Kelly’s wanderlust is almost hereditary and is evident in her lifestyle today. Kelly’s paternal grandmother, originally from Germany, married Kelly’s grandfather, a 3rd generation Irish-American. Together, they travelled all over Europe, parts of Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. Kelly’s maternal grandparents lived in Japan for 7 years with their four children including Kelly’s mother Lisa.
Growing up, Kelly’s parents and three sisters took many road trips around the US and Canada. Later, when Kelly was 9, the family moved to China for a year where they kept up with their American studies and had a tutor to learn Chinese. They studied Chinese culture through immersion. This experience is one that Kelly sees as a pivotal point that sparked her interest in culture, language, and travel.
Kelly is extremely self-motivated and became involved in shaping her education early on. When ordinary high school proved not to be challenging enough, she began college at age 16 at the local community college and transfered to university in Washington two years later. At Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, Kelly enrolled in an independent study program where again she took control of her own education. As part of her degree program, she moved to Cuernavaca, Mexico and learned Spanish, studied Latin culture, and history.
She also volunteered for a local organization called CD4 educating high school students about safe sex. Upon graduation, Kelly moved to Portland, OR where she spent 2 years teaching Spanish at Growing Seeds Child Development Community.
When Kelly’s mother died in 2009, Kelly left for Buenos Aires, Argentina for 5 weeks to study Spanish and visit surrounding countries like Uruguay and Paraguay.
Above: San Telmo, Buenas Aires. Below: Las Cataratas de Iquazu.
She returned to Portland for just a few months before spending a total of 6 months in New York city where she obtained a CELTA certificate. Kelly then lived in Ecuador for 6 months where she worked with a non-profit, Niños de los Calles teaching homeless children and becoming fluent in Spanish.
Kelly’s sister, Caitlin met her in Ecuador and together, they travelled a month in Peru before returning to the US.
Kelly then spent 3 Months in New Orleans, LA and was present during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. More conscious of her carbon footprint, Kelly rode her bicycle approximately 1300 miles through 13 states back to New York City.
Kelly hitched a ride home to Ventura, CA and started working for a non-profit organization as a bilingual financial counselor and with the Ventura Bicycle Union as an advocate for bicycle safety and rights.
In 2011 Milo came into Kelly’s life and in 2012 they cycled 2,700 miles through 7 United States from Ventura, CA to Missoula, MT before taking a plane to China to teach English for a year. During their time in China, they explored the country and saw many landmarks depicted in this blog including visits to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodia.
Between 2013-2014 Kelly spent significant time in a few countries including England, Norway, Denmark, Mexico and Peru. All of these adventures are cataloged in this blog.
To date, Kelly has cycled approximately 7,000 miles on bicycle tours within the continental United States and has thousands more unlogged miles from commuting and recreation purposes over the years. In addition to her bicycle travel, Kelly has traveled to 16 countries, several of which she spent many months exploring. She is fluent in Spanish and is a proficient educator. More so, Kelly is a board member for her neighborhood association, volunteers with the department of juvenile corrections in a restorative justice program and attends Willamette University School of Law (class of 2021).