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Marisa and John: Earthquest

As the title suggests, Marisa and I are working on experiencing the world, a large task indeed. Right now, for us, the world is HUGE and unknown, but hopefully we'll make it familiar with the more places we go and the more people we meet. First destination: Asia and beyond.

Thanks for visting our site. We wanted to share our adventures with everyone we care about. Feel free to leave a note; we'd appreciate it greatly.

Diary Entries

Monday, 08 May 2006

Location: Beijing, China

Our time in Asia has come to an end. In an hour or so we leave for the airport to catch a long flight home. And even though we're very excited to be back, Beijing has been enjoyable for the last month or so.

The city is huge and undergoing a lot of construction in the hopes of being ready for the Olympics in 2008. The traffic is terrible, as is the air pollution, but the food is delicious, the people are friendly, and China has a very long history.

We've been to many different sites all over the city, including temples, parks, and royal palaces, and museums. We even ventured out to the Great Wall and hiked on top of it for 5 hours or so.

We had or final going away party last night. It's sad to have our group dissolve, but we were all very lucky to have the time that we did. It was indeed an unforgettable experience. The memories will be with us forever and I couldn't have aksed for a better group to travel with. All are wonderful people.

Most of us are returning to the States, but some are headed back to Mongolia for a horse trekking adventure, and others are going to take a train out to Tibet.

And now it's back to Washington where we'll graduate (pending) and then go back to Reno for the summer--spend time with family, eat good food (especially Mexican) and relax. And what I mean by relax is apply for jobs so that we can enter the world of young professionals. We're planning on moving back up to Seattle in August and then work for a year or so before continuing our education. I'm considering Environmental Law at UW and Marisa is thinking about a Public Administration program or Med school. She's brilliant, so her options are unlimited...

But for now, we have a flight to catch. We miss you all and look forward to seeing you soon. Hope everyone is doing well.

That's the news from Beijing, where all the men drive cabs, all the women work harder than they should, and the children are told Mao saved China from disaster.

Monday, 08 May 2006

Location: Beijing, China

Our time in Asia has come to an end. In an hour or so we leave for the airport to catch a long flight home. And even though we're very excited to be back, Beijing has been enjoyable for the last month or so.

The city is huge and undergoing a lot of construction in the hopes of being ready for the Olympics in 2008. The traffic is terrible, as is the pollution, but the food is delicious, the people are friendly, and China has a very long history.

We've been to many different sites all over the city, including temples, parks, and royal palaces. We even ventured out to the Great Wall and hiked along the wall for 5 hours or so.

It's sad to have our group dissolve, but we were all very lucky to have the time that we did. It was indeed an unforgettable experience. The memories will be with us forever.

Most of us are returning to the States, but some are headed back to Mongolia for a horse trekking adventure, and others are going to take a train out to Tibet.

And now it's back to Washington where we'll graduate (pending) and then go back to Reno for the summer--spend time with family, eat good food (especially Mexican) and relax. And what I mean by relax is apply for jobs so that we can enter the world of young professionals. We're planning on moving back up to Seattle in August and then work for a year or so before continuing our education. I'm considering Environmental Law at UW and Marisa is thinking about a Public Administration program or Med school. She's brilliant, so her options are unlimited...

But for now, we have a flight to catch. We miss you all and look forward to seeing you soon. Hope everyone is doing well.

That's the news from Beijing, where all the men drive cabs, all the women work harder than they should, and the children are told Mao saved China from disaster.

Wednesday, 05 April 2006

Location: New Zealand

We’re now in Beijing, the capital of China where we’re studying ‘Chinese Society Today’. Beijing is a smoke bomb due to all the pollution, and so we consider ourselves lucky to get a glimpse of the blue sky, even if it’s just for a moment. The food is delicious, though, so we have to count our blessings.

Spring break has just ended, but we had a blast. We escaped Asia for the first time in eight months by hopping on a long flight to the south pacific to a little remote island known by the locals as New Zealand. Maybe you’ve heard of it…

The population of New Zealand is around 4 million people, most of which reside in the North Island. Consequentially, the South Island is relatively deserted. We flew into Christchurch and had a bit of culture shock. Having come from India where people are everywhere, the streets of New Zealand seemed empty, even on St. Patrick’s Day. The next morning we rented a caravan and headed for the countryside, which we discovered was the best way to tour the island. Our first destination was Arthur’s Pass. A woman in town told us that on the way we needed to stop at the cave, and so we were watching for a sign. What we found was a truly mystical spot of the world. Travis, Bre, Marisa, and I marched down a little path towards what we believed to be the cave, and encountered a warning sign for waist deep, freezing cold water inside and to be extremely well prepared. With hesitation we went on and found the mouth of a large cave. The water was only ankle deep at first, but as we turned the corner, to the sign’s credit, the water was waist deep—and freezing. We floundered around a bit, but finally continued. The cave was formed by an underground river that ran for maybe a mile or so in darkness. With the aide of our headlamps, we followed the river, twisting and turning to its origin. We clambered up waterfalls and spotted big spiders and fresh water eels, illuminated by our halogen bulbs. After an hour or so of navigating the tunnels we spotted a sliver of daylight. Climbing up a ladder we made it out into the day once again. An unforgettable adventure.

From there we headed towards the ocean, camping along the way. In New Zealand there are all kinds of places to simply pull off the road down a dirt path and find a perfect place to spend the night. One night we were able to pull right out onto the beach. In was dark when we got there, and Travis went out to have a look around. Not long after he came running back to the camper, screaming about a rabid duck. We all went out to have look and discovered that a brave kiwi was the culprit. It seemed to be hungry so we gave it a little bread. It the morning it was waiting for a second ration. There used to be huge flightless birds in New Zealand, over six feet tall. They were hunted to extinction, but for a moment that morning we got a glimpse of what once was.

Down the coast and through national parks we went. Much of the southern island is national park, you see, which makes for great scenery. We stopped for a hike at Fox glacier, where Travis promptly crossed the ‘Do not Cross’ ropes and went for a little exploring. Some other tourists got the idea and crossed too. We called Travis back and got the hell out of there.

The scenery in the South Island is incredibly dynamic. One moment the rain forest is plummeting into the ocean, the next there are mountains filled with glaciers, then dry hills like Nevada or Montana, and then just south of that Fiordlands. No wonder they filmed Lord of the Rings in New Zealand. We were like Hobbits on our own little adventure, only without the fancy jewelry and magic clothing. In contrast, we were really roughing it…

After a little over a week of traveling around the south we hopped flight up to Auckland, New Zealand’s capital city in the north of the north island. Luckily we had my dad and Michele to greet us. They spend the winters in the Bay of Islands and have a little house that overlooks the Bay. It was just what we needed. The north island is much different—very tropical. Just after arriving we were hit with a tropical storm. When it wasn’t raining dad and I went out to work on a few projects that he had going. Everyone else pitched in too, especially when it came to painting.

We cooked great meals, went on little walks along the water’s edge, and did some much needed sleeping. Marisa’s parents sent a big box full of goodies—all kinds of reading material and little snacks—for which we are grateful. We relaxed a bit and regained the strength to return to Asia for another month or so. After a week, we said our goodbyes to my dad and Michele, which was hard for me even though I’ll be seeing them at graduation rather soon, and headed back to Bangkok by way of Sydney. Our trip to New Zealand was amazing, and we’re sure to return soon.

We miss everyone immensely, but are comforted knowing that we’ll be home soon. Just another month to soak up the Far East, pollution and all, before coming home and beginning the next stage of our lives.

That’s the news from the south pacific, where all the women have cute accents, all the men own fat sheep, and the children are chased by hungry kiwis.


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Recent Messages

From Aunt Cyn
When do we hear your "heading home" plans and trip wrap-up?
Response: soon... very soon...
From bj
Good show ... good show!
Response: Thanks boss. I'll be looking for the bonus.
From Aunt Mary
I keep looking for more...
Love you,
Aunt Mary & Uncle Van
Response: I know.. I know.. we're working on it. I love you, though... Saw the Dalai Lama a few days ago...
From Breannajo
Ok, I have to know, how is Dharamsala?? And your homestay? I bet Losar has been so fun. I am going to a Losar party in Portland this weekend, yay. I hope you two are having good times. I'm sure you are, you're in Dharamsala! I can't wait for stories and pictures.
Take care!
~Breannajo
Response: Amazing... Best place in India. Homestays are great. Losar is an incredible experience. Too much chang, though... Having a great time. Looking forward to seeing you soon.
From Captain PAIN!!!
Clancy McTonerstein,

I won't make it this long because I just recently sent you an e-mail explaining everything that's been happening (or that's not been happening) in my life. Just wanted to say "what's up", that's all. Maybe a little bit of "howdy", "what's crackin'", "what's the good word"...OK, I'll stop I guess. But hey, when are you coming home? ALSO: I don't know if you are aware of these things 7 billion miles away, but you may be interested to know that four spandex-loving english cock-rock lords known as THE DARKNESS came out with a new album a couple of months ago. Anyhow, you should check it out, you'd probably like it.

The Best Damn Salesman In The Office,
Ben Cornell
Response: Thanks, Captain Pain, thanks...
From Jason
so dude, where do I send an invitation then? Do they offer carrier pigeon over there?
Response: Well, depends... When is this thing going down? In terms of carrier pigeons, well... turns out we killed all of them in North America, so you'll have to use e-mail, I suppose... Congradulations again. I love weddings!
From Valerie (Galen's mom
Love your website, but today was just too much. The new president's report from UPS arrived. first page: photo of Travis. Midway through: photo of John and Marissa in a geology lab. We think it acutally looks like you're working on something! Maybe even Geology. I only know about ten students at UPS just now. What are the odds of seeing people I actually know in that publication?
Keep up the good work, and have as much fun as you can.
John, your dishwasher signs are being retired (we may get them framed).
Hugs and kisses, Valerie.
Response: Crazy! They didn't have our permission for those photos. We are having a wonderful time, in between bouts of weird sicknesses. Missing your good food and company from Cambodia.
From Emily
Well, at least you won't feel left out with the whole rain thing. Just so that you'll feel up to date...Reno is currently flooding! It's been crazy here. Raining like mad for days! Hopefully, I'm still leaving tomorrow for Switzerland though:) Love ya!
Response: Hope you're having the time of your life. Miss you.
From Emily
1. You kids really need to update already!
2. Merry Christmas!!! Wish you were here:)
3. Happy Birthday Marisa...love ya lots!
Response: 1. working on it...
2. You too. So do we.
3. I'll pass it along. She loves you too.
From Rozzie
Happy 21st birthday to Marisa on the 25th. Happy Holidays to you both--looks like you're having the time of your lives.
Response: Thanks Rozzie. Love and miss you.
From Galen and Jacob
This hello is brought to you by south 8th and Kupinse. Thank you.

(We did actually run into him, and he wanted us to pass it your way)

Enjoy Malaysian beaches as we belay zen leeches.
Response: wow. you guys are too much.
From jason
Clancy pants, The travels sound incredible. It's... surreal to picture things happening so differently while things are happening very regularly around here. Big news: I proposed to Naomi and we're going to get married! Word. Early summer is the hope. Keep it real, you're in my prayers.
Response: Incredible! Marisa and I are so happy for you two. If it's early summer, then, if you can swing it, we'd love to attend. That's great news. Good lad, good lad. I knew you'd turn out...
From Galen
Tone needs a tan
Response: Don't I know it... don't I know it...
From Aunt Cyn
Hi J & M,
I do enjoy the way you can weave a story/report with such skill. You are a gifted writer and will pull down beaucoup dinero as a famous author.
Might have skipped the python adventure though. Mamas cringe when reading such.
Love,
Aunt Cynthia
Response: We appreciate the kind words and are simply happy that you are enjoying our page. It's a good way to feel close to home even when far away. Miss you lots and see you soon.
From Ben
Hey John and Marisa,

Hope all is well. It seems like it's been a little while since you've posted a journal entry. I can only wonder what country you're in now, and what zany misadventures you two are exploring.

That having been said...

Message for Hanson: what the hell, BJ? I come home for Thanksgiving and find you 1) asleep at 8:30 PM on Wednesday (after you told me minutes earlier over the phone to come on over), refusing to even make a sound as Zao and I pounded as hard as we could on your door, 2) not returning my message on Friday, and 3) not even picking up the house phone on Saturday. I seriously hope you're not dead or in a coma, because I didn't even get a damn 'hello' out of you over my entire Turkey Day break.

Hey dude, maybe we'll hang out for 5 minutes when I get back for Christmas.

Scornfully,
Benjamin
Response: Yeah, we're in Malaysia and having many zany adventures as you speculated... We'll have an update soon, so watch for it.

As for you, Hanson, sounds like you're in the dog house. And Ben, don't worry too much about BJ; I've had him flake out on me on several occassions, but he is still our friend, believe it or not...
From G'Ma Tone
Yyou are having the experience of your life time!!
And thanks for sharing it all with us!!
Love you
Response: We certainly are enjoying it, that much is for sure, but are also looking forward to telling you all about it when we get home. Love you lots. Miss you.
From Tess
Hi john, those monkeys must have been pretty cool!!! Did they jump around a lot? love ya lots
Response: Yeah. They were very cool, and they did jump aroun a lot; they chased each other a lot, too. I felt at home with them, though. I miss you a lot, you know, I hope you know that. See you in a couple of months...
From Silverfox
Yeah, yeah, yeah ... all that stuff is great. Anyway, I'm thinking I should probably cruise by your old house and check in on that car you got just before you left. Come on, she probably needs a little attention now that it's getting so cold outsied. Well, let me know what you think. I'd try not to pick up too many classy chicks while driving your old car.
Response: I think she'll be just fine waiting for me to get home... Thanks for the generous offer, though.
From Sgt. Slaughter
So I've been wondering...
You are at the top of the list for sites visited this month, but does that get you anything? Or do you have to top the overall list?
And where the hell is that funny meditation picture we agreed upon?
Let's just say I have alot of unanswered questions.
Response: We don't get anything aside from your love and admiration, you see... As for the picture, I mentioned we were all going to a meditation retreat, didn't I? Photo opportunity, I think so.
From Langsner
Im in the library listening to my ipod and doing homework, and guess what randomly comes on? Everybody's Working for the Weekend! The little medley that we had decided to do for our Lipsync because of our grandiose plans of greasing up and ripping off our wifebeaters. Anyways, i don't need to describe it to you, but it just got me thinking about how much we thought we got jipped (spelling correct?) that night and how we swore that we were so much better than lewandowski and his crew, and how silly we felt when we actually got the lipsync tape and watched the horrific, yet entertaining, show that we put on.
Anyways, I just got a good laugh about that, and there was no one around to share the memory with, so I thought John might get a laugh out of it too.
Robert
P.S. I hope your back feels better.
Response: That was an incredible/terrible lipsync, but also felt we should have won, until we saw kyle get up in the middle of the thing...
Thanks for thinking of me...
From Emily
Ok, I love the random John hugging a bear picture in with all the monkeys! John...just FYI...bears are a different family than monkeys!! Hehe...
Response: I know what families bears are in, you know... It's not just about the monkeys. We need to be in some of the pictures, too. Can't have a hundred pictures of us on some Carribean cruise, now.
From ALEX
HI JOHN! JUST CHECKING IN TO SEE HOW YOU WERE DOING. NOTHING MUCH IS HAPPENING HERE .CARGO AND CHI HAVE BEEN PLAYINGA LOT. CARGO SORT OF BRINGS OUT CHI'S INNER PUPPY.
LOVE ALEX!
Response: I'm doing well. Good to hear the dogs are having fun. I miss you lots and love you more. See you sorta soon...
From Maria Brook
Dear John, I sent a reply to your e-mail itself,but I thought I had better write to the journal,too. The pictures you sent are great. Some of my freshmen were fascinated with them. They may respond,also. Again, I am honored that you wrote to me. I look forward to seeing you when you get home. Take care of yourself. BE SAFE! Fondly, Maria Brook
Response: Well... how couldn't I write the best math teacher I've ever had? And I will indeed contact you when I get back. Take care and enjoy life.
From lynda
John: Please tell your host mother that our hearts are with her in losing her best friend. I agree with you: there are higher realms, and all good dogs reach them, probably well before any of us. Still, the sadness and loss is hard for those left behind, like wading through muddy swamps. Tell her we care, here on the other side of the world. And how wonderful for Isha to spend her life with such a loving family.
Response: Will do. You like dogs, don't you? Considering you drove for days and days to go pick up animals out of the hurricane's way. Miss you...
From Linda Everson
Hi John and Marisa:

Thank you so much for the postcard and your web address. Today is the first opportunity I've had to look at your site, and I will return. It is great to hear about your experiences, and your pictures are amazing. This is a once in a life adventure. By the way John, you are doing a fabulous job of looking like a movie star! Continue to stay healthy and safe. Please say hi to Elizabeth and Travis for me.

Take care,

Linda
Response: Thanks for the kind words and I will pass on the hellos. See you in May, I'm sure.