Thursday, September 24, 2009

our amazing adventure, part 1 {three years ago}

it's fun to think back to where we were...1, 2,3, 5 years ago...that is something that i love about having this blog - it helps me to remember not only the big moments, but the very small, and oh so meaningful moments as well. i wish someone/i had blogged my life starting long ago, because i can't tell you how many times my sisters, mom or a friend will say, "remember when...", and i have NO recollection of that memory! if it was in my blog, i could go back and read the words and see the pictures!

three years ago was a big adventure for that i could never forget, but thought it would be fun to take a walk down memory lane. it actually started much earlier than three years ago - because the planning and decision making that went in to it was quite extensive. i remember aa and i were in our 29th year and thinking about our lives and what was next. we had started to think about when we might want to have kids and also how we might want to celebrate our 30th birthdays. on the kid front, we both knew we wanted them, although weren't sure when we would quite be ready (are you ever really ready??). at that time, we had been doing some pretty cool travels each year...starting with traveling to japan to visit family and friends in 2003, honeymooning in belize in 2004, exploring peru and hiking machu picchu with family in 2005. we wanted to celebrate our 30th birthdays in a big way and debated between throwing a big bash for both of us (birthdays just 2.5 weeks apart!) with all of our friends/family or taking a big trip. in the end we decided to be selfish and take a trip - but not just any trip - we wanted to go somewhere really amazing, somewhere that we might not be able to do for a long time if we had kids. i don't think it took us very long to decide (this is where it would be nice to have that blog of my life!) and we quickly zeroed in on africa. after meeting with a travel agent specializing in africa, she let us know that if we might only make it to africa one time in our life that we should most definitely go to south africa and botswana, as there were stricter regulations about how many people could be on a game reserve at a time and it would for sure be the best location for the time of year we wanted to go. we looked at several different packages and itineraries and ultimately created a three week itinerary which would have us leaving pdx on sept. 24 and return to pdx on oct. 13 - just in time for me to run the nike women's marathon in san francisco ON my actual 30th birthday!

so indulge in a little walk down memory lane of what was truly a trip of a lifetime for aa and me:

our first stop was at Honeyguide Camp on the Manyeleti Game Reserve in South Africa. we flew directly into Johannesburg from Washington DC and took a small jumper plane to what felt like the middle of nowhere (and really it was!). our guide picked us up in a jeep and drove us to our tent where we crashed out from the long, nearly 2 days of travel. oh and did i mention that my bag did not arrive with us from dc, so i came to camp with only the clothes on my back!! we were up early for breakfast and our first game drive, which was so exciting. amazingly enough, the first animal that we saw was a a rhino - it was our first and only of the entire trip! we stayed three night here and of course, my bag arrived the morning of the day we were leaving.

the rhino, the rhino and me (proof that pic wasn't taken at the zoo!!)

our "tent" - consisted of a real bed, couch, table, lamp and attached, but open air full bathroom!

1st giraffe sighting, aa & the giraffe

a herd of elephants right outside our tent, see the giraffe in the background?

each day we awoke to the sound of beating drums - bright and early to head out for an early morning game drive (which lasted about 3 hours), breakfast and relaxation time, followed by lunch and then an afternoon/early evening game drive (again about 3+ hours) which always included a sundowner. what might you ask is a sundowner? it's where we would stop at a beautiful location, just as the sun was starting to go down and enjoy a full bar and snacks. these sundowners beat any happy hour i've ever been to! we'd then head back to camp to clean up and enjoy a wonderful dinner.

the "bar", enjoying a a sundowner

aa sitting in the tracker seat, our guide, tracker and another couple out on a drive
our next stop was to Zambia, where we would begin our 8 night safari through the country of Botswana. because the flights were limited, we had to overnight in johannesburg. it turned into a bit of an adventure, with our bag containing aa's passport, all of our cash and plane tickets being "lost" or stolen (we believe by the police) in the airport...only to be found by the police. everything was in the bag, except the passport. after about 20 minutes of searching the bag and arguing with the police that we are certain the passport was in the bag, another policeman walked in holding aa's passport and said he "found" it. they tried to get us to buy them a drink, but we somehow escaped the office without having to give them any money and took off for our airport hotel. it wasn't until the next morning did we realize that aa's nike fleece and uo hat were missing! somewhere in south africa, someone is enjoying that fleece and hat! it was quite a scare, but we are so fortunate to have recovered the key items needed to continue on our with our trip!
we had one night on our own prior to joining our safari and we stayed at the zambezi sun hotel, which was conveniently located right next to victoria falls. sadly, we were there during the low season, but it was still quite amazing to see. our pictures don't do it justice.
the next day was one of the highlights of our trip - rafting the zambezi river! while low season was a bummer for the actual creates the best white water rafting experience, because the rapids are more accessible. we don't have any pictures, for obvious reasons...but it was one of the most thrilling, adrenaline-pumping things i've ever done. it consists of mostly class 4 and 5 rapids and they aren't messing around! we only had time to do the half day trip, but after going through "midnight diner" #8 and experiencing our boat not only flip, but getting caught in the hole of "star trek" i was ready to be done! yes, our whole boat ended up going through a class 5 rapid - OUTSIDE of the boat. aa and i both seriously saw our lives flash in front of our eyes. i only remember that each time i'd come up, i'd take the biggest breath of air i could before being thrown about again. each member of our boat ended up getting picked up by other boats and we finally made it to the side of the river to walk around rapid #9 - commercial suicide, which is a class 6 and therefore illegal to ride down. there was one more rapid before lunch and then we were on our way back to the hotel to meet up with our traveling mates for the next 8 nights!

...and with that...i'll conclude this long post and finish up another time!
but i'll leave you with a sneak peek from our next day...

elephant butts!

elephant cruise along the chobe river


Jamie said...

Man, reading this makes me really crave another vacation. What a great trip to experience together!

Dottie said...

WOW, those pictures are amazing, your both so smart to do that before kids!

the o's said...

ohhh i love the memory lane. what a fun trip and memories that will always be with you two. love the pics!!!

Andy & Heather Singer said...

Nice post! Makes me regret that Andy and I didn't travel as much together as we should have. Now with the two additions I think our trips will be few and far between.