I have been a world traveler almost from day one. My first adventure was a trip to meet my grandparents in England when I was two-weeks-old. I like to think that it was this first outing that sparked my lifelong wanderlust, even if I did sleep through most of it. Essentially, I was born of travelers- my mother grew up in England and like many Europeans she often visited neighboring countries, and my father grew up “back east” in Saugus, MA and spent time in many US states as a military policeman. So, when my siblings and I were young, we embarked on numerous trips to England and Massachusetts. We often piled all the kids (and sometimes the dogs) into the car for trips to such places as Big Bear and the Grand Canyon. For my tenth birthday, my mom and I visited the home of my chief childhood idol, Elvis Presley, in Memphis, Tennessee as well as checking out the surrounding states. In high school, I visited Ireland, Italy, Austria, and Germany with my high school.
I love you, Patchy!
I earned my Bachelor Degree in Community Studies at UC Santa Cruz, with a concentration in food security, agriculture, and social justice. Part of my degree program included a field study at a relevant nonprofit organization so I headed to New York to spend six months working with the international humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger. It is this experience that most shaped my desire to dedicate my live (and our bicycle trip) to alleviating struggles throughout the world, particularly relating to food and human rights.
I always had a certain affection for our slimy mascot, the banana slug.
After graduation I spent a year living in Los Angeles where I put my love of dinosaurs and the natural world to good use by working at the Natural History Museum and the world-famous La Brea Tar Pits.
I have an intense love for animals of all kinds and from all eras. Working at the Natural History Museum was one of my favorite jobs because I could talk about my favorite subject and spend each day surrounded by scientists learning more about the planet. In this picture, I was standing in the shadow of the second largest mammal in the world, a Humboldt fin whale. I moved back to Ventura when I decided that LA was not my style, but I just couldn’t stay put. Once I had saved enough money for plane tickets, I jetted off on a five-week trip to New York, Norway, and Austin, Texas.
I must have wayfaring blood because almost as soon as I landed back home, Kelly and I started planning our current expedition that will take us from our hometown of Ventura, CA to Missoula, MT to China to Norway.
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.
[add pic of family in china]
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. 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 through 13 states back to New York City.
NOLA-NYC on bicycle. San Telmo, Buenas Aires, Argentina
Machu Pichu, Peru with sister CaitlinCataratas de Iguazu, Argentina
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
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.
During this time, she has been re-aquanted with a highschool sweetheart, Mi. Together, they have conjured the plans to ride their bikes through 7 states from Ventura, CA to Missoula, MT. From there, Kelly and Mi flew to China. Kely and Mi teach English.