This trip - unlike the others - went off without any major hitches. No deaths, no missed flights (except for a missed connection for two of the travellers who went early to spend a few days in Venice before the tour started) and no major hitches. Two pieces of luggage didn't arrive in Winnipeg until today, but if a bag has to go missing, the very end of the trip is probably the best time. We also had a long trip home with extended layovers in Frankfurt and Toronto. Then our final flight was delayed an extra hour because mechanics had to fix the lock on the cockpit door (!?), resulting in a 1:30 a.m. arrival in Winnipeg. We were all very exhausted and a few people were very vocal about their displeasure at the long layovers and delay. There were a couple of chronic complainers in the group, but overall it was an excellent group. This tour was a bit different than the others I've done; our group included some people from the US and Britain. They were nice people but we didn't interact too much with them and it made the group a bit fractured.
But also different was the fact we had a tour manager with us the whole time, from start to finish. Dale didn't come on this trip and I was a bit worried beforehand about being with the group on my own. But I needn't have feared; the tour manager did an excellent job of being in charge of the entire group. There was literally nothing for me to do, which was pretty sweet.
My family appeared to manage quite well without me. The house was very tidy; cleaner than it was when I left. Laundry was done, carpets were vacuumed, and there wasn't even a stack of mail/papers/newspapers, etc. Dale had food ready for dinner the next day and the van was clean inside and out. I did notice the hand towel in the bathroom hadn't been changed since I left and I swept up enough crap off the floor to fill a shoebox, but overall it was very, very nice to come home to. I don't think I was missed too much; Chloe is sad she doesn't have unlimited access to a vehicle anymore and Spencer is sad to be asked questions about school. Apparently a LOT of ice cream was consumed. I'm not sure why that only happens when I'm gone; it's not like I'm the ice cream police or anything. But it's all good; I'm happy when they're happy. Truth be told, I didn't miss them that much either. I knew they were in good hands with Dale at home and although I would have loved to share the experience with Dale and was very ready to see them all by the end, I enjoyed the trip to the fullest. It really was amazing.
And that will be a story for another day(s).