Our Nutty Little Plan
After years of dreaming and months of planning our little family adventure is finalized. Six years worth of "flyer miles" have been squandered on three tickets to Paris. Hundreds more dollars than anticipated have been spent on bicycle and camping gear. Our golden retriever is blissfully unaware that the next four months of his life will be spent with my sister in the Texas heat.
The plan goes something like this: drive from Grand Junction to LA where we stay for a month as I work on my Master of Fine Arts degree in a low-residency program. From LA we head back across the country to Austin, then Dallas where we dump our car and dog with family. Then we fly to Paris with our bikes (Pickles and Martello) in boxes, assemble them at CDG airport, load them in a rented van which Mark will drive through Paris for a few days before heading east to Colmar, France where we return the van and the real fun starts. From Colmar, we ride our bicycles with Jonah in tow through France, the Black Forest of Germany, Switzerland over the Alps, Northern Italy to Slovenia and Croatia. After which we train back to Italy to work on an organic farm outside of Florence, bike down to Rome to work on another farm, hop a cruise ship through the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands, the Bahamas, and finally arrive in Galveston. If we reach Texas without having drowned, been hit by a car, kicked by a mule or goat, or otherwise impeded we will spend a lovely holiday season with our family before driving home for Christmas. Six months of pure insanity.
But first, some introductions:
I (Rachel) am an artist, currently work on my MFA. I'm analytical, organized, nature-loving, sensitive, and many other adjectives one might find on a dating website. My husband (Mark) is the history guy. He's eccentric, zealous, spontaneous, sometimes socially awkward, with the general personality of a Barbie Doll. He won't know where we are going or where we have been, but he will be having the most fun! You may also have noticed he's a couple years older, which is pretty weird, but what do you do about love, right? And we're best friends. And then there's our big-brown-eyed boy, Jonah. At four years old he's independent, fun, adaptable, and occasionally trouble. He's our little buddy and partner in crime and he is looking foward to finding Spiderman in Paris (?).
Our original intentions for the trip were somewhere between noble and selfish. We wanted to see the world, experience other cultures, and give our son a hands-on education. I wanted to see tons of art and Mark wanted to see "history". We wanted a real, intense, intimate time for our family to connect before Jonah heads off to kindergarten next year. We hope it will be a time of spiritual renewal in our Christian faith. But, as the planning started taking over our lives and the dollars added up, we decided we wanted to give back in some way. We are pleased to announce that we will now be riding for the local organization Light Gives Heat. They are a wonderful, grass-roots non-profit whose fashionable jewelry and clothing provides nearly 100 Ugandan women with sustainable incomes. So, we will be peddling their wares throughout Europe and at home before we leave. Please, please visit the website and buy your friend an awesome necklace, bag, shirt, bracelet, etc. Also, an amazing, newly released independent film about their journey is available for purchase. I can't recommend it enough! http://www.lightgivesheat.org