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What an absolutely lovely post, you've taken me on a wonderful journey from beginning to end. Sounds like you had an amazing trip...Swimming...imagine that!! And how fitting to mention Moby Dick. I love audio books too, and will look into this version, as I believe I suffer the exact same handicap you mention :D

What a feast!

I tried MD many years ago, and foundered, not so much on the text itself, but because I chose a heavily annotated edition - not just annotated for necessary information but with long interpretations and comments too. I was very young and conscientious and felt I should read them all, but the constant editorial interruptions meant I never got into the flow of the story (so many sea-girt metaphors I am using, how appropriate!).

An audio-book version might be a very good way to relaunch myself into it...

I like what you say about the joy of planning a trip, yet somehow if the end of the journey disappoints, it shouldn't undo the fun of travelling hopefully, but somehow a lot of eager preparation and looking forward to it can make the disappointment greater.

Great wanderings! And that is a wonderful Ishmael...

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