A day of travel and time for contemplation. The beginning of a year of living in the moment, following an intense period of planning, when it often seemed that we spent all our time living in the future as we laid the groundwork for the trip.
And thus, it began. 11 years ago this month. Our first post. A year of carefree travel: sans car, sans house, sans responsibility other than making a flight on time. One entire year of experiencing the world as we had never experienced or even expected to, wearing only warm-weather clothing with two suitcases, a camera and a computer bag in tow.
I remember arriving at the airport early, driven by our wonderful friend Carmela and her daughter Kathryn. At the airport, there were long lines to clear the US immigration inspection. We got through, and sat quietly in the lounge, making a few last minute calls to friends and family. Then almost immediately, we were on the plane. Not a lot of time to reflect on the adventure we were beginning. There were a few tears shed as we flew through the afternoon, on our way to our first stop in Los Angeles. The movie on the flight was “Under the Tuscan Sun”. The name of the villa, Bramasole, means “yearning for sun”, and was an apt description of the year we were about to begin. Some particular quotes from the movie stand out: “Terrible idea! – don’t you just love them!” and “Regrets are a waste of time.” I believe there are no coincidences, so I take all of this as a good omen for our journey. Outside that night, at our friends Del and Larry’s Hollywood house, the surprisingly clear LA air was wet and sensuous with the smell of eucalyptus. Inside, when we opened our luggage we discovered that Carmela had tucked little remembrances into our bags, and so we end the day thinking again of the trade-offs we made – exchanging a home, a life, careers, friends and family for a voyage of exploration of the new, and hopefully of self-discovery. An entire year of following summer.
We wanted a quick, easy and efficient way to stay in touch with our family and friends while visiting 26 countries in 12 months. We didn’t want to be issuing impersonal, ‘wish you were here, insert name’ kinds of emails. Every day we would enjoy our travelling life, and then later, retreat to our hotel, rented apartment, house or pension, a bottle of wine in hand, and re-live the day via our writing and picture editing, and excitedly update the followsummer web site. I quickly realized that I had a flair and passion for travel writing and of sharing those experiences with you.
Followsummer has always been a reflection on the day-to-day, personal experiences of our travel. What started in 2004 with us jetting away for a year voyaging around the world, those two suitcases packed with our worldly possessions, and sharing our experiences with friends and family on the site, now allows us to continue our travels, viewed with a more mature and sophisticated eye, describing the finer aspects of travel: the food, hotels, flights, and most importantly, the people like you, who we stumble across on our journeys.
We are thrilled that you have taken the time to check out our website. We hope that it offers the kind of travel stories, photos, and videos that both excite and encourage you to follow your own dreams of travel, filled with moments of splendour and moments of woe but always heading west, following the sun.
And thus, it continues:
We are hurtling towards the date line at a land speed of about 905 km/hr and an altitude about 11,000 meters. The Marquesas Islands are about 1477 km to our south east and we are about equal distance between the Hawaiian Islands and Hiva Oa at approximately 1574 km and over 5000 km from our departure at LAX. The time is about 4:32 p.m. in Auckland on Wednesday Jan the 7th, 6 hours into the flight, and another 7 to go. Our tired old body clocks tell us that it is still January the 6th in LA. This is a very long flight, despite Melanie, the flight attendant, who is doing her best to make it a very enjoyable (read: liquid) flight, and who is so excited about us being on our honeymoon that every time she talks to us she gushes.