Ok, so, I haven't been here in some time. I am updating from the heart of the peaceful Black Forest in Germany, about half an hour from the eastern French border. The past four months have been a heck of a ride. Firstly, I got married on May 14th in Denmark. “Denmark, DENMARK?” you say. Correct. DEN-MARK. The reason was solely down to the bureaucracy we had to endure at our local Mairie (town hall). If they moved the goal posts once, they moved them ten times. Seriously, I am convinced the lady was just pulling stuff out of the air and making it up as she went along. We eventually found out that Denmark is the Vegas of Europe, minus Elvis. We ended up on a remote island after a two-hour flight, two-hour drive, and a seventy minute ferry ride. When we booked in at the hotel (think two loft rooms) and I asked the guy (think Van Gogh but with two ears) if he would like to be paid tonight, he replied, “No, it's ok, we can do it at the end, it's not like you can go anywhere.”
Since then, my adorable wife, Val, and I have been on an adventure. A week later, we had a small reception with our closest friends in Paris. June was spent settling the kids into their new apartment and getting used to the fact that they don't have papa to themselves anymore. I gotta say it was a huge adjustment to all and I am so very proud of how everyone has handled the big change. Val and I spent three weeks in the United States from July 5th, the first week was with my new in-laws in Wisconsin who threw us a very special wedding reception. It is known as the Dairy State and having it be my first slice of Americana was an eye-opener. Friends told me that for my first visit, I had to be prepared for the size of it all. Boy, was I not ready for the experience. The first night, to stave off jet-lag, we went to a local grocery store to stroll around. Massive. I mean aisle after aisle of goods, and not just the amounts but the varieties too. How many flavours of Gatorade do you really need? As for the cheese, it was like the doors to a mysterious lab were opened and as the fog from some genetic experiment cleared, all that remained were two monstrous fridges facing each other. Each one resplendently polished to showcase an array of fromage so overwhelming that the French would simply wave the white flag, surrender all their Roquefort and camembert, and go home defeated. Everything is huge. Burgers, soft drinks, churches, cars, pastries, ice-creams, and on and on. The people, I have to say, are pretty incredible. In France there is no service. It's almost like you have to apologise to a store clerk when you walk in the door, I mean you have just ruined their day after all. In Merica they glide over beside you, blind you with a million-watt smile of perfect teeth, and offer to pretty much help you in any way they can. And don't start me on the restaurants! “Hi, my name's Jessie and I'll be your server for the day.” Service, service, service. I never had to ask for a coffee or a drink refill, ever. And even if Jessie saw me as just another tourist and hated my guts and the guts of four generations of McLoughlins, I didn't care. She plastered on a fake smile and just plowed through it. Service. The banks are another example of how life can be so much easier if you are...... chilled. Where I live you have to press a buzzer before they let you in, then you wait in line with the rest of the people tutting because they have things to do and places to go. Then to get anything done you have to provide a mountain of paperwork and, barring a urine sample, have to turn your paper trail over to them only to be scrutinised, then rejected and told with a smile that says 'I hate you,' that you have to come back another day. Not so in the good ole U.S of A. No Sireeee. Banking in America is kind of like the restaurant experience, only multiplied. Instead of one gleaming smile, there is an army of them. All eager to make your day better. As soon as you walk into the air-conditioned expanse, tellers fight for you. “How are you today sir?” I call it guilt-free banking. Where you can walk and not feel like you are holding a gun to someone's head in order to get your money from them.
Wisconsin was followed by Colorado and some quality time with my soul-brother, Tim. It is the most beautiful place I have been. Period. Colorado Springs was our base and we hit Pikes Peak, The Incline, good coffee houses, thrift stores and so on. Colorado is a state with a lot of transplants from other states and I felt right at home. I met some dear friends from Paris who were there at the same time, and hey, we had another wedding reception organised by our friends Fran and John. I made some amazing connections who are keen to get behind the book and run some articles on it that will be seen by a global audience. It reminded me of the importance of being around like-minded individuals who are supportive and constructive. We finished the trip at St. Elmo and stayed at the Ghost Town Guest House. It was secluded and wild. I managed to fulfill a dream and hike to the top of Mt Princeton with my good friend, Jim. 14ers are a dominant feature of the Colorado landscape and called so because of the fifty-eight peaks that exceed 14,000 ft. I had a nasty fall resulting in severe contusions of the left leg, ribs, and wrist. I am tying in a bandage right now.
The Black Forest has been relaxed with my kids and one more week here will take us to the end of our vacation. The book is almost done (yeah, how many times have I said that) as our final proof-readers are nearing the end of their task. My dear friends, Jerry and Shelly, have been going through it with a tooth-comb and found things we have missed, which is both encouraging and frightening. After that it's on to the next steps. I am expecting a Christmas release. There's been some interest from big name organisations who would like to see The Second Lap have a global audience. Again, encouraging and frightening. I will be back to posting more regularly from now on, I really felt it was important to take a step back and focus on my family. Many of you have asked about kindle versions of the book and yes, it will be available on kindle. I will be making contact with Amazon over the next few weeks to discuss the best avenues of distribution. Cheers.