Dearest Rachel –

In the eponymous book describing it (and the many adventures Arthur Dent takes under its influence), The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy has emblazoned on its cover two critical words: “Don’t Panic.” In theory, it’s good advice for the traveler, whether you’re escaping a planet that’s about to be destroyed, or just hopping to the opposite site of one, like we are. You’ve made whatever plans, and taken whatever preparations and precautions you could; the rest from here on out is up to fate, or God.

Actually, it’s probably good advice even if you’re not traveling, although from a technical aspect, I suppose we all are. It’s just that our mode of transport is a planet, so we don’t notice it so much. We have all our stuff in one place (pace George Carlin), so we think we’re at home, when we’re all actually flying through space at a ridiculous speed.

And when I say ‘ridiculous’, I mean it.

And if we can do that without getting worked up, why should it bother us as we shift around to a different section of our trusty vehicle? Well, it would probably help if I were to make those preparations I mentioned in my first paragraph, wouldn’t it?

Yeah, that’s my suitcase this morning; you’ll notice that it’s empty. Guess I haven’t done much, now, have I?

Looks like it’s time to start panicking.

Or possibly not. I mean, I know where my (and Daniel’s) towel is, so that should be good enough, right?

Enough with the ‘Hitchhikers’ references, you’re probably saying at this point. Fine; I’ve had my fun with that, so we can move on.

One of the things about packing is that, as you do it, you realize what you haven’t prepared for. You’ll notice I have towels for both Daniel and myself in that last picture. There’s a reason for that; Daniel hadn’t considered that he’d need one. Just before heading off for work, Logan commented somewhat admiringly about how light Daniel had packed for such a trip. I replied that he needn’t be quite so impressed; so many of the truly necessary things he used to leave in your hands to ensure they came with.

And so, that duty now falls to me, and I’m not so sure that I’m up for it. Indeed, I don’t always have a handle on my own stuff: I’m pretty sure I didn’t get rid of all my water shoes when we cleaned out the house, but as I’ve no idea where they are, I may have to settle for a pair of sandals here or there instead.

And then, while I’m doing the last laundry before the trip, the question comes up about Daniel’s swim trunks. I’m betting on him going into the Jordan, and even if he doesn’t, there’s always the Dead Sea. But while I have a towel for him, I can’t find his trunks. After searching every room in the house (apart from the crawl space – where, for all I know, I might find my water shoes), he finally finds them, hiding in plain sight, in his own closet. That took way too long – over an hour of on-and-off searching – and scared me way too much for comfort. But if my water shoes are the only thing we wind up missing, I’ll count it as a win.

And they may not be, as we’ve got time to go shopping beforehand, and maybe even grab lunch at a place we’ll not get a chance at for the next week and a half. Not that we’ll necessarily have time to miss it (it actually hasn’t been that long since we’ve been to the Station), but it’s enough to get Daniel out of the house, and keep us reasonably fed until such time as we have to arrive at the airport.

To be sure, I don’t hold out a lot of hope that I’ll be able to find water shoes at our local Walmart, but I figure I’ll give it the old college try. Shockingly, though, they actually do have something – and in my size, no less! – and since they’re way out of season, they cost barely more than the couple packs of mint gum I buy both to keep my ears popped on the flight and to keep my mouth from the ill effects of so many hours without access to toothbrush and paste (because no gels or liquids are allowed in carry-ons, you know).

So, it turns out there wasn’t any need to panic about that, either.

But what about the sling pack we received from the tour group?

I mean, I have mine in my fully packed suitcase (on the right), but what about him?

Daniel can’t seem to find his, and we’re back to looking for yet another item, this time going through both cars to see whether he left it behind after our briefing from a few weeks ago. Like with his swim trunks, he marvels at how quickly things seem to disappear in our house, even with the place so much more tidy than it used to be (and even bearing that in mind, you were always able to find things in the midst of this pile or that – and here, we can’t seem to locate something in an otherwise virtually empty room! You’d probably agree with me that we’re hopeless like that sometimes). It isn’t until we give up on the cars, and Daniel settles into his chair to await the folks (who have graciously offered to take us to the airport) that he spots it, buried beneath a jacket of his that he decides ought to come with us as well, in case of inclement weather.

And with that being said, I have to mention how nice the weather is today. It’s the sort of day that might cause one to forget one’s jacket for such a trip like this (and with the temperature even in Jerusalem likely to be at least ten degrees warmer than they are here and now – and Galilee expected to be even warmer, and the Dead Sea warmer still – one might well be forgiven for that). But it is a necessary guard against the possibility, however remote, of rain or what not. And of course, there’s the fact that we’ll be returning to a much colder Chicago once we’re through, I’m told. Best to be prepared.

But, I think we’ve assembled everything we can think of, and we’ll deal with whatever we might be missing from here on out. We’ve had to do it before (remember shopping for toothpaste in Tiberias?), we’ll manage if it comes to that again.

So keep an eye on us, honey, and wish us luck. We’re probably going to need it.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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