Trip of a Lifetime

(A letter to my friend upon the completion of our travels)

Dear Karin- I hope this note finds you great.

I am just now winding up forty-five days (and counting) of life changing travels. Zena and I left St. Pete, Fla. on May 27th and I am back here in the Tampa airport heading to Ohio. It is July 16th. If you add all that up it equals fifty days on the road with most of the time spent abroad.

Our trip brought us to NYC for MaMaPaLooZa and a visit with family and friends. From there, we headed to London for a week. It was so wonderful to see you there and spend time. High tea and the boat ride around the Thames were real highlights!

Then, my dear old friend Terry and his wife Michelle whisked us off to their recently restored villa in Tuscany. The trip to Perugia airport was uneventful, but the van transport into the mountains was a real hair-raiser. Their estate was magnificent-ten rooms in total-unearthed ancient stone ruins recently restored and finished with modern amenities. We swam in their pool, practiced yoga, and ate and drank all nite, every night. Friends floated in and out of their expansive kitchen throughout the afternoons and in the evenings we explored hidden mountaintop villages including the more popular destinations like Cortona. In Cortona I purchased a beautiful gold and silver necklace from a third generation jeweler. I think it gives me super powers, but more about that later.I have blogged about most of the trip online at MarthaJoyRose.com if you want to hear more about Florence, Rome, and our visit to the Amalfi Coast.

The second portion of our visit took us to Scotland to meet up with nephew Harry, all my kids, brother Dart and his wife Jennifer as well as two of their children. My Dear departed brother Dave was the catalyst for this portion of the adventure. We were looking for ways to process his untimely passing and honor his life. In lieu of a Viking burial at Venice Beach in California (we would never have gotten the permits), we determined that Findhorn Beach in Scotland might be a great second option.

The day we traveled to Findhorn was cold and blustery, about fifty Fahrenheit with misty rain. Brody took the lead in gathering sticks and ferns to build a rudimentary mini-raft the size of a 11 by 8 piece of paper. We all contributed: twine, feathers, flowers, shells. Finally, we wrapped a bit of his ashes in medical gauze, courtesy of Zena who carries a Red Cross kit the size of a small suitcase with her everywhere.

Together we carried this raft down to the edge of the sea procession style with one of the kids playing bagpipe music on their cell phone. At the water’s edge, Harry took the raft, accompanied by his cousins, and swam it out beyond the breakers. Needless to say, it was a very moving time for all of us.

The second week in Scotland, a close family friend Michelle joined us with her daughter Rily. She too came with candle lanterns which we released over the water on a calm night just outside of Glasgow. All of these ceremonies have helped me process Dave’s passing and allowed each of us to move forward in our own ways.

Back to the “super powers”. This trip in its entirety has reinvigorated me in ways I never could have imagined. First of all, love of family; we all got along so well, everyone was so fun and loving that my heart is absolutely full and I think this feeling is going to last for awhile. Next, appreciation of adventure. Europe is not that far away! I must remember this. I NEED to return to Italy to see my friends before another twenty years pass and also to procure truffles. And, I MUST get back to Scotland as it is absolutely one of my favorite places on the planet. Finally, three cheers for my sense of accomplishment both in planning such a magnificent trip and for surviving the Highlands on single lane roads in a nine person van, white-knuckling it, with a left-handed standard shift while driving on the wrong side of the road. SUPER POWER!

All in all, this was indeed the trip of a lifetime. I’m back on the farm in Ohio feeling incredibly blessed.

Send photos from tea time if you can….

Love, Love, Love,

Joy xo

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