Travel and Family Emergencies

Due to another eruption of the volcano in Spain, airports in Spain have been closed the last several days, especially the airports in Northern Spain where I am. I’ve been just continuing with my previously scheduled agenda of visiting the Basque Country while I’ve been waiting for the cloud to clear.

I’m writing this at the Bilbao Airport where the ash cloud has moved enough to allow flights this afternoon to the south of Spain. If all goes well, I’ll be in Barcelona tonight and on a flight to Chicago tomorrow morning. I have no idea how I’m getting from Chicago to Appleton. Buying a ticket (for a 50 minute flight) is $600 and renting a car for a one-way trip (3 hours) is over $200. My guess is I’ll just end up biting the bullet and renting a car.

It has been frustrating being in Spain while my father is sitting in a hospital bed unconscious. You feel helpless even though I know if I was in Wisconsin I’d be just as helpless if I was there.

This is something I’ve heard from many people who are considering traveling long term. They are worried about being away from home if something should happen to their family.

It is a real concern. These things can and do happen.

If something does happen, you wont be there. You will be off in some far-flung place where you might not even find out what happened for days, let alone get back in some reasonable fashion. You could suffer any number of unexpected delays including volcanic ash clouds.

Nonetheless, you can’t live your life waiting for people to get sick or die. If I wasn’t traveling I would have been living in Minneapolis, a 4 hour drive away. My brother was in Iowa and wasn’t able to get back for a day. Granted, Spain is a lot farther from Wisconsin than Iowa or Minnesota, but if you aren’t there, you aren’t there.

I know I’d never want someone to sit around, putting their life on hold, waiting for something bad to happen to me and I think most people believe the same. I know my father wouldn’t. You can’t live your life waiting for events to unfold that you have no control over and don’t know when or if they will happen.

Once my dad is back on his feet (and I have ever reason to believe he will), I’ll be back to doing what I love to do. God forbid if the worst should happen, he knew I was out doing what made me happy.

14 thoughts on “Travel and Family Emergencies”

  1. Best of luck Gary, hope your father is okay. We are involved with the domestic tourism in UK and we have found a massive increase in business with all the problems people are having gettting abroad… people just aren’t taking the risk!


  2. I am very upset to know about your father.May your father will be fine very soon. please back home to visit your father. Good luck to you and your father

  3. Been there done that – my mother ended up in hospital in the early 90’s with what proved to be terminal cancer. I was in Eucador. Pre-Internet – my brother – who lived overseas too – contacted the NZ embassy in Santiago, Chile – where fortunately I had a contact who knew I was in Eucador and who then called very guest house he could find in Quito – I was lucky to be found. It took about a week to get home with buses thru Eucador and Chile and flights across Perus and rescheduling Sanitago-Easter-Island-Tahiti-Auckland – which to this day is not a daily flight.

    My mother concealed her cancer from both me and my brother cause she didn’t want us worrying and didn’t want to spoil my trip – that’s love.

  4. gary – please know that you and your family are in our thoughts. hope that when you MAKE it home, your dad will be so happy to see you. safe travels!

  5. Gary, I’m glad someone told you about the Greyhound Bus option from Chicaog to Appleton. Of course, perhaps there is a very friendly blog-reader in the Chicago area who would like to drive you from there to Appleton, just to hear your travel experiences. If I were still in Chicago I would probably do that … if I had a car there. Good luck in getting home as quickly as possible, and I hope your dad gets better ASAP.

  6. Hi Gary, I hope your father feels better soon. And that you have a safe flight home. All the best to you and your family!

  7. Hi Gary, I hope everything with your Dad turns out okay. I know how hard it is to be on the other side of the world when a loved one is at home not doing well. You feel completely helpless but I think you are right that your loved one would probably be happy for you and all that you are doing. My prayers are with you.

  8. Gary, I’m so sorry to hear about your father and I hope you make it back quickly and everything goes well. Family love us for who we are and while it is hard being away from them they always understand that we’re living life the way we need to.

  9. A greyhound from Chicago to Appleton is 52 and it leaves at 9:40 am or 10:35 am Wed. Just another option.

  10. You may want to just bus to Barcelona from Bilbao if the airport is closed. It is not a very long bus ride, and at least that way, you could be in Barcelona as soon as the airport there opens. You can try ALSA bus lines, or any number of other companies. Good Luck and best wishes to your family!

  11. I totally get where you are coming from – we moved half-way across the world and had one family member try to blackmail us with the whole ‘what if I die’ scenario (answer – so what – does it make a difference where we are if you are dead?). We have had various people once we moved ask ‘but how can you be so far from your family’ and our answer is similar to the one you give above. Your life is just that – yours. And truly loving families will most probably want you to live it.
    I hope you have safe travels and that your father pulls through okay.

  12. I’m really sorry for what’s happening to your family and especially to your father. I hope he’ll be fine soon. Have a safe trip back home… we’ll be waiting for you right here.

  13. Thank you Gary for writing your personal story to inspire others. Too often I fear we all spend out lives thinking “what if” while life passes us by. Reading your personal account makes it clear that is not how we should approach our dreams.

    Thank you for the inspiration and touching insight into your private life. Good luck on the journey “home” to your family.

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