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 

{Gentle Living Safaris} Tanzania National Parks: Northern Circuit

{Gentle Living Safaris} Tanzania National Parks: Northern Circuit

Tanzania National Parks: Northern Circuit

Elephant in Tarangire National Park

Traveling to Africa is the trip of a lifetime, that should be repeated. The word “vacation” is too shallow to do it justice. It’s a cultural exploration, a deepening of roots, a stimulation of sensations, an enchantment with the people and animals, a mystical awakening that gets inside you, if you let it. The more time you spend there, the better.

Safaris are an animal and nature lovers utopia. Tourism protects the national parks from poachers and land destruction and you get to see hundreds of animals living freely. 

We sell trips to Tanzania, one of the safest countries in Africa and the country with more national parks and protected land than any other African country. 

Most people traveling to Tanzania for the first time stick to the Northern Circuit. Here is a description of the national parks you can visit in the Northern Circuit.  

Lake Manyara National Park

This small but striking park is on the way to the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti. Often overlooked by tourists eager to reach the Serengeti, the alkaline lake covers 89 square miles of the 127 square miles that make up the national park. While the lake sits on the east end of the park, the Gregory Rift wall sits to the west and is characterized by volcanic activity.

Lake Manyara is known largely for its baboon and pink flamingo populations but also has a number of other wild animals, such as elephants, hippos, giraffes, tree-climbing lions, and birds. Colors of teal, yellow and red mesmerize bird-watchers as they come across the headed kingfisher, yellow-billed stork and others. Lake Manyara is a hidden treasure of breathtaking landscape and abundant wildlife.

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Tarangire National Park

This park is named after the Tarangire River, which flows through the park and is the only source of water for the animals. Large communities of elephants and African pythons inhabit the park as well as many other animals. The park is infamous for its unique Acacias and baobab trees. Similar to Lake Manyara National Park, Tarangire is sometimes overlooked on the tourist circuit but it’s a beautiful park full of animals and it’s the best place to see elephants.

Arusha National Park

Arusha National Park is a small, 52.9-mile park with three different topographical features: Mt. Meru, Ngurdoto Crater and Momela Lakes. The vegetation and landscape of each area varies greatly. Ngurdoto Crater’s floor is swampy but the crater is surrounded by forest. Around the peaceful Momela Lakes are grassy hills and an alkaline lake, attracting flamingos to its more shallow parts. Mt. Meru is an active yet dormant volcano with rocky terrain.

Arusha is the only area in the Northern Circuit where the black-and-white colobus monkey is easily seen.  Giraffes and zebra can be found grazing in the grasslands of the park while hyenas and leopards peruse the land. The region is another bird-watchers delight with over 400 species of birds living in and around the park. Walking safaris are available in Arusha National Park. 

Serengeti National Park 

The Serengeti National Park is 5,700 square miles. The annual Great Migration starts in the Serengeti Plains where the wildebeest gather from December to March for calving season. Wildebeest and zebra inhabit the region during this time but you’ll also see lions, cheetahs, elephants, giraffes and countless bird species all year long.

The Serengeti National Park is split into three parts: the Seronera Valley, the Western Corridor and the Lobo. When you first arrive at the park, you enter through the Seronera Valley, the southern/central region. This is the area known for its vast grasslands and beautiful acacias, unique trees that resemble umbrellas. The Western Corridor is the section where you can find the Grumeti River. When the wildebeest and zebra herds encounter the river on their migration, it’s quite an obstacle because of its deep waters and infestation of Nile Crocodiles, a vicious predator. Lobo, the Northern part of the Serengeti National Park, is untouched mainly because it’s not easily penetrated due to its terrain. The best way to see this area is by air, in a hot air balloon!

Ngorongoro Conservation Area 

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is an extraordinary place to visit. West of Arusha is a range of volcanic mountains with the Ngorongoro Crater as the highlight of the region. The crater, formed about three million years ago from a volcanic explosion, is the world’s largest caldera.

This area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which means the land is protected for its cultural significance. The Maasai people still practice traditional customs in the area where their culture is preserved. When you visit Ngorongoro, you’ll often see herdsmen in their native garb watching cattle. The region also plays a crucial in role in understanding human evolution. Based on evidence found in the Ngorongoro Conversation Area, the hominid species inhabited the area for over three million years.

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is the best place to see all of the “Big Five” in one safari drive. This is one of the only areas where the endangered black rhinoceros are easily seen and it has one of the most densely populated regions of lions. You’ll also find rhinos, gazelles, hyenas and cheetahs.

Mount Kilimanjaro

Mt. Kilimanjaro is a giant stratovolcano that began forming a million years ago when lava spilled from the Rift Valley zone. It is the highest mountain in Africa and fourth highest of the Seven Summits. It’s the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. Kilimanjaro is composed of three distinct volcanic cones: Kibo – 5,895 meters (19,341 feet), Mawenzi – 5,149 meters (16,893 feet), and Shira – 3,962 meters (13,000 feet). Uhuru Peak is the highest summit, it lies on Kibo’s crater rim and rises to an altitude of 5,895 meters (19,341 feet) above sea level. Two of Kilimanjaro’s three peaks, Mawenzi and Shira, are extinct while Kibo (the highest peak) is dormant. The last major eruption has been dated to 360,000 years ago, while the most recent activity was recorded 200 years ago.

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Zebras in Serengeti National Park

 

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


Gentle Living Safaris: Monkeys in Tanzania

Gentle Living Safaris: Monkeys in Tanzania

Monkeys on Safari in TanzaniaIn the previous Tanzania safari post I gave you my top 15 safari pictures. Today’s picture post is completely dedicated to monkeys. 

In Tanzania you’ll see Vervet Monkeys, Olive Baboons, Blue Monkeys, and more. They travel in very large packs and don’t show too much fear of humans. The baboons walk with an air of arrogance I’ve never seen before.

Our guide told us that the Vervet Monkeys are not afraid of Americans but will run away from the locals. When our guide later went to the bathroom a monkey came over to our picnic lunch to steel our papaya. My husband tried to chase him away and the monkey practically laughed at him. Another guide nearby took just one step forward and the monkey sprinted away and up a tree. I sat there laughing hysterically, such smart little guys :) You can see this monkey eating our papaya in one of the pictures below. 

Gentle Living has a travel department called Your Time Travels (YTT). YTT plans premium trips for discerning travelers with a focus on the respect for and celebration of animals. We believe in using tourism as a tool for animal welfare. To learn more about our travel services click here

Monkeys on Safari in Tanzania

Monkeys on Safari in Tanzania

Monkeys on safari in Tanzania

Monkeys on Tanzania Safari

Monkeys on Safari In Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari In Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari In Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari In Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari in Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari in Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari in Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari in Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari in Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari in Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari in Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari in Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari in Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari in Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari in Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari in Tanzania
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Israel Unleashed: An Animal Lover’s Tour of Israel

Israel Unleashed: An Animal Lover’s Tour of Israel

An Animal Lover's Tour of Israel I’d like to let you know about a very unique tour of Israel being held this summer for animal lovers. This tour is run by a well-known Jerusalem tour guide and animal rescuer named Tova Saul who happens to be one of the sweetest and most endearing people you can talk to.

Travel shouldn’t be about cookie cutter experiences. It should be about unique adventures that respect all living creatures. Tova has combined her passion for animal welfare with her tour guiding skills to make a truly special tour that you won’t find anywhere else.

If you’ve ever had any interest in going to Israel, I encourage you to read the description of this tour below. Applicants are now being accepted for the June 3 – June 13, 2012 trip, which will be limited to 14 people.  For further information plus a detailed itinerary, visit www.israelunleashed.yolasite.com.

Wildlife in Israel Jerusalem, Israel:  

A 100% wheelchair-bound Israeli veteran looks forward each week to his therapeutic riding lesson and is then able to take a few steps forward.

After several months of veterinary care for a swallowed fish-hook, a sea turtle is released back to the sea on an Israeli beach, with a group of schoolchildren cheering him on.

At the edge of a large Arab town in the West Bank, a thin horse is brought to a free veterinary clinic, where an Israeli veterinarian uses a file to solve a horse’s severe dental problem.

An aggressive grade-school bully becomes more socialized and improves his grades by interacting with a shy, abused rescued dog in an animal-assisted therapy program.

50 tourists in a covered wagon at a pink sunset are filled with awe as tens of thousands of cranes descend to spend the night in Lake Hula.

A group of tourists enter the inner sanctums of the Knesset to meet a Knesset member who speaks with them about passing animal-friendly laws in Israel.

All of these activities involve positive interactions between humans and animals, and are all in Israel.  Many tours cater to people with common interests or professions—-doctors, businessmen, teachers…….Why not a group of animal-lovers?  For people with an avid (or even lukewarm) interest in animals, visiting such activities can make lasting, inspiring impressions

“Israel Unleashed” is a new tour that blends a love of animals, Israel, and explorations into Judaism.  It is a balance of animal-related projects, standard tourist sites, magnificent canyon trails, meeting Israel’s leading domestic animal and wildlife advocates, and several upbeat Jewish experiences.

Hearing of such a tour, some animal-lovers might “prick up their ears”, decide to “hightail it” to Israel, and have a “dog-gone” good time with fellow animal-lovers. According to Tova Saul, well-known Jerusalem tour guide and animal-rescuer, “People who love animals share a language of animal-related opinions, experiences, and feelings.  This deeply connects them across differences in politics, religions, personalities, and ages, so they can be a happy cohesive group as they experience Israel together.”

The tour’s speakers are top-notch in their fields, such as:

  • Dr. William Clark, of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, who has spent 30 years engaged in wildlife law enforcement efforts at the national and international levels, and is a driving force behind the Interpol Wildlife Crime Group;
  • A Knesset member involved in pro-animal legislation; and
  • Gila Manolson, author of several books on traditional Jewish dating and marriage.

Israel wildlife