Friday afternoon, while shopping for the perfect coat for a Mongolian winter (It was still officially summer in Pittsburgh) we finally got the call. Flight plans for Monday morning. Pittsburgh to Detroit; Detroit to Seoul; Seoul to Ulanbataar. The rest will be worked out when we get there. After weeks of juggling and weighing, our next ten months of clothing and supplies are packed into two fifty, one forty-six, and one forty-two pound suitcases, as well as our two carry-ons. Neither of us are sure we have it just right, but we are ready to find out just how far off we are. There is nothing else left to do but load it into my sister Jan's car in the morning and check in at the airport.
We have been working on a long list of good-byes and last-chances. Last week I went for my last run around Cobbs Hill Park, running into Wayne Calabrese and crew as they were working on a film. Last Saturday night we went to a star party with Hope and Jan at Mingo Creek County Park, arriving ten minutes before a bank of clouds. Sunday night we had dinner with two of my oldest friends—a small birthday party for Judy, Isaac, and me, all of us celebrating this week. (I will celebrate my 60th by landing in Ulanbataar) Keith slipped out from our dinner to bring me a bag of his morells, which I split into two bags, so they would fit inside my right and left running shoes. There was the last salmon. Last salad. Last, as far as I have read so far, glass of wine for ten months. Tomorrow it is possible that we will have our last real coffee. Yikes! Last driving for quite a while.
Then, as if by only the effort of putting one foot in front of the other, it is Monday morning and we are going.