Tuesday, September 21, 2010

2nd Trip to Travis AFB

The ever critical "Official Passport" trip to Travis occurred today. In my discussions with the very helpful folks in Germany and onboard Travis AFB here in Cali, there were mixed opinions on how to best obtain the Official Passports we'll need as Status Of Forces Agreement (SOFA) personnel stationed overseas. I was told by some that we could wait until we arrived in Germany to get the "red" passports, but that we had to at least apply for them here Stateside. Others told us that we had to have them in hand going through German customs.

We opted for the safety of requesting them here in the States. To do so, we made another trip over to Travis AFB, with the kids in tow, to obtain passport photos and to deliver passport applications. We pulled Joshua out of school early, because there is only a narrow window of overlap between the "Open" hours at the passport photo office and the passport application office. We arrived at the passport photo office just before 1pm, when they opened. Once inside, I explained our "civilian family on PCS orders" status, and we filled out the necessary paperwork to get photos taken. Joshua went first and was a champ. It took all of two minutes for his picture process to be completed. Next came Sam, who decided to be a terror. We didn't get his picture taken very well. So we skipped him, and Nicki and I got ours done. Finally, back to Sam. We tried distracting him, coddling him, smiling at him, singing to him, flirting with him... to no avail. Eventually, he broke down in a fit of screaming and tears, which is when we got our best photo of him. Sure, he looked very sad and angry, but his face was directly pointed at the camera, his eyes were open, and he met the legal requirement for passport photo success.

From that point on, it was all downhill. Nicki took the boys outside, while I waited for the pics to be printed out. Once they were, I got directions to the passport application office and we went on over there. Once inside, we waited a good half hour for a family ahead of us to apply for their passports. During that time, Sam just couldn't get happy. So everyone else knew he was unhappy. Eventually, it was our turn. We went through the process, handed in our tourist passports as proof of our identities (which could come back to haunt us later), and were told that it would be 4-5 weeks for our Official Passports to arrive. Then I panicked, think that in 4-5 weeks we'd be about ready to go. But the rep couldn't request expedited service for us, since we were still outside of the 30-day til departure window.

So now all we can do is hope. If our passports arrive ahead of the 5 week window, we'll be A-OK. If not... well, I don't want to think about that!

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