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Nik & Whitney, 2008
The view from the top. Rock-climbing in Laos.

Whitney, 2016
Whitney encountered this whale shark while diving in Mozambique.

Nik & Whitney, 2008
Graceful giants. Manta ray glides by while Nik and Whit were scuba diving near Flores Island, Indonesia.

Whitney, 2011
Lots of big bugs on a hike outside 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.)
Tri-Ing for Children

Part I – The Kids' Tri

We volunteered for the Children's Triathlon. If you have never done this before, DO IT. It's hilarious. (check out www.tri4schools.com for the next Madison area entertainment)

Athletes will do some pretty weird stuff in the heat of the moment, with all the adrenaline pumping. Children take this to a whole new level. One of my co-volunteers commented that it's like watching a bunch of tiny drunk people try to do a triathlon.

It's funny too, to think how a lot of triathlete technique contradicts the values we teach children. Tying shoelaces, who needs it? Peeing your pants without breaking stride, what an achievement! And chuck those paper cups right onto the ground like a sloppy litterbug!

Not only did many of the children stop to politely finish the entire cup of water, but they also lined up single file to deposit the empties in the trash can. For a twelve minute race, you can lose a lot of time on these courtesies. As one 5 year old shuffled past, trying not to spill her cup of water, I encouraged her to "just drop it on the ground and keep running!" She stopped, carefully poured the water out on the cement, and then sprinted away with the cup clasped tightly in her fist.

My favorite was little Alex, who was perfecting the art of Dead Last. His commitment to prolonging the torture of his race (25 yd swim/1 mile bike/quarter mile run) was impressive. If you've ever tried to walk a cat, you might have some idea what his patient and humiliated mother was being subjected to as she gently tugged him forward, assuring him he was "almost there!" (she promised us that it was his idea to participate...) Alex's run technique alternated between a slow motion, stiff-legged goose-step, and Sleeping Marionette (pitched forward at the waist, with one arm limply dangling towards the ground).
While many of his peers completed the task in about 12-15 minutes, Alex managed to milk every last moment of misery, extending the race a full 40 minutes, with a dramatic finish line crawl to rival Julie Moss's tragically heroic 1982 Ironman finish.

Part II – Winning

For the adult race, I was one third of the Capital City Multisport Club relay. This is the first time I've done a relay, what fun! It's so much fun, in fact, that I don't understand why more people don't do it. I suspect it has something to do with pride, as we had to keep correcting people - No, we're not "just doing the relay," we're "Winning the Relay"

And win we did.
We beat the other relay team by over 32 minutes.

Nick had the task of swimming in the bathwater warm lake, Andrew tore up the bike course, and I was the anchor with the 10K run.
Of course, Will Smith did all three on his own, and still beat our team by 24 minutes. When I asked him how his race went, he smiled and said in his cheerful New Zealand accent, "Like taking candy from a baby!"

Well, Will may be able to outswim, outbike and outrun Team CCMC, but I'd like to point out that our swim to bike transition was 32 seconds, and his was 33. Our bike to run transition was 27 seconds, his was 28.

So, who's laughing now, Will?

Posted by kim 07/25/2011, revised 07/25/2011

Traveller Beware!

Thailand is generally considered to be a safe country for travellers to visit, but if you plan a trip to Thailand it would be wise to avoid the island of Ko Tao. You wont find this in your Lonely Planet but many tourists who venture to Ko Tao never return. The island, considered to be one of the best places in Asia to get scuba certified, is packed with over 40 dive companies and the instructors and divers that go with it. All on an island small enough to walk across in an hour. Nearly everyone on the island is here to dive, and to party, and everyone does alot of both. If you're not familiar with the dive community, they are the most laid back, fun people you'll ever meet. By diving or enrolling in a course you immediatley make friends and get plugged into the local scene. The problem? The island drags you in. Countless many people have the same story; 'Yeah, I came here for a week long vacation and never left..' Within 6 hours of arriving it was plain that our original 1 week target was totally unrealistic.

Posted by nik 09/21/2008
New coast for me!

Just spent a few days chilling in a hammock on the Carribean sea in a national park (Tayrona, if you wanna look it up, Dad) that has green green green forest jutting right up to the blue waters. Pretty sweet, although there were a lot of people, so it wasn't quite as tranquil and kickbutt as it could be. But i ain't complainin.

Tayrona National Park - this is the view from where I slept

My body has spent the past 5 days or so fighting some kind of head cold that I think is just a lashing at me for how I've been putting this body of mine to the test - irregular sleep schedules, about 1/3 of my nights spent on buses instead of in beds, bla bla bla. But I keep telling it, "We're still young! Deal with it!"

Posted by Whitney 07/15/2011, revised 08/15/2011
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