Category Archives: Travel

‘Babymoon’ on a Secluded Pink Sand Beach…

‘Babymoon’ on a Secluded Pink Sand Beach…

'Babymoon' on a Secluded Pink Sand Beach...

Liz Longacre photo

A cozy cottage,
on a secluded pink sand beach,

on a long & narrow quiet island,
with the love of my life,
and our growing baby girl…


An island far away from the world,
and all its distractions,
where people sightings seemed far & few between,
the fish were friendly & playful,

the crabs & their antics were our local comedy,
and all the dogs appeared healthy & happy…


A kitchen to cook our meals,
dinners lit by stars,
decadent conversations about life,
and the family we’re creating,
based on our unique ideals…


Two people, 

who couldn’t be more different, 
but whose values & dreams unite us,
seamlessly,
each other’s own kinda ‘crazy’…

Days spent on the beach,
in the ocean,
hand in hand,

just enjoying being in love…

Gentle Living Bahamas photo

Eleuthera Bahamas photo

Eleuthera Bahamas photo

Eleuthera Bahamas photo

Eleuthera Bahamas photo

Eleuthera Bahamas photo

Eleuthera Bahamas photo

Eleuthera Bahamas photo

Eleuthera Bahamas photo

Eleuthera Bahamas photo

Eleuthera Bahamas photo

Eleuthera Bahamas photo

Eleuthera, Bahamas photo

Eleuthera, Bahamas

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Catskill Animal Sanctuary: Sample Itineraries

Catskill Animal Sanctuary: Sample Itineraries

Catskills Farm Animal Sanctuary

Catksill Animal Sanctuary (CAS) quickly became one of my favorite places. The people who run it are nothing but gracious and the animals are just beautiful. It’s such a wonderful place to take your family. My niece celebrated her birthday there last summer with all of her friends and we all had the most amazing time. If you want a wonderful place to teach your children about animals while they get hands on interaction with them, this is it.

CAS is located two hours north of New York City in New York’s Hudson Valley. It provides a safe haven for abused, abandoned and neglected horses and farm animals. CAS has provided refuge for thousands of animals and also serves as a center for raising awareness on their treatment and how it impacts humans, animals and our planet. They also provide innovative on-site programs for schools and youth organizations.

Below are 3 sample itineraries for a mini-vacation to CAS!!

Please note: These itineraries are just for inspiration, I have not tested out all of the activities, hotels, restaurants, etc. Enjoy! 

Catskills Farm Animal Sanctuary

ITINERARY #1:

Itinerary Summary

Day 1: Arrive at Saugerties, NY
Day 2: Farm Sanctuary / Guided Tour and Volunteer
Day 3: Farm Sanctuary / Compassionate Cuisine
Day 4: Saugerties Marina
Day 5: Golfing, Shopping and Enjoying the Town!
Day 6: Leave Saugerties

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive at Saugerties, NY

When you arrive in Saugerties, New York, head over to Smythe House, a quaint bed and breakfast (which caters to vegetarians and vegans). The Smythe House is a micro hotel with a Jacuzzi and a beautiful view of the mountains. Try tonight’s suggested restaurant, New World Home Cooking. A local restaurant with a special vegan menu!

Day 2: Farm Sanctuary / Guided Tour and Volunteer

Today head over to CAS for a guided tour! CAS animals are free roaming, so you’ll bump into hens, cows, sheep and horses from the moment you step out of your car and onto the grounds. On your tour, you’ll learn the importance of the sanctuary, its history and mission and some of the lessons they’ve learned from their extraordinary animal friends.

Following the tour, roll up your sleeves and help out on the farm! Volunteering at CAS can include feeding the animals, painting the farmhouse and/or performing administrative work in the sanctuary office. After working up an appetite playing with the animals and helping out around the farm, head over to Garden Cafe on the Green, Ulster County’s only vegan restaurant which also focuses on organic, local produce!

Catskill Animal Sanctuary

Day 3: Farm Sanctuary / Compassionate Cuisine

Your second day at CAS can be spent either hanging out at the farm bonding with the amazing animals or learning about plant-based food options through their Compassionate Cuisine program. Compassionate Cuisine is a program at CAS that offers classes on plant-based cooking and organic gardening – see the CAS website for the current schedule.  If after all of your playing with animals or cooking lessons, you’re still looking for a bite to eat, head over to Savona’s Plaza Pizza where you can order veggie toppings on your cheese-less pizza!

Day 4: Saugerties Marina

After breakfast at the Smythe House, you can spend your day cruising around on a boat. Saugerties Marina has a ship store, boat rentals and a Hudson River tour. The Pontoon Boat is a great way to take a leisurely tour of the peaceful Esopus Creek. Pack a lunch, bring your suntan lotion and hang out on the boat all day long reflecting on the lessons you learned from the animals at CAS! When you’re ready to grab a bite to eat, Aria Grill in Kingston serves Afghani and Persian cuisine and is the perfect end to a day spent on the creek. Any vegetarian dish can be ordered vegan.

Day 5: Golfing, Shopping and touring the town!

Enjoy some morning golf followed by a day of shopping in town. After breakfast, make your way to The Lazy Swan Golf & Country Club Village on Old Kings Highway in Saugerties. This public golf course has incredible views of the Catskill Mountains. Then spend your afternoon antique shop hopping in Woodstock. On Saturdays you can check out the Mower’s Flea Market on Maple Lane. For dinner, head to Gabriel’s Cafe for some delicious Colombian-style cuisine. Vegetarian and vegan options are available.

Day 6: Leave Saugerties 

Stop at CAS to say goodbye to your new farm friends and make sure to come back soon! You will leave this mini-vacation super relaxed with your heart full of compassion.

 Catskills Farm Animal Sanctuary

ITINERARY #2:

Itinerary Summary

Day 1: Arrive at New Paltz, NY
Day 2: Farm Sanctuary / Guided Tour and Volunteer
Day 3: Farm Sanctuary / Compassionate Cuisine
Day 4: Historic Huguenot
Day 5: Wine and Pottery Trails
Day 6: Leave New Paltz

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive at New Paltz, NY

Head up to the Catskills and make your way over to your bed and Breakfast, Hungry Ghost Guest House located in New Paltz. Hungry Ghost Guest House is a strictly vegan bed and breakfast, and raw and gluten-free diets can be accommodated.

Day 2: Farm Sanctuary / Guided Tour and Volunteer

Today head over to CAS for a guided tour! CAS animals are free roaming, so you’ll bump into hens, cows, sheep and horses from the moment you step out of your car and onto the grounds. On your tour, you’ll learn the importance of the sanctuary, its history and mission and some of the lessons they’ve learned from their extraordinary animal friends.

Following the tour, roll up your sleeves and help out on the farm! Volunteering at CAS can include feeding the animals, painting the farmhouse and/or performing administrative work in the sanctuary office.

For dinner, try some amazing Indian food at Agra Tandoor in Rhinebeck.  There are lots of veggies options and vegans can be easily accommodated; just be sure to tell your server.

Catskill Animal Sanctuary

Day 3: Farm Sanctuary / Compassionate Cuisine

Your second day at CAS can be spent either hanging out at the farm bonding with the amazing animals or learning about plant-based food options through their Compassionate Cuisine program. Compassionate Cuisine is a program at CAS that offers classes on plant-based cooking and organic gardening – see the CAS website for the current schedule.

If you’re still hungry after your class, grab a relaxed meal at New World Home Cooking. The produce is local and you can customize your own seasonings with your server.

Day 4: Huguenot Street

After breakfast at your B&B, head out to learn some history about New Paltz.  Close to your B&B, Huguenot Street is a National Historic Landmark District (not just one street!) and has events nearly every day of the year. Even if you don’t want to partake in the town’s events, you can still take a tour of the historic location, its burial grounds and the church founded in 1717.  While you’re exploring, stop at Karma Road, a vegetarian deli and bakery, for lunch. On Huguenot Street’s six-acre site, there are many exhibits such as Native American artifacts from a time before the Huguenot’s settled in the area. For dinner, head a little north to Kings Wok in Kingston. Kings Wok serves a variety of vegan Chinese plates.

Day 5: Wine and Pottery Trails

Not only is New Paltz rich in its history but it boasts some amazing wine and pottery as well. Take advantage of the wine trail and the pottery trail while in the area. The pottery trail is a driving tour of different art studios featuring some local artists’ pottery. You can spend your morning visiting artists and your afternoon wine tasting. New Paltz has some award winning vineyards, so the wine trails are a must for wine-lovers. Driving maps are available online for both the pottery and wine trails. For dinner, you’ll love Aria Grill if you like a little spice. Any vegetarian dish can be made vegan at this Afghani and Persian restaurant.

Day 6: Leave New Paltz

Make a stop at CAS to say goodbye to your new farm friends!

 Catskill Animal Sanctuary

ITINERARY #3:

Itinerary Summary

Day 1: Arrive at Rosendale, NY
Day 2: Farm Sanctuary / Guided Tour and Volunteer
Day 3: Farm Sanctuary / Compassionate Cuisine
Day 4: Whitewater Tubing
Day 5: Wallkill Valley Rail Trail
Day 6: Leave Rosendale

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive at Rosendale, NY

Small pets welcome! Hudson Valley Bed & Breakfast allows your best friend to come along with you on your trip to the Catskills as long as he or she is well behaved and on the smaller size. Just let them know when you make your reservation. Hudson Valley B&B also has vegetarian and vegan breakfast options.

Day 2: Farm Sanctuary / Guided Tour and Volunteer 

Today head over to CAS for a guided tour! CAS animals are free roaming, so you’ll bump into hens, cows, sheep and horses from the moment you step out of your car and onto the grounds. On your tour, you’ll learn the importance of the sanctuary, its history and mission and some of the lessons they’ve learned from their extraordinary animal friends.

Following the tour, roll up your sleeves and help out on the farm! Volunteering at CAS can include feeding the animals, painting the farmhouse and/or performing administrative work in the sanctuary office.

For dinner, you’ll love Aria Grill if you like a little spice. Any vegetarian dish can be made vegan at this Afghani and Persian restaurant.

Catskill Animal Sanctuary

Day 3: Farm Sanctuary / Compassionate Cuisine 

Your second day at CAS can be spent either hanging out at the farm bonding with the amazing animals or learning about plant-based food options through their Compassionate Cuisine program. Compassionate Cuisine is a program at CAS that offers classes on plant-based cooking and organic gardening – see the CAS website for the current schedule.

If you’re hungry later, get some seitan satay at Luna 61 in Tivoli.

Day 4: Whitewater Tubing 

Spend your fourth day whitewater tubing! Town Tinker Tube Rental and the Esopus River are waiting for you! Grab a life jacket and a friend and glide down the river in a tube. If you’d prefer, you can also rent a kayak. After working up an appetite, head to Garden Cafe on the Green for a hearty vegan meal.

Day 5: Wallkill Valley Rail Trail

Today take a hike on Wallkill Valley Rail Trail! Wallkill Valley Rail Trail in New Paltz offers visitors grounds for hiking, biking, jogging and skiing. The Rail Trail is known for some fascinating flora and fauna. A number of tree varieties line the trail and you may have the chance to spot some animals, such as rabbits or deer. Remember to plan ahead and get a vegetarian take-out from Mother Earth so you can have a dinner picnic on the trail!

Day 6: Leave Rosendale 

Don’t forget to enjoy one last delicious breakfast before hitting the road to head home. Make a stop at CAS to say goodbye to your new farm friends and make sure to come back soon!

Catskills Farm Animal Sanctuary

GENERAL INFO:

Catskill Farm Sanctuary is open for tours every Saturday and Sunday, from April through October.  Tours begin every half hour between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM.  Admission is $10 per person, $5 for seniors and kids under 12, and free for CAS members.

To learn more about CAS, visit http://casanctuary.org.

Compassionate Cuisine Classes can be found at http://casanctuary.org/programs/compassionate-cuisine.

CAS also has it’s own housing! Check out The Homestead, a beautiful 1700′s guest house.

For CAS’s list of recommended restaurants, click here.

For more information regarding the activities references above, please visit the following sites:

Historic Huguenot Street – www.huguenotstreet.org
Wine Trail Information – www.dutchesswinetrail.com
Pottery Trail Information – www.potterytrail.com
Saugerties Marina – www.saugertiesmarina.com
Town Tinker Tube Rental – www.towntinker.com
Total Tennis – www.totaltennis.com
Wallkill Valley Rail – www.gorailtrail.org

Catskill Animal Sanctuary

Catskill Animal Sanctuary

 Catskill Animal Sanctuary

Catskill Animal Sanctuary

Catskill Animal Sanctuary

Catskill Animal Sanctuary

http://casanctuary.org/

Red Sweater Project: Transforming Communities by Empowering Youth In Tanzania

Red Sweater Project: Transforming Communities by Empowering Youth In Tanzania

Red Sweater Project

Ashley with village children. Photo courtesy of Red Sweater Project.

When I was in Tanzania recently I got to meet Ashley Holmer, founder of Red Sweater Project.  Red Sweater Project creates affordable advanced educational opportunities for children in rural Tanzania in collaboration with local communities. Without Red Sweater Project countless children from impoverished villages would not have the opportunity to get an education. 

How Red Sweater Project Started

Ashley and her twin sister went to Tanzania after college to teach English. When her time there was coming to an end she was approached by the local village government. They said they would give her 20 acres of land if she would build the village’s first secondary school. After having fallen in love with the country and children of Tanzania, Ashley agreed. 

Ashley’s first school opened in April 2008 with 40 students. Today that school has over 120 students. Her school has proved to be such a success that she was given additional land to build a second school in the Mungere Village. 

To explain why the Mungere Village was chosen Ashley’s website states the following: 

“Imagine you’re a 13-year-old. Now imagine walking 20km every day to get to your 7th grade math class, braving treacherous routes in flood conditions, avoiding wild animals just to learn Algebra. Your parents are discussing your marriage this summer to a man twice your age since they can’t afford the $500 annual tuition that allows you to learn at the only institution that offers you a better future: a school with two students to a desk and 120 students per classroom. Kids in Mungere Village, Tanzania face a reality few adults could handle. They are hungry for education and go to great lengths for the opportunity to learn. Families make huge sacrifices to get a single child through school.”

The average family income for children in the Mungere Village is $190 per year. Most families live in mud huts, sleep on the floor, and can barely afford food let alone an education. Average secondary school and boarding school fees are $500 which makes education inaccessible to many families. Only 7% of children complete high school in Tanzania. There are not enough teachers (there is an 85,000 teacher shortage) or educational institutions. 

When I met Ashley in Tanzania in January she took me and my local tour guides to the land her new school would be located on. It was completely vacant. By April 2012, just 3 months later, construction of the primary school building had been completed.

“Don’t let nobody ever tell you that it couldn’t be done.” 

Watch this video to see the progress of the Mungere Secondary School and how it is changing the lives of children in rural Tanzania. Mungere Secondary School opens in September 2012 and will cost families just $20 per year. Ashley proves just how far will and determination can take you.

According to Ashley, the biggest changes she sees in her students is the changes in the girls. She explains that “in an elder paternalistic dominated society, most girls don’t have a voice within the community”. So when you put them in an environment where girls are just as smart as boys you can completely change their outlook. 

The Mungere school starts in September and will provide 240 students each year access to not only an quality education with experienced certified teachers but also to: 

  • Unlimited safe water and sanitation
  • Basic health services and health-based education outreach
  • Renewable energy with computer and remote internet access
  • School garden and dining facilities serving two nutritious meals each school day
  • Extra-curricular activities, sports, field trips and life-skills workshops 

If you’d like to donate to Red Sweater Project or sponsor a child, you can do so by visiting their website at: www.redsweaterproject.org. By sponsoring a child you can provide them with a competitive high school education, balanced meals, school supplies and text books, health care, sporting equipment, and a school uniform and shoes. In return you’ll receive report cards, photos and artwork, letters and the chance to build an unlikely friendship. 

Red Sweater Project is also having a fundraiser to Climb Mount Kilimanjaro in August 2012 to help support the new school. You’ll start the trip by volunteering at the Mungere school for a few days before heading off to a climbing adventure up Mount Kilimanjaro. Click here for more information: http://www.redsweaterproject.org/sss.php

Red Sweater Project

Ashley, Me & Immaculate in Tanzania

Red Sweater Project

School site in January prior to construction

Children of Tanzania

Children of Tanzania

Inside a mud hut in Tanzania

Inside a traditional mud hut in Tanzania

 

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary: Sample Itinerary

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary: Sample Itinerary

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

Farm sanctuaries are wonderful places to visit and perfect for summer family trips. I thought it would be fun to compile a few sample itineraries for the various farm sanctuaries in New York to help you see some of the activities you can do with your loved ones around visiting a sanctuary.

This itinerary is for Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in Woodstock, NY.

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary: This sanctuary provides shelter to cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, sheep, and goats who have been rescued from abuse, neglect and abandonment. It is surrounded by the Catskill Mountains in the beautiful town of Woodstock. When you visit here you will not only learn abut each animal’s story of survival you’ll also learn about the devastating effects of factory farming on animals, the environment, and human health. You’ll give pigs belly rubs, snuggle with sheep, and cuddle with chickens. You’ll even meet Felix the sheep with his new prosthetic leg!  

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

Photo courtesy of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

Please note: This itinerary is just for inspiration, I have not tested out all of the activities, hotels, restaurants, etc.

Itinerary Summary

Day 1: Arrive at Woodstock, NY
Day 2: Farm Sanctuary / Volunteer
Day 3: Enjoy a Tour around Town
Day 4: Concert at Maverick Concert Hall
Day 5: Visit Catskill Trail Park
Day 6: Leave Woodstock, NY

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive at Woodstock, NY 

Today you’ll arrive in Woodstock, NY where you will spend the next few days getting to know the animals and volunteers at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary and exploring the beautiful surrounding town.  

You’ll stay at the sanctuary’s very own brand new Guesthouse. This charming eco-friendly pre-Civil War farmhouse is owned and operated by the Sanctuary. The profits go directly to the care of their 200+ rescued farm animals and to their advocacy work. You’ll enjoy hearty vegan continental breakfasts, the luxury of restored claw foot tubs with showers, free WiFi, live rooster “alarm clocks”, and be steps away from all the other rescued farm animals. You can watch the sun set over the Catskill Mountains with animals roaming in the pastures right from your porch. Note: if you volunteer at least 4 hours a day, you’ll get a 20% discount! Click here for more information the Guesthouse.

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary Guesthouse

Day 2: Farm Sanctuary / Volunteer 

You’ll spend today volunteering at the Sanctuary caring for cows, pigs, chickens, sheep, and other rescued animals.  Over 200 animals need to be fed, given water, and have their barns cleaned 7 days a week – volunteers are needed!  As you help with barn chores you’ll get to know the animals and learn their stories of survival. If getting dirty isn’t your thing, you can also help out in the office or the visitor center. For more information on how to volunteer, click here.  

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

Day 3: Enjoy a Tour around Town 

Spend part of your day volunteering and then take a break to explore one of the most culturally-rich small towns America has to offer.  Enjoy the unusual art galleries, unique shops and beautiful boutiques in the downtown area. When you get hungry stop at the Garden Cafe, an organic vegetarian restaurant.  See www.woodstockchamber.com for a detailed town description including dining, activities and gallery descriptions.

Day 4: Concert at Maverick Concert Hall 

Spend another day volunteering at the Sanctuary and then treat yourself to a summer concert in one of the most unique concert venues around! The Maverick Concert Hall is a beautiful rustic barn with an all-wooden interior that was built by artists and other volunteers back in 1916.  It’s in the middle of unspoiled woods and has perfect acoustics. Past performers featured in the Maverick Concerts Series include jazz pianist Fred Hersch and The Tokyo String Quartet. Click here for their current concert schedule.

Maverick Concert Hall Woodstock NY

Day 5: Visit Catskill Park 

Catskill Park is state-owned land covering approximately 300,000 acres of forests with meadows, lakes, springs, waterfalls, cliffs, and wildlife. Among the wildlife you might spot include: white-tailed deer, moose, red foxes, gray foxes, beavers, muskrats, otters, porcupines, squirrels, opossums, ospreys, eagles, hawks and owls. Strap on your hiking boots, connect with nature, and explore the numerous hiking trails. After your hike, refuel your body at the vegan-friendly Yum Yum Noodle Bar in downtown Woodstock where you can design your own tofu or seitan-based noodle bowl.  

Day 6: Leave Woodstock, NY

Say goodbye to your new friends at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary!

For more information on Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary visit http://woodstocksanctuary.org.

 Photos speak louder than words!
Here are some photos my husband & I have taken at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.
Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

 

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

Farm Sanctuary: New York Shelter Sample Itinerary

Farm Sanctuary: New York Shelter Sample Itinerary

Farm Sanctuary Sample Itinerary

Farm sanctuaries are wonderful places to visit and perfect for long weekend summer family trips. I thought it would be fun to compile a few sample itineraries for the various farm sanctuaries in New York to help you see some of the activities you can do with your loved ones around visiting a sanctuary. 

Here’s the first one, for Farm Sanctuary’s New York shelter near Watkins Glenn. 

Please note: These itineraries are just for inspiration, I have not tested out the activities, restaurants, etc.

Farm Sanctuary New York: A 175-acre shelter is set amidst rolling green hills and forests in the Finger Lakes Region of upstate New York. It is located next door to Sugar Hill State Forest, just west of Watkins Glen. It is a 45-minute drive west of Ithaca and a 1½-hour drive southeast of Rochester. They care for hundreds of animals and receive thousands of visitors every year. The “People’s Barn” is a unique visitor center filled with displays, literature and videos and also includes a “Kid’s Korner” and gift shop. 

Itinerary Summary

Day 1: Arrive at Watkins Glen, NY
Day 2: Farm Sanctuary / Guided Tour
Day 3: Farm Sanctuary / Volunteer
Day 4: Corning Museum of Glass / Vegan Wine Tasting
Day 5: Shopping, Museums, Hiking, etc.!
Day 6: Leave Watkins Glen

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive at Watkins Glen, NY

Today you’ll arrive at Farm Sanctuary near Watkins Glen, New York. You’ll lodge at Farm Sanctuary’s own Bed & Breakfast where you’ll enjoy continental vegan breakfasts. Every cabin overlooks the sanctuary. Farm Sanctuary’s B&B fills up fast so book far in advance.

Day 2: Farm Sanctuary / Guided Tour

Your day will begin with the sound of crowing roosters. Today you’ll spend your time getting to know the animals as you take a guided tour. You’ll meet the rescued pigs, cows, and other farm animals and learn their individual stories of survival. After the tour, you can visit the education center which provides literature and videos for your enlightenment. The education center also carries gift items. The schedule for the guided tours can be found here.

When you’re done hanging out with all of the amazing animals you can head over to Wildflower Cafe & Crooked Rooster Brewpub to enjoy vegan burgers and sandwiches.

Day 3: Farm Sanctuary / Volunteer

Today you’ll volunteer at the sanctuary pitching in with chores and helping to take care of the animals.  You’ll learn more about the sanctuary itself and the work they do to protect farm animals.  Volunteer work is only available on the second Saturday of every month from April to November. The volunteer work starts at 9:00 AM and ends at 4:00 PM.  You’ll need to attend a mandatory orientation.  For any child between ages 12 and 17 there must be a parent or guardian accompanying.  Chores include activities such as administration, beautification, and shelter maintenance. 

After your day of work and playing with the animals you can have dinner at Stonecat Cafe which offers organic regional cuisine with many vegan options.   

Day 4: Corning Museum of Glass / Vegan Wine Tasting

After your vegan breakfast, you can hang out with the farm animals for a bit and then drive to the Corning Museum of Glass.  This amazing museum offers exhibits entirely dedicated to the history and making of glass.  For an extra cost, you will also be given the opportunity to create your own glass souvenir.  No experience is necessary for the class as you will be instructed by experienced glassworkers.  The museum is open 7 days a week from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. 

Continue your day by driving 40 minutes to the Herman J. Wiemer Vineyard where you’ll experience wine at its best.  This vineyard does not use any animal products in their wine making process.  Also, they do not use herbicides or insecticides and their wines ferment on natural yeast.  Tastings starts at 8:30 AM and the last tasting is at 4:45 PM.  

When you get hungry try Seneca Harbor Station Restaurant which offers views of the lake and has many vegan options.  You can finish your day by visiting the Great Escape Ice Cream Parlor which offers homemade soy ice cream and vegan soft serve.  

Day 5: Shopping, Museums, Hiking, etc.!  

Today you can choose from the countless activities that Watkins Glenn has to offer.  You can wake up and hang out with the farm animals before heading out to shop at Ithaca Commons, visit museums, or just relax by the lake.  We recommend going to the Watkins Glen State Park that is known for its famous gorge which features 19 waterfalls and 2 mile hikes. 

For an enjoyable home cooked meal, go to Geka’s Soul Vegetarian Restaurant which offers 100% vegan food.  Geka’s Soul Vegetarian Restaurant is 40 minutes away from Watkins Glen State Park and an hour away from Farm Sanctuary. 

Day 6: Leave Watkins Glen 

This will be your last day to experience the wonderful sights and sounds of the sanctuary.  Say goodbye to the adorable animals you’ve befriended throughout your stay.  Then tell your friends and family about the amazing animals you met and the important work Farm Sanctuary is doing to protect them!

You can learn more about Farm Sanctuary and the work they’re doing for farm animals on their website by clicking here

End of itinerary

Would you take your family on a long weekend trip to a farm sanctuary?

For the Love of Elephants… The Eyes of Thailand

For the Love of Elephants… The Eyes of Thailand

For the Love of Elephants… The Eyes of Thailand

The Eyes of Thailand

If you’ve been following my blog for awhile you know I have a special place in my heart for elephants, particularly after volunteering with them in Thailand. A powerful documentary on Asian elephants, The Eyes of Thailand, has its world premiere this Saturday 4/28 at the Newport Beach Film Festival (purchase tickets here).  

In this moving documentary, after losing their legs from stepping on landmines, two brave elephants are given a second chance to walk through the use of innovative prosthetics as a result of one courageous woman’s strength, determination and perseverance.

The film was directed and produced by award-winning filmmaker Windy Borman and produced by award-winning producer Tim VandeSteeg.

I had the opportunity to speak with the passionate and determined Windy Borman recently about how this documentary came about. Windy was in Thailand in 2007 on a different film project when she stumbled upon the hospital. Moved by the work they were doing there, by the founder of the hospital, Soraida Salwala, and by the untold story of the elephant survivors, the film was serendipitously set in motion.

Soraida Salwala’s love for elephants started at a young age. When she was 8-years old she saw an injured elephant lying on the side of the road after a truck hit it. As her family drove past, they heard a gunshot. Soraida asked her father what happened. He told her, “Uncle Elephant is in heaven now.” Young Soraida asked “But if he was dying, why couldn’t he go to the hospital?” 

In 1993, Soraida opened the world’s first Asian Elephant Hospital, operated by Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE). FAE is a 200-acre facility that includes elephant infirmaries, an operating area, and a nursery for baby elephants. After treating everything from knife and gunshot wounds to car accidents, they faced their biggest challenge the first time they received an elephant who had stepped on a landmine.

Motala

The Eyes of Thailand

This 50-year old Asian Elephant stepped on a landmine in 1999 while she and
her mahout (owner) were logging along the Burmese border. She walked for 3 days
on her severely injured leg to arrive at the Asian Elephant Hospital.
After 10 years of surgery and rehabilitation she received her first prosthetic
limb built by a human orthopedist in August 2009. 

Mosha

The Eyes of Thailand

Mosha stepped on a landmine in 2006 when she was just 7-months old.
Her young age helped her heal quickly and in June 2008 she received her first prosthetic limb.
She needs to receive a new prosthetic every six months because of how quickly she’s growing.
Mosha’s sassy personality and quirky antics quickly stole director Windy Borman’s heart. 

Soraida said she fights for these elephants against all odds because “the elephants cannot fight, they cannot speak, so I am speaking on their behalf.” Soraida herself lives with several debilitating illnesses and walks with a cane so she knows what it means to suffer in this way.

As Motala received her first prosthetic leg, 10 years after she stepped on a landmine, Soraida said to Windy “Some people say we wasted our time, to save just one life. But to me, no. It’s been 10 years and every second of it has been so valuable.”

As tears fill her eyes she says “I don’t want any elephant to be hurt. I’d rather have an elephant hospital without any patients. I hope that day will come.” 

The Eyes of Thailand Trailer

The Eyes of Thailand was awarded the prestigious ACE Film Grant from the Humane Society of the United States, who said “The Eyes of Thailand is an inspiring and unique documentary that will open up hearts and minds about the amazing veterinary work being performed at the Asian Elephant Hospital.”

Windy Borman hopes that The Eyes of Thailand will not only highlight the plight of Asian elephants and the wonderful work being done at the elephant hospital, but also encourage countries to sign the Mine Ban Treaty requiring the removal of all land mines, the destruction of stock piles, and the end of landmine trading. Actress Ashley Judd lent her voice in the narration of the film to help make these goals a reality.

Lessons from the Eyes of Thailand

Soraida Salwala shows what one woman can do in the face of insurmountable obstacles. As Windy Burman said to me during our chat, “Soraida’s determination was a personal lesson on perseverance and sacrifice… I looked at my own life and asked, what am I willing to dedicate my life to? What do I think is impossible that’s actually possible?” 

Well Windy applied that lesson and did the impossible in the creation of this film. She served as the director, producer, writer, camera woman, fundraiser, grant writer, and more to make this film a reality (eventually gaining a team along the way).

Windy and Soraida both prove that when you really set your mind to something, nothing can stop you.

Actions You Can Take to Help The Eyes of Thailand

1. Purchase tickets for the world premier event this Saturday 4/28 at the Newport Beach Film Festival - PURCHASE HERE

2. Join their newsletter so you can find out when a screening of the film is coming to your neighborhood. Click here to sign up.

3. Social Media: Join their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/eyesofthailand and follow them on Twitter at www.twitter.com/eyesofthailand  

4. Help spread the word! 

Sample Tweets:

10 years. 2 souls. 1 amazing feat. Witness @SoraidaSalwala & Motala’s journey in the powerful @eyesofthailand film http://ht.ly/6kJKc

World’s first #elephant hospital. World’s first elephant #prosthesis. A story of love and passion http://ht.ly/6kJQs

Sample Facebook Posts: 

Save the Asian Elephants. Help us bring their plight to light. @The Eyes of Thailand  www.eyesofthailand.com

Wow! Just watched “The Eyes of Thailand” trailer. It’s truly inspirational. @The Eyes of Thailand  www.eyesofthailand.com

10 Years. Two Souls. One Amazing Feat.  

The Eyes of Thailand

Mosha using the world’s first elephant prosthesis

The Eyes of Thailand

Motala with her prosthetic – the world’s largest prosthesis

The Eyes of Thailand

Motala getting fitted for her prothesis

The Eyes of Thailand

The Eyes of Thailand

The Eyes of Thailand

Motala taking her first steps on the prothesis on the tenth anniversary of her landmine accident

The Eyes of Thailand Soraida Salwala & Motala
Copyright: Julia Ferdinand

The Eyes of Thailand Soraida Salwala & Motala
Copyright: Julia Ferdinand

 All photos courtesy of The Eyes of Thailand 

7 Places to Volunteer in South America for Animal & Nature Lovers

7 Places to Volunteer in South America for Animal & Nature Lovers


7 Places to Volunteer in South America
for Animal & Nature Lovers

 

Volunteer with Animals in South America 

Volunteering abroad can be such a life changing experience. Here are 7 volunteer organizations in South America for animal and nature lovers.

1. El Puma Ecological Park: Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation Center, Argentina

Volunteer with Animals in South AmericaThis park is dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating wild animals and conducting conservation work. They nurse sick and injured animals back to health and, whenever possible, release them back into the wild. Some of the animals here have been rescued from the black market. Animals include monkeys, pumas, birds, wild swine, jaguars, toucans, and other native species. They work with Ministry of Ecology and other national parks and universities to monitor released animals and to foster their conservation work. Their conservation efforts include breeding rare species to increase their numbers. 

The park is located in Candelaria near the town of Posadas, the capital of Argentina’s most northern Province of Misiones. Because of lack of financial resources, volunteers are essential to help care for all the animals. Please note that the majority of the staff at this project do not speak any English so a basic level of Spanish would be ideal. 

To learn more about their volunteer programs, click here. I have volunteered at this park personally and learned a great deal although the language barrier for me was difficult as I only speak a small amount of Spanish.

2. Black Howler Monkeys Volunteer Center, Argentina

This rehabilitation centre is the only center for the rehabilitation of primates in Argentina. For over 12 years the center has been working with howler monkeys who inhabit the forests and jungles of Northeast Argentina.

The centre is located in the province of Cordoba and occupies almost 900 acres in mountains, rivers, waterfalls and forests at 4,400 feet above sea level. The region is very remote – 11 kms away from the closest village of La Cumbre.

To learn more about their volunteer programs, click here.
www.volunteer-with-howler-monkeys.org

3. Proyecto Asis: Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation Center, Costa Rica
Volunteer with Animals in South America

Proyecto Asis is a wildlife rehabilitation center that also has Spanish immersion programs. There is a large variety of animal species, many of which were rescued from the black market. Animals you’ll find include spider monkeys, white-lipped peccaries, raccoons, caimans, kinkajous, a large variety of bird species (including parrots, owls, and toucans), and more. Proyecto Asis has been featured on National Geographic and is an extremely well-run volunteer organization. Volunteers of all backgrounds are welcome and the volunteer programs are hands-on, interactive and diverse. 

To learn more about their volunteer programs, click here. I’ve volunteered there myself and it was a magical experience.  www.institutoasis.com

4. Rancho Mastatal: Environmental Learning Center & Lodge, Costa Rica 

Rancho Mastatal is an environmental learning and sustainable living center, a rural sanctuary and a lodge located in and on the edge of the last remaining virgin rainforest of Costa Rica’s beautiful Puriscal County. They practice, promote and teach about living responsibly in the tropics while educating visitors about the significance of the world’s disappearing tropical forests. They work tirelessly to help lead local efforts in conservation, education, natural medicine and community growth. Their site encompasses 550+ acres of picture-perfect waterfalls, crystal-clear rivers, idyllic swimming holes, impressive trees, extraordinary wilderness views, and pristine habitat for the area’s rich flora and fauna.

Rancho Mastatal gets amazing reviews and as they say on their website “volunteers work and live with amazing people at the Ranch…, make lifelong friends, and participate in a style of living that often times changes them forever.”

 To learn more about their volunteer program, click here.
www.ranchomastatal.com

5. La Tortuga Feliz: Sea Turtle Conservation, Costa Rica

Volunteer in South America with Animals Poaching, fishing nets, pollution and other threats have caused an alarming decline in the sea turtle population. La Tortuga Feliz protects the critically endangered leatherback and green turtles that come to its beach line every breeding season to lay their eggs. 

This project is located on a beautiful isolated Caribbean beach about 3 hours from San Jose. The beach is surrounded by a rainforest, rivers, canals and lagoons and it can only be accessed by motorboat. In addition to the sea turtles, you may also see monkeys, fish, crocodiles, 145 species of birds, iguanas, sloths, foxes, and the dogs the project has rescued. The organization employs local people to guard and patrol the beach. The income the locals earn eliminates their need to poach turtles and allows them to participate in establishing an ideal environment for turtles to lay their eggs.

To learn more about their volunteer programs, click here. I have also volunteered there myself and I’m happy to provide you with additional information.  www.latortugafeliz.com

6. Merazonia Animal Rescue Center, Ecuador  

Merazonia is an up-and-coming rescue center for trafficked and abused Amazonian animals, located on 250 acres of rainforest, in Mera, Ecuador. Animals confiscated by the Ministry of Environment and the police are brought there for veterinary care. They care for monkeys, kinkajous, cats, and other mammals and parrots. Volunteers help care for the animals and construct enclosures and trails to improve the center. They rehabilitate and release the animals whenever possible.

To learn more about their volunteer programs, click here.
www.merazonia.org

7. The Ara Project/Hatched to Fly Free, Costa Rica

Volunteer in South America with Animals

This organization is dedicated to the conservation of 2 native macaw species, both of which are endangered, the Scarlet Macaw and the Great Green or Buffon’s Macaw. This organization rehabilitates rescued macaws, breeds macaws to release them into to the wild and conducts conservation research on their patterns after they’ve been released. 

This project was originally founded by an American couple who fell in love with Costa Rica and its animals and were determined to help repopulate these endangered creatures. The project now has one of the largest collection of Great Green Macaws in the world. 

While at the project, the birds are provided with the ideal conditions that will allow them to survive and breed in the wild. As a volunteer you will work side by side with dedicated conservationists and biologists to protect these magnificent and endangered birds.

To learn more about their volunteer programs, click here.
www.thearaproject.org

A few other volunteer organizations to consider: Biomindo: Environmental Conservation, Ecuador; EcoCiencia: Environmental Conservation, Ecuador; Santa Martha Animal Rescue, Ecuador; Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation, Ecuador; Foundation Zoobreviven: Environmental Conservation, Ecuador; Foundation for the Protection of Animals, Ecuador

Do you know of any other great volunteer organizations in South America for animal and nature lovers

Photos from volunteer work in South America…

Volunteer with Animals in South America

Volunteer with Animals in South America

Volunteer with Animals in South America

Volunteer with Animals in South America

Volunteer with Animals in South America

Volunteer with Animals in South America


Are You Blocking Abundance? (& my trip far, far away…)

Are You Blocking Abundance? (& my trip far, far away…)

Everything you desire, the Universe wants to provide to you.
You just need to be open to receiving it.
See opportunities in disguised encounters,
see possibilities in unexpected happenings.

Receive and you will achieve.   

I was recently made aware of how I have been actively blocking abundance from my life. In my first GL newsletter I mentioned that I was just finishing a 6 month entrepreneurial coaching group. During a meeting in Seattle with that group, my coach made a very insightful observation on my ability, or inability, to receive.  Her observation has forever changed how I approach life and you may be able to relate…

My coach tried to give me a compliment. She said I’m a gifted writer. I responded that there are much better writers, I just enjoy it. She tried again, “No Liz, it’s really your strength, you communicate so well through writing”. My response went something like, “well, I’m no Shakespeare…”

She had enough. “I’m going to stop you right there. You have a problem with receiving. And if you’re unable to receive a compliment, you’re likely not open to receiving in any area of life.”

Someone chimed in, “Yeah Liz, when I told you your hair was pretty yesterday, you quickly said how awful it is.”

Okay, got it, no need to belabor the point. I have a problem…

It’s true, compliment my hair and I have an arsenal of insults prepared for myself. “No, it’s so thick and curly, very hard to manage.” “No, it can get so frizzy, it’s such a pain.” “Oh, it takes so long to do in the morning, such a hassle.” I’ve got self-depricating bullets to rifle off in response to just about every verbal compliment aimed at me.

I know I’m not the only one out there with this bad habit and women seem particularly prone to it.

Why do we disparage ourselves so? How did humility get so confused with insult?

And in refusing to receive compliments and other forms of abundance, apparently we’re not only robbing ourselves of what’s being offered to us, but we’re robbing the giver as well. As if to say, “thank you for the verbal gift you just sound waved to my conscious, but now please take that thing back, I’ve no need for it.”

So I started to think about all the other ways I’ve habitually blocked abundance from entering my life. Refusing gifts, doing work for free, turning down money, not going for things I want, focusing on the negative instead to the positive. Eyes low. Posture small. Voice soft.

And so my coach instructed me to simply say “thank you” the next time someone gives me a compliment. And to then thank myself for allowing myself to receive that compliment.

Practice receiving abundance in one area, and you’ll learn to be more open to it in all areas.

Old habits die hard… This little habit of mine is so ingrained in my subconscious that I’m constantly slipping. Compliment me online, and I can easily write back thank you. Compliment me in person, and my verbal assault habits kick in. But with awareness, practice, time and effort, I’ve made big progress.


I’ve found that whenever you learn a new life lesson, the Universe wants to see if you’re really paying attention. It always tests you.

Within a week of returning home from that trip to Seattle, I received an email from my tour guides in Tanzania. They were inviting me on an all expense paid trip to Tanzania so I could experience the country I’ve been selling through Your Time Travels first hand. Fancy hotels, all meals, private guide, on safari all week. ABUNDANCE.

Their last sentence: “We await your positive response.”

My first abundance blocking instinct: “No, I could never. That’s way too generous. I don’t deserve that. I really appreciate it but I haven’t earned that yet.” “Thanks, but no.”

Stop – Awareness. Practice. Effort.

My response: “I say YES.” 

Did you hear that Universe?

We serve no one and nothing by slamming the door on abundance. Welcome abundance and you will have more to share with others, you will have more to give.

And so on Thursday I’m leaving for the trip of a lifetime. My husband is joining me and we parlayed our flights to Africa into an extended layover in Paris using points to cover 4 free nights at a Starwood hotel.

New Years even in Paris. Abundance.

And when guilt creeps in, that maybe I don’t deserve this trip, it’s too indulgent, it’s bad timing, etc., I stop myself and remind myself to always welcome abundance into my life.

How have you been blocking abundance? Are you ready to stop this bad habit? I hope so. Let me know if you need any help. 

 

 

 

How to Get Over Jet Lag (the healthy way)

How to Get Over Jet Lag (the healthy way)

Traveling definitely has it’s downsides… the lost bags, the dreaded middle seat, the jet lag… Jet lag can ruin a short vacation if you’re not careful making you groggy, irritable, sleepy, and generally not the ball of sunshine I’m sure you normally are!It definitely wipes me out. You may not be able to control all of the problems you encounter during your journey but what if you could beat jet lag? Here are some tips to minimize that sleepy, fuzzy, hungover-like feeling so you can start enjoying your trip sooner!

Tip #1  - Hydrate!

Flying greatly dehydrates you.  The average indoor humidity level is usually about 45% but inside a plane cabin it’s 15%. The low humidity along with increased breathing due to high altitudes sucks any moisture right out of the air. You’re left with a very dry environment and an increased possibility of dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration include lightheadedness, nausea, muscles cramps and sleepiness. These side effects combined with a thrown-off internal clock can make for a rough trip. In flight alcohol drinking heightens these symptoms so save your cocktails for after you land. Eight ounces of water for every hour you’re in the air is recommended. Also avoid all sugary beverages, and sugar in general, which will just spike your blood sugar level causing you to feel even groggier later.

Tip #2 – Don’t hibernate.

Your body responds to natural sunlight.  The more time you spend outside basking in the sun the easier it will be for you to adjust to the new time zone.  Also make sure to eat all meals at the local time starting immediately upon arrival. Set your watch when you’re on the plane to the local time as well. The faster you trick your mind and body to adjust, the happier you’ll be.

Tip #3 – Stay awake once you arrive in your destination.

One of the best ways to trump jet lag is to just stay awake. Sometimes that’s easier said than done so make sure you have interesting ways to stay productive once you arrive at your destination. Avoid strenuous activities but explore the local village, visit a museum, or take a walk on the beach to keep your mind engaged and your body moving. Try not to go to bed until it’s really the local bedtime. Avoid naps if possible as they’re terribly difficult to wake up from and will further interfere with your body adjusting to your new time zone.

Tip #4 – Reduce caffeine.

You’ll be tempted to turn to caffeine to get you through your sluggish moments. While caffeine may provide you with a jolt of stimulation, it will make it harder for you to sleep deeply when it’s really time for bed. You’ll need quality sleep to fight the jet lag so don’t let caffeine get the best of you. Caffeine also dehydrates your body which will only add to your jet lag woes. You should keep caffeine to a minimum during the days leading up to and during your trip.

Tip #5 – Don’t take sleeping pills.

Reaching for sleeping pills to help with jet lag may cause more trouble than they’re worth.  If you aren’t already taking sleeping pills, do not turn to them for the first time during a flight as you don’t know how your body will react. Even if you are accustom to taking them, they still may not be your best bet. After waking up from a pill induced sleep you often feel very groggy which is not the right way to kick off a trip in a different time zone. If you’re worried about not being able to sleep on your flight, bring something to use as a pillow, an eye-mask, and ear plugs. If you follow the other tips in this article, you should be sleeping soundly in your destination country in no time.

Tip #6 – All Natural Jet Lag Remedies

No-Jet-Lag: No-Jet-Lag is a homeopathic remedy (vegan and not tested on animals) that has been known to be very helpful in preventing jet lag. It’s even used by major athletes to help them perform at their optimum physical levels upon arrival to their destinations. It has no reported side effects due to it’s low doses of these all natural ingredients: Leopard’s Bane, Daisy, Wild Chamomile, Ipecac and Clubmoss. It’s recommended that you chew one tablet each time your plane takes off and each time it lands, even if you are not disembarking, to counter the effects of pressure changes. Also take one every two hours while flying to counter the effects of long flights. It is best taken separately from meals. To find stores that carry this product or to order online, click here.

Melatonin: Melatonin is a common jet lag cure but it should only be used in very small doses (0.5 mg) and for a very short amount of time (just 2 or 3 nights). Melatonin is a chemical produced by your brain at night to make you sleepy. Your brain’s production of melatonin gets thrown out of wack when you travel. Taking sparing doses before bedtime after you arrive at your destination can help your body adjust. If you take larger doses or take it for an extended period of time you may suffer from side effects such as vivid dreams and nightmares. Melatonin can be found at most health stores.

Tip #7 – Going ninja on jet lag…

The final tip, for the hard core traveling pros, is to start combating jet lag several days before you leave for your trip by slowly adjusting your sleeping and eating times to match the schedule of your destination country. This may not be feasible due to your work or family schedule but if you can do it, even just to a minor extent, it will give your body’s internal clock a kickstart.

Beating jet lag is not easy but you can do it!  By following the above tips, you’ll be energized and ready to start exploring your new locale in no time.Happy traveling!

Note: As you know, I’m no doctor! But I am a lawyer, so here’s my little disclaimer: Always consult a physician before taking any medication!

Contributor: Gina Guariglia-Kelly 

What Thailand’s Elephants Taught Me About Being a Responsible Tourist for Animals

Have you ever traveled abroad and unwittingly supported an activity that was harmful to animals? I bet most of us have. When I volunteered abroad in Thailand at an elephant sanctuary I learned that almost all of the tourist activities involving elephants support an extremely brutal practice that most tourists are unaware of. This practice is called the pajaan.

The pajaan is a centuries old training method used to break an elephant’s spirit. It involves separating a baby elephant from its mother (which alone is extremely traumatic), at around 4 years of age, and placing it in a cage like structure called a training crush. The goal is to literally crush their independence and make them forever submissive to humans. The cage is just big enough for the elephant to fit inside it and it is tied up with ropes so it can’t escape. The elephant is then beaten by multiple men and stabbed repeatedly with sticks that have sharp nails attached to them. This intense beating lasts for 4 – 7 days. Throughout this period of “training” they are deprived of food and water and subjected to sleep deprivation to heighten the trauma. The more the elephant struggles, the more severely it is beaten. They get stabbed repeatedly in the most sensitive parts of their bodies – their inner ears and eyes. Some elephants go blind from this abuse. Throughout the pajaan the infant is petrified, confused, in pain and in the end, broken.

When the pajaan is over the abuse continues as they are put through weeks of more training. As you know, elephants never forget so these giant creatures learn to forever be fearful of humans and to always do what they’re told. All domestic elephants in Thailand are subjected to this ritual.

I don’t write this to imply anything negative about Thai people, they are truly wonderful, warm, and endearing people. This is a tradition that goes back for so many years it’s become part of their culture, they view it as a necessity. Cultural traditions are not easy to change. As I mentioned in my previous post, the founder of the elephant sanctuary I volunteered with is working to change the way people train their elephants. Training can be done with positive enforcement instead of fear. Many elephants put through the pajaan become extremely distrustful of people and aggressive and have later killed people in retaliation. Elephants trained with love and trust would remain the gentle giants they were born to be.

When you travel make sure to do your research before participating in any tourist activity that involves animals. Use your tourist dollars responsibly. If you travel to Thailand, don’t pay to feed elephants on the street. These elephants lead horrible lives where they are forced to walk up and down busy city streets begging for food. They are often malnourished and have no access to clean water. Don’t support elephant riding camps or worst of all, elephant painting or music playing. These elephants are subjected to months of intense brutal training and they are chained up whenever they are not performing. They are only able to paint pictures because they have been trained to follow certain lines with their paint brush and they know what will happen to them if they don’t. They are isolated, alone and in many cases continue to suffer abuse. They are often owned by people who only care about tourist dollars, not about an elephant’s welfare. Elephants in Thailand are the foundation of the tourism industry yet they have virtually no legal protection from abuse.

Circus elephants in the United States are not treated much better. Trainers take a baby from its mother and put it through brutal training regimens forcing it to perform dance steps and stand on its head for fear of the consequences. Elephants were not meant to be doing stupid things like this. Yes the fact that they are capable of learning this is amazing but what does it say about us that we want them to. Performing elephants never get be with their families or roam for hundreds of miles per day as they would in the wild. The constant chaining often causes them to develop abnormal behaviors like rocking back and forth. If they finally lose it and act out with aggression, they are killed and labeled as “crazy”. Unfortunately, it’s not the elephants who are the crazy ones…

As long as tourist dollars support unethical activities, they will remain intact. Instead support and volunteer with animal welfare organizations that celebrate the natural beauty and behaviors of elephants and treat them with respect and kindness. I can’t tell you how many times people have told me that they visited Thailand and engaged in tourist activities that they later found out were harmful to the elephants involved. For me, nothing could ruin my vacation faster.

Money is power. Do your research, use your money wisely, be a responsible tourist. The more people support responsible tourism, the faster those industries will grow.

Farm Sanctuary Fundraiser Update: I can’t believe it but I am a mere $90 away from my $1,000 goal!!!! Who can help me get there??!! I’m so close!! So many thanks to all the generous donors so far!!