For the One

I had stayed up way too late for a work night, scrolling through pictures and stories that tugged at my heart. I read through reports of orphaned newborn babies receiving a safe place to stay and women presented with hope in the midst of suffering. All of this started to shift my perspective on the concept of travel. It began to adjust the way I viewed my own wanderlust.

The 47 Parks trip I took last year was very me-focused, and, despite my love for personal adventures, I realized that it was time to direct my attention and resources towards others.

(Enter Iris Global Ministries)

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Village of Joy in Mozambique where I’ll be staying for most of my trip.

Located in northeastern Mozambique exists a missions base entitled Village of Joy. This remarkable place hosts a variety of ministries that serve the local community, and it happens to be the location of my next big trip. This time, I will choose to make any natural outdoorsy explorations my second priority – the beautiful Mozambican people will be the sole focal point of my stay.

So what will I be doing, exactly?

  • Supporting the Children’s Home (playing with, teaching, and loving kiddos)
  • Working in the Baby House
  • Volunteering in the Clinic
  • Assisting with any work projects
  • Joining established prison/hospital ministries
  • Helping in the Sewing School
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Look at all these fun goodies I get to give away! (Much appreciated, friends)

A big thank-you to everyone who has supported this trip financially or donated useful items that I’ll take over with me. I eagerly anticipate reaching out in love and continuing my quest to explore the world.

Africa, here I come!

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My crazy itinerary: The stars indicate places of significance where I’ll be spending a good chunk of time.
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RRG Recap

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The cabin I shared with friends (and a couple mice, apparently)

Length of Stay:

  • Four days, three nights

Highs:

  • Good climbs, good people
  • Kayaking in an abandoned, flooded mine
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The mine entrance: creepy, yet fun
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A little different feel than my last kayak adventure in Kentucky

Lows:

  • A couple thunderstorms meant a few less climbs than planned

Favorite Climb:

  • Workin’ for the Weekend (10a)

Favorite Treat:

  • Miguel’s Pizza (a Red River Gorge must-have)
  • Ale-8-One ginger/citrus-ale (a Kentucky must-try)
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On the wall, happy as can be…

Blue Grass Escapade

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Kentucky: state of mountains, mines, and impeccable scenery. This region of Appalachia also happens to be one of the best places to rock climb on the east coast. Red River Gorge (RRG) features some fantastic routes in sandstone cliffs forged many moons ago by a tumbling river.

It was the perfect place to spend a long weekend.

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Getting ready for the daily warm up.

Armed with bug repellent, climbing gear, lots of crag snacks, and two competent friends, I enjoyed hour upon hour in this wild space. Muir Valley, named after the “Father of the National Parks”, was a serene location with enough shade to make the Kentucky heat bearable.

I still sweated.

A lot.

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Finding our climb

But it was so much fun to climb real rock – to be 100 feet above the ground hyper-aware of every movement and rock feature. The wildlife was present, but unobtrusive, although I did get to watch a snake eat a mouse.

Kentucky, you’re ruthless, but beautiful.

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New Orleans and Bayou Recap

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Such ambiance!

Length of Stay:

  • 4 days, 4 nights

Highs:

  • Kayaking in the Bayou
  • Exploring the unusual cemeteries
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Above-ground stone crypts

Lows:

  • Spending more money than I had originally anticipated

Favorite Hike:

  • Bayou Coquille Trail and March Overlook (at Jean Lafitte NP)
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Just a lil’ gator

Favorite Treat(s): [so many!]

  • Beignets
  • Seafood gumbo
  • Aligator meat po’boy
  • Crawfish étouffée fries
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Crawfish étouflée fries

 

N’awlins

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Famous Cafe Du Monde beignets

The food is incredible.

The sights are boundless.

The humidity is tolerable.

The laid back, slower pace of life in this city has earned New Orleans the nomenclature The Big Easy. Streets cater to pedestrians, narrow alleys are ideal for intimate meals, and music seems to seep out from unexpected places. Compared to my recent stint in NYC, N’awlins was relaxingly mesmerizing.

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A cute pedestrian-only alley

The Garden District is a playground for celebrities. Who knew that the likes of John Goodman and Sandra Bullock regularly call this city their home? I took a walking tour of this neighborhood, marveling at the gorgeous architecture and delightful foliage of plantation-turned-mini-mansion neighborhoods.

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City Park was another highlight of this fascinating city! The green space was well-kept and an intriguing place to meander whilst sipping a chickory coffee (bitter).

And now to end on a quote (of an author I’ve never heard of):

“Yes, a dark time passed over this land, but now there is something like light.” – Dave Eggers

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City Park

* Check out the N’awlins Bayou post

In the Bayou

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My last gator sighting had been in the wild world of the Everglades.

I was overdue for a look at one of these fascinating critters.

Chock one up for Louisiana – it sure packs a punch when it comes to the local flora and fauna found within the beautiful landscape of the Bayou. I saw 7 alligators, including an adorable baby one I named Jeremiah! There were snakes, bugs, fish, and all sorts of interesting things to look at during my hikes within Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. Besides another stamp in my passport, I gained an appreciation for this area of our country, discovering a serene paradise.

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Hooray for another National Park site passport stamp!
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Strolling along the boardwalk in Jean Lafitte NP

The smells were fruity and organic. The sights were varied and unique. The sounds reminded me that I was surrounded by many different animals, some that only live within the delta of this state.

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A gator…

During my Bayou swamp kayak tour the night before, I appreciated the peace-giving atmosphere of being enclosed by the baldcypress trees. I snacked on the Mayhaw fruit – a type of berry that tastes a bit like an apple – as I paddled within the wetlands. Unlike some of my other kayak adventures (Biscayne and Mammoth Caves), this one allowed me to truly get off the beaten path. Our guide was a local who grew up along the river, an expert as navigating his way around the swamp ever since he was just a little kid.

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Our expert guide informed me that this tree is referred to as “The Hand” by the locals.

Louisiana may not have an official National Park, but it has so much to offer when it comes to natural places. I finished my morning hike with a bowl of gumbo from a local establishments, replete with seafood fresh from the wild.

I miss Jeremiah the alligator already. 😦

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My friend Kate and I (she did most of the paddling). You might recognize her from my second trip to the Rockies.

 

Poetry Intermission (Part II)

Move, Coast, Repeat (Great Sand Dunes)

 

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Sandboarding down the Dunes (August 2016)

She grips the cube of wax in hand, wielded like a sword

Plopping down on the sand, she quickly flips the board

Then like a desert artist, she draws a spiraling curl

Quite certain of the purpose – intent to give a whirl

She carefully removes her boots and sets them to the side

Then places each foot carefully within the sandboard binds

Rising up, she inches close – the point of no return

Brow is furled, lips are curled, it’s time for her to learn

Knees bent

Begin descent

Faster and faster, her board speeds down the dune

The laughter come unbidden, like a favorite tune

Leaning back, she attempts, a cautious revolution

Wobbly legs and spinning arms become the best solution

The speed now uncontrollable yet joyous all the same

Reaching the bottom now becomes her central aim

Once the focus falls away, her limbs begin to flail

It doesn’t take much longer for all her balance to fail

Poise is lost

Limbs are crossed

Tumble and squeals

Head over heals

A mouth of sand comes spitting out but the gritty feel persists

She warily stands up again and shakes out both her wrists

The long walk back from her wipes-out is sure to take awhile

But up she goes, forgets her woes, shouldering a smile

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