Yes, it's 64 days until takeoff day, March 27. We have delayed departure by one day so that Al can attend his Fire Department Annual Dinner, which is scheduled for Saturday night, March 26. Our first day on the road will now consist of a straight run from here to Virginia Beach, where we are staying 2 nights at First Landing State Park.
We've been quite busy the past week, in between snow storms! The packing is progressing, and the painting has been contracted, they will start painting everything inside the house on February 21. We had the outside of the house painted last summer, and I couldn't believe the difference it made, how nice it looked. So I am optimistic that the interior painting will also make it much more attractive to buyers this spring :-).
On the business front, I think we can finally say that it's almost done...the lawyers have finished their negotiations, everyone is in agreement, and we should be closing on the sale of the business by the end of next week! This is quite exciting for us, and we're looking forward to having the 8 weeks after that to finish up here in the house. It's very important to me that the house is completely ready for showing before we leave, and that all is comfortable and easy for the ladies staying behind. Hopefully, it will sell by the fall, and we'll all be able to get away from this snowy weather together next winter!
Before the storms interrupted things, I was writing about our trip in 2008 to Africa, the impacts it had on us and especially the re-awakening of our dreams to travel the country. The research and preparations were all done a couple years ahead of time, and by late 2007, we were getting the final preparations underway. Our trip left the states on January 26, 2008 with a departure from JFK on KLM Airlines. It was an evening flight, leaving New York around 6P.M., bound for Amsterdam. There, we had a 3 hour layover, and then boarded our flight, again on KLM, going to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, via Kilimanjaro Airport.
We had arrived at JFK early, with our 30lb. duffels slung over our shoulders, and went to Terminal 4 for our flight. Wow, this was intense! Looking at the departures/arrivals board, there wasn't a single USA airport listed! Cairo, Athens, Abu Dhabi....this was when it really hit us that we were bound on a totally new and exciting experience! I was used to airport boards listing Orlando, Miami, Tampa :-).
Thank goodness, the flight was smooth and uneventful. It flew north over the upper Northeast of the USA, over Halifax, and across the North Atlantic. Landing in Amsterdam early in the morning their time, we had some breakfast at, where else, McDonald's! Our continuing flight left around 9AM, and this was much more interesting as it was during daylight hours. We flew over the Alps, what a magnificent sight! I can't tell you what movies they played, because I kept watching out the window :-). When we flew down the coast of Italy, you could really make out the boot shape of the country. And the blue of the Mediterranean Sea was amazing! Then we crossed into the north coast of Africa, and the Sahara Desert. Now it was nothing but tan below us. For hours! We would pull the shade, nap for a half hour, peek out, nothing but tan. Repeat over and over. The desert is immense. Once the sun went down, you could really see why it is called the "Dark Continent"; it's dark down there! Absolutely no lights of any kind, any where. It was kind of freaky, really. Especially once the plane starting descending, and there was no sign of a runway anywhere! I think we didn't see any lights at all until the plane actually touched down in Arusha, at Kilimanjaro Airport. This was just a stopover, where most of the passengers departed from the plane. A majority of safaris have their starting/ending point here in Arusha. Our trip, however, started further south, at the Selous Game Reserve, so we stayed on the plane for the additional hour trip to Dar es Salaam.
It was 11:30 PM Sunday night when we arrived, exhausted, sore, and rather nervous. I can't tell you how relieved I was to see someone standing at customs, bearing a placard printed with our name :-). If there wasn't anyone there, I don't know what I would have done. But from that point on, representatives from
Thomson Safaris were always with us, taking care of every detail, moving us around the country, right up to where we were taken back to the airport to start the journey home. Excellent service!! After customs, immigration, collecting the duffel bags, we were whisked away, along with another member of our tour group, to our hotel for the night...the Holiday Inn! Yes, isn't that funny, we flew halfway around the world to stay at the Holiday Inn :-). We were checked in, taken to our rooms, had a small snack, and collapsed into bed by 2 AM. And the alarm was set for 6AM. I was surprised that our guide himself hadn't been to greet us, and we didn't know what time to get up in the morning, so we were hoping 6AM was early enough...we found out later that our guide, Arnold, had been at the hospital with another member of our group who had become ill during the day...they had arrived earlier than we did. So anyway, we found him in the lobby the next morning (it was hard to tell...he was dressed in safari clothing with a Thomson Safaris ballcap on his head!) and all was good...the vans were leaving at 7AM to take us to our plane, a 12 passenger Cessna, and then out to the Selous. And that adventure I will save for the next posting :-).