Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Galapagos Animals - Video

In this post, we figured we’d try doing a video post.  We did several classroom presentations during our 2-week break in Minnesota, and in those presentations we talked a lot about the Galapagos.  So we’re using some of the material we developed and turning this post into a video (it is about 9 1/2 minutes long).

If you like this format, please let us know!

If you want to see our best Galapagos photos, click here to get to our Galapagos photo album.  You can also get to it on the Photos page of our blogs.

Here are some other links that are mentioned in the video:

Blue-footed Booby Mating Dance (this is not our video)
Frigate Birds chasing Red-billed Tropicbirds (also not our video)

Study Guide Questions

1. Why don’t animals in the Galapagos have a fear of humans?

2. At what speed can blue-footed boobies hit the water while fishing?

3. How do blue-footed boobies prevent their wings from being harmed when they hit the water while fishing?

4. How do frigate birds get fish to eat?

5. What is the difference between a male and female frigate bird?

6. How do the long tail feathers on a red-billed tropic bird help it to evade frigate birds?

7. How can Galapagos Penguins survive as far north as the Galapagos?

8. What is El NiƱo?

9. Marine Iguanas are endemic to the Galapagos.  This means that (select one):

      a. They used to be found in the Galapagos, but are now gone.
      b. They are found in the Galapagos AND all over the world.
      c. They are found only in the Galapagos.
      d. They like to eat eggs.

10. Galapagos Tortoises can live to be (select one):

      a. Over 100 years old
      b. Never more than 100 years old
      c. Over 500 years old
      d. Less than 50 years old

11. Why did sailors and pirates like to use tortoises for food?

12. How does temperature determine whether a tortoise egg hatches into a male or female?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Amazon rainforest in Peru - part 2 - Bio-gardens

Here's our second Wilderness Classroom post about our time in the Amazon rainforest in Peru.  We helped build a bio-garden in the local community while there.  This post tells about bio-gardens and why they are important as well as Reynaldo, an inspirational local man who came up with the idea of bio-gardens.  Reynaldo is part of CREES, a Peruvian non-profit, and the group with whom we traveled to the rainforest.

Within this post there is a link to a 1-minute video we created as well as an extremely well-done 5 minute video about Reynaldo.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Mystery Photo #8

Here's our next mystery photo post to The Wilderness Classroom site.  Click here to see clues and guess what it is.

Amazon rainforest in Peru - part 1

We're doing two Wilderness Classroom posts about our time in the Amazon rainforest in Peru, called the Manu rainforest.  This is a link to part 1.  In this post we talk about some of the animals that we saw and a bit about CREES, a Peruvian non-profit organization.  We traveled to Manu with CREES.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

How to use our blog

As we've developed more content we thought it made sense to have a short post to describe how we're organizing our information, especially for any educators that want to use our content.  Hopefully it is at least somewhat intuitive, but as we're not web designers, we have the tools that blogspot provides us to organize the blog.

Email updates - This is the best way to keep up with what we're doing, and is located in the upper right on every page of the blog.  If you've signed up, then at the end of every day when we've added content, you'll get an email notification.  If you do sign up, there is one added step that sometimes causes problems.  After you sign up, you will get an almost immediate email verification.  This email often gets caught in junk mail filters.  You have to find this email, and click on the link provided within it.  So, if you don't see it in your email inbox immediately after signing up, check your junk mail.

Where are we now? - This is a map from Travellers Point that we update whenever we move our location.

In The News - We keep links to any articles about us in the press or any articles we've had published.

Photos - We upload some of our best photos to these photo albums.  So far, we've mostly organized them by country.  If you mouse over the photos, you'll see comments we've added to most of them describing the photo.  If you click on a photo, you'll see a full size version of it.

Note, that these photo albums work differently than the email updates, so there is no notification that goes out when new photos are added.  If you would like to be automatically notified, send me an email at  It's quite easy for me to do, but the photo albums are managed through iphoto.

Videos - We're doing a video update, roughly monthly, for Peter Hobart (our kids school) and other classrooms that are following us.  They can be found on this page.

For Teachers - This is targeted at educators that want to use us in some fashion.  As we create more educational content, we've tried to think of a way to provide an index into all of the material.  Plus not all of our posts are educationally focused.  So we created two indexes that we keep up to date that are accessed through this page.  One index is by country and the other is by biome.  The index includes all the contents on both of our blogs (kids and parents) as well as anything we post on The Wilderness Classroom.

Blog Archive - On the bottom right hand side of every page there is a blog archive.  This is a chronological listing of our posts.

Jamie and Jason's blog - Our kids do have their own blog.  The first link underneath the "Important Links" heading goes to their blog.

Carbon Cost of our Trip - Part 2

We're about to start on the 2nd part of our trip, so we wanted to come back to the carbon cost calculations.  Here is our post from a few months ago where we calculated the cost from our first 3 months. We don't have all of our flights set for the rest of the trip, so there will be a "Part 3" post in a month or two.

As before, I'm using the carbon footprint calculator at terrapass to calculate the carbon footprint for our trip (

For this "Part 2" calculation, I plugged in our flights from Minneapolis to Seattle (family Thanksgiving) to Perth, Australia. Then within Australia we'll fly from Perth to Sydney and Sydney to Melbourne. Then in January, we'll go from Melbourne to Hanoi, with a one night stop in Kuala Lumpur (needed to make our flights work).

For the four of us, the flights are estimated at 109,373 miles generating 46,799 lbs of CO2.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Peru video update

Here's a video update we did for some of the schools that are following us.  It is mostly of our activities in September and October in Peru.

At the end of it, there is also a request for students to help Jamie and Jason help the Children's Eternal Rainforest.  This is something that they have decided to do, on their own.  For any classes interested in getting involved in this worthy cause, please feel free to send me an email and we can give you a lot of ideas.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Amazon Rainforest in Peru - An Inspirational Story

This is the last in a series of four articles that I wrote about our travels in Peru for Peru This Week.  This one is about our visit to the Manu rainforest, part of the Amazon basin with a great organization, CREES.  CREES is Peruvian non-profit organization that really gets it right.  They're focused on creating a sustainable rainforest by working with local people to create the right long term incentives.  We met a very special and inspirational person, Reynaldo.  After reading the article, if you want to learn more, click here to see a great video about him.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Mystery Photo #6

Here's our next mystery photo post to The Wilderness Classroom site.  Click here to see clues and guess what it is.

Lake Titicaca: Floating Islands and Solar Energy

Here's our next notes from the trail post on The Wilderness Classroom site.  It's about our time visiting Lake Titicaca and two of the islands in the lake.  At over 12,500 feet, Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, and the largest freshwater lake in South America.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Mystery Photo #5

Here's our next mystery photo post for The Wilderness Classroom.  Click here to see the clues and guess what it is.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Colca Canyon and Condors

Here's another notes from the trail post that we did on The Wilderness Classroom site.  It's about the Colca Canyon, claimed to be the 2nd deepest canyon in the world (twice as deep as the Grand Canyon) and the huge condors with a wingspan of over 10 feet that glide on canyon wind currents.  The condors part is from a post on condors that Jamie & Jason did.

Andean Condor
Colca Canyon

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Peru This Week - Lake Titicaca: Floating Islands and an Energy Lesson

While we're in Peru, we're contributing articles to Peru This Week, an online news portal designed to be the world's window on Peru.  Here is our 3rd article, titled "Lake Titicaca: Floating Islands and an Energy Lesson."

Here are links to our other two articles.
- Introduction
- Arequipa

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween in Pisaq, Peru - Video

We had a quite unique Halloween, here in Pisaq, Peru.  Pisaq is a picturesque town in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.  The Sacred Valley is where Machu Picchu and many other Inca ruins are located.  After a couple of busy weeks of travel, we decided to spend 4-5 days relaxing a bit in Pisaq, and catching up a bit on school.


Pisaq from our hotel
We had thought that Halloween wasn't really celebrated in Peru, and had prepared Jamie & Jason for that.  We planned to go out to a nice cafe we found in Pisaq (Ulrike's) that has especially delicious desserts.  We all had our eye on some carrot cake, as we figured it was orange and would be good to have on Halloween.

After we settled in to a table at Ulrike's close to the door, we quickly realized that Halloween was in fact celebrated here.  During the 90 minutes or so while we were eating, we were treated to a steady stream of kids in costumes coming up to the restaurant.  Apparently, here, the kids don't go from house-to-house, but instead go from restaurant to restaurant or store to store.  Also, instead of saying "trick-or-treat" the kids yell out "feliz halloween" (happy halloween) or "Buenas noches... Halloween" (good evening... halloween) or as one incredibly cute and direct little girl said "Buenas noches, dulces por favor" (good evening, candy please).

Jamie and Jason were absolutely delighted.  For a few of the groups, the people at Ulrike's let Jamie & Jason give out the candy, which was a huge hit.  After we finished eating, the kids waited by the door, getting so excited when a new group would come in.  We had to pull Jason in from the street, as he wanted to go out and flag down more groups of kids.

In one of those really simple, but precious moments, Jason was playing with a small stuffed bear that was at Ulrike's, making it dance for the kids coming in for their treats.  One of the children really enjoyed it and gave him a piece of candy as he was leaving.  This was so kind, and made Jason absolutely thrilled.  Not so much because he now had a piece of candy, but because he had made a connection and the boy gave him something.

Lauri and I both agreed that we were quite proud of our kids.  When we realized that Halloween was in fact celebrated, and that we could have worked out a way for them to go trick-or-treating, we shared a worried look, wondering if Jamie & Jason were going to be disappointed.  But, they weren't at all.  They totally loved our unique Halloween, and I think they will remember it for many years to come, probably more than Halloweens where they come home with overflowing bags of candy.

Here is a video of some of the events of the evening.

Answers to kids questions

We recently had some video conferences with several classrooms.  After one of the videos, Kim Schafer's 3rd grade class at Breck School in Minneapolis, had some great questions for us.  We thought we'd publish the questions and answers here.

What animals did you see in the Amazon Rain Forest?  Did you have a favorite?
The animals that we saw in the Amazon rainforest were:
  • Monkeys
  • Caterpillars
  • Butterflies
  • Snakes
  • Birds
We've created a specific photo album focused on Amazon rainforest animals that we saw.

It's hard to pick a favorite, but some of our most favorite are squirrel monkeys, woolly monkeys, andean cock-of-the-rock birds, oropendola birds, and hoatzin birds (thought to be related to archaeopteryx dinosaurs).

What kinds of things did you see in the desert?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Peru This Week - Arequipa article

While we're in Peru, we're contributing articles to Peru This Week, an online news portal designed to be the world's window on Peru.  Here is our 2nd article, titled "Arequipa, Sun, More Sun, and an Earthquake."  You can find our 1st article at this link.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Mystery Photo #4

Here's our 4th mystery photo post to the Wilderness Classroom site.  Click this link to guess what it is.  Hint - make sure you read our Arequipa post!

Arequipa: Part 1 – Volcanoes & Earthquakes

Here's another notes from the trail post that we did on The Wilderness Classroom site.  It's the first part of information about the lovely and very uniquely situated city of Arequipa.

Video conferences with classrooms

For interested teachers and classrooms that are following us, we've set aside two times in the next couple of months to do 1:1 video conferences with individual classrooms.  They are:

Monday, October 28th - between 10am and 12noon (Central time)
Thursday, November 21st - between 10am and 12noon (Central time)
   (The topic for Nov 21st will be The Galapagos)

Monday, October 14, 2013


Here's another notes from the trail post that we did on The Wilderness Classroom site.  It's from time we spent a few weeks ago with NatureKids, a great organization and a great group of kids in Drake Bay, Costa Rica.

Mystery Photo #3

Here's our 3rd mystery photo post to The Wilderness Classroom site.  Check out this link to guess what it is.

Friday, October 11, 2013

3 Minute Intro Video

Here is a 3-minute video we created about our trip for the Peter Hobart community and The Wilderness Classroom.  Lots of Jamie & Jason narration!

Chocolate Comes From a Fruit

Here's another notes from the trail post that we did on The Wilderness Classroom site.  It's from a chocolate tour we did while in Costa Rica, and uses information that Jamie created on one of her posts.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Climate Change in the Cloud Forest

I wrote this article a few weeks ago, while in Costa Rica.  It's now been picked up and published on the Tico Times online newspaper (Costa Rica English language publication) and on (environmental science and conservation news site).

Tico Times article article

A big thanks to J. Alan Pounds, resident scientist at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, Bob Law one of the founders of the Children's Eternal Rainforest (CER) in Monteverde, and Wendy Brenes a park ranger at CER, who each spent a lot of time with me discussing climate impacts and just teaching my family and me about the cloud forest.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Peru this Week

From a suggestion by a Nature Conservancy contact, we have connected with Peru this Week, an online news portal designed to be the world’s window on Peru.  We will be contributing content on their site during our 6 weeks in Peru.  Here is an introductory article about us on the Peru this Week site.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mystery Photo #2

Here's our 2nd mystery photo post to The Wilderness Classroom site.  Check out this link to guess what it is.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

How Kids and Blue Ropes Saved Monkeys

Here's another notes from the trail post that we did on The Wilderness Classroom site.  It's from our time at Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica, and is a great story about how two 9-year old girls started an organization that has saved a lot of monkeys.

This is based on the post Jason did on the kids blog.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Our Picky Eater and Climate Change

This post was also posted on the Climate Mama web site.

by Lauri

This didn't start out to be a post about climate change.  It began as a post about picky eating.

For those of you who are familiar with Jason and his eating habits, he has (thankfully) added a new food to his repetoire - peanut butter and honey sandwiches.  A week ago, he wouldn't touch peanut butter; now he proclaims it as one of his new favorite things.

Jason loving a peanut butter & double honey sandwich
This may seem trivial, but with Jason, it's all about trying to find sources of protein.  Vegetarian by choice, he's been eating lots of plain pasta with butter, flour tortillas, and white rice since we left the States.  He eats plenty of fruits and vegetables, but protein is a challenge - so far, it's been handfuls of nuts, yogurt and milk.  At home, he eats a jar of either almond or soy nut butter per week - which are definitely not available on the road.

Our daughter will happily chow down what we call "kid food" in the States - chicken nuggets, grilled cheese sandwiches, pizza, and the occasional carbon-intensive hamburger.  Jason?  None of the above.

At any rate:  we came back through San Jose for a few days before leaving for Peru, and we went to an excellent exhibit on climate change at the National Museum.

Mystery Sound #3

Here's another sound from Costa Rica.

Here are the links for more information from the end of the video (as you can't click them from within the video.  Don't click on these until after you've guessed, as they will give it away.

Link #1 (From the website of "The night tour" - we went on this while in Drake Bay, with Tracy the Bug Lady.  Although it absolutely poured on us, it was fabulous.  We have a mystery photo that will be coming from this tour)

Link #2 (wikipedia)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Peninsula de Osa

We’re now just finishing an amazing two weeks in the Peninsula de Osa.  Jutting out into the ocean from the southern Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, this is truly the jungle.  It’s quite hard to get to; it’s the wettest spot on the Central American Pacific coast -- and, we’re here in the rainy season!  So, yes, we get rain pretty much every day, and sometimes it’s torrential.  Lauri and I agree that we’ve been in a couple of thunderstorms here that are the hardest rains we’ve ever seen.  However, it doesn’t rain all the time, and in fact we’ve grown to enjoy the rain and embrace it.

Embracing the rain...
There are about 5000 people in the entire peninsula, and about 1000 in the area where we’re staying (Drake Bay).  There is a road that one can take to get here, but in the rainy season it is discouraged, as the rivers you have to cross in your car are often swollen and impassible (there are no bridges).  The “easiest” way to get here is an hour water taxi ride from a town (Sierpe) about 30 miles away.  This water taxi itself starts down the Sierpe river, then winds its way through a tangled area of mangroves, with some of the waterways being barely large enough for the boat to squeeze through, and then out into the ocean for the last 5 miles or so.  These are not large boats, so even when the surf is not very rough, they launch up and crash down over the waves in a teeth-rattling adventure ride…  Jason especially loved it.

Crocodile on water taxi ride
Water taxi

The Osa is one of the most bio-diverse places on earth.  Excerpting from the excellent book “OSA, Where The Rainforest Meets The Sea” by Roy Troft and Trond Larsen, this small area of Costa Rica is home to over half the animal and plant species of the country.  And the United States, roughly 200 times the size of Costa Rica also has about half the number of species as all of Costa Rica.  So the number of species in this small area, a bit larger than metropolitan Los Angeles, is equivalent to the number of species in the entire United States!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Our kids' posts

Jamie & Jason are really getting into doing blog posts (it's also part of their school writing assignments!).  If you're not subscribed to their blog and seeing them, we suggest you check out what they've done.  We help them with formatting and some technical things (though not as much as you'd think...), but their posts are truly their own.

Recently Jason did posts and videos about our time with the Fundacion Corcovado and their turtle conservation efforts and the monkey bridges created by Kids Saving The Rainforest.  Jamie did posts about the Children's Eternal Rainforest and one about what we learned on a great chocolate tour.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Mystery Sound #2

Another wild sound from Costa Rica.  See if you can guess what it is.

Here are the links for more information from the end of the video (as you can't click them from within the video.  Don't click on these until after you've guessed, as they will give it away.

Link #1 (Wikipedia)

Link #2 (Anywhere Costa Rica)

Link #3 (Wilderness Classroom)

Link #4 (Project Noah)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Children's Eternal Rainforest - Wilderness Classroom post

Here is our first "Notes from the trail" post to the Wilderness Classroom site.  It has some study guide questions at the end.  It's a little longer than will be our usual.

Here's some additional links for information about CER:

Digital brochure
Videos about history and biodiversity:
     Video 1
     Video 2

Mystery Photo #1

Check out the mystery photo we posted on The Wilderness Classroom site.  Go there to get clues and guess what it is.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mystery Sound #1

We are starting with our educational focused posts that we are sharing with The Wilderness Classroom. Make sure to check out their site, for our content and other great stuff.  We're creating a list of our educational posts on the right side of our blog, to make it easy for educators to find them.

Costa Rica is full of amazing sounds.  When we heard this one, we thought it would make a great mystery sound.  Watch this short video and see if you can guess what is making the mystery sound.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Kids Adapting to our trip...

Here's a short video of how "hard" it has been for them to adapt to Costa Rica and life on the road...

Monteverde Cloud Forest

We are in Monteverde, Costa Rica, studying Spanish 4 hours a day.  Monteverde is home to a cloud forest.  It gets quite a bit of rain, but it also has a unique location close to the Continental Divide at an elevation of about 4500 feet.    Clouds blow into the cloud forest from both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans.  So, even when it isn’t raining, it often is misting.

Clouds coming in

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Climate Reality

I had the opportunity to attend two training sessions in the two weeks before we left on our trip that were energizing, but in quite different ways.  First was a three-day session in Chicago, with 1,250 other people, to become part of the Climate Reality LeadershipCorps.  

A few days later, I attended the Will Steger Foundation’s Summer Institute on Minnesota’s Changing Climate with 50 educators.  I’ll blog about the Will Steger training in a subsequent entry, but suffice it to say, these two very different sessions really caused me to reflect on why our trip is environmentally focused and why I’m so keen on getting involved in global sustainability issues. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Reflection on Past Trips

As I think about the first time I did an around the world trip in 1990/91 and when Lauri and I spent 9 months in Central and South America in 1997/98 the changes in technology are truly amazing.  On those first two trips, the only thing I/we had that turned on was a 35mm camera (had a little camera battery in it).  On my first trip, communications with my family included postcards, plus those super-thin, tissue-paper like international letters, and a once-a-month an expensive 3-minute phone call.  And if they wanted to send anything to me, they would send things to American Express offices or would use “Poste Restante” at pre-arranged post offices I had given them.  Poste Restante basically means that the post office holds the mail for you until you come and pick it up.

Start of Trip

Well, we’re off.  It’s been a crazy week with getting our house ready (we’re renting it) and with our final trip preparations.  Throw in Jason’s broken wrist and a nasty cold I’ve caught, and it’s made for an interesting last few days.  But as I write the first part of this we’re probably an hour or so from landing in San Jose, Costa Rica.  I just took Jason to the bathroom, and while there, he said, “Diddy, I can’t wait to see what Costa Rica looks like.”  I love it.  I told him that we were going to be in a city for the first night and it might not be much different, and he reminded me that we were going to the rainforest shortly after arriving.

At the airport, we weighed all of our bags.  Combined we have 110 pounds worth of stuff.  About 25-30 pounds are electronics, as we have one laptop, an iPad, an iPad mini, a Kindle, 2 phones, 1 DSLR camera, one waterproof point and shoot camera, and one solar power charger.  Just the various plugs and cables for all this stuff makes up a small bag. 

I am so excited for this adventure.  We are going to have to find an entirely different rhythm of life.  One in which we are together pretty much all the time.  One in which we are learning together and constantly experiencing new things, together.  There will be some amazing times, but also in the course of a year, some really challenging times made even more challenging by being thousands of miles away from home in a strange place.  Jamie and Jason, as typical of two close-in-age siblings, are simultaneously best friends and adversaries.  I’m very interested to see how their relationship evolves.  I think that over time there will generally be less getting on each other’s nerves than at home, but we’ll see.

Anyway, here we go!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Adventure Begins... a bit early...

We are frantically getting prepared for the beginning of our trip.  Packing up the house and preparing it for renters (we have a lease - yay!), selling our cars, finishing last minute preparations, and trying out our gear.  Yesterday, we had a little ... ah... unexpected surprise.  We'll get to that in a minute.

First, check out Jamie and Jason with their backpacks and some of the clothes they are bringing.  Other than their fleeces, all their clothes for the year are in their backpacks!

So, now for the unexpected surprise.  Yesterday, Jason was swinging in a park.  An adult with two little girls was going after one of them, didn't see Jason, and accidentally bumped him.  It was enough to get him off balance.  He fell off the swing backwards and... broke two bones in his wrist.  So that's the bad news.  The good news is that the breaks are not too bad.  The orthopedist, who knows Jason very well from his skiing broken leg this past February, called them buckle breaks.  He is in a cast for 3-4 weeks, but they gave him a cast that he can get wet, and that we can actually take off ourselves.  Here's a picture of him with his new, temporary, travel companion.

Other than spending most of yesterday afternoon and evening at the hospital dealing with this and compressing our remaining time, it should not impact our departure date.  It will, however, give our already rather gregarious boy another reason to make friends with new people as we go!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Latin America Educational Plans

See an earlier post for our overall educational theme that we'll use in all locations.  The following are specific experiences we're planning in Latin America.

August 12 – November 15, 2013

Costa Rica

8/12 - 8/25: Monteverde Cloud Forest and Spanish Language School

We’ll be staying with a Costa Rican family, having meals with them, and studying Spanish 4 hours a day in Monteverde.

Educational Topics:

  • What is a cloud forest?  Is it different than a rainforest?
  • What types of animals live in the cloud forest, and where do they live?
  • Why is a rainforest or cloud forest important to maintain?
  • Is climate change having an impact on the cloud forest?

8/26 - 9/2: Manuel Antonio National Park

A coastal rainforest that is one of the most popular in Costa Rica.  Among other things we’ll be doing a tour with Kids Saving the Rainforest

Educational Topics:

  • What is the difference between this rainforest and the cloud forest we saw in Monteverde?
  • What types of animals live here?
  • What did kids do to help save the rainforest?  And specifically, what did they do to help the monkeys?
  • Is climate change having an impact on the rainforest?

Overall Educational Theme: Connections

This will be our overall theme to link the places we're visiting into educational experiences for our kids and others that follow us. Here are some general questions we'll use everywhere to guide our investigations.

How do we or can we connect with the places we visit?

  • How are we in the U.S. connected to these places?
  • What do we do that impacts them?
  • How do things that happen in these places impact us?
  • Why is it important to preserve these places?
  • What are the forces that make it difficult to preserve the places?
  • What are local people, especially kids, doing to preserve the areas we visit
  • What can we do to help?
  • What can others in the U.S. do to help?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Carbon Cost of our Trip - Part 1

Our plans for the first part of our trip are set (we’ll blog more about that in the next few days).  We know the flights we’ll be taking to get from Minneapolis to Costa Rica to Peru to The Galapagos and then back to Minneapolis in mid-November.  We have plans to rent a 4WD vehicle in Costa Rica for about 3 ½ weeks so we can explore Manuel Antonio National Park and the Peninsula de Osa area.

I used the carbon footprint calculator at terrapass to calculate the carbon footprint for this part of our trip (

I plugged in each flight we are taking, and for the four of us, the flights are estimated at 41,097 miles, generating 20,341 lbs of CO2.  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Information for Educators (and a good introduction to our trip)

We've created a Prezi (on-line presentation) to summarize our trip for educators that may want to follow us.  We still have a lot of work to do on our topics, but here is a good overview of how we're approaching the educational side of our trip.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Wilderness Classroom

We're really excited to announce that we'll be partnering with a fantastic organization, The Wilderness Classroom, during our trip.  Dave Freeman, the Executive Director, and Amy Freeman, his wife and the Director of Development, have had some amazing experiences they've shared with tens of thousands of students around the world.  They just finished a 3-year odyssey, crossing North America by kayak, canoe, and dogsled!  They've developed a great curriculum of educational tools for real-time sharing with elementary and middle school aged kids.

We'll be working with them to provide content to their network of teachers and students for the 2013-2014 school year.  Here's more information about the organization from their website, and a link to it.  Note that what they provide is completely free to teachers and students, so please feel free to share this with your local school district!

The Wilderness Classroom started with a simple idea: to improve students' core academic skills and appreciation for the environment by introducing elementary and middle school students to the wonders of exploration and wilderness travel.

Ten years and twelve expeditions later, the Wilderness Classroom is a 501(c)3 that reaches over 2,600 teachers and 75,000 students around the globe.

Our mission has never changed. We seek to instill a lifelong appreciation of the natural world while improving basic skills like reading, critical thinking, and communication by highlighting the joy of discovery.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Environmental Impact of our Trip

As we mentioned in our first blog post, there certainly will be a direct, negative environmental impact from our trip.  Carbon dioxide will be emitted from the planes we'll fly, the vehicles we'll occasionally rent, and from other forms of transportation we'll use.  As we have plans to visit six continents, the carbon cost of our travel will be quite high.  For many places we'll visit, there are legitimate debates as to whether tourism is beneficial or not.  There is an environmental cost to make things we'll buy to bring on our trip (although we won't be traveling with much... more on that in a subsequent post).

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Here's our itinerary along with time estimates for when we'll be where.

Leaving Minneapolis - mid-August 2013
Costa Rica - mid-Aug - late Sept
Peru - late September - October
Galapagos - Early-Mid November
Minneapolis - Mid-Late November
Australia - December
Vietnam & Cambodia - January-mid February 2014
India - mid-Feb - March
Namibia - April
Mozambique - May
Europe (Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Norway) - June - July
The Arctic (Svalbard) - early August
Back home! - mid August 2014

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Why are we doing this?

We’ve been talking about taking an extended trip with our kids for a long time.  At the formative ages of 8 and 6, it’ll be incredibly valuable for our kids to have an understanding of different cultures.  And... it’ll also just be fun.  Exploring the rainforest, going on safari, dogsledding, checking out a real castle, visiting glaciers... a whole list of experiences we’re looking forward to.

But we want to try and make this trip more.  We are concerned about the seemingly unsustainable path the world is on, and we'd like to do something about it.  Our plan is to use environmental issues as a key part of our kids' educational experience, and publicize our investigations on this blog, on our kids' blog, and hopefully in other forums.  We won't spare facts, but, at heart, we're optimists.  We want to paint a hopeful, positive vision of how the world can change, and highlight some of the good things that people are doing, or can do, to make a difference.

So please, follow us, link to this blog, tell others about us.

Our aim raises an obvious question.  Isn't our trip, with the carbon dioxide emissions from the transportation options we choose, from the waste we'll create, from the "stuff" we purchase for the trip, an environmental negative?  We're concerned about this issue as well, and have some thoughts that we'll share in a more extensive blog post.

Will there be challenges?  Lauri and I spent nine months backpacking around Central and South America in 1997/98 just after we got married.  I spent a year doing a solo trip around the world in 1990/91.  We love to travel - and yes, we’ve experienced some of the challenges of traveling as well -- mosquitos, stomach illnesses, missed connections... and with kids, I’m sure there will be challenges we don’t even expect.  

But what an opportunity.  Other reasons for making the journey:
  • Spending quality time with our kids, and together as a family.  
  • Exposing our kids to other cultures -- seeing how others live, understanding cultural differences, and also seeing what’s unique about our own culture.
  • Giving our kids an appreciation for the wonders of the world, and a chance to connect with nature
  • Teaching our kids to be good global citizens
  • Visiting dear friends in other countries
  • Exploring!  Although we’ve been very lucky to have traveled so much already, there always new places to explore.

Environmental Education
We’ll be taking the kids out of school for the year and teaching them ourselves as we travel, and we’re thrilled about the possibilities to enrich their education with real-world experiences.

We plan to identify and explore an environmental issue in each area we visit.  We'll have a blog for us (and a separate kid blog), and are also looking at how we can share some of our content more widely (ideas are welcome!).  Much of the content we create will be related to the environment, but we'll also explore other topics -- animals, culture, art, geology, etc., depending on where we are.  

As far as some of the educational topics that we'll likely tackle:  the rainforest, deforestation, glacial melt, global warming, evolution, animals, coral reefs, why people fight and the impact of war, understanding different cultures, European art, the Arctic.   

We’re also working with our local school (Peter Hobart) to find ways to connect while we travel and enrich the experience of other students.  We’re hoping to find ways to be interactive with them - such as occasionally Skyping when it makes sense, or investigating questions that kids could send us.  

When we talk about an environmental issue, we're planning to talk with the kids about not only the issue, but also about the hopeful, positive side of it:  what people are doing about it locally, what we can do personally to help, and also how people back in the U.S. can make a positive impact.  

Our kids
Jamie is 8; Jason is 6.  During the trip they will be in 3rd and 1st grade, respectively, and will  each have a birthday.  We’re really excited to experience the world and some of the issues we’ve identified through their eyes.  (It’s already fascinating just to talk about the concept of the trip with them:  Jamie is most excited about visiting India and dogsledding in the Arctic, and she’s bummed about not being in the States for Halloween... it’s mostly about missing out on a giant bag of candy.)  They will have a blog of their own; it’ll be interesting to see how that evolves.

The places we're planning to visit:
Costa Rica
Europe - (Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Norway)
The Arctic (Svalbard)

About Us:
Larry is a high-tech executive and most recently has run marketing and sales at Digi International, a $200M public company based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  
Lauri has managed PR for a technology company, performed full-time in musical theatre, and lately has been working on writing a children’s book.