A Travellerspoint blog

Still Holding Hands

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Still holding hands

I woke up this morning with a severe case of “monkey mind” (an endearing term coined by Katut, the medicine man in Bali). Can it really be true that this trip is coming to and end? Our plane leaves for LAX in a few hours. Of course my mind was spinning as I laid in our hotel room bed relishing in the quiet sounds of Ryan and the girls’ slumber. I reached over and held Ryan’s hand, a reminder to me just how fortunate I am as a wife, a mother and a woman. 31 countries, over 100 hotel room stays (some much more pleasant than others) and to think…..Ryan and I are still holding hands. As I tiptoed out of the hotel room to sneak away for one last cup of coffee by myself, I peeked at the girls in their double bed that they have shared for 24 weeks and smiled when I saw that they were “still holding hands” in their sleep.

We have met some incredible people during this journey, young, middle aged (ugh, I guess Ryan and I fall into that category now, a sobering realization, but oh how true, I have several grey hairs, emphasis on the plural, to prove it….that is what happens when you can’t frequently highlight your hair as you travel the world) and many baby boomers. All the people we met shared fun tales of their travels and enlightened us all with their life stories. I was particularly impressed with the 20 something travelers. Maybe its because I enjoy to be around youthful people. They seem to be eager to experience the world, gobble up experiences, take risks, LEARN about other cultures, wear the same clothes everyday because its easier and cheaper (I have actually fallen into this habit, such a simple way to live and significantly cuts down on the laundry), their willingness to stay in hostels to meet other like minded people and their courage to take life by the horns and TRAVEL outside of their comfort zone! It was so refreshing to meet such groups of young travelers, most of whom had graduated from University and many of them had a job waiting for them once they returned (quite a feat in this economy). One traveler was in awe of our family and wanted to know about our adventures. After listening to our tales, some taller than others, depending if Ryan was at the helm of the conversation ☺, this young man said, “absolutely amazing, what a trip and awesome that YOU ARE STILL HOLDING HANDS”. This struck a cord with Ryan and I. Not only are we still holding hands, the girls are still holding hands (ok, they do sometimes exchange a few hits, blows, pushes and eye rolls, but for the most part, they are still holding hands) and Ryan and I are lucky enough that our 13 year old daughters still want to hold our hands as we toured exotic cities around the world, rode sketchy buses and trains through rural parts of south east Asia, climbed the peaks of Machu Picchu, and even when were just walking to a restaurant to share a meal. It is truly a honor that my girls still want to hold my hand. I realize that they are growing up fast and yearning to be more independent, so I am trying to enjoy every hand holding experience with Morgan and Riley.

I know many things for sure after this trip, but so many of these “truths” are difficult to articulate. What I have learned sits deep within my heart and soul. I have learned that humanity can be kind, compassionate and playful and at the same time can be inflicted with undue and unexplainable pain and suffering. I have always been inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s challenge “Be the change you want to see in the world”, I even drink my coffee out of a mug at home that is decorated with this quote. Yet I have realized that some things can’t be changed, that SOMETIMES change can be more disruptive than helpful. Many people we met who live in substandard conditions (at least in our American eyes) seem happy, so who am I to wish that they have hot showers, air conditioning, 4 burner stoves, ice, and other so called western luxuries. I have not lost my desire to help others. I still whole- heartedly believe that people can change if they have the motivation and the support to follow through with the internal and external fortitude it takes to make significant and lasting changes. I will continue to be a listener and observer of human behavior.
And most importantly, I will continue to hold hands with Ryan and the girls as we enter our next season of life in southern California as a family. We will always hold the adventures of our “All Ober the Globe” close to our hearts. I think we have been bit by the travel bug, and our next trip won’t be too far away. Morgan may have some trepidations, but I think we can get her on board!

Thank you for following our trip……what a trip it has been!

Julie

Posted by ryanober1 09:06 Archived in Mexico Tagged julie Comments (3)

What am I going to be when I grow up?

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When we first left on this adventure I made a commitment to myself that I would not worry about what I would do upon my return, until I stepped foot back on US soil. That I would focus on the "now" and not the future. That I would focus on the experience with my girls and Julie, and give them some of the energy and the time back that was taken from them with all of the time I had been traveling for the previous 3 years. Living in the "now" is my personality anyways, to live in the moment, but I had always had the security of a company, trusted employees, and flexibility to not worry about the every minute details of survival. ProGuard had provided me with security, literally and figuratively, so it made it easy to survive in the moment, without worrying about the small stuff.This trip was the first time I had taken time away from "reality", without the security of ProGuard.
I should clarify, we still do have a successful business in PGTech, being run by Rick, without PGTech and Rick, this trip would not have been possible either. But with PGTech being in a growth phase it is a company for our future not the now.....so I still needed to figure out exactly what it is I would throw myself at upon my return. I have had a yearning to expand my energy into multiple fields, rather than focus on one thing only. I want to do more than be consumed by one company.
I have decided several things, that I want to be able to give back more to society through my works than I was able to before, that I want to make a positive difference in the world, I want to work in something that will bring people happiness, I want to learn something everyday, I want to be challenged everyday, I want to laugh everyday. Not terribly tough to accomplish, as long as I am passionate about what I am doing, so the big question now is, what am I going to be passionate about doing? Stayed tuned...... I repeat "What am I going to be when I grow up?"

Ryan

Posted by ryanober1 20:06 Archived in Peru Tagged ryan Comments (1)

"Life"

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For the past month we have been saying ‘real life starts soon’. I have been thinking of that saying. For 6 months, traveling has been our ‘real life’. It is crazy what we have seen and what we have done in this part of our ‘life’. In 2 short days we will land in LAX and stay in Las Angeles for one night, then drive to Laguna the next day. That day will be very strange, to be on American soil!
As we have traveled we have been taking less photos, and writing less blogs. In some ways it is nice to not always have the camera out and worrying about writing new blogs. But we enjoy sharing our thoughts with friends and family.
Thank you all for following us on our blog! Even if we don’t know you and you are one of the people who is a friend of a friend of a friend ….. We appreciate it ☺
I hope our blog has inspired you to see parts of the world that you have not seen before!

~Riley

Posted by ryanober1 19:48 Archived in Mexico Tagged riley Comments (2)

Near Home

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We have been in Mexico for 4 days now, and we have 3 days left until we get home. It is the first time we have touched the Pacific Ocean in 6 months, and it is a lot like our ocean in Laguna. It is strange to be so close to our home. This is the first time we have been in North America in 6 months. It is weird that the trip is over. It went by fast yet slow at the same time. I don’t know what is going to be like when we get home. It will be bitter-sweet. We will be in a house instead of 100 sq. ft. hotel room, which is defiantly sweet. But, we wont be experiencing new things and seeing new places, which is bitter. I am excited to get home and see my friends and family, but I’m not excited that all these adventures are over. I already miss all the coutries we have been to and all the experiences we had. I know this trip will never be repeated which makes me sad, but so happy that we are lucky enough to experience all of this.

~morgan~

Posted by ryanober1 13:09 Archived in Mexico Tagged morgan Comments (1)

Silversmithing

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I have always had an interest in jewelry and the process and design of jewelry. I myself do not wear any other than cufflinks and a wedding band, but for some reason women's rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings have always interested me. I have long admired the ability for 1 or 2 small pieces on someone to completely change the look and even the attitude of the person wearing it. With all of that said, I have been interested in learning about the process and what it would take to design my own pieces. I was fortunate enough to be able to do that this week with Moe and Riley. We were looking for coffee in Cusco and walked by a small shop that had a sign that read " escuela de joyeria" , a jewelry school. Of course that sounded like an opportunity for me to finally pursue something I have been so interested in. I know it's random and a little different, but everyone that knows me is already aware of my being in touch with my sensitive side, so it was between flower design or jewelry class.......
We began at 9 am with our teacher, Esteban, we immediately began creating our one of a kind pieces, we all chose rings, as they seemed the easiest and everything else would take 2 days. Our instructor spoke zero English, which didn't prove to be as difficult as we first feared. We all speak enough Spanish to get the basics, and silversmithing has a lot of technical terms we wouldn't have understood anyways. We learned by watching, copying, and experimenting. Our first process was to decide what general type of ring we wanted to make, calculate the amount of copper we would need to add to our "puro Plato", pure silver, to make either .925 or .95 silver, we chose the purer silver as the girls wanted their rings to be shiny, and I wanted to Matte finish mine. After adding the copper to the pure silver we turned on the torches, fired up the metal with a little Borax until it melted together and became a ball of molten metal. The girls loved the fact that they got to control their own flame and create the metal, they said that was one of their favorite parts.
After creating the basic material we then put each piece through a hand operated press about 5 times until it was a certain thickness. We then refired, washed, and repeated. After the rings were approximately the right length we began to sand and polish and then formed into the shape of a ring. We had already taken measurements for the right size so we knew the exact length to cut our pieces and then slowly pound out the ring until it was the exact size and a perfect circle. We then used the torches again to mold the sides and make a perfect circle without any signs of once being a long piece of unfinished silver. A cool point in the project, because your work is starting to take form.
After much, sanding, cleaning, firing, re-sanding, cleaning and filing my ring was close to being done. The girls chose a different look and had to each use a small handheld electric tool that etched into the silver leaving a really neat finish, almost like crumpled tin foil. I chose to have a slightly arched ring with a cut around the circumference in the middle, the cut is finely polished and shiny and the majority of the ring is finished in a matte. After that we polished, washed and buffed the rings. They all turned out amazing, the look professional, only better because WE made them.
The experience was great and the girls and i had an amazing time, both solitarily and as a family. We all said that we felt accomplished and were proud of ourselves upon finishing the project. It exceeded my expectations and really motivated me to pursue my interest in designing jewelry. Dont be surprised if you get a one of a kind piece in the future for a Birthday or X-mas present? Maybe one of the many things I come back with is passion for designing jewelry? Could that be my new profession? Interesting if not strange as a choice for my future career.

Ryan

Posted by ryanober1 13:51 Archived in Peru Tagged ryan Comments (1)

Spanish Class!

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For 1 week in Cusco the four of us took a Spanish class. It was great to be in a school environment. For 4 hours each day we were studying Spanish! Staying in an apartment outside of Cusco it forced us to practice Spanish a lot more than if we were in the USA. Most of the students were just out of college, so it was sort of weird being a family …… but we learned a lot!! Baba and Grandpa Chris joined our Peru adventure 2 days ago; we are now in Machu Picchu!!! It was breathtaking when we turned the corner and saw Machu Picchu right there in front of us! I don’t think it has hit me yet that we just saw an amazing part of the world! Tomorrow I think it will! There is no way to explain the magnificent beauty of it! The pictures don’t do it justice!
I can’t believe the trip is over in less than 2 weeks! It seems like yesterday we were in the LAX airport waiting for our New Zealand flight!
In 2 short weeks we will be back to what we call “life!”
Check the pictures for Machu Picchu!

Posted by ryanober1 20:20 Archived in Peru Tagged riley Comments (0)

3 countries in 1 day!

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Sorry for the delay in blogging.
Today was one of our longest tourist days yet. From 5 am till midnight we were touring! We are staying in a small beach town in southern Spain, closest to Malaga. We drove to Tarrifa to take a ferry to the tip of Morocco, Tanger. It ended up that we drove to the wrong port and had to drive 30 miles in 20 minutes to make the ferry. We barely made it and had to run to get aboard the ferry. When we stepped off the ferry in Tanger it was breathtaking to be in Africa! To me Africa is the most exotic place we have been on the trip, even though Morocco has influence by Europe it is still Africa! Our first stop was at the point where the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean Connect. Our guide told us that is told that there is a line that fisherman can see out in the water dividing the two bodies of water. It was beautiful scenery. Then we rode camels- it was so crazy! Here we are in Africa riding camels- just like in the movies except it was on the beach! The camel I rode was named Sabrina, the only other name I remember is Morgan’s- Ali Baba. They were actually pretty cute animals. After the camel ride we walked around the “new” town and the old town. After a wonderful lunch at Kasbah Restaurant we walked through the meat and fish market. It was very interesting- let’s just say that we saw the parts of animals that you see in the ‘ground up meat sealed in a box’ part like in America. There was actually a full cow just skinned that a man was carrying on his sweaty back into the market- very sanitary! ☺ We ended our day walking back to the ferry station to leave at the 7 o’clock ferry to Tarrifa. We had a wonderful day on our African Adventure! Gibraltar was on the way back to our hotel so we decided to stop for dinner. Gibraltar is actually part of England. We had to show our passports to even get in! So in 1 day we visited 3 countries- Spain, Morocco and England which is a record for us. Morocco sort of reminded me of a lite version of Southeast Asia- it had markets and culture!

Also today we saw first hand how skin color can affect how you are treated. We being American, got special treatment. When there was a long line for customs an officer pulled us aside briefly looking at our passports and let us through. On our way back we all had a big bag full of souvenirs- and might I add it wasn’t an average bag it was quite sketchy looking- we walked right through when other people had to have there whole bag checked! It was really hard to see and to imagine if I was Arab and got different treatment then others! I would be upset.

Besides that -Today was a really nice day!

~Riley

Posted by ryanober1 09:21 Archived in Morocco Tagged riley Comments (1)

Cruising the Baltic Sea

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Cruising the Baltic Sea
I had never cruised before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Here are some of my experiences:
1. Loved spending time with Ron, Kathy, Max and Emma! Seeing family has been a highlight for all of us of on this trip!
2. Loved NOT seeing the girls 24/7, sounds harsh, let me clarify. They had free rein on board. They ate by themselves, made their own reservations (so mature, but remember…they are officially teenagers). They had a curfew at night, and we rarely bumped into them except in the cabin. Note to self and others taking a cruise, splurge for an extra cabin. Four people in one cabin is a bit much! But I guess most would venture to say 5 months on the road sharing a hotel room is INSANE, so maybe 9 days of close quarters is doable. My need for personal space has intensified as our trip continues, so much for the saying “give it time”.
3. Loved being able to see 5 counties without packing and unpacking my backpack....bonus! We saw Copenhagen (great city where Ryan’s dad side of the family hails from). Ron and Ryan and the Oberholtzer clan got in touch with their Danish heritage, well, sort of, if visiting Tivoli Gardens and hopping on and off a double decker tour bus counts.
Our first port was in Waremunde, Germany (didn’t opt for a 12 hour tour down to Berlin, more on touring later) and then stopped in Helsinki, Finland (celebrated my birthday at an outdoor cafe overlooking a garden full of locals basking in the sun, a rarity in Helsinki). Next port of call was St. Petersburg, Russia, where we saw the Russian ballet production of Swan Lake, a cool experience in an old Russian theatre (I had a hard time not comparing the movie Black Swan to the ballet. I was waiting for the prima ballerina to come out with red eyes and real feathers growing out of her back). We also toured the Hermitage Museum which houses the works of Matisse, Picasso, Van Gogh, Seurat, Gauguin, Monet, de Vinci, Michelangelo, to name just a few, all on display within Catherine the Great's Winter Palace, you can only imagine the opulence! We have waked the halls of the most famous museums in the world within the last 6 weeks including, de’ Or say, the Louvre, The Hermitage, The Vatican Museum and the Uffizi. This is when I have to take a breath and realize what we have been able to lay our eyes on and admire! We then ported in Tallinn, Estonia, a pleasant surprise for me. A medieval city with castles and beer gardens lining the narrow cobblestones streets decorated with bright flower boxes. Friendly people, incredible shopping, and even a Shrek and donkey sighting (can’t escape the Disney machine, even in Estonia). We also stopped in Sweden, and took a train to Stockholm. Didn't have loads of time to explore, but managed to experience an ice bar (the kids loved it as did all the adults) and peeked into some stores, took some photos of what looked to be important monuments and/or attractions and quickly headed back via train to the ship. If you are late after an excursion, the captain will leave you high and dry on land, so you must be on time!
4. Loved the cruise entertainment. I am known to take in a few lounge acts while in Vegas, so the line up on the cruise didn't disappoint. No where else can you see a show including renditions of Divo and James Taylor songs in the same set and then walk out of the “stardust theatre” down a wide crowded hallway along with hundreds of other cruisers into the next venue, Dazzles Bar, where my in laws participated in the Norwegian Suns version of the “Not So Newly Wed Game (yes, it's true...Ron and Kathy were 2 of 8 contestants selected to participate) They were awesome on stage, a crowd favorite. Little did we know that the ship recorded the game show and played it on continuous loop broadcasting on the cabin televisions. The granddaughters and Max caught the show once or twice and learned A LOT about nana and grandpa...Lets just say, TMI…. but oh so funny!
5. Loved tearing it up at the disco on my birthday. Ryan and I closed the disco down, literally, we were the only people in the bar at 1am dancing on the stage, singing into the microphone, requesting songs from the dj...we couldn’t figure out where the “under 60 crowd was”, we looked for them on the dance floor and continued searching throughout the duration of the cruise and really never found them.
6. Loved ping-pong! Ryan and I had fierce tournaments. We are both so competitive. He was making reference to my Forrest Gump skills and told me I had an advantage because I had a ping-pong table growing up. I had to clarify that by 4th grade, I was tableless. We would play until we were laughing so hard that Ryan would drop to the ground, feet in the air like a dying cockroach and I would double over, legs crossed desperately trying not to pee my pants (bladder control is becoming an issue as I push the big 40, this “new issue” has plague me throughout the trip). We even decided to take a ping pong ball from the ship as a souvenir and every once in awhile Ryan will pull it out of his backpack and we both start laughing our heads off. Maybe a ping pong table will be our first purchase when we get back home. It provided great amusement for Ryan and I!
7. Loved laughing! Feels good after 5 months of traveling that we can still laugh until we either cry or pee our pants. We laugh at our selves, we laugh with each other, we belly laugh until it hurts!
8. Baffled by the behavior at the all you can eat buffets. People ramming you with their trays, pushing and shoving desperate to get to the ice cream station and crepe bar, a crowd favorite. Cutting in line is a PROBLEM and of course Kathy and I had no problem politely calling people out if they were interfering with our pastry or ice cream intake. Yes, Ryan did marry his mother in so many ways. Not sure what that means exactly, but Kath and I were cut from the same cloth ☺!
10. Weirded out that everywhere you turned, there was a staff member with a spray bottle filled with hand sanitizer, squirting your hands while chirping “washy, washy, happy, happy”. Strange is all I can say! But at least we all stayed healthy!
9. Irritated with group tours. Not my thing. I would prefer not to be following a woman with a flag around St. Petersburg, tuning into a hardly audible head set, shuffling amongst hundreds of others, playing follow the leader. I realize that tour groups serve a purpose for many (especially when you arrive in Russia on a cruise boat with no visa), but my tolerance for large groups has all but diminished. We had a similar experience in The Vatican Museum with a large tour. When you need a sticker on your shirt to remind yourself where you belong, its time to rethink your plans!

We had a great time on the Norwegian Sun. I can now say I have cruised before. It took awhile to get back to eating only 3 meals a day! Nothing like overeating and drinking like a fish for 9 days.

We then visited Amsterdam. One of my favorite cities thus far. The canals are fantastic. The people are so open minded, liberal and friendly! It is a bicycling town. Everyone owns a bike, I mean everyone. Bikes are everywhere. It’s amazing how many children a mom or dad (saw lots of stay at home dads) can get on one bike. They have what looks to be like a wheelbarrow attached to the front of their bikes. They can cram up to three kids happily in front and many times one more child is sitting in a kids seat behind the driver. Riley and I rented some bikes for the afternoon and rode around Voltenpark taking in the sights. It reminded me of central park, endless paths through green grass, ponds, lakes, hot dog stands, fresh fruit carts attached to but of course bikes, fountains, play areas surrounded by blooming trees and springing with wild flowers. A spectacular day! We toured the Van Gogh museum and walked through Ann Frank’s House. We even toured the Heineken experience! We walked through the red light district, seeing the sights and smelling the strange smells. The girls were shocked to say the least! According to the locals, in the past 10 years, they really have cleaned up the area and it is less seedy than it use to be. Nonetheless, a culture we are not accustoming to seeing on display.
Now in London! Love the hustle and bustle of this modern, hip city! Taking in all the sights, waking up early and touring until late at night and still feel like we haven’t even skimmed the surface of what the city has to offer. Heading north to Scotland and then over to Ireland! We decided to take in the UK at the last minute!
We only have 5 weeks left of this adventure. Time flies, well some moments good and bad seemed to have lasted forever, but overall this journey has flown by!

Posted by ryanober1 05:24 Archived in England Tagged julie Comments (1)

Finally Seeing Kids

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It has been over 4 months since Riley and I have seen kids our age who speak English. We met Nana, Grandpa, Emma, and Max (our cousins) on the cruise. We had complete freedom of the boat, we could hang out where ever we wanted. It was so fun! It was nice to hear a kid talk and not just adults, adults, and more adults. Even though talking to adults is intresting, I usually tend to zone out and day dream. Talking to Emma and Max reminded me what its like to talk to kids. I miss talking to people our age, but I am learning many perspectives of the world from adults.

~morgan~

Posted by ryanober1 08:30 Archived in Belgium Tagged morgan Comments (1)

The senses are alive in Europe

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We have seen so many incredible things on this adventure, many were unknown to us before we started, but some, often the most "real ones" , are the ones that we have heard about, studied, seen pictures of, but had never fully known them. It could be argued that we have seen 5 of the greatest museums in the world in the last 3 weeks ( the Uffisi museum and Vatican in Italy, the Louvre and d'Orsay in France, the Hermitage in Russia).
To see some of the great art masterpieces I studied in high school and college with my children is unreal. To feel the architecture and buildings I have read about with my own eyes is breathtaking. To smell the flowers in the markets of bustling European towns is inspiring. To taste the local food, beers and wines that we have to import is great. And to hear the quietness around the Mona Lisa, and gasps by the Eiffel tower are affirming.
All of the senses are alive and kicking when you see the things that you have known about from a distance but finally get to experience in flesh and blood.
As a family in the last few weeks we have seen more than I can possible list, but here is a tiny example.......
Micheangelo- " David " , the Sistine chapel, La Pieta, countless paintings and buildings that he designed
Da Vinci- Mona Lisa, 2 others of the 13 he was known to paint (can you believe there are only 13 known Da Vinci paintings in the world and 2 are among the most famous)
Van Gogh- Almond branch, Sunflowers, Iris in vase, the Bedroom, Self Portrait, and hundreds more in his museum
Picasso, Rembrandt, Rodain, Gaugin, Monet, Manet, Pissaro, Suerat, Rapheal, Botticelli and many more of the finest painters, sculptures and designers in the world.
The Sistine chapel, the Vatican, the Colluseum, the Uffisi museum, Ponte Vicchio bridge, St. Marks square, Sienna Square, the Spainish steps, the Trevi fountain, the Louvre, the Eiffel tower, d'Orsay, Notre Dame, Mt. Saint Michele, Normandy, Versaille, Tivoli Gardens, the Hermitage, Winters Palace, Russian Ballet, Tallin, Van Gogh museum, red light district, Tulip fields.
I had heard or seen images of all of the above throughout my life, and this trip has now made them a "real" part of my life. My senses are alive and well in Europe!

Ryan

Posted by ryanober1 15:54 Archived in Belgium Tagged ryan Comments (0)

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