The Patagonia expedition weight thermals clung tightly to my frame as I braced for the biting cold. It's 7 degrees fahrenheit and the north wind ushered the frigid air through my layered attire. This is Minnesota, it's Thanksgiving Day, and I'm on a hike. My Sorrel bound feet blazed a trail as I crunched through the crusty mix of ice and snow that fell the night before. I'm seeking a winter landscape, and I'm thinking about Africa.
The cold and lonely hike offers me the opportunity to reflect on my summer excursion... We were three on a Kenyan safari... Tamy, my mother and I. It was my opportunity to share my passion for nature, photography and travel... it was an opportunity of a lifetime.
You never know what to expect when you travel abroad. Research helps you predict potential pitfalls and opportunities, but research cannot prepare you for the unexpected. On this trip, my fears were not about the travel experience... I pre-arranged all transports, lodging, and safaris; I knew that our in-country experience would meet expectation. We were in Africa... We were on Safari... Kenya would not disappoint!
Tamy and I travel abroad at least once a year, and rely on these opportunities to add to our vast library of images. International excursions provide a creative and intellectual boost to my psyche, it is the DNA from which I write, teach, and publish. This type of travel photography compliments our efforts home, and fulfills my desire to explore our natural world. We have been travel companions since the late 80's, and have always embraced the intensity of a rich travel/photographic experience. Love of travel and adventure united us in the beginning and continues to be a theme for our lives today. So, if I had any trepidations about my Kenyan Safari, they were about a new unknown. How would the addition of a third travel companion... my mother, influence our travel experience and our productivity?
Ten days in Africa can be a grind for anyone. A safari vacation is not as self-indulgent as it sounds. The distances between refuges are large, the roads are rough, and the days can be long. Having traveled through Tanzania in 2008, Tamy and I knew what to expect. We prepped my mother for the experience, and hoped for the best.
I feared that our excitement for Africa was masking the reality that I knew, but I hoped that the magic of nature would negate the inconveniences of adventure travel. Once we arrived in Nairobi and made that first long journey to Samburu Reserve, I knew that we were in for some fun. My mother embraced the experience in a way that I could have never anticipated. She was enthralled by the people, the landscape and the wildlife. The inner child that possesses me while on the road or with a camera, possessed her. My mother was one of us... not a photographer, not a traveler, not a tourist... she was a student. The intimacy of an intense cultural and environmental travel experience fostered the learner in us all. These are the experiences that enrich our minds and our hearts.
Today is a cold Thanksgiving Day in Minnesota. I am thinking of Africa, pondering my next adventure and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to share my passions.
Image #1: Cheetah. Masai Mara Game Reserve
Image #2: Olive Baboon. Lake Nakuru National Park
Image #3: Elephant Babies. Samburu National Reserve
Image #4: Young White Rhinoceros with Mother. Lake Nakuru National park
Image #5: Lioness. Masai Mara Game Reserve
Image #6: Black and White Colobus Monkey. Lake Naivasha National Park
Image #7: Reticulated Giraffe. Samburu National Reserve
Image #8: My Mother... an all around good sport!
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