Frank and I had not planned another trip home this year – especially during the winter months. In fact we had not planned to go back to the States for at least another 12 months. After some serious soul searching, however, we made a relatively last minute decision that we needed to at least see our parents. Frank's mother, although amazingly spry is 88. My parents, still living in Houston, are in their 80's, and are slowing down quite a bit. And we missed our children and siblings too much to let another year pass without seeing them. Here's the rub; we only had about 2 ½ weeks to make the trip if we did it at all, so we called everyone – my parents, my sister, our children and my cousin Darlene who is like a sister to me. We pleaded with them to meet us in Virginia at Tom and Mary's home. We gave them the dates we would be there and then sat back and prayed and crossed our fingers. Everyone made it except Frank's son Bill, and my brother Scott and his family.
We found a fantastic airfare on V-Australia airlines, but soon realized why it was so fantastic. From the time we left the Auckland airport, it took us 41 hours to arrive in Washington's Dulles airport. 41 hours is a long time to travel. I don't know if we will ever do that again. It was worth it though, to have the precious time that we did with our families. There were 24 seats at our Thanksgiving table, plus Tom and Mary's 2 infant grandsons. I hogged my cousin Dar because she was only there for 2 days and although I had not seen her in nearly 10 years, it was like yesterday. We always pick up right where we left off the last time. Frank and the guys, and my sister of course, spent most of the time overdosing on football games on the big screen and you know the rest. My daughter, and grandson flew in the next weekend, and we spent 3 treasured days with them. Trace has grown so much! Can't believe he is 6 years old already.
We had many tear-filled goodbyes over the course of our visit and left wondering when our next trip home will be. Leaving VA, we flew into Los Angeles, spent one night there and then 2 in San Diego filling the spare duffel bags to the brim with items for the boat. We upgraded our tickets for the flight home, for two reasons: one was comfort for the very long flight back, and the other was for the extra baggage allowance. Sadly, while in San Diego we suffered two disappointments. One was that it rained like the devil the whole time we were there, but at least we hadn't been planning time at the beach. The other came in the form of information. We hooked up with Erik and Gisela Gosch, whom we had me in Fiji through Christine and Jaime (Morning Light), when they crewed with them on the passage from NZ. Erik and Gisela are IP 485 owners as well. We met them on their yacht over at Shelter Island and then went for dinner. During dinner, Gisela asked us what we thought when we heard that Jaime and Christine were shipping ML back to the States in January 2010, and had asked Gisela and Erik to secure a berth for them at the marina. WHAT?!?!?! This was the first we'd heard of that. We had not been in touch with them since leaving for this trip home, and were blown away by the news. When they left New Caledonia for Brisbane, in October 2009, we thought we would be meeting up with them again in the next cruising season. We never imagined they were hanging up their life preservers. The thought of not seeing them out here anymore was enough to make me cry. We knew this was a very big and difficult decision for them, but selfishly we are wishing they were sticking it out.
So, we suffered the return trip, and to our delight, Earl and Marsha (Mahurangi), met us at the airport to give us a ride back to Opua. We spent a frivolous night at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Auckland and supped at our favorite Italian restaurant on Parnell Street, and then moseyed back to Opua and Destiny.