Archive | June, 2013
June 30, 2013

Cruising Hammarstrand Sweden

Last night Hank and I went to a “cruising” in the nearby town of Hammarstrand, Sweden, population around 1,050. A big turnout on the main street saw lots of restored cars, mostly American cars from the 50s-70s. I’m told that these cruisings happen in several different towns. It felt funny seeing all these beautifully restored American cars in a small town in northern Sweden. The most unusual transport was a jet powered bicycle (a great Mathews science project). This place would be perfect for a Wagoneers concert. Hank and I had a great time.

P.S.: Uncle Ray, there was a very nice Shelby Cobra that would look so good on Nadine for her 16th birthday.

June 27, 2013

Kurt: Sweden

Farm from across valleyWe were very fortunate to stay with the Missneback family for two weeks on their farm in northern Sweden. This is a picture of the farm from across the river. The Missnebacks have four very sweet children and welcomed us as part of their family. We met the Missnebacks through the WWOOF organic farming organization. We worked on their farm and they allowed us to stay in a cabin there, taught us about the farm, showed us around this very beautiful area and took us fishing and swimming. We had dinner with the Missnebacks most nights. Peter and Camilla are very friendly and interesting, explaining many things about Sweden to us and inquiring about things in the U.S. Hank, Nadine and I enjoyed playing with the four Missneback children. We hope they will come visit us in Austin.

This area of northern Sweden looks a lot like parts of Vermont: very green with thick forests, big hills and some mountains. The small towns and farms here are more spread out than in Vermont. Population density is very low. During our stay in late June, it never really got dark at night. Although the sun went down, I guess it was close enough to the horizon that it did not get dark. It was fully light from around 3 in the morning until 11 or so at night. Although I don’t think I am man enough to tolerate the winters here, I would love to have a cabin by a lake up in these mountains.

We arrived just a few days before Midsummer Eve festival, which is one of the big festivals in Sweden. The Missnebacks took us to their festival and then to another fiddle festival in the woods that night. The fiddle festival reminded me of Kerrville Folk Festival many years ago, with people camping and generally walking around the festival and joining in music.

We also had our first hospital visit of the trip after Nadine hurt her knee. Given that there is no doctor close to the farm, we drove about 45 minutes to a hospital emergency room to get an x-ray of Nadine’s knee. We waited about an hour to get the x-ray and visit with the doctor, which is a little bit quicker than we have experienced in Austin for visits to the emergency room.

June 21, 2013

The globe on our home page

Ramiras_Earth_small_iconThis beautiful globe is in the gym at Mathews Elementary, where Hank and Nadine go to school in Austin, Texas. The globe was inspired by, designed and put together by our friend Emily Low, and each of the pieces of the globe was made by the students at Mathews Elementary with the help of our art teacher, Sara Belknap.

June 19, 2013

Kurt: Copenhagen

Copenhagen (June 11-17, 2013)

My favorite activity was swimming at the Islands Brygge area in Copenhagen harbor. When we jumped into the cold water there, we realized that it was salt water. Very nice. We will see if the new walking path on Lady Bird Lake in Austin has a swimming area like this.

The first things I noticed in downtown Copenhagen were the widespread use of bicycles; the impressive number of tall, attractive blond people; and the incredibly high number of young people who smoke cigarettes.

At some point in history, the people of Copenhagen included two bike lanes on each side of many of their bigger roads. Imagine big bike lanes running for 5 miles or more each way from downtown Austin along Lamar and Burnet Lane with thousands of bike commuters each day. The bike lanes have their own set of traffic lights that some smart engineer has timed so that on bikes you ride quite far before having to stop at red lights for cars. Hank, Nadine and I rode our bikes about 5 miles from our hotel to the new aquarium, Den Blu Planet. I read that over 30% of people in Copenhagen commute to work and school by bike.

One day while it rained we saw Ironman 3, and noted that Nadine bears many similarities to Pepper Potts. In Copenhagen we also arrived at our first trip motto for Nadine: “Usually right, always certain.”

June 18, 2013

Hank: Copenhagen

2Copenhagen: this place is great. There is an amusement park called Tivoli Gardens, a beach, great food, and every one bikes everywhere. It reminds me a lot of Austin. Copenhagen has lots of tall buildings. Another great thing is that they have separated bike lanes with right and left turn lanes and even mini traffic lights for the bikes. At Tivoli we rode rides like the Demon roller coaster and bumper cars. It was really great because none of the lines were more than 5 minutes. We walked to this really cool planetarium and we rode our bikes about 5 miles to the new Copenhagen aquarium, Den Bla Planet. At the planetarium we saw a lot of space exhibits and a movie on the Arctic. At the aquarium we saw sharks and reef fish and sting rays. We also rode our bikes to a park and swimming area in the river that runs through downtown Copenhagen. I went swimming and realized it was salt water and it was bitter cold and made my little toes numb. Our hotel sort of stunk. It was two beds pushed together so you could fall in between the beds while you are asleep. Although I had a lot of fun pushing Nadine through the space in between. It was really funny when she went through head first because it took her a while to get out.

June 18, 2013

Nadine: Copenhagen

Copenhagen is very fun, it is different from Austin in some ways, but same in others. These are some of the things that are different, many of the women wear tights instead of socks, and the people in Copenhagen will wear swim suits in 50 degree weather, which is their normal temperature in the early summer. They also seem to have a lot of pizzarias, and the people there also ride bikes all the time, which is really fun. There is an amusement park called Tivoli, it is the oldest amusement park in the world. There is also a very fun Planetarium, and the buildings there are very cool because half of them are modern and half of them are old looking. These are some cool things about Copenhagen.


June 15, 2013


  • Where are we now? Home--Austin, Texas USA

June 10, 2013

First morning of the trip

From a window seat Hank catches the sun rising somewhere over Europe.

June 9, 2013

Kurt: Our trip plans

globeWe plan to travel overseas much of the next twelve months. Hank, Nadine and I departed Austin on June 9, 2013, flying to Europe. Sarah will join us in early July for parts of the trip. We plan to travel in Europe, South America, Africa, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand. We will try to keep a somewhat flexible itinerary. If we hear about a great place to visit, we may change our plans and go there. We hope to meet people from other places and understand a little bit about their lives and what is important to them. Feel free to send us information about specific places or people you think we might like to visit. Some of our goals for the trip are to develop a greater appreciation for what our family has in Austin; to begin to understand what life is like for other people where they live; to have Hank and Nadine understand the value of learning another language; to spend time with our kids before they grow up; and to have fun and relax.

If you want to see the other blog posts from our trip, they are under the ARCHIVES tab located at the top of the home page.