We have literally travelled around the world. As you read this post we are crossing the Atlantic from Dublin and will land in Halifax. We left Vancouver 10 months ago heading south and then west across the Pacific. Our original departure and final arrival is Edmonton. Yes, a true circumnavigation.
During the last 11 months (we actually left our home in Russell, Manitoba on July 2 and lived in our camper for five weeks in and around Hinton, Alberta), we have travelled by planes, trains and automobiles, caravans, buses, and boats through 30 countries. We have ziplined in New Zealand, hiked Table Mountain in Capetown, South Africa, safaried in Tanzania, witnessed life and death on the Ganges River in India, rode a camel around the great Pyramids of Egypt, cruised down the Nile, spent Christmas Eve in Bethlehem and walked in Jesus’ footsteps in Galilee and Jerusalem, explored the ancient history of Athens, Rome and Pompeii, witnessed the horror of the Holocaust at the sites of Dachau and Auschwitz, empathized with the citizens that for years lived behind the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall, wandered across the Belgian and French countryside remembering the sacrifices that Canadians made for our country and the world, and followed our history through the streets and roadways of Great Britain and Ireland. We are having trouble processing it all and as I write this last travel post (oh, don’t worry folks, you haven’t heard the last of me yet!!), I am overwhelmed by the things that we have seen and done. And we have barely scratched the surface of this great, big world.
An adventure like this would not even be possible without the support of our family and friends. Our parents, our siblings, our children and grandchildren gave up a year of life with us so that we could follow this amazing dream. And along the way we have met so many people that have touched our lives, from all our amazing Air BNB hosts, to the Intrepid and Expat tour companies in India and Egypt, the customer service personnel in airports and train stations that helped us untangle the sometimes complicated web of arrivals, departures and bag collection, and of course, the stranger on the street who, seeing our lost expressions, came to our aid with directions and helpful hints. And though many of these names will mean little to you, our readers, they have meant a great deal to us and I would be remiss not to give them special mention in our blog. Richard’s sister Louise and brother-in-law Rick Welwood opened their home to us for the first leg of our journey in Hawaii. They lost a whole week’s revenue from their BNB suite just to put us up. Thanks guys – we appreciate it! Our first point of contact in Australia, my cousin Norman and his very generous friends Sasha and Ruth, who opened their home with open arms to a couple of strangers – thank you for feeding us, teaching us the ways of great coffee making and how to eat Vegemite and showing us the sights of Sydney and beyond. Our Air BNB hosts Liz in Te Anau and Su in Rotorua, New Zealand – you are such beautiful people and we are so glad that we got to spend some time learning about your families and your lives. Thank you for your generosity of time. Darryl and Shirley, Elina and Ephata and the rest of the team at Dashir Lodge in Tanzania – you have something so special here. We left you feeling refreshed, revitalized and strong in spirit. May the Lord continue to bless you. All the folks that we met through the tour groups in India and Egypt. It is so amazing to meet people from all corners of the world who love to explore culture and history like us. Thank you for becoming our friends and may you continue to travel the world over. To my long lost cousin Glenys and her husband Ron in England – what a joy to meet you and I am so pleased that you continued your search into the Wileman family and tracked us down. Our encounter has only triggered my imagination and determination to find more of our family members around the globe. The Joneses – cousins and lifelong friends of my parents – may we carry on the friendship through the next generations as well. The young man on a tour bus in Belfast who mentioned that he was touring with the King and I performing in Dublin and when we expressed interest, offered to get us tickets. Thanks JP. It was a great show!! And after a chance meeting in a swimming pool at a small resort in Zanzibar, striking up a conversation, asking their advice on where to visit in the Emirates, Lionel, Martina, Elena and Cedric opened their home to us for an incredible week in Muscat, Oman. We were practically strangers when we arrived with our backpacks at their door. We expected only a few hours of their time, some helpful hints to explore the area and a shared meal or two. Instead we received their full generosity of room and board, a tour of the city, many meals together and an opportunity to witness a cohesive, family unit navigate a very different world from ours. We will be forever grateful for your kindness and friendship. We look forward to reciprocating when you come to Canada! Without all these people touching our lives, our journey would have been mediocre at best. Thank you all.
And thank you, dear readers, for your comments, suggestions, and support. Because we knew that you were waiting for the next adventure, we continued to write and post even though some days we did not feel like it. As a result, we have a wonderful record of our travels. After logging over 52,834 miles by air, 6,338 miles by rail, 7,714 miles by car and 2,300 miles on foot, we can honestly say “What a Wonderful World”