But luckily we had fearless bakers who marched on.
Today we officially took our first steps in good ole’ Boston in over 16 months. We almost had to follow the freedom trail in order to find our way around.
If you’ve spent most of the past year and a half wondering where we were, you’re not alone. This collage should help a bit; it’s all the places we’ve slept on our journey. Or at least all the places we remembered to take a photo.
We can’t say thank you enough to all the people who have opened up their homes (and pantries) to us in every country – our current hosts included!. We love our tent Gusty, but it is good to get a shower occasionally. (If your house isn’t in the collage, it means we were too bleary eyed when we left to get a photo and you need to send us one!)
We did a rough count of how many times we stayed in different locations:
Our tent (Gusty): 74 different sites (100+ nights)
Houses of friends and family: 28
Train: 1 (overnight from Sydney to Adelaide)
Boat: 1 (on Doubtful Sound)
Car: 1 (Under a bridge, down by a river. I’m not kidding, it was late, we were tired, and we didn’t want to camp next to train tracks for another night.)
Not to fear though, being back in Boston does not mean we will stop having adventures. Stay tuned for more, maybe we’ll even fill in some of the gaps while we’re at it, you never know.
Several of you commented that my hair seems a lot shorter in the recent blog posts. There’s a reason for that. My good friend Carrie had some fun playing with scissors.
The thought was that if I didn’t cut my hair during the year I was gone, maybe it would be long enough to donate when I returned to the country.
Most places require 10 inches. To my great surprise, my ponytail measured in at 15. Guess that will do.
Carrie was a bit nervous because I kept making her cut more off. But how else are you going to end up with lovely hair covered shoulders? Plus, she’s an expert in disguise. She definitely has a backup career if dance falls through.
Greg begged us to keep the ponytail after it was cut off to help him speed up growing out his beard, but in the end he caved and let us send it in to Locks of Love*, he figured they needed it more.
*“Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 18 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis.” (http://www.locksoflove.org/)
We were in Portland, Oregon for Labor Day weekend and did some volunteer work with both the Obama and Jeff Merkley campaigns. They were both pretty different experiences and rather surprising.
Jeff Merkley is running for US Senate in Oregon against the incumbent Republican. He’s very progressive on a lot of issues and it would be great to see him get into the Senate. I had given some money to him last December and thought it would be great to volunteer for the campaign while we were passing through Oregon. So while in Seattle I sent the campaign an email and signed Mekayla and myself up to do some canvassing.
I had thought that canvassing would be something I would hate, and Mekayla would love. She just tends to be a lot more willing to talk with random strangers than I am. Boy was I wrong. Mekayla hated the idea of interrupting people’s days and trying to convince them to vote for a particular politician. It turns out I thought it was incredible fun.
Once I got over the initial wierdness of knocking on strangers doors and I more or less got a rythm of starting the conversation I had a great time talking with people and talking about issues with undecided voters. Even though I didn’t know all of the details of Jeff’s positions I could always fall back on talking about Democrats in general and the reasons why I was supporting them. I knocked on about 85 doors and talked to about 25 people. Not a bad success rate for a Saturday over Labor Day weekend.
The next day we decided to volunteer with Obama’s campaign doing voter registration. This was a bit more in line with something Mekayla was happy with. We essentially stationed ourselves in a high traffic location at an art show and made it really easy for people to register.
For both days we got a lot of “thank yous” on the street and they were both great experiences. And it adds a whole different dimension to our road trip across the US to actually connect and talk with locals along the way. We hope to volunteer with some other Democratic Senate campaigns as well as Obama as we continue to travel.
Well, another year has come and since we are once again on the road we are again baking in a random kitchen. But Mekayla’s great birthday cake tradition continues. We took over her cousin Pamela’s kitchen for the day and then Mekayla, her Dad, and I cooked throughout the afternoon and into the evening.
This time the cake was a flourless chocolate torte. We of course decorated with a lot of fruit and chocolate shavings. And to kiwi-ify it another part of the cake was made from Grace’s Pavlova recipe. A Pavlova is essentially a type of meringue, but Australia and New Zealand argue over who actually invented this version. Grace swore us to secrecy and provided us with her secret family recipe for this event.
Now to answer the big question everyone is asking: What shape is it this year? Naturally the shape had to capture a bit of our time in New Zealand and the idea that we have been traveling a lot. So the shape this year is a Maori canoe, called a waka.
One of the great things about the word “waka” is it is now used in Maori for as the root word for any mode of transportation. So the word for plane translates as “canoe of the sky”. And the word for car “waka whenua” [wa-ka fen-u-a] translates to “canoe of the earth”. We gave our new car the nickname “waka whenua” also.
Before dinner we also continued to hone some of our Indian cooking skills and made what turned out to be a quite good vegetarian meal.
We have a mere four days remaining in New Zealand, and are running through a mixture of emotions. We are looking forward to seeing everyone back home and exploring the US a bit, but we are definitely going to miss many things about NZ and a number of people here as well.
Our general route back to Boston goes like this:
- Hawaii: I can’t wait to get away from winter.
- US West Coast: We have weddings to go to in Seattle and LA in Aug and Sept, so we’ll be wandering down the coast.
- Colorado: Probably go up through Utah because it’s supposed to be scenic and amazing.
- Some random route through the southern portions of the US to the East Coast.
- DC, NY (state, probably not the city)
- Then Boston.
The general plan is to hit Boston before Thanksgiving. All of this is of course subject to change with no notification. 🙂 And it is interactive. For instance if you are in say Kentucky, perhaps you could alter our route in your direction by offering a floor to sleep on or a backyard to camp in. 🙂
But enough un-subtle hints.
We have also finished sorting through and editing our 15,000 New Zealand photos (I am not exaggerating). We’re going to spread out the posting of the best of them so nobody is overwhelmed (us included). The first set takes you through all the places we have gone tramping (backpacking). And features such pictures as this:
The second set are various special occasions (like my 30th birthday) and look a bit like this (this is actually Grace’s picture):
You can view them all from here. We will probably put up some more just before we leave, and then put up the rest after we reach the West Coast (of the US, not the rain soaked paradise of New Zealand’s South Island).