My goal for 2024 was to cut back on traveling and work on my health / fitness and my business - specifically my image catalog to get it organized and smaller (by deleting a bunch of images).   I wanted to write more stories and be more consistent with newsletters and finally release my African Safari Planner.

Unfortunately, I've had a slight detour.   Diagnosed with breast cancer, a large part of the first quarter was spent doing research.  I have not made much progress on my images or newsletter or the planner.

I have a great cancer team supporting me and we are working hard to get me on my safaris that I have planned while not compromising care or increasing the risk of cancer returning.   At this time, I'm still not sure if I'll make my first wildlife trips of the year.

Surgery is mid-April.   My ability to travel will be based on how well I recover from surgery and the pathology reports.

I have plans to travel to S. Africa with a return to Sabi Sabi and Mala Mala.   This will be my second visit to both these amazing locations.    Then, I'm off to Zambia and the lower Zambezi.    I'm excited to see this part of the world - a first for me.    I did visit Zambia last year for the first time and it was my 10th African country.

During this time, I've also been focused on the issue of the super tuskers from Amboseli, Kenya being hunted in Tanzania.    I have a thorough blog post with all the current information about the hunt as well as a link to the petition to voice your support in stopping this hunt.   I am currently researching what happened 30 years ago that originally created the cease-fire of the elephants and to try and figure out why history is repeating.    You can read all that information here.

If I am able to travel this quarter, I will create an instagram broadcast channel to go into more details about my trip.   This will include more behind the scenes than my social media pages.

The map of the world showing my cat eye logo in the Caribbean with the words January - February - March 2024

I've decided to cut back my travel in 2024.   It was a difficult decision as I absolutely love being in the field, witnessing and learning about animals.

I have accumulated over 240,000 images in my photo catalog.   The majority of those need to be culled (deleted) and then the remainders keyworded and edited.   (For those that understand photography, I shoot RAW which makes the images look very flat unless they are edited.   This preserves the dynamic range (darks and lights) better than if you don't shoot RAW but does take some extra work before posting.)

I also have literally hundreds of stories that I want to tell about the animals.    My brain is full and until I get those out of my brain and onto paper, I have no more room left.

And lastly, I've been working on my African Safari Planner for years and have not made much progress due to the extensive traveling.

So, first quarter, I am staying at my home office and writing and editing.   I'll be sending out more consistent newsletters, so be sure to sign up.  I will also be posting to my Facebook and Instagram accounts and YouTube regularly.     (Did you know, you can also see the latest Instagram and YouTube posts below.)

I am taking my annual cruise with my mom and my sister.   We will be traveling to the warm waters of the Caribbean and I can't wait.   I really dislike the winters in Chicago - and swore a few years ago I'd never spend another winter here...alas, here I am spending another winter in Chicago.    At least the cold weather will keep me indoors, on my computer and working.

...

I will be finishing up my trip to South Luangwa National Park the beginning of October.

I have one more month in Kenya for the year and then I'll be done traveling for a long time (for me).    In Kenya, I'll be staying at 3 locations in the Great Masai Mara area (the Masai Mara and conservancies).    

* Enonkishu Conservancy - this is a new conservancy and a new lodge for me

* Masai Mara National Reserve - a new lodge

* then off to Olare Motorogi Conservancy to a lodge I've been to before.

After the mara, I'll be moving to Laikipia Wilderness Camp in search of the black leopard.   When my outfitter suggested it, I said no because I know the black leopards have become super popular and I didn't want to add stress to the animals -- but then I found out the leopard is on a private conservancy and the number of vehicles is limited...and they had availability for my dates...so black leopard (hopefully) here I come!   Although I've been to many reserves in Laikipia, this will be a new area and new lodge for me.

I'm super excited to be returning to Kenya.   This will be my third trip this year and the anticipation never gets any less.   Even though I've gone on wildlife safaris in 10 countries in Africa, Kenya is still my favorite.   I'm going to work on posting while away - so be sure to follow me on social media so you don't miss anything!   Facebook  and / or InstagramPlease note, while traveling, I do post the same content to both platforms.

Botswana was great.   Back to the Chobe River which has never disappointed and then two locations in the Okavango Delta.   The Delta's water level has been extremely low for the last few years which is troublesome.

The third quarter of 2023 has me finishing my trip to Botswana, then heading off to Kenya for a few weeks in the Mara Triangle in the Wild-Eye camp.

I'll be home for a little bit and then off for a family trip to S. Africa with my mom and sister.   We will be taking the Rovos Rail from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.   A few days there, then up to Botswana and back to the Chobe River.   From there, we will go to Madikwe.   It will be my first time to Madikwe.  

Then, I'm heading to Zambia and S. Luangua.   I was supposed to go there in 2020 but that trip was cancelled.   I'm so excited to add Zambia as my 10th safari rich country in Africa.

the world map with Mexico and Botswana highlighted

I'm super excited for this next quarter.   It starts with a short trip to Mexico to go snorkeling with some of the great underwater creatures.   We are hoping for Orcas, humpback, and whale sharks.   Only time will tell what nature will allow us to swim with.   

May is a cruise with my family - so no wildlife, but still time away from home and time to enjoy my family and explore other areas of the world.

Then June I return to Botswana.   I'll go back to Chobe for a few days and then to the Okavango Delta.   It's been about 30 years since I've been to the Delta and I'm super excited to return.


A map of the world showing pins at Kenya and Tanzania

I'm starting 2023 a bit slow after the last quarter of non-stop travel.   This quarter, I'm headed to East Africa.   

It's been over 30 years since I've been to Tanzania and this will be the first time I'm there for the calving season.   I'll be visiting Ngorogoro Crater and the Serengeti.   It will be my first time traveling with Tanda Afrika and I'm very much looking forward to the trip.

After the Serengeti portion, I'm returning to Kenya.   First some private travel with my sister (organized by Wilderness Uncut) to Ol Donyo, one of the Great Plains Resorts near Amboseli and then to Amboseli for a few days.   I'm praying to see animals in much better condition then in November and hoping for lots of grass and greenery.   (see my article about the drought here)

After that short trip, I'll be joining Andy Biggs for an intensive Sheldrick Wildlife Trust trip.   If you don't know - Sheldrick's is a non-profit that helps orphaned animals (mostly elephants) return back to the wild.   They do this starting at their Nairobi nursery and then as they get older, they go to one of the three reintegration units where it can take up to 10-15 years for them to be adopted into a wild family.   During this trip, we'll be visiting 2 of the reintegration units.    I love the elephants and the work that Sheldrick's does is inspirational.  

During the rest of the quarter, I'll be working on my "regular" book keeping job and editing / culling / posting and writing...so stayed tuned.  


world map showing Zimbabwe - Botswana - Kenya - and Gabon

The final quarter in 2022 has me traveling long trips with very little time at home and very little internet when gone.

I am flying straight from Brazil to Zimbabwe.   I am visiting Mana Pools National Park, Hwange National Park, and Chobe National Park (in Botswana).   I am really hoping for lions on foot this time in Mana...stay tuned.

map of Zimbabwe with Mana Pools and Hwange circled
map of Botswana with Chobe National Park circled
map of Kenya with Amboseli - Ol Pejeta - and Masai Mara circled

I go home for 7 days and then I am off to Kenya!  My favorite place in the world except for home.   While in Kenya, I'll be visiting Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Amboseli, and the Mara including a few of the conservancies.  I am excited to get back to Kenya after a year.

Then after being home for only a week, I visit a new country - Gabon.   This trip has me a bit anxious as Gabon is more wild then the other places I've visited.   Definitely pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone on this one - but I am super excited to see what this country has to offer.

I can't wait to share my travels with you!   Be sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook and Youtube for images, stories, and videos -- and don't forget my blog!   I may even post a few short blogs from the field.   

Note:  I usually do NOT share the same content to Instagram and Facebook, but while traveling with slow internet and limited time, I am sharing the same content.   Once I'm home, it will be back to original content on both platforms.

map of the world with pins in Alaska, Brazil, and Southern Africa. The words Alaska Cruise, Pantanal Brazil, Zimbabwe Namibia and July-August-September 2022

And now the travel begins - heavy!    

First - an Alaskan cruise.   I usually go on a cruise 1x per year with my mom and sister - but due to covid, we missed a few years and so this year we got to do 2!   This is the second cruise for the year and I'm super excited.   I have some wildlife excursions chosen.   I usually do not bring my cameras when I travel with my mom - but this year, I am!   Whales and bears - here I come.  The internet is usually pretty crappy on the ship, so not sure if I'll be posting any images while gone...but you never know when one will pop onto my social media.

a map of Zimbabwe with Namibia, Victoria Falls, hwange National Park, and Mana Pools National Park circled in red
a map of the southern part of Africa with the name Zimbabwe and Namibia circled

My original trip for August was postponed due to Covid - so I joined a trip to my biggest bucket list destination- Mana Pools, Zimbabwe!   I've been wanting to go to Mana Pools for YEARS and my dream is finally coming true.  The very special part of this location is that we get to be on foot!  Yes, in Africa on foot with the elephants and wild dogs and antelope species and maybe...who knows a leopard or some lions.   I'm so very excited -- and no worries, we will be with a trained guide the entire time to make sure we don't become lunch.

In Zimbabwe, I'll also be visiting Hwange National Park.  This park is known for elephants and also has many other species.  It consists of grasslands and mopane woods and hopefully we'll see nice packs of wild dogs while here.   

Then, we end up in Victoria Falls for a day and then crossing the border of Botswana and into the top of Namibia and on the Chobe River.   I'll be on a house boat for a few days to hopefully get some up close images of elephants in the river and then a few days stay in a lodge next to the river.   I can imagine the eles, hippos, and crocodiles already...I can't wait to sleep to the calling of the wildlife.  This is the only part of Namibia I will be visiting - I do hope to get back there one day to explore the rest of the country.

In September, I'm off to the Pantanal in Brazil.    The object of this trip is more cats - the Jaguar.   There will be many other species to see - but that is the focus.   This will be my first trip to Brazil but it will be very isolated to the Pantanal region.    I am so looking forward to all parts of this trip (especially the Jaguars) - the birds and whatever else Mother Nature chooses to let us see.

I can't wait to share my travels with you!   Be sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook and Youtube for images, stories, and videos -- and don't forget my blog!   I may even post a few short blogs from the field.   

map showing Ecuador Galapagos home and San Diego

The original plan for the second quarter was to stay at home to be with my girl Holly with the exception of one trip to the Galapagos and the ECUADORIAN AMAZON.   This trip was originally supposed to take place in 2020 but due to covid was moved to this year.

Unfortunately, I made the very difficult decision and helped Holly cross on April 27.   See her tribute here.   Because of this, I really just want to run away to the ocean and let the sounds of the waves sooth my soul...but I still have 3 canine house guests to care for (not my dogs).  

I've never been to the Gal├ípagos Islands and I'm really excited to explore.   I am going on a photo tour and we will be doing this trip from a catamaran and visiting multiple islands with naturalists with opportunities to snorkel and swim with the wildlife.   Afterwards, I'll have a few days in Quito to catch up on sleep and work on images and then off to the Ecuadorian Amazon for another few days of explorations.     This part of the trip has an opportunity to do a tree top walk - as you may know, I am terrified of heights but I am determined to bring out the adventurer in me and experience everything I can.

I won't be posting anything while in the Gal├ípagos Islands...but I should have time in Quito to post - so be sure to follow my social media for updates.   Here for FaceBook and Here for Instagram.

I purchased a new macro lens for the trip, so it may be interesting to see what kind of critters I can capture with the macro.  Maybe it will even help me get over my terrifying fear of spiders.

If you've been to the Galapagos or Ecuadorian Amazon before and have any tips for me, please be sure to let me know!     

When I return from Galapagos, I am meeting a few friends in San Diego to play with our cameras and hopefully find the seals with new pups.   I've never been to San Diego - so I'm excited to actually see what I've heard is such a great destination.  (Update:  this trip was postponed and so my plan is to stay home and work on articles, images, and videos).   The first article is published - Journal Day 1 for Galapagos Islands.   

The rest of this quarter, I will be at home. 

The World Map with a red pin in Illinois - USA and the Caribbean

A slow start to 2022 for good reason.   

In 2020, I had 3 beautiful dogs.   Shadow- a Newfoundland, Holly - a Mix girl (Newfoundland, Springer Spaniel, St. Bernard - with probably some Pyrenees mixed in), and my baby, Rocky - a Golden Retriever. 

My Newfoundland passed about 2 weeks after his 13th birthday in August of 2020.    See his tribute by clicking here.  

Four months later, in December of 2020, Holly was diagnosed with bone cancer and they gave her 2-3 months to live.    The ex still lived in our old house and the dogs were super comfortable there and he watched them while I traveled.   As time progressed, she was doing great and beating the diagnosis.

In May of 2021, Rocky very unexpectedly passed while I was in S. Africa.   He was my baby and still young and it was a massive blow to lose him so unexpectedly and suddenly.  You can read his tribute here.

Holly continued to beat the odds and since the ex was moving out of state and I had no one I could trust to care for Holly, I did not book any travel.    The only travel for the first half of 2022 is travel that was booked 1 - 2 years ago that was bumped due to Covid.   Holly's health is declining and her physical therapy / pain management vet, Dr. Christine at Tops Vet Specialty, and I do not believe she will make it through spring.   Every day has been a blessing and when it's time, I'll help her cross so that she doesn't suffer.

In March,  we took our annual cruise that was supposed to happen in 2019.   It was a cruise with my mom and my sister to the Caribbean.   We had a blast and met some amazing people.  We had so much fun, we are all planning on meeting again in 2024 on another cruise.

Besides the cruise, I've been staying home and hanging out with Holly and the ex's 3 dogs.   Holly was never alone before and as her health declined, we decided it was best for her to have some canine companions.   Once Holly passes, his dogs will go live with him permanently and I will be pet free for the first time in 45 years.

I've also been working on my physical health.   In October 2019, I had 3 brain hemorrhages.  (To make my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th traumatic brain injuries).   The neurologists have no idea what caused them.   I was in neurological ICU and in 4 different hospitals.   For weeks all I could do was sleep.   I couldn't read, look at my computer, or watch tv.   Gradually my strength increased and in January 2020, I went on 2 trips -- they were very difficult with my strength and stamina so compromised.    Through all that time, I gained a bunch of weight and then with the loss of the 2 dogs, I turned to sugar and gained more weight.    I tried hard to lose it and the doctors told me that it could take up to 2 years for my brain to completely heal and that could effect my ability to lose weight.  That and hormonal changes have taken their toll.   Then with Covid, I took the "vacation mentality route" for a while and binge watched a lot of Netflix.   So, now, I've been working out hard trying to get my strength and endurance up so that I can easily carry my camera equipment through the airports and hike with gear.   I'm also trying to build my swimming endurance for a trip later this year.

I've been working on my mental health as well.   Taking classes with Tony Robbins, Kary Oberbrunner and Igniting Souls, and Rebecca Davison - an energy / light worker.   I have hired a personal coach - Gerry van der Walt, and a photography coach - Andrew Danckwerts, and things for me are moving forward with lots of clarity.

I am enjoying spending my days at home (although I must admit I hate winters in Illinois and plan on never spending an entire winter here again) and working on myself and hanging with the canine companions.   I miss traveling and look forward to starting again later this year.  I have some awesome trips planned for the second half of the year.  Be sure to subscribe to the newsletter below so you don't miss any updates.

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