Tag Archives: Travel

Where have you been?!?!

Where have you been?!?!


It’s not you?

It’s me?

Well, I suppose that is kind of true.

However, in my defense (Dr. Trot is never short on offensive strategies — which conveniently often also work out to be great defense…anyway…) I tried to write you a nice little post explaining what kind of weekend was waiting in store for us. Actually, let me revise that — Dr. Trot DID write you a very nice and VERY LONG…as in not little at all…descriptive post LAST THURSDAY while en route to the land of Colin Kaeppernick and Timbuk2. I told you all about how well the weekend trip was CA starting off…how my sprint for the train in my top-of-the-line-sprinting-kit was successful–


Sprinting kit.

and how EWR managed to get us up in the air after only a 1 hr delay. I also told you all about the great plans for the weekend —

to bake up a storm of lemon flavored goodies in order to take advantage of (but a very small fraction of) the wonderful fresh lemons in the back yard,



to run the Berkeley hills until Dr. Trot’s opposite-of-in-shape-legs refuse to take another step (this particular activity took an embarrassingly short amount of time),



to pig out on West Coast sushi (this may or may not be inversely related to the Berkeley Hills predicament above)



and to hang out with the local characters for a change of pace from the norm.


Just a couple of the neighbors.

Unfortunately, Dr. Trot can be a TOTAL EFFING IDIOT and took this opportunity to demonstrate just that. Upon finishing your pre-weekend post and a second (most thoughtful and thorough) post pertaining to the current state of funding for basic research projects (as well as a number of important emails) Dr. Trot closed her iPad and tossed it in her bag with her wireless keyboard. She did not disconnect the Bluetooth and proceeded to mindlessly shlep aforementioned items around until the next day.

This was quite the unfortunate start to the weekend, as upon waking up, Dr. Trot realized that the otherwise-wonderful wireless + Bluetooth keyboard had been indiscriminately entering passwords as it clattered around in the bag and had deactivated the whole damn iPad!!! x-(

Long story short is that everything I did on the plane was lost.

Gone. Bienvenedo. Adios. Ciao. Sayonara.

Also gone were the 1.5 hrs we then had to spend at the horrible Apple store while the Appleteers wiped my OS and restored it to factory settings. Barf. x-(

The good news is that strained relationship between iPad and I subsequently resulted in a minimum amount of online time over the weekend and many things to tell you about now that our relationship is on the mend. ūüôā

Fasten your seat belts, a full account of the weekend activities will coming shortly.

Leave a comment

Filed under CA, Trotting

The Nomads Hostel – Melbourne Australia review (after reminiscing about the wedding down under)

It occurred to me to today that it is just about 2 years since my trip to Australia for Dr. DF’s and M’s wedding. I spent the first half of the trip with the whole wedding gang — staying in a beach-front house in Adelaide, exploring on a private tour around Kangaroo island and wine tasting wherever they would serve us ūüėČ

Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island

The actual wedding and post-wedding dinner celebration were beautiful, on February 29th and at a fantastic country vineyard/winery just outside of Adelaide. After the family festivities came to a close, the cool kids changed into party clothes and hit up the best that Adelaide had to offer into the wee hours of the morning.

The day after the wedding (this particular logistical detail is not one that I would necessarily advise) I took the overnight bus from Adelaide to Melbourne for a few days of solo exploration before I needed to return to the reality of graduate school in MN…in the winter. Now the overnight bus is a great way to save both time and money, but DAMN. I am rapidly approaching being too old for that shit!!

Once in Melbourne, I made my way to my home base, The Nomads Hostel of Melbourne.

front desk

So, for the next time that you’re in Melbourne Australia, here is what you need to know–


Traveling on the cheap, I reserved a bed in a mixed dorm of 11 people. (This was the cheapest option available.) Of course, shacking up with 12 total strangers isn’t usually going to be one’s first choice for a good night’s sleep (or hell, maybe it is…no judgement here…) but I shared my room with 11 interesting and courteous travelers and had no regrets about my choice.


There were enough clean gender-separated dorm-style showers and bathrooms on each floor whenever I needed a shower or otherwise ūüėČ

The common areas on the first level were fantastic. If you are interested in a longer stay this would be a particularly great location. There was a kitchen for preparing meals and storing personal food, an indoor lounge that was great for taking a load off and indoor and outdoor dining rooms for scarfing down whatever creations emerged from the aforementioned community kitchen.


outdoor dining room

There was also a bar that was very popular each night of my stay (but not irritatingly so…)


da bar

Like with my roommates, I met loads of interesting and courteous travelers here — traveling alone, in pairs and in small groups. Regardless of your travel group size, I felt like the Nomad would be a great fit for most backpackers.

The one complaint that I would have (I can’t be too positive now can I?) is in regards to the internet access. Internet was not included in the price of the room, it was limited to one device per pass code upon purchase and was a ticking clock from initial log-in through expiration. Now if I remember correctly, the internet vouchers were rather expensive, access was fair to poor and only in the indoor common areas on the first floor. While I’m not a proponent of my electronic devices consuming my vacation, posting a smug photo or ten two or sending everyone you know email updates to the family shouldn’t be too much to ask these days.

Management and staff

These guys/girls…well, 20-30-somethings, were quite helpful. I can’t say that I had so many interactions with them, but most everything with the Nomad ran smoothly, they were able to answer any questions that I had and succeeded in making my stay a very positive experience. There were staff members from all over the world, who spoke a variety of languages and had a whole collection of different background stories.

the front desk action

In combination they were able to adequately serve every guest, from your solo American girl to your family of 4 from the Philippines.


The Nomads is located just off the beaten path on the north end of town, very near the Queen Victoria Market.


Queen Victoria Market

This was super nice because it was a doable walk to anywhere you’d want to go in Melbourne (or trolley ride if you want to get to the far end of town and don’t feel like hoofing it for an hour) but not smack in the center of the action when you want a bit of space between you and the city madness.

Emperial Gardens, also a bit off the beaten path...

The Emperial Gardens (also a bit off the beaten path)

Overall The Nomads was a great experience. Both the people and the place made my stay fantastic and if I ever find myself back in Melbourne (god help me if I do to a certain extent, but that’s for another day I suppose) without a bag of cash to spend on a real hotel, I’d have no second thoughts about having a second stint.


P.S. Happy Anniversary Dr. DF and M!! ūüėÄ

Leave a comment

Filed under Australia

Week 16

Mon 10/28 – rest

Thank you.

Tues 10/29 Р6ish mi 

A lovely early morning in lab lit the fire under my ass to get the run done early. The cooler weather is nice, but it does necessitate a bit more though to go into dressing and a bit more time to get the stiff joints and tight muscles all warmed up. That, and I’m old. ūüė¶ Now I’m probably the only one saying this, and I will probably eat my words later, but it’s nice that the winters¬†here are still rather damp. I can feel even this very modest drop in humidity (coupled with the cooler temps) through out my lungs. MN, how did I ever survive you?!

Wed 10/30 – rest

Thurs 10/31 Р8ish mi 

There is something very satisfying about bailing out of work from 8-9:30 am to get my run in during daylight hours. Although I felt like I was working harder than I really should’ve had to, it was a beautiful morning, I didn’t get lost and I finished the run all toast warm in my ruffled skirt and tank top. Once again, my complaints are unwarrented…I suppose…

Fri 11/1 – rest

Off to AICHE for the annual (oversized) national chemical engineering conference! (And some serious mischief-making around San Francisco of course.) For example…


…early on the first evening of the conference…


…and a bit later in the evening. (Don’t worry, we were all seeing double at this point.)

Dr. Maroof and Queen Penny were absolutely gracious hosts for the two days that I spent in Berkeley before heading into DT SF for the conference. They made me a most fantastic dinner for me when I arrived on Friday night.





They also gave me a most totally perfect belated birthday gift – a purple marathon Camelbak!


My super sweet new purple marathon Camelbak (and me on the side)

What a great way to start off my pre-conference weekend! I could get used to CA!!

Sat 11/2 –¬†cross –¬†20 mi biking¬†– HILLS!!

On Saturday morning we got up and turned dinner left overs into an awesome brunch of south Asian seasoned rice + beans and shrimp + potato + cauliflower + cheese quesadillas. We might be kinda into weird fusion foods. Maybe.


Fusion Brunch

Then, we got all suited up


Us…all suited up…


…and a close-up of my new glorious compression socks from Aki. Happy Birthday to my feet!!

and took out the bikes (thank you Noem for lending yours to me, it was awesome!!) for a leisurely 10 mile ride along the north coast of the bay, 


bike trail + SF Bay

and then a grueling 10 mile battle up to the top of Berkeley, to Tilden Park


Tilden Park

and then back home.


The climb up was honestly the most challenging and treacherous bike climb I think I have ever done. The perpetual gradual incline wore you down while the wicked steep sections totally blew out your quads in no time. And then the switchbacks. Ahhh yes, the switchbacks (at this point, why not?). They made everything super precarious, just to ensure you were actually being challenged.

Also, once we conveniently arrived at the farthest point from home in our route, we had an unfortunate spat between Dr. M’s ankle and his bike pedal clip. ¬†(Apparently frantically trying to clip in before you roll backwards down the damn hill is not the safest.)



Luckily there were some EMTs in the area (originally called to help with “a dog that was having a problem in the lake…” WTF?!?!…) who helped us bandage things well enough to get home. Thank god it was 5 miles DOWN the mountain to get back. :-/

So (of course) this was not the most ideal Saturday workout to do two weeks out from marathon weekend, but who is going to pass up on a day long SF Bay Area biking expedition? The only people who come to mind are total idiots and professional athletes. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t find myself fitting well into either category.

Sun 10/6 – 10 + 3 = 13ish

I started the day with a beautiful early morning run along the bay, taking the same route that we biked yesterday.


Good morning San Francisco and SF Bay!

In case you’re interested, there is a positive correlation between ones amount of Facebook posting while running and the likelihood of appearing to be still drunk from the previous night. I may (or may not) have been both one of those…

After getting back from these first 10 miles it was time to dash off to SF for the first day of the conference. In contrast to Drs. S & M, my talk was not until Tuesday afternoon, so I did the only rational thing upon arriving at the hotel – I dashed out the door for 3 more miles through Golden Gate Park and then a 3 mile walk home. (I sadly don’t think I get to count these last three towards my daily mileage though…)

Total mileage =  27 mi

So obviously this mileage is quite low, even for the beginning of the pre-race taper. On the bright side, was able to take advantage of the northern Bay Area and get a beautiful, and extremely challenging, bike ride in (yes, I am telling myself that this counts for something) as well as my long run for the week (albeit only 12 miles and broken into 2 segments, but never mind…) On an even brighter side is that there are only two more weeks until the marathon!! (Ok, fine, there is really only one more week now that I’ve finally gotten this damn thing written x-(

Threads ‚Äď tanks or tees (+/- arm warmers), running skirts or capris for the chilly mornings, + compression for the long runs and Mizunos (Wave Creation 11s and Wave Elixer 6s)

Leave a comment

Filed under Food & Restaurant, Marathons, Travel, Trotting, Work out

Panga Chumvi – Zanzibar Tanzania

I’ve been as bad at cranking out hote/restaurant/race reviews as I am ___(fill in the blank with one of many appropriate choices)___ . So, here is the beginning of what will hopefully not be a futile attempt at catching up…

Panga Chumvi on Trip Adviser

Panga Chumvi

Our stay at Ponga Chumvi was great! The photos online are very accurate from what we experienced. At this point in our vacation we were very ready to kick back and relax for a few days in peace (we’d been on safari for 4 days and I’d survived the Mt. Kilimanjaro marathon) and that was exactly what we got.


Our bungalow at Panga Chumvi was beachfront with a great big covered front porch, perfect for watching the sunrise and reading in the morning and unwinding at night.

porch view

Inside it was simple and quaint but lovely. The sleeping area and private bathroom (with warm water!) were very clean and very well-kept. The beds were comfortable and the mosquito nets worked well.


The common sitting/relaxing area also doubled as the seating area for the restaurant and was also beach front.This worked quite well actually. The chairs and tables were covered in bright fabrics and were comfortable. There was reliable wireless internet when we needed it and adorable kittens keeping us company.


All fo the dinner options that we tried were great at the little beach front restaurant. Of course they were all fresh fish + accompaniments of some sort. Coming back home it was hard to not compare the seafood here with what we were spoiled with there…

octopus, salad and chips

octopus, salad and chips

fish, salad and chips

fish, salad and chips

prans, salad and rice

prawns, salad and rice

As if this wasn’t enough, the icing on the cake at Panga Chumvi was the¬†wonderful¬†breakfast served every morning. It wasn’t anything extravagant, but it was absolutely perfect. First there was fresh mango, pineapple and watermelon with coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice.


And then tomatoes, cheese and sausage with toast.


Very few mornings will be able to beat waking up to the sunrise and a good book on the porch and then breakfast at Panga Chumvi.

Management and staff

The owner, Rebecca, and the rest of the staff were great. All of our questions and concerns were addressed right away during our stay.

There were also tour guides and masseuse associated with our hotel and the other similar little get aways that dotted the beach in either direction of us. I’m not sure how tightly/loosely these people were associated, but they were all quite helpful. One tour guide arranged for a spice tour and a trip in to Stone Town for us.

Nutmeg and mace!

Nutmeg and mace!

Fresh coconuts!

Fresh coconuts!

Another guide arranged our transportation to and from Stone Town when we were coming and going and with yet another we arranged a 2 hr snorkeling tour. Prices between different guides varied quite a bit (by a factor of 2 in some cases…$20 USD/person vs $40 USD/person for snorkeling and $50 USD vs. $60 USD for a ride into Stone Town for example) so shopping around is worth while. We didn’t do multiple tours so I’m not sure how the quality also varied with the price, but I’m pretty sure that the rides into and out of Stone Town were all pretty comparable. Unfortunately we also¬†didn’t have a chance to capitalize on a massage. ūüė¶ ¬†This is one additional thing that would have been great to include during our stay.


Panga Chumvi is located ~1 km from the (very¬†hidden and very¬†small and¬†very¬†hard to find town of Matemwe on the eastern coast of Zanzibar (Tanzania). It takes about 30 min by cab ($50 USD) and 1 hr by daladala (although we never did this) to reach from the main port Stone Town. While it is very near Matemwe, this town is so small it really didn’t make a difference. There was no market (no fruit) much less anything else to buy, see or do. The town was populated by maybe 1000 very nice people (non-English speaking), but definitely not a resource for a traveler. Overall there was not much to do or see right around Panga Chumvi, the majority of the tourism on Zanzibar is over on the west side in Stone Town or up on the northern side of the island. Rather than being the sight of lots of tourism, the east side of the island seems to be the working part of the island. The locals were farming sea weed from in front of our hotel and all along the coast. In the mornings they would pull it from the water and hang it to dry for the day on fence like structures built back from the shore.

Sea weed farming

Sea weed farming

Now this wasn’t the beautiful, picturesque sight that one often finds when searching for images of Zanzibar, but it was super interesting to see and the solitude, calm, local feeling that we experienced was just what we were looking for.

During the day we enjoyed walking up and down the beach, shelling and taking in the sights, sounds and smells. There were miles of wonderful beach in both directions to explore.

Sea shore going north

Sea shore going north

Sea shore going south

Sea shore going south

In doing this though, one has to be mindful of what season they are in. We were there at the beginning of the rainy season, so just about every day we got caught in some degree of torrential downpour. There are a number of very similar little hotels/restaurants along the coast. These were fun to check out and stop into for a quick refreshment.

beachside joint 1

We went snorkeling with a small group for ~2hrs just off of the cost one day near a few little islands. The outing was about 2 hrs and equipment was provided for about $25 USD/person. I have to admit that the experience didn’t measure up to the snorkeling in Belize, but I don’t think that any snorkeling that I ever do again will measure up to that experience. To be fair, the cost was also a fraction of what we ¬†threw at the entire day of snorkeling (with private tour guides and a fresh beach side¬†lobster lunch…but never mind…) in Belize.


Filed under Tanzania, Travel

PSA: Newark is the devil

Full disclosure: my last post began with a big fat lie. I said it was high time I catch ya’ll up on what has been my I’m-just-glad-my-head-is-still-attached life over the last few months…and then I cracked up at my own joke as I was in the process of flying back to MN for my little sister A’s wedding. Truth be told, I was only getting onto the plane when I so foolishly typed that statement. After composing that most witty and even lengthier update I AM STILL ON THE FOTHER MUCKING GROUND!!! First, before this all even started, we waited 2 hrs at the gate for our plane to show up — how nice of her to join us, right? Then there was a 1 hr thunderstorm delay…and then a 2 hr tornado delay. And now we have been informed that the crew has timed out and we will be returning to the gate!! x-(

Fast forward 5 hours…

The good news is that I’m small enough to sleep layed out totally flat on either my back or my stomach across four airport chairs and underneath their very hard, immobile arm rests. The bad news is THAT I KNOW THIS!!!


Fortunately, even better news is that after our flight was finally canceled last night an absolute godsend got me on the first flight out of Newark this morning while everyone else was being told the earliest they could leave the northeast was at 3 pm out of La Guardia! So with that, my sleepy but thankful and optimistic ass is firmly planted in (an exit row seat!! …a godsend I tell you…) 12C finally about to depart for Minneapolis. So Anna, it looks like I may make it to the wedding after all! ūüôā

Leave a comment

Filed under Travel

From defending to New Jersey (but not yet defending NJ)

It’s really high time (literally, I’m trapped in an airplane for the next 3 hours! …hahaha…never mind…) that I fill in some gaps that I’ve left, well, gaping, over the past few months. Per my most “recent” (think loose definition of the word here boys and girls), however untimely, post we re-hashed the lovely experience of my PhD defense. As of May 31st it was official! Dr. Trot has her PhD in something besides finding her own jokes entertaining and bad story telling (it is in chemical engineering to be exact…and yes, this does help explain the aforementioned odd sense of humor and questionable social skills). This information was happily received by moi en route to Princeton, NJ. So what the hell happened between May 3rd & May 31st, you ask? That’s a very good question! Thank you for inquiring! Let’s take just a second to catch you up to this point then, shall we?

So after the defense and after party on May 3rd, May 4th was spent with a monumental hangover and cruising around the Festival of Nations in St. Paul with Dr. Wil, Katie (who was part of a number of irish step dance performances…which, PS, are VERY cool!) and Krsna. Sadly I have ZERO photos of all the fun foods we tried. The only real don’t-need-to-try-this-again was the Tibetan coffee (which I think is actually supposed to be consumed more like a soup) that was made with cream, salt and butter. You could distinctly taste each and every ingredient. BLEH! After the FoN we hit up the Minnesota Historical Society (Katie is a historian here and totally hooked us up…also, fyi, she will totally whip your trail every time in a who-can-recite-more-fun-facts competition…) for a Civil war + Abe Lincoln exhibit.


Krs, Dr. T, Katie, and Dr. Wil…errr….I mean two brave Civil War soldiers and two beautiful women from the late 1800s…all looking damn good for their age!

Very cool! We wrapped up the day with a walk around the beautiful St. Paul cathedral and a stop for coffee. Heading home I was finally starting to feel like a normal human again!

Ov the next few weeks there were too many celebratory lunches, happy hours and hours and hours… and dinners to recount them all. Let it suffice to sat that it was great spending overdue QT with a lot of peeps that I’m really going to miss :-/ Let me also note a couple of particular outings that warrant special attention…

1. Lady’s night at Alma with Ladies A & A
These two have been my friends since before I can remember. Ironically while I have lived within 100 miles of my home town my entire life, both A & A have lived all over the place. Now though, they are both back in Minneapolis, and I’m leaving! Yeesh! Anywho…on one delicious/generous Friday evening, they took me out to a local French restaurant, Alma, for their 5 course tasting menu. AMAZING I had been here once before an am now wondering why the hell it was only once. The place is speedy (let’s be honest / point out the obvious) but it is damn good. After dinner we went to the Marvel Bar for cocktails and atmosphere. This place is totally hidden in the basement if an old building in the wear house district. You have to go in the back, basement door and down a hall to an unmarked door. You open the door…and…SURPRISE! there is a spunky, charming, cocktail bar filled with out of the ordinary. It was a great way to spend the evening with two very above ordinary women!

2. Rooftop wine and sushi
May 23rd was a rough day. This is when it really hit me that I was leaving this MInnesota graduate school ChemE world, that has been my whole world for the last 6 years, behind and starting up something totally new, totally alone and totally far away. I was hit by this ton of bricks as I watched (and video taped, like the very good friend that I am) my close friend and favorite groupie Dr. K defend his PhD thesis. We have seen each other just about each and every day for the last five years. We’ve helped each other with the personal and professional bullshit of work/school/life and enjoyed our successes side by side. AND THEN BOOM!!!! IT’S ALL OVER!!!! Or so that was how I felt. Maybe Of course I was being a little over dramatic. We all move forward in life (obviously this is a good thing) and we will continue to stay in touch and be part of each others lives as good friends do. Now, what the hell does this have to do with rooftop wine and sushi? My buddy Mr. M and I decided to celebrate the this process of moving forward by doing something that both we (and coincidently Dr. K) have very fond memories of, rooftop wine and sushi at Seven. Two glasses of wine, a nice breeze, agedashi tofu, a summer roll and a winter roll were exactly what I needed.


Agedashi tofu (read: heaven)


Winter and summer rolls

Never mind that afterwards we strolled over to The Local Irish pub for some Guinness and a dessert sampler platter (meant for at least 4). Waddling home fat, tipsy and happy was fantastic.

3. Smack Shack snack
One place Mr. M and I wanted to go for a special night out before leaving Minneapolis was the Smack Shack. To celebrate my moving half way across the country to be all by lonesome wonderful post-doc opportunity on the east coast we went out for a very crabby dinner ūüôā We split the famous crab cakes, lobster roll and lobster mac-n-cheese (stop judging, it was delicious) and washed it all down with a couple glasses of wine.


Crab cakes


Lobster mac-n-cheese


Lobster roll!

This was sooooo my kind of Sunday night!

In addition to pigging out at every opportunity, I also had to pack up my entire professional and personal life for the 1300 mile relocation. NBD, right? Wrong.

Thanks to my awesome group mates, passing work stuff on went as smoothly as one could hope for. I will miss the Kaznessis group loads though.

Packing up the personal life though…man…that was tiring and expensive! I was quoted between $900 (for essentially a Fisher Price tent) and $3.5K (for what should include restoration services for my items in addition to their relocation) to transport my belongings to NJ. In the end I argued a lower-end-of-the-cost-spectrum company down to $1,400 from their original ~$2K for a 7x8x9 pod to pack all of my precious material items into. Let me just say two things: 1) Dr. Trot has a lot of shit aforementioned precious material items, and 2) 7x8x9 is the size of a small bathroom! Have you ever tried to move all of our stuff into the bathroom? I wouldn’t recommend it! First of all, it’ll make using the toilet a serious challenge and damn is it a lot of work! Thankfully, I have the world’s most amazing friends and brother and we worked it out. Everything besides the second hand Ikea couch and shitty Target kitchen chairs made it in!


Lady A (from dinner at Alma) even helped me with the cleaning (and may “helped me” read : did just about all of, and a better job than I would have). Everyone was awesome. Seriously awesome!

My final food-and-drink-centric farewell party was at the Loring Kitchen and Grill the evening before I left. I would totally not recommend planning things this way as it is just that much more exciting to be on an additional self-imposed time crunch during endogenously (ask Google) stressful processes. Again, it was a night filled with totally awesome company that make leaving a whole hell of a lot tougher.

Thursday morning, departure morning, came very bright and early (true to form after a late night of farewell partying). Mr. M and I had the car loaded (precious Bianchi and all), tires pumped, oil checked, kitties off at Miss Kookie-the-Kitty-Sitter’s and were on the road by 8 am.


Truth be told, this is nothing short of a miracle. Subsequent miracles include making it through Chicago with only one Dr. Trot screw up by mid afternoon and then to Callehan’s in Elkart, IN by dinner time. This is my adviser’s family-in-law’s family restaurant, just off of the IN turnpike at exit 42. We were advised to stop in for steak and eggs (M mixed it up and got the Greek chicken) and ask for Kostas.



May the record show that Dr. YK was a very good adviser in this matter. The atmosphere was charming, the food was delicious and Kostas was second to none.


…and after.

If you are ever making your way though Indiana, in the vicinity of Notre Dame, do take a side trip to Callehan’s. Turnpike…Elkart exit 42. Now we/mostly I were bound and determined to make it to Cleveland by the end of day 1. An extended dinner at Callehan’s + the dark + the rain + the 15 hours since we had left home all conspired to convince us to pull over for the night about half way between Toledo and Cleveland. Over all a freaking expensive Holiday Inn Express good decision I believe. Dr. Trot, Mr. M and the precious Bianchi all slept like babies.

Day two started a bit later, 10 am, and was only an 11 hour day of driving. Ohio is boring, Pennsylvania is beautiful and New Jersey, for better or worse, is home now. And this brings us back to May 31st – when I, (officially) Dr. Trot, (officially) moved to New Jersey, yo!

Leave a comment

Filed under Dr-ing, General, Travel, Trotting

Herbs and Spices – Arusha Tanzania

Herbs and Spices on Trip Adviser

So we found Herbs and Spices listed as a hotel in one of our travel books as we were preparing for our trip. On Trip Adviser (and frankly everywhere else that I’ve looked) it is only listed as a restaurant. I assure you however, it’s definitely a hotel as well!¬†Our stay at the Herbs and Spices Hotel was very nice.


Our room at Herbs and Spices was clean and welcoming. The beds were comfortable and were¬†equipped¬†with nice mosquito nets so we could open our big windows at night for an evening breeze. We had a private bathroom that was clean with a western toilet and a shower. Now we were supposed to have warm water, but there always seemed to be one reason or another why it was not available. I think I had one shower where it wasn’t totally cold, but that was about as good as it got. Considering the ~90 F temperatures, this definitely wasn’t the end of the world.

The common lobby and restaurant area was welcoming and clean. There was a lovely ¬†front porch, shaded by tall trees and vines, with tables and seating for meals and a nice place just to take a load off. We had breakfast (included with the room) here every morning and dinner a few times as well. Breakfast included coffee and tea, eggs, sausage, toast and jam. It was a nice way to start the day. For lunch and dinner, traditional Ethiopian options were available as well as European style meals. We¬†obviously¬†had Ethiopian dishes for the two dinners we ate at Herbs and Spices. Both were injera with some sort of veggie preparation. We had beans, spicy lentils, potatoes, and a few other things that I can’t remember any more :-/ Shame on me…

Management and staff

The staff at Herbs and Spices was courteous and helpful. Our interactions with them were rather limited however.


Herbs and Spices is located on the main road just on the southeast corner of Arusha. While the street is busy, it has a nice walking path to town. It is about a 20 minute walk into town, with many friendly people along the way. There is also a well stocked convenient store about 10 minutes away by foot.

Leave a comment

Filed under Tanzania, Travel

Hotel Hibiscus – Moshi Tanzania

Hotel Hibiscus on Trip Adviser

Our stay at the Hotel Hibiscus was awesome. 


Our room at the Hibiscus was clean, spacious and totally charming. The beds were comfortable and had nice mosquito nets conveniently suspended on wire tracks from the ceiling. We had a private bathroom that was very clean with a western toilet and a shower with¬†warm water!!¬†(Note: There was one small issue with the shower here. The hot and cold water nobs were¬†reversed!!¬†We didn’t notice this until well into our stay unfortunately. Once we figured this out though, the showers were fantastic.)

The common areas were welcoming and clean. There was a comfy front porch that was great for read on during the day and a fire ring out back that looked like a lovely area for night time activities. (The evening temperatures of +80 F and previous engagements prevented us from checking this out during our stay.) Inside there was a living room with plenty of seating, a little library with books to share and a sizable community dining area.

A really delicious breakfast spread was served each morning in the indoor common area. Options included, coffee and tea, oatmeal, fruit, yogurt and toast with jam and peanut butter. It was a great way to start the day, it was also a great way to meet and get to know other guests staying at the Hibiscus.

Management and staff

The owner, Rebecca, and the staff Rosie could not have been better! They were sooooooo welcoming and friendly and helpful. You could really not ask for better hosts! Rebecca even drove me to the packet pick up site for the marathon when she found out I had no idea where I was going. They were absolutely fantastic.


The Hibiscus is located just north of the main part of Moshi. It is a quick (15 min) walk to the town center and the dala and bus stands or a 5 min (3000 $TSH) cab ride if you have lots of luggage. It is also just a quick (10 min) walk to the start of the (2011, 2012 and 2013) Mt. Kilimanjaro Marathon! This was a very luck coincidence for us as we just selected The Hibiscus based on its reviews and adorable pictures on Trip Adviser (which it totally lived up to). SCORE! Unfortunately, it is also about 1 American block away from Zumbaland Рwhich is rather loud all day and late into the night. This would probably be my one and only complaint.

Leave a comment

Filed under Tanzania, Travel

And we’re off!! :-)

Minneapolis is sure sending Aliesha and I off in good old-fashioned Minnesota style!



Hopefully we’ll be able to take off tonight after all this snow we’re getting. Let’s keep all of our fingers and toes crossed that the MSP grounds crews are in top form today.

I can’t even express how SUPER excited I am for this trip – the safari, day trips, the marathon and then Zanzibar.

Unfortunately there is no real-time tracking for the Marathon (imagine that) and I don’t even know what my bib number is yet. (Frankly, I’m not even 100% sure when and where I’m supposed to pick it up, but I still have a week. ūüėČ Anyway, I did map the course on MapMyRun¬†and here’s a screen shot of the route and elevation:

YIKES!! :-)

YIKES!! ūüôā

I received the most appropriate encouragement from Dr. Annebelle earlier this week:

You will kick ass in the marathon (and by that, I mean you will finish in an upright position!)!

This will be the first marathon with out you buddy! :-/

I also got a most appropriate piece of advise from Dr. Allison last night:

Have fun! Be safe! Run Slow!

Yes! Yes! And yes! ūüôā

Alrighty, have a great two weeks everyone and prepare yourself for an arsenal of travel and run updates/recaps/reviews starting March 10th!

Leave a comment

Filed under Marathons, Tanzania, Travel


I’m typically not the best about preparing for trips in a timely manner. Rather, you’ll find me tending to laundry, packing and last minute runs to Target the night prior to departure. This time it is going to be a bit different. ūüôā If for no other reason than to do something besides look at my frustrating manuscript, I’m going to be ready to go by Thursday. Being that it’s only Tuesday, I’d say so far so good…

Air plane outfit

Air plane outfit

The flight is going to be 36 hours with one stop in Amsterdam so I am definitely wearing comfortable clothes! Much to poor Al’s dismay, I am also wearing very colorful clothes! (I don’t want to get lost after all!)

Since planes are always so chilly I’ll wear my Nike Relay – Women’s Running Capris¬†and my bright pink Pro Compression marathon socks on the bottom. A) Everything else that I have for bottoms come down only to mid-shin at best and B) I will never fly without wearing compression again! Compression both makes the low cabin pressure much less¬†uncomfortable¬†during the flight and also significantly reduces the recovery time that (at least) I require coming off of a long flight. Given that we’ll be on our feet a lot over the next few days at altitude and that the marathon is in less than 2 weeks, I’ll take all of the help I can get! On top I’m planning for three layers of tanktop-tshirt-long sleeved tshirt. I’ll also have my¬†Mountain Hardwear super power hoody. This little friend is the¬†thickest extra/outer layer that I’m¬†bringing¬†with to keep me warm at night in the mountains while we’re camping and as a first line of defense against any nasty weather that we encounter. I’ll wear my Wave Creation 12s to top off the outfit ¬†because they’re the pair of shoes that hog up the most space in my pack, and then a headband for when the hair gets too greasy of course.

Now considering it’s going to be ~95 F during every day of the trip and then ~60s at night, packing actual clothes is a bit tricky. Never mind that the malaria and dengue fever ridden mosquitoes don’t help one bit! As of now, I think this is going to be the plan of action…

tank top, t-shirt, long-sleeved t-shirt layers

tank top, t-shirt, long-sleeved t-shirt layers

lower shin length skirts, floppy pants and maxi dresses

lower shin length skirts, floppy pants and maxi dresses

mama's wool hat and wool travel blanket and then a wool scarfs for wrapping up in at night

mama’s wool hat and wool travel blanket and then a wool scarfs for wrapping up in at night

the shoes--Mizunos, Vibrams and grandmas Tevas

the shoes–Mizunos, Vibrams and grandmas Tevas

and swim suits for Zanzibar!

and swim suits for Zanzibar!

And then there are all of these…



There are few things that can make you feel as old as a bag full of life-saving prescription medications can!

But, I should be able to distract myself with the¬†entire¬†“Tanzania” section of the Minneapolis Public Library that I have borrowed…



While this is already a whole lot of shit very important stuff, I’ve totally saved the best for last…or last for the best…hmmm… Regardless, I am very pleased to introduce my…

Mt. Kilimanjaro Marathon Outfit!

Mt. Kilimanjaro Marathon Outfit!


I still haven’t totally decided on whether I’ll wear the Nike Relay – Women’s Running Capris¬†or the Champion skirt, but I’m pretty sure I’ll go with the skirt. It’s going to be really f#c%!n& hot warm and humid throughout the run (even though it’s starting at 6:30 am!) so I think the skirt is probably the best choice. My only concern is chafing, but lord (and my jeans) knows that these trusty little legs can deal with chafing and I’d prefer to avoid the heat stroke. Anyway, lets say purple¬†Champion¬†skirt and tank top with bright orange trim and running bra, either bright green or pink¬†Pro Compression marathon socks¬†(I can’t decide which will maximize the outfit until I put it all on the morning of the race…although…maybe I should avoid the decision and just wear one of each! I’ll also choose the preferred headband and lace up my lovely Mizuno Wave Creation 12s.

The awesome¬†yellow Suunto Vector¬†(on loan courtesy my generous friend B) will be along for the ride in addition to my new pair of Women’s Tifosi Slip Wrap Sunglasses. I’m¬†super¬†excited to check out this watch. I’ve been playing around with it a bit over the last few days and it’s¬†totally awesome¬†to say the least. I’m also stoked to try out my snazzy new shades. They are a very recent purchase and had good reviews online so my fingers are crossed.

My little stash of snacks must not be forgotten either. Both Jelly Belly Sport Beans¬†and Clif Shot Bloks¬†will be getting me through the energy crashes and the walls that I hit. I sure hope they’re up for the challenge. Also, and these are very important although they aren’t pictured here, I will be carrying two 4 oz water bottles from my¬†wretched¬†not particularly wonderful running belt. I’m not sure what the water situation is going to be and I’d rather carry 8 oz of water¬†unnecessarily¬†than not have enough. Plus, If I find the extra hydration to be unnecessary, I can always just chug it and stuff the bottles in my bra. At least I’m bringing two, I wouldn’t want to do the whole run with lop-sided boobs!

The only other item that isn’t pictured that is an absolute MUST¬†for the run are my tunes. My trusty Sandisk will be facilitating the all important sing along with Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Pitbull, Akon, Fun , Nicki Minaj, and whoever else happens to partake.

Ok, so what’s left? Let’s see, I’m going to pack some snacks (Clif Bars, Luna Bars and mixed nuts) just in case I really have issues with the food and need emergency fuel the day(s) leading up to the run. I’ll also have my trusty purple Nikon Coolpix camera from about a million years ago. Although, Al will have her brothers¬†far¬†superior camera so I’ll probably get lazy and depend on her and her photography skills. :-/ (Just for the record, she does have mad skills. She’ll take on¬†anyone¬†in a go-go-gadget-extendo-arm-self (or two-person) portrait. We have these from all of our vacations, and from many other random social events when everyone else is too clumsy and/or drunk to take a good picture. I swear, she is spot on every damn time.)

With that, I think I have most of it covered! I guess my Passport and Visa are also essentials and then I have my travel notebook and a couple of beach reads stashed way too. Speaking of reads, it’s time for this kid to pull out a bed time journal article to fall asleep to and get some pre-trip rest!




Leave a comment

Filed under Tanzania, Travel, Trotting, Uncategorized