World Trip Home Post Fifteen

Post Fifteen - Repatriation


My first steps back on home soil were in Hawaii. I'd been here several times over the years for both work and pleasure, so it was a familiar sight. We only had 12 hours in port so I made the most of it. First, I called home to talk to Karen. A few days before, while I was at sea, I became an uncle when Karen's sister Julia gave birth to Lily. Baby and mother were doing fine and I was excited to return home to see them. I wandered through a bookstore for an hour (buying more reading material for the final leg of the journey) and finally caught a taxi to Diamond Head - my favorite hike on Oahu. I walked all the way back to town after my hike and stared at the tourists as a foreigner would. As foreign as Hawaii is, I still really didn't feel like I was home yet.

Golden GatesGolden Gates

It was early morning when we finally arrived in San Francisco. I stood on the ship's bridge in unfamiliar cold air and watched the Golden Gate Bridge appear out of the gloom. It's hard to describe what I was feeling when I saw that familiar site but at that point I knew that I had completed what I set out to do. My journey was over and I was home again.

San FranciscoSan Francisco

Of all the places to enter back into American Life, San Francisco was perhaps the best. I wandered around town with my friend Brock staring at everything and everybody like I was seeing it for the first time. Reverse culture shock after being out of the country is one of my favorite feelings. I love seeing the world with new eyes whether it is from travel, art, or anything else. Though we drank only beer, I felt high the entire time I was there.


For my reentry, Brock was the perfect guide. He has inspired me in so many ways and always understands (and points out) the important things in life. Feeding on my fascination with the world we inspired each other to try to capture what we were seeing with our mutual joy - photography.


Back in Brock's apartment in the Mission District, we continued our art and I captured this photo of a vacuum tube. Being around Brock is like drinking strong coffee for your soul. I remember telling him how everything I saw was fascinating to me and he replied "You're in the zone. Feed on it. Take advantage of it. Enjoy it."

The Journey is CompleteThe Journey is Complete

After San Francisco, I journeyed north on Amtrak one last time. After a brief stop in Eugene to see my brother, I continued on to Seattle. 14 months after we boarded the train here, after countless busses, trains, ships and taxis, I stepped on the platform and completed my journey. I had circled the globe without flying.

Karen and I had a brief stay in Seattle and then continued to Boise to be with Karen's sister Julia and the new baby. It was good to be in one place again, to wake up knowing where you were. To have access to a washing machine, a phone, email. Here is a toast to the wonderful pleasure of everyday life.


Karen and I are closely attached to our families. It was hard to be away from them for so long, especially after the events of 9/11. It was good to be home. It was good to be around people who knew us, and understood us. And it was good to finally meet Lily, my new niece.

Boise and BeyondBoise and Beyond

Not ready to return to Seattle, we decided to give Boise a try and ended up renting an apartment there for six months. It was, however, a trying time for although Karen and I appreciate the charms of a smaller town like Boise and the nearby recreation opportunities, we are at heart, city people. Looking back, I see Boise as the final leg of our travels. We needed to spend time there to be able to fully appreciate our true home - Seattle. In February of 2003, we returned to our city - this time with the realization that it is one of the best places in the world.

Next Up: Reflections

Copyright 2003
Scott & Karen Semyan