This is an invitation for anyone in Seattle who would like to come and reconnect with us. We're jonesin' to hook back up with old friends and meet folks who have been following along. Here's the info:
I've also added this as an event on Upcoming.org. We hope we'll see you on Tuesday! There is usually parking in the back.
We may be home, but we've got a few more weeks to go on TwinF. Our plan is to stop blogging on the site within a month. From then on, it will continue to be available online for many years. So, we have about a month to get out everything we want to say about the trip.
If you'll hang around here for another month or so, we'll be posting some best-of lists, a year in review, more pictures, a couple of videos and some things we wrote but never posted. It should be a fun way to end up.
Just for the record, it took Sachi a couple of minutes to remember which exit we take off of I-5 to go home. It has been a while.
I owe Sachi big ups (and some slack) for driving all the way across the country - 4600+ miles. I did not drive once the whole time. She did an awesome job and now we're even-steven for my share of foreign driving.
Seattle in 21 miles, says the sign.
For the last few days, moments of silence between us have often been broken by one of us blurting out something that excites us about home - usually in the Homer Simpson style of "mmmnn doooonut". Here are a few... (please feel free to insert your own styles or sound effects).
Packages sent from abroad
Washer and Dryer
Mio Posto (neighborhood cafe)
Aside from these things there are a lot of people that have been on our minds a lot too, especially kids. We can't wait to see Griffin, Calder, Isabella, Michael, Trevor and Charlie (and their parents too, of course).
4 hours to go...and we just crossed the 45 parallel, a sign says.
After spending some quality time with the family and eating our weight in southern home cookin', we are about to depart for the final leg of our journey. This afternoon we pick up our rental car and head west toward Seattle (actually only slightly west to Atlanta for now).
Home here in North Carolina is certainly an authentic slice of Americana, but being where I'm from, it's just home. However, on the road trip over the next 2 weeks, we will be on the lookout for those things that seem to be uniquely American for us. For example, one of the most striking things has been the sheer size of everything. People, voices, homes, yards, vehicles, portions, TVs, everything. It all seems so, um, big.
Thanks too for the folks who have welcomed us back stateside with warm emails. It is indeed nice to be back in the US and speaking complete sentences again. I had a dream last night about our dog Amos who will be on the top of our minds all the way across and possibly causing a mad dash to the finish line at the very end.
Our route very basic will go something like: Atlanta --> Dallas --> Grand Canyon --> Las Vegas --> LA -->San Francisco-->Home.
Man oh man, did the 50th wedding anniversary surprise work perfectly. After planning on it for over a year with my brothers(even before we left) it was so wonderful to see my parents' reaction - particularly my Mom's.
As I described before, we told my parents that we would be abroad until Christmas and would miss their anniversary party. In order to understand how big of a surprise it was when we were revealed, you just have to watch the video. I can't watch it without getting a little misty.
I'm sorry that we have had to deceive you for so long, but it was required so that we could give my Mom what she described as "one of the biggest thrills of her life" on her 50th wedding anniversary.
You see, she is a devoted reader of TwinF and in order to fool her, we had to fool everyone into believing that we would be abroad until Christmas. In fact, we spent Thanksgiving in New York and took a train to North Carolina last Friday.
For instance, the little box on the home page says "351 days en route and in San Sebastian, Spain." A complete untruth.
In Sachi's recent post...
Tomorrow we are catching a train to Zaragoza and Pamplona for just a night or two each on our way to San Sebastian on Spain's northern coast. A BOLD FACED LIE.
Like I said, we did it to pull off a big surprise. This weekend my parent's celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and they believed we would not make it home for the event. Of course, we would not miss it and planned to attend-by-surprise before we left. So we planned all this over a year ago - all so that we could see this reaction...
(all photos by our friend Greg Parks)
I hope you'll forgive us. We'll have a video of the trip home and the surprise coming soon. From here, we drive across the country to Seattle over next next 2-3 weeks (the truth, I swear!)
The above headline in Portuguese reads: "Democrats oblige Bush to look at what he has done in Iraq."
It has been rather strange to watch the mid-term US elections from Portugal. On the morning of the 8th, I got up early, like a kid on Christmas, to see the early results and went back to bed with satisfied thoughts of a Democratic House and the defeat of Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania. Since then, we've been checking in on the headlines, but I think we both miss the analysis (which I imagine most Americans are already sick of). More than anything else, I want to be able to watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart right now and experience something close to the moment we all hoped for in 2004. I'm sure he has a lot to say.
The election is of course huge news here too. One of the guys that runs the hotel here said it is the top story on the radio, newspaper, TV, etc. From what we've heard many, many times on the trip, we think this election will make some sense to the Europeans. Most of our friends in Europe were completely baffled by Bush being elected a second time. They often say that it seems impossible because they have never met an American that likes him. Our response is usually something like "Well, remember that something like 80% of Americans do not hold a passport".
We both will take some satisfaction in returning home to a government with a different agenda and with a not-so-subtle message having been sent to W from our countrymen. Home is looking better all the time.
Sending packages home is how we manage to stay light, and usually it is not a problem. China, Vietnam and many other unexpected places make it a smooth, albeit paperwork laden, operation.
In Italy, where some things are so well designed and easy, the postal system seems to be a mess - at least for the traveler.
We needed to send home about 10 lbs of items and, as usual, found the post office near the train station in Milan. After waiting for 20 minutes, they could only sell us an oversized yellow box and the basic direction of another post office where we could send it. So, with our backpacks and a giant yellow box, we walked to the other station and waited again. It looked bad. There were 6 windows all blocked by glass - no place to pass over a big box. With a help of a very friendly Italian guy, we finally communicated that we wanted to send the box to America. At this point, she looked at us like we requested an express package to the moon. Neither post office was set up for sending packages - only items that could be slid under the glass sneeze guard. I wonder how Italians send a package?
When she asked about the contents of our giant yellow box, my translator communicated that one item was pasta. She shook her head and had to look up if it was OK to send pasta to the US. I just wanted to say "We're in Italy right? Is pasta a protected item here? Is the US concerned about ecological effects foreign pasta? C'mon"
After a lot of talking in Italian, it became clear that our 10lbs of goods would cost USD 90 and about 500 dollars of pure hassle. Our translator left us with solace by saying that even for Italians, the post office is always an adventure. Fortunately for them though, they don't have to schlep around 10 extra pounds wherever they go when it doesn't work out. Maybe it'll be easier in France.