“I wish I had travelled less”

           ~Nobody.  Never.

(Please note…I am a bit late in posting this post, so it is in two parts!  The before we leave, and now the after!)

August 12th: A day of madness, and a little bit of fun.

So we are just over 24 hours from leaving our beautiful home in Muskoka to embark on an epic journey that has been in the works for over a year.  Well, actually, Deb and I have been talking about this for the last 20 years, even before the kids were twinkles in our eyes.

It seems really really really weird to be embarking on the trip that has been talked about for so long.   always said that we would take the kids on a road trip when they were in grade 5 and seven, almost as if we had a plan laid out for our lives many years in advance.

The final touches they’re underway, bags are packed … well almost because I am packing everything in reverse order compared to Deb.  She packed her bags first and then packed up everything around her (putting her stuff away in our room so our house sitters had somewhere to put their stuff), whereas I imploded.  I packed everything up to be stored and as I was packing my stuff up, I would put clothes and gear aside to go into the backpack.  And now we have one more sleep In our own bed before we sleep in different beds around the world.

The other day I realized that Deb and I found our niches in getting the family ready for the big trip.  Deb and I are like two teams in the Stanley Cup championship game seven game right now. I am home, and she is away. To clarify that further, I’m taking care of most if not everything around the house and she is taking care of everything that applies while we are away. Packing up the house is really strange as it is 27° and sunny today and I am winterizing the house as much as I can so that we don’t have to burden the rest of our friends Who have graciously agreed to help package the house up for a winter in the fall (thank you John, Jen, Matt, Erin, Ian, Nan, Evelynn, and Larry).

It’s hard leaving a beautiful place in Muskoka in the middle of summer time, but I can’t complain as we are headed on a trip and we are following summer the whole way around.  Can’t wait to get on the flight strapped in the chair and take off with three of my favorite people in the whole wide world. There’s nobody else that I would rather create a stronger bond, form so many new and amazing memories, and grow personally together them my beautiful wife and my two amazing kids. I truly am the luckiest man alive.

Merry Christmas, happy new year, miss you guys already, and will see you on the flipside when we return!

 

August 13th: Up, up, and away!

To all the naysayers out there, including my family, I was able to get everything, including my CPAP, into my carry on rolling suitcase and backpack.  Take that, boomchakalaka.  I might have had to sit on my pack, but that is besides the point. And it definitely was way under the weight limit.

So, we hopped in the car and we made it to Toronto in one piece, and only had to stop twice on Skyhills to make sure that we had actually packed stuff in our luggage.  We caught up on some last minute emails and for me, since my anxiety was kicking into full gear over the last few weeks and I was averaging 5 hours of sleep a night, I had a wee power nap.

We dropped the car off at the Park n Fly and made sure that our amazing and favorite Irish friend, Karen, knew the pick up plan for the car (she is arriving in Canada on Thursday, so why not leave her a car to drive back home!), and Deb gave some last minute sage advice and instructions to the kids about safe travel.  And of course to me.  Don’t talk to strangers, keep your personal items close to you, and all that jazz.

At the security gate, we got waved through to go into the family lane, which was a bonus.  I thought they only did that for little kids, but heck we will take it!

Check in was a breeze.  Man, I should have thought of this carry on thing a long time ago, #konaadventures #closetofindinganewwayhome.  Except the watchmakers precision packing that I had to do (what?? Everything needs to be compartmentalized and have its own spot) had to be undone in my backpack so that I, the one who is in charge, could get my CPAP out to go through the xray machine on its own.  Then I had to repack it.  I hope this speeds up as the trip goes along.

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We get to the gate and there are a bunch of people doing yoga at the end of the hall, so Deb and WIlson head off to find some food, and Lulu and I did a barre/yoga/dynamic stretching/functional movement workout.  It raised some eyebrows, but who cares.  I love my little Lulu and I would do anything for her to see her smile.  Even ballet.

On the plane, we walked straight past the people (including a family, who was watching the workout by the way with strange expressions on their faces) in fancy first class with their pods and big screen TVs and queen sized beds, and went to row 34.  The kids and Deb sat together, and I had an middle section aisle seat, with my road rash elbow to the aisle side, and sat beside a fantastic man from France, Bruno.  His wife was sitting behind me.  I guess I should have been a chivalrous male Canadian and offered my seat up to her, but he and I struck up a conversation, in full on french nonetheless, and chatted for several hours about our lives, our trip, and by the end of the flight, we got an invite to go to his house for dinner when we arrive in home town of Langeais, France.  He gave me what the best white wines, red wines, and champagnes are in the region….supposedly each town has a red and a white…so it is pretty easy to figure out what towns to buy them.   Deb and the kids were glued to the TVs, and Deb was full on cry laughing watching Blockers (gotta watch it I guess).  I didn’t even turn on a show or crack the book that I was so happy to find at the gate, The Happiness of Pursuit.  Oh well, next time.

Then I strapped on the good ole sleeping mask, put on some white noise with the Calm app and had some help from a little blue pill to fall asleep for a bit.  And I let people beat up my elbow as the walked by.  Haha.  I woke up a couple of hours later and Wilson was glued to the TV watching Avengers: Infinity War.  “How was your sleep buddy?”, I asked.  “I haven’t slept”, he said.  Oh boy.  This is going to be a fun day.  His nerves kicked in full gear and couldn’t settle down enough to get some shut eye.  Note to people who may not know this, Wilson gets a bit cranky when he is tired.

Oh well, c’est la vie as they say in France.  Bruno and I got talking again and I, being the observant one, didn’t even notice the plane had landed.  Kudos to the pilot!

We hopped off, flew threw customs, and headed to the baggage carousel, and waited for our bags as we checked the clothes ones since they needed space on the plane.  And then the overland advenutre started.  He made our way from Charles de Gaulle airport to Gare de Nord by train, after our first “Amazing Race” style “How the heck do I work the train system” challenge.  We made it there, and transferred to Gare de L’est where we had an awesome 3 hour layover.

Outside the main entrance to the station they had a virtual park with plants, lawn chairs, and an exercise area (hint hint Huntsville Town Council, we need this downtown) with free exercise equipment that the kids and I got on.  French people were jumping on, with their suits and all doing business on their cell phones, and were on the gazelle and bike machines.  Kudos to them, and maybe it isn’t the Mediterreanean diet that keeps them thin.

Wilson, sat down in a lounger along with Deb and fell asleep in the full blazing sun, sprawled out like he had just come back from a night of hard partying.  And full on slept through police sirens, a bunch of loud businessmen talking on their cell phones beside him, and many other distractions.  Man he needed it.

We get on the train to Luxomberg, which was a high speed train with wifi, and sat at a nice four person table unit.  I don’t mind sitting going backwards on a train, but I found out that my speed limit for tolerance of this was somewhere around the 300km/h mark.  Had to stop reading and playing cards.  Plus my fatigue finally kicked in, so I turned around in a different seat and crashed.  Drooling and all.  And the train stopped, everyone got off except for us as we thought the train was still going, and people were getting on and telling us we were in their seats.  Ok….  I guess we get off here.

We were in Luxomberg and went to the info booth in the train station and got instructions on what bus to catch and where to get off, and we put the Here We Go app (super shout out to Daniel for this recommendation…it is an amazing map app that uses GPS and nooooo cell data!) and it even told us there what buses to take to get to where we wanted to go.  Deb got on and went to the middle of the bus with Lulu, and Wilson and I sat at the front by the driver as that is where he wanted to sit.  So, we were separated.  Mistake one.  I knew we needed to get off at the Eich Klinik stop as that is what the app and info dude told us.  But we also knew kind of where we were going.  Deb yelled up “Here?”.  “Nope, next one”, I did back in my bad mouthing the words charades style that I am famous for.

So we get off, and the first words out of her mouth are “I bet you a hundred dollars we should have gotten off at the spot before this one”.  “Nope, you lose.  We were supposed to get off at this stop”.  Boomchakalaka, first money win of the trip.  Up a hundred bones.  Then we put in the apartment address in the app and walk right past the first bus stop she wanted to get off at.  Daniel, my friend, you owe me $100 that I owe Deb.  Damn.  It didn’t help that the walk, albeit 480m, was pretty much up a hill that rivals those in Muskoka.  But we found the amazing playground that we knew was in the area.

We settled into our flat at 7 Schetzl street, and it is super nice and comfty, and headed out for dinner at a pizzeria, Restaurant Méditerranéo, which made up amazing wood fired pizzas, spaghetti, and local beer to boot.  Well, my pizza, Le Rustico, had tuna on it.  Something I never would have thought to put on pizza, and probably will never put on pizza again, but everyone else’s food was amazing.  Who kne that “Tonno” was tuna.  Thon in french for tuna, but this is Luxomberg, not France.

We made our way to the park for a 5 minute play while Deb headed to the apartment for her shower to get all of the travel goo off of her, and then we came back and cleaned up and went to bed.

It is 7am right now in Luxomberg as I am typing this, and everyone is still asleep.  Some dude is ringing the church bell like mad at the church across the road…please stop so that the kids can sleep more…  Today we start our adventures, our castles hunting, maybe a bit of school, and living large in a world that is even larger.