Sunday, September 28, 2014

Where have you been?

I know some of you have been wondering where the blog went all summer!  Long Story - and humorous too in a 'glad that's not me kinda way'.

Well, my husband changed his job a little over a year ago and is able to take time off on his own schedule - working for himself.  Previously he was a high-tech start up guy and that meant a few short, high intensity vacations scattered around (this man doesn't vacate - he adventures).  But after 20 years of the fast life at work, he was a bit burnt out and needed to slow the work pace for a bit.  BUT he can't seem to slow the adventure pace - he just has time for it now!

So last year and this one he poured his heart into planning a few very long adventures abroad (hard to say no as he points out I can mostly work anywhere).  Before kids, when we had time we did a lot of backpacking around Europe - which is how I started all this embroidery research.  We never stopped - not even for infants (did you know German grocery stores don't sell diapers?).  But he hasn't quite learned that there are other ways to travel (elevators in hotels?  It means you are spending too much on a room).  Wife can't drive a stick?  Well it is too expensive to get an automatic - she will learn on the autobahn in a 20 km traffic jam.  I did put my foot down years ago and refused to carry the luggage on my back anymore.  But he won the battle on number of bags (as a family of four we still only have two).  I won the right not to wash my underwear in the sink and dry wet socks on my feet at night.  He has the same sweater in 24 years of vacation photos (Note to self - burn that thing!)

We go to amazing places.  Don't get me wrong - I love seeing the world.  But kinda wish the travel wasn't so much on the 'edge' because when you travel on the edge, things happen.  I never know what to say when I return looking ragged and people gush about the places and how refreshed we must be. I am dumbstruck about what to say - I just want to crawl into bed for a week.  Friends who really know us, line up to hear the 'latest stories' and laugh like crazy over a glass of wine.  My father usually picks himself off the floor laughing and reiterates his original statement after our 1-month 12-country honeymoon -"If I had known, you wouldn't have taken my daughter!" (Of course they have joined us twice now - just to see if my outlandish stories were true.  They were - but my husband did upgrade the level of hotel.  There were views, but no elevators to my dad's chagrin).  When we ask his sister to go somewhere with us - her standard refrain is "no rats".

We have been in police stations in the best of countries.  I have tried out every socialist health care system and really, really like them.    There may be a warrant for me in Prague but no one checked this year.  I know a few ways to get pharmaceuticals when lost (but this year the 'sew it into the stuffed flamingo' and fed-ex it didn't work).  Look both ways when crossing an active runway.  I always leave a selection of things I might need on my kitchen table -- just in case a family member needs to ship them to me.  I have learned that you can jump on a moving train... and boat.  Always buy the extra car insurance.
22 caskets and untold mirrors and stumpwork in
six days.  That was a good yield!  Some 6000
up-close research photos
And absolutely wear a money belt with your passports.  My son has a stance with his hands jammed in his pockets on travel to prevent loss - or monkeys from getting their hands in.  And once after hearing about 15 min of 'don'ts' before crossing into Northern Africa during the Arab Spring, the kid smartly asked - 'Why the heck are you bringing us here then!?'

So what could happen on a nine-country tour?  25 cities in 29 days?  Where at one point the four members of the family would be in three countries as diverse as Iceland, England and Turkey - only meeting up in Sweden for the first time since leaving the USA?  The 14-yr old had eight airplane legs for just his part alone?  No - nothing could go wrong?  When this year there are TWO Excel spreadsheets to keep the itineraries straight - worry.  And the hubby wonders why I was dreading this trip... Of course, if you read the last blog - you realize that nothing could faze him anymore.  You are getting the gist... the last 25 years of travel has been one long audition video for Amazing Race.

So the blog went dark because after the Chevy Chase around England/Scotland to see caskets and
THE FISH.  And we didn't even eat it.
stumpwork - I had a few days at a friend's place on the coast of the Baltic.  While there, my son and his friend were fishing.  They caught a great big fish and put it in a bucket.  Brought the bucket up the cliff to where I was 'relaxing' (i.e. working for the first time in days).  They stayed about 12 feet from me and showed me the big fish.  Nice fish.  Then fish went back in the bucket, where upon it thrashed and sprayed the entire deck with salty sea water.

Yes.  No more computer.  At this point insert Benny Hill ditty with Tricia drying computer with hairdryer, racing their boat back to Stockholm, begging Apple store to help her (no go - seems you need three weeks to get a
If you see this part of your
laptop - not good.
Genius bar slot), computer corroded, no english keyboard, many calls to USA, Apple store in Berlin, finally hard drive is corroded too.  Will have to wait until back in USA for back up drive.  No ability to work for 21 days.  Have to catch up when get back - and add 21 days of work to pile.  You can imagine the dumb founded look on Genius's here in Boston when I handed them the computer and said a fish did it.  (It was a whopper of a tale!)

This would be pretty bad if it wasn't the culmination of nine days of really, really bad travel juju.  You see my husband and friend had JUST landed the boat after trekking back to the airport to retrieve my bag that had been MIA for four days.  And that was the SECOND time in seven days.  I now had so many toothbrushes and deodorants to carry around.  And a full set of clothes that I had bought in only two hours at 4x what they cost in the USA.  And if that wasn't bad enough there was when we landed at the wrong airport.  The lightning that hit the high speed train.  The Mumbai train ride (just don't ask!) the only thing to know is that now my son and I have claustrophobia and couldn't ride a subway the rest of the entire month.  And when British Air decided to cancel the 14-yr old's flight and not reseat him - gave all the empty seats to adults even though we had paid them to accompany the child.
Despondent teen to dad after spending a week in the basement
storage areas of museums watching mother and friend
go ga-ga over "dirty old embroidery".
Poor substitute for Turkish resort and Scandinavian girls
He never made it to Turkey.  The details are gory and I have to thank my travel companion that week (a stitching friend) who had signed up for seeing lovely caskets with me - not to sleeping in a room with a very disappointed teen (missing a gift from his Swedish 'family' to go to a resort with them).  And at the end - when I was good and exhausted - we still had a technical conference to attend in Vienna for a week.  The husband dropped the older kid and I at a random train station in rural Austria and made an autobahn beeline for Munich airport.  We found our way to the conference.   The kid was giving the poster and workshop and I was the chaperone.  Three of the robot kids were there in this adult world.  I had to teach them how to negotiate an adult conference, network, the art of the reception, etc.  They did spectacular but it was exhausting.  Of course I would have to get food
Conference kids - they looked
good, were professional, and made
waves with their opinions on education.  

Then there was the volcano.  It decided to erupt as we landed in Iceland.  Why not?  Every time an Iceland volcano erupts I am flying.  Yes - this is the third time for me.

So I got home.  Almost no blog for eight weeks.  I still have 396 emails to process.

Husband is already trying to plan crazy international ski thing for February (bet the blog will go dark then too).  I didn't mention that my brother got married five days after we landed.  So we had to fly to that.  At least as we were standing forty people back in the cheep car rental line (sooo jet lagged) and the boys were lambasting their dad for not using his Hertz gold membership - he finally got it that we have had it and we dragged our bags across the street to Hertz.

Maybe there is hope for him.  Yes, he was wearing the trusty travel sweater.  I swear that thing is a bad luck charm!

I am going to burn it.


P.S.  He has NO input in my tours.  :-)  'Nuff said!


  1. I love it! Thanks so much for sharing this! You are all amazing!

  2. LOL! Thanks so much fo sharing, your kids are real troopers :). And I'd make a deal with the hubby: you don't burn the sweater if all the hotels have elevators next time. Can't wait for the post after the ski adventure! -Catherine

  3. Have really enjoyed these latest posts, Tricia! What a life :-)

  4. The engineer here loved your story! Says you're a good writer!

  5. LOL....loved the post.

  6. I want to see "The Sweater"!

  7. Welcome home, Tricia! Oh gosh - thanks for the laugh! I really want to see the sweater! Hope you can find some time to vacation from your vacation....