National Park #1- Yanchep

Today Ryan and I bought a year long pass for WA National Parks.  This is our newest excuse to check out all the places we can in WA.  Friends of ours visited Yanchep earlier this week and the pictures looked so fun that we figured we would visit ourselves.  Just a 45 minute drive north of Perth, Yanchep is a beautiful little getaway.  And if the lovely landscape isn’t enough, there are koalas!Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 5.19.38 PMCan you spot the koalas?  It was crazy how high up they sleep and on such little branches too.  We walked around for awhile just trying to spot them in the trees.  Thankfully they are all in one area so you’re guaranteed to see at least a few even if they are all asleep.

After the koalas, we took a couple other little hikes around the marshy lake and in an area that use to be a series of limestones caves before it collapsed.  There are still lots of caves in Yanchep, including one that can be rented out for events!  If we go back, we will definitely do some cave exploring.

After finishing up at the park, we decided to grab a bite to eat and then head to a nearby harbor to see the boats and the beach.  It reminded us a little of the harbor in Oxnard but the ocean looks different without the Channel Islands and all the limestone rocks told us we aren’t in California anymore.

Exploring our new home is one of our favorite things.  1 National Park down and we’ll see how many more we get to before our pass expires.

Our Oberschwaben Visit

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The last stop on our trip was to see the family that I spent a year with after high school.  It’s been 5 years since I returned to Zußdorf and it was wonderful to reconnect with the family and introduce them to Ryan.

We spent a day walking around Ravensburg which is known as the city of towers.  It was fun to hang out and do some touristy things with Ryan that I never did when I was here as a student.  We climbed up the hill for some great views and this is just a small sampling of the beautiful towers in the town.  The clouds proved to be such a great backdrop that day.

We also loved our time just hanging out with the family.  I went swimming in a little lake early on a couple of the mornings with my german Mama and one of the sisters.  We spent a day hanging out with cousins and others which included a trip to Affenberg (Monkey Mountain).  We played Settlers of Catan (the original in German!), went on lots of long walks and spent some time around the table just hanging out and catching up.

Everyone was home because one of the cousins got married so we also shared the cultural experience of a German wedding.  It was great to see most of the entire extended family, celebrate with them and introduce them all to Ryan (who by the way, got my German mama’s stamp of approval).

And this trip wouldn’t be complete without a couple trips to the Bodensee.  It was as beautiful as I remember and I’m glad we were able to do some hiking and rent a super fun paddle boat complete with slide.

The time was too short but I’m thrilled to have been able to spend time with this great family again.  As we all get older, add spouses and maybe at some point kids (this is not an announcement:-), these trips become more and more special.  Thank you Sturms for continuing to be a wonderful part of my life!

More Switzerland and France too

It has been wonderful to show Ryan some places that I’ve visited before but traveling like this also gives me a chance to see some new sights too.  We spent the last couple of days in Basel, Switzerland and Ryan had two wishes.  The first was to celebrate Swiss National Day and the second was to visit France (since it’s pretty close).  We accomplished both goals thanks to our great friends who were wonderful hosts.  They also have cute kids which made for some very fun memories.Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 3.00.32 PMWe started things with a lovely walk through Basel along the Rhine river and enjoyed this beautiful city and watching all the people swimming.


Then we went to a park for some amazing evening fireworks.  It was a much bigger event than we were expecting.  And now Ryan and I have celebrated the National Day for Belgium and Switzerland.

The following day we took a tram to France and hiked up to the ruins of a prison castle.  It was fun to pick blackberries along the way (thanks to Ryan who could reach ones that others couldn’t) and enjoy the beautiful weather.  The views from the top were pretty amazing.  We could see parts of Germany, France and Switzerland.

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Ryan and I have certainly enjoyed our adventures but the best part is meeting people along the way.  In less than a week we will be back in California but we still have a wedding to attend and a lot more people to see.  I’m thankful to have Ryan by my side to share these moments with.  This is a trip we won’t soon forget.


Bonn to Zurich

Here are just a few pictures to show our past few days with friends.  We were in Bonn visiting my best friend from my time in Germany in 2003.  Then we took the train down to Zurich and are currently visiting a friend who I met while he was studying abroad at UCSB and his lovely wife.

It was rainy in Bonn but we took advantage of the beautiful botanical gardens and still had a wonderful time visiting, catching up and sharing stories.  We could have spent many more days enjoying the wonderful company.

The train ride was relaxing and the views were wonderful even though we were speeding by and it made it hard to get a good picture of all the castles and churches and little villages along the Rhine river.Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 10.30.56 PMZurich has proved relaxing and wonderful too.  I’m glad we have another day or so here before heading to Basel.  We spent yesterday getting to see a bit of the city and enjoying drinks and dinner on the river.

And today we drove through Glarus (where New Glarus in Wisconsin is named after) and visited a beautiful lake called Kloentalersee in the Alps.  It was a lovely time to just be out in nature and enjoy another amazing place with friends.

For those of you who follow me on Instagram @joycandee, here is the picture for the answer to today’s posting.  You can decide, was it a good selfie choice?Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 10.28.11 PM


Remembering the Last 50 Days

This week we are out of commission.  No phones, no social media, no internet, no email, no radio, no nothing.  Praise the Lord for getting away and being able to take some much needed time to rest and recharge before our crazy month ahead.  On the 27th we leave for our training in Europe!

But please don’t think I would leave this space void and empty for a week.  Check out my husband’s handiwork and take about 5 minutes to watch just some of the highlights from our road trip around the country.

We are so thankful for all the people we got to visit along the way.  Although we are heading to Australia, this trip was a great reminder of all the wonderful people who love us, support us, pray for us and are behind us here in the US.  Thank you for making our travels comfortable, exciting, meaningful and so much more.  The US is a wonderful place to explore!

Back From Living in Grace

IMG_20160608_164445The hills of North Carolina were a beautiful backdrop for this week.  Although we had a lot of classroom time and personal introspection, we spent a significant amount of time just soaking in the wonderful weather.  We took a few strolls through the woods around the camp and enjoyed the fresh green of rain soaked trees and ferns.  It’s such a contrast to dry California.  And we also enjoyed the sounds of rushing water along the stream that flowed through camp and also at one of the waterfalls nearby.IMG_20160607_114911Our hearts were dug into this week during all the classroom and group work that occupied the majority of our days.  All this heart work challenged us but having some time in the afternoons to decompress, reflect and enjoy nature made the process of the week just a little easier.  We even spent an afternoon splashing around in the little lake, floating on inner tubes, sliding down the waterslide and jumping from the rope swing.  The rope swing especially provided some great bonding time.IMG_20160609_204508Although we will definitely benefit from the training and have learned many things to help us in this process, the highlight of the week was getting to know all the other people working with our organization.  We love strengthening the relationships we already have as well as meeting new people.  It will be fun to continue the relationships and follow each other as we will most likely end up spread out across the world.IMG_20160608_164921