International Scavenger Hunt, of Sorts

The countdown to my departure is getting quite low. In just one week I'll be boarding a trans-Atlantic flight to Heathrow and won't set foot back in the States for another 90-ish days. Whew! Of course, I plan to update the blog as often as Internet cafes are available and I don't have something better to be doing, like practicing my Thai on the locals or trying to learn to like beer on a Munich pub crawl. In efforts to make this trip somewhat interactive, I've stolen an idea I read in Budget Travel a few months back. Between now and next Thursday, I'm asking for your picture requests. Now, this is no boring, me-in-front-of-the-Eiffel-Tower picture hunt. I want your wacky and challenging photo requests. For example, here's a request I've already gotten in:

Me standing on the slope between the up and down side of an escalator, accompanied by a total stranger, both of us pretending to surf, taken by another total stranger.

Ideas could involve food, transportation, well-known monuments, people. Your requests can involve me in the frame or not and they can reference specific countries or be general. The only stipulations (that I can think of right now) are that your requests be creative, that they not require nudity (at least on my behalf), and that they not involve anything illegal (my grandparents will be reading this, folks!). Please submit all your photo ideas as a comment to this post so I have a list all in one place. As each image is successfully captured, I'll post it to the blog for your amusement. All ideas need to be submitted by next Thursday.

Ready, set, go!


Terra Incognita Endorsements
The Grand Canyon Trek Version

+ A Camelbak filled first with ice, then with water will actually stay cold the whole hike down.
+ Flip flops for wearing around the camp when you can't stand to be in your hiking shoes any longer.
+ A disposition unspoiled by wearing the same pair of underwear two sweaty days in a row.
+ A bandana to wet and wear around your neck to cool down.
+ Talking to fellow hikers along the trail.
+ Learning German so as to communicate with half the hikers along the trail. I don't think I've ever been so self-concious of my status as an American in my own country before.
+ Rim-side indulgences such as ice cream, a full-sized pillow and hot, 5-minute showers.
+ A hiking companion willing to massage the sorest calves you've ever had.

Terr Incognita Un-endorsements
The Grand Canyon Trek Version

+ The unnecessary rain fly and poles when camping in June. It's true that an ounce at the start of the hike is a pound at the end.
+ Half-eaten packs of tuna. If you bring the tuna down, eat it all, otherwise you'll smell it all the way up and the scent infuses into your backpack so much that even 5 days later you find the dog delieriously licking the inside of your pack.
+ Bug spray that spills all over same said backpack. (There's no returning it now!)
+ Extra clothes you think you might need. You won't actually need them.
+ Trail mix – damn stuff is heavier than you think, and the chocolate melts. If you're set on bringing it (because it does taste pretty good and offers an alternative to peanut butter crackers and jerky) eat as much as you can on the way down so you don't have to lug it up the canyon walls.


I picked a camera. It's a Nikon D40x and I love it so far. Here's a quick sample of some of my favorite pics from the past two weeks.

The Bandito Burrito

Fun with Photoshop

All smiles

Picture-taking at the Grand Canyon

Hiking all afternoon and still we're nowhere near the bottom

Fun foreign graffiti

"Bad Spellers of the World UNTIE!"

A lit candle in Sedona's Cathedral on the Rocks

See more in the following albums:

Testing out the new camera
A Grand Hike


Necessary supplies
In anticipation of my travels, I have been stocking up on the following throughout the past year:

+ Extra pairs of contacts and glasses. All those pretty sites (and sights) will mean nothing if I flush my last lens down the hostel sink.

+ Comfy, comfy footwear. I was apprehensive about buying any new shoes when my current kicks seemed to be treating me just fine. Then I realized that they treat me fine while I sit at a desk all day, not while I walk around a city paved in cobblestones or dirt all day. My grandmother was good enough to remind me that happy feet don’t mean just a box office hit; they mean a happy traveler.

+ Tank tops with shelf bras. Because regular bras are a pain to pack (and quite frankly, to wear). Furthermore, this trip is all about letting myself be free, right?

+ Jeans. In the past year I’ve dropped 20 pounds*, which, besides being awesome, means I don’t fit into hardly any of my old pants. Wanting to be prepared to cover up in malaria-ridden S.E. Asia, I figure long jeans are akin to body armor to fend off armies of nasty mosquitoes.

*The 20 pounds I gained in the first six months of sitting at that desk all day. Recent graduates, beware the desk job dozen.


All in the Family
A couple weeks ago I got to catch a screening of Mr. Brooks, the new Kevin Costner movie. It was a great thriller, surprisingly hilarious. But I never could accept Kostner or the actors playing his wife and daughter as members of the Brooks family. I know what a Brooks family looks like and a murderous father and college drop-out daughter just doesn't fit the profile. Mearly hearing Kostner called "Mr. Brooks" throughout the film kept reminding me that he was an actor playing a role, and I was never really able to suspend my disbelief. No matter, I still had a lot of fun at the movie, especially because the audience was so reactive. I love it when my fellow movie-goers become an entity that laughs and cringes with the lines and action in a movie. It was one of those audiences where the theater experience far out-weighs the DVD experience and one where I think the actors would have loved to have been present. I haven't kept track of what critics have been saying about it, but I certainly recommend it.