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July 16, 2001
On the plane at last (Russell)

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Ready to go, with 5 small suitcases, 4 backpacks, a camera bag, a bag full of medications, and Gail's pillow

No one is more surprised than we are that our world trip has finally, actually, begun. In the last couple of months, we experienced:

Gail swore that it was the ghosts of Russell's parents telling us not to go. Russell thought they were just telling us to get out of the house, already.

In the last week, Russell was the only one excited about going. Gail kept breaking down crying at her daughter Dawn's baby shower and the family going-away party. Cameron broke down crying when Aunt Ruth drove off in our car.

Joss was brave until the night before we left, when he finally had to decide which one stuffed animal he would bring. He ended up crying for more than an hour, "I don't want to go around the world. I don't want to leave my home."

To be sure, the last week was not at all what we expected. We had dreamed of everything being done, so that we could relax and reflect on the adventures ahead. Instead, we ran around like mad, packing up the last bits of house at the same time that our renters were moving in. And still deciding on what flights to take in order to get in and out of Africa.

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Packing our lives into a few rooms of the house

We were rushing all the way up to the time that we finally left for the airport. But the house is now the cleanest it has ever been. On the other hand, we still have no definite itinerary once we arrive in Europe. We'll play it by ear...

Our bon voyage gathering at the airport consisted of Russell's sister Joanne (who drove us) and her children (who sacrificed naps for this). Also our daughter Dawn, her husband David, and soon-to-be-born Keegan (due to enter this world on September 2 or so).

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The family, David, and Dawn.  (Not pictured: Keegan Ryan Lee Miller Schaefer)

One of the criticisms of the book "One Year Off" was that the family traveling around the world sounded like they were having a rather yuppie experience. Well, our own adventures may not be much rougher...

One of the great things that Gail did was book us into Business Class for the majority of our flights. Now, Business Class is dependent on what's actually available on the plane. The bad news is that for our SF to LA flight, we were in economy. The good news is that for our LA to Rarotonga flight, we had the best seats on the plane.

As Gail stretched out and discovered that her feet didn't touch the seat in front of her, she smiled at Russell and said "Now I'm excited!" The boys were too busy eating their custom kids meals and ice cream to care.

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The boys, enjoying Business Class

Next stop, Rarotonga...


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