Home, sweet home

21 March 2016
We're home. We stopped to pick up some milk and bread, then cruised into our driveway and both breathed a sigh of relief. We did it! Almost 6000 kms touring city and country roads, meeting hundreds of people who came along to greet us, sleeping in many unfamiliar beds, eating food from shops, often missing out on meals and sleep. The absolute standout for me was listing to the stories of those who chose to tell theirs, sometimes whispered and sometimes out loud for all to hear, and being told how significant my books, blog and forum have been. I am grateful to know it. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of young people who came along - single and married - who are excited by the prospect of an unusual life ahead of them, marching to the beat of their own drums. It was a gruelling three weeks, but the joy of meeting all those people kept us going and smiling at the experience. I will be ever grateful we did it.

Some of the many thoughtful and useful gifts we received along the way. We really appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Morning tea, lunch, a swap and chat with Rose, Rhonda, Judy and Jenny at Rose's home.
Our swap table.

Judy and Jenny working on their crafts.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to travel in; thanks to the libraries and book shops that hosted us; thanks to Rose, Tony and Mavis for their hospitality and to the forum mods, Rhonda, Judy and Jenny for travelling in for lunch and a chat in Wollongong; thanks for all the gifts we received; thanks for the comments made here; thanks for making us feel loved; thanks for making the tour so worthwhile and interesting; thanks for proving, yet again, that this DTE community is a loving and caring one.

I have to thank my two travelling companions too, Hanno and Tricia. Hanno came down with a cold in Albury and then developed a secondary chest infection and a bad cough which he still has now. He's going to his doctor tomorrow but he soldiered on during the tour. Tricia and I reminisced about our childhood a lot when we saw so many things that reminded us of past times. The memory of driving around in that car with the two of them, squabbling about directions, getting lost, laughing, talking and sightseeing will be with me for a long time.

 The talk at Albury Wangaratta, NSW. (Thanks Al)
 Glee books in Glebe, Sydney.
A talk in Wagga Wagga.
Signing books at Collins in Shepparton.

And here we are now, smiling, at home again. We've survived being out in the world, driving across Sydney city streets and under the harbour at dizzying speeds to keep up with fellow drivers, at night, in the rain; we survived two nights on a ship in Bass Strait, getting lost, terrible food, rudeness and being exhausted most mornings when we woke up. We've experienced what feels like emptiness in overcrowded cities as well as the charm of smaller regional cities and country towns. We live in a beautiful country, there is no doubt of that.

 Sailing into Devonport harbour in Tasmania.

The main street in Yachandandah. 
 Main street in Carcoar, NSW.
The old Capital Theatre in Carcoar. The town was established in 1839 and it still looks to be very similar to how it once was.

While we were away I had the chance to reevaluate my life here - to see it from a distance and decide if this really is what I want and make changes if they're needed. I was inspired and motivated by so many of the people we met. Driving those long miles gave me the time to think deeply about how I will live until I stop living. This is it for me. This is what sustains me and makes me the best person I can be - being here on this bit of land, being a wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend. I know now that here is where I'll be until I die and that is set in stone.

Sunny and Jamie will visit us after school today and this morning we'll unpack, wash clothes and then tidy the house so it looks and feels like our sanctuary again. And then we'll close the gate for a couple of days. We'll potter around, talk to the chooks, sit in the garden, cook good food, rest and recover from our big adventure. My love and gratitude to you all. xx