As we drove through town, Sage looked out the window and pointed to a peak in the distance, “Mama, what’s the name of that big mountain?” I told her it was called South Sister. “Is it hard to get to the top?” I said, “yes, it’s a very hard hike to the top.” In typical Sage fashion she replied…”Ok then, I want to do it.”
My niece is spending a semester abroad in Nepal. In honor of her adventure, it’s time I finally publish our adventure in Nepal… from… ahem… two years ago. So yeah, that pregnancy and baby thing really set me back on our travel posts. Better late than never! We booked our trip with grand expectations. Himalayan adventures in films and magazines put Nepal at the top of our list. We were living in Abu Dhabi and given that Kathmandu was a four hour flight, we didn’t hesitate to book a trip.
Our dream for Nepal consisted of a strenuous multi-week adventure to the remote regions of the Himalayas but we only had a few days so we decided on a multi-DAY trek instead. If Nepal was as amazing as we hoped, we would return.
So here’s the big take-a-way. Our trip didn’t meet our expectations and was a disappointment. Fortunately though, Sabine is experiencing a very different Nepal. One that is living up to her expectations. Her pictures and stories are making me want to go back and recreate our dream adventure. But for now, here is our trip in a nutshell. And maybe a few things to think about if you decide to plan a visit.
When our fiery wills met to build Sage, they didn’t cancel each other out as two similar forces should. They quietly grew for 23 months and then on a dark and stormy night they colluded and turned my soft cherub into a pocket sized dictator with a personality disorder.
When she was born, she could do no wrong. I wrote her monthly love letters and waited eagerly to dismiss my students so I could nurse her in the on-site daycare. She consumed my thoughts and my heart. A year later, I stopped working full-time because I longed to spend my days with her. I had a calling to motherhood and was eager to pour myself into our relationship. I said goodbye to full-time work and the transition was as good as I expected
Then she turned two.
Given that Cedar’s birth happened at home, it seemed fitting to include the story on our family adventure blog. As it was, in its own way, our family’s biggest adventure. My hope is that with this post, we can raise awareness about birth choices and inspire informed and empowered decisions about childbirth. A woman’s experience deserves respect. She matters and birth matters. Here is our story.
We love Las Vegas but maybe not for the obvious reasons. Our favorite part of Vegas lies just outside of the city. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is a climbing paradise. It’s also a great place to bring your kid! We found an area of Red Rocks where our 2 year old (at the time) had a blast climbing and swinging. Continue reading to find out where it is and to see how much fun it was.
Okinawa has beautiful places to hike. We found the Prefectural Citizens Forest near our hotel and loved exploring the park grounds and tackling the steep climb to the top. You climb hundreds of wooden steps under a ceiling of lush tropical trees. The sounds of cicadas are almost deafening. Our 3 year old loved it and my husband got a great workout carrying her up the stairs. We felt the freedom of the Okinawa hills. No shoes, no shirt, NO PROBLEM! Watch our video, then get out and hike with your kids!
If it scares me or makes me feel uncomfortable, I need to do it. Fear means an opportunity for personal growth and I have… a little addiction to personal growth. At the end of my life, I want to feel like I made the most of the opportunities I was given. Stretched my mind and my body. Got my bang for my life buck.
When it came to my fear of fish (be nice- this is hard to admit) and my fear of the underwater world, I knew I needed to get dive certified. After a few short certification dives, I discovered I LOVED the world beneath the surface! Had I let fear determine my choices I would have missed out on some of the most memorable and unique experiences in our natural world.
I don’t dive as often as I would like. When I do dive, there’s that moment, right before I start, when I think, “Crap. Which button does what again? Did I turn on my air? How do I inflate this thing? Which means I’m OK? The thumbs up or the OK sign?”
I take a deep breath, calm my anxieties and jump. Like riding a bike, it all comes back. I bob at the surface for a minute. The cool water envelops my face and hair. I become weightless. I put the regulator in my mouth, remember how much I love the cool air and meditative sound of the most basic human functions. I deflate my BCD and and leave the world behind.
The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is colorful, busy, and hands down one of the most impressive aquariums we’ve visited. With its dark cool hallways it is a beautiful place to burn energy on a hot, humid, summer day. Okinawa was very hot in June, like step outside, take a deep breath, and find your happy place hot.
When we travel, we travel hard. We maximize our time even if it means more time in the car and barely stopping for breaks. Seeing the world is our passion. The more we see the better.
Sage was dropped into this lifestyle at birth and she rolls with it well. But don’t be fooled to think we have a laid back kid, actually quite the opposite. She is just like her parents. Strong willed, active, and opinionated. If you read our posts and think to yourself- “Our kid could never handle this stuff…you know how fill-in-the-blank he is!” Think again. I promise it’s more about regulating your own emotions and expectations than it is about your child.
Our final afternoon in Sri Lanka was spent with the elephants of Pinnawala. When we arrived at the Hotel Elephant Park for lunch I was frozen in awe. Dozens of elephants were bathing in the river below me. Looking from left to right in sheer astonishment, my jaw dropped. “You have got to be kidding me…this is real?!” We placed our order and walked to the restaurant ledge where our guide, holding a bag overflowing with pineapples and bananas, arranged for us to feed an elephant.
Life is full of surprises. Positive or negative, these surprises validate for me the existence of something larger and more powerful. My spiritual journey is evolving and while I don’t know for certain what this larger and more powerful thing is, I can say that it is constantly providing me with opportunities to expand my definitions and challenge my perceived capabilities.
The most recent surprise was receiving the devastating news of my Aunt’s imminent passing. I don’t think it was a coincidence that receiving this news aligned with the once in a life-time opportunity to travel through Nuwara Eliya tea country and spend time with the majestic Sri Lankan Elephant. On the surface it may sound like I am lessening the severity of the news or that these events are wildly disconnected, but I think the world works in mysterious ways.
One of the many surprises in Sri Lanka were the opportunites for close encounters with rare and beautiful animals. One of the highlights of our trip was a visit to the the Sea Turtle Hatchery in Habaraduwa. During our visit we learned that decades after their own hatch-day, female turtles return to the same beach where they were hatched and bury their own eggs in the sand! AND did you know that the temperature of the sand determines the sex of the babies? Lighter sands are warmer which lessen the incubation time resulting in more female hatchlings.
Sri Lanka. The clean, majestic, natural beauty of this country left me breathless and there is no better way to experience this than from a window of the train. This day was out of a dream. Maybe it’s my love for period movies combined with a deep yearning to be back in nature but this experience is one I will never forget. It’s worth a trip to this country just to ride the train.
I am gitty. Heart fluttering over the moon freakishly happy. I want to jump up and down and yelp! Something in my soul yearns for accents, diversity and newness and I’m here. It’s here. With each person I see that is on the surface, so different from myself, I feel like I’m experiencing something so very special. For so long I have craved more variety in my life and environments where I can walk out the front door and be confronted with opportunities to learn and grow. To me, it feels comforting to hear different languages and accents, different colors and clothing. It makes me feel like I am a part of something. There is so much of this beautiful world to see and explore, that even the few minor frustrating moments of traveling, are so deeply worth it when in the end it’s pushing my square or small perceptions of people and culture.
Getting here was not as bad as I expected. Once I overcame the traumatizing experience of two hours of wild turbulence (started above Tahoe and didn’t end until we flew out of Canada.) I got Sage to sleep on the floor and she woke up 9 hours later.
Today my daughter and I embark on a new chapter in both our lives. For her, this chapter may hold her earliest memories. For me, I hope this chapter will be that portion of my life I dream of when I am much older and no longer able to jet set around the world with my daughter in tow.
Drive 630 lonely miles (or not-so-lonely if you bring a 3 year old) south of the Mexico/San Diego border and you arrive, bug-eyed and a little seat sore in a desert paradise. Around hour 11, as you approach the Sea of Cortez, the road ascends the coastal mountains. Awaiting you at the top is a breathtaking view and a well-deserved break from the preceding hours of desert landscape.
When I tell people that we drove 12 hours in one day with our just-turned-3 year old, they look at me like I am crazy. Will you believe me if I tell you that it really wasn’t a big deal? And that we did it without using movies or an iPad? Don’t let a long drive deter you from exploring the world with your child and trust me, an iPad doesn’t have to be your lifeline. We had so much fun talking to each other, telling stories, singing songs, creating window art with removable stickers, reading books… she spent time gazing, daydreaming out the window. As a child, those were the times my imagination went wild. I still remember, to this day, the stories I created in my mind with the passing landscape.
On our first date, before the waiter spilled a beer on Peter, we spoke about our dreams. Our conversation exploded into all our hopes for traveling the world.
Climbing Kilimanjaro (✓),
sailing to Australia, rock-climbing Thailand (✓), trekking the Himalayas, visiting Machu Picchu(✓)…We wanted to travel to more international locations than we had time to talk.
The travel conversations evolved into a greater shared goal of settling down in one place and fully experiencing what it means to live abroad. In our combined adventures, the only negative was always being a tourist. We craved a deeper and more enriching experience.
Our adult lives took off and it seemed as if one thing (wedding) or another (new jobs, having a baby) was always taking precedence over the push to move abroad. After I stopped working full-time and our daughter turned two, the space arrived to chase the dream.
It’s been about a year in the making but I am excited to say, the dream was caught.
I reeeaaally wanted my 3 year old daughter to have the opportunity to explore the world below sea-level. I knew she would love seeing the busy fishy world, but more importantly, I didn’t want her to end up like me. My family will not take this post seriously if I don’t mention that up until about the age of 30, I had a fear of fish and snorkeling.
Just keep her happy. With all the new sports we have introduced to Sage, we have the most success when we follow her lead and keep her happy. No one likes to be made to feel uncomfortable, especially by the people who are supposed to be keeping you safe. We have a no push policy and also try to make sure we are always doing things as a family.This ensures that she doesn’t have the “opt out” option of sitting with the non-participating parent on the beach, in the lodge, etc.
When the entire family is participating, it goes without saying that she is coming too. In that there is security and a sense of inclusion that inspires her to get on the bike, on the board, or in this case… on the mountain.
Last weekend, we checked an item off our adventure bucket list when we completed Cactus to Clouds (C2C) as a family. My first attempt in 2011 was thwarted by a cold I caught at 9 weeks pregnant. Peter ended up doing it anyway with his friend Gabe and I met them at the tram and hiked to the summit with our friends Greg and Cathleen.
Since then, the full C2C adventure never lined up well with our weekend travel schedules and despite how much we love adventure, taking Sage on the hike always felt a little daunting. Ultimately though, our curiosity about whether we could do it with a 2 year old won over and we decided to go for it. I mean, really…who doesn’t love a good sufferfest?
Here is what you can do in Jackson Hole when you aren’t really into skiing. Thank you Jackson Hole Paragliding for a life changing experience!
Just east of Fresno, CA, in an area geographically similar to Yosemite, lies Kings Canyon National Park. After hearing about the canyon’s reputation for unrivaled beauty, we decided to meet some friends and check it out. We pulled into the entrance and I felt like I missed something.
One of the biggest perks of living in Orange County, California is the year round surf.
Continue reading to check out a video of sweet Sage’s January ride.
I’m hearing Homer Simpson’s deep savory voice lingering over the words “ESSENCE…happiness…nature… mmmmm”
Parents are often reluctant to take their child on multi-day visits to the backcountry. On the surface, I can understand their concerns but when I dig deeper it’s more often assumptions and irrational fears that keep a family inside. Hopefully this post will provide motivation and tips for outdoor sleepovers!
From a father’s perspective, being belayed by two teenagers while climbing 1,354 vertical feet wasn’t the problem “… It was the selfies that held everything up”
This year, our annual take-the-kid-summer-backpacking-trip commenced with much less anxiety than our first trip of this kind last year. Instead of worrying about all the possible accidents that could get us stranded in the wilderness I instead remembered the serene isolation, satisfying physical exhaustion, and the uninterrupted time together. I was delighted as we stepped away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and into a simpler, quieter world.
Today we spent over 12 hours packing. Yes, it really took over 12 hours and we don’t have the kid to blame.
Arco sits in northern Italy in the Sarca valley just beside Lake Garda. As you approach the town and wind down the mountain you can see why it’s a popular rock climbing destination. The town is surrounded by limestone cliffs!
The last portion of our vacation was the big motivator for taking the trip. Our friend Greg was participating in the Zion 100, an ultra-marathon spanning 100 miles of the Zion wilderness. I was so excited about his race that I begged Peter to plan a vacation to Utah around the same time. He agreed and there we were, meeting everyone at Greg’s hotel to learn about our responsibilities as support crew and pacers. The race began in the dark, early in the morning on a Friday. (I was already so jealous of him)
The hike to Angel’s landing is another ass kicker. The hike is straight up and carved into the side of sheer rock, the trail is an aggressive approach to a flat and gorgeous look out above.
Zion From Bryce we drove down the gorgeous highway 89 and into the northern entrance of Zion. Having never visited Zion national park before I really had no idea what to expect.
On the long deserted stretch toward Bryce we were surprised when three Pronghorns bolted across the road in front of us. Peter swerved left, the confused Pronghorn ran right and slammed into the side of our car. I screamed the foulest of foul words and it’s nothing short of a miracle that Sage has not started running around dropping F bombs whenever she sees a animal. Somehow the word didn’t stick and fortunately we slowed down enough that both the Pronghorn and the car were ok. Well I think the Pronghorn is ok. It sauntered of into the wilderness and was only a short distance behind its friends. At the time we had no idea what the animal was and were both in shock. We found the closest pullout and drove in to catch our breath. The shock turned into tears of laughter (me) when this sign was staring at us from the side of the road.
Upon seeing the signs for Kolob Canyon we made a last minute decision to get off the highway and check it out. Sage was sleeping so we stayed in the car but from the car we saw many hiking opportunities and were interested in the overnight backcountry possibilities leaving this side of the park. Continue reading
When our friend Greg announced he was going to run one hundred miles for the Zion 100, I jumped at the chance to make supporting him, a vacation for us. We explored many different options for the trip, bike touring was on the table for a while, taking the camper trailer, backpacking… when finally what seemed like the best way to do it all was to leave the camper trailer at home, make reservations for hotels and campgrounds, pack up the car, load the mountain bikes, and hit the road.
The fun part of meeting friends in Joshua Tree is no cell reception. We rely on the old fashioned method of leaving notes on the back of campsite information boards. Just after midnight on Friday, we found our note, drove to our campsite, and discovered that someone else had parked their car and pitched their tent where ours was supposed to be.
I don’t know why I was nervous. The backcountry is about as uneventful as a place can get. In all the miles we covered the most exciting thing that happened was leaving Sage’s wipes by a log and trying to figure out how to change future poopy diapers with just a few squares of toilet paper.
Sage and I tagged along for Peter’s work trip and had such a great time exploring the city. We flew out a few days early so Peter could spend time with us over the weekend and we must have walked at least 20 miles in one weekend around the city. I forgot how fun cities are with children and it makes me miss living in New York. With all the stimulating sights and sounds Sage’s words practically doubled.
We arrived at our secluded jungle bungalow around 1am after an exhausting but exciting 14 hour travel day. Chasing a toddler around two busy airports, keeping her from climbing up the chair in front of us, and constantly worrying about who she might be disturbing is draining. There are only so many rides you can take on the moving walkway, with her twisting herself up, shrieking and refusing to walk on her two feet before you are ready to hand her off to a stranger and hit the bar.
We had so much fun last time we visited Twin Lakes Wisconsin that we decided to return! Lucky for us, Brian’s family extended a second invitation and didn’t mind that we were returning with one more in tow.
This weekend, we took Sage on her first overnight backpacking trip in the San Bernardino Mountains. Our hike in started on Saturday late afternoon. We climbed 6.5 miles, 2,700 feet, and arrived at our campsite just before sunset.
We drove just outside the city to the lovely village of Deisenhofen where my relatives live. The Kreb family has phenomenal country home covered in and surrounded by thick, lush, green vegetation where they grow all kinds of vegetables, currants, grapes, raspberries, flowers, and herbs. They compost and have a chicken coop that rivals anything featured in Sunset magazine.
In my opinion, there are two ways of looking at international travel with a two month old. View number one: Don’t do it. You might as well just kick a dead horse (me) over and over again for fun. View number two: You are already a dead horse so what’s a little more kicking? You feel like crap anyway, so what’s a little more sleep deprivation? How much worse could you actually feel?
Sage’s 2 month birthday was made even more special because it marked the beginning of Peter’s 6 week hiatus from work.
Four weeks after Sage’s birth my body finally felt good enough to go on our first family hike. Continue reading
Because Christmas landed on a Sunday this year, Peter had Monday off! So, we decided to take a road trip to Sedona.
This fall has been exciting and busy. September-October was filled with some wonderful weekend trips but due to being in the throws of weeks 9-17 of my pregnancy, I felt too sick to blog about most of it. Continue reading