We’re on our way home.
I’m in a hotel in Niagara Falls. Neither L nor I had ever seen the falls until yesterday. The three of us spent the evening watching them while fireworks lit up the sky.
Today, we're hanging out in the room for a while to watch the Canada vs. Netherlands women's soccer game. LJ is very excited to see two of her favourite players face off on the field.
This year, amongst all the amazing moments, it's often the simple ones that stay with me. Those moments of connection – to people, cultures, each other.
This last phase of our world tour is a six-week coast to coast road-trip through our own country.
Over the last month we've explored the Alberta badlands, hung out in small-town Saskatchewan and Manitoba, saw southwestern Ontario through the open window of a float plane, played on the beaches along Lake Superior and camped in provincial parks along the way. We also spent time in Vancouver and Campbell River, B.C. with family and in Edmonton with some of our closest friends. We’ve met two special kids who didn’t even exist before we left, ate many of our favourite foods and shared lots of late-night laughs.
Tomorrow, we’ll set off again. We'll make our way to Toronto to see some friends and then head into Quebec and the Maritimes.
We've been visiting and camping our way through Canada for more than four weeks, which means in less than two this year-long, around-the-world adventure will be over.
I’m not sure how I feel about that.
I’m excited to be back in our home and neighbourhood. I’m looking forward to sleeping in my own bed and having a well-stocked kitchen. I can’t wait to sip a glass of wine on my front porch and cuddle with our dog on the couch. I think we’re all craving more structure and consistency.
But I’m also sad and terrified.
I’m sad that this experience, this thing we have worked toward for years, will be over. I’m terrified that once the novelty of being home has worn off and we’ve settled back into the routines of a normal life, I’ll be desperate to leave again.
So far, the transition to being back in Canada hasn’t been too hard, but that’s largely because we’ve been so distracted by being with those we love and exploring new places. Once things quiet down I suspect the more complicated feelings will surface.
We’ve changed. Our lifestyle, spending, concerns and priorities are different.
Travelling makes you question things – about people, the world, yourself. It can make you intensely curious and angry, more confident and uncomfortable. It brings moments filled with gratitude, joy and excitement and it brings moments overflowing with sadness, frustration and guilt. It can make you more at ease in other cultures and less at ease in your own. It can make you use to having less stuff, more freedom and excitement around every corner.
And unsure of what to say when people ask you about it.
How will all that translate back into our life in Ottawa?
I don’t know yet.
That said, I think it will help that we’re not actually going back to the exact same life. Sure, we’ll live in the same house and L will have the same job, but there are some big changes.
First off, I’m changing up my work a bit. I’ve run a marketing company for six years and I’ll taking on some very new kinds of projects that I’m really excited about.
Second, LJ is going back to school. After a year of hanging out mostly with the same two adults she needs a break from us. She needs time with other kids and to take what she’s learned this year and share it and apply it to something beyond her dad and me. We’ve found an amazing micro-school that very much fits with our homeschooling approach, so she’ll be going there and she’s really excited. This is likely not the end of our homeschooling journey. In fact, we’re committed to returning to that in the future; but for now, this school is exactly what LJ needs.
Finally, we’re committed to continuing to travel the world. Another long-term trip is out of the question and we have no desire to leave Canada more permanently, but we'll be organizing our life and finances so that we can take shorter trips to see some of the places we missed. We’ve learned a lot about travelling this year, including how to make it cheap and more doable.
Each of us has a few places on a new bucket list. LJ wants to see Italy, Argentina, Brazil, Madagascar and Israel; L is keen to explore the Nordic countries, New Zealand and more of Eastern Europe; and I would love to get to South America, road trip through the US, and return to Eastern Africa.
We’ve seen so much this year but it fueled our wanderlust and made us all too aware of what there's still left to see.
We parked beside a van the other day in Jasper that said, “Eat, sleep, explore, repeat.”
“Hey, that’s like us!” yelled LJ.
Although she's beyond excited to get home; she identifies as a traveler and explorer now. We all do.
So, I guess we have to keep going.
But for now, we’ll stay put for a bit as there are new mountains to climb at home…and future travels to look forward to.
The adventure is certainly changing but I guess it will never really be over.