The Countdown begins...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Hello friends---

Welcome into the crazy, out of control world that I now inhabit. The last few weeks has been totally insane, as I'm sure those of you who regularly read the blog can imagine. For anyone who might be new--my husband and I are gearing up for our bigtime "our kid went off to college" trip. For reasons that still sometimes feel fuzzy, we picked Africa. South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, and a small island in the Indian Ocean, to be exact. Now, that's a lot like deciding to spend a few weeks in the United States and after a quick look at a map, you choose New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and Santa Fe. What were we thinking??? I guess it was just that we thought: well, we're going that far, why not see it all. So, we're seeing it all. :)

What I didn't realize either was the sheer logistics of a trip like this. Truly. We have about nine flights on seven airlines and even more destinations/lodges/hotels, etc. And forget about the shots and meds and everything else we need...all jammed into the SINGLE carryon bag that we are allowed for the entire trip. And then there's all the work required to get house sitters, animal sitters (have I ever told you that we have horses?), and yard stuff. In short, I've been running around like a chicken with my head cut off.

I know, I know, it sounds like I'm complaining, and I am a little, but mostly of course I'm totally jazzed. Can't wait. i wish I could send you all pictures along the way; I don't think that'll be possible, but I'll definitely be storing them up. If any of you have an travel tips, I'd love to hear them. I could obviously use the help. It's funny, because, when I was young, I always imagined that I'd become a world traveler. I started out well--lived in Europe and everything, but then I got married and had my son, and ended up sort of taking root in the Nortwest. I'll bet that's true for a lot of you, too. It's really very exciting to jump into world travel again. I just hope I'm as durable now as I was when I was a kid. :)

I'd also like to really, really thank all of your for your positive comments about the True Colors cover. It's always a nerve-wracking, exciting, frightening time--releasing a book into the wild. Nothing helps like hearing readers' enthusiasm. So I really appreciate it.

One last thing--I've heard from several several of you fireflies about other blogs that you read regularly, and I'd love to know what they are. Since you're all so much fun, I'll bet I'd love checking out a lot of those sites, too.

Aloha for now---

I'll check back in before i fly into the wild blue yonder...



Blogger Laura said...

I am SOOOOOO jealous!! Africa...WOW!! I wish I could fold myself up in your one carryon, but I don't see that happening!! Can't wait to see the pics!! Have a blast!!

September 25, 2008 at 11:00 PM  
Blogger J+W said...

A money belt. Thin and hides under your clothing for valuables such as money, travelers checks & passports.
Quick drying clothing, especially if you're allowed only one bag.
VERY comfy shoes!

Have lots of fun and be safe!

September 26, 2008 at 8:23 AM  
Blogger Cindy W said...

Hi There. Leen, I am voting you Funniest... Most Likely to do Stand Up Comedy.

I still haven't watched Mr. Maguorium's Euporium (SP?) I did watch Made of Honor, with Patrick Dempsey, cute movie.

I am finishing up Elizabeth Hoyt's Prince Trilogy w/ The Serpent Prince, it's awesome. Up Next is The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. I won The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (it's a YA) and am really looking foward to that book as well.

I read about 20 blogs, you can check them out on my blog, Under Blogs I read. It's a blogroll so you can see when it's been updated and what the latest post is about (that's why we wanted your blog in RSS so it updates!)

Welcome all newbies. Should we have some initiation for them? Maybe in intro. Hi my name is... My favorite ice cream is...

Kim, what's the name of your new book?

I am LOVING Fringe. Heroes is back on, but I'll catch up on that this weekend. I like Trueblood, still sticking with it.

I know I haven't answered a question from last post, but I'll post another here, I am being long winded. Coffee, gotta love it.

Hasta La Vista Fireflies, Cindy

September 26, 2008 at 8:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was younger my dad passed away and after that my mom decided we needed to get out of the house. We ended up going through Aisia, South Asia, Austraila and New Zealand so we got well versed in travel.

Bring toilet paper if you're not already doing so. Dear god, you will thank yourself. Be leary of getting ice in your drinks, usually ice has the local water which you may not want to drink. On planes, you usually get better food service if you request a vegetarian meal in advance. You may want earplugs and an eyemask for the long flight, some airlines will give them to you.

Don't hesitate to buy the fun tourist type items. They may seem cheesy at the time but they're really fun to have when you get back home. And buy more than you think you'll need, there's always someone you forgot to put on the list. Haggle with them, but not too harshly - what is just pennies to you is how they make their living.

Make sure you know your currency conversions and how to count money in another country. I was way up in China when we came accross small rest area - there was a package of Oreos. A guy in our group bought them for fun but he didn't convert right. He thought he was paying $2 for those oreos, they were actually $20. Ouch.

We were always told don't give to beggars. In rougher areas, that tells theives exactly where you put your wallet...

Anyhoo, I'm sure you're already well familar with all that stuff.

One of my favorite blogs is CakeWrecks. She makes fun of poorly decorated and less than tasteful cakes.

Next time I can pet sit for you, I'm very qualified! Who wouldn't want a vet student looking after their animals ;)

We had our first anatomy exam of the semester today and I'm off to celebrate via home cooked meal and sleep. Glorious, glorious sleep.

Have a wonderful trip!! I'll be thinking of your travels and wishing I was there!

September 26, 2008 at 10:58 PM  
Blogger princessapr said...

I've always just been a domestic traveler. I've been to England, France, Canada, Mexico and Bermuda, but I mostly stuck in country. I've crossed the country twice and been to all but maybe 4-5 states. So, I'm jealous when anybody gets to really see the world.

As for blogs, I don't visit too many. I visit a handful of bulletin boards (Jill Barnett, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Susan Wiggs). I mostly visit friends' blogs and the blog of Susan Wiggs and Tess Gerritsen.

Oh and I wanted to add that I watched The Mentalist this week. It was a pretty strong show and Simon Baker is one of the most attractive men in the world (according to me). It is against Fringe, but I didn't love Fringe the one episode I caught so I don't mind recording this one (I don't really watch any tv live). I'm only allowed to add new tv if I cross a show off my list. So, unless a show I watch is cancelled, I'm all booked up this Fall so far.

I'm still wading into the Sherrilyn Kenyon series and enjoying the new-to-me author very much. As a matter of fact, I'm going back right now to finish Zarek's story.

September 27, 2008 at 8:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Africa! What a great trip. And I have to say I adore REI.

Two tips: a Tilly hat seems silly, but will be a great addition to your wardrobe, rain or shine.

The second is to bring a pashima you love. It can double as a pillow or extra blanket on a plane, or dress up an outfit a little bit.

I'll look forward to reading trip reports when you return!

Safe journey.

September 27, 2008 at 10:18 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Hey Laura--

Wouldn't it be great if we all really could go in our friends' carryon luggage? Traveling with girlfriends is definitely one of the best parts of life. Just thinking about it makes me want to organize a fireflies girls spa weekend somewhere. Wouldn't that be great??

I'm glad you're looking forward to my pictures. I just hope I'm up to the challenge. :)


September 28, 2008 at 7:25 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...


You must be reading my mind. I just bought my new money belt. I must admit that I was reluctant. I mean, really, is that an area we want to pad??? Needless to say, I bought the thinnest one possible. :) Let's hope it works. And I have to say, I can't wait to get my passport stamped. I haven't had a cool new stamp in a long time. It makes me feel like a kid again!

I've also taken travel tips from Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and she recommended buying good shoes and wearing them around. So here I am, wearing hiking boots to safeway.


September 28, 2008 at 7:27 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...


thanks for the blog update. I'll check out some of your favorites when I get back! And I love your idea (you always have good ideas--are you publicist or marketer or something???). I think we should do an ice cream contest in January. Maybe Tell us what flavor you are and we'll give something away.


September 28, 2008 at 7:29 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...


Wow!!! That sounds like a really cool and very different childhood. I've always regreted that we didn't travel with our son a little more. You know how it is--there's always something that needs to be done at home, and then it's too late. Your mom must be a rockin' good time!

Your advice is great and will be heeded. Honestly, I never would have thought of toilet paper. Do I really want to go somewhere I have to bring my own tp???? Yikes. :)

Thanks so much!!



ps: how was the test?? We all know you did well...

September 28, 2008 at 7:32 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...


I'm sure you're an asset to every blog you visit. You're always so great at chiming in and giving an opinion. SEP and I are lucky to have you. And your traveling sounds pretty extensive and exciting to me. Lucky you! I'm sure when you're not so busy with the little one, you'll be out and about again. :)

And about Simon Baker, all i can say, oh yeah. He was one of my favorites in a show that was on a few years ago. He was a cranky lawyer in it and I loved the show. I can't remember what it was called. Sound familiar? Anyone else remember?



September 28, 2008 at 7:36 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Barb Samuel!!!!

Wow! Welcome to the blog. It's great to hear from you. For those of you who don't know, Barb is an absolutely fabulous writer. Trust me. If you haven't read her stuff, get thee to a bookstore!!

But now I have to sound stupid, Barb. What's a tilley hat???

You KNOW I hate to go unprepared...



ps: sorry I missed you in Colorado...

September 28, 2008 at 7:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The tilly hat:

Seriously great.

September 28, 2008 at 11:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You don't have to bring a whole lot of TP, maybe just a roll or some little travel packs of tissue. At some point you may need it and you'll be glad it's there.

Pretty much all of Asia (save for the very well to do areas) are BYO toilet paper. You have no idea how happy I was to get back to American restrooms :)

I have no idea what Africa is like, and I'm sure you'll be staying in awesome places. But just in case..... :)

I think I get my exam results back late this week. I like to imagine I did well. I had a name for each muscle they were asking about. Now we'll just see if I had the right names!

September 29, 2008 at 2:07 AM  
Blogger princessapr said...

Simon Baker was in The Guardian. He was then on the short-lived Smith.

I also highly recommend Something New to everyone. Yummy!

September 29, 2008 at 3:17 PM  
Blogger Leen said...

Hey girls,

Didn't see any male fireflies yet, so I guess I could address you all this way. If any men feel like they have to start wearing a pink tutu now, I guess you can just add that ass part of my new act as a stand-up comedian. Even though I'd rather be a sitting comedian anyways, cuz my feet hurt from all this standing and running during the first two weeks back at school.

Anyways... let's get back to work cuz there's 2 new blog entries I'd like to comment on. One being about all the hassles of getting to travel, which I chose to reply to first, because I have the most to say about this subject.

Actually, I recognize all the nervousness - in a positive way because of the excitement, but also in a rather negative way because you have to think of EVERYTHING since you can't just hop on a plane back when you've forgotten something, like you can do that when you left the tickets to the concert you were driving to at home or you forget your watch when you're going into work - because I travel mostly on my own and that means I feel a lot of responsability weighing on my shoulders at that time. One of my favourite dreams ever is to just fall asleep in my own bed and wake up at my friends' place (which is in Southern Ontario, for whoever asked that in a previous blog entry, by the way - the Windsor area, if you know your way around there) in Canada the next day, without going through all the hassle of getting on a plane and getting your passport and luggage checked and such.

I actually use a travel wallet with a neckholder instead of the money belt Wendy advised. As Kristin pointed out, I'd rather have the extra weight on my neck than to add some to my hips. I actually have a fanny pack to kind of "cover" that area too, though... And no, I don't really care what I look like when I'm travelling. I've actually been the one that everyone looked at cuz I was throwing up from departure until landing, so at that point you really don't mind whether people think you look ugly or not - you just want to get off that plane and into your friends' arms. :)

And I agree that one carryon bag is just not enough either. I'm the one who brings more clothes than she can ever wear. I usually go to the seaside in Belgium for one day packed with a raincoat AND an umbrella (in case it rains and either one won't work), a warm sweater (in case it's cold, possibly to be combined with the sweater), extra longer pants to be put on top of the ones I'm wearing in case it gets cold too, some extra food (in case all stores are closed, of course), sometimes even drinks, ... You get the picture, I think. :) So going to Canada all the way from Europe means I'm moving what a normal person has in one or two wardrobes. And I need a separate suitcase for presents too.

As for pictures: that's one of my favourite parts of travelling. I hardly get any pictures of my friends when I'm not taking them myself, so I would love to take zillions of them, only I try to restrain myself a bit. But when it comes to animal pictures, I wouldn't do that, since the animal can't really complain about not enjoying it. And since I've now heard that Kristin has horses and other animals at home to practice on, I think I'll expect really good predator images now too. Like a "just before it attacked" one or so... ;)

No tips on blogs to read from me, though. I've recently started being a blog writer (as in: the author, not just commenting) myself, but unless you can read Dutch, I don't think it would be very helpful to point you up there. Even tho I could use a couple of comments on mine too. I guess my readers are just that: no writers at all. Go figure that!


October 3, 2008 at 9:14 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I could relate completely to your dilemma of trying to choose which cities to go to. We had that task when we went to Australia in 2002, but we just let the travel agent use her expertise. We did get to go to Perth, which not many people go to, I'm told. About a month before we left for Australia, my mom was in Virginia visiting her aunt with my grandad. My great-aunt's granddaughter was there with her husband-who is Australian! Turns out that they live in Perth, so we started e-mailing back and forth. My cousin met us at the airport and then showed us the sights. That night they took us out for dinner! That part of our trip was more memorable than my getting to hold a koala! We walked into the restaurant and the waiter takes one look at Curt and I and says "Where are you from?" Weird... I guess we didn't "look" Australian! We told him "Seattle" and his face just lit up. Then he proceeded to give us the best table in the restaurant! It was just amazing!
I'm sorry I didn't see these blogs earlier, because I would have loved to have given you some travel tips, but the ones listed are great!


October 11, 2008 at 1:43 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi again Kristin,
This is completely unrelated to the topic of Africa, but I wanted to tell you that I just finished reading your short story "Liar's Moon" which was in the book "With Love" along with stories from Jennifer Blake and Linda Lael Miller. I bought this book ONLY because I saw your name on the cover and just now had a chance to read it. Oh my gosh, I just fell in LOVE with this wonderful story! I could picture everything that was happening and could imagine vividly what Juli and Nick looked like. I told my husband that if I were a screenplay writer or director that I would want this story to be turned into a movie. It's that good! I thought I had read everything that you had published so finding "Liar's Moon" was like fining a buried treasure!
Andrea Marshall

October 14, 2008 at 3:12 AM  

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