judi-010-copyThe Harpers –

Updated pictures and profiles Feb. 2018 below.

We are a family from Ashland, Oregon that decided to take 18 months and explore the world.  A lot of people have come along on the planning of this journey; it has taken the better part of ten years to move dreams and whispers to real departure times and Air BnB reservations.  We packed it all up, sold it off, gave it away or (in the case of our wonderful cats) snuggled and tried to telepathically communicate that we will return someday.

But after twenty years of slowly filling a wonderful old house with stuff, twelve years of raising our family and twenty five years of being lawyers we decided it was time for a break.  The nearest we can trace it back is that at some point before having a family we realized that if we took our American culture allotted three weeks a year and did nothing but travel to the places in the world we wanted to visit, we couldn’t possible make it, even assuming the kids will push us around in wheelchairs by the end of it.  So, we needed a new plan.  A time when the kids would be old enough to carry their own stuff and remember where they visit, a time when we could have saved up a little money, a time when we were still healthy enough to sleep in youth hostels and a time before Kate starts high school exams.  That left us this one wonderful window of time – fall of 2016 to fall of 2018.  And January of 2017 seemed like a perfect time to make the break.

Alan is…

Alan with monkey (candy in mouth) Monkey temple, Jaipur India
The one with the hat – not the one eating the candy.


Feb. 2018:  The thing I am most thankful for is this time all together as a family.  I think that basically I am the same person who left on this Big Trip but together we have shared something that is so strange and full of so many amazing sights, that only our family will get it.  I think that is great in a lot of ways, but will be odd too.  

A big kid from Portland Oregon who likes to explore new places and loves to guide friends and family to them once he has it figured out.  He likes good coffee, good beers and good wine.  A perfect experience usually involves meeting interesting people.  There is nothing he enjoys more than being with his family; at least that is what he says before he has spent 18 months of 24/7 time with them.

Judi is…

judi's selfie with Alan, Kate and john in the background
The windblown look exploring Napier, New Zealand.
Judi and palm leaf camel
Ready to hike Morocco.


Feb. 2018:  The Big Trip has given Judi a lot of time to think about what life will be like when we return and to love the uninterrupted time as a family.  Each day is precious, she often says.

A Portland girl who enjoys cooking (but mostly gathering ideas for great meals) and loves a good crime drama.  Which is funny because she has been a criminal lawyer her whole adult life.  She aspires to be organized but will settle for being an amazing mom, and everyone knows moms have to be prepared for anything.

Kate is…

Always on the hunt for bubble tea – here in Hong Kong, China.


Feb. 2018:  Now a dynamic 13 year old, she seems much older to her father.  She thrived playing basketball on a team in London and enjoyed shopping on the high streets of Paris and Tokyo.  But mostly I have seen her touched and motivated by the challenging life situations of people, especially kids, all around the world.  Kate and Judi have taken several cooking classes in many diverse places.  Judi and I are so glad to get to hear her dreams and goals as they evolve daily on the Big Trip.  Her recent thoughts on the trip were captured here.

A beautiful 12 year old who has a great eye for fashion and fun.  She loves to play basketball and volleyball and she dearly loves her friends.  She will miss 7th and 8th grade and be away from a wonderful group of young ladies that are like part of the Harper family themselves.  But she hopes that they will come visit her on the Big Trip at some point.  Or at least they will help her keep her Snapchat streaks (whatever those are) alive.  She is also the family foodie; she loves new foods, exotic foods, comfort foods and has always had a great sense for food adventure.  She also has a strong idea of what she likes and how a plan should come together, and we all know how that works when traveling.

John is…

Enjoying the Cat Cafe in Kyoto, Japan


Feb. 2018:  Now 11, it really has been John who has missed his friends the most.  He is still full of energy and always full of ideas.  People have loved him instantly everywhere we have went – his sweet nature and open heart make him an amazing traveler.  His early thoughts on the trip are captured here.

Everything you would guess a 10 year old boy to be – he is always on the go, except for when he is quiet and snuggly.  He loves to play games of all kinds.  He loves to build things and wants to invent things (after his chosen career of being a basketball point guard for Cleveland).  He has a light in his eyes and openness in his heart for all things.  He is kind and fun but he also knows himself well.  He will also dearly miss his 4th and 5th grade buddies but he expects that playing basketball and flipping half full bottles of water for hours on end will still be useful pastimes in middle school when he returns to Ashland.


12 thoughts

  1. I’m very excited about following your adventures. I can live vicariously through you two. What a great idea and I’m sure exceptionally well planned. I hope Egypt is on your radar for a visit so that my mother can live vicariously through you too, a place she has wanted to go forever, until things got dicey over there. Have a great time and be careful in certain crowded areas.


    1. Debbie, so great to hear from you. We have been planning a long time but know there will be surprises; we will just try and smile and be flexible and live in the moment. Alan


  2. What a beautiful family ! You guys will have a great time ! Probably won’t be all roses but you will make great memories! We are in South America as we “speak” and enjoying it . Looking forward to following your blog and getting to know your beautiful children. You are such a great family and I wish you only great, meaningful times together!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janet, we are excited to have you along and Judi asks you to look for the perfect gold purse for her. Your Rio pictures are amazing and we can’t wait to get there.


  3. Bob and I are so delighted to “go with you” on your fabulous adventure! Thanks for allowing us to share in your journey. Hooray Harpers!


  4. We in Ashland got covered in a blanket of white, last night. Janice and I bride to Portland Sunday, and fly to Jamaica. Thanks for the blog. Skip


  5. OMG! What a great adventure! Can’t wait to live vicariously through you guys. You guys look great BTW – can’t believe the kids are so grown up!


  6. Thank you so much for including me in your journey. I have always admired Judi since I met her in High School. Have a great time. If your family is like mine……………..we laugh at things that just go wrong and when they go wrong how wrong can they go! So no matter what, your will have the adventure of a lifetime.


    1. Lisa,
      Thanks for coming along. We embrace the things that go wrong just as much as what goes as planned – since both are certain to come along anyway. It might just be the fact that Fiji constantly looks like we are living in a postcard scene, but the adventure still seems a bit surreal. There are people surfing, fishing and doing yoga already before 8am – and that is on Fiji time.


  7. I will try to get update of your journey on this website, not because I have nothing else better to do as Judi said lol. It’s that you are living life and that is inspirational to me.
    Safe flight ! We will rendezvous one day


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