Donkey Crossing

Welcome to Donkey Crossing! Donkey Crossing is an on-line account of one Limey and one Yank living one Dream. From September 2006 until the end of 2007, we plan to visit friends and family on five continents and immerse ourselves into various cultures, natural phenomena and ways of life. We hope you enjoy our tales and visit often! Cheers, Jason and Rachel Napoli

Sunday, December 23, 2007

"Mama, Mama, many worlds I've come,
since I first left home" -Robert Hunter

After saying our farewells to all things British (including family and friends), we headed West across the Atlantic. Timing our return to the States with the Thanksgiving holiday, there was only one place to find the Napoli family: Barefoot Beach, Florida. Longing for a Thanksgiving full of sunshine, family, friends and priceless sunsets on the Gulf of Mexico, we were not left disappointed.

Thanksgiving Day on the beach with MJ, Teena and Marty.

Thanksgiving Day involves far more than just a few Napolis. We were fifteen strong this year, with all the usual suspects (5 Napolis, 6 Cassells, 2 Carlsons and 2 Przybylskis). Continuing the annual tradition of champagne and snacks on the beach, with twenty-four pounds of bird roasting upstairs, everybody was in good form.

Taking advantage of the holiday to its fullest extent, Rachel and I stayed in Florida with Marty and Teena for two weeks, enjoying wonderful nights out and glorious days on the beach. A trip to Florida is never complete without Marty and I casting our lines into the water and hoping for the best. After a couple hours up to our waists in the Gulf of Mexico, we ended up with seven catches each.

Father and son in the cool November waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Whether it's a salt water catfish or a yellow striped ladyfish, we'll take anything that will bite at the frozen shrimp on the end of our lines.

As always, we had an excellent time with my parents in Florida and look forward to many "Barefoot" Thanksgivings to come.

With our return to the US accomplished, and Thanksgiving behind us, we loaded up our backpacks, ready to make one more stop before heading to Chicago. Fulfilling a promise to our dear friends Mark and Kelly Campbell, we made the final stop on our "Round the World" trip their home, located in a quiet corner of North Carolina.

A gorgeous North Carolina sunset on a crisp December evening.

Mark, Kelly, Rachel and I became friends back in 2002. Rachel and Kelly were founding members of the band Lounge Car and performed in some of Chicago's finest cabaret venues including The Hot House and Maxim's. With Rachel and Kelly often busy collaborating and recording music, Mark and I usually found ourselves in the kitchen creating delicious feasts for the band. When Mark and Kelly left Chicago in 2004 to fulfill their dream of rural life in North Carolina, we promised to build a visit to their country home into our world tour.

Rachel and Kelly catch up over some BLTs, fresh fruit and a bottle of Riesling.

Mark and I get in the spirit of my inaugural Stateside curry dinner decorated with sparkling "bindis" we brought back from a street market in New Delhi. The menu consisted of Aloo Gobhi (potato and cauliflower), Sag Paneer (spinach and Indian cheese) and Yellow Dhal (spicy lentils). The cooking lessons we took in Dharamsala, India certainly paid off!

While Rachel and Kelly have a friendship molded in creating beautiful music, the foundation of my friendship with Mark is our shared passion for cooking delicious food. Mark is pictured above with his famous smoked pork shoulder, which was later hand pulled, smothered in homemade North Carolina BBQ sauce and served with fresh collard greens straight from the garden.

We even found time for a quick toss of the frisbee while the pork was smoking and the sun began to set.

Rachel and Kelly were busy inside recording a few tracks, while Mark and I tended to dinner.

Our visit to Mark and Kelly's couldn't have been a better transition from a busy Thanksgiving in Florida to a hectic Christmas season in Chicago. We found ourselves wandering through their woods, reading on the front porch and walking their dogs, feeling comfortable and optimistic about our imminent return to the Midwest. It was a wonderful visit and we can't wait to see them again.

Home Sweet Home, "Campbelloni" style.

Well, there you have it. Fifteen months, twenty three countries (is that all?) and we made it back to Chicago safe and sound. Be sure to check back to Donkey Crossing soon for a final summary, including the highs, the lows and some memorable 'in between' moments from our "Round the World" adventure.

We were greeted with both sun and snow on our return to Sweet Home Chicago.



Blogger Friends of Senegal and The Gambia said...

Well finally I feel like I can say "WELCOME HOME!"

1:49 PM  
Blogger L$ said...

you used to play the hot house!? that's pretty cool. a quasi-regular there from 01-04, having been to new year's there in ?'03? - my best time there during that span.

2:17 PM  

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