Last night, while Bryn, my friend Jodi and I were watching TV for a bit, my parents started cleaning up our old motor home, which my dad took away to the RV place this morning. Almost as soon as they went out to start, Mum and Dad were both back inside and came to find me. My mum had her hands behind her back and both my parents proclaimed excitedly that they had a surprise for me. I, naturally, got quite excited as well and took three guesses (a kitten, some candy and a book that I have been missing for around three years since I loaned it to a friend who never gave it back), all of which were wrong. When my mum brought a small, black booklet from behind her back, I wondered why they were making such a big fuss about it. For a brief second I thought it must have been one of my favourite picture-books when I was a baby or something and my interest was piqued again. All of a sudden it hit me though why the booklet was so familiar. It was a passport! And then I knew why my parents were so excited. Mum handed the booklet to me and I was looking at my first passport that I had reported as lost four and a half years ago to the Passport Office in Surrey. Since the summer of 2003 I have blamed my dad for losing my passport, but now I have to amend that blame. I thought for awhile last night and I think I finally now have the whole story figured out.
On August 16, 2003 a chance lightning strike hit in Okanagan Mountain Park just south of Kelowna and started a huge and devastating fire. Almost two weeks after the fire started my mum, Bryn and I left for our family vacation in Fairmont, BC, but Tyler and my dad stayed in Kelowna for an extra day in order to transport valuables from our house, which was in an area that was on evacuation alert, to my dad's cabinet factory. If the fire crept down the mountain and the evacuation alert became a mandatory evacuation, we wanted to make sure our stuff was safe while we were gone. I called my dad and asked him to make sure to bring my passport along to Fairmont, but when they got there, the passport wasn't with him. He said he must have left it in one of the boxes at the factory. When our week-long vacation was over, the fire had changed direction, our area had never been under evacuation orders, and the alert had been lifted as well, so we started to bring our possessions back home. But after all the boxes were unpacked, my passport was still unaccounted for. I was rather annoyed because I had a lot of really neat stamps in that passport from India, Thailand, Costa Rica, Mexico, Belize and Guatemala as well as my really awesome Indian visa. I racked my brain for where I could have left it and looked all over the house, but when I left for Walla Walla College at the end of September, I was no closer to finding my passport. Luckily, at that time, the U.S. didn't require Canadians to have passports to cross the border or to go to school in the States, so I managed without one for a few months. Then our family started planning for a trip to Europe over my spring break and I realized that I had to give up my passport for lost and apply for a new one. My mum drove down to Walla Walla one weekend in February, picked me up and we drove up to Surrey, just east of Vancouver, so I could apply for a new passport in person and get it in time for our trip. The passport official that took my application listened to my story seriously and asked if I had ever reported it lost (of course I hadn't because we were all certain that it was somewhere in either our house or the factory). She told me that I should have reported as soon as I couldn't find it and gave me a talking-to about keeping passports in a special, safe place so this type of thing wouldn't happen. Finally she took my paperwork and got the process started, but just before we left she mentioned that if I lost another passport, I would be put on a "watch-list" and be watched more closely in case I was doing anything illegal passport-wise. That sufficiently freaked me out and I've kept close tabs on my current passport ever since!
Now, after all this time, I find out that for more than four years my passport has been sitting in the motor home magazine rack right outside my bedroom window!! It's almost unbelievable! I've figured that I must have brought my passport to BC Campmeeting, used it to cross the border and go shopping in Bellingham, WA one day and then placed it in the magazine rack in our motor home for safe keeping during the rest of Campmeeting. Apparently I promptly forgot that it was in there and not at home. So now the Mystery of the Lost Passport is solved and I have it back in my possession, neat stamps, awesome visa and all.
(A side note - This must be the Year of Missing Items Found. This past May I got a phone call at work from ICBC in North Vancouver. When the receptionist told me who was on the line, I had no idea what in the world ICBC would want from me, especially the branch in North Van. The guy on the phone told me that he had a construction worker on another line who had just found my wallet in the basement storage area of a North Van. apartment and had phoned ICBC with my driver's license info so they could call me and let me know. I was shocked out of my mind. My wallet had been stolen from my friend's locked glove box (as well as his Ipod and another friends' new clothes in the backseat) in February 2007 while a group of us were in Vancouver to go to a Canucks game. We had filed a police report of our stolen items, but we all doubted we'd ever see our stuff again. So, more than a year later, I hear this news that my wallet was found. The money inside was obviously gone, but apparently everything else was still accounted for. The dumb thing was that the construction worker, when I talked to him, didn't care to take the time and mail my wallet back to me in Kelowna. He said that if I wanted it I could come pick it up and when I told him I was from Kelowna, not the Vancouver area, he said, "Well I guess you aren't going to drive down five hours just to pick up a wallet, are you?" I had to admit that I wasn't about to do that, but I was rather annoyed that he wouldn't just mail it. I guess it doesn't matter that much since I had already canceled my cards and got a replacement driver's license and stuff, but it would have been nice to have it back. Now I wonder if I'll find that missing book before the year is up!)