One Year Changes Everything

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.

1994

1997

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.

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15 Responses to One Year Changes Everything

  1. Awe…you’ll be in my neck of the…desert. Ha ha. Have a great time you guys! Don’t get lost in the canyon! Bring more water than you think, maybe a travel umbrella each for shade depending on how hot the sun is at the time you go, and a charged phone with you at all times. People get lost and die all the time out here. On that note…Have a great trip! LOL! No, you’ll be fine. Just remember, phone & water. Plus it’ll be Sept, so you got that goin’ for ya too.

  2. Pat says:

    You’ve traveled so far, seen so much and learned the age old lesson “To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.” ~Henri Bergson.

    Looking forward to meeting up in the southwest this Fall.

    • Karen says:

      Yes, we are living that quote Aunt Pat. Thanks for sharing it. Looking at your SWplan, it looks like we’ll meet for dinner in the Grand Canyon!

  3. Dee and Avery says:

    Have a great time in the Southwest. Its magical!

  4. Margaret Trissel says:

    Awww…you’ll be where Dick and I started!! The Grand Canyon for our honeymoon…wonderful memories…I still remember how the air was scented differently out there…ahhh….looking forward to reading about your experience!
    We found a spot between Flagstaff and Sedona, called Slide Rock, where the moss grew on the creek rocks, allowing one to slide on one’s arse down the creekbed…I was much younger then!!

  5. Maria says:

    Wow! That is a change of plans! But I suspect being a tourist in your own land is the biggest potential culture shock of all. Enjoy the cream puffs and margaritas!

    I see you doing a Lucy and Ricky trip in one of those old Winnebagoes. Don’t fall off the road.

  6. Jerry Schneider says:

    Wow, a year already. Unbelievable.

  7. Marcy Hunter says:

    Have a great trip!! There is something very magical about the Southwest.

  8. Phillip says:

    Karen & Ken-
    Keep an open mind, open heart, and open communication. Relax, let things happen. What do they say? – Life is what happens while you’re planning your life. Something like that? You are both great, genuine people, stay that way! Eat well & eat often…

  9. Terri says:

    All the best to you in your new adventures! Can’t wait to see more of your travels :).

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