Summer, Beaches, and Babies

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Author:  Pete
Location:  Michigan and Wisconsin

I’m trying hard to make sure errantries does not become solely a baby-picture dispersion platform.  That’s what Facebook is for, right?  That being said, the trip back to the Midwest for summer was all about showing off Leonora to family and friends.  Consequently, the aforementioned initiative has been voided for this post and its unabashed infant imagery.

Flying back to the Midwest went without a hitch.  Leonie slept almost the entire time as we trained to Zürich then flew to Chicago and Appleton.  We spent the next weeks seeing family and friends around Green Bay and dipping the baby in the lake at the Pashouwer’s cottage.

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Leonora was sad to leave Wisconsin, but did really well on the six hour drive over the top of Lake Michigan.  She seemed to like her first trip over the Mighty Mac.  Back in Charlevoix we spent another couple of well-fed weeks making the rounds of our favorite beaches and spending time with our favorite people.

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We made it down to Traverse City to see the McGurn clan, and spent a lot of time with Mikey and his son Hank when they weren’t busy at Stiggs Brewery in Boyne City.  Pretty amazing to me that we’ve been buddies since seventh grade and managed to have offspring within the same couple of months.  Good planning on our part!  In all the excitement Miranda and I even manage to weasel in a date night!  How amazing is that?

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About the time we were to head back to Switzerland I found myself overlooking Lake Michigan as a squall rolled through.  Two things occurred to me:  The first of which is that I felt relieved to be ashore as the rain and wind washed by, to be able to enjoy the beauty of the commotion without concern over the safety of my vessel and crew.  The second was how distinct the lines were between the stormy and blue skies.  The duality reminded me of how variable our compartmentalized lives feel sometimes these days. Things switch so quickly from work to play, from home to abroad, and from squally cries to sunny smiles that it’s been hard to catch up with my own thoughts.  Maybe one day with a more focused mind I’ll be able to better articulate them.  Maybe.

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Re-Entry to the Midwest

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Author:  Pete
Location: Midwest, USA

Somehow I again find myself writing in the dark hours of the night, mid-ocean, aboard a turbulent vessel. It’s come sooner than expected, too. This time the command of the craft is not mine, but with two hundred airline passengers aboard, I’m happy that someone else is at the helm. We’re flying to Switzerland. The summer has come and gone fleetingly as usual, and now here I am, ruminating through the silence of a night watch once more, looking out across black seas.

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Our dizzying return to civilization felt like an astronaut’s re-entry to the atmosphere.  After rocketing back towards the gravity of the Midwest and debriefing with mission control, we wobbled about a bit on unsteady legs, adjusting to the world’s forgotten fundamental laws.  Like any good produce-impaired cosmonaut, we gorged ourselves on fresh fruits and veggies upon returning to Earth, but retained a strange inclination towards freeze-dried foods.

It was revitalizing to be home, to see family and friends, and to not worry so much about the boat.  I tried to keep a cool demeanor about the whole nautical escapade.  It felt like gloating to hint at our feeling of accomplishment about the Tayrona years and our excitement about moving to Switzerland.  I’d sometimes brush off the upcoming move as a tiresome necessity of our occupation or omit entire portions of my life in casual conversation to avoid sounding like a madman.

Summer was like a good kielbasa though: hot, zesty, and fully packed.  Miranda and I had a whirlwind tour of California to see my gramma and uncle Chuck, my cousin’s wedding, and Miranda’s buddies.  Looking west across the Pacific I swear I could see myself standing on Australia’s shores looking back over the water.  I felt like waving to myself.  

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After So-Cal we zipped back to the midwest for another wedding in Wisconsin and well deserved R&R with friends and family on the lakes.  What we didn’t do much of this summer was document anything.  Throughout the boat trip I had an insatiable urge to chronicle everything new that went on.  At home it was refreshing to fall back into the well-known summertime rhythm of sunshine-filled days, friend-filled evenings, and over-filled stomachs.  We’ve eaten pretty much constantly since we’ve been home.  In acquiescence to my palate’s protests though, I’ve been shunning fish, rice, and coconut like a Mennonite cold-shouldering rumspringant youth.

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Sleeping in a motionless bed and ignoring little noises has been an adjustment. More than once I’ve found myself on my feet in the middle of the night perplexed about how to get on deck to check the anchor.  However, I’m enjoying water that comes cold and hot from the tap any time you want it, and weeks on end free of mechanical troubleshooting!

There are still some lingering boat-related compulsions of which I’m trying to wean myself off.  Sometimes I’ll break down and revert to old weather-monitoring habits, looking for prime kite and windsurfing conditions in Lake Michigan.  Kitesurfing is my methadone and there were several blowout days this summer to wind-binge.  I even got out for a sailboat regatta with some family friends who needed extra crew.  I’m sure they heard about our nautical exploits and were anticipating their new deckhand to be some kind of sailing savant. Jokes on them!  I tacked and gybed more in those three hours of Wednesday night beer-can racing than in an entire month cruising to the Marquesas.  It was palliative to be on deck again though, working the sheets and halyards even if the lines wasted my now un-calloused palms.  It certainly helped my withdrawls.  Who knew that one could be a sailing junkie?  Pirates are often described as having a monkey on their back, but I just thought that was a figure of speech.

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So that’s the ball game!  Back to reality, as much so as moving to Switzerland provides. Too bad our good Tayrona hasn’t sold yet.  Australia’s elections slowed the buying market down in the past two months so things have cooled off there a touch.  Aside from that, I can’t fathom any better outcome of our odyssey.  Now, on to other adventures in Europe!  We’ll keep posting from the other side of the pond.  Tschüss!

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Okay, fine!  So I made up rumspringant!  Big deal!  Rumspringa is a period of time in an adolescent Mennonite’s life where recalcitrant behavior is accepted.  I chose to throw caution to the wind on my own literary rumspringa and adjective-ize the ever-loving snot outta that noun!  Take that!  Grammatical correctness be-damned and long live italics!

Knot Tying in Texas

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Author:  Pete
Location:  Dallas, Texas

 

I was a little apprehensive about leaving my baby to fly all the way to Hal’s wedding in Dallas, but Miranda insisted that she’d take good care of the boat in my absence.  Long flights don’t get to me, but it’s tough seeing the thousands of hard won miles of open ocean sliding effortlessly by under the 737, deceptively benign and maybe a little smug. 

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Hal picked me up at the airport and it was game-on despite the jet lag.  Pre-wedding frivolities ensued which I will leave without description in the interest of dignity preservation.  In accordance with Texas state legislature though, guns and whiskey were central fixtures of the wedding weekend.  For safety concerns, these civil liberties were not enjoyed at the same time.  Nothing pisses off a bride, even as chill as Taylor, like an unscheduled hospital run.

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Hal and Taylor threw a couple incredible days of reveling.  The ceremony was held in the oldest post office in Dallas.  Sounds odd, but it was a fabulous venue.  The upstairs courthouse that held the reception had once presided over the trials of Bonnie and Clyde’s cohorts and Roe v. Wade.  Hal looked like a million bucks, with a smile as enormous as his personality beaming out from under that Grizzly Adams beard when Taylor came sparkling down the aisle in her dress.  The ceremony was lovely; I think some residual sea salt worked its way into my eye at some point.  Dinner, dancing, and debauchery followed in true Foster fashion, spiced up by some old Charlevoix amigos, Spencer and Brandon.  You’d need to work hard to not have fun with a crew like that.  I was, however, appropriately sad that Miranda wasn’t along to join in the merriment.  

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Another perk of the trip was getting to spend some time with my buddy Mike.  We remedied the wedding hangover with a tour of the Dallas brew pub scene.  Mikey is a master beer craftsman and is opening his own brewery this year in Boyne City, Michigan.  We disguised our afternoon bar crawl under the official seal of Stiggs Brewing Company as “research and industrial espionage.”

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Travel back to the other side of the world went as well as could be expected.  Sixteen hours to Sydney with a ten hour layover, four hours to Auckland, and a harrowing three hour car ride on the wrong side of the road back to Whangarei.  The total dissolution of December 14th completed my chronometric vertigo and rounded out the trifecta of days lost to the International Dateline.  I’ll take jet lag over seasickness any day though!

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