Highlights of the Year
The day after Christmas, 2016, we started an expeditious drive across the United States in our van. Our destination was to stay two months in the “East Bay” of the San Francisco area, mainly to spend time with Loren’s Mom. She had her 91st birthday while we were in California. We also were able to spend a little time seeing other family members, some dear friends, and a few doctors for routine checkups.
From mid-March we began traveling again eastward, slowly making our way back to New York, stopping to see family and friends for more memorable times together, and taking in several points of national interest. We drove along parts of Route 66, parts of the Lincoln Highway, the Jefferson Highway, several lesser known but memorially named highways, or simply two lane roads, and, some on the Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.
Speaking of memorials, during our cross-country sojourn, we paid tribute at the somber Oklahoma City Federal Building site, and at the Memorial to Flight 93 from 9/11/01 on the outskirts of Shanksville, Pennsylvania. We dallied in several more Presidential Libraries or Museums – specifically those of Lincoln, Ford, Hayes, Harding, McKinley, Cleveland, Teddy Roosevelt and Van Buren in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey and New York, respectively. Our Journey has continued to be one of collecting learnings and having meaningful and memorable experiences! As of early August, we had completed our incredible eight months of driving from the west coast to the east coast.
Mid-August found us in New York, preparing to leave for overseas for the next several months to visit Portugal, Spain, Italy, Egypt and Nepal, in that order. One highlight in Portugal was having our AirBnB host and his family treat us to an ancient Galician ceremony that included an incantation with the lights turned low while adding fresh chopped fruit to burning bowls of alcoholic specialties. In Spain, special memories include hiking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela and hiking in the Picos de Europa. In Madrid, seeing the Prado, Picasso, Gaudi and Dali museums stood out.
We throughly enjoyed our return visits to see family and friends in northern Italy, then we flew to Cairo to begin an 8 day tour of Egypt. It was an amazing experience to crawl through the short, narrow passageways inside the Great Pyramid (1st photo above) in Giza to see the original burial chamber of the Pharaoh Cheops, among seeing so many other ancient cultural relics and ruins.
We flew from Cairo to Nepal‘s capitol city, Kathmandu, in early November. Here we have taken two treks – one in the Annapurna Range of the Himalayas, the other in the Kathmandu Valley, Gateway to the Himalaya. My prayers sent out through all the prayer flags I saw as we trekked to Nagarkot that the thick haze would clear for us to see Sagarmatha (Mount Everest in Nepali) were answered! We had views both during sunset and the following morning at sunrise (2nd photo above). Even though it was so far in the distance it was thrilling and spectacular!
Nepal, sandwiched between China and India on the continent of Asia, makes our first Asian country to visit together on our Journey:
I want to take a moment to express our deep appreciation for all the wonderful people who we have met during our Journey. When we first left home, our lifelines were in finding like-minded communities in the Unitarian Universalist congregations and Bikram Yoga studios along the way. But those havens are more scarce in other parts of the world, and what has sustained us since is bonding – for however brief or evolving into longer-lasting friendships – with locals and fellow travelers. As one Italian traveler who felt similarly once said to us, “Grazie Dio,” we have taken great comfort from our connections with others who are on the road.