The Howard (County) Globetrotters

Terp Family Goes on Round the World Adventure

By Karen Shih ’09 | photos courtesy of

They’ve swum with great white sharks, battled vertigo at the tallest building on Earth and trekked 83 miles to Everest Base Camp—and they’re only halfway done with their trip around the world.

Last summer, Tim ’93, M.S. ’96 and Julie ’96 Rivenbark sold their Glenelg, Md., house and cars, called time-out on their careers as a sales director and physician’s assistant and prepared to homeschool their kids, Tyler, 11, and Kara, 10, minus the “home,” for a year.

“We love to travel and decided having experiences in life is more important than having physical possessions,” Julie says.

The former UMD track athletes and Ironman competitors centered their trip around the October Everest hike. “It was more challenging than we were expecting,” Tim says, but “we were really proud that the kids made it.”

Now, they’re in Southeast Asia and are heading to China and Taiwan in March, where Julie and Tyler can use the Mandarin they’ve been studying.

“Sometimes I just miss my coffeepot and sofa and TV,” Julie says. “But I don’t want to go back.”


“The cool water was very refreshing, and every time another boat passed by, water splashed into our kayaks, soaking our pants and shirts. By the time our hour with the kayaks was over, Tyler and Kara were almost completely soaked. So why not take that swim (in their clothes) they so wanted to do. As Tyler always says, YOLO!”—Julie


Goal: Ride an ostrich.

Success rate: 3/4—Tim fell off.


“Crossing the street here is like playing Frogger. You look for a semi opening in oncoming traffic, walk out onto the road, preferably as a group, as there is some safety in numbers, trying to at least slow down approaching traffic. Cars would either slow down or go around us, then we would continue on to the other side. Once we got used to it, it actually got to be fun, in some weird, twisted way.”—Julie


1 cappucino dusted with gold

+ 1 cappucino made with camel milk

+ 1 milkshake

+ french fries

= $70


Altitude sickness at 18,000 feet: “I kept panting and couldn’t catch my breath when we stopped. Then, my whole body got really tingly, and I felt like I had to go down immediately. Dad called to Indra [the guide] to come over, and he picked me up and ran me down the mountain on his back. I started throwing up all over myself, but when we got back down to Gorak Shep, I was already feeling better.”—Tyler


“Tonight we ate at a hot pot restaurant in Yangon, Myanmar. The waiter brought out a pot of broth that cooks on a burner right in the center of your table. Then we add meat and vegetables of our liking to the pot. After adding broccoli, spinach, carrots, cabbage, chicken, and pork to our pot we decided to go adventurous and also add fallopian tubes from a pig. Everyone tried it but Kara wasn’t able to swallow hers. They were pretty bland with really no taste or flavor, and they were chewy.”—Tim

Julie’s mom Kathy flew out to join the family (and brought homemade chocolate chip cookies!).

Read some excerpts from the Rivenbarks’ blog here and follow their travels at


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