In some ways I think our trip home began when we boarded the train in Copenhagen on June 26. We had intended to drive to Esbjerg, Denmark and take the overnight ferry to Harwich, England and then take the short train from the ferryport to London. Unfortunately, the Esbjerg ferry crashed (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/sirena-seaways-ferry-left-nearly-500-passengers-stranded-for-three-hours-after-crash-at-major-british-port-in-essex-8669560.html) and was out of service! On short notice air fares were exorbitant, so we ended up taking the overnight train from Copenhagen to Hoek van Holland and catching a different ferry back to Harwich. The overnight train was an experience. We had seats in a “coachette.” This is a compartment with six seats. At night, there are three tier bunks that fold down for sleeping. We were seated with four American women computer geeks. They were fun but our coachette was very crowded! In the morning, as I sat on the train and watched the Dutch countryside speed by I felt a little emotional was struck by a sense of closure and of gratefulness for the time we have had.
|Enjoying coffee at a Camdentown cafe
with Robin, Ruth and Lucy
We arrived in London with one day to spend with Ruth and Robin and their kids. We sold one of our folding bikes back to the bike shop and the second one to Ruth who is using it to ride around central London between hospitals! Then we had a great time taking one last walk through a London market (this time near Chalk Farm) and enjoyed a great dinner at a Jamie Oliver restaurant. Our guide for the market tour was Lucy, Robin & Ruth’s college-age daughter. Jamie’s restaurant was a unanimous choice: Tom and I had become hooked on his 30-minute meal show on British TV and Elizabeth, Robin and Ruth’s youngest daughter, is a fan of his as they are both dyslexic. Dinner was great, the company was better!
Sunday morning, June 30 (the last possible day we could stay in Europe with our tourist visas), we departed London for Cleveland. If you read Tom’s Facebook posts you have an idea that boarding with all the extra stuff we had acquired was not easy. Our bags were overweight, and had to be re-distributed on the spot. And Tom got searched at almost every possible checkpoint! Maybe it’s the beard? I must look harmless with my white hair because I just sailed through security J.
Back in Ohio we had people to visit and errands to complete before driving back to Idaho. We bought a new (used) RAV4 and traded in our old one. We wanted a more powerful engine to pull the new little camper (http://www.aliner.com/) we plan to get next summer. The combination of towing capacity, AWD and good gas mileage is hard to come by in a reasonably priced vehicle, so we jumped at a used 2010 RAV4 V6 with 13,500 miles on it. So we will be arriving back to Idaho in Red not Silver.
|On the beach at Mentor Headlands
with my Mother-in-law Marilyn, my
sister-in-law Marilyn and her partner
In addition to the car, we visited and celebrated the 4thwith Cleveland family. On Friday July 5, we took off to New York City to visit Christian and see his new apartment. On the way we stopped in Philadelphia for an Ethiopian dinner with our niece Anna. Saturday, we had a great day in the city with Christian and his boyfriend, Adam and his apartment passed the Mom test! Sunday we swung down to DC to visit Carolyn and to re-claim my Honda Fit. (Carolyn has been driving it for the past year). We had another nice afternoon with Carolyn. Yesterday we headed back to Cleveland. We ended the day last evening with wine and pizza with my law school friends, Lynn Ondrey, Bill Gruber and Gretchen Corp. Lynn just recently walked the Camino from Leon to Santiago so we had lots of experiences to compare.
We planned to begin our drive back to Idaho today, but we were too tired. So we decided to take one last day wrapping things up and loading the cars. We will leave first thing tomorrow morning.
Our journey home has been something of a winding down process that has been very good for me, and I suspect for Tom also. We have had these past days to let go of our travels, reflect on our adventures, and slowly re-engage with things at home.
I feel relaxed and truly lucky and blessed to have had the chance to undertake this adventure. I know that most people don’t get this opportunity. When we left Idaho last summer I had no idea what this year would have in store for me. I was stressed, impatient, and worried about both large and small things. Over the course of the last year, I have been able to slowly allow all of those concerns to fall away from me. The first six months in Ohio working at the law library at Case and living in Cleveland were a good start. But our last six months of travels allowed me to completely leave my personal “real world” behind. I think the biggest thing I learned was the art of “slow travel” – of staying in one place long enough to dig in and become a small part of it, of absorbing the world around me instead of just observing it.
Now I find I am looking forward to school, to teaching, to writing, to getting re-engaged at my church, to getting active again with ACLU, to working with Tom on the list of projects we have come up with, and of course, to more slow travel in the future.
I am ready to go home.