A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about leaving

Emotional turmoil before hitting the road

written by Birgit

sunny 14 °C
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Admittedly I’m exhausted. The last two weeks were a bit tougher than expected. Even though we thought that we were well prepared, there are simply certain things that one cannot really prepare for.
And emotions are up and down. Hard to predict. In some moments life is just fun and it’s about enjoying and taking in every second of what’s happening. That was the case for all the parties we got to celebrate. And there’s so much to be celebrated: the first fare well party was at work. Celebrating the last working day for this year on April 14 with friends and colleagues with traditional Austrian ‘Kaiserschmarrn mit Apfelkompott’ was really nice and the starting point for a series of parties. And with every good bye party, things start getting more real. Well, relatively that is.
To a certain degree, there’s just so much which feels just like normal. A last day at work including saying goodbye to colleagues and friends... One should think that this is sufficient to start believing that now the excitement will start. Still, quite frankly, even despite all the shaking hands and saying good bye, for the time being it just feels like going into any regular vacation. Even the following day - a Friday - will probably just feel like a 'normal' long weekend.
And that Friday… What a party! We had so much fun, so much pizza and a good share of good drinks. It’s hard to tell who had more fun: the adults sitting inside having a relaxed chat and lots of laughter or the kids jumping around in the garden, the street and the playground until late at night. And luckily all the fun was documented in our guest book – our great repository of fun memories (we’re still so thankful to Simone for giving us our first guestbook as her welcome present when visiting us in Romania!).
Unfortunately, with every emotional high, the low point did not wait for too long: the waking up in the next morning usually came with the bitter note of panic realizing that there’s still so much that needs to be done before we’ll be able to head off. And when I’m writing panic, I’m meaning panic… Sometimes to the degree that the panic makes you just sit in a frozen state not knowing where even to start. Once that state was overcome and I got started moving with just about any task, the panic usually subsided after a while. And what took over was rather a kind of mindless frenzy with just trying to get things done and actions ticked off.
And there’s so much that had to be done that it’s hard to get it all sorted in retrospect. Some items were easy and straight forward, others trickier than expected. E.g. parking a vehicle in a garage sounds way too easy to be even mentioned as an action that requires completion. Well, Sam spent quite a while just doing that in the last night at our place: Contrary to many other vehicles which we either sold or will borrow to others while we’ll be gone, we decided to simply keep Sam’s car in the garage. Easy. Well, it would be easy if the car would in fact fit into the garage. As we usually only kept my car in the garage, we had not realized that Sam’s car is actually just a bit too high to fit. Once again easy: Sam takes his tools, cuts off an unnecessary long holder of the drive of the garage door. Now the height fits. Except that backing into the garage, Sam realizes that he would be hitting the construction he built to hold his equipment… A couple of discussions and pondering different options of rearranging the contents of the garage later, he tries to fit the car into the garage the other way around. And incredibly enough: this time it fits – by a mere 10 cm. Letting down the garage door is an adventure in itself, but hooray it works! Disconnecting the battery (which is a recommendation when not moving a car for longer periods of time) was quickly done – only to realize that the electrical windows were still down. Connecting the battery again, closing the windows, disconnecting… Done!
The other task that kept us busy that last night (and the weeks before that for that matter) is clearing the house: Roughly two weeks ago we signed a rental contract for our house with our new tenants. And as part of that we agreed which items of our furniture they’d be happy to use while we’ll be gone and which ones we should rather pack away. What sounds straight forward at a first glance is in fact a massive task at hand. Yes, we thought that we had sold already a lot in the last couple of weeks. Looking back, we should have sold a lot more. Big houses tend to fill up and there’s simply way too much we have that we actually don’t need anymore. That was the single biggest task we had to tackle. And wow – at the end the rooms we did not rent out were really full with piled up boxes…
And last but not least we also had to pack our suitcases or rather backpacks for travelling. The advantage of packing the contents of our house was that we touched everything anyhow and were simply starting to pile everything that we might want to take on our travels.
And after a very short night and a hectic day in getting the last bits and pieces sorted, finally on April 22nd around 4:15 pm we left our place, waved the neighbors good bye and drove off in direction South East towards my parents’ place.
One would imagine that leaving our house for more than a year is a very emotional event with tears of good bye and a bit of melancholy. That’s at least what I imagined it would be. Very wrong. Quite frankly I was at that point just way too exhausted from the last days that the only feeling left was relief. Relief to be done with packing, to have no more boxes to be carried around and to know that we’re on the road.
We’re on our way – world, we’re coming!
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Posted by dreiumdiewelt 22:23 Archived in Germany Tagged leaving goodbye Comments (2)

From the Great Lakes to the Mississippi and beyond

sunny 25 °C
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We spent another two days getting our van fully tested. To do that, we started sleeping in the van in Janis’ driveway. Sam also tested most technical features and discovering some issues that require fixing. Luckily enough the guys at Art’s RV were kind enough to check our van. They had a new anode for our heating system on stock (we hardly recognized that this was the part we needed, as it did not look at all like the worn part we had in our van) and they were able to order a part to replace our leaking gas valve.

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In addition, we did some shopping such that our van now features among others new colorful carpets, a doormat and a new folding table. So eventually on Thursday May 5 we were all set and it was time to say goodbye to Janis, Phil and Sam in Glenview. But not before they had written into our guest book. Everybody who has been at our place knows that our guests are always asked to write into the book. As this is such a nice routine and flipping through it brings back so many nice memories, we figured we might as well continue that tradition while traveling around.
Our plan was to spend a couple of hours in Chicago on Thursday. We were lucky to find street parking and set off in freezing temperatures (it’s the Windy City after all) to take the L train into town. After a stop in the beautiful and huge City Library, we headed off to famous Buckingham fountain in Grant park. Unfortunately, a lady advised us not to approach the fountain. But it did not feature water yet anyhow – no wonder given the freezing temperatures the last couple of days. After the mandatory stop in Millennium Park at the Bean we had to get back to our car again, as the parking spot unfortunately had a two hours maximum parking limit. And we did not want to risk a ticket already in the first week.

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As we had decided to take the scenic route South, we got to see along Lake Shore Drive not only Adler Planetarium, the Field Museum and Soldier Field, but also the Museum of Science and Technology in Hyde Park. Most likely many people would avoid driving through Chicago’s South Side. When I was in high school I sometimes spent my weekends at my friend Precious’ place and usually our weekend count of white people was below five. Still, at bright daylight on one of the larger streets, there was no reason why we should not go that way. Everything looked pretty well kept, even though it was obvious that the neighborhoods cannot benefit from the same income level as on the North Side or in the suburbs.
After a night in Carol and Pete’s driveway in Oak Lawn where we benefited from lots of traveling hints from Dave and the scheduled visit at Art’s RV, we were ready to leave Chicagoland headed Southwest. Even though we pretty much followed Route 66, we consciously decided to stay on the interstate to get moving forward more quickly. With all the national parks and scenery waiting for us in the Southwest, we can’t wait to get there. And even though that might not do some of the sights in the Midwest justice, even having five months in North America require us to make some choices.
We spent our first night at campground in Sangchris State Park outside Springfield, IL. We had planned to stock up on our groceries just before getting to the prk in Rochester, the small town with a population of 3400. Our first stop was at the local hardware store which had everything Sam desired to buy on stock. While this was true for the hardware store, we were not as lucky in regards to groceries. Seemingly Rochester is too small to have a grocery store of it’s own and we had to go back the five miles into Springfield to do our shopping.
We found a really nice spot in the Deer Run campsite. Best of all: it featured very nice neighbors. Tim and Barb were on an outing with their six-year-old grandson Nigel. So Max had a companion to play with and later at night all of us were sitting together at their campfire. What a nice start into our adventures.
A late start into the next morning brought us to St. Louis in the late afternoon. It was fairly straight forward to find parking downtown, but it was also a bit spooky to hear from a guy passing by that a girl just had her car stolen around the corner from where we were. Still, we figured that our rather old car would not classify for being stolen. Still, we rather took all valuables and passports with us. The skyline of St. Louis featuring the Gateway Arch is spectacular. Still, Max was by far more attracted by the lively Citygarden. At the first time around he limited himself to biking once through the fountain area. The second time around he was unstoppable and eventually even jumped into the pool. He had fun and luckily the temperatures allowed for getting wet without having a set of changing clothes with us.

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We ended our day at Meramac Caves and were surprised to find the campground there almost empty despite the fact that it was a Saturday evening. So we chose a spot next to the river, not too far away from the playground and enjoyed our second night camping out.

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 08:03 Archived in USA Tagged fountain chicago leaving camping springfield st.louis Comments (1)

Back to the starting point and lots of good byes

In Milwaukee, Glenview, Oak Lawn, Los Angeles

rain 17 °C
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We loved our time at the lake in the cabin and could have spent much more time there. Especially as it was perfect fall weather and the leaves just started to turn colors and it would have been just another week or so for being even more colorful.
Eventually we headed off and drove south into Wisconsin. It was a beautiful drive, passing through colourful forests and alongside of a couple of lakes. As we approached Lake Michigan, the sun was covered by heavy clouds and the interstate was not nearly as nice as the smaller backroads had been.
As we plotted out where to stop along the way, Sam realized that we’d be passing through Milwaukee, the home of Harley Davidson. And anyone who knows Sam a bit, suspects already that we would not pass this perfect opportunity to stop at the Harley Davidson museum.
Upstairs all the history of HD was on display starting with the first motorcycle created in 1903 and subsequent developments including some army versions produced for both world wars and racing bikes that set long distance speed records.

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Max enjoyed the collection of fuel tanks in all different colors, the kids’ corner and the movie scenes featuring Harley Davidsons. That left enough time for Sam to stroll around and take pictures of the rather unusual models on display. Last but not least, all of us got to try out and sit on the newest 2017 models such that we could imagine owning and riding them around the world.

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With the stop in Milwaukee, it got late and dark already as we headed into Glenview, where we had headed off for our big journey in early May. About a mile before parking the van the last time, we almost got into an accident – what a shock, just shortly before arriving.
It was good to be ‘home’ and Janis had dinner waiting for us already. So life was good again.
The next morning, we had to get our van ready for potential buyers to have a look. It was the worst possible weather for cleaning the van. By the time the outsides of the van were shining, Sam was soaking wet from the torrential rain and I was the lucky one to finish the insides of the van. At noon, the first couple of interested people had a look at the van and we spent the afternoon talking with some more interested people on the phone.
After that much effort, we went bowling together with Janis. We had lots of fun and also Max enjoyed his first ever game of bowline. With the special slide for the ball and the bumpers up, Max managed to even come in second place behind Sam.

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The next day we were invited at Carol’s birthday party. After great (and too much!) Mexican food, we could not resist to eat large amounts of angel food cake with chocolate cream and berries – yummy! But eventually we had to leave and say good bye to Carol, Pete and the kids. Let’s hope it’s not too long until we’ll see each other again!
That evening we watched ‘Easy Rider’ – the Harley museum in Milwaukee had inspired us. The popcorn was great, some of the pictures of the American west reminded us of our trip, but overall we were a bit overwhelmed. Crazy times.
Our last full day in the US was pretty much dedicated to packing and getting paperwork sorted. These rather tedious tasks were only interrupted by long walks in the park and excellent lunch. My mom had brought all the ingredients for making my favourite food: plum dumplings (Zwetschgenknödel). As she was unable to find the usual kind of plums we use in the stores, we used what was available and it was great. Thanks, mom!
While we had contemplated five months back that it would be nice to spend another day in Chicago towards the end of our trip, by now our interests had shifted. We enjoyed being around our and Janis’ family and had not the slightest interest in doing any sightseeing.
The next morning, we tried to stay as much outside as possible. We’d be spending anyhow lots of time inside of airports and planes. Janis treated us to Mexican food for lunch – including my favourite refried beans. It was great and once more tempted us to eat much more than needed. Both Sam and I agree, that the last two weeks of our stay in the US, we both gained a bit of weight. It was just too good!
After lunch Janis made already the first tour to the airport and we had to say good bye to my parents. It was great that they had come. And while we (ab-)used the opportunity to get rid of many things we did not need on our further trip anymore, I do feel sorry that they had to take baggage home at the absolute upper limit of what’s allowed.
Until Janis came back for the second trip to the airport with us, we enjoyed one last hour at home. We hugged the van good bye one last time and exchanged hopes with Phil, Sam and Janis that we’d hopefully see each other again before too long. One last wave back and off we went to the airport.
In a certain way this was a déjà vu, going back to the starting point. It felt not too different from going to the airport in Munich those five months ago. Once again, we’d have new adventures, and a new continent waiting for us.
At the airport we were a bit disappointed that American Airlines had recently implemented a practice of not checking bags through whenever flights have not been purchased at the same time. So in retrospect it did not help us to book with them, even though they are affiliated with Air Tahiti Nui in the Oneworld Alliance.
So once we arrived in Los Angeles, we had to retrieve our bags and the car seat, haul them into the next terminal and check them in again. But as we had enough time to do so, this did only represent an inconvenience and no real issue. And we even found a kind employee of Air Tahiti Nui who offered to post our postcards for us (since 9/11 there seem to be no mailboxes at US airports anymore) - written last minute like in every vacation.
We have travelled via plane very often with Max before and visited lots of countries. At practically all airports so far he had been our super joker: we were usually allowed to skip waiting lines and to board first. Not so in the USA: it's first the people who booked first class, then those with senator status, then those with other miles status, then the holder of certain credit cards - you get the message.
As our flight only left LAX at 11:40pm but despite the two-hour time difference vs. Chicago, Max had managed well to stay up as long. But by the time of boarding he was really tired. So it took a bit of convincing to be allowed to board in wave 1 of the non-priority economy passengers instead of wave 2. And it was good that we did that: Max fell asleep pretty much as soon as we had found our seats in the plane and slept until breakfast was served.
One last wave back towards the continent that hosted us so nicely during more than five months and off we go...

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 09:42 Archived in USA Tagged rain airport museum leaving harley birthday van bowling sale bye Comments (1)

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