I am on the plane heading off to what feels like the great unknown. A five month sabbatical without very little responsibilities and requirements is delicious on the one hand but also disorienting on the other hand. In fact I have been slightly dizzy the last three or four weeks planning, packing and getting out of town.
It has been interesting to hear peoples’ reactions to our upcoming “walkabout” in Australia. The most common question was, “Are you excited?” This is a complicated question for me to respond to. Of course I am excited, but it has not been the top feeling when thinking our trip abroad. It has mostly been exhausting. For the last six months I have been planning: where to store away personal items that we aren’t taking, what to take for five months over two seasons and trips to mountains and tropics, figuring out renting our home and then where to live while in Melbourne, where we are based.
Storing away our personal items was a six month process. We ended up with two large locking metal cabinets in the garage filled with clothing and other personal items and boxes in my husband’s office at work and one of our walk-in closets secured with a lock.
My ‘excitement’ was tempered by all the packing up and packing away. We rented our home out to two Norwegian men who are in a management program at Stanford. They found us through the same site that we used to find a place in Melbourne: SabbaticalHomes.com. They are a rental matchmaking site available to anyone looking for a rental anywhere in the world.
Dealing with our cars and mail was much more complicated. And because it is tax time in the states it became even more important that this work out well. Up until a month ago we thought we had a beat on two different companies that specialize in what we needed, but like so many start-ups in the Valley both turned out to be too good to be true. One went out of business and the other never sent us their contract—not a good sign or business practice!
In the end it all came together wonderfully. At one point we thought were going to just leave the cars idle the whole time, our mechanic assuring us that at most we might have to replace the batteries when we return. Right before I left our son decided to use my car as his second car, one down, one to go. And then 48 hours before I left we learned that someone we have known for years was looking for a car for five months. From the time I heard about her situation to the time she drove away in my husband’s car it was about two hours. The mail piece came together even easier. I asked a neighbor and she agreed to collect, scan and send the real mail while recycling the junk. Bingo!
All that was left for me to do was to actually pack. Now I know that I don’t travel light for short trip, but to pack for five months, two seasons, trips to mountains and tropics was a real challenge. Thank goodness United allowed me three bags up to 70 lbs each. While I didn’t end up using all 210 lbs., I did pack three suitcases and two carry-on bags fully. Actually I packed them several times, removing items I realized that I could do without and then finding new ones to go in instead. Some of the items I am bringing are not going to make it back with us, so I hope to travel home lighter, but that remains to be seen. And the best part of all that packing is that I found two pieces of jewelry that I thought I had lost forever. Real bonus as one was a bracelet from my grandmother.
So here I sit, it is the middle of the night on either Tuesday or Wednesday–I am very time challenged under the best of circumstances and this whole date line, time ahead thing has me baffled—on a plane heading off to the land down under for a five month adventure. Seeing the map of the Pacific Ocean with the plane on its way to Australia it finally hit me: yes I am NOW excited!
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