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Schedule/Flight Info:

Flight From To Departs Arrives
Air New Zealand 16 Papeete Los Angeles Su 12/24 1:45am Su 12/24 12:30pm
         
Lufthansa 457 Los Angeles Frankfurt Sa 9/30 3:20pm Su 10/1 11:00am
Lufthansa 652 Frankfurt Cairo Su 10/1 2:15pm Su 10/1 6:15pm

Our Plans:

Dive down to Don's mom's house on 9/28 in 29 Palms (a.k.a. Two-Nine).  Spend a day relaxing.  Get a ride to the airport in LA (about 3 hours away).

Upon return, we will spend Christmas and possibly New Years in Two-Nine.  Dawn's mom is planning to join us for Christmas.  She will land in LA not long before us on 12/24.  We plan to do our Christmas shopping in the way home on Christmas Eve.  We just could not bring ourselves to shop in August!!

Our Photos (click here to see more):

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Gear on our bed, ready to be packed.  The whole packing process took hours as we had to cut items out and then carry the packs around for a "weight test".

At the gate, ready to board the flight to Germany.  Bon Voyage!!

Showing the kids in Don's mom's class our gear.  This is the day before we left. "The Moms" waiting patiently at LAX. Final shot before getting back to normal.

Our Diary (trip summary at bottom):

9/28: Made the long haul down to 29.  We're packed to the brim with Simon gear, one Simon, our computer, and loads of other stuff that we cannot recall.  Takes 8-9 hours to make the trip.  We decided to take the interstate route through the LA basin.  Used the GPS to track our progress ..... and pass the time.

9/29: After a trip to the local hardware store, we modified the fence out back so Simon could not get out.  Part of the fence was only 3 feet, which would be too tempting for a pup watching other dogs go by.  Introduced Mom to our Quicken accounts so she could handle our finances while we were gone.

9/30: Off to the airport.  The excitement level was off the charts.  Otherwise, nothing too special to report.  Flight leaves on-time.  We're off!!!!

12/24: After the festival of uncertainty in the Tahiti airport, we finally made it home, several hours after we were scheduled.  Dawn's mom flew in on-time, which left her and Don's mom with lots of time in LA.  In true Christmas fashion, they went shopping.  When we arrived, "the moms" were waiting outside customs with signs welcoming us back.  It was very sweet.  It's hard to explain how nice it was to be home with family.  Don't get me wrong.  We'd go again in a heartbeat.  It's just always good to get home, especially after such a long haul.

Since we were so late, we did not get to go shopping.  Doh!!  We did make the obligatory stop at In-And-Out Burgers on the way home.  Don had planned that stop since well before we left.

An early order of business once we were actually at the house was to see Simon.  We had missed him oh so much.  We said hello to him through the dark screen door leading outside.  He was interested but not all that excited.  Once we went outside where he could see better and smell, he went nuts.  He was so happy, and so were we.  We could not hug him enough.  Side note: it was several weeks before we could leave the house without Simon looking at us like "are you going to leave me for such a long time again?".  It was a sad look indeed.

12/25 - 1/1: Enjoyed Christmas, although we did not have gifts for anyone, beyond what we brought back with us.  Went shopping on 12/26 and Christmas part 2 that night.  Dropped off the rest of our film.  Asked for a CD with each of the 36 rolls.  Perhaps a mistake.  The final bill was a bit alarming!!  Our rugs from India had arrived, so we got to look at them.  The box of goods from Africa was still not present, 8 weeks after we sent it.  This made us very nervous because our safari film was in the box (bad move).

During the week, we also went to the Palm Springs tramway and the San Diego zoo.  The vacation is not over until you are back in your own house!!  We took Dawn's mom back to the airport on 12/28 (I think).  Spent New Years bowling.  It was pretty fun.

1/2-1/8: Drove back home on 1/2.  The truck was more packed than on the way down so many months prior.  We were very pleased when we got to the house.  It was clean as though we had never left.  Someone from Dawn's work had stayed in the house for 2 months while we were gone, which is the only reason it was not musty and dusty.  Spent the week relaxing, catching up on mail, unpacking, and working on the web site.  Went back to work on 1/8.  It was very tough to get back into the groove.  It took a few weeks, at least, to feel normal again.

Trip Summary (written 5/5/01):

This was definitely the trip of a lifetime.  Odds are that we will never take such a journey again.  We will certainly travel, but it's unlikely that we will be so adventurous ........ since we will be in our 50s by the time the kids are gone and we can make such a long trip again!  We saw so many wonderful things and places.  Just this week, I passed a sign and statue for an Egyptian exhibit in San Jose.  I took joy in the fact that I had seen that statue before ..... only it was the real one and it was in Egypt.  Even today, it's hard to fathom everything we did on the trip.  By the end, the places at the beginning seemed years prior.

Some things turned out better than expected and some things were a bit disappointing.  Perhaps some lists can best summarize the trip.

Favorite Locations Favorite Adventures
  1. Safari -- Easy answer!
  2. Egypt -- Such history
  3. New Zealand -- Gorgeous
  4. Thailand -- A brief glance into Asian culture
  1. Safari -- Still an easy answer
  2. Kilimanjaro -- Fantastic challenge
  3. Bungy Jump -- Ready to go again
  4. Sailing the Whitsundays -- Family; quiet; scary; beautiful
  5. Rafting the Zambezi -- Great rapids and people

 

Biggest Upside Surprises Biggest Disappointments
  1. Thailand -- Very pretty; People are nice
  2. New Zealand -- Expected a lot, but still got surprised.
  1. India -- Things that could have been pretty are not well taken care of
  2. Kilimanjaro -- For Don, since he did not make it to the top.  Has turned out to be more troubling than he anticipated.
  3. Whitsundays -- Only because of weather.  We did not get to see it at it's finest.  And our family came so far for bad weather.
  4. Tahiti -- Again, the weather was really bad.  Such a pretty place, but we did not get to experience its full potential.

 

Prettiest Spots Where might we return to first?
  1. New Zealand -- Simply prettier than anything we have seen
  2. Tahiti -- Even in the rain!
  3. Cape Town (and the Garden Route) -- Pretty rugged; very diverse
  1. New Zealand -- You need a good month to have any chance of seeing everything.  Two months or more would be better.  We hope to meet the family there someday.
  2. Safari -- It really tugs at you to return.  We get the itch whenever we see "Big Cat Diaries" on TV.
  3. Victoria Falls -- We only had a day there.  Could have used a week easily for rafting, canoeing, bungy jumping, etc.
  4. Kilimanjaro -- Unfinished business

 

It took us about 2 weeks at home before we were thirsting to be on the road again.  It has been much harder getting back to normal than we anticipated.  If not for Simon (don't tell him), we might think about selling everything and disappearing for a year or so.  There are very few times in your life when you have an almost complete absence of responsibility.  It's a wonderful feeling.  If you have the opportunity, we highly recommend that you define your "MOAV" and do whatever you can to make it happen.  You will be rewarded many times over!!!!

 

 

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