"08/21 7:40 AM: Leg 1 - Bus to Pittsburgh."
"10/20 6:20 PM: Just saw 'Erie, PA' on a road sign, and did it look good. On the left is Lake Erie."
Between those two journal entries are 77 pages of hand written notes in my planner, 33 pages of "conversation" notes in my "Helga Talker", and over 275 kb of digital notes saved in emails and notepad documents. Hopefully, these will make a good foundation for a book.
There are a few places I'd love to revisit and a couple that I surely will. And although, I've a preliminary plan for another trip around the world, I'm not too hopeful that will come to be. This was a "once in a lifetime" adventure. And although I thoroughly enjoyed this trip, I've discovered it's an undertaking for a younger man. No more backpacking for me.
The trip could be done much more efficiently than the way I did it, but I really preferred the flexibility of movement, and the freedom to stay longer or shorter at any given place. I covered every stop on my itinerary, except for Odessa in the Ukraine on the Black Sea, but I did see the Black Sea from Constanta in Romania. And the extra five or six days in Moscow were well worth it. Without that extra time I would have been too rushed to see as much as I did, and would most likely have missed the Kremlin and Victory Park.
If you've visited the 63 pages covering the trip, you've seen what I saw (well most of it), and read of some of my impressions. But what did I learn from this? Well, I learned that people are pretty much the same all over this world. They laugh, they cry, they love and they are gentle, kind, angry and rude. They live in great wealth and in poverty like I've never seen. They worship and they sin. The love music and the Arts. They dance and sing. Language is different, but inflection is the same. Teenagers do the same things they do back home (dress wierd and act strange just as we did long ago). Children play the same everywhere. They take pride in their countries. They don't like the States for what we're doing in Iraq, to the environment and for our "superior" atttitude, but they love Americans.
The differences? Well, their highway systems are more suited to the amount of traffic than ours. They use mass transit more often and more efficiently. And the States being the "melting pot" it is, they cherish their heritage and history more than we do as a whole. I believe, on a whole they are not in the rat race we are, and I think the terms Lady and Gentleman fit them better than they do us.
My trip took 63 days, one for each year of my life so far. By the calendar it was 62, but crossing the International Date Line I got a "do over" of one full day. So I saw 63 sunrises and 63 sunsets. I set foot in fourteen countries not my own. I saw hundreds of cities and towns, and probably well over a million people crossed my field of vision. At times it seemed like this would take forever, and at other times there just wasn't enough time. As I sat in my hotel room that last day in Artem, I couldn't believe it was nearly over. I was down to less than a week by then. It just didn't seem possible that I'd be in the United States in one day on the calendar, but about 52 hours by the clock. Time was fast running out on me. And I didn't want it to end.
I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to realize this dream.
Now that this is completed, I can go back and finish up the pages for my vacation of 2003, which has not been completed due to the planning involved in this trip. I hope you've enjoyed these pages as much as I've enjoyed creating them. If possible, leave a little note in my guestbook.
Music is "Dream Time"
An Original composition by Bruce DeBoer
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