Archive for July, 2011

PVX: A Crash of Rhinos

Posted by Arlo on Jul 15, 2011 under Postcard Valet, Travel, Videos

When I put together the African Big 5 Safaris video, there were a few things left on the cutting room floor.  This little story, about a rhino encounter we had on Day Two, was one of them.

It happened right after our first cheetah sighting, on our way back to camp.  The gates close promptly at 5:30pm, so we were hustling to make it back in time.  When this herd of rhinos blocked our path, our guide, Marcel, started to fret.

The gate was closed when we eventually drove up (at exactly 5:39pm!)  Fortunately, we weren’t the only late ones, and we slipped in with the rest of the cars in line.  Even so, we were prepared with an excellent excuse: My photos’ timestamps proved that we had spent exactly nine minutes behind those rhinos!

The main reason I left this segment out of the original video was because the edit was already running long.  There were other, technical, hard-to-edit-around problems with this video, too.  Oksana and I were both shooting, but we’d framed essentially the same shots with our cameras.  Our exposures were wildly different, with hers over-compensating for the deepening twilight.  You’ll see when I have to jump-cut between them.  It’s like night and day; pretty jarring.

No worries, though.  Quality issues like that may have kept it out of the first Safari video’s final cut, but I’m much more lenient with our Postcard Valet “Extras!”

African Big 5 Safaris

Thoughts on Uruguay

Posted by Arlo on Jul 13, 2011 under Postcard Valet, Thoughts On..., Travel

I want to make sure I do a “Thoughts on…” post for every country we visit, but I’ve fallen way behind.  While traveling, I try to jot these things down as they occur to me, usually on my iPhone.  I still have all my notes for every country, but I wrote down Uruguay’s way back in April.  They’re not as fresh in my mind as they were back then.

Still, let’s try to catch up a bit:


We only visited coastal areas in Uruguay – Montevideo, Punta del Este, Punta del Diablo, and Cabo Polonio – so I didn’t get to see much inland, but what I did see reminded me strongly of North Carolina.

Most of the roads between cites were two-lane blacktop and the view from the bus window was of nothing but flat farmland.  On the red dirt roads to Cabo Polonio, the view was split between farms and groves of pine trees.  Out on the highways, they even had the occasional John Deer dealership, complete with tractors and harvesting equipment lined up for display.

The beaches were uncannily like the Outer Banks, too.  The same color sand, the same tall dunes, the same tall beach grass.  I even spotted some sea fleas in the surf.  Aside from the occasional penguin or sea lion carcass washed up on the shore and the rocky point, everything on the beach was so familiar that the first thing I did when I got back to civilization (i.e., internet access) was look up the latitude for Cabo Polonio.  Sure enough, it was at almost the exact same level as Nags Nead, NC, just in the southern hemisphere instead of the north.  Makes sense that things were so similar: Same position on the globe, same Atlantic Ocean joining them together.

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Zanzibar is Dangerous

Posted by Arlo on Jul 9, 2011 under Postcard Valet, Travel


Yesterday, as we walked down a lonely stretch of beach, Oksana and I were mugged by a heavily-muscled man with a machete.

Our day started out well enough. After breakfast, we decided to follow up on an email we’d received from a dive center at one of the resorts. We checked a map and realized it was a walkable distance down the beach. To be sure, the owners of the lodge we were staying at warned us about a certain stretch of empty property where thieves had been known to hang out, but they assured us it was only dangerous for people with bags or cameras.

Oksana tucked a few bills away in her swimsuit and I debated long and hard about the two things I wanted to bring: My iPhone and our GPS. The GPS because I wanted to record at least one good track duringour stay on the Eastern side of Zanzibar, the iPhone because we were going to pitch a work-trade deal with the dive center and can bring up our previous diving videos on it.

I also carried my Swiss Army knife. I wouldn’t risk a fight over the iPhone itself, but I would for the data that’s on it.
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PV016: Elephant-Back Safari

Posted by Arlo on Jul 3, 2011 under Postcard Valet, PV-Podcast, Travel, Videos

Oksana and I spent a week in Livingstone, Zambia, next to Victoria Falls.  We made time to visit both sides of the park – Zambia and Zimbabwe.  Part of the reason we spent so long in the area was that I was trying hard to justify one of the many excursions one can do in the area.  Although Zambia is cheap, the tourism around Victoria Falls isn’t.

Even though we were way over-budget, I so wanted to take a helicopter over the falls or bungee jump off the Victoria Falls Bridge!  I couldn’t see myself leaving this part of Africa without doing something unique.  Well, we got our wish!  On our day-trip to Zimbabwe, we hooked up with a tour agency called Adventure Zone for an Elephant-Back Safari!

Compared to the previous safari video I edited, this one came together so much easier.  (Probably because it recaps a 3-hour tour, rather than a 4-day/3-night one!)  We recorded our voiceovers in the courtyard of our hotel, which was a bit frustrating – if you hear someone sweeping the patio by the pool, try to imagine it’s an elephant swishing his tail as he walks through the bush…

I also want to give a shout out to Bra Tich, our Adventure Zone videographer.  Oksana and I both noticed right away how well-composed and steady his handheld shots were.  We requested his original HD camera files (instead of the edited DVD) for use in our video and got to see the editing room when they copied all 11GBs to our spare flash media.  I’m quite impressed with the operation they run from that small room; 4-6 edited videos a day, duplicated and delivered to any tourist who pays for a copy.  They’ve streamlined the editing process down to a state that I can only dream of…

Vic Falls Adventure Zone
Elephant-back Safari
Victoria Falls (Wikipedia)
Our tour review of the Elephant-Back Safari

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One Year of Travel

Posted by Arlo on Jul 1, 2011 under Postcard Valet, Travel, Website

One year ago today, we left our home in Juneau, Alaska, and started our trip around the world.  If everything had gone according to plan, we would be returning to work after the Fourth of July weekend.  Thank goodness things didn’t go as planned!

A quick recap:

  • Our trip started with a road trip through the Canada and the United States.  13,000 miles later, we’d visited Seattle, the Redwoods, San Francisco, Las Vegas, the Outer Banks, Key West, Manhattan, and Niagara Falls.
  • An unexpected family emergency delayed our plans and we stayed with my grandparents from mid-August to early November.
  • On November 10th, what we considered to be our “real” start date, we flew to Quito, Ecuador, and met five friends for a week-long trip through the Galapagos Islands.
  • From the end of November, 2010, to May 1st, 2011, we worked our way through South America, exploring Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay.
  • We rented an apartment in Buenos Aires for a month and played the role of ex-pats for a time.
  • May found us in Africa, a first for both of us.  We have since worked our way north from Capetown, South Africa, through Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania.  We’re in Dar es Salaam right now, bound for the island of Zanzibar for a week or two of relaxation.

In all, over the course of a year, we’ve passed through 15 countries.  That may sound like a lot, but I expected to be much further along by now.

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