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Whitney, 2008
New Zealand flowers.

Whitney, 2016

Nik & Whitney, 2008
Nik and Whit, heading out for another night dive off Koh Tao, Thailand.

Whitney, 2011
Big spider on the Mandango trail, near Vilcabamba, 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.)

Today's New Years Eve 100x 100m swim brought my total swim distance to a record-setting* 403 miles for the year 2019.

And yes, I've actually counted.

In fact, I've kept track of my swim laps for over a decade now, starting with the 134 miles I completed in 2006, the same year that Coach Liz planted the seed of the 365 Club in my brain. That club is exclusively for anyone who can average a mile of swimming per day, for a year. That goal seemed a bit absurd at the time, so I settled for the scaled version, the much less impressive sounding 182.5 Club -- just half a mile per day. Even that was a little too ambitious for me at first, but after six years of steadily increasing my swim volume, I finally surpassed the goal, breaking 200 miles in 2012.

A happy side effect of moving up to the triathlon pro ranks was a significant jump in swim, bike and run volume, and suddenly I found myself hovering dangerously close to that elusive 365 mark. On December 31st, 2017, I hit mile 365 for the first time, coming in just under the wire before the clock reset on 2018. I'm not even sure when I reached 365 the next two years -- perhaps early December -- but I blew past it and just kept on swimming.

So what is the result of these nearly 200 hours per year that I spend listening to the ambient slosh and gurgle of water in my ears? When I looked at it that way, I felt a little sheepish. If I had spent those 200 hours practicing Spanish, I'd be fluent already. If I had spent it carving wooden furniture, we'd have a full bedroom set by now. But instead, I used my time occupying a water-filled box, moving myself back and forth in one of the least efficient modes possible. One might assume that at least I must have gotten much, much better at swimming -- perhaps even twice as fast! But no, I still post roughly the same times I did ten years ago.

There's not much I can measure to assure that my return on investment has been worthwhile. But there are two distinct changes that I've noticed, and those two are key.

The first is that the more I swim, the more swimming I can tolerate. Five years ago, I'd heard of the infamous 100x 100 swim, but I thought it was just urban legend. Surely people weren't actually swimming 3 back-to-back swim practices in a row! But they absolutely were. The first time I attempted 100x 75 at the Walnut Creek Masters' "New Years Day 100 Whatevers," I literally couldn't raise my arms above the water in the final few 75s. Today, I felt like I could've kept going right on past 10k. So there you have it -- I work hard at swimming so that I can work harder at swimming.

The second change that has occurred is this: although I've always thought the pool was nice, with each year that my distance ratchets up, so too does my love for swimming. I love it more than last year. And the year before that. I'm not really there for the miles, or the time splits on the clock ... I'm there for the pure joy of swimming.

And joy is something that can't be measured.

Or maybe it can be?

Here's to the next 403 miles of joy. 2020, bring it on!

* Record-setting for me, not for humanity at large. I have, of course, encountered plenty of swim junkies who might chuckle at the idea of taking a whole year just to reach 400.

Posted by Kimberly 12/31/2019
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
Thick rain, freight train

21 de junio, Estacion de Biodiversidad, Tiputini

Today, I experienced the arrival of a storm in a freight train of senses.

I sat in a wooden canoe in the middle of a lake in the Amazon rain forest. In the distance, thunder mumbled and tumbled across the dense land. The sky got darker, the air got thicker. The storm made no attempts to sneak up on me, but rather used a range of pathways to indicate its arrival, in a persistent and relentless manner. It urged me to pay attention to it all, to each aspect of its existence.

In a calm, quiet lake I sat. An unmistakable hush started from far off, moving decisively closer, growing and building quickly into a clamor, a rushing train headed straight for me, through the trees and washing over the green land. I knew it was arriving. I heard it arriving. Then I saw it arriving, sliding across the water from the bank, prickling the surface of the lake as it pressed towards me.

Then I felt it. It hit my skin, it pattered off my arms, it moved in lapping waves around me, gentle yet, but sure. Then the wind. It galloped over the treetops, stirring up excited energy, and swept me up in it. It swiped across the thick drops splattered on my skin, sunk into my clothes, soaked into my hair. It blew my energy around, lashing at my previous sense of calm. The tumbling thunder moved closer, grew stronger, and urged my little boat of surrendered appreciation decisively from the center of the lake to the embrace of the bank.

This was not a dramatic flash of monsoonal expression of Power. This was Power built thick and heavy. Arrival was not simply the first step of Departure. Arrival was the arrival of a guest that stayed and settled into the corner of the couch with its feet kicked up. There wasn't a Departure, the storm simply slowly and imperceptibly faded away after time - a heavy mist snaking away to the heavens and leaving a weighty blanket sitting over everything.

It was a magical experience that colored my day... and it was, I believe, the thickest rainstorm I have ever been in.

Amazon photo album: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.864167170098.2372447.19700757&l=fbd26288a4

Posted by Whitney 06/26/2011, revised 06/26/2011

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