Monthly Archives: June 2010

Photo of the Day: Cook Islands

Taken April 19, 2007

For Zee (and SFC!), who just recently commented that I oughta post something about sailing the Pacific or Caribbean Islands.  I wasn’t sailing when I took this picture but as close as I could accommodate! (And fyi I still think your plans for sailing sound awesome and I’d love to join if there’s room *wink*)

I was lucky enough to visit the Cook Islands during my semester abroad in New Zealand as part of my program, which I wrote a bit about here.  I’ve never been to Hawaii but it’s roughly the same latitude south from the equator as Hawaii is North, and is what I hear Hawaii was like 50 years ago… Fascinating culture, and this mural was near their branch of the University of the South Pacific where we went to listen to a few lectures to make our trip seem legit- such a beautiful piece of artwork for such a remote place.

“You Went Alone?” “Yes.” “REALLY?!” “Yes!”

Part 1 of a series of uncommon answers to common backpacker/ round the world questions

Solo traveler in Mostar, Bosnia- get used to asking someone to take the picture for you!

If I’m going to start going through all the questions people ask me about my travels, this is far and away the most common thing people are amazed by.  Lots of people travel solo long term and lots of travelers are women, but putting the two together?  It’s just not done by many, which is interesting because more women travel than men in the first place (just usually with a girlfriend, spouse, etc) and plenty travel alone for shorter stints.

Now to be fair I did meet a fair share of friends and family along the way, and wasn’t doing the rest of my time solo because of a huge urge to be antisocial or anything.  I did in fact invite more than a few people to come a-traveling but no one took me up on the offer for a myriad of reasons.  But what was I supposed to do, not go because no one else could come?  That would have made an awesome story for the grandkids someday!

The reason so few women travel solo is because it’s not considered safe- sounds obvious, but when I did a survey of my male counterparts they all pretty much agreed their questions focus more on the “don’t you get lonely?” angle than the safety one.  Which is a rather odd perception when you start to think about it- if you think it’s perfectly fine for me to live and wander alone in Cleveland like I do now then what’s the issue with the rest of the world?  An American city is far more dangerous than most places a traveler will ever go in the rest of the world, and I’m not in the habit of wandering down dark strange alleys at 2am.  Theft, by far the most common crime travelers experience, usually stems from a moment of opportunity that has next to nothing to do with gender- in fact the one time someone stole some money from me I was in a group of women, and someone from the group stole it!

Harassment is another thing people often worry about, particularly in some countries, though honestly most was from touts who just harass everybody anyway.  Unsavory comments can always be minimized by learning how the local girls dress and following through, but honestly the few I got anyway were so uneventful I’m having trouble remembering them.  In short, nothing I didn’t get used to being the only girl in my physics classes!  I never even had to make up a story about a fake boyfriend and I think the “fake wedding band” advice is a legend akin to that of Americans sewing Canadian flags on their backpacks as I never met anyone who did this (ie pretty darn rare).

Friends made in Queenstown, New Zealand on my first solo trip!

So if you’re a lady looking for an adventure and can round up your friends that’s cool, have a good time and send me a postcard!, but if not that shouldn’t mean the end of the journey.  The world isn’t half as scary as we make it out to be and you’ll meet a lot of awesome people you never would have otherwise, and your future grandkids will be glad they’re not subject to yarns that start out “and then a new Netflix DVD came in the mail…”

Photo of the Day: Leopard in Mala Mala, South Africa

Taken June 15, 2009

Because today is the long-anticipated start date of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and the mascot is a leopard, here is a real live one chowing down on the last remnants of a baboon at Mala Mala Game Reserve in South Africa.  Not to be confused with the other time we saw a leopard chowing down at night!

For anyone interested I plan to cheer for Team USA this year- I am usually unpatriotic and cheer for anyone-but-the-US in international sporting on the grounds that we throw so much money at sports it’s a much greater achievement if someone from a small country wins, but this is arguably the one competition where we are the underdog!  Either way best of luck to South Africa in hosting, though I’ve no doubts that one of my favorite countries on the planet is capable of pulling off a spectacular job.

Photo of the Day: San Marino

My favorite microstate, San Marino is 24 square miles (61 square km) but still has a standing army. Being perched atop a looming mountain probably helps sovereignty as well.

Photo of the Day: Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah

Taken June 7, 2008

Seven miles behind my brother and me (but well in front of those mountains) is the track where most of the world’s land-based speed records are set, as the water’s evaporation leaves a perfectly smooth surface.

What to Do, What to Do…

Welcome sign my brother and sister made for me when I returned to US soil

Ten months ago I finished my round the world trip, and nine months ago I started graduate school in physics.  To the surprise of no one it turns out graduate school in physics is hard, in particular when it comes to having to pass your qualifier, so a lot of my creative impulses were kept at bay for awhile.  But then two weeks ago I passed my qualifier (YAY!), meaning I am now actually eligible for an advanced degree and feel like I have copious amounts of free time.  Which translates into not so much free time so much as not feeling guilty I’m not brushing up on equations of motion during the free time, but it’s an important distinction.

CWRU Physics: Crushing Souls since 1881

During this year three important things happened- I spent a lot of time thinking about what to do with this blog, I got a Macbook Pro with lots of built-in media editing capabilities, and I noticed that even when I’m supposed to be super-busy I’m still traveling!  Not as extensively of course, but I’ve quietly set my toe in 13 states and four countries while no one was looking (and Washington DC, I never know where to list that guy) and will likely set foot in my sixth continent before the year is out (hint).  So lots of content, which is encouraging because the “background noise” this blog gets is incredibly high considering how little I’ve been doing lately, and let’s not forget the literally thousands of pictures from all around the world that no one except me has ever seen.

So this is what I propose- during the next x days the blog will be restructured more to the liking of a general travel/geek blog instead of one focused on a specific trip.  As usual on blogs, I will write things relating to what I find interesting, and you will like it or surf elsewhere.  But to keep you guys interested I will be introducing a Photo of the Day feature so there will be something new every day, which I am proposing to do because I can set it up so it’s not that huge a hassle and I finally worked out how to make WordPress behave when it comes to my photos (not sure why a lot weren’t showing up for awhile but I think I’ve brought them all back! and they’re bigger now and you can click on them for the full photo!).  And we’ll see where we go from there.

As always, feedback is encouraged and appreciated.  Particularly if you have a suggestion on what sort of photos you want to see- my archives go back to include 30 countries on five continents and for now at least I’m having fun making them pretty and such for public consumption.  Cheers!