The original plan was something like this: fly from Bishkek to Ghent, hang out for about a week, fly to the US, get Farrell’s Belgian visa sorted out, see some family, fly back to Ghent three weeks later.
Obviously, I mention the original plan because it didn’t quite go like that. Yes, we went to Belgium. Yes, we got to the US. Yes, we saw lots and lots of family and friends (but also not nearly enough!). Yes, Farrell received his visa But no, nearly seven weeks after we left Bishkek, we’re still in the US. The usual hassles; some paperwork took a bit too long to come through and we panicked and rebooked our flights a bit too far out, but don’t have the heart to shell out more rebooking fees. I have to say, I am ready to retire my role as an eternal houseguest and start building a new routine at our own house in Ghent. Only one week away!
During our time in the US, while waiting patiently for paperwork to come through, we figured out last-minute that flying to a few destinations would be far too expensive. We knew we had to get to DC to turn in the visa paperwork, we knew we had to get to Florida to introduce Darwin to his great-grandparents, and we knew we had to get to Colorado to visit Farrell’s side of the family. Since flying was no longer an option, we rented a car and undertook a most epic road trip.
Over 5,000 miles. We picked up a rental car in Philadelphia and drove to Washington, DC –> Charleston, SC –> Lee, FL –> Savannah, GA –> Nashville, TN –> Lawrence, KS –> Denver, CO –> Grand Junction, CO –> back to Denver, CO –> Kansas City, MO –> Washington, PA –> Langhorne, PA –> Brooklyn, NY –> and back to Langhorne, PA, where Darwin and I finally bowed out while Farrell went back to DC to deal with his visa at the Belgian Embassy.
Unfortunately, the road trip was simply the most practical means (given our last-minute planning) of transporting ourselves to the cities and people we needed to get to. In other words, we were the road crew taking Darwin, the star of the show, from one gig to the next. There were no scenic routes, no stops for antiques, no sidetracks to see quirky American sights, just driving from one place to the next. Farrell and I listened to podcasts for pretty much the entirety of the trip, so a lot of our conversations are going to include the phrase, “I heard on a podcast…” until we figure out other, non-podcast related things to talk about. Apologies in advance.
(crashing at Uncle Ike and Aunt Ange’s house in DC)
(Jordan study abroad reunion in DC)
The speed and focus of the road trip also meant there weren’t many interesting things to photograph since the majority was spent driving on interstates. The only mementos I have to document the different locations are photos of Darwin with different people.
(Darwin meeting his great-grandparents in Florida)
(Uncle Tom and Aunt Terrie in Nashville)
(Darwin’s favorite/only cousin, Mia)
It was wonderful to see so many people, and what an incredible feeling to be welcomed into so many different homes (usually on very short notice), but wow. It was so exhausting. The big upside to being stuck in Langhorne (where my parents live) for a few weeks is that it gives us a small sense of stability (and makes it easier to put Darwin down for naps).
(Learning to stand in Langhorne)
(a quick stop in Missouri)
(some fabulous light from Uncle Jeremy’s backyard in Grand Junction, CO)
The road trip would have been epically more comfortable and fun if we had more time and some magical prediction powers that would have allowed us to stay in each city for longer than, say, 18 hours. We drove to most places in time for dinner, crashed into a new bed, woke up for breakfast and hauled out to the next destination. What kind of conversations can you have in that time? How much can you catch up? It was hard; I wanted to stay longer everywhere. Ever since I knew that we would soon leave Kyrgyzstan, I’ve had strong feelings of just wanting to settle in one place. Traveling over 5000 miles through 20 states in two weeks was certainly no remedy for that. As much as I want to spend more time with all of my loved ones, I am so excited that we’re only one week away from what will be the city we’ll live in for a long time.
Or at least, that’s what I hope.