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Did you know?

Cat | Getting Ready,Kenya | Wednesday, November 30th, 2005

Did you know that renters insurance will cover 10% of my life’s worth when I’m traveling? So, if I get a plan with $30,000 coverage for my stuff in storage in Texas, then I also have $3,000 worth of belongings covered while in Kenya. This is very exciting news! And what a timely estimate and call to receive… I’m in Baltimore this week and next for training and our trainer this morning highly encouraged me to bring my laptop. She’s one of the top tech directors for the agency worldwide and she said not only would it be a very good idea to bring it, she also said that electricity might actually be installed in the volunteer home in time for our service. Further, she said the World Social Forum will be taking place in Africa shortly after my service term is up and that there would probably be tech needs that I might be able to help meet while I’m in Kenya this year. How perfect!! And the icing on the cake? Renters insurance is only $120 for the entire year! Laptop stolen? No worries! Ipod gone? Not a problem. Clothes disappear? Have no fear! Sometimes I’m really pleased with the way things work out so well in life.

Travel Tripod Advice and Camera Thanks!

Cat | Getting Ready,Kenya | Monday, November 28th, 2005

I got a fabulous call a few days ago and heard there might be a film camera waiting for me in Texas when I get home! I’ve also been thinking I should get a film camera as a just in case backup and want the Olympic Stylus Epic 35mm as it seems to have one of the best lenses to be found on a point and shoot (and it’s waterproof too!). Lo and behold… we checked the front step today and there was a package waiting for me with my new Stylus Epic!! As if the Yellow House hasn’t done enough for my social life (or for my growing ego and strong sense of self worth), they’ve now gone ahead and gotten me a camera too! Thanks Yellow House!

And to reiterate from earlier posts, if anyone has travel tripod advice, do share! I’ll likely get (an ideally light weight) one with expandable legs, though there seems to be a contingency that thinks the flexible, twisty legs are the way to go instead. Thoughts? Anyone? Do share!

I’m an indie rocker and I rock out

Cat | Getting Ready,Kenya | Sunday, November 27th, 2005

I’m no Indie Rocker Pete, but I do feel as though I can’t live without music for a year. Said another way:

Music gives a soul to the universe,
Wings to the mind,
Flight to the imagination…
And life to everything.
~ Plato

So, here’s my delimma and some of the options I’m considering…

  • Tape players are apparently the norm in Kenya. Cons: I don’t own many tapes, much less a tape player. At one point I had a collection that consisted mainly of 80s hair bands and Madonna, Cindy Lauper, Tiffany, etc… but those days have passed. Pros: No clue.
  • A CD discman might be an updated option. Pros: Dieter gave me his old discman, so I wouldn’t need to buy anything. Plus it could use rechargable AA batteries. Cons: CDs are heavy and I’d have to pick a small selection to take with me.
  • A hi-tech option would be bringing my laptop. Pros: I could preload it with tons of music on i-tunes. Could also double as electronic journal, and could hold digital photos. Cons: Where do I charge the battery? Heavy. Could get stolen and I’d be out of a lot of money.
  • Another hi-tech option: an I-pod. Pros: It could be loaded with lots of fabulous music. It’s small. Costs way, way than a laptop. Could also get an i-pod photo, so I could still upload photos. Cons: Where do I charge it?

So many options… hard to decide not knowing if there will be electricity or if things will get stolen. Any thoughts?

Kenya Map

Cat | Getting Ready,Kenya | Friday, November 25th, 2005

Visiting Cat is fun!

Cat | Getting Ready,Kenya | Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005

Giraffe Manor

My aunt Linda has announced she’ll be visiting me next October in Kenya! How fantastic! Additionally, she has friends in both Kenya and South Africa who would be happy to have my crash at their place if I’m able to travel. This is very generous of her, and them, and is very exciting news to me! Connections, especially connections with electricity and running water and English language skills, are very exciting indeed!

Also very exciting, and quite unexpected, is the news that my parents are tentatively planning a visit as well! Seems Mom will be retiring next fall and seems Mom and Dad are thinking about visiting once she’s done working! Not bad progress considering two months ago Dad made the firm statement “We don’t support your decision to move to Kenya.” Yay adventurous Mom and Dad!

Oh, and last week Kara mentioned she has friends hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro sometime next year. I doubt she has much money for travel, but if she can make the trip, I’d love to see her too!

And I believe Caroline (and possibly her little sister) will be visiting sometime next fall as well! Triple yay, yay, yay!! I do hope the weather is Kenya is good in the fall… seems like it’ll be a busy time for hosting guests!

So, anyone else want to jump on the visiting bandwagon? All of the cool kids are doing it and everyone’s welcome!

End of Road Trip

Cat | Getting Ready,Kenya | Monday, November 21st, 2005

Wednesday:We drove past Sedona, skipped Montezuma’s Palace, skipped the Grand Canyon, and made it to lovely, fantastic Albuquerque. I went there once before and totally loved it! It’s an old town left over from the Route 66 heyday when people road tripped across country and stayed at the little roadside motels with lots of super fun neon signs. Route 66 was one of the country’s first transcontinental highways, and I content it’s still one of the best. We took lots of neon pictures, did dinner at the famous 24-hour Frontier Cafe, then picked one of the many, many cheap motels along Route 66. Super fun!

The mystique of Route 66 continues to captivate people around the world. Running between Chicago and Los Angeles, “over two thousand miles all the way” in the words of the popular R&B anthem, this legendary old road passes through the heart of the United States on a diagonal trip that takes in some of the country’s most archetypal roadside scenes. If you’re looking for great displays of neon signs, rusty middle-of-nowhere truck stops, or kitschy Americana, do as the song says and “get your kicks on Route 66.”

Route 66 passes through a marvelous cross-section of American scenes, from the golden sands and sunshine of Los Angeles, past the Grand Canyon and the Native American communities of the desert Southwest, to the gritty streets of St. Louis and Chicago. Whether you are motivated by an interest in its history, feel a nostalgic yearning for the good old days the route has come to represent, or simply want to experience firsthand the amazing diversity of people and landscapes that line its path, Route 66 offers an unforgettable journey into America, then and now.

Thursday: In the morning we got up early and started our 7am-11pm drive from Albuquerque, NM to Austin, TX. We could’ve made it there on a route 4 hours shorter, but we were on a mission. Caroline and I extended our trip by a few hours to visit the (in)famous and fantastic Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo! And let me tell you, it was totally worth it! We climbed, we gawked, and oh did we take pictures! Such fun!

Incidentally, we also visited the Big Texan tourist trap in Amarillo and the bizarre Giant Legs in Amarillo… quite an entertaining town. In the evening we tore ourselves away from Amarillo and started the long drive back to Austin, making it into town around 11:30pm! After saying hello to my parents and chatting till we were all exhausted, we promptly passed out for the night! Yay Caroline and yay five day cross country road trip!

The Move Cross Country

Cat | Getting Ready,Kenya | Wednesday, November 16th, 2005

Caroline, Cat, and Andrea in Ghirardelli

Caroline and I are now on day four of the Seattle to Austin road trip and sadly won’t get to see a fraction of what we want to see. And we’ll only get to see a handful of the people we’d like to connect with on the way! Kinda crazy to think of how many friends we have spread across the country in LA, SF, OR, AZ, etc. Sadly we won’t get to see all of them, but a few is better than none.

Sunday: 14 hours of driving in the rain, through the mountains, from Seattle to San Francisco! Many thanks to Alan for hosting our late night stay! Many thanks for Caroline doing a good portion of the driving! I seem to have come down with a cold that makes me not only tired and stuffy and cough, it also makes me a bit dizzy. For a woman who hasn’t done many long road trips, Caroline is quite a trooper when it comes to lots of driving!

Monday: Many thanks to the fabulous Alan and fantastic Andrea for showing us around town… and what a gorgeous day to be in SF! Perfect blue skies and perfect 70 degree weather! Alan and Andrea are both great people and they took us to the Haight, Fisherman’s Wharf, out for ice cream, yummy veggie breakfast, seeing the sea lions, and more! After dropping Andrea at work, we finally had to head out to begin our long drive to Los Angeles in the evening. Many thanks to Paul and Sue for hosting our stay, and many thanks to Sue for the tanktops! They’ve been fantastic for the trip through LA and Arizona!

Tuesday: It’s hot in LA! Around noon we met up with my college buddy Scott and did lunch with him before he had to head into work. It was fun for me to be able to introduce Scott to Caroline… Scott did the road trip with me from Houston to Seattle when I moved out of Texas five years ago. And now Caroline is doing the opposite leg of the trip with me from Seattle to Texas. Kinda fun that Scott’s moved to LA and is now 1/2 way in the middle! Scott brought me some homemade lemon liqueur, which we sampled and determined it was excellent! Thanks Scott! After leaving Scott and Sue, we met up with my very funny, very first roomie from college Meg. She’s doing law in LA and I try to meet up with her on all of my road trips through town! She also brought gifts… flat, flat gifts that will be lovely for Kenya! (Flip flops, photo album, and stationary!). As always, Meg also loaded us up with drinks, snacks, and even CDs for the road! Thanks Meg! And then we began the long trip to Phoenix.

Wednesday: We arrived in Phoenix near 1am and promptly went right to bed. This morning we did a little sorting at Grandpa’s house (got rid of food stuff, recycling, etc). We’re now eating lunch before heading out to Amarillo and were pleasantly surprised to see Free Wireless Internet Access at the Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Mesa. I couldn’t imagine too many seniors take advantage of free wi-fi, so I was happy to unpack my laptop and put their network to good use. (The owner even came over a few minutes ago to thank me for using it. “I pay extra for the internet… someone should be using! Do come back as often as you’d like!”)

And now, with that, we should be getting on the road. If you’re one the folks who’s called in the last few days, I’m not ignoring you on purpose. The drive through the dessert and mountains not only has limited cell reception, I’ve already used up all of my minutes for the month. I’ll try to call folks back once I get to Austin. Hope y’all are well!

My eternal gratitude

Cat | Getting Ready,Kenya | Friday, November 11th, 2005

The goodbye party last night was amazing and fantastic and overwhelming! As predicted, with over 100 people showing up it was super hard to have long conversations with any one person, but it was so great to see so many people and was so great to get so many hugs and kisses and well wishes! Oh how I love the hugs and kisses! I know Kenya won’t be an easy move or job once there, and I’m fortunate to have this giant cloud of love and support that will help sustain me once the honeymoon period ends and some of the harsher realities kick in. Even after having to say so many goodbyes, it still somehow seems unreal that I won’t have you local folks in my life on a regular basis. Five great years in Seattle… I’d never have predicted or dreamed of the network of amazing people I’m lucky enough to call friends! Again, all my sincerest thanks for all your support and all you do!

Camera musings…

Cat | Getting Ready,Kenya | Tuesday, November 8th, 2005

I think I might get a new digital camera in addition to a basic film camera, but will strongly consider getting one that uses AA batteries. There are rumors that we might get electricity in the volunteer house, but I’m not holding my breath. That said, a camera that uses AAs would be easy to charge with my handy solar powered battery charger. I’ll have to upload the pix somewhere (I-pod photo? Laptop?), but that’s a debate for another day. For now, after very basic preliminary research, I’m considering a Canon Powershot S2. Anyone have one, use one, or have comments? Do share!

Canon PowerShot S2 IS

Pros for me: I like the huge zoom, the manual features, and AA batteries (good if I’ll be solar charging, unlike proprietary batteries). Also allows conversion lenses. And I personally like that it used SD cards (compatible with my current camera’s memory). When a digital SLR isn’t realistic (get stolen? big? proprietary battery?), this smaller one seems like a decent option.

Cons: Heavy/won’t fit in pocket. I don’t care about shooting movies.

Seattle Goodbye Party… you’re invited!

Cat | Getting Ready,Kenya | Friday, November 4th, 2005

You’re invited to my goodbye party on Nov 10th from 5-10pm, and you’re encouraged to bring friends! It’s at Atlas Foods in the U-Village. They’re not only reserving the bar area and the back room for us, they’re also donating a portion of the sales from the evening to my nonprofit! What more could a girl ask for?

Cat’s Goodbye Seattle & Hello Kenya Party
Thursday Nov 10th, 5-10pm
Atlas Foods in the U-Village
Located behind Barnes & Noble

An amazing woman I work with found a local jazz band to perform, and she’s also procured some very cool silent auction items to additionally benefit our nonprofit. Feel encouraged to bring your checkbook and bid on stuff if you feel so inspired! Items include a weekend cabin getaway in Winthrop; original art, jewelry, and scarves; paragliding lesson and flight; gourmet dinners; 6 month gym membership; passes to local museums; certificate for In-Spa; Mariners & Seahawks memorabilia; gift baskets; and more!

Hope to see you and your friends at the party on Nov 10th!

© 2007 Traveling Cat