4th August
written by Hope

When we told our friends and family that we were going to go through with this 1+ year around-the-world idea, reactions fell all across the spectrum. The great majority of people were supportive, a lot expressed jealousy, but a few seemed concerned. How could we possibly make it a whole year sleeping in a different bed every night? Wouldn’t it be hard eating restaurant food all the time? Wouldn’t we miss our house, a place to call home?

Of course, I was scared of all these things too before we left. It has been really interesting being on the road and realizing that all those things you think you need, you really don’t. Sure, we miss a few things: Jeremy misses his bike, and I miss my sewing machine (and my closet) (ok, and my shoes). But most days we enjoy the simplicity of living out of a bag and we don’t miss THAT much about San Francisco.

Except our family and friends. (OK, and maybe Mission burritos.)

We’ve had a couple of people tell us that we were “brave” for going on this trip, and while I can see where they are coming from, I think that far and away the most courageous thing we’ve done is to find peace with the fact that we will be missing out on 1+ year of our friends’ and families’ lives. Many of our friends at home are having babies or getting pregnant and of course we want to share in those life-changing experiences with them. Both Jeremy and I have ailing grandparents and every moment we spend with them is precious. We knew what we would be missing out on and yet, we still left. We left with only the conviction that this trip was the right thing for us to do at the right time. We left knowing that we would be stealing time from our friends and family but feeling certain that the quality of what we would be able to give them when we came back would be greater. I can think of no “braver” act than that on this trip (even eating the hairy cow rumen). Inertia can be a powerful thing to overcome.

All of this came to a head in Shirahama, a beach town south of Osaka that faces the Pacific Ocean. We decided to go there on a whim…we hadn’t planned to see the coast at all, but we read that there was a nice beach there with an outdoor onsen (mineral hot spring), and since we could get there free using our Japan Rail passes, we decided to go for it.

Since we hadn’t really planned on visiting Shirahama, we didn’t have accommodation booked, but luckily the train station had a tourist information center that could help us. I was busy working with the nice lady at the counter when Jeremy turned to me with his sad face (and if you haven’t seen Jeremy’s sad face, it is really heartbreaking).

Jeremy’s Grandpa Bob, an incredible man who, up until his late 80’s, was still bodysurfing in the Pacific, had passed away.

the pacific ocean as seen from shirahama

Fighting back tears (rather unsuccessfully, I might add), we booked a room for the night and boarded the town bus towards our minshuku (Japanese B&B). I’ll tell you what, of all the bumpy, sweaty, scary, torturously long bus rides we’ve endured on the trip thus far, there was never a harder transport moment than those 10 minutes it took us to get from the train station to our B&B, trying to hold it together until we got to the privacy of our room.

There is something poetic about the fact that we had come to Shirahama, a town facing the Pacific Ocean, surely the last ocean that Grandpa Bob—a lifelong lover of the beach—last swam in. When I look at the photos of our time in Shirahama, I see only his presence.

He was with us when we walked on Senjo-jiki (a.k.a. Thousand Tatami Mat Point—locals think the rocks are so wide and flat that they look like a thousand tatami mats all strung together)…

senjo-jiki, shirahama

He was with us when we wandered around Sandan-heki (Three Step Cliff)…

me on sandan-heki, shirahama

He was with us when we soaked in the waters of Sakino-yu onsen, a hot spring on the beach with ocean waves crashing into the cold pool…

sakino-yu, shirahama

He was with us when we swam in the Pacific…

shirarahama beach

And he was definitely with us as we watched the sun lower over that very same ocean…

shirarahama beach

Grandpa Bob died at the age of 93, surrounded by all three of his children and some of his grandchildren. His passing, as his life, was full of grace and beauty. We love you, Grandpa Bob.


  1. Adam

    I’m very sorry to hear of your loss, Jeremy. And I’m sorry that you weren’t able to be there with your family when Grandpa Bob passed.

    But from the little bit that Hope mentioned about him here, I suspect he would have made the same decision you did and that he understood your choice to do so.

    Beautifully written, Hope. Peace.

  2. eddo

    beautiful entry, and a fitting tribute to a loved man. my sincere condolences.

  3. Laurie Hermann

    Hope, Thank you for your sweet words, and remembrances…I’ll make sure my Mom sees this, as well as Robin and Tom…I love you, L

  4. Erika

    Sending big warm hugs to you and your family. I’m sorry to hear about your loss and am thinking of you both. It’s never easy to lose a loved one and I”m sure the distance made it even harder, but your tribute to him is very touching.

  5. robinfayer

    laurie emailed this to me today. I have not kept up with your adventures I’m some what embarased to report. But Dear laurie knows what is important and she made sure we saw this. Hope it is just so lovely, as your writings so often are. Thank you so very much for taking the time and the thought to arrange this experience and share it. It is really beautiful and so helpful to all us here. Tight hugs to you both. Will try to email to to Wiebe and Nel in the Netherlands also, though I’m thinking maybe you are not getting there. He is quiet special, if you do manage. Really and extraordinary person, and she is a wonderful partner and very easy to be with. much love, robin

  6. Anna

    Yes, this is a wonderful tribute to the man we all loved. Looking across the Pacific is certainly a way to feel closer to those you miss.

  7. Bunny

    Hope & Jeremy: I can picture Jeremy’s sad face and feel the tears you were holding back. I’m certain there will be more tears shed as each person reads this beautiful tribute to Bob Hoover(including mine). I had the privilege of knowing the Hoover family way back in our San Onofre surfing days. I also love the Pacific Ocean. It has wonderful memories for me.

  8. Laurie Hermann

    Hope, I continue to re-read this, with tears in my eyes…thank you…xo L

  9. 05/08/2009

    I’m sorry to hear of this passing. There’s so much you miss, but so much you add during a year away.

  10. 05/08/2009

    a heartfelt thank you to you all for your loving words. i want to send all that kindness to the family that was with grandpa bob when he passed. they all did such an amazing job of taking care of him as well as each other during a difficult time. and on top of that, everyone made sure jeremy and i felt involved as well. for that i send a huge thank you to you all! feeling like we were a part of the process definitely made coping easier for us from so far away. xox

  11. Martina

    So sad for you all, but what a beautiful tribute. Much love

  12. Joe F

    hope, so beautifully put. a very open and personal posting, thanks. there were many thoughts of you and jeremy that day. the hoover clan was together, and we missed you guys.

  13. Amy H.

    Hi Hope and Jeremy. I finally got a chance to read this and am really touched… I feel closer to you both with this loss knowing what your experiences were at that time. And as Joe said, we were all thinking of you both and missing you when we gathered in San Clemente. Nice to know we were all looking out at the same ocean, thinking of this special man.

  14. 12/08/2009

    Jeremy and Hope, so sorry for your loss. Grandpa Bob sounds amazing. Wonderful, beautiful, emotional post - thank you for sharing it.

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