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Artifacts of a Trip Past

Packing up our house I’ve come across a stash of artifacts from the eight month long trip Vance and I took in 2001, pre-kids.

We had spent most of our twenties living in New York, Vance toiling long, long hours for the dot com that had hatched in a dorm room, found investors, fledged to the city, had a record breaking IPO and then crashed back to earth in a spectacular manner.  In 2001, when we started to get an inkling of what was to come, we made our escape plan, put our apartment on the market and gave notice. We signed the final papers on August 30th and drove a U-Haul full of our belongings home to Maine, stuffing them in a self-storage unit (not that there was so much to stuff, pre-house, pre-kids). When September 11th happened, we were packing our backpacks while the buildings across the street from Vance’s old office, his view out his very own window, crumbled. Were we still going to go? folks asked. We were jobless and homeless and now felt city-less, too. We were still going, dammit.

elephants crossing, Chitwan National Park, Nepal

It was a fantastic trip that stretched from Tibet, Nepal, down through India, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, Bali, New Zealand and Australia. It was in remote eastern Nepal, in fact, that we met the kids who were the inspiration for this trip, a fifth grader and his older brother from Alaska who were on the same trail as us, going up when we were coming down. “Did you see blue sheep?” he wanted to know, “I just did a book report on them!” He was so excited, I thought to myself, “I want that for my kids!” and we decided that night if we did have children, and they didn’t drive us too crazy and the opportunity arose, we would do some extended travel again.

And now, it looks like we’re doing this crazy thing! Some of the places we hit this time around will be new, and some will not. Thankfully, the kids have already developed some traveling chops from spring break trips to Australia, Hawaii and Europe and twice annual east coast/west coast migrations. They are patient* with the uncertainties of planes, trains, trams, taxis and ferries, flexible* when schedules change, open and willing* to try new foods. As we plan, we hope that among all the logistics and inconveniences that lie before us there will be some moments like that on the trail in 2001, when excitement for learning and wonder for the world shines through and makes it all worth it.

*Not always, mind you, but patient, willing and flexible enough.

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