April 21, 2010

The Photo Gallery Is Up...

I have finally finished putting all of the photos up in a gallery. It has taken me a ridiculous amount of time to do so, consuming the better part of my free time over the past two weeks. Thank God I had a computer class today as part of my orientation for my new assignment, or I'd still be working on these galleries.

Anyhow, there are two separate parts. First, there is the standard gallery page, as part of my photo website. Each picture has its own caption (hence the long time coming, as there are 1300+ photos on it), and each country is briefly described and dated. It's a more personal page. You can access it by clicking here. All galleries are up, I'm just putting a few finishing touches to link it all up to the rest of the photo website. For those who have enjoyed our pictures, this is the motherlode - you'll have to browse these galleries in more than one sitting, or you'll have a brain freeze, looking at all 1362 of them.

The other section is new. This is a quick gallery, not so many captions and descriptions.  The point of this section is for people to be able to purchase photos. At this point, I'm still researching prices other photographers are charging, so it's not complete. You'll get the point though. All of the same photos are up on this section, and it has plenty of linkage from the normal photo website. It can be accessed here.

For those who have written since we've gotten back, thanks so much for your comments. I'm glad that our blog was enjoyed. Don't worry, we have future adventures looming, which I'll be describing on these pages.

Until next time, be safe.


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March 13, 2010

Back In The US Of A

We've been back about a week now, which has turned out to be quite nice. It's interesting the types of things that you take for granted when you go without them, or at least have them in limits amounts. Take for example washing machines, or showers with a decent pressure and water temperature greater than icy, or beds that are not only warm and comfortable but insect free and sheets that have been washed since the last occupant. Better than that, though, is the reception that we have received. After a tiring but uneventful trip from Lima to Charlotte, NC, Jess's parents met us at the airport, and from that point on, we've enjoyed sharing our experience with pretty much everyone we've met. Strangely enough, for the few days after our return, we spent so much time getting everything squared away (phones, finances, car insurance) that we sort of put our trip out of our minds. Getting out photos so that we could view them on our computer and then showing folks some of the nearly 5000 photos that we took has changed that; suddenly we are faced with the scope the trip, looking back at photos from the beginning of the trip in Portugal and Morocco all the way through the end of the trip in South America.

Getting situated has been a bit startling. Our job situation isn't as ideal as I would have preferred; one of the reasons we decided to take the trip was to hopefully get us through the drought of travel nursing positions that make finding positions difficult. We've come back to a job reality where available positions aren't much more plentiful than they were six months ago. We've had our applications submitted for positions in Washington state, Washington, D.C., Arkansas, Arizona, and Texas, with few hits so far. Given the limited numbers of positions, as well as the competition, I can't imagine that having an eight-month gap in our employment record is doing us any favors. I'm keeping the faith, though, I am sure we'll be gainfully employed soon enough.

We've had some good time to sit back and consider the last six months. Living a certain lifestyle over a period of six months, in particular a lifestyle that is completely different than one's normal lifestyle in every way, definitely will have an impact on the way a person views the world around them, and we've thought a lot about how this trip has impacted us, perhaps even changed us. It wasn't just an escape from reality, it wasn't simply just a vacation or an adventure, and we didn't just travel because it is something that we love. It had some of all of these ingredients in the mix, but also it was an opportunity to expand the way that we view the world. We had the opportunity to see how people live their lives in twenty different cultures (as well as the subcultures), from the some of the wealthiest and most prosperous nations to some of the world's poorest and most desperate folks. We had that opportunity, and we jumped on it.

An idea that slowly developed over the course of the six months was how fortunate that we are. Obviously, we are fortunate in the sense that we left employment behind and hit the road, tramping our way across the globe, enjoying fulfilling every whim that we had. We had that sense of fortune before we left, we knew that we were lucky and we found that very exciting. That idea grew throughout the trip, in particular as we began to work our way though South East Asia, where abject poverty became more and more common, where our few belongings on our backs became glaring examples of the material wealth that we as Americans possess. It continued to grow as we crossed the Pacific into South America: first there was Patagonia, which is a big outdoor playground for the rich Europeans and American tourist to enjoy, while many Chlieans and Argetineans will never visit such beautiful parts of their countries. We then had a very clarifying experience in Puerto Iguazu, sitting in a hostel, in the kind of encounter that one must wonder if you can ever have at home.

We found ourselves sharing a six bed bunk room with a fellow from Poland. Sometimes you hit it off with folks you meet in the bunks, other times you never speak a word. He seemed a bit quiet, so it was looking to be the latter sort of relationship. Then he introduced himself, and turned out to be a Polish guy named Cezari, who had worked in Ireland for some time before meeting a Brazilian girl he ended up marrying and following to Brazil, where he ran a hostel. This ended up being a defining introduction, for soon I was telling him that although we'd passed through Poland and really enjoyed it, we hadn't met that many Polish people in the duration of our travels. From there we entered a very long conversation, that to give the gist of it, basically concluded with the idea that we are privileged as Americans. In fact, most (western) European countries as well as countries like Australia and New Zealand are privileged. He managed to make this point without causing me to become defensive because he explained it in terms of the Polish nation, a country that while it is not as wealthy as the neighboring Germany, it is still quite a bit better off than somewhere like Cambodia. Yet, even in a country that has well-developed infrastructure, decent leadership, and a strong culture, the material wealth of its inhabitants isn't enough that they would be able to quit their jobs and head off on a six month trip. In fact, many people in Poland cannot afford many of the things that middle class Americans take for granted: home ownership, their own vehicles, etc.

This set us to thinking about our lifestyle and circumstances. True, we were living out of a bag, carrying the only belongings that we needed on our backs, eating as cheaply as possible and living as rough of a lifestyle as our standards would permit. The difference between our living circumstances (including the current circumstances of living on the road) and the circumstances of someone such as Cezari's parents, who were living in an apartment building, just like they'd done all of their lives, was that we'd chosen to live our lifestyle. That was a vast change in our thinking. For most Americans who are at least middle class, you can choose whatever lifestyle you want, whether it be in some incredibly excessive digs with a pool house in the back to the most basic cabin in the woods--we know people in those circumstances and in all of the spectrum in between. The one thing that both lumps all of those people as the same as well as separates them from a huge part of the world is one thing: choice. They've chosen the lifestyle they want. I'm not making a judgment here, people including Americans have the right to choose their lifestyle, and what's more, they don't need to apologize for their lifestyle (well, maybe when you have a pool house as well as a stand-alone garage with an apartment upstairs and both of which are nicer than most American's homes...). What I suddenly began to understand is that no matter how simple I was to make my life, no matter if I were to choose that cabin in the woods, no matter if I were choose to drive a 1984 Pinto and only make purchases at Goodwill, there will always be a difference between myself and people living, say, in Warsaw or Phnom Penh or some one room shack in the middle of the desert outside of Lima: choice.

This isn't to say that I was becoming paralyzed with some guilt complex where I wanted to give away all of my belongings and move into an unpowered, one-room shack in the desert. What it did make me is much more appreciative of the opportunities that I have. As people frequently tend to do, I take a lot of things for granted, and this trip served to open my eyes a little to what I do have, just a little bit at least. I don't want to make this trip sound too revealing: there is a difference in passing a shantytown on a bus and actually walking into it, opening up the door to a shack, and moving in. I don't understand the lives that people in underdeveloped countries lead, I don't understand the hardships that they have, the suffering they endure, the lack of opportunities that cripple them in their efforts to better their lives. What this trip did reveal to me (to more of a degree than before) is that these things do exist, for an enormous number of people in the world. I think that once you understand this simple point, once you have seen its existence, you can never go back but by choice. Ahh, that word again. This time, though, having a choice isn't such a great thing. Suddenly, you have been exposed to something, and whether or not you choose to do something, even if it is a drop in the ocean of human suffering, is a choice that speaks volumes of your character. Suddenly choice has consequences. Needless to say, this was a pretty heavy consideration to be presented with. Unlike being in the insulated world of Western civilization, it's hard to ignore the rest of the world when you are walking through it. But, anyhow, I'm ranting now.

Standing at the figurative end of the road of this trip, we can definitely say that this was a really great trip, that we thoroughly enjoyed it. As we reflect on it, we have been trying to decide what it was that made it so much fun. Of course, the scenery was spectacular; our route took us through some really great parts of the world, scenery that was breathtaking and inspiring. From the little that we saw, it was proof that this world of ours has more variety and beauty than I could have ever imagined. It would be hard to beat the scenery we saw as far as a highlight on our trip, but I really believe the interactions that we had with travelers and other folks we met along the way was the best part of our trip. One might think that hanging out in a 14-bed bunk room that smelled like unwashed socks (or worse) wouldn't be much of a highlight, but we met very interesting and fun people nearly everywhere we went. We met people that inspired us in future plans, people who changed our conceptions of entire countries, people who made us laugh, who made experiences even better than they would have been. There were folks who made us mad, people who we couldn't stand, but these people were far less frequent than the people we would gladly invite into our homes, people we really hope will visit us in the States one day. Without these interactions, our travels would have just been a change of scenery for six months straight; meeting these people made it an experience.

Of course, the kinds of people that we met often were kindred spirits. By this, I mean that travelers tend to be addicts of sorts: we have been introduced to the idea of travel, and we are frequently addicted to it. Once you know the feeling of walking out into a city, a people, a culture completely different than anything you've seen before, once you've tasted a country's food in that country, once you’ve had those experiences, you've crossed into a different era of your life. At least in my experience, from that point on, you'll look back at that time before you've started traveling, and wonder how you got without it.

That is why I recommend that everyone at least give traveling a try. I want to make addicts of everyone.

Until next time, be safe.

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December 21, 2009

Getting A Notification

I just wanted to put out a suggestion. We´ve heard that there are a number of people who read this blog. On the other hand, I only have a few email addresses for people who receive a notification about when we write an entry.

So, if you´d like to receive a notice about updates, please send us your email address. Just go up to the Contact Us link and put it in there. I promise, I won´t sell your email address.

Until next time, be safe.


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August 24, 2009

Ready For Departure!

The day has finally come. Tomorrow morning, we will leave for Charlotte, NC, to catch our first flight, to Lisbon, Portugal. It seemed like such a long time coming, but the day has finally arrived.

We've had a great time in South Carolina, despite the humidity we found here. Spending a year away from the Southa apparently causes you to lose any tolerance for oppressive humidity that you might have. We've had the time here to make all of our final preparations, meaning that we've purchased all the gear, probably more so, that we'll need. We've filled the pockets of our backpacks to the brim, and after I finish writing this, I'll be weighing the pack to make sure that it is less than 50 lbs total for me, which is all that I want to have to carry for the next five months.

We've also finished our business. Our car insurance is on hold. Our phones won't work after Tuesday at midnight. The accounts that will have to be maintained on the trip will be automatic. Our lives back in the States should continue to run as normal.

Now, I'm just ready to get on the road. I keep reading the Lonely Planet guides we have for our destinations, and it is terribly exciting. Everywhere we've chosen has plenty of interesting sites to visit and experiences to be had. Any one of our destinations could have been a trip on its own. So, it is a little bit of overload to know that we'll be in all of these places.

We'll try to relax and have a slow day here in SC. That will be hard, knowing that Departure Day is just tomorrow. Next time I post anything, I won't be on this continent.

Until next time, be safe.



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August 07, 2009

Spending The Dough Already

Yesterday, I had a little spending spree. I finally broke down and bought plane tickets for a few more legs of the trip. Before, I'd only purchased tickets from Charlotte, NC, to Lisbon. I figured that I would watch ticket prices carefully and get them at key moments of cheapness. Well, over the past month I've been watching a slow but incremental increase in prices, and since we are only about six weeks from our departure from Barcelona to Warsaw, it seemed prudent to just go ahead and buy tickets for that flight.

Next, I bought tickets from Berlin to Istanbul. This may require a little more explanation. One reason that I haven't purchased plane tickets to most places is because I don't want to limit our flexibility of our plans. That has worked out well. For example, we've made plans to meet a few friends from Tucson on September 25 in Barcelona, which is after the date that I had initially planned on flying out, which would have prevented us from meeting them. By holding off on buying tickets, I was able to adjust our plans to accommodate something like meeting people. Now, though, plans are seeming to coalese a little bit, so I'm feeling more comfortable making more definite limitations, such as plane tickets. So, we will be in Spain now until the 26th of September, upon which date we will head up to Poland, where we will explore until we spend the night of the 3rd of October in Berlin, Germany. That is so we can catch a flight the next morning to Istanbul.

To explain this new addition to our country count, there is a nurse in the unit I worked at in Tucson, who came back after a couple of weeks of vacation. I didn't know where she'd gone, and was pretty interested in hearing about her vacation in Turkey. She really had nothing but good things to say about Turkey. I looked at a map of our route and noticed that Istanbul is en route from Berlin to Bangkok, albeit a layover, which is fine with us. Then I ran the numbers, and it turns out that adding a stopover in Istanbul only costs $50 for each of us in additional plane costs. So, we're getting a week in Turkey. Maybe even longer than that, since I haven't gone as far as purchase tickets into Thailand yet.

Since I had the card out, I went ahead and purchased a Eurail pass for the two of us in Spain and Portugal. We're planning on going some distance to see different cities, and train travel in Europe is notoriously expensive. We will only get four days of train travel with Spain and Portugal, and it still cost $300 each. That's as much as I paid for flights to Istanbul for the both of us. Seems a little ludicrous, but the alternative would be to pay anywhere from $40 to $150 each for every train ride we took in Spain, which would have eventually cost around $500 each. In that sense, it is a bargain.

One thing that I found with buying tickets for trains and planes is that it is more economical to buy them online in the US on websites based in the US. I called the credit card companies and asked what their foreign transaction fees were, which I found out to be 3%. So, it you spend $300 on flights on a foreign website, say BalticAir, you have to factor in an additional $9 in fees just with the credit cards, which makes a difference when you are crunching costs as much as possible for everything to make this trip fit in a certain budget. On the other hand, buying the same tickets through a website such as Orbitz, even with their fee attached, is often approximately the same as the costs before you added in the credit card fees.

Finally, I went ahead and purchased our travel insurance. This cost about $350 for the two of us for five full months. This is an absolute for any travelers, because not only can it save your trip when your bag gets stolen or the airlines try to screw you, but also because in any instances of injury, you will receive the best treatment a country can provide, and if it isn't enough, you will be evacuated back to the US for care. Try putting that cost on the credit card.

So, in addition to the costs we've already had, including bags, Lonely Planet guides, and those sorts of things, we've managed to spend a fair amount already. That just makes it more important to fully anticipate costs while abroad and follow a solid budget. It's possible to have a lot of fun and to not end up broke at the end. Those who know me well can attest to the types of budgets I keep, and this will not be different; if anything, it will have to be more rigorous. All part of the challenge.

Until next time, be safe.

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Confidence Is What You Feel Before You Fully Understand The Situation

We're moving very quickly towards our departure date, it's pretty amazing. In less than three weeks, we'll be humping our backpacks through the airport terminal in Lisbon, Portugal. That's a pretty exciting and startling thought for the two of us.

I'm having conflicting feelings about the upcoming departure date. Part of me feels like it is taking forever arriving. This part of me feels like there is nothing to do but wait for that moment when we board our plane in Charlotte. That is a relaxing idea, but entirely unrealistic.

Which brings up the conflicting side of me. I'm realizing that I only have couple more weeks, and I keep remembering things I need to do to prepare for the trip that I have forgotten or worse, haven't even thought of yet. After all, it's not like I take a six-month hiatus from life to wander around frequently. There are arrangements to be made, necessities to be purchased, and plans to be designed. This is a much less relaxing way to think of the trip. In a way, it will just be relaxing to get on the plane and know that whatever I didn't manage to accomplish will just have to be postponed or neglected altogether.

It's not that I'm nervous or having cold feet about the trip. I have been there before, on the first real international trip I made as an independent backpacker to Chile. Every time I would talk about the upcoming trip, I would break out into cold sweats. Jess and I have been around enough, have gotten enough traveling and especially backpacking under our belts, that I feel quite confident in our decisions that we've made about this trip. What causes me anxiety is making sure that there is a proper foundation for our trip. I want things to be set up in order for our trip to start out smoothly, without having any baggage besides our backpacks accompanying us as we head out.

So in the midst of quitting our jobs, moving all of our belongings from Tucson up to Colorado, and spending time with family and friends, I've really had to consider what remains for us to do in preparation for our trip. I've already started a journal, as I have found that writing things down keeps them straight in my mind. Top of the list now seems to be finishing out our supply list, which at this point only requires tweaking our clothing selections. For me, I need good boots that will survive the trip. Also, both of us are planning on buying special underwear, as a matter of fact. This particular kind of skivvies will be easy to clean, quick to dry, and lightweight. For the hardcore, two pair are the bare necessity, as one can be washed and dried while the other is worn. I think we'll end up with three pairs each, to give the other two an extra day to air out. So, we'll have three pairs of skivvies, four to five shirts, a couple pairs of pants (preferably quick-dry, preferably with zip-off legs), a couple pairs of shorts, something warm, something waterproof (a combination of those two would be ideal), and a bunch of socks. This last article, the common sock, is crucial. They are lightweight, they are often stinky, and they can be dramatically uncomfortable without proper care, so a bunch of socks isn't a bad thing.

Everything else in our bags seems to be in order. We have our lightweight campgear. We have our travel towels, travel clock, and travel sewing kits. I have a first aid kit that would allow minor surgery in the field, which hopefully won't be necessary. I have more stuff than will probably be going with us, and surely more stuff than will make the complete trip back home. One thing that I do like to do in preparation for trips is buy stuff to take along; fortunately, I've pretty much run out of things that I feel that I could buy on the excuse of this trip.

Beyond the physical needs of the trip, there is a lot of preparation. I have business related to our last apartment to wrap up. I need to confirm whether we need to have any immunizations (I don't think we do) and whether we need to buy any anti-malarial medications (that may be necessary). I need to reserve a spot in a hostel in Lisbon for our first night, the one reservation that I will bother with on this side of the Pacific. There are tax issues I should probably at least preemptively address, at least to prepare for when we get back. There are accounts I need to suspend, phone services to cancel, car insurance policies to put on hold. I need to write a few letters, send some pictures, winterize our vehicles and belongings. See, it's a little stressful getting ready to be gone from home and convenience for five full months, there is a lot to do.

Getting on that plane will be the most relaxing thing I manage to do in the next two and a half weeks.

Beyond all of the busy preparation, though, the Trip comes through, a reminder of great times to be had, and I remember how inspiring the idea of this thing was even in China, and how it continues to inspire us now. Preparation will be accomplished, and we'll be moving on to our trip. Actually, scratch that, we're already on the Trip. After all, we are currently unemployed, and we drove 900 miles from Tucson to reach Colorado and will fly nearly 2000 miles to Charlotte soon. Most importantly, this is a journey over seven continents, and this is the first one. Six more to go.

Until next time, be safe.


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July 13, 2009

A Calendar For The Trip

I've put together a calendar for our trip with Google Maps. Right now it's pretty vague - a month and a half are dedicated to simply "South America Segment." Of course, this is the overall itinerary as it sits today, it will change as we move through the trip, or at least become much more detailed. I'll even post flights and those sorts of things.

This calendar will have a link in the top right-hand corner, in the Trip Links section. Clicking there will bring up a new page with the calendar, which will be kept up to date with our plans. To check out the calender, you can also click here.

The most beneficial part of doing this it that we are hoping to be joined for parts of our trip by friends. For those interested in taking a week or two and seeing something different with us, this calendar is the best possible way to keep abreast of where we are and where we plan to be in upcoming periods.

Until next time, be safe.

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July 08, 2009

Let Me Introduce This Blog

As of now, this blog will be the official Trip Blog. Previously, I was just posting news about the blog on my RN Travelogue, which is my blog about the adventures that my wife and I have as travel nurses. From this point on, posting about our upcoming trip will be put on this blog only.

As can be seen below, there have been a few entries about the trip. I feel as though it needs a proper introduction, though. Essentially, as everyone should know, our country is gripped in an economic "hardship," and as such, there have been few if any travel nursing positions available. Jess and I have been fortunate to have been employed thus far in 2009 in Tucson, at different hospitals, and have been able to save up our money. However, we decided during our trip in May to Vancouver, Canada, that instead of fretting about finding the next positions when our contracts end at August 2, we would just take a trip for the rest of the year. Once we'd come to that decision, there was no point in backing out.

However, the idea for the trip has been festering in our minds since a conversation we had on a little ferry boat heading out to an outlying island of Hong Kong last December. We thought about how exciting it would be to take a trip that would include every continent, all seven of them. At the time, not yet fully understanding the impact that the economy would have on the travel nurse field, we figured we would finish three assignments, maybe with a little time in between, and finish up in November to take off in December. Circumstances as they are, we are taking the trip a little earlier, although we're not complaining.

As I wrote about in the entry below, we had to scrap the TSR segment of the trip, at least this time around the world. On the other hand, the other day as we sat in our favorite restaurant/bar in Tucson, the Amber Restaurant, which is a Polish restaurant, chatting with the owner, we started talking about traveling. He was telling us about traveling home, to Warsaw and Krakow. Suddenly it occurred to us that perhaps we should travel to Poland as well. I went home and ran the numbers, and as it turns out, flying from Barcelona to Poland, then taking the train to Berlin a week later to catch a flight to Bangkok is only slightly more expensive than the flight directly from Barcelona to Bangkok, our initial plan. So, it looks like we will be getting in Poland and Germany this trip as well. How about that!

That is how I want this trip to go down--dynamic, flexible, and completely fun. I want to be able to go where we want to go. If I want to visit a friend in the backwoods of Chile part of the way down to Patagonia, way out of the way, then we should, not only because he is a hiking/kayaking guide there, but more importantly, because we can.

That's why we're doing this trip at all. Because we can.

Until next time, be safe.


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Minus The Trans-Siberian

Original Posting Date - July 04, 2009

Sadly, we've had some changes to our itinerary for our Seven Continent Trip. Changes are to be expected, but this was a hard one to convince ourselves to make.

So, I ran the numbers. Up to that point, I had been more or less estimating the costs of our trip, on relative budgets and assumed charges. I needed a more definitive estimate, though, so I sat down one evening - at work, of course - and looked up the average daily budgets for all of the countries we plan on visiting. I priced the costs of transportation (i.e. flight costs), and added up our expenses that we'll continue to have here in the US while we are traveling (such as our car payment). Once I added up all the costs, I was fairly dismayed. Suffice to say, the total was considerably higher than I had wanted it to be.

Thus began the painful process of trimming the trip to fit our budget. We need to have a budget, it's absolutely essential when traveling in as many as 18 or more countries for up to five months, all the while unemployed. More importantly, we need to keep to our budget, which will be difficult given all the temptations of visiting all the places we have planned. It wouldn't do to be well above our budget even before we start out on our trip.

Most glaring in the expenses department was the Trans-Siberian segment of the trip. This part added an additional $3000 to our costs, at least. There were flights up to Finland from Spain, train tickets (Finland to Russia, then the TSR), visa costs (Russia and China), and flights down to SE Asia. Of course, it's was very exciting segment of the trip, so much that it could even be a trip all by itself. That ended up being what convinced us to cut the TSR from our itinerary. It isn't that we don't expect to actually make that trip, it's just that it can't be part of the Seven Continent Trip. 

Actually, we are thinking of making the TSR trip next fall. That way, we can spend more time with my family in Finland, and then more time exploring Beijing and Xi'an in China. It will be an amazing three week trip to take. The TSR is considered one of essential traveler journeys that the world offers.

 It's a little disappointing not to be taking the TSR this time around the world, but it will also take a little pressure off of our pre-trip preparations (we don't need visas now), and we will also have more time to spend exploring in Spain, Morocco, and in SE Asia. In addition to cutting the TSR, we will likely have to limit our time in Spain and Australia (the estimated daily budget in those countries is $100-125, in comparison to $20 in a country like Thailand). I am also hoping that by waiting for good prices on airline tickets, I can bring down costs even more, since most of our flight costs are estimated at this poing (we only have tickets to Spain). Regardless, we currently are within our budget limits at this point.

So, barring donations towards our TSR segment, it looks like China and Russia won't be countries we'll add onto our itinerary this time. On the other hand, that gives us our next trip to look forward to. Of course, donations would be most welcome...(click below)

Until next time, be safe.

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Next Up On The Horizon...

Original Posting Date - June 16, 2009

We have come to a conclusion. After months of worrying about where our road will lead us next, about our next job assignments and where they are, we have finally made up our mind about it all. We are not going to be working at all.

The idea really started to make sense while we were in the midst of a week-long trip to Vancouver in early May. We were hanging out in a place very close to where we had planned on spending our summer - Seattle - and we were starting to see that there wasn't a great chance that we'd be spending any time there this year at all. Job prospects were slim, and we didn't know what we'd do next.

On the other hand, we had been talking about taking a long trip late in the year, probably starting after the assignment that would have followed our present contract. Somewhere during our trip in Vancouver we had a thought about the Trans-Siberian Railway, and suddenly we were thinking, "Why not take the trip now? After all, September or October is the perfect time to take a trip on the TSR."

And so the idea came to be.

So, after coming home, we continued to nurture the idea. We monitored the job situation as well, but probably not as seriously as we had before. By the first part of June, we'd pretty much settled on traveling instead of working. We told our parents about the trip a week ago, and yesterday I told my recruiter that I wouldn't be needing a job come August. We've sent in an application for Jess's new passport (she filled her other one), and as soon as it comes back, we'll be purchasing visas for Russia and China, the two countries we need them for. With that investment, it will be a done deal - we're hittin' the road!

At this point, our plan has sort of congealed into a Round-The-World trip, perhaps even a Seven-Continent Trip, if we manage to find a way to get to Antartica. Our itinerary as it stands at this point:

We'll spend most of August with family, first in Colorado, then South Carolina. We'll fly out of Charlotte around the 25th of August, to Madrid, Spain. We'll wonder around the southern part of Spain for a week or two before heading across by ferry to Morocco, where we'll spend a week. Crossing back to Spain and Madrid, we're thinking of taking an overnight train to Lisbon for a few days in Portugal before flying out of either Lisbon or Madrid to Helsinki, Finland. From there we will take a train in St. Petersburg and then Moscow to catch the TSR. We'll pass through Mongolia on our way to Beijing on this week-long trip. From either Xi'an or Shanghai, we'll fly to Bangkok, Thailand, from which we will embark on a two or three week tour of Southeast Asia (Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia). We'll likely fly from Bangkok to Sydney, and then spend a week or so in eastern Australia. Finally, we'll fly to Buenos Aires, Argentina. From there, we'll head down the coast of Argentina to the southernmost point in Patagonia, where there is a possibility of going to Antartica. We'll head up the other coast by ferry to Chile, where we will visit friends before continuing on to Peru. We'll head back southeast from there, through Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and possibly a bit of Brazil on our way back to BA. Then we'll head back to Denver.

There, nothing to it. That's the plan, anyhow.

So, we'll see how it all turns out. It sounds better than working, at any rate.

Until next time, be safe.

Until next time, be safe.

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