Friday, August 08, 2008

3-Week Countdown Until I Leave for Brazil!

On Saturday, August 30, I fly to Sao Paulo, Brazil, to attend the Adventure Travel Trade Association's South American World Summit, Sept. 3-7. I have attended ATTA's past two annual summits, in Seattle, Washington, ('06) and Whistler, British Columbia, ('07) where I was also a speaker. As a journalist specializing in adventure travel topics, I have found these conferences of about 500 attendees to be extraordinary for international networking.

For ATTA's 2008 Summit in Brazil:

* The majority of participants will be international tour operators, plus travel agents, publicists and journalists; 60 to 70 percent of the tour operators will be from Mexico and South America. It will be an ideal time to practice my Spanish - I must learn some Portuguese too!

* The ATTA World Summit runs concurrently with the Adventure Sports Fair, Latin America's largest adventure travel trade show, which is expected to draw 70,000 visitors to the Imigrantes Exhibitions Center.

* As a speaker on a panel at the ATTA Summit, I will be presenting to an international audience in English, which will then be simultaneously translated into Portuguese and Spanish.

It will be winter in São Paulo with days generally sunny and dry. The temperature ranges from 58°F to 80°F – possible rain showers.

The currency used in Brazil is called the Real (R$)

I am looking forward to the ATTA Summit as a personal and professional adventure! More soon on other Brazil and Peru adventures I have planned - whale watching, whitewater rafting and mountain biking!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Olympics start tomorrow and my preparation for Brazil and Peru trip is underway

Thursday, August 7 - 2008

The Olympics start tomorrow, 8/8/08, in Beijing, and I look forward to watching some of NBC's 3600 hours of coverage. I'm especially eager to track the performances of two women athletes, whom I have met in person, who will be competing. Jill Kintner will be the lone female athlete from the United States to race BMX, a bicycle sport that makes its debut at the Games. This past April, I took a mountain bike clinic with Jill at Sea Otter Classic in Monterey. Rie Katayama, of Japan, whom I met on a mountain bike ride two years ago. (Yes, she was super fast so I did not see a lot of her on the trail, but we went out to dinner later!) Rie will compete in cross country mountain biking for Japan.

While I will watch the Olympic athletes, I will also be busy planning my own adventures to Brazil, for the ATTA World Summit in Sao Paulo, and Peru, for mountain bike tour with Sacred Rides. I leave August 30 from San Francisco Airport. More on my trip plans soon!

Karen Kefauver
Freelance journalist & content provider

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Santa Cruz, California, USA

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Kayak tour of Elkhorn Slough on Saturday, August 2, 2008

During my 15 years in Santa Cruz, I have devoted much of my free time to road and mountain biking. I know many singletrack trails better than nearby highway exits. But for many locals and visitors, this town is all about the water - surfing, paddling, boogey boarding, skim boarding - you name it.

I was way overdue to go kayaking in my own backyard. After a whitewater trip in Idaho earlier this summer, I was more eager to explore water recreation here. I had the perfect excuse when my dad, Jim Kefauver, visited me here for a few days recently. I signed us up for a father-daughter outing - a three-hour, guided nature tour of Elkhorn Slough organized by Kayak Connection.

Elkhorn Slough, located in Moss Landing, was an easy 30-minute drive south on Highway 1 from Santa Cruz. We arrived early and slathered on sunscreen, got our binoculars ready and put on our baseball caps. Our guide, Geronimo, fitted us with Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs - formerly known as life jackets), kayak skirts that fit snugly onto the boat and paddles. One by one, our group of 12 guests climbed into stable, two-person, kayaks. One group used a three-person sit-on-top kayak.

What impressed me most during the tour was the wonderful abundance of marine mammals - frolicking harbor seals and otters and the enormous sea lions lounging on the dock. I had expected to see a handful - we saw dozens! Throughout the tour, these animals would unexpectedly pop up right near the boat, a delightful surprise. Also, huge flocks of pelicans, flying in their perfect V-formation, were nearly constant companions. I love the prehistoric looking birds. Though I am not well-versed in birds, I was still thrilled to see spot egrets and other large birds.

Our guide said that Elkhorn Slough, at its deepest, is 30 feet - but that below that there is 20 feet of mud! That was a surprise. Another surprise was that my arms and shoulders were fatigued by the end of the tour!

It was a wonderful trip. But no excursion is complete without a good meal - so we drove south 10 minutes and enjoyed lunch at a popular seaside spot called Phil's Fish Market and Eatery. No pictures of the enormous bowls of chowder and fish sandwiches we consumed!