I've been experimenting a little with Picasa and moving my photos over to the laptop. I wanted to see if I could figure out how to resize the photos to use less bandwidth. I used my elephant photo as a lead-in for today's blog, and I think it worked!
You see, it's been a little boring to write about packing up the house, and the last days at work...one can only talk about that so much, right? So I thought, maybe I should chat a little about our background for making this leap of faith into a different lifestyle. Maybe a few people can identify with it :-).
Sometime in 2004, as we were going about our normal lives, we had started watching a show called The Amazing Race; I'm sure many others out there have watched it as well :-). We absolutely loved it, right from the start. Living vicariously through the teams, traveling the world, seeing sights we could only dream about seeing in person. One season the teams landed in Africa, I'm not sure what country, but I remember the task they had to perform was driving a safari jeep across the plains, and photographing the "Big Five": Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino and Cape Buffalo. Wow, was that cool! Imagine driving along, and having an elephant walk in front of you! We talked about that for days, how neat that must have been to experience. Then on to everyday concerns again.
A few months later, as we were walking the dogs one day (as people who know us know, we walk the dogs ALOT!) and talking, planning next winter's vacation, Al said to me, "what would you think about trying a safari in Africa?" Well, twist my arm!! Seems he was watching tv one night, and an American Express commercial came on, advertising rewards for members. Among them was an African safari. Well, no, we didn't get Amex to pay for it, but the commercial planted the seed :-). We put it on the list to research. As many of you know, we do plan our vacations well in advance, so no surprise there, right?
After some initial research, we found a common theme: EXPENSIVE!! We realized this was not something we could just decide to do on a whim, it would take alot of planning, researching the correct company, and a strict savings schedule. Once we decided on the company, Thompson Safaris, and the specific trip we wanted, we set a date of February 2008; 4 years to save the funds for this trip. And we did it!
I'm going to write about the details of the trip in the coming days to hopefully keep you more entertained than reading about cleaning my house :-), but wanted to write that this trip, as corny as it sounds, was a life-changing event for us. I could not imagine what an exciting, tremendous experience this was going to be. Something completely out of the realm of our ordinary lives. We have always taken very nice vacations since we've been married, and I've loved every one of them (well, the trip to Florida when Al ended up in the hospital with his afib wasn't so great), but nothing, not even Hawaii, could come remotely close to the exhilaration we felt on this trip. It took us almost 24 hours to get there, 36 hours travel home, and 10 days there, the entire time on safari in the wild. We went to 4 different areas while there, traveling in 12 passenger Cessna planes in between parks. We spent every single day in the jeeps, covering miles and miles of territory, seeing such an incredible variety of wildlife. I was exhausted when I got home, it took me days to recover. But I can't forget how GREAT it felt! Every single day we would wake up in our various tents, so completely enthusiastic about what we would do that day; we didn't know where we were going, or what we would see, but BOY, was it going to be cool! It had been a long, long time since I had felt so alive, so full of excitement about anything.
And I can honestly say, that this is what we think the direction our lives are about to take. The sheer joy of discovering what is around the next corner, the beauty of the country around us, the wildlife, and the great people from all corners of America. We are looking forward to the different jobs we will find, the people we will encounter. We hope in some small way, to help make things a little brighter in different places. Al has been doing good deeds through his work in the ambulance for the last 30 years, and I now hope to make a small mark in my own way as well. We look forward to the volunteer opportunities available in the National Parks and Wildlife Refuges. I hope you will enjoy my memories and photos of my African Safari in the days to come :-).
Take care, and I'll write soon!