Our Adventures in Sri Lanka

Safaris to spot leopards and elephants, swimming in the Indian Ocean, sipping tea in the mountains, and several more!

Our Nile Cruise

Starting in Cairo, we sailed to Luxor, Edfu, Kom Ombo, and Aswan.

Trouble at Sea: Our Red Sea Dive Trip in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia

The Red Sea is one of the top diving destinations in the world, but Saudi Arabia is a very restrictive country to get into. That alone would have made the trip memorable...but then things went south and the Saudi Coast Guard and a hospital got involved.

Our Expedition to Jordan

Highlights included tracing the steps of Indiana Jones into Petra, following Lawrence of Arabia into Wadi Rum, and floating in the Dead Sea.

Discovering Turkey

We emersed ourselves in Istanbul, explored the white travertines of Pamukkale, and traced history through Laodikeia, Hierolopolis, and Cleopatra's Baths.

Friday, January 06, 2017


Qatar Airways had direct flights back to the US for our Christmas break, so we took an extended layover in Doha before making the return flight to Jeddah. We spent the day walking along the Corniche, took a ride across the harbor, and got lost in Souq Watiq looking for pearls.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Assignment: Nicosia

Over the winter holidays, we were given what is known in Foreign Service parlance as a "handshake" for our next post: Nicosia, Cyprus. This will be our third assignment with the Foreign Service: Washington, D.C. was first, followed by our current assignment to Jeddah, Saudia Arabia. And I should point out that after the first two assignments, folks are usually tenured and considered to be "mid-level" and that changes how one goes about getting an assignment. And, as always, my career field does things differently. But I digress.
The Flag of Cyprus

Friday, December 16, 2016

Christmas Break in NYC

To make the most of our Christmas break, Kacey and the girls flew out of Jeddah a week before me and then we reunited in a frozen New York City. Before I arrived, they saw the New York Botanical Garden, Santa at Macy's, and the Rockettes. We also visited the Statue of Liberty and took our 7-year-old daughter to one of the last performances of Roald Dahl's Matilda on Broadway.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Canyoneering in Wadi Shab, Oman

We first heard about Oman's Wadi Shab when we spent an evening with bedouins in the Saudi Arabian desert. It's a great place for river trekking (tracing), which is non-technical canyoning (you don't need climbing gear, just shoes and a swimsuit). We took our kids on a day trip from Muscat to see the Bimmah sinkhole before hiking through Wadi Shab. I've also got some tips on what to bring on your outing.
Canyoneering in Wadi Shab

Friday, October 21, 2016

Bedouin Night in the Arabian Desert

We took a break from the city of Jeddah and headed into the Saudi Arabian desert, where we saw a camel farm before catching dinner and a show at a bedouin camp. There was food, dancing, loud music, and several other activities that you just don't see in the city.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


Ok, I know it looks like I've been totally off-grid for five months, but we've been busy at home and work. If you're reading this and that previous statement makes no sense because I have lots of posts between April and October, consider this a mid-year summary post. Otherwise,

1) I still have to finish writing up the last posts from April about our Nile Cruise, and that link will hopefully be finished by the end of the month, along with the other posts from Egypt.

2) In July, we went on R&R to Florida, California, and Canada with a stop at a Kentucky horse park and Ireland along the way. Again, those links will work when I publish the pages. They're mostly written, but not quite ready for release just yet.

3) Then in September, we went to Sri Lanka for over a week and saw leopards, elephants, and went from the beach to the mountains. A great time, with lots of photos and stories...but that also takes time to write up, and don't even get me started about trying to schedule my photo uploads to compensate for the slower internet speeds during the only times I seem to have to work in this.

4) We have trips planned to Oman and Qatar in the next three months as well as Christmas in the US. With luck, I'll clear the backlog by the time we generate more content. That in itself is a challenge with all the other daily living stuff going on, but I'm a glutton for punishment so...

5) I am also reviewing and overhauling my personal media strategy, which at present is about as organized as a filing cabinet that has caught fire and fallen over. I suppose that's a rather incoherent way to describe how incoherent it is, which is either ironic or apropos. Anyways, here's the new plan:

  • Blog: The Passport Stamp Collector blog (the one you are reading right now) will be the primary focus and will link other social media to it using #PassportStampCollectorBlog and to a lesser extent #PSCblog. So, of course, I'm going to spend days tweaking the template. It also gives me an excuse for any formatting errors and broken links, but I am working to correct them as I find them.  
  • Instagram: I gave RRR his own Instagram account at @WorldTravelRRR because I have far too many snapshots of him (on the order of hundreds) that didn't make the final blog post. If you like stuffed animal travel companions, follow RRR on Instagram or find him with #TravelRRR. When appropriate, I might drop in a #PSCblog tag to let you know there's a related blog post.
  • Tumblr - RRR: Since Instagram doesn't support links very well, I'll also be using travelRRR.tumblr.com for the "bonus material" RRR photos that may or may not have an associated Passport Stamp Collector post. For instance: Mardi Gras 2005. If there is a related blog post, I'll link the two together.
  • Tumblr - Passport Stamp Collector Bonus feed: I've set up what you might call a "Slightly Askance Tumblr Feed" for the Passport Stamp Collector Blog where I'll post the one-off things that don't really substantiate a full blog post but I still think are worth sharing #PassportStampCollectorBlog
  • Tumblr - Travel Trinkets: I collect travel trinkets from the countries I visit, and you can either read more about what I look for in a travel trinket or see the full gallery at TravelTrinkets.tumblr.com. The travel trinkets descriptions also feature a link to a blog post related to when I added the trinket to my collection.
And since "no plan survives first contact", I expect the kinks to be worked out over the next, let's say, two months. Now, where's that fire extinguisher...

Monday, September 19, 2016

Sri Lanka Family Vacation Summary

Our family of four spent a little over a week in Sri Lanka and covered quite a bit of territory. From animal safaris in the jungle to Buddhist & Hindu temples on the mountain sides, with train rides through tea plantations along the way, Sri Lanka was an amazing place to visit. We highly recommend most of the the things we did, and have included as much info as we can for you to plan your own trip.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Our last day in Sri Lanka took us from the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, to the Royal Botanical Gardens, and finally the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage before heading to the airport.
This photo is from the Temple of the Tooth

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Saudi Arabia: So Far, So Good?

We're over two years in to our second tour in the Foreign Service with the US Department of State in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It's hard...