It’s been a little over a month since we disembarked from a plane at Burlington International Airport, looking about as bad as we felt after 30 hours of travel time. Despite the idyllic green image of home we held onto for our 16 months away, we were greeted by tired, wet, brown, mid-spring surroundings—a truly disheartening time of year.
But, home would not be home without our friends and family, and good times have been had. The world is now green and beautiful, our garden is partly planted, and our wiffle ball field has already seen plenty of use. It is good to be home.
There are days when it seems we might never have left, like we’ve awoken from a dream. But others bring back memories from lands far away, such as the lupines blooming along our driveway. Along that vein, we thought we’d share the whole collection of title page banners that we used rather like calendar photos along the way. Viewed together they present some beautiful contrasts that capture a bit of what travel is like.
We are not quite done posting to this blog and we’re also cutting together hours of video into a short film for entry into some film festivals later this summer. Until then, enjoy the photos. Click the pictures to see the related post.
The relentless snowfall of Hokkaido, Japan. January, 2011.
Frosted peaks in Daisetsuzan National Park. January 2011.
Birch trees clinging to steep slopes on Yarigatake, Hakuba, Japan. February 2011.
Windows into old Japan, Kyoto. February 2011.
Close up on the Buddhist temples dotting Luang Prabang, Laos. March 2011.
Burning rice fields cloud the Nam Hou river, Laos. March 2011.
The best beach ever. El Nido, Palawan, Philippines. April 2011.
Lush eucalypt forest along the Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia. May 2011.
First light on the Tasman Sea. Croajingolong National Park, Victoria. May 2011.
Mandarin harvest, South Australia. May 2011.
Watching over Uluru. Australia’s red center. June 2011.
Floodplains at Ubirr, Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory. June 2011.
Filtered sun through fan palms, Daintree, Queensland. July 2011.
A sea of vines, Marlborough, New Zealand. August 2011.
The Kaikoura Peninsula, New Zealand. September 2011.
Tree fern silhouette, Abel Tasman, New Zealand. October 2011.
Glacial meltwater, Fiordland, New Zealand. November 2011.
Lupines. Omarama, New Zealand. December 2011.
Vine leaf, Marlbourough New Zealand. January 2012.
The dry and golden Wither Hills, Blenhiem, New Zealand. February 2012.
Morning light on a distant glacier, Aspiring National Park, New Zealand. March 2012.
Ferns in the kauri forest, Northland, New Zealand. April 2012.
The Fourth of July, in our opinion, might just be the best day of the year. What could be better than a day off in the height of summer to do whatever you please?
This year, despite being on a faraway continent full of people oblivious to the holiday, we were determined to carry out our duties as Americans on our nation’s birthday. Namely: grill meats and get drunk next to a body of water.
We happened to be in Babinda, in northern Queensland, on the morning of the Fourth of July. Babinda is a beautiful town, but also happens to share the dubious and unfortunate title of the rainiest town in Australia. Low, grey clouds unleashed rain with varying degrees of enthusiasm all day.
Undeterred, we took over a covered picnic table and proceeded to make ample quantities of some classic and unhealthy American summer foods— hot dogs, pasta salad, fruit salad, watermelon, baked beans, potato chips, orange soda. At the highly acceptable hour of 1:30 p.m., we added Dark and Stormies to the mix.
We didn’t have any flags or fireworks, but we tried our best to be patriotic:
It just wouldn’t be the Fourth of July without swimming, so despite the weather, we peeled off our rain jackets and dove in. Briefly.
This also seems an appropriate time to pass along some of the things we love about America. Being so far away from home for so long has also made us realize what we take for granted.
Beer. The beer here is an improvement over anything found in Asia, but we would have to commit all sorts of nefarious deeds in order to regularly afford $20 for a six-pack of 3.5 percent pilsner. Americans live in the promised land when it comes to beer. Oh, how we miss our hoppy and affordable IPAs!
S’mores. Imagine a place where the mention of s’mores receives a blank and questioning look. Imagine a continent devoid of graham crackers, where marshmallows are pink and taste like cherry cough syrup. Well, my friends, this land is Australia. With such an outdoorsy population, you would think Australians would have caught on to the wonder that is the s’more. But no. They have never heard of them. It’s a travesty.
Not being foreign. Though it’s not as obvious as when we where in Asia, we are still readily identified as foreigners here in Australia as soon as we open our mouths and talk. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just nice to walk down the sidewalk and know that the people who pass share your citizenship and the things that come with it. It’s like you’re on the same team. Even if they’re assholes.
The price of everything. Most things in the States are cheap, but in this context, everything means the essentials: beer (which we’ve already discussed), gas (it costs $5.10 to $7.50 a gallon here), ice cream cones, and McDonalds cheeseburgers (each about double the price). Why do we care so much about McDonald’s prices? Well…
Internet. Fast, free wifi is nearly nonexistent here. The one and only reliable source of wireless is, oddly enough, McDonalds. We’re in one right now. It’s a bit depressing.
Baseball. Sunshine, warm weather, and tropical beaches aside, it just doesn’t feel like summer without baseball. Not to mention our beloved wiffle ball field.
Our friends and family. Not that we don’t like each other, but it would be nice to hang out with someone else for a change. There’s something about a holiday, especially this one, that makes you miss home.
We are very excited to announce that the Outdoor Gear Exchange and Outdoor Research will be sponsoring our travels around the eastern hemisphere, providing us with apparel and gear for our journey.
It will be a great help, since we still need most of our gear, including backpacks, camping gear, outerwear and assorted travel items.
We’ve been planning incessantly for the past few months, organizing everything from vaccinations to visas—and trying to figure out how to pack everything we’ll need for a year and a half (including an excessive supply of electronics) into one backpack! Though things get fuzzier as the trip progresses, our first five weeks are fairly well thought out.
After a stop in Seattle to visit friends, we will fly to Japan’s northern island, Hokkaido, on January 10th to ski endless amounts of deep powder. Our plans take us from the resorts of Rusutsu and Furano and end with a week at Hakuginso Onsen, a hot-springs lodge at the base of one of Hokkaido’s tallest mountains, Tokachidake. In February, we’ll take a domestic flight down to the main island, skiing in Hakuba for about a week before heading south to experience Tokyo, Kyoto and Kansai province. Then we’re on to Bangkok in mid-February for two and a half months in Southeast Asia.
We are so grateful to the Outdoor Gear Exchange and Outdoor Research for helping make our trip happen and setting us up with some desperately needed gear!
We are leaving in less than three weeks! Stay tuned.
Highlights from the last three years of video production here in Vermont. Shot on a Canon XH-A1 HDV camera, Go Pro HD, and edited in Final Cut Pro. Clients include Mountain Sports International, Smugglers’ Notch Resort, Vermont Department of Tourism, Ski the East LLC, the Mad River Rocket Company, and Spike Adveristing.
Please turn HD on for the best quality!
by Stephanie Choate
Here in northern New England, the weather is notoriously fickle. Winter is long—a record snowstorm blanketed the state in late April this year—and spring and fall are riddled with raw and rainy days. But for those few months when the world is green, temperatures warm, and the days unbelievably long, we are all convinced that there is no better time and place than summer in Vermont.
Having grown up here, we look forward to certain things each season, and these things have become traditions. We frequent the same swimming holes, hike the same trails, grill the same favorite meals. This summer, our last in Vermont for a while, we wanted to make sure we carried out all of our traditions, as well as do some new things we’ve always had in mind.
Here are a few highlights of our summer in and around Vermont—we think we can call it an incredible success. (more…)