If you followed our travels much, you probably know that ten days before the end of our year-long trip, on June 21, someone broke into our rented house and stole all of our computers and hard drives containing a year’s worth of pictures and all back-ups. We had been careful along the way to have three complete sets of all pictures – two sets on two different computers and one set on an external hard drive. The robbers took all of that plus another computer, binoculars, two GoPro cameras and other things. The only pictures we had remaining to us were those that we had uploaded to our website. Those represented a pretty small percentage of all pictures taken. That evening after recovering from the shock, we went onto the “find my iPhone” site and put a lock on each of the computers and on Valerie’s iPhone. The lock would be applied as soon as each device accessed the Internet and a message would be displayed on the screen. The message we put on (in Italian) said that we would gladly give the person the code to unlock the computers if we could just get our pictures back. [click to continue…]

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Natalie’s Summary Post

The year trip was a great experience for me. I saw, learned, and experianced lots of new things. I have enjoyed staying in all the countries that we went to, but India was my favourite. The most rewarding and enjoyable week of my life was spent in India at Rising Star Outreach (RSO). I loved meeting and playing with the children there. I made many friends and can’t wait to go back soon. During that week, and over the whole trip, I learned a lot of things, but the lesson that has stuck with me the most is that people are the same everywhere. They might belong to a different faith, live in a complicated situation, or struggle under a difficult government or leader. At RSO, I spent most of my time with the children. They all like similar things to my friends and me such as reading, music, sports, and dancing. We played a lot of the same games that I played with my friends in America and The Netherlands. Two of their favourites games were Knockout and Hide and Seek.

Much  of the rest of my time at RSO was spent at the colonies. The people living there were generally older than the children at RSO, but they were just as sweet. They reminded me of my grandparents. They enjoy a lot of the same things that people do everywhere else in the world. I loved colony days because I loved meeting the people.

I hope that I’ll get to go back to those countries again. Overall, the trip was a great experience for me.

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Tanner’s Summary Post

Traveling the word was a really interesting and rewarding experience. I saw so much and understand so much more about the world and it’s cultures then when I started. I saw people in India struggling for food and begging for life. I saw whale sharks swimming in the crystal clear waters of the Maldives. I saw people washing clothes in a river in Tanzania that was dirtier than their clothes. I saw cleverly disguised stonefish waiting for prey. I saw wealthy ladies in Singapore buying thousand dollar handbags while wearing metal-studded ten-inch heels. I saw brightly colored birds soar through the Brazilian skies. I saw the world.

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Trip Perspective

So how can I adequately summarize this incredible experience? We started this adventure with high expectations. It was going to change us permanently. Did the experience meet all of our expectations? Are we as “changed” as we thought we would be? On the face of it, I don’t think we met all of our expectations (that probably was never possible), and I don’t think it will be possible for us to know the full impact of this year on our lives for many years to come (and maybe never). Certainly, this last year has taught us many things and will shape our perspective on life and our place in it for all future years. We feel like we have accomplished something big. It may sound like just one continual vacation (and what could be so hard about that), but it’s been very different than a vacation. We’ve felt very blessed that generally things have “worked out” for us in almost all areas. Of corse, we would make some changes if we could re-do the experience, but we can’t think of anything significant we would change. [click to continue…]

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Paris to Salt Lake City

We returned to Paris in order to catch the non-stop, return flight to Salt Lake City.  We left ourselves more than a day between flights back from Italy and out of Paris to allow for any cancelled flights or delays in getting back to Paris.  So, with our extra bonus day in Paris, we decided to train and subway ourselves downtown one more time.

We visited the Sacré Cœur first.  After returning from the basilica, we were walking down the steps to the subway and we passed a large, somewhat rough-looking man coming up the stairs.  He was carrying a very pretty handbag with the leather strap dangling down below. I pointed him out to everyone in our group as we passed him.  He was busy going through the contents of “his” purse, but he still noticed our interested looks and stared us down from his position a few steps above us at that point.  Perhaps our little robbery a few days previous had made us too suspicious, but we had the feeling that that just might not be his pretty, little handbag.  Perhaps it was his sister’s and he just needed a place to keep his immigration papers for the day (he didn’t look very European).  Well, I pondered that little encounter for quite a while afterwards.  I kept imagining the cycle of different emotions of the lady from whose shoulders that handbag had most certainly just been was lifted as the doors to her subway car were closing. [click to continue…]

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Picture of Family
We are a family of four, Valerie, Cole, Natalie (13) and Tanner (13) who are taking a year off to travel the world between June 2013 and June 2014.

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