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Nik & Whitney, 2008
Pai, Thailand. What a remarkably beautiful country!

Whitney, 2016
View overlooking savannah. Paia-do-Tofo, Mozambique.

Whitney, 2004
Whitney studies Oahu's Hanauma Bay during high school graduation trip to Hawaii.

Ecuador, 2011
Yet another sunset. "It never gets old," says Whitney.
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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 70.3 Santa Rosa

(Click here for a Google Earth flyover showing the bike course)

I wanted to ride the wave of enthusiasm coming off Oceanside for as long as possible, but Recovery Week led straight into a head cold, which then led right into the news of our upcoming relocation to Colorado, and training had to take a backseat as Brad & I scrambled to pack up our life in San Jose and replant it in Boulder. I had just barely gotten used to the altitude when I was already back on a plane to California, gearing up for the new edition of Vineman, the inaugural IM 70.3 Santa Rosa.

I was pretty sure I had resolved my bike issues by getting some adjustments to my cleats, but there was only one way to find out for sure.

My expectations for this race were lower since life had been so hectic leading into it, and I embraced the opportunity to race "for fun," approaching this as just another building block in my development as an athlete.

This turned out to be a good attitude to have when on Friday morning, as I was packing the car to head to my athlete homestay, I received the news that my host accommodations had fallen through, and "we have no other options for you, sorry."

"Again?!" Brad exclaimed in exasperation.

I had to laugh thinking back on the Airbnb host who had cancelled on me just two weeks before IM Santa Cruz two years ago. At the time, with all the pieces perfectly in place for my 2015 "A" race, this was a horrifying disaster. Hotels and accommodations for the flood of IM athletes and spectators always get snatched up many months in advance, and trying to find a place just two weeks before an Ironman event is near impossible. Two weeks! I was freaking out about ‘only' two weeks notice?! Ha. ... How about two hours notice?

At first I considered exchanging our rental bean for a larger SUV or van that could accommodate some sleeping bags in the back. But as it turns out, I do have relatives who live relatively close to Santa Rosa, one of whom was awakened early Friday morning with this phone call: "Hi Garik! It's your cousin Kimberly. Would you by chance have a couch I could crash on tonight? I'll be leaving about 3am, I promise I'll try not to wake the baby ... " And would you believe it, he said yes!

Because Goodells Rule.

But everyone knows that.

The rest of Friday was a logistical maze, negotiating the crowds in downtown Santa Rosa to check in / drop off T2 gear / get thoroughly briefed on the course, then driving 30 miles north to negotiate crowds at Lake Sonoma where the T1 bike drop off was located. (Side note: Tri Bike Transport offered a bike shuttle service to save this last step, and in retrospect it DEFINITELY would've been worth the $40. I used their services to ship the bike back to Boulder after the race, and it was so delightfully convenient to just pass the bike off and continue on my way! I highly recommend taking advantage of this option any time it's available.)

After all that set up, the race seemed like the easy part.

Race morning was even more crowded, with the bulk of the 3,000 participants shuttled in on school buses, a glorious 45 minutes spent stuffed into bench seats made for humans with very short legs. Transition was clogged with long lines everywhere, at gear check, at the bathrooms, even just getting in and out. I found myself snaking through the crowds down the boat ramp and sliding into the water to join the hot pink caps of the pro wave just as the announcer said, "Ninety seconds to go, ladies ... " Without adequate time to get around to worrying about the race itself, I was never even nervous, and before I really knew what had hit me, I was swimming.

Posted by Kimberly 05/22/2017
Final race for Cal Poly

Nik completed his final race for the Cal Poly cycling team, the Wheelmen. The Western Collegiate Cycling Conference's final race of the 2011 Mountain Bike season was hosted by Cal-Berkeley at the Bailey Bike Park course.

Nik racing down the slalom course at Bailey Bike Park

Posted by Dan 11/14/2011
Mi misíon por cada día

I have always been a goal-setter. Generally, when I set out to do something or to make something happen, it happens. Apparently this has been a part of my character since I was a wee lass. While I don't have a clear memory of my early years, my parents tell of a time when I was 5 years old and decided that I wanted to learn how to do 3 things: tie my shoes, whistle, and snap my fingers. I had set my deadline for the end of the week... or maybe by my birthday. I'm not quite sure, I think it depends on who's telling the story. Nevertheless, a self-imposed target date was established and was, needless to say, met with great success.

This same voracity for making desired events come to fruition is what has brought me, finalmente, to Latin America. I've been wanting to experience life and culture in this part of the world for years, and now here I am. And now that I am here, my new mission has made itself very apparent: Aprender español! I have never taken a Spanish class, and I often feel I could've sacrificed one of my useless years of French class to take a Spanish course. But such is life.

I have never had something that is so entirely the focus of every day, every interaction, every moment, as learning the Spanish language is for me now. That has become my goal, and the force of my desire to make it happen drives my self-education every day. I want to understand what my soccer teammates are telling me, I want to read Spanish novels, I want to express my opinions to those around me, I want to write fluidly about my day in a language other than my native one, I want to eavesdrop on phone conversations in the grocery store. I want to have a fully-functional grasp on this language. I want to not be an imcompetent gringa with only blank stares to offer to those who speak at me.

At the university (Universidad de San Francisco, Quito), I am enrolled in an intermediate Spanish class. Yes. Intermediate. There weren't enough students enrolled for a beginner course, so I enrolled for the intermediate level to see if I could catch up. I figured a course above my head was better than none at all, and I had faith in my determination to catch up. Well, I just turned in my first 2-page essay en español! Haha. Yep. I wrote a two-page analysis of a Spanish movie that we had to watch. And let me tell you... it took me forever to write! I'm sure the pages will have red pen all over them when I get the paper back from la profesora, but that's what I need. I'm excited to be thrown into such a challenge, and even though the learning process is slow and I still struggle to understand the simplest requests from people, I can feel improvement every day and that's what keeps me powering on.

The thing about this mission of mine is that it has no "Finish" line. I could work to improve my Spanish indefinitely. But I do have somewhat of a timeline, in that I plan on living here in Quito until about May, and I would like to have a confident conversational grasp of the language by the time I leave my current set-up. It is highly likely that I will continue traveling around Latin America after May, and if this is going to be the case, I would really like to feel comfortable living on my own devices in the language of the people around me.

So onward I go with this mission of mine, and while the progress often feels minuscule, it is progress nevertheless.

Cada día, un poco más.
Posted by Whitney 02/05/2011, revised 02/05/2011

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