Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Panic Attack Number 1

Greetings from California, stop number one on the long journey of Steve and Sarah (and in this case Sophie). We've spent a wonderful holiday period with the fam and friends, both in Concord and in Napa, enjoying big meals, some fantastic wine, and our first experience of living out of the suitcase. 

However, you might ask, Steve, if you are having such a wonderful time, why are you up writing a blog post at 3:45am? Oh, I will tell you - I had my first panicked travel dream. To put this dream in context, I first have to explain that most of the dreams I remember are pretty exciting - car chases, secret agents, that sort of thing. These are fun dreams, where I know things will work out and I'm just along for the ride. 

Then, there are the panic dreams, which oddly enough, are the most mundane dreams I have. For instance tonight, I dreamt that it was late on the night before we were leaving for Australia and a bunch of people were over at the house, including Brianna, a friend from high school and her boyfriend who was making soup for us for the journey. I was desperately trying to make sure my pack was ready and that I'd have room for a big container of soup of all things but all anyone could talk about was the fact that Brianna's boyfriend's soup needed more veggies. So sure enough, I ended up on the road in the middle of the night, hours before departure, seeking a grocery store that would have garlic, tomatoes and lentils at 1am. The items left undone on the todo list were running through my head, mixed up with the ingredient list for the soup, and as the rain crashed down on the windshield I craned my neck to see if some Safeway would appear. I woke up in a cold sweat. And now I'm writing about it in hopes that others have had similar experiences with travel and might find some humor in the whole thing.

I imagine stress dreams are part of most travelers' experiences at some point in time or another, and while I hope this is not a common occurrence, after the busyness of the holidays it's not so bad to sit, sipping apple cider in the silent house while everyone is sleeping around me. 

By the way, the picture at the top of the post is of a waterfall that is a short walk up the road from my dad's place in Napa. A beautiful little calm spot. Back to bed for me, hopefully to find secret agent dreams and no more soup disasters. Happy holidays everyone.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

One, Two, Three...JUMP!

We usually don't get to philosophical on this blog, but I hope on the eve of the journey you'll forgive a little verbal wandering. A screw up with the flights has Sarah departing with Zephyr in 7 hours (ug 6am flights) and me following a little while later with Flora. Crazy upheavel on the last night but I suppose that's how it goes. In the end the few hours till liftoff were chopped in half and now we're standing on the brink, which has me thinking of a few moments from the past.
I transferred to Wesleyan when I was a junior, and at age 20 made my way across the country in an old Volvo with two old friends to live on the East Coast for the first time. I expected to find red and gold trees, harbors, and ivy, and while I found the brick and the professors, I also found out the trees didn't turn colors till the fall and what you got instead at the end of the summer was hot, sticky humidity. The inside of my miniture brick-sided room heated up during the day to the point where I realizing sitting outside in the beating sun was cooler. But what you also have in New England is ponds. On the west coast, ponds are little mudholes that form in the hills when it rains and dry up soon after, but on the East Coast, they are entirely different creatures. They are small lakes, hidden in thick forests, bordered with beaten down granite cliffs. And they are also how college students coming back to campus escape the heat.
 I went to Miller's Pond for the first time in the middle of the night, when the heat had abated just enough for the breeze through the car window to be pleasent. We walked the half mile from the parking lot by the light of the moon through the trees and finally crept forward with our toes onto the edge of the cliff. It was impossible to see the water below us in the dark expanse, much less to know if the landing was clear to jump. I felt fear in my chest and thought about backing out, but the others around me (Pete H included) assured me it was alright, and in the end I leap out into the night. For an instant it felt like I wasn't falling at all, like there was nothing to hit, but then I splashed into the freezing water, heart pounding and cool for the first time in days.

It feels a ltitle like that now, standing on the edge of a journey where we have no idea what lies on the other side but knowing that if we take that leap we'll land somewhere amazing. It's frightening to be sure, but also envigorating. 

I've posted a few shots of the very clean and empty house to ground us during our travels, to remind us of the home we've left and have to look forward to on our return in June. 

Good night everyone, the 3am alarm is rapidly approaching, as is a very big day.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Malaria pills...check. Camera...check. Cat...cat?!?

A big welcome to those of you who are now receiving our updates via email and to all our patient readers who have been checking the blog on the web and waiting for us to stop talking about it and finally hit the road. The long wait is nearly over. After bittersweet goodbyes at our respective offices (Hey Arts Umbrella and BCCEWH folk!), Sarah and I have spent the weekend finalizing the lists, packing the house, and doing the first pack of the backpacks. And in less than four days, we'll be out of the house and living in our backpacks 'til June.

Here's a few shots of the fun mixed in with some thoughts about how we'll do the blog.
 Sarah, Zephyr, and the empty packs. They are so light all by themselves. Sigh.

There are lots of types of travel blogs. They run the gambit of styles, but tend to either be of the tedious-details ilk ("I just changed my socks!") or the infrequent but deeply reflective type ("I totally just reached a new plane of consciousness, man...."). We're going to try to shoot the gap between these two styles.
I won't bore you with the complete list of what goes into these bags, but here's a few highlights - malaria pills, universal adapter, sleeping bag liners (for those "budget" accommodations), and a sterilized needle pack. Zephyr is making a concerted bid to be included in the packing list.

So, by shooting the gap I mean we will do our best to not bore you with mundane details, but we'll also try to provide enough interesting details with enough frequency that you have somewhat of a feeling of climbing into our packs with Zephyr and coming along.
We'll see how far that yoga mat makes it...

The general idea is that every three days or so, we're going to pick the one event, experience, person, etc. that we found the most fascinating and we'll write a post about that. Pictures and potentially even videos will be included so you don't get dreadfully bored just listening to us jabber on.

The packs have been packed, and remarkably, are not back-breaking to wear. We'll see what happens after hiking a few miles though...

So that's the full scoop on the blog and our packing process. If we can't take you all along with us, we'll at least try to keep you in the loop.

Less than 4 days till liftoff!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

To Map or to .map?

Well, our to-do list is to-doing itself these days with many to-dos crossed off every to-day. From the pick up of hypodermic needles at travel clinics to looking like goofs in MEC as we handle each pair of socks to see which ones are the lightest, every day, we're getting closer and closer to take off. As of next Thursday (eek!) we'll be out of our house, so our to-do focus has shifted to packing up the abode in anticipation of hitting the road.

With that packing in mind, allow me a moment to tell a little anecdote. I'm an atlas kinda gal. Sure maps.google.com can show you what your house looks like in every season, but I've always been a fan of picking up the heaviest book on the shelf and browsing. I attempted to do this this morning since I had a conversation with a dental hygenist yesterday who stumped me with her home country's location, alas, our atlas has been packed! Gosh darn us who are so damn on top of packing up! Google maps solved my problem (Sri Lanka is off the southern tip of India, folks), but I sure do wish I had the strength and space to bring an actual atlas with me instead of those nifty PDFs we've downloaded onto our ubersmall laptop. Or maybe we could just pack up this little girl and tote her along with us...