August 15, 2016

Washington, the Puget Sound and Mt. Rainier

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I feel like there has been one huge conspiracy to keep Washington a secret from me. I can’t believe something like that exists. For three days straight we didn’t shop for groceries because the land and sea provide. Blackberries every morning and crab every night. Left just in time to not get used to it.washington 3
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Mt. Ranier gets like 90 inches of rain a year. Beautiful!!washington 11 washington 12 washington 13 washington 14 washington 15 washington 16 washington 17washington 19 washington 20washington 18 washington 21washington 1

April 7, 2014

HOLI

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Took the kids to the HOLI festival. They were a little unsure at first but once they each had a bag of color in their hands they lost all inhibitions and had a blast. I have to admit I was a little scared to pull my camera out unprotected but I found a lull and got everything you see in about 5-10 minutes. Dangerous business!

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March 17, 2014

Guatemala and the Mayan Eco Homestead

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Some of you may remember that I spent some time in Guatemala last April. A couple of years ago I started to research locations for my family to go for a month or two during my slow season in the winter. I stumbled across the Dennings and their travel blog  Discover, Share, Inspire. We became online friends and subsequently I traveled to meet them and interview them for a video project I was working on. We had an incredible visit with them. The Dennings introduced us to the Jensens who were living near them in Panajachel, Guatemala at the time. We have all kept in touch and I have become increasingly interested in both Guatemala and the humanitarian efforts both the Dennings and the Jensens founded and have had success with. It is titled Mayan Eco Homestead.

At its heart the Mayan Eco Homestead is an onsite school where people can come and learn and earn various methods of agriculture to bring a wider variety of foods into their diet. Currently corn is king especially in the rural areas where malnutrition is very prevalent. Even though there are other fruits and vegetables at the market, most of it is out of reach financially for many rural people. Meat is rarely eaten. Still 40% of Guatemala is Mayan and Guatemala is the 4th most malnourished country in the world and this causes problems from infant death to stunted growth to just plain not being able to concentrate in school because of hunger. The homestead is located in the 2nd most malnourished area in Guatemala. Here is an interested article about this issue.

Mayan Eco Homestead is in its infancy but for one man so far he is now feeding his family of 7 more food than ever and has increased his income nearly seven times. His 1/5th of an acre went from corn to now having chickens for meat and laying eggs, a pig, a tilapia pond and various plants for vegetables. He is now sharing what he has learned about self sufficiency with a local orphanage. The homestead is now a place where anyone can come learn while they earn essentially a start up kit that can be used on their own property. These people are eager to learn and work hard and this is going to grow quickly with more people taking interest.

Take some time to browse their Facebook page and see it in action. My wife and I stayed there for three days last week and we could see how very few dollars can impact entire families in dramatic ways. Currently, a family of 5 who lives in a small tin house the size of half my bedroom with floors made of dirt, is building a sweet little home with donations from America. You can see the progress on the Facebook page. They are at a stand still waiting for more funding so I am putting it out there that even a few bucks can make a huge difference. For those that wish to donate you can do so here. If nothing else please take time to like their page on Facebook. Thanks!




 

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Greg and Lucy Jensen and their family operate the Mayan Eco Homestead. Josh is their oldest. I made him pose with his new machete he bought across where us boys all went and got our hair cut super short for $1. Best hair cut ever!

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Greg does running tours in the mountains of Guatemala and on old dormant volcanoes. His running business is here if you have any interest in a running tour of the area. The mountains are incredible!

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Me and Melanie down the lane. Short haircut! Love it!cmp_4140 cmp_4154

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This is Zeke. He guided us down a steep, steep mountain to a little city on the lake. He is part of the family building a new house. He is a very hard worker and strong as two or three of me.

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February 3, 2014

Pilgrimage: Israel

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About the time the sun was coming up as we approached Tel Aviv on the plane, I knew this was going to be a very different trip. About a dozen Orthodox Jews stood up and began praying and reading from the Torah right on the plane. I had never experienced anything like it. It was just the beginning. I have read about Jerusalem but nothing can prepare you for it. It is so completely different than my everyday life that it is mind boggling.

We experienced a lot in a short period of time, incredible hummus and falafel to the incredibly powerful and well designed Holocaust Museum, Yad Vanesh.  The beauty, the devotion and the history make this place the most interesting I have ever been to, EVER!! You simply must go.  If you want some beach time Tel Aviv is only an hour away and has some incredible beaches on the Mediterranean. Drop your plans to Europe or to Hawaii and go. I won’t even try to explain it any further.

If a picture says  1000 words here are about a million.

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January 16, 2014

Could’ve kept going…

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We are back!! I had a strong urge to keep going south. I love the road. It has taken me years to discover that my life is a cycle. I get extremely busy in the Spring, Summer and Fall and when winter comes around and I have too much time on my hands, I scheme about traveling. It happens every year without fail. Today, I have a great desire to go to India. Let me explain. I am currently enrolled as a student at USU. I have been a senior for 11 years. For no particular reason, I decided to finish up my few remaining classes and graduate after what will be 19 years. I will discuss that another day. Suffice it to say, I am taking my final two classes right now, both of which I am enjoying tremendously. The first is “Religion and Play”, which essentially is a class about Hinduism. The second class is called “Living with Wildlife”.  Both interesting, but my Hindu class is mesmerizing! Hence, the desire to go to India. Not to mention Indian food is ultra fantastic!

Travel is a large part of my McFarland family culture. We are bred to explore and if an adventure is not had for a period of time we get the itch. In the winter, I never stop itching! Experiencing different cultures is one of the quickest ways to learn that really we are all the same in so many ways.  When it boils down to it though, for me food is the ultimate travel experience. I will travel across the planet to try new foods. I think I can remember just about every thing I have ever eaten while traveling. While I love traveling abroad, I have a deep appreciation for the gems we have right in our midst. There are many!

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You couldn’t find someone who embodied the image of a forest ranger better if you tried!  Jim took us on a two hour snowshoe tour across the rim of Bryce Canyon that blew our minds. It was freezing and the wind was piercing but my boy Jack didn’t flinch. He was a rock! Jim was so excited to be out and about. I always love seeing people who love getting up to go to work.
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If you go on KSl deals right now you can stay at Ruby’s Inn, one mile away from Bryce Canyon, for two nights for only $70. It was a real nice hotel and the swimming pool was piping hot! Best of all, we had the entire Bryce Canyon National Park to ourselves.

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I felt so sorry for this deer because just getting out to take the picture I almost got frost bite.

 

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We are National Park Fanatics! I love that Maddi loves her Jr. Ranger badges. If you have kids, you simply have got to do the Jr Ranger programs at any National Park. Below, Melanie is working with the kids to fulfill the requirements and when they are done a ranger swears them in as Jr. Rangers. The kids love it! If you must know, Utah has the second most National Parks in America, maybe the world. California has nine and Utah has five. They are ALL incredible and can only be experienced to be believed.
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We headed to lower elevation, down to St. George where it was almost 60 degrees. We soaked it up like lizards. HEAT!! YES!!

 

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Brigham Young’s winter home in St. George.

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This couple below has been volunteering for 10 months to give tours at the Brigham Young home. They were super nice and probably annoyed by my questions.cmp_7406

 

 

The oldest tree in St. George. Brigham Young ordered a ton of silk worms to make silk with so they planted Mulberry Trees for the silk worms to eat.He also brought carp to Utah! The silk didn’t last long but we know how carp ended up.cmp_7411

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We Spent two entire days exploring Snow Canyon. I am blown away with everything we have within a half a days drive of my home. cmp_7427

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The kids fed these birds for like an hour. I laid on my stomach for like an hour trying to get one to eat some bread off my back. I think I could have done it if I had another hour or so. cmp_7557

 

 

December 10, 2013

Some people dream of white sandy beaches…..

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Ok, if you haven’t been on a photo shoot with me or don’t know me very well then this may seem a bit strange. Well, thinking about it, even if you know me it might sound a little strange. Anyway, I just went on a dream vacation, not to Hawaii, but to the DMZ which if you don’t know is the border of South and North Korea. What ??? Yup, it was on my top 5 list of things to do along with the Transiberian Railway, Mongolia, Morocco and Jerusalem.

Why in the heck would anyone want to go to the DMZ?

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Well, the answer for me is mystery and curiosity. Let me be clear in saying that I have no sympathies for North Korea. My grandfather fought against North Korea in the Korean War and used to tell me stories while we fished. I think their leaders are crazy. How can you resist looking at crazy though? I can’t. I understand people are living in extreme conditions over there and it maddens me but you have to laugh about the leadership over there a little. I mean come on. Not only did they discover a unicorn lair there last year but their leaders also invented the hamburger, got 11 holes in one their first time golfing and they chose our worst citizen (Dennis Rodman) to visit for “diplomatic” purposes. You can’t make this stuff up.

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That is North Korea in the distance. I wasn’t allowed any closer with my camera.

All laughing aside though North Korea is full of people who have little touch with the outside world. I have read so many books on this region and frankly still so little is known and that blows my mind.

The DMZ is not the only reason for going to South Korea though. Truthfully, I think South Korea has the most under appreciated Asian food in existence. That is my opinion. Seoul is home to over 15 million people and I swear there is like 1 restaurant for every 10 people. The food is everywhere and it is

OFF THE CHARTS!!!

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Forget about what you have heard about kimchi. If you can’t get past this fermented spicy cabbage then you are missing out on so much. The soups, the barbecue, the gimbap (basically sushi), the Kalbi grill, etc… are unforgettable. And honestly, to me there is nothing more interesting than open air food markets and Seoul has a bunch of them. The Gwangjang market is the oldest in Seoul and I swear 90% of the stuff I saw there I had never even heard of. It is like an open aired museum with shoulder to shoulder activity. There is a palpable energy in food markets. Food brings people together. I do not exaggerate when I tell you that I could spend an entire day in one market. Pretty impressive for someone who can’t stand shopping at home, eh.

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Oh yeah, for you people who do like Kimchi, did I mention that I am a graduate of the Kimchi academy? Yup, I went to Kimchi school in Seoul. It wasn’t planned but I am so glad I did it. It was a blast!!

 

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My fellow graduates. The Heng family from Singapore. They are hoping to come visit us soon and go to Yellowstone. They were fantastic!!kimchi

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February 12, 2013

Jamie Oliver and Italy

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Jamie Oliver and Italy

Jamie Oliver is one of the few people I follow on Instagram. I gained a lot of respect for him a couple years ago when I watched a video of him on a culinary journey through Italy. As some of you know I spent 2 incredible years in Italy as a missionary for my church. It is hard not to love Italy and the Italians. There is a food depth there that is difficult to explain. It is so traditional and fresh and fantastic that in their eyes they have reached the pinnacle of perfection and why change perfection? Jamie Oliver, even though he had been mentored by an Italian chef I don’t think he quite understood Italians until he went on this 2 month journey and tried to do the impossible, cook for Italians. It is not that he is not capable, it is simply that he didn’t understand that his embellishments would not be accepted. From top to bottom there is little variation in ice cream and pizza for example. It is not like here where we try to be original and unique. In Italy there are no pizza chains. In fact, except for some McDonalds here and there there aren’t really fast food chains at all. Each pizzeria is unique yet tows the line to tradition. Difficult to explain. Anyway, on his journey he discovered that Italians in general were not as progressive as his Italian mentor.

He doesn’t care. He does what might be the closest thing to a gladiator today. He cooks for Italians and every where he goes they are not pleased. As I watched it was like a scary movie. Don’t go in there!! Don’t do that, you don’t know what you are getting into!! Yet, like Rocky he just keeps getting up and trying. It was pure grit and I learned why he is so successful. He is fearless. What a quality. Watch all the parts of this on youtube and you will understand Italy more than anything I have seen.

P.S. He is also a great photographer palermo  Unknown

February 8, 2013

E. Idaho State Fair

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E. Idaho State Fair

My mom texted me today to tell me to block out a date to go to my gramma’s for an easter egg hunt up in Firth, Idaho. I texted back, “You better not be playing with me!” The reality is I don’t know one of my cousins who wouldn’t drop a trip to Disneyland, Europe or a guaranteed sighting of Elvis and Michael Jackson combined to go to my grandma’s farm. In my first year of marriage we discovered that my wife’s best friend was getting married the weekend we were scheduled to go to Grammas. I said, “That sucks we won’t be able to go to her wedding! We can send her a card.” I was not joking and that is the funny thing. I really thought she would choose grandmas over her friends wedding. Lucky for us she had read the date wrong. I think knowing what she knows now she would have chosen grandmas. In fact, I know she would.

My grandpa turned 94 last week so we can’t go up as often and so a personal invitation is like being invited into an inner circle that only a few can enter. He is still strong as an OX but we are a big group.
The amount and quality of the traditions that occur on the farm are as impossible to describe as it is trying to understand North Korea (only in a good way). Certain things have never changed. We typically go around Easter and Labor Day.

Labor Day means Eastern Idaho State Fair time. There is no fair like it in all the world!! We go out with the cousins in packs likes wolves only stopping for Tiger Ears and Ice Cream Cones at Reed’s Dairy (Huckleberry is off the charts) and an occasional foot long corn dog or Turkey Drum (not recommended). We have had the fortune of passing this tradition on to our children who in turn can’t wait to go to the fair each year for their own individual reasons.

If you have been to the Eastern Idaho State Fair you join an instant fellowship I have found. If you have ever seen the Alligator wrestler, monkey’s who do back flips while riding small ponies, Mexican Trapese Acrobats or the arm wresting competition where it is a prerequisite to wear Wranglers and have a Tobacco ring on your back pocket just to make it on stage, you understand what I am talking about. I LOVE AMERICA! Give me a shout out if you have experienced the EISF!

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January 18, 2013

Lotoja- The long ride

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The look of a man about to ride a bike as hard as he can for 10 hours.

This is a late post so forgive me. The news from this event is over. Most cyclists are fattening up for the winter but for some they have one date in mind throughout the whole year, September 7, 2013, next years Lotoja race. This year my wife and I ran support for my best friend Ivun, pictured above. It was a race in and of itself. Pushing, running and gunning through crowds and traffic to get some food and liquid to our man. Holding a flag made out of a ski pole and a stand out hawaiian shirt trying to flag an overheated cyclist down in Montpelier was a chore. Organizers yelling to stay back as crowds tried to beat each other out for position so their cyclist can spend as little time as possible getting their feed bag. Ivun’s brother Ira, who was part of our clan ended up stopping for a total of 1:50 minutes over the 9:13 hours he rode while having to pee for about 7 of those. He ended up with the win in category 3 by a meager .005 of a second. It is serious business out there and every second counts for those looking for a title.

For others it is a chance to just finish the 206 mile, longest one day race in America and say, “I did it.” Kudos to anyone who crosses that line representing hours and days and typically around 3000-6000 training miles over the year. For those who don’t make it, it is usually in the hills and because they weren’t prepared, didn’t eat right, or had an accident.

Riding support was eventful and sad at times this year. We were seconds behind the racer who fell off the bridge at Hoback Junction. We arrived just as some riders were looking over the edge trying to call 911. My heart goes out to this rider’s family. It is still a mystery as to what really happened.

Minutes after we left the bridge a fire broke out on the mountain threatening to stop the whole thing. We stopped and just thought, “Could things get any crazier?”

Overall, I think the organizers did a fantastic job. This is a huge thing to organize.

I was so inspired by the race, the determination that I decided to start training. I did my first century in October just a month after getting my first road bike. I have a long way to go but I hope I can cross that line someday.

 

 

January 8, 2013

Twin Falls,Traditions and Toddlers

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I know it is too early to post images of summer time so please forgive me. This first image is reminiscent of times when we use to sit on the stairs at my grammies in Blackfoot and eat ice cream cones. It is hard to imagine the amount of traditions that were born on my grandma’s farm. To name a few: Bocce, making movies, playing Atari, tubing in the canal, rummikub, playing dress-up for fashion show till we were in our twenties, cousins, fishing on the pond, summer fish fry, and I could go on but it might bore you because they are all family traditions. Just know this. They have been transformational in my life. My grandpa is about to turn 94 and my grandma is 9 years his younger and they still put on a lively party. Life is good!

These were taken at my cousin’s in Twin Falls. We have certain traditions with my cousin Melissa and her husband Derek too. Derek and I cook Asian, Indian or Thai food every time we get together. He served a mission over in Indonesia and Singapore and learned a bunch. The food is off the charts.

I am interested to hear about your family traditions so maybe I can steal one or two. Pipe up!

Mamiya rz67 film straight out of the camera, no photoshop please.

 

On the way home from Twin was something else.