Posted by: Mark Wollemann: On the move | August 20, 2012

Back at it … did you miss me?

The car that carried us safely around the U.S.

The car that carried us safely around the U.S.

Well, we’re back in Bulgaria and I’m itching to write again. That or I’m trying to dodge syllabus prep for one of my fall classes. Let’s say I’m eager to write something that doesn’t include the words “academic honesty,” “attendance,” or “grading criteria.”

I’m going to buzz through this quickly, just so I can catch you up on our travels. We were “on the move,” as the blog promises, all summer. We flew to the U.S. (from Bulgaria) and traveled 8,000 miles in our car.

Here’s a summary:

— We traveled through 25 states.

— We visited many AUBG students who were fulfilling their “work and travel” (which they refer to as “work and work”) obligations in places like Provincetown, Mass., Martha’s Vineyard, the Jersey Shore and Myrtle Beach, S.C. (among other stops).

— We visited countless friends, family members and made a few new friends.

— I rode 1,200 miles on my bike, doing a lot of training before the RAGBRAI, during which I rode (with many thousands of others) about 530 miles in seven days (I added on a loop on day 3 to make an 85-mile ride a 110-mile ride). It was hot, difficult, painful (at times) and incredibly satisfying.

There’s much more to tell … about how much we missed our family and friends, how much joy we took in spending a bunch of time with our daughter, Jenna, how great it was to order bottom-less cups of coffee and eat Dunkin’ Donuts. That’s the reason (Dunkin’ Donuts) I didn’t manage to lose weight in America all summer (in fact, I packed on a little tonnage, in spite of the biking). Too much good eating and drinking. Mmmmmm. But these past three months flew by in a blur of good feelings and warm memories — and, yeah, I’ll say it: too many good beers.

One more thing: I officially resigned my position at the Minneapolis Star Tribune. It’s never easy to say goodbye to a good job and career, but it was time. And to the surprise of not all that many, Melody and I are back in Bulgaria for more.

We returned to Blagoevgrad last week with a couple of extra suitcases and an eagerness to embrace this life we’re living. We are delighted with a new apartment that offers a big balcony, lovely views and, well, an elevator!

I also bought a new bike — and crashed on the trail on our first outing. Sorry, bike! My arm took the worst of it, but it’ll heal.

As we did last year, Melody and I will do our best to keep you posted on the new excitement we’ll try to pack into our second year abroad. It’ll be hard to rival the first year, but we’re going to give it a shot.

I left a little skin in the game …

An evening view from the balcony.

Still smiling after 530 miles.


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