Árbol de Piedra, desierto Siloli, Bolivia
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Elizabeth Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana
Many Glacier Trailhead
Machu Picchu, Peru
Flattop Mountain, Glacier National Park, Montana

20

June

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Holden Bound!

And just like that, we’re back in the states! Today we journey to Holden Village, a Christian center in the heart of Washington’s pristine wilderness. We will spend the next month living, volunteering, worshiping, reflecting, and growing in this intentional Christian community. We’re hopeful our time there will serve as a meaningful transition back into the […]

17

June

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Beautiful Bali

Last stop… Indonesia! With over 18,000 islands, it is the biggest archipelago in the world. We had the pleasure of visiting four islands. You could easily spend a lifetime exploring and soaking up the sun and differing cultures of every island. We started in Ubud. In the book Eat, Pray, Love, the main character seeks […]

20

May

4

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Grandpa’s Legacy

“I know he’s not really gone, she said, but the world still feels smaller to me today.”  – StoryPeople A few weeks ago, my Grandpa Kimmerle cast off his earthly body that could no longer eat, talk, dance, or sing, and I have no doubt that the angels’ music is even sweeter with his heavenly arrival. […]

05

May

2

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Public Baths and Onsens – Embracing the Birthday Suit

The capsule hotel we stayed at used to be for men only, which means they currently do not have showers for women. Instead, women are encouraged to check out the public bath, a sento, down the street. Having frequented several public baths, Matt assured me that there would be soap and shampoo. So I took […]

02

May

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Where Then Will We Sleep?

With forty nights of pricey Japan looming before us, I wondered how in the world we wouldn’t break the bank on lodging on this island nation. Not only is lodging expensive, the bum deal is that you don’t get much for what you pay for (peace and quiet). We ended up with a healthy mixture […]

30

April

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Life on a Japanese Farm

We had the unique privilege of heading out of the urban Japan jungle and into the mountains to stay with a young, organic farming couple who happen to be couchsurfers. We sought them out because we wanted to learn about their organic ways and get our hands dirty on their farm. As soon as we […]

28

April

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Bet You Could Find That In A Vending Machine

I’d heard tales of the outrageous vending machines in Japan. Walking around cities and even the tiniest of villages, you are never that far from a machine, innocently tempting you with all of its sugary goodness. Having passed so many machines, you’d think we would have built up our defenses to this constant enticement; unfortunately, […]

23

April

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Just Who Picks Up Hitch-Hikers In Japan?

One of our first rides was from a van packed full of five individuals over seventy and the driver was a young man. They were returning from a religious event and somehow squeezed together to fit us in as well. The back seat contained three little old women who were an absolute giggling hoot as […]

20

April

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An Alternative Lifestyle

Sorry it’s taken so long to share about our time in Japan! Matt worked here teaching English for two years, so he was particularly excited to return and for me to discover the wonders of this unique culture. After traveling through cheap SE Asia, the high cost of living in Japan came as a bit […]

07

April

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To the Train!

Vietnam proved to be a picturesque country that was best enjoyed from the train, which hugged the coast line and passed through vibrant rice fields and beautiful rolling hills. One afternoon we took a three-hour trip in the 3rd class coach, which had wooden benches for seats. Most of the travelers on this particular train […]

05

April

1

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Honking Turrets

Vietnam is a long country and we’ve spent a lot of time traveling from Ho Chi Minh City in the South to Hanoi in the North. After a few shorter bus trips (around five hours each) we signed up for another night bus adventure. Immediately this one felt and looked a lot safer than the […]

31

March

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English Lesson

While watching locals play volleyball, do push-ups, and attend aerobics in a park, we were confronted by some university students who wanted to practice their English. The next thing we knew, a dozen young adults were sitting around us, anxious to converse and improve their skills. Having just walked out of the War Museum, we […]

30

March

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Agent Orange Lives On

In the War Museum there was a gallery dedicated to the victims of dioxide, aka Agent Orange. We hadn’t known that the horrendous effects of this chemical (used to defoliate the jungle to hamper the movement of the Viet Cong guerrillas) are STILL being passed down genetically. There were dozens of pictures of children who had […]

29

March

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Small World

On our second day in Vietnam, we were passing through a Ho Chi Minh City museum when we ran into an Iowan couple. Not just any Iowan couple, I actually recognized these folks! We crossed paths with the Casavants, whose daughters we’d counseled with at Camp EWALU. Unbelievable! They graciously took us out for lunch […]

23

March

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Angkor Wat Adventures

As our bus approached the border between Cambodia and Thailand, the countryside got trashier. Cambodia was a much poorer country than Thailand and the people were more desperate as they attempted to sell things. Matt was here five years ago and was amazed by how much the country had advanced. Last time he passed through […]

20

March

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Thailand Time

Sorry for the HUGE hiatus in posts! Southeast Asia has been keeping us busy. Thailand is known as the “Land of Smiles” and it was easy to see why. The Thai people we encountered were hospitable, kind, and quick to please. It’s no wonder we saw so many middle-aged Caucasian men wandering the streets accompanied by a […]

15

March

2

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Walking Far From Home

We first heard the Iron and Wine song “Walking Far From Home” before we left the US. Now that we’re abroad and walking far from home, the powerful imagery resonates with us even more deeply. We love how it captures both the simple details of every day life as well as the deeper trials we […]

05

March

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Finding Nemo

“My soul is full of longing for the secrets of the sea, and the heart of the great ocean sends a thrilling pulse through me…” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow We spent a few days obtaining our passports to go under the sea! I have never felt so out of my element before. Before we even […]

27

February

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A Week In Pai

We headed up to Pai, a small town in northern Thailand near the Myanmar border, to gain some strength and recover from our bout with food poisoning. A week there passed far too quickly as we soaked up the laid back and relaxed ambiance of the little town. Our time in Pai, in a nutshell […]

11

February

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Men Who Stare at Women

If you’ve ever seen the TV series “The Big Bang Theory”, you’re familiar with Raj, an Indian man who is so shy around women he is incapable of speaking in their presence. Now that we’re in India, I get it. Men here act like 14-year-old boys around foreign women. Sometimes it’s endearing, sometimes it’s creepy, […]

09

February

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Varanasi – City of Death

Leaving Rajasthan, we took two night trains to cut across India to Varanasi, where we finally saw the Ganges River! Holy to both Hindus and Buddhists, Varanasi is the oldest continuously inhabited city in India. Many faiths make pilgrimages to this city. Hindus believe that washing in the Ganges pays for their sins and that […]

05

February

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Wedding Season

It is wedding season right now in the Rajasthan region of India. The first night we stumbled upon the pre-wedding celebration we thought we were so lucky to witness it! But we soon realized there would be weddings every night! They start with a lively marching band parading through the streets. Behind the band, family […]

03

February

1

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Mr. Big Stuff, Who Do You Think You Are?

Traveling around Indian cities, it’s as if both the farm and the zoo have been unleashed. We have seen such a crazy range of animals wandering down the streets. Camels and donkeys pull heavy carts of bricks, logs, and produce. Brightly painted elephants slowly make their way down the road with tourists awkwardly riding on […]

31

January

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Down in Bombay (Mumbai)

We’re fairly certain the lyrics to the song “Down by the Bay” were inspired by time spent in India. We have some new verses: Did you ever see a goat wearing a coat? Did you ever see a cow eating pilau? Did you ever see guys selling cow pies? India is crazy! We arrived in […]

27

January

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To Bear Witness

“When you go home, tell them we’re not terrorists.” – Palestinian man to our friend Alma I’m sure you’re all sick of hearing about Israel and Palestine, but of all the places we’ve visited, this one has gotten under my skin the most. What does it mean when… – Michelle Bachman says that if she […]

23

January

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Israeli Settlements

“The occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own population into the territories it occupies.” – Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention – protecting civilians during war Enough time has passed that most agree that forcefully driving Native Americans off their land and onto reservations was a horrific crime. On top […]

21

January

1

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“Apartheid Wall” vs. “Separation Fence”

“I have been to the Ocupied Palestinian Territory, and I have witnessed the racially segregated roads and housing that reminded me so much of the conditions we experienced in South Africa under the racist system of Apartheid. I have witnessed the humiliation of Palestinian men, women, and children made to wait hours at Israeli military […]

28

December

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Christmas in Bethlehem

26

December

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A Second Chance

Several people in Israel asked why we traveled there. We simply replied that we were curious. One of the driving forces for me was the need to see whether God’s “Chosen People” were any different from the ultra-Orthodox community of Hasidic Jews living in Postville, Iowa. I was hopeful because the u-O community in Postville […]

23

December

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CouchSurfing in Israel

“We envision a world where everyone can explore and create meaningful connections with the people and places they encounter. Building meaningful connections across cultures enables us to respond to diversity with curiosity, appreciation and respect. The appreciation of diversity spreads tolerance and creates a global community.” – CouchSurfing International One unique (and money saving) way […]

14

December

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Taxi Mafia

This is the story of how a taxi driver attempted to kick Matt out of Jordan… The morning we left Sinai, we had to exit Egypt, enter and exit Israel, and enter Jordan to continue our journey to Petra. All said in done, it took about 1 ½ hours. From the northern tip of the […]

11

December

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Promised Land

“It is still so new & all we see is the empty space, but that is not how it is in the landscape of the heart. There, there is no empty space & she still laughs & grapples with ideas & plans & nods wisely with each of us in turn. We are proud to […]

10

December

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Out and About Cairo

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” –  Bilbo Baggins, Lord of the Rings Months ago, I proposed that we avoid Cairo during elections – just in case there were more violent […]

01

December

4

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Tired of Touts

“I remember when the whales had wings, she said. Whatever happened? I said. It got to be too noisy with all the airplanes & other stuff, so they flew into the ocean & never came back. Some days, she added, I think about going too.” – StoryPeople Matt and I never knew how many siblings […]

22

November

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The Circle of Life

From the day we arrive on the planet, and blinking, step into the sun. There’s more to see than can ever be seen, more to do than can ever be done. There’s far too much to take in here, more to find than can ever be found. But the sun rolling high, through the sapphire […]

30

October

2

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Little Red School House?

When the students first arrive they spend half an hour standing in three lines in the courtyard. It feels like the military as they practice standing at ease and at attention. Children polish their black shoes, straighten their green school uniforms, and present their fingernails for inspection. Afterward, they sing songs (I have never seen […]

25

October

2

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English… really?

The school is English medium, which means everything is taught in English. Yet Swahili is Tanzania’s official language. English is both the teachers’ and students’ second, if not third language. On one hand I think it’s great that kids are exposed to English (or any foreign language for that matter) at such a young age. […]

24

October

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Jump Like a Kangaroo

On my first day at school, I made the mistake of teaching a song about Kangaroos and now whenever some kids (and even teachers!) see me they burst out with, “Jump like a Kangaroo!” I am now the Kangaroo Girl. Excellent. The head of the school (an Indian Tanzanian) described how he is tired of […]

20

October

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Short Term Volunteers

I have become a bit judgmental and wary of short-term volunteers. Personally, I have participated in a number of short-term volunteer projects, and in hindsight, have always felt a bit unsettled about my experience. For example, why did I fly to Guatemala for a 10-day spring break in which I painted desks and helped dig […]

15

October

2

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Bukoba Sights and Sounds

The sun rises over Lake Victoria, casting beautiful rays of light on the fertile land. Small footpaths snake through countless banana trees, which arise from the rich red earth. Avocados drop like bombs from the sky as chattering monkeys chase each other back and forth; swinging through trees at lightening speed before landing with a […]

06

October

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Under the Tuscan Sun

We had been hoping for a more intimate experience that involved living with a family and having meals with them. What we got was a full blown operation complete with a class system. First, there were the villa dwellers. We never saw them, but they lived at the end of the Cypress Tree lined driveway […]

26

September

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WWOOFing

While planning for traveling, someone suggested we look into Wwoof (WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms). Wwoof is a network of national organizations that help place volunteers on organic farms. There are currently 99 countries with Wwoof hosts (I recently heard Hawaii has lots of farms!) and for a $30 membership fee, I became a member […]

24

September

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Reuniting in Rome

Upon finishing our road trip, we soaked up several of London’s free museums and then returned to Italy, where we met up with my brother, Ty. Ty left to study in China the day after Matt and I got married, so I hadn’t seen him in over a year! It was wonderful to reunite and […]

22

August

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Nude Beach along Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre is an area in Italy along the Mediterranean made up of five hillside villages right along the coast. You can easily walk between these picturesque towns and enjoy the view of the sea, terraced vineyards, and fruit trees. While beautiful it is VERY touristy, more so than I’d imagined. But it was so […]

17

August

2

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Hitchhiking

The Tour de Mont Blanc took a big toll on us and afterward we dreamed of nursing our aches and pains along the Mediterranean. The only thing standing in our way was getting back over Mont Blanc. Poor planning, eh? Mont Blanc has a huge tunnel through it – a tunnel that costs motorists $50 […]

31

July

1

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Camping in Hills Alive With Music

*Warning – This post is for Sound of Music nerds only. While in Austria we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to stop by Salzburg, famous for the movie The Sound of Music and for being the birthplace of Mozart. Of course, I was super excited to visit all of The Sound of Music haunts. Unwilling […]

24

July

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Prague

Praha was a beautiful city and a fun place to lose yourself on winding cobblestone streets. We were shocked by how commercialized it was. There was shopping everywhere! We took another free walking tour and discovered that the famous astronomical clock in the old town square had been voted the most disappointing tourist attraction in […]

21

July

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Graffiti Galore

Of all things, we learned a lot about graffiti artists and their motifs around Berlin. Back home graffiti usually puts me on edge because it generally consists of derogatory language and/or involves gangs marking their territory. But in Berlin (and several other cities we’ve seen so far) it is a true art form that can […]

20

July

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Biking Berlin

European cities have been incredibly bike friendly. It puts Minneapolis to shame. We rented bikes and experienced Berlin on a more intimate level. What a city! So rich in history and more modern than I’d imagined. Here are some things we came across: – In Germany (and every other country we’ve visited so far) it’s […]

19

July

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Munich Highlights

Munich was a lot of fun. I really liked it. The weather was FANTASTIC. Walking around the city, it was dumbfounding to think that Munich had been the hub of the Nazi regime. Here were some highlights: – Enjoying the Hofbrauhaus and other beer gardens. Even though neither one of us are big fans of […]

09

July

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Amsterdam Red Light District

Amsterdam was a crazy place. There were so many train, bus, motorcycle and bicycle crossings, I’m still amazed that I never got ran over! The craziest part was no doubt the Red Light District. Just a little disclaimer before continuing… I would have been just fine steering clear of this notorious section of the city; […]

08

July

2

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Amsterdam – Anne Frank House

“One day this terrible war will be over. The time will come when we’ll be people again and not just Jews! We can never be just Dutch, or just English, or whatever, we will always be Jews as well. But then, we’ll want to be.” ~ Anne Frank, April 9, 1944 Throughout high school one […]

03

July

1

Travel

Local Friends

While camping in Stavanger we met some Norwegian students who seemed to be pretty intrigued with we Americans (they had all sorts of questions). They knew quite a bit about the US and talked with us about everything, including: politics, the economy, the war on terrorism, volunteering in foreign countries, and drinking. They recognized the […]

02

July

2

Travel

Stavanger, Norway

We finished our Norway tour in Stavanger, a coastal town. Some highlights included: – A world championship sand volleyball tournament! How random and exciting! We got to watch two time US Olympic champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh defeat a Czech-Republic team. – An attempt to attend a Lutheran mass. The sanctuary was roped off […]

30

June

2

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Trolltunga, Troll’s Tongue – Part 2

When we arrived at the trailhead we stared unbelievably at the steep cable-car that went forty-five degrees up the mountainside and seemed to disappear into the clouds. Unfortunately, today the funicular is only used by locals and no longer takes hikers. Lonely Planet recommended 8-10 hours round trip for this particular hike. We discovered the […]

30

June

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Trolltunga – Troll’s Tongue: Part 1

Ever since we added Norway to our itinerary I have been dreaming about sunning myself on a rock overlooking a fjord. I thought that soaking up the sun’s rays while gazing upon the majestic beauty of the fjords would be the epitome of the Norway experience. Unfortunately, it has been SUPER rainy. In fact, it […]

24

June

2

Blog

Oslo

After arriving in Oslo, we headed for Vigeland Park, a beautiful statue park that had been recommended to us by several people. I was fortunate enough to meet up with Leah, an old camp friend who fell in love with a Norwegian, married him, and has sense settled outside of Oslo. Leah was a fantastic […]

23

June

1

Blog

“Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

So sorry for the delay in posting! Life was pretty hectic at the last moment and we’ve been pretty jet-lagged sense arriving in Norway. The last month has been very surreal. When people at work would find out that I was quitting to go travel they’d say “You’re crazy!” A few months ago I would […]