KENYeAhhhh!

So I’m ecstatic to announce that this November I’ll be traveling to KENYA!! I’m so excited about this trip; it’s like the culmination of my 10 year old self’s dreams. I seriously had a hefty obsession with the Lion King and I was definitely raised on the Discovery Channel.

 

This all came about very impulsively, imagine that from me! Two of my new travel friends, whom I met on my Antarctic cruise, found a super deal on a Safari and invited me along. After some “what ifs” and nobody reining in my travel problem, I convinced my boyfriend and two of my good friends to come along. Unfortunately by the time we decided, the “super travel deal” was no longer available. So I started looking online for better prices and options. I somehow ended up booking a longer safari, with more stops, and our own private van, for just about the same price as the packaged deal my friends bought. I know it’s not the luxury option, but we can’t all stay in Kenya like Teddy Roosevelt in the early 1900’s. There has however been talk about matching pith hats, and one of my friends growing out a jumanji-esque mustache. We are all also bringing a hefty dose of Khaki colored clothing. So maybe we can at least look the part.

 

So sadly we won’t be on safari with my Antarctica buddies, but we are however on the exact same flight as them from Amsterdam to Nairobi. Therefore we will all be meeting for drinks at the airport before our flight. It’s an interesting thought that these guys will have been to four continents with me… Five if we ever meet up in North America. There have also already been talks of Asia next year, so make it 6. I’m sure I can probably convince them of my someday epic plan to road trip the West Coast of Australia as well… This is why travel friends are the best!

 

So quickly a list of the places we will be visiting on our trip: Nairobi, Amboseli National Park, Lake Nakuru, Lake Elementia, and Masai-Mara National Reserve. If I can convince our guide of it, we may try to visit the Equator!

 

The Crew:

 

Ryan: Traveled to Las Vegas, Ontario, CA, and a couple short road trips in 2012. Much more to come 🙂

 

Vegas
Ryan and I in Las Vegas 2012

 

Garrett: Traveled to France & Italy in 2008, Road tripped from San Francisco to NY in 2005, NY to FL in 2005, and NY to Maine in 2005, NY to OH in 2005.

 

Rome
Garrett and I in Rome in 2008

 

Rob: Road tripped: NY to Maine in 2005, NY to FL in 2005, NY to NH in 2005, NY to OH in 2005, cross country from NY to CO to California to NY in 2006, NY to PA in 2006, CT to VT in 2007, NY to SC in 2007.

 

Syncline
Rob and I in PA in 2006

Antarctic Adventure, Finally!

I know it’s been literally more than 6 months since I returned from my trip to Antarctica. Of course after such an EPIC adventure people want to hear about it. I’ve seriously been trying to fathom how to put a trip like this into words. It isn’t easy. I haven’t even wrapped my head around the fact, that I actually set foot on the continent of Antarctica. I don’t think it’s really ever going to properly sink in.  I mean I look at the pictures and it doesn’t seem real. It just feels like I’m looking at a National Geographic magazine, not experiences from my life. But I guess that’s what’s really good about travel; the feeling of awe you get. Anyway, the trip was definitely a trip of a lifetime, and one I would recommend to anyone with a sense of adventure.

Here is a little guide if you’re interested in visiting Antarctica, and are curious about how I did it:

The company I used was Quark Expeditions. I more than highly recommend them. I don’t have enough praises for the staff, the experiences they offer, the reasonable prices (comparatively), and not to be forgotten, the food on the ship!

Antarctic Cruising Season: Visiting Antarctica is only possible during the Southern Hemisphere’s Late Spring/Summer. That makes it from about the very end of November to pretty much the end of February.

I think a lot of people are apprehensive about visiting early in the season, because they think it will be too cold, or the weather will be awful. All I have to say is that ANYTIME you visit Antarctica, you are taking a gamble on weather. That being said……

In my personal experience, the weather on our cruise could not have been BETTER! My trip was from November 29th to December 9th 2012. We had perfect sailing weather on the way down,* sunny blue skies, with above freezing air temps for the most part. Because of the mild temps and a million other variables we were able to pass through the incredible Lemaire Channel (just barely). A feat that the year before wasn’t possible until the end of February. Again, I have to emphasize that day to day the weather in Antarctica is extremely variable. For example, we were not able to make our shore landing at Port Lockroy. This was due to the fact that there was so much ice blown up against the shore. BUT… the very next day, the ice thinned out and a different cruise was able to land. That was probably less than a 24 hour span.

*The Drake Passage is the most notorious body of water on the planet. Good sailing does not mean glassy waters, but in relation to normal Drake conditions it was a piece of cake (on the way down that is, the way back was probably 10x nastier due to a storm).

One major consideration, when figuring the time of year you want to visit, is the wildlife. Early in the season you aren’t going to see the variety of wildlife you would later in the summer. You also won’t get to see the penguin chicks hatched if you visit too early. During my visit we did see a ton of wildlife, enough to be thoroughly impressed. We also got to see the Penguins with their eggs, pre hatching. That was an interesting experience in itself.

Cost: This is probably the biggest inhibitor for people when it comes to Antarctica. The cost of the cruise alone was $5026 USD per person. This was the cheapest operator and voyage available. We booked a triple share cabin but managed to get a free upgrade to a double (This made our cruise essentially worth twice what we paid!). I have to add that that price ONLY covers the cost of the cruise itself. You also have to make your way down to Ushuaia, Argentina on your own dime. Going earlier in the season is also a lot cheaper than going at the peak of the summer.

TRAVEL HACK: Word was that some of the people on our cruise managed to score our trip for about $1000 USD. They did this by not booking in advance, but by going in person to the cruise line offices in Ushuaia. They took advantage of last minute deals on beds/cabins that were unsold. I’ve also talked to people that used this tactic to score super cheap rates on trips to the Galapagos. So if you find yourself on a long trip on South America and plan on Visiting Tierra Del Fuego, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to just check in at a few of the cruise line offices, and see what they can do for you.

My Vintage Obsession: 40’s Vargas Girls

One of my favorite vintage acquisitions are my 1940’s calendar prints by Alberto Vargas. Vargas Illustrated pin-up girls for Esquire magazine in the early and mid 40’s, and then later for Playboy magazine in the 60’s & 70’s. Although all of his illustrations are beautiful, the earlier prints are my favorite, especially the WWII era girls. I’d probably buy them all if I had room for them! Right now two of my four girls are hanging over my vanity. The definitely inspire me to glam up when I’m doing my hair and makeup.
*A note: The calendar prints are a strange size (8.5×12) and aren’t quite framed perfectly by an 8×10 matting. Sometimes hair or toes have to be cropped out. They also have holes in them from being in calendars. The holes aren’t visible if you frame them strategically though. Regardless I still love them. They are so classically beautiful.

Reimagined

So, I’ve had this site for a year now and have been absolutely slacking with it. My original idea was to just blog about my travels. Since my work situation really limits my adventures as of late. I’ve made the decision to not only talk about my wondrous adventures, but to also share some of my other hobbies and interests. So here’s hoping to add a few categories which will include:

– Retro Rediscovered – Awesome retro and vintage clothing, decor, and party ideas.

– Dishes Recreated – One of my favorite things to do, is try to recreate dishes from restaurants that really move me.

– Craft Time- Just crafts that I do in my spare time, lots of glitter usually involved ha ha.

– Cocktail Hour – I will choose a cocktail and not just post a recipe but also try to give a taste review. I know one of my biggest peeves when looking for drink recipes, is that I never really know if it’s going to be pallet pleasing.

I’m sure I’ll think of other things as I go on. But this is a start 🙂

 

 

My Top 8 Experiences

People tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves to do things before they’re 30. As I have about 2.5 years before than milestone, I sort of understand their mindset. But on the other hand I think that’s a good way to stress yourself out! Surely life doesn’t suddenly implode at the age of 30… Right?! That being said I do have a “want to do list”, but I don’t think there should be a time limit, which if exceeded; I have failed miserably at life. Thinking this way will hopefully save me from the impending doom and probable anxiety attack on my 30th.

Some people would call this a bucket list, but I think the term “bucket list” (i.e. things you would like to do before you kick the bucket) seems a little bit morbid. “To do list” seems a little friendlier. As I have a bajillion things I would actually like to do, I’ve shaved it down to my top 8. There’s no specific order to these, just a list. So here it goes…

  • Visit all 7 continents – I’m well on my way to that goal, as of December 2012 my last unvisited continent will be Asia. I know I’m doing things slightly backward.
  • Go on an African Safari and see the big 5 – I think growing up with the Lion King being one of my favorite movies and obsessions probably motivated this one. I guess the Discovery Channel didn’t help either.
  • See OVERHEAD (not in the distance or horizon) the Aurora Borealis and/or the Aurora Australis – I am so incredibly obsessed with this that I check Spaceweather.com religiously. Yeah I know it’s a little sick haha.
  • Cage dive with great whites – This was supposed to be my 26th birthday present to myself that I never did. I ended up quitting my job and taking a 2.5 month jaunt through Europe and North Africa instead. I guess I cant be too mad at myself. Regardless though, I’m still strangely drawn to this, thanks shark week..
  • Speak Japanese with a Japanese person while in Japan – I spent my 4 years of high school and another 2 in university studying the Japanese language. I gave up an opportunity to live in Japan my senior year of high school because I was too afraid. (definitely my one and only life regret..) So for the last 14 or so years it’s been a dream of mine to visit Japan. It boggles my mind as to why I haven’t been yet.
  • See the red crab migration on Christmas Island in Australia – This would have to be another side effect of watching the Discovery Channel as a kid.. I’ve been intrigued with this since I was in elementary school.
  • Trek the Himalayas – Who wouldn’t want to see with their own eyes the largest mountains on earth??
  • SCUBA dive with Whale Sharks – This is another trip that I’ve been toying with for the last 3 years or so. Ever since I got SCUBA certified I’ve wanted to do this.

 

 

 

Diving In The Florida Keys

A couple weeks back I decided I needed to take a break from Buffalo and took a quick trip down to the Florida Keys. I spent a few days SCUBA diving with Rainbow Reef Dive Center on Key Largo and had a really great time.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is an absolutely incredible dive experience. The water is pristine and filled with fish and amazingly colored corals. It’s also the only coral reef system in the continental US.

Beautiful Corals on Molasses Reef – Taken with My Olympus and Underwater Housing.

If you decide that diving or or even just snorkeling here is for you, then you absolutely need to charter a boat. You cannot merely swim out to the reefs as they are at a minimum of three miles from shore.

I highly recommend having rainbow reef take you. They not only dive the reefs, but they also do deeper dives out to several of the amazing wrecks in the area. You must have the proper certification level however, and provide your dive log book as they are strict about that.

Cheers,

~Jenn

 

 

First Post!

This beautiful plant is called a Haleakala Silversword, it grows exclusively on the slopes and crater of Haleakala Volcano in Hawaii. This endangered species grows for up to 50 years in one of the harshest environments in the world. The plants life cycle ends with a single flowering of big maroon flowers.

My first excursion to Hawaii was devoid of any flowering specimens. The only thing I ran into were the corpses of long dead plants. I was more than a little disappointed by this.

On my second trip however, I was fortunate enough to come across dozens of them flowering. Coming to the realization that I was one of a few to see these plants, in full bloom after their ~50 year lifespan, really blew my mind. It got me thinking that if I hadn’t taken a chance and visited a second time, I would have missed this rare and beautiful sight.

Taking a chance is often rewarded with unexpected and unusual delights.

~Jenn