One year ago- August 29, 2011- we boarded a flight from Minneapolis to Tokyo and began our long-anticipated world tour. We couldn’t have dreamt how it would turn out.
Originally, we thought we’d spend August 29, 2012 somewhere in Croatia. Instead, we’re in an apartment about a mile from our old house.
Traveling through Asia with only a carry-on to your name is hard work. It’s even harder when you’re discovering that you and your wife have very different travel styles.
While our ambitious itinerary looked good to both of us on paper, it soon became clear that we had different ideas of how to travel through Malaysia… Cambodia… Thailand. Karen prefers to linger in a city and soak up its ambience with a stroll around the local market. I get a thrill from being on the move, hitting key museums and seeking out off-the-beaten-path gems. Karen’s hotel standards are a bit higher than mine (i.e. she has standards). These differences, which have existed on all of our trips over the years, are easy to manage on a three-week vacation in Spain. A non-stop, months-long expedition, however, pushes them into stark relief.
So we adapted. Despite glowing reviews from fellow travelers, we eliminated Laos and Vietnam from our itinerary. And we decided to break the trip into two parts by coming back to Milwaukee for the summer.
Now, we’re facing a conundrum. We’ve lost our we’re-already-in-Asia-let’s-just-hop-over-to-Europe momentum. We wondered (as did many of our friends) whether we would even manage to leave again after taking a break in the shiny, comfy USA. Where should we go next? That’s what we’ve been asking ourselves, in between cream puffs and margaritas.
We’ve decided to adapt once again and depart in late September for… the United States of America. Namely the national parks of the Southwest. It’s a trip we mapped out years ago and had to cancel twice, most recently when our dog Molly got sick. (We took her to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan instead. Not quite the same scenery.)
Although we’ve both traveled in the Southwest, we managed to go different places. The idea now is to explore parks Karen has visited and I haven’t, and vice versa, resulting in the ultimate western itinerary: Arches, Bryce, Zion, Canyonlands, the Grand Canyon and others, plus a stop in Albuquerque for the balloon festival.
After that, well, we’ll see. As the mercury begins to fall, it’s tempting to head south to Central or South America. But somehow, being home hasn’t allowed us as much planning time as I thought it would. (How is it that I’m unemployed and have no car, and yet I’m so busy?!) We’ve also started dreaming about what we might want to do next- where we’ll live and what jobs we’ll have. More head-scratching to come.
For now, we’re dusting off our cowboy hats and six-shooters (and GPS units and iPods) and going west. Unless we change everything. Again.