Monthly Archives: February 2012

Coming Soon!

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Soon you can look for stories from previous trips to Wisconsin and Maui, a month-long road trip in the Pacific Northwest, and hiking guidance from my two summers spent working in Yellowstone!

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Kenya and Tanzania

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This trip will be a little bit of business and a little bit of pleasure. I will be travelling with my boyfriend Alex and our plan is to start in Kenya at the Olooloitikoshi Girl’s Rescue Center, where we will be teaching, volunteering, and working on some construction projects. I will also be doing interviewing and researching for a writing project I am working on about female circumcision in the Maasai tribe. Next, we will head to Samburu in northern Kenya, where we will visit the Umoja Women’s Village, go on safari, and perhaps find some small mountain to climb. From there, we will trek back across Kenya and cross the border into Tanzania. We plan to spend a night or two in the Kilimanjaro region and visit another school for Maasai girls. Next, we will head to southern Tanzania to visit our good friend Sarah, who is in her last year as a Peace Corps volunteer. We will spend about two weeks with her, helping out in her school and travelling to nearby ‘insiders’ spots that she knows about! Lastly, we will take a puddle jumper across the Indian Ocean to Zanzibar, where we plan to indulge in historic tours, search for monkeys in the Jozani forest, lay on the beach, swim in the ocean, and- keeping with the theme of the trip – visit a couple of women’s cooperatives on the island. We plan on being back in plenty of time for the summer hiking and backpacking season!

Exactly 1 month and counting…down!

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One month from right now we will be heading to the airport to leave for Kenya! I’m imagining the flight as it was last time and the delirium I felt at going to the African continent. As much as Kenya has become a part of me through research, reading, and writing, there are still traces of disbelief in me. Why? I do not know! I guess it’s because as a little girl I never sat around and thought, “When I grow up, I want to go Kenya and spend whole years of my life researching female circumcision.” But I did, in fact, sit around and think, “When I grow up, I want to be a writer.” So, here I am!

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Indian Hot Springs

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Indian Hot Springs community pool

How to get there: From Denver head west on Interstate 70 and take exit 241A at Idaho Springs. Merge onto Colorado Blvd. and take a slight left onto Miner St. Turn left on Soda Creek Road.

Banana trees, palm trees, and a robust rubber tree border the indoor hot springs pool. Smaller tropical plants grow under them: agave, spider plants, geraniums, bromeliads, and much more. I have a quick flashback to a Costa Rican waterfall adventure, but there is snow on the ground outside. The Indian Hot Springs community pool is in a green house, which holds humidity well and lets the tropical plants flourish.

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Travelwhelmed

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Well friends, the first day of Denver Restaurant Week (s) 2012 is over! Denver Restaurant Week supposedly has more participation than New York City Restaurant Week, and actually runs for two weeks. It’s shaping up to be a guaranteed crazy time which will probably consume my life just a little. Why is this on my travel blog? Because in 33 days I leave for a 2 month trip to a faraway place! By the time Denver Restaurant Weeks  end, I will be leaving in 20 short days!

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like the preparation for a trip can be just as overwhelming as the actual trip is exciting. I am sooooooooo happy about the trip to Kenya and Tanzania but I’ve never traveled for such an extended period, which is a bit intimidating at times. Although the actual travel parts of our trip don’t seem to require much planning at all, we will also be teaching and this portion of the trip requires a bit more brainstorming and planning. Lastly, packing for a 2 month trip intimidates me to the utmost! I’ve worked two summers in Yellowstone and brought so little there that friends told me I am a minimalist when it comes to packing. This is encouraging, but I am not yet convinced. It feels like there is so much to do to prepare and then I realize I can’t really prepare because it will probably all change the moment we step foot in Nairobi on March 31st! Still, I don’t want to forget underwear, lesson plans, supplies, food…..etc. It’s sure starting to feel like this journey is picking up speed.

Wish me luck!

Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championships

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Cece and bear sculpture

Cece with a big bear sculpture.

Here are some pictures from this year’s International Snow Sculpture Championships, which ran from January 16 to February 5. Sorry to get this up after the event has ended…silly me. But maybe you’ll be inspired to attend next year’s event. This year, there were 15 teams from 11 countries. Contestants start with a 20 ton block of snow and spend five days carving it! Snow sculptures or not, Breckenridge is always a fun place to spend a day or two!

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Echo Lake area

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Echo Lake

Echo Lake, off of the Mt. Evans Scenic Byway

Hiking Details:

  • Distance: Echo Lake: On the road.  To Chicago Lakes : 8 miles roundtrip
  •  Elevation Gain: To Chicago Lakes: 1,400 feet
  • To get there: Take I-70 west to Idaho Springs exit 240. From there, take the Mt. Evans Scenic Byway 14 miles to Echo Lake.

It’s a lazy day, unassuming of any kind of goal or objective other than the most basic: to get out. Our check engine light goes on as soon as we exit the highway, 17 miles from the Echo Lake trailhead. We check the engine. We shrug. And we drive on. It doesn’t look like we’re going to explode or breakdown. There’s no reason to head home rather than out. Echo Lake is, to my surpise, right off the road. As we drive past it I turn to the map in my Colorado Snowshoeing book. I turn it this way and that. I kind of see how it’s off road, but not really. The lake sits at what is the Mt.  Evans entrance station in the summer. It’s less crowded than we anticipated, which is always  a nice surprise in the mountains. After a bathroom break (on a, literally, frosted toilet) we head up the road. As usual this winter, Alex is on his skis and I am on my snowshoes.  It’s quiet; we only come across a couple other pairs of hikers. At the first switchback in the road I stop.

“Look at our beautiful state,” I say to Alex.

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My relationship with Kayak.com

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I don’t know if I’m the only one who does this, but I often search for plane tickets online when I’m bored…sometimes I get obsessive about it. Kayak.com happens to be my current favorite ticket search site. I broke up with Travelocity last October after we had an incident at 5a.m in the Denver airport (where I apparently didn’t need to be until 10a.m.) Despite having a million things to do and plan for my upcoming trip to Africa, I still peruse plane tickets online frequently…probably too often for my own mental health. If you’ve done this out of boredom, you probably know that it just makes the travel itch that much worse. Bali. Jamaica. Nicaragua. Alaska. Round the World tickets. I convince myself that I could surely go all these places: get jobs and quit jobs and afford it all easily. Unrealistic? Maybe. But this is a great self-sabotaging hobby…if you’re looking for one.

38 days and counting…down! : The Travel Clinic

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Today marks the 38th day standing between us and Africa! Things are coming together little by little…nothing feels organized or in any way conclusive yet. I’m really starting to doubt that it will. Today we visited Passport Health in Lakewood, CO for a consultation, vaccine update, and malaria prescription. I must say, I love Passport Health and will definitely use them for future adventures. Not only are they the cheapest option I’ve found for travel consult and vaccination in Denver, they were actually helpful! Our nurse curbed my mild frenzy to ‘feel organized’ about this trip when she handed over a bound (just for us!) book of all the info we might need: vaccines, pills, visa info, embassy info, traveler’s insurance info…ohhhh how many hours of research (that I was still getting to….) this saved me! Polio, Typhoid, Tetanus, and Doxy (the cheap way to prevent malaria and get a sunburn). Check! Next up: Get duffel bags, pack food, premethrin, clothes, maps, hundred dollar bills newer than 2006, insect repellent, 1 million SPF sunscreen, plan workshops, organize interview materials…