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.