How Do You Measure A Year? – Wisconsin

Author: Steve

Ok . . . well . . . I don’t know what else to say other than, “IT’S OVER”!

We didn’t plan it this way but this is our 100th blog . . . we never imagined we would reach that number. “How do you measure a year” is saying we used throughout the last 12 months because it came from one of our family theme songs “Seasons of Love” from the play “Rent”.

We are in Wisconsin now spending some fun time with our families . . . Kendal and Keegan love nothing more than hanging out with their extended families and laughing till they can’t breath.  They are working out with a swim team and are loving being back in the pool and making new friends again.  I’ll be heading home to start back up with work and Amy and the kids will stay up north for a while longer to enjoy more time with family and the great summer weather in Wisconsin.

I’m heading to the airport and leaving Amy, Kendal and Keegan as they stay up north with family . . . since we arrived in Wisconsin I have been dreading this day, especially after seeing them almost everyday for a year. But this is a good decision, a decision that gives Amy a chance to spend time with her parents and the kids a chance to hang out with their grandparents . . . which they truly enjoy.

Thank you all so much for coming with us on our journey and sending all your well wishes . . . even though this blog at times (many times) became laboring we were motivated to keep writing knowing you were on the journey with us and we were enjoying the world together.  Thank you to the countless people around the world that embraced us as friends and helped to make our trip an adventure of a lifetime – the friendships you gave us are truly priceless.  Finally, a special thank you to all our host families that so graciously opened their homes and shared their lives with us – we will never forget your hospitality; know that you have lead by example and that your incredible generosity has taught us the true meaning of “unconditional giving”.

Amy, Kendal and Keegan all had their ‘it’s over’ sad moment back in Australia, mine didn’t hit until California (and more than once).  To have my family all together in that beach house, grilling steaks on the deck, watching the movie ‘The Bucket List’ and looking out onto the ocean was a site I will never forget (like so many, many moments during this year) and it reminds me again to be thankful for “Right Here and Right Now” because you never know what the future holds.  Looking over this years pictures at all the places we visited over the last 12 months is very surreal and makes us all really appreciate this adventure.  This year has been incredible and one of the best decisions Amy and I have ever made . . . to have this year together to travel around the world, I’m not sure what we could ever do to show our gratitude other than very humbly use what we’ve learned from these travels to try and be better people.  Maybe to be ambassadors and to explain how small our world is and how people on the other side of our world, in completely different cultures, all seem to want the same things; to give love, to be loved, to be happy, to provide for their children and to live an honest and meaningful life.  If we can do at least one thing and that is to share how great the people of our world are and how we are all Gods children then maybe, just maybe, we can all find the strength to have more patience and tolerance for each other to allow us all to love each other just a little more.

Here’s to Right Here and Right Now!



Posted by on May 29, 2012 in USA


Yosemite National Park – California

Author: Steve

We stayed in a cabin in Curry Village – the incredible rock formations were in every direction

Our final destination before heading to see family in Wisconsin was Yosemite National Park.  I really never read too much about Yosemite so going there I imagined it was probably just a cool National Park but wow . . . we were all amazed at the beauty of this place. It reminds me of when I went to the Grand Canyon for the first time a few years ago – I thought, ‘Sure this will be fun to hang out with the family and as an added bonus we can check out a huge hole in the ground . . . was I wrong. That’s what Yosemite is like – when you enter the park you get that “wow” moment, I would recommend it to everyone.  We all hiked the Lower Yosemite Falls, the Mist Trail to Vernal Falls and took a raft down the Merced River.  Amy, Kendal and Keegan also hiked Happy Isles and I decided I wanted to hike up to Glacier Point via the Four Mile Trail – it was beyond beautiful and pictures could never relay its beauty.

Keegan is a true outdoorsman – he could hike for days

Hiking up Mist Trail to Vernal Falls – that’s Amy and Keegan

Here’s a view from the top of Vernal Falls – we were drenched by the time we reached the top

The Four Mile Trail heading up to Glacier Point was my favorite – these views are well worth the 4.5 mile ascent with the 3200 feet elevation change

I hit snow on the way up and then the hike became much more adventurous!  This hike is rated as strenuous and they are not lying.

Another view as I hiked up to Glacier Point. I was able to reach the top in 2 hours and 3 minutes and I got back down in 1 hour 30 minutes.  Time was critical since we were driving to Sacramento that afternoon. In retrospect (since I was beat) I would not have driven four hours after that hike – a burger and a cold beer is all I really wanted at that point.

Reaching Glacier Point with Half Dome behind me – Yosemite is, hands-down, worth the trip!

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Posted by on May 26, 2012 in USA


San Francisco and Big Sur – California

Author: Steve

We thought it would be fun to spend some time in California so from Hawaii we flew into San Jose, California.  We spent a few days in the San Jose area just trying to get our sleeping cycles down, with the large time change we just went through since leaving Australia it was more of challenge than we thought.  It took much longer than we anticipated but we made it through it, I think the burritos helped —  wow, California makes great burritos!  We headed to downtown San Francisco and spent a few days exploring the city.  The highlight for all of us was biking over the Golden Gate Bridge for Amy’s birthday – that was a beautiful day; slightly windy on the bridge itself but a great day overall.

It was fun to take the trolley in San Francisco – great city and the weather was perfect

We are getting close to the Golden Gate Bridge to start our ride across

Keegan and I took a quick stop to check out Alcatraz – that’s Kendal and Amy on the bikes riding ahead

It was much cooler on the bridge due to the wind gusts but it was a nice sunny day

It was a great way to spend Amy’s birthday

We took a train to the San Francisco airport to pick up a car rental and started driving.  Another change that took a little bit to get used to was driving on the right hand side of the road with the steering wheel on the left, especially after having a rental in Australia for about 3 weeks where everything is opposite but again all is back to the same.  (One thing we’ve learned with all the rentals we’ve had is to simply reserve a car online that is just enough space for you and your luggage. When you get to the counter they will tell you they have a great deal and for $10-20 dollars more a day they can upgrade you to something better and larger.  Just tell them what you have is enough and you just want what you reserved – they most likely won’t have it and will upgrade you for free because they have no choice . . . hardly ever fails. The only chance you take is ending up with the car you originally reserved which should still be a good deal since you reserved it online.)  From San Francisco we headed south on Highway 1 to the Monterey and Santa Cruz area. We rented an apartment for 5 nights right on a fairly private beach – the views completely surpassed all of our expectations. (Another thing we’ve learned when it comes to apartment rentals is that you can get a really good deal by playing the numbers game. For example; I checked out a number of really cool apartments online, and most of them show their calendars of when the unit is and is not available. So I would simply send out a bunch of emails to the owners or rental agents asking if they had any aggressive last minute discounts – I figure they would want some money rather than no money when you have a rental unit; a win-win for all parties.  Out of the 10 emails I sent out we received 2 that were incredibly nice with a great discount – we ended up taking the one on the beach.)  From that location we took a great day trip down Highway 1 to Big Sur.  Being in California reminded us immediately not only that we are lucky to live in the US because of the freedom and democracy that is bestowed to us but how abundantly beautiful our country is.

That’s Kendal taking her last exam for virtual school – she was very excited to get that done. We are in the beach condo we rented in Pajaro, which is a very small community in Monterey County, California

I took this picture of Amy, Kendal and Keegan while I was grilling from the deck. It was so incredibly beautiful; it’s one of those places that if you ever needed months to write a book this is where you would want to do it.

On our way to Big Sur driving on Highway 1 we decided to stop and check out the views. I guess we are all starting to reflect on our trip and accept the inevitable return to our traditional everyday lives . . . and maybe have more of an appreciation for everything.


Posted by on May 23, 2012 in USA


Waikiki Beach – Honolulu, Hawaii

Author: Amy

The lagoon at the hotel

We lost Keegan for hours as he hit every water slide more times than we could count

Booking our flights along the way proved to be a good decision for us, since we really appreciated the flexibility.  Unlike in the US many places offer last minute price cuts on flights or offer lower prices all along.  We found flights from Australia to the US to be very expensive and super long so we opted for a low cost carrier that flew to Honolulu.  From Honolulu we booked a cheap flight to California the same day thinking we had just been on the beach in Aussie no need to visit Hawaii.  Well I didn’t fully understand that you gain a day when you fly from Australia to the US but now I get it.  It was a blessing in disguise — we arrived at 7am in Honolulu spent one night in Hawaii as a bit of a travel break.  What a great day we had.  We stayed at a nice resort and swam in a little lagoon hit their water-slides and went to the evening Luau.  It was a fabulous quick peek at Hawaii and we all are glad we ended up there – maybe wishing we would have stayed another night or two.

Keegan getting a “Sharpie” tattoo by one of the performers

Kendal was picked to go up and dance with the performers – she was doing her thing up there

The women performers at the luau moved so elegantly and effortlessly it was very beautiful

Doing an island warrior dance

We had a great time in Hawaii and a great night at the Luau!


Posted by on May 13, 2012 in USA


Hooroo Australia – Gold Coast, Australia

Author: Steve

Keegan saying good-bye to Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia

We are ending Australia where we started, in the Gold Coast – we decided to stay at the same campsite we stayed when we first arrived for a couple nights before catching a plane to Hawaii.  As we sit and reflect on our stay in Australia all we can do is be thankful for such an incredible experience in the land down-under with the great opportunity we were given to meet yet more incredible new friends.

We head to the US tomorrow and I cannot begin to tell you how sad I am that our trip is coming closer to an end and yet how happy I am that I have had this time with my family.



Posted by on May 12, 2012 in Australia


More New Friends Down Under and Koala’s – Brisbane, Australia

Author: Kendal

Here we are with our new mates and you can also see the Brisbane skyline in the background

Since we are now in…Australia!!!! (I love yelling that.)  We decided that since Australia was so huge we would just stay in the Queensland area and explore. At the campsite on one of our first nights in Australia we met a number of really nice and fun families. One of the families was even nice enough to invite us to their house for a night! People sure are friendly in Australia ;)! They have 3 kids, two boys, Jacob (12) and Lachlan (10) and one cute little girl named Maleese (7). When we got there we got the tour of the house and attacked… with kisses by their ADORABLE dog, Lily – love at first site 🙂 .

The cute koala just hanging out! Even though you hear koala “bear” sometimes, they are not bears at all they are marsupials, or pouched mammals.

Koala on the move! Koala’s are nocturnal animals and they sleep up to 18-20 hours a day.

They knew of a conservancy that held koala’s!!!!! So we all hopped in the cars and headed to the koala’s! They were so cute, and furry, and moving! We actually saw one climb . . . no, scoot down the tree and then crawl across to get some more leaves! It was a very nice way to see the koala’s that we had been looking for since being in Australia. Along the highways there are signs for koala crossing and we had been on the lookout. We found out that koala’s are threatened in Australia because they need a lot of space, about 100 trees per koala, and with the woodland areas shrinking in Australia so is the population of the koala.

Our group then headed off to a really good look out point to get a great view of the sky-line of Brisbane, thankfully there was a park to play on so when the parents talked we played! 😉 Once we got back we hung out around the house, and then had a typical Australian dinner on the barbie! It was delicious! Afterwards, while the parents did what parents do (talk) we kids played hide and seek in the dark…very nerve racking.  Since it was, say . . . midnight, we decided it was best if we got ready for bed.  In the morning we got to eat incredible egg and bacon breakfast sandwiches made on the barbie!  Before we left we got to do one more fun thing and that was ride their bikes to the parks in their neighborhood. Keegan and Jacob were on a tandem bike…let’s just say there was a lot of screaming on that bike . . .lol! It was such a fun experience to hang out with them; it was a great way to end the tour of Brisbane and we hope to see our friends again when they visit the US.

Keegan enjoyed practicing his video game skills with Lachlan and Jacob.

The authentic Australian barbie by Mike our grill man.

I tried out the authentic Aboriginal instrument; the didgeridoo.

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Posted by on May 11, 2012 in Australia


Fraser Island – Queensland, Australia

Author: Keegan

Our rental car and home for a few nights. We were lucky because the bathroom and showers were only 20 feet across the street and everything was very clean. All the campsites in Australia that we stayed at were actually very clean.

We are in Australia now and we are moving on to a place called Fraser Island. It is a huge island made of sand off the coast of Australia.  It is the largest sand island in the world, its 75 miles long and you can only access it by ferryboat.

Here we are getting ready for the long day

We got picked up by a tour company at the campsite we were staying at in a city called Noosa.  On the trip we took this HUGE 4×4 truck and the driver/tour guide asked my dad and I to sit in the passenger seat (front seat) with him.

This was my view for the tour that day – it was pretty cool being up front

To get to the island we had to take a barge that carries 4 x 4 trucks/cars across to the island. It was very cool. After that we went to a special spot on the water where there was a stream going into the ocean for morning tea but to get there was like…ugh…terrible!! It was like really bad turbulence on an airplane for fifteen minutes straight! It was not fun. We then rode on the beach for a couple of miles and then we went further in the island there were a lot of eucalyptus trees every where.

That’s my mom in Lake McKenzie which is one of the over 100 fresh water lakes on the island

Then we went to a large freshwater lake for a swim and lunch after that. The sand in the lake is supposed to make sliver and gold shiny when you rub some of it on your silver and gold jewelry, I guess it has silicon in the sand. While we were swimming we saw a Dingo (wild dog) and it was kind of cool looking. They say that Fraser Island has the most pure breed of Dingo’s in all of Australia because people are not allowed to bring dogs on the island and no other canine can get there because it is an island.

Some people never see Dingo’s when they go on the Island because there aren’t that many left. So we were lucky. This one came out of no where and every one just slowly backed away. We were looking at it and then we realized my mom disappeared – my dad said she saw some Dingo movie growing up where the Dingo eats a baby and ever since then she gets spooked by the Dingo’s so she took off.

For lunch I had some steak and it was pretty good Kendal had some too. My mom had shrimp on the barbie . . . again, she likes that.

The rainforest was really cool to walk through, it is the only place on earth where tall rainforest grows in the sand

After that we took the barge back and then went on the beach again for some afternoon tea. They are big on morning and afternoon tea here in Australia if you haven’t already figured out, which I don’t mind because it typically always includes cookies.

In the rainforest on Fraser Island

That day we saw four kangaroos and one dingo so it was a great day.

This is on our way back, we drove that beach for so long . . . it was very cool but a little too long for me so I closed my eyes for a bit and caught up on a little sleep

My dad is holding up a 2 and my mom is holding up a 1 – that’s so they remember where they spent their 21st wedding anniversary. They said, “it doesn’t get much better than this”!


Posted by on May 10, 2012 in Australia