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Mar 10

Ten Years - Where Has The Time Gone?

Posted by: Mark Solon        

It’s hard to believe that 2010 marks the 10th anniversary of moving to Idaho for my wife Pam and I, as well as the 10th anniversary of starting Highway 12 Ventures. Looking at our children though, it’s clear that time has indeed marched on. Our ten year-old son was only a couple of months old when we moved to Boise and his older sister hadn’t reached her second birthday. Seeing how much they’ve grown reminds Pam and I just how fleeting our time with them really is. It’s in this spirit that I’m sharing that I’ll be taking a sabbatical this summer. A couple of days after the school year ends in early June, we’ll be leaving with our kids for Southeast Asia and then on to Africa, returning just a couple of days before the school year starts in late August.

How did we arrive at this decision? About five years ago, a close friend of ours took a three-month trip to Africa that she and her husband had taken with their early-teen children to engage in volunteer work. They had grown concerned that their kids needed some “perspective” about how lucky they were to live in this amazing country with our unparalleled quality of life. Pam and I were so moved by her story that we began plotting what we wound up calling our very own “perspective trip” for our family when the kids reached an age when they could both appreciate it. Now that they’re ten and eleven, we think it’s the perfect time.

Given that most global volunteer groups are geared to older teens, we did quite a bit of research to find an organization that has “age appropriate” volunteer work for kids a little younger. We were delighted to discover a group called GlobeAware. It’s an incredible outfit that focuses on short-term, one week volunteer vacations. These are specially formatted for working people with limited vacation time who want to volunteer abroad. Here’s a video about GlobeAware if you’re interested.

In Southeast Asia, we’ll be traveling to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. While we’re there we’ll be working with children much less fortunate than ours. With about a month left in the summer, we’ll head to Africa where we’ll be doing similar volunteer work and visiting Ghana and Tanzania.

Given the responsibility I have to our investors and companies where I serve on the board of directors, I didn’t come to this decision lightly. However, with the encouragement of my incredible partners along with the knowledge that we’ve got a full team more than capable of covering my responsibilities while I’m gone, Pam and I feel very fortunate that we’re able to do this as our kids are entering their teen years. It’s important to us that our children realize just how fortunate they are and we believe they’ll be at the perfect age to feel the full impact of an experience like this.

Finally, as someone who lives in the technology world, I’ve struggled over my decision on how to share our journey with friends and family. Given that we’re investors in Everlater and I think it’s by far the best way to share one’s travel experiences in real-time, that would be the logical choice. However, because most kids these days (mine included) probably believe that their parent’s fingers are eternally attached to either a keyboard or handheld device, I’ve decided that handwritten journals will be our method of recording our experience while we’re there and I’ll recreate the trip in Everlater upon our return.

While much of our time will be spent on GlobeAware projects, we’ll have some exploration time between these and I’d love to hear from those who have traveled to these countries and learn about their “can’t miss” experiences there.

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18 Responses to “Ten Years - Where Has The Time Gone?”

  1. Incredible opportunity for your kids! And I am sure it will be life changing for you and your wife as well. If you have any interest, I can give you the contact information for my sister who has lived in Cambodia for the last 8 years. She is a teacher/counselor at a school there. She also adopted my nephew when he was six years old (now 13 years old), is a foster parent to four other kids and just took in a mother with her daughter! Makes me tired writing about it! Definitely a place to give perspective.

    I am sure this sabbatical and time with your family will be life changing! That we would all take the opportunity to do the same.


  2. avatar Mark Solon says:


    This is exactly what I had hoped for when posting this. I'd be very grateful for the opportunity to connect with your sister. My email is [email protected]. Thanks for the encouragement and your generous offer!

  3. avatar Gerry Langeler says:

    While in the Tanzania area, by all means visit the game parks. The two I recommend most highly are Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara.

    The former is a volcano that blew its top but instead of filling with water like Crater Lake, it filled with animals. All the African species live there side by side.

    Lake Manyara is the only place in the world where the lions climb trees. No one knows why. But if you have an sun roof in your land rover, look up before stopping in the shade! The lions look cute in the trees, but not so cute if they decide to "drop in!"

    • avatar Mark Solon says:

      Thanks Gerry, we've got plans to visit both and will surely "look up" at the trees! We're staying with friends of friends there and are really looking forward to this part of the trip!

  4. avatar Jamie says:


    At the risk of being too philosophical it takes a lot of courage to do what you and Pam are doing. Some day you will look back on your life and my bet is this will be at the top of the list of what you cherish. Time without the schedules, the electronic devices and the daily grind to just…be.

    We can't wait to share the stories once you are home.

    "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." Mohandas Gandhi


  5. avatar Mark Solon says:

    Thanks for the sentiment Jamie. The hardest part of this trip is going to be missing a summer of camping in the back country of Idaho with the Coopers and all our friends.

    "Wax on, Wax off." Pat Morita

  6. avatar Brad Feld says:

    Mark - this is awesome. Your kids will remember this for the rest of their life and it's another example for all of us about how important it is to "live life" rather than just grind it out.

  7. Kelly Taylor says:

    What a great idea Mark. I just showed this to my wife as something to add to the Life List.

    If you make it to Tanzania, specifically Moshi or Arusha, lookup my old friend and Kili Guide Wilfred Cyril Moshi:

    • avatar Mark Solon says:

      Hey Kelly, I hope you get your chance to do something like this. That would really add another link to the the notion that life is a continuum that I subscribe to. I will certainly look up Wilfred, thanks for the tip!

  8. Tammy says:

    Wow! What an awesome experience for you and your family! I'll look forward to your trip report when you return. Blessings to you all on your journey.

  9. avatar jkm says:

    Congrats. Want to borrow my bike box?

  10. Can't believe I'm only now seeing this.

    Like I just told you privately, this is awesome. As a parent contemplating a similar trip, it's good to hear about those that are doing it. Will have questions upon your return, for sure.

  11. Jeremy and I are pretty inspired by you guys! Also, I totally support not using any devices while you're away. Have a great time using those hand muscles again. :)

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