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Yes, even long-term travellers need a break from the daily grind every now and then. So we decided to leave our Jeep in California for Christmas and New Year 2023/24 in Santa Paula and jetted off to Europe without further ado. The first birthday of our grandchild, whom we had never seen before, was a further incentive for the return journey.

But somehow things turned out differently than we had imagined. Jet lag maltreated us for almost two weeks. We hardly found a daily rhythm; night became day and day became night. We had never experienced the time difference after a long flight like this before! We tried everything we could to get into the local rhythm, which was mostly acknowledged by hanging around during the day and yawning deeply. Even a hike through the freshly snow-covered pre-Christmas period was a great way to get up, but sleep just wouldn’t come in the evening. And last but not least, Chantal came down with a stubborn flu.

In mid-December, we travelled to England to visit our grandchild and, of course, her parents; after all, we wanted to finally see her, our grandchild, up close and personal! We saw the first birthday as a welcome opportunity. But instead of enjoying the birthday cake, I (Tom) spent three days in bed with a fever, severe coughing fits and headaches. There was no real improvement in the following days either. I can’t say for sure where I picked up this “bug”. Whether the virus was already in me, the cramped conditions on the flight to Manchester was the “corpus delicti” or the cold and wet conditions on the British Isles; I don’t know.

Chantal also continued to struggle with her cold and the cold in the English houses. What is almost normal for her, the local population, was almost a torture for us Central Europeans, who are used to the temperatures in Southern California 😉

For Christmas, we all flew back to the mainland and Switzerland; the Christmas family celebration was on the programme. It was also a reason for us to travel back to Europe together. At first I wanted to spend the waiting time alone on Baja California, while Chantal wanted to get her medication in Switzerland. But the family celebration together was also an important reason for me to travel to Switzerland.

The Christmas party was like the best memories from the past and a wonderful breeding ground for our togetherness. Yes, it was great and we got to see our own children with their offspring, the many nephews and great-nephews and even the oldest generation was still represented. The whole thing was probably a bit too much for my or our health; the health problems caused by the cold returned immediately. 🙁

So we dragged ourselves into 2024; the two of us celebrated the turn of the year and popped the champagne corks in familiar company. We avoided further close contact as our return flight is due on 9 January and we want to be completely healthy by then. The return journey to the USA also needs to be planned, as their entry regulations are almost constantly being adapted to world events. The time also gave us the opportunity to press ahead with the further planning of our trip and to reconcile our new ideas. Why not go to Africa?

But for now, we are heading back to the USA. A detour to Baja California/Mexico is on the programme, as are the Great Plains and the Midwest. And between now and Halifax/Canada, there are bound to be a few more adventures along the way; after all, we love our backroads. 🙂

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