Back in the ATX and final sign-off

Trip Start Oct 03, 2008
Trip End Sep 06, 2009

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Where I stayed
The Larries'

Flag of United States  , Texas
Friday, August 28, 2009

After a total of eleven months away from Austin, we were anxious to get back to see all our friends and settle back in.  Following a year of travel, we were looking forward to emptying our backpacks into an actual drawer and having a closet rather than a 4Runner.  Darren can't count how many times in the past couple months Kristi has said, "I can't wait to sleep in OUR big king-size bed."  This comment often followed a night sleeping in the 4Runner or at a seedy hotel.

We drove into Austin on August 28 after being gone since October 3 of the previous year.  The Austin skyline had changed quite dramatically in a year as we drove down Interstate 35.  We spent a few nights at our friends the Ehlers since our tenants in our house were not moving out until August 31.  Thanks Larries!   We couldn't quite unpack yet!  We ultimately started moving back into our house on September 1 and were relieved to find our house in relatively good shape.

We spent the next few weeks moving in and catching up with old friends.  Several of us went to see Robert Earl Keen as a quasi-welcome back party.  It was great seeing everyone and good to be back in Texas.  We also went to the Austin City Limits music festival and ran into many friends there as well.

Being back has been an adjustment from our year of travel.  Kristi fortunately started her job back with ESPN radio on September 1 and has moved into the role of 'bread-winner'.  Kristi, of course, is very lucky to have a supportive husband like Darren to allow her to do this while he sets up employment interviews and works on his mountain biking:).  Currently Darren has one job offer and should have an employment decision made by October 16.  It's a tough job market out there right now!

In retrospect, our Gringo Withdrawal was an amazing trip that we will cherish more and more as we move into the next stages of our lives.  Highlights include the beaches and people of southern Thailand and Bali, the beauty of the landscape in New Zealand, the culture of Vietnam, the adventure and lawlessness of Mexico and Guatemala, and the beauty and big sky of the western US.

And lastly, thanks to everyone that we met or stayed with along the way as this will ultimately be the most memorable part of the trip.  As much as we grew to miss normalcy in the last couple months of our trip, now that we have that, our daydreams continue to drift back -- driving the Jetstar into a bridge abutment after a day of wine tasting in New Zealand, bargaining with locals while asking dumb questions, Asian toilet butt sprayers, questionable Spanish pronunciations, observing our fighting French neighbors, alleged manta-ray sightings, getting shoved by a Vietnamese cabby, bingo and karaoke in Boise (NO KARAOKE in Vietnam), the limits (or lack thereof) of Bangkok, sweet Vietnamese coffee, naively staying in hourly Mexican hotels, fending off bugs of all types, crappy beds, the smells of the JetStar after a month of living, catching a 300-lb blue marlin off the coast of Guatemala, river bathing, harassment courtesy of Mexico City policia, miserable and near-suicidal Vietnam sleeper buses, surf lessons in Bali, awesome mountain biking in Moab and Durango, volcano hikes in Bali and Guatemala, nude beaches, the quest for freedom camping in New Zealand (and getting woken by locals at 6AM who didn't agree with our choice), chickens and Coke in a Chiapas church, 'Long Man' shout-outs, back sweat, sheep shearing in New Zealand, selecting cobra to eat in northern Vietnam, and most of all, the friendliness of travelers everywhere  -- and thus concludes our very own Gringo Withdrawal.
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