18 September 2013 Wednesday

This is the beginning of our trip to Italy!

Kathy and I have done a lot of traveling. We've gone to all of our high-priority places and now we're down to secondary choices. It's been several years since we've been on an international trip, and we felt it was time. We had saved the money, and had enough vacation time available, so we asked ourselves: “Where should we go?” We both rattled off a bunch of places we'd never been, but none of them seemed right. When we both named places we'd already been, but didn't do them well. One of those places was Italy.

We had been to Italy in 1990, on a five-week whirlwind romance trip. We weren't even married; we were just dating at the time. We spent two and a half weeks visiting Holland, Germany and Italy. After two and a half weeks, we took a train back to Amsterdam and met our mothers, where we continued for another two and a half weeks: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, England. It was a whirlwind not-so-much-romance trip, but it was fun nonetheless.

We made a few mistakes on our 1990 trip: First, we neglected to visit Pompeii; an unforgivable offense. Second, we didn't see Venice. There was another problem as well: This was in the age before digital cameras, and I was a lousy photographer. So we agreed: We'd go back to Italy and do it right: We'd see Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Venice. And this time, we'd get better photos, digital photos.

So Kathy did all the planning and had arranged the entire trip. I enlisted the help of my Italian friend and coworker, Fabio.

When we started talking about our plans to go to Italy, Kathy's aunt Mitzie said, “Oh, that would be fun. I'd love to go!” We have offered to take friends and family members on trips many times in the past, but it never fails: they always back out. Yeah, they always say they want to go, but when it comes right down to it, it's really more fantasy than reality. Little did we know: Mitzie was serious. Her and her husband, Frank (who we call Skip) decided to go, as long as they didn't have to do all the planning.

A few weeks later, we were talking about the trip with Kathy's mom, who was with us on the original journey in 1990. Since she and my mom only joined us for the second half of the trip, she had missed Italy entirely. She said, “Oh, that sounds like fun! Yeah! Maybe I'll go too!” So pretty soon, there were five of us going. And that was good; I think that traveling with friends and family is more fun than traveling alone. Kathy's dad has no interest in traveling, so he didn't want to go.

So the people on the trip are: Bob Peterson (me), Kathy Peterson (my wife), Karen Jones (Kathy's mom), Frank (“Skip”) Madden (Kathy's uncle) and Mitzie Madden (Kathy's aunt).

So today, the day of the departure, we got a ride to the airport from Kathy's brother, Mark. The five of us got out of the truck and trudged to through the airport, luggage in tow.

We checked our luggage. We went through security. We proceeded to the departure gate. But Mitzie is a smoker, so she wanted to smoke one last cigarette before we got on the plane. So she and Frank (who doesn't smoke) stayed behind while Kathy, Karen and I walked to the gate.

Unfortunately, as we arrived at our gate, I got a call from Kathy's cousin, Debbie. She told me that Mitzie's ex-husband, Jim, had unexpectedly passed away. I'm not sure why she called me, but it's likely she could not contact Mitzie or Skip.

Naturally, Mitzie wanted to be there for her children, who had just lost their father, and Skip wanted to be there for Mitzie. So she and Skip arranged to take a later flight into Rome on Sunday. If all goes according to plan, we will to meet them there. All they're going to sacrifice is Pompeii and Herculaneum. We're very anxious and hope they don't have any problems getting to Rome.

Today was spent in transit: We took an airplane from Minneapolis to Paris, France. From there we caught our connection to Naples, Italy.