Brooke's Journey Back travel blog

First morning back, Mary with Jenna's new son Aaron

The awesome snow in Virginia Beach

Mackenzie sledding beach style

Mackenzie. Marlo refused to have her picture taken!

King Neptune with a runny nose from the snow

grandgirls on the snowy beach

snow on the beach

snowy boardwalk

snowy seagull

snowy fish

Brett and Mackenzie "sledding"


snow wave

my grandson Mack in the snow


Mack trying on his ski gear

Mack and his Dad Scott

sunset taken from the back porch of my neighbors and hosts

morning from the same back porch

snowy backyard

beautiful ducks in the same backyard

Chillin at my brother Mark's house with Josie the cat. In Key...

At Marathon Key in Florida.

Alligator at the Blue Hole on Big Pine Key

Key deer on Big Pine

Key deer on Big Pine

No Name Pub, Big Pine Key. Probably at least 100,000 $1 bills...

No Name Pub

My niece Caroline on Caroline Street in Key West

street performer in Key West

street performer in Key West

My nephew James got in on the act of one street performer

the performer as he jumps through the hoop, no pad, just concrete...

Bus in Key West

Sunset in Key West

Sunset in Key West

Coming Home

I went to Europe to rejuvenate and renew myself and I chose to come home to visit for the same reason. I needed a vacation from my vacation. During John’s visit, I decided to come back to the US on the same flight, continuing on to Virginia Beach for a rest from the road. I had about a month of non-Schengen time still left and wasn’t excited about spending that much time in the countries that qualified. I was tired and missing home, and felt the need to surround myself with the love and nurturing that I knew was waiting for me.

I only told a few people I was coming, I wanted to surprise people, which was so much fun. The first was my sister Mary. I rented a car and drove to her house from the airport, calling her on my cell as I pulled into the driveway. I knew she would start asking me questions so I wanted to be close to the house when I called, so I wouldn’t have to make up too many lies. She started in with the questions too soon.

“Hey, how are you?” First question, very easy.

“I’m good, how you doing?”

“Good. Where are you? Are you in Zagreb?”

She started the hard questions way too soon. Shit, I wasn’t even out of the car yet.

“Um, just a minute. Uhhhhh, just wait a minute….,” I kept saying as I struggled to get out of the car and to her back door.

“Brooke, where are you? Do you know where you are? Are you OK? What’s wrong, why don’t you know where you are?”

She told me later she thought I’d been arrested and she was my one phone call. Geez, really?! Although I almost take it as a compliment that she thinks I’d do something crazy enough to be arrested for.

I knocked on her door, then went in while she was peppering me with questions, and said, “I’m right here.”

She just stared at me and didn’t hang up the phone. “What? Where?” she says into the phone while she’s looking right at me. That was uber fun.

We stayed up for two hours talking, and I knew without a doubt I’d made the right decision to come home. The next morning, she came with me as I went to my friend Jenna’s house and surprised her and made her cry, and held her handsome new son. We went to my school to pop in on teachers and make them cry. I even made some of my student’s cry. It wasn’t the reaction I was expecting, but it was so fantastic to see everyone, I didn’t mind the crying.

I spent three weeks at home, visiting as many people as possible, and absorbing as much love and caring as I possibly could. It snowed twice while I was there, enough to shut down the schools for five days. That was awesome but it did alter my visiting schedule somewhat. I saw my grandchildren several times and had fun surprising my two granddaughters, Mackenzie and Marlo, who were expecting a Skype call and instead got a knock at the door.

I flew to Key Largo to see my brother Mark and his family, another very last minute decision which I also felt was a very good one. I left the snow behind and arrived in Miami to sunny, 85 degree weather. We had a wonderful visit and I finally got to see the sunset at Key West.

I told myself before I left Europe that if I got home and wanted to stay there, it was OK, I wouldn’t be letting anyone down, not even myself. I have gotten through the hard times by really listening to my heart, doing what feels right, taking time to make decisions. When I have to make big decisions, I pray before I go to sleep that I will wake up with an answer, and that usually works extremely well. Sometimes I have to wait, one night isn’t long enough, but it always comes clear. It was very clear to me within days that I did want to go back and finish my journey. I really want to see Turkey and Italy, and my sisters are meeting me in Cornwall in May, so there is a lot of unfinished “business” for me to complete.

So, I hope you aren’t tired of reading about my adventures, I will be out here until May 18, when I return home for good-for now anyway.

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