Unfortunately there were no RV park vacancies anywhere in or even close to the Denver area. I ended up staying at a busy little KOA campground in Strasburg, a full 30 miles from the passport office. Luckily there was a UPS Store in Bennet, only a 10 minute drive away; so I was able to make pretty quick work of printing documents on Monday afternoon. They were even able to take and print my passport photos.
I have to admit I was a little apprehensive. I had read that it’s not easy to obtain what is called a “will-call” passport renewal. The SecState website suggests that it is only available in the event of “documented emergencies”. Furthermore, they require documented proof of international travel dates for any expedited service. Because I’m doing this on the cheap, I have very little proof of where I will be next. The only date-certain reservation I have is not until early July for Denali National Park in Alaska. I was quite prepared to hear that a two-week turnaround was the best they could do, the expedited service that is available to everyone for a fee.
My apprehension couldn’t have been more unfounded. I was scheduled for a 1pm appointment, but I showed up at 12. And the folks in the office couldn’t have been nicer. The woman that checked me in looked through the forms that I had completed/printed. She then looked through all of my back up documentation. In addition to the Denali reservations, I included a day-by-day
spreadsheet that follows my expected track, including all free camping locations that I have identified. I even printed a map that showed historical and future tracks all the way to Alaska and back. She dutifully organized, clipped and stapled everything in its prescribed order for the passport agent. She then gave me a service ticket and kindly asked me to wait until my number was called.
The passport agent was also extremely nice. She asked me to explain my situation as she thumbed through the documents. She looked genuinely sympathetic (unexpected for a government official) when I told her the story of my laundromat epiphany and my long drive from Minot, ND. Without further questioning, she simply apologized that it was too late to offer same-day pick-up. Unfortunately I would have to wait until the next day, at which time my passport would be ready and waiting. If there hadn’t been 3 inch thick glass between us, I would have kissed her! I considered asking her to pose for a double-selfie through the glass, but decided that might still be a bridge too far…. I simply thanked her and did the happy traveler shuffle right out the door. The clock on the wall read 12:35 pm.
I had Tuesday night already booked at the Strasbug KOA. So after a pleasant night’s rest I drove the 30 miles back in, this time with the trailer and Boots in tow. We picked up the passport without issue and hightailed it north. We drove 300 mies yesterday evening and spent last night in a little rodeo arena (free RV parking, of course) in Glenrock, Wyoming. Three more moderate driving days and we’ll be in Canada.
As well as the situation turned out, I am still way behind on my itinerary. I had to cancel Boots’s original veterinary appointment because of the detour. Besides, due to the slightly different entry point, it was more convenient to get her Health Certificate in Calgary, Alberta instead. I easily identified a clinic, made reservations, and even booked a nearby RV park to make it even that much more convenient. While I won’t have the buffer that I had originally built in, I should be back on track by the time I hit Mile 0 of the ALCAN highway in Dawson Creek.
And, thus endeth the great Denver detour of 2017. Alaska, we’re on our way again!
Viva la Vida Bohemia!