Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Blog's Title

(Tee...Hee...) in a recent posting, Amie expressed the pleasure of traveling down the highway at 65 mph to Washington D.C. She must have dozed off for a period of time because the trip-o-meter on our Garmin reveals that I got the mini-van up to quite a bit over that speed limit ;-) My heart knows that this not your ordinary roadtrip. For most of us, our trips are of the extended weekend variety or if we are fortunate, a vacation of a week or two duration. And despite our very best efforts to cram in as much as possible, we wish for more time. What made this morning's turning down of the lights, locking of the door, and ignition of engine so very different was that we have been so blessed to know that our return home this go round would not be compelled by an arbitrary measurement of time -- but rather only after the meandering of thousands of miles, the summit of mountains, and the traversing of oceans, will the direction of our path lead us back home-- in due time. I beseech the forgiveness that is my child's heart pushing a bit heavily on the gas pedal.

There is certainly satisfaction from executing a well-laid plan, but the results are pure magic when you are able to successfully navigate through a situation when when all has gone awry. If you were to watch a football game or even just the highlights of a football game, the sports fans' respect the well-executed play that results in a touchdown, but we truly celebrate the play that has developed not according by design -- the play in which a singular individual has to improvise -- he Rumbles, he Stumbles, and he even Bumbles -- but amazingly he breaks loose from the 11 opposing, pursuing players and makes his way to the endzone -- Touchdown! We can write the script and plan all the details of our life and no matter how hard we prepare; life will most assuredly not fully cooperate, and every now and then, throw us for a loop. Amie and I will just have to Rumble & Stumble & even Bumble our way through.

-hnb

Day Two

Today we woke up, and the sun was shining down on our bustling Capital city. Strolling the streets of DC makes my neck hurt. I'm constantly swiveling my head around because around every corner is another famous sight. We left the hotel, passed by the White House, and started our day. First stop, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This was on Hung's list of must visit sights.  Seeing the names on the wall evoked more emotion than I expected to feel. Hearing a man in his 80's call over to his wife, softly say "I found him" and then to watch him press his hand to the wall, fingers brushing over a name that was likely his son, reminded me that too many families have made enormous sacrifice.  Hung was feeling his own set of emotions.  So we sat on a bench for a while, to think, and to say thanks.


Our next stop was the Holocaust museum.  In retrospect, we should have picked a venue slightly more uplifting for our second stop.  The Museum's mission is to disseminate information about the tragedy and to preserve the memory of its victims.  We spent an hour moving through the top floor but felt like we needed sunshine and laughter.  This is a Museum that deserves multiple visits and moments of reflection, we will visit again.

Once we hit the sidewalk, we spent the afternoon wandering.  When hunger hit, we popped into a Spanish restaurant in Chinatown for a Tapas snack (that's right Tapas in Chinatown).  

Tonight we were lucky enough to have dinner with an exceptional young lady.  Sarah is the eldest daughter of our good friends, Dave and Julia. We were thrilled when she agreed to have dinner with us.  We met her at Bistrot du Coin in Dupont Circle and for two hours she entertained us with a stories of living in this exciting city as a recent college graduate. We were reminded and inspired by the enthusiasm of her generation. She is energized by the presidential election, and her words reflect a conviction that she can affect change -- that she can make a difference. She currently serves our government, has been studying Arabic, has just started her first class in American Sign Language, and hopes to volunteer in Africa next year with her father. Sarah is not our future; she is the hear & now. We salute Sarah and all the bright, young leaders that refuse to give into the political cynicism and are striving to make a difference.

Sarah and I at Bistrot Du Coin


-amb





Monday, September 29, 2008

Day One


This morning we woke up and shuttled the mountain of boxes from our front hall down to the van. The cargo area is packed full, but the middle seat area is still open. I was shocked to see to space remaining; it felt like we were packing up our entire house. I wonder how much of this "stuff" we'll actually use!



Starting a cross-country road trip in the middle of a regional gas shortage put me in a minor panic state. But like a true hunter-gatherer, Hung went out yesterday and foraged.



Upon arriving at Costco's gas station, he waited patiently in a nice orderly line, pulled up to the pump when it was his turn and started filling the tank. When he got close to fifteen gallons the gas started sputtering and spitting. Someone at a neighboring pump yelled, "IT'S RUNNING OUT". Hung managed to eek out another quarter gallon before the station was once again completely dry. When he got back in the van, the indicator showed a gas tank just shy of full--phew. If we didn't find gas, the first stop in our world tour was about to become a walking tour of Charlotte.

So this morning finds me both excited and nervous. While I am incredibly excited about the places we will see and the people we will meet, I worry about the unknown parts of the trip. The sections of the our calendar that we purposely left blank, stare back at me like the gaps in a jack o' lantern's grin. You see in this relationship, Hung has the "come-what-may, devil-may-care" attitude while I like to have the days neatly outlined in an excel spreadsheet. Before other trips, I'd spend countless hours reading trip advisor and travel blogs, perusing the travel aisle at the bookstore and talking to friends. This trip is too big for that level of detail. Besides we are trying to avoid rigid schedules. This trip is about freedom and flexibility. If we love where we are--we'll stay. If we don't--zoom and we're off.



When I think about the give and take between our personalities, I am once again reminded of how lucky I am to be part of this team. I have a partner in this journey that is different from me but that is ok because it gives us wonderful balance.

-amb

On The Road


We are cruising down the highway at 65 mph. The radio is on, the windows are down, and our spirits are high.

I love technology.  I was just able to update the blog and pay our electric bill--all via the iPhone from the passenger seat.

-amb

My first view of Washington D.C. with the Washington Monument in the distance. I have travelled in and around D.C.'s Beltway but have never visited our nation's capital.
-hnb


Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Leap

I imagine rumbling, stumbling, and even bumbling through the next
yet-to-be known 365 days. For a year in the life, Amie and I are
embarking on the "grand adventure" that I have dreamed for so long.
Amie and I only exchanged our wedding vows for a little over a year,
but for as long as we have been together, she has known and been the
confidante to my musings and unwillingness to abandon this lingering
wanderlust to see the world in one uninterrupted, continuous stretch
of time. "Amie, I know we are working to build our careers, to start a
family, and to secure our retirement, but I know myself - I'll be a
curmudgeon when I'm retired and old. I'll want to curl on the couch in
the study, read my books with an ice-chilled glass of coca-cola just
waiting for my thirst, and NOT HAVE ANYONE BOTHER ME! But right now,
with willing heart and able legs, I want drive the highways and
byways, hike trails on the Blue Ridge, Appalachia, and Pacific Coast,
sail the deep blue oceans as the chilled air gives rise to goosebumps,
and traverse the continents waking up to new countries and new
languages". As I passed through my twenties and now evolve in my
mid-30's, the desire and pull has always been there -- I did not
simply wake-up one morning and wanted to travel. Some of us feel that
magical warmth of existence of bearing witness to the first glimpse of
sunrise in the US from Cadillac Mountain on Mount Desert Isle, of the
baptism-like swim underneath the Hanakapi'ai Falls, and of the deep,
humbling gratitude to those honored on the cliffs high above Omaha
Beach, or of any pilgrimage of discovery. Some of us have traveling in
our hearts and souls.

The truth and reality is that I would not even be excitedly laying out
my clothes and travel gear without Amie's insight into our lives and
how it will unfold. Despite knowing that this was the one thing that I
most wanted to do in life right now and knowing that the dream could
just simply be realized, I question my courage to resign from the job,
to give up a steady salary, to walk away from the comfortable domestic
life, and to not have any promise of a job when the travels are done.
I stood before that decision precipice for quite a few days and
restless nights possibly waiting for the sign or hesitant from an
unacknowledged fear. While I dreamed to existence this adventure,
Amie's dream is for "us" to work – to live a long and happy life
together. She worries I would in my later years regret of never having
seized the opportunity – that I would look back and be disappointed in
myself – that I had not chosen wisely but with fear. I do not have
insight or understanding of who I will be as a consequence of the
decisions I make today. I strive to make the most of this day and hope
that in the future I am not looking back on the decisions that I did
or did not make. However, I do have a sneaking suspicion that Amie's
discovery is truth to a palpable level. The chasm would only ever
darken, widen and deepen as days passed as I bore witness to them.
Amie grabbed my hand, closed her eyes, and we leaped .

Amie resigned from her job on as a leveraged loan analyst on April
25th, I resigned from my job as a bond portfolio manager on August
11th, and we have been researching and planning for a little over a
month. We leave the comfortable confines of our home in Charlotte,
North Carolina on September 29th.

First stop – our nation's capital Washington D.C.

-hnb