Time to Use the Visa Again

I’m heading back to the Middle Kingdom for a couple of weeks, which means it’s time, once again, to make use of my 10-year visa!


I thought this would be a good time to re-visit my post from last April on 10 things to know about the 10-year visa:

1. It’s real. I admit that when it was announced that China would be issuing a 10-year tourist visa last fall, I was skeptical. But I applied for it and got it, so I know first hand that it is real.

2. This new validity period is the result of a bilateral agreement between the United States and China that was announced in November and designed to encourage more travel between the nations. Visa requirements for Chinese tourists and students coming to the US have been relaxed as well.

3. In section 2.1 of the application form, check “tourist.” (see an application example here)

4. In section 2.2 of the application form, check “other.”

5. This 10 year visa seems to be the new standard issue visa; however, the embassy/consulate reserves the right to issue it at their discretion.

6. You need to submit evidence of a booked flight itinerary. This can be a ticket or evidence of a booked, but not necessarily purchased reservation.

7. You need to submit evidence of confirmed lodging. You can book a hotel online, and cancel it later, if need be.

8. The visa is multiple-entry; this means that in the 10 years of its validity you can enter/exit China as many times as you want, staying up to 60 days at a time.

9. It is valid for 10 years even if your passport expires, SO LONG AS you retain possession of your expired passport and have it with you upon entry into China.

10. The cost is the same as the 1-year tourist visa, which means its ten times cheaper!

If you’ve got a China trip coming up and need to get a visa, I wholeheartedly recommend the good folks at Allied Passport in Washington, D.C. They are great to work and can turn around an application very quickly. You can visit their site for a detailed explanation of the requirements to obtain this visa, as well as a sample application form.

And in the interest of full disclosure, I am a member of their affiliate program. When you apply for a visa through Allied, you can write my name (or the name of this blog) on your order form to get a $5.00 discount. In addition, I’ll get a referral fee.

The way I see it, everybody wins!

1912 Road Map

I love road trips and I love maps. In fact, when I take my road trips, I still use the good old Rand MacNally Road Atlas to figure out how to get from one place to another. No GPS for me, thank you very much!

Two weeks ago I had the chance to do a long and fast road trip from the Twin Cities to Colorado and back to attend a memorial service with my sister and mom. We had friends visiting from England, and we piled them into a rented mini-van with us so they could experience an American road trip. We left home on Tuesday morning, and returned on Saturday evening.

After we got back I ran across this fascinating map on a site called Internet Archives. It is a 1912 AAA road map of the United States, published in a magazine called The Bicycling World and Motorcycle Review.

I was particularly interested to see how one might have traveled by road from Minneapolis to Denver in 1912. (Please go here to see a larger version of the image.)

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 10.24.15 PM

Interestingly, you can see the ancestors (so to speak) of both I-35 that runs from Minneapolis to Des Moines, and I-80, which connects Des Moines to Denver (via I-76 spur).

If you’re interested in knowing more about the development of the US interstate system, I heartily recommend the book The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways, by Earl Swift.

The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways

Related Posts:

Road Trip Dreaming: Minnesota to Beijing

Scenes from a Western Road Trip

Road Trip: St. Paul to Skagway, AK

An Impromptu Road Trip

Home at Last

And just like that our epic road trip comes to an end. We finally rolled back into town Monday evening after a LONG drive across northern Wisconsin. We drove 5655 miles (just 40 shy of what we drove on our  trip to Alaska 2 years ago) through 7 states and provinces.


It was a fantastic trip, and we all left a bit of our hearts in Newfoundland. I’m already plotting my return.

On our last day on the island we drove through the fog to visit the Rose Blanche Lighthouse, at the end of the highway that runs east from Port aux Basque. We were not disappointed.

rose blanche lighthouse

If you ever have a chance to visit Newfoundland, do it!

Related Posts: 

Road Trip Reading

A Former Fjord

The Newfoundland Pittmans

Newfoundland and 9/11

Breaking Bread


Farewell Newfoundland

Farewell Newfoundland

On Thursday afternoon, we boarded the MV Highlander in Channel Port aux Basque, Newfoundland for the 6-hour run across the Cabot Strait to North Sydney. It was day 1 of our 5-day journey back to Minnesota.

newfoundland ferry

When we got on, both town and ship were shrouded in fog; by the time we reached North Sydney, the weather had changed completely.

newfoundland ferryOnce the ship docked, we returned to Big Red, which was parked down on deck #5, to begin our drive home.

newfoundland ferry

That’s Gracie saying “Farewell, Newfoundland; we’ll be back!”


I have a thing for sunglasses. If the sun is out, I pretty much can’t function without them. So, high on the priority list of things to take on this 17-day road trip was a pair of sunglasses. Well, multiple pairs, actually, because I wouldn’t want to be caught without any. Before we left I gathered up all the pairs of sunglasses I own and made sure they were in a designated place in the car.

I suppose it’s good to be prepared, but perhaps this is a bit ridiculous!


Breaking Bread

If you want to find the best visitor center in Newfoundland…no, in Canada….no, in North America, you need look no further than the one at Boutte du Cap Park in Cape St. George.

The park sits at the very western edge of Cape St. George, a gorgeous headland along the southwestern coast of the province. Boutte du Cap means “The Boot Cape” for the unique boot-shaped rock formations along the cliffs.

When we rolled into the park late Wednesday morning, our intention was simple — to catch a glimpse of the rugged cliffs that form the coastline. Instead, we stumbled upon a tradition that is being kept alive in the communities on the Cape — community bread ovens.

Upon entering the small visitor’s center, we were greeted by two friendly park staff kneading bread dough.

community bread

“Stick around,” they said. “We will be serving fresh bread at noon!”

Fresh bread? In a tourist visitor center? Only in Newfoundland.

There was no way we were going to miss out on this, so even though it was only 11, we decided to explore the park while waiting for the bread.

Shortly before noon, the smell of baking bread drew us back to the outdoor oven where we joined the bakers, other tourists, and a few locals to swap stories of our travels and of life in Newfoundland.

We also gave excited pronouncements of what we would put on the bread.

“Molasses!” said one visitor from Newfoundland.

“Butter!” said another.

“Peanut butter!” my sister declared. “We are Americans after all!”

Promptly at noon, the women took the freshly baked rolls out of the oven and served them to us.

What a fun way to end our time in Newfoundland — breaking bread with new-found friends!

Thanks to my sister for taking these photos:

community bread

community bread

community bread

To read more about the community bread ovens around Cape St. George, here’s an interesting article from the Huffington Post (2014).

And if you find yourself in southwestern Newfoundland during the summer, be sure to pop in between noon and 12, Monday – Saturday for fresh bread!

Newfoundland and 9/11

On September 11, 2001, there were hundreds of planes flying from Europe and other parts of the world towards the United States. Within hours of the attack, the airspace over the US was closed and all in-bound flights had to either turn around (if they had enough fuel) or land.

Thirty-eight of those planes landed in the Newfoundland city of Gander. The 10,000 residents of the city took in the nearly 6000 stranded passengers, providing food, shelter, and even clothing. Mostly, they provided comfort and friendship.

During the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 201o, NBC aired a special report on this little-known story, titled “9/11: Operation Yellow Ribbon.” You can watch it here:

There’s also a book about it called The Day the World Came to Town, by Jim Defede. Here’s the description from the back of the book:

When thirty-eight jetliners bound for the United States were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland, on September 11, 2001, due to the closing of United States airspace, the citizens of this small community and surrounding towns were called upon to care of the thousands of distraught travelers.

Their response to this challenge was truly extraordinary. Oz Fudge, the town constable, searched all over Gander for a flight-crew member so that he could give her a hug as a favor to her sister, who managed to reach him by phone. Eithne Smith, an elementary-school teacher, helped the passengers sheltered at her school fax letters to loved ones all over the world. And members of a local animal protection agency crawled into the cargo hold of the jets to feed and care for all of the animals on the flights.

These stories and hundreds more are beautifully rendered in The Day the World Came to Town, the true account of a community that exemplifies love, kindness, and generosity.


The Day the World Came to Town Publisher: Harper Paperbacks

My mom found the book in a local store yesterday and promptly bought it. She can’t put it down.

I get it next.