Each morning I am reading a couple of biographies from Wayward Women. It’s my travel devotional in these COVID days providing inspiration to adventure. My local indie bookstore, Time Tested Books, found this paperback 2001 reissue for me. I feel lucky as it is out of print with few copies in circulation. (I hesitate to highlight it for this reason.)
The author Jane Robinson had the opportunity whilst working at an antiquarian bookstore, to read piles of travel memoirs and books written by women–especially in the period of 1850-1930. No one would read them today for tips on where to stay; however, they still inspire to push a little further from our comfort zone and relish our ability to travel without a chaperone!
Here’s a taste from The Honorable Mrs. Victor (Mildred Mary) Bruce [b. 1895]:
“The amazing Mrs. Bruce first started breaking records at the age of fifteen, when the police caught her doing 67 m.p.h. on her brother’s motor cycle and she became the first ever woman to be charged for speeding. From then on she never looked back.”
The writing is lively and the women are diverse, though I can’t help but notice that most of the women of Victorian era to WWII were women of title (i.e. means). For many reasons I am glad I am a traveller in this century. As soon as the vaccine is available to me, I will take it and pack my Away case to go!
I just got my renewed passport in the mail. It was a quick turnaround taking just 2 weeks without paying extra for speed. I mailed it on October 16, which turned out to be the last day of the federal government shutdown. Maybe mailing it on that day sounds like an act of faith, but I brimmed with confidence in the State Department and the US Postal Service when I dropped my old passport and my check in the mail. I have had a passport since I was 16 years old and I retain a certain nostalgic attachment to this travel document and the inscription inside: “The Secretary of State of the United States of America hereby requests all whom it may concern to permit the citizen/national of the United States named herein to pass without delay or hindrance and in case of need to give all lawful aid and protection.”
When I renewed my passport in the past they returned my old passport with a hole drilled through it like a used deck of cards from a casino. Alas, this time I did not get my retired passport back. Gone forever are the stickers from The Kingdom of Cambodia and 10 years of country stamps (when I could get customs to stamp it).
My new passport is covered in stiffer navy blue paper and every page is designed to inspire, from the Liberty Bell and quote from George Washington, “Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair,” to a space vehicle on the back inside cover. Does this mean that I will need my passport if I go on a voyage to the moon?
There is new electronic technology incorporated so there is a new admonition to not bend or “expose to extreme temperatures,” so if I go to Antarctica I will need to insulate my passport! There is also a new page of important website addresses that made me look for the ubiquitous, “Like us on Facebook.” I guess the State Department has not stooped to that yet.
My overall impression is a document that is no longer as serious as dignified as passports of yore. In fact, it rivals the US Park Service “passport” for information and childlike inspiration with drawings of eagles, buffalo, cowboys and longhorns. However, it acts as the passport to enter foreign countries and legally return home and that is serious and inspiring.
UPDATE: I received my old passport in the mail on November 4. Not sure why it was sent separately, just glad to be reunited.