A Quick Trip to Egypt

Egypt was originally on our list of destinations but at the time we were purchasing tickets the state department and others were advising strongly against traveling there. Over the nine months of travel before we decided to add it to the list, Egypt had become somewhat calmer and other places we had spent time (Turkey for example) had become less so. Egypt didn’t look quite as daunting from the road as it did from Carmel, California, a year before.

We flew into Cairo from Paris on EgyptAir. After two days in Cairo, spent  at the pyramids, in the Cairo museum and walking the central city by day and along the Nile at night,  we flew to Luxor. We learned of the loss of EgyptAir flight 804 on our way to Cairo airport for our flight to Luxor. We had flown the same route only three days before.

As you can see in the video, we encountered far fewer tourists than typical. While we enjoyed missing the crowds we had experienced in places like the Great Wall in China, it was clear that the lack of visitors was difficult for the people whose livelihoods depend on the tourist industry. Without exception, everyone we met in Egypt appreciated our decision to travel to their country.


Diving and Exploring Bali and Thailand

Our time in Bali included a magical few days at Villa Bukit Segara a private residence that has been converted into a 4 room hotel. The staff are wonderful as is the hotel and grounds. As you will see in the video, the boys spent most of the time in the pool and Aleix and I relaxed in the shade reading books. It was a welcome break from the more intense traveling we had been doing for months, and set out on again after our stay there.

We circumnavigated Bali over a few weeks and in Thailand we explored Bangkok and then traveled to Phuket. Both countries presented us opportunities for unexpected experiences and interactions with nomadic travelers from elsewhere in the world as well as Balinese and Thais who wanted to talk about the world and share their life experiences.

Turkey: Hot Air Ballons, Underground Cities, and Adventures

We were welcomed with warmth and hospitality during our time in Turkey. At the time of our travels, the Russians were engaged in a war of words with the Turkish government over the downing of a Russian fighter in Syria/Turkish airspace and terrorist attacks had recently hit Ankara and Istanbul. We weighed the pros and cons and elected to proceed, being alert in Istanbul and avoiding the border regions impacted by refugees and the Syrian war.

Some of you may be familiar with a song that talks about Constantinople’s name change to Istanbul. Throughout our time in the city, we were humming the tune. Younger folks will recognize the “They Might be Giant’s version” but the song was originally recorded in 1953 by “The Four Lads.” It is a catchy tune..

Istanbul was Constantinople
Now it’s Istanbul, not Constantinople
Been a long time gone, Constantinople
Now it’s Turkish delight on a moonlit night
Even old New York was once New Amsterdam
Why they changed it I can’t say
People just liked it better that way
We found Istanbul to be an incredible city of history. Having just been in Asia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, Istanbul was as advertised–where Asia and Europe touch.
After a few days in Istanbul we headed to Cappadocia where we explored underground cities some dating back to the 8th-7th centuries BCE. A highlight of our trip to Cappadocia was also the chance to go hot air ballooning as a family.

Adventures in Jordan

Our time in Jordan was too short. The exceptional sense of history and natural environment was only trumped by the warmth and hospitality of the people.

We stayed in a Bedouin encampment, we approached Petra from the North overland by camel and a dramatic hike through the mountains, floated in the Dead Sea and got to know Jordan and its people.

It is Bryce’s favorite country of the trip so far. Wadi Rum was an adventure and everyone we encountered was thoughtful in our conversations about the state of the world, and the difference of opinion on that topic made these conversations fascinating for us and the boys.

I have a collection of photos of our experience that I will post, along with some of the stories, in the weeks after we return home

Diving The Great Barrier Reef, Sydney New Years, and New Zealand


When the boys were young we had a cassette tape (remember those) of Australian kid songs. One of their favorites was “Christmas in Australia” that listed the joys of having Christmas in the middle of summer with typical Australian humor. As we set our plans to travel the world it made sense to spend Christmas in Australia and of course New Years in Sydney, ideally under Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Thirty years ago I spent 4 months as a “ringer” on an outback cattle ranch, riding horses everyday and hearding cattle on a 300,000 ranch. I finished my time in Australia by driving to Cairns and meeting my mom from whom I get much of my adventurous spirit. The two of us spent a few days on Heron Island out on the Great Barrier Reef.

Heron is a magical little 40 acre island that juts a few feet above sea level. The bird life is incredible and you can walk and dive the reef within meters of the shore.

From Australia we traveled to New Zealand where we “went mobile” living in a camper van.

Coming from Asia, we suffered some first world shocks but also enjoyed the benefits of traffic laws, ease of communication, and lack of humidity.

South Africa: Cities, Coastline, Safaris, and Soweto

It is hard to capture several weeks in South Africa in three minutes. We traversed several wildlife parks including Thula Thula, the park established by Lawrence Anthony the author of The Elephant Whisperer. In Pilanesberg (a self-driving park) armed with water, snacks, and our camera we spent the day maneuvering our compact rental car up dirt tracks and down dry river beds periodically passing signs that read, “Do not get out of your vehicle. Dangerous animals.” Within feet of elephants, lions, rhinos, water buffalo, warthogs and other animals we sat quietly in awe.

While in an open jeep tracking two young lionesses we realized that we had inserted ourselves between them and the prey they were stalking. The wild elephant matriarch and her herd at Thula Thula are described in detail in Anthony’s book. We were lucky enough to encounter her and her family on two different days. To meet her and look into the eyes of a 30-year-old elephant whose story we had read, as she considers you across a few feet of open space was incredible.

We spent two days and a night in Soweto with a family whose elders were forcibly moved to Soweto when the Apartheid government demolished Sophiatown, a thriving mixed race area in Johannesburg, in 1955. We toured Soweto with a woman who had been a student in the Soweto student uprisings of 1976 as a young girl. The youngest of the students marched in the front of the protest in hopes that police would not fire on them. Between 200 and 700 students were killed that day. Our guide was shot and subsequently arrested and interrogated.

And, we spent some time in a shantytown with a young man and his brother. They live in one of the hundreds of shacks; no plumbing, no heating, and one electric light run off of a hotwire that is tapped into a nearby electric pole. The government places portable toilets around the periphery of the town that are emptied twice a week. Drinking and cleaning water is drawn from communal taps.

In contrast to our time in Soweto, we spent two nights in an airbnb with an Afrikaner host, a semi-retired financial and political journalist who spent 30 years writing for an Afrikaans language daily paper, in one of the most affluent section of Johannesburg. He shared a direct and articulate critique of today’s ANC and its current leaders. A critique that aligned with what we heard in Soweto and elsewhere.
There is a sense that the ANC is living off of its legacy. One black activist we spent time with in Soweto argued that the racial apartheid of the past has morphed into an economic apartheid that benefits current corrupt political leaders, regardless of race.

Our adventures and experiences in South Africa rival anywhere else we have been.

Laos in Under Three Minutes

So far on our trip Laos was the most unexpected. We added it to our list intentionally as it was the least traveled of the countries we considered and the one about which we knew the least. It also has a long and admittedly painful relationship with the United States.

We found the Lao people to be warm and engaging and the country beautiful even if at times challenging. It was an adventure and all four of us are excited to return to Laos.

Shark Dive in the Bahamas

Back in August we did a dive specifically with sharks among the many dives we did where we ran across sharks and other creatures. In the shark dive they gather you on the bottom and then a diver, clad in a chain mail suit, descends with a box of snacks for the sharks. Our job is still sit very still on the bottom and now wave your hands around. Hands it turns out can look a bit like fish to a hungry shark.