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Okay, let's see what we can do with this thing ...


Whitney, 2008
Townsville, Australia. Bouldering on granite boulders with the JCU climbing club.
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Whitney, 2016
Whitney encountered this whale shark while diving in Mozambique.

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

Whitney, 2011
Vilcabamba, Ecuador. Whitney relaxing after a day of hiking.

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.)

The Women's Sprint Triathlon - Where it All Began



Seven years ago, some girls on my football team suggested I join them at an event called the Danskin Women's Sprint Triathlon. I had recently completed an 8K (the furthest I'd ever run!) and I was ready for a new challenge. I already had a swimsuit, I just needed a bike.

The budget was tight, so I went for the cheapest secondhand bike with air in the tires - a GT Hybrid - and started biking the 7 miles to work on it. A co-worker, horrified by my new ride, admonished me, "You can't do a triathlon on THAT thing!"

I was genuinely bewildered.

A bike is a bike.
If it can go 7 miles, it can go 12.
What's the big deal?

Of course, I proved her wrong and I did do my triathlon on "THAT thing," finishing a respectable 368th place, thank you very much.

Every year I've returned (excepting the broken leg year) with a few more details refined, inching my way up in the ranks.
In 2005 (with a new, lighter secondhand bike) I came in 30th place. wow!
In 2007 (with an actual new bike) I cracked the top ten overall, coming in 8th!
In 2008 I made the leaderboard, in 5th place.

In 2009, I came in 3rd, one second behind speedy Stacy Kiefer, and then in 2010, we swapped spots - she came in 3rd to my 2nd.

This year, Stacy held the lead for awhile, making me chase her all the way to mile 8 of the bike course. Once I moved into 1st, the motorcycle escorts guided me in, red & blue lights flashing to announce the arrival of my mini-motorcade.

The run course out there may not have a single spot of shade, but it's filled with memories, from all the past years of the Danskin Women's races, then the Trek Women's races, and the Pleasant Prairie Triathlons too. This is the 10th time I've trotted alongside Lake Andrea, wishing I could just dive right back into that refreshing water and take a break from all this silly running business.

I remember the exact spot where, in 2004, I dumped a cup of water over my cotton T shirt and quickly learned that - while it's a clever way to cool off in dry climates like California - soaking your cotton clothing in midwestern humidity is rather like wrapping yourself in a sleeping bag on a hot day.

And I distinctly remember that glorious moment of victory 7 years ago when I saw the finish line come into view, and knew it was all mine.
well, 1st place or 368th place, it's still a grand moment.

I guess some things you never grow out of.

Posted by Kim 07/12/2011, revised 07/15/2011

Laos Rocks.

Vang Vieng is a small town in Northern Laos which is unfortunately a stop on the backpackers beaten trail, destroying any charm it once had and turning it into a feeding frenzy for those looking to squeeze an easy buck from the ignorant travellers. We had to stop however because just outside Vang Vieng are incredible limestone cliffs and the only climbing sites in Laos. The weather was threatening to rain but we decided we couldn't risk missing the only chance we would have. We grabbed our shoes, rented the rope and harnesses we would need from a local shop and headed for the closest, driest site.

Eager to get some real climbing in


Posted by nik 11/15/2008, revised 11/15/2008

It's been awhile...

I suppose it's been too long since I've updated you all on my life. I don't have anything in particular to focus on, so I guess I'll do another bullet-point-posting... those seem to be the most reader-friendly anyway. I've really settled into life here, and I've truly been having an incredible time! I don't feel like any minute has gone by that hasn't been spent exactly the way it was meant to be spent. The problem is... most of my minutes apparently weren't meant to be spent on schoolwork. Well, let me rephrase that: The "problem" is most of my minutes weren't meant to be spent on schoolwork.

Anyway, yeah. Here's a summary of what my minutes were meant to be spent on:

  • sitting in the sun or in the grass under leafy trees on campus, listening to great music on my headphones or chatting/ playing cards/ generally relaxing with friends that wander by; a lot of my minutes were meant to be spent doing exactly this... and it never gets old!

  • group dinners on Sundays; for the past 3 Sundays, my roommates and I have gotten group dinners together, usually around 10-12 people. So far, we've had a sushi dinner night, a breakfast-for-dinner night (pancakes, eggs, and bacon all done outside on our flat-top BBQ!), and finger-food night. It's always good fun.

  • playing beach volleyball on Friday nights with my 4's team, the Flogging Mollies (my roommate/teammate Scott was wearing a Flogging Mollies shirt when we had to submit our team name); we're really starting to come together as a team, and it's a lot of fun - I look forward to it all week.

  • playing ultimate frisbee; my Monday-night team, Second Skin, is also really coming together to play well together (when we had to choose team colors, we chose 'skins,' which ended up working out really nicely, 'cause even at night, it's still really hot here). I still don't really know the rules, but I run and I throw and I catch, and it seems to working out alright. I'm still getting used to it being a non-contact sport, though. Apparently you're not supposed to body-check your defender in this game.

  • brewing beer. Scott and I got fed up with high prices for bad beer, so we started making our own. Our first batch won't be ready for another 2 weeks, but I'm excited to be able to have quality beer around again! Well, we'll see how quality the beer-by-beginners actually is. Dave! Neil! What am I going to do without your expertise??

  • laughing at silly things like the fact that the word "expertise" looks like something you do to be expertly in shape.

  • laying out in my hammock on the back patio, enjoying the minutes that were definitely not meant to be spent doing schoolwork.

  • drinking all the PG Tips tea that Mom and Dad sent me. At the rate I'm going, I'm actually going to drink all of that tea in the time I'm here, easy! (they sent me 2 boxes of 80 bags) Many of my minutes are actually spent brushing my teeth, too, for fear of the stains resulting from so much black tea intake.

  • going on cool field trips for my Indigenous Australians class. A local Aboriginal elder named Rusty took us out for a day all around the area, sharing with us some of the incredible vast sea of knowledge they have about the land. It was really cool to learn about the uses/dangers of any plant around us, to learn how to read animal tracks (type of animal, gender, age, purpose of their movement... so much to be interpreted from such a seemingly simple thing!), to hear stories of tradition, myth, origin, culture, to visit a burial ground where I could feel the presence of generations and generations of Aboriginal culture, to see cave paintings right in front of my eyes that were painted there by a hand that moved across the rock thousands of years ago... yeah. There were some pretty cool minutes spent doing this stuff.

  • watching Australia's "Biggest Loser" with all the roommates. This is the time that we all take a break from whatever we're doing (or not doing, in my case), and come together in the living room to watch people lose weight while we scarf down pizza or ice cream or cookies.

  • ...then there's a couple minutes here and there where I throw an assignment together. Those minutes usually come immediately before the minutes that were meant to be spent handing in said assignment.

All in all, it's a glorious life. A girl can get used to this.


Me with Rusty, a local Aboriginal elder. I would love to have 5% of the knowledge that he has about the land!

Posted by Whitney 04/23/2008, revised 04/23/2008