This is the mobile home that Kristin and I used for our last six months in Europe. Kristin called it "our cave." It kept us safe at night, but it was way too small to be comfortable. And it retails for more than $400 - good think we didn't have to pay for it!
It has been exactly two years since Kristin and I left California on a flight to Guatemala. It was the beginning of our world journey, the realization of a lifelong dream, and the start of our long life together.
Danny and Kristin in the evening of our first day in Guatemala. We went on a sunset hike around San Pedro with our wonderful host Ann.
In our 730 days of traveling, we visited 30 countries on over 1000 rides on a bus, tram, trolley, subway, taxi, car, train, gondola, horse, bike, boat and plane. You can visit our page of travel statistics, travel itinerary, and publications to learn more.
Backcountry skiing, overlooking the ocean near Tromso, Norway in May 2011.
A lot of people asked how can we afford such a trip. In total, we spent less than $35k. We were able to save up that money while I was making $30k/year working at UC Davis while Kristin was a student. We traveled cheaply because we skimped on comfort, we walked and took local buses, we camped a lot, we cooked all of our meals, we didn't drink alcohol or pay for expensive tours, and so on.
Most importantly, we were able to do this because of the incredible support of our friends and family. It would have been nearly impossible without you. We spent over 300 nights with friends and family, plus 50 nights with couchsurfing hosts. These experiences deeply enriched our journey, increased the educational aspect, and strengthened bonds around the world. Others lent support through emails, sending packages, receiving our mail, visiting us, and sending positive thoughts our way.
Hiking in Yosemite, California - September 2011.
And what did we learn in two years? Well, that is the topic of another blog post. But I can tell you that I've learned how lucky I am to have Kristin. I have an ocean of gratitude for everything that she has taught me, all of her patience and support, and her constant love.
We're not done traveling in the sense that we're still homeless, unemployed, and moving around every few days. We're happy to spend this time visiting more friends and family, but also looking for jobs. Right now we're on a farm in southern Oregon with our cousins Cindy and Drew. I'll keep you posted on our next steps, and hopefully catch up on past adventures.
We are in the middle of our two-week road trip through the Rockies of Montana and Canada. We spent the first part in Glacier National Park, which has very few glaciers. Apparently all the glaciers will disappear completely by 2020. Yikes!
The hiking has been variable - good trails, beautiful views, but a zoo-like atmosphere. I didn't expect this many people to visit such a remote park!
Of courser we're having a blast regardless of the crowds and crazy weather. Kristin's parents are a blast to travel with. We play cards every evening to relax after each day of hiking.
I'll post some more pics next week, from Calgary. But now we must continue onward to Banff, Canada.
Last I left you, Kristin and I had arrived to Chicago., then did a road trip through Wisconsin and Minnesota. Now we are in Montana. We have some family friends here, one of whom just got married.
We also met with our editor at Backpacking Light. We have been working with her via email for the last year and a half. It was great to finally meet her in person, as she is an amazing, wonderful person. We are very happy to be working for her, and now look forward to building a friendship.
Today we turn north to Glacier National Park to hike for a week, if we can find snow-free trails. After that, we'll continue north to our Canadamerican neighbors and visit Banff and Calgary.
And then (yes, it continues), we drive back to Minnesota for a wedding, only to hit the road a few days later with a goal of making it to Davis, CA by August 9 or so. Along the way, we'll be stopping in Denver/Boulder and SLC.
I'll keep you posted what happens next. Until then, I'm sure I'll find a few blog-worthy photos from Glacier and Banff.
On June 30 we arrived in Chicago, and today is July 13. What have we done in the last 2 weeks?
Well, we started by visiting family in Oconomowoc, WI. We wasted no time in preparing a massive feast for the 4th of July.
And so we ate.
Marinated grilled tofu, beet/walnut/yogurt salad, roasted potatoes, kale, Greek salad, and rutabaga. So much deliciousness on one plate! Thank you Kristin and Alisa for preparing such amazing vegan and vegetarian food.
Kristin and I took Lilly to the 4th of July parade. This is like an abridged version of the State Fair. Lots of tractors, real 'merican trucks, ATVs, and even a pimped-out golf cart. The rocking patriotic soundtrack was provided by the likes of John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen and numerous country-ish artists that I don't know. Let me just tell you that the first lyrics I heard were "She thinks my tractor is sexy."
Big Girls, Cowboy Boots, Ford Trucks and American Flags. Welcome to the Midwest.
Then we went home to eat more. Shocking, I know.
We left Oconomowoc before our guts could explode. We traveled to Pulaski, where we worked on feeding instead of eating.
One-half of the twin set.
We took a trip to the coast of Lake Michigan to Door County. This is where Kristin and Alisa spent a week of camping, cycling, swimming and playing every summer. Upon revisiting their childhood vacation spot, they realized things were so much smaller and closer together than they remembered. We were able to see everything in a day, that used to take them a week.
Oh, and we ate there too. I had French Toast filled with cherry cream cheese and topped with more cherries. This was one of the treats they remembered, but neither of them would eat it now as they realize how horribly unhealthy it is.
We drove through Green Bay. Most importantly, we drove by Lambeau Stadium. This is supposed to be something like a religious rite of passage for Wisconsinites.
The relatives were just as happy to hear that we stopped by the thrift store next to Lambeau Stadium. Alisa bought a crock pot and I found a pair of shorts. Yay.
A full house.
Kristin, Alisa and I coordinated our outfit for this family picture.
Yes, our trip continues. We drove to the family farm near Phillips (still Wisconsin). We celebrated two weddings and two birthdays and even Christmas. Of course we ate a ton too.
Several of us competed (completed) a sprint triathlon. Kristin and Dee came in 2nd in their respective age groups.
Yep, more cake. Don't ask me how many different types of cakes I have eaten in the last week. This one was a vegan coconut mixed-berry cake that Kristin baked for Alisa's birthday.
Kristin and I also pretended to be farmers. It briefly reminded us of our weeks spent on a Russian dacha. After I returned to the farm house, I got a call from my Chris and Hillary to let us know that they had a 8+ pound baby boy named Owen. If you've been following, Hillary was almost 7 months pregnant when they visited us in Switzerland in April.
Finally, on July 10 we returned to Krisitn's parents' home in Minnesota. We had stored a few things there while we traveled, so it was fun to find "new" clothes to wear!
Kristin's dad took us golfing. They are both quite good at it. And very generous - they never let me score more than a seven. I found more golf balls than I lost, so I think they might take me golfing again.
It is wonderful to be back in the US, though we are still in travel mode. We haven't stayed in the same place for more than three nights. We still live out of our backpack. We don't have a home, a cell phone, or a job.We have plans to continue traveling within the US and Canada for the next month.
It has also felt like a celebration every day with our extending family. However, two months of a fatty, sugary, dairy-intensive diet has taken its toll on me - I gained about 10 pounds since Norway. Everybody wants to feed us treats and desserts and indulgences.
Kristin isn't tempted by that stuff, but I have some mental issue where I feel like I have to get calories when I can. Especially when they're free. I think it has something to do with growing up poor with four brothers (all bigger than me). I had to eat when I could.
This is a bad habit and something I have struggled with for the last ten years (when I realized it was a personal issue). Anyways, I have no doubts the weight will disappear when I return to eating less cake and dairy.
We safely arrived yesterday in Chicago. My friend, Rubee, picked us up at the airport and took us, along with his friend Bette, to the Chicago Botanic Garden. We walked around for four hours and had a truly wonderful time.
Then we went to Karyn's, a vegan restaurant that Kristin has been raving about since she first went there in 2006.
We ate way more than we should have. Thanks Bette and Rubee for such a wonderful day!
Today is our 650th day of traveling. Yay! We are hopping into Alisa's car to begin our 10-day road trip through Wisconsin and Minnesota.
It's not the climax you might expect, but Kristin and I are going home. And not home as in house, but as in America (specifically, Chicago).The international travel is ending. But the world tour continues. We have at least another six weeks to travel around the US before we arrive at our even more specific home, California.
And then we have a lifetime together to make our home home.
It's too early to write a summary of our world journey or make grand proclamations of what we've learned. We can't tell you what we'll be doing next, though we are both actively applying for jobs. We don't know where we'll be living. The future is very much up in the air.
But I can tell you one thing. Wherever you find me, you will find a smile on my face and joy in my eyes. For next to me, undoubtedly, will be the love of my life. Without her, this journey wouldn't have had the same meaning, and likely wouldn't have happened.
And going home means something quite unique when she's been by my side this whole time.
After two days of skiing with some new friends, Kristin and I rented car for two weeks. We lived out of the car (a late 1990's Honda Civic) and camped every night.
We hiked every day, even the ski days, because the snow level was a few hundred meters above sea level.
We climbed some mountains.
We found some good snow and wonderful views.
We tried our best to stay healthy and warm, if not comfortable. This is supposed to be summer after all.
This may not surprise you, but we climbed a mountain on the third anniversary of when we first started dating. It was a gorgeous route that crossed over a high lake-filled plateau and then skirted around a huge, smooth glacier (directly behind us in the photo). It was perhaps the most beautiful ski tour we did in Europe. And, it was a route that we tried that day before but turned around early because of weather. It was a meaningful summit, to return again and succeed, and to celebrate our love.
The year prior, we had climbed Peru's Mt. Chachani (6075 meters/ 19,931 feet) and hated it. Why? Because we walked up AND down, and wondered why the hell anyone would do that when you can SKI down!!! So here we were, one year later, having obviously learned our lesson.
And finally, we went to our most northernly point in our world journey, one tip of the Lyngen Peninsula. Here we camped near the beach and watched the sun tease the horizon. It was the season of the midnight sun. In our 2.5 weeks up north, the sun never set. This photo was taken at 1am and unfortunately, the sun is obscured by the clouds. However, the beauty is quite clear.
After 6 weeks of skiing in Norway (and not blogging about it), Kristin and I arrived in Dublin last week. My mom and her parents flew in and we immediately drove north to Donegal County. We have been eating well, hiking, riding horses, and enjoying the local pubs. My mom flies home tomorrow (sad face). I'll post more pictures and stories in the following two weeks.
Riding horses (Irish Cobbs) with my mom through the flowery fields of north Ireland.
Our first "home" in Ireland - a "self-service cottage" in Donegal County.
Closing down the bar in Letterfrack, Galway. Amazingly, my mom and I have been to the pubs four nights in a row. Neither of us like beer, but we've been introduced to Guinness with wee dash of black. This is Guinness beer with a black current juice, which makes bitter beer palatable for us!