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Having read the many e-mails over the past seven months, we have followed the World Trippers throughout their journey. Other than the adventures and day-to-day struggles living out of a suitcase for one year, we really had no idea what life was REALLY like on the road. As our taxi approached the apartment in Rome, both Dawn and I wondered what things would be like. Had Cameron grown taller than "Dee Dee"? Had Joss put on any weight? How had the experiences -- both good and bad -- changed their perspective on the world and outlook on life?
After spending a few hours during our first night in Rome, nothing has really changed at all.
The World Trippers seem to have gotten very good at settling into their surroundings and new homes. The Lungotevere Sanzio in Rome could very well have been Cupertino in California. Though the kitchen was small, Gail had taken over and made it her own, ready for the boys' snack or an Italian feast. Russell's computer equipment dominated a table, and a Lord of the Rings card game was spread out on the dining room table. Had I just flown for 24 hours to end up Cupertino?
Cameron and Joss have seen the world -- sunsets in Rarotonga, hiking the Great Wall of China, exploring Africa on safari, trekking through France and now taking in la vita dolce in Italy. Actually, I don't think the boys are that into la vita dolce and soaking up the Italian way of life. Instead, things remain much the same when we left them. Card games are king, and battling the pigeons with sticks is a decent replacement when outside. (It has been fun watching the boys from behind swinging their sticks wildly and having a grand time, all the while, unaware that their sticks come within inches of cars and Italians!)
Cameron remains very conscientious and pensive, seemingly soaking up as much of the touring as possible until his attention span is lost. He is still the sweetest little boy who loves kids. He's absolutely amazing with his nephew Keegan and wants nothing more than to make him smile. Joss, on the other hand, remains a sweet, loving boy, but off in a happy Joss-land of his own. Whether he's unaware that running on the grass in front of him is forbidden, or that he's not allowed to climb on two-thousand-year-old ruins, or that he cannot take on speeding vespas and Italian cars as he runs across streets, Joss does not seem to notice, and even plans gone awry cannot shake the spirit and life out of him. However, he often needs to be brought back to reality, and that remains the job of Gail. Much like before they left, the constant and usual refrain is "JOSS!" or "JOSS, DON'T DO THAT!!" or "JOSS, COME HERE!!!" After one week of traveling with the World Trippers, I cannot even remember how many times I've heard that. To Gail's defense, I cannot remember how many times Joss nearly averted some disaster!
Climbing around on 2,000-year-old ruins in the Roman Forum
One thing also remains a constant in Russell and Gail's lives, their love of the boys. Though they could be off exploring the hundreds of wineries or touring the indescribable countryside in Tuscany, each outing is planned carefully with the boys' needs in mind and of the utmost importance. Food, fun, and some learning. Traveling with Keegan has certainly been an experience for Dawn and me, and we have learned that we cannot travel the way we used to. But I must admit that I am impressed at how Russell and Gail have not brought the boys along kicking and screaming. Instead, the boys understand what is expected of them and what they will be doing. Even more impressive, it seems they have carved out a daily and regular schedule for themselves, much like back at home. Having been with them for a week, I cannot tell you how impressed I am with how they are doing.
So will you recognize the World Trippers when they return? I think you will. Cam has grown a few inches. Joss has actually put on two pounds (at least that what we've been told). Gail and Russell are a little road weary, but still as great as ever. I cannot answer whether their perspective on the world has changed, as that's a question only they can answer, but what I can tell you is that although they have been traveling for seven months and living out of a suitcase, they have managed to maintain a way of life much similar to that found in Cupertino, California, or was that the Lungotevere Sanzio?
La vita dolce: at home in Italy
One more note of interest for those who like myself look forward to the regular update via the Web site or e-mail. You would think that those letters would be fairly easy to create and send along. Or maybe you didn't, knowing the World Trippers' penchant for detail and precision. I actually thought it would be a simple process of quickly writing an e-mail, and then adding a few pictures.
Well, I was terribly mistaken. It is instead a very involved process involving various technologies (laptop, digital camera, external hard drive, various data connections, a Palm Pilot, and the handy pocketmail that allows Russell to send these e-mails through a normal phone) and lots of time. It seems that choosing among the hundreds of photos taken every day has become a nightly ritual. Then every morning when I'm up with Keegan giving his mom a break, I find Russell diligently typing away doing his best to recant the past day's experiences and stories. After a dual editing session with both Gail and Russell, and then after Gail has given her seal of approval, the pictures and text magically become our window into their lives around the globe. But the process does not end at the laptop. Because we do not have a modem connection, Russell must venture out to find a telephone to employ his pocketmail system. Then and only then, do we have an e-mail waiting in our inbox or find a freshly updated Web page. Little did I -- or you -- know. Well, now you do!
Updating the Web site at an Internet Point outside the Vatican
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