Friday, December 25, 2009

Columbian Christmas in snow...

Merry Christmas (or shall I say, Felize Navidad) from Columbia!!

Yes, i know what you are thinking, and so were we. Ville and I had a great trip down on the boat to Dominican Republic, but because of some small issues (which included a much needed personality adjustment from the captain, maybe his age to come down exponentially and health to improve as well as some questions on the level of safety), we decided to leave our Capt. Bob and Capt. Jack on Cheesburger in Paradise there in Dominican and found a great cheap place to stay and reevaluated our plans. (If you want the full story, it will come much later when we meet again over a few beers, preferably on you :)

Soooo....we ran into some great kids, about our age, who were on a boat that left Virginia and was on it`s way to Cartegena, Columbia and then on to the San Blas islands off Panama. The boat is bigger, beautiful, and way more spacious than the last (also, things tend to not break as much on this boat as the last) and overall a jump from rags to riches. I wanted to get an update out last stop, but was unable to before we climbed aboard Alliance and hit the seas on our way to the land of snow.

As we pulled into port, we were all surprised to discover that the capitol of Columbia looks very similar to the Manhattan skyline. Weird. And the old town is neat, but swarming with tourists just off cruise ships and people trying to sell you all kinds of stuff you don`t need. We were able to finally use our legs again yesterday and walked all over town sampling beers and food and taking in the sights. Last night our cook (YES, we have an amazing cook on the boat who cooks three excellent meals a day) made a big Christmas Eve feast we ate on the boat all together. It was really nice, but I have to say I really miss my family again on Christmas.

The plan is to head out on Sunday and it will be only a 2 day sail to the San Blas Islands. These islands are inhabited by very old native tribes and therefore are scarcely populated. We will literally be able to pull up, anchor out, and jump off the boat into the very blue-green Caribbean water and snorkel all day. We are really looking forwards to it. Will promise to write as I can, and hope you all are having very relaxing holidays with your families.

Miss and love you all,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

Kristen & Ville

Check out and start drooling cause it`s all free for us!

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Yes, I am off again. I know what you are thinking, and yes, i am crazy. But, Ville is my co-pilot and we are off on yet another adventure working on a sailboat cruising through the Caribbean for a few months!

Captain Bob and Jack are the guys in charge and showing us, literally, the ropes. Our boat is called Cheeseburger in Paradise and it is a 47-foot red and white sailboat. Can't tell you much about it all yet, cause we are both new to sailing and learning as we go. By our next stop in 7-17 days, i feel we will be pros.

Right now we are in Beaufort, North Carolina and after spending a week with our great friends Carol and Carolyn in Raleigh, we got a ride to the beach to the meet up with the boat and begin the stock-pile of work to get this boat out of dry-dock for a year and into the water and sea-worthy again. Lots of Ville's and my elbow grease went into sanding and painting the bottom of the boat on the first day. A week of work and wating for a weather window and we will be pushing off tomorrow at 8 a.m. for our longest sail to Dominican Republic, with a possible stop in the Turks and Caicos. Depending on wind and weather, we could be there in 7 days, but if we have to motor a lot it could take (God forbid for my own sanity) up to 17 days to get there.

Our first week has had it's moments, but we keep telling ourselves we will be laughing at them later. Too early to elaborate. Our captains are great guys with tons of experience under their belts, old-salty-sea-dogs to be exact. Capt. Bob is a construction lifer, so his personality and ability to communicate are, well, amazing. I am so thankful for my partner-in-crime who is right here with me, remembering to laugh at it all.

So, bon voyoge, and will write at our next port! Pics will be on their way...

Kristen and Ville

Saturday, June 6, 2009


I guess it’s finally time for an update. Sorry guys it has taken me a while, but a lot has happened since the last one.

Ville, the Hamptons, and I made it on an all day excursion over the border to Nicaragua by chicken bus and to San Juan Del Sur, a town right on the beach. We stayed there for a few days bodysurfing in the waves, burning our pale skin, and hiking a bit in the hills. From there, it was a couple buses and a long ferry (full with bugs) to Isla de Ometepe (or in English, the big island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua). We made it off the ferry a short walk to a private oasis, Playa Venecia, right on the water and we had our own bungalows to watch some amazing lightning storms and swim in the lake. After a few days of relaxation, we bused it around the island to Finca Magdalena, where we stayed at the base of Madero, one of the two large volcanoes on the island. Very early in the a.m, Ville and I, along with two new friends from Antarctica, hiked to the top of the volcano and Ville swam in the muddy lake in the crater. We saw howler monkeys, parrots, coco plantations, and coffee plantations on the way up and down. While our bodies were covered in mud, our guide somehow remained completely clean (guess it comes from hiking it every day). We had a blast and made our way back to Playa Venecia to spend another night and meet up with the Hamptons.

The next day, we took a ferry back to the mainland, and bused it up to Granada, a town up north still on Lake Nicaragua. After checking into a hotel, I made it to internet and found a bunch of terrible e-mails from my parents that my dog Timber (who many of you know has been struggling with cancer for a year now, but was doing amazingly well) was not doing so well. Ville, because he is so great, came with me and we were lucky to get on a full fast bus the next morning for a 10 hour push back to San Jose, Costa Rica. There were no flights out, but we stayed near the airport and found a flight back to DC the next day. After arriving late in DC, we made it to a bed, and started our long drive home the next day. We stopped in Chicago, North Dakota, Idaho, and the last push into Bend on the fourth day. Across the U.S. in 40 days and back in 3 in a half. It was rough, but Timber was so happy to see me and was starting to do better.

Ville, Timber, and I have been staying at my parents in Bend and we made a couple short trips to Portland for a soccer tournament, and camped for a day at Camp Sherman on the Metolious River. Unfortunately, the last week Timber took a bad downturn, and after many sleepless nights sitting up with him, he passed away the day before yesterday. For those of you that know me, Timber and I always came in a package and he was my sidekick and best friend so this has been extremely difficult for me. Timber was never just a dog, he was special and my best friend. I feel so lucky to have had him for the six years we had, and he was such a fighter to make it a year with cancer. He is greatly loved and will be missed. Please say a special prayer for him.

Before I left on this last odyssey, Ville and I finally graduated from college. I completed my BS in Liberal Studies and he a degree in International Business. The plan was to not be home yet, but I am planning to now attend my graduation here in Bend this next weekend on the 13th. Anyone interested in coming, is welcome to attend, it is at 2 o’clock in Drake Park, and there is free food. Those who (I don’t blame) can’t make it, there is also an after party out at my parents house after. I am working on getting those dang announcements out before the event. The original plan was to stay in Bend the summer, but my parents are buying me a plan ticket to Finland to head there for the summer with Ville when he goes back for work and family. We leave June 29th and will be back in a few months. Ville is trying to find a job in the States, but of course, who knows where life will take us.

Thanks for reading all my stories, and hope to continue them soon. Hope you all are happy, healthy, and loving life. Hope to see and hear from you all soon.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Exiting Costa Rica


Ville and I met up with our friends, Ville 2 and Katri from Finland, right off the plane in San Jose and after many hours on 2 planes and chaos in the airport, we made it to San Jose. FYI for all those traveling down here from anywhere other than the U.S, these countries require that you buy a return ticket to your country before even entering. I was o.k. because we spend so much $$$ down here, but Ville was not allowed on the plane in until we bought tickets back into the U.S. which ended up working out, but a tad bit stressful. And lame.

We met the friends, who scoped out San Jose a couple days and wanted to move on and jumped straight on a 4 in a half hour bus to Quepos near the beach. We stayed at a great hotel with a pool and made a side trip to Manual Antonio Park where we saw a bunch of sloths, monkeys, racoons, crabs, lizards, and bugs. It was just like a nature show. We found a secluded beach that was awesome and swam in the water. Walked the peninsula and headed back to Quepos. Took 2 very long, dusty, and bumpy buses to Monte Verde where there was a big rainforest on the top of a mountain. There we got a great room with a balcanoy to see the mountains and spent a day out on Extremo Canopy Tours (was very extremo thats for sure). It was amazing! We got to do 14 different ziplines over and through the rainforest. Got pics and video I will upload when possible. Don´t worry mom, it was very safe. Safer than traveling in Mexico right now, at least. Speaking of, our flight back to D.C. is at the end of May and we hope flights have resumed by then.

This morning we hopped another 3 buses to Liberia, Costa Rica which is a big city close to the border of Nicaragua. We are staying here a night and then heading over the border to the beach and then to Lake Nicaragua. If you look on a map, it is a HUGE lake with islands in the middle and suppose to be really beautiful. This town reminds me a lot of Mexico it´s pretty cool. Costa Rica is expensive though and I am pretty excited to get to Nicaragua where it is at least half the cost. We are all really good. Travels have been amazing and we are taking a bunch of pictures. Enjoying every minute of it. The people down here are so friendly and thanks to my bilingual boyfriend, we are able to get by. My Spanish is very slowly coming back, but workingon it. Trying to learn Finish on the side as well. I might be fluent by 2030. But no worries down here and life is good. Hope all are well. Stay in touch, I can still read, feel free to write.


Kristen and Ville

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Costa Rica

Just wanted to let you all know we made it here safely. We left so early yesterday from DC and flew into San Jose in Costa Rica and our friends Ville and Katri met us at the airport. They were over the big city and we didn't hear great things (mainly theft from locals on the plane) so we took a taxi from the airport right to the bus station and took a very slow 4 hour ride to Quepos, which is on the coast. We found a great hostel with a pool (it is hotter and more humid than the face of the sun) and are relaxing. The plan is to make it to Manuel Antonio's Natural Park tomorrow which we hear is amazing for seeing all kinds of crazy animals. Will keep you updated often and I have free internet for the next couple days so let me know how all of you are as well.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

New Mexico and beyond

Hello again,
And so the journey continues. After leaving Durnago, Colorado, Ville and I headed south through New Mexico and tried to camp at Santa Rosa State Park on a lake there, but it turned out to be the setting of a horror film and so we checked into a motel in town instead. After leaving there, we drove straight through the northern part of Texas (Amarillo) and into Oklahoma City where I got to stay with my cousin Jason who I hadn't seen since I was 16. Probably haven't matured much since then. Great to spend time with his family and kids. In Oklahoma City, Ville and I checked out the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum there and know all there is to know about cowboys, indians, and heritage. Actually, this museum is pretty cool if you have the time to check it out. After leaving we drove on east and into Arkansas where we were pleasantly shocked at how pretty it was. We headed off the interstate and onto some country roads into a town we picked off the map called Buckville which appeared to be on a lake (Lake Ouachita). We were getting worried as the sun went down and we hadn't seen a drop of water, but the lake finally appeared and it was a beautiful camping area right on the water of a huge lake. We ended up spending a full day here soaking in the sun, relaxing, reading, and Ville tried his hand at fishing (no, he didn't catch anything, but we saw a bunch of turtles.) Ville and I were pretty popular in those parts and we had a couple come down to see us with some Miller Light to just hear Ville talk. They owned the local fishing store and gave Ville a new fishing pole to help him out a bit (he was using a stick because we forgot our poles). It was really fun and a much needed break from the road.
From Arkansas we drove northeast to Memphis which is a huge, happenin' city and headed straight to Graceland. After realizing it cost about $40 to find Elvis, we walked down to his house, snapped a couple pictures for free and called it good. Back on the road we headed through Mississippi (which is really green with medium sized trees everywhere) and into Alabama where we, again, picked out a spot in a forest on a map. We stopped on the Lewis Smith Lake and the camping was not our favorite, but a spot. The lake was murkey and a ways down the hill, but it was a lake. The next day we drove out and stopped at a one-room Post Office and got to hear the history of the nearby jail that is the only one the is wood with about a million hand-made and hammered nails spaced an inch or so apart throughout the entire thing. Some man saw us checking the place out, and pulled over to introduce himself, and suggested a local place to eat some lunch. We headed to Arly's Coffee Shop and it was so awesome. A bunch of older locals and everyone in town there eating (must have been the most popular place in town) and had the lunch special of chicken and gravy, corn, green beans, yams, rolls, and even a brownie for desert. The conversation there was the best. Back to the road and found one of the craziest places I had actually seen on t.v., by accident. In Scottsboro, Alabama there is a huge building called Unclaimed Baggage where all of the unclaimed luggage and stuff goes the airlines loses and they sell it. I was on a mission to find my stuff from my life in Thailand and southeast Asia travel that they lost, but no luck. The woman said they have a high turnover rate of the stuff there and so if it was there, it would be gone now. Ville found an Obama shirt and a What Would Rambo Do? t-shirt. On to Chattanooga, Tennessee where we finally stopped for the most amazing bar-b-que we had ever had! And our last stop was at a hotel in Sweatwater to shower and recharge before we head into the Smokey Mountains today.
Thanks for all the love family and friends along our route, that has been the best part of the trip so far. Keep in touch. We will as well. Some words from Marty Stoufford, Until next time, enjoy our wild America!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

National Parks Tour

Hello again family and friends,

It hasn't been long, but Ville and I have packed in a lot in just a few days. Last update, we left Lisa in Vegas (where I forgot to mention Ville saw his first movie star at the Cirque De Soliel show, Matthew McConisomething) and headedto the Hoover Dam and to Sedona where we camped for a night with all the magic crystals there (these shops are everywhere, including even a who shop dedicated to U.F.O.s). After Sedona, we drove up through Flagstaff and to the East Overlook and Plains View of the Grand Canyon which blew both of us away on how giant a crack in the ground can be (almost literally blew us away because we found a sweet overlook of our own with no tourists on a very windy day and almost flew the 7,000 feet down to the bottom (it's also 10 miles across)). The drive out of the Grand Canyon was through very windy and dusty wide open planes of Native Americans living on their reservtion in trailers. We made our stop at Lone Rock Beach on Lake Powell just as the sun went down and the full moon came up. Camped on the beach and realized the water was a bit colder than we thought, but Ville talked me into a late night swim anyway. The next day we drove to Zion National Park (which we both agree was our favorite N.P.of the trip so far) and walked a trail on cliff rocks (safety first) to an incredible lookout of the valley and drove through a tunnel cut out of the rock that was the longest I'd ever driven through and would have passed out trying to hold my breath through the whole thing ( not good considering I was the driver). After Zion we camped near a creek in the snowy mountains with cow patties. We are cooking on a cookstove and sleeping in the truck or tent if anyone wants to be really jealous. I love it.

The next day we drove through Bryce Canyon N.P. and that was a spectacular drive into and through the park. Lots of amazing red rock. Pics never do these places justice because you can't get a big enough lens to get it all in. But, it was beautiful to see and we drove on through some very small towns that look bigger on a map and through Capitol Reef N.P. that was huge boulders (see pics) and on at 75 m.p.h. through miles of straight road and camped off a road in the sandy hills with a bunch of huge trailers and motocross boys. The next morning (yesterday) we woke up early and drove through Arches N.P. (we both agreed by this last one it was not as impressive as Zion or Bryce, but it could be that we have seen so much in such a little amout of time we are getting use to the shocking scenery), but the arches were cool and we drove to Moab where we had a great brekfast and watched a million (not even exaggerating) (o.k. maybe a little, but not by much) jeeps and offroading rigs head to the sandy plains north for an annual Offroading Jeep Convention all around Moab. Very sorry we missed it, but our sweet rice rocket might not hang with those big boys (maybe I need bigger tires?) Drove south out of Utah and into Colorado where the stunning scenery changed to farms and snowcapped mountains and drove in a blizzerd to Mesa Verde N.P. where the sun came out and we got to see a bunch of cool cliff dwellings. We are thinking of moving here, but we're on a waiting list. On to Durango and spent the night last night in an Econo Lodge with a hot shower (we were bathing in lakes and rivers, but I was getting sick of being with myself, so it was time), a way to charge our batteries on cameras and phones (random food joints were looking at us funny bringing in all our chargers while we ate), and a real bed (no offense mat in the bed of my truck).

Today the plan is to head south into New Mexico and then head east through Texas. Not a set plan, but a rough one and will keep you posted. I am posting pictures, because I can't describe places, and if you want to get in touch with me or Ville, my cell 541.610.6978 and e-mails are (me) (Ville) Hope all are well and pester us often!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

California & Vegas

Hello Family and Friends!!

I know, i know. It has been a bit tough to stop and take the time to sit at a computer monitor and write, but Ville and I are alive and doing awesome!

For those do not know, my boyfriend, Ville, and I are on the road across the country. Ville is a Scandinavian stallion from Finland and flew to Bend for 6 weeks after he finished his International Business Degree and waited on me graduating. I FINALLY finished up my degree in Liberal Studies on the 17th of March and we headed off in my sweet Toyota for a road trip across America. We have to be in Washington D.C. by the 24th of April for a flight to Costa Rica for some more travels.

So far...we have stopped at Crater Lake, stayed in Medford a couple days to stay with friends and fam (thanks so much for the warm bed/food and fun times) and made our way down the Hwy 1 to the Redwoods. We camped in rain (where we realized my old camper shell is not quite as air tight as we thought, but we both can swim and were back on the road). From there we made it to San Francisco for a few days to stay with friends I use to live with and I gave Ville the whirlwind tour of his life ("Kristen, can we please sit for a minute in the park?" "NO!, there is NO time. Must...keep...going!") and after some hiking, freak watching, and cable car riding, we were back on the road to Big Sur where we camped for a night, hiked, and ate an amazing breakfast at Neptune (Must See, this place was amazing) and drove the 1 to San Louis Obispo to stay with my aunt.

After a great breakfast with my aunt and uncle and a jam sesh on the guitar for Ville and my uncle, we hit the road and continued to Aguira Hills in L.A. to pick up race stuff and camp out roadside in the back of the trusty Toyota. Woke early for our first Half Marathon that went swell and spent a week visiting bunches of family, friends, Disneyland, Cal Adventure Park, Laguna Beach, and L.A. freeways (YAH!). On to Las Vegas and had the best time for the last 4 days with Lisa (my sister) staying at Mandalay Bay poolside, sightseeing, people watching, and watched a Cirque De Soleil show (again a MUST SEE). Yesterday we left Vegas to stop for pics at the Hoover Dam, and on to Sedona, Arizona where we camped last night. Today, we are off to the Grand Canyon and as far as we can get to camp for a few days in Utah.

Miss and love you all. Write when you can and don't expect a super quick response, but know that I miss you guys! Thanks to all we have see so far and letting us stay and spoiling us rotten. Keep in touch, i will do my best!

Back to the road...

Kristen Grund and Ville Jokinen