SNAP # 28, PASS the PORT, Please
This is not a Snap about Port. Perhaps, it should be. At a restaurant recently, I watched a woman swig down two goblets of this sweet red wine, served on the rocks, before receiving her entrée. Although I realize Port is “just not for dessert anymore”, she was clearly not needing to Snap-Out-0f-Anything by the time I finished my dinner and left.
Nor is this a prompt about obtaining an American Passport for international travel. Not that it isn’t a good idea. According to the State Department, the number of Americans who have passports, as of January 2011, is 114,464,041. Since we’re a country of more than 300 million people, that translates to one out of every three Americans who can travel abroad. In other words, 2 out of 3 of us can’t even travel to-and-from Canada!
BUY LOCAL – See the USA
If international travel isn’t an interest, or, even if it is, here’s an idea that should appeal to the Dora Explorer in all of us.
Last month I visited the historic Piedras Blancas Lighthouse with my friends, Walt and Shirley Lowe. Located near Hearst Castle on the central California coast, this lighthouse was critically important during the California Boom era when tall ships and cargo vessels were trying to navigate the dangerous hidden shoals and submerged rocks of the craggy coastline. Today, about 30 lighthouses, now obsolete, survive here, perched majestically along the Pacific coast. At least twelve are open to the public.
As we were leaving, what had been a fabulous tour, Shirley remarked to Walt, “Oh, we have to get our stamp.”
The Lowes explained that the US Lighthouse Society sponsors a Passport Program. The passport, with its blue vinyl cover is a look-alike of the official US passport and is used by lighthouse aficionados as they travel throughout the country. When you visit a participating lighthouse (there are 60 of them) you have your passport stamped with a custom-designed work of art. Each stamp is different.
At the gift shop, Shirley asked “to be stamped”. The volunteer obliged. Plop went the newly-inked stamp. Done.
Not one to enjoy being caught flat-footed, I wanted to know more about this passport business.
“Why, yes,” another friend, chimed in, “I’ve had a Passport for the National Parks for years.”
According to the US Parks’ website, the Passport® to Your National Parks, launched in 1986, includes not only blank pages for stamps but also color-coded maps, pre-visit information, illustrations and photographs. It also includes a free map and guide to the national park system.
Even Elderhostel (now called Road Scholars) issues participants a passport so they can track their program attendance. Although they distribute actual lick-and-smack-down stamps for each program, the idea is the same. The late Glenn Schwartz had 96 Elderhostel stamps in his book, leaving a treasured memory for his family. Schwartz, who was an engineer, travelled near and far, from the Boundary Waters, in his home state of Minnesota, to as far away as Antarctica.
Which got me to thinking………
I am on a mission to see all the Presidential Libraries, all 13 of them. Presidential Libraries are not really libraries but rather archives and museums, bringing together in one place the documents and artifacts of a President and his administration. To date I have visited the libraries of Herbert Hoover (West Branch, Iowa) and Harry Truman (Independence, Missouri). These treasures are fascinating and, in my opinion, one of America’s uncrowned glories.
Wondering if there was a passport for my quest, I pulled up the National Archives web site. Holy Tippecanoe and Tyler Too! In June 2011 the National Archives began issuing it’s own “Passport to Presidential Libraries,” that visitors can carry with them on their travels to Presidential Libraries across the nation.
I’m on it!
Anyone interested in a long week-end in Texas next Fall? I can knock off three libraries in one visit. Or, California, two? Better yet, join me as I swing through the South? My route includes four.
Have map and “Passport to Presidential Libraries”. Will travel.