Plank Story: Hiking Mt Kilimanjaro

We are currently standing on Mt. Kili with the peak behind us. That’s how big the mountain is.

Hiking Mt Kilimanjaro was a spectacularly grand adventure and simultaneously self-inflicted torture.  On the first night I accidentally peed in my sleeping bag and broke my headlamp.  The sleeping bag and headlamp were both much needed tools on the mountain.

That’s me and Matt sitting on the right in the orange jacket. Photo from ready_freddy_123 on Instagram

Day Three

On Day three I wrote in my journal: When you look back on this trip as a positive experience, remember it is not.  You are miserable.  This is terrible.  You did this to yourself.  Vacation normally flies by but if you want vacation to pass slowly hike Mt. Kilimanjaro.

That was a breaking point for me.  I’d been up the first two nights shivering.  Lack of sleep and freezing nighttime temperatures forced me to figure out how I needed to get by on the mountain.  That night I put on nearly all my clothes and threw some heat warmers into my sleeping bag and finally slept.  […]

Plank Story: Hiking Mt Kilimanjaro2018-02-14T16:29:26-05:00

Tips for Hiking Mt Kilimanjaro

When I was planning my trip to Mt. Kilimanjaro, I wish I could have found a list of tips for hiking Mt Kilimanjaro to help me prepare.  What’s out there is every tour organizations plug for why they are the best at getting people to the top, but not really helpful info from someone who had done it.  For the 35,000 people who hike the mountain each year, this lack of information is a gaping hole in the internet where you can usually find answers to everything.  Everyone has a different experience, and you may discover you have different needs than I did.  But after hiking, these are the things I wish I could have known earlier.  Each of these helped make my hike better and easier.  There is no particular order here.  I’d want them all.

Tips for Hiking Mt Kilimanjaro

  • Balaclava: Bring a balaclava for the journey. A thin one like they wear in the television show Survivor works best.  This becomes a very versatile tool.  You can cover your face to protect from dust and sun.  You can cover your nose to help warm the cold air a little […]
Tips for Hiking Mt Kilimanjaro2018-02-14T16:29:00-05:00

Peabody Ducks

On our recent trip between Dallas and Nashville, which included Oklahoma City, Hot Springs and Memphis, we liked Memphis the best.  In part this was because the Peabody, an historic hotel in Memphis, may very well be one of the nicest hotels we’ve ever been in.  The place was so comfortable that I wanted to spend time in the hotel, which is not like me.  The lobby usually had a live pianist.  And ducks.   They were known for ducks in their fountain.  The Peabody Ducks.  We didn’t know this when we arrived, but we read something about it online: “Don’t miss the ducks.”  So we asked, “What’s up with the ducks?”

The Story of the Ducks

The Peabody Lobby

It turns out that in 1933, the general manager went duck hunting with decoy ducks.  After a day of drinking, he brought the ducks back, put them in the fountain, and fell asleep.  Upon rising he recalled the error of his way.  He ran to the lobby expecting the ducks to have destroyed the place.  Instead he found that all the […]

Peabody Ducks2018-02-14T16:47:10-05:00

Public Bathing and Massages in Hot Springs Arkansas

Hot Springs, Arkansas is known for natural hot springs that are plumbed through the hotels and bathhouses positioned around bathhouse row.  This might be a little bit underappreciated today, but during Hot Springs heyday, hot running water in a building may have seemed miraculous.  My grandma who was born in 1926 once told me that the most life changing technology of her lifetime was hot running water.  We take it for granted now.

Hot Springs seems like a time capsule.  Bathhouse row came to prominence in the nineteen-teens.  As far as I can tell, some buildings did some updates in 1960, and no one has touched anything since.  It’s a cross between two distinct times.

Buckstaff Bath House

I was eager to try the public bathing experience offered at Buckstaff Bath House. (I’ve gotten braver after my Turkish bath.)  Buckstaff offers the same experience you would have received in 1912, except the attendants don’t dress as nurses.  I was game.  Matt was not.  (After his Turkish bath, I think he’s had enough strangers bathing him and public nudity for a […]

Public Bathing and Massages in Hot Springs Arkansas2018-02-14T16:46:25-05:00

How Egypt Opened the World for Travel

A friend asked me recently how I decide where to go on vacation?  From the beginning, I’d always enjoyed social studies and history class in school, but my freshmen year of high school when I took Western Civilizations with Dr. Dan Kelly, I fell in love with history.  I knew then that I wanted to teach history at the college level and see the pyramids.  I’m a graduate school dropout so teaching history never came to fruition.  I left the PhD program in Early Modern European History with a focus in gender and sexuality almost as soon as I started.  But less than a year after leaving graduate school, I was in Egypt  at the pyramids with Matt.   Our time in Egypt opened the world up.

Living a dream of seeing the pyramids.It was two years after September 11th and our families were pretty worried about our safety.  I was concerned.  Egypt seemed like a scary, intimidating place from back home, but once there it wasn’t.  I was more afraid driving on the skinny, one lane, cliff-edge roads of the Dingle peninsula in Ireland than I was in Egypt.  That didn’t […]

How Egypt Opened the World for Travel2018-02-14T16:49:38-05:00