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.

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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

Adventure with Engagement AWE · Family travel · Perfecting Dysfunction

1000 Words or Less

Every family trip photograph deserves a comment.  “In 1000 words or less, tell us about this photo.”    A 2-D shot doesn’t begin to tell the story of what’s being said while that photo is being captured. And unless you use descriptions, you cannot see the whole story.  Our videographer’s photo of Tyler and Trenton in the Roman Forum tell the story of how sick the boys got of being photographed.  This was allowable contempt, because the guys are mostly so respectful.

forum boys

Traveling through the marble and bronze antiquities of Rome,  gave us entirely new ways of looking at things, thanks to the boys’ reactions.

The photo below shows Romulus and Remus, twin brothers given credit for the beginnings of Rome, who were supposedly abandoned by their father by the Tiber River around 750 BC.   It is said female wolf raised the boys.  Romulus killed Remus in a family squabble so the city was named for him:  Rome, not Reme.

romulus remusThankfully the boys kept their comments on Romulus/Remus statue to themselves.  But their ‘eye rolls’ and stifled giggles were unforgettable.

funnt sculptureWhen somebody offered to take my photo in front of the Vatican sculpture of the priest Laocoön and His Sons being killed by sea serpents, I overheard this comment: “This is a church.  Why don’t they put some clothes on those things?”

And no matter how Ron and I tried to educate them with interesting facts about Michaelangelo’s 17-foot marble sculpture of David, we still fielded the kid’s hysterical one-liners.

Forum parkThe 1000-words or less photo capture Colton utilizing his keen business skills as he came up with the money-making Roman Forum idea: “Make this grassy area into a Jolly Jump Inflatable Playground for kids to enjoy while the parents walk around looking at the really old stuff.”

Whoever said ‘children should be seen and not heard’ was WRONG!!

Every photo deserves a comment.  1000 words or less.  Or more.  Your choice!

Dawn

 

Adventure with Engagement AWE · Family travel · Parenting

The Almafi Acci-dent

My dad can bench press 350.

Nuh, uh!!

Uh Huh!!!

My dad can rip the top off a camper without losing his cool.

. . . . . you win.

When a parent commits to 180 full-time days with your kids touring the world, you open yourself to 5K resolution.  Intense scrutiny.   Errors.  All amplified!  You’re watching your kids every moment; but even scarier, they are watching you!

Ron, the boys, a videographer and I were traveling in a 25’ rental camper, down the very narrow Almafi Coast road. Our camper was sucking wind going uphill and we were  carefully governing our weight going downhill, causing a traffic problem.

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The Italian’s drive small, fast cars for a reason.  They are not known for their patience, nor do they bridal their passions.  We were getting the benefit of horns, hand gestures and passionate verbal assaults. Ron considerately would pull over from time to time, and let the cars behind zoom by before he headed out again.   But this is very difficult on  the Almafi Coast highway which is exactly 2-lanes wide with no shoulders or pull-offs.

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In order to let some very colorful Italians by, Ron pulled off and in haste failed to see the large restaurant awning just above us.  Ripping metal is a sound you never forget.

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 Tyler looked up at what used to be the camper skylight and ceiling and now was clear sky and said: “Oh no. . . dad’s not going to like this.”

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Where there once was an awning and a skylight

Stepping out of the camper to assess the damage, Ron faced an angry restaurant owner screaming in his face and the Almafi Coast Fire Department and Police asking questions.  One lane had closed which allowed the travelers more time to do their drive-by smirk.  And there stood my husband, under the scrutiny of strangers and the watchful eyes of his three boys and wife, in total control and composure as he watched the awning being extracted from the top of his rental camper.

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The roadside restaurant after the Hirn Family visit!

men after accidentSilence after humiliation is salve for the soul.

Ron showed us all his interpretation of true strength.  Nothing you can say to your kids will teach them more than your example.

I like the quote by Dave Willis:  “Show respect even to people who don’t deserve it not as a reflection of their character, but as a reflection of yours.”

Double-check your behavior.  Your kids are!

Dawn

Adventure with Engagement AWE · Travel

The Book of Magic

We are still steeped in patriotism with the recent memories of our July 4th celebration on Lake Martin.  These memories are fresh for us – reminders that we are part of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.  And we can carry that identity with us in the way of a passport nearly anywhere in the world.

I remember another time shortly after Ron and I were married.  We had begun saving our money almost immediately to travel through Europe.  We set out in a camper we bought in Germany and headed where the wind blew.  Borders back then were tightly monitored.  But we had nothing to fear.  We were young and in love and, if push came to shove, we could charm people into submission with our quick wit and smiles.  (Did I mention we were deluded into thinking love conquers all?)

Dawn Ron early yearsDR campsiteSetting up housekeeping in our used VW Camper.Mom in law visit“Hey “Ron, my mom’s coming for a visit!”

Life for us was smooth until we arrived at the border crossing of Bulgaria.   We thought we had properly followed the traffic directions following the circle-around thing.  But we ended up entering the wrong way and cutting in line.  This ticked off the Bulgarian Border Patrol, and one guard in particular, was suspicious of our German tag.  He approached the car ready for war.  Always playing ‘Miss Congeniality,’ I rolled down my window to give him my best smile and sweetest voice.   This has worked for me before in America.

In Bulgaria, not so much.

This guy went ballistic, and began screaming at me: “Turks!  Turks!”  And with one fell swoop, he reached through the window and knocked the sweet smile right off my face, breaking my glasses and bloodying my temple.

Dawn gloves showing determ

Most women would shed a tear at this point.  But never having been one to back off, I got angry, grabbed his tie and jerked it off him. Ron, unaware of all of this, drove around to the proper position. Within moments, the guards were running to us in our camper, demanding passports and a tie. The moment the passports were produced, the climate changed dramatically.

Attila the Bulgarian Hun was joined by the rest of the guard dripping apologies all over Ron and I. We’d never seen anything like it. “Americans, Americans,” they exclaimed. In no time, we were escorted to ‘the head of the line,’ offered more apologies, muttering that they thought we were Turks, and gently provided us with a bloodless escort across the border.

I’m an American!

I’ve really done nothing to deserve this privilege of carrying the book of magic — the American Passport.  And in addition, I am allowed to vote, own land,  travel freely and say what I think.   Punching isn’t included in my ‘inalienable rights.’

When you travel, you might want to reconsider getting into any fights with border guards.  They don’t like it much when you rip their clothes off.

But if you insist, flash them your Book of Magic first!

Dawn

PS – I apologized and returned Attila’s tie!

Adventure with Engagement AWE · Family

Youneverknowwhatyourgonnaget!

Reeling from a week of company is like coming down from a mountaintop.

So many people squished together in one house, so many personalities, so many agendas.    When we stand back, things look like a mess.  But we know the ‘mess’ is held together by love and that changes the whole atmosphere.

Hirns 4thDo we all get along constantly?  I’m tempted to fill the rest of the blog with hahahahahahah.  But we respect each other and that covers a whole lot of ground.   God put me in the middle of five men, and I’ve got to say I’ve loved being there.

And this week, He has shared with me nieces and cousins, who have come to spend the week of July 4th, bringing with them splashes of drama and color!   I’m reaching way out from what I am used to dealing with men.

I’ve always said I wouldn’t know how to raise a little girl, and I still say “hats off to their mom’s and dads.”  And they probably say the same thing about me with boys!

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But I’ve thoroughly enjoyed their magical approaches to life, the red, white and blue decor they added to our boats and our lives.  I’ve enjoyed watching the drama and the comedy, the rehearsed poses which have given me some outstanding photos of these little girls!   (Tell a boy to smile at the camera and you never know what you’re gonna get!)

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Step out of your comfort zone and make memories!  One of the most magnificent things about world travel is ‘youneverknowwhatyoutgonnaget.’  We left the ordinary ‘sameness’ in our lives to embrace people of different cultures, beliefs and lifestyles, in the name of brotherhood, respect and love.   And you cannot get the experience of building relationships from a book or a movie!

Dr. Seuss said it best:  “Be who you are and say how you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

Dawn

Adventure with Engagement AWE · Encouragement · Travel

What’s your color scheme?

Benjamin Moore (not a founding father) started up his paint company in 1883, dedicated to the production of excellence in paints and glazes.  Today, three of his colors still stand out: “Old Glory Red”, “Old Glory Blue” and White.  (Ok, so he wasn’t the most original dude on the block, but he was allegiant to his country!)  These colors hold significance to every American today. It’s our 241st Birthday, which makes us young by comparison to most other countries.  Red, white and blue is the color of our door marked freedom.  And, thanks to the freedom of speech,  we rejoice or complain our way through the door that allows us to choose the way we worship, and helps us along our educational path. Americans are used to working hard so we can own homes and land.   And we can choose to live safely within our own paint choices, or or we can travel, opening up every color imaginable on earth.

mosaic pigs Britainfrom blue mosaic pigs in Britain. . . .

We Hirns love America and take great pride in our Red, White and Blue.  But we have jumped and will continue to jump at the opportunity to uncover other color schemes.

Passenger trainto passenger trains in SE Asia. . . .

and beyond!

Today we celebrate July 4th with hot dogs,  S’Mores, apple pie, campfires, parades, ballgames and fireworks.    We are so  thankful to America for opening her doors allowing us to see so many colors beyond our own color schemes  . . . .  .                 from Lake Martin into the wild blue yonder!

IMG_0803Have and happy, colorful and safe Independence Day!

Dawn

Adventure with Engagement AWE · Travel

Ping is not a game.

We have choices:  stay home or travel.  We chose travel.   We had choices:  mix with the people, or go five-star guaranteeing a sizable financial commitment for comfort and isolation.  We chose to mix.

Paris is a forty-five minute train ride to the Village of Versailles campground we chose as home base.  Typical campground:  Inexpensive individual campsites, community gathering spots bathrooms/showers, little store . . . . nothing special.  Except for the people.  Families who stayed here represented more than six countries.  Adults couldn’t gather around the old wood stove chewing the fat with others unless they understood the languages.  The Hirn-Fam was limited to English and Spanish.

Kids don’t need language to communicate. Who needs words when you’ve got a ball?  Who needs an invitation when you’ve got a Ping Pong table?  My kids joined right into the international competition.  No translation is needed when you lob the ball over the net into enemy territory and it misses their paddle.  You know!  They know!

Colton and Trenton both wanted to give it their best for America!

 Our kids taught us more on this trip than we ever taught them, because we lived each day from their perspective. Fear wasn’t a factor.

Colton ping 2Even if you don’t get it at first, keep the conversation open!

And always join in for a moment of comic relief!

 You have a choice:  you can stay home or travel.  But remember, unless you mingle with the masses, you are just playing a game of Ping.  And Ping is not a game! 

Step outside your comfort zone into adventure by choosing to interact with those who aren’t from your neck of the woods. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck in the world of 600-thread count sheets and down comforters, in a very lonely game of Ping.

And Ping is not a game.

Dawn