Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Journey Back!

The first step is the hardest or some saying like that. After spending most of the day packing, playing my final rec league ultimate game with Shiny Happy People, and chatting too much with my roommate, I took my first steps towards my car and Antarctica. If I got in and drove to my brother's wedding in Pittsburgh instead of flying it would mean that I'd be leaving home, leaving Sabah and heading back to the Ice. They were tough steps. Denver was finally feeling like home again and the idea of leaving Sabah just sucked. It felt selfish.

Short version:
  • Tuesday-Thursday, 22nd - drive to Pittsburgh, 1447 miles, 30 hours in the car
  • Friday-Saturday, 24th - drive to Greensburg, PA, 40 miles, 1 hour in the car
  • Sunday, 25th - drive to Wisconsin Rapids, WI, 740 miles, 11.5 hours in the car
  • Wednesday, 30th - fly to Denver, 1035 miles, 10 hours door-to-door
  • Friday, 2nd - fly to Phoenix, AZ. 589 miles
  • Sunday, 4th - fly back to Denver, CO 589 miles, arrive 1am and bike home
  • Mon, 5th - Wed 7th - fly to Christchurch, NZ, 9533 miles, 26 hours in planes and airports
  • Friday, 9th - fly to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, 2415 miles, 5 hours on the plane
TOTAL: 16,388 miles, 100ish hours

My journey back.

Long Version:
The first leg of my journey was spent with Sabah and I alternating between driving, sleeping in the car, and playing at rest areas. Just after Des Moines, IA, I accelerated a bit too quickly out of the city and got pulled over. I didn't get pulled over until at least ten minutes later though. It was weird. The officer asked where I was going. I told him I was on my way to my brother's wedding. He asked to see the invitation or present. I didn't have either. I had forgot the invitation and had planned on buying a card in Pittsburgh. At this point, the officer decided I might be a smuggler because my story wasn't checking out. He asked me to open my trunk. I couldn't because a friend had used my car and the trunk hadn't really been working since then. He was skeptical, but let me go and even just gave me a warning. Just thirty short hours after I left, I pulled into Pittsburgh rush hour. Luckily, I didn't have any traffic troubles because everyone stayed home to dodge the G-20 road closures.

Kilted for my brother's wedding.

After two short days at my old haunts and friends' houses in Pittsburgh, I was off to Greensburg to see my family for my brother's wedding. For some reason, getting together with my family is never easy. This one, I'm pinning on my brother. He neglected to tell me about some of my duties as a groomsman and made me track down a grand kilt to wear for the ceremony. Once the headaches were out of the way, it was a great couple days and fun to see everyone. Sabah even managed to slide down her tallest slide yet, eight feet high. Seeing my brother off on his honeymoon at an Eat N' Park brunch also led to one of the great undiscovered ideas of my life:
Oregon Chai Tea Milkshake
Oregon® Chai tea and vanilla ice cream, topped with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Unfortunately, the end of wedding festivities meant I had to hop back in my car for another drive to my mom's place in Wisconsin. The trip was uneventful until I got to the thunder and wind storms in Wisconsin. Crazy and beautiful. At my mom's place, I got to start on three quiet days of getting Sabah acquainted to her new home. In the time it took me to toast a bagel, she was already playing with the 100+ pound Alaskan malamute. The springer spaniel wouldn't warm up to her until I left and last I heard my mom wrote, "sabah is doing well. She and princess play tag in the yard and garage." Great stuff.

My flight back to Denver was supposed to get me home in time for practice. I landed at 5pm, but public transit did not get me home until 8:30pm. I timed it about as poorly as I could have. I had just missed a bus and had to wait an hour for the next one. Ugh. Thursday, I packed and had a small goodbye gathering. Friday, I flew down to AZ for Southwest Regionals for ultimate frisbee. My team had been hoping to finish top 3, but ended up 9th. We played pretty well so I left with a smile, especially after seeing my old friend Missy from college. After getting delayed on the flight home, I got one last road ride in back to my house.

On Monday morning, it was rise and shine for one last mountain bike ride with Dave at Lair O' the Bear. Instead of doing the entire ride, we pulled up short to work on a couple technical sections. It took me about a hundred tries, but I finally got them. Such a treat since I hadn't been able to get them most of the summer. Unfortunately, all the goodness of the ride was dashed away when I went to get some gourmet grilled cheese at Chedd's and it was closed, possibly for good. It looked like it was being remodeled, but had no sign. This followed on finding out the month before that another Chedd's had closed in southwest Denver. The only one left may be in Austin!!

Chedd's, oh how I miss thee . . .

After saying goodbye to more friends, I was off to the airport. It was weird to see so many old faces. I hadn't seen some of them for eighteen months, but they were as fresh as when I left the Ice. I still had some apprehension about heading down though, but my course was set. I hopped on the first of three very long flights, watched a bunch of movies, crossed the international date line, wondered what the experience would be like, and soon found myself back in Christchurch walking in the gardens, eating out, and playing ultimate with old friends like I had never left. Playing ultimate with the Christchurch team again was a treat, even in the cold rain. Afterwards, we went to an indian restaurant and it happened to be playing my favorite Michael Franti and Spearhead album. Yum, yum.

After two quick days in Christchurch, it was time to hop on my final flight. I still had a lot of emotional backwash, but when I finally touched down, it felt right. It felt natural. I stopped questioning things and just knew that this was going to be a good season even if I don't know why.

"Wise folks count their blessings. Fools count their problems." -Spearhead


  1. I feel like perhaps you should clarify which brother!

  2. I bet the grilled cheese place closed b/c they didn't offer jelly on top! and I am not kidding, grape jelly on top, the way to go

  3. how great to experience so many things telling you that you are exactly where you should be. Best wishes for your journey on the ice.

  4. exactly where I should be might be a bit strong (time will tell), but it is certainly a better mental place than where I was :-)