Saturday, August 30, 2008

Worst Airline Nightmare Quiz + report on my six-hour flight (leg one of three) from San Francisco to Miami

"You deserve a medal," whispered the American Airlines flight attendant. She gave me a sympathetic pat on the shoulder, glanced at the screaming toddler next to me and continued down the aisle, away from the ruckus in Row 22. I have never traveled with a toddler under my care on a cross-country flight, but I now feel fully qualified after this six hour-flight from San Francisco, California, to Miami, Florida. This little fellow with the robust vocal cords had a doting support staff of three: mom plus two grandparents catering to his every whim. I tuned out much of the family frenzy by listening to my Ipod (grateful I decided to bring it!).

I am enjoying my hour layover in Miami - though clearly I'm not dressed properly for Rio - many of the women here at the gate are wearing tight, "skinny" jeans, spike heels, plunging necklines and have manes of luscious, long hair.

Next up: fly from Miami to Rio, then Rio to Florianopolis, where I will meet my whale watching tour group at the airport. I may be a little out of it by my arrival time of noon Sunday.

NOTE TO PROCRASTINATORS: Packing this morning, an hour before I left, was not such a hot idea - turned out that clothing/gear for an 11-day mountain bike trip at elevation of 8,000-14,000 feet, business clothes for conference and clothing for the tropics did not fit in my new 4,0000 cubic inch wheeled luggage from Patagonia store. So I have an "overflow" bag ....

Thanks, Luke, for all your tech support, and Jec, for the ride to the airport today.

What do you think is the WORST scenario for a six-hour flight:

a. Sitting squashed next to a generously-sized person
b. Being in close earshot of a screaming baby
c. Having an over-talkative seatmate

Ciao for now!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Just six degrees of separation between my upcoming trip to Peru and my recently published story about my first skydiving tandem jump

One of the most intriguing responses to my emailed newsletter about my upcoming South America trip came from a fellow right here in Santa Cruz.

"I used to be the coach of the Peruvian National Skydiving Team in the mid-80's," wrote Mark Knutson of Santa Cruz. Turns out that Mark, known as "Shoobi" to friends, and I share an interest in bicycling and are now on the same bike race team.

He is pictured above with actresses Drew Barrymore (left) and Cameron Diaz (right). The celebrities were seen skydiving in the movie Charlie's Angels.

To see the skydiving video and my tandem jump story, read the previous blog entry.

Skydiving - Experience the thrill of a tandem jump from an airplane! My skydiving story and video now in Adventure Sports Journal

Adventure Sports Journal has published my story in print and online:
The Ultimate Rush
: A first-time skydiver discovers new frontier.

I can still feel the adrenalin rush when I think about my first tandem skydive jump with Adventure Center Skydiving in Hollister, California. And my stomach churns when I watch the video of my skydive, below (posted on You Tube). The video clip and photos were shot by
one of Adventure Center's pro photographers/solo skydivers.

FUN NOTE: I recently learned that a member of my bicycling race team here in Santa Cruz served as the coach of Peru's National Skydiving Team in the mid-80's! That will be a good story! I leave for Peru and Brazil tomorrow, Saturday, August 30. First stop: whale watching, Then I will be a speaker at the Adventure Travel Trade Association World Summit in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Can't wait to eat my way through Brazil

My friend Andrew Hecht shared some tips about his favorite Brazilian cuisine and got my mouth watering (Vegetarians, beware):

(1) Juice Bars. Every one of them puts Jamba Juice to shame. Not only cheaper and fresher, but filled with fruits from the Amazon that you've never heard of. Amazing! I highly recommend drinking as much mamao com leche (papaya milkshake) as you can stomach.

(2) Churrascaria. Churrascaria is what all steakhouses want to be when they grow up. It's an experience you can't miss. If you can find one where they mix caiprinhias tableside, all the better.

(3) Feijoada. This is the Brazilian national dish. It's a conglomeration of black beans and pork bits served with kale and manioc flour. It was originally a dish eaten by slaves and so traditionally comes with some pork "offcuts." If you're not into snouts and ears, try it at a slightly westernized place first.

If you go to Rio, visit Copa, Ipanema or Leblon and you will experience what has to be the best beach food scene in the world. While you soak up the sun and people-watch, a stream of hawkers selling all sorts of edibles makes their way up and down the beach with. Various vendors will offer:

- Coolers full of sandwich fixings for custom sandwiches

- Mini-grills to fire up skewers of shrimp or cheese with oregano or calamari

- Baskets of abacaxi (pineapples) that they will slice and dice open

Plus, vendors sell cold drinks, ice cream, grilled corn on the cob, ice cold coconuts. If you don't find anything you like, there are kiosks every couple of hundred feet selling all sorts of tasty treats. I don't know how people there stay in such great shape will all those temptations around, but somehow they manage.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Your fun responses to my South America travel newsletter

Greetings! I sent out a newsletter earlier today with the highlights of my upcoming Brazil and Peru adventures. I got a great response. Here is a selection, below, of the wide variety of helpful tips I received:

Hey - I got your blog 3 times. I'm not annoyed, I just deleted, but other people might be. Just a heads up to check your email group.
- Mari, Santa Cruz, CA
Note from Karen: Thanks and sorry, folks, to those who got triple the goods. Issue resolved.

I saw this email (xxx) on your blog. Do we now all know the secret address to email posts so they end up on your blog?
- Alex, Santa Cruz, California
Note from Karen: Your fleeting moment to post Fake Karen Blogs has vanished.

John and I are off on Monday, September 1, for 3 weeks in the South Pacific: Palau, Kosrae, and Guam.
- Diane, San Francisco, California

I am in Shanghai. We're leaving tomorrow night to go to a beautiful place to hike -- where they filmed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
- Elliot, Shanghai

If they still have it, (5 years ago they did) I suggest you buy a "Skybus" ticket - giving you discounted air travel within Brazil so you can really travel around the huge country. (Carbon Emissions Aside).

- Philip, China

Is this your first trip to Brazil?
You don´t want to miss Rio, for example. The Amazon is another interesting must-see. Fernando de Noronha is one of my favorite spots.
- Marilyn, Sao Paulo, Brazil

One thing that can be really handy when you are traveling is to carry grapefruit seed extract with you. You can put a few drops on any salads or into a glass of water to reduce parasite/bacteria dangers. Also I recommend strongly carrying a water filter, as relying on plastic bottles is not only just bad but also not reliable.
- Brooke, Bonny Doon, California

Here's a link to the book I mentioned - "Smile When You're Lying: The Confessions of a Rogue Travel Writer."
I thought it was a fun it'd give you a good laugh being in the biz.
- Laura, Scotts Valley, California

Monday, August 25, 2008

Karen's Presentation Topic for Adventure Travel Trade Association Summit in Brazil

I am finalizing details (like which power adapter will work for my Mac laptop) for my trip to Brazil. In Sao Paulo, I will speak at the Adventure Travel Trade Association's (ATTA) World Summit. I have attended this organization's world summits in Seattle ('06), and Whistler, British Columbia ('07). This is ATTA's first summit held in South America. Its timing and location coincide with the 10th annual Adventure Sports Fair, Sept. 4-7, which is expected to draw up to 60,000 visitors.

I fly out of San Francisco Airport on Saturday, August 30 and arrive in Florianópolis, Brazil, Sunday, August 31, to start a three-day whale watching trip which will take place at the eco-resort Vida Sol e Mar.

The ATTA conference begins Sept. 3. I will join two co-panelists on Saturday, Sept. 6 to present this topic (as listed in the schedule):

Beyond the Press Release: Creative Strategies for Increased
Media (and Consumer) Visibility
Learn from journalists and news service providers how to look
beyond the press release to access a much broader audience
for your special news - in addition to print media, think TV, radio,
blogs and more. Learn how news services increase visibility
through popular search engines, creating photo and/or video
libraries for journalist/reporter access, establishing media/
press centers that positions you/your company as THE experts,
develop expert blogs with regular news updates, and much more.

Nancy Harrison, Adventure Travel Media Source - USA
Karen Kefauver, Freelance Journalist- USA
Kiko Nogueira, Editor Abril - BRAZIL