After almost two months during which we traveled from East Coast to West Coast then on to Hawaii, we have left the USA. During our two months we have visited five states, four major cities, numerous playparks and experienced an historic US election.
I feel a bit sad to be leaving the USA as we have grown fond of it as over the last two months as we experienced a bit more of what it means to be American. We found the US people to be very friendly and helpful.
We followed the US election quite closely while we were in California and were delighted to watch live on TV as CNN announced an Obama win. It really felt like we were experiencing an important part of history and hopefully Obama will be able to bring his promised change to America.
For Peter, Joe and Luke America has hopefully meant more than theme parks and fast food. They have experienced driving through the desert, visiting the Grand Canyon and seeing the Golden Gate Bridge. Joe and Luke now have an avid interest in maps and pore over them together discussing where we are and where we are going. All the boys will leave the US with a slight American twang to their accents and a new love of Sponge Bob Squarepants.
As we have been on the road for two and a half months as well as reflecting on our time in the US, we have been thinking about our experiences on the whole of our trip.
For Luke it was hard to get him to articulate his feelings about the trip. He told me he liked the Horses (on the merry-go-round) in Disney, the sea lions and airports. When asked what he didn't like he said "Canada"...I am sure he didn't mean it!
Joe is also still a bit small to think back over everything we have done on the trip, but he names his high points as the sea-lions and the Santa Monica Ferris wheel. Joe doesn't like sleeping in the tent (too dark) and he didn't like the Tower of Terror at Disney (but he wanted to try it to see...which was very brave of him!).
For Peter the best bits so far have been Disney World, Muscle Beach and reading new books. His low point was watching us all be sick in San Diego and he was disappointed by the fog as we drove up the West Coast.
David enjoyed our chilled out week camping in Hawaii and another highlight for David was seeing his old university friend, Chris, in Ottawa. He shared Peter's low point of being ill and was also disapointed that we did not manage more camping in Canada and the US.
Lastly, my highlights have been the Grand Canyon, the Getty Museum and watching sunset at La Jolla. My birthday was the worst day of the trip so far and I also found being on the road and changing hotel every few nights really tiring.
Being together as a family was one of the main reasons for taking our year out. The time with the boys has been fantastic as we watch them grow (especially Luke) and enjoy the funny little things they say and do.
The things we have found harder through being with them every day for 24-7 are:
1) Listening to them chatter incessantly (there are some days they just talk, talk, talk ...mostly to us about things we don't have a clue about like a game they one played or a new toy they have seen advertised on TV).
2) Toilet stops, checking no-one needs the toilet, looking for toilets...there have been days where we have nearly torn our hair out in frustration as we seem to be on a world tour of public conveniences.
3) Lastly shoes...pairs of shoes...or not, as inevitably 50% of children's shoes vanish upon entering a hotel room, resulting in David and I spending too much time crawling under beds and looking in cupboards!
Joking aside, we are really enjoying the trip, there have been highs and lows but so far it has been a fantastic journey for all of us!