I did it – I’ve booked my flights! As an incurable procrastinator, I knew the only way to make this trip happen was to force a sink-or-swim scenario. I’ve certainly done that by flinging myself in at the deep end of the proverbial creek without so much as a brass razoo to paddle with!
But wait, there’s more! Have you ever had an idea – a crazy idea – that is just too good not to do something about? I did! Allow me to elaborate…
Without a doubt, the most popular ‘character’ from my Fool’s Journey blog was my mum when she joined me for a jaunt around Belgium and France. As a guest blogger, she totally stole the show and with good cause – she is an amazing, inspirational woman who lives her life in the service of others, always putting the needs of everyone else before her own.
What I didn’t mention at the time, mostly because Mum hadn’t mentioned it to anyone herself, is that she has cataracts (an eye condition where the lens becomes ‘cloudy’ leading to blurred vision). All the while I had her climbing those hundreds of stairs up and down the side of Montmartre, she didn’t once complain that she could barely see the steps edge – she just kept going with the joie de vivre, stamina and wonder of someone half her age.
Since then however, her vision has continued to deteriorate rapidly while she awaits a simple operation. After an inexcusably long wait, she has finally been scheduled in to have her cataract removed at the end of this month. It occurred to me that there would be no greater celebration of the restoration of my mum’s vision than for her to see nature’s most spectacular display… the Northern Lights! This tremendous woman has bought so much light and colour into the lives of so many that no sooner did this idea occur to me than I knew it had to happen! No ‘ands’ ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’ about it – just a big ‘how?’!
Readers of my last blog may recall that my five sisters and I contribute a small amount each week to a travel fund for my parents. Since Mum’s last trip, it’s been replenished enough to cover the cost of her flights (Dad is still content to confine his travel to the golf courses of NSW) but little else. Still, between that and my frequent flyer points, I had just enough to fling us both over the edge of the cliff and see if we can fly!
So here’s the game plan:
I take off on February 13 (yes, that’s next month!) for Cambodia via Singapore for the better part of a week on my own. On the 18th, I re-board the A380 (woo hoo, first time!) in Singapore to find my Mum minding me the seat beside her. Together we will continue on to London where we will remain in transit through to Pisa, Italy. Once there, I’ll take up the reins on the left hand side of a car again in the very place where I first learned to drive on the wrong side of the road in preparation for my last trip with Mum! After a week or so eating and drinking around Tuscany, we’ll waddle back on board and make our way to the staging area for the main event – the Northern Lights in Reykjavik, Iceland (I don’t want to give too much away but we might just be joined by another special guest star at this juncture of the journey so stay tuned)! We’re giving the Northern Lights five days to do their thing before heading back to London where Mum will connect to a flight back to Sydney and I will head into the city to attempt far too many reunions than a measly week can possibly accommodate. Heart-broken at not having properly caught up with anyone, I’ll leave London for New York to stock up on jeans and a winter coat I’ll wish I had earlier in the trip! From the Big Apple to the Grand Finale, I’ll wind up my whirlwind adventure with another devastatingly short visit to my beloved Vancouver, Canada for more reunions truncated by the need to be back in Sydney on the morning of my nephew’s birthday.
Now that I’ve pulled the pin on this particular grenade, there’s no turning back and I have mere moments to put everything else in place – accommodation, transport, insurance etc and oh yes, the money to pay for it all! The time for elaborate schemes and long term planning is over – I need immediate, creative solutions and resources to make this thing happen. In terms of cash, I’ve only managed to raise $60 with my makeup lessons so may need to resort to working the streets where I doubt I’d make much more (just joking mum and dad… I’d make way more, but I’m still not going to do it… probably!)
I’m hoping to have a market stall at either or both Surry Hills and/or Rozelle to sell my families contributions to the cause including quite a nice swag of vintage dresses from Sarah so watch this space to take advantage of that one! Also, if you feel the need to declutter your own life, donations are more than welcome!
If you have any other ideas for how I could turn a quick buck, please let me know – not so much for me – I can travel on the scent of an oily rag – but for my mum who deserves the best, or at least better than eating once a day from a supermarket and sleeping on lounges. I’ve already been taken aside by various members of my family and told that I’m not to have Mum sleeping in hostels or left alone at airports as though I would! I guess that’s why they were so quick to clean out their cupboards and offer me their stuff to sell!
Coming up: The Itinerant’s Itinerary – I’ll provide more details on the where, when, why and how of my trip.
Naomi Doyle, aka Patches McGee is a writer, traveller and phone-ographer in desperate need of your help to make her next trip to see the Northern Lights a reality. Join the journey here by subscribing to this blog, on Facebook at Patches McGee, Twitter @patches_mcgee and Instagram @patches_mcgee