Of passports and parking tickets

Ned Luce Life in Ludlow
Posted 5/15/24

Many years ago, in the fall, BJ and I were bringing her mother home to Kansas City from her vacation cottage in Central Lake, Michigan. I was in the lead driving the mother-in-law car when I took a …

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Of passports and parking tickets


Many years ago, in the fall, BJ and I were bringing her mother home to Kansas City from her vacation cottage in Central Lake, Michigan. I was in the lead driving the mother-in-law car when I took a wrong turn south of Chicago resulting in a forty-mile scenic travel mistake. However, it did not involve passports.

Rotary’s annual district conference was held recently up at the Semiahmoo Resort in Blaine, WA. The event was attended by about 300 folks which included Rotarians, friends, partners, spouses and whatever other groups needing to be counted. BJ and I stayed in a nearby condo with fellow Rotarian and Port Townsend vintner Mike Cavett and his wife Judy. (Semiahmoo’s room rates are not for the frugally inclined.)

One day whilst Mike and I were being inspired or bored at the conference, BJ and Judy drove over to the Peace Arch on the border between Canada and America. (It seems the Canadian border folks refer to the USA as “America.”) Having found a parking space but not spotting any nearby authorities, they ignored the instruction to purchase the $10 parking pass and wandered the grounds of the park, only to return to the car which now sported a $99 ticket. No matter, they really enjoyed the park.

At the end of the conference BJ and I headed back to Port Ludlow whilst the Cavetts stayed in Blaine for some rest and relaxation. BJ and Judy had so enjoyed the Peace Arch park ambience that Judy decided Mike should go see it. As it turns out, they missed the turn into the park and got the opportunity to describe to the Canadian border patrol agent why they did not have a passport. After answering all of the agent’s questions, they were allowed to go through the gate and get into the line coming back into America. I have heard the story twice now and the estimates of the number of cars in line has varied from 5,000 to 9,276. I suspect by now the number has six digits. In any case, after surviving the long wait in line they met up with the US border patrol agent whose first question was, “Can I see your passport?”

You can finish the story.

Hey, they were able to see the Peace Arch as they drove by, a tourist attraction I did not.  In addition, their actual travel detour involved many fewer miles than did mine in the prairies south of Chicago.

The conference was also notable because Port Ludlow local luminary Terry Umbreit was the district’s Beacon Award Winner. Be sure to ask him about it as well as a recent hole-in-one at the Port Ludlow Golf Club. He may find it difficult to decide which he values more.

The highlight speaker of the conference for me was Jean Irwin Hatfield. Jean was a teacher of the deaf for 7 years in Reno, Nevada in the 1980s. Her students were on the path to achieve the typical 4th grade reading level upon graduation from high school. Then she heard about some children in England who were doing much better than that and made a comment at a party, “I wonder what they’re doing in England that we’re not doing here?”

This question was heard by a Rotarian. He suggested that if she really wanted an answer to the question, she should contact Rotary about their Ambassadorial Scholarship program which provided scholarships to study overseas. Jean received sponsorship from the Rotary Club of Sparks, Nevada and went to Nottingham University to learn how to best foster reading in children who can’t exactly “sound words out.”

When she returned and used these teaching methods her students ended up graduating with reading skills double the national levels. Many of these students could, and have graduated from college, something only 5% of the profoundly deaf can do.

Jean notes that by reading this you are doing something 880 million adults on this planet cannot do. In addition, she notes that if life made sense men would ride “side-saddle.”

Love a curmudgeon and take your Discover Pass and passport!