Monthly Archives: August 2011

Press here for lunch

Karen orders lunch from the Lunch-o-tron 2000 (well, I assume that’s what it’s called).

Ken eats the greasy-spoon quality food.

The word “quality” is a bit of a stretch, but it was cheap and fast, which is what we were going for.

Next Stop: Japan

Excited… exhausted… and both kinds of sniffly…

That’s what I (Ken) am feeling as we arrive in Tokyo. In my head, I’m thrilled to finally be starting the trip after months (well, years) of preparation. But my body has other ideas. The last couple weeks have been a whirlwind of preparations, and the long days and late nights have caught up with me. Right when I expected to be bouncing down the jetway with anticipation, I instead have a cold that’s dragging me down. I’ll have to beat this in Tokyo so I can go on the world’s steepest roller coaster next week (more on that later).

While I have the bad kind of sniffles (from my cold), we also had the good kind as we said goodbye to my parents on Sunday. I didn’t think I would get emotional about the farewell, but once Mom started getting sniffly, we all pretty much jumped on board. Like the rest of our friends and family, they wished us an enjoyable trip and a safe return. We’re grateful for all the positive vibes sent our way.

And we’re here, in Tokyo, arguably the biggest city in the world. Time to get some sleep, in our, um, compact hotel room. It comes with nightshirts, though…!


The Hometown Paper

Our final (and most public) farewell to Milwaukee was being “sponsor of the day” on our local public radio station, WUWM. A brief message about our trip and our love of Milwaukee ran several times on the air.

It was literally the day before I left Milwaukee that the email came in: a reporter from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel had heard the message and wanted to interview us. We’re up for it, I told him, but you’re going to have to act quickly. He was in our living room by 5:00pm.

And the following day, while I was on a plane to Minneapolis (Karen would join me a day later), we appeared in our hometown paper. One last hurrah.

A little off the sides

Got my last haircut in the U.S. Maybe short enough to last me until Thailand… thanks, Sami!

Excitement, be dammed!

Over the past week the one repeated comment is, “You must be so excited!!”

Well, not exactly. No, no, don’t read us wrong. We are excited to finally be fulfilling our dream trip. It’s just not flowing in the way that many people would expect. It’s dammed up behind a river of unending tasks, like taxes and packing and opening & closing bank accounts and signing lots of official paperwork and, and, and…….. Concerned that the dam may burst wide open and a torrent of excitement washes all over the place, we have made some small steps to carve a hole in the dam and let some excitement flow.

It helps that we finally booked some things in Japan. We are eagerly awaiting our Japan rail passes, which will help us ride the trains for 14 days. The first hotel is booked and there is no need to think about sleeping on a Tokyo park bench anymore. After the first hotel is done, we are excited to get some rest in a capsule hotel.

Friends have been so kind and generous by sharing contact information of their friends abroad. We are beginning to make those connections and getting excited about meeting these people.

So slowly the excitement builds. I (Karen) tend to get punchy on long flights. I am sure the 12-hour ride to Tokyo will be no exception. If you hear radio reports of a Tokyo bound, Delta flight, having serious water leakage problems, you’ll know that the excitement dam has broken.

Riding the Emotional Roller Coaster

We LOVE roller coasters! Remember our trip to Cedar Point? We are much less excited about the emotional ride we have been on since really getting ready for this trip. Our major emotional goal before we leave……to not have a panic attack! I must be concerned about this, as I dreamt I was having a panic attack last night. Oh, we knew this was going to happen. Yet it’s emotional when:

We have not sold our house yet.

We sell everything we own and a friend buys back their own wedding favor given to us 9 years ago.

We leave elderly relatives behind, uncertain if they will be around when we return.

We each have our own mini-medical issue to resolve before we leave. I have an irritated rotator cuff and Ken has a feisty nevus to be removed.

We are torn between the desire to spend time with friends and the need to get so many little tasks completed.

We have not booked our first hotel in Japan and only know a few Japanese words. It’s our first stop on the tour and we have done so little planning.

Like all good roller coasters, there are amazing highs with huge amounts of laughter. We have had wonderful support from family and friends. Our summer has been filled with fun and reconnections. We know that this dark tunnel of our ride will end soon. Then who knows what is around the next hairpin turn?