Dear brother, as you embark on the start of your military career nearly twenty years after the start of my own I’d like to give you some advice.You are about to embark on one of the greatest adventures of your life, you may end up close to home or find yourself as far away as Germany, Japan or Afghanistan (though I personally hope its not the latter). You will find yourself changed not only in ways you expected but also in ways you never imagined. To succeed in the military takes not only strength, teamwork and perseverance, but also individual drive and patience; all qualities I know you already possess.It will bring out new qualities in you too, and you will emerge a stronger, more confident version of yourself. You have a few more years under your belt than the typical recruit, you bring to the table experience and a level of maturity that will serve you and the Army National Guard well.You will meet some of the best people you will ever know, your shared service and experiences will form the basis of lifelong friendships. You will encounter personalities that don’t exactly mesh with yours; these differences usually seem to rear their ugly head when you’ve been awake for 30 hours and your last nerve is nearly frazzled. But you know what? This is where patience comes in. You deal with it, compromise and hopefully they will too. At that point its not about either of you, its about getting the mission done.Being apart from your family will make your heart ache in a way you didn’t know possible, but this makes you cherish your time together even more.
Let’s face it,travel clothing doesn’t necessarily have the most fashionable reputation. As brilliantly lampooned here by The Everywhereist , travel clothing is typically thought of as shapeless, quick-dry nylon with zip off appendages (Basically a sleeping bag with legs). As far as I’m concerned whoever designs hiking pants that are flattering deserves a Nobel Prize.
“Where am I going next?” This is a question constantly on every travelers mind. I’m currently in the pre-planning stages of our next big trip and I always enjoy this phase. With nothing yet on the books my mind is free to wander, the entire world an array of endless possibilities. I enjoy researching travel almost as much as the trip itself; I can easily spend hours pouring over travel magazines and blogs, each picture and story adding a little more fuel to my wanderlust. Polar bear safari in Manitoba or tango in Buenos Aires? Overwater bungalow in Bora Bora or a villa in Tuscany? At this stage the world is my oyster. Steve (my partner in crime) is having a milestone birthday this year (one of those that ends in zero) so my thoughts are leaning towards somewhere big, somewhere grand, somewhere epic.
Ah, few things in life offer more freedom than a few days off, four wheels and the lure of the open road.
Thoughts of Africa tend to conjure up images of the continent’s iconic wildlife; cheetahs zipping across the plains, a pride of lions stalking a herd of wildebeest, and the unmistakable silhouette of a rhino surveying his territory at sunset. Sadly that last image may soon become more of a memory that a reality due to daily threat rhinos face from poaching. Rhinos are being killed for their horns at an alarming rate, incidences of poaching have risen by more than 300% in the last four years, from 333 in 2010 to more than 1020 animals in 2014. At this rate it is estimated that the rhino population could become extinct within 20 years.
It was New Year’s morning of 2014 when I sat down to write my first words for the Casual Travelist. A short month since my Mom passed and only a few days after she was laid to rest, the pain of our family’s loss was still very raw and all too real. The month leading up to my Mom’s death were a roller coaster of highs and lows in and out of the hospital and my world outside that had stopped. I spent the weeks following in a complete haze, only focusing what was right in front of me. I wore my grief like blinders and really couldn’t think or focus about much of anything. I knew I needed to do something to start moving forward.
The Casual Travelist is nearing its first birthday and one of the best things I’ve found is discovering and connecting with other travel bloggers. I’ve had the pleasure of finding a diverse and welcoming community of people equally passionate about exploring the world and there are some fantastic writers, photographers and story tellers who want to connect others with the myriad of experiences that travel has to offer. These seven bloggers have helped me along my journey or inspired me in one form or another this year and wanted to take this opportunity to share their work with you.
Poor November. Squeezed in between the showy colors of October and the ever encroaching holiday season of December, I personally find November to be a very underrated month to travel. After months of summer adventures and a rush to pack in all the apple-picking, hay-riding and leaf-peeping fun you can into September and October there is a tendency to lay low for a few weeks in November before heading out in December to see cities decked out in their holiday best. But you know what? While November is more subdued I think it’s is the ultimate shoulder season for travel. Need some convincing?
Let me start off by saying I have been a long time Starbucks fan. I am a card carrying gold card member and make at least a weekly Starbucks visit. I also love everything about fall: cooler temps, the crunch of leaves under my feet, and bringing tall boots into my wardrobe rotation. But the one thing I love about fall most of all are the warm, comforting flavors of the autumn harvest. I adore the days of fresh, orchard picked apples and pumpkin flavored everything.