By the time you read this, we will soon be on our way to our Home Sweet Home in Cookeville after almost 5 months!
Originally we had planned to conclude our trip in Iceland this week. However, we found out Walden is having high school soccer try outs this week; and the original plan to come home and the next day go to Teenside’s work camp had started to sound insane. So we decided as a family to head back a week early to give us a few days to settle in, before we started the the crazy teenage summer.
We started traveling back from Kruger on May 24. We had planned to spend the night in Johannesburg and see the Apartheid Museum the next morning, but several local South Africans told us it was too dangerous unless we had someone to drive us directly there. They said one wrong turn could be a major problem; car jacking was a threat that was very real and common. Since Ella was already on eggshells about going, we decided to let it go and just spend sometime catching up with home and internet at the hotel, since there had been no wifi in the park.
We were amazed by the gas station and rest stop on our way back to Jo-burg from the park, with its own little park in the back yard! We saw an incredible crop of bananas and oranges as well. You will have to ask Chris more about South African politics. He had the opportunity to speak with a South African on the flight in depth about it and has really read a lot since then. Unfortunately, it is not a pretty picture.
On May 25th we traveled to London and had a rough overnight flight, so we crashed most of that afternoon. We had our first Papa John’s since December to celebrate my birthday and a cookie from there for a cake. It wasn’t quite like home (they have ranch dip instead of butter garlic) but still tasted really good!
May 26th we headed for Boston and after several delays at the airport, we arrived at 2AM London time, but 9PM in Boston. We were still pretty excited to be in the United States, so our adrenaline kept us going pretty late. To our delight, on the bus to the hotel we met a young family who was leaving on their RTW trip in 1 month. They had a 5 and 7 year old and noticed our backpacks, which must be the go to on the internet for RTW travel because we saw hundreds of them during our experience. We even started a crazy bird call every time we saw one … probably shouldn’t have told you that, just a little worldschool humor. We enjoyed talking with them all the way and picked up again for a moment at breakfast the next morning. It was so exciting to share with them just a few things we learned and to hear them excitedly planning their own experience. The kids enjoyed it too. They cracked up at Walden at breakfast to see his plate. He clearly had been missing a few American favorites.
I had my first cup of coffee with probably deadly international delight creamer this morning in Boston. I have missed it so much, but luckily it didn’t taste quite as amazing as a half a year ago. Still better than this method we’ve been using in South Africa in the campground, but maybe I’ll switch to just hot milk and sugar and spare myself from the junk in this frufru creamer.
On May 27th we flew to Nashville to meet Pa, Uncle Chad, and Thomas. Nanny and Kayeden had to stay home, wanting to prepare a Southern home cooked welcome home meal and birthday dinner for Uncle Chad, Uncle Al, and I and remembering Aunt Mimi for her birthday of May 23. To our delight, the Sissoms, Liv, and Shayla were also there holding “Welcome Home” signs for the kids. We were also so excited to see them all and give hugs and catch up. We talked so long they had moved our baggage to the Southwest office for claiming, lol. Several of our other friends were out of town for Memorial Day, but we look forward to seeing them soon.
Molly greeted us at the door, moving from each of us, sniffing us like crazy and demanding endless petting. She slept with Ella and Kayeden last night at the end of the bed and several times, they said, cuddled in between them. Ella said she thinks she ate more at Nanny and Pa’s than she had in 5 months! Barbecue chicken, creamed corn, green beans, mashed potatoes, chicken and dumplings, sister schubert rolls, sweet tea, and followed by chocolate pie. An absolute feast! We brought a cricket kit for the kids; and after a few rounds of basketball, they moved to trying it out and Thomas put one over the roof! We brought Uncle Chad and Uncle Al braaing supplies from South Africa for their birthdays, Pa all kinds of South African fresh jelly, and Nanny a pashmina scarf from Nepal. We gave Austin and Tyler money from around the world, as well as wildebeest and cape buffalo jerky. KK has a beautiful dress and veil from India and her stuffed koala bear from earlier in the trip. And Thomas, his ruby cube from Hungary and the cricket set. Chris and I’s pack had reached over 30 lbs on the way home, so we had to wait till South Africa for most souvenirs for family! We hope to see Grangoo and Grandpa again on Memorial Day, and we talked to Uncle Zach and Marina on FaceTime this morning in Boston!
The girls talked till almost 9:30, before my head started drooping; and Chris had crashed about 8:30. The boys dropped at Uncle Chad’s playing PlayStation. Jet lag was rough last night, but hopefully we will overcome it soon. We hope to let you hear more of our thoughts on coming home soon; but time to head that way!
But just a reminder of some of our thoughts, that motivated the trip, kept it going, and remain in us still. – Alison