Note: This post was a year in the making, and took hours of writing and formatting. I apologize for the length, but it was hard to edit down.
Over the past many months I found myself in an extraordinary whirlwind of travel that evolved bit by bit into a year of travel and experiences. One year ago, we had an exchange student living with us, Germany, and he and our youngest son, Little Man, were both preparing for high school graduation. Our eldest son, Middle Man, had just graduated from college, and our daughter was unexpectedly home from Israel for the summer. My husband, an avid climber, planned a climbing trip for Middle Man and himself, in Bolivia, South America, after graduation, and as winter 2013 passed, I found myself wondering why Little Man and I were sitting at home, while they went off on grand adventures. I began to plot an equally cool adventure for us.
I always choose a window seat over an aisle. I like to see where I’m leaving, what’s passing by, and where I’m arriving. I’ve been very fortunate to have traveled as much as I have in my life. I’ve watched major cities, vast landscapes, icecaps, seas and skies, sunrises and sunsets and inky black nights, out the window of airplanes. Here is the view from my window seat April 2014-April 2015.
Our year began in April, with an Un-Belize-able trip! I knew very little about this small country in Central America, before we went. Belize is bordered by Mexico in the north, Guatemala to the south and west, and the Caribbean to the east. We spent 8 amazing days on a catamaran with friends, and had one of the greatest vacations ever! The gorgeous blue waters, unbelievable sea life, and the fun of cruising was only dampened by the fact that I fell through a hatch in the floor of the boat and broke 6 ribs, on day 2. That’s right: climbing into bunks, riding the waves in a Zodiac, and trying to snorkel with one arm… it was the absolutely the best and worst of times!
On May 1st my eldest nephew graduated from college. My sister and I flew together to Florida to share in the weekend with him. To see him walk across the stage at USF, the first in his family to graduate from college, was an incredibly proud moment for all of us. It really does Take a Village.
Two weeks later on May 17th, my eldest son, Middle Man, graduated from college in California. Our daughter, Principessa arrived home from Israel for the summer, and our entire family flew to CA to celebrate our boy’s big day. It was scorching hot in southern CA as he and his classmates walked across the stage, under a stifling tent. The weekend was filled with celebratory moments, as he and his close group of friends (who met the first week of freshman year, and lived together all four years) prepared to say goodbye to their school and each other. There were dinners, packing up dorm rooms, emotional goodbyes, and the realization that one more of my chicks was getting ready to fly. It was a wonderful and challenging weekend.
June was nothing short of an epic month, for travel and for meaningful experiences. On June 7th Little Man graduated from high school, and so ended an era of PTSA, driving kids around, and being intricately involved in my childrens’ daily lives. Our exchange student, Germany, graduated along side our boy, and we were faced with saying goodbye to another foreign student who will forever feel like family. When you open your door to these kids, no one really prepares you for the inevitable loss of sending them home. The weekend didn’t involve any flights, but lots of family celebrations and meaningful moments.
One week later, I flew off to North Carolina for the wedding of my dear one, Becky, to her beloved, Alison. They celebrated the event amidst the beautiful woods and verdant countryside of the Smoky Mountain range, beside a lazy river, and we danced late into the night to wonderful music and the magic of millions of fireflies adding more sparkle to an already beautiful scene. While in NC, I was fortunate to meet and spend a night at the home of blogger, Jennie Saia; I enjoyed a few days with some favorite cousins, and as a giant bonus, I got to experience two of my favorite things: thunderstorms and fireflies, several times!
Two weeks later everything jumped a few notches in super amazingness when Little Man and I left on our seriously epic trip to Iceland, Denmark and Sweden, which we dubbed: The Viking Tour. Each day was filled with adventure and beauty. Iceland, almost an afterthought when we were planning, was one of the true highlights of our three weeks away, and a place I will absolutely return to. In our brief five days, we climbed glaciers, explored icebergs, went horseback riding in the Seuss- like landscape, visited museums, and tackled roads that no rental car should be on, to find ourselves in the land where Game of Thrones had been filmed…and our trip became the (Game of Thrones) Viking Tour.
From Iceland we headed to Denmark, where we were swept up in the World Cup games, time with my other daughter, Denmark, and dear family friends. We soaked up the great food, beautiful landscapes and goodness that is Denmark.
Like Iceland, our three-day trip to Sweden, was so much better than we’d expected–another place I hope to return to one day. We had the thrill of watching the World Cup’s final game, Germany vs Argentina, from a little bar in the Old City– a huge thrill! Stockholm is vibrant, historical and filled with fantastic places to explore; we enjoyed every amazing moment!
At the end of three weeks’ worth of travel, the flight home included a 3 hours stopover in Iceland. Little Man and I became tearful when we taxied down the runway, and found ourselves leaving that magical place again. The flight home was stunning! Flying over the glaciers and ice of Greenland is breathtaking! Anyone who questions melting ice, need only look out their window, to see the broken shards of once endless icepack… floating in patterns that defy imagination.
I was only on terra firma for 9 days– the jet lag was still crippling me– when I flew off to San Jose, CA for BlogHer’14– my first time there. For those of you in the blogging world, it’s the mecca of connecting and all things blogging, and for those of you who simply read blogs, it’s upwards of 5000+ bloggers, all gathered to celebrate writing, creativity and find sponsors. I was like a kid, meeting bloggers who I have come to think of as rockstars (hello, Bloggess, thank you for being so nice!), and shaking hands with Ariana Huffington. It was absolutely inspiring and thrilling on so many levels! By the time I came home my jet lag had jet lag. This summer, I’ll return for my 2nd BlogHer conference, in New York City to be honored as a BlogHer’15 Voices Of The Year recipient. Pinch me, please.
In September, Smart Guy and I took off for San Diego for three days, where he attended a conference and I explored that beautiful city, and got to meet Mohamud. As a bonus: we got to fly on Alaska Airlines’ fabulous Salmon aircraft!
I was home four days and then flew to LA for a long planned girls’ weekend, with 3 of my besties. We made it the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills tour” by visiting Sur Restaurant, and drinking lots of champagne. What a wonderful few days of utter relaxation and fun! Didn’t get to Disneyland, but saw it out the window!
In October, Smart Guy and I fulfilled a lifetime dream of mine, by traveling to Fiji! I won the airline tickets in a contest on Bucket List Publications, and we made the most of this big experience over our two weeks there. It’s a long way to travel, and in addition to many, many window seats, I flew in my first float plane. In what was nothing short of a “hold-your-breath” departure, I sat in the co-pilot’s seat, as we took off from Turtle Island, in a storm– our wonderful Fijian hosts and friends, waving and singing to us, in the pouring rain.
In December, Little Man, Smart Guy and I went to New York City to see some Broadway shows and experience Time’s Square on New Year’s Eve DAY. We left before things got truly gnarly, and had a fantastic time! Flying via Chicago’s O’hare (one of my favorite airports), we got to watch the ice on Lake Michigan fracture and drift.
In January I went to Vegas for 3 days that felt like 7, with three amazing women… and well, I can’t say much about it.
In December, we learned that we will be grandparents at the end of this summer. So, in February, I surprised Principessa and went to Israel for her birthday. I wanted to meet her beloved– you know you have a keeper, when he’s willing to meet your mother for the first time in person, at a bus station, and sit with her for 2 hours… and if you know me, it’s that much more impressive that my grandbaby’s dad did that. I also wanted to help her move from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, and I wanted to give my girl a big hug… and caress her belly. My girl doesn’t like me to use her photo here, but believe me: she was glowing!
In March– barely a week after I got back from Israel, we travelled to Florida for our annual visit with Smart Guy’s father and my nieces and nephews. It was brief and nice, as it always is.
I have not been on a plane since March. From the perspective of this surreal year of travel, it’s both a huge relief and strange… at the same time. I’m grounded for four months, my feet planted firmly. That does not mean things are boring, but there are no jet fumes. I’ll fly to New York City in the middle of July, to attend BlogHer’15; I’ll spend a few days in New England– where I grew up, and then I’ll fly to Israel, to be with my girl when she welcomes her first child. Just typing those words brings tears to my eyes! It’s a long and challenging trip– not something I would normally do in summer, when temperatures in Tel Aviv are often 112, but what a joy this will be.
I always ask for a window seat. I like to see the sky change color and the landscape shift. I like to see where I’m leaving and where I’m going. I’m that way in life. I dig deep: looking back, looking forward and experiencing the moments I’m in. When I travel, I soak up ever jewel that’s offered. Many of the trips I took this year, meant leaving people I love– brief, happy times with them, and then a painful goodbye. Some of the trips involved experiences that can only happen once: I’ll never be with my boy, the summer after he graduates high school, again. They are moments to savor and hold dear. I’m a very lucky woman, from that standpoint. I’m keenly aware that not everyone gets to sit in a window seat, or see the places I’ve been fortunate to see. Not everyone has those moments in life, that I hold so dear. In the end, I feel extra lucky, that when I fly home and look out the window, I see some of the most beautiful views in the world, and I know what waits for me there– coming home is always a joy!
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