This summer I am taking my family on a major vacation. We are going to the island of Yap. Long ago I lived there for a year as a kid. My famly has been to Yap many times, and I wanted to take my wife and kids. So this summer it is.
When we were last on Yap it was a US Trust Territory. US Territories are great because you can go there with no documentation beyond a driver's license. Despite what everyone seems to think this is still true. If you want to travel to Puerto Rico or Guam or the US Virgin Islands etc. you do not need a passport.
The astute readers will notice that I did not include Yap on that list.
Yes, when I called to check on what I would need for the kids I discovered that all of us need passports.
Now, had I not been in school and working and trying to be a husband and dad, i would have taken care of all of this months ago. But life is just beginning to return to normal, and I found this out with very little time to spare.
The LA federal building is a major headache to go to. Heather Barr told me that she waited in line for five hours.
Imagine being in line with two young kids for five hours. Might as well bring along an endodontist for a little elective root canal work at the same time!
You can't stand in line without an appointment. You can't get an appointment because they aren't available. So I called after midnight and found the first available appointment was approximately four days after we have already left.
But that's ok, because you can call and talk to someone as long as you are within four days of leaving, and they will schedule an appointment for you. Of course they will dictate when you can come and stand in line for a reallyreally long time with two young children. I think they also drip water on you slowly.
So this morning I had a brainstorm. We are going to Hawaii first. The island of Oahu has less than 900,000 people on it. By contrast the Los Angeles area is home to over 18 Million people. In addition, since there are only 18 of these places in the entire united states (and two of them are in california), people from as far away as Las Vegas or Phoenix or elsewhere have to come to LA if they want to get a passport in a hurry.
Now, let's think about this for a second. Which passport center do you think is more crowded: The one with 900,000 people who live in paradise, or the one with 18 Million+ people that live in a crowded smog bank? Then we add the other states who have people coming here, and suddenly the solution becomes very clear.
Get the passports in Hawaii.
So I call. I pick the date I want to do it. I say morning. It suggests 9:30 which is perfect. When I checked to be sure that I didn't have to go to LA, the agent told me that she didn't think it would even take an hour at the Hawaii office.
So my choice is go to LA and fight 18 Million people for a spot in a 5 hour line, or take a taxi to the passport office (conveniently located a few miles from waikiki beach) on Oahu and get it done there. No huge crowd, no root canals, no water torture, nothing.
Well, guess what we're doing while we are in Hawaii :-)
Hang Loose baby.