Spring 09 US

April 20, 2009, Orlando
Rachel has bequethed to me her old computer which is replacing my old computer which was Rebecca's from 2004.  I am very happy as 512k of memory and a 30 gig harddrive doesn't cut it anymore.  This is my first post from my "new" machine.  What ever happened to the days when the parents got the new stuff and the kids got the hand-me-downs?


This week both Rachel and Rebecca have come to my sister Marie's home to spend 4 days with us.  Also Mark's sister and our neice, Alexis, drove up from Ft. Lauderdale yesterday.  We have had a great time, but everyone is leaving tomorrow.  Marie and Norm are true saints to allow this Sherouse invasion.


We have had a difficult time getting the van shipped to Europe as some of you know who are reading Mark's blog.  Our camper title finally came yesterday so we plan to drive to Brunswick, GA this Thursday to begin again the shipping process.  We have had to change our original travel itinerary due to the Schengen visa issues.  Most of the European Union countries have a visa agreement that allows US residents to travel for 90 days out of 180.  We had read that it wasn't really enforced and we had thought we might qualify for a long stay visa since I have a cousin in Belgium.  Wrong on all counts.  US residents are not eligible for long stays and they are enforcing the visa stay with fines up to $1500 a person and denial of reentry for 7 years.  Great Britain allows 6 months and the countries such as Croatia and Turkey don't participate yet.  So our new plan is to ship the camper to Germany, arriving May 20.  We leave here April 27 for Dublin and will rent a car and tent camp for 3 weeks then fly to Hamburg, Germany to get the camper.  We then have about 8 weeks to see northern Germany, Scandanavia, and perhaps a trip to St. Petersburg.  We will be in Paris on July 29 to pick up Rebecca, then do some touring in France until we meet Rachel in Rouen on Aug. 2.  The girls and their partners are getting a Paris apartment and we will be camping for a week in the Bois de Boulougne.  About Aug. 11 we all head off in different directions with Mark and I headed for England having spent almost 90 days in Europe.


We plan to go north to Scotland first, then Wales and spend about 90 days with the Brits until about mid November.  We really didn't want to be that far north in November but Schengen gives us no choice.  Then we will recross the Channel, hugging the coast of France heading for northern Spain.  In early December we will store the camper for a month and fly back to Florida for visits with family for Christmas.  Early January we fly back to Spain, then Portugal, southern France, Italy, etc.  We will need to be in Croatia by about March 15 to meet the visa deadline.  Now we have 90 days for several Eastern European countries and Turkey.  We are allowed back in EU about mid June to visit Austria, Switzerland, southern Germany and more of France.  Have to leave in mid September, either back to the States or maybe fly to China or somewhere. 


The whole thing is a lot more complicated than we had hoped but at least it is still doable.  The road goes ever on but is taking some convoluted turnings.


April 27, 2009 Leaving Orlando, FL

We are sitting in the airport, ready for world travel chapter 2. Being in the US has been wonderful but not stress free. The wonderful part has been seeing friends and family. My sister Marie and her husband Norm have opened their home to us for a month, and being able to spend a lot of time with her has meant a great deal to me. No one could have a better sister.

The stress has come from doing things for the first and only time. Having throughly messed up the first attempt at getting the camper on the ship in early April, we rescheduled and drove to Brunswick, GA last Thursday. Unfortunately, this shipper requires the propane tank not only to be empty but certified by a propane company as having been purged. Our agent neglected to mention this. No one in southeast Georgia could manage this until Friday. So we had to get a motel, extend the rental car, etc. So the Grey Wanderer was finally delivered Friday morning.

We will not really feel safe about it until May 5, when the ship is finally scheduled to sail. The reason for our continued nervousness is that the shipping directions say that nothing can be shipped in the van. However, the book we have and several blogs have said you can put in anything you want. So clearly in sight, we have two older bikes we bought in Orlando—they said nothing about those. However, under the ottomans and the power sofa we have stuffed books, clothes, linens, dishes, pots and pans, food, and all manner of things that we might need over the next 17 months. Mark built a false back for under the sofa and screwed the wood to the frame with special headed screws to ward off casual theft, but if the shipping company would actually decide to search the van and enforce their policy we would be in a mess. I hope all those bloggers are right!

So we are off to Ireland by way of Cincinnati and NYC. Our layover in Cincinnati is 31 minutes, so we are expecting for either us or our luggage to miss the next flight—but that will be Delta's problem. The price through Priceline was $525 for both of us for a one way ticket, so if we spend a night in an airport, so be it. We have done that before!