“Park it behind the Rolls Royce,” the man says. Thirty minutes later with paperwork in hand I walk to the train station leaving Tania in a lot full of brand new Rolls’s, Aston Martins, Land Rovers, and Jaguars all waiting to make the crossing to New York City. It is a strange feeling. I know I will collect her in a few short weeks and continue to make my way to Denver, but the last miles abroad (for now) are finished. I did not accomplish what I set out to do on this adventure by half. Though to be fair, many of my expectations and plans were unrealistic, if for no other reason, sheer ignorance. The beauty of that ignorance was all the blank spaces I had to fill, things to learn, and learning I did constantly. I cannot and will not relate all of the knowledge I have gleaned from 28 months on the road, much is probably esoteric, some is personal, a lot is inexplicable (by me, at least) and some is a mystery until a circumstance arises and I have a flash of brilliance from a past experience. I will share one nugget, a gem, I picked up along the way. Saying ‘thank you’. Here it is in every language I have learned it in (if it is in italics I have put it in an English alphabet approximation). Merci, danke, dank u wel, gracias, obrigado, eskerrik asko, shukran, dankie, faleminderit, hvala, Благодаря, zikomo, děkuji, kiitos, grazie, благодарам, mulțumesc, Дякую, Хвала вам, kea leboha, Ďakujem, asante, enkosi, ngiyabonga, jairejef, meda zo ase, aw ni che, yewo, emitekati, a houanu, murakoze, webale, kooshukhuru, mpuus barka, dunamiert. Thank you to everyone who helped me along the way or just shared their life with me.
Street scene in L’viv, Ukraine
One corner of Rynok Square (Площадь Рынок), L’viv, Ukraine (Львів, Україна)
Some of the unique and sometimes very bright Ukrainian Orthodox churches in rural Ukraine
Out for a walk near Rohozna – Brezinky, Slovakia
This was the ‘way’ Garmin took me on. Bucket list item #546 complete. Drive through a field of wheat. Slovakia
This Disney castle was an accidental find, I even had to go back and look at the signs to figure out where I was. Bojnice, Slovakia
Český Krumlov, Czech Republic
Sitting on the river with a cold Budweiser…must be summer. Southern Bohemia, Czech Republic
When faced with the decision whether or not to drive through the Alps, this is the answer. Austria
Best border crossing in a while. I think its someone’s driveway. Leaving Österreich for the Bundesrepublik Deutschland.
Bavarian Six Pack, Germany
It is almost grape smashing time in the Alsace. Riquewihr, France
Douaumont Ossuary, a French memorial and cemetery for French and colonial soldiers that died in the Battle of Verdun during World War I. The Muslim graves are Moroccan and Senegalese soldiers that fought and died along side the French. Douaumont, France
Looking down on the American cemetery in Belleau with the Bois de Belleau (Belleau Wood) behind me. Belleau, France.
The old city center in Strasbourg, France
So what does Fight Gravity mean? The ‘Gravity’ I speak of is a force of nature, though not the one caused by the planet’s mass; it is a metaphor for the fear of the unknown. It surrounds me as gravity does, always present, pressing upon me but often ignored during my daily life. The fight, of course, is my challenge to wipe that fear away, to bring light to the dark ignorant corners of my mind and perceptions. Fear is a bad motivator, a bad adviser and it hates logic, reason, and facts. “Remove the terror of the unknown, give a thing meaning, call it home, and you can see all the grace inherent in it.” – Jennifer Foehner Well. I want to be fearless.
Thanks to Bartek Szydlowski at Hostel Polako in Trebinje, BiH for this picture.