Travelling mentally, if not physically

By Grant McGee

My brand new passport came in the mail the other day.

“I understand there’s a microchip in here so the government can keep track of you via satellite,” I said, tongue firmly in cheek, as I pulled it from the official-looking envelope.

“If they are,” said The Lady of the House, “it’s for your own safety.”

She didn’t even look up from her computer work. I can’t get The Lady of the House to buy into my X-Files-ish conspiracy theories. She believes most everything the government does is for the good of the people. So I’m sure the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative is for the good of us all.

“What’s the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative?” you may ask. It means the good old days are over as far as travel to Mexico, the Caribbean and Canada are concerned. It means you can’t just walk into those countries anymore as if they’re just another state in the union. It means that soon, if you want to go back and forth between the United States and those countries, you will have to have a passport.

On the down side it means folks who want to go to Mexico to visit family or go shopping will have to shell out close to $100 for one of these little blue books. On the up side it means visitors to our country will have to have a passport too.

When it comes to travel I feel like Jimmy Stewart’s character George Bailey in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Just like George, I have a steamer trunk, a subscription to “National Geographic” and dreams of world travel. With the steamer trunk tucked away in the back of the house and new passport in hand, I thought of exotic destinations.

The first place I want to see is El Barranca del Cobre, the Copper Canyon in southern Chihuahua in Mexico. Copper Canyon is deeper and greener than our Grand Canyon and home to the Tarahumara people. I’ve wanted to go ever since I first heard their enchanting music, a blend of handmade drums, flutes and fiddles and shouting.

French Guiana, now there’s a place I’ve always wanted to see. I can’t tell you why, but I know they have wild monkeys there.

There are so many things to see in the world. There are the Canadian Rockies, the glaciers of the Yukon, the northern mystery of Finland, the green-ness of Ireland, the countryside of Spain, the little towns and foods of Italy, the sands of the Sahara, the weird animals of Madagascar, more food and mysticism in India, the Outback of Australia and the raw beauty of New Zealand.

I want to visit some really remote islands like St. Helena and the Falklands in the South Atlantic and Kerguelen in the south Indian Ocean. I’d like to see Cuba too, but I know that ain’t happenin’.

I thought of these places as I sat in my house in Clovis, holding my new passport.

With the microchip somewhere in the pages.

“And the thin strip imbedded in dollar bills is not designed so police can tell how much money you have in your wallet as they pass you in traffic,” said The Lady of the House, still not looking away from her computer monitor.

She doesn’t know. She never watched “The X-Files” anyway.

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: