For many an unbroken silence can be an awkward experience, but somehow the silence between Laura and I is not uncomfortable, nor is it uncommon. It’s an unspoken language that only the two of us seem to understand. A respect that even within the confined spaces of Faith, (a 5 door Ford Focus station wagon) we both understand each others space and the need to process the events of the past few days .
In the beginning we said ‘be it a day, a month, 6 months, a year … it only matters that we begin the journey’.
Yesterday it didn’t seem that easy to believe that they were our own words.. Yesterday was a huge day…. in every sense of the word…. and both of us are still trying to come to terms with a decision we would rather not have had to make. but alas it is what it is.
In different parts of the hostel here in La Paz, and in our own thoughts.. we are slowly coming to terms with the decision that we have had to make. Rather than re-write history.. our thoughts are below.. raw, un-edited, un-cut.
Today has been one of the hardest days of this whole journey. Not because something bad happened, but because I realised I need to look after my body. Today, I decided I need to return to home, be that Canada or Australia. It’s been over a week since I dislocated my patella and I am still having a lot of difficulty getting around. After a couple of attempts by my ever supportive travel companion Janine, to try to get this knee more stable and functional, I have realised this is not going to be a quick or short term problem. Having had this injury before, although not this severe, I know how unstable a knee remains if it is not properly rehabilitated.
Although knowing this deep down for a couple of days now, I have tried my hardest to convince myself I could continue. We have discussed at length our options, including ways to remain on our journey, but I feel I am not doing myself or this trip any justice by continuing.
This morning, despite knowing the answer, I did some research online (I know, not the smartest thing) in an attempt to find some answers that were contrary to my knowledge. The reality is, 2-4 weeks of healing time, followed by 3-5 months of rehab to get my knee as close to fully functioning as I can. For those of you who travel, you know how long a day or a week on the road can feel, let alone when you are not able to leave your accommodation for longer than an hour or two at a time. Even though I know each day will get easier the thought of not being able to enjoy the activities we had planned due to my physical limitations for months is devastating.
For us, this trip was about pushing our boundaries and pushing ourselves individually to achieve more than we ever thought we could, both physically and mentally. This was never designed to be an easy, relaxing trip but rather a challenging one. It is possible for us to switch gears and change things up to accommodate me but I feel as though we would both be missing out on what we truly wish to see and do.
Personally, I am also very concerned about the long term impact of not dealing with this correctly. For those of you who know me, you know I have trouble with both knees from similar injuries as a teenager and that walking for any length of time irritates them. You also know that when I get tired, I tend to limp as a result. I can not afford for my knees to become any more unstable or painful on a chronic level than what I already deal with.
I have therefore decided the best decision for me, and my body long term, is to return home and go through the process of appropriate rehabilitation. I am not saying this is the end, and I am trying hard not to see it as giving up. I prefer to look at it as a ‘not now’ rather than a ‘not ever’. Who knows what the next few months will hold for us both, but we are certainly keeping the door open to continue to travel together in the coming months. Whether that is in the same way or whether we decide to change it up will depend on how both out lives play out.
For me, seeing and knowing the impact this has on Janine and her dream is harder than the impact on my own dreams. So much planning has gone in to us starting this journey, that to rip that out from under her is one of the hardest things to do. Janine, I am truly so sorry for everything that happened that has led us to this point. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything, and I mean everything, you have done to support and look after me. Without you I am scared to think where I would be or how I would have gotten through this. You are so important to me and I value you so much for the remarkable person that you are. Thank you for being my friend xo
As we hurtle on down the road in western Arizona, the sandy, cactus ridden plains around us and the mountains looming in the distance, there is plenty of time to reflect.
Three weeks ago we were both at home in Australia, our emotions were high as we prepared to leave our families for the unknown of what lay ahead. It was a difficult and painful time for us both, made worse by the uncertainty of when we would be returning.
Landing in our respective Canadian ‘homes’ the internal turmoil continued, for me at least. It’s a gut wrenching and terrifying feeling to leave behind two families and lives in two countries and all the potential both can bring to my future. How lucky I am to be able to feel at home in two completely separate locations and have the love and support of multitudes of people, some blood and some bond. Neither are easy to leave, you are constantly in my thoughts and I miss you all daily.
Two weeks ago, I left St Catharines uncertain of my decision to leave but determined to at least begin this journey. One day, one week, one month or one year. The length is irrelevant, we started and that’s all that really matters.
We crossed into the US and began driving south as we started to live the dream. We have averaged about 8hrs of driving a day, with the exception of the days we spent in Florida and the Bahamas. We will soon reach San Diego, California having driven the entire length of the US from North to South and then East to West.
As the landscape around us has changed from the late winter barren of St Catharines, to the beautiful blossoms and buds of spring, down into the full foliage and greenery of Florida, the wet terrain of Louisiana, to now the dry desert of Arizona, so too have our hearts and heads.
Slowly as the days and miles roll on, thoughts and feelings are processed over hours of silent reflection, the road and ever-changing landscape a reminder of the incredible opportunity we have created for ourselves.
Janine and I are wonderful travel companions, both comfortable in our own minds and lost in our own thoughts. Singing poorly, but regularly, as the iPhone shuffles my music collection, we find conversation is minimal but frequented by laughter.
Thank you all once again for sharing this journey with us and supporting us from afar. Your love and encouragement is appreciated and carries us through the good times and the hard. We love you xo
Just before Laura and I booked our trip to Cuba in 2012, we also brought one of these offers (after much deliberation, duplicate phone calls to the company, and receiving the same information). The package included 3 nights in Orlando, FL, a 2 night Bahamas cruise and 2 nights in Fort Lauderdale, FL. The bonus, 2 nights in Las Vegas, NV that we used last September when we caught up before I flew home to Australia for a bit of a break.Unfortunately, or fortunately in our case, the package didn’t include flights, just accommodation. Laura had always said that she’d love to drive down to Florida when we decided to use this package, so what better way to start our year traveling than with a trip to Orlando, a chance to live every childhood dream and visit Disney World and then spend a couple of days relaxing aboard a Celebrations cruise liner to the Bahamas and two days on the beach in Fort. Lauderdale?
And so the trip to Florida was born.
Deciding a route to take on any road trip can be mind numbing. Neither of us aren’t necessarily against making the most of every opportunity to see something, but after numerous attempts to fulfill our traveling desires, we agreed that too much time in the US was going to drain our budgets significantly and that the drive from Saint Catharine’s to Orlando would just be that. A means to an end. Straight down the Interstates with very little detours.
Initially we had planned a route that would take us to Washington D.C., America’s capital and home to all things political, but after crossing into the US later than expected on Friday afternoon we altered our plans and hit the I90 toward Erie before heading south on the I79 towards Pittsburgh, PA for our first night.
Now you would think that with over twelve months to plan for this little adventure we are on, we would have at least our first nights accommodation sorted.
Don’t be silly… What happens if you want to change plans? (And let’s just say this is not the first time this has happened to us on the road… Helena, Montana ringing any bells Laura?)
So on our first night we learnt a couple of things:
1. Perhaps being very carefree still requires a small amount of planning.
2. KOA campgrounds have a ‘no tents after dark policy’
3. The iPad can save loads of time when you can check availability of cheap hotels (read Super 8’s) and book online.
Night one was also the night we discovered Sheets, a fresh alternative to service station convenience stops and food on the go.
Day two had us up and back on the I79 early. The further south we drove along the greying bitumen into Pennsylvania and West Virginia, the more evident it become that spring had sprung. The new tree buds and pink and white cherry blossoms reminders of a new year and new beginnings.
Onto the I77 crossing from West Virginia to Virginia, we drove through some spectacular scenery that is the Appalachian Mountains. Their peaks only recently cleared of snow and the signs of winter still lingering with the coolness in the air.
Night two, thankfully we had organized. Friends back in Calgary had arranged for us to stay with family, so with a slight detour east we headed along the I40 towards Apex, NC.
What we found were amazing hosts that welcomed us into their home and lives and shared with us amazing travel stories of their own and a quaint little town that can only be described as peacefully beautiful.
From Apex, NC we hit the I95 and continued our journey southbound, through South Carolina before enjoying some typically southern lunch in Savannah, Georgia at Ronnie’s – think southern fried chicken and BBQ pulled pork sandwiches…YUMMO, at a typical American diner.
From Savannah we continued to follow the I95 hoping for glimpses of the Atlantic ocean to our east or even the opportunity to view one of those stately homes, you know the big old white ones that you see in the movies with the big columns out the front, only to have them blocked by the tall trees and dense foliage of the creeping vines.
Crossing the St. Mary’s river and into Florida we found Waldo (Aussie’s think Where’s Wally) before cruising into Gainesville, FL and spending the night with another gracious host, Laurie.
I first met Laurie back in 2011 when I came to Gainesville to visit with my cousin, Maree and her husband Jonathan while they where living and working aboard at the University of Florida. Ree had worked some of her magic and arranged for us to stay with Laurie on this trip and it was just the rest and relaxation we needed after a long day driving before tackling the hustle and bustle that lie before us in Orlando.
Pat and Larry and Laurie we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for opening up your lives and your homes and accepting us in (as do both our families).
While it was only a short drive for us to Orlando, it seemed like forever, but eventually we saw the first signs for Disney World. We had arrived at destination no. 1.
It’s a surreal feeling waking up and knowing that for the next unknown months of your life you will be waking up to your own time. Treading your own path.
What started as a dream in Veradero, Cuba yesterday become a reality and we are now living the life that so many others only dream about.
After packing our lives into Faith (very nicely too I might add), running a few last-minute errands and taking in a quick tour of Lake Ontario, we hit the road. Destination …… south!
Crossing ‘Rainbow Bridge’ at Niagara Falls, ON life continued for everyone else like it does day in, day out. Hundreds of visitors lined the viewing platforms on both sides of Niagara Falls, while others took a closer look from the water on the ‘Maid of the Mist’ boats as they closed in under the thundering falls. The mighty sound of falling water from both the US and Canadian falls carrying to the bridge were we sat idle enjoying their majestic beauty. Waiting to cross the US border.
With passports in hand we edged closer and closer, before finally being approved and allowed to enter the US.
Hello to our new lives.