Surpise, suprise, suprise

So happy to be present! Wonderful day!

When I started panning this trip I knew that I would be missing my best friends wedding. That fact gave me more discomfort than the thought of not having a job or income. The phrase “best friend” has never really been in my vocabulary. Up until now I don’t think I’ve ever used it to describe someone. In fact, the woman he married asked us once if the other was our best friend. He kind of quietly said yes and I awkwardly laughed it off, as I do with most questions dealing with emotions. I had never said anyone was my best friend. At this point though, it’s hard to deny that he is. Hell! I paused my trip, sacrificed touring Romania and asked people to let me intrude in their lives to secretly come back and see him marry his new best friend.

Shortly before starting my trip I reluctantly told my friend that I’d miss the wedding. I put off telling him about my decision to leave until just a few weeks before I gave my 2 weeks notice at work, just becuase I didn’t know how to tell him that I would be missing one of the biggest days in his life. It’s not that I thought my presence was particularly important, but I felt bad and as though I wasn’t supporting his decision as he has quietly done for me so many times. 

While in Lubbock I took a walk around the Texas Tech campus. It’s nice, but it’s not close to the beauty of the University of Kansas campus.

The burden of that decision weighed on me as I travelled for the first 4 months until I finally decided that I would not miss his wedding, as I had with so many of my friends. 

Planning:

I promptly started looking into the cost to return home for a couple weeks for the wedding. It turned out that there was a reasonably affordabe ticket from Zagreb to Kansas City. Since I was already going to be in Budapest for the Sziget Festival, all I had to do was get to Zagreb, find some way to avoid bringing my bike and everything home with me, and keep it a secret. I booked the ticket and started figuring out the logistics of getting to Zagreb, getting home, and then to Texas and the wedding. Obviously there are other things that had to be figured out, but generally if you figure out the big pieces the little ones fall into place. The big ones were easy to figure out when there are great transport options throughout Europe and family and friends are willing to give immense help, especially when the cause is good. 

As some, or maybe most, cyclo-tourists know, it is quite common that hotels will hold luggage for you as long as you stay with them on either side of the holding period. I contacted a few hotels in Zagreb and two of them were quite willing to help me out. The rest of the travel and accommodation help I owe thanks to family and some great friends. It means a lot to have people so willing to help me and make sacrifices of their time, housing and vehicles. It’s humbling. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve the friends I have, but I’m continually more thankful I have them and hopefully someday I can return some of these favors. 

Execution:

A six hour train ride with a long stop at the border of Hugary and Croatia later I was in Zagreb and just needed to make the final preparations for a next morning flight back to America. By the way, if you aren’t an EU citizen they do give you a little harder look at the Croatian border. They took my passport for a few minutes to call the number in to their headquarters, then asked me questions to ensure my identity and then asked for two other forms of ID. It wasn’t quite as bad as the surprise inquisition I got when entering the UK, but deffinitely more worrying as I had just seen them deny entry to a Frenchman. He was escorted off the train and told to go back to Budapest, see his consulate and get his passport issues straightened out before trying to return to Croatia. If that had happened to me I would have wasted the plane ticket, had no backup plan for how I was getting my trailer fixed, as well as needing to get out of Hungary within a few days or risk being fined for an expired tourist visa. It could have been bad.

Cyclists for as far as the eye can see. I think I saw numbers in the 13,000+ range, but don’t know tha actual count. I’m clearly visible in the pic if you feel like playing where’s Waldo. 

Errata:

Speaking of other things I did while back in the states; I’ve been seeing friends and famiy, riding my road bike, getting my trailer fixed, and just taking a break from the traveller lifestyle. I arrived just in time to ride the Hotter’n Hell Hundred in Wichita Falls, Texas with the cycling group from Lubbock. As always they were prepared to go hard for 100 miles. We managed a very reapectable time of 4:18. God, I love riding fast!

Not the newest bike on the block, but I haven’t seen many I’d trade it for since I bought it. I love riding this bike!

Me and the fastest of the “Lubbock Mileage Hogs”. I was pretty crushed and very dehydrated. When I stood up straight my vision started to narrow… I was not physically prepared for hot-ish, humid conditions.

After writing the above, I realized that the timeline may not be clear as to the order certain that things happened. I was actually really fortunate with the timing of the trailer failure. I purchased the plane ticket about 3 weeks prior to when my trailer broke while finishing up Ireland. So, as it turns out the trip back also gave me an opportunity to get my trailer fixed. My dad took care of everything while I was in Texas. Another one of those small favors someone did to make this trip possible. In earlier posts and on Facebook I feigned uncertainty about how I would continue the toueing trip to ensure that I kept the secret of my return for the wedding. It seems as though sometimes things just work out.

Storm clouds brewing on the way to Lubbock from the hotter’n hell hundred. Another example of how sometimes things work out. We finished, got packed and were safely inside when the rain fell. 

With respect to taking a break from travelling, the last few weeks in europe were more of the “backpacker” lifestyle, than my typical travel lifestyle. The backpacker lifestyle is seemingly  where every day is a party day in another big city. I feel like I’m a litte too old to party everyday, but I am also easily swayed by the promise of a good time with fun people. I’m pretty sure every weekend or so is enough partying for me to get my fix, and then recover and enjoy the coutryside during the week. 

The driveway to my parent’s place. Kansas isn’t just a “fly over” state. It can be quite beautiful.

I’m looking forward to returning to Croatia and continuing the journey. On the train ride and taxi ride to the airport I had the opportunity to speak with a few people about Croatia and riding throughout the country. It sounds like my timing couldn’t be any better for my return. The heat will be ending and the olives, grapes and other fall produce will be harvested. As with all harvest seasons, I’m sure there will be festivals. The prices will also be cheaper everywhere I go, especialy the coast, as the summer backpacking and holiday season will be over. This should be a wonderful next few months. The Balkans look like the most beautiful and varied places I have visited to date, and should provide plenty of interesting experiences to write about.

P.S. 

Thanks a million to my parents and two wonderful friends and hosts in Lubbock. I’m not blessed with the words to describe how happy I was to be in Lubbock for those 2 weeks (specifically the wedding weekend),  and without you graciously providing housing and transportation I’m not sure I could have afforded the trip back. I am forever in your debt.

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Published by: Andrew Monfort

I am a former engineer who decided to follow my dreams. After 9 years of working as a process engineer in the oil & gas production and refining industries, I decided to follow my passions (cycling and travel) to see where they lead.

4 Comments

4 thoughts on “Surpise, suprise, suprise”

    1. Thanks again! I hope I didn’t leave it in too poor of a state. I wanted to vacuum and do a little more cleaning, but didn’t want to go snooping around too much.

      October should be a good time to be in Croatia. I better be in Albania or Macedonia by then though. Covering Greece in November and getting to Southeast Asia in December.

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  1. You being there was a pretty awesome gift to Casey and Karla wish I could of seen Casey’s face when he saw you on Thursday night… Be safe as you continue to follow your dreams

    Like

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