By the time we got to Southeast Asia we were six months into the game, and I'm here to tell you, things had changed. Whether due to climate, exercise, diet, malaria medication, water, money, or cultural ways, we underwent some pretty dramatic transformations in our bodies and minds. For instance, I had worn the same clothes day-in and day-out for what seemed like an eternity and, luckily, mine still fit me. Candi and Randy, though, dropped enough weight and shirt sizes to make Jenny Craig envious. Our muscles were rearranged, too, in order to utilize them in a more efficient and useful manner. As for our minds, our travel savvy increased to the point that the phrase "we're tired and we're not going to take it anymore" rolled off our tongues with haughtiness and ease.

But, damn, what about our hair? I was looking a little scruffy. We did find a salon on a tiny island in the Gulf of Thailand where they did a pretty good job of trimming it, but after a few more weeks, we didn't even need to worry about that. Our concern turned to the fact that our hair was falling out -- in hunks! Day after day I would wash out or brush out more and more hair -- heck, sometimes I think it even jumped out on its own. We took this as a sign that it was time to go home.

We moved up our return date to the United States about three separate times, eventually coming back a month early. Our minds were flooded with thoughts of home-cooked meals and hot showers (with a shower curtain), our own transportation, and the ability to blend in with the locals. As Randy said in an email to a friend: "We are starting to run out of money and Bali is not that big of an island and we are homesick and we want our mommies and it's time to come home."

Now that we're back and the sheen is returning to my coat, my mind is now available for telling stories. Read on.

Much have I traveled in the realms of gold,
and many goodly states and kingdoms seen.

--John Keats