Finally en route


I am finally en route on a flight to Frankfurt, Germany, the first hop on my trip to Thessaloniki, Greece. We are flying from the afternoon into a bank of darkness, as evening sets quickly. When we land in Germany, we will be nine hours ahead. When we land in Thessaloniki, we will be 10 hours ahead of Seattle time. Jet lag, here we come!

It’s hard to believe that this is the culmination of an idea that began last year, with a desire to do something besides read about the refugee crisis in Europe. I know I am one of many people who volunteer, so in the grand schema of things, this is just a drop of water in an ocean. But oceans are made of many individual drops of water. Every act of kindness, no matter how small, counts.

Over the last two months, I’ve slowly collected the gear for my trip — most of it from thrift stores.

Here is a sampling of what I packed for the trip. Bear in mind that Northern Greece in winter is cold – or colder – than it is in the Pacific Northwest. Add to it the fact the Thessaloniki camp is situated in an unheated warehouse on a ocean wharf, and, well, you get the picture — it’s cold.

Here is a sampling of what I have  packed:

Six pairs of hiking pants – REI-brand pants can be found quite easily in thrift stores. I am not certain why – REI is nearly as good as it gets. All of these were purchased for less than $10 a piece

Six pairs of thermal tights – most of it name-brand climate-designed tights and sweat pants that I purchased for under $8 each at a thrift store.

10 pairs of socks – eight of which were brand-new socks at the thrift store, plus a couple of pairs I already had. About a $10 investment.

1 lightweight Primaloft down jacket with hood – Outdoor Research brand – a measly $15 at my favorite Goodwill store. Phenomenally warm, with just a tiny splash of paint on one sleeve. I think I can live with that.

1 rain jacket – Marmot brand – $8. Another thrift-store bargain. It has a hole in the sleeve that looks like a dog bit whomever was wearing it. But I washed it and most likely will not catch rabies.

Giant suitcase – in great shape except for a broken zipper on a side pocket. I wheedled them down for a 20 percent discount, then sewed the problematic pocket up with dental floss — the BEST sewing thread for fixing suitcases. My friend wheeled her suitcase across Europe with a dental-floss sewing job and it completely held up. It doesn’t smell as if anything has died in it, so I think this is a real bargain.

1 weird-looking knitted hat with a yarn Mohawk on top. Had to buy it — It’s warm and it’s original. $2 (half-price day!) at thrift store.

Shiny silver knitted gloves – Christmas present from my mom. Classic ensemble,when paired with above hat.

2 pairs warm pajama bottoms – Christmas gifts. Thank you, mom.

1 pair bunny slippers. Gift from a friend. Designed to make any world destination a friendlier place.

In addition, I am hauling two large bags of warm clothing and solar lanterns for SCM. I am extremely grateful to my airline, Lufthansa, which took these bags on board free of charge, after I gave them a letter from SCM vouching for my mission.

My carry-ons consist of one backpack full of camera gear, and a laptop bag containing — you guessed it — a laptop. I’ve also packed all my medications in it, batteries for my electronic devices. And a candy bar and water.

I’m wearing a money belt that feels like girdle. Paired up with a baggy Seattle Storm shirt, shorts and tights, it makes me look like a knock-off version of Melissa McCarthy on Bridesmaids. Sort of wishing I had the Mohawk hat to complete the look.

I’ve also had the great fortunate of getting a better seat, thanks to the fact someone threw up on the pillow set on my original seat. Ew. I’m now sitting in the last row of the tail section, with an empty seat next to me. I will be stretching out shortly, as it is 2:30 a.m. in Germany. We are flying through darkness somewhere over northeastern Canada. According to the flight screen showing our route, we have just passed over the town of Slave.

Well, it’s getting late. This is all for now.

Stay tuned.


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