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Trail Rider, Expired.

Trail Rider, Expired.

Reprint from Inside Motorcycles

 

I don’t consider myself a procrastinator,  really, I don’t.  I like organization.  I like things in place, on time and in good working order.  I enjoy organizing things and events.  Like our recent Cliffshore Adventure ride in Baja Mexico.  I had spent weeks and weeks working out each day’s course, figuring in the gas range of the bikes, building the GPS routes.  Making list upon list, of items for the participating riders. In the weeks leading up to the event I sent out reminders, directives, notices and even more lists.  People were reminded quite early-on to have a passport,  to obtain Mexican insurance for the motorcycles and make sure they were covered for out-of-country health insurance.  There is nothing out of the way about all of this.  It’s what I do.  I’m an organizer and it’s my job to see that everyone is prepared and ready.

 

Imagine then if you will,  the night before our departure when  I’m packing the last few things into my carry-on bag and the last few GPS accessories into the laptop computer bag.  I’m busily  separating my pesos from Canadian and US dollars.  Lorna, doing what Lorna and all good wives everywhere do so well,  was issuing a steady barrage of “do you have’s and did you’s.”  “Do you have your Mexican money?” Yes.  “Do you have your medicine packed?”  Yes.  “What about spare AA batteries?”  I have a dozen batteries packed.  “Do you have enough clothes packed?”  Yes. Where is your passport?  “It’s right there on the table.” 

 

I stuffed a patch cord into a compartment.   Honey fingers the passport and states in a very sombre voice, “It’s expired”!!   “E X P  I R E D?”    “That can’t be”, I exclaimed as a cold chill set in.  My mind started to race at the enormity of the situation.  “Holy *X#$.  How can my passport be expired I’ve had it for........for........for......Yeah, for five years!  They expire every five years.

 

At ten o’clock the night before we fly out,  what are my options?  Options?  I don’t have any options!  There is absolutely nothing I can do.  Nada. Nothing.  I should go to bed and get some sleep because we have an early flight and I have to get up at 3:45 a.m..  Well, I did go to bed, but sleep was elusive and for the next few hours I tossed and turned and worked out all of the possible scenarios of having an expired passport.  With my birth certificate I was sure I would be allowed to fly to San Diego.  I was quite sure though, that a passport was required for Mexico.  Would they accept it though only a month past the due date?  I really didn’t think so. 

 

Could I hide in the motorhome and sneak into Mexico?  Bad idea.  I’ve heard stories about Mexican jails.  What about changing the date on my passport?  Another bad idea, I’ve also heard stories about Canadian jails. Could I find a Canadian Consulate in San Diego and get a new passport issued there?  Were Consulates located near airports or would I have to fly home and get a renewal locally?  We were flying on Friday and the weekend would be upon us before I could return to Toronto.  I was sure nothing was possible on Saturday or Sunday. Another day or two to get a passport and return to Sand Diego, but by that time our group would be half way down the peninsula.  How would I find them?

 

What was the worst that could happen?  To be denied entry, of course.  Not the end of the world but the rub however was that seven people were depending on me to lead them around Mexico for eight days. I was the GPS expert.  I was the one who had created the route.  I was the guy who had all of the logistics worked out and memorized. Of the seven other riders only Dave Head had any experience following GPS routes. Could I teach Dave enough on the  flight to San Diego to have him take charge?  How much could I explain to  Barry and Keith about routes and tracks on the way to the airport?  Whew.

 

It was a sober ride to the airport and to say I was a ‘little-distracted’, would be an understatement. Upon arrival at the airport I went directly to the United Airways ticket counter and explained the situation.  “Where are you going,” the agent asked?  “Baja, Mexico,” I stated . .  The agent keyed in some information and began to read a screen.  I worried some more.  Was this my record she was reading? Would it tell of my being refused entry to the US three years ago, for pouring some coffee dregs down a water fountain? 

 

“What are you reading,”  I tentatively asked? The agent explained that what she was reading were the necessary requirements for entry to Baja.  Proof of citizenship and proof of birth, she read.  A birth certificate!  WHEEEEEEW!!!!!!  That sigh may have been heard over half of the airport.

 

Although this lifted a big weight from my shoulders there was still a nagging bit of apprehension and I would not be completely home free until I was actually home again.   For the next ten days, whenever requested, I presented my expired passport accompanied with my Birth Certificate.  Only one time did anyone mention or even seem to notice.  At the Baja border when I applied for my Visitors Permit the officer said, “Expired!”  I said, “Si.”  He said, “Expired.”  I went into a lengthy diatribe about expired passports, Canadian Citizenship, birth certificates, GPS and Inside Motorcycles,  none of which he seemed to understand.  He said again, “Expired, must renew.”  I said, “Si” as he processed my visitor’s permit and took my $16.00 US.  I said again,  “Si, gracious!”

 

I’m writing this column in my comfy office in Roseneath Ontario so it is obvious that I made it back home again with no problems.  There’s probably a moral to this story but I will let everyone decide for themselves what that might be.  For myself, on the first day home I had a new passport photo taken and am proceeding to have the passport renewed, hopefully before the Indianapolis Dealer Expo in late February.

 

Warren Thaxter

Roseneath, Ont.

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