 cookie packs of Fig Newtons at one stop, one of my guilty pleasures.
I made it to the passport office with time to spare. I parked outside the office and called home to check in then I took a little nap. I went into the office on time and found that there is some very serious security in this office. I’m not sure what the attraction would be for anyone to try to do anything at a passport office but people are nuts so who knows.
I took a number and sat down and wait, and wait, and wait! Finally, I get called to the window and tell the lady I just need to do a name change. She asked me if I was traveling soon, I said no. She then tried to tell me I didn’t need to be at that office since this was the office to get expedited passports for travel. I stopped her, probably not a great idea but I was exhausted and really didn’t want to waste time. I told her I needed my passport with my new married name for a visa interview I had the following week and I had checked before I made my appointment there to be sure this was the office I needed. This was the one office in the US where you were not required to show proof of travel to get an expedited passport.
She just gave me a look that was not quite friendly but started the paperwork. She was looking at my papers and looking at her computer for more than 15 minutes. I finally asked her if there was a problem. She said she was looking up how they do Latin names because she didn’t think how I had mine was right. I am sure the look I gave her did not help my situation. I told her to look at my paperwork, how it was written on there is how it was changed when I got married. Right or not that was my current legal name. She continued to argue with me until I asked her to pass me back my marriage certificate. I showed her that no matter how any country usually does their surnames I had legally changed my name so that it was now as it appeared on the last line of my marriage certificate. The problem I have been having with my name with most places is my name is now ridiculously long. I kept my full original 3 names and added on two of my husbands. When I changed it on the marriage certificate it now shows that I have a first name, three middle names, and one last name. For some unknown reason this seems to really confuse people.
Eventually the lady relented and just filled out my passport information as it showed on my marriage certificate. I hadn’t been that irritated in a long time. I felt the need for the passport office to compensate me for the frustration I felt going through this whole process with their office, so I kept their pen. They had tons of them around the office all printed with the offices information so I’m sure they were there for the taking as a promotional item but still it made me feel better to walk out with something. I still carry it in my purse.
I was never so happy to leave a building in my life, well except for that time I was caught in a hotel fire . . . it’s a tossup. I didn’t feel like heading straight home so I went to a local Books-A-Million and walked around a bit, I got a drink and a snack and chatted with my husband in text.While there I found an Iron Man stuffed doll. This is funny because I have always called my husband Iron Man since we first met. I sent him a photo of the doll and he asked me to get it for him. I told him I would but he could only have it after I got back from Houston the following week. Little Iron Man was going to be my road trip mascot.
About an hour later, I got back in the car to head home. As I was nearing the edge of Arkansas the sky started to look a little odd. I stopped and took a few photos. Once I got back on the road it wasn’t long until I was in the middle of what was causing the strange skies.
They had started doing controlled burns along the highway during the time I was in my passport meeting. Miles of highway which had been clear and beautiful on my way to Hot Springs were now clouded over. The photos I took do not even come close to how it looked. It was so dark and smoky. I could feel the heat as I drove. As a person with asthma it was probably one of the worst drives I have ever had to make.
By the time I got through the burn area my car, clothes, and hair were saturated with smoke. I stopped at a truck stop and got out of the car for a while to try to let everything air out a bit. I got a big coffee because, for those who don’t deal with asthma, coffee can help stop an asthma attack if it’s not too bad. Seeing as how I don’t carry an inhaler with me this was a good option.
I eventually got back on the road and made it safely back to Wichita. I dragged myself into the house and went to bed. I had work in just about 10 hours. With that trip over I just had to hope that the new passport made it to me in time for the visa appointment in Houston, TX the following week.
Next up . . . Houston!