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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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!
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:
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.
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.
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:
A good amount, but “never-seems-like-enough” time with girlfriends:
Enough cards and games with some of my favorite folks to keep me happy for a bit:
A Packer game with killer seats:
Downhome fun at my best buddy’s little brother’s wedding (with one handsome date):
And while I was galavanting with friends and family in Wisconsin, Pete was also having himself a grand time in Michigan with his clan.
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.
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!
With a wrestling-themed Grand March…. of course….
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.