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.

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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

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

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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

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

 

Encouragement · Family travel

The Back Side

“The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.”– Rudyard Kipling

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 There are five senses, right?  You know that until you discover neurologists have been able to identify nine senses and some as many as twenty-one!

 

When you watch hi-def TV in glorious 4K, head to the cinema or even experience Disney’s 360-degree adventures, you only get to use two of your senses:  sight and sound.  Somebody out there may have already discovered using the sense of smell, but at best you will get an artificial ‘Febreeze-style odor.’ So in essence, unless you travel you are getting ‘fake travel, fake sounds and perhaps one day fake smells.’

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Or you can slip your passport in your pocket and order a batch of the authentic, like we did.   Is it easy?  Lost luggage, passports, backpacks, kids, rain, snow, storms, messed up schedules, tummy aches . . . . . of course it’s not easy.    No adventure is!  Is it worth it?  Yes.  YES!!!

Thanks to the wonders of smart  phones, it’s easy to document your journey.  But never overlook the importance of shooting from the backside.

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The back side is where you see your son or daughter pondering the sights you are seeing.  Be quiet.  You can almost hear their little mind-motors humming, as they silently reflect on something they read about before. Don’t interrupt them.  They are developing the questions they are going to pound you with at the before bedtime nightly ‘Discovery/Question/Answer Session” with mom and dad.

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Shots from the front of your kids show the viewer how cute your kids are, or how funny they smiled.  They leave the “happy family taste’ in everyone’s mouth – which as you know, is only 1/3 of the story.

venice bridge

Before you know it you will be able to tell others:  “There are more than five senses, folks.  I used at least nine of them when I traveled with my family!”

best back in Venice

Take the trip.  And remember, there is always more of a story from The Back Side!

Dawn