Family travel

Be Prepared!

Bosnia-Herzegovina, as part of Yugoslavia, helped found the World Organization of the Scout Movement in 1922.    “Budi spreman!”, they cry —  their version of Be Prepared!

Family sign CroatiaAll over the world, scouts are shouting their version of the motto.  Personally, I prefer the Armenian translation:    Always Prepared, Elevate Yourself and Others with You.   

Tyler Eagle Scout

The Hirn men, all scouts, understand the importance of ‘being prepare.’  And, thanks to the scout leaders, have also learned the importance of “elevating yourself and others with you.”

Always Prepared is my motto, or my delusion, I don’t know which.  The strongest motto sets you in the right direction, but doesn’t necessarily secure your safety.   Our world trip took us into areas we had never been, without the benefit of cell phone technology, daily weather forecasts, fresh water, meds and transportation.  We did our homework before we left. And though we were ready with bottled water, paper, homeschool materials, and a few meds, we could not anticipate everything.  We understood before we left-Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq and Syria- were not places we would be going.  In 1992, Ron and I dared not step foot in the Balkan because of the vicious Yugoslavian war.    But it was safe enough when we returned with the kids.  What a blessing the Balkan was to us each!

Ron overlkng orange roofs, Old Town Dubrovnik Croatia

Some signs are promising:                                                Others, not so much!

We are bracing ourselves for a second US hurricane hit in a month. Harvey left unprecedented damage in Texas, and now Irma is on the warpath.  Nobody in her path can Be Prepared alone. It takes a team of friends, neighbors, weather forecasters, and public service announcements.  But regardless of the warnings, unless you are wise enough to take direction, you may find yourself in the middle of a 10 ft. storm surge.  And no amount of bottled water or canned food at that point is going to help you.

Be Prepared.  Better yet, stay Always Prepared listening to those around you, accepting offers of those out of state who beg you to come away from the storm’s path.   You know who you are!

Stay safe!  Be wise.  And Be Prepared.

Dawn

Adventure with Engagement AWE · Family travel

Walking back through . . .

Ever been to one of those flea markets where you walk in and are immediately hit with a visual overload?   No matter how hard you try to squeeze it all in, you’re never gonna see it all the first go around.  Here’s what you do:

To take in what you see first, walk around.  Then, reverse your direction.   Walk back through the other way, and you can catch all the things you missed the first time.  Be sure to come back again either alone or with somebody different.  A new face and a new day offers new details!

First time I went to Europe, I was a single girl on the hunt for travel, a fresh outlook on life and a job that could support my wanderlust.  Second time around, I was a married lady.  The man of my dreams and I bought a tiny old VW camper in Germany.

img_0172.jpg

 

And for 10 months spent every moment living the dream of being together 24/7, touring cathedrals, monuments, and wonders of the world.  After about 6 months of concentrated love, exhilaration and togetherness, the cathedrals and monuments began looking alike.  Ron and I had blown through most of the 100+ paperbacks we brought from home and while the love was still strong, the togetherness and exhilaration were wearing thin.  But we agreed it would be only a matter of time till we walked back through.

Fast forward 21 years: A little larger camper this time, and a whole lot more patience!

6man circular bike Parier PlatzThis time, we took our three boys and Ryan’s backpack, to be as close to a complete family as humanly possible.

They mocked our romantic photo ops with their own interpretation of true love.

The Balkan experience was a first time walk-through for us all.  Ron and I had previously avoided this ’92 war-torn area and found another route to Greece.

Sunset excellence!

Walking back through is never the same.  Isn’t supposed to be.   Many things change; some things never do.

Kind of like the old saying about which is more important: monuments or footsteps?  The answer is: Footsteps.  A monument only shows how far you got when you stopped.  And footsteps usually promise at least one more new adventure or one more walk-through.

If you’ve already been, go back.  If you haven’t gone, what are you waiting for?

Dawn

Encouragement

One Thing

Remember this dialogue from City Slickers (1991), where Mitch (Billy Crystal) talks to the crusty lunatic cowboy, Curly (Jack Palance)?

Beside a campfire, Mitch sits uncomfortably, with Curly:

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?

[holds up one finger]

Curly: This.

Mitch: Your finger?

Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean &%*@!

Mitch: But, what is the “one thing?”

Curly: [smiles] That’s what *you* have to find out.

This past weekend my mom, my sister Darby and I went to Birmingham’s Sidewalk Film Festival – one of the best in the nation!DJD at farmWe came to promote our film, Our BackPack, but also to support the array of talented people who have put together over 266 films.  When they hit the mother lode, and I believe some of them will, the Press will call them “overnight successes,” or “surprising new finds.”  But I assure you, from one who has worked hard for several years, to produce a TV show and movie, nothing about success happens overnight!

The people at the festival have full-time jobs outside their fields of interest, (gotta eat?!) like Alabama local, George Hardy. That’s Dr. Hardy to you. George, a successful Alexander City dentist, has the lead role in the entertaining and well directed short called Texas Cotton the Movie. When he, along with the other fellow Sidewalk Festival participants, leave home each day,  they park their passion just inside the front door to greet them when they get home each night.  These people have an abundance of talent.  But is talent enough?

Curly was right; “the secret to life is ‘One Thing.’   Stick to that and the rest don’t mean %*&@!”

Putting that one thing ahead of everything else, requires sacrifice!  Lots of midnight oil, lots of thinking, planning, a few little successes, a whole lot of failures and the willingness to tear up your perfect plan A and try to find a new approach to the One Thing.

Poster Style #1-Child's Play copy

Darby, my mom and I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the Sidewalk Film Festival, joining our “comrades in arms,” like George, encouraging them, applauding their efforts and celebrating the little victories.

What is that “One Thing” in your life?  As Curly says with a smile:   “that is what you have to find out.”

Poster Back Style #5Check out our Websites: Ourbackpack.com, Ryanshines.com, Ourboysintheworld.com. and you can catch a preview of our shows on YouTube under ‘dawn hirn.’

Have a great weekend!

Dawn

Backpack Logo Semi Final 3
Our Backpack

 

Encouragement · Family

The Spiral

SpiralThe image of damage!  Poor Texas. They were hit hard by storms and rain.  Lots of rain.

Catastrophe hit with little warning, unless you consider two hours enough time to evacuate from a flood.  Stories of rising flood levels were staggering.  So is the extensive damage.  But even more staggering, by today’s standards, are the stories of those who reached out to their neighbors to rescue, save, protect, feed, clothe and house those who needed help.

.bw spiral

Take another look at that spiral image, and put yourself inside.  If you placed yourself in any of the outside corners going in, you may get stuck inside the center of your own vortex of problems, and never be of any good to anyone.  Least of all,  yourself!  But, if you begin in the center of confusion starting at the place where you are weakest, and begin your trip outward to help others, the spiral becomes huge.  All encompassing.  There is no limit to what you can do, once you take the focus off your own problems.

God blessed Texas with some wonderful people, who reached out from their own trauma to help save and protect others who were stranded.  Many left their own flooded homes in boats and on rafts to rescue others.

Others have taken strangers into their homes and though they are sharing what food they have in total darkness.  Dry and safe.

Little Texas, performed a song that is so perfect for this trial.  Goes like this:

“God Blessed Texas, With His own hand

Brought down angels from the promised land

Gave ’em a place where they could dance

If you want to see heaven, brother, here’s you chance

I’ve been sent to spread the message

God blessed Texas.”

Each catastrophe is different but the pain can always be lightened when you reach out to help others carry their loads.    We will never forget those, also Texans, who reached out to us when we lost Ryan.  And we look back extremely grateful for the time we spent visiting with the burn survivors and their families at  various children’s burn hospitals on foreign soil.  It’s a privilege to reach out of our own situation to help support and encourage other parents of burn survivors, through our foundation Ryanshines.com.

Remember The Spiral     TUS copy when you are faced with a dilemma greater than you can handle.  Place yourself within the spiral.  Is your focus on the quagmire of the inner circle – or do you start with your own chaos and head out to the edges to help others?

Pisa boysWhen you see a need, lend a hand.  Upward and Outward!

Hirn fam looks outAnd God, Bless Texas!

Dawn

Family travel

Venice Knock-Offs

Ah, Venice!

boys veniceWe couldn’t wait to show the kids this amazing city, which I had visited when I lived in Italy years ago. Someone once said: “The only absolute in life is change.”  Venice had become commercialized.  Many of the natives had become restless during the floods and ‘floated on out of the city,’ while those who stayed endured the pop up souvenir shops and carts.

venice canal 2The charming structure of the city still stands, but it was difficult to find much less talk with anyone who actually lived there.

I’ve always heard: “The best form of flattery is imitation.”  We had been to many of the Venice knock offs:

Suzhou, China  – The Venice of the EastBoys Suzhou

Suzhou Canals

Bangkok, Thailand –  The Venice of the East.  (The other East, I guess)Bangkok

St. Petersburg, Russia – The Venice of the North.  Ironically, Aselund, (Norway) Stockholm (Sweden), Bruges (Flemish Belgium)  and Amsterdam (Holland) each claim to also be “Venice of the North”!

Of America’s eleven Venices, we had seen:

The Venice of the Southwest – San Antonio, TX

The Venice of USA – Venice, CA

Plastic Venice – Las Vegas, NV (In fact we had a store near the site!)

Everglade Venice – Ft. Lauderdale, FL

You may choose the safe copies:  But Epcot will still never be able to show you the authenticity of the Moroccan, Norwegian, Chinese or Japanese people, the smells and the food, now matter how good they get. Most who work there are Americans, and a burger and fries are always available!     You can also skip the Israel tour and drive over to Orlando FL,  for the Holy Land Experience.   (Not really that ‘holy’, but again safe!)  But unless you jump across the pond into the unknown, you never know what surprises,  knowledge and understanding await you.

Venices are readily available for a visit from you and your family.  But you might want to book your family trip to the original Venice, Italy– first before the experience becomes totally virtual.  No Chinotto here Our blood runs Coca Cola!Of course when push came to shove, some of us still chose America’s Soft Drink over Chinotto or San Pellegrino.  Coca Cola runs in our veins!

Dawn

Family travel

Reflections

IMG_8350

Sometimes your best reflections are those you see in somebody’s eyes!

If you didn’t have your glasses yesterday, you still were able to feel the effects of the Total Solar Eclipse.  The air grew thick and seemed to suck up the sound.  Wind stilled, animals put their heads down, cows caught a cat nap, birds lost their tweets and humans got wiggy with boxes.  box heads

The Hirns, along with a couple hundred thousand others, hit the road to ‘totality’ with their special cardboard Solar Eclipse Glasses!

Political correctness was Gone with the Wind.  People laid on the ground and took pictures of the sun putting their cheap plastic solar glasses on top of their cameras to protect their $800 smartphone sensors, while their own irreplaceable retinas were subjected to the rays.   But don’t you wonder what the view of earth looked like from the throne of God? He had to love the part about everyone taking time out of their day to see His light show.  Together.

italy funny faceFamilies and friends came out of their cubbies to be together, looked through home made solar viewing contraptions (Fruit Loop and Bisquick boxes) and in a single moment of time, nature took precedence over Pokemons.

Some of your most wonderful experiences can be remembered by seeing them through the eyes of those you love.   Which is exactly why Ron and I chose to take our boys away from home to spend 180 days in the real world, seeing the wonders through the eyes of those we love:  our children.

After all, aren’t the best memories just reflections?

The next Solar Eclipse will be in 2024, but don’t wait to make this your next big event.  You have daily opportunities to see life through your kids eyes.  Travel!!!

Dawn

Family travel

Hail the Eclipse!

hail the eclipseMonday August 21, 2017 will be your opportunity to jump in the car and travel near and far to get the best view of the solar eclipse. Scientists have given their best estimates as to when the full two-minute, thirty-second experience will begin and end, and what part of the country will have the best view.  But you know how that goes.  As far as I know, Noah was the last one to accurately predict an event of nature.  And I know he had outside help.

If you leave home and head into the direct path, you’d better bring your long lens, filters, eclipse glasses,  patience, snacks, drinks and hope to heaven somebody in your family has booked a spot to stay overnight. Because otherwise, you’ll be staying in the wide open spaces.  Every bed in the path of the solar eclipse is booked.  Solid!

The 31,000 residents of Hopkinsville, Kentucky have beefed up security,  added cell towers and stocked up on gasoline, bottled water and toilet paper.  Shortages in these areas are expected and some are easier to live with than others!

everyone upThe Hirn family necks  have been strengthened during our world trip.  But strong necks or not, we know what not to do:

best colt look upNever look directly into the sun during a Solar Eclipse.  If you’re tempted, grab a pair of special eclipse glasses, provided free by most public libraries.

colton binoc.Never look directly at the solar eclipse through a pair of binoculars.

trent with cameraOnly photograph the solar eclipse if you have the correct lenses and filters.  Better yet, leave the photographs to the pros. ron up
The best suggestion comes from NASA:    “Above all, don’t forget to put your smartphone down and enjoy the eclipse with your own eyes!”   And always trust those older and wiser than you to tell you when it’s safe to look.

It will be awhile until another solar eclipse takes place, and your eyes are supposed to last as long as you are on earth.  So make sure you pay attention.

glasses2But no matter where you stand, the rules apply universally!

Protect those precious retinas!

Dawn