It's been officially one year since our trip to Kenya and I still haven't finished blogging about it. Clearly I shouldn't quit my day job and become a travel blogger! We switched it up this year, and we recently got back from a road trip that took us from St. Louis, up through New England, over to Michigan, and back home. This time last year, even before heading to Kenya, the wheels were already spinning on where I wanted to go in 2018. Those who know me well know my travel schedule is generally planed out, at least loosely, 12-18 months in advanced! A summer trip to New England had been on my mind and we also seriously considered a trip to Germany, Austria, and Hungry for over the winter, but while in Africa we met so many people who commented on the beauty and vastness of the United States that it stirred something in me to want to do a longer trip here in the U.S. Since money and vacation leave do not grow on trees, we decided to nix a big international trip this year and stay "local". I've always loved New England, even before my obsession with wanting to be a Gilmore Girl. I looked at colleges up east and always dreamed of living there one today. Although fall seems like the quintessential time to visit, something about summer was calling to me (which is good since Chris has no fall break). I envisioned a slower pace trip, where we could really relax, spend time together outdoors. I had dreams of lobster rolls, homemade ice cream, and lots of time spent hiking, biking, and by the ocean. I learned from our Italy trip that I do best when I can spend at least 3 night in the same location. After running the numbers on flights, car rentals, bike and bike rack rentals, we quickly decided road tripping it in our Subaru with our bikes was the way to go, and although I always prefer to fly, I actually really enjoyed our road trip. I think the key to our success was we were never rushed and we broke up our drives really nicely. We were gone a total of 17 days and I plan to break up the trip into two posts. So grab your drink of choice and settle in for post #1!Read More
We left the Selenkay Conservancy and flew back to Wilson Airport in Nairobi to catch our flight out to the Maasai Mara. We were all genuinely sad to leave as, even after 3 days, leaving Selenkay felt like we were leaving friends. We hugged and said our goodbyes and had a smooth 45 minute flight back to Nairobi. We had a couple hours until our next flight, so we were able to sit in the coffee shop, browse their gift shop, and attempt to get on the internet.
When we landed at the airstrip, I was immediately struck by how different the landscape was and immediately thankful we decided to visit two different camps. We began the drive towards camp and were enamored by all the green grass, trees mixed with rocky areas. Very different from dusty Selenkay! The conservancy again was private, with only Gamewatchers Camps having access, however we also had access to other neighboring conservancies.
I'm taking a break from writing about our Africa trip, to recap our quick trip west to Portland, Oregon. After visiting Vancouver, BC back in May for the Vancouver Half Marathon, I knew I needed a trip back to the Pacific Northwest ASAP! When we returned from Kenya, I sunk into the post-vacation blues, you fellow wanderlusters are probably all too familiar with this feeling, so I hopped onto my Chase rewards and randomly discovered I had enough points to fly both Chris and I round trip to Portland, OR. SCORE!Read More
"We only have the land for a short time, then we must leave it intact."
Selenkay Conservancy is located about 10 miles north of Amboseli National Park. The land is leased by Gamewatchers from the local Maasai. Their model promotes both wildlife conservation while also providing economic opportunities for the local Maasai communities. You can read more here and here about how these conservancies are making a difference for the both the animals and the people.
As I mentioned, we researched probably hundreds of companies, but wanted to ensure we were travelling as responsibly as possible and in a way that wasn't exploiting the local people or wildlife. After our trip I couldn't of been happier with Gamewatchers. Staying in these conservancies vs. the parks allowed for so many additional benefits that made our trip extra special (and should be considered for anyone planning to on safari). In the national parks you're confined to the roads and they are generally crowded with tourists and minivans, especially during high season. Within the conservancies, there is a max density of 1 tent per 700 acres. In Selenkay Conservancy where we stayed there were only two camps, meaning you often never saw another vehicle when out on game drives. Additionally, we were able to off road everywhere and get really close to the animals. Because of this low density of tourists and no poaching in the area, the wildlife wasn't fearful of us and we got to observe them engaging in their natural behaviors.Read More
"I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up and was not happy."
We were awaken dark and early with coffee, shortbread, and a jug of warm water to wash our faces with. July is winter in Kenya, and starting the morning in the warmth of our tent with a cup of coffee was lovely. The staff at Nairobi Tented Camp were so attentive and accommodating while we were there. Despite an early departure time to make our flight out to Selenkay, the staff had an early breakfast prepared for us and at 5:45 am we were on our way via a short 20 minute drive over to Wilson Airport.Read More
"The Wilds of Africa will stir your soul and warm your heart. Once you get the dust of Africa on your boots, you will always find a way to return."
Visiting Africa has always topped both my life AND travel bucket list. After everything that happened this past winter I didn't know if it would actually happen, but it did, and it was just as amazing as I thought it would be. It was the most perfect experience.
When planning for our trip Kenya, Tanzania, and Botswana were at the top of our list for safari destinations. We had a limited budget though (as well as time off work) and we also knew we wanted to travel as responsibly and sustainably as possible - all of this really narrowed down our options on both country and outfitter. After a significant amount of research, we settled on Gamewatcher's Safari Company as our outfitter and Kenya, the birthplace of Safari, for our country.Read More
- Hello, December, I'm so trilled to see you! As much as I love fall, nothing makes my heart skip a beat like the start of winter. Since I was a little girl, I have always loved the magic that seems to accompany December. The decorations, lights, freshly cut Christmas trees, classic holiday movies and stories. The first snowfall and having to bundle up in puffy coats and scarves. December is a month of giving and charity, and it always seems as if there's such a wonderful spirit that fills the air. Lastly, I LOVE LOVE LOVE all the festivals, fairs, and concerts that accompany the season.
St. Louis folks, have you seen what's taking place above the Big Brothers Big Sisters building at the corner of Grand and Olive? It's a stunning rooftop and Chris and I were fortunate enough to get a sneak peek at the space tonight. Feast has a great article about the new ANEW Rooftop and Test kitchen. Anew's website describes it as two unique spaces: a rooftop and a test kitchen where chefs can, "share their latest creations and launch new concepts." Well, I'm sold. Can't wait to see who the first featured chef will be!Read More
It is a place beneath the wind and sun. In the very heart of America. If these United States can be called a body, Kentucky can be called its heart. ~ Unknown
Chris and I love to travel but let's face it, our paid vacation time is a hot commodity, so we live for quick weekend escapes. We spent two years living in Kentucky for my residency, and although St. Louis is a better fit for us day-to-day, it doesn't mean we don't love to go back to visit our friends and the state itself. When one of my good girlfriends recently threw out the idea of a quick couples trip, I was immediately on board. Kentucky was the perfect fit, as it was a quick 45 minute Southwest flight for them and a quick drive for us.Read More
"The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and fire." ~ Sharon Ralls Lemon
With an upcoming weekend trip to Kentucky, I've been reminiscing on some of our favorite spots and go-to recommendations for out-of-towners and locals alike. Kentucky is known to most of the world for it's bourbon and horses; Lexington specifically is often referred to as the "Horse Capital of World", and fittingly so. It is home to the gorgeous Keeneland Racetrack, the Red Mile Racetrack, and the Kentucky Horse Park. Although the Derby is held 50 miles west of Lexington in Louisville, Lexington is home to dozens upon dozens of beautiful horse farms nestled within the rolling hills. Many famous horses were born or bred at these farms. In my opinion however, one of the true gems of the "Horse Capital" sits approximately 20 minutes outside of Lexington, almost literally around the corner from the Horse Park, the more frequented tourist stop. It is Old Friends Farm in Georgetown, Kentucky.Read More
"September 11th impressed upon us that life is a precious gift...And I think we all have a duty to devote at least a small portion of our daily lives to ensuring that neither America nor the world ever forgets September 11th." ~ Sen. Bil Frist
"Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honor those we lost, a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11." ~ President Barack Obama
There are 7,021 American flags adorning Art Hill this weekend, each one representing a fallen military service man or woman who has given the ultimate sacrifice in Operations: Enduring Freedom, New Dawn, Iraqi Freedom, Inherent Resolve, and Freedom's Sentinel. Each flag has an attached photograph and dog tag of every service member who has lost their life fighting in the Wars on Terror. All placed with military precision in chronological order of the date of death. At the bottom of Art Hill, centered in front of the basin, stands the 'Flag of Valor' with the names of all 2,996 victims who lost their life on 9-11. Lining the basin, single flags stand to honor and represent all the service men and women who have not returned home from all U.S conflicts dating back to the Revolutionary War. A single flag also flies to pay tribute to all those who have lost their life after returning home due to PTSD.Read More
"So, like a forgotten fire, a childhood can always flare up again within us." ~Gaston Bachelard
I hope everyone had a relaxing Labor Day weekend! With my husband's recent career transition and his first of many holiday weekends off, we were looking forward to celebrating. We took in the Japanese Festival at the Botanical Gardens, met up with our local alumni group to watch the opening game for Oklahoma State, met our new nephew, fit in a few runs at Forest Park, and ate and drank our way with friends through the Greek Festival. After a busy holiday weekend, I wanted to sit down and recap a really fun Thursday night we had a couple weeks ago.Read More
Last Wednesday we broke up our traditional work week with a Farm-to-Fork dinner hosted by Sancturia in The Grove. The theme was a late summer harvest and many of the ingredients incorporated within the meal had been freshly harvested earlier that day or the day before from Sancturia's gardens. When we arrived, we were shown to the pickle board and given a bubbly cocktail to sip while waiting for everyone to arrive. Both the chef and general manager would come out between each course to describe both the dish and the cocktail pairing, along with the inspiration behind them. A few cocktail history lessons were thrown in as well, which Chris, my cocktail enthusiast loved.Read More
"We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams." ~Jimmy Carter
Yesterday afternoon we braved the humidity and crowds to head over to Tower Grove Park for our favorite festival of the year, Festival of Nations. The festival is put on by the International Institute and features food and performances from nearly 40 countries and 70 different ethnic groups here in St. Louis.Read More
Over this last weekend, St. Louis was gifted with a slight cool front. Not enough to break out the fall clothes, but enough where you could spend the entire day comfortably outside. There were so many events and festivals happening in and around the city, it was hard to narrow it down, but with the cooler temperatures we decided to head north to St. Charles and check out their annual Festival of Little Hills.Read More
Cabernets for Conservation
The St. Louis Zoo is one of the great gems of this city. It's one of only 3 free zoos in the country and located in the middle of beautiful Forest Park. It is consistently ranked as the 3rd best zoo in the U..S., and 4th in the world. Currently it's also in the running to be named, "Best Free Attraction" in the U.S.
When the zoo sent out their mailer for the event at the beginning of the summer I immediately marked it in my planner. Sampling wine, while walking through the beautiful zoo after hours, well, I don't know that I could dream up anything more perfect.Read More
This weekend I took over the Explore St. Louis Instagram account to showcase some of my favorite places in the city. It's no secret that I'm an Instagram lover, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity, and had such a fun time deciding what I wanted to showcase about the city. It was hard to limit it down! I find Instagram a fun medium to keep up with my friends travels and to see the world through their lens, or iPhone as it may be. I also find it one of the best ways to stay current with the local events happening in town.Read More
"A cup of coffee shared with a friend is happiness tasted and time well spent."
Along with dry red wine, animals, and travel, coffee tops the list of one of my greatest loves. When I saw on Instagram that a Caffeine Crawl was taking place in St. Louis and highlighting some of our best local coffee shops, I couldn't wait to sign up.
The LAB is the team behind the caffeine crawl. Their website describes their goal to, "inform consumers abut quality-driven beverage information from around the globe." The caffeine crawl focuses on quality coffee, but also tea and chocolate. So far in 2016, they have hosted caffeine crawls in nine different cities, from San Diego to Tulsa, and Houston to Chicago. Currently for 2016, the LAB has three more caffeine crawls scheduled for other various cities.Read More
This particular Saturday morning started off with a hot and hilly 5K race through downtown St. Louis benefiting Girls on the Run, however, in the afternoon I headed up to the Old North neighborhood for their Spring Fling in the City festival and Community and House Tour. The tour was put on by the Old North Saint Louis Restoration Group; I'm nosy and can never pass up the opportunity to walk through and see the inside someone's home!Read More
It's no secret to my friends and family that I'm not exactly the biggest fan of summer. The hot, humid, and muggy weather doesn't exactly entice me to spend large periods of time outside. However, one of my favorite things about St. Louis is that there is no shortage of free events taking place to lure me out of my air-conditioned apartment to explore the city.Read More