Win A Trip For Two To Chile And Antarctica!!

Holy moly!  What I wouldn’t give to win this contest!  The Grand Prize consists of a journey by land and adventure by sea for a total of 17 days.  The highlights of the trip will be:

  •  Exploring Chile’s Torres Del Paine National Park
  • Staying in your own Ecocamp Geodesic Dome
  • Crossing the Beagle Channel and the Drake Passage
  • Seeing the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula


No purchase is necessary to win, but the sweepstakes is only open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia who are at least 18 years old.  The sweepstakes ends on September 30, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. PDT.  To enter, fill out the required information on the online entry form here.


The Grand Prize Trip Package includes:

  • Two (2) round-trip confirmed space tickets in Economy Class cabin operated by LAN
  • TurboDown jackets and other Columbia Sportswear gear.
  • 5- Day Land Trip inclusive of ground transportation, meals and lodging, near Punta Arenas in the Torres del Paine National Park.  Trip provided by EcoCamp.
  • 5- Day Land Trip inclusive of ground transportation, meals and lodging, near Punta Arenas in the Torres del Paine National Park.  Trip provided by EcoCamp.
  • A $5,000 USD check made payable to the Grand Prize winner to assist with personal tax liability that the winner might incur by accepting the Grand Prize Trip Package.

The Total ARV of the Grand Prize is $39,960 USD.


There is also a daily TurboDown Jacket Drawing.  Winners will be selected each day of the Sweepstakes Period, to receive a Columbia Sportswear 650 TurboDown jacket (ARV: $165 USD).

If you have any questions, you can find the official rules here.


I think I would pass out if I actually won this contest.  Antarctica is the last frontier and a continent not many people to get to reach.  What would you be most excited about seeing or doing if you got a chance to go to Antarctica?  Leave a comment…

Good luck to all who enter!  And if you win, take me with you!!

We Won A Liebster Award!


When I started this blog a little over a month ago I had no idea how warm and welcoming the travel blogging community would be.  Now, here I am being nominated for a Liebster Award from Nat and Rob of Love and Road!!  Thank you so much!  It’s so nice to be recognized by fellow bloggers, especially when this blog is so new and I’m still trying to figure out so many things.  Hosting?  Platform?  SEO?  Plug in?  Huh?  What I do know, is that I’m passionate about traveling and I hope to convey that passion to others through my writing so that I can inspire them to pursue their passions as well.  So thanks again Nat and Rob; receiving this award is just more motivation for me to keep moving forward on this new adventure.

About the Liebster Award:

This award is given to new bloggers by other bloggers and is a great way to network and get to know fellow bloggers.  There’s no prize money, but it does leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling inside!  It also works similar to a chain letter; you can either accept the nomination or choose to ignore it and break the chain.  I obviously chose to accept the nomination because I think it’s a great way to introduce myself to the blogging community, make new contacts, and exchange ideas.

There are different variations of rules for this award, so I will use the ones given to me:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you for the Liebster Award with a link back to his or her blog.

2. Answer the 10 – 11 questions that your nominator asked you.

3. Nominate 5 – 11 bloggers of your own, with under 500 followers, whom you think are awesome and deserving of this honor.

4. Create 11 questions for your nominees.

5. Display the Liebster Award logo on your page.

6. List these rules (1-6) in your post.

Here are my answers to Nat and Rob’s questions:

1. What did fire you up to travel?

I’ve dreamed of traveling the world since I was a little kid.  I remember looking through my mom’s encyclopedias (yes, those things people used before that Google machine came along) and telling myself that one day I would see all of those places.

2. What was the hardest thing to leave behind?

I currently have a full time job and I’m going to school for my Masters, so I am settled in Florida for the time being.  However, I was in the military so I got used to moving every few years.  In the past, the hardest things I’ve had to leave behind were the great friends I made.

3. What is your favorite travel memory?

It’s so hard to pick just one… but if I have to pick, I’d say my favorite travel memory is of when I met Ketut Liyer in Bali.  If you’ve read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, you know he’s the medicine man that she studied with for a few months while she lived in Bali.  Getting to meet him and talk with him and have him give me his advice was something I’ll never forget.  It was a very emotional experience for me.

Meeting Ketut (Buddy is in the bag)

Meeting Ketut (Buddy is in the bag)

4. Funniest thing that happened on a trip:

I’m drawing a blank with this one.  Maybe all the times I’ve fallen in snow or slipped on ice when I traveled around Europe?

5. Worst thing that has happened on a trip:

My rental car was broken into in Brussels and my laptop was stolen.  I didn’t really care about the laptop itself, but I had pictures on there of my trips to England, Spain, and Poland that I still hadn’t saved onto my external hard drive.  I remember sitting on the curb crying and thinking of the pictures I’d never get back.  That was a pretty bad day, but luckily, that’s the only time I’ve had anything bad happen to me during my travels.

6. When did you decide to blog and how did you choose the name of it?

I decided to blog just over a month ago.  I followed a few bloggers on Facebook and one weekend I just thought to myself, “That could be me!” so right then and there I made up my mind to do it.  Because there are so many travel blogs out there, I wanted to do something a little different. I’ve had my stuffed monkey Buddy for a few years and had taken pictures of him at different landmarks around the world.  Usually when I stopped to take pictures, people around me thought it was funny or a cute idea.  Since people seemed so receptive to a “traveling monkey” I decided to name my blog after him.

Key West

Key West

7. What do you dislike about blogging?

The only thing I dislike about blogging is the technical part of it.  I know what I want to do with my blog and how I want it to look, but actually getting it to that point is proving to be a little more difficult than I thought.

8. How do you finance your traveling?

If there’s somewhere I really want to go, I put away a little bit of money every month.  I even have a jar (that I made myself) where I put all of my change.  In the past I’ve also used Go Fund Me to get donations for a trip.  And although I try to leave this as a last resort, sometimes you just have to say “Fuck it” and charge your plane ticket to a credit card.  There will be time later on to pay it off.

9. One precious advice about travelling:

Keep an open mind.  Remember that you are traveling to experience other countries and cultures.  Don’t insult your hosts by saying, “Wow that’s dumb, that’s not how we do it back home.”  Nothing should be “dumb” or “wrong,” it’s just different.  There is so much that you can learn from others if you’re just open to it.

10. Do you travel alone or with a partner? Why?

I’ve done both and there are pros and cons to each way of traveling.  When I’ve traveled alone it was a very liberating experience.  I did what I wanted, when I wanted to.  If I wanted to sit and people watch while I ate gelato I could do that without worrying if anyone I was with was ready to move on or was bored.  If I wanted to read every single placard at a museum, I could.  On the flip-side, however, sometimes you do want someone to share your experiences with.  It has to be the right person though.  I’ve traveled with someone who didn’t give a rat’s booty about anything cultural or historic and it was absolutely horrible.  If you’re wandering around on of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world and you go back to find the other person asleep in a pew, there’s a problem.  But if you find someone that has the same love and passion for traveling as you, it can be a really awesome experience.  If your partner is just as excited as you are to push boundaries and go on crazy adventures, you may do things that you might not do if you were traveling on your own.

11. Which amazing place would you love to keep hidden just for you?

There was a temple in Bali that I visited in the middle of the jungle.  I saw a narrow dirt path that none of the other tourists had seemed to notice.  It looked like no one had been down this path in a while because as I continued along I walked into multiple spider webs (not cool!).  I followed it down until it came to a little stream.  I felt like I had gone back in time!  There were old forgotten stones that were covered in moss and the only sounds were that of the wind blowing through the trees and the trickle of the stream.  If it wasn’t for the bugs that were trying to eat me alive, I probably could have stayed there for hours…



Here are my nominees:

1. Miro and Mirko from Fly Eat Travel or @FlyEatTravel

2. Roy from The Drinking Traveller or @DrinkTraveller

3. Alex from Skip Trippers or @SkipTrippers

4. Carly from Lipgloss and a Backpack or @LGandaB

5. Teresa from Velvet Compass or @teresacordov

And my here are my questions for the nominees:

1. If you could only travel to one more place, where would you go?

2. Do you have a favorite book that you like to travel with?

3. Is there an item that you always pack even though you know you most likely won’t use it?

4. What is your favorite travel related quote? Why?

5. What advice do you have for new travel bloggers?

6. When you travel do you make detailed itineraries, completely wing it, or do something in between?

7. What would you like to accomplish with your blog?

8. What or who has been the biggest influence for you to travel?

9. What has been your favorite meal while traveling?

10. Where have you experienced the friendliest locals?

11. Have you ever had a favorite stuffed animal? What was its name?


Thanks again for the nomination Pat and Rob from Love & Road!  I hope the next group of nominees has as much fun with this as I did!

Safe travels!

Abseiling in Cape Town

Have you ever been so scared, so freaked out, that your mouth completely dried out from breathing so fast and you started to choke?  That’s what happened to me when I went abseiling down Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa.

When I flew down to Cape Town, there were a few things on my “To Do” list.  After swimming with great white sharks (more on that another time), abseiling was probably the second scariest thing on that list.  Because I didn’t want to just do the normal touristy stuff.  Although I did some of that too, this trip to Cape Town was supposed to be more.  It was supposed to be one of the best adventures of my life!  And it was.

Table Mountain is one of the most well-known landmarks of Cape Town.  It is a World Heritage Site and one of the New7Wonders of Nature.  It’s flat at the top like, you guessed it, a table.  The top of the mountain is 1,086 meters (3563 feet) above sea level and approximately 3 kilometers (2 miles) from side to side.  There are a lot of trails you can take to the top if you want to go on a nice hike.  I chose to take the cableway up.  It’s an impressive cableway!  There are two cable cars; one goes up as the other goes down.  Each holds up to 65 people and they revolve 365 degrees, which allows for some awesome panoramic views of the city below.


On my way to the top

Once you’re at the top you can walk around and take in the view, eat some snacks at the Table Mountain Café, and do some souvenir shopping at the Shop at the Top.  And if you want a little more of an adrenaline rush, you can step off the top and abseil down 112 meters (367 feet) and do the world’s highest commercial abseil.  You don’t need to have any climbing or abseiling experience; they show you exactly what you need to do.  I had abseiled once before, but it was in basic training and I went down the side of a wooden tower that was 35 feet tall.  This was totally different!


Look! No hands!

My heart was pounding!  As I was nearing the edge I heard a man with a German accent say, “Crazy Americans.”  Was I crazy??  I was starting to think so.  I refused to look down.  I slowly stepped off and let the harness catch my body weight while my feet stayed in contact with the cliff face.  Picture me making an “L” with my body.  I let go of some rope and started to go down when my foot slipped and I slammed into the cliff.  No bueno.  It took me a couple of tries but I managed to get in the right position again and I slowly kept making my way down.  Longest minutes of my life!!  I swear my heart felt like it was going to explode out of my chest.  I was sweating bullets.  I didn’t realize how fast I was breathing until I started to choke and cough because my mouth had completely dried out.  I kept telling myself I had to be near the bottom soon.  Then I had an interesting, albeit brief, conversation with the guy that had gone down ahead of me.  He was shouting at me from the bottom…

 Guy: Look down!

Me: No!

Guy: Look down!

Me: Fuck you!

Guy: You really need to look down!

Ugh.  Fine.  So I looked down, and a few feet below me I realized that the cliff face ended and curved inward to form somewhat of an overhang.  I stopped letting out any rope.  My mind started racing.  What do I do now??  Am I stuck??  Holy shit!  Fuck!  Why wasn’t I told about this??  I didn’t occur to me that I could keep going with my legs dangling in the air.  Not until the guy at the bottom shouted up for me to keep going.

As I did I started to turn.  I was no longer looking at a cliff, but at the beautiful landscape below me.  I could see Signal Hill and other mountains, Cape Town, and the ocean.  I continued to slowly make my way down and when my feet finally touched the ground I felt such relief!  My legs felt like Jell-O and I actually had to sit down for a few minutes before a guide led us on a hike back up to the top.  Keep in mind, we weren’t all the way at the bottom of the mountain; the abseil is only 112 meters.  But I was so exhausted and the adrenaline was starting to wear off.  I finally made it to the top though and after sitting and taking in the views again I said goodbye to Table Mountain and took a cable car down to the bottom of the mountain.


The view from the top of Table Mountain

That was definitely one of the scariest moments of my life.  I’m so glad I did it though!!  And not to sound too cheesy, but I felt like if I could do that, I could do anything!!  I felt so proud of myself, I went into town and bought myself a necklace with the symbol for bravery.

So… what adventure are you most proud of?

That time I made chocolate milk… in Bali… in a bath tub…

There I was, getting my fourth massage.  Hey, when I decided to travel to Bali it was meant to be relaxing and therapeutic, so don’t judge. 

My first massage was at a place down the road from the first hotel I stayed at (I stayed at four different hotels as I moved around the island).  I happened to be walking back after a long day of adventuring when I saw a sign that said “Massages” so without hesitation I walked right in.  It definitely wasn’t a fancy, or even completely built, building.  Some walls of the little complex were exposed, with cinder blocks lying around haphazardly.  I noticed that there were breathtaking rice paddies all alongside the outer wall, which hadn’t been visible from the street.  I continued to follow the young woman dressed in a sarong and tee-shirt that had greeted me at the door.  She took me to the back of the complex where there were makeshift walls made of bamboo with colorful curtains used as doors.  The best part of that massage was that, as I got massaged, I could hear the wind blowing through the rice paddies and the palm trees that surrounded it.  It was the best sound in the world.


My next two massages were more like what I was used to back the US.  But back to that fourth and final massage…

At this point I was staying at a luxury resort where I had my very own two story villa with my very own infinity pool (My hotels got progressively more impressive as I went along.  Go big or go home, right?).  This hotel was in the middle of a lush valley and the massage area had a balcony that opened up to amazing views of the green jungle, a waterfall, and a temple off in the distance.  You could hear birds and monkeys in the background.  After my reflexology foot massage I was scrubbed from head to toe with chocolate.  Yes, chocolate.  It smelled heavenly!  It took all my strength to not turn my head and lick my shoulder!  I was left alone for a while to relax and as I laid there I could feel the chocolate hardening.  Eventually the woman came back, scrubbed most of the chocolate off, and walked me over to a bathtub in the adjacent room.  She had drawn a warm milk bath.  I got in and thought to myself that life couldn’t get much better.  And then it hit me.  I still had chocolate on me, and I was lying in a tub full of milk. I had just made chocolate milk!  I don’t know why, but that thought made me giggle.  Maybe that just shows what a kid I am at heart.  But as I laid there for the next 20 minutes, soaking in chocolate milk, I couldn’t have been happier.  Well… maybe if I’d had some cookies…


Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, is it time yet?

You know that feeling you got as a kid on the night before Christmas (or insert your favorite holiday)? That giddy, excited, “oh my gosh, oh my gosh, is it time yet?” kind of feeling? That’s how I feel about traveling. I’ve had a passport since I was a baby. And the feeling doesn’t go away either. Some people think, “Oh I’ve been to a few places, I’m good now.” Nope, not me. I want to go everywhere and see everything. I want to learn about different cultures and see why people do the things they do. Everyone has something that they’re passionate about; for me, it’s traveling.


I think people should travel. Correction, they NEED to travel. There’s a whole big world out there! I think people become more open-minded and accepting of others when they travel. They learn that there is more than one way to do something. They learn to have empathy towards others. And they’re just more well-rounded as a whole.

I’m very grateful that I’ve been able to travel. I’ve seen some cool things and done some awesome stuff. But like I said before, I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied. I’m going to keep going and keep traveling until I’ve been….. everywhere!