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Ready to walk the 100-mile Cotswold Way in the UK

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Painswick

Posted by Beth Barrett on September 9, 2013 at 3:50 AM Comments comments (17)

Barrows containing the remains of prehistoric people from 4500 BC, Roman villas from 150 AD and th mills from wool merchants from the 16th and 17th century punctuate the woods from Birdlip. there is intermittent rain and we spent much of our time taking off ànd putting on layers. Our reward is roast beef and sticky pudding.

Cheltenham

Posted by Beth Barrett on September 6, 2013 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (0)

We have arrived at Cheltenham three days (for Laura, Beth and Janis) and two days (for Marie and Karen) after leaving Chipping Campden. Marie and Karen did a herculean 20-mile march yesterday catching the rest of us at Blair House in Winchcombe. One of the overriding impressions we all share is of walking nose-to-nose with cows, bulls and sheep through large fields. Marie and Karen took a detour after noting the sign "Bull in Field"  and then seeing the real thing smack in the middle of the trail, but the rest of us didn't see him and took our chances. Fortunately, Janis's red backpack did not draw him out. While our walk from Stanton to Winchcombe on Thursday was gloriously sun-dabbled, a storm blew in from Wales on Friday. This was unfortunate as Laura, Beth and Janis were given faulty directions by a so-called local and ended up wandering around a large field for an hour and a half while Marie and Karen toured the nearby castle of Henry XIII. The rain continued lightly as we climbed 1,000 feet to the top of a golf course called Cleeve Hill. It probably should have been called Sheep Hill judging from all the droppings. Still, by the time we reached the summit the sun had come out and we had a lovely panorama view of the surrounding villages and towns. There are very few towns along the route, which basically runs along the top of an escarpment with views that reach to Wales. There is a surprising amount of altitude shifts, but much of it is through delightful woods sporting everything from hemlock to maple, oak and birch. We have seen a couple of deer and a tremendous number of birds. At times - depending upon our fatigue level and mood - we feel as though we were in Sherwood Forest, Lord of the Rings or a Monty Python comedy. Our spirits never seem to flag, though at time our feet, knees and hips do a bit. We arrived quite late - in part because the Way can be hard to follow and detours are more common than we'd like. But, the pork steaks, lasagna, chicken and of course beers capped off the day in fine fashion. Off to Birdlip tomorrow - some sun and rain on the horizon. The weather here seems to have a difficult time making up its mind!

Leaving Oxford

Posted by Beth Barrett on September 3, 2013 at 6:35 AM Comments comments (1)

We have just finished two and half marvelous days in Oxford under surprisingly sunny and blue skies with temperatures in the mid to high 70s. We have taken a trip back in time including the "official" tour of the university and 38 colleges where the students live. Classes weren't in session so we didn't mee many professors or scholars in their gowns and uniforms. But there were plenty of signs of academia with bookstores (Blackwell's has the most books on display on one floor of any such store), libraries and colleges everywhere. We got to see the divinity school at one of the colleges - which also doubled as a set for a Harry Potter movie, the scene where he goes to the hospital. We saw the Watham Chapel as well, so got a sense of what life is like for the students. Our big adventure was punting on the Thames with Laura handling the heavy, long metal pole going upstream and Beth handling it downstream. Janis shouted encouragements such as "Don't fall in!" It was very Henry James-ish and tranquil. We were escorted by various waterfowl looking for handouts. In honor of two of our favorite authors, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis we went to the Eagle and Child pub where the two met weekly in the Rabbit Room to discuss Middle Earth. Sadly no one could tell us what beer they fancied. To top off our stay we took in a modern mashup of the Three Musketeers at the Oxford Playhouse. We are loving our daily tea!

Chipping Campden

Posted by Beth Barrett on September 3, 2013 at 2:35 AM Comments comments (0)
That's great Marie. We're getting ready to catch the train to Chipping Campden after 3 marvelous days in Oxford including punting on the Thames.

Preparing for an Adventure/and Rain

Posted by Beth Barrett on August 16, 2013 at 3:45 AM Comments comments (4)

Janis, Laura, Marie, Karen and I are all getting very excited about our trip to England in two weeks to walk the Cotswold Way. Janis came up with the idea about nine months ago after reading about the trek in the LA Times and being charmed by the idea of walking 10 miles a day over 10 days through some of Englands most historic, romantic and gorgeous countryside. Laura and I, always up for an adventure, immediately said yes. My college/field hockey buddies Marie and Karen were intrigued as well. Karen had hiked the Hadrian Wall further north in England and loved it, so she was an easy sell. Marie has a friend she'll be visiting in Cambridge so it was a good fit for her, too. We've all been training in our various ways - Janis doing long walks before work and on the weekend; Laura and I joining her at times and augmenting them with the gym. Marie walked for a week along the Rogue River in Oregon and Karen is just an all-around amazing walker. We've all been stocking up on rain gear! Check back here to watch our progress and to make any comments. 

Reflections on Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

Posted by Beth Barrett on September 13, 2012 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Over four decades travel has done much to mold and shape me, but it was my climb this summer of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the world’s highest free-standing mountain at 19,340 feet, arranged by Infinite Safari and led by Summit Africa’s amazing guides that was simply transformational. The change in perspective I experienced from our seven-day trek up this stunningly beautiful and muscular volcanic peak wasn’t just the euphoric result of gazing over ancient glaciers and billowing, white clouds while looking down on commuter jets flying below us. Our week in this rugged stretch of Tanzania testing our physical, mental and emotional limits also fundamentally reordered my views of what’s important in life. Sure getting to the top was wonderful, but as valuable to me was the feeling of teamwork, trust and commitment we and our guides and porters shared to make the experience unforgettable for each of us. Ayubu, our lead guide, taught me more about my physical capabilities and mental reserves than any of my athletic coaches ever did; our camp manager who brought hot cocoa to our tents each morning demonstrated the kind of grace you’d be hard pressed to find in a five-star hotel; and our strong porters carrying all our gear modeled not only fortitude, but such class that despite their exertions they never failed to give a “Jambo” greeting or to flash a smile. After hauling all our gear, including delicious food, a meal tent complete with table, chairs and a tablecloth, and a chemical toilet jokingly dubbed the “Internet Café,” and setting up camp for us, they still would sing us into camp to boost our spirits their voices so sweet they made us cry. Kili, alone would have made the trip, but we had yet another week of wonders as we set out on safari. In Inifinite Safari’s tough Landcruiser with Amos at the wheel we toured some of Tanzania’s best game parks. Rising before sunset we stood barely breathing in the back seat with our cameras clicking away as lions slept by the road in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a wildlife-glutted crater many miles across where every line of sight is filled with zebras, giraffe, wildebeest, buffalo, jackels, colorful African birds and much more. It was at this remote park too where we were feted by Maasai warriors who cooked a goat for us, demonstrated their spear-throwing prowess, and then sang and danced. We had a glimpse into both this ancient pastoral culture’s proud heritage as well as its need to address problems such as education, health and soil erosion. We got a wonderful introduction to all of these issues by one charming and very intelligent young warrior who had never been to school, but had taught himself to speak both English and French fluently. Every day held a surprise for us. At the Tarangire Safari Lodge we encountered an elephant standing between the lodge’s spacious tents as though posing for a photo. This elegant lodge sits on a high bluff overlooking the national park with a veranda that’s perfect for a drink and hors d’oeuvre while spotting elephants and giraffes in the savanna below as the sun sets. There’s nothing like our off-road drive through the Serengiti either to underscore the vastness of this land. We felt like “Out of Africa’s” Karen Blixen as we scooted through the high grass, the wind in our face and the blood-red sun rising behind the flat-topped acacia trees.

Arrival in Arusha

Posted by Beth Barrett on July 29, 2012 at 1:55 PM Comments comments (1)

We flew in a "Precision Air" turbo prop from Nairobi to Arusha this morning at about 17,000 feet and got our first glimpse of Mt. Kilimanjaro soaring a couple thousand feet higher on the horizon. It took our breath away, It's a muscular mountain - no fancy peaks - just a bulge that extends up into the clouds like a snow-covered fist of volcanic rock thrusting above the otherwise dry and flat plains.

We're staying at the lovely Aru-Meru River Lodge and have already seen plenty of dik-dik, the dainty little antelope skipping around without so much as a hoof seeming to touch the grass, as well as a flock of guinea fowl that look as though they may be a distant relative in the vulture family.

Lots of night sounds, mostly bird. So far we haven't heard a lion roar. 

 

Amsterdam - "Bikers' Paradise"

Posted by Beth Barrett on July 28, 2012 at 9:05 AM Comments comments (1)

We arrived in Amsterdam July 27th to a hot and humid city, but weren't deterred from finding the tram and heading into the city to sip cold sodas next to a canal. Seriously jet-lagged and a bit inattentive to our new surroundings, we were in serious danger of being mowed down by bikers who own the streets or the trams that run on tracks at the same grade as pedestrians walk.

Back at our hotel near Schiphol Airport we were in our suite in time to watch the opening of the Olympics in real time.

We walked much of the city today in hopes of finding an open Indonesian restaurant but alas they were either closed for "vacation" or until dinner when we'll be checking in for our flight to Nairobi. Amsterdam is delightful in so many ways: the flower boxes in windows, the well-run public transportation, the boats gliding through the (rather dirty) canals and the general bustle of the street scene.

Nope, missed the red light district, BUT we could buy hash brownies in this very Internet case!!!

Packing, Dreaming, Re-packing

Posted by Beth Barrett on July 24, 2012 at 10:10 PM Comments comments (1)

One more day of work then we finally set off on this adventure.  I don't think I have ever spent so much time anticipating an event in all my life...well maybe the birth of my children.  The researching, planning, shopping, packing, dreaming, re-packing, and adding just one more item to our backpacks and duffels has consumed us.  I feel blessed to have the opportunity to experience first hand the beauty of Africa.  One more day...Laura

Technology

Posted by Beth Barrett on July 24, 2012 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (20)

We'll  try provide updates and visually document some of the climb on this web site. I'm carrying a small solar panel to charge my phone and our camera (Canon G12) batteries, as well as a small video camera (Canon FS40).  

I'll be able to post photos, I think, at hotels but once we start the climb all bets are off. I'm hoping there will be cell coverage at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro (I've read as much) and that I can beam one shot of us to our wonderful "webmeister" Janis Karbelnig who will then upload it on the site. Sadly I can't update the site, which is run by webs.com, from my iPhone as the editing functions aren't compatible (a worthy project for some technophile - or not). 

Apparently Verizon has no data plan in Tanzania, either, so if it works it will be a $60 shot  to get it out on the Internet  - but I'll gladly pay.

My wise friend Deborah Kaye says, "just climb!" and forget all the technical mumbo jumbo. I have to say she's right and mostly we will be just climbing and "trying to breath," but the idea of writing about and photographing our adventure from nearly half way round the world in nearly real time also has got its hooks in me.




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