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Travis and Lauren


So, since Lauren’s camera broke on our big road trip, our life has been far less photo oriented lately. However, I have thought to pull my own much older, more worn and torn camera a few times since hers broke. And today I finally got a chance to download the pictures off of it, which I quickly realized were photos from a smattering of events over the past year. They were from the few rare times I thought to have my camera with me, and they had accumulated all year long. So I thought I’d post some random samples here. It will be a sort of year at a glance for me. Here we go.

Moving into our apartment.

Flying to Zanzibar.

Hanging out with Mwenda and his family.

Siezing the snow with Andrew and Ross.

Packing for our road trip using gifts courtesy of Uncle Stan and Aunt Tina.

Lauren watercolors a scene from our road trip.

Larry's Pudding.

Trull family getaway to a cabin near Hot Springs, AR.

Lauren learning to weld.

Us on stage at the MRN benefit Dinner in Dallas, TX.

Our apartment before we started disassembling it in preparation for our big move.

Rachel and Jeremy at Rachel's birthday dinner.

Lauren's rescued chair gifted to the community garden.

Andrew, Reed, Caleb, and Aletheia at a team meeting.

A Jon Foreman song taken from Amos 5:21-24, among many other verses.

According to a 2006 report by the United Nations, at any given time half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from a water-related disease.

A 2009 report also states that up to 50% of malnutrition is related to repeated diarrhoea or intestinal nematode infections as a result of unclean water, inadequate sanitation or poor hygiene. This 50% does not even include malnutrition that is a result not having enough water to grow protein rich crops or to raise livestock.

Clean water is one of humanity’s most basic needs, yet millions struggle daily to access clean water sources.

In approximately 5 months, we will be moving to the Mtwara Region of Tanzania, East Africa. In this region, a scarcity of clean drinking water affects life drastically.

Water jugs abound as people crowd into this marshy area to fill up their jugs with water. This spot may be as far as 7 miles from their homes.


A woman begins her journey home with collected water.

The hospital below that we visited is very new and well-operated, yet it had no water on its grounds. People are paid to carry water from the nearest source for the doctor’s needs. However, patients have to find someone (a friend or relative) to bring the water they need in order to survive during their time at the hospital.

Local hospital with water needs.

Below is a picture of the cistern in front of a local school. It had been dry for quite some time and the next rainy season was still in the very distant future. School children must bring their own water to school or go home to get water whenever they need some.

Empty cistern at local school.

In light of this need in this area to which we will be moving, our team is assessing how we might be able to partner with locals in the search for solutions to water problems. As a result, last week Caleb and Travis were able to attend a week-long training course in San Angelo, Texas, on low-cost, sustainable well-digging and pump technology. The course was hosted by Water For All International, a group with a great deal of experience digging cheap, efficient wells in the developing world.

Here are some pictures from the course:

Learning to put the drill bit and the pump together.

Using a pulley to manually dig a borehole.

Caleb manually drilling.

Building the pump in a completed hole.

Our well drilling crew for that week. A great group.

To learn more about what Water For All International, please visit their website at: WaterForAllInternational.com.

Days 6-7 (Saturday, 2/20, and Sunday, 2/21) were spent in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, hanging out with Lauren’s grandparents, Pat and Lynn Kinney, and also her mom, who happened to be here visiting at the same time. It was a great two days of family time, for which we are extremely grateful.

One highlight of these days has been hearing stories; for example, Lauren’s granddad worked in the Hoover Dam (then “Boulder Dam”) when he was just 16 (in the early 1930s) and later worked on a Zeppelin during WWII that patrolled the east coast, keeping an eye on two particular German submarines that lingered off the coast there.

Grandparents' house in Lake Havasu.

Dinner with grandparents.

An old advertisement of which Gramps Kinney was the star.

Picking from the orange tree in the backyard.

A tour of the aircraft workshop.

Day 8 (Monday, 2/22) was spent driving from Lake Havasu, AZ, to Camarillo, CA. Along the way we made a brief detour to spend the afternoon at Fuller Seminary with our good friend Michael Wright. Michael gave us a great tour around Fuller and Pasadena, and we had the good pleasure to meet a few of his friends. We enjoyed great conversations about music, art, inspiration, and visions for the future.

Michael showing us Pasadena City Hall.

We arrived in Camarillo at Lauren’s Uncle Kerry’s and Aunt Sharon’s house just in time for an incredible homemade dinner and a great evening of visiting and catching up.

The next day — Day 9 (Tuesday, 2/23) — was spent mostly with Sharon, who gave us a great tour of the area, particular the beautiful downtown Ventura. A highlight was definitely the olive oil tasting shop. Once Kerry got home from work we enjoyed going out again to an incredible meal down on the ocean. We hadn’t seen the Kinney’s since our wedding, and we really enjoyed this time of reconnecting. It was really a treat to have that time together.

On the pier.

Day 10 (Wednesday, 2/24) we drove from Camarillo, CA, to Bakersfield, CA. To make this trip we decided to take the long but scenic route up the coast. Our first major stop up this route was around the town of Los Almos, a ripe green land filled with vineyards, wineries, and art galleries. After having spent most of the previous 9 days driving through desert, this change of scenery was a welcomed variation.


Barrels in a winery.

Winery exterior.

Our next significant stop was a somewhat remote beach down some back roads. This was another one of my google research finds, and it delivered even more than hoped for. Not only were we the only people at the beach, but also we turned around a corner and came upon 7 or 8 sea lions climbing onto rocks in effort to get out of the rising tides. Maybe sea lion sightings are not uncommon for Californians, but for us it was the last thing we expected to stumble upon at our new beach spot. At this same beach we also found a tunnel carved through the hillside by the wind.

Travis at the quiet cove.

Cove with sea lions (they're camouflaged on top of the dark rocks).

Lauren by the cove cave.

We arrived in Bakersfield, after a beautiful drive through what must have been Ireland, just in time to join our cousin Evan and some of his friends in a game of ultimate frisbee. Our skills were a bit rusty but this was a fun group of people to help us sharpen them. Afterward we returned to the Bacon home for a fun time and an incredible home-cooked dinner with Evan and his parents: Uncle Terry and Aunt Jamie.

The road from the coast to Bakersfield.

Day 11 (Thursday, 2/25) was a great day with the Bacons. Aunt Jamie and Evan treated us to a great tour of Bakersfield.

Warning signs at the Kern River.

For supper we all had a great Mexican dinner and returned to the house to hang out and watch Baron Munchausen, a fascinating movie that explores everything from dualism to whether a human can travel across the sky by hitching rides on cannonballs.

Day 12 (Friday, 2/26) was another great day with the Bacons. It began with a tour of Sun World, where Terry works in Research and Development. It was an incredible place to see, and we learned some new and very interesting things about fruit breeding and production.

A visit to Terry's office.



Beehives adjacent to an orchard.

Flower closeup (and the shot immediately before our camera broke).

The next shot (a.k.a. What a messed up shutter looks like).

In the afternoon, Terry and Evan took me (Travis) on an incredible mountain biking adventure out at Hart Park. This place is a mountain biker’s playground, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.  Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was definitely my favorite portion of the course, though there were many other similarly exhilarating spots.

Mountain biking at Hart Park with Evan, Terry, and Tobey.

For dinner we had the pleasure of being invited over by Evan’s girlfriend Laura. We were also joined by one of Laura’s roommates, Liz. For dinner Laura made a spectacular pasta; she also served artichokes, salad, and some toasted kale that shattered everything I thought I knew about kale. It was so good that I was eating it like popcorn. Dinner was, of course, followed by a highly competitive game of Balderdash, during which we learned that Ted Toddey (sp?) took 3 years to ride a bull named (insert absurd name here) from St Louis to New York City… or something like that.

After our great time with Laura and Liz we then enjoyed some more time visiting with Aunt Jamie and Uncle Terry back at the house.

NOTE: Despite being a good day all around, there was one – to put it mildly – tragic incident in which our camera…. died.  Well, actually, it’s just that the shutter quit working correctly. Its timing it now off, leaving most of the screen black. Oh well, we were in need of a new camera at some point soon anyway. For now though, Aunt Jamie graciously offered let us take her small digital with us for the next week until we see her again in Austin, TX, around March 9. So, we are very happy to announce that we will still be able to photographically document this trip.

Day 13 (Saturday, 2/27), after breakfast with the Bacons and saying our goodbyes, we headed off toward San Francisco. Again, in typical style, we opted for the longer, more scenic route. We took 46 West all the way to the 1, which we then took all the way up the coast to San Francisco. The whole ride was beautiful as the road winded up, down, and around rocky cliffs overlooking the crystal clear waters of the Pacific. The scenery was made even more interesting on account of the ocean’s extreme choppiness and massive waves, possibly a result of the earthquake in Chile, which was strong enough to put the whole of the West Coast on Tsunami alert to the extent that local law enforcement officials were closing down beaches and asking people to head to higher ground. Though we never saw an all-out Tsunami, we saw towering waves and extremely rough seas.


We also must have seen at least 200 (no exaggeration) seals and elephant seals, which totally blew our minds. They were everywhere. Huge elephant seals, longer than our car and nearly as tall, were lying just feet from the road. Smaller seals were piled high in stacks rolling about and screaming, recalling to our minds scenes from the new Where the Wild Things Are movie. Pile!!

One of many beaches covered with seals.

At Big Sur.

Closed beaches.

The beach beyond the sign (just south of San Francisco).

The weather this day could have been described as sporadic, or perhaps fickle. From sunlight to rainstorm to sunlight again, all within only minutes. In Big Sur we even came upon a tree that had only moments earlier fallen across the road; it would have totally blocked our way and forced us to turn and backtrack for several hours except that it still hung at one shoulder of the road by the power line it had fallen across. We quickly squeezed under and through, spinning a bit in the mud of the shoulder, and shot off further north before any more downed trees could try to keep us from making it to San Francisco.

Only moments after sunset we crossed the Golden Gate bridge to the north side of the city. Here we cut of into a forest at the edge of the Muir Woods, where we found the cheapest legal camping area we had been able to find anywhere near San Francisco, and we settled down for an nice night under the full moon and the soft shadows of this night forest.

Good news! All the information on our crashed hard drive has been saved! This is mostly photos taken during the last few weeks of our month-long adventure across America. So now we can do some backlog blogging with many more pictures from our travels.

So we give a special thanks to Heroic Efforts Data Recovery out of Austin, Texas. They saved all our files and (though it wasn’t cheap) it was much cheaper than other Data Recovery services we came across. Check them out: www.heroicdata.com.

P.S. Here’s an example of one of the priceless photos they were able to save off our hard drive:

Today is March 15th, the ides of March, and it is the final day of our adventure across and around America. Of course, in my opinion, the last day of any adventure is also the first day of the next adventure. So today, on my last day, I hopped on a very early morning flight to San Angelo, Texas, where I will participate in a week-long well drilling course with a group called Water For All International (http://waterforallinternational.org). I arrived in the morning, and the course officially began today, though bad weather and flight delays (of other students) has held us back a bit. Lauren spent her last/first day on a solitary fifteen and a half hour drive from Tampa, FL, to Searcy, AR. A great time for her to reflect on the past month as well as anticipate the coming ones.

We’re getting back on the grid. Backlog of blogs to come, but still no word on whether we’ll be able to recover our lost photos. We have taken a few since the hard drive crash though, so we’ll get some of those up as we can.

From our time in Austin, TX:

Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX

To see where we are now, see the entry below: “Baton Rouge.”

It’s a rainy night in Louisiana. The bright lights of Baton Rouge flash across our windows as we pass the city’s gaudy billboards. The raindrops on our windshield are illuminated. I am typing. I type on our laptop.A brand new (and replaced at no cost) hard drive spins inside. We are on the final major leg of our trip: a long drive from Austin, TX, to Tampa, FL, where we will celebrate the wedding of good friends.

The road elongates before us, challenging us to break another 1000 miles. At least 6, maybe 7, already lie behind us.

Our old hard drive sits in an office in Austin, TX, with some elaborate gizmo attached to it, fighting for any data that can be saved. We await its outcome.

There’s something Robert Frost never told us about that road less traveled: it’s riddled with potholes. Well, we’ve hit a few of them, which is why we’re so behind on our blog. Issue number one was the death of our camera. That’s right, one of our closest companions on the trip straight-up died right in the middle of it. However, we recovered gracefully and optimistically as Lauren’s Aunt lent us her small digital for the next leg of the trip. But then the bigger blow came: just as I had finished writing a long post bringing the blog nearly entirely up-to-date… our computer quit working. Not permanently dead, just a coma we think; but useless for the rest of this trip nonetheless. Worse, we’re pretty sure it’s the hard drive, which begs the question: will we be able to recover all of the photos we’ve taken on this trip (and the graphic design work Lauren’s done)? Or will we lose it all forever? It hurts to even think of it. Our only remaining pictures would be the ones we’ve already posted on this blog, which is so very few. Oh well, we’re staying optimistic for now since we can’t really do anything about it until we have access to another Mac laptop and a firewire cable (that’s how we‘ll try to tap in and save our files from the hard drive). Hopefully we can swing by an Apple store once we get to Austin, and perhaps they can help us out. Other than saving our files, we’re not too worried about the computer since it’s still under warranty. The main thing is that we’ll be way less accessible for the rest of this trip and won’t be able to work on some important things we needed to be doing over the coming week. Hopefully we’ll still get some blog posts up, but expect a deficit of photos for a stretch of time there.

So, those are a couple of the potholes we’ve hit along this road. I guess that’s what we get for not sticking to the interstate.

P.S. Oh yeah, also, on top of all that, it seems I’ve gotten into a batch of poison ivy. Robert Frost never mentioned all the posion ivy down that road either, now did he?

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