The United States of America
(July 28th, 2001 to August 23rd, 2001)
click on colored words for pictures and/or hyperlinks
Saturday, July 28th, day 390 of Lisa and Joel’s Excellent Adventure, we boarded KLM flight 601, from Amsterdam, The Netherlands to Los Angeles, CA of The United States of America, at 11:30 AM (local time in Amsterdam).  The direct flight took 11 hours.  We arrived in LA at 1:30 local time. 

It has been 362 days since we last left our home country, back on August 1st, 2000, heading to one of The Cook Islands -- Rarotonga.  Man, is it strange to be back. 

When we look at the whole adventure, the entire 13 months and counting, and where we are right now, we have felt a definite transition taking place for the last month or so. 

Any great undertaking is filled with euphoria at the start.  Even getting ripped off twice within 24 hours, within two days of starting our trip, couldn’t dampen the excitement we had for that which lay ahead. 

During the early days, the drive across the U.S. (east to west), visiting New Zealand, Australia and even to an extent The Cook Islands, provided a gradual departure from our own customs and ways to those more foreign.

Parts of Southeast Asia, Nepal and India were absolute culture shock. You could feel the definite transition from the Western to the Eastern World, from the First World to the Third World, from North to South. 

Although we became more accustomed to being in foreign places and situations, the feeling of being somewhere “a long way from home” continued through Africa, The Middle East and into Russia.  Now things are changing again.  We have gradually returning to a world we are more accustomed to.  It is as if we have ridden a large wave with the crest being the Eastern world and the trough the West.  We started low, rode high into the unknown, and now we are returning to the comfortable underbelly of the wave.

As we return to a world which is more comfortable, we think it is important to remember the cultural, natural and differential elements we have experienced.  We are taking away from this adventure a greater sense of our global position and ourselves.  The impact we can all have on each other and the world  -- the entire world, “theirs” and “ours” -- is amazing.

But, unless we are careful this impact will not always be positive.  We need to take into account everything when we make choices that could affect the world in which we live, and the world that will remain for younger generations.

Fear not the apocalyptic, end of the world fanatics.  Yes, there are forces at work, cells of terror that threaten basic human freedoms.  Yes, the world can seem huge and at times the potential of our impact may seem small.  But, if there is anything this adventure has taught us, it is that the world is actually a very small place.  We are all on this crazy ride together and anything we can do -- any action, any gesture, any attempt to listen and understand what those who are different than us are trying to say -- will create a positive ripple effect and we will make a difference.

Once we arrived in LA, we rented a car at the airport and headed to our friend Iryne's house, in Newport Beach.  We met Iryne back in Hong Kong.  She is an incredibly nice lady who agreed to put us up for a few days.  Once we arrived at Iryne’s we crashed -- ten hours on a bus from London to Amsterdam and eleven hours on a plane from Amsterdam to LA finally caught up with us.

Even though we are back in the good ole' US of A, our adventure is not yet complete.  In order to circumnavigate the globe, you must return to the point from which you started.  Since our adventure started in Boston, way back on July 3rd of last year, that is where we must head to complete our journey.

Sunday, July 29th, day 391 of our journey, we woke up and started looking for a car to take us back across the States.  We looked at a few different cars and decided on a 1984 Honda Accord.  Our bargaining skills have vastly improved as a result of our around the world travels, so we ended up getting the car for only $900.00.  It's no "Sube" (the car we drove from Boston to San Francisco), but hopefully it will hold up. 

Monday, July 30th, day 392, was a relaxing day in Newport Beach.  It is really interesting to talk with
Iryne, as she has been to many of the places that we visited on our trip (and many more).  It's fascinating to hear her describe a place she visited 50 years ago and compare and contrast the differences and similarities we encountered.

Monday night we had a fabulous dinner, compliments of Iryne, and then it was time for bed.

Tuesday, July 31st, day 393, we cleaned up our new wheels (it was filthy!).  After cleaning the car we hit the beach.  Iryne took us to Crystal Cove Beach which is a beautfiul spot and it was nice to lounge for the afternoon.

Wednesday, August 1st, day 394 of our journey, we woke up early, said goodbye to Iryne and hit the road, heading north toward San Francisco.  We decided to take the scenic route. 
Pacific Coast Highway #1 has to be one of the most beautiful scenic coastal highways in the world.  It reminded us alot of the Garden Route in South Africa.

We finally arrived in San Francisco late Wednesday night. 
Lisa’s sister Zsuzsu was nice enough to put us up for a couple days.  She lives in a cool area called The Mission.

Thursday, August 2nd, day 395, we did some exploring by driving around San Francisco. Coit Tower provides some amazing views.  San Francisco has a lot of similarties to Cape Town, South Africa.  We also visited the school were Zsuzsu works and takes classes, The California College of Arts and Crafts. 

Thursday night, Zsuzsu joined us to meet Joel's friend from college, Sara, who currently lives in San Francisco, and her boyfreind, Kevin, for dinner at Cafe Marimba in the Marina area.  It was a lot of fun.

Friday, August 3rd, day 396, Zsuzsu joined us for further exploration of San Francisco.  We found a nice place for
a picnic lunch in Tiburon on the other side of the bay and enjoyed the beautiful day.  Friday night Lisa and Zsuzsu enjoyed some quality "sister time" and went out in The Mission.

Saturday, August 4th, day 397 of our travels, we strapped it up and headed southeast toward Las Vegas, Nevada.  We got a complimentary room at the MGM Grand and ended up staying there Saturday and Sunday nights.

Sunday, August 5th, day 398, we spent most of the day at the pool and did some gambling.  (We actually won!) 

Monday, August 6th, day 399, we drove approximately five hours east to the North Rim of
The Grand Canyon.  Joel has visited the North Rim of The Grand Canyon before.  Five years in a row, from 1994 to 1998, Joel stomped around in The Canyon with his friend Ted.  On the other hand, this was Lisa's first visit to The Canyon, so we started off by taking in the amazing view at Point Imperial and did a short hike on Widforss Trail.  Monday night we checked into Hotel Honda Accord.  Two reclining chairs, without breakfast, cost $0.00 per night.

Tuesday, August 7th, day 400, we hiked down into
the Canyon, on the North Kaibab Trail, to Roaring Springs and back.  The 7 hour round trip hike, covered a 3,000 foot vertical drop and then the climb back up. We were sore for days -- but it was well worth the effort. 

Wednesday, August 8th, day 401 of Lisa and Joel's Excellent Adventure, we finally arrived at Joel's grandparents’ house at 11:00 PM CST, in Frontenac, MN, after driving 28 hours straight from the Grand Canyon. We each drove for about 3 hours while the other one slept in the back of the car, and then we switched. It actually worked out pretty well.

Thursday, August 9th, day 402, we spent the day with
Joel’s family and unpacked all the treasures we had mailed back during our adventure. It was like Christmas day when we were kids.

Friday, August 10th, day 403, Saturday, August 11th, day 404 and into Sunday, August 12th, day 405, was the longest period of time Lisa and Joel had been apart in over 13 months.  Joel went up to Brainerd, MN, to play golf with a bunch of his friends from high school. 
The 7th Annual Baters Golf Tournament was a huge success and a lot of fun for Joel.  Lisa hung out with Joel’s family – they all went up to The Ellsworth County Fair and spent most of the rest of the time playing with Joel’s 2 year old nephew Coby.

Sunday afternoon,
more of Joel’s family joined us for a great lunch on the deck of The Port of Hall.  It was a beautiful day and it was a lot of fun to share some of our stories and adventures of the last 13 months.

Monday, August 13th, day 406, we spent most of the day unpacking, sorting and repackaging our around the world treasures and Joel’s personal gear.

Tuesday, August 14th, day 407, we gave an interview to Joel’s home town newspaper about our adventure.  There was also more packing and sorting and time spent with family. Tuesday night we went to visit Joel’s father.

Wednesday, August 15th, day 408, we strapped it up and hit the road again. We drove south and east and ended up in Chicago six hours later. We spent the night at Joel’s friend Ted’s place and had a great time visiting with Ted and his wife Tracy.

Thursday, August 16th, day 409, it was time to get back on the road. We drove a straight shot from Chicago to Lisa’s parent’s place in Bonnet Shores, RI.

It was a seventeen-hour drive – no problem for a couple of savvy world travelers. Lisa’s parents are in Germany and won’t be back until Sunday; so there wasn’t any emotional welcome upon our arrival – just a couple of weary travelers collapsing into bed.

Friday, August 17th, day 410, we spent most of the day opening the around the world treasures we picked up and shipped to Lisa’s parents. It was also a lot of fun to look through all the pictures we had taken with Lisa's camera (not to be confused with "Digi"), which we had sent back along the way, and Lisa’s mom had been kid enough to developed.

Friday night Lisa wanted to see her friend Kerry so we went to a party Kerry threw for her parent’s’ 50th anniversary. We were extras so we didn’t get to stay for dinner, but it was nice for Lisa to see Kerry.

Saturday, August 18th, day 411 of Lisa and Joel’s Excellent Adventure, we drove to Milford, MA to see a bunch of Lisa’s college friends. It was a lot of fun.

Sunday, August 19th, day 412, Lisa visited with her friends Janine and Kathy during the day and then Sunday night Lisa’s brother Mathew and his wife Joanne came over for dinner.

Monday, August 20th, day 413, we woke up to be greeted by Lisa’s parents who had returned from Germany late the previous night. We spent most of the day unpacking, packing, sorting and storing our gear and around the world treasures.

Tuesday, August 21st, day 414 of our travels, we went to visit Lisa's friend, Al Yee.

Tuesday night we went over to Mathew and Joanne's new house. It was our first time seeing it. It's great! We ordered Thai food and had a nice visit.

Wednesday, August 22nd, day 415, we worked on getting our new wheels registered and the title transferred.

Thursday, August 23rd, day 416 of Lisa and Joel's Excellent Adventure, we drove into Boston, MA of The United States of America, thus returning to the point we started from and completed our around the world adventure.

There was no fan-fare, no ticker-tait parade, just a celebratory drink with a few friends of from Lisa's old job and the patented discussion about the last 14 months; "What was your favorite place?, How has the trip changed you?, What did you miss the most?", etc. etc.

Don't get us wrong, we love sharing the experiences of our 14-month, 24 country, and 5 continent spanning odyssey. Those of you who humored us with a bent ear are greatly appreciated.

The problem, if there is one, lies within us, not you. We guess we are a little melon colly and a tad bit blue that the wild ride is actually over. Now that things have come to a close, does it mean we can no longer wake up with child eyes and seize each and every day with enthusiasm and amusement. Of course not. But, a transition needs to take place in order for us to adjust the world from which we left.

It's strange to use a telephone, watch American television, get harassed by a telemarketer and soak in the hustle and bustle of our dog-eat-dog times.

Sorry, but we have been a way for a while. We forgot about mortgage payments, 401K's, paying rent and earning a wage for that matter.

As we enter back into "real world", we are struck by the notion that the adventure is going to continue, just in a different way. Isn't that really a metaphor for life -- the adventure continues? When does the journey ever end and for that matter when did it really begin? Our experiences over the past 14 months were very important to us and they will never be forgotten. But, the journey continues. You either watch life pass you by or you jump on for the ride. Either way time will definitely keep moving forward.