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September 26, 2001
Two months (Russell)

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Getting a haircut

Sometime amid the tumult and chaos of last week, we passed the two-month milestone of our trip around the world.

Despite the culture shock of each new country, we have settled very well into our new style of living.  We've got hauling suitcases down to an art, although we still dread every time that we actually have to do it.  Three of our original suitcases barely lasted two months, but with new larger suitcases we've given ourselves some room to grow.  (Our original plan was to take every single one of our suitcases as an airplane carry-on.  Not!!)   All told, we believe that we packed well.  We've let go of some things along the way (including heavy coats and water shoes) but picked up more souvenirs than we had planned to.  We are most proud of the fact that in all of our moves, we have never accidentally left anything behind.

We have seen the idyllic beaches of Rarotonga, the windy mountain roads of New Zealand, the vast bushlands of Australia, and the cultural wonderland of China.  We've had much less time for homeschooling than we thought (and the boys have had much less inclination), so we can only hope that they are absorbing a lot from the day-to-day sights and sounds of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.  If nothing else, they have seen that there is much more out there than the confines of their own home and country.

Gail and Russell have discovered that living together 24 hours a day is not as easy as we would like it to be.  Problems and pet peeves that can be tolerated for a few hours a day become magnified when there is no break or relief.  And magnified even more when there are few alternatives for conversation or companionship.  We have had to develop an entirely new rhythm of working and being together, and we have grown tremendously as a result.

Cameron continues to be an avid reader, devouring books as rapidly as we can buy them.  He has reread all four Harry Potters, enjoyed the very sophisticated humor of Terry Pratchett's Bromeliad trilogy, and is now laughing his way through the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series.  He writes constantly: in his journal, his Web page, and his own private stories, both written and drawn.  "Farm Wars" has now passed "Book One," and Cameron's accelerating writing abilities amaze us constantly.  He is also rapidly outgrowing his clothes.

Joss continues to be Joss (anyone who knows him will understand what this means).  He continues to sing and dance his way through life, seeing things with a different perspective than anyone else.  His stuffed animal menagerie now includes his original two Pokemon, a hedgehog, wombat, platypus, and panda.  He struggles and fights through every journal entry and homework assignment.  On the other hand, he is eager to learn Chinese calligraphy and new card games.

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Doing homework and eating dinner... on the train

The world has changed a lot in the past two months.  The America that we left behind no longer exists, replaced by a country that is less safe and less innocent.  We have gained a grandson and we have lost a parent.  The most difficult thing is that our life at home is in a state of "suspended animation" -- these events will not be real for us until we return in ten months.  But for everyone else they will be a year old.

We have been asked if it would have been better to take our year adventure at some other time.  If we had gone earlier, we might have been in Tanzania when its embassy was bombed.  Or we might have been in China when the spy plane was shot down.  Conversely, if we reacted to circumstances and waited another year to go, the entire world might be at war.  A different catastrophe might befall our loved ones back home.  We might end up never going at all.

Our adventure of a lifetime has become an integral part of our four lifetimes, and we are much richer for it.  We have learned and seen so much in our first two months, and that's only the first sixth of our trip.  Although we must now examine each destination against the barometer of the daily news, we fully hope and expect to see this trip through for the entire twelve months.  Gail's father was afraid that we would not make it as far as China, a fear amplified by heightened world tensions.  We are grateful that he knew we were safe and sound here before he passed away.

Ahead of us lie unimaginable adventures in Tanzania, Egypt, Turkey, and Europe, if circumstances permit.  We can hardly wait to see what the next two months bring.

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Catching a quick nap

 

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