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Nik & Whitney, 2008
Rock-climbing heaven - limestone caves Nik and Whitney found in northern Thailand. (See Nik down there?)

Whitney, 2014
Whitney with Brazilian friends in Recife, Brazil.

Nik & Whitney, 2008
Nik doing some bouldering along the coast of Koh Tao, Thailand.

Whitney, 2011
Art Museum in Cordoba, Argentina.
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The Great Solar Eclipse of 2017 crossed the continent, from Oregon to South Carolina, and gave millions of people the chance to witness one of the most awe-inspiring events in the natural world.

Nik's photo of the August 21 eclipse, photographed from Glendo, Wyoming. The star, Regulus, is barely visible to the lower left of the solar corona.
But you had to be within the "path of totality", a narrow band across the earth's surface several thousand miles long but only about 70 miles wide. Outside that band you would only see a partial eclipse, not a total eclipse.

And there is no such thing as a "partial total eclipse", despite the impression blogs and the news media might give. I honestly think that's why so many people misunderstand the utter beauty of the spectacle; they may have seen a partial eclipse in the past that was total somewhere else, and even though they weren't in the path the news kept gushing about it being a total eclipse, so they assume they must have seen a total eclipse and just didn't find it all that impressive.

Posted by Dan 08/29/2017, revised 09/06/2017
(Our kids have grown and are no longer posting blog stories here. Below are some highlights from past posts.)
Urbanathlon, Where You Been All My Life?!

I admit I was at first a little apprehensive about an obstacle race. I mean, I guess it always sounded fun in theory, kind of like when the office coworker you hardly know suggests a play date for your dogs.

"Yeah! That sounds fun, we should do that sometime ... "

But the truth is, I don't like being constantly interrupted when I run. I get irritated when I have to maneuver around casual walkers monopolizing the whole width of the trail, or slow my pace to duck under a low hanging tree branch.

This one was Brad's idea. Although he doesn't much care for running, he was willing to forgive the Urbanathlon for serving up 11 miles of it, since there would be plenty of obstacles and strength challenges to keep him entertained. I, on the other hand, was less confident about my abilities to navigate through an obstructed race course.

Once upon a playground, I was master of the monkey bars, and a habitual climber of fences and trees (usually in my fanciest dresses, much to my parents' bewilderment).

But those days have long since passed, and I have now developed an irrational fear of heights, or perhaps more specifically, a fear of gravity. My adult attempts at reliving my grade school glory on the jungle gym have been thwarted by a disturbing awareness that I could easily dislocate a shoulder or throw out my back with the most basic of acrobatics.

Most of my training leading up to this event was simply focused on all-around functional strength, and a fairly traditional gym regimen, despite Brad's insistence that I learn to do 30 consecutive pull-ups, so that I could be strong like him.

In the final week before the race, we devised a practice course at a local playground -- a training circuit that included running, pull-ups, monkey bars, stair climb repeats, army crawling under the swing set, and of course hurdling over the 5 foot fence surrounding the playground (rather than walking through the gate like normal people).

This dress rehearsal was a huge confidence builder for me, and it turned out to be a lot more fun than I expected. I finally got my groove back on the monkey bars, zipping back and forth effortlessly. I definitely need more monkey bars in my life.

Race day I was pumped and ready. I knew I could manage all the obstacles, and I figured the running in between would be my chance to rest.

Posted by Kimberly 11/25/2015
Cambodia to Malaysia, Via Thailand

Well, I was gonna write all about the rest of Laos and Cambodia but I've fallen dreadfully behind so let's take up from our reentry into Thailand.

This time through Thailand began with a 24 hour trip from Siem Reap, in Cambodia, all the way to Krabi, with a brief stopover in Bangkok long enough to arrange the next leg. Krabi is well known for its world class climbing. The small beaches in Krabi are isolated from the mainland by towering Limestone cliffs.

Rock climbers paradise

The main beaches are Aow Nang, the busy primary stop accessible from the mainland, Railey East and Railey West, two beaches on the peninsula and accessible by boat, and Ton Sai, a tiny cove that can be accessed by boat or from Railey at low tide. Aow Nang is used as a jumping off point for the islands in the area or to catch boats to the other beaches. Railey's beaches have excellent climbing but are dominated by expensive family resorts and the families that go with them. Ton Sai is wonderfully removed from the resort beaches and far cheaper. The result: Ton Sai abounds with rock climbers from around the world; it is to rock climbing what Koh Tao is to diving.

The first day we were able to rent gear and enjoy some of Krabi's epic climbing at Ton Sai, a short walk from our bungalow. By the end of the day we could feel the effects through our unconditioned arms and opted to make the next day a day of rest.

Posted by nik 12/03/2008, revised 02/06/2009
Perched above Medellin

Kickin it in Medellin, one of the largest cities in Colombia. I'm couchsurfing with a really nice couple who live outside the city way up high in the mountains that flank the valley that the city is nestled in. It's incredible up here. So tranquil, so beautiful, and pretty much the most perfect climate I've been in yet.

To get to their house, I took the very impressive transit system from the bus terminal - the first place I've been with good public transport linked to where the buses come in! I didn't have to pay $10 in a cab to get to somewhere useful! Took the spacious, clean metro to a transfer station where I switched to a 'cable car' route in which I sat with 5 other people in a little cage on a cable that went up up up the flanks of the mountains. Then I switched to another cable route that carried me for many kilometers over the treetops of a huge natural park at the top of the mountain. I gazed at butterflies and birds and trails among the trees for about 10 minutes, flying above it all. It was great. Their house is in a cute little town perched on top of the mountain, and I've got my own room and feel perfectly fine passing the afternoon reading on the front patio with a cuppa coffee.

Metro-cable up the flanks of the mountains, above Medellin

Posted by Whitney 07/23/2011, revised 08/15/2011
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