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23 June 2011

Leaving the USA: Thoughts and Reflections on Travel.

Day 29: Saturday, 18 June 2011
Well, the day has finally come - I've finally reached the end of my trip across the USA, and today I flew from Boston to Reykjavik for the next leg of my journey, a round trip tour around Iceland.

What can I say about my trip? It's been 4 weeks since I left LA that gloomy May morning, and those 4 weeks have undoubtedly been the best of my life. Each day has been a new adventure, a new discovery, and I have met new people and made new friends. I hope that I've become more confident too, although traveling around the US is not much of a culture shock for me. Ueli has definitely seen so much during this trip, more than any European traveling could have hoped to see. (And he'll have such a great experience traveling back to California - he's hitchhiking with Ellen from New York to San Francisco!) I feel lucky to have found such a great travel partner. We were able to see so much, largely because our personalities matched up so well and we were so open to whatever came our way.

What I've gained most during this big cross-country trip is a real understanding of how the USA is all connected. There is always so much talk about the social, cultural, and political divisions amongst Americans, but I must say that all in all, we're much more similar than different. Of course there are differences; each city has it's own unique vibe, and this was most evident in cities like Austin, New Orleans, New York, and Boston. There are also amazing natural wonders, of course, and really great local food specialties everywhere. But I must conclude that Americans are truly helpful and good-hearted people from coast to coast. I was truly amazed at how nice everyone was to me and Ueli once I started talking to them. So learn this lesson, folks: TALK TO THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU. Talk, and share without expecting anything in return. You will learn something, and you will likely brighten their day (and brighten your day too).

So my last day in the USA: I woke up on Jonathan's couch around 8:10 to the sound of my alarm. Ueli was snoozing in the corner of the room, so I checked my email and then took a shower. The shower, again, wouldn't drain properly. I then spent some time trying to pack all my things tightly into my two bags. It took a while, but I managed to cram everything in, including my sleeping bag. I really hope that I can survive with these bags for the rest of my trip; this is why I was almost about to buy a bigger, backpacker-style backpack. Soon Ueli was awake, showered, and packed much more quickly than I was, and Jonathan rose as well. It was around 10 when we left and had breakfast together at a nearby cafe on Harvard Ave called @Union. Along the way, I ducked quickly into a Staples to buy an electricity plug converter (good decision). I had a plate of eggs and potatoes, Jonathan chose cajun hash browns, and Ueli got fruit and oatmeal (ever since San Antonio, where Jeff served us the best oatmeal we've ever tried, Ueli's been interested in eating oatmeal). I scarfed my food down quickly, since I was a little nervous that I'd be late for my flight, but we ended up having plenty of time.

One of the hardest parts of traveling is saying goodbye, whether bye to people you've met along the way, or goodbye to the wonderful places you've seen. I have wanted to stay longer in every single place that I've been, for a few more hours at least. But, you just got to keep on moving. I guess that's why you really need to enjoy your time in each place, because you know you won't be there forever. None of us will be anywhere forever.

Today was a big celebration parade for the Boston Bruins' Stanley Cup victory, so downtown Boston was packed full of people. The three of us all got on the T together, but Jonathan rushed off at the next stop. The doors weren't opening so he had to run to the front of the train; we later said our good-bye over the phone. The T continued inbound, and several of the stations were closed. The parade must have been wrapping up, as the trains in the opposite direction were crammed full of people. We arrived at the Government Center station, and it was time to say good-bye, as Ueli was walking to the bus station and I took another train to the airport. This train was a little crowded with Bruins fans, so I had to push my way through to get off at the Airport station. There is a FREE bus shuttle that runs from the T station directly to the terminals at Logan Airport, which is a great help for travelers. I arrived at my terminal, checked in quickly, got through security, and settled in to await boarding. I called home, and Ueli texted me about the chaos of going through the packed streets of central Boston post-parade (but he made it on his bus). I waited at the airport for my flight, and soon I'd be off to Iceland.

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