Tag Archives: travel

A Squirrel on Safari

We have A LOT of squirrels here in Georgia.  They are everywhere. And while at first you may think they look cute with their little hands holding acorns up to their mouths, really they’re not.  They are  dangerous and expensive pests. In the winter, they like to come into houses for warmth and nesting.  Once they’re in, they do damage by nibbling holes into your roof which in turn allows water in…

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For several years, we had an on and off problem with squirrels in our attic.  We cut down 2 beautiful trees that were too close to the house which allowed the squirrels access to our roof.  Eventually, we had to get a new roof, which was hugely expensive!  (Not all due to the squirrels, it was also an old roof).

One time I saw a neighbor’s beautiful new Porsche Cayenne with its front end smashed in.  He had rear-ended a car in front of him that had unexpectedly and suddenly braked for a squirrel crossing the road. So overall, we don’t like squirrels.

As I mentioned last week, we went on safari in Botswana several years ago.  It was an amazing trip where  we got to see many rare and beautiful animals.  Some of the highlights were the African wild dogs, an elephant family with a baby that was only about two weeks old, and a male lion.  DSC_0477DSC_0478DSC_0176DSC_0397DSC_0398

When you go on safari, the very best (and almost only) way to see all of the animals is by open air Range Rover.

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The Range Rover fording a river

Some of the time, we had the Range Rover, driver and tracker all to ourselves.  Other times, we shared the Range Rover with others.  For two days, we were paired with a nice couple from South Africa.  Luckily, my children behaved, so I think that this couple was able to have a nice time too.

While you’re out driving around, the tracker is hunting for animals for us to see and photograph.  If there is an animal that we are particularly interested in, we can request that the driver stop, or give us some more time for photographing.  One of the days that we were with the South Africans, we saw an African wild dog pack kill an antelope.  It was gruesome but amazing to see the whole thing.  Not only are the wild dogs very rare, but to see them hunting was even more rare!  On the same day, we also saw TWO honey badgers.  These too are very rare.

And now here’s the funny part…After seeing some of the most amazing sights and animals, the most enthusistic reaction all day from our traveling companions was when we saw a squirrel!! We had to stop for a good while for them to take pictures.  We tried to be polite and not laugh, but I’m sure we failed.

 

A Trip to Africa and a Race in Atlanta

This blog is entitled travelrunstyle.  My original intention was to have a combo blog that featured all three of those subjects.  Somehow, I haven’t really lived up to the name of the blog, especially in the style area.  Mostly, this has become a blog about running, with a little bit of travel too.  And that’s what this post is going to be about.  (Maybe someday I’ll write a style blog).

A few years ago, we went on safari in South Africa.  My family flew ahead of me and broke up the long flight with a stopover in Paris.  A few days later, I took a direct flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg.  This was by far the longest flight I’ve ever taken – 17 hours! We also had a 2 hour ground delay in Atlanta due to rain!!  19 hours sitting in coach was a really really long time!

I had a window seat, which I prefer.  The seats were off-set a bit, so the person in the middle seat in front of me was visible as well as audible.  At first I was excited when I overheard him talking to his seat mate about running.  I hoped that maybe I could get in on the conversation!

Then he started talking about religion too. He kept on talking about running, and religion. And ON and ON and ON. FOR HOURS.  And I don’t sleep on planes.  Oh my goodness.  I can safely say he NEVER shut up.  Well…ok he did for a bit after he took a sleeping pill.  But still.  And it was loud!

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Eventually, I made it to the lodge at Krueger Park and met up with my family.  I had travelled with my running shoes, in hopes of getting a few miles in Africa.

Ya…No.

You don’t run while on safari.  Too dangerous.  Even without a run though it was an awesome trip.  So awesome, that we went again the next year to a nearby country, Botswana.

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African wild dogs…very rare.  We watched them make a kill, which was really gruesome.

In between the two trips to Africa, we ran some races here in Atlanta.  One of them was a small local race.  Both my husband and I usually line up towards the front in local races.  While we were waiting to start, I noticed someone on the front line that I recognized.  When I asked my husband who the guy was, he said he didn’t know.  Even before I could think to stop myself from talking, I thought I recognized that he was the loudmouth from the plane, and I asked him if he’d gone to Africa last year.  It was him.

Oh geez…why did I strike up a conversation with him?? What if he started a loud on going conversation that lasted the whole race.  I felt panicked!! Luckily, he must have been nervous about racing because the conversation was brief.

Small world…but I don’t think I’ve seen him since.  Or at least I know I haven’t HEARD him!

Hope you all have a nice weekend, and I’m looking forward to catching up on your posts!

Changing the Title to: Close Encounters with 2 Olympic Runners

As you may know, we are huge high school cross country fans.  Our son ran, and now our daughter is running.  We avidly follow the speediest runners in our state.  And we have even gone to watch races in the gap years when neither child was racing.  For instance last year (our son had graduated, but  our daughter hadn’t entered high school), my husband and I ran a local race.  We knew I had placed in my age group, but decided to skip the awards ceremony so that we could get to the nearby cross country races.  Believe it or not, FRANK SHORTER was giving out the age group awards at the ceremony that we had skipped!!

We continue our fandom even after  cross country season ends. Around Thanksgiving, there is a regional race open to all.  The speediest high school runners from all over the Southeast attend. The Footlocker SE Regionals are held in Charlotte, NC.  Each year, we follow the results of the regionals through twitter feeds, live updates, and Facebook posts.

There are 3 other regional races held in other parts of the country.  The top ten finishers of each regional race then participate in the Foot Locker National race held in Balboa Park in San Diego, CA.   Each year we watch the live feed of this race over the internet.

When our boy ran, we mostly followed the boys.  Now that our girl runs, we mostly follow  the girls.  This year, there have been several speedy girls in the state of Georgia  that we have enjoyed watching.  We were thrilled to learn that THREE Georgia girls made the top ten at the SE regional!  This is unheard of!  Three girls from Georgia going to San Diego!!

The Footlocker National race was held this weekend.  We were able to watch it over the internet, and were once again inspired to watch these high school athletes compete at such an intense level.  The girls winner finished with a time of 17:09…on a HILLY course! The Georgia girls did well too.  15th, 19th and 39th. I get nervous and inspired and happy every time I watch the Footlocker races!

Several years ago we were able to attend and race in the SE Regionals! When our son was a senior, we took him to Charlotte.

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2012 SE Footlocker Regionals (can’t believe he allowed me to take his pic!)

Before the high school athletes race, there is a race open to any non-high schooler.  My husband and I signed up for it.  Talk about NERVOUS!  But the race was awesome!  For the most part, the runners were  former high school or college runners.  It was a very fast field, with very few females.  Normally I put myself toward the front of a race.  Not here!  I looked around and felt slow even before the race started.  I backed up and made a joke with the middle aged woman next to me about letting faster looking young men get to the front of the start line.  She laughed but didn’t say much.

The race itself was tougher than I’d expected.  Running cross country is harder than running on pavement.  Some of the terrain felt like sand, and it was hard to get a good foothold.  The fans were very supportive though.  High school girls that I didn’t know yelled encouragement to me as I passed…”Go MOM!”.  At the time, my finish time disappointed me.  During that Fall, I had finished several races in the 22s.  This one was 23:40.  (In retrospect, I’m perfectly happy with this time).

Next up was  our son’s race.  While we were waiting for his race to start, I stopped by the awards table to see if they had any results.  Amazingly, I had earned an award!! Twenty three women raced in the entire Master’s category.  The top 20 finishers received awards.  The top ten were gold medal winners.  The next ten received silver medals.  I finished 9th!! A Gold Medal!

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My favorite medal EVER!

 

The top lady in the category finished 6 full minutes faster than me.  Yes, a woman over forty finishing with something starting with a 17!! Amazing.  I later googled her name.  Zola Pieterse.  Maiden name BUDD.  Yes, she ran for the UK in the Olympics in the 80s!  She is the one who had a collision with Mary Decker on the track that caused Mary Decker to not finish.  WOW!!  I wonder if that was the middle aged lady that I had been joking with at the start.  She must have thought I was an idiot!

Our son ran, and did fine.  His finish time also started with a 17.  He was just barely faster than Zola!  He wasn’t pleased with his time though.  (They never are). One of the boys from our high school finished second!  He had been the fastest boy in Georgia for the past three years.  So with his second place finish, he earned a gold medal (I like to joke that Josh and I were the only 2 from our high school with the gold medals), and a spot in the Footlocker Nationals!

Today I am trying a link up for the Weekly Wrap hosted by Holly @ HoHoRuns and Tricia @ MissSippiPiddlin.   See rules here. Thank you ladies!

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Window Seat Tourist

The very first time that I flew on an airplane (as a child, in the sixties, when you used to dress up to fly), I got the window seat.  And ever since, that’s been my seat of choice.

I want to tell you about some of the awesome things to be seen out the window of a plane.

The flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg South Africa is super long (17 hours). By following our flight path on the TV screen map in front of me, I could see that we would be going south, along the east side of South America, then across a ‘thin’ part of the Atlantic to Africa.  The first African country we flew over was Namibia…a country I’d barely ever heard of. We flew over Namibia for hours on a clear, sunny day.  The landscape of red sand dunes the size of mountains was amazing. There was almost no sign of civilization except for an occasional dusty single track road here or there.

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I know it sounds crazy, but this was one of the most memorable sites of our whole awesome trip!

Another trip, we were flying west…from Atlanta to Seattle. It was an an early evening flight, so we were flying into the sunset. My seat was on the right side of the plane (so I was looking north). Long after we were flying in the dark, I kept noticing light out my window. For a while I couldn’t figure out why the sun wouldn’t just set! Then I realized HELLO… it’s light-to-the-north. As in the northern lights!! Wow! (Later, after we landed and checked into our hotel, I got to experience my first earthquake…small but odd).

Not my photo...but pretty awesome!

Not my photo…but pretty awesome!

A few years ago, I flew from Atlanta to las Vegas. (From there. I rented a car and drove to St. George Utah where I met my friends for my first marathon.) During the flight, I could see on the map that we would be flying near (or over) the Grand Canyon. I’ve been there several times and have had the privilege to fly over it on helicopter tours. But still. I was excited to be able to fly over it again. The lady sitting next to me had never flown. Nor had she ever seen the Grand Canyon. Once I was sure that we were actually going to fly over the canyon, I told her. She was so excited to see it.  And the experience of sharing it with her was  awesome

Again, not my photo but this is what it looked like

Again, not my photo but this is what it looked like

So, my travel advice to you when you fly is to always take the window seat!

What awesome sights have you seen out of the plane window? What is your travel advise?

The World’s Shortest Road Trip

As I mentioned in a previous post about cross country, my husband and I took a road trip 2 weeks ago to watch our daughter’s first high school race. While we live in Georgia, the meet was in central Florida….a 7 hour drive! (Don’t ask me the thought process there).

The trip, while short, was filled with adventure (of the mild, middle age type).

First up: Boiled Peanuts.
No trip through South Georgia is complete without a stop for this delicacy.  They are peanuts, Boiled in salty oil.  They’re soft, and greasy and salty. Mmmm. But a word of warning…don’t eat the whole serving! Potential tummy problems, not to mention the fact that they’re probably not a super healthy runner’s food!

Boiled Peanuts

Next: A Speed Trap
Yes we were speeding. Yes we got stopped. No we didn’t get a ticket!! When the officer asked where we were headed, my husband told him Florida. I chimed in with the reason….to see our girl run her first high school race. I’m certain that is why he let is off!

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A Stop in Valdosta:
We were hungry, needed to use the potty, and needed gas. Plus it had started to rain REALLY hard.  It seemed like a good place to stop.  We found a nice Denny’s right off the exit.  Dinner was delicious, and the indoor rain hardly bothered us at all.

ˆf you look near teh neon clock, you can see rain pouring in from the ceiling

If you look near the neon clock, you can see rain pouring in from the ceiling

The Next Morning:
The race was awesome. The boys ran first and it was thrilling to watch. Our daughter’s friend ‘Fast boy’ who is new to running was amazing. Several of the other boys were in an exciting race to the finish.

A very close finish. Our boys are in white

Our daughter and her team mates also did super in their race.  We have known some of these girls their whole lives, so it was great to be able to be proud of so many runners!

Last Stop: Surfing Lessons
I’ve always wanted to surf. At age 50, I decided ‘why not?’ So I took a surfing lesson. Then I did another lesson last year. So this was to be my third annual lesson. My husband decided to join me this time.

Not my best lesson! Plus our instructor SUCKED! He didn’t tell my husband any of the beginner instructions that I knew were supposed to be given.

Anyway, long story short… Something weird happened with his board. And my husband wound up loosing his toe nail!

He informed me of his injury then left the water.  Good wife that I am, I kept going with my lesson.

THE END:
And that was the end of our adventure… We went back to the hotel, showered and drove the 7 hours back home! Like I said, the world’s Shortest Road trip!

Driving home with an injured left big toe

Driving home with an injured left big toe

Trip of a Lifetime Part 6 – Peru

Gabby and I took the train to Machu Pichu to meet up with the hikers and see the ruins.

The morning train to Machu Pichu

The morning train to Machu Pichu

Our ride took us through the sacred valley, the beautiful Andes on either side of us.  Gabby fell asleep, I watched the mountains go by.  They were so awesome, I had tears in my eyes.

Our train stopped in Aguas Calientes, where there are some hot springs.

Aguas Calientes. The village below Machu Pichu.

Aguas Calientes. The village below Machu Pichu.

From there we boarded a bus that took us up a windy, scary one lane road to Machu Pichu. We met up with our hikers!

The hiker plus Gabby

The hikers plus Gabby

Machu Pichu was indescribable.  So much to see…!

Machu Pichu

Machu Pichu

Machu Pichu

Machu Pichu

Our hiking guide gave us a tour and taught us about the ruins and the civilization that once lived there.  We kind wished he’d shut up so that we could enjoy the experience with out BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.

Our Guide teaching us about Machu Pichu and Incan civilization

Our Guide teaching us about Machu Pichu and Incan civilization

Really though he was an excellent teacher and guide for the hikers.

The Trip of a Lifetime Part 4 – Peru

After our first evening in Urubamba, Gabby and I HAD to find some money.  In the morning, we walked into the town searching for an ATM that would work with my card, or a bank.

It was market day in the village, so we got to see the preparations underway.

Bags of Potatoes and other vegetables were dropped off here in preperation for market day

Bags of Potatoes and other vegetables were dropped off here in preparation for market day

Peruvian lady selling chicks

Peruvian lady selling chicks

Market Day Kiosk

Market Day Kiosk

It was also some sort of celebration day.  There was a parade of school children in their uniforms around the town square, and a stage set up for dignitaries on the church steps.

Parade of school children marching through the town square

Parade of school children marching through the town square

Dignitaries  on a stage at on the church steps, watching the parade

Dignitaries on a stage on the church steps, watching the parade

We found some ATMs, but my card didn’t work in any of them.  We found a bank, but weren’t allowed in because it was for Peruvians only. In the meantime, we were living off the cash that Gabby’s dad had given her.  Thank goodness he was generous!

 

An Awesome Trip and a Run – The Trip Part

First a little Background:

Four years ago, we had scheduled a trip to Peru to hike the Inca Trail.  Before we got started on the trip, we literally had a change of heart, and  decided it would be much more fun to spend our 25th wedding anniversary in the hospital.

It started a few weeks before the hospital.  Our cross country son had convinced us to do a 5k race.  Although we had been running for a year or two, we hadn’t done a 5k yet.  After the race, my husband was very disappointed in his performance.  Not only did he have to walk due to chest pain, but worse, I beat him.  That’s what made him decide that something was wrong.  Long story short, he wound up in the hospital for 10 days having and recovering from quadruple by-pass surgery.

A Year Later:

With both kids at camp, we took a make-up trip: Europe.  He enjoys making all the plans, and does a great job of it!  This trip we’d land in Zurich, drive to Austria, and then Italy.  He found us a race in the Dolomites.  It was a seven mile race starting in an Italian Alpine village and ending in an Austrian Alpine village.

Zurich is beautiful, clean, and orderly city. We  spent 1/2 of a jet-lagged day there, so I don’t remember much.

Lake Zurich, Switzerland.  Too jet-lagged for very many photos

Lake Zurich, Switzerland. Too jet-lagged for very many photos

We rented a car and drove to Salzburg Austria.  Salzburg is in a beautiful Alpine valley setting.

Salburg, Austria is in an Alpine Valley

Salburg, Austria is in an Alpine Valley

The old town was cute and quaint…

Old Town Salzburg, Austria

Old Town Salzburg, Austria

but I was unimpressed with the rest of the city.  It was mostly filled with socialist style cement buildings.

Socialist style cement apartment building in Salzburg

Socialist style cement apartment building in Salzburg

From Salzburg, on to Hoschpusterstal, Italy.  It was a lovely drive, and we got to meet a nice Inn proprietor who was very friendly.  I suspect not too many Americans make it to such a remote Inn, so he was happy to chat with us.

Hoschpusterstal was a super village.  SOO cute.

The village of Hoschpusterstal, Italy

The village of Hoschpusterstal, Italy

We ran our race, and had a great time.  (See The Run Part post).  Then drove to Genoa, Italy.  Truthfully, Genoa isn’t really a destination.

Genoa port

Genoa port – Blah

But we stayed in a spectacular 5 star hotel (using points).  The basement pool complex was great!  There was a lap pool, and then various treatment rooms surrounding the pool:  Steam room, rain shower room, misting room.  Here is the link: http://www.melia.com/en/hotels/italy/genoa/melia-genova/index.html

One day we went east to Cinque Terra, the five picturesque towns that are built into cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean.  Let me give you a hint if you ever want to visit Cinque Terra…DO NOT DRIVE there.  Take the train.  The roads are crumbling, one lane, cliff-side, switch backs!  The only vehicles on the road besides us were large trucks…YIKES!

One of the 5 Cinque Terra Villages

One of the 5 Cinque Terra Villages

One of the 5 Cinque Terra Villages

One of the 5 Cinque Terra Villages

The other day, we drove West, and spent a beach day on the Italian Riviera.  Sorry…somehow can’t find those pics.  But I loved how clear the water was.  I went for a long swim.  And the beaches were tiny pebbles, not sand.  Then into Monaco for some shopping.

Our last day was the drive back to Zurich.  We drove through Milan.

Some fort in Milan

Some fort in Milan

Milan Cathedral Il Duomo

Milan Cathedral
Il Duomo

Shopping in Milan

Shopping in Milan

The Trip of a Lifetime Part 1 – Peru

The plan was for my daughter, husband and I to go to Peru and hike the Inca Trail. For any of you who have, or have had, or have been a 13 year old girl, you know that they can’t do ANYTHING without a partner. So the plan changed to include another 13 year old girl. In order to hike the Inca Trail, you need to have a certain level of fitness.  No problem for my husband and I.  We’re runners.  My daughter was playing soccer at the time, so she also was somewhat fit.  Her friend wasn’t fit at all, and we knew this.  Every weekend for months before the Peru trip, we had both girls, and sometimes additional girls out hiking.

We flew from Atlanta, to Lima.  6 hour flight: not too bad.  We arrived at the same time as a ‘Famous’ rock group…Placebo.  Ever heard of them?  Yeah, me neither.  But there were many screaming fans awaiting their midnight arrival.

Our only view of Lima, Peru

Our only view of Lima, Peru

We took a taxi to a hotel, and a few hours later, a taxi back to the airport for the flight to Cusco.

Cusco-PeruAn hour in Cusco, and we were off in a van to the start of the Inca Trail.

Peruvian countryside.  On the drive to the start of the Inca Trail

Peruvian countryside. On the drive to the start of the Inca Trail

We arrived at the trail…ready to hike!

At the Start of the Inca Trail - Ready to Hike!

At the Start of the Inca Trail – Ready to Hike!

We hiked for hours amid the Incan ruins, and the Andes Mountains.  It was beautiful.

Our 1st hour of hiking on the Inca Trail

Our 1st hour of hiking on the Inca Trail

The start of the Inca Trail

The start of the Inca Trail

Incan Ruins as seen from the Inca Trail

Incan Ruins as seen from the Inca Trail

Although we aren’t campers, the only way to get to Machu Pichu while hiking the Inca Trail was via a three day hike (camping included).  We had a guide, and porters to carry everything but our backpacks.  Word of warning:  don’t pack too much in your backpack!

Porters to carry tents, sleeping bags, food, cooking paraphernalia...

Porters to carry tents, sleeping bags, food, cooking paraphernalia…

The first night, we stayed in the yard of someone’s house (for a fee).  The house was part of a small settlement right off the trail.  The ‘facilities’ were a single hole in the ground with a board over it to prevent slipping.

Our first night's lodging was in tents behind this house

Our first night’s lodging was in tents behind this house

An Urban Adventure

There is a GM plant near our work that has been shuttered for many years.  The site and facility have been empty and abandoned for a very long time.  A developer has purchased the property (which is huge) and begun demolishing the car manufacturing facility.  I drive by it frequently, and have been interested in the demolition process.  I keep thinking that it would be a good place to try getting some black and white photos.

Yesterday, I gave it a try.

A pile of metal from the demolition of the Doraville GM plant

A pile of metal from the demolition of the Doraville GM plant

I think I may have waited too long.  A few weeks ago, the demolition process looked more interesting.  There were salvage piles all over the place, separated by use and material.  Piles of metal were awaiting recycle pick up.  Machinery was stacked together for an auction.

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Demolition of GM Doraville Plant. Doraville, GA

By the time I got there yesterday, there were mostly just piles of rubble.

I did get to meet some interesting people though.  One man was riding by on his  bicycle, and stopped to see what I was doing.  We had a nice chat, and he told me that the single building left standing  was going to be a movie studio.  He was also chronicling the demolition with photos.

This may be the site of a movie studio.  I thought the pink doors were odd.  I guess they were once red and had faded to pink.

This may be the site of a movie studio. I thought the pink doors were odd. I guess they were once red and had faded to pink.

Later, I saw a Cadillac parked at one of the locked gates.  I noticed on the license tag, that the owner was a Georgia World War 2 veteran.  I asked him if he  had worked at the plant.  He said he’d been there for 39 years.

World War 2 Veteran in his Cadillac looking at the GM plant where he'd worked for 39 years.

World War 2 Veteran in his Cadillac looking at the GM plant where he’d worked for 39 years.

Here are some more photos.  I was trying for a ‘post industrial/post apocalyptic’ type of thing….Don’t think I hit it!

Rail spur leading into the plant.  There is a living room set across from the graffiti rail car.

Rail spur leading into the plant. There is a living room set across from the graffiti rail car.

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