The Quest for Happiness

Where do you derive your source of happiness?

What does it mean to even be happy? Do a lot of us know anymore, or are we too busy trying to survive that we have lost touch with that?

I remarked the other day that if the me from twenty years ago met the me from today, once of us would assume the other had a stroke. My personality is completely different, to the point where you would say I did a complete 180. My politics are different, my desires are different, what is important to me is different. I used to desire a mountain house with a big garage, a big woodworking shop, and peace and quiet. That is not who I am anymore, or at least now. I want to be around people (if maybe not yet to the point of heavy interaction), I want to be in an urban environment, I don’t care a ton about woodworking anymore, and I don’t care a ton about driving.

One would ask why? My kids played a big role in a lot of my personality changing, I suppose. Things that did not even approach my radar are now priorities. Starting to see the world played a big role. Seeing that the way I lived was not the only way, and very likely not the best way, prompted a drastic change.

So, what makes me happy these days? Well, I suppose I should start with what makes me a bit unhappy. And this isn’t meant to be a complaint post at all. I don’t enjoy driving everywhere anymore is the huge one. Having to shuttle my kids and myself around everywhere this summer has really shown me just how car dependent we are. You leave the house, you get in a vehicle. And paying to fill up two vehicles has hurt as well. What helps to remedy this? Living in a more urban environment where I have more options how to get places. In the meantime, until I can accomplish that, I have to look for alternate forms of transportation that I can use. I have been walking to the closest town on Saturday mornings for coffee. I’ve been looking into e-bikes and e-scooters to go other places.

The weather makes me unhappy. I’ve never liked summer, and wish I could live somewhere with a cooler climate. I’d like to marry the solution to this with the solution above, but this takes time. I have to be patient, and just try to get by the best I can. Chicago, Toronto, London are all high on the wishlist for relocation. These all require a good bit of money, though. Maybe these places also have less mosquitos.

My working environment has made me unhappy, but I am happy to say that this is an area I’ve made some good strides in addressing. I have set up an auxiliary area downstairs where multiple people can lounge and do activities, and just the other day I worked down here for most of the day. I work from a coffee shop on Monday (and some Thursday) mornings, which gives me some social presence. The next thing to work on is making another upgrade to my desk, getting it in order with the visual and tactile changes I want. A new desk mat, moving the consoles maybe off the desk, at some point getting a standing desk base. Some colors would be nice as well, maybe a nice blue desk mat. I’d also like to improve the cleanliness of the desk, which means I should reevaluate my controller and handheld console storage. Some drawer liner or dividers would likely also help, and I need to find a home for both of my book bags. A big thing I need to figure out is a neat way to keep everything charged.

What makes me unhappy is the fact that my weight has been going up, and it’s been hard to address. I’ve identified some of a solution, and hopefully I can be more mindful of this going forward. I don’t think I’ll get back to my weight loss rate of 2019, but seeing the number start going down again would be great.

There’s lots of things in my life that make me happy, but what I need to do here is allow them to do so. To not dwell on the negatives, to let the positives have more of an impact on my life while continuing to work to improve. I’m not perfect, my life isn’t going to be perfect. I just have to I guess survive and advance.

 

The State of Things

It’s been a little over five weeks since I changed my outlook on life completely, and I have learned a few things.

The first, and most important, is that this is absolutely the changes I want to make. I want to live in an urban environment, I want good public transportation, I want the ability to do and go most places without having to drive. I have never felt so strongly about something in my life. I don’t know if it will solve all my mental health issues, but it would certainly go a very long way to doing so.

The second is that I cannot get hung up on a specific location based on specific amenities. The coffee shop that I have been going to on Monday mornings, and have recently been straight up walking to on Saturday mornings, will be closing soon. This felt devastating to me, because it was both a place I could go and get some work done, and a place I could employ my “gym of life” mentality towards. The big draw of this was that, while not really in an urban environment, it felt like one. And was by far the closest thing that wasn’t a Starbucks. Now I just have Starbucks in walking distance. So, I have to start figuring out a way to get those experiences back. I am looking into ways that I can get to other places without driving, as walking more than 3 miles each way every week probably isn’t a sustainable thing. Particularly because the weather hasn’t turned inclement yet. An e-bike doesn’t seem like a good option just because of how poorly people drive around here. A motorcycle would at least allow me to keep up with traffic, or an e-scooter on the sidewalk would be an option.

The third is that this is going to be a difficult ask. Places where I want to move are expensive, and if all our money is spent on rent then it will be hard to get what I want out of the experience. What is the good balance on all of this? I’m not going to give up on the dream, but we also need room to thrive in our finances. A city is no good if you can’t interact with it. A big house is no good if all you want to do is not be in it.

The fourth is that we can’t skimp too much on our lives now for what might be our future. I have invested a little bit in improving our space, namely buying a couple of lounge chairs that we could enjoy a book, a movie, or a secondary place to work at. I can’t go to the coffee shop too often, or I won’t have much money left from $6 lattes. Having a different spot in the house where I can also get work done has been a big help. We’re still trying to put our own touches on it, getting the right chairs and etc. I also figured out that I have a ready-made spot to do stand-up working as well, so that’s yet another option.

The fifth is that I have come to realize that aural cues are a big key to my mood. The right music can amp me up or calm me down very quickly. I have started to listen to some ambient sounds from London that really put me in a good place usually. Then there’s Bloop London, an underground electronic station that does a great job.

It’s a process. For me, it’s going to have to be a lifelong one. I sometimes get very anxious and stressed out that I can’t have exactly what I want immediately, and it’s a learning process to figure out how to cope until I can make some measure of progress toward my goals.

Two Weeks In

It’s been two weeks since I’ve started to change my daily way of life. It hasn’t been life-changing (yet), but it has led to some positive results so far.

I’ve found a couple of different cafes that I can do some work in and get a different atmosphere (and I’m writing this at one right now). The mornings out have done me a lot of good, I find myself sleeping better on those nights in general. It’s not a 1:1 on the result, but it’s good enough where I can assign it some responsibility. There’s one shop I hit up on Monday mornings and get a nice breakfast bowl and a table to work my weekly productivity reports. There’s another one that is a bit more laid back that serves scones, but much less work surfaces. So that’s more of a laptop on lap scenario, but the chairs are a slight bit more comfortable. I do find myself a bit more open to being around people, especially since I don’t really have to interact with them. I also like seeing outside in relative comfort, I like seeing people move about in an urban environment.

Speaking of chairs, I picked up a used Morris-style chair to lounge in and give a different atmosphere at home, too. Portable gaming, reading, work…anything I need to change my outlook. It’s there for my wife to use as well, unfortunately I haven’t found room for it in our bedroom. The cushions need a bit more cushion, and I will have to evaluate how to change that. Maybe some batting in addition to what is there.

Cleaning up my work space has been a bit of a mixed bag, I can’t seem to really close the deal. I moved some stuff around to get better airflow in the bedroom, which means now the Xbox fridge is on my desk. That means that surface needs to be cleaner to actually open it. Maybe I’ll work on that today.

I sold about 30 games and a bit less movies, which allowed me to pick up a Switch Lite for more portable gaming. It’s awesome with the right case, and pretty comfy. I have to admit I really changed my mind on this one. It’s okay to change your mind with new information. It’s good, in fact. I have almost all my games available on it, since I’ve gone in so heavily on digital. It really makes sense on the Switch. More game and movie sales will come, this is just the initial batch. I really am committed to reducing the amount of stuff I have.

I am a lit annoyed at work right now, having to continually fill in for other people. It really does impact how well I can manage my tasks and stay on top. I just have to keep my eyes on the prize, though, and that’s getting into a good position to change my wider environment.

I am also feeling the beginnings of an itch to get back into the shop, even if it’s just to clean up a bit. I still need to list the lathe for sale, and I should clean up so I can even get to it. Also in that clean up, I need to move some tools back into the shop. I made a commitment to reduce my tool footprint inside the house, it’s a bit of a mess. I should sit down and write out what I actually need in the house to be convenient.

Things are moving slowly, but that’s okay because I gave myself lots of time. Change doesn’t happen overnight, and it takes a while to get used to it and develop better habits. In the next few weeks I also hope to address some stuff related to our crawlspace – getting rid of old electronics, moving some camping bins down there, and possibly running some ethernet cable to the living room.

The thing that has been the most fleeting is how to consistently get good exercise, both for myself and the dogs. It’s been too rainy or too hot to take them out to the park, and I haven’t been great about getting to the gym with also getting my occasional morning out. Things may settle down once the kids go back to school next week. I need to be proactive about scheduling exercise time.

Have laptop, will travel

In the morning, I will be testing a theory.

Working remotely, I’ve really always had the opportunity to not be stuck at my desk, but I’ve always stayed right there for a few reasons. One, it’s familiar. I have a huge screen, comfy chair, and the things I need to do an efficient job. Secondly, I haven’t had a nice big screen laptop for some time. With the addition of the 15″ MacBook Pro to my arsenal, plus the available second screen if needed, I think it’s time to test this theory out.

If one day we get the opportunity to go elsewhere, I may not have my normal setup for an extended period of time. I may have to work regularly while on the road with only what I can fit in my backpack. Which leads me to my experiment tomorrow morning. After I drop my kid off at camp, I’m going to find a coffee shop to set up at for an hour or two and get my normal Monday morning tasks accomplished. Or try to. This is really just some reporting with spreadsheets, something that is fairly easily done with one screen, so no worries in that respect. This is probably something that someone else has easily done for years, but it’s a new thing for me. Normally I wouldn’t really work anywhere out because of HIPAA restrictions, but pulling together some productivity won’t be an issue.

So, what does this have to do with potentially moving? Well, with my desire to be in more of a community setting, we will likely need to set up in a smaller space. This means, while I will do everything I can to have a normal office space, there becomes the possibility that this won’t happen. As such, I may need to change up my space once in awhile to keep things fresh. The best way to do that is to leave a small flat for an outdoor space or a cafe. In addition, one of the changes I wanted to make was to leave my work space more often to improve my mood and increase my activity.

It really is a shame though that I don’t really have a place I could walk or bike to from my current location. A Costa Coffee wouldn’t go amiss. Or hell, even a Starbucks. The best I have is a small donut shop, and I’m not even a big fan of their donuts. Once again, a bit stymied by the necessity to do anything by car.

The Gym of Life

I’d like to thank the YouTube channel Not Just Bikes for the title of this entry.

One of the best things about being in Europe was the ability to get anywhere I needed without having to use a car. Sure, sometimes you were still using the roads via buses, but for destinations that weren’t destinations, your feet could give you the world. Most shops were within walking distance, or a short stint with public transportation and a walk away. Wide sidewalks, shops on the main street, pubs in neighborhoods. All things that really can’t happen in the US due to zoning laws and the like.

I got way more exercise every day over there without trying, and it wasn’t just because I was going to visit tourist sights. A grocery store was basically at the end of the street, as were any small restaurants that I would need. Here, we have to drive everywhere to do anything, unless you live in a special mixed use district. The closest grocery store is three miles away, and I live in a pretty suburban dense area. The closest good gas station is over a mile away, which is where I might even approach being able to get the things I would at a bodega.

Today, I decided to use my world as my gym, by walking to that gas station. I could have driven five miles to my gym, and worked out, or I could walk about 2.5 miles round trip to get a couple of 20oz drinks (zero calorie, naturally). It wasn’t a hard walk, but almost all of it was inside a neighborhood. To get to the gas station, I had to cross a five lane road at a crosswalk that didn’t give me a signal. I didn’t particularly feel safe crossing even in the crosswalk, and of course I was the only one doing it. Everyone else was in their steel cages. Blessed with air conditioning, I assume. It was around 87F/30C, and high humidity. Civil engineering couldn’t really fix that, but it didn’t add to the experience.

I was back in just under an hour, and had my exercise done for the day. But I can’t see myself doing it tomorrow. Maybe once a week? I don’t need to spend money on overpriced chilled drinks on a daily basis just to not go the gym. I need more varied places, or places with varied reasons. Like a corner grocery store, something that isn’t too common around here.

Unfortunately, that isn’t going to change for quite some time. I do think that a plan is forming to change where we live, but I don’t know what the end result will be, and if I’ll be happy with half-measures. I know the reasonable side of me understands that moving to the UK is a long shot at best, but I can’t help keeping it as a dream and working toward making it attainable. I do have to listen to reason though, and not view good as the enemy of perfect. Even small efforts to change my outlook should be embraced with a positive attitude and open mind.

I need a new gym of life, but I don’t know where or when it will be. And I have to be okay with that.

Bucket Lists

It’s a bit of a strange thing to think about things you want to accomplish before you die. It might be prompted by an unfortunate medical diagnosis, a change in circumstances, be it social or economic, or just idle thoughts. For me, I have a large desire to see my life improved in meaningful ways by changing my scenery. No impending medical crisis that I know of, thankfully.

In the setting of trying to improve my life, one of the things I thought about was all the things I wanted to check off the proverbial bucket list, to say I accomplished. Not to fill a ledger, but to create memories, to have experiences, to try new things. If you’re not happy in your current state of affairs, it’s madness to keep things just going. I’m not unhappy, but there are ways that my outlook could certainly be improved.

The first thing I’ve tried is switching off Windows, as I wrote about before. This wasn’t so much of a bucket list as it was trying to make my life easier by having a unified system to get work done. So far, it’s been a treat to answer texts on my computer, copy one thing from my phone and paste it on my laptop, etc. The switch hasn’t been without hiccups, but I have been pleased so far.

I’ve got a ton of things I still want to watch. I just started Stranger Things, for example. There are so many TV shows and movies I still need to watch that it would take me retiring today to likely see them all. I really need to sit down and create a watch schedule to make sure I make some progress. A bucket list list?

Most times though a bucket list is about sights and experiences. Living in Europe, at least part time, is at the top of the list. I want to drive a RHD vehicle in the UK. I want to skydive, once. I want to scuba dive in the Bahamas. I want to see the Alps. Tons of things like that, a lot of it seeing the world and interacting with different people. There’s too much to list here, and that’s what the actual list will be for.

The real point of this is that I’m looking at all the ways my physical and mental health can be addressed in ways that can be seen as proactive. I want long term happiness, but that doesn’t mean I can sacrifice the short-term. It does mean though that I’ve had to re-evaluate what I consider to be happiness that are in reality just short term dopamine hits. I love building LEGO, but it just sits on a shelf afterward. I love video games, but I don’t need to keep buying ones that I don’t play. These are physical things that don’t take up any real space in my heart. I can better use that time and money on things I really want, and really want to do, versus trying to fill a hole. Throwing stuff at a problem doesn’t fix the problem. Hoarding old PC parts doesn’t solve anything, even though I think one thing randomly down the road will fix or replace something that breaks. Get rid of what’s irrelevant, pay more attention to what matters, and what helps me accomplish goals or improve myself.

In 2020, I took a risk and ran the virtual version of the Peachtree Road Race to cross that off my bucket list, and on Monday I just completed my third – my second in-person. Sometimes when you cross something off your bucket list, it becomes a new hobby or habit. Just like I crossed a 5K off my bucket list in 2019, and I’m still doing them today. I’m going to keep finding ways to improve my everyday life while keeping an eye on the long term goals.

Taking Small Steps

If we were to be able to move to a place I love, and it’s a big if, I’m still talking about at least five years from now. Trying to hold onto a string of hope for that long is not going to be conducive to my mental health, and cannot be the only thing that I do. I have to take some intermediate steps to help with my mental health and outlook, as best as I can control them. Regardless of anything, it’s the best thing I can do for myself.

The first thing I can do is continue on the path to less clutter. A clean space is a happy mental space for me, and it certainly is for my wife. I will be trying to cut down on the clutter, which starts by getting rid of the things that are simply waiting to be disposed of. Then, things I need to keep but don’t have a home for, then can be put away. I can’t speak for anyone else, but that cleanliness is key. My desk is straightaway the first place to start, and I made a big step by making better use of the space under the monitor with the new setup. Soon I will move the tower out, and I can do more under the desk. Perhaps I can swap out the legs I will no longer need for some storage and drawers. A new set of drawers would be so key for me. I’ll buy in the meantime until I finalize my new desk, if lumber prices ever come down to normal.

The other thing is I should consider changes of spaces. I want to be more mobile and out in the community in a new place, I should start taking more breaks outside of my house now. I don’t need to make special trips places, but perhaps I can take my computer with me to coffee or whatever. Have a working breakfast out once in awhile, particularly on Mondays where it is all spreadsheet work. On a nice day, go set up at a park. A change of scenery can do wonders, and I’ll start taking this seriously once the kids start going back to school in a month. I have the laptop and portable monitor to do it, why not. As long as I’m not readily displaying sensitive information, I can really work from anywhere. Maybe it’s time I prove that. I saw that Starbucks has a scone, I should give it a try one morning.

I can also be more intentional about things around the house. I could find five things to make a home for, and five things I can get rid of a day. Or something like that. I already do a lot for clothes and dishes each day, but there are still the random piles of stuff places sometimes that will have to be sorted out. Particularly in the bedroom, where at some point we will have to replace the carpet in. A bunch of piles of stuff without a home does not do well for moving furniture out to place new carpet in.

I should take more time for myself each day. Play a game that I’ve been meaning to get to, maybe do some meditation, do some stretching. Being wound up is not going to help my mental health, and it certainly doesn’t help my tension headaches.

Challenging times are approaching. I need to put myself in the best position to succeed. I’m sure I’ll come up with more ideas, and will continue this some other time.

A Complete About Face

For someone who for years has wanted more space, more room to have more stuff, the revelation that I am more than willing to go smaller, more minimal could be a bit of a shock. I have spent years complaining how small my shop is, how poorly everything fits together. I have spent years hoping for a separate office space instead of being in my bedroom. So this want to downsize could appear to come out of thin air.

It all comes down to realizing what is important, and realizing what it would take to get to that point.

I’ve wanted to move to England since 1998. It hasn’t always been as strong as it is now, but I’m also coming off two trips to confirm my dream. I never quite realized how strong of a pull it is to live in a walkable community. And by that, I don’t mean a huge subdivision with sidewalks. I don’t want every single trip I make outside of my house to require a car. That’s the realization I’ve come to, that after half a lifetime of loving cars, dreaming of bucket list vehicles…that I would rather live in a place where a car isn’t necessary, or at least necessary for my day-to-day life. I would like walkable destinations that would not only give me a place to go, but the ability to burn calories while I do it. It doesn’t just have to be walking; a bicycle-based transportation system works too (like Amsterdam). The point being, if I want something to drink or to pick up something from the grocery store, I don’t want it to be two miles away. Let me walk to it, bike to it (safely), or take a bus. I’m good with any of that.

Why is that so important to me? I can’t really explain it, I think it was fully awakened in me when I visited Evanston in 2018. It was so walkable, so full of life that it was like nothing I had ever experienced before. It was the smallest spark in a tinderbox, and the two visits to Europe really cemented it. I love trains, I love public transportation, I love cities.

Also, to be perfectly blunt, I don’t have a ton of socialization prospects. Living in a subdivision does not help that. I’d love to live in a space that encourages my participation in a community and allows for socialization and making new friends. I love being able to walk to the pub and getting a drink anytime I want to. It’s a great atmosphere. Drinking alone at home does not do much for me at all. Living in a space like this would absolutely go a long ways towards helping my long-term mental health.

Obviously, all things being equal, I would be doing this in England. Or Scotland. Or a lot of places in Europe. However, I know that this is a long shot. As such, I have to be open to places in the US or Canada that would fit those needs if the opportunity arises. All I can do at this point is put myself in a good position to capitalize if I can.

So, why all the talk about downsizing, giving up woodworking, stuff like that? The hard truth is that there is a huge housing crunch in the US and abroad. There is a severe lack of affordable housing, the reasons for which are much better explained by more educated individuals. The housing bubble bursting isn’t necessarily going to change these things either. Desirable places to live are always going to be more expensive than those that are not, and communities with a high walk/bike score are always desirable.

This means that you get less for your money. For the same size place as we have now in someplace like Chicago, NYC, or London, we could be paying anywhere up to and including 10x as much. We can’t afford a $10k mortgage or rent. The issue with the UK in specific is that not only is there an affordable housing crunch, the salaries are quite a bit less than the US. Some of this is down to not necessarily needing the things we need here like private insurance and a vehicle, but even so it still would hurt to move there. It might have to be a retirement scheme. So for the same amount of money as we are spending now on a mortgage, we are going to get less space.

So, what does that mean I’d have to do to downsize? It really depends on how big the new space is, but it likely means I will have to sell most of my tools, if not all. I don’t terribly mind this, so that’s ok. I should look at downsizing my physical media collection for a start. I have entirely too many physical games, DVDs, Blu-rays, and books. If I can give some up, switch to digital versions, or otherwise, it should be on my agenda. I don’t think I have to, or will, give up my consoles at this point. They fit pretty well in my printer sideboard I made, and won’t need multiple of the same in a smaller space. The others can go with my kids.

So much of music and movies now is done via streaming, so perhaps a lot of my discs can be sold or donated. We did a large amount of this for our CDs last year. The task can be done in stages by giving up ones now, and also making keep piles that you will re-evaluate later. The CDs are pretty well pared down, but I’ll be honest – since I ripped them all to the cloud, there might be five to ten I’d actually want to keep long term. For the movies, I would start with any that are readily available on streaming services and are not steelbooks. I could also easily give away the movies that came with digital copies. I used to believe in the fidelity of Blu-ray, but honestly most of my media consumption does not need it.

Very soon I will be doing a cleanout of all my old computer parts, as moving to Mac I really don’t need them anymore. I cleaned up one laptop and it’s ready to sell or donate, and there will be at least one more soon after I replace a power port. I am not getting rid of any LEGO unless I absolutely have to, and as far as model cars, I will get rid of my plastic ones and kits if I need to – but not at this point.

I have already donated a lot of hanging clothes, and I don’t have a need to pare down any more at this current time. I will likely give away a couple more pairs of shoes, so they all fit in my shoe rack. I have already gone through a few bins of miscellaneous stuff and thrown away, so that has been a good start to that. I’ll still hold onto my Apple boxes for the time being, since they don’t take up a lot of room. I just like the product packaging. I have quite a few other boxes that should probably be thrown away. There are a couple old cell phones that I should recycle. I will go through my books to see what can be donated, that I don’t have a desire to own anymore, or maybe replace it with a digital copy. Books on display are nice, but it isn’t a necessity.  There’s some odds and ends and knickknacks that I could stand to give up if needed.

I did buy the MacBook Pro, and I also added a portable screen, so I do recognize that I still have to live my life in the interim. I could take this combo to a cafe or elsewhere in case I need a change of pace or need to be mobile for some reason. This combo is good enough to use permanently if the situation dictates. Perhaps we decide to roam for awhile on a travel contract? I’m prepared. If we get somewhere that I can have an office in a spare room, I’ve also modified my dream office to have my desk monitor serve as the TV, which allows everything to fit in a smaller space with all the other changes I’ve outlined above.

All of this is possible because I reevaluated what is important to me. The answer isn’t more stuff, it’s more experiences. I don’t need a 5.1 surround sound when a soundbar or headphones is fine. I don’t need a 1000+ physical game collection that overflows two bookcases, when digital games are so convienent and Xbox Game Pass gives me most of the new stuff I want to play already. I don’t need multiple shelves of model cars that collect dust, mugs of everywhere I’ve been (even though I just added three), or old tech on display. Give me more reasons to leave the house, not live in it. I think that’s the key to a better life.

European Replay – Day Eleven

The last day of our trip, travel day.

We awoke in the hotel adjacent to the terminal, walked over, and ate breakfast in the very large lounge area after we went through security. We picked up a few parting gifts, like a big bag of Cadbury Roundies, some teas, and etc. We boarded our Delta flight to JFK and we had left Europe.

We arrived at JFK and were a bit surprised to have to exit the airport completely to go to the other terminal. We went through security there, got some lunch at Wendy’s and waited for our flight to Orlando. Flying during the day is much nicer than flying at night when you are expected to sleep.

We got to Orlando and had to wait about three hours for our next flight, so we had dinner at the Outback there. It was okay, but it was probably better than that at the time because we needed it. We were really tired at this point and the last flight back to Atlanta was seriously uncomfortable.

Make it though, we did. Our trip was at an end. We thought we had made it through unscathed until we went to return our mascot to our son, and realized we had lost it on the very last day. We know it made it out of London, but it must have been left when we got off the plane at JFK. We unfortunately never saw it again, even after sending messages to Delta, TSA, and JFK lost and found. My wife was inconsolable, but thankfully our son understood and was happy to have us back at least.

It was an amazing trip, one that I will never forget. It may have been a day or two too long, but also the miserableness of Versailles may have played a part as well. I’m glad we didn’t try to do the Rome to London itinerary. We are already looking forward to our next trip, and we got our kids passports during this one year anniversary so they can come as well.

European Replay – Day Ten

Our last full day in Europe, unfortunately. We made sure our things were packed up, but we were allowed to keep our suitcases in the apartment while we went to Atelier des Lumieres. This is basically an old warehouse/plant that shows digital imagery on the walls and floor. The images can move around in whole and in part – meaning that the entire image can pan, or parts of the images can be put in motion.

In 2019 this facility had a Vincent Van Gogh exhibit, with two additional sets of artwork exhibited. One was Japanese art, and I honestly don’t remember the other one. So in this exhibit you had the major artworks of Van Gogh digitized, set to music, and exhibited all around you. It was amazing to see this artwork come to life in this way, and I’d recommend this type of artwork exhibit to anyone.

We took the Metro to the nearest station, got some breakfast while we waited (pain au chocolat is brilliant), and took in the exhibit. After, we had a bit of time before we needed to pick up our stuff so we went back to Ile Saint-Louis and got a crepe and enjoyed it on Pont Saint-Louis and just took in the environment.

Our time in Paris had come to an end, so we grabbed our bags, took the Metro to Gare du Nord once again, and boarded the Eurostar for London. Our trip home would be the next morning, and everything I heard said you didn’t want to be taking the train back and trying to fly out on the same day unless it was a late flight.

We sped through the French countryside again exceeding 180mph, went under the English Channel and arrived in the late afternoon in London. We attempted to hit the Harry Potter store in Kings Cross, but the line was absolutely obscene – we thought it was for pictures, but it was the line to just get in the store. We debated hanging around in town to get some dinner, but decided to end our trip experience early, take the train to Heathrow, and eat dinner at the hotel.

We were decidedly exhausted at this point. We went to bed at a reasonable time, having watched our last bit of BBC/Dave for the trip.