Well-worn passport
Only in America

Passport to: anywhere but here

My passport, originally uploaded by TwoCrabs.

I got my passport back from the US Embassy London today. It's now a 72-page thick behemoth. They actually did a good job, with the pages seamlessly sewn into the centerfold of my passport. Ironically, the pages they added are the new style that I was complaining about last week, with silly drawings of scenes of Americana like Independence Hall in Philadelphia, a steamboat plowing the Mississippi, and a steam train through the Wild West.

Each page is topped by a famous quote about America by folks like Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and (ack!) Ronald Reagan. That's all fine and dandy, but some of the quotes are religious in nature. For example, Thomas Jefferson's quote reads: "The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time." It sounds like a fairly innocent enough, but considering who said it and when it was said, Jefferson is clearly speaking of a Christian God. Maybe I'm reading too much into this. But to place these quotes in a U.S. passport -- a government-issued and endorsed document that will be seen by foreign government officials around the world -- is completely inappropriate and an insult to non-Christian, non-religious and atheist/agnostic passport holders. Not to mention a clear violation of the separation of church & state. Sheesh. Ok that's my rant for the day.

With my passport firmly in hand, I am now plotting my getaway from England. Preferably to a dry, sunny locale. It's been raining on-and-off for 10 straight days here. Sure it rains a lot in London, but usually it's just a light mist. Our rain of late has been hard, steady and occasionally accompanied by lightening and thunder. It's rained three inches in the past 24 hours -- the average rainfall that London receives during all of July. The temperature has hovered around 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Did I mention it's JULY!?!?

The first place I plan to use my revamped passport is southern Germany. Mr. & Mrs. Crab have decided to take a camping trip to Bavaria later this month, with stops to the beer gardens of Munich, plus Bamberg, Nuremberg, the German Alps and the Black Forest. I'm also hoping to stop in Illesheim, a tiny village near Munich that is home to a small joint American & German military base. As a young U.S. Army soldier in 1995, I was briefly stationed in Illesheim for training while awaiting deployment to Bosnia-Herzegovina. I have fond memories of New Year's Eve in Illesheim. It was my first time in Europe. Snow was falling. Soldiers and locals gathered in the town square, toasting each other over large pints of strong German ale while an oompah band played and fireworks illuminated the little village. Ever since that day, I've had a soft spot for Germany. Ich bin ein Deutschlander!