The Misadventures of Kai and Pixel »

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Tour de France (and Germany and Switzerland)

Another month in Europe gone…

Some minor and major adventures this month.


We did our first family bike tour ever to Reichenau, an island on Lake Constance.  Kai is still a bit shaky on his bike, unlike the German children his age so we have been looking for every opportunity to practice.  Reichenau was lovely — some beautiful churches and gardens.  We added a small hike to our day and checked out the Marienschlucht, a gorge on the shore of Lake Constance.  Kai was pretty knackered by the biking, but got his second wind when we found the castle ruins.

Northern Germany

Kai had a two-week holiday this month (sounds weird, but then he has to go to school all of July too!).  Unfortunately, this year’s holiday fell exactly when Andreas had to return back to Canada for a meeting.  So Kai and I headed to Northern Germany alone for a visit with Andreas’ mom and his aunts and cousin.  Great fun with the cousins as usual!

Southern France

We also took the opportunity to visit my former exchange family in Southern France.  It was lovely to see my exchange partner and her sister again–it had been over 20 years since we last saw each other.  I was relieved to find out that I hadn’t forgotten all of my French, although it is pretty rusty.  I got to practice interpreting as Kai attempted to talk about Minecraft to my exchange family’s children.  I now know how to say creeper in French.  (Creeper with a French accent).  Andreas drove the car down to meet us and we visited Cavalière (beach photos), St. Tropez (sailboat photos), and the Island of Porquerolles (fantastic!).


My childhood friend Alison lives in Geneva with her family and we stopped here on the way home after driving through the Gorges de la Bourne and having a look at the Grotte de Choranche.  I hadn’t seen Alison for over a decade, and we had never met our respective families.  In other words, it was great catching up.  Additional photos in this series from our trip home and our stop at the Castle of Chillon on Lake Geneva.

First month in Germany

A month ago, we switched channels and returned to our lives in Freiburg.  Andreas has a research project with the forestry institute here in Freiburg, and this means that we will be spending our summers here (May to August) for the next few years.  Although it is a bit unusual to move back and forth between two countries, the transition becomes easier the more we do it.  Kai attends the same school with the same kids, and we know Freiburg well enough that it doesn’t take us too long to settle in.  (Although it did take me a while to find the ever-so-important Star Wars trading cards that every boy in Kai’s class has…) Once the jet lag disappears, it feels like we have never left.

Our daily lives are fairly simple here: Andreas goes to work at the forestry institute every day.  He has several students who are also travelling back and forth between Edmonton and Freiburg so there is plenty of work for him here.  I stay at home where I am working on my candidacy paper for my PhD, which is basically an extended dissertation proposal.  I hope to have this finished by then end of the summer.  Kai goes to school here and this year we are living very close to the school, only about 10 minutes away.  In other words, life as normal during the week.

The weekends, however, are a little more exciting here than in Edmonton.

This year, we celebrated Kai’s birthday with a sleepover with his American friends and a visit from Omi.  Christiane had never been to Konstanz (where I studied for a year in 1997-8), and we were happy to take our car for its first spin of the year.  Such a lovely city.  We are looking forward to getting back there in August as we have rented a holiday apartment there with my parents.

Andreas’ sister Conny and her husband Karsten visited us last week and we took them to the Hochburg.  We have been here before (see here) so we knew it was a winning destination!

Yesterday (a statutory holiday), we hiked from the top of the Schauinsland mountain back to Freiburg with our American friends.  The three boys, all under the age of 9, walked the full 15 km with very, very few complaints.  I honestly think that I could not have walked farther myself.  This means that the Adventure Couple can return to our pre-child crazy hiking days.  Now we just have to get our pre-child bodies back!

Photos of all of these adventures below.


Hochburg hike

Schauinsland hike

Two capes and a cove

Here are photos from the last week of our trip to New Zealand.

Cape Reinga

One of my favourite places to visit in the Northland is Cape Reinga, and I had been looking forward to showing the Cape to Andreas and Kai.  We took a bus tour — the tour guide was Rachel and Shonty’s friend Spike.  Highlights included a kauri forest, the drive up Ninety Mile Beach, boogie boarding on the sand dunes (check out Andreas!), and of course, the Cape itself.

Cape Brett

Rachel and Shonty graciously suggested that they could look after Kai overnight while Andreas and I took on one of the more challenging hikes in the Bay of Islands.  The Cape Brett hike is 16 km in and the same 16 km out the next day.  You sleep overnight in a Department of Conservation hut at the end of the cape, close to the lighthouse.  The hike is described as “undulating” which actually means unrelenting.  It is up and down for the entire 16 km through the peninsula, but you are rewarded with spectacular views which help you forget your pain momentarily.  The last few kilometres of the hike were daunting — scary cliffs and climbing up what seemed like the highest point.  The lighthouse and the view from the end of the peninsula were worth it, however.  Not to mention our pride at having convinced our older bodies to complete a hike worthy of our younger days.  The last photo shows Andreas swimming in Oke Bay after we completed the hike home.

Lane Cove

Our last adventure in New Zealand was an overnight stay at a Department of Conservation hut in Lane Cove on the Whangaroa Harbour.  Half of us hiked into the hut (about two hours), and Shonty rowed the remaining little boys and our gear in from Totara North.  Spectacular night sky!