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Nik & Whitney, 2008
Tearing ourselves away from Koh Tao, Thailand. Goodells Rule!

New Zealand, 2012
Kim and Brad, wine-tasting at Mudbrick Vineyard, Waiheke Island.

Nik & Whitney, 2008
Moon over Bukittinggi, Indonesia.

Whitney, 2011
Many-banded Aracari, photographed by Whitney from the canopy observation tower at Tiputini research outpost.
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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
Bankok    :-(
Chiang Mai    :-|
Pai    :-)

Chiang Mai:
Chiang Mai was fun. We stayed for four days. It is much better than Bangkok.

We travelled to Pai on the recommendation of fellow travellers, hearing only good things from people who we had reason to trust. We were not disappointed. Pai is a small town nestled in the northern hills of Thailand, very close to the borders of Burma and Laos.

The hills around Pai

Posted by nik 10/31/2008, revised 11/05/2008
Ugh. I'm exhausted.

I'm wearing down. I've got a decent head cold going, and I just find myself exhausted and ready for bed by 8pm every night. The quick-paced, short-flame travel lifestyle is not the way I want to travel in the future. I'm beat after one week, and I feel like I'd much rather spend longer in a place, take my time, and not feel like every day has to be a "big day."

I've down about 8 cups of tea on the day. My head is still clogged and my body is tired. BUT! I had a great morning. I did the Canyon Swing in Queenstown this morning. It's 109 meters above the canyon floor, 60 meter freefall, and a big fat arcing swing through gorgeous rock walls and water below. It's much smoother than bungy jumping, there is no jolting or jarring. It's reeeally really cool, and you can go off the ledge any number of ways. And I did! I went 3 times, because extra jumps are only $10 each for the month of May (rather than the normal $50!). So I went 3 times, and did their 3 scariest-rated "dismounts": falling backwards, hanging upside-down and being cut away, and "Staff Choice"... they put a big plastic bucket over my head and pushed me off. Haha. That was a riot. Anyway, a great time, and a great adrenaline rush.

Then I got a Fergburger for lunch - the infamous buger joint in town that truly is AMAZING. After that, I was back on the roadside, hitching the 7 hours back to Christchurch. I found a straight ride pretty quickly, so that was awesome. Easy commute, saved $50 (and several hours) on a bus.

Gah! I'm running out of internet time. I really dislike paying for internet by the minute/hour. It's so frustrating.

Anyway, I'm in Christchurch for the next day and a half, taking it easy. I'm excited to get back to warm Townsville!
Posted by Whitney 05/02/2008

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