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Nik & Whitney, 2008
Nik in the canoe, about to head into Kong Lo cave, Laos.

Whitney, 2016
Whitney's veranda, overlooking savannah. Sao Sebastiao Wildlife Sanctuary, Mozambique.

Nik & Whitney, 2008
The forest has come to reclaim its territory at Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

Whitney, 2011
More flora. Mindo, Ecuador.
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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.)
IRONMAN Wisconsin, My Cinderella Story

Once upon a time, in 2006, I had done a few sprint triathlons, ventured into the deep end with an Olympic distance, and then I broke my leg playing softball. My summer racing plans were shattered along with the fibula, and in my anxious boredom, I went to a Chicago Tri Club meeting. A meeting about triathlon didn't seem as interesting as actually doing one, and it was hard to imagine that there would be all that much to talk about ... But what did I have to lose?

It turned out, there was plenty to talk about, and some people out there are really into triathlon. I learned about a thing called an IMOO, which was an unconscionably long event that takes place in Madison, Wisconsin.

Wait ... People go to Wisconsin on purpose??

Yes, they do.

And some of them go there weekend after weekend to train for this IMOO.

It didn't take long for the Kool-Aid to take effect, and soon I too was joining on weekend getaways to the magical land of Madison, where the quiet farm roads and rolling hills are a Chicago cyclist's dream come true.

In September I joined the tri club's annual camping trip, centered around volunteering at the IMOO, which was actually the cow-themed nickname for IRONMAN Wisconsin (The distinction was necessary, because it wasn't the only Ironman. Apparently there was also one in Hawaii).

I volunteered on the bike course, handing off gels to passing cyclists as if their lives depended on it. I was sore for a week after darting and leaping around amongst all those bikes!

But I came back the next year, and the next, and the next. I cheered the final finishers in at 11:58pm. I handed out cups of lukewarm, flat Coke (why on earth?!) to weary competitors at mile 23 of the marathon. I rubbed sunscreen on sweaty muscles (not really as fun as it sounds). I sat at a computer typing in payment after payment from an endless line of jittery athletes who were already so sure they wanted to do this again, that they were each paying $685 a year in advance to ensure a spot in next year's Ironman (Why would you need to do it twice??)

Naturally, I fielded the same question some dozen hundred times, "What about you? When are you doing Ironman?"

I had a plethora of handy excuses, and assured myself and others it really wasn't something that interested me. People have a way of convincing themselves that they don't want the things they can never have, and so I did just that.

In addition to being a little intimidated, I simply didn't have the time, resources or support for something as massive as Ironman, and I most definitely didn't have the funds.

No, I was happy just being near the race, and being around the people who did it. I was thrilled to be able to eventually relocate from Chicago to Madison, planting myself right in the center of the triathlon world, home of the famed IMOO.

Over the years, I trained alongside, coached, and volunteered for the Ironman athletes. They regaled me with their stories, and I knew every hill and turn of the bike course. I knew where all the rowdiest aid stations were and the biggest cheering squads. I looked forward to the race every year, and craved the satisfaction and utter exhaustion of spending an entire day spectating. But by the time I left the Midwest, I had still only been on the outside looking in.

Posted by Kimberly 09/20/2018
It Begins

Bangkok is one of those cities that makes an impression the second you get there. However after you get over the smell and the traffic there actually is some wonderful wonders to be found. We were fortunate enough to be staying with a couchsurfer and he acted as our tour guide while we were in the city. Our first day we made our way by train, boat and taxi to Canchanaburi where there is a train bridge.

Jen got over the wonderful wonders quick.

Posted by nik 09/14/2008, revised 09/21/2008
Thanks for all the letters and mail!

Thank you everyone for all the letters and cards and mail you've been sending! I truly appreciate each and every one. Every time something shows up in the mailbox with my name on it, I grab it and run off excitedly to my room to give my full attention to my new treasure, like a squirrel running off to my tree with my prized acorn. Now that I think about it, I haven't seen any squirrels around here. Do they exist in Australia?

Anyway, I love hearing from all of you back home, whether it's via snail mail or email. Thanks for keeping in touch! I get more mail now than I ever have before, it's great! I think my roommates are thoroughly envious. They can tell that I have awesome friends and family!

On a side note, I got Neil's pictures from the Blues Fest, so I've added more pictures to that album.

Posted by Whitney 04/01/2008

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