Sometimes in life you have to get a little lost before you are truly able to find your way.

Posts tagged ‘Travel’

Adventure of a Lifetime…the lead in…

Little known fact about me. My last big hurrah in life before entering the fine world of migraines rule all was an amazing semester in the most amazing place on the face of the planet…Tanzania. I decided I was going there when I was about 4 years old watching PBS in my living room, staring in awe at the Serengeti and pointing at the giant 70s- style floor-sitting television, saying when I’m bigger, I’m gonna go there! Dismissed, of course. I was four and pointing at a television.

Photo credit: http://www.PBS.org

The funny part was, when I was in high school and planning WAY ahead (OK, I was a sophomore and planning which study abroad program to choose for my junior year of college at the school I’d already picked out) I was still dismissed. I knew in my heart as strongly then as I had at age 4 that I was meant to go to Tanzania. Something inside me ached for it in a way I don’t quite know how to put into words. It’s as if a part of me had been born on the wrong side of the planet. I hadn’t a clue yet what that meant, but boy was I in for a surprise.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Fast forward a few years. I got in early admission to Bucknell University. Freshman and sophomore years were fantastic. It was an incredible place to learn, not just the subject matter, but HOW TO THINK CRITICALLY. Incredible professors. It was the kind of education every parent dreams their child will have. I was so lucky and so privileged. I majored in animal behavior (incidentally not part of my parents’ dream for my education, but very much my passion and absolutely no regrets).

Junior year came around. I had submitted all of my applications for study abroad. I got my acceptance letter and called home…well, ecstatic really doesn’t come close, but it’ll have to do. Silence. Then, “you’re not ACTUALLY going to Africa.” Confusion. Had I not been talking about this since age 4? Had I not selected this very program and been showing brochures to everyone for the last FIVE years? Hadn’t I gotten parental signatures for all the applications materials? How could any of this be a surprise?

As it turns out, it could because I wasn’t the parent hearing for the first time with certainty that her child not only intended to but actually had a way to get on a plane and leave the country to run off to Tanzania to God knows what for how long was it again? I hadn’t stopped to think about how scary this might be for my parents. This had been a reality for me forever. An inevitability, more to the point. But no matter how many years I’d been saying I was going to do this, this was the first moment it was real for them. I was so off the charts, unbelievably excited that all I could do was say SIGN IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SIGN IT NOWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And all my mother could do was imagine the unimaginable.

We worked it out. I explained all the ways I’d be safe and mom explained all the ways those ways were insufficient and eventually my logic and her inability to stand in the way of this life-long dream gave way in the face of even her greatest maternal fears. I promised to be safe and not to take any unnecessary risks (a promise which I sort of but not really at all lived up to). The ball was rolling. I got all my shots. We had lots of talks. We did a LOT of shopping for my gear. I packed and repacked and repacked. Before we knew it, we were off for Newark airport where I would meet the people with whom I would spend the next chapter, and the greatest experience of my life. Stay tuned for the Tanzanian Adventure of a lifetime!

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Can’t Go Wrong With Ninjas, Divas and Three Drivers

I lived out in Sacramento for a few years after college. When I moved back east, saying goodbye to the friends I had made there was one of the hardest things I had ever done. That was one of the reasons why I sympathized so much with my friend Sarah when she called me from Sac-town several months ago saying she thought she might need to move back east. YAHOO! (for me anyway!) From that moment on everything moved at warp speed. By the time Sarah says something out loud she’s already made up her mind. We’re a lot alike in that regard.

She mentioned in passing, in an e-mail I think, how great it would be if she could just fly me out and we could drive back together. So I simply replied…”I’m in!” The response came almost immediately: “I’m jumping up and down. I’m literally jumping up and down in my office. Oh my God, are you kidding me? You’ll really come?” Ahhhh…yeah, I’m gonna pass up a free flight to one of my favorite places in the world and a week with one of my best friends…that sounds sane. Once that decision was made, our journey unfolded from there.

With a few weeks of Sarah-planning, here’s what we ended up with. Tommy (Sarah’s soon-to-be brother-in-law) and I had flights booked out to Sacramento. Sarah had her job transferred, her belongings shipped, and had moved into a friend’s house with her dog. She is nothing if not efficient. (Her slightly satanic cat stayed behind at her old house with her roommate until moving day.) There were THREE going-away parties planned, which is only barely sufficient if you actually know this girl. The week was NONSTOP!!! Between arrivals and parties and finishing work and surfing and packing…it was a whirlwind! Here’s a taste of what it all looked like….

The night before we hit the road, Sarah’s closest friends gathered to celebrate and say goodbye. There was food…

There were gifts, and stories…

There was a lot of comforting one another!

And the next morning came the final goodbyes…everyone said there would be no crying….

That didn’t really work out so well…for anyone, actually. Yeah, that brave face held on for about another 2 seconds!

At some point everyone just gave up trying not to cry. There’s a thin line between tears and laughter…turns out it’s Sarah!

Even the mighty Sarah was a fountain that day…and rightfully so. It’s an amazing place and what an incredible crew to have to leave behind. They really are a little bit of magic.

Then we were off!

There had been an original plan for our route back east, then a revised plan, maybe one more after that. But then came the day of plan which rocked because I’d never driven this route before. We took Rt. 50 over the Sierra into Tahoe…

Photo Credit: Tommy Boll

then 395 down the east side of the mountains past Mono Lake…

Photo Credit: Tommy Boll

Then we hit Mammoth, Death Valley….

And later than night, Vegas!

Photo Credit: Tommy Boll

The next day we hit the Grand Canyon and then we were in full cruise mode. Pandora’s Classic Hip Hop station became the soundtrack for the better part of our journey. We had fun with Mad Libs (ninjas and divas specifically – the ninjas were the best!), state trivia, songs that brought us all back to the good old days (that would be the 80s and early 90s by the way) and of course the staple of any good lengthy road trip…updates on everyone’s bowels…who had one in the hopper and who’d finally cleared the hopper and who would definitely be needing to clear the hopper first when we arrived at our hotel that evening. Good times.

We made incredible time, despite all the stops. We got back here to Virginia about half a day ahead of schedule, so Tommy and Sarah decided to keep on truckin’ and surprise the anxiously waiting sister and bride-to-be by arriving in the wee hours of the morn’.

The thing about a trip like this is, that it can be miserable and long and painfully boring, even to the point that it drives you nearly mad. Or, if you’re lucky enough to be travelling with such great companions as I had, it goes by in a flash. And before you know it, you’re back home again wondering how on earth you crossed so many miles in such a short time. But you’ve got some awesome memories and great pictures and Mad Libs that have you rolling on the floor no matter how many times you read them!

For me there was the added bonus of being able to go back to Sacramento (thanks SAS!) and visit with so many people who are dear to me. I also got to reconnect with a place that long ago captured not just my imagination, but a piece of my heart. And even better than that, I got to be there for my friend as she made her trek back east and said goodbye to it all…at least for a while. So journey on my friend, your story continues in the east for now. And never a dull page have you written! So here’s to great friends both near and far; spontaneous trips to retrieve all the Sarahs of the world (could there be more than one??); and surviving it all with a killer cat in the car! Oh yeah…meet Princess Kiki!

Sarah: "Kitty...stop growling. That's not nice. And please stop clawing my leg or you'll have to go back in your giant cage."

And if you’re worried about how much time she spend in the cage…check out the left side of this pic…it should ease your mind!

It’s actually a large dog crate…she was ridin’ in style! Smallest passenger, largest cabin…the things we’ll do for love (or survival…whatever you want to call it!)

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