What do Iraq, Rice Pudding, Mountaineering, and a Streetcar have in Common?

They are all found in Ashland, Oregon... at least, they were when we were there!

We like whimsy. We love innovation toward community flourishing. We also adore unique lodging opportunities! So, when we discovered an ability to spend the night in a streetcar in someone's backyard, we joyously rode the rails of our delights to Ashland, Oregon and A Streetcar Named Inspire.

Melissa Orion is the heart and brains behind this lovely streetcar. After remodeling it and using it for years as a food cart in Portland, Oregon, Melissa relocated to Ashland and launched a non-profit organization centered around serving the community and the world via kids' camps, programs, and renting the streetcar for events.

One can also stay the night in the streetcar. If additional rooms are needed, there are rooms to rent in the adjacent, big, Victorian house. We traveled with Neel's brother and mom; and they enjoyed their stay in the house. The main downside of the streetcar for lodging is the absence of a bathroom. Ergo, one must make a three minute walk to the house for bathroom use. That's minor compared to the fantastical nature of the streetcar though.

We found the experience sublime. The details on the streetcar are impeccably artful and beautiful. From the pillows, which are prints of Melissa's artwork, to the joyful stained glass windows, to the tiny electric faux wood burning stove, to the letters "I N S P I R E" welded into the outer awning's skeleton, the place is alive with wonder. Melissa's hopeful heart toward making the world more shiny and ignited is catching. We left with fresh inspiration, radiant like the window panes. 

"Inspiration" was a theme for the weekend.

My husband relishes running. One of his main running muses is an ultra-runner named Rich Roll. Neel often listens to his podcast. A while back, Rich interviewed Conrad Anker, extreme mountain climber and captain of the The North Face Athlete Team. Conrad was part of a team which made an ascent in May of 2011 of the Shark's Fin on 20,700-foot Mount Meru. This is what the film, "Meru" is about.

The lovely folks at Meru gave us media passes to the showing; and so, we went.

Again, inspiration awaited. Through the rich narrative, the heart tugs, the awe-provoking mountain views, the film takes one's soul on a journey of continually redefining possibility. For us, this is the stuff of life. This is the grit of glory, dreams, and resolve which daily nips at our heels. The film was absolutely wonderful.

Watch the trailer below and figure out how/when/where to see this epic, roaring adventure.

MERU-ving on... we found further inspiration in food! We drifted down Ashland's Main Street and into Pangea, a charming cafe which successfully embodies our food philosophies: nourishment, creativity, kindness to earth and people, and tastiness! Plus, they have ample vegan and gluten-free options! Places like this captivate us.

We were particularly awed by two things: a Lemon Basil Cookie and Coconut Ginger Rice Pudding (both vegan and gluten free).

The lemon basil cookie enchants. The lemon tantalizes one's tastebuds to a fuller awakening; and then the basil reminds you of calm, nature, and refreshing. To have all of that ensconced in a a soft, but slightly crispy on the outside cookie (big enough for a 2+ people to share) is positively delightful!

As for the rice pudding, my husband Neel is Indian-American and rice pudding was a prominent part of his childhood. He's a bit of a rice pudding aficionado. He also LOVES ginger. However, it is rare to find vegan rice pudding; and so he was immediately smitten with the very successful carryout of these flavors and attributes in one, sweet (agave sweetened) dish. The pudding was cool, smooth, and yet quite enlivening. If a baby was born in an enchanted forest, this would be said baby's first dessert.

Again, we took in deep inspiration. Our time at Pangea reminded us of the difference a small group of people can make when working toward a unique, somewhat counter-cultural, innovative vision.

Beyond Pangea, our inspiration train brought us to the world-renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival. There we were joined by my former intern, Susan. At the time, Susan was overseeing Hope Iraq, a movement I started 5 years ago prior to my trip to Baghdad with Canon Andrew White. I've been passionate about the Middle East for 20 years. Thus, when I learned OSF would have a play wherein an Iraq War vet, turned movie star, was filming in Jordan, I was elated! "The Happiest Song Plays Last" was outstanding. It successfully pulled back layers of psychology and culture in a highly human, authentic, relate-able manner.

 

The play allowed the intricacies of war's effects, culture gaps, and overcoming trauma to bring the audience into a place of introspection and reflection on world events. Daniel Duque-Estrada did a fabulous job as Elliot, the war vet gone actor. He led the audience on a journey, as if walking through the pages of Elliot's journal, replete in vulnerability, self-discovery; and an increasing awareness of the big picture of life, people, and sociological dynamics globally. It was healthy. Strong. Inviting. Insightful. 

As we exited the theater, we spotted Daniel and snagged a few minutes with him. (My apologies on the poor quality of the video. I don't know what caused that.) Check it out!

I hope this production educated and equipped the audience with more understanding, compassion, and hope for the Middle East and its people. Creations like this are paramount in re-explaining to us the crucial centers of value within and outside us. It's not simply in our elevated ideas that we develop impact, but in our willingness to meet people where they are, to see their destinies even when they feel too bogged down to see them, and to champion nations with the utmost love.

Thank you to the playwright, Quiara Alegría Hudes, for being willing to explore these places of potential.

For information about upcoming productions at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival go here.

Get inspired, live inspired, give inspiration.

Intercontinental The Clement Monterey: Hotel Review

The greeting we received from the valet and receptionist upon arriving at California's Intercontinental The Clement Monterey  impressed us with the cordial, purposeful, and proficient service one would expect from such an accomplished hotel. We were, however, delightfully caught off guard by the charming gift awaiting us in our hotel room: Clement, the friendly sea-star bearing sea otter. Fret not, more sea otters just like this one can be found in the gift shop. 

During our one-night stay at this luxurious waterfront hotel, spa, and resort, we took in the stunning coastal views of Monterey Bay, traipsed down the street to the acclaimed Monterey Aquarium, and we simply enjoyed being in such a well-placed vantage point on historic Cannery Row.

IMG_7830_medium.jpg

Inside Intercontinental The Clement Monterey, we found the ambiance soothing and inspiring. The aquarium's proximity even shows in the decor. Off the lounge area in the hotel, once you ascend a few stairs, and you'll find yourself in an underwater-like hallway. Look up, and you'll see this sea creature! I love this hotel's display of technology-meets-nature ambiance. 

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You could end excess baggage charges with WEIGH-TO-FLY

Press Release

__________________________________________________________________________

WAVE GOODBYE TO EXCESS BAGGAGE CHARGES FOREVER WITH

WEIGH-TO-FLY

Kickstarter Campaign Launching for Revolutionary Smart Luggage Scale

 

 

It’s time to smarten-up while traveling with Weigh-to-Fly, a revolutionary extendable luggage scale which sends real-time updates to your phone as you pack your case.   It is the ideal travel companion to help you avoid excess baggage charges when you fly.

The device has an adjustable, lightweight, telescopic frame that slides and locks to fit whichever size case you want to take.  Once the case is placed on top, the sensors in each of the corners send updates via Bluetooth to the traveller’s smartphone, allowing them to see instantly how close they are to their weight limit as they pack.  The smartphone app contains details of every major airline’s weight restrictions so the user simply types in which airline they are flying with.  It even takes account of the weight of the device (450g) and the scale’s unique “coat hanger” design means it can also serve as a clothes hanger when you get to your destination.  Also incorporated is a proximity sensor, which sends a notification to your phone if you leave your case behind or move too far away from your luggage. 

 

Weigh-to-Fly is the brainchild of Software Electronics Engineer Jamie Cruickshank: “One in five passengers are charged an average of £25 for excess baggage at the airport.  In the UK alone, passengers forked out over £1.6 billion in charges in a single year.  Multiply this globally and it is a huge problem.   Not only is it costing passengers dearly but it causes stress, hassle and inconvenience at the airport.”

 

He added: “There are other products on the market but these have disadvantages.  For example there are cases with the weighing mechanism built in.  These limit you to using a single case whereas Weigh-to-Fly can be used with any piece of luggage.  Other luggage scales can let you down.  They give inaccurate results, break easily or require you to lift heavy bags in order to read the weight.  Not to mention the repetitive process of zipping up and weighing your bag every time you add or remove something.”

To fund the development the team is launching a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign which aims to raise £50,000.  Some of the rewards include early bird deals and a chance to visit the design team to collect your product in person.  For details of the campaign please visit www.weigh-to-f.ly/kickstarter 

The retail price of Weigh-to-Fly is expected to be £69.99….a small price to pay to know you are not going to incur excess charges ever again!  For further information please visit our website www.weigh-to-f.ly

End excess baggage charges with WEIGH-TO-FLY

(Press Release) WAVE GOODBYE TO EXCESS BAGGAGE CHARGES FOREVER WITH

WEIGH-TO-FLY

Kickstarter Campaign Launching for Revolutionary Smart Luggage Scale

weigh to fly campaign

It’s time to smarten-up while travelling with Weigh-to-Fly, a revolutionary extendable luggage scale which sends real-time updates to your phone as you pack your case.   It is the ideal travel companion to help you avoid excess baggage charges when you fly.

The device has an adjustable, lightweight, telescopic frame that slides and locks to fit whichever size case you want to take.  Once the case is placed on top, the sensors in each of the corners send updates via Bluetooth to the traveller’s smartphone, allowing them to see instantly how close they are to their weight limit as they pack.  The smartphone app contains details of every major airline’s weight restrictions so the user simply types in which airline they are flying with.  It even takes account of the weight of the device (450g) and the scale’s unique “coat hanger” design means it can also serve as a clothes hanger when you get to your destination.  Also incorporated is a proximity sensor, which sends a notification to your phone if you leave your case behind or move too far away from your luggage.

Weigh-to-Fly is the brainchild of Software Electronics Engineer Jamie Cruickshank: “One in five passengers are charged an average of £25 for excess baggage at the airport.  In the UK alone, passengers forked out over £1.6 billion in charges in a single year.  Multiply this globally and it is a huge problem.   Not only is it costing passengers dearly but it causes stress, hassle and inconvenience at the airport.”

weigh to fly


He added: “There are other products on the market but these have disadvantages.  For example there are cases with the weighing mechanism built in.  These limit you to using a single case whereas Weigh-to-Fly can be used with any piece of luggage.  Other luggage scales can let you down.  They give inaccurate results, break easily or require you to lift heavy bags in order to read the weight.  Not to mention the repetitive process of zipping up and weighing your bag every time you add or remove something.”

To fund the development the team is launching a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign which aims to raise £50,000.  Some of the rewards include early bird deals and a chance to visit the design team to collect your product in person.  For details of the campaign please visit www.weigh-to-f.ly/kickstarter 

The retail price of Weigh-to-Fly is expected to be £69.99….a small price to pay to know you are not going to incur excess charges ever again!  For further information please visit our website www.weigh-to-f.ly

kickstarter


Use your Vacation Days! Occidental Hotels can help!

The following is a news release provided by Occidental Hotels. We heartily advocate the practice of vacationing, exploring, and soul-care so, we wanted to share it!

____________________________________________________________________________

Now that summer is over, fall is a time to return back to normalcy. That means the kids go back to school, and adults go back to long hours at work. In today's competitive business environment, the pressure to get everything done is high, and we're wired 24/7, which means we're always available to answer an email, take a call, etc. The last thing many of us are thinking about is vacation, but maybe we should.

Americans are notorious for not taking vacations. They, on average, leave 429 million vacation days to expire every year, and some don't even take their vacation days at all. What makes this even more perplexing is that many bosses want their employees to take their vacations. In a survey by the Creative Group, a staffing firm for positions in writing, graphic design and other creative fields, 40% of executives surveyed said they thought their employees would be more productive if they took their vacations. Only 9% said they believed productive would decrease.

This is because employees who are overworked are more likely to be stressed out, which can not only affect their productivity, but the quality of their work as well. It is not just your work that suffers; your health can suffer as well. According to a number of psychologists, physicians, and other health professionals, taking a vacation can boost your mood, allow you to lose a few pounds, help you sleep better, and increase your empathy.

"Americans who stay at one of our all-inclusive resorts get the opportunity to completely unwind. They get a chance to spend some time with people they love, meet new people, and engage in a wide number of activities. By the time they leave, they are ready to face challenges at work and at home with a clearer head," said Juan Perez Sosa, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Barceló Hotels and the recently incorporated Occidental Hotels & Resorts.

Occidental Hotels & All Inclusive Resorts has locations in Aruba, Columbia, Costa Rica, the Dominic Republic, and Mexico. According to Occidental:

  • People need to take a break once in a while. When you're constantly at work or thinking about work, you're not fully there for your family and friends.
  • Your health can be affected negatively by working too much. Vacations allow individuals to decrease their stress levels, sleep without an alarm clock, and be more active, which would help you lose weight.
  • Meeting new people and having new experiences can make you a more rounded person and increase your empathy. By going on vacation, you can be a better co-worker and bring more passion to your work.

Use your Vacation Days! Occidental Hotels can help!

The following is a news release provided by Occidental Hotels. We heartily advocate the practice of vacationing, exploring, and soul-care so, we wanted to share it!

hotel

Now that summer is over, fall is a time to return back to normalcy. That means the kids go back to school, and adults go back to long hours at work. In today's competitive business environment, the pressure to get everything done is high, and we're wired 24/7, which means we're always available to answer an email, take a call, etc. The last thing many of us are thinking about is vacation, but maybe we should.

Americans are notorious for not taking vacations. They, on average, leave 429 million vacation days to expire every year, and some don't even take their vacation days at all. What makes this even more perplexing is that many bosses want their employees to take their vacations. In a survey by the Creative Group, a staffing firm for positions in writing, graphic design and other creative fields, 40% of executives surveyed said they thought their employees would be more productive if they took their vacations. Only 9% said they believed productive would decrease.

This is because employees who are overworked are more likely to be stressed out, which can not only affect their productivity, but the quality of their work as well. It is not just your work that suffers; your health can suffer as well. According to a number of psychologists, physicians, and other health professionals, taking a vacation can boost your mood, allow you to lose a few pounds, help you sleep better, and increase your empathy.

"Americans who stay at one of our all-inclusive resorts get the opportunity to completely unwind. They get a chance to spend some time with people they love, meet new people, and engage in a wide number of activities. By the time they leave, they are ready to face challenges at work and at home with a clearer head," said Juan Perez Sosa, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Barceló Hotels and the recently incorporated Occidental Hotels & Resorts.

Occidental Hotels & All Inclusive Resorts has locations in Aruba, Columbia, Costa Rica, the Dominic Republic, and Mexico. According to Occidental:

  • People need to take a break once in a while. When you're constantly at work or thinking about work, you're not fully there for your family and friends.
  • Your health can be affected negatively by working too much. Vacations allow individuals to decrease their stress levels, sleep without an alarm clock, and be more active, which would help you lose weight.
  • Meeting new people and having new experiences can make you a more rounded person and increase your empathy. By going on vacation, you can be a better co-worker and bring more passion to your work.

A Mobile App for Journalists' Safety

September 29, 2015

IWMF Releases REPORTA, A Free Mobile Security App Designed Specifically for Journalists Worldwide

Reporta empowers journalists to implement security protocols with the touch of a button

iphone and laptop

NEW YORK, N.Y.—Today, the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) released Reporta, a free and comprehensive personal safety app for iPhone and Android devices that journalists working in potentially dangerous environments can utilize to quickly implement their security protocols. The app is designed specifically for journalists worldwide and available in six languages— Arabic, English, French, Hebrew, Spanish, and Turkish.

“Journalists covering conflict zones, working in repressive environments, or reporting on sensitive or highly charged issues are too often the targets of attacks,” said Elisa Lees Muñoz, Executive Director of IWMF. “Reporta was developed with the goal to harness the power of the one piece of technology that most journalists use every day – a mobile phone. Now more than ever, it is critical to equip journalists with a free tool to help them stay safe and best positioned to continue to tell the significant stories of our time.”

Reporta empowers journalists to be proactive with their security protocols, making it easy to issue notifications containing photos, audio, or video to designated, pre-loaded contacts using the app’s three essential features:

  1. An automated and customizable check-in system that allows journalists to provide key information about their location and status.
  2. A customizable alert function that allows journalists to let key contacts know when their safety or that of a colleague’s may be at risk.
  3. A SOS feature that can be used to send an emergency message with the touch of a button.

Reporta’s launch comes at a time when violence against journalists is on the rise. The last three years have been widely reported as the deadliest period on record. Too often, journalists reporting on corruption, conflicts, and other illegal or sensitive activities face threats of harassment, abduction, or even imprisonment. In addition, IWMF research found that nearly two-thirds of women in media had experienced intimidation, threats, or abuse as a direct result of their work. Reporta was designed to help journalists augment existing security protocols and trainings, such as Hostile Environment and Emergency First Aid Training (HEFAT), in any of these situations.

Reporta was made possible by a grant from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. Additional support was provided by Al-Monitor, Inter-American Development Bank, and Facebook. IWMF worked in consultation with journalists across five continents, global security experts, and other partners in developing Reporta, including the Article 19, Global Journalist Security, International Center for Journalists. Reporta was built by RevSquare.

Building on Reporta, the IWMF plans to launch ReportaPro, an enterprise-scaled platform with back-end capabilities specifically designed for media organizations using Reporta. ABC News and Sinclair Broadcast Group are founding partners of ReportaPro.

Download and learn more about Reporta at reporta.org

A tutorial video and digital media assets are available online at iwmf.org/presskit

ABOUT IWMF: For 25 years, the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) has been dedicated to strengthening the role of women journalists worldwide. The media is not truly free and representative without the equal voice of women. Our work celebrates the courage of women journalists who overcome threats and oppression to report and bear witness to global issues. Through our programs and grants we empower women journalists with the training, opportunities, and support to become leaders in the news industry. IWMF.org

20 Inspiring Things to Do in Vancouver & Victoria, British Columbia

In August, Dawn and I celebrated our 2-yr wedding anniversary by taking a trip to Vancouver and Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. We took advantage of our northern California perch to make this an epic road trip forAnniversary Adventure 2015: Vancouver Island. 

This filled-to-the-brim post covers our 7-day experience in Vancouver and Victoria. Being that it was an anniversary trip, our first aim was to celebrate this blissful love we enjoy as married, unified, and entranced partners in this life-dance. Our second aim? There is no second -- there are only co-aims! Besides, we both love traveling to new places together, taking in new experiences, and sharing with others in the hopes that it will inspire love and adventure. That is, after all, the epitome of comuse. So, that's our aim with this post: may it inspire you to behold loved ones in a deeper, more intimate way; and whether you've visited Vancouver or Victoria before, or you've yet to go, may this provoke you to go, return, and behold Beautiful British Columbia in an entirely new way.

With such an action-packed trip, we identified 20 activities during our 7-day stay that captivated our hearts. I've listed them in the order in which we experienced them, so follow along in our digital footsteps!

In Vancouver: 

1. The Honda Celebration of Light: After arriving at our friends' home in Surrey (just across the border), we heeded James and Amanda's wisdom and made our way to English Bay Beach in downtown Vancouver for optimal viewing of the fireworks. It was the 25th anniversary of this celebration, so we were thrilled to be among thehundreds of thousands of people present for the event. 

 

And here's a short video:

2. White Rock Farmer's Market: Our draw for this event was visiting James and Amanda's booth for their business,HALE Organic Juice. We tried their juice, and it's delicious! If you live in the area, they deliver, so this pure, health-inspiring juice can come right to your doorstep.

3. The Pacific National Exhibition: We visited this renowned site specifically because Dawn discovered they were showcasing a pre-fabricated modular home. And since we're really intrigued by the efficiency, architecture, and ingenuity of pre-fab houses, we decided to go and take a free tour of this 3,800 square foot, $2.1 million-dollar modular prize home. Read here for more information.

Here's Dawn with some pre-fab thoughts: 

4. Ferry to Victoria: We sailed with BCFerries out of the Tsawwassen port in Vancouver. Being that it was a civic holiday, we aimed to get there one hour early. We still ended up waiting for at least 2 hours, so next time, if we travel during a similarly busy time, we'll opt to pay the $15 extra to reserve our tickets online. We brought our car along with us, which turned out to be quite invaluable since the best arrival port for Victoria is at Schwartz Bay, a 35-minute drive away. In addition, we lodged in Langford, which is a 25-minute drive from Victoria. 


From all of the photos and videos we took while abroad the ferry, my favorite is this video we made for Jonah, our two year old godson: 

 Yes, we're saying "Happy Erthday!" Jonah often says that when it's someone's birthday, or he'll shout it in place of "hello." And why do we have the paper apple with us? Jonah gave it to us recently after he made it (with assistance) in craft time, so we made it a point to feature it in every video we made for him on this trip. 

In Victoria: 

5. The Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa: We found this resort stunning and expansive. Though neither of us golf, and though we didn't take advantage of the spa, the accommodations served us well. It was a great landing pad for our stay in Victoria, and we stayed here the 2 nights we spent on Vancouver Island. Dawn's a maestro when it comes to our hotel points, and she utilized our Starwood points to cover our lodging costs at the Westin. (Want an easy way to get free hotel nights? Get this card.)

The serenity of the Bear Mountain community, the excellence of the hotel staff; and the clean, refined, and spacious rooms all add up to make a sterling lodging experience. We wrote this poem to express our sentiments: 

6. Green Cuisine: We found this delicious dig on two different guides for vegan dining in Victoria: The Victoria Vegan and Sarah's Vegan Guide to Downtown Victoria.

(Note: We both made the decision to switch to a plant-based diet in July, so this trip was our first all-vegan excursion. Though it's been an enjoyable transition for us, the ample vegan options in Vancouver and Victoria made this inaugural co-experience especially brilliant.)

Green Cuisine is an all-vegan buffet-style priced-by-weight restaurant that offers a dazzling array of delectable options: cashew aioli, corn bread, fermented vegetables, and several mouth-watering desserts. Since the restaurant was nearing closing time, we picked what we liked and brought our dinner back to the Westin. There were way too many phenomenal dishes for one visit, so we made a point to return before we left the island. 

7. Mo:Le: Since we heard this restaurant had favorable vegan and raw options, we dined here for on our second day in Victoria. Though we desired to find a great brunch, we decided this tasty curry dish was the best option for us, and it was very satisfying. 

8. Pure Lovin' Chocolate: While the good people at Mo:Le prepared our lunch, we took advantage of this time to head to this chocolate shop we read about in the aforementioned guides. It's local, organic, vegan, and fair-trade chocolate; and it's delectable! We had some pre-lunch dessert, and we bought some to bring home with us. 

9. Whale Watching Tour with Orca Spirit Adventures: I knew one of Dawn's desires for this trip was to go whale watching. So, I set up a tour with a whale watching company for August 3rd, the day of our anniversary. But, when we arrived to our scheduled boarding time, we weren't able to go. Apparently, due to gale-force winds, they canceled their afternoon tours. I respect their wisdom, but we really had our hopes set on the experience. Thankfully, a brilliant solution was only a phone call away. I spoke with Anastasia at Orca Spirit Adventures, and she sounded excited to have us aboard. With only 2 spots left on the 12-person tour, we breathed sighs of relief and gratitude and high-talied it over to their launching location for their last tour of the day. 

After we donned our water-resistant suits (which were very much like firefighter suits), we headed out to the Zodiac (an open-air vessel) and received preliminary instruction from Skipper Sarah. In addition to being a certified marine naturalist, Sarah's also part of the Canadian Coast Guard. Her knowledge of marine life impressed me, but even more than that, I was moved by her deep connection to the orcas. It was evident this wasn't simply a job -- it was a channel through which she could express both a love and expertise of marine life. 

With Skipper Sarah's instruction, we knew to expect choppy waters, and as we headed out on the 3-hr tour, the water-spray didn't disappoint! The hoods on the suits helped tremendously. At one point, I wished I had my swim goggles with me, but our sunglasses did quite well in protecting our eyes from the sun and spray.

After an exhilarating 45-minute ride in pursuit of orcas, we found ourselves in Washington waters just near the San Juan Islands. Skipper Sarah's knowledge supplemented by tips she received by radio from other tours brought us right into a sweet spot of orcas. In all, we saw at least 12! Seeing their sleek, dark grey fins above the water brought cheers from some and hushed silence from others. I found myself saying "wow!" over and over. For any experienced whale watchers reading this, you've likely learned the following terms, but for those who haven't, I'll mention two: spyhopping and breaching.

As Skipper Sarah informed us, spyhopping is when a whale rises partially above the water in vertical fashion to spy on surface activity. These instances brought even louder sounds of approval from the group. For me, the most awe-inspiring, heart-catching moments accompanied the instances of breaching. With a breach, the orca surges upward and clears the surface with the majority of its body. We were fortunate enough to witness 5-6 of these! Seeing their white underbellies as they defied gravity seemed to slow down time while paradoxically slowing and speeding up my heart rate at the same time. We managed to capture 2 breaches (by the same orca) in this video: 

Wasn't that breathtakingly beautiful? I could only smile after seeing such a joyful expression of exuberance. It was a privilege to witness such spectacular creatures communicate with their environment so athletically and artistically. Still, in those moments of admiration, I found my heart being pulled towards thinking of the welfare of the whales. Seeing them up close in their natural habitat provoked me to consider their wellbeing, and it inspired within me an even deeper desire to steward our oceans and marine life. 

Dawn and I strongly believe in stewarding the planet with our actions, so partnering with this eco-tourism company feels like an alignment of values and passion. The entire tour, Skipper Sarah remained sensitive to the orcas' position relative to the Zodiac, and though the goal of the tour clearly has whale sightings at its core, it was evident that the greater goal involves awareness and kindness towards marine life. 

I highly recommend this tour. It will undoubtedly amaze you, and I also believe it will change the way you view your relationship with marine life. Not only will you very likely behold the beautiful orcas; you will also get to see porpoises, seals, sea lions, cormorants, bald eagles, and more.


10. Be Love: After the awakening whale-watching experience, we found the perfect restaurant to settle into on this last evening in Victoria. From the vegan guides, we knew we'd find ample options to suit our palates' preferences. Once we walked up to the restaurant, read the words on their sign, and examined the classy exterior, we knew we had found our dinner-home for the night: 

 

The plant-based cuisine was, as the signage says; fresh, pure, and nourishing to the soul. Here are a few of the culinary highlights. Remember, everything at this restaurant is free of wheat, gluten, dairy, and processed sugar:

11. Goldstream Provincial Park: Awakening early and exploring new places before the sunrise is something I love doing, and recently, I have taken up running, so I endeavored to find somewhere nearby that I could get to on our last morning in Victoria. I opened my eyes sometime around 5 a.m. and searched the web. To my delight, I discovered a place with trees, waterfalls, wildlife, and a mountain -- only a 15-minute drive west on Trans-Canada Highway 1N!

Mt. Finlayson, one of the highest points in Victoria, really piqued my interest. I set out with the plan to walk to the trail entrance for summiting it, and then I would try to run as much as I could on the trail. This was a lofty goal considering the nature of the ascent. It turned out to be steeper than I presumed it would be, and in addition to that, I ran into navigation issues. First, it took me way too long to find the trail entrance in the pre-dawn light. Second, once I found the trail, I eagerly ran along until I inadvertently took the longer route instead of the steeper, shorter route -- this left me with insufficient time to make the ascent. Really, the hike was too long for the time I had available that morning. Still, I am thankful to have made it to the park and made at least a portion of the hike. Surrounded by trees, immersed in the stillness of nature, and witnessing the sunrise -- I felt closer to the heartbeat of the island. 

Visiting the park is definitely worth it, especially if you're a fan of ancient trees, beautiful forestry, and waterfalls. There's a 47.5-meter fall called Niagara. Next time, I'll make sure to see that. And after reading this trail runner'saccount of summiting Mt. Finlayson, I'm inspired to dig deep and finish what I started. 

 

12. Afternoon Tea At The Fairmont Empress: I learned about this attraction from the past trip Dawn made to Victoria with her family around 16 years ago. As a family, they participated in one of Victoria's renowned traditions: the taking of the afternoon tea. We didn't actually take any tea, but we did walk through the Empress and peered into the tea room. I must say I was impressed, yet the greatest joy was hearing Dawn reminisce about her past experience there. 

Back to Vancouver: 

13. Dark Table: After taking the ferry back to Vancouver, we aimed ourselves for our evening reservations at Dark Table, a unique restaurant Dawn discovered well before our trip. In fact, she procured a deal for us on Groupon. She's crafty like that.

So, what is Dark Table? I know. It sounds mysterious. Well, it's even more intriguing than it sounds. It's a blind dining experience that originated in Switzerland and recently opened in Vancouver after garnering success in other major world cities. What is a blind dining experience? The website and photo above describe it well, but for our reflections on the experience, watch our video: 

14. Museum of Anthropology: The next morning, we mapped out an action-packed day. We considered visiting some other museums in Vancouver, but Dawn and I both have an appreciation for arts, cultures, and learning about people groups, so we chose the MOA. An added bonus to this museum visit is the locale: it's on the campus of the University of British Columbia. We love academic institutions known for their excellence, and with Dawn's 3 master's degrees and my doctorate, we've both spent many years immersed in such worlds. During our visit to the MOA, I was invigorated beyond any other academic experience; and that was because the exhibits were world-class productions -- multidimensional in construction and appeal. One example of this was this exhibit (pardon the glare):  

It reveals the culture and lifestyle of the Pacific Northwest First Nations. They're called the Musqueam people, the ancestral people of the region currently known as Vancouver -- from over 9,000 years ago! In many different artistic forms, the exhibit composes an honest and provoking portrait of the Musqueam people's challenges and plight. I was moved by this, and while I came to Vancouver with very little information about its history, I left with a profound respect and compassion for the Pacific Northwest First Nations. And Dawn left these guys with a lesson in smiling. Perhaps they've learned by now. We look forward to any evidence via photos on your next visit. 

15. Stanley Park Seawall: After the museum visit, we drove to Stanley Park to walk along the 8.8-kilometer portion of the Seawall that encircles the park. What a magnificent shoreline! Among other notable Stanley Park attractions and monuments, we saw the Girl in a Wetsuit and these First Nations totem poles

16. Heirloom: For a perfect early dinner, we had this vegetarian restaurant picked out. It drew us in with its fresh, fair-trade options and its location along our pre-planned day's activity route. It's smart and crisp storefront made way for a hip, vibrant interior. The vegan options were lip-smackingly good. 

But what really hit the spot? These refreshing, restorative drinks: 

Dawn ordered the Kale Refresher (by Heirloom Juice Co.): kale, green apple, pineapple, mint, and sparkling water.

I couldn't pass up the Watermelon Chiller: fresh watermelon, lime, and mint.

17. Vancouver TheatreSports League: And for the grand destination of the night, we made our way to The Improv Centre on Granville Island for the evening performance of the Vancouver TheatreSports League (VTSL). 

What is the VTSL? It's an award-winning professional theatre company specializing in improv comedy that began in 1980, and one of its main goals is to challenge and inspire the community. It boasts an impressive alumni list, including two comedians I grew up watching on Whose Line is it Anyway - Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie. 

With great anticipation, we found our seats and prepared for the show. The atmosphere was electric, and as the emcee (also the referee of the competition) introduced the players, the applause paralleled that of a sporting event. As the players took the stage and performed various skits, they revealed their comedic agility and quick-witted, imaginative acting skills. It really was a fusion of sport and theater. The two teams of performers battled for the win, and in the end, the audience decided the winner. Really, all of the players performed valiantly, so both teams won in our books. TheatreSports is a winning attraction, so make your way to Granville Island when you're in Vancouver and plan to catch one of their shows. You'll be entertained! 

18. Running the Seawall: For a truly stunning perspective of Vancouver's highlights, it's hard to come up with anything grander than traveling along the seawall. It's ranked #1 of 271 things to do in Vancouver on TripAdvisor. On our last morning in Vancouver, I awakened at 5 a.m. to do some sunrise running. While I originally planned to run around the 8.8-kilometer Stanley Park portion of the seawall, some early morning web-surfing inspiration (at Tommy Horton's, where I took in some pre-run coffee) provoked me to consider running the entire 22-kilometer seawall. I took that inspiration and literally ran with it! Read this post I wrote the following morning with fresh reflections on my experience. Here's an overview and map of the seawall: 

While my experience with the seawall involved running, it's also an ideal path for walkers, cyclists, and inline skaters. For the most part, the pathway has two clearly marked sections, which enables walkers and joggers to travel safely on foot without interfering with the cyclists and skaters. With it being such a popular attraction for tourists and residents alike, this organization helps tremendously so that congestion doesn't take away from enjoyment of the breath-taking views (and from the fitness component of the experience).

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Whether it's a casual stroll along the path, a focused encircling of Stanley Park, or a committed traversing of the entire seawall, you'll be inspired and refreshed. And for those looking for an even more exhilarating experience, consider extending beyond the seawall and completing the 28-km Seaside Greenway, the world's longest uninterrupted waterfront path. It almost drew me in, but due to a combination of time constraints (we had other activities planned, plus the meter where I parked my car was up) and a desire to be kind to my body, I decided to leave that for a future visit. 

19. The Foundation Eatery: Yelp helped us find this vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurant nestled in Vancouver's Mt. Pleasant neighborhood. They're known for their stellar vegetarian nachos, but with our vegan inclinations, we found other items that satisfied our appetites. Since we just had a small window of time before an appointment for a chat and tour of nearby Hootsuite headquarters, the sub-5-minute walk from The Foundation worked out quite well. 

20. Hootsuite: First off, for anyone who doesn't know Hootsuite, it's a company that was birthed in 2008 out of one man's (Ryan Holmes) desire to make the social media experience better for businesses. It's now recognized as one of Vancouver's most innovative tech companies, and the entire online world recognizes its contribution toward developing more efficient and organized social media protocols for businesses, organizations, and bloggers alike. Hootsuite works with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Youtube, and many other social media outlets. We absolutely love and appreciate the technology that Hootsuite provides, and for our online business and travel blog, its free version has brought great structure and aid to our social media management practices. So, when we were presented with the opportunity to visit Hootsuite, we were delighted!

We met with David Godsall, Hootsuite's official blog Editorial Manager. 

We were so thankful to have some moments with David amidst his day of meetings and Hootsuite blog responsibilities. He shared some of his personal journey in the world of blogging and editing. Once he had a sense of our blog, business, and goals, he offered some sparkling observations and insight. What a privilege to glean wisdom from such an accomplished and successful representative of this revolutionary company! In addition to the conversation, David took us on a tour: 

We were so impressed by the apparent culture Hootsuite provides for employees. With many engineers hard at work developing new software and improvements to existing tools, there was this beautiful balance as we saw others taking time to nourish themselves in the shared kitchen and engage in ping pong games, foosball, and exercise (in the fitness area). 

The creativity of the space, the communal areas, and the ubiquitous owls -- all very inspiring! With such inspiration, we decided to compose a spontaneous poem about Hootsuite: 

Well, faithful readers, I imagine your travel-inclined minds are envisioning your first or next trip to Vancouver; andI hope these 20 activities inspire your strategic planning. May they be a springboard for your own unique itinerary, and even more, for those who've theorized about a trip to this area but just haven't put it in action yet; may these images and reflections cause you to leap into the realization of those dreams! 

*Complimentary tour provided by Orca Spirit Adventures

*Complimentary tickets provided by Vancouver TheatreSports League

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Curious about what we did last year for our anniversary? Here's a lodging review from Marrakech, Morocco.

Read this to become acquainted with the delicious gluten-free side of Portland, Oregon.

You can also find us on FacebookyoutubetwitterInstagramPinterest, and PERISCOPE!

Happy Journeying!

20 Inspiring Things to Do in Vancouver & Victoria, British Columbia

In August, Dawn and I celebrated our 2-yr wedding anniversary by taking a trip to Vancouver and Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. We took advantage of our northern California perch to make this an epic road trip for Anniversary Adventure 2015: Vancouver Island. 

This filled-to-the-brim post covers our 7-day experience in Vancouver and Victoria. Being that it was an anniversary trip, our first aim was to celebrate this blissful love we enjoy as married, unified, and entranced partners in this life-dance. Our second aim? There is no second -- there are only co-aims! Besides, we both love traveling to new places together, taking in new experiences, and sharing with others in the hopes that it will inspire love and adventure. That is, after all, the epitome of comuse. So, that's our aim with this post: may it inspire you to behold loved ones in a deeper, more intimate way; and whether you've visited Vancouver or Victoria before, or you've yet to go, may this provoke you to go, return, and behold Beautiful British Columbia in an entirely new way.

With such an action-packed trip, we identified 20 activities during our 7-day stay that captivated our hearts. I've listed them in the order in which we experienced them, so follow along in our digital footsteps!

In Vancouver

1. The Honda Celebration of Light 

After arriving at our friends' home in Surrey (just across the border), we heeded James and Amanda's wisdom and made our way to English Bay Beach in downtown Vancouver for optimal viewing of the fireworks. It was the 25th anniversary of this celebration, so we were thrilled to be among thehundreds of thousands of people present for the event. 

Here's a short video:

2. White Rock Farmer's Market

Our draw for this event was visiting James and Amanda's booth for their business,HALE Organic Juice. We tried their juice, and it's delicious! If you live in the area, they deliver, so this pure, health-inspiring juice can come right to your doorstep.

3. The Pacific National Exhibition

We visited this renowned site specifically because Dawn discovered they were showcasing a pre-fabricated modular home. And since we're really intrigued by the efficiency, architecture, and ingenuity of pre-fab houses, we decided to go and take a free tour of this 3,800 square foot, $2.1 million-dollar modular prize home. Read here for more information.

Here's Dawn with some pre-fab thoughts: 

4. Ferry to Victoria

We sailed with BCFerries out of the Tsawwassen port in Vancouver. Being that it was a civic holiday, we aimed to get there one hour early. We still ended up waiting for at least 2 hours, so next time, if we travel during a similarly busy time, we'll opt to pay the $15 extra to reserve our tickets online. We brought our car along with us, which turned out to be quite invaluable since the best arrival port for Victoria is at Schwartz Bay, a 35-minute drive away. In addition, we lodged in Langford, which is a 25-minute drive from Victoria. 

From all of the photos and videos we took while abroad the ferry, my favorite is this video we made for Jonah, our two year old godson: 

 Yes, we're saying "Happy Erthday!" Jonah often says that when it's someone's birthday, or he'll shout it in place of "hello." And why do we have the paper apple with us? Jonah gave it to us recently after he made it (with assistance) in craft time, so we made it a point to feature it in every video we made for him on this trip. 

In Victoria

5. The Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa

We found this resort stunning and expansive. Though neither of us golf, and though we didn't take advantage of the spa, the accommodations served us well. It was a great landing pad for our stay in Victoria, and we stayed here the 2 nights we spent on Vancouver Island. Dawn's a maestro when it comes to our hotel points, and she utilized our Starwood points to cover our lodging costs at the Westin. (Want an easy way to get free hotel nights? Get this card.)

The serenity of the Bear Mountain community, the excellence of the hotel staff; and the clean, refined, and spacious rooms all add up to make a sterling lodging experience. We wrote this poem to express our sentiments: 

poem

6. Green Cuisine

We found this delicious dig on two different guides for vegan dining in Victoria: The Victoria Vegan and Sarah's Vegan Guide to Downtown Victoria.

(Note: We both made the decision to switch to a plant-based diet in July, so this trip was our first all-vegan excursion. Though it's been an enjoyable transition for us, the ample vegan options in Vancouver and Victoria made this inaugural co-experience especially brilliant.)

Green Cuisine is an all-vegan buffet-style priced-by-weight restaurant that offers a dazzling array of delectable options: cashew aioli, corn bread, fermented vegetables, and several mouth-watering desserts. Since the restaurant was nearing closing time, we picked what we liked and brought our dinner back to the Westin. There were way too many phenomenal dishes for one visit, so we made a point to return before we left the island. 

7. Mo:Le

Since we heard this restaurant had favorable vegan and raw options, we dined here for on our second day in Victoria. Though we desired to find a great brunch, we decided this tasty curry dish was the best option for us, and it was very satisfying. 

8. Pure Lovin' Chocolate

While the good people at Mo:Le prepared our lunch, we took advantage of this time to head to this chocolate shop we read about in the aforementioned guides. It's local, organic, vegan, and fair-trade chocolate; and it's delectable! We had some pre-lunch dessert, and we bought some to bring home with us. 

9. Whale Watching Tour with Orca Spirit Adventures

I knew one of Dawn's desires for this trip was to go whale watching. So, I set up a tour with a whale watching company for August 3rd, the day of our anniversary. But, when we arrived to our scheduled boarding time, we weren't able to go. Apparently, due to gale-force winds, they canceled their afternoon tours. I respect their wisdom, but we really had our hopes set on the experience. Thankfully, a brilliant solution was only a phone call away. I spoke with Anastasia at Orca Spirit Adventures, and she sounded excited to have us aboard. With only 2 spots left on the 12-person tour, we breathed sighs of relief and gratitude and high-talied it over to their launching location for their last tour of the day. 

After we donned our water-resistant suits (which were very much like firefighter suits), we headed out to the Zodiac (an open-air vessel) and received preliminary instruction from Skipper Sarah. In addition to being a certified marine naturalist, Sarah's also part of the Canadian Coast Guard. Her knowledge of marine life impressed me, but even more than that, I was moved by her deep connection to the orcas. It was evident this wasn't simply a job -- it was a channel through which she could express both a love and expertise of marine life. 

With Skipper Sarah's instruction, we knew to expect choppy waters, and as we headed out on the 3-hr tour, the water-spray didn't disappoint! The hoods on the suits helped tremendously. At one point, I wished I had my swim goggles with me, but our sunglasses did quite well in protecting our eyes from the sun and spray.

After an exhilarating 45-minute ride in pursuit of orcas, we found ourselves in Washington waters just near the San Juan Islands. Skipper Sarah's knowledge supplemented by tips she received by radio from other tours brought us right into a sweet spot of orcas. In all, we saw at least 12! Seeing their sleek, dark grey fins above the water brought cheers from some and hushed silence from others. I found myself saying "wow!" over and over. For any experienced whale watchers reading this, you've likely learned the following terms, but for those who haven't, I'll mention two: spyhopping and breaching.

As Skipper Sarah informed us, spyhopping is when a whale rises partially above the water in vertical fashion to spy on surface activity. These instances brought even louder sounds of approval from the group. For me, the most awe-inspiring, heart-catching moments accompanied the instances of breaching. With a breach, the orca surges upward and clears the surface with the majority of its body. We were fortunate enough to witness 5-6 of these! Seeing their white underbellies as they defied gravity seemed to slow down time while paradoxically slowing and speeding up my heart rate at the same time.

We managed to capture 2 breaches (by the same orca) in this video: 

Wasn't that breathtakingly beautiful? I could only smile after seeing such a joyful expression of exuberance. It was a privilege to witness such spectacular creatures communicate with their environment so athletically and artistically. Still, in those moments of admiration, I found my heart being pulled towards thinking of the welfare of the whales. Seeing them up close in their natural habitat provoked me to consider their wellbeing, and it inspired within me an even deeper desire to steward our oceans and marine life. 

Dawn and I strongly believe in stewarding the planet with our actions, so partnering with this eco-tourism company feels like an alignment of values and passion. The entire tour, Skipper Sarah remained sensitive to the orcas' position relative to the Zodiac, and though the goal of the tour clearly has whale sightings at its core, it was evident that the greater goal involves awareness and kindness towards marine life. 

I highly recommend this tour. It will undoubtedly amaze you, and I also believe it will change the way you view your relationship with marine life. Not only will you very likely behold the beautiful orcas; you will also get to see porpoises, seals, sea lions, cormorants, bald eagles, and more.

10. Be Love

After the awakening whale-watching experience, we found the perfect restaurant to settle into on this last evening in Victoria. From the vegan guides, we knew we'd find ample options to suit our palates' preferences. Once we walked up to the restaurant, read the words on their sign, and examined the classy exterior, we knew we had found our dinner-home for the night. The plant-based cuisine was, as the signage says; fresh, pure, and nourishing to the soul. Here are a few of the culinary highlights. Remember, everything at this restaurant is free of wheat, gluten, dairy, and processed sugar:

11. Goldstream Provincial Park

Awakening early and exploring new places before the sunrise is something I love doing, and recently, I have taken up running, so I endeavored to find somewhere nearby that I could get to on our last morning in Victoria. I opened my eyes sometime around 5 a.m. and searched the web. To my delight, I discovered a place with trees, waterfalls, wildlife, and a mountain -- only a 15-minute drive west on Trans-Canada Highway 1N!

Mt. Finlayson, one of the highest points in Victoria, really piqued my interest. I set out with the plan to walk to the trail entrance for summiting it, and then I would try to run as much as I could on the trail. This was a lofty goal considering the nature of the ascent. It turned out to be steeper than I presumed it would be, and in addition to that, I ran into navigation issues. First, it took me way too long to find the trail entrance in the pre-dawn light. Second, once I found the trail, I eagerly ran along until I inadvertently took the longer route instead of the steeper, shorter route -- this left me with insufficient time to make the ascent. Really, the hike was too long for the time I had available that morning. Still, I am thankful to have made it to the park and made at least a portion of the hike. Surrounded by trees, immersed in the stillness of nature, and witnessing the sunrise -- I felt closer to the heartbeat of the island. 

Visiting the park is definitely worth it, especially if you're a fan of ancient trees, beautiful forestry, and waterfalls. There's a 47.5-meter fall called Niagara. Next time, I'll make sure to see that. And after reading this trail runner'saccount of summiting Mt. Finlayson, I'm inspired to dig deep and finish what I started. 

12. Afternoon Tea At The Fairmont Empress

I learned about this attraction from the past trip Dawn made to Victoria with her family around 16 years ago. As a family, they participated in one of Victoria's renowned traditions: the taking of the afternoon tea. We didn't actually take any tea, but we did walk through the Empress and peered into the tea room. I must say I was impressed, yet the greatest joy was hearing Dawn reminisce about her past experience there. 

Back to Vancouver

13. Dark Table

After taking the ferry back to Vancouver, we aimed ourselves for our evening reservations at Dark Table, a unique restaurant Dawn discovered well before our trip. In fact, she procured a deal for us on Groupon. She's crafty like that.

14. Museum of Anthropology

The next morning, we mapped out an action-packed day. We considered visiting some other museums in Vancouver, but Dawn and I both have an appreciation for arts, cultures, and learning about people groups, so we chose the MOA. An added bonus to this museum visit is the locale: it's on the campus of the University of British Columbia. We love academic institutions known for their excellence, and with Dawn's 3 master's degrees and my doctorate, we've both spent many years immersed in such worlds. During our visit to the MOA, I was invigorated beyond any other academic experience; and that was because the exhibits were world-class productions -- multidimensional in construction and appeal. One example of this was this exhibit (pardon the glare):  

It reveals the culture and lifestyle of the Pacific Northwest First Nations. They're called the Musqueam people, the ancestral people of the region currently known as Vancouver -- from over 9,000 years ago! In many different artistic forms, the exhibit composes an honest and provoking portrait of the Musqueam people's challenges and plight. I was moved by this, and while I came to Vancouver with very little information about its history, I left with a profound respect and compassion for the Pacific Northwest First Nations. And Dawn left these guys with a lesson in smiling. Perhaps they've learned by now. We look forward to any evidence via photos on your next visit. 

15. Stanley Park Seawall

After the museum visit, we drove to Stanley Park to walk along the 8.8-kilometer portion of the Seawall that encircles the park. What a magnificent shoreline! Among other notable Stanley Park attractions and monuments, we saw the Girl in a Wetsuit and these First Nations totem poles: 

16. Heirloom

For a perfect early dinner, we had this vegetarian restaurant picked out. It drew us in with its fresh, fair-trade options and its location along our pre-planned day's activity route. It's smart and crisp storefront made way for a hip, vibrant interior. The vegan options were lip-smackingly good. 

But what really hit the spot? These refreshing, restorative drinks. Dawn ordered the Kale Refresher (by Heirloom Juice Co.): kale, green apple, pineapple, mint, and sparkling water. I couldn't pass up the Watermelon Chiller: fresh watermelon, lime, and mint.

kale refresher and watermelon chiller

17. Vancouver TheatreSports League

And for the grand destination of the night, we made our way to The Improv Centre on Granville Island for the evening performance of the Vancouver TheatreSports League (VTSL). What is the VTSL? It's an award-winning professional theatre company specializing in improv comedy that began in 1980, and one of its main goals is to challenge and inspire the community. It boasts an impressive alumni list, including two comedians I grew up watching on Whose Line is it Anyway - Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie. 

With great anticipation, we found our seats and prepared for the show. The atmosphere was electric, and as the emcee (also the referee of the competition) introduced the players, the applause paralleled that of a sporting event. As the players took the stage and performed various skits, they revealed their comedic agility and quick-witted, imaginative acting skills. It really was a fusion of sport and theater. The two teams of performers battled for the win, and in the end, the audience decided the winner. Really, all of the players performed valiantly, so both teams won in our books. TheatreSports is a winning attraction, so make your way to Granville Island when you're in Vancouver and plan to catch one of their shows. You'll be entertained! 

18. Running the Seawall: For a truly stunning perspective of Vancouver's highlights, it's hard to come up with anything grander than traveling along the seawall. It's ranked #1 of 271 things to do in Vancouver on TripAdvisor. On our last morning in Vancouver, I awakened at 5 a.m. to do some sunrise running. While I originally planned to run around the 8.8-kilometer Stanley Park portion of the seawall, some early morning web-surfing inspiration (at Tommy Horton's, where I took in some pre-run coffee) provoked me to consider running the entire 22-kilometer seawall. I took that inspiration and literally ran with it! Read this post I wrote the following morning with fresh reflections on my experience. Here's an overview and map of the seawall: 

the seawall map and timeline

While my experience with the seawall involved running, it's also an ideal path for walkers, cyclists, and inline skaters. For the most part, the pathway has two clearly marked sections, which enables walkers and joggers to travel safely on foot without interfering with the cyclists and skaters. With it being such a popular attraction for tourists and residents alike, this organization helps tremendously so that congestion doesn't take away from enjoyment of the breath-taking views (and from the fitness component of the experience).

Whether it's a casual stroll along the path, a focused encircling of Stanley Park, or a committed traversing of the entire seawall, you'll be inspired and refreshed. And for those looking for an even more exhilarating experience, consider extending beyond the seawall and completing the 28-km Seaside Greenway, the world's longest uninterrupted waterfront path. It almost drew me in, but due to a combination of time constraints (we had other activities planned, plus the meter where I parked my car was up) and a desire to be kind to my body, I decided to leave that for a future visit. 

19. The Foundation Eatery

Yelp helped us find this vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurant nestled in Vancouver's Mt. Pleasant neighborhood. They're known for their stellar vegetarian nachos, but with our vegan inclinations, we found other items that satisfied our appetites. Since we just had a small window of time before an appointment for a chat and tour of nearby Hootsuite headquarters, the sub-5-minute walk from The Foundation worked out quite well. 

20. Hootsuite

First off, for anyone who doesn't know Hootsuite, it's a company that was birthed in 2008 out of one man's (Ryan Holmes) desire to make the social media experience better for businesses. It's now recognized as one of Vancouver's most innovative tech companies, and the entire online world recognizes its contribution toward developing more efficient and organized social media protocols for businesses, organizations, and bloggers alike. Hootsuite works with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Youtube, and many other social media outlets. We absolutely love and appreciate the technology that Hootsuite provides, and for our online business and travel blog, its free version has brought great structure and aid to our social media management practices. So, when we were presented with the opportunity to visit Hootsuite, we were delighted!

We met with David Godsall, Hootsuite's official blog Editorial Manager. 

David Godsall, hootsuite blog editorial manager

We were so thankful to have some moments with David amidst his day of meetings and Hootsuite blog responsibilities. He shared some of his personal journey in the world of blogging and editing. Once he had a sense of our blog, business, and goals, he offered some sparkling observations and insight. What a privilege to glean wisdom from such an accomplished and successful representative of this revolutionary company! In addition to the conversation, David took us on a tour: 

We were so impressed by the apparent culture Hootsuite provides for employees. With many engineers hard at work developing new software and improvements to existing tools, there was this beautiful balance as we saw others taking time to nourish themselves in the shared kitchen and engage in ping pong games, foosball, and exercise (in the fitness area). 

The creativity of the space, the communal areas, and the ubiquitous owls -- all very inspiring! With such inspiration, we decided to compose a spontaneous poem about Hootsuite: 

Well, faithful readers, I imagine your travel-inclined minds are envisioning your first or next trip to Vancouver; andI hope these 20 activities inspire your strategic planning. May they be a springboard for your own unique itinerary, and even more, for those who've theorized about a trip to this area but just haven't put it in action yet; may these images and reflections cause you to leap into the realization of those dreams! 


*Complimentary tour provided by Orca Spirit Adventures
*Complimentary tickets provided by Vancouver TheatreSports League

Interview with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on PBS NewsHour TONIGHT!

Given our love for Iraq, we want to share this very important interview which will be released tonight on television. We believe there is hope for Iraqgreat hope. We also believe there a key change-agents, like Prime Minister al-Abadi, who are resolute toward Iraq's bright future, despite the onslaught from ISIS etc. It is priceless and pivotal to advocate, encourage, and appreciate such individuals. As you think about this interview and/or watch it tonight, I encourage you to share it - via Facebook, twitter, email, text etc. Let's continue to share the good things that are happening in Iraq. Thanks!

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Tonight on the PBS NewsHour (check local listings), chief foreign correspondent Margaret Warner interviews Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on fight against the Islamic State Group; new partnership between Iran, Iraq, Syria and Russia; and the relationship between U.S. and Iraq. The interview took place while Prime Minister Abadi was In New York for the General Assembly of the United Nations. A rough transcript can be found below.

SOURCE: PBS NEWSHOUR (check local listings)

TRANSCRIPT:

IRAQI PRIME MINISTER HAIDER AL ABADI IS INTERVIEWED ON PBS NEWSHOUR WITH MARGARET WARNER

SEPTEMBER 30, 2015

SPEAKER:  IRAQI PRIME MINISTER HAIDER AL ABADI

                MARGARET WARNER: Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for joining us.

                HAIDER AL ABADI:  Welcome.

                WARNER:  It's been confirmed today that the Russians launched an airstrike in Syria, right outside the city of Homs. Is that kind of thing helpful, do you think, to you -- the common fight against the Islamic State?

                AL ABADI:  Well, of course it is beneficial. Don't forget Iraq was attacked from across the Syrian border into Iraq by Daesh, by ISIL, and that cost us a lot of human costs in terms of people killed, people being kidnapped, people being enslaved. Women, children.

                So any joining of this fight against Daesh by anyone, we will very much welcome. We established this international coalition.

                WARNER:  You're talking about the U.S.-led coalition?

                AL ABADI:  Correct. That's -- to help Iraq to stand in the face of Daesh. And if the Russians are moving against Daesh now in Syrian, we very much welcome this.

                WARNER:  Well, that is really the question. The U.S. government was saying today that in fact that's not an -- a Daesh or ISIS stronghold, where they bombed. In fact, it's held mostly by the opposition to President Assad.

                What do you think are the Russian intentions?

                AL ABADI:  Our message to the Russians. I met President Putin, please join this fight against Daesh. Daesh is a dangerous terrorist organization, not only against Iraq. Against Syria, against the whole region, against the whole world. It is time that we all joined the same forces to fight Daesh.

                WARNER:  But do you think that the Russian intention is only to do that or to also prop up the Assad government?

                AL ABADI:  I cannot be in the mind of what the Russians want but what I've been told by President Putin, yes, they consider Daesh very dangerous organization. It is threatening the national security of Russia, and the Russians are in it to fight Daesh.

                WARNER:  Can you foresee the day that Iraq might ask the Russians to come in and bomb in Iraq, to assist what your ground forces are doing?

                AL ABADI:  Well, if the Russians are prepared to join the international coalition, which is helping Iraq, they're welcome. I think I would welcome the Russians to do that.

                WARNER:  But I mean, they're not part of the U.S.-led coalition, they have a different group. And you're saying they'd have to first join the U.S.-led coalition, or just that -- if they say they want to defeat Daesh, that in fact, you would welcome their help, including bombs?

                AL ABADI:  Yes, I think I would welcome that, but they need a lot of work to liaison between everybody there. We need like a common platform where there should be no conflict. We have to de-conflict any misunderstanding between the countries which are helping Iraq inside Iraq.

                WARNER: Another thing, of course, that happened over the last few days was news that Iraq had entered an intelligence pact with Russia and Iran and Syria, to share intelligence about ISIS.

                Why did you join that?

                AL ABADI:   ISIL is an international terrorist organization. As far as the intelligence is concerned, we can only gather information about ISIL inside Iraq. We need the help of other countries.

                Russia now consider ISIL as a national threat to them. It is a national threat to Syria, And of course, it's a threat to Iran, as well.

                Now, to share this intelligence with these countries is going to help us. I will do whatever it takes to protect the Iraqi people. And there are many terrorist networks all over the world, and fighters coming across different countries, to Syria, to Iraq.

                I need the help of that intelligence, as well as the intelligence of the international coalition which is...

                WARNER:  But doesn't most of your intelligence, in fact, come from the Americans?  And are you worried that in -- that the U.S. will become more wary and less forthcoming, sharing intelligence with you, if they know it also goes to Iran and Russia and Syria?

                AL ABADI:  No, we'll be careful not to share this information which comes from other parties with -- with another party.

                WARNER:  I see.

                AL ABADI:  But you see, Russia has an interest. We had about 2,500 Chechen fighters from Russia...

                WARNER:  Yes.

                AL ABADI:  ...who are taking part with Daesh inside Iraq and inside Syria.

                Inside Iraq, there are very dangerous guys. They do detonation, they kill a lot of people. So, I think to have the Russians on board will help me, will help my government to protect Iraqis, and to save more lives.

                WARNER:  Now, you met with President Obama privately, after this news came out.

                Did he seem upset, annoyed?

                AL ABADI:  Well, I think there is some political enmity between, probably, the United States and Russia. That's very much understood. The Russians want to play a role in the Middle East. They want to play another role in Russia. I understand that.

                But for me, these minor political differences, I should put aside.

                WARNER:  what the U.S. was upset about is that you -- for whom, you know, the U.S. is providing air cover for your troops, re-training of your troops -- didn't even give the Americans a heads-up. Why not?

                AL ABADI:  I think, no, they knew about it. About this intelligence sharing of information.

                WARNER:  They said they did not, in advance.

                AL ABADI:  I mean they were advance -- well, probably not in advance before we'd done it.

                WARNER:  Right.

                AL ABADI:  Later, after we've done it. I mean, this has been going on for about three months now. This is not new. I -- I don't know why the news was broke recently. It's very low-level. It's very low-level. It's not high-level.

                There is no military cooperation in -- whatsoever

                WARNER:  So, if I might, back to the meeting with President Obama. What did he say?

                AL ABADI: :  It's -- it's mainly to do with American and international coalition support to Iraq. We need more equipments. We need more support, and I think the president was very much forthcoming in escalating the support for Iraq. For our forces to achieve victory on the ground.

                We are, I think, the only army in the region who are fighting Daesh...

                WARNER:  Let me -- let me ask you about your fight in Iraq. It seems to have hit a stalemate. You had a little early success, sort of freezing ISIS in place last summer, but since then, you've been unable to retake some major cities like Ramadi. Why is that?

                AL ABADI:  Well, it's -- I think last time was in April, when we took back Tikrit. And since then, of course, we lost Ramadi. But after -- a month and a half after we lost Ramadi, we started a counteroffensive, and we've almost encircled not only Ramadi, but manifold areas other than Ramadi, to kick Daesh out.

                Of course, this summer, in particular, was very hot. Extremely hot. I don't think when -- when soldiers are carrying about eight, 10 kilograms of equipment and of body armor, you wouldn't expect them to fight in such heat weather.

                We have made progress, but not as much as we anticipated because of the weather.

                WARNER:  Many Americans wonder, why should we keep getting involved, losing lives and treasure, trying to help these countries resolve their differences?  Why not just walk away and let them resolve themselves?

                What would you say to those American taxpayers and voters?

                AL ABADI:  See, Daesh, or ISIL, is not only a threat to Iraq or the region, it's for the whole world.

                We have blocked the advance of Daesh to the south. If they are allowed to go to the south, they would control all the -- the Gulf areas, all the oil supply of the world. They will threaten the whole world. They will establish what they consider their rightful state, which is, of course, a terrorist state, in the whole region.

                We have blocked that in Iraq. We not only stopped it, but we are reversing it. We are the only country now -- are reversing the act of this terrorist organization.

                If we don't receive this international support, I'm not sure we can stand on our own. We gave a lot of sacrifices, we are prepared to give more. Iraqis are sacrificing themselves to defend their land and to push Daesh out.

                If we don't receive this international support, God knows what is going to happen in this region and what's going to happen in the rest of the world.

                WARNER:  Mr. Prime Minister, thank you.

                AL ABADI:  OK. Thank you. 

 

 

__________________________________________________________________________

Would you like to learn more about Iraq and my time there? Listen to this 15 minute podcast episode I was interviewed in recently. 

Are you wondering how you too can champion nations? Go here.

And for a creative, unique way to remind yourself of your passion to impact the world, get our Gimme Some Change Pillow Cover!

Interview with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on PBS NewsHour TONIGHT!

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi

Given our love for Iraq, we want to share this very important interview which will be released tonight on television. We believe there is hope for Iraqgreat hope. We also believe there a key change-agents, like Prime Minister al-Abadi, who are resolute toward Iraq's bright future, despite the onslaught from ISIS etc. It is priceless and pivotal to advocate, encourage, and appreciate such individuals. As you think about this interview and/or watch it tonight, I encourage you to share it - via Facebook, twitter, email, text etc. Let's continue to share the good things that are happening in Iraq. Thanks!

Tonight on the PBS NewsHour (check local listings), chief foreign correspondent Margaret Warner interviews Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on fight against the Islamic State Group; new partnership between Iran, Iraq, Syria and Russia; and the relationship between U.S. and Iraq. The interview took place while Prime Minister Abadi was In New York for the General Assembly of the United Nations. A rough transcript can be found below.

SOURCE: PBS NEWSHOUR (check local listings)

TRANSCRIPT:

IRAQI PRIME MINISTER HAIDER AL ABADI IS INTERVIEWED ON PBS NEWSHOUR WITH MARGARET WARNER

SEPTEMBER 30, 2015

SPEAKER:  IRAQI PRIME MINISTER HAIDER AL ABADI

                MARGARET WARNER: Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for joining us.

                HAIDER AL ABADI:  Welcome.

                WARNER:  It's been confirmed today that the Russians launched an airstrike in Syria, right outside the city of Homs. Is that kind of thing helpful, do you think, to you -- the common fight against the Islamic State?

                AL ABADI:  Well, of course it is beneficial. Don't forget Iraq was attacked from across the Syrian border into Iraq by Daesh, by ISIL, and that cost us a lot of human costs in terms of people killed, people being kidnapped, people being enslaved. Women, children.

                So any joining of this fight against Daesh by anyone, we will very much welcome. We established this international coalition.

                WARNER:  You're talking about the U.S.-led coalition?

                AL ABADI:  Correct. That's -- to help Iraq to stand in the face of Daesh. And if the Russians are moving against Daesh now in Syrian, we very much welcome this.

                WARNER:  Well, that is really the question. The U.S. government was saying today that in fact that's not an -- a Daesh or ISIS stronghold, where they bombed. In fact, it's held mostly by the opposition to President Assad.

                What do you think are the Russian intentions?

                AL ABADI:  Our message to the Russians. I met President Putin, please join this fight against Daesh. Daesh is a dangerous terrorist organization, not only against Iraq. Against Syria, against the whole region, against the whole world. It is time that we all joined the same forces to fight Daesh.

                WARNER:  But do you think that the Russian intention is only to do that or to also prop up the Assad government?

                AL ABADI:  I cannot be in the mind of what the Russians want but what I've been told by President Putin, yes, they consider Daesh very dangerous organization. It is threatening the national security of Russia, and the Russians are in it to fight Daesh.

                WARNER:  Can you foresee the day that Iraq might ask the Russians to come in and bomb in Iraq, to assist what your ground forces are doing?

                AL ABADI:  Well, if the Russians are prepared to join the international coalition, which is helping Iraq, they're welcome. I think I would welcome the Russians to do that.

                WARNER:  But I mean, they're not part of the U.S.-led coalition, they have a different group. And you're saying they'd have to first join the U.S.-led coalition, or just that -- if they say they want to defeat Daesh, that in fact, you would welcome their help, including bombs?

                AL ABADI:  Yes, I think I would welcome that, but they need a lot of work to liaison between everybody there. We need like a common platform where there should be no conflict. We have to de-conflict any misunderstanding between the countries which are helping Iraq inside Iraq.

                WARNER: Another thing, of course, that happened over the last few days was news that Iraq had entered an intelligence pact with Russia and Iran and Syria, to share intelligence about ISIS.

                Why did you join that?

                AL ABADI:   ISIL is an international terrorist organization. As far as the intelligence is concerned, we can only gather information about ISIL inside Iraq. We need the help of other countries.

                Russia now consider ISIL as a national threat to them. It is a national threat to Syria, And of course, it's a threat to Iran, as well.

                Now, to share this intelligence with these countries is going to help us. I will do whatever it takes to protect the Iraqi people. And there are many terrorist networks all over the world, and fighters coming across different countries, to Syria, to Iraq.

                I need the help of that intelligence, as well as the intelligence of the international coalition which is...

                WARNER:  But doesn't most of your intelligence, in fact, come from the Americans?  And are you worried that in -- that the U.S. will become more wary and less forthcoming, sharing intelligence with you, if they know it also goes to Iran and Russia and Syria?

                AL ABADI:  No, we'll be careful not to share this information which comes from other parties with -- with another party.

                WARNER:  I see.

                AL ABADI:  But you see, Russia has an interest. We had about 2,500 Chechen fighters from Russia...

                WARNER:  Yes.

                AL ABADI:  ...who are taking part with Daesh inside Iraq and inside Syria.

                Inside Iraq, there are very dangerous guys. They do detonation, they kill a lot of people. So, I think to have the Russians on board will help me, will help my government to protect Iraqis, and to save more lives.

                WARNER:  Now, you met with President Obama privately, after this news came out.

                Did he seem upset, annoyed?

                AL ABADI:  Well, I think there is some political enmity between, probably, the United States and Russia. That's very much understood. The Russians want to play a role in the Middle East. They want to play another role in Russia. I understand that.

                But for me, these minor political differences, I should put aside.

                WARNER:  what the U.S. was upset about is that you -- for whom, you know, the U.S. is providing air cover for your troops, re-training of your troops -- didn't even give the Americans a heads-up. Why not?

                AL ABADI:  I think, no, they knew about it. About this intelligence sharing of information.

                WARNER:  They said they did not, in advance.

                AL ABADI:  I mean they were advance -- well, probably not in advance before we'd done it.

                WARNER:  Right.

                AL ABADI:  Later, after we've done it. I mean, this has been going on for about three months now. This is not new. I -- I don't know why the news was broke recently. It's very low-level. It's very low-level. It's not high-level.

                There is no military cooperation in -- whatsoever

                WARNER:  So, if I might, back to the meeting with President Obama. What did he say?

                AL ABADI: :  It's -- it's mainly to do with American and international coalition support to Iraq. We need more equipments. We need more support, and I think the president was very much forthcoming in escalating the support for Iraq. For our forces to achieve victory on the ground.

                We are, I think, the only army in the region who are fighting Daesh...

                WARNER:  Let me -- let me ask you about your fight in Iraq. It seems to have hit a stalemate. You had a little early success, sort of freezing ISIS in place last summer, but since then, you've been unable to retake some major cities like Ramadi. Why is that?

                AL ABADI:  Well, it's -- I think last time was in April, when we took back Tikrit. And since then, of course, we lost Ramadi. But after -- a month and a half after we lost Ramadi, we started a counteroffensive, and we've almost encircled not only Ramadi, but manifold areas other than Ramadi, to kick Daesh out.

                Of course, this summer, in particular, was very hot. Extremely hot. I don't think when -- when soldiers are carrying about eight, 10 kilograms of equipment and of body armor, you wouldn't expect them to fight in such heat weather.

                We have made progress, but not as much as we anticipated because of the weather.

                WARNER:  Many Americans wonder, why should we keep getting involved, losing lives and treasure, trying to help these countries resolve their differences?  Why not just walk away and let them resolve themselves?

                What would you say to those American taxpayers and voters?

                AL ABADI:  See, Daesh, or ISIL, is not only a threat to Iraq or the region, it's for the whole world.

                We have blocked the advance of Daesh to the south. If they are allowed to go to the south, they would control all the -- the Gulf areas, all the oil supply of the world. They will threaten the whole world. They will establish what they consider their rightful state, which is, of course, a terrorist state, in the whole region.

                We have blocked that in Iraq. We not only stopped it, but we are reversing it. We are the only country now -- are reversing the act of this terrorist organization.

                If we don't receive this international support, I'm not sure we can stand on our own. We gave a lot of sacrifices, we are prepared to give more. Iraqis are sacrificing themselves to defend their land and to push Daesh out.

                If we don't receive this international support, God knows what is going to happen in this region and what's going to happen in the rest of the world.

                WARNER:  Mr. Prime Minister, thank you.

                AL ABADI:  OK. Thank you. 

An Opportunity for You to Live in an African Safari Park

You could live here...

LIVING WILD: A HOME ON AN AFRICAN SAFARI PARK PARADISE

*Your Home on a game farm

* 12 hours from London

* Near Durban in sub tropical South Africa

* Game viewing from your deck

*Mahathunzi, adjoining Karkloof Safari Spa

The words: “I had a farm in Africa,” spoken by Karen Blixen in the film, ‘Out of Africa’, resonated with so many people that the continent received a significant tourism boost.

With the creation of the luxury development Mahathunzi on the edge of five-star Karkloof Safari Spa in the lush landscape of Natal, that dream can be yours.

Living in one of these luxury homes on 60 to 80 acres of your own, you will see giraffe, rhino, buffalo, many other game animals and hundreds of bird species.

Here is Africa at its best, the silence only broken by birdsong, the rustle of grass and the continent’s intoxicating scents. This remarkable place is the brainchild of Fred Wörner who created the pristine, award winning Karkloof Safari Spa, which has won plaudits from environmentalists for its game-breeding programme, its accommodation, hospitality and spa.

The place is well named: taking a cue from the Zulu word is’ithunzi – which means presence, aura, confidence, spirit, wellbeing and shade - as well as the ancient Sankskrit word maha, meaning powerful connection with nature.

For those who have already fallen under the spell of Africa, and for those intrigued by it, there is a unique opportunity to realize the dream of a home in Africa now. Mahathunzi forms part of a pristine game farm, the 7,400 acre five-star Karkloof Safari Spa where Giraffe, Cape Buffalo, White Rhino and other big game species thrive in a predator-free area that remains in many ways untouched.

The lucky few who will call this remarkable place home will own a slice of paradise. There are no fewer than 283 bird species, 43 resident mammal species, and countless butterflies. On the hillcrests there is indigenous mistbelt forest and its unique floral kingdom. The night skies sparkle with stars as there is no light pollution. The climate is temperate year round, ranging from around 20 C in winter to 30 C in summer, with a light breeze always at hand.

Some 49 exquisite low-slung homes, designed to blend seamlessly into the landscape are being developed here on freehold plots ranging from 50 to 80 acres, virtually a small farm. Each plot will come to the market at £220,000. There is planning approval to build homes of around 800sq m with three-metre wide open-sided overhangs trebling that space, plus garaging and staff accommodation. Currently homes being planned range in cost from £500,000 to £2.5m depending on materials and finishes. So at the most modest level around £750,000, for land and house, the price of a modest home in London, you can have a place in paradise. Bolted onto this is a concierge, staffing, travel and entertainment service, all on tap.

The homes on Mahathunzi will be discreetly nestled into the landscape making them almost invisible to passing eyes, but offering unsurpassed views and the chance to watch game from your own deck. And a 24-hour security service in this gated community ensures privacy. Each home is different from every other and will offer a truly exceptional way of living – a retreat from the frenetic pace of the man-made world and a portal to the vitality of nature.

Access from Europe could not be easier. A 10-hour overnight-flight from Heathrow brings you into Johannesburg at dawn, then it’s a 45-minute hop to Pietermaritzburg, and as there is just a one-hour time difference, there is no jetlag. Then it’s a short drive into the country and you will be on your deck for lunch and a spot of game viewing, with the sounds and smells of Africa reminding you that you are now a world away from London and its stresses. Here ‘normal’ time stops.

Despite its remote feel, it is just 20 minutes from downtown Pietermaritzburg, a charming university town in KwaZulu Natal, and close to the seaport and holiday resort of Durban. Mahathunzi and Karkloof offer the best of both worlds, a safari reality with easy access to city sophistication and superfast broadband that provides links to the wider world. But what will draw buyers to this haven is its access to two of the worlds greatest luxuries: unspoiled landscape and a healthy wildlife population, this is what makes this a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“Why buy at Mahathunzi?” The answer does not only lie all around you but in the context of this special place, for it offers a nexus of wonder. This after all is the home of early man; our earliest ancestors lived here and walked these plains, lived among this family of game animals. It is a wonder that they ever left for Europe. Now it’s time to come home. Here truly you can walk with the animals and talk with the animals in ways that Dr Doolittle could never conceive. And this magic lies at the heart of three distinct kingdoms of wonder, all just an hour away by plane. To the south are the incomparable mountain-ringed vineyards of the Cape; to the west the deserts of Namibia with their dune climbing elephants; and to the east lies some of the greatest deep sea fishing in the world off the coast of Natal and out into the Indian Ocean off the islands of Mauritius and the Seychelles. If you brings guests to this place, they will never want to leave.

This remarkable place is the brainchild of Fred Wörner who created the pristine, award-winning Karkloof Safari Spa, which has won plaudits from environmentalists for its game-breeding programme, its accommodation, hospitality and spa. Exclusive Karkloof attracts well-informed tourists who have heard of its special charms. Travellers and travel writers have said: ‘timeless, ‘heaven’, ‘paradise’, ‘an absolute gem’,  ‘experience of a lifetime’, ‘enchanting’, words cannot describe its beauty’, ‘perfect peace’ and ‘the best in the world’. If anything they are understating the reality.

Fred Wörner, says of Mahathunzi: “My vision was to create an opportunity to live amongst wildlife, while leaving a minimal footprint on the landscape, a place where time stops, an experience I and my guests have enjoyed and which has massively added to the quality of our lives. Interest in the development is coming from buyers who love Africa and love the idea of living cheek by jowl with wildlife in a green and sustainable way where wildlife will always have priority.”

Contained within 2,400 acres of authentic African terrain, ranging from open grassland plains, plateaus, dolerite cliffs, forested valleys and water pools, Mahathunzi supports well-established populations of Wildebeest, Giraffe, Reedbuck, Eland, Kudu, Nyala, Blesbok, Zebra, Warthog, Jackal, Caracal, Bushpig, abundant bird life and many other indigenous species. The Umgeni and the Karkloof rivers converge on the property adding the charm of water to an already verdant landscape. It is a landscape that early man would recognise as home.

Yet just minutes away is one of Southern Africa’s best private schools, Hilton College. The Albert Falls Dam sits 2kms away on the Umgeni River, and situated less than 20 minutes from Pietermaritzburg where some of the best schools in the country are found as well as excellent medical care and a modern airport offering seven flights a day to Johannesburg. Mahathunzi will appeal to those whose values connect to the African landscape yet still want the choice of city rhythms.

Residents will be able to use 46km of all-weather shale roads within the property for game viewing and also have the freedom to enjoy mountain biking, walking, fishing and even trail running. 

Please see link below to website:

www.mahathunzi.co.za

 

____________________________________________________________________________

A Mobile App for Journalists' Safety

IWMF Releases REPORTA, A Free Mobile Security App Designed Specifically for Journalists Worldwide

Reporta empowers journalists to implement security protocols with the touch of a button

NEW YORK, N.Y.—Today, the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) released Reporta, a free and comprehensive personal safety app for iPhone and Android devices that journalists working in potentially dangerous environments can utilize to quickly implement their security protocols. The app is designed specifically for journalists worldwide and available in six languages— Arabic, English, French, Hebrew, Spanish, and Turkish.

“Journalists covering conflict zones, working in repressive environments, or reporting on sensitive or highly charged issues are too often the targets of attacks,” said Elisa Lees Muñoz, Executive Director of IWMF. “Reporta was developed with the goal to harness the power of the one piece of technology that most journalists use every day – a mobile phone. Now more than ever, it is critical to equip journalists with a free tool to help them stay safe and best positioned to continue to tell the significant stories of our time.”

Reporta empowers journalists to be proactive with their security protocols, making it easy to issue notifications containing photos, audio, or video to designated, pre-loaded contacts using the app’s three essential features:

  1. An automated and customizable check-in system that allows journalists to provide key information about their location and status.
  2. A customizable alert function that allows journalists to let key contacts know when their safety or that of a colleague’s may be at risk.
  3. A SOS feature that can be used to send an emergency message with the touch of a button.

Reporta’s launch comes at a time when violence against journalists is on the rise. The last three years have been widely reported as the deadliest period on record. Too often, journalists reporting on corruption, conflicts, and other illegal or sensitive activities face threats of harassment, abduction, or even imprisonment. In addition, IWMF research found that nearly two-thirds of women in media had experienced intimidation, threats, or abuse as a direct result of their work. Reporta was designed to help journalists augment existing security protocols and trainings, such as Hostile Environment and Emergency First Aid Training (HEFAT), in any of these situations.

Reporta was made possible by a grant from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. Additional support was provided by Al-Monitor, Inter-American Development Bank, and Facebook. IWMF worked in consultation with journalists across five continents, global security experts, and other partners in developing Reporta, including the Article 19, Global Journalist Security, International Center for Journalists. Reporta was built by RevSquare.

Building on Reporta, the IWMF plans to launch ReportaPro, an enterprise-scaled platform with back-end capabilities specifically designed for media organizations using Reporta. ABC News and Sinclair Broadcast Group are founding partners of ReportaPro.

Download and learn more about Reporta at reporta.org

A tutorial video and digital media assets are available online at iwmf.org/presskit

ABOUT IWMF: For 25 years, the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) has been dedicated to strengthening the role of women journalists worldwide. The media is not truly free and representative without the equal voice of women. Our work celebrates the courage of women journalists who overcome threats and oppression to report and bear witness to global issues. Through our programs and grants we empower women journalists with the training, opportunities, and support to become leaders in the news industry. IWMF.org

 

_____________________________________________________________________

Article provided by IWMF

An opportunity for you to live in an African Safari Park

You could live here...

LIVING WILD: A HOME ON AN AFRICAN SAFARI PARK PARADISE

  • Your Home on a game farm
  • 12 hours from London
  • Near Durban in sub tropical South Africa
  • Game viewing from your deck
  • Mahathunzi, adjoining Karkloof Safari Spa

The words: “I had a farm in Africa,” spoken by Karen Blixen in the film, ‘Out of Africa’, resonated with so many people that the continent received a significant tourism boost.

With the creation of the luxury development Mahathunzi on the edge of five-star Karkloof Safari Spa in the lush landscape of Natal, that dream can be yours.

Living in one of these luxury homes on 60 to 80 acres of your own, you will see giraffe, rhino, buffalo, many other game animals and hundreds of bird species.

Here is Africa at its best, the silence only broken by birdsong, the rustle of grass and the continent’s intoxicating scents. This remarkable place is the brainchild of Fred Wörner who created the pristine, award winning Karkloof Safari Spa, which has won plaudits from environmentalists for its game-breeding programme, its accommodation, hospitality and spa.

Mahathunz

The place is well named: taking a cue from the Zulu word is’ithunzi – which means presence, aura, confidence, spirit, wellbeing and shade - as well as the ancient Sankskrit word maha, meaning powerful connection with nature.

For those who have already fallen under the spell of Africa, and for those intrigued by it, there is a unique opportunity to realize the dream of a home in Africa now. Mahathunzi forms part of a pristine game farm, the 7,400 acre five-star Karkloof Safari Spa where Giraffe, Cape Buffalo, White Rhino and other big game species thrive in a predator-free area that remains in many ways untouched.

The lucky few who will call this remarkable place home will own a slice of paradise. There are no fewer than 283 bird species, 43 resident mammal species, and countless butterflies. On the hillcrests there is indigenous mistbelt forest and its unique floral kingdom. The night skies sparkle with stars as there is no light pollution. The climate is temperate year round, ranging from around 20 C in winter to 30 C in summer, with a light breeze always at hand.

Some 49 exquisite low-slung homes, designed to blend seamlessly into the landscape are being developed here on freehold plots ranging from 50 to 80 acres, virtually a small farm. Each plot will come to the market at £220,000. There is planning approval to build homes of around 800sq m with three-metre wide open-sided overhangs trebling that space, plus garaging and staff accommodation. Currently homes being planned range in cost from £500,000 to £2.5m depending on materials and finishes. So at the most modest level around £750,000, for land and house, the price of a modest home in London, you can have a place in paradise. Bolted onto this is a concierge, staffing, travel and entertainment service, all on tap.

The homes on Mahathunzi will be discreetly nestled into the landscape making them almost invisible to passing eyes, but offering unsurpassed views and the chance to watch game from your own deck. And a 24-hour security service in this gated community ensures privacy. Each home is different from every other and will offer a truly exceptional way of living – a retreat from the frenetic pace of the man-made world and a portal to the vitality of nature.

Access from Europe could not be easier. A 10-hour overnight-flight from Heathrow brings you into Johannesburg at dawn, then it’s a 45-minute hop to Pietermaritzburg, and as there is just a one-hour time difference, there is no jetlag. Then it’s a short drive into the country and you will be on your deck for lunch and a spot of game viewing, with the sounds and smells of Africa reminding you that you are now a world away from London and its stresses. Here ‘normal’ time stops.

Despite its remote feel, it is just 20 minutes from downtown Pietermaritzburg, a charming university town in KwaZulu Natal, and close to the seaport and holiday resort of Durban. Mahathunzi and Karkloof offer the best of both worlds, a safari reality with easy access to city sophistication and superfast broadband that provides links to the wider world. But what will draw buyers to this haven is its access to two of the worlds greatest luxuries: unspoiled landscape and a healthy wildlife population, this is what makes this a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“Why buy at Mahathunzi?” The answer does not only lie all around you but in the context of this special place, for it offers a nexus of wonder. This after all is the home of early man; our earliest ancestors lived here and walked these plains, lived among this family of game animals. It is a wonder that they ever left for Europe. Now it’s time to come home. Here truly you can walk with the animals and talk with the animals in ways that Dr Doolittle could never conceive. And this magic lies at the heart of three distinct kingdoms of wonder, all just an hour away by plane. To the south are the incomparable mountain-ringed vineyards of the Cape; to the west the deserts of Namibia with their dune climbing elephants; and to the east lies some of the greatest deep sea fishing in the world off the coast of Natal and out into the Indian Ocean off the islands of Mauritius and the Seychelles. If you brings guests to this place, they will never want to leave.

This remarkable place is the brainchild of Fred Wörner who created the pristine, award-winning Karkloof Safari Spa, which has won plaudits from environmentalists for its game-breeding programme, its accommodation, hospitality and spa. Exclusive Karkloof attracts well-informed tourists who have heard of its special charms. Travellers and travel writers have said: ‘timeless, ‘heaven’, ‘paradise’, ‘an absolute gem’,  ‘experience of a lifetime’, ‘enchanting’, words cannot describe its beauty’, ‘perfect peace’ and ‘the best in the world’. If anything they are understating the reality.

Fred Wörner, says of Mahathunzi: “My vision was to create an opportunity to live amongst wildlife, while leaving a minimal footprint on the landscape, a place where time stops, an experience I and my guests have enjoyed and which has massively added to the quality of our lives. Interest in the development is coming from buyers who love Africa and love the idea of living cheek by jowl with wildlife in a green and sustainable way where wildlife will always have priority.”

water buffalo

Contained within 2,400 acres of authentic African terrain, ranging from open grassland plains, plateaus, dolerite cliffs, forested valleys and water pools, Mahathunzi supports well-established populations of Wildebeest, Giraffe, Reedbuck, Eland, Kudu, Nyala, Blesbok, Zebra, Warthog, Jackal, Caracal, Bushpig, abundant bird life and many other indigenous species. The Umgeni and the Karkloof rivers converge on the property adding the charm of water to an already verdant landscape. It is a landscape that early man would recognise as home.

Yet just minutes away is one of Southern Africa’s best private schools, Hilton College. The Albert Falls Dam sits 2kms away on the Umgeni River, and situated less than 20 minutes from Pietermaritzburg where some of the best schools in the country are found as well as excellent medical care and a modern airport offering seven flights a day to Johannesburg. Mahathunzi will appeal to those whose values connect to the African landscape yet still want the choice of city rhythms.

Residents will be able to use 46km of all-weather shale roads within the property for game viewing and also have the freedom to enjoy mountain biking, walking, fishing and even trail running. 

Please see link below to website:

www.mahathunzi.co.za

Dawn's Interview about Iraq for a Thelma & Louise Podcast!

Let's change nations via hope, shall we?

Part of our core vision for this travel blog is to champion nations. Each time we write about a hotel, restaurant, tour, movie, play, comedy club, tour, or experience etc, we are championing a business - and therefore a city - and therefore a nation. This mode of advocacy is deeply important to us. Thus, it was particularly joyous to be interviewed for a podcast episode of thelmaandlouise.com

It is only 16 minutes long so, you can easily listen to it on your way to work, on a thoughtful walk around your neighborhood, or accompanied by a cup of pleasantly hot tea and a circle of curious, world-loving friends. 

Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below and share this post with your friends. It really does mean a lot to us, as we ardently believe that HOPE can change the world. Thank you. 

 

Podcast 41: Co-musing with Dawn about travel and Hopes for Iraq

Dawn's Interview about Iraq for a Thelma & Louise Podcast!

Let's change nations via hope, shall we?

dawn in iraq

Part of our core vision for this travel blog is to champion nations. Each time we write about a hotel, restaurant, tour, movie, play, comedy club, tour, or experience etc, we are championing a business - and therefore a city - and therefore a nation. This mode of advocacy is deeply important to us. Thus, it was particularly joyous to be interviewed for a podcast episode of thelmaandlouise.com

It is only 16 minutes long so, you can easily listen to it on your way to work, on a thoughtful walk around your neighborhood, or accompanied by a cup of pleasantly hot tea and a circle of curious, world-loving friends. 

Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below and share this post with your friends. It really does mean a lot to us, as we ardently believe that HOPE can change the world. Thank you. 

Podcast 41: Co-musing with Dawn about travel and Hopes for Iraq

Silicon Valley's Newest Hotel Is First To Offer Certified Organic Mattresses in Every Room

Well, this is wonderful news! This is the first hotel to offer these organic mattresses!! 

Enchante Boutique Hotel

Los Altos, CA (September 16, 2015)  – Silicon Valley’s first romantic luxury hotel, Enchanté Boutique Hotel, opened April 2015, is treating guests to a sleep experience unlike any other as the first hotel in the region to fully equip its rooms with certified organic, sustainably produced mattresses. The mattresses, made by Naturepedic of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, meet the most stringent of green textile certifications without sacrificing the comfort, luxury and durability desired of a high-quality mattress for a restful night’s sleep. Enchanté is the first hotel globally to be outfitted with Naturepedic mattresses.

Enchanté’s owner Abby Ahrens’ commitment to sustainable luxury and a superior guest experience led her to seek a top-quality mattress that also assured a clean and memorable sleep experience. Certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard, the only third-party organic certification recognized by the USDA for organic mattresses, Naturepedic mattresses are manufactured using non-GMO, plant-based fabrics and sustainably-harvested wools. Naturepedic mattresses are also produced without the use of flame retardants and other toxic chemicals commonly used in mattress production while meeting and exceeding safety standards and regulations for mattresses.

naturepedic

Founded by Barry A. Cik, an environmental engineer, Naturepedic began by producing fully organic crib mattresses after Cik became aware of the threats that common, chemical-laden mattresses posed to newborns and infants. The company soon expanded their offerings to include hand-crafted mattresses for adults following the same rigorous quality standards.

A Naturepedic EOS mattress is featured in each of Enchante’s 19 rooms, with queen- or king-size options. Fitting squarely within Enchante’s chic and fashionable French aesthetic and European-style hospitality, the EOS mattress’ luxurious design showcases a signature quilt and beautiful fabrics with multiple comfort layers. Enchanté selected Naturepedic mattresses to offer guests a cozy sleep experience that also leaves the body supported for proper rest.

“Enchanté is a part of Silicon Valley, where environmental awareness is at the forefront of every industry, and this was an important consideration when seeking a mattress for my guests.” says Ahrens. “I was certain Naturepedic was the right choice for Enchanté the moment I discovered the company – the rich production history, the values the company was founded upon, the commitment to quality and health all aligned with what I was seeking for Enchanté.”

Enchanté’s guests have been enamored by Naturepedic’s mattresses, calling them “supremely comfortable” and “a unique component in an already stunning hotel,” delivering “the best night’s sleep I’ve had in some time.”

Guests of Enchanté are able to purchase the EOS mattress through the hotel. The EOS mattress is customizable for individual sleep preferences and includes dual customization for shared beds. An EOS Queen mattress is priced at $2,599.

Offering an elegant and romantic overnight experience with a touch of Paris through French artwork, antiques and décor, Enchante’s provides Silicon Valley travelers wary of common options with an unforgettable experience that demands repeat stays.

About Enchanté Boutique Hotel:

Enchante Boutique Hotel

Enchanté Boutique Hotel is a brand new experience in luxury hospitality for Silicon Valley and the city of Los Altos, the birthplace of Apple Inc. Each of the public and guest accommodations are unique with a sophisticated, eclectic style that blends elements of a Parisian Inn with French art and memorabilia and modern comforts culminating in a distinctive guest experience. Its elegant, châteauesque architecture commands a striking presence at the entrance to downtown Los Altos.  Enchanté is the vision of Abby Ahrens, a real estate professional, developer of custom homes and beloved member of the Los Altos community for over 30 years. Enchanté is the region’s first chic and fashionable luxury boutique hotel.

Featuring 19 rooms, each with unique interior designs expressive of French culture, highlighting French artwork and antiques, Enchanté offers a cozy retreat and an alternative to chain hotels for the growing number of travelers coming to the Silicon Valley region. www.enchantehotel.com


About Naturepedic:

Naturepedic, based in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, was founded by environmental engineer Barry A. Cik. Naturepedic specializes in the design and manufacturing of certified organic mattresses for adults and children that promote natural and organic materials, a non-toxic design, fire-safety, and overall health and safety.