First, Author change. Audra has written the majority of our posts up to this point, but we've had a drought. Maybe we felt like we had to put too much thought into each post, or maybe we had grandiose plans of the blog gaining traction and monetizing it (like other travel bloggers), but mainly, we just got busier and put this blog on the back burner. Also, Audra will be working online much of the time, and by necessity, I've become the only available person left able to document the experiences. So, I've made a decision to change the direction of our blog. Note: I've always been a stream of consciousness writer, so there may be errors (and there are often many sets of parentheses).
The blog will have two purposes:
1) Mainly, just a journal for self reflection and posterity. My first time out of the country by myself was in small town Honduras. I kept a journal, and it has become one of my most prized possessions. I can read it and reflect accurately on my mindset and feelings at that time. Audra and I know that this year will be a very formative time in our life so we want to be able to look back on it much the same way we all watch home videos of ourselves when we were kids.
2) To keep family and friends informed about what we are doing. We LOVE all of you. We wish to have meaningful conversation with you when we see you again. A lot will happen between now and when we see a lot of you again, so you can stay informed here and skip a large chunk of "catching up".
Second, Panama reflection. Holy crap. In a good way! Experiences since the last blog post: Scuba diving with tons of sharks, sailing with friends, beach relaxation, a wedding party, hosting friends and family, and more. I can write a lot here, but it's been over a month since being here and writing an accurate description might be a bit hard. Long story short, Panama taught me how to relax and focus on things that I wouldn't have been able to otherwise. I already miss the beach, our friends, our tiny house, the fruits, the Spanish, and the weather.
Third, a month at home. Did I mention that we LOVE you (our family and friends). When we decided to start this journey, we knew that being away from everyone would be a major hardship, and it was. It was amazing to see everyone back home! We wish we could have spent even more quality time with you all, but the journey was calling. Thank you Forrest and Cathy (Audra's parents) for allowing us to crash in your basement. Thanks to everyone else who allowed us to stay over on their couches and in their guest bedrooms. We wanted to see everyone so bad that we may have slightly overbooked ourselves (did I mention that we came from a very slow paced life in Panama [told you there would be parentheses (just like math, but the opposite: pay attention to outermost parentheses first!)]). Sorry if we seemed tired or antisocial. Nonetheless, we are SOO glad we did it the way we did.
A few (okay maybe more than a few) amazing memories:
- Lunch in Chicago with Julie Beck and Ryan (Man we missed american food and beer!)
- Getting picked up by Stokes and Ang. Thanks so much for letting me stay with you guys a few nights!
- Lunch with Hess (finally an amazing salad at a restaurant) and walking in Tower Grove Park.
- Impromptu birthday celebration for my brother Danny with almost all of my siblings at Mcnair.
- Meeting my new Nephew Malakai, and also seeing Mackenzie, Landon, Carter, Auriel, Layla, and Joanna (our nieces and nephews).
- Great conversations with my dad on his balcony (In the words of the great author from Missouri, Mark Twain: "When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years."). Not only did my dad teach me this quote, but I owe a lot of who I am to him. Thanks dad.
- Happy hour with Audra's coworkers followed by shots with Adam and Alex followed by spinning rooms followed by morning vomit on Soulard sidewalks.
- An evening of hanging out, an AMAZING dinner, and the Grove with Matty and Sergio (they came to Panama to see us!).
- Hosting a get together at 21st Street Brewers Bar so we could see everyone. There had to have been 30+ people there! We have such a varied and cool group of friends!
- Breakfast and a morning walk with Allison and Ryan at First Watch! Thanks for driving in from COMO just for this!
- Family reunion with the Hertenstein side (my mother's side).
- A few nights at Tubie, Suthoff, and Bill's place! I love you guys!
- An amazing night of convos, pizza, music videos, whiskey, beer, and midnight walks with Julie, Sean, and Ben.
- Catching up with Sextro at GCB!
- Taking our beautiful goddaughter, Joanna, to the arch for her first time!
- Disc Golf with Tom and Jake. Holy crap I miss this stuff!
- Muse and Thirty Seconds to Mars with Audra and her little brother Clinton.
- Taking Denali to a cabin on a Wednesday. No one was there, so he got to be off leash the whole time! Mainly, we caught up on sleep here!
- Bachelor party for my great friend Mike Smith (also meeting his wife to be, Stephanie).
- Diaper Kegger at Stokes' house! John smoked an incredible turkey accompanied by Matt's amazing chorizo stuffing! We successfully floated the keg (we still got it!).
- Family pictures and Father's day bbq with my family at Brian's.
- Chillin with Brian and seeing Wonder Woman.
- An amazing dinner at Mom and Pat's!
- Winery day with Audra's family. Good food, Great wine, and a cool concert!
After being home, we traveled to Columbia to visit Mark and Bree and some other friends. Next stop KC: Aunt Trish and Uncle Les, Mick and Kim (who hiked with us in Peru!), Uncle Lou, and Audra's Grandma. Last US stop was Denver to visit Pat (thanks a TON for letting us crash with you!), Rob, and Mark and Linda (friends from Panama who took us hiking and to Breckenridge brewery!).
Finally, the beginning of the Journey. It's 3:00 AM at this point (I took some time to update site details) and I'm getting a bit tired, but this has been an incredible 48+ hours worth documenting! (Note: something I noticed when I journaled in Honduras was that writing about the meals I had helped bring the memories to life when I looked back on them).
We flew from Denver to Iceland on July 4th. Despite being incredibly last minute, I managed to book a car rental (a tiny, sporty Hyundai i10 - manual) and tickets to the blue lagoon (which we had visited before, but knew we had to get back to). The blue lagoon was so relaxing! We spent 3 hours here soaking and just letting our minds relax seeing as the flight skipped 6 hours and we had no sleep that night. We drove to the town of Grindavik on the southern coast and had crazy awesome fish soup, followed by not one, but two servings of fish and chips. We need to get better about how we order food. Many things get lost in translation... After, we drove east through the coolest, must awe inspiring terrain I've ever seen until I got too tired and we turned around. We had to make many stops on the way back along the southern coast so I could stay awake (the brisk wind coupled with flip flops and a light shirt does wonders for this). Eventually we stopped off at the abandoned Nato base town near Keflavik to sleep for 2 hours in the car. After, we settled at a lighthouse and had another bowl of soup (mushroom) before heading to the airport for our next leg.
We both slept 2 hours of our 3 hour flight to Paris, which arrived on July 6th at 6 AM (if you're doing the math, that's 4 hours of sleep and we jumped 2 days up). We found our hotel/hostel and had to wait 4 hours or so until our room was ready. Speaking of food ordering issues: i got an overpriced ham and cheese sandwich for breakfast when I really wanted a reasonably priced Croque Monsieur. Audra's computer stopped working (turned out the backup battery was dead and it switched some settings. A quick call to Tom Brown and our issue was fixed). We got into our room, showered, and slept from 1pm - 8pm (straight through our 5pm alarm!). Did some grocery shopping, made dinner in our full shared kitchen (this place is awesome: Melon District hotel-Paris). That brings us to now.
We are out of wine, Audra just fell asleep, and I'm getting tired. Until next time! Life is still good!