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June 14, 2006

Almost There

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Saturday I’m off on my adventure. I am going to spend the weekend in NE Oklahoma doing a canoe trip and some hiking with Michelle before heading to Chicago for a wedding. The canoe trip will be good practice for the boundary waters, as long as there is some water in the river. It has been very dry in Oklahoma for about a year now. I had dinner with some friends last night to say goodbye. I went to high school with one of them, Bobby Inot, who recently moved to Oklahoma with his wife and kids. It was good to spend a little bit of time with him before I left and they seem to be enjoying it here. I will get to see some friends and former coworkers in Illinois on my way to the wedding which I am looking forward to.

The big meeting at the plant last week went well. It was a nice way to go out and the comments from the people there let me know how much they wanted me to come back. Its nice to know when you are appreciated! My replacement is going to come up from one of our Mexican operations, he was at the meeting and came back the next day to go over my responsibilities at the plant. My throat was hurting the next day from having to talk so much. I also got the contact information for our director of operations in Australia and sent him an email. I will go by and tour a couple of them while I’m there to look around and see how things work down under. Right now I’m not trying to get a job out of it, but it is definitely something I would consider, maybe after returning for a year or two, who knows??? This trip will give me a chance to see if it is something I want to pursue further.

Looking back at all the planning and pondering I’ve done since I first started thinking about this trip I’m amazed at how similar it is to my first ideas. The initial thoughts about doing this stemmed from a Grand Canyon rafting trip my dad and I did in May last year. Just being outside and away from everything for 5 days made me realize how nice it would be. Also, one the guides on our trip was graduating from college and heading to New Zealand with her boyfriend that December, “until their money ran out”. Sounded like a neat thing to do. Obviously, not the way everyone thinks, but it appealed to me. After that I started doing some searching on the web and found out that lots of people do similar trips at all ages and to all locations. It isn’t nearly as common in the US, but we only start with 2 weeks of vacation (and some people don’t even use all of that) so we certainly don’t have everything figured out properly. The most helpful site has been www.bootsnall.com. They have tons of information on everything for budget travel; destination guides, what to bring, how to get there, and forums where you can ask questions, offer advice, and meet other travelers. Highly, highly recommended if anyone is looking to do something similar.

So back to my statement this trip being close to my original plan. I’ve always wanted to go to Australia, and I knew it was just too big a place to see in two weeks. Although, I had started considering a trip over there this year for two weeks just to get started on it. New Zealand is close by and I have yet to hear anyone say anything bad about the place. It has a huge variety of activities, landscape, culture, and great people all consolidated into two relatively small islands that are easy to get around. You can hike a glacier one day, be at the beach in a couple of hours, kayak the next day, and end up in a big city that night. An easy place to blow through a budget also with so much to do! Southeast Asia came about last and will be the toughest travel area for me, but one that I am anticipating more and more. I am looking forward to being the outsider and experiencing life from that side. However, it is still an area where they get a lot of tourists and speak enough english that you can get what you need and end up where you want to. I really can’t pick which one I am looking forward to the most as they all offer their own opportunities.

I went through many iterations on where to go and still am for what to do, but am happy with my choices and think that I am leaving enough time to hang out and enjoy the areas while still getting around to see a variety of different spots. At one time I considered staying overseas for a year and doing a true round-the-world trip, but decided to scale it back for a variety of reasons (lack of travel experience, health, and just plain trying to see and do too much). Well wish me luck and I’ll let you know how its going first chance I get.

Cheers,
Brian

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