For the Record

Well, I’m not sure how many people are actually checking out our weblog anymore since we’re back at home, but I’m still going to write anyway. I’ve actually spent several hours each week since our return writing in my “handwritten” journal. With school starting, I doubt that I’ll get it completed for a couple more months. There were so many experiences that I don’t want to forget and I don’t mind going back in time and writing my thoughts. I kept some little notes to refer to when writing in my journal. Recently I spent an afternoon at my dining room table sorting through postcards, literature, and memorabilia from my trip. I’ve whittled it down to a very large shopping bag with handles and have it in chronological order. I want to put it in some type of scrapbook form, but like the journal it will take time. I’ve been editing photos, ordering them on-line from Kodak EasyShare, and writing dates and information on the back of them. Now…how to organize them? At the very least in chronological order and have a separate box for memorabilia? If you have suggestions, please pass them along to me.

What I did one day was sit down with a map of the U.S. and a highlighter to mark where I’ve driven this summer. This is where “for the record” comes. Ready for stats from my flying/driving summer?

1. I flew 8,552 miles.
2. I logged 11,083 miles by vehicle.
3. I visited 24 states.
4. I visited 10 national parks or national monuments.
5. I visited 142 people, staying with 54 of them.
6. I took 1,068 digital photos.
7. I was gone from home 66 days. (Don’t know if I could do this again!)

Highlights for me were many, but here are a few.

1. Connecting/reconnecting with many family members and friends.
2. Meeting a very cool Christian woman at The Cross in Groom, TX, named Mary Martinez. (We shared our faith journey as virtual strangers…very cool experience.)
3. Spending several days with Steve’s Mom & Dad. (They are wonderful parents-in-law to me.)
4. Seeing Barb Robinson in Norfolk, NE who was instrumental in recharging my Christian faith walk.
5. Driving through an incredible rain/lightning/slushing (not quite hail) storm near Great Sand Dunes National Park.
6. Stepping out of my lodge room and seeing the stars in the night sky at Mesa Verde National Park.
7. Seeing awesome flora and fauna in so many beautiful areas.
8. The Rand Store’s outhouse, which was built of cedar, had a wood seat, decorated walls, and lighting. (Hey, when most stops out in the country are either one of those green port-a-potties or needing to resort to a cornfield for lack of places to stop, then a nicely appointed outhouse is very welcomed!)
9. Santa Fe, NM sunsets are hard to beat, but then so was the one at Torrey Pines State Park near LaJolla, CA.
10. Making a perfect roasted marshmallow while camping with Steve and Steph near Grand Lake, CO.
11. Seeing Steve bike up Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.
12. Meeting up with Steve in Yellowstone for the first time since I left him on May 30.
13. Driving along the road in Colorado and coming across Steve, who I hadn’t seen in a week.
14. Seeing Steve ride with John and Doug into Norfolk after being apart for over 2 weeks.
15. Coming across Steve as he was riding from Ashland, VA to Williamsburg, VA after being apart for 2 1/2 weeks.
16. Great food wherever we visited…our family and friends were very generous providing homemade meals or taking us out.
17. Meeting the teenage group from BikingX near Williamsburg, VA. These are the kids along with two 20-something leaders, who road TransAm to raise funds for Camp Quality.
18. Seeing Steve dip his rear tire into the Pacific Ocean near Bandon, Oregon on Sunday, May 29.
19. Seeing Steve dip his front tire into Chesapeake Bay in Yorktown, Virginia on Monday, August 15.
20. Pulling into our driveway on Thursday, August 18. Trip well done!
21. Seeing Stephanie, Jeremy, and Zaney again.
22. Sleeping in our own bed, in our own house, in our great neighborhood, and in a wonderful community.

Toughest parts of the summer:
1. Being apart from my hubby of 29 years for longer periods than his typical business trips.
2. Seeing him ride out of sight and knowing that it would be a week or two or more until I’d see him again.
3. My anxiety over safety issues for him and me and trying to let go. (My therapy was to keep busy and on the go!)
4. Being away from the kids, the cat, our home, our neighborhood, and our church community.
5. Visiting family or friends who are struggling with health, marital, or business challenges. (I continue keeping you in my prayers.)
6. Not being as physically active as I typically am. (I may have logged 240 miles on my bike and hiked or walked 60 miles, and kayaked 4 miles. I’m used to biking a lot more than that.)
7. Experiencing three scary moments: clipped a deer while driving one night, stalked by a strange man in Groom, TX, and had a very close call while driving in a downpour in Tennessee.
8. I gained weight, whereas Steve lost around 22 pounds! But, I tell you, the Gatlingburg, TN fudge may have been worth it as was the Burkink’s homemade ice cream as was the Kaliner’s steaks as was….yes, the list goes on and would include all of you.
9. Having 1,068 digital photos uploaded, I need to edit them and decide which ones to keep for a scrapbook.

Enjoy the rest of your September!

Settling In

Well, I feel that we’re just beginning to be “settling in” again. Yesterday we pried ourselves from our house after arriving home the night before and nearly kissing the ground of “home”. We walked to town and back to Panera Bread for an easy breakfast, cup of coffee, and read the Chicago Tribune. Ah…this feels more like our routine! (Batavia is experiencing bridge closings due to road construction and we’re finding that sometimes it is much easier and obviously better for us to just walk the mile and a half each way.)

I wanted to say that after leaving Jean and Mike’s in Bethesda, we enjoyed lunch with our friends Don and Vanice. Don and Steve are friends from high school days and then they both went to Iowa State and lived on the same dorm floor. We were discussing with them and two other friends, who we saw over the summer from the Last Man’s Club, that we need to get together next summer for our 30th reunion.

From Bethesda we drove onto Paoli, Pennsylvania to enjoy an overnight stay with Rob, Holly, Tim, and Brent. We’ve known them for 25 years after meeting in a babysitting co-op when our Jeremy and their Matt were almost one. Despite their moving from the Chicago area to Pennsylvania 17 years ago, we still remain in close contact and it’s always good to spend even a little time together. It’s hard to believe that the 25 years have flown by so quickly.

From Paoli, Steve and I drove along Route 30 through the Amish countryside in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania thinking we’d experience pristine farms dotting the very green and beautiful farmlands throughout the countryside with an occasional buggy. Well….Lancaster County tourism has certainly capitalized on the Amish way of life, only except for the occasional Amish shop, shopping areas now remind one of strip malls or “one stop shopping” areas complete with buggy rides. After we suffered a flat tire in York and replaced two tires at Sears, we decided it was time to get on the Turnpike to head westward to Ligonier and avoid the traffic and congestion of Amish territory.

In Ligonier we stayed with my cousin Linda and her husband John. They invited my cousin David and his wife Peggy and their daughter’s boyfriend for dinner. We enjoyed dining on their deck and watching the nearly full moon make its appearance. This was our last stop to visit family and friends across the country, and we enjoyed a wonderful sleep in John and Linda’s luxury R.V. What a contrast it was to our little tent and sleeping bags that we own for our recreational gear!

So, it is Saturday and time to continue unpacking and putting things back where they belong. The travel information that I’ve collected sits in bags on the dining room floor beckoning for some organization. The dozens of photos are either uploaded in the computer or awaiting to be done in our digital cameras. Thoughts keep racing through our minds on what to write and share with others. And, the clock keeps ticking as we get closer to our return to work. Promise that more will come as I know that Steve especially has much to revisit. — Love, Diane

We ARE Home!!!

Hi everyone! Steve and I arrived home fifteen minutes ago. Steph was in the process of putting up the Welcome Home Steve banner when we pulled up. Several neighbors were out in their yards and came over to welcome us home too. Bob and Lois put together a bicycle display and signs, plus Lois made a peanut butter and chocolate cookie the size of a pizza pan for us. Yum!!

We left Ligonier, Pennsylvania this morning and drove 11 hours to Batavia. We are relieved to be back at home. We are very, very grateful that God watched over us and provided a safe trip. We are starved as we skipped dinner to make it home before dark. We are sleepy and will not set an alarm tomorrow, but catch up on some extra winks. Stay tuned for a wind up or two…or three from us. So much needs to be processed, yet we’d love to share some thoughts with you too. Just wanted to let you know that we were home safely.

Love & Hugs,
Diane & Steve