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Family and Friends

    Family and Friends

    Adventurous Boy

    My son’s solo bike ride through West Africa

    People often remark to me that Arne and I are very adventurous to be leading a life of full-time travel.  I do often feel adventurous, but I am not nearly as adventurous as my youngest son Erik.

    I want to take a moment here, and give him a shout-out.  Because he has been cycling alone through West Africa for a month now.  This is not an adventure I would ever tackle.  In fact I really didn’t want him to tackle it either – alone.

    When he first told us about his idea he was planning to do it with another Peace Corp friend.  But that friend ended up needing to head off to Grad School earlier than was expected.  Erik didn’t want to give
    up the idea.  So he decided to go alone.

    I was a bit freaked out – particularly because this ride went through a part of Mali – not such a safe country in Africa.

    But, he is 26 years old.  I don’t make decisions for him anymore.  I remind myself often where I was in my life at 26 – I had an infant and we were building our first home and I had a full-time job.  My parents were not telling me what to do.  The night before Erik left on the bike trip we talked on the phone and he thanked us.  He thanked us for supporting the idea, because he said he knew a lot of Peace Corp volunteers whose parents would have said absolutely not.

    I never felt like I had a right to say absolutely not.  He has lived for two and half years alone in Burkina Faso, without water or electricity, and without me telling him what to do.  I know him to make good, smart decisions.

    So he began the trip in the end of June, saying farewell to his village, his home for the past 2 and half years, and heading out.  From Burkina Faso to Mali, to Guinea, to Senegal.  Alone. On a bicycle.

    He texts me often to give me peace of mind and we talk on the phone when we can.  He has great stories to tell.  He says each night he comes into a village and finds the place where all the old men sit around – there is always this place.  He asks if anyone speaks English or French and then asks if there is a place he can set up his tent for the night.

    Every time he is welcomed.  Every time he is fed.  Every time they are kind and curious.  Who is this tall white stranger and why is he riding this bike through our village?  They have never seen anything like it.  So he is taken in and taken care of.  This is their way, and one of the things that has made the experience fulfilling.

    He has also spent some nights with other Peace Corp volunteers who he has connected with on Facebook.  He took some time off in Guinea to hike and explore the beautiful area of Fouta Dajalon. A place anyone who comes to Guinea visits, although not too many Americans in Guinea. He thought it was an amazingly beautiful place.

    His journey will end soon in Dakar, Senegal.  He anxiously looked for his first glimpse of the sea.  Being land-locked in Burkina Faso has made him thirst for the ocean.  He will relax and enjoy the beach here, before flying to meet up with us on August 1st in Lisbon.

    Where I will fatten him up.

    My adventurous boy.

    Family and Friends

    Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

    Chapter Nine – We finally get company


    Very early in our travels and by sheer coincidence we were able to meet up for dinner with a friend of mine from high school (in Chiang Mai) and then again friends from Gig Harbor (in Saigon).

    We made it clear when we left home that friends were encouraged to catch up with us and spend some time on the Grand Adventure. So far though it hasn’t happened.

    Until today. Today we welcome our first visitor and actually begin a series of opportunities over the next few months to either host or hook up with friends.

    Today Arne’s mom arrives from Bremerton to spend two weeks with us. We are excited.

    Arne took this sign to the airport.

    We are excited to see her and catch up on news from home.  We are excited to start doing the touristy things here in Dubrovnik that we have been saving for when she arrives. We are excited to take possession of the care package from home – things we have ordered and had shipped to her house that we can’t seem to get here and both need and want.

    We are excited. Something new and different on the Grand Adventure.

    In the months ahead we will also be visiting friends in Slovenia, seeing Erik in Portugal, visiting our friend Leslie in Tunisia and enjoying a holiday with our friends Steve and Sarah in Morocco.

    But today we focus on Arne’s Mom. Welcome to Croatia Mom – Lynn – Granny!  Let the games begin!

    Family and Friends

    My Dad’s Memory

    A few weeks ago my 84 years-old Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The diagnosis was not really a surprise, but hearing it officially was sobering.

    When I left the United States I knew my Dad’s memory was failing. I knew there was a chance he wouldn’t know me when I came back. That was a hard good-bye.

    When I was a little kid I thought my Dad could do anything. He built houses and fixed cars and

    My Dad as a teen

    painted and did stained glass. He built a ski boat once, a row boat and tractor. My brother’s Cub Scout Race Car always won the Derby. My high school

    My Dad as a Young man

    dances always had a photo backdrop designed by my Dad. He designed cabinets and staircases for mine and my siblings houses. He took us hiking and camping and skiing and fishing. He was a do it all kind of guy.

    But over the last few years he struggled with finishing tasks. I know now that he was silently struggling more than we realized for longer than we knew. We moved him out of his large house a little more than a year ago, trying to get him settled in a more manageable place before we left the country. But in the six months we have been gone my brother and sister saw him dwindle further.

    So this Father’s Day my Dad is moving again. This time to a facility that can help care for him in the

    With my living siblings at my dad’s 80th birthday

    months and years ahead as we watch and wait to see how Alzheimer’s will affect him. It affects different people differently. I just want him to be where he is getting healthy meals and some exercise for both his body and his mind.

    It’s a hard transition watching your parents age. I talk to my Dad on the phone about every two weeks. He always knows who I am, but can’t remember

    My dad at the ancestral cemetery Durkee Idaho

    where I am. Heck, I have trouble with that too.

    Our parents were very supportive of our decision to embark on our world travels. And they continue to be. I just hope my Dad can find some peace and stability in the time ahead. What more can we hope for anyone we care about?

    My Dad as a little.

    This Father’s Day take time to remember whatever Father figure you had in your life, and be grateful.

    Thanks for the memories Daddy. I’ll take good care of them for you.  Happy Father’s Day. ❤️

    (Featured photo at top, my family in 1966)

    Family and Friends

    The Littles

    Mapping the Grand Adventure

    As we near the end of our stay in Seychelles (one week to go) we near the end of our seventh country that we have stayed in (add two more that we have passed through)  since leaving the USA in November.  And following along at home are my darling great nieces and nephews.  I’m probably having more fun sending them things than they are…but I hope they are learning something as we traipse around the globe.

    When we were in England last August I had this idea to encourage the littles at home to follow our journey on a map.  Since I don’t have any

    Isaiah and Elsa

    grandchildren, I get my little kiddy fix from my great nieces and nephews.  I actually don’t see them that often, and knowing we would be gone for several years I thought I wanted to help them remember us, and also encourage them to learn something from our travels about the world.

    So far they have received flags and jewel boxes from England (Chapter 3), Navajo dolls from the Grand Canyon (Chapter 4), cards from Thailand, Fans from Vietnam and cards from Laos (Chapter Five), books from New Zealand (Chapter Six) and cards from Seychelles (Chapter Seven).

    Lily and Landon

    Three families are following our travels with maps posted on their walls (one is not old enough yet for a map).  My mom is also following us with a map of her own, where she posts postcards that we send to her.  Meanwhile the littles receive a postcard, card or small gift for each country we visit.  And then they find the country on their maps at home and mark it.  Of course they aren’t old enough to follow the blog, but I actually prefer to hand write notes to them anyway.  I sure hope as they get older they will have fond memories of following our adventure.  And

    Porter, Weston and Henry

    maybe they will be inspired to travel and learn and appreciate the unique and vast planet we live on – just like we do.

    So here’s to the littles, my great nieces and nephews; Isaiah, Elsa, Lilly, Landon, Olivia, Audrey, Porter, Weston, Henry and Holden.  I think you will like the countries we are headed to over the next few months!

    Family and Friends

    Mom Pride on Mother’s Day

    Feeling proud today

    Our son Erik is in his final weeks of his Peace Corp term in Burkina Faso, West Africa.  He has made an amazing impact on his tiny village – I have no doubt they will talk about him for years to come.  But they have made an even bigger impact on him.  His experience, though difficult at times, has changed him and made him a stronger and more independent thinker.

    I am incessantly proud of him and the man he has become.  I look forward to what comes next for him.

    Our son Dane is in his final weeks of his nine month travel odyssey – something he has wanted to do for many years.  He grasped the brass ring and decided to go for it a year ago and has been traveling and living abroad since September.  This experience has given him a broader appreciation for world culture.  He has made new friends and found new strengths and goes home penniless, but rich in experiences.

    I am incessantly proud of him as well.  Traveling alone and finding his way for nine months is a feat.  A learning experience that will help him be frugal and grateful on his return to the USA.  He is currently job searching and figuring out what is next.  I am excited to see where he lands.

    These two men are very different, sometimes I wonder how they both are mine? But I see many similarities in them as well, such as adventurous spirit, loyalty, honesty, dedication and hard work.  But one of the most important traits they both possess is empathy.  I love that about them.

    Proud to be their Mom. Love you both.

    Family and Friends  --  Travel Around the World

    Sheepish in New Zealand

    Chapter Six

    I know next to nothing about sheep farming. As a matter of fact everything I know I learned in one afternoon on a sheep farm in southern New Zealand.

    When we hiked the Abel Tasman Trail two weeks ago we met three couples – two from New Zealand and one from the states. We were all about the same age. One of the couples graciously invited us to stop into their sheep farm when we were in the area. So we did.

    Isn’t that amazing?  We were nearly strangers and yet they invited us to their home.

    Their home is a 700 acre sheep farm that has been in their family for 140 years.  During that time much has changed on the farm and in the industry but this farm and this family have endured. Endured the depression, world wars, falling and rising wool prices, weather and more.  In 1874 New Zealand was in its infancy. Still today the area around the farm is remote.  The town of Nightcaps only has 180 residents.  Teeny.

    The farm has about 2500 sheep and today the majority of their income comes from lambs rather than wool.  Wool is currently not as profitable as it once was. But lamb is.

    A lamb is a sheep that has not yet gotten their adult teeth.  They usually go to slaughter between six and nine months. The lambs are culled early in their lives and divided. The ones to slaughter (all the boys and some of the girls) are kept together and fed and prepared for this destiny.  The others are kept for breeding and wool.  They spend their days rotating through the paddocks grazing on the grass  in the winter they also eat a turnip like plant called a “swede”.

    Sheep that are not specifically bred for wool produce a rougher texture of wool – mostly sold and used for wool carpets.

    Just a few years ago New Zealand had twenty sheep to every human being. Today it is seven to one. Many sheep farmers have switched to breeding deer for venison (exported to Germany) or dairy cows (dry milk exported to India).  Most of today’s New Zealand lamb is exported to China and Great Britain.

    I enjoyed my crash course on New Zealand sheep farm and my afternoon tooling around the farm. What a special opportunity to learn first hand from these generous Kiwis.

    And All the Rest  --  Family and Friends  --  Travel Around the World

    Marking the Monumental Moments

    Chapter Six- A Big Week

    This week is always a monumental one in My Fab Fifties Life.  Each year my husband and I mark the day we met.  March 27th, 1975.  It’s a very important date in our relationship and it never passes on the calendar without some recognition on our part.  It used to a big deal to say “wow we’ve known each other for 20 years” .  But now its just plain amusing to think of all we have done and been through together over the past 42 years.  We usually just turn and grin at each other and one of us will say “who’da thunk?”

    42 years.  Yep.  Wouldn’t trade it for the world.

    So in addition to our annual marking of that day, this week we also mark four months on the road.  I hardly can believe it.  Time is neither flying by or slog’n by-  it just is.  We are well settled into our new lifestyle and feel comfortable and confident.  Mostly we are present.  Not really looking ahead too far just being and enjoying each miraculous day.  And each day is miraculous.  Not just the days where we do something spectacular like visit a Hmong Village or Hike 17 miles or spend the day on a sunny beach.  Those days are wonderful but its the little miracles we enjoy like hot coffee on a crystal clear cold New Zealand morning.  Or a thunderous rainstorm that blackens the midday sky in Koh Samui.  Or listening to the melody of a bird you can’t see but can only hear. Or me winning scrabble – for once!

    It’s the little moments of the past four months and the past 42 years that make a life well lived.  Not just living the moments but realizing, relishing and respecting them.  That is fabulous.