Tag Archives: thegiftoftravel

Journey, change…forward



Do you know if you’re on a path? Have you felt stuck, in search of a new goal, or have you realized that there’s something else you can do or learn in this world? I’m not sure how much stock I ever put in all of this stuff. For years, it wasn’t for me. I didn’t need a path, journey or any of those what I once thought were ‘life coach moments’, I was living, enjoying, being – that was enough. I can’t tell you if there was a specific ‘aha’ moment or that I read this thing on @Pinterest or saw it on @Oprah® that seemed to click, but somehow, this mindset has entered my existence and it seems it’s here to stay.

“No matter how hard the past…you can always begin again” – Buddha Read the rest of this entry

Growth, travel and pizza


I have a friend who is known in her circle of friends as the ‘Pizza Expert’. She leads tours of ‘the best pizza’ in Brooklyn, runs races where the prize is a slice, sports a pizza costume on Halloween and has now developed a ‘pizza crawl’ around New York City. I have a feeling she’d ditch me as a friend if I admitted to not absolutely loving traditional pizza – well, now it’s out there. I know, I know – how can I be from New York and not love pizza? For that, I don’t have an answer, but I can tell you I married a guy who feels the same. And yet, over our own homemade ‘pizza’ dinner the other night, somehow we wound up comparing pizza to travel. Some things rarely make sense.

Cheesy Flatbread from Food Network's® The Neeleys - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com Read the rest of this entry

Warm in Autumn?

Stacey & Erin - August 2009 - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

Camp friends for over 30 years

Got a favourite season? My friend Erin’s is autumn. She loves all things ‘fall’. When I spoke to her this week, she was in the midst of making a batch of raspberry jam. She smiles when talking about colourful leaves, crisp air, time in the garden, jam-making, s’mores by the fire, sweaters and a joy in the change of seasons. I’m glad she has a favourite season, but we already know, autumn has never been a favourite of mine…but this year could see something change and it has nothing to do with the colour of the leaves. Read the rest of this entry

Confessions of a World Traveler


Everyone travels in his/her own way. Some grab a few days at a local spot while others book a year in advance knowing they have to travel on ‘school holidays’. Some are intricately linked to the idea of last minute adventures and yet, there are still others who ditch the norm and try to make travel a life’s focus. No matter the type, each and everyone finds the meaning of travel and its gifts have an effect. Endless long-term travel may not be in store for every traveler, but most who have ever left the confines of their own four walls can agree that boundaries have the tendency to change, perspective sometimes arises and new people are often met. In this guest post, Akaisha Kaderli shares just some of the gifts she’s found in ‘Confessions of a World Traveler’. Read the rest of this entry

Lucky Enough


Lucky Enough

By: Stacey Ebert

There’s a saying we’ve often seen written on pieces of driftwood and sold in the touristy shops just off the beach. It reads ‘if you’re lucky enough to live at the beach, you’re lucky enough’ and with our recent overseas summer travel having gifted me perspective, I once again know that I wholeheartedly agree with that saying. It tugs at my heart and reminds my toes once again how joyful it is to each day run through the sand.

From my spot on the sand at Azores Beach, just outside my building in Long Beach, New York, I sit watching the waves crash at the shore while our friendly lifeguards sit atop the stand guarding the ocean-going participants. On this last ‘official’ summer weekend people once again hit the beach for what some believe to be the last hurrah, but we, the lucky ones, know otherwise. The lifeguards will no longer arrive each morning, the trucks will cease to drive in the makeshift emergency lane and the lieutenants will close up headquarters on National Beach only to head off to other jobs or locations before they return next Memorial Day.

As this was my second summer not working (by choice) I was given the gift of time and much of it was spent on my old orange beach chair under my umbrella on Azores Beach. I walked the Long Beach boardwalk every morning waving at the same early morning crowd. There were those working out, reading, chatting with friends, checking out the surf breaks and others enjoying the smell of the sea who would be there each day as I walked those 2.2 miles each way and tapped the railings at each end to make it count. The lifeguards took their spots by nine each morning and spent the day in the Long Beach sun changing outfits with the change in the weather while always having a watchful eye on beach and ocean goers alike.

The smell of the sea and the feel of the sand has always been a part of my life but it is this weekend as others pack away their chairs and umbrellas that I am overcome with the feeling of just how lucky I am. Lucky that is that for those of us who live here there is always ‘beach season’. It may be sweatpants instead of sarongs and sweatshirts instead of bikinis but the sand and the sea never disappoint. A walk along the waters edge as the waves crash and the white foam slides over your toes sinking your feet ever so slightly deeper into the sand is a sure-fire way to forget your daily worries. With each crash of the wave the ocean provides answers to life’s deepest questions and gives solace to those searching for that elusive inner peace.

With homemade s’mores cupcakes in hand to deliver to our lifeguards as a thank you for the summer, Mathew and I sat on our beach awaiting that 6pm whistle. Along with our fellow beach goers from our condo at the shore, we clapped as the lifeguards journeyed from their chair and down the mound of sand knowing that when the lifeguard stands come down for their winter rest we will be ready in eight months time to see them rise again in all of their orange glory. When that last whistle blew signifying their departure and the ‘unofficial’ end to beach season, we once again wiggled our toes in the sand and remembered that our season doesn’t have to end and we truly are lucky enough.

-The End

Sleep-Away Camp’s Greatest Gift


It’s the makings of countless best selling fiction novels; four friends from childhood who maintain their relationships through adulthood.  Without sounding contrite, my story is real. No fictional characters, no made up locations-just four girls who met before their teens and journeyed through life with the help of summer camp memories and experiences.  Last night those same four friends gathered together to share an evening. Four thirty-eight year old women who have been friends for more than half of our lives went to one of our childhood homes and were reminded once again of the meaning of friendship.

It was at Dorothy P. Flint 4H Camp on the Long Island Sound in Riverhead, NY that we all first met. An only child from West Hempstead, a Massapequa girl whose sister had introduced her to camp, a Jewish girl from Plainview trying out sleep-away for the first time and the daughter of the camp manager (from Hicksville) who after being born at the hospital down the road in the summer of ’74 had spent her life’s summers at camp. It was there that we learned about ourselves. It was there that we experienced so many ‘firsts’. And it was there, at camp, in countless cabins every summer that our friendship began and flourished.

For some Long Island children the last week of June meant the beginning of days at the local pool or playing games on their front lawn with the neighborhood kids. For us it was different. As school came to a close we looked forward to eight weeks together in wooden cabins with no electricity and no bathrooms in the bunks. We dreamt of bunk beds, giggle fests, council fires, friendship circles, co-eds, cabin nights, the 209 steps down to the rocky and sea-glass filled beach with the pungent smell of the sea and so many other exciting events. That last Sunday in June saw us all head in busses or cars past the end of the Long Island Expressway, through a round-a-bout and up to the entrance of camp off of Sound Avenue in Riverhead. Once inside the entrance gates, past the larger than life rocks with 4H Camp painted on them and up to the office we found counselors from around the world who greeted us with open arms and ever-present smiles. We weren’t just at camp-we were home.

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A different type of journey…The Gift of Yoga



Written 28 June 2012

“Take one last breath, seal in your intention for your class today” said the instructor. I think my intention would be something about trying not to fall and eat sand. “Now squat down with your feet wide, place your hands in front of you on the ground, lift your bum up and place your knees on your upper arms. Be sure to look forward while starting to lift your feet one at a time” said Kristen as I stared at her quizzically. Are you kidding? This is definitely not normal was all I was thinking as I fell face first into the sand on my first attempt at crow pose.

Since I was fifteen years old I have worked every summer. I’ve been a sleep away camp counselor, a lifeguard and spent many wonderful years as an aquatics director & private swim instructor. Until last summer that is, when my best friend convinced me to take the summer off from work and go back to school in September a more rejuvenated teacher. I loved my summer job and had great difficulty giving it up; but, I decided it was time for a change. With a heavy heart, I passed the torch to my assistant director and asked her to take care of my campers.

For the first time since moving to Long Beach (& for the first time ever) I was actually going to enjoy all of the benefits of living here-the ocean air, the sand between my toes, the people watching on the boardwalk & time; that elusive entity that we all hope to grasp but never seem to be able to find. Those first few days were strange-not having to make my lunch, head to work and be exhausted upon my return home while hoping to stay awake long enough to shower & eat never mind having an actual conversation with my husband. Then I found my feet and went for that first summer walk on the boardwalk and felt that rush of relaxation with each step as the rays of sunshine hit my face. I was past National when I saw what would change my summer-a yoga class on the shoreline practicing to the music of the waves.

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Kruger National Park, South Africa


Day 68: Polokwane, South Africa-Kruger National Park, South Africa (14 November 2009)

Well, the storm had come and gone and the tents were still standing, so that was a good thing! We woke up at 6:30 this morning to the scene of a very heavy storm with the outsides of the tents drenched but we were dry as a bone on the inside! We got ourselves up and had a lovely brekky of Jungle Oats So Easy, South Africa’s version of instant oatmeal. We had banana and toffee and chocolate and added peanut butter and oh my goodness they were delicious! Like a warm reeces peanut butter cup and a warm banana dessert!

After a cup of tea and the wash up of the dishes, we were on our way to Kruger National Park! We attempted to go to a small game reserve first but unfortunately it was raining a bit and the reserve was closed since they were afraid of the cars sliding into the animals. Lucky for us, this is the only time so far in this whole journey that weather has been a factor at all in our holiday plans. So, in lieu of the reserve, we hit a shopping mall to get some food for Kruger and we had a bit of a wander around and picked up a few of our South African favorites for the road (two boxes of rusks and some Braai salt) and then we headed to Kruger! How cool is that! We were actually going to Kruger National Park in South Africa-I’ve wanted to go here for as long as I’ve known it existed!

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South Africa here we come!


Day 67: Nata, Botswana-Polokwane, South Africa (13 November 2009)

Well, aside from watching the elephant drink from the pool last night after another beautiful sunset, we didn’t get eaten by lions, we survived the giant dung beetles and made it to morning when our alarm went off at four! We got up and put the tents away in the dark; then hopped on the truck and fell straight back to sleep for quite awhile. We drove for what seemed like forever with a few toilet stops along the way; breakfast was at a toilet stop (some muesli and yogurt on the truck) and lunch was at a non-descript place just before the South African border post.

We crossed over the Limpopo River and through the border of South Africa just after midday, got another stamp in our passports and then made our way another three hours or so to the town of Polokwane which is the capital of the Limpopo Province in the Republic of South Africa. We made our way to Boma the Bush campsite in Polokwane. It’s a nice place (there are guest chalets that we didn’t have) with a pool table and a pool, some guest cottages and a campsite. Hey, at least we were off of the truck at this point which was great and although we were out of biscuits (cookies for s’mores) we would still be able to toast some marshmallows over the fire tonight after dinner which is apparently wildabeast sausages (but not for me, of course).

Polokwane was basically a stop along the route to Kruger National Park. Not much to see and do altogether here but a place to lay our weary heads. We hung at the pool for a bit and then showered (in a really nice shower with great water pressure and NO bugs) and relaxed by the fire for a bit until dinner was ready-dinner that we helped to prepare! Mathew made the mash, I made the salad and Colm made the toasties…dinner was on the braai of course…toasties, Greek salad, potato mash and wildabeast sausages for the carnivores among us. Then it was time to chat and bedtime was upon us as the lightning was here and the storm was on it’s way!

Tomorrow: Kruger National Park!

sleeping with the elephants


Day 66: Kasane, Botswana-Nata, Botswana (12 November 2009)

We awoke this morning to the sounds of nature and that included the monkeys and baboons that were running around our campsite trying to get their hands on any food possible. We had some breakfast (muesli, yogurt, tea and those yummy rusks again) and broke down camp and then had a shower at the nearby ablution box. The truck is really cool. There are so many compartments on the outside it isn’t funny. One big one on the back right side for all of our luggage and then the big one on the back left side is for a refrigerator/freezer and compartments for a food and storage pantry. Then the smaller ones on the left and right sides are for tables, chairs, tents and all of the crockery and cookware. It’s really neat how much it can carry.

Anyway, after all of that we hopped in the truck and drove our way to the Elephant Sands campsite in Nata (where our other tour had those flat tyres). This is a well-known campsite that is on a reserve without any fences and has elephants and other animals that drink from their pool and walk right through the campsites. Really cool in theory but waking up to find lions or elephants outside and being stuck in that tent would just not be the best I would think, right? We set up camp near two ablution blocks; one fully outdoors (showers, toilet, sinks and all) and the other just toilets but fully covered. We managed to set up camp just before the rain came and then we went to the bar and restaurant for some lunch and to wait out the rain. We got some toasted sandwiches and chips and hung out watching as the kudu and the elephants made their way just a few meters from us for a bit as the loudest cracks of thunder we’d ever heard launched overhead!

We waited for the thunder to stop surging through our bodies and for the rain to dissipate before we raced back to camp to throw on some warmer clothing for the next bit of the journey. We changed and hopped in a land rover that took us on a fifteen minute drive on roads and then into a proper game reserve and drove for kilometers and kilometers and kilometers onto land that there was completely no road including gliding over the trees and branches and other natural matter. We even got out of the jeep to go looking for a giraffe and when we saw it we went closer and found over ten giraffe scurrying away; it was amazing! And it was funny as all of the other drives we’ve been on there were strict rules not to get out of the vehicle and here we were being told to hop out, crouch down, walk slowly and search the land for the game…awesome! We got back in the jeep and drove for over three hours to a few waterholes and saw many elephants, a few antelope and before we were done there was a herd of buffalo blocking our path and waiting to greet us (or eat us)!

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