I am writing this entry on Saturday morning. I am still in Atlanta, but soon I'll begin my journey back to Brisbane, where I'll arrive in about 32 hours. My first twelve days here involved visiting family members in the Midwest. I drove over 1400 miles (2200 km) on that part of the trip, which included a tense three hours dodging the cars in front of me that were sliding off the road during a snowstorm. I then spent four days in Atlanta because I needed to work on some research projects here. I also wanted to see quite a few of our old friends, so I ended up scheduling little two-hour visits with as many people as possible. I met five babies who were born since we left the country. I had dinner twice one night. I stayed up late each night talking with different friends, but then woke up early the next day to have breakfast with someone else. I am now exhausted and hope that I can enjoy my two long plane trips without having to engage in conversation with anyone but the flight attendant about my drink choices.
Besides seeing all these friends and family members, I did get to experience things that are hard to come by in Australia. These included Jiff peanut butter, Taco Bell and Chilli's (but also some real Mexican food too), very hot chicken wings (labelled 'Death' at one restaurant), Walmart, hours of listening to CNN and NPR (mainly on my rental car's radio), American television commercials, chicken fried steak, USA Today, Hampton Inn, cheap shopping, and much more. Yes, I enjoyed all of this, but I have had my fill of "America" for at least another year. I now look forward to the heat and humidity of a Brisbane summer, the inane Mel and Kochie on "Sunrise," flat whites, buying fresh fruits and veggies (and the rest of our groceries) at our local shopping mall, Aussie accents, high toilets and bathroom counters, driving (and walking) on the left side, expensive books, my friends, and, most of all, V. and Will.