Home on Whidbey is a family blog revolving around Fran, Ed, Brad, Yessi, plus puppy Benton, and our family, travels, friends, neighbors and community. Thanks for reading.


Waking to Messages!

One of the greatest gifts a mom can receive is her e-mail inbox jammed full with messages from her traveling son, especially when he's been out of touch for many many, many days.  Since Brad began his Annapurna Circuit trek he's only been able to send messages home twice.  Here are a few of the glorious photos he's sent.  These photographs greet me first thing in the morning when I open my e-mail.  Not only do these communications let me know Brad and Yessi are safe, they show me, with their smiles, they are having a good time.  I also get to share vicariously a few of the spectacular sights they are seeing.  Brad returns home Christmas Day.  That's tomorrow!  What a wonderful Christmas Gift!

Yessi & Brad surrounded by the most majestic mountains in the world

Brad and the ubiquitous prayer flags

Brad on a cold, clear and beautiful, mountain-surrounded Nepalese trail

Stacked Stones

Yessi & Brad and the mother of all mountains

Nepalese Village at 3000 m.

Brad & Yessi and those wonderful mountains


Happy Holidays!

Somewhere in Nepal...

The last we heard from Yessi and Brad was December 7.  As they departed Kathmandu to trek the Annapurna Circuit, Brad said he doubted he'd have any way to contact me, and so far he's right.   I'm imagining he and Yessi having a wonderful time as they trek the circuit, noted for being "The Best Trek in the World".    Along the way it is reported they will see forests of rhododendron, mule caravans, charming villages and spectacular views, as well as experience friendly and kind people.

I'm hoping they will avoid snow.  Cold and snow would, of course, make the trek more difficult and hazardous.  October and November are the most popular months to do the trek, so December, hopefully, will be kind to them weather wise, while reducing the number of trekkers.

Map courtesy of Traildino
Doing the trek counter-clockwise is the typical choice because from the east there are many lodges allowing one to shorten each day's trek to allow for acclimatization to the altitude.  Although the circuit is not a technical climb it requires much stamina.  18 to 23 days is the projected time to complete the circuit. Yessi and Brad will need to keep moving which shouldn't be too much of a challenge for Brad with his year of high altitude thru-hiking.  Yessi, on the other hand, has less experience with both trekking and high altitudes.  In order to make connections to their flight back to Hong Kong they are a few days shy of 18. 



Sometimes things don't go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes step back from war;
elect an honest man; decide they care
enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen: may it happen to you

~ Sheenagh Pugh ~


Off to Nepal

Brad has been having a good time in China.  He's been visiting with Yessi's family and friends, sightseeing, getting his teeth fixed, experiencing actupuncture, and even interviewing with a Xiamen architectural firm.  Lots of pictures and more details posted on dbbrad.

But, two days ago, he and Yessi began another adventure.  They are taking first a train...

Hopefully it won't be this crowded.

Then the bullet train...

High speed rail in China.  124 mph, or more

To get back to Hong Kong from Xiamen.  From Hong Kong they will catch a flight on Jet Airways to Kathmandu.

Jet Airways

The flight from Hong Kong to Kathmandu is 8 hours.  When he and Yessi arrive they will get permits and supplies, and hopefully have some time for sightseeing.


Then, off they go to begin their adventure on the Annapurna Circuit.

This spectacular trekking route makes the trek a once in a lifetime experience. 

Putting the miles on...

Just last week we hit 7000 miles on our tandem.  

Farmer's market, Coupeville, summer 2012



A couple of days ago I heard from Brad and all was not well. When he left here he had a tooth ache and his back was hurting (both he planned on tending to in China).  Shortly after arrival in China he got food poisoning.   With his body hurting in three places, he was pretty much feeling rotten from head-to-toe and spent one day sleeping.

Now, all is much, much better.  Brad reports:

1) My food poisoning is over;

2) For my back I went to the most experienced practitioner I've ever visited.  I have a few vertebrae near my pelvis out of alignment and he did massage and stretching together.  Painful deep tissue massage that allowed my muscles to relax so he could stretch and align me. 

3) The dentist I saw was exceptional and nicer than any dentist office I've seen in the states.  State of the art equipment, clean, very qualified workers and excellent work.  Far better than the root canal I had done a few years back. 

Plus, the frosting on the cake, Brad's friend Yessi is taking great care of him and since she has a car Brad is getting to see Xiamen between appointments.  Xiamen is a very prosperous city.  The beaches, botanical gardens, waterfront promenades, university, Buddhist temples and parks are noteworthy. Travelers' Choice rated it one of the best 2012 destinations.   



Brad is still raising money for his Heart on the Trail fund raiser and collecting press as he proceeds.  See his latest news story on his 2012 adventures.

Brad drawing hearts

Meanwhile, on Whidbey Island

~ A Whidbey Island Thanksgiving ~
Happy Thanksgiving!

Prior to Brad's departure for China an early Thanksgiving with Joe, Nancy and Harrison (holding the camera)

Hiking Ebey's Landing onThanksgiving Day
Benton, Fran & Ed

Ebey's Landing, Thanksgiving Day
Fran, Benton & Ed

Lantau Island, China

Brad's e-mail this morning was very positive and he sounded excited. 

First, Hong Kong is amazing-I love it. 

Second, was on Landau Island today.  Ferry ride, tram, giant buddha and metro trains!  

Landau Island 
Landau Island Tram

Giant Buddha

Landau Island Fishing Village

Third, head for Xaimen tomorrow.

Fourth, dentist appointment Saturday.


Hong Kong's first morning view

Brad's arrival in Hong Kong was very late.  After customs and a one hour bus ride he was at his hotel at 2:00.

First Daylight View of Hong Kong from Hotel

Tokyo Lay Over

A quick e-mail from Brad early this morning.  He was in Tokyo.  He reports it is very expensive so he was quite pleased he'd taken lots of food with him.

Tokyo Airport.  McDonalds had the only line.

Equal to $20 US


To China, to China...

After a few days of wild packing and preparation, Brad is ready to depart from Whidbey Island for the Ferry to America.  In Mukilteo his good friend Debbie meets him to provide a ride to SeaTac, including a stop in Seattle to pick up his visa.  Brad's flight is to Hong Kong.  There he will be picked up by a friend he met in NZ, then travel on to Xiaman.  

Brad -- off to China

I know Brad reached the airport.  Note from Debbie:

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!  Got him safely to the aiarport at 10:30, after two
quick stops in Seattle -- visa pickup and REI for a solar charger.  He is excited and 
happy.  What a guy!

Now, for his long, long flight with a hurting tooth.  Safe travels, Dear Brad!


A Year Of Adventure

This year our son, Brad,  set out to fill it with adventure while he reevaluated his life and future.  First, as you know if you've been following this blog, he went to New Zealand to thru-hike the Te Araroa Trail.  He arrived in NZ mid November 2011 and finished the trail the end of April 2012.  He returned to the US early May and immediately began another thru-hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, after resting and resupplying in San Diego for a few days.  He departed from the Mexican border in May and finished in late October at the Canadian border.  All told he walked 4200 miles in eleven months.

But, the adventure is not over, nor is the year.  On Tuesday, November 20, Brad departs for China.  He will fly into Hong Kong, but travel almost immediately to Xiamen to spend time with a friend he met in NZ.  The trip will also include dental work, sight seeing and hiking.  He returns to the US Christmas day.

One of China's top 10 cities on urban development index. 
Hong Kong
Bird's eye view of one of the world's greatest cities.
Three of the hiking destinations capturing Brad's attention are the Yellow Mountains, Leaping Tiger Gorge and Annapurna Circuit.  Stay tuned for the new unfolding adventure...

Yellow Mountain near Huangshan 

Leaping Tiger Gorge near Lijiang

Annapurna Circuit in Nepal

Green shows 10 day hike from Hong Kong to Beijing.  But, the map also is a nice overview of China,


Light the Sky!

Brad, home only a few days, joined Janet, Fran & Dan in stringing lights in a tree to "light the sky" for the winter months in Langley.  The tree? A 50' oak on First Street in Langley.  A huge project!  A huge community contribution!  A huge thank you!

Brad in bucket putting "light the sky" winter lights in a 50' oak in downtown Langley

Fran in bucket in downtown Langley lighting a winter tree

Way up there doing volunteer work for Langley and Main Street

Brad way up in oak stringing lights

Off the Trail and then Right Back on...

Just days after finishing the PCT, Brad was back on the trail.  I guess it gets in one's blood.  Here he is at Mt. Rainier a couple of days ago, hiking with friend Debbie.  Blue sky, fall color, beautiful mountain -- all perfect for a warm fall hike.  14 miles of pleasure, beauty and good friendship.


Seattle Welcomes!

Freesttyle returns to Seattle after 11 months away.
The Space Needle, Seattle's icon, welcomes him by delivering 700 vertical feet in 30 seconds.  Sure beats the time required for 700 vertical feet on the PCT!


The Trail has been Conquered!

Freestyle just called from Vancouver (10/6/12).  He and Bodybag arrived at the PCT border monument on 10/4/12, Manning Park on 10/5/12.  The PCT is finished!  Woo Hoo!  A huge congratulations to them!  They're headed by bus to Seattle and then Freestyle is coming to the island tomorrow, 11 months since Brad left for his two thru-hikes -- Te Araroa and Pacific Crest Trail.  

As Bodybag and Freestyle reached the Canadian border,  another hiker Astro, left the hospital in Yakima to get back on the trail.  There are so many reasons this trail is sought out by so many.  Astro because of his need to confront his cancer; Freestyle with a need to deal with the economy dropping him into a financial and emotional pit; another man we met was challenging aging; a young couple was looking to solve the age old question of "what's life all about?"; yet another because of a life-time career gone awry.  The reasons are varied and for each hiker different.  Yet the reasons are all the same --  to find themselves and to find meaning to their confusing and challenging lives or even their too easy lives.  These hikers don't just finish a  physical challenge they also are dealing with emotional, economic and spiritual challenges.  The trail is frequently, perhaps always, life changing.

The hikers' loved ones waiting, supporting, loving and worrying at home are as proud as punch for the determination, sacrifices, hardships,  and growth our sons, daughters, husbands, wives and friends are taking on with their courage.  We're delighted with their new friends made along the way, the lessons learned and the demons met head on.   Hats off to all of you!

Freestyle at Manning Provincial Park, BC

Thru hikers waiting for the bus to return to the US


PTC Finish!

Freestyle, and others he's hiked with arrived at the PCT monument at the BC/USA border, concluding their Pacific Crest Trail adventure.  2650 miles!  Five months! 151 days!  Mexico to BC.  Wow!  Congratulations!

Freestyle completes the PCT on a cold, cold day

Bags & Freestyle


Only two Sections of the PCT Remaining.

Section K of the PCT is considered tough but rewarding!  Brad left Stevens yesterday for his Section K experience.  He hiked this section in 2011, going in the opposite direction, but part of the trail at that time was closed due to a wash out.  The best views of Glacier Peak were not visible last year due to the detour.  Let's hope Brad gets his Glacier Peak hit this year and that the "wild, rugged and stunning"  Glacier Peak Wilderness does not disappoint.

Glacier Peak Wilderness

Section L is the last section of the PCT, ending in Manning Park, B.C.  This is a short section of only 70 miles but should be spectacular with fall colors, jagged peaks and fabulous views of the Pasaysten Wilderness.  Much of this section if protected from rain, so can be dry and without water supplies, except at Hart's Pass.

Pasaysten Wilderness

I can't believe this year of Brad's hiking adventure is almost over.  He has thoroughly enjoyed his trip and so have I, as I've followed along.   Also, helping Brad with his Heart on the Trail fund raising project has been challenging and rewarding.   We're still hoping for donations -- please -- so he can finish up his PCT adventure with huge donations to both the Pacific Crest Trail Association and the American Heart Association.  Get Your Heart on the Trail!

Brad explains  why he's raising money for Heart on the Trail