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Category Archives: USA

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!

Cheers!

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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.

 
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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!

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2012 in USA

 

Departure Date – June 14th!!!

Author: Steve

It’ 8:30am and I’m sitting at Starbucks. An unbelievable sense of emotion has just hit me like a Mac Truck, yeah it might be the lack of sleep and the Grande coffee but I’d rather believe it’s because in a few hours we are about to leave our small town for a while and just be together! I’m not sure what tomorrow, next week or even next month will bring but that’s what’s so exciting!! (Note to self – investigate proper usage and etiquette when using exclamation points). Our backpacks are all packed and ready to go…a sense of calm has been rolling upon us since late last night and we can all feel it. I am so happy to be with my family and at the same time I am so happy to simply just “be”!!

Good Bye Home!

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2011 in USA

 

Well We’re Off…

Author: Steve

It’s Monday night and Amy and I at this point can’t quite see straight, the last few weeks have taken their toll on us with all the gazillion “to-do” lists scattered throughout the house. Between cleaning out the house, loading up the PODS, end-of-school events (a lot of partying for the kids), getting rid of a car, insurance, packing clothes, cell phones, laptops, etc., etc. we are just tired and at the same time giddy with anticipation. We see the finish line and it’s tomorrow!! No matter what happens at this point, tomorrow afternoon we are getting on a plane to Düsseldorf, Germany! One backpack and one carry on each; Germany here we come!! Our blog has kind of taken a back seat to other more immediate details but we hope to start forming it more completely as we begin our travels. Thank you everyone for all of your love, support and prayers that you have been sending our way, we are blessed to have such a great and strong network of family and friends.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2011 in USA

 

The Countdown Begins

Author: Amy

We are 46 days out from our trip and the news is getting out.  I am happy to share our excitement but willing to wait on hearing people’s possible negative comments.  We have read many blogs and realize there will be “doubters”. My Mama instinct is to protect my kids and sneak away in the night so they don’t have to hear the negatives. But without rain there wouldn’t be rainbows and so, in order to reap the positive feedback, I guess we will have to hear the possible negatives as well.  On the flip side we are having a few good friends over for an “end of season” couples tennis party, I’m excited to finally tell them this evening. We are having “BLOG SCHOOL” today – yikes, hoping it gets easier.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2011 in USA