Boudhanath Prayer Flags - On Halloween Night...

Monday, August 30, 2010

4 days and counting!

Eliza had her “last day of school” today, which is an odd thing to be saying in August! She’s only attended for a week, but it was really important to her to meet her teachers and get a feel for the school. In fact, almost a year ago we chose our departure date based on her request… Now that she has a better feel for the middle school, and formal classes are officially “on hold” for her, she seems much more able to celebrate our imminent departure. For many months we tried not to even mention the trip to her, as she'd go into whining convulsions about "missing" everything here at home... But now it is such a joy to see her light up when we talk about the trip!!!

She says, “For a long time when we were getting ready to go to India, I really hated the whole idea, because I didn’t want to miss the soccer season, middle school, and a bunch of other things. Now I’ve gone to middle school for a week, and it’s pretty fun…. But now I am getting extremely excited to go back to India! I can’t wait to visit friends, ride horses, and go around Bangalore eating at our favorite places!

I got to go trekking in Nepal when I was just one year old, and I’m so excited to return there and maybe even ride Tibetan ponies! Also I’m most looking forward to the plane rides because I LOVE airplanes… the free food, awesome views of the Himalaya, the movies, and we even get one plane ride with or friends Maya & Dawn. I’m also really excited for having Christmas in Thailand! I can’t wait to go snorkeling, rock climbing, and hang out on the beach… Oh yeah, AND eat tons of Thai food!

But right now, I mostly want to sit down and watch the Lord of the Rings! Can I pleeease start the movie!?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Departure Scramble - Phase 27

We had a great overnight up to Tuolumne Meadows to help move Karen out of her beloved tent cabin. It's rough for her to leave the high-country a full month early... But at least the unseasonably cold stormy weather made it feel like fall. We had snow flurries on the drive up!!! In August! I LOVE changeable mountain weather!
So we did lots of packing, hauling, and loaded up the vehicles... We wanted to "squeeze in" a quick overnight backpack, but with the snow and the packing frenzy, it seemed a bit too much to organize... But we DID make time for one last soak on the East Side at one of our favorite hot springs! Ahhhhhh..... hot water!

Now we're back at home for a busy 3 nights. After seeing my wife for about 2 days in the last 3 weeks, It will be GREAT to work together on packing, prepping, and loading our life into the shed to make room for our renters. Busy days ahead, but we'll keep chanting our mantra, "It's always worth it.... It's always worth it... It's always...."
The kids are getting more excited each day for our departure! Eliza, who was really reluctant to miss soccer and middle school, is now bubbling over about the upcoming plane flights, treks, food in India, etc... It's great to see her so thrilled!!!! ...finally! Time to sleep! I'll be dreaming of boxes and duffel bags...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Things are moving fast now!

As we approach departure date (11 days!), everything seems to accelerate. I am busier than ever, packing, cleaning, emailing, skyping, organizing, cooking, etc., but actually am feeling more and more relaxed and deeply grateful & genuinely thrilled for this upcoming adventure. School starts this week, so I'm prepping the classroom all day tomorrow. Our kids start classes on Tuesday, and will attend for a week or so... Then we move Karen down from Tuolumne, do a quick overnight backpack trip (and farewell to the High Sierra), and crank out the final packing frenzy!

I was up late tonight emailing several contacts in Bangalore and Kathmandu... Dishes done, kids all asleep, fuzzy cat purring at my feet... Suddenly the Skype site lit up, and I was on video chats for 2 hours with friends across the globe who are already experiencing tomorrow! Many travel, housing & teaching arrangements to work out... and it was SO fantastic to be talking to friends that we'll see in a couple of weeks! I AM SO PUMPED!!!!!! Waaahhhooooooo!!!! ....OK, relax Paul... easy boy.... time for bed.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Booking Train Berths from Bed....

After checking out maps with Lupin, and getting all excited for a long train ride across India, I decided to go online and make a reservation. We'll fly into Bangalore, spend 2 weeks there, then take a 2-day/2-night train north to Agra. It's about 2,500 kms. of chugging across India, so we want to have reserved sleepers.

I'd used the official Indian Railway site a few years ago, and it was pretty strait-forward... THIS time wasn't so smooth! I sat in bed with the laptop & tried booking tonight. It took about 15 attempts, 3 hours, 3 credit/debit cards, 2 calls to VISA, and 1 frustrated Daddy. The train trip is one month away, but there were only a few sleepers left. Each time I failed, or my bank failed me, I watched the available berths slipping away.... From 27 available, to 16 available, to 6 RAC (reservation against cancellation), to 1 WL (waitlist). Egads! What is going on in Bangalore? Is everyone online trying to book tickets to Agra on MY train???? So I finally gave up on the official IRCTC website, and tried a travel agent based in India; "Make My" The booking and payment worked the very first time!!!! Yahoooo.... well, they DID charge me an extra 150 Rupees booking fee ($4). So we are now numbers 1 through 5 on the Waitlist, which is pretty good odds we'll be confirmed! That works out to 5 sleeper beds, in a reserved air-con train coach, for 2 days & nights... for $128! Now I can go to sleep...

Monday, August 16, 2010

"Orange Juice on the Roof"

LUPIN says... I am most excited for snorkeling in Thailand, and seeing the Himalaya. My Daddy told me for years and years that we would sit on the roof and drink orange juice and look at the Himalaya. I thinks it's gonna be lots of tall mountains with snow on top! And I also really like orange juice!

I really also want to see our friends at India. We get to go to "corner dosa." That's our favorite place to go for dinner... and breakfast and lunch too! I like it because it's so close and has yummy dosas which is kind of like a rice pancake that you take pieces off and dip in sambhar.

I'm excited about EVERYTHING on the trip! My big sister has been saying that she'll miss her friends so much, and that she's sort of scared to go. I'm gonna miss my friends too, but it's gonna be so fun on the trip so I don't think about that. I want to send postcards to my friends, and also talk on Skype to them.

No more to say now daddy... anyways why DO we have to do this writing typing thing? Why do we have to write stuff on the computer about the trip? Is someone really going to read it all?

How are the Kids feeling about this?

SYLVIE SAYS... I am soooo excited, especially cuz our good friends Dawn & Maya will meet up with us in Nepal. We're going to have fun showing them around Kathmandu, trekking and rafting. We'll also ride elephants together, and I want there to be a "kids" elephant without adults... you know, like the kids' table at Thanksgiving!

I LOVE flying in airplanes, because it's so fun to look down at the view... You just feel so nice when you're up in the air. Actually, it's much better than being down on the ground! We're a traveling sort of family, so we get to go on planes more than most kids. I feel pretty luck about that! Of course I always want to have a window seat, and I always love the orange juice! They also have yummy cranberry juice. My dad already got us window seats for all the 5 or 6 flights, and says we'll be on the right side of the plane to see the Himalaya when we fly to Nepal.

I can't wait to go back to our old house in Bangalore, and going back to all our favorite restaurants. I really liked our house, and the big palm tree, but it only has a small cement yard. I'm also excited to walk to Sankey Tank and go birdwatching, and see the huge fruit bats swooping around. We can bring home Corner Dosa food wrapped in newspapers, and sit on the roof and watch the bats fly over at sunset! I can't wait to see some old friends like Vimala & Sindhu, and explore their beautiful garden. We won't go to school, but we'll want to visit it. I don't think anyone will remember me, but maybe so. I'll be mad if they make me stand up on stage and sing or something!!!

In Nepal we'll get to visit lots of awesome amazing temples. I love monkey temples, because they have lots of cute baby monkeys on them! They hang out there because they want to get fed, and they want to get worshipped because maybe they think they're so important. Actually the people leave offerings like fruit and flowers, and the monkeys always jump around eating them.

I'm also really excited to eat Thai food and go snorkeling!

A new season... A new adventure... and a new Blog!

We're off again! Well, almost... We fly to India in under 3 weeks, and the "to-do" list grows longer and longer. Karen is up in Tuolumne, wrapping up her summer season. I'm down in El Portal "organizing" the house, obtaining visas, creating blogs, and eradicating wasp nests from our roof. As always, the most critical things on the list will be taken care of. The less important stuff will settle to the bottom, and when the wheels leave the ground, all the unfinished tasks will fade away...