Great to be back in the land of the free and the home of the Friday night White House pardon.
A week and a half spent cruising the Rhine River through The Netherlands, Germany and France is good for the soul and a nice break from the 24/7 news cycle. It's hard to be swallowed up by the cable news beast in your boat's cabin when you're out and about, seeing 800 year old castles and communities that date back to Roman times.
Our encounters with locals were blissfully free of political comment and full of great beer, wonderfully authentic ethnic gastronomical delights and oh-so-many cathedrals, churches and ancient works of art. The weather couldn't have been better, the on-board lounge more full of gemutlichkeit.
We come home to a brownish lawn (what, doesn't it ever rain when I leave the continent?), the approach of autumn, the Pack's first loss of the pre-season and a Brewers club still in N-L Central contention (with the additional allure of a possible wild-card berth, too). Who would've thought back in April that the local nine would still be playing meaningful games as Labor Day approaches?
The trip itself started with 40+ Milwaukee area strangers in our group who morphed into good friends over the course of just ten days. It's amazing what we have in common, besides geography. Didn't know it as we shoved off but one of the couples that joined us lived just six blocks away. Got to know folks from other parts of the U-S, too, as well as Canada and Australia with one couple from down under set to spend almost two months “on holiday.” They figured it they were flying that far to see stuff, they might as well make it worth their while.
Fact is, no matter where we're from or what we do, we have a lot more in common than we may think while caught in our daily ruts. Some on the trip were retired, while others were on the cusp. All had a natural curiosity to see new places, to make fresh friends. Some joked about gladly burning up the kids' inheritance. Others more somberly admitted that they wanted to do such things while they still can.
Terror reared its ugly head in the days before we left, what with the incident on Las Ramblas in Barcelona and the following investigation. The subject didn't come up out loud during our foray, and it certainly didn't alter plans. The unspoken attitude is and should always remain: don't let the bastards win.
As good as it is to change the pace, it's also great to see your own front door, sleep in your own bed, eat food you made yourself (brats on the grill from yours truly, sharing a little auf Deutsch with the off-spring). I already knocked off Hartz-Mountain-sized load of laundry and am doing my best to keep jet lag at arm's length but if I nod off on-air during the show at some point one morning, I hope you understand.
That news cycle that went on the back burner? It's alive and well with Texas flooding taking center stage, as it will for days if not weeks amid unprecedented rain. As the head of FEMA told the Sunday morning talk shows, they're going to be on this not for weeks or months, but years. Sad as it is, Hurricane Harvey gives fresh prospective for the rest of us: no matter how bad things are, well, you know the rest.
Glad the key-card worked at 2:45 this morning. Happy to be back on the job. Ready to ride that 24/7 news beast once again.