Monday, November 9, 2009

2010 Calendar

2010 Calendar

2010 Calendar

The cover page of Rowan Gillson's 2010 Calendar featuring historical and religious images from across Europe.

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, my 2010 Rowan Gillson calendar is now available for your ordering pleasure! The 2010 calendar features 13 religious and historical images from our 4 Bohemians trek across Europe. Each one has been hand picked for both its image quality and the historical significance it represents. The fabulous design is by Mandy Novotny. I think you'll agree that it's a step up from my previous calendars.


Order early, order often... they make great Christmas gifts! Feel free to spread the word too!

Thanks for your support!


View the calendar images and order prints online at:

Check out my other blog at:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Last stop!

We just made it back to London, our last, brief stop before heading home tomorrow. It is hard to believe this epic adventure is almost over...

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry in Europe.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Words Aren't Enough

When we began planning our trip to Europe, Kennan asked each of us to name one place that we just could not miss. There was no question in my mind. Normandy. I'm not sure when I fell in love with World War II history. I don't even know that much about it, but somewhere along the line it happened. I'm sure it had something to do with hours and hours of World at War videos and "Axis and Allies." I knew that if I didn't get to see anything else in Europe, I needed to see those beaches. What I didn't know was what a huge impact it would have on me.

We were in Normandy almost two weeks ago, but it needs to be posted about. Better late than never. Our hostel was in the little town of Bayeux, France, just a few miles from the coast. As soon as we stepped off the train onto the platform in Bayeux, my eyes welled up with tears and it was all I could do to keep from crying aloud. The wave of emotion startled me. I could imagine American soldiers walking through this town. There was a small café near the station with its menu-board out on the sidewalk. On the bottom of the board, in big letters, it read "Welcome to our Liberators!"

The next day we visited the American Cemetery and Memorial overlooking Omaha Beach. It's too bad I hadn't thought to pack a pound of Kleenex in my alotted 22 lb. pack, because I could have used them all the minute I walked up to the visitor center.  The inscriptions etched in stone at the doors of the center were enough to set me off for the rest of the day. Here's one of them:

"Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices."  ~ Harry Truman.

Inside the visitor center were video depictions, plaques, historical information, and displays to help people understand the events preceding, during, and following the D-Day invasion, and why it was necessary. The part that was the most haunting about the whole thing was towards the end of the exhibit. There was a short hallway with cement on all sides. As you passed through it you could hear a voice reciting names. 1 every 5 seconds. The names of U.S. soldiers who died liberating France. Thousands of names. You could stand there for hours upon hours and not reach the end of the list. Tragic. But as I listened to the names, I was glad that someone is still reciting those names. They were real boys, real men. They all had so much to lose, but chose to give. Their names should be remembered. My heart wells with pride at another inscription I find in the visitor center. A quote from a French civilian from the little town near Omaha beachs reads: "The Americans are the only ones in the streets of the town. There are no more Germans. It is an indescribable joy."

There just aren't words to describe the emotions that overwhelmed me as I walked across that long, wide beach were thousands took their last step. No words as I looked out across the lawn to over 9,000 white crosses, and back over my shoulder to over 1000 more names inscribed in a memorial (men whose bodies were never located for burial). These were America's sons. In my mind I can picture the men standing there in perfected rows, instead of the crosses that mark their memory, and I wonder: if these men here had known, would they still have gone? I think maybe they did know. But if they had all survived, what would America be today? America needed men like these. Then my thoughts turn "summitesque" and I remember that ideas have consequences. These crosses. These are the consequences; the legacy of one man. And I know that this is the way the world goes, but as I stand in that sacred place, breathing in the freedom bought for me at great price, I resolve in my heart…NEVER AGAIN.

And now I'm crying again.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

A few more pics

For some reason pictures seem to post better when I email them. Here’s a few shots from the past couple days.



Friday, May 1, 2009

The Singularly Worst Experience This Entire Trip

Kirsten wiping out, on her bike, on the sidewalk, in Bayeux, France, in the rain. I can't even believe I saw it, considering I did a half wipe-out behind her. I thought not for myself, it was so horrible.

A close second would be smelling wet and unwashed socks drying on the radiator all night long.
It was a relatively feeble connection we called upon in southern France: cousin's (brand new) husband's parents. People we had met once, at said cousin's wedding. Still, they responded eagerly to an email inquiry, so we decided to make Magagnosc a stop.

It would have been a tragedy to miss. Stepping unto the Johnson's patio was like stepping into a postcard, and spending time with Mr. and Mrs. Johnson and sons was like spending time with dear old friends. I thought originally that the view of Cannes and the coast from my bed must be unparalleled, but when Mrs. Johnson acted as our personal chauffer practically all day, we found out just how much beauty southern France has to offer. No wonder it's a celebrity hang out. Our brief trip to the nearby city-country of Monaco was just the icing on a really good cake.

Speaking of food, we left a really good Gouda cheese there from (guess where-) Gouda, Holland as a miniscule token of thanks. Still, we're indebted to so many people as a result of this trip it's almost scary.

Here in Barcelona (or Barthelona if you want to say it like a native) we're showing ourselves around, and enjoying a Starbucks for only the 2nd time this trip ( that even healthy to fast that long?). But, it's stopped raining now, and I think we'll go see some Gaudí--the Seuss-i-cal architect Barcelona is famous for. We've seen so much this trip that truly unusual looking works are hard to find. The famous church La Sagrada Familia by Guadí just outside this Starbucks was truly different, and I enjoyed it. Row and I would have piad to get in if the line outside hadn't been half my life long.

Happy Friday

Going Dutch

Where I come from, the term 'going Dutch' means that everyone pays for themselves. This phrase most likely originated from the characteristic stinginess of the Dutch people. However, on our recent visit to the Netherlands, the Van den Heuvel family gave us a whole new perspective on what going Dutch really looks like.

The Van Dens, (as we have come to know them), are very much like my own family. Apart from having 7 children, they are also conservative, they enjoy sports, and they love the United States! In fact, it was just like being home for a couple days, except they wouldn't let us do the dishes.

The whole time we were together they gave us the royal treatment. Anna was our full-time tour guide. She led us to the Dutch windows and candy shop in Gouda, the cheese shop and the butchery in Bodegraven, as well as some delightful evening bike rides through the countryside. Mr. Van Den took time off work to transport us to the beautiful tulip gardens, and to a Dutch art museum in Den Haag. Alexander graciously let me beat him in a game of basketball, and kept us all on edge with his bicycle stunts! Mrs. Van Den bent over backwards to make us feel at home. She let us sleep in, fed us like kings, and even did our laundry for us! Elena, Isabella, and Lawrence also added to the enjoyment by joining us on our excursions and keeping the house bustling with activity. They also helped make sure we were well stocked with grillworst and gouda cheese when we left!

I think my favorite part of our holiday in Holland was the evenings we spent chatting over a cup of tea. The genuine conversation was a delight, and I don't think I'll ever be able to say the words 'nice,' or 'silence' without thinking of my friends in the Netherlands!

One thing I know for sure, if this is what going Dutch means, I'll be happy to 'Go Dutch' anytime.


Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry in Europe.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Grasse is a beautiful place...

Southern France is Beautiful

It's true... far more so than I expected. We're staying with the fabulous Johnsons in a gorgeous home overlooking Cannes and the Mediterranean Sea. I didn't know the sun could be so beautiful.


Sunday, April 26, 2009


I have felt like a tourist taking happy snaps for most of the trip. Yesterday I shot this in the Antwerp Central Station. I am happy.


Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry in Europe.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's a strange sort of feeling, sitting here with not a sibling in sight. I was left to study here in the hostel in Venice about an hour ago, and until now, that's what I've been doing. Idiotic, I know, studying. But there's just one more little bitty online credit to get while I'm here. Unfortunately, the pages of my textbook which I ripped out and carried across the Atlantic with me were misplaced in an internet cafe in Rome, and I'm doing all my studying the hard way--google searches.

Studying was halted a few minutes ago, with the presence of crazy next to me, who is currently staring at me, calling me names like "crack-pot," "paranoid," and "Americanos." Also, he is cackling, telling me "no more checking e-mails," and mumbling things in other languages which are probably ancient curses. It's not like any Italian I've ever heard. Frankly, I'm pretty creeped out.

Wow. Finally. He got the computer he was waiting for. Maybe he'll leave me alone now. I hope you weren't worried, Grandma. I've got some pretty mean self-defense moves and major adrenaline reserves.

We're heading to Holland tomorrow bright and early. We'll catch the ferry from the hostel here at 5:o5am, take a train or bus or something to the airport, and then fly to Amsterdam. We'll miss the gelato and pizza of Italy, but I for one am eager to see what other countries have to offer.

Better stop procrastinating... Later.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Kirsten Celestial Gillson?

Kennan Gabriel? Nope. Unfortunately not. But amongst the slight irritations--and humorous situations--that develop in a trip of this length, new names and identities emerge. I was recalling a few of them as we rode the shuttle boat from station to station through the grand canal of Venice this afternoon in the rain.

"A very slow ant"
The curious snail
The Master
The green monster

The cheetah
Speedy Gonzalez
Conan (the Barbarian)

The mother hen
Gelato monster
Kissten... Never mind. She wouldn't like it repeated.

Huff the magic dragon

As in all good reporting, I was impartial with the facts. Let me state however, that the name calling referring to moods wasn't necessarily fair or deserved.

Until next time...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Photos... finally!

Let me start by saying I currently hate blogger for it's inability to hold formatting from the "Compose" and "Edit Html" windows to the actual blog. I apologize that I simply don't have time right now to make this post actually look good... oh well! :-)

Kirsten, Kennan, and Micale at the lighthouse in Capri, Italy.

All the houses in Capri are white. This one just happened to have cool flowers in front!

Inside the Pantheon, the world's largest stone-domed structure, built in 126AD.

Every street corner in Rome seems to have a catholic image above it.

A woman begging on the streets of Rome.

A view of the Roman Forum with too many cool things to name...

A temple in the are of the Roman Forum.

Sunset over Saint Andrews, Scotland.

A Bible illuminated in John Knox's church in Saint Andrews, Scotland.

Riding the bus in Great Britain.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter in Rome

I'm really tired, crabby, and coming down with a cold right now, but what better time to write, huh?

Today was Easter. We were in Rome. I saw the Pope. I did not shake his hand. Yes, this morning we joined the tens of thousands of people who flocked to Saint Peter's Basilica and the square out front. It was pretty cool. I'd never been to the Vatican before, so the whole thing was filled with new sights and sounds. We listened to the Pope for a while, but we actually got bored really quickly because everything was in Italian and we were just standing on this really hard stone pavement. So yeah... we left. I felt like maybe I was missing something since there were still THOUSANDS of people coming in, but I figured, "What the hey... they speak Italian!"

So we went to the Colosseum instead. I know... out of the fire and into the frying pan, or something like that. Our theory was that everyone would be at the Vatican so no one would be at the Colosseum. We were wrong. Who knew that there were enough people in Rome to fill BOTH sites to obnoxious levels? I guess the moral of the story is, if you like people, Rome is the place to be for Easter.

We actually never went into the Colosseum, but we have our passes ready for tomorrow. Instead we headed into the Forum and Palatine Hill. THAT WAS COOL! We stood amongst the ruins of more than 2500 years of history. It was at that point that I realized for the first time just how epic this trip is. Not that WE are epic, but it struck me how much history and heritage we are exploring in just five weeks. It's really almost sacrilegious. Over and over I find myself asking the same question, no matter where we go: "Who were these people?" "What inspired them to do..." I can't answer those questions, but today I stand in awe of the past and the heritage of my humanity. Still, I'm not a Humanist, for the glory of Man is simply a reflection of a greater Glory of God. The triumphs of Man, are simply temporary echoes of the Triumphs of Eternity.

Tomorrow: the Colosseum, Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museum, more gelato, pizza, and coffee. Less cold.

Us with the Pope. Silly Kirsten... you're blocking the Pope!


McDonald's in Rome has amazing coffee! For €1 I got a latte macchiatto that was about 8oz. It was made in a completely automated machine that looks like the espresso makers at Starbucks not like the little stand alone, insert a coin ones. The people who work the coffee counter have different, nicer uniforms. The flavor is great, really smooth and not bitter. I put in one sugar and it is perfect. This was a great coffee experience!


Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, April 10, 2009

Look Out, Tiger Woods

Golf is huge in St. Andrews. And it ought to be. It is, of course, the birthplace of the deliciously rigorous sport. There are golf shops all over town, bearing the names of famous Scots (such as Tommy Morris and Bobby Jones) who dominated the fiercest of competition to retain their nation's honor and champion their sport. You cannot escape the athletic history. If you want, you can buy golf balls in the historic Holy Trinity Church of St. Andrews.

We golfed today at The Links. Not the Old Course. That costs 400 pounds (over $600). We opted instead for the 2 pound putt-putt course alongside the Old Course. Even so, I feel that it was an experience that should be put in the record. I am now far more cultured and accomplished than when I arose this morning. It could only have been better if I had worn a donegal tweed hat and beaten Kennan like Judson did.

"Live" in Scotland

Thursday, April 9, 2009

What I Did Today

Jumped massively far, over a rising tide
Had a traditional Scottish dessert
Threw a big rock at Kennan
Visited a gorgeous church ruin with cemetary
Nearly lost all my conditioner in a mini yet mighty expulsion-explosion
Saw the site of the first Scottish reformation martyr's death
Directed the re-enactment of a portion of Chariots of Fire (coming soon!)
Learned that this is the birthplace of golf
Found a drink at Starbucks that I like
Emailed my mom

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Rumors are True...

...we're not coming home.


P.S. The full moon rising over the North Sea is gorgeous.

Day 1

I'm riding on a bus from Dover to London right now on what is proving to be much of our own Amazing Race. We have most of our housing planned, but little of our transport as it was hard to find bus routes online. That's already easier though as we now know which brands to shop!

Dover was beautiful! The white cliffs were glowing in the afternoon sunlight when we arrived and the castle on the hill was fabulous! We found our guest house just around the corner from the bus stop, dropped our things, and quickly made our way to the castle. We were all exhausted after a long night of travel, but it was worth it anyway! God blessed us with spots on the last tunnel tour of the day.

Everything shuts down pretty early in Dover, so by the time we got out of the castle most shops were closed. We found a pub that was open and got dinner for 4 for less than £16! I was pleased :) internet was free at the pub, so much frustratingly sleepy time was spent trying to plan trans for the next day.


Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, April 6, 2009

So it begins

We are on our way!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Sunday, April 5, 2009

For Aslan.

Sitting on the brink of our impending caper reminds me of a story. A tale that snatched four normal children, two boys, two girls, out of the life they knew--and thrust them into a country full of excitement and adventure. I feel a little like one of those children right now. Not exactly sure what I've gotten myself into, or how. But I feel the same surge of adrenaline. The same anticipation of something great to come. And the same curiousity to know why--to discover what part this adventure will play in the grand design. I don't know yet, but that won't stop me from proceeding. I am ready to go.

What say you,
Shall we not take the adventure Aslan hands us?


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


When I tell people that I'm going to Europe, they all ask the same question: "where are you going?" Huh? I already told them. Europe. That is where I am going. And when I am there, Europe is where I will be.

The cold, harsh truth is that I really don't know exactly where I am going. That is what brothers are for. I may regret this.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Thousand Hour Project

The Thousand Hour Challenge came about as half interesting project and half personal photographic challenge. The goal? Shoot 1,000 images in an hour in a small area. The rules? No chimping. No deleting. No cropping. No editing. Everything shot goes in. No laying down on the shutter just for shot count. So I tried it. My boundaries were the central park in Antigua, Guatemala one evening after shool and work when people were out. I shot with a Canon EOS 1DMkIIn and a 70-200mm f/2.8 IS lens. I shot large JPGs because I don't have enough card space for that many RAWs. The only post processing was resizing and sharpening to 1024px without cropping. Music is from a Guatemalan CD I picked up at a street stand after shooting. Video was produced in Picasa. Oh... and no, I didn't make it. I only got off 743 shots in the allotted time... maybe next time!

Friday, March 20, 2009


Yeah, so this doesn't really have anything to do with our trip to Europe, but I just posted a video from IPS in San Antonio, and you probably want to see it... :-)


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Living big

Hey! My mom forwarded me this clip from YouTube and I liked it, so I decided to share it. Yeah, this trip to Europe probably has to be classified as "vacation," but really it's daring to dream and live big and taking up the challenge of loving God and loving our neighbor with all our hearts.



Thursday, March 12, 2009


Yes, there is progress! After untold hours of endless options and slow websites, I finally have booked two flights and a B&B. We've got a Bed & Breakfast on the island of Capri for a night. THAT is going to be amazing! Flights from Venice to Amsterdam and from Barcelona to Berlin are also in hand. It's so nice to have some sort of concrete dates to work around.

OK... so get this, I book this flight from Barcelona to Berlin and 5 minutes later realize that I booked it for the wrong date! ACK! After a couple calls to the airline and one to my credit card company I got the flight changed. For free!! :-) Amazing...

So, here's two new airlines and travel sites for you travel bugs:

Air Berlin: Cheap flights to and from, yeah... Berlin! Cheap flights across Europe on multiple budget airlines.

Oh yeah... and the perpetual fav that pointed me on to these two new gems.

Happy Living!


Monday, March 9, 2009

How To Conquer Guilt

The key to conquering guilt is to rationalize it. The following is a hypothetical situation with several examples of how one might rationalize, and consequently effectively suppress the troublesome guilt. Note that the rationalizations need not true, so long as one suspects them to be true, or can cause him or herself to believe them to be true.

For example:

"I feel guilty that I haven´t done anything to plan for the Europe trip."

-The boys are better at it
-The boys WANT to do it
-I don´t care where we go
-I´m bad at it
-I don´t know how to do it

Tall Tales

It's nice to be able to reach things on the top shelf without a stool. But that is probably the only thing that's convenient about being tall. I've been trying to find some good, sturdy, comfortable pants for this trip. But there is nothing long enough around here, so I've been ordering them online. And returning them. It's impossible to know if they will work when you can't try them on ahead of time. So I'll probably end up paying more for the shipping back and forth than for the pants I end up keeping. Oh well. I'll appreciate them more when I find them, right?

Friday, March 6, 2009


Wow... I'm discouraged. I just finished our schedule only to discover that I messed something up right in the middle and have to rework the whole thing. Rats.


A camera

Yup... so I have a camera now for the trip: a Canon 30D that an amazing friend is letting me borrow. Kubile! (That's Chinese for cool to the max.) This is kubile because it cuts my camera weight in half! I think I've pretty much decided to just bring two lenses with me: my 50mm f/1.4 and my 20mm f/2.8. Again, weight is the big issue here.

In other news... I'm browsing around the internet tonight trying to figure out where we're going to go and what we're going to do. This past week I've discovered 2 strong contacts in Prague, the potential for free housing in Venice and a friend to stay with near Vienna. God is bringing super cool people into our lives! Now we just have to try to connect all the dots.


Monday, March 2, 2009

Tough Calls has been running their biggest sale event of the year, bringing must-have gear into, well, not the realm of affordability, but at least a semi-discounted rate. Let's face it though... even 20% off Icebreaker makes me happy! So anyway, several items on my Life/Europe Wish List are now on sale. Alas... I have come to the extremely tough realization that I do not have the money for any new gear, and thus will have to rely solely on clothes I currently own for this trip.

News point number 2: I have realized that packing for 5 weeks in Europe and keeping that pack to 22lbs is going to be, ah, extremely difficult. This realization hit as I am in Week 1 of a four-week trip to Texas, California, and Guatemala with basically the same gear I would like to take to Europe and it's pushing the 50 pound mark. Yeah... not cool! It would be fine if I were Kennan. He just has to bring clothes. But no... I'm Rowan. I have a 400lb. camera. I have a laptop. I have batteries, tripods, lenses, and chargers. In fact... I think just my shooter kit that I toss over my shoulder when I run out the door for a quick photo shoot is around 15lbs. If only I could just lose weight and have that transferred to my baggage allowance... :-S

So, now we combine points 1 and 2... I'm trying to figure out how to get a smaller laptop and a lighter camera. I wonder if any Canon 5Ds are getting laid off and want to live in my backpack for a while...


Friday, February 20, 2009

Buying the bare essentials...

Row and I had been in the REI store like an hour and I knew that even though he wasn't complaining, my time was running out. After all, his whole interest in coming had died the moment he saw that once again, the unknowledgable GPS man was staffing the area today.

“Do you like this brand?” I asked, pointing to some travel underwear, and trying to hurry my last few decisions. Forking out twenty bucks per pair of underwear, after all, is not something that should be done hastily.

His lips poofed out and he bobbed his head slowly in a confusing confirmation.

“Are they comfortable?” I figured specifics might help the answer.

“Well they dry fast.”

“Oh.” So nix on travel underwear brand 1. I mean, how much should drying capacity outweigh comfort? It's not like I'm planning on wetting my pants—they'll have all night to dry when I wash them.

I finally decided on travel underwear brand 2, and I can testify right this moment that they are comfortable. Perhaps I'll take them into the shower with me tonight, and by dawn's early light find out whether or not I've made a big mistake.

So I bought a backpack

Yes, it was time. After shopping the market for some weeks I finally settled on a sleek, aerodynamic, high-mileage pack that will transport my life through the urban jungle we know as Europe. It has a pretty good payload, an excellent variety of pockets, and a rain fly with enough water protection to take it snorkeling. Okay, maybe not. All in all, I think I'm ready to trust my earthly belongings to it's care.

Thank you Deuter for making the Futura Pro 42 Fire/Granite model. I'll keep it close.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Roming we will go...

Just booked a ticket for four from Glasgow, Scotland to Rome, Italy for $206. Not too shabby... AND this means we get to spend Easter in Rome! OK... so it's not quite like being in the Holy Land, but this is the place to be in Europe I should think. Kudos to Kirsten for realizing that April 12th was Easter...


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Thanks to Google

So I just spent 3 hours trying to figure out where we're going and how we're getting there. I did get the rough trip outline up and started looking into housing etc. I think I need approval from the sibs before I go too much farther or start booking lodging, etc... There's lots of cool places out there, it's just a little hard to find them all.

I would like to thank Google, the sponsor of this fine blog, for their amazing travel planning tools. I've successfully toured all of Europe via Google Maps today and managed to get most of our stuff into a fabulous Google Calendar. Someday I'll figure out how to link those from here and it'll be amazing.

New favorite European travel sites:


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Post #1

So today we decided to start the blog for our trip. Unfortunately, we soon ran into problems as one of the very first things you are required to do when starting a new blog is to come up with a name and URL. After some rather intense deliberation we settled on The Four Bohemians for several very good reasons:
1. We are Bohemian. Deep down inside and way back on my mother's side there is a seed of Bohemian in each one of us. Yes... we are Bohemian.
2. provides many definitions of Bohemian, one of them being "gypsy." This fits well for the trip on which we are about to set out: 36 days, 10 countries, lots of miles, small backpacks, no money, and uh... four of us.
3. Another definition for Bohemian was "a person, as an artist or writer, who lives and acts free of regard for conventional rules and practices" and that just made us feel good.

So... here we are, The Four Bohemians, about to set out on yet another crazy adventure, except this time we'll all be together!