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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Home for a Midwest Wedding

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Author:  Miranda
Location:  Michigan and Wisconsin

 

I’ve been living overseas for more than eight years now.  I can always feel the distance between myself and home.  Sometimes the feeling is just there.  A benign annoyance that behaves only if fed properly with visits back and Skype dates.  But, sometimes it pulls.  And nags.  And claws.  And throws a full-on, fist-pounding, legs-sprawling, tears-in-the-middle-of-the-check-out-aisle tantrum in your psyche until you can feed it.  Aside from the obvious quality time with family and friends, mine especially likes to be fed good beer, cheese curds, Packer football, and other gloriously Wisconsin pastimes.

This past year of sailing the South Pacific has given me a multitude of things I can be thankful for (personal growth, sailing knowledge, confidence, strength, inner peace, reflection, time to read a pile of great books, etc, etc… ) but a fast, reliable Internet connection has NOT been one of them.  Therefore, I’ve been out of touch.  Understandably so.  I’ve embraced this as part of the growing process that comes along with embarking on such a trip.  But, that doesn’t make it any easier, and I was ready for a break.  I needed my people.  It was time to go home.  And missing middle brother’s nuptials even if we were a half-a-world away was certainly not an option.

So, we packed up the few items in our wardrobes that weren’t already full of holes or engine grease stains and hit the airport.  It’s amazing how quickly your clothes get beat up and you turn into Captain Ron.  Yeah, I’d say this summarizes my look aboard Tayrona most days:

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Our unsightly clothing behind, we didn’t have much to carry with us.  Each suitcase we brought did have it’s corresponding empty duffle bag inside earmarked for all the boat parts we’d be shlepping back with us from the U.S.  Our flights from Fiji to Chicago went smoothly, although it is incredibly disheartening to, in only 17 hours, take back all those miles you fought tooth and nail to achieve.  One year on a sailboat = one ten-hour flight and one four-hour flight aboard a 747.  There’s a gut-punch to efficiency for ya.

After my folks picked me up at the airport (Pete took a third flight to get him over closer to his parents in Michigan), we didn’t stop our chatterboxes from flapping the entire trip back up the Green Bay.  The drive flew by, and then it was an immediate un-pack, re-pack before heading up to the cottage for the night.  After getting all their free-loading kids out of the house, my parents have been able to buy a small, but oh-so-adorable, cottage on their favorite lake.  And, I hadn’t seen it yet!  All the siblings came up to meet us later, and we had one of those dinners together in which you can’t remember what was said but do remember laughing throughout the entirety of the meal.  Sweet Jesus, I needed that. 

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The following day, it was bachelorette party time for my future sister-in-law.  Let me tell you, when you haven’t used it in over a year, putting some actual make-up on your sun-beaten face can be a very exciting thing.  And, if the wedding is anything like the bachelorette party, this is going to be one, rocking good time ladies and gents.

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So, this would be how my trip stateside would be bookmarked.  Bachelorette party my first weekend home, wedding on our last.  The in-between was jam packed full of long-overdue quality time with my folks, my siblings, my grandparents, my family and friends.  Including…

Plenty of relaxation and family fun at the cottage:

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A good amount, but “never-seems-like-enough” time with girlfriends:

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Enough cards and games with some of my favorite folks to keep me happy for a bit:

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A Packer game with killer seats:

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Downhome fun at my best buddy’s little brother’s wedding (with one handsome date):
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And while I was galavanting with friends and family in Wisconsin, Pete was also having himself a grand time in Michigan with his clan.

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Then, I don’t know how it happened, but in the blink of an eye three weeks flew by, and it was time for the big day.  Being both my little and next eldest brother, Adam and I have seen some ups and downs in our relationship as siblings.  The downs were characterized by those cherished teeth-knocking-out, storage-shed-locking-in, I’m-breaking-all-your-favorite-toys moments of childhood.  But, I’d say we got all those nasty moments thoroughly sussed out before, say, 1998, and we’ve been very close ever since.  Now, we have a bond that comes only from conversations at the bar that start “No, our childhood fights were so much worse than yours. Get this…” and I can’t imagine having a kinder, more thoughtful, and caring set of brothers than I have now.

And there is no one in the world better suited for the antics of my brother Adam than Becky.  I love the guy, but, Becky, is a saint.  She just gets him.  And loves him despite all that.  (Kidding!) Adam’s a great guy, a special guy, and he found a woman who makes him happy and loves him for everything that he is.  What else can you hope for as the big (just slightly protective) sister?

Wedding festivities started with homemade bouquets and centerpieces, a low-key bachelor party for the out of town boys (and I got to tag along), and, of course, rehearsal dinner fun.

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The wedding day was beautiful, touching, and, as predicted, one hell of a good time.  But, can we please do it all over again?!  It all went by much, much too fast!

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With a wrestling-themed Grand March…. of course…. Wedding-1-2

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And so, the beast has been fed.  For the time-being.  Saying good-bye is never easy, and this time around it was tougher than I’ve ever remembered it being.  Such is the life of the sailing nomad, I suppose.  I’ll be back soon.  I swear I can still smell those cheese curds…

Several pictures courtesy of Jenna Lynn Photography. 

Find the whole lot of them here: Jenna Lynn Photography- Becky & Adam