Travel: NgoroNgoro Crater

Lovely Friends,

Have you heard of the Ngorongoro Crater? Located in Tanzania, exploring this magical place was Part III of our Africa Adventure. The crate looks like a painting, an optical allusion.  When you drive into the crater you quickly understand this is a thriving ecosystem. I was awe stuck.

Part I: Getting to Africa via Istanbul
Part II: Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

Ngoro Ngoro means Gift of life, named by the Maasai.  Part of the Great Migrations, and our final stop before visiting the Serengeti.

We stayed at the Serena Lodge, and highly recommend this company.  We arrived in Arusha, greeted by a host and our guide, Gregory.  Gregory was our personal guide, driving us on the well know desert roads (they were rough). We spent three days exploring the Crater with picnics and learning so much about this wonderful place.

Adventure: meet me at the Summit!

Earlier this week I shared the physical/fitness part to climbing Kilimanjaro, today I'm sharing the experience.

I loved writing this post! Reflecting on my experience, sharing it with you.  There is a photo link at the bottom of this post for those looking for more ~ enjoy!

Setting the stage: We hiked in the dry season, winter.  The high temps around 35 degrees, low 10. We had two VERY windy days.  One long hike day, about seven hours... and summit day.

The higher the elevation, the less oxygen in the air.  Windy days make breathing a challenge, trying to get a full breath AND not take in dust.

Let's get started!

Fitness: I can't believe I did that

It's hard to share my Kili story in one post, with this being fitness day... it seems like a good day to share my emotions behind this accomplishment (I will post an experience recap later this week, with photos).

I have spent months preparing, planning, scheduling, never doubting, just wondering, anticipating.

Since returning from my trip I have felt off my game and today I realized why - I haven't let myself feel a sense of accomplishment for reaching the summit.

I'm struggling to process the following: 

Instant gratification: a nine day journey, with no communication didn't let friends and family celebrate our achievement real time - darn it social media and cell phones!

Travel: Tanzania from my eyes

I may have traveled to Africa to climb a mountain but what I saw before and after has left me wondering what role fate and karma play in our lives.  How might my life be different if...

~ Market Day ~

I'm left wondering how I can help, or if I'm honest... I'm really wondering 'can I help'. I wasn't expecting to see the poverty we did, slums, and squatter settlements.  My husband and I found a way to help during our visit but we need to focus this energy and continue help now that we have settled back into our daily routine.

Observations from my recent visit to Tanzania: This is important to share before my summit story, most was experienced from the time we landed, to the drive where our adventure would begin.... 

Books: June 2013

Don't you love this quote?

I tend to enjoy books set in a foreign land or have me learning about a culture I haven't experienced - this quote sums it up nicely.

In June I loaded my ipad with books written by go-to authors. Having a comfort that I enjoy these writers and know what to expect from them.

Let's talk books!

Reviews in this post: 6
Favorite book read:  Stories I only tell my Friends (Lowe)


Why I picked it: I picked this one after hearing several people wave about his storytelling and knowing Lowe was the narrator.

Synopsis: Never mean-spirited or salacious, Lowe delivers unexpected glimpses into his successes, disappointments, relationships, and one-of-a-kind encounters with people who shaped our world over the last twenty-five years. These stories are as entertaining as they are unforgettable

Quick Take: I loved this book - I knew little about Lowe's life.  I haven't watched The Outsiders so I was surprised to hear this was his breakout role.  I gasped a few times when he mentioned roles he thought he would get but didn't, or role others should have played.  I can't imagine ANYONE but Lowe playing Youngblood.

It was the perfect companion for a bumpy road and game safari!

Rating: 4 stars
Source: Library (audio)


Why I picked it: It's unfair to simply say I read this for book club.  I would have read this anyway, I adored Helen of Pasadena and couldn't wait to read Dolan's second novel.

Synopsis: Elizabeth, an English professor at Pasadena City College, finds her perfectly dull but perfectly orchestrated life upended one summer by three men: her movie-star ex-husband, a charming political operative, and William Shakespeare.

She’s off to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for the summer to make sure her ex-husband doesn’t humiliate himself in an avant-garde production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Quick Take: I love all things Shakespeare and love a story about a strong woman with a fun story.  This is a great book for summer vacation, and book clubs will have a lot to discuss.  The Manic Mommies Book Club discussed it for over an hour!

Read it, you will enjoy it.

Rating: 4 stars
Source: personal copy


Why I picked it: I enjoyed American Wife and Prep so much hat I had to read her new novel.

Synopsis: Curtis Sittenfeld, New York Times bestselling author of American Wife and Prep, returns with a mesmerizing novel of family and identity, loyalty and deception, and the delicate line between truth and belief.

Funny, haunting, and thought-provoking, Sisterland is a beautifully written novel of the obligation we have toward others, and the responsibility we take for ourselves.

Quick Take: While I love Sittenfeld's storytelling and sentence structure... yes you read that right... I'm sorry to tell you that I didn't enjoy this story very much.

At the root of this story complications arise when someone has a premonition and takes advantage, twisting a story for attention.  I didn't like either sister enough to care what happened.

Did you read it? Did I miss something?

Rating: 2 stars
Source: review copy


Why I picked it: I was in London earlier this year and loved all the history.

This popular history book explores daily life in Queen Elizabeth’s England, taking us inside the homes and minds of ordinary citizens as well as luminaries of the period, including Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Sir Francis Drake.

Organized as a travel guide for the time-hopping tourist, Mortimer relates in delightful (and occasionally disturbing) detail everything from the sounds and smells of sixteenth-century England to the complex and contradictory Elizabethan attitudes toward violence, class, sex, and religion.

Quick Take: If you appreciate history and plan to visit England soon, this is a must read book.  I learned so much, it's a handy book that you can jump around in... and learn.

I have a real copy of this book - so happy to put this on my bookshelf and share with friends.

Rating: 4 stars
Source: review copy


Why I picked it: Did you see who wrote it? I love Hilderbrand's blend of summer reading, smart women's fiction.

Synopsis: When Arch Newton, a prominent New York attorney, dies in a plane crash on his way home from a business trip, his beautiful widow, Beth, can barely keep things together. Above all, though, she decides that she must continue the family tradition of going to Nantucket, and at the same time fulfill a promise that Arch made before he died.

Quick Take: Here's another story where I struggled with the plot, there are too many complicated sub-plots: murder, class issues, eating disorders, dysfunctional relationships, and more.

Just too much going on, I wonder how this book would have read from the young daughter's voice.

Rating: 3 stars
Source: personal copy (audio)


Why I picked it: I have read some books from this author, it was on sale on Nook so I bought it.

Synopsis: What would you do if an old friend needed you, but it meant turning your new life upside down?

Pen, Will, and Cat met during the first week of their first year of college and struck up a remarkable friendship, one that sustained them and shaped them for years – until it ended abruptly, and they went their separate ways. Now, six years later, what happens sends past and present colliding and Pen and her friends on a journey across the world, a journey that will change everything.

Quick Take: It took me three weeks to finish this book!  I would love to read this for book club, I can imagine my Omaha group of gals picking this one apart, discussing life experiences, would we handle the situation like Cat did?  There is a lot to talk about!

Rating: 3 stars
Source: personal copy

Life: vacation hangover...

I have a hangover - a sensory/experience hangover. I have only been home for six days, from an experience that I have been planning in my head for decades.

I know several of you are anxious for me to share my Kili story, it's coming.  I did journal so I just need to take time to translate my notes into a post. I promise to share this in the next few days.

While you wait, here's a story for you.

Trekking story: WT was just talking to a good friend, bonding over the British Open when I overheard him share a story that I hadn't thought to share.  He was talking about how hard the hike was (it wasn't hard physically)... one day we hiked for eight hours, starting at 13,000 feet, climbing to 15,000 and ending the day back at 13,000.  We were walking around the mountain, while acclimatizing!

Fitness: a dancing duel on the mountain?

I missed you guys! Reading blogs, following my fitness friends embracing summer. Joy hosts Reader's workouts, feel free to join us.

A dancing duel on the mountain? Calvin is a trek guide, a person with a spirit rarely found these days. He is happy, the life of the party... and he likes to sing and dance.

We quickly bonded, laughing, giggling, singing. We challenged each other to 'dance move duel's' often while standing on a rock during a water stop.  I miss this guy.

Kili reflections: I am thrilled to tell you the physical part of the mountain was a breeze for me! Fellow trekkers commented on stiffness, sore muscles, aches... I had none of this. People seemed shocked that I actually trained towards the 60 miles distance vs hours on a stair stepper.

Once I have time to narrow down a thousand photos to a dozen... I will share my Kili story with you.

Life: a retreat on the Bosporus

Today is my birthday!

I woke up just after sunrise, in my own bed - looking around and exhaling, feeling my home hug me.

After 3 1/2 weeks of travel, we couldn't have planned this any better. Greeted with cards and a few gifts to open later today, we will BBQ and have a glass of wine for dinner as we adjust to life.

There's a lot to do today... unpack six bags, laundry, baking, settling back in.  I have so much to share with you but find myself overwhelmed by the events of the last month so I will let the photo's tell the story.

Today let's start with part one... Istanbul.

Istanbul highlights:

Have you been to Istanbul? WT told me I would love it, he was right! This was the perfect way to begin our adventure.  A few days to adjust to the time zone while decompressing before heading to Tanzania.

14 million people, second largest city in the world, filled with religion, history... click here to learn more

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