After 9 days in Southern England, we flew to the Netherlands, officially completing our round-trip ticket which had begun back in October when we repatriated to the US (I’ll explain that one later). It was a delight to return to people and places that we had grown to love over our four years there. It was so very comfortable to insert ourselves back into the community and culture for a very short period of time. The kids especially had an absolute ball, seeing old friends and teachers, and enjoying the freedom that comes from biking, and knowing your surroundings and neighbors.
1. Biking culture of the Netherlands
2. Scattering kids across the community
3. Renewing friendships
4. Public Transporation in the Netherlands
5. Eating out at favorite neighborhood restaurants
6. Escape room Date night
7. Church youth group activities
8. A very favorable Shell policy on repatriation transportation
9. More acute recognition of the loss of an employer (Shell)
10. Our nuclear family unit temporarily dissolved.
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After a fantastic two weeks in Dallas and Utah, we hopped on a flight with only our 4 youngest kids and headed to London. All of us, except Megan, had been to the city before. It was fun to return to see new sights and some old ones. We spent a few days in the city, visited some friends in London and Kings Langley, and then began a week long-journey along the coast of Southern England - which we loved from start to finish.
9. 6-person single room Airbnb in a slightly uncomfortable house
10. Some dreary cold and rainy days in May
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We had a triumphant return to Grapevine, and received a very warm welcome by Tera’s parents. The house was immaculately clean, and I felt a bit guilty as we unloaded the car and brought all of our “stuff” back into their house, filling up the hallways and corners. We promptly settled back into the house, to the room attic upstairs where all 6 kids sleep, and the guest room that Tera and I get to claim when there. But we still had a lot to squeeze into 2 weeks - one week for the upcoming wedding, getting driver's licenses for Nathan and Anna, and repacking everyone for our next 8 months of the year; and one week to settle in the two oldest kids at BYU.
1. Week full of activities at Grammy and Grampy’s
2. A full house with relatives
3. Playing string quintet music for Mary’s wedding
4. Getting Nathan and Emily settled at BYU
5. Spending 7 hours to get Anna’s driver’s license
6. Packing and repacking
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While our original trip through Mexico to come to Guatemala took almost 10 days, we decided on a faster trip back home. The temple schedules weren’t lining up at Villahermosa, and the Veracruz temple was closed, and we were a little mayan ruin’d out, to want to take the time and effort to go to Palenque (notoriously bad roads, and many hours out of the way, though apparently an amazing ruin site). So we chose a more direct route along the southern border out of Guatemala, then cutting up north past Tuxtla Guttierez to the Atlantic border from Veracruz to Brownsville, lasting only 5 days.
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After 6 weeks of living here, followed by two trips of departure to visit Northern Guatemala, Belize and El Salvador, we finally arrived at our last two weeks of living in Panajachel, Guatemala. Our almost 3-month adventure was coming to an end, so we had to savor every last moment, and squeeze in all the things we hadn’t done yet, and repeat the things we loved.
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Plan? What plan?
Our first Gap Year was a fabulous "2017-2018 School Year" of travel: from the Netherlands to Jordan to Texas to Hawaii to Mexico to Central America to London and back to the Netherlands. Our "2018 Summer Vacation" took us all around Western Europe, back to the USA on a transatlantic cruise, a road trip through New York and into Canada, and ending up in Utah. We have now kicked off the "2018-2019 School year" with a trip to Asia. Follow along with us on our visits to new places, as well as revisiting some of our favorite places from our time living there. It's going to be great!!