March 27, 2013
We arrived home, in Southern California, yesterday. During the final days of our journey we had many ‘lasts’: last bus trip, last hotel room, last time packing, last country visited, and finally, the last few miles home. As we cruised up the coast of North America on the Star Princess, we used the warm weather days of the voyage to relax and prepare for our reentry into the United States.
During one of the sea days, we lectured for the fifth and final time on Princess, sharing with our fellow passengers our photos and videos highlighting some of the unique cultures and remote places we visited during our expedition.
Our last stop during the cruise was in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. By coincidence, our oldest daughter, Lauren, had decided to go there with several friends for spring break, not knowing we would be passing through at the same time. She came to meet us at the marina and we had a nice breakfast and a couple of hours to catch up before we needed to re-board the ship for the final day and a half journey home.
We arrived in San Pedro, California, early Tuesday morning. Anticipating potential issues with U.S. immigration and customs after being gone so long, we told our youngest daughter, Kristen, to take her time in driving the 40 miles from Orange County to pick us up. Before entering immigration, we attached a sheet to the customs form listing the 53 countries we had visited since leaving the United States last year (if you are wondering, the day we were in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, back in December, we were ‘in transit’ and did not go through immigration at that time). When we got to the front of the immigration line, we handed the agent our form. He looked at the list and just laughed. We left 30 seconds later, somewhat disappointed that there was not more drama with our entry back into the United States.
Our time re-entering the U.S. contrasted with our experience leaving it. When we boarded the Pacific Princess on the first day of our journey, in San Diego, California, one our rolling duffels was scanned twice. After a couple of agents looked at the monitor during the second screening, we wondered what the issue was. Finally, we were motioned over and asked why we had a small shovel in our luggage. We explained that we were “Trekking the Planet” and that we needed the shovel to assist with potential bathroom situations that we might encounter while camping in the wild. Somewhat embarrassed at this explanation, the agents quickly waved us through.
On this last day of our trip, after quickly clearing customs in San Pedro, we found ourselves standing next to the street outside Pier 93. It seemed surreal, as we stared at the familiar, yet unfamiliar, surroundings around us. Our daughter Kristen soon arrived, and then we were really home, spending the rest of the day hearing from other family members, old friends and our new friends we had made during the journey. We needed to go to the store to buy some food and to do some laundry. It seemed like a whirlwind of activity and a little overwhelming for us.
We don’t know how long it will take to get used to being home. What we don’t want to do is to let go of all the experiences we have had, the amazing people we met and the incredible friendships we made. We especially don’t want to lose that feeling of curiosity and continual discovery that we had while traveling. So we can only take it moment by moment, one day at a time, and let the transition happen, while having memories that will last a lifetime.