Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Steele and The Points Guy

I am excited to announce that I will be an occasional contributor to one of my favorite travel sites, The Points Guy. Now there are travel sites that tell you about some new cruise or advise you to "be flexible" to pay less for airfare. The Points Guy is not one of those sites. This is a place where Brian, one of the top reward travel gurus shares secrets on how to maximize frequent flier miles, hotel points, and other loyalty program.

You can read my first post today about Citi is sending out IRS forms indicating that bonus miles are taxable gifts.

It is really cool to be asked to contribute to site that I have been reading and admiring for some time.

Thanks Brian!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Financial Bloggers of Denver Unite

My freelance writing career has two areas of focus that overlap. One is travel, which is a real passion of mine. The other is personal finance, which is more of a skill and an obsession. In 2011, the first FinCon, personal finance bloggers conference was held in Chicago. I was unable to attend, and it felt like I missed a big party that all of my friends were going to.

In 2012, I am very proud to say that Denver will be hosting the 2d annual FinCon convention. Hoping to make up for lost networking opportunities, I volunteered to organize a series of local meetups for others here in Denver who write about personal finance.

We just finished our first Denver FinCon Local Meetup. In attendance was Eric Rosenberg of Narrow Bridge Finance, Anna Newell Jones of And Then She Saved, and Lauren L. Burke from NEFE.  What the four of us lacked in numbers, we made up for in enthusiasm and excitement for being the host city for the National FinCon in 2012.

We are all looking forward to expanding our numbers for our next meetup.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Back From Africa

My father and I just returned from an amazing adventure in Kenya and Uganda. Most of the experiences by themselves would have been worth the trip over there, but together they constitute more than just a journey, but an epic adventure. While aspects of this trip will soon be the subject of several articles in print and online, I would like to give you a brief overview of what happened there that was so special.

Governor's Camp Il Moran, Masi Mara National Park, Kenya

Our first few nights in Kenya were at a luxury tent safari camp in the Masi Mara region of eastern Africa. As you can see from the pictures below, this was an incredible experience by itself.

Pandinga Village, Uganda

From Kenya, we proceed to Uganda, where the real adventure began. In Kampala, we met with several drilling companies, in the hopes of bringing water to the native village of our driver Milton. After a hellacious 10 hour drive through dust clogged, potholed dirt roads, we reached our lodge along the banks of Nile.It was our experiences the next day that have left us stunned. On January 6, we arrived at Pandinga village, not far from the famed Murcheson falls area of western Uganda. Hundreds of people from Pandinga and its neighboring village turned out to greet us. We were told that we were the first westerners to ever visit the village. An elaborate ceremony had been planned in our honor. Speeches were made, dances were performed, and we were shown a dramatization of the problems the village faces as a result of poor water. Later, we received gifts of grains, eggs, peanuts, and three live chickens (our driver was able to find them a good home). Finally, we went to see how they were currently gathering their water from a shallow, muddy trench. It was an amazing day for everyone involved, and we promised to help bring fresh water to their village.

Buhoma, Uganda and Bwindi Impenetrable Park

Next, we traveled south to the town of Buhoma. This was a three day journey over the same savage roads. Buhoma rests at the foothills to the volcanic Virunga mountain range, adjacent to the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. There, our mission was twofold. We were going trekking to the see the rare Eastern Mountain Gorilla, of which there are less than 1,000 remaining. We were also there to donate bicycles to some of the villages.

During two separate treks, we saw about 20 different animals ranging from infants to full sized, adult Silverback Males.

Finally, we had a chance to give away the bicycles that had been donated. Let's just say the bikes needed a little setup before delivery, and as a bicycle mechanic, I was happy to pitch in.

 Giraffe Manor Hotel, Nairobi

Our last experience before departing Africa was a visit to the Giraffe Manor Hotel in Nairobi. Here, 13 Rothschild Giraffe roam the gardens of this ultra-luxury 1932 hotel with only 10 rooms.

This was a fantastic trip, and one with a purpose. If you would like to find out more about The Clean Water Foundation, Inc, also known as Wheels and Wells for Africa.  Our website is thecleanwaterfoundation.com.