As soon as I was offered my date I dug out my passport. My passport was not expired but did expire later this year so I had to go and get it renewed. In order to get a visa your passport has to be valid for a full 6 months after the visa expires. Regardless of whether I would get a 30 day visa or 3 year visa I would have to get my passport renewed. In talking to the woman at the post office who deals with passports she said that in the spring the passport office is swamped and it often takes 10-12 weeks to get your passport as opposed to the standard 6-8. So I paid the extra $60 and got it expedited. I was guaranteed to get it in 2-3 weeks. It ended up only taking 12 days, which was really quite impressive. So if you are planning to travel to Russia in the next couple years, ensure your passport will be valid for long enough, if not you may want to get it renewed now and save yourself the hassle.
So once I had my passport I could go ahead and start my visa paperwork. I somewhat knew what to expect reading accounts from those who have already gone to Russia. There are several visas you can get, I opted to get the 3 year tourist visa. All visas cost about the same, so a 3 year visa just seemed the most practical. The questions I did have on applying for the visa were easily answered on the phone by a woman at the visa agency I was working with. It can take some time to fill out the initial form, they require some past employment history and need to know every country you traveled to in the past 10 years and dates, so if you travel a lot, may want to start making a list. My visa is supposed to be ready after 13 business days, so theoretically by the end of the month I should have my visa.
So all in all making progress! I’ve pretty much purchased all the misc. stuff that I plan to take with me. Now its just waiting to get the visa and then later on packing my suitcase! 46 days to go before I leave!