Saturday, October 24, 2009

Nervous excitement

Okay, I'm finally confident that it's gonna happen. I'm going to fly out of Homer next Tuesday night, and I won't return until mid April. I'll have some great adventures in the coming weeks. I am getting so damn excited. And it's about time. I have the unfortunate habit of letting my nerves, my anxieties, get the better of me so it's nice to feel all positive before the trip.

There's much I want to say. For starters, my daughter-in-law Shannon had to have brain surgery a few days ago. She's okay for the moment. But what happened to her is of a very serious nature: she had to have a goddamn brain tumor removed! A biopsy is in process. If the results are negative, that will be totally awesome. If not, then even with a great prognosis from her docs and even if she is able to defeat some sort of as yet uncharacterized brain cancer, a long, cancer free life will no longer be something she can take for granted. Plus, Tuli and Shannon have a lovely 10 month old baby, Harper. Shannon's complete recovery is constantly on my mind as my departure nears.

I had a great time chatting with Tea on Skype the other tonight. Tea, pronounced TEE-ah, is short for Teahana. She's a diminutive and beautiful Fijian woman, and she's my Paris connection. We met at the Manta Ray Resort in Fiji last spring and after spending a few evenings with Tea and husband Arnaud we became friends. The reason for traveling to Europe in the first place is that I want to see where my grandmother was born. Tea and Arnaud's invitation to stay with them in Paris allowed me to start thinking about an extended tour in Europe, an otherwise expensive travel destination. Then through some Homer friends, Rebecca Reinhart and Sally Oberstein, I got hooked up with Couchsurfing.org and have for the past few months been exchanging emails with Couchsurfers who have offered to host me, in Berlin, in other parts of France, and in Poland. My grandmother left East Prussia in 1907. After two world wars her hometown is now in Poland and that's why I'm going there. I want to head up there fairly soon, before winter becomes all snowy and cold, and then get back south by way of Berlin and Amsterdam. Eventually I'll head to Turkey, or maybe Spain or Portugal, but someplace warmer for sure.

Such travel plans are, especially for me, very ambitious. I'm a homebody. I love nothing better than hanging around the house on the weekends playing tennis, reading, goofing around with my camera and computer. Being away from home and living out of a suitcase in foreign countries for a five month stretch will be challenging at times I know. I spent a month in Fiji last spring. It turned out just great in the end but there were times when I was forced to ask myself as I sat sweating profusely on my veranda, what the hell am I doing here? My well-traveled friend Jambo says those sorts of thoughts are common and that most long distance travelers have them.

I guess it's getting to be time to head to the office. I'm finishing up odds and ends and turning my "deals in progress" over to my partners. I'm going to stay connected to Alaska Boats & Permits for a while yet because it's a great business and my partners are totally awesome. I'll possibly work with them next spring for a while after I get back but I'm pretty sure I'm really retiring this time. We'll see.