Beautiful World, Beautiful Trip (Nov. 2006 – Nov. 2007)

Wow, here it is…..The End. Sitting on a huge jumbo jet, I find myself heading back to the friends and family that encouraged and supported such a beautiful journey. I’m longing to give everyone endless hugs, but I’m sad to be swapping it for a lifestyle that has taught me so much about living, the world, and myself. It’s crazy to think exactly one year ago I was saying good bye to these very same people…..setting out with only an idea I dreamt about. Something I knew that was entirely possible, but at the same time seemed only an illusion I was unsure how to accomplish. I remember reactions around the thanksgiving table ’06…”You’re going to do what????”….”Where???” A question I couldn’t really answer…but inside I knew I wanted to go and do something purposeful, something unique, and something amazing.

Well my friends, I can say with so much pride that my dream came true! Everything I searched for, from knowledge and understanding, to love and romance, to exploration and adventure. This trip has blessed me with so much. Lasting memories like paddling to this one island in Palau with my brother Shane on a day I can only describe as perfect. The sun was shining out in paradise and we were singing songs in the canoe on our way to a distant island glistening in the most serene, tropical aqua ocean on the planet. Mike….what a dear friend. We instantly became best friends in Palau, doing unheard of adventures and flirting with every island lady we came in contact with! My Palauan friends…I love you guys. To me Braddahs and Sistas….Much Love to Bruce, Jordy, Chico, Keblai, Raquel…I Love you Fools! To the Lehn’s Crew, Deborah, and Krammer’s, you truly helped make the dream become a reality! (Tisu, come to the states, but leave Alex behind….Just playin Girl!!) To beloved Michelle, what a remarkable person. I couldn’t have traveled with a more like-minded individual that shares such a similar passion for exploration. Alone, you were a dream come true in itself, and you have me anxious for more adventures in the future. Thank you so much for making me laugh and smile through every country we were fortunate (or ignorant) enough to visit. We did it girl..all 11!!!

This entire trip brought me through 14 countries and had me traveling in every transportation mode possible, including flights in over 16 different airline companies. I got accustomed to overnight bus and train trips, and now truly know the definition of overcrowding. I’ve tried all sorts of foods…the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Feasts set for kings and scraps left for peasants. I slept in resorts for millionaires and at times napped on the ground of dirty bus stations or guest houses with bed bugs. Even though I did it, it boggles my mind at times reminiscing of how crazy this trip truly was. Amazing…..Paradise in Palau, then a huge circle starting and ending in the Phillipines. An expedition that stretched high into mountains and deep into oceans. Trekking to discover huge elephants in thick jungles, to scanning reef walls in efforts to uncover the tiniest of sea slugs. Partying in Thailand to snuggling in Bali. Getting lost in Bangkok to making discoveries in Papua. From lands of smiles and freedom to lands of frowns and persecution. Such an epic of contrasts, but best of all, I wouldn’t change any single moment in the slightest bit. People dream of the trip I had…I know this, because I used to be one of them. All I can say now is thanks. I have had such a great time on such a life changing voyage the gratefulness I have is inexpressible. However, there is one thing. I feel like I left no stone unturned…I have no ‘What Ifs’, yet there is still something nagging on me…..What is it you ask? It’s that I’m still not satisfied! I’m still not content! If I was to depart this planet this very moment (possible because I’m experiencing some pretty rough turbulence right now) I’d be more than happy with the life I have led, but so long as this boy’s breathing, so long as I have air in my lungs and blood in my veins, this adventure is far from complete!!! Africa, South America, even Florida…Watch Out! There’s a monkey on the loose that has tasted exhilaration, been bit by enthusiasm, and now itches with eagerness……Simply Thanks

The Beginning

P.S. I ended up contracting Malaria somewhere out there…..but after the crazy fevers, seizure-like chills, three bed ridden hospital days, intense medications, and some bewildering medical bills, I’m healthy and happy, preparing for my next Exotic Exploration.

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