Hello there!

I’m J, one quarter of Mapball Adventures.

Here I am with my small family at Qutub Minar, India.

How did I end up in a India with a baby strapped to my chest?

Fair question.

Let’s go back. 

Waaaaay back. 

Back to the beginning.

I was born and raised in from California, not a bad place to grow up.  Living near the coast, I grew up loving everything to do with the ocean. Here I am about to go bodyboarding at my home surf break in Southern California:


And here I am surfing a little wave in Indonesia:


Believe it or not, you can make a living bodyboarding, so I gave it a shot in my late teens/early 20s.  I’d make some finals in local pro/am contests, but never enough to quit my day job.  That’s okay, because I soon became hooked on something else: travel mixed with service.

Soon that’s all I was doing. After I graduated university with a degree in Education, I promptly stopped teaching and began living and volunteering abroad, mostly in Latin America.

After I built up a bit of experience I applied to a small Swiss humanitarian organization.  To my delight, they hired me.  They sent me around the world responding to disasters in Angola, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia, Sudan, and Haiti.

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Tsunami damage, Sri Lanka


Kashmiri man poses in front of his transitional shelter. Pakistan controlled Kashmir


Earthquake damaged bridge, Indonesia

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Sunset in Khartoum, Sudan


Earthquake damage in Haiti

I became the guy going into war or disaster zones on empty planes, while the planes out were packed with people fleeing danger.

In between disasters, I would go back to California to await my next assignment.  To pay the bills I would take odd jobs.  I was a tutor, a photographer’s assistant, and a tour guide for an adventure/camping company.  I’d run tours mainly in the American Southwest. I grew up camping with my family every summer, so I loved returning to many of these places as an adult and sharing America’s natural beauty with visitors.Trek GC.jpg

My love for the outdoors is deep. One of my favorite things to do is disconnect from the grid and get off the beaten path with A and the boys.

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Eventually, I was able to find a full time job as a humanitarian aid worker. Apart from some time off to attend grad school in Boston to study humanitarian assistance and a short time in D.C., I’ve lived the vast majority of my adult life abroad. 

Recent disaster responses I’ve participated in include Afghanistan, Syria (from Turkey), the Ebola outbreak in Western Africa, the Nepal earthquake, and the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh.  When I’m not responding to a disaster I’m working with countries to help prepare for the next large event.


Ebola response, Liberia

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Over fifty countries. A handful of languages. Travel to some of the most wild and untouristed parts of the world doing life saving work. 


The real adventure began more recently, when I met A here in Thailand.  Here’s us riding bikes in Bangkok, where we’re both based:


And here is us getting married:

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She’s the better half of Mapball Adventures and a talented photographer – her posts are beautiful – and most of the photographs on the site are hers.

L and E joined us a few years after we tied the knot.  If marriage is an adventure, fatherhood was like diving into the unknown.

I’m usually a very in-the-moment type of person, so didn’t spend too much time imagining what having children would be like.  Once they arrived on the scene, I was floored by my reaction to this new role assignment.  I absolutely loved it.  Much more than I imagined I would, much more than I was told I would.


Having children also caused A and I to take a look at what we say is important vs. how we’re actually spending our time on Earth. 

This type of crazy thinking gave birth to a crazy plan:  aggressively save enough to take a year+ break from work to worldschool our kids when they’re old enough to remember the experience…and young enough to still think traveling around the world with their parents is cool. 

Find out more about our plan here.

That’s me in a nutshell. A humanitarian expat enjoying family life in Thailand, planning our next big adventure.  Thanks for stopping by and looking forward to the characters we’ll meet as we set off on this journey.

For an idea of what I write about, here some of my recent posts: