It’s been a year. Yup, a full year since we drove away from our house in Alhambra and started our Gap Year Adventure.
Since that time we have traveled through 20 different States of the Union (California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina) and visited 9 European Countries (Portugal, Germany, Austria, Italy, San Marino, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland). While in the US we have visited with great friends and seen wonderful places and travelled over 8,000 miles before heading across the ‘Pond” to Portugal. In Europe we traveled over 5,500 km (3,417 miles) in our new car prior to dropping it off for shipment to the dealer in Virginia.
A good part of the drive across country was reconnecting with friends and family. When we left our home our first stop was in Morro Bay to visit with our friend Claudia
at her B&B where we invited her to join us in Paris for Christmas – which she did! We reconnected with a friend, Myrt,
from when we lived in Bethlehem PA 40 years ago and she reconnected us with another friend from that time frame living in Savannah who we visited too! The drive through Northern California was beautiful visiting with friends, seeing the sights and relaxing.
We tried to stay off the interstate and took the local highway as much as possible.
Sure there was roadwork and single lane situations but it was a grand drive.
Once out of California we made our way to a Cousins’ reunion – cousins and family we have not seen in years. A week on the beach with good family was wonderful. It didn’t hurt that both of our sons and their family were able to be there too.
Of course Oregon for us means the Willamette Valley and wine.
We were fortunate to have close friends at Stoller Vineyards and were able to stay in one of their cottages on the property for 2 weeks! After leaving the International Pinot Noir Celebration, held each year, we drove to Seattle to celebrate our 48th wedding anniversary.
A visit to the Chihuly Glass Exhibit prior to dinner at RN74
made the day very special. A visit to Bainbridge Island to visit with some of Janeen’s childhood friends, a tasting of great Champagne at Fat Cork
and off we went heading east.
We had planned to stopping a couple of times going East from Seattle but the smoke from the various forest fires in Canada and Montana made the air unpleasant, so we pushed through to Bozeman, Montana and a visit with Bonny and David.
Bonny was matron of honor at our wedding so we have known them a VERY long time…and it was wonderful to reconnect with them and catch up. Sure we exchange Christmas cards and calls, but being in their home was wonderful.
Throughout our trip, thus far, we had not stopped at any of the various National Monuments or Parks. Well, as we were driving along, there was a sign for the Battle of the Little Big Horn
and it was just off the road! Seemed like the thing to do and we did. Our ranger guide was very knowledgeable and brought the entire battle to life with his discussion.
Sometimes the world becomes incredibly small. We made a snap decision to drive through the Sand Hills area of Wyoming. After cruising along for a couple of hours, it was time for lunch so we stopped at a Subway in Lusk, Wyoming for a sandwich. Nothing special about the place and the sandwich was as good as any other Subway provides. Just as I was about to close the car door and drive away, I noticed two people we actually know! Dale and Roxanne live in Arizona.
We first met them in Oregon at IPNC but they haven’t been to the event for several years. Turns out they are on vacation. Roxanne’s mother lives in Nebraska and having completed their visit, they were heading to Mount Rushmore when they too decided a break and a sub would be a good idea. What a treat to find friends literally in the middle of nowhere!
Back on the road through miles and miles and miles of cornfields, we made our way to York, Nebraska where we reconnected with friends from Michigan – John and Lora.
We have not seen these guys since we left Michigan in 1973! Sure Christmas cards exchanged most years kept us in touch but meeting up with them again after all these years was fantastic. It was like we had seen each other only yesterday. Great visit. From Nebraska, through a lot more cornfields, we got to Macomb, Illinois and Janeen’s dad.
We stayed a couple of weeks visiting and getting everything together for our next hop to Virginia – stopping at Fallingwaters (Frank Lloyd Wright)
which was specular and our final stop – Springfield, VA and our son Jason, his wife Terri and most importantly our granddaughter Katie Beth.
Our friends Jessie and Phil from Pasadena made it to the East Coast and more particularly to be with us for my birthday!
It was really a treat to have them with us for several days prior to our taking flight to Europe
Two weeks after arrival in Virginia, we boarded a plane
and flew to Portugal; the beginning of our planned 4 months in Europe. Look for Update #2