So here we are again, sitting in a terminal at the end of a trip. Our passports now record trips to Europe (2006), New Zealand North Island (2007), France 2009, New Zealand South Island 2010, and now North America 2010. In between, we’ve damaged the environment by taking holiday and business trips to Brisbane, Melbourne and Darwin. Not a bad record for five years – and already we are talking of the Great Barrier Reef with family in July next year and January of 2011 in Northern Europe.

Why do we do it? I think we are always able to look back at our trips and reflect on the things we saw, the places we experienced, the people we met, then turn them into tangible memories, interesting stories and lessons for our own lives and those of our families and our students. Sometimes it’s just a question of reminding ourselves to wonder at marvels of human and divine creation. And sometimes, because there is just the two of us, it adds to the store of our journey together, as we squeeze every moment out of the life we embarked on a little later than some.

So what can we say we learned this time? Well, we reconnected after a really busy six months, the most consuming we’ve had since we came together. It was wonderful go share some special time. As for the rest…

Best Hotel: Vancouver (l’Hermitage, because the room was great and everything was thrown in, including gym and pool), New York (Lucerne, loads of character on the Upper West Side), Jasper (big room with an amazing view of the Rockies).

Best meal: hard to pick, because there were so many good ones. Vancouver gave us Joe Forte’s fish and chips (divine), but we ended up lusting after anything with wild Pacific Salmon. We had great Greek seafood there as well. Jasper was OK, but Banff turned on a fantastic Italian meal. Everything we ate in New York was nice, but our two seafood meals in San Francisco were outstanding. But our favourite eating was done in Sauk Centre – family cooking in the company of the people we love.

As for experiences, all were valued. We haven’t travelled 10,000 kilometres to be bored. Trying to pick winners is just too hard, so maybe we can pick one or two for each stop along the way.
• Vancouver – the Orcas stole the show from the Belugas at the Aquarium, but Granville Island was a blast.
• The train trip into the Rockies was breathtaking, the walks, sights and the wildlife wonderful, but the glacier experience – in fact that whole bus trip – capped a memorable introduction to Canada.
• New York is a bit of a wonder in itself. The Met is truly one of the great art museums and its shop enough retail therapy for a month. Paula’s spiritual home nearly became Century 21 – if only she could work out the dress sizes. But the rather eccentric Jarryd’s “Heroes of the World Trade Centre” tour won because it was sensitive and genuinely moving. We ended up respecting New Yorkers greatly.
• It was such a privilege to experience small town middle America. Ben and Claire have built a genuinely wonderful life in Sauk Centre, but I think all four of us felt privileged to witness the “monks mass” at the Abbey! As for the Maw of Amerika….
• San Francisco was the peaceful end to a great trip, but we loved our trip on the Bay.

Negatives: the TV was just appalling. Network television is truly dead in the USA. Thankfully, we had lots to read and lots talk about. No wonder cable dominates the entertainment industry!

So here we go. Hope the inflight food and entertainment is bearable – it was on the way over. Washing, shopping, dog and children await us on Friday morning, before work grabs us again. Bon voyage!