Dear reader, this dispatch concludes a 2 year odyssey for us – 1 year of preparation and 1 year of international travel. And so it ends with one last dispatch before this site is frozen in time.
Before we say goodbye, we want to remind you that a trip like this is something you can do too. We often hear statements like “I wish I could do a trip like that” or “I could never do that now”. Our message is that you can do it if you’re willing to make the trip a priority in your life. The hardest part is mental – convincing yourself that a year of travel is a realistic and achievable goal. Once you’re convinced, good long-term planning accounts for everything else. It may not happen next year of or in five years, but the key is to start planning now. You’ll be surprised at how things fall into place.
- Step 1: Set a realistic departure date (this enables you to plan ahead) and stick to it
- Step 2: Alter your lifestyle to start saving money responsibly
- Step 3: Tell your friends and family (a little peer pressure does wonders)
If you need help, we wrote a lot about our preparation and what we called “The Monetorium” – a change in lifestyle built around financing your next big adventure. Further, you can always contact us with questions.
Lastly, we want to extend an earth-sized thank you to the friends, family and readers who made us feel at home where ever we were. Your comments, emails and advice gave us more support than we can put into words. We hope that, through this web site, our trip became your trip too.
For the past year, TwinF has been our baby, our home, our object of interest and we are quickly approaching the day when we stop writing here. In fact, we have decided to close the site this coming Saturday, January 6th - exactly one year from the day we left Hawaii for New Zealand. From that point on it will be frozen in time - no new updates. Between now and then, we plan to post lists of our favorite things - photos, videos, experiences, countries etc. It should be fun.
It's a sad moment for us, really. We have had such a great time with the site and it's connection to you as our online companion. It's hard to let go and I'll miss it, really and truly. The connection will end here, but it will sprout in other places, where we'll continue to live online in one form or another.
For those of you who want to continue to keep up with us through my writing, photos, videos, etc., tune into Lee LeFever dot com. I've already started blogging a little there and it will turn into our personal home on the Web. In fact, I'm committing myself to posting one picture per day to the site for all of 2007. Don't expect to be impressed on a daily basis. :)
If you're interested in our consulting business, it has also come back out of "hibernation" to give our business a home on the web once again. See: Commmon Craft - Social Design for the Web.
Again, keep an eye out for our favorites and other goodies coming your way soon.
For now it's still here - we're living it for the last 5 hours of 2006 tonight. Tonight is when the year, our year off, ends. What are we doing? Going to Redmond to spend the night with friends and eat a lot. It's a perfect way to end the year. On January 2nd our year of reality and restarting will begin.
Take a deep breath with me, all the way in, and let it out slowly. Ahhhhh thats better. 2007 - bring it on.
One thing that we've gained since the trip is a little different perspective about our "stuff" - the things that build up on shelves, in drawers, hard drives, closets and corners that you forgot. Before we left we may have been likely to let things linger. Now, for a change, we've rounded the corner to purging. It has nearly been a full time job to get all the crap that we've collected over the years out of our sight.
It's all about needs really - and our perspective has changed from valuing the things we need vs. the stuff that might be nice to have once or twice a year. I don't think we need 7 different types of jellies and jams, that sweater from 1989 or the computer that died a year ago. So it's all going. We're both hoping to start 2007 leaner and meaner that we have any year before - when it comes to stuff. Unfortunately, we still have some work to do on the ole body mass index.
I sometimes have to stop and think to myself that this is what it feels like. I mean right now in my life – like the phase I’m currently in, if you know what I mean. It’s been a progression I suppose and I’m reminded that this phase, the return home, is one to be documented. Seriously – like many times in the past year, I’m simply not gonna be in this situation often. Coming home after a year around the world? That’s a pretty unique place to be in life, so let’s get started.
Exciting, uncomfortable, inspiring, and totally discombobulating. Such is the experience of coming home from the World.
As I began the process of re-settling – like finding a new apartment and gainful employment – I was overcome with restlessness; I didn't want to re-adjust. I'd managed to pick up and move to
My personal experience in coming home has been smooth on the outside and a bit rough on the inside. We were lucky to come back to our own home and have a couple of weeks to decompress. Viewed from afar, it would appear quite easy and worry-free – and it was I suppose except for the voices in my head reminding me that the real world is coming – fast. Am I prepared? Do I really need to rest right now? How do you rest?
Right now is a period of limbo before the next big thing and after the last big thing. The trip was something that we viewed as a project with a beginning and end. By coming home in one piece, we celebrated the successful conclusion of the project. For now, it is all about the next project, which refocuses attention that might otherwise be diverted to a longing for the road. We’re in the process of making a clean break, which is how we started the trip.
This, of course, doesn’t preclude us from reverse culture shock. Whether we’ve chosen to recognize it or not, coming home has been a rollercoaster of emotion. It’s a little like jet lag – you feel something off in your head, but until you connect the feeling to the event, it just seems like a mood swing. We’ve just recently recognized our symptoms and all the little things that make home so strange.
I have personally had ups and downs in my own confidence or perception of my ideas – a newfound lack of confidence in our big plans for 2007, less confidence in being able to gather up all the balls that so swiftly rolled away in 2006 and less confidence in restarting. It is like being on the road created a bubble where ideas and plans all sounded so perfect. Home then becomes the place where all the ideas are seen in the context of reality- often a reality that changed in the last year. After a few days on the low end, my confidence is growing again as reality sinks in.
Never have I valued small talk so much. It gives me great joy to socialize and a big part of that, for me, is humor. One of the big rules of travel is that jokes don’t travel well and for the most part, I couldn’t interact with strangers on trip in any light and humorous way. I now value the ability to talk a little smack to someone in line, or with the barista, or with our neighbors. They understand me and it feels so good to have the confidence that my words mean what I think they mean (most of the time). Fortunately they also understand that I’m illiterate when it comes to
As a short side note- one strange thing I’ve noticed too is that I’m not yet used to Asian people speaking English. After so long in
The most wrenching experience for me was returning to our dog Amos who is 12 years old. My experience with him has played with my mind more than any other thing. Amos is not a young dog and his age nearly forced us to delay the trip for a few years. We decided he would be fine for a year. As it turned out, the year was not so kind to our beloved dog. He is showing signs of arthritis and I’m now the guy waiting on his dog to walk through the park. He’s as sweet as ever, but just a different kind of dog. He doesn’t play. He doesn’t chase squirrels. He sleeps a lot. Thankfully he has recently shown improvement after switching to a new anti-inflammatory (remadyl) and his attitude is less mopey. Plus, I think he's becoming my dog again.
And in case these points may makes you think otherwise, home is good - very, very good for us right now. In fact, we both feel liberated by the trip. Now is a time for us to rebuild, to rethink, to re-imagine. In a lot of ways, this is a whole new beginning for us both – few times in our life will we have such a perfect time wipe clean the slate, call off the old bets and take a fresh look. Despite the ups and downs, we’re both convinced it’s all up from here.
We're coming up on a momentous occasion here on TwinF. We are getting close to our last posts and between now and then, we're going to be posting a lot of things that:
a) we wrote on the trip and never shared
b) sum up the year in as few words as possible
It's not completely clear when the last post will occur, but it will be close to New Years. Once the last post is up, the site will exist forever in static form, frozen in time at the point where the trip ended. Then it's on to our next adventure. We hope you'll come along.
Our year (and this web site) is coming to a close very soon and and Christmas is extra special this year. From the road we imagined building a fire and cuddling up with our dog for our version of family time on Christmas morning. With the hum of the vacuum cleaner in the background, Amos in his bed and pre-game football on TV, it's not exactly what we imagined, but it sure is home and it sure feels good.
Our Christmas wish for you is a little bit of encouragement. We hope that you will start planning your next big adventure. Maybe it's travel, starting a family, a new job or writing a book. Whatever the adventure, the best day to start planning is today. Write it down, set a date and ignore that voice in the back of your head that says you can't do it. You can do it and reminding yourself of this fact is the first big step.
Merry Christmas everyone!
I've been called upon by my friend Nancy White to share 5 things about me that others are not likely to know. This is an idea or "meme" going around the blog world now. You can see how other people responded here.
1. Snails for money. I grew up on a Goldfish Hatchery that my family owns called Blue Ridge Fish Hatchery in Kernersville, NC. Sometimes snails would breed in a pond and when it was drained, I would go out into the mud and pick up the snails and sell them to Blue Ridge. It was my first business.
2. My Front Teeth. In fifth grade I was on a concrete playground with a kid named Charley H. and we were doing Kung Fu moves. I kicked my foot up into the air and he grabbed it. The next thing to hit the ground was my face, breaking my nose and chipping both my front teeth. My front teeth are now bonding.
3. Nipple matters. I have a superflous, or supernumerary nipple on my left side. It doesn't do much really. But less than 2% of men have them, so I think I'm special. According to TheSuperfluousNipple.com, I am not alone. These people are also special:
Anne Boleyn - Queen of England
Jackson Browne - Musician
Chuck Cleaver - Musician (The Ass Ponys)
Scatman Crothers - Actor, Singer
John Edwards - U.S. Senator
Brian Jones - Musician (The Rolling Stones)
Frank Langella - Actor
Moms Mabley - Comedienne
Bill Paxton - Actor, Director
Mena Suvari - Actor
Mark Wahlberg - Actor
Tilda Swinton - Actor
4. I love Phish at New Years. I have seen the band Phish over 50 times live and spent 4 consecutive New Years Eve's (4 shows at a time) with them in New England and New York City (94, 95, 96, 97). I still enjoy the music and would see them again if they were around, but I'm not as much of a fan as I used to be. I had fun,fun times being a part of the Phish community and got to see a lot of the east coast to boot.
5. I nearly died in high school. I was in a wreck coming home from a party in thick fog. We ran a stop sign and got nailed by a van on my side of the VW beetle. Both my lungs collapsed, my skull cracked over my ear, ribs were broken and glass became embedded in my face. I still have a piece in my cheek - I'll let you feel it if you like. The first time my Mom saw me in the ER, I had blood coming out of both ears. I recovered 100%.
It takes a while to covert. After a year, we found ourselves becoming almost fully converted to the world's systems as opposed to the US systems. 35 degrees used to mean close freezing to me - now it means heat and sweat and stickiness. Here are a few other:
We now know about how long a kilometer is.
Trash is rubbish.
When eating fast food, we leave the rubbish on the table instead of cleaning it up ourselves.
A can on Coke is 33 milliliters.
Dates are in this format dd/mm/yyyy.
Dinner time is now closer to 9 pm.
You fill up a car in liters of gas.
When roads intersect they usually form a circle instead of a cross.
We line up on the right side of escalators if not moving ourselves
We can now provide exact change in Euros without staring at our palm for 10 seconds. Intersting side note: There is no 25 cent euro coin - only a 20. We figure because the US quarter is based on the stardard system that has a base of 12 instead of the metric base of 10. Royale wi' Cheese.
The education after high school is called university
The 24 hour clock (military time in the US) now works in our heads without calculation.
There are no restrooms of even bathrooms - only toilets and WC's.
When we pay for something, we expect to pay the price on the tag (without tax added at the end).
When calling, we automatically want to start with a "+".
Of course, this means that we now have to de-convert.