When we were heading out to tour the elk ranch in Idaho, we came across this old rusty and bullet-riddled car. When seeing this car the first thing that comes to mind is “Bonnie and Clyde.”
Archives for November 2012
After many years of dreaming about round-the-world (RTW) travel, we finally set off one week ago on our own 2-year family adventure to do just that. Our first week has had its highs and lows and we find ourselves stuck in the transition from “normal life” to life on the road; neither here nor there and trying to find the rhythm of our new reality. A challenge all long-term travelers must face.
Boise: Different, but not that different
Since we are staying with relatives in Boise for the past week, it doesn’t feel any different than a normal visit here. When you think about “round the world travel” you imagine visiting places such as Europe, Africa, and Asia. Rarely do you picture yourself hanging out in the American suburbs surrounded by big box stores. But since we will be out of the country for the next 2 years, and longer if we can afford it, we really want to spend as much time as possible with family for the first month of the trip. Sydney is currently 8 years old, and while 2 years does not seem like a very long time for an adult, 2 years is currently 25% of our daughter’s age. For Sydney, 2 years is a very long time to not see her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. So, for the past week we have been surrounded by familiar people and places and nothing seems different. We so want to feel that feeling you get when visiting someplace new and exotic; that sense of culture shock you only get with international travel. But I don’t think we will be feeling that until we land in France on December 1st.
Home Schooling Hell
We have started to home school Sydney and have met with a few challenges. We purchased the highly recommended Saxon Math books, but chose to not get the massive teacher guides. I have a degree in Civil Engineering (lots of math) and Kerri has a minor in math; I think we can handle teaching 2nd and 3rd grade math. But Kerri suddenly had a change of heart and felt that we needed all the help we can get and decided that she was going to go buy the teacher guides. We had a bit of an argument over this, as there was no way I was going to lug around a couple of 5+ pound books around the world, especially when I felt we did not need them. We talked it over and came up with a solution that worked for both of us. We would have her continue to work in the Saxon workbooks, but supplement her math studies with online math tutorials, videos, and math games.
For her other studies, she has been reading books, journaling, and taking daily spelling tests, which has been working out pretty well after an initial struggle. We arrived here last Thursday and the following morning we tried to start our well planned homeschool curriculum. Since we were visiting her Nana and Papa, she was in total play mode and wanted no part of doing schoolwork. Sitting down for more than 15 minutes was pure hell for her and she started to whine a lot and throw tantrums. We tried to be patient with her, but after awhile I could only take so much and sent her to room where I gave her a strong lecture about how she is no longer in regular school and we are now her teachers and she will do as we say. The scolding worked great and she is now a model student.
We are also allowing her to choose a topic of her choice each month on something to study. For this first month she chose farming, something she is really passionate about. We have contacted numerous farms in the area for tours and have been turned down by every single one. A couple of local people recommended that we meet up at the Boise Farmers’ Market and talk to some of the farmers there and see if we can get a tour of one of their farms. We spoke to several of the farmers and ended up being invited out to tour an elk ranch. The elk ranch tour was a lot of fun and we all got to learn about raising elk.
Meeting a Fellow Blogger
Since Boise is also the home of Nancy from Family on Bikes, we met up with her for coffee in downtown Boise where we picked her brain for travel knowledge. We still need to choose our health insurance provider for the next 2 years overseas, which is surprisingly cheaper than anything you can get for strictly the USA only, but a tough decision none-the-less. We asked her about what they did and also about homeschooling and received a lot of great information. We had mentioned to Sydney that she was chased by a grizzly bear in British Columbia, Canada and had rocks thrown at her and her husband while bicycling through Pakistan. Sydney, always wanting to hear a good story, asked her to recite those tales, which she did to Sydney’s enjoyment. After meeting Nancy we walked around downtown Boise, which is much smaller and less busy compared to downtown Portland, and ended up touring the state capital building.
Snow in early November? That’s Crazy Talk!
We are planning to rent another U-Haul trailer and leave Boise on Sunday, which happens to be our 12th wedding anniversary. We will be heading to our next destination of Layton, Utah where we will visit Kerri’s sister, brother-in-law, and the nieces. Since arriving in Boise a week ago it has been warm, sunny, and in the 60’s each day. But the weather is starting to change and become cooler, and the forecast now calls for snow on Friday. The forecast in Layton, Utah calls for snow Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We have a Nissan Xterra 4×4 and it’s usually great in the snow, but towing a trailer will be a little different. This could potentially be a very long drive.
Note from Jason: We initially planned to have a separate blog for our daughter called “Sydney’s Adventures.” But it makes more sense to have her write posts and post them on our family blog. So, from now on you will start seeing posts titled “Sydney’s Corner” as well as a new category with the same name where you can read about round-the-world travel from the point of view of an 8-year old girl. We hope you enjoy this new addition and reading posts from Sydney.
When I grow up, I would like to be a dairy farmer. Today we went to the Farmer’s Market to learn about farming. While we were at the Farmer’s Market, we talked to some farmers.
First we talked to a famer who raises elk. We learned that you can keep elk on a farm. The elk can jump so high that you need an extra high fence. We learned that their meat is healthy for you. The farmer has been raising elk for 6 to 8 years and the elk came from the Oregon coast. He has 48 elks. Half the herd is bulls. The elk loose their antlers and it takes 3 months to grow back. They grow 2 inches in one day.
Next, we talked to a dairy farmer who raises goats for cheese and sells the cheese. This is how he makes cheese. First you get the goat milk by milking. Then you heat it up to pasteurize it. Then you add special bacteria that make it curdle to separate the curds from the whey.
We also talked to 2 vegetable farmers. One of the farmers has a cat. The cat scares the birds away from the berries. Both farmers have been farming for a really long time.
Another form of farming we learned about was raising llamas and alpacas. The farmer raises the llamas and alpacas for their wool. She sheers the llamas and alpacas in spring. To make string, first she brushes the wool, dyes it and then spins it into string. She also knits hats.
My favorite thing was learning about elk, because their fascinating.
This week we left our home of Portland, Oregon to begin a 2-year around the world adventure. This Umbrella Man statue, titled “Allow Me” was placed in Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square in 1983 and is one of many Portland icons. As a teenager, my friends and I would often go downtown Portland in the 1980’s and “decorate” him. I remember one incident where we left a large marshmallow on his extended index finger. Goodbye Portland and Umbrella Man!
Our last week in Portland was a busy one filled with farewells and severed ties. After all, it will be a few years before we will travel back to the Rose City after our round the world trip, and we most likely will not choose to live and work there again once we decide to resettle. Friends and family wanted to get together for goodbyes and to wish us luck in our travels, but there were too many people and not enough time for everyone. So what were we to do? Throw a going away party, of course!
We sent an open invite on our Facebook accounts and on our newsletter for a casual get together on Sunday at a local kid-friendly brew pub in Portland. We really had no idea how many people would show up, or if anyone would show up at all. On Sunday we arrived and were surprised to find Kerri’s cousin and her family had drove 3 hours from Washington to say goodbye. Soon after, other family and friends arrived and we spent hours talking and enjoying good Portland craft beer.
Monday was Kerri’s last day working at the Oregon Health and Science University. Her co-workers threw her a very nice going away party and that was that. She was unemployed by choice; something that left her feeling uncomfortable.
On Tuesday my co-workers at the City of Oregon City threw me a very nice “Bon Voyage” party and Kerri and I gave a presentation about our trip. The presentation went very well and you can see a copy of it here, sans commentary: http://prezi.com/1vo5slg6wn-l/our-rtw-trip/
On Wednesday, which was Halloween, Kerri and I dropped Sydney off at school, which was her last day, and then Kerri dropped me off at City Hall for my final day at work. I spent the day cleaning out my desk and organizing files. After 11 years, 8 months, and 26 days of working for the same employer, I was unemployed by choice. It was definitely a strange feeling, especially in this economy and high unemployment rates. Kerri and Sydney came to pick me up and I left for the final time.
After we got home we had a quick dinner and then I took Sydney trick-or-treating around our neighborhood while Kerri stayed at our apartment to pack. This was probably going to be our last Halloween for a few years, and we wanted to make sure Sydney had a really good one. It’s one of those great kid holidays and we didn’t want her to miss out. After a bag full of candy, we came back and then went to visit our old neighborhood to say goodbye to our former neighbors. Sydney was also excited to see our neighbor’s kitten and see how much he had grown in the 6 weeks since we had sold our house. She loves animals and it’s probably good that we got her rabies vaccination, as she cannot resist animals. After the old neighborhood, we went trick-or-treating at the grandparents, a yearly tradition. Back home we packed and cleaned our apartment until we could not keep our eyes open any longer and went to bed.
Thursday morning we awoke early and made a run to drop off unwanted items at a local charity and then packed our SUV with still way too much stuff. I am so sick of “stuff.” It has been a non-stop battle of ours for months. Everywhere we look, we had more stuff. We have had a couple of people ask us what we were going to do if we found souvenirs that we just had to buy. To be honest, I never want to buy another trinket again. Stuff sucks! We drove our overly packed SUV to a friends house where we left them our computer printer and food, and then headed to U-Haul to pickup our 5’x8’ trailer that would carry the stuff inside our 5’x10’ storage unit to Idaho. Yes, more stuff. We were down to only photo albums, well-packaged framed art, and family heirlooms, but it still seemed like too much stuff. We loaded everything up and came across a large container full of crap that was supposed to be brought back for our estate sale and sold. Oops! After one more trip to the local charity for yet one more donation, we were on the road and finally heading east; the direction that we will be heading for the next 2 years!
As we drove through the rainy Columbia River Gorge, I could not help but notice the beautiful scenery, massive waterfalls, and the changing of the leaves. Western Oregon is a very beautiful area to live, and it was bittersweet to be leaving after living there all my life. But a great adventure awaits us. And it will be nice to search the world for a different place to resettle for the next chapter of our lives.