It's a Great Big Beautiful World! Let's Discover it Together

Showing posts with label Kenya. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kenya. Show all posts

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Open for US Visitors - KENYA!


• Kenya is the birthplace of the safari. Home to the African BIG FIVE, the abundance of wildlife is comparable to nowhere else on Earth... and not just the big animals either - Kenya is home to 11% of the world’s bird population, with over 1100 different species of birds spotted there!
• Kenya boasts 51 National Parks/Game Reserves, and 10 Marine Parks/Reserves, plus 64 National Protected Areas as well!
• Kenya is a year-round destination. With average temperatures ranging between 62 – 82 F year-round inland, and a little warmer with some humidity along the coast, it makes for a fantastic travel experience any time of the year you choose to visit! Yes, there are two rainy seasons, but showers are often short-lived and make for dramatic game drives.
• Kenya is home to the world’s only snow-capped mountain on the equator – Mt. Kenya.
• Being situated along the equator, Kenya maintains a little more than 12 hours of daylight year-round, with the sun rising daily at 6:30 am and setting at 6:45 pm.
• Kenya offers 21 hyper-luxury lodges/camps and 77 luxury lodges/camps.
• Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi is the home of the world’s only urban National Park, located just 20 minutes from the city center.
• In the north part of Kenya, you’ll find the world’s largest desert lake, Lake Turkana, or the Jade Sea.
Kenya is open to US travelers and would make for a truly memorable experience for you and your loved ones. Having been to Kenya personally already, I can say that there's nothing quite like it in the world, and you won't find any friendlier people than you will in this East African jewel of a destination. When you're ready to start planning the adventure of a lifetime, please think of me to help you make it become reality. There are a few covid-related things to be aware of and know when planning a trip, but like every country, they can change between now and when you actually travel, so when you're ready to start planning, be sure to ask about them. You can learn more about this amazing place on my dedicated Kenya page on my website. There you can also submit your request to start the planning! | 317.776.1733 |

Also...check out this video about some of the wonderful experiences that await you when you visit Kenya.

Monday, April 29, 2013

stopher's stuff - The Places You'll Go

“Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to great places! You’re off and away!”

So begins the classic tale from Dr. Seuss in his aptly titled book, OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO.  If you have never read it before, I would definitely encourage you to do so.  It’s a wonderful tome, filled with classic Seussian wit and wisdom.  I’ve used this book several times as gifts to graduating seniors and to Scouts who have earned the rank of Eagle. It always serves as a good jumping off place for the congratulatory letter I like to write them. For not only is their future typically bright, and their accomplishment a good foundation, it serves as reminder too, that even though they will be shooting for the moon, they need to be prepared for the down moments that will inevitably come. And when they do, it is great to pause and reflect, as you seek to find the best way out of or around those valleys or bumps in the road. Because once on the other side, it's great to look back and see just how far you've come as you've worked through each individual low point. To see how utilizing the feedback and counsel of others may have helped bring about the necessary change in direction to help get you back on track.

It continues…

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose.”

This past year has definitely been one where I have been personally living out the book’s message.

“…You’ll be on your way up! You’ll be seeing great sights! You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights… wherever you go, you will top all the rest, except when you don’t, because sometimes, you won’t. I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true, that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.”

I’ve certainly had some high moments and then still many other moments that were much lower. Those moments of frustration (such as website improvement / development this past couple of months); as well as moments of distress (lost sales); or moments of rejoicing (repeat business from clients as well as referrals bringing new business);  they all work together to make things better – overall.  Taking the time to pause and reflect, and yes, seek honest feedback about what you’re doing is so very important. Remembering too that each one of us is not an island, and we cannot do things completely alone. I may be in this business “alone”, but I’ve definitely got several key supporting players that I turn to for help, guidance and mentoring. People that aren't vested in my financial success, but rather are interested in my personal success as an individual, as a businessman, as a father, a husband and a friend.  

A mentor - that’s something that I have been to numerous people over the past decade, but have easily overlooked utilizing myself - until the past year and a half when I recognized the need to seek counsel of others.  Back in the days of working for an employer, I had built-in peer groups, of course bosses and others who constantly critiqued how I presented things, or fulfilled my work, or even how I came across meeting with clients.  When you work on your own, those built-in resources simply don’t exist.  I only have my actual clients, who are willing to share their feedback with me, to truly critique my services.  Even on this blog, unless someone actually posts a comment (which is rare), I don’t even know if anyone is truly interested in what I post.  Sure I see the numbers of people who check-in and view the various things, but I don’t know if anyone actually is interested or cares, or finds any of the stuff I post remotely useful.  I could be simply posting pictures of bacon, but wouldn’t know if anyone liked it or not unless they said something.  Feedback is always a nice thing.

Getting back to the very beginning of this post though, the places you’ll go – I’ve got many great places on the agenda for the rest of this year.  Places that will be visited representing various aspects of my life… family, my business, the largest aspect of the community service I do (Scouting), and my faith – going on a mission trip to Africa.  Each destination is both near and far, and requires a great deal of time and preparation – physical, mental and spiritual.  I’m excited about them all.  I can’t wait to share about each one in this blog, and hope that you will find each destination somewhat intriguing – and that you’ll tell me what you think after I post them. 

I’d love to know what types of information you might find useful in this space.  Please leave a comment with something that you would like to learn about in the weeks and months to come, as it relates to travel destinations.  I’m trying to work at getting the long-dormant “Where in the World Wednesdays” re-established, and of course would like to bring some new life into my posting through other topics as well. 

As always thanks for checking in and following along.  
Until next time,


Monday, April 22, 2013

stopher's stuff - Typhoid, Hepatitis and Yellow Fever, Oh My!

And so another week begins.  The calendar is already quite full with things to get accomplished – both new and in follow-up from last week.  The “to do” list never seems to dwindle, that’s for certain.  Whether for business, home, family or planning for personal enrichment, there’s just always something begging for my time. 

There's a lot to read up on, in preparation for this trip!
This past week one of those time concerns was getting my immunizations and updating shots for my trip to Africa this fall.  Thus the title of this entry – Typhoid, Hepatitis and Yellow Fever, oh my!   Five shots and 3 band-aids later, my arms were sore, but hopefully, I’ll be protected now from those various diseases (and others) that the nasty little mosquitos tend to carry.  My week has been filled with reading a whole host of literature provided to me by the nurse.  It has been a lot to digest mentally, but at the same time, it’s been good to know what kind of possibilities exist in the months to come. 

Then this weekend was our first “team-building” meeting. Sadly not all of our team were able to be present (we’re up to 30 people now), but it was a great time of “getting to know” each other, as well as more about Kenya, and what to expect while on this mission trip.  Things that we’ll be doing, as well as everywhere we will be going. 

We also learned who has supported us financially so far.  That was awesome to learn, as I had no idea yet how much I had been able to raise in support gifts, nor who had contributed.  I’m a third of the way to the total trip cost now.  That’s great news and a very solid beginning for only a month of fund-raising.  I have another couple of months of activity to go and pray that the funds will continue to come in.  I’m very grateful for those who have contributed financially already and pray that still, more will step up to help in the days and weeks to come.   It’s a big undertaking to do all by yourself, but as we have mentioned to all of those asked to consider a financial gift, it’s light work when shared by many.  Personally, I’m paying 25% of the trip’s $3,200 cost, which is nothing to sneeze at either.

And then still another cool thing happened this week;  this time within the framework of my travel business.  I had applied to be considered , and found out this week that I have been accepted, to attend a FAM (familiarization) trip to Sandals Royal Bahamian resort the first week of June.  I’m so excited.  I’ve been working hard to get into the wedding/honeymoon segment, and this training will definitely help solidify it.  So now I have back-to-back months of great new experiences to continue to expand my personal knowledge of destinations and suppliers.  I’ll be sailing on Norwegian’s newest ship, BREAKAWAY for her inaugural sailing in early May out of New York City, and then in early June headed to the Bahamas to experience the Luxury Included vacation experience known as Sandals.  I would LOVE to be accepted for the Holy Land FAM next January too… but only time will tell about that one. 

What new and exciting things have been going on in your world this past week? I’d love to read your comments with your news.

Until next time,


Monday, April 15, 2013

stopher's stuff - Should We Build an Ark?

Last Monday I said it, and I’m going to say it again.  WOW.  What a crazy week last week turned out to be.  Regardless of all your plans and good intentions, sometimes you just have no control over how a week might turn out.  And that’s exactly how last week was for me.  I went into it with lots of great plans and ideas for following up on previous contacts and leads from the Bridal Show that I participated in last weekend, but a bit of a curveball was thrown my way. 

Typically water is a very good thing.  We use it for drinking and replenishing our bodies, cooking, washing, taking care of our gardens and so much more.  It’s cool and refreshing.  But also at times menacing.  Noah discovered the power of water long after God told him to build an ark.  It had never rained on the earth prior to that time, so he wasn’t quite sure what God was instructing him to do, but soon enough realized the power of water.

This past week we too learned the power of water.  Though it felt like we might need to at time, we didn’t quite need to build an ark, but I will say we could have had a mini regatta in our garage and kitchen.  We had a slab leak.  Thankfully we discovered it before too much damage had been done – the operative phrase being “too much”.  Damage was certainly done, and our lives about to be disrupted for a while.  But it could have been much, much worse.  In the end our entire kitchen floor has been ripped out (there was a huge pond of water beneath the laminate, all over the slab) and we currently have four very large, industrial drying machines working on drying out the floor, walls and under the great big hole that was opened up within our slab.  They are big.  They are loud.  They make it difficult to sleep at night.  But they are working. 

One of my favorite characters in Les Miserables is Gavroche, the little boy who claims he “runs the town”, and that little people are basically a force to be reckoned with.  As all first-time parents understand fairly quickly, little people can have a huge impact on life.  So too can other little things, like openings or holes.  The culprit of our troubles ended up being a tiny, less than 1/8 of an inch, opening in a copper pipe. But that little opening might as well have been a big opening in the amount of water that it let creep out and scatter through the walls, and across the floors.  Until this week I never knew that there were people specializing in doing ultrasound scans of walls and floors before.  I also never knew that there were people who specialized in floor removal.  But I do now.  And it’s actually been quite fascinating watching these different specialists “do their thing.”

In my business, a tag line or marketing strategy that I use is that we sell adventures and experiences to create memories to last a lifetime.  And we do.  Well this week was our own personal adventure.  It’s been an experience that has certainly created new memories for my family that will last us all a lifetime.  We will laugh about it later.  I still remember the year from my youth when the house I grew up in was being added on to.  My parents decided that adding up to our single story house would be better than selling and moving to a different neighborhood.  So the process began, and literally took a year to complete.  It was frustrating for my mother, fun for my brother and I, and yes, VERY neat to watch the transformation.  So too is this relatively minor project in comparison to what my parents dealt with for that year. 

Our journey is not complete, but we are on the good side to recovery.  The problem was identified and fixed.  Now the resulting damage is being undone and repaired.  Will it take a while?  Probably so, but we can deal with it.  At first I was quick to complain that we had no hot water, but then I stopped myself and recognized that in the scheme of things, my water problem was trivial.  There are people all over this world who don’t have the LUXURY of plumbing in whatever they call home.  People that don’t have the LUXURY of clean water near their village or town and have to walk miles each day just to draw water from a well, or worse, a pond, creek or river that is shared not just with other people, but with animals who also drink from it, bathe in it or live in it. 

As a whole, those of us living in North America often can be very spoiled in that we have so much that we simply take for granted.  And that is a big part of why I am going to Kenya this fall.  To not only remind myself of that fact, but also to do what I can to help bring both physical water to the village of Isinon through the well that our church is funding, but also the living water of Jesus Christ.  I am not ashamed to say that ministering to people in His name is why I’m going to Africa.  The trip won’t be a vacation, nor even a research trip for my business – though I certainly WILL learn a lot and get to experience a lot while I’m there.  It will also give me, no doubt, information to come home and share with others. But it will be about transformation – life transformation for me, and for all those on the trip who will be impacted in very real, personal ways in how we approach our daily lives when we return home once again. 

So this slab leak, however frustrating it’s been, really is only a bit of preparation for me as I prepare to go to “the other side of the world” in less than 6 months and experience for myself the stories of those who have gone before me.  The conditions will certainly not be 5-star, and that is perfectly okay.  As I said earlier in this whole slab leak mess, “Thank you Lord for disrupting my oh-so-comfortable life.” 
Until next time,


Monday, April 8, 2013

stopher's stuff - So Much Going On

WOW.  Sometimes that’s about all you can say.  There has just been so much going on this past week, and there’s a LOT coming up this week as well.  I’m trying to breathe and stay focused, but it can be hard at times.  But you know what being very busy is like, I’m sure. 

This past week was a good one in many ways.  First, our tenants have moved in!  We are excited about that.  We signed the lease late last week, and they spent the weekend moving in and starting to make it their new home… at least for the next year.  That was a big scramble to make it happen by Friday, but we did.  Then the weekend was filled with a Bridal Expo that I was a vendor at, and Saturday was my daughter’s 9th birthday – both happening on the same day, which made for a) a very full day, and b) a very tired guy by the end of the evening.   Sunday was going to church, and then later spending time outside tending to my yard… the first time this season!  It was great to be able to be outside in the sunshine digging in the dirt, fixing some flower bed walls that had gone askew during the winter, and prepping the soil for some new plants to be added, as well as moving some existing plants from one location to another.  I do enjoy being out and working in my yard – I always have, even way back as a kid.  The feel of dirt on your hands, and the thrill of watching things that you plant begin to blossom and grow, is such an enjoyable feeling.  At least to me it is.
Another exciting thing that happened this past week was the news that I have surpassed the one third mark of my needed fund-raising goal for my Kenya mission trip this fall.  That is huge, and I’m very excited about that.  I’m waiting for the list of donations to be provided to me by my church at our upcoming team meeting on the 21st so that I can then start to thank those who have supported me financially.  I’m really looking forward to this trip, and continue to pray that the rest of the needed funds will be raised.  The team itself going to Kenya has grown too, now up to about 25 people now, and might even go a bit higher as well.  I’m really excited about it, and looking forward to being used by God in this way to make a difference. 

Other “fun” of the past week was the completion of our income taxes for 2012, and the reorganization of my garage (another thing that got quite askew during the winter months).  Neither of these were fun tasks, but things that had to be done.  Which then leads me to the first task of the week this week… one that I’m torn about.  It is taking place today, and is just the first of several more to come… our son’s first college visit.  It is not something that I’m overly thrilled about (the acceptance that he’ll be moving on to college in just a little over a year is something that I’ve been struggling with for a few months now), but of course he is growing up and we all knew it would come eventually.  Way back when he was just a little guy, who loved to hold daddy’s hand, and wanted to be with me all the time – I couldn’t even fathom him going off to college because it was just so far away in the future.  But now, as he drives off in my car to hang out with his buddies, or other events… naturally it’s not that far off.  So I’m just a bit melancholy as the realization is growing on a daily basis. 
And so, I will close, as I have a hundred things to try and get done throughout this week in preparation for taking the Scouts to Summer Camp, business needs, and of course, family needs as well.  I hope you have a phenomenal week.  I’m going to do my best to do the same.

Until next time,


Monday, February 18, 2013

stopher's stuff - Exciting News and More

Happy Presidents Day!  In my former life within corporate America, this was always a day off holiday for me, as both companies I worked for all those years observed all Federal holidays.  So if YOU have the good fortune of having the day off… enjoy it!  If not, make the best of your Monday, and try to enjoy the day as best you can.  

This past week was full of interesting, fun and exciting things for me.  One item that happened has to do with things to come yet this fall, another has to do with the here and now, and the other has to do with both the recent past and the future.  I’m excited about all three.  What are they you wonder?  Well of course, since I’m writing this blog entry, I’m going to tell you!

First up – I’m headed to Africa this fall!  That’s right, Africa; specifically to Kenya.  I’m very excited about the trip, and what possibilities it holds for me as a person.  This trip has nothing to do with my business, but rather is entirely about my faith, beliefs and my ministry.  As a Christian I take the words of Jesus to heart, and therefore this is just one way of living out my faith and trust in Him.  I am going on a mission trip with my church in to Kenya.  I’ve been wanting to make this trip for the past 3 years that our church has been going to Kenya, but haven’t been able to make it happen… until now.  I know it will rock my world in many ways – but I’m looking forward to the transformative nature of the trip.  I’m open to what God wants to show me, and do through me while on this trip.  I pray that I will not be “in the way” – but rather be used as He sees fit as we go in to the Mathare slums and interact with those who live there.  My church has been sponsoring a school there for the past 3 years, providing much needed funds for construction of new facilities, as well as the construction of a well to provide clean drinking water to the community.  It will be very exciting to be there in person and experience for myself what friends who have been on this trip in previous years have described. But I wouldn't be completely honest if I didn't also say that I'm a bit excited about going for one day to the Maasai Mara and experiencing a real safari.  As part of the total trek, the team will be going and seeing the real savannahs with some of God's incredible creatures... not just the recreated version in the Disney parks and at the Animal Kingdom Lodge... but the real deal!  I love staying in savannah view rooms at Animal Kingdom Lodge... I can't wait to be able to experience the savannah in person!  Plus when we're going will be during the traditional period of the annual migration, so it will be amazing to behold if we're truly able to see many of the animals en route.  

Second, my wife and I recently acquired a home for investment purposes, to rent out.  I have spent the past couple of weeks doing the various tasks of getting the house ready to rent, and this weekend was able to get the last “big” thing done with the replacement of the non-functional water heater.  Now I just have to replace the master bathroom floor tile, and do some painting and we’ll be ready to roll for new tenants to be able to move in.  Tiring, yes.  Rewarding, yes.  Exciting, yes, yes, yes!

And third – and this was a big one causing me to do a little “dance of joy” – I am now officially  an Accredited Cruise Counselor, by CLIA (the Cruise Lines International Association).  This was no small feat to achieve either.  Basically, when you enroll in the certification program, you have 2 years from enrollment to complete it.  Thankfully I was able to achieve it in less than a year (about 10 days shy of one year).   From their press release information…  “The Accredited (ACC) Cruise Counselor designation is conferred by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) upon dedicated travel professionals who have completed an extensive program of classroom training, cruise experience, ship inspections, and a combination of video training and attendance at industry events. A CLIA Certified Cruise Counselor is your best resource in choosing a perfect vacation.”    The Accreditation, according to CLIA, goes a long way too, as the average certified agent experiences some fairly substantial increases in their sales with industry-wide increases as much as 261%.  So even if it only helps to increase my business by 25% or more, I’ll be pleased, mainly because of the rigors of completing the program.  But I’m not stopping here, as the next level of certification, the Master Cruise Counselor (MCC) is in my sights.  I want it, and will be going after it as well.

So there you go.  A big week.  An exciting weekend.  And a very exciting fall on the horizon.

What’s new and exciting in YOUR world?

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year, New Opportunities, New Challenges, New Dreams

Time continues to march onward, ever pushing us forward as we have once again passed from one year and entered into a new year.  2011 has officially entered the history books as we move into 2012.  This will be a year of some big milestones in my household, as well as numerous new opportunities, new challenges, and yes, even new dreams.  I'm looking forward to them all, as I was very much looking forward to shutting the book in 2011.  It was a difficult year for us in many different ways. While I won't say it was a banner year, nor will I say it was my favorite, I don't believe it was a terrible year either. There were many good things that happened for both my family and for me personally in 2011, those great things just got a little overshadowed by the not-so-great things.  So I am true, looking forward to this new year.  So far the new year is still very much like the American Girl doll my daughter received for Christmas...all soft and pretty, but bound to change as she continues to cuddle it, love on it, and play with it.

Personally, I'm excited about several opportunities for the new year.  My eldest son is getting closer to completing his quest for the rank of Eagle Scout, and this will be the year he achieves it.  His project was approved in December, so now he begins the fund-raising process as well as securing workers to help him complete it.  The project itself will be done in the springtime. All of the other requirements for Eagle are complete (except for the all-important Board of Review which is the last step anyway), so once the project is completed, he's nearly there.  We're hoping to celebrate his achievement with an Eagle Court of Honor in the summertime this year.  Additionally, my middle son will be moving from Star Scout to Life Scout next week, and he will then begin his own Eagle quest.  He has merit badges and other stuff to do, but once he becomes Life, he too can begin planning his own project.  Unlike his older brother, he says he wants to get the project done first and then worry about the required Merit Badges... so who knows, we could have two different projects going this year!

Both boys are going on mission trips with church this year, and I am hoping to be able to go on one myself.  I really want to make the trip to Kenya this fall.  I wasn't able to the last two times, but I'm praying that this is my year.

Like her brothers, my daughter is growing so fast - and it's a treat to watch.  She's becoming a beautiful little lady.  She'll be starting gymnastics next week and is so very pumped about it.  She was such a timid little thing for so long, but she is making some good strides forward to be a bit more boldly, less trepidatiously.  She too will be experiencing something new this summer as she'll have her first experience with church camp.  She's nervous, yet excited as well since several of her friends will be there with her.

Professionally I'm excited about all of the different things that I've been doing with this whole Cruise Plannersthing.  There have been lots of mundane, legal aspects to work through; but there have been lots of fun aspects as well. Meeting with various vendors. Networking and getting to know people within my community.  On-site training and ship inspections.  Lots of learning and exploring has happened and is yet to happen.  I'm looking forward to a FAM, or "familiarization" trip to Hawaii later this month, as well as determining when the next cruise will be.  This whole venture began as a dream, evolved into an opportunity, becoming a challenge, but remains a big dream of mine.  I'm looking forward to seeing how it plays out, grows, and transforms throughout the new year.

Dreams for the new year continue to grow, and as they work their way from dreams to reality, I'll share.  Until then, know that I'm not sitting on my laurels, but rather am working to turn those dreams into some sort of reality, whether here in 2012, or a little beyond.  I hope you are doing so with your own dreams as well.

I wish you all well throughout this great new year ahead of us.