So this is it. After 15 months outside the U.S., we head back tomorrow. A couple days in Minneapolis, a week on Lake Vermillion in Northern Minnesota, Labor Day weekend in Michigan, then Boston, Miami Beach, Des Moines, Washington, Las Vegas, Utah, and Los Angeles. Interestingly, even internally I don’t think of it as going “home.” We’re looking forward to some visits and we’re going to see part of the U.S. – Utah’s national parks – that we’ve never seen. But it’s really not going home, since we don’t have a home there and we’ll soon enough be back on the road.I know we’ve been in France for a while when I have escargot for an appetizer …[/caption]First, though, before heading back we had a few days in Paris; not exactly a bad way to end this first leg of our adventure. Of course, Paris is beautiful and the food is fabulous and all that, but we’ve both been a little melancholy about this (temporary) transition back to the States which may have taken some of the luster off the city for us. Paris in August is notorious for having things closed up, which has been a real challenge for Mark as he researches restaurants for us. One thing I was excited to see in August is the beach the city sets up along the Seine. We got here to discover, though, that it was closing on August 17, our first day. Really? Closing the beach in mid-August? Turns out maybe the Parisians know something about their weather. It’s been surprisingly cold and overcast the whole time, which hasn’t helped that nagging sense that something important is ending.
Oh yeah, and then there’s been that whole pinched nerve thing. I got her kind of optimistic that it had been a one-off anomaly and now I’d be back to normal. Alas, not to be, unless (god forbid) this is the new normal. Interestingly, whatever was wrong doesn’t really affect my back at all now, but has migrated down to my arm. And while it’s nothing like the days in Poitiers, it’s not nothing, either. So I’m still taking pain pills and wearing a silly neck brace most of the time. The good news is I have an appointment with an acupuncturist in Duluth next week, so he should be able to fix me right up. (Thanks Becky!)
I keep thinking that with 15 months, 53 books, 29 countries on three continents, and untold miles on the ground and through water, I should have some important lessons to share. You’d think I would, but maybe not so much. OK, here’s one: multiple changes of clothes are overrated. If I think of any more on that long plane ride to the midwest I’ll share them later.
In case you’re wondering, though, if we’re getting tired of all this travel, the answer is a definitive no. To be honest, we’re a little tired of traveling in Western Europe, just because it’s so easy. We’re both itching to get back to more exotic places. So from LA we’re heading to the Yucatan for a couple weeks and then probably going to some non-tourist Caribbean islands, including Haiti, to get our sense of adventure back. Starting to research and plan that gets me excited again!
Mark & Jim–I have so thoroughly enjoyed your adventures thus far, and been so thoroughly envious and inspired both–if that is possible.
I would love to see you when you are in DC–maybe I can pull together an informal gathering of CBPP & AFSCME types if you are interested.
Also, I’d like to issue a challenge. I have just returned from beautiful British Columbia, and you really must include Canada on your itinerary! I am married to a Canuck so I’m a little biased but they really have better Rocky Mountains than we do, and pretty terrific coastline, and mosquitoes that rival the lakes of MN!
Ann – Great to hear from you. We’re never sure if anyone (except Mark’s parents!) reads the blog, so it’s nice to know that it’s inspiring someone, even if it’s just inspiring envy. It would be great to see you. We’re in DC only two-plus days, arriving Wednesday, September 17 and leaving Friday evening the 19th. Stu at NGP VAN is pulling together a Happy Hour party for us on Wednesday and we’ll see to it you’re invited, though to be honest in a large-ish party like that we won’t have a lot of chance to visit. How would something after work on Thursday do? Or lunch on Friday? As for inviting others, the more people are there the less I get to visit with you, so my sense is always the smaller the better. If you were in touch with Liz McNichol or someone like that it would be great, but I’m not dying to visit with a bunch of people I hardly know anymore.
As for Canada … It is most definitely on our to-do list. I used to have a poster in my office from Lake Louise when I worked in Minneapolis in the mid-1980s and I’ve wanted to go there ever since. I’m not sure when it will happen, but I am sure we’re going to do some time in the Canadian Rockies, some time on a railroad across the country, and – if I have my way – even some time up in the vast northern territories. The only problem, even when you’re traveling for the rest of your life, is that there isn’t enough time!
Hi, guys! I’m tres excited that, from your itinerary listed above, it looks like you’ll be at the Harkin reunion thing in Death Moans? My flight is booked, reunion ticket purchased, lodging arranged, and wardrobe in progress. (Heeding Jim’s advice, of course, that multiple changes of clothes are overrated. 😉 I can’t wait to see you! Please change the e-mail address you have for me to the one I used here, and let me know the skinny on your Iowa plans, if any! Missing, missing, missing you.
Gah! Site administrator, sir, please delete that little yellow emoticon that showed up in my comments. I didn’t know my “wink” would be visually quite so winky. I’m not four years old! Not even 44…
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