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Nik & Whitney, 2008
Hiking in Moni, Indonesia.
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Whitney, 2016
Night sky, with Orion settling into a hammock. Bazaruto island, Mozambique.

HS Sophomore year, 2002
Whitney performing a standup comedy routine during high school talent show.

Whitney, 2011
This Black Caiman in Ecuadoran Amazonia was leery of Whit's boat as it drifted by.

Eclipse!!

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. Here now, below, are some highlights from past posts.)

How About a Road Race?


Today was my first bike race!

I've always felt a little out of place with road guys – first of all because they're usually all guys (and I noticed they don't take kindly to being outpaced by a girl…) and secondly because I know how roadies feel about triathletes. In the cycling world, triathletes have a reputation for being messy, unpredictable riders, lacking the etiquette of the guys who actually know what they're doing out there. It's like bringing a hillbilly to High Tea. The triathlete's cycling pedigree is unforgivably tainted by those lowly pursuits of running and swimming.

So perhaps I am too meek and apologetic in this crowd. At any rate, I underestimated my cycling ability, and spent most of the 22.3 mile race sitting in one pace line or another, wondering, "When are these guys gonna start riding hard?"

Legal drafting is a new concept for me. Everytime a motorcycle course marshal appeared, I had the sudden panic that I was about to get caught breaking the rules, and then I would remember that in this race, drafting isn't cheating. It's strategy.

I also learned firsthand exactly what those roadies dislike about riding near unskilled cyclists...

About 7 miles in, as I was beginning to realize I should start making an effort to pass people, I came up behind a guy I should've known was trouble. I had seen him riding in the middle of a pace line down in his aerobars, which is dangerous. That should have been my cue to keep my distance.

We approached a turn, one that didn't allow room for error since there was oncoming traffic.

I know how fast I can take a corner, but apparently, Mr. Aerobars did not. He suddenly slammed on his brakes and then lost control of his bike. I was far enough behind him that I had some time to react, but it was hard to tell which direction he was going to end up going, the way he was fishtailing through the turn. I tried to stop quickly, but then MY bike fishtailed, and I was immediately alerted to the fact that I had a pace line right behind me – by the shrieks that were so close it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I did the only thing I could do to avoid front and/or back collision – I swerved left, slicing in front of oncoming traffic (a gigantic pick-up truck, no less) and ended up in a ditch on the opposite side of the road.

Needless to say, once I caught back up to the group (and there he was again, back down in his aerobars, right behind someone else's wheel), I had new incentive to pass and then speed away from them as fast as my legs could carry me.

I ended up taking home another 1st Place beer glass for my collection, but I have to say, today's bigger victory was returning home with my bike and my bones still intact!

Posted by kim 08/06/2011

Traveller Beware!

Thailand is generally considered to be a safe country for travellers to visit, but if you plan a trip to Thailand it would be wise to avoid the island of Ko Tao. You wont find this in your Lonely Planet but many tourists who venture to Ko Tao never return. The island, considered to be one of the best places in Asia to get scuba certified, is packed with over 40 dive companies and the instructors and divers that go with it. All on an island small enough to walk across in an hour. Nearly everyone on the island is here to dive, and to party, and everyone does alot of both. If you're not familiar with the dive community, they are the most laid back, fun people you'll ever meet. By diving or enrolling in a course you immediatley make friends and get plugged into the local scene. The problem? The island drags you in. Countless many people have the same story; 'Yeah, I came here for a week long vacation and never left..' Within 6 hours of arriving it was plain that our original 1 week target was totally unrealistic.

Posted by nik 09/21/2008

Part 2: Ultimate camping

If you're reading these entries chronologically, this one is directly linked from the Folk Festival: I arrived back in Townsville Monday morning only to turn right around again and head out for a 3-day camping trip with the ultimate frisbee crowd. And what a fun, fantastic crowd they are!

Monday morning, a group of 11 of us left for Keel Bottom Creek, about 45 minutes northwest of Townsville. We found a great place to set up camp along the creek, complete with a fan-mazing rope swing!! Most of our time was spent on this rope swing - it was perfect. We enjoyed 3 days of just relaxing in the PERfect sunny weather, playing in the creek, lying in the hammock, listening to music and running one of the car batteries dead, sitting by the campfire, and cooking up fantastic campfire-food (i had kangaroo for the first time! roo stew... SO tasty!).

A lot of the people that play ultimate frisbee are study-abroad students, so a number of them are leaving after exams these next 2 weeks. The camping trip was sort of an end-of-term, goodbye celebration for those of us that won't be around anymore, and it was a perfect way to conclude a great semester of fun and friends. We all had the time of our lives, and every moment of the trip was enjoyed to the fullest.


Our group of friends, hanging out on the rope swing tree ...Mom, I know you're squinting your eyes, thinking, "Which one's my daughter?" I'm the one at the very top.

Here again, I don't have my own pictures from the trip, but I've linked one of the other people's photo albums so you can get a look at this amazing trip. But yet again, not many captions, so you'll just have to look and enjoy.

Photo album - Ultimate camping: https://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2495651&l=fe685&id=13930813

Posted by Whitney 06/15/2008, revised 06/15/2008