I haven’t posted recently, but it’s not because I haven’t been inspired to write. There are still so many aspects of our trip and overall experience to share, but it seems that every time I sit down to write, what comes out isn’t the beautiful and thoughtful reflection of our trip. Instead, I seem to require significant emotional venting stirred up by the many social media dialogues surrounding the attacks in Paris, here at home and the dangers around the world. Basically, I’ve been angry, saddened, confused, frustrated, and even fearful. Personally, I work through tough feelings by writing, even when I have no intention of sharing my thoughts. So, for now, my rants and despairing diary posts will remain private, as this is not “that” kind of blog, but I suppose I wanted to explain why I’d gone dark.

It is worth mentioning how jarring it’s been to return from a trip where we spent much of the time unplugged (both intentionally and through geographic necessity) to our everyday lives where news and social media invade our peaceful bubble daily, even hourly!  Maybe I didn’t realize how deprived I’d felt from being out of touch? Or maybe world events and my sick obsession with political events slyly sucked me back into the rabbit hole? Whatever the cause, I’ve been reeling from the onslaught of information as I play catch up and absorb the complicated state of affairs. Though we returned home about 2 months ago, it sometimes feels like much longer.

However, between checking Facebook, watching the news, and binge watching Homeland and Orphan Black, we’ve actually been able to catch up with many friends and neighbors. Inevitably, the conversation turns to our trip, and with it, a joyful reminiscing and a couple of key questions everyone asks…

The main question we are asked is about our favorites… but actually, there are two different ways people ask it, and I’ve found that I my response varies dependently. When people ask “Where was your favorite place?” then my response (and Raj’s too) is the Terra Nostra Ranch in British Colombia… our Sanctuary. Not that it’s easy to choose just one favorite, but Raj and I agree we found the most peace, space and inspiration during the week we spent surrounded by horses and wide open spaces.  Some people, though, ask a more nuanced way, “What was your favorite part of the trip?” Though I suspect these people are actually looking for the same answer regarding a place, the images that flash through my head are not of the ranch. When asked this way, my mind is flooded with poignant, yet seemingly insignificant moments of my family spending time together. These are the moments that it never occurred to me to take a picture… nightly dance parties in our tiny kitchen…all of us (kids and dogs too) waking up in our bed together…walks around whatever campground we were inhabiting…the chaotic nightly bathing ritual…  These were the moments that bonded my family – that made us not only work together as a team, but enjoy being in close quarters. Thus, my favorite part of the trip was the love we shared, the bonds we built, and the memories we created.

The other questions we are most often asked are “Are you glad you went?” and “Are you glad to be home” To both of these questions, our response is unequivocally “YES!” We saw so much of our country and of Canada and had special and unique experiences regularly, but I especially wouldn’t trade the overall 5 month experience. It has refocused and reprioritized my life at home. I am more grounded than before and my gratitude for the many blessings in my life runs deeper. I feel revitalized for sure, but when things get tough, I find that I have extra tools in my toolbox for coping and dealing with life’s regular stressors. So again, YES, I’m so glad we did what we did… and YES, I’m so happy to be home!

I’ll leave you with a few more  favorites from our trip:

Favorite National Park: Glacier National Park

Favorite Beach: Cannon Beach, OR

Favorite Campground: this was really hard…  Early on we stayed at Clinton State Park, KS and had such an amazing time, but had very little to compare it to. Kinbasket had amazing views of the lake and access for kayaking and fishing. Quilleute Oceanside Resort offered stunning beach views and the opportunity for the dogs to run free on the beach. Our favorite unofficial site was the Sanctuary. None of our favorites had full hookups.

Favorite Drive: Best paved drive –  Glacier National Park, the Going to the Sun Road. Best 4×4 off road drive was in Bella Coola to Blue Jay Lake (NOT the drive TO Bella Coola!!!)

Favorite City: Tie between Portland and Seattle

Favorite New Friends: Tina & Debbie!

Favorite Hike: Without kids, it would be our 10 year anniversary hike in Canada’s Glacier National Park. With the kids, Triple Falls at the Colombia River Gorge, OR.

Favorite Wild Life Viewing: Rocky Mountain National Park

That’s it for now! But let me know if you have any other questions about these or other favorites!

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