Where we love is home, Home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes
August found me taking a trip home to Chicago with a side trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. The trip was a necessity, a must do. I hadn’t been home in quite some time so was feeling a hole in my soul that could only be filled by having an encounter with those I love most in the world.
The Journey Home
The trip started out on a high note when I was able to upgrade for a great price to Business Class on the first leg, a ten hour leg, of my journey. I would have been stuck in a middle seat in the packed economy section so the opportunity to be in Business Class was a God send. The remaining trip was in economy but I had my preferred aisle seats so I was content.
I took a longer route, time wise, this time because I wanted to earn some frequent flyer miles. Instead of 20 hours and one layover, the trip took 26 hours with two layovers. I had flown around the world almost six times in the past year and a half with only one flight earning miles that being the flight when I moved to India which gave me a bit of frustration. After I booked my tickets, the airline, Air India, with the shorter route finally became a member of Star Alliance on which I would have earned miles. I will be taking Air India when I fly home in October. I will be returning to India a few times next year, most likely on Air India, so will be able to rack up the miles. Better late than never.
Almost immediately upon arriving, my mouth started salivating at the prospect of a hamburger. It took me about 30 minutes to get to a Burger King where I enjoyed a juicy Whopper dripping with it’s fixings…a little bit of heaven on earth. I do enjoy eating the many varieties of Indian food but there are times I find myself craving foods from my home land. Over the course of the two weeks, I made sure to eat everything I can’t get in India….steak, burgers, Giordano’s stuffed pizza, gyros, chocolate chip cookies specifically from Whole Foods, Dr. Pepper, etc., etc.
The one meal I didn’t get was my mom’s tuna casserole liberally spiced with chili pepper flakes for a lip tingling kick…yes, I absolutely lover her tuna casserole. At times, I have eaten it for every meal over the span of 3 days. Haute cuisine? Never. One of my favorite meals? Most assuredly!
My kids, grandson, fiancé, my mother, a woman I may some day be related to by marriage, and I got together to celebrate my Son’s birthday at Bob Chinn’s. We have made it a ritual to go out as a group whenever I visit from India. I absolutely love those meals together. I love the interactions with my adult children.
Prior to moving to India, I was an avid cyclist of both the road and mountain varieties. I would like to ride a bicycle in India but the traffic conditions would render what, for me, is a relaxing endeavor into a highly stressful one so I don’t ride here.
I was able to get out on the lake front four days and ride just over 100 blissful miles. Well, mostly blissful, on the first day I was caught in a torrential downpour. The rain came down fast and furious. I had to drop my glasses a bit so I could see over them because the I could not see through the drops clinging to the glass.
Every time I cycle in Chicago, I stumble upon new places, new points of beauty. This time I happened upon numerous flowers the city created in gardens to delight it’s citizens. I was definitely delighted. I also discovered the Spirit of Music monument. I am looking forward to many more rides in the city next summer.
The years prior to moving to India, I had accumulated a number of frequent flier miles. Irene and I took advantage of them and embarked upon a trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks in Wyoming. I had long wanted to get to Yellowstone but never found the right time. This was definitely the right time.
I had always envisioned Yellowstone as the geyser Old Faithful and lots of animals. Come to find out, Yellowstone is chock full of geysers and hot springs with scalding waters. Some of the pools have become highly acidic and can melt the shoes off your feet. To protect the system and the people from themselves, the Park Service has constructed walkways around the geysers.
There are approximately 1000 earthquakes every year in Yellowstone. These are underground earthquakes not normally felt by visitors. The earthquakes are forever readjusting the underground systems so the geyser and hot spring systems are moving. Old Faithful’s eruption cycle has changed over the years because of these earthquakes. We saw Old Faithful erupt four times. Twice from the main watching area with it’s rows of festival seating, once from on high during a hike, and once from the back side.
As cool as the geysers are, I was really excited about seeing the large animals. We encounter a few heard of bison. Twice we parked our car and watched the animals meander by within a few feet of us. At one point, a bison stood on a ridge with a dramatic background of mountain and sky providing a great photo opportunity. I snapped a bunch of pics hoping one would be a winner suitable for framing.
We encountered a bull elk with a large rack in a similar situation. A small group of about five animals including the bull waded across a river then grazed on the opposite shore. When they climbed the small ridge a took a few of the bull standing tall, head erect.
All in all, I took 1000 photos over the first 36 hours at the park. Unfortunately, those photos are no longer with me. That quantity of photos completely filled my memory card so I purchased a new card so I could take pictures during the second half of our last day. I placed the full card in my camera bag for safe keeping. Or so I thought. Somehow, I lost that card, lost the full array of photos I meticulously took and culled. The loss left me devastated. The pictures of Yellowstone and Grand Tetons below were from my second card.
Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons are amazing places and well worth the trip. The one bright side of losing my pictures is that I will need to return there again some day and starting taking pictures all over again.
My trip home verified a feeling which had been an undercurrent for the past weeks in India. I am ready. I am ready to move back home so I can see my loved ones on a regular basis. I really enjoy living in India, love the climate (except for the monsoons), the people, the history, the culture. But, India is not my home. It’s a second home, a country I will joyfully visit in the future and meld in seamlessly because for almost two years I called her home. But she will never, can never, replace the love I have for my primary home.