Sunday, September 21, 2014

National Travel Radio - Interview

Brian "Hurricane" Smith, who does the Adventure Traveler segment on the National Travel Radio Network, interviewed Larry shortly after the end of our trip.  The interview aired on September 21, 2014.  Listen to it at this link.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Glaciers and Climate Change

While our trip is now over and we’re back home in Minneapolis, we are catching up on a final post or two about our experiences in the Arctic, in Svalbard, Norway, where we were about 800 miles from the North Pole.

Here's a post we did on The Wilderness Classroom about glaciers and climate change.  We got to experience glaciers up close while in Svalbard, as you can see from the picture.  We also were lucky enough to have a clear day when flying home over Greenland.  Check out the post for Greenland and Svalbard photos.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


We’re home!  One year and 4 days after leaving on August 12, 2013 for Costa Rica, our year adventure has come to a close.  We will be processing what we’ve learned and the experiences we’ve had for months, if not years.  We still owe a few posts about the Arctic, which are coming.

We are all ready to be home, though not because we’ve grown tired of traveling.  Jamie and Jason are so looking forward to seeing friends, as are we.  But it’s also just time for us to move to the next chapter of our lives.  We never found ourselves wishing for the trip to end sooner than it did, but neither did we want it to continue longer than it has.

Thank you to all who have followed us, there’s likely a few more posts to come over the coming weeks.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Arctic - and some glacier research

We just spent almost two weeks Svalbard, a group of Norwegian islands in the very far north.  We were actually only about 800 miles from the North Pole.  Not only was there no night, but the sun won't go down for any part of the day until the end of August (conversely, in the winter there are almost 4 months of no sun).

We'll be doing some posts about our experiences there, but if you'd like to see our pictures, check out the Svalbard entry (it's the last one) on the Photos page of our blog.

Also, we had dinner with a great group of people on their way to Ny-Ålesund, a remote research station on Svalbard.  I connected with Peggy McNeal, a middle-school science teacher from El Cajon, California, who is part of the PolarTREC organization.  PolarTREC is a program in which K-12 teachers spend 3-6 weeks participating in hands-on field research experiences in the polar regions.

Peggy, via PolarTREC, was connected with the Svalbard REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) team, a group of scientists and college students doing research on glaciers in Svalbard.

Dinner with the Svalbard REU team
They are now in the middle of their research.  Check out Peggy's blog, they are doing some really cool stuff and having some amazing experiences, including a very close encounter with a polar bear!  (look at her August 1st and August 2nd entries).

The Clever Dutch and How They Manage Water

This is a post we also did for The Wilderness Classroom.

Have you ever tried to build barriers to protect a sandcastle from waves on an ocean beach? At a much bigger scale, this is the same problem The Netherlands faces (The Netherlands is sometimes called Holland and people from the Netherlands are the Dutch).  Almost half the country is either below sea level or less than 3 feet above sea level.  The three largest cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague) are all in these low-lying regions.

Building a sand castle in a flood prone area
While in the Netherlands, we visited the Zuiderzee (pronounced zow-der zay) Museum, to see an exhibit about floods in Dutch history.  We were amazed at the number of serious floods the country has experienced. To protect their country from floods, the Dutch have built many dikes, barriers, and pumps. 

List of serious floods in Dutch history at Zuiderzee Museum

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Meeting Mother Earth

This is a story about our trip in our local St. Louis Park magazine.  It includes a letter we wrote at the end of the article.  We did the first interview for this back in November last year.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Video Trip Summary (through Africa)

Here's a 2 1/2 minute video we created for the St. Louis Park School Board and community.  It provides a good and quick summary of some of the interesting experiences we had on the first 2/3 of our trip.  We made it just after arriving in Africa in late March.

Sunday, June 29, 2014


As planned, we are spending this summer in Europe.  For much of the summer we are traveling with or meeting family and dear friends, and are taking a break from frequent posts.  In late July we will be traveling to Arctic Norway (Lofoten and Svalbard), and plan on posting about our experiences there.  We do regularly put our latest photos up on our photo page, and you can always find out where we are on our "Where are we now" page.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Our Picky Eater and Climate Change: Part Two

This is a follow-up post that Lauri did on the ClimateMama website to a post she did back in September/October.  The original post can be found here.

Also check out a post that Jason did about our vegetarian experience.

By Lauri

I wrote a post in October, 2013, about our son, Jason, and how he convinced our whole family to be vegetarians for a month.  We accepted his challenge; now that we've gone "veg" for a month in India, it's time for an update on our Jason-inspired project.

Our family at the Taj Majal in Agra, India
Click here to read the rest of the post on the ClimateMama site.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Black Rhinos: A Success Story in Namibia

Here's a post we did for The Wilderness Classroom about rhinos in Africa.  This was really interesting for us, because while in Vietnam we met with an organization, ENV, that is trying to stop the demand for rhino horn that is causing rhino poaching in Africa.  While in Namibia, we met with an organization that has successfully protected black rhinos over the past decade.  And this organization is affiliated with the Minnesota Zoo!

Save the Rhino Trust entrance
Black rhino

Monday, June 2, 2014

Food & Trees for Africa

Here's a post we did for The Wilderness Classroom on a great organization, Food & Trees For Africa, we connected with while in South Africa.  Read more to learn about two of their programs and how they help people and the environment.

Jamie carrying a tree to be planted, near Johannesburg, South Africa

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Peter Hobart fundraising

When we were back in Minneapolis around Thanksgiving, one of the things we did was give presentations at Peter Hobart, Jamie and Jason's elementary school.  Jamie and Jason asked the kids of Peter Hobart to help them raise money for the Children's Eternal Rainforest, the first place we visited on our trip, and a place that is very special to them.

Well, the kids in Peter Hobart's GLOW program (which Jamie is part of) took up the challenge and earlier this month, organized a school fundraiser that raised $1100!

We are all so excited about what they've done, so proud of them, and thankful to be part of such a great community.

Here's a video Jamie and Jason did to kick off the fundraiser.

And you can click here to get to the video thank you that Jamie and Jason sent to the kids of Peter Hobart.  This was on Peter Hobart's home page for a couple of weeks towards the end of the school year.

It just goes to show that kids can make a BIG DIFFERENCE in the world.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Elephants Everywhere

We’ve seen lots of African elephants on our trip — in South Africa, Namibia, and especially, Botswana.  Did you know that elephants can snorkel?  That sometimes they eat soil?  Here is a link to a post Lauri wrote for The Wilderness Classroom about elephants.

And after you read the post, be sure to watch the short video we put together that shows a snorkeling elephant and some elephants eating soil.

Africa Animals Slide Show

Here's a slide show of most of the animals we saw in the wild in southern Africa.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mafura, Miombo and Mozambique

Here's a post Lauri wrote for The Wilderness Classroom about an interesting visit we had with a new business in Inhambane, Mozambique.  We spoke with Ana Alecia Lyman of Bio Oleos, who is trying to revive the mafura trade in Mozambique with a soapmaking venture.

Click here to learn about mafura and miombo.

Jason & Jamie with Ana Alecia Lyman of Bio Oleos

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Africa Mystery Photos - Week of May 5-9

We didn't have Internet access for the first few days of this week, as we're now in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, on the border between South Africa and Botswana (also close to Namibia).

Monday, April 28, 2014

Africa Mystery Photos - Week of April 28-May 2

We'll be doing 2-3 mystery photos a week.  You can check back at the end of the week to this link, as we'll add more to this post during the week (if we can - sometimes we don't have Internet).

Click here to guess this animal.

Click here to guess this animal.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Africa Mystery Photos - Week of April 21-27

Because of all the fantastic animals we're seeing in Africa, we figured we'd start doing mystery photos again.  But we're going to do them a bit differently.  Jamie and Jason are going to write the clues, and we're going to try and do 2-3 photos every week.

Click here to see the clues and guess the first one.

Click here to see the clues and guess the second one.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Coral Reef that Recovered from Bleaching

Here's a post we did on The Wilderness Classroom site about a coral reef in India that recovered from a 1998 bleaching event, and why it recovered.  It is a continuation of the great conversation we had with MD Madhusudan of India's Nature Conservation Foundation.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Tiger conservation programs in India

Here's a post we did on The Wilderness Classroom site about tiger conservation programs in India.  It's based on a very interesting conversation we had with MD Madhusudan, one of the founders of the Nature Conservation Foundation, in India.

New Foods

One of the questions that a lot of kids ask us is what new foods have you tried.  So we created a chart on Jamie and Jason's blog which you can find at this link.  We've updated the chart through India.  There are some pretty interesting additions - check out Cambodia especially.  And if you want to see some photos of the Cambodian crawly things we tried, you can see them in our Cambodia photo album (they are the first pictures you'll see in the album).

Also, we have gone a few weeks without a post.  We are now camping our way through southern Africa, and our Internet access has not been good.  But we will have some more posts out in the next couple of days.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tigers in India

Here's a post we did for The Wilderness Classroom on the state of tigers in India.  We visited Ranthambhore Reserve in Rajasthan, India and were lucky enough to see a tiger in the wild.  Check out this post to learn about these magnificent creatures.

Also, click here to see a post that Jamie and Jason did about tigers on their blog.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Irrawaddy River Dolphins and Endangered Animals

Here's a post we did on The Wilderness Classroom site about Irrawaddy river dolphins in the Mekong River, in Cambodia.  These are fascinating animals.  Click here to read more, and see a short video of the dolphins we saw.

Irrawaddy dolphin in Cambodia from Wikipedia. Foto: Stefan Brending / Lizenz: Creative Commons CC-by-sa-3.0 de

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Cambodia homestay

Jamie created this 3 1/2 minute video about the homestay we went on in Cambodia.  You can also see it on our kids' blog.

The homestay that Jamie describes in her video post was arranged for us by the Cambodian Rural Development Team.  In our short interactions, we were very impressed by this organization.  Their mission is “To improve food security, incomes, and living standards of subsistence rural communities while supporting environmental conservation throughout Cambodia.”  They seem to take a very practical and long-range approach to achieve their mission, with close coordination with local people.  Ecotourism is just one of their many projects, but it was obvious from the reception we received during our Koh Phdao homestay that the community really embraces CRDT’s efforts.  Koh Phdao was one of the cleanest and most welcoming places we visited in Cambodia, and Cambodia itself is a very friendly country.

If you’re considering a visit to Cambodia, or want to support a great local organization doing the right things in Southeast Asia, we recommend you connect with this group.

Study Guide Questions:

1. Can you name 2 of the 3 instruments you saw in the video?

2. We stayed in a stilt house.  Can you think of why all the houses on the island are built on stilts?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Itinerary change

We've made a few changes to our original itinerary.  We'll be leaving India in about a week and are then heading to South Africa.  I'll be attending the Climate Reality Project's training in Johannesburg, South Africa starting on March 12th.  This is the same training I went to in August last year, but this time I'll be attending as a mentor.

So we'll be going to South Africa, then Mozambique followed by a visit to Victoria Falls, which means we'll likely briefly touch Zimbabwe and Zambia.  Then it will be on to Botswana and Namibia, before finishing our time in Africa in Cape Town, South Africa.

We'll leave Africa towards the end of May and then we're heading to Italy, Spain, France (we're adding a stop in Paris), The Netherlands, and Norway.  We'll probably go to Svalbard (part of Norway) in the Arctic, in late July.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Making rice noodles in Vietnam

Here's a post we did for The Wilderness Classroom about making rice noodles in Vietnam.  It is a combination of text, photos, and a couple of 1 minute videos where you can see machines used to take the hulls off rice and how they convert rice into rice noodles.

Click here to see the post, and from the post you can see the videos.  You can also go to our youtube channel to see the videos.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Rescuing Vietnamese Turtles

Here's a post we did on The Wilderness Classroom about rescuing endangered Vietnamese turtles.  During our visit to Vietnam's Cuc Phuong National Park, we visited the Turtle Conservation Center (TCC).  They currently house 650 turtles!

An endangered Vietnamese pond turtle

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Interview with

Mongabay is a fantastic environmental science and conservation news site, with great sections for kids. Mongabay aims to raise interest in wildlife and wildlands while promoting awareness of environmental issues.

We recently did an interview with Jeremy Hance of Mongabay.  He titled the story, "Two kids, one year, from the Amazon to the Arctic: the environmental adventure of a lifetime."

Video summary of Vietnam and other posts from our kids

Jamie decided to do a video post about our time in Vietnam.  She wrote the script and we added in photos and some video clips.  Here's her video which can also be found on our kids' blog.

And if you haven't checked out their blog lately, Jamie did a post on dolphins (there's a short video in that post showing dolphins racing along the front of a boat we were on) and Jason just did a post on box turtles.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Langurs and Lorises: Endangered Primates in Vietnam

Here is a post we did on The Wilderness Classroom site about our visit to the Endangered Primate Rescue Center at Cuc Phuong National Park in Vietnam.

Red-shanked douc langur

Slow loris - nocturnal primates that move VERY slowly, like a sloth

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Vietnam's Emptying Forests

In Vietnam, we wanted to learn about an important issue:  why is there poaching, or illegal killing, of certain endangered animals? 

To find out, we went to ENV (Education for Nature Vietnam).  Animals are trafficked (bought and sold) illegally in Vietnam.  Many animals are also hunted in Vietnam, and sent to China because there is demand there. 

Why would people buy and sell animals illegally?  Here are some examples:
  • Many animals -- such as rhinos, macaques, or tigers -- are killed and used to make traditional medicines
  • Wildlife restaurants” serve exotic dishes to locals and tourists – such as porcupines, mouse deer, monitor lizards, civets, snakes and even bears
  • Animals are kept illegally as pets – monkeys, for example.
  • Some animals are stuffed or hung on the wall as trophies, or status symbols – like shiny lacquered marine turtle shells, or stuffed tigers.
  • Some animals are kept in cages as attractions to bring tourists into restaurants or hotels.
Vietnam’s Rhino:  Extinct
The impact of this illegal demand for animals and animal products is huge.  One example is the Javan rhino, which has been extinct in Vietnam since 2010 (a small population of only 50 Javan rhinos still exists, in Sumatra). 
Indian Rhino (closest known relative to Javan Rhino).
Photo from Jo Oh on Wikipedia
It’s bad enough to kill a rhino, but the really sad thing is that the rhino is just left there – it isn’t even eaten or used for any other purpose except its horn. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Monkey Mia: Dolphins, Dugongs, and a Sea Snake

Monkey Mia is a private facility located along Shark Bay in Western Australia.  Shark Bay consists of about 900 miles of winding coastline, which creates a lot of bays sheltered from the ocean.  Underwater in these bays grow fields of sea grass.  This environment creates a great place for large amounts of marine life, including sharks, rays, dugongs, sea snakes, and bottlenose dolphins.

Have you ever heard of a dugong?  We had not.  Have you heard of a manatee?  Dugongs are similar to manatees, but are a bit smaller, have a different shape tail, and live only in the ocean (manatees spend time in both the ocean and in fresh water rivers).  An estimated 10,000-15,000 dugongs live in Shark Bay -- the largest population of dugongs in the world.   According to one of the rangers at Monkey Mia, this is about one-tenth of the world’s dugong population.

Dugong photo from Julien Willem on Wikipedia
Dugong we saw on a boat trip in Shark Bay
Now about that tail… take a close look at it.  Does it look like a mermaid tail?  It is thought that sailors a long time ago believed they saw mermaids, but were actually seeing dugongs!

Dugong tail
Dugongs are very big and eat sea grass.  Because of their diet, they are sometimes called sea cows.  Dugongs can get to be almost 10 feet long and can weigh up to about 1100 pounds.  They can live to be about 70 years old.  Females have one calf after a year of pregnancy.  They can hold their breath for about 6 minutes before they need to surface and breathe air.  As they live in only shallow water, don’t move very quickly, and reproduce slowly, they have been easy targets for hunters in the past, and have also been hurt by people destroying their habitat, and have also been mistakenly killed by fishermen.  Because of this, their numbers have been declining in many of the places that they live.


The primary reason we visited Shark Bay and Monkey Mia was dolphins.  Jamie especially is crazy about dolphins!

Monkey Mia Bottlenose Dolphins
Monkey Mia is a place where people have been feeding wild bottlenose dolphins for about 45 years.  It started with fishermen who would feed dolphins off their ships, and then became more formalized over the years.  At one point, people were feeding and touching the dolphins without much oversight, which led to the animals being stressed, mothers ignoring their young, and dolphins even starting to bite people.

Now, however, rangers from Australia’s Department of Parks and Wildlife tightly control the feeding process.  There are only 5 female dolphins that are fed, and they are only fed a maximum of 3 times a day.  The total amount they are fed is about ¼ of their daily nutritional needs, so they don’t become dependent on feedings from humans.  And no one is allowed to touch the dolphins.

Group getting ready for a dolphin feeding
Dolphin feeding chart - we did the ones on Thursday the 12th
The dolphins were amazing.  We all got to feed a dolphin, and that was quite an experience.  But it was equally great to just watch these fabulous animals swim around and interact with each other.  Even after the feeding, there were often dolphins swimming up and down the beach, sometimes fishing, sometimes playing, and sometimes perhaps just hanging out.

Dolphin close-up
Jamie feeding a dolphin
Jason feeding a dolphin
While we were waiting for one of the feedings, a sea snake came close… perhaps a bit too close, actually.  Sea snakes are one of the most venomous creatures in the world.  A bite from one can kill a person.  However, they are not aggressive and virtually never bother or bite people.

Sea Snake
We had a great time feeding the dolphins.  But we had a long discussion about it afterwards.  The question we asked ourselves was whether this was good for the dolphins or not.  We decided to come up with a list of benefits for the dolphins and problems that this could cause the dolphins.

This is actually Jamie and Jason’s list.  Before reading their list, we’d suggest you stop and come up with your own lists.  Then compare it with theirs.  We’d love to hear from you about your lists!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Local online news story on

We didn't realize this was written about us, but saw web traffic coming from this link.  A nice little story written on the St. Louis Park Patch site about us.  Patch is a neighborhood focused news and information site.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ningaloo Reef, Coral Bleaching, and Red Kangaroos in Western Australia

Here's a 7 1/2 minute video about our visit to Cape Range National Park and the Ningaloo Reef, in Western Australia.  We had our first exposure to the "outback,"explored some beautiful gorges, saw some really unique wildlife, and did some fabulous snorkeling.  We also learned about the impacts of climate change on coral reefs, and specifically what happened at Ningaloo from some friends we made at Australia's Department of Parks and Wildlife.

Study Guide Questions:

1. What is the difference between a fringing reef and a barrier reef?

2. True or False: Coral is made by a plant.

3. Is white, bleached coral healthy?

4. What causes the bleaching of coral?

5. What is the name of a baby kangaroo?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Unexpected Australia & Crossing the International Date Line

When traveling, sometimes things don’t go quite as planned.  The next leg of our trip took us from Seattle to Perth, on the west coast of Australia.

It was supposed to take 26 hours and 3 flights.  However, one of our flights was delayed, and because of the long, long lines at immigration in Brisbane, Australia (over 1000 people!), we missed our connection to Perth.  The next flight wasn’t until late in the day, so we ended up having an unexpected day in Brisbane.

So we took a shower in the airport, checked our bags, and took the train into Brisbane for the day.  The weather was beautiful, and it turned out to be a great day.

Brisbane from the Botanical Gardens

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Galapagos, El Niño, and Climate Change

In our previous post we talked about human impacts on the Galapagos.  There is one more human impact that we’ll discuss in this post on The Wilderness Classroom, and that is climate change.

Other Climate Change Links: Will Steger Foundation
EPA's Climate Change for Kids
Tiki: Climate Change for Kids

Galapagos: The Impact of People

Most people come to the Galapagos because of the amazing wildlife.  But we also wanted to learn about the impact that people have.  This is really important because both the population of the Galapagos and the number of visitors to the Galapagos are growing by quite a bit.

Read this post on the Wilderness Classroom site to learn about human impacts on the Galapagos.

Landfill on Santa Cruz Island
©WWF Galapagos Program / Maximilian Martin

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Kare11 NBC (Minneapolis) news story

A few weeks ago, Kare11 spent a few hours with us while we were presenting to classrooms at Peter Hobart Elementary School.  Here is the story that Lindsey Seavert put together about our trip.

(Photo is from Kare11)