Vaddo Island (Not to be confused with Vato)

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Braving the Swedish summer

Apparently, this is an especially wet June/July for Sweden. The wet weather is headlining all the daily papers. Our Swedish friends are not happy at all with the cold, overcast, often rainy weather. We don’t really mind as rain in July is a novelty for Californians.

We are now at the Sjoholm/Ekblom summer house. This is where I spent my summer as a high school exchange student in 1979. We are here with Per’s family – Albin 17, Filippa soon-to-be-12, Hugo 1, and Per’s partner Eva Lotta. Gigi is quite enamored with Hugo, who is definitely the prince of the house. Filipp

a is still deciding if she wants to speak with us in English.

Albin turns out to be a Mac super genius and part-time web designer, so he has been giving Gigi tutorials/instruction in setting up this blog page. Funny, as I write this there are 3 mac laptops and an iphone on the table with me, along with the iphone in my pocket. Apple will soon control the world.

Has anyone heard of the website Pirate Bay? A super Napster-style website that is ‘legal’, or at least heavily patronized here in Sweden. Check it out.

Today we ate lunch at a renovated boathouse for lunch – pasta in a mushroom sauce topped with dill-cured salmon slices. Gigi had a salad with smoked boiled shrimp in the shell. I love Swedish-style seafood! When the weather gets better and the sea calms down, the boys get the chance to go tubing out on the cold Baltic.

Our first night here Jordan and Justin had fun with Albin, who is also a budding DJ. In a local community center – just a barn-like building on the main road – Albin put on a disco night. He has 6 – 700 watt amplifiers and major soundboard for his mixing. The old windows were rattling from the sub-woofers. 4 paying customers showed up in addition to a few friends, but apparently that is OK because he gets a chance to use his equipment and there are no neighbors to complain about the ‘noise’.

I feel at home here, since this is kind of a second home for me, having lived in Sweden for a year. All our friends have been very welcoming and everyone is getting along great.

Jet Lag

3:00 AM, Sondag den 8.Juli, Vato, Sverige

I seem to be the one in the family having the hardest time with jet lag. We arrived at Jan and Kirsi’s summer home midnight Friday evening. I stayed up until almost 6 AM in the morning and ended up getting about 2 ½ hours of sleep. Justin came out of his bedroom at 5 AM with wide eyes, thinking it was normal since it was already light outside. I fed him Nutella toast breakfast – for him an excellent culinary start to living in Europe – and he declared, ‘I don’t have jet lag daddy!’ whereupon he fell back asleep and we had a hard time waking him up again at 10 AM.

Tonight after only about 4 hours of sleep I am awake again. Everyone else is sleeping fine. It does not help that it is light outside. Jan said if I am up I should take his dog for a walk, which I will do after I finish writing this, and hopefully I can get back to sleep.

We have had a great start to our trip.  Jan and Kirsi have 3 daughters – Linda, Anna, and Stina. Anna is Jordan’s age and Stina is Justin’s age. These 4 are already having a great time together jumping on the trampoline, riding bikes to the nearby pond to swim, and playing “Prince of Persia” on PlayStation. All of that in the first day.

We are out ‘poa Landet’ at Jan and

Kirsi’s summer house. A word to describe the environment would be ‘fecund’ – green, green, green; everything slightly damp from rain; wild strawberries and blueberries ripening in the sunny places; mosses, ferns, lots of small flowering plants and even miniature wild orchids; and of course mosquitoes.

Gigi and I are staying in the ‘Being John Malkovich’ suite. It is a pine plank room in the attic accessed through the living room ceiling by a pull down ladder. Two single bed foam mattresses and a one foot square window. It is actually very cozy and comfortable. I wish I was up there asleep right now, but I guess instead I will take the dog out for a 3:30 AM stroll…no flashlight needed.

San Carlos to San Bruno to Napa to Lake of the Pines to Santa Barbara to LA to Munich…..

Thursday, June 28th, Napa: Breaking out of the gravitational pull of the safe, suburban lifestyle

While we still feel the lightest of gravitational pull, still being on the outer edges of the Bay Area, we have broken from Palm Ave orbit! The physical journey has begun! We shed the pets and handed over the keys to the house. Django the bearded dragon is now at the San Francisco based Tree Frog Treks “reptile resort and spa” where he will be boarding for the year. Lola has gone down the street to stay with the Douglas Family – two boys and a Weimaraner dog named Keoki – until she moves across the street to the Gottsman/Kesslers in August. She will do fine as she already knows both of these families well. I cannot believe how much stuff we crammed into the Prius, in addition to our travel bags, we have tile for Gigi’s parents kitchen remodel and bags of clothes and stuff we may still need during this first week travelling in California. The boys were cocooned in the back seat.

Our first stop on our global tour was… SAN BRUNO. We wanted to visit my cousin’s Matt and Kelly Lethin and see their new baby Colin. Kelly baked us cookies and had fresh sliced peaches out. It was a short visit, but we enjoyed seeing them again very much. It was sweet to see Jordan and Justin smiling and giggling around the baby – who smiled at every funny face they made.

We hit our first asteroid field on the 101 at Ceasar Chavez exit. It took almost an hour to get across the Bay Bridge, but I really did not mind as I had the San Francisco skyline to look at, and I appreciated the chance to have the extended time to take it all in one last time. The second asteroid field in the East Bay was definitely not welcome, first off, the view eastbound on Hwy 80 sucks and I was getting tired of moving at bicycle speed. It took almost 3 hours to travel the 70 miles to Napa today, but we made it. We had dinner with Gigi’s parents and spent the night in the Napa Embassy Suites.

Friday, July 29th – Sunday, June 1st: Rocklin/Lake of the Pines

Although we have been planning this trip for almost two years, it feels like we are so rushed and not ready to leave. There are so many loose strings to tie up. I can’t believe how hard it is to shut down an established suburban life. We can’t just blow things off, because we are coming back, it feels like everything must be attended to and in proper working order, ready to be picked up upon our return.

A major loose string is Gigi’s parents house. The kitchen remodel is not done. Gigi spent Saturday with the contractor while I cleared out the garage of the estate sale leftovers – two trips to Goodwill, two trips to the dump. The house is getting close to being in a rentable state, but still it is a big, fat loose end that we are having to walk away from. Tom and Michele get to finish it up.

We had an early 4th celebration with the Luna’s – Anthony, Julie and Alec. Evening barbeque and TNT safe/sane fireworks out on the street.

Sunday, July 1st – Tuesday, July 3rd: Santa Barbara Mini-vacation

We saw our last San Francisco road signs on our way down I-5 – we have finally broken completely from the gravitational pull of the Bay Area. We always take the chance to spend a day or two in Santa Barbara when we travel down to LA. We stayed at the Fess Parker Double Tree resort. This was a great choice, as it has a large pool and seems to be a favorite European tourist destination. Lots of foreign languages heard, Jordan and Justin made friends in the pool with two Norwegian lads. Dinner on the pier, shopping on State Street, relaxing by the pool. This was our first chance to relax. The last two weeks have been hectic!

Tuesday July 3rd – Thursday July 5th, Los Angeles: Final countdown

Whether all systems are go, and really a few systems feel to be short-circuited, we are in countdown mode. The 40+ item To-Do list is down to under 10 items. We are staying with the Gildermans – Scott, Lynda, Sam and Nora. More pool time for the boys, a chance for in-person (not Skype) music lessons from Uncle Bill, a 4th of July BBQ. Ready, Steady, GO! The two To Do items not done on our list – ‘buy Bob shoes’, and ‘figure out iTunes sharing with new laptop’. Not to worry, I do not enter upon this journey a penitent, barefoot pilgrim. Gives me a reason to do some shopping once we get there, and to play with the new tech toy. BTW – the boys love, love, love their new iPads. However, Gigi and I already see we are going to have a lot of work convincing them those iPads are not just game platforms.

Friday, July 6th, Munich Airport: First European stop 

Two hours after we woke up in the plane it was already 5 PM when we landed in Munich. Wow! What a beautiful terminal we find ourselves in. Of course very clean. Lufthansa provides free coffee/hot chocolate stations. The smokers are confined to glass boxes to enjoy their vice. Flight 2 hours late. We did not eat in this terminal. A real mistake, the restaurants looked good. We only had breakfast on the plane this morning, some Pringles for a snack, and a strange evening snack on the plane to Sweden – prosciutto with fruit and pudding. Gigi was resting, the boys were playing games on their iPads. I can’t believe how well the boys are travelling. I hope this holds for the next 364 days of the year.