Florida Manatees in Peril

Snowbirds are not the only winter visitors to the temperate springs of Florida. Those waterways also draw the Florida manatees to sapphire blue pools. These gentle creatures called me to the Central West coast of Florida. Stepping stone grey, like their elephant relatives, manatees are hard to miss in the crystal-clear headwaters. Twelve feet long and sausage shaped, their two flippers and a spoon shaped tail provide locomotion.

Visiting manatees at Blue Spring State Park in Florida.

My first stop was Ellen Schiller State Park in Homosassa. There are many animals to see in this small zoo for animals unable to survive on their own in nature. I gravitated to the manatees. Within the natural springs, an above and below water floating observation area allows visitors an up close and personal experience with these giants. When I arrived 30 or so manatees lazed and lounged just a few feet away from me. I could have watched for hours as they floated by, mothers teaching their pups to play, others seemingly asleep. It was a treat to see as manatees are wild creatures and come to the springs on their own schedule.

My next manatee encounter was at on the Chassahowitzka River. Manatees grazed and played in the warm waters as we floated above and watched in fascination. It was so fun to watch them rest then playfully dive around our boats. Most of the paddlers around were quiet as to not disturb the manatees. Many had deep scars along their backs from run ins with boat propellors.

Blue Spring State Park counted 649 manatees the day I visited

At Blue Spring State Park I saw the most manatees at one time. The morning I was there, park employees counted 649 manatees in the springs! The warm waters filled with manatees from shore to shore was an unforgettable sight for me. They huddled together, escaping the colder water for the warmer temps in the natural springs. We walked hundreds of feet along the water alongside these beautiful creature.

Manatees from shore to shore.
manatee with boat propeller scars
This is one of the many manatee I saw with boat propeller scars

Manatees have scarce body fat and cannot survive water temps below 68 degrees (F). When ocean temperatures drop, they swim into natural springs or ponds heated by power plants where they can stay warm. Manatees are vegetarians, and dine on seagrass. It takes a lot of food to supply their 1,000-pound body with the energy needed for daily activity.

Like all mammals, manatees breathe air and it takes mountains of effort for the colossal bodies to surface. Often, they poke just their nostrils above the of the water for a quick inhale every five minutes or so. Then they sink back down, lounging in a bed of grass. Sometimes, they will use their flippers to “walk” along the floor as they nibble.

Hindering their population is their low reproductive rate. It takes about five years before manatees are sexually mature. Gestation is 11 months and single births occur two to five years apart. Calves stick close to their moms for the first two years of life as they learn the ways of the wild.

Manatee numbers dwindled to a few hundred in the 1970s and there was concern they would soon become extinct. In 1981, a “Save the Manatee” public awareness campaign launched, founded by then Florida Governor Bob Graham and well-known entertainer Jimmy Buffett. No wake zones were established in areas manatees often visit to prevent collisions with boats. Some springs no longer allow swimming during the winter months when the animals are in the area. By 2015, the population had increased to over 6,000 and the manatees were removed from the Federal Endangered Species list in 2017.

Sadly, by recent count, less than 5,000 Florida manatees remain. During 2021 at least 1,101 of these beautiful mammals died. Even worse, 2022 is on track to be the deadliest year for them with 97 deaths in January alone.

What is causing this die off? Natural causes, illness and infant mortality are a major reasons for these deaths which may be unavoidable. Deaths that we CAN reduce are those due to human interference of one kind or another.

Boating strikes

When they are not resting just below the surface, manatees float along at 3-5 mph. They are no match for boats propellers speeding through the water. Resulting deep gashes along a manatee’s back are often deadly. Those that do survive can be easily identified by their scars.

Algae blooms

Use of fertilizer on home lawns, golf courses and agriculture fields contribute to runoff that causes algae to form in waterways. Red tides produce toxins manatees digest when they eat. These deadly toxins can poison and kill the gentle mammal.


Florida is growing in population and homes sprawl from the Gulf to Atlantic coasts. New construction impacts existing flow of water across the state, reducing habitat and damaging existing feeding grounds.

Cold water temperatures

Manatees cannot survive sustained cool water temps. Waters around Florida get chilly in winter. Manatees take refuge in the multitude of springs which remain 72 degrees year-round. If the cold spell is prolonged, they depend on emergency feeding by humans, mostly Romain lettuce, to keep up their strength. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission oversees supplemental feeding.

Human interaction

Manatees stress out when people chase or harass them while they rest. Like all mammals, stress takes a toll on them and leads to shorter lifespan. Several of the springs are off limits for recreational use in the winter to allow manatees to exist undisturbed. Other sites restrict swimming but may allow use of kayaks, canoes or stand-up paddle boards.

What can you do to help?

  • Check out the resources at Save the Manatee.
  • When visiting Florida, learn manatee etiquette and how to protect the remaining population.
  • Consider making a donation to help save the Florida manatee.
  • Raise awareness with others by sharing stories about the plight of the manatee.

The Florida manatee is an amazing creature to observe. It would be a great loss to us all if we allow them to fade away forever like the Steller’s sea cow, a close relative of theirs which is now extinct. Visit Florida and stop by the many state parks that are winter home to manatees. Enjoy watching them eat, play and rest. A day with the manatees will warm your heart!

Coexisting with Coyotes

Coyotes, steeped tea hued, strut down the middle of the street and through our backyards. Squirrels, rabbits or mice become their prey. Social media posts announce “Coyote sighting on our street. Watch your pets!”

Despite the hysteria, domestic animals are not their usual diet. Opportunistic, these scavengers feast on small mammals, insects, snakes and other bite sized creatures. Reduced habitat force these predators from prairie and savannah to backyards and Main Street. As our homes sprawl farther out from cities into suburbia, these wily coyotes adapt to the new realities. Gone are acres of open lands for coyotes to dig their dens, raise their pups and hunt for breakfast. 

Lone coyote. Photo credit Debbie Lakowski.

Coyotes were rarely seen in my community when we moved to Algonquin in 1996. Over winter, these quadrupeds roam leaving single file paw prints in the snow. Year round, scat reminiscent of winter cocoa mixed with felted fur dots my property. Our half acre lot includes our house, lawn and native garden vignettes. In summer my yard looks like spinach salad doused in pureed rainbows as wildflowers burst forth greeting walkers as they pass by. Joining the eight deer who visit each morning and again at at dusk are butterflies, rabbits, raccoon, skunks, possum and a variety of birds. So far no large scale attacks on deer have occurred in my garden. 

About 10 years ago, the Village of Algonquin converted a two acre grassy detention area across from our house to native plantings. Their goal is to create a network of wildlife habitat flourishing with flora and fauna. Better for the environment, these areas cost less to maintain. No mowing, fertilizer or herbicides are needed. Once established, maintenance is on a three year cycle. Prescribed burn, manual and chemical invasive control then leave fallow. 

Since the restoration, the sky is full of bats, Red Tailed hawks and ebony jewelwing damselflies. Toads skip and garter snakes slink away from my feet. We are surprise as bold raccoons join us on the deck on balmy summer evenings. Coyote scat is everywhere. As the ecological health of our neighborhood improves, the critters thrive. Coyotes found shelter in the nearby couple of acres of restored land and happily settled in.

At night we listen as the collective “yip, yip, yip” rings out over the prairie. The howling is music to our ears. Not as pleasant are the screams of their prey as coyotes successfully hunt late at night.

In my yard and the larger village owned park, coyotes and other creatures settle in and make homes. It is time to think of coyotes not as dangerous wild animals but part of our community. Here are things you can do to learn to coexist with these new neighbors.

  • Do not encourage coyotes to visit your property by leaving dog and cat food outdoors.
  • Keep an eye on your pets, even with fenced in yards. 
  • If a coyote approaches you, yell loudly, wave your arms wildly and throw rocks or sticks in the direction of, not at, the animal.
  • Do not run away.

We can cohabitate with coyotes in our neighborhood. By understanding their habits and needs, we can adapt our behavior to minimize negative interactions with these fascinating creatures.

Wild about Bees: Backyard Hives and More

Honeybee populations are on the decline due to lack of habitat, monoculture, pesticides and a variety of diseases. After learning about the struggles of honeybees and how important they are to our food supply, we installed two honeybee colonies. Watching them and their complex community is fascinating.

Backyard beekeeping

Backyard beekeeping

Honeybee colonies include a queen, a few hundred drones and about 60,000 worker bees. Inside the hive, honeybees transition through a variety of jobs over their 6 week life cycle. Following are their roles by age.

  • Day 1-2: Clean cells, keep brood warm
  • Day 3-5: Feed older larva
  • Day 6-11: feed youngest larva
  • Day 12-17: produce wax, build comb, carry food, clear out dead
  • Day 18-21: guard entrance to hive and honey
  • Day 22-40/45 (until death): collect pollen, nectar, water, pollinate plants
Did you know honey has been harvested for centuries? A honeybee produces 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey over her lifetime. Honey does not go bad. All honey will crystalize and you can liquify it by setting the bottle on a sunny window sill. Honey has been used on wounds as an antiseptic for hundreds of years. Some people claim eating local honey reduces the impact of allergies. This may be due to a gradual exposure to local pollens.
Honeybees pollinate many of the foods we eat including cashews, cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, watermelons, oranges, cucumbers, lemons, limes, carrots, strawberries, apples, avocado, cherries, almonds and blueberries. Without these foods, our produce aisle would be bare.
Life is not easy for honeybees as they are susceptible to many diseases including varroa miles, colony collapse disorder, American Foul Brood and European Foul Brood disease. Beekeepers lose about 40% of their hives each season. Due to these loses, it is hard to make a profit as a beekeeper.
You can help honeybee populations survive by planting flowers which product pollen and nectar, providing shadow water dishes for drinking, and reducing or eliminate pesticide and herbicide use.
To get started in beekeeping, you will need bees, protective clothing, hives and a smoker. McHenry County honeybee supplies are available from Sue at Harvard Egg and Feed and Warren at Spencer Apiary Supplies.
Plants that provide food and nectar for pollinators are beneficial to our environment whether or not you keep honeybees. They not only provide food and habitat for honeybees and other pollinators, they are drought resistant, low maintenance and do not need fertilizers. The Wildflower Preservation and Propagation Committee has native plant yard plans and recommended vendors and offers a mentoring program. Northern Kane County Wild Ones also has a wealth of resources.
New and experienced beekeepers can benefit from joining the Northern Illinois Beekeepers Association with meetings most months in Woodstock, Illinois.

I Tackled GITAP 2016

I set out to tackle GITAP 2016. And survived. Not only did I survive the annual GITAP, I had a great time throughout the ride. The six day GITAP ride is a fundraiser for Ride Illinois, a bicycling advocacy group. Four weeks ago, 10 miles was a long cycle ride for me. My perspective changed very quickly. My training miles were less than ideal as the the ride date approached. About 4 weeks before the start, I heard about the Schaumburg Bicycle Club. I enjoyed a couple of 20 mile rides with the club led by Lynn. On one of these rides, Roger, a more experienced cyclist recommended I get a rearview mirror which proved to be valuable safety measure.
A 25 mile ride on my own and the 51 mile Udder ride rounded out my training for the month before the GITAP. Besides Roger, Wayne, Karen and Lynn were also helpful and shared their best tips for a successful ride. With their support and lots of pedaling, I biked the entire GITAP 2016 route.
Total miles ridden: 290.78.
I achieved my goal for this week to complete GITAP 2016 route without SAG (support and gear.) SAG volunteers monitor the route to pick up bikes and cyclists unable to complete their ride that day.

Day 1 – Coal City to Oglesby 

Distance 55.28 miles. Cities on our route: Morris, Seneca, Marseilles, Ottawa, Utica, North Utica
I picked up my registration packet, loaded my luggage on the truck then set off on my bike early in the morning. Today would be the longest bike ride I ever rode. Headwinds were a challenge for the first 13 miles. Just as I approached the Illinois and Michigan Canal Trail, I met up with another GITAP rider Kent. We rode together for most of the next six days. The I & M Canal trail is mostly packed limestone with the rest a combination of grass, packed dirt, loose gravel and a few spots of sand. The best parts of the trail were shade, shelter from the wind and no auto traffic. About the 26 mile mark we ran into Wayne and Chris and rode with them the rest of the day. We stopped in Ottawa for lunch. Our ride took us up to the locks across from Starved Rock. The last 5 miles were hilly compared to the relatively flat road the rest of the day. Dinner at the Lehigh Park campground with entertainment by the Henry Torpedo Boys and the nightly meeting about the next day’s ride.

GITAP 2016 Riders

The average GITAP 2016 cyclist is 64 years old

DAY 2. Oglesby to Washington. 
Distance  64.56 miles. Cities on our route: Lostant, Tonica, Wenona, Toluca, Roanoke
Again, today would be the longest bike ride I ever rode. It was also our longest day of GITAP. Mostly country roads, lots of corn and soybeans with a steady rise in elevation, rolling hills with a few bigger hills. Temps were 95, high humidity and 11 MPH headwinds. I realized about 1/2 way through the day I was not drinking enough water. SAG brought in many riders today. We were warmly greeted by Washington Mayor Gary Manier and Assistant Superintendent of Washington Community High School Joe Sander who emphasized their appreciation for the outpouring of support after the town was hit by a EF4 tornado. The folks at Russell Fitness helped me replace my broken gloves.
DAY 3 Washington to Bloomington/Normal
Distance 53.50 miles. Cities on our route: Milton, Morton, Mackinaw, Danvers
My ride felt much harder today and I noticed I felt thirsty starting out. Temps in the mid 90’s really drained me. Loved the rainbow of painted bikes along the in Milton and the entire town of Mackinaw came out to welcome us at the top of the Mackinaw River valley. They were a site for sore eyes with rest rooms, water, fresh fruit, cookies and a warm welcome.

bicycle art along the trail in Milton, IL

Bicycle art along the trail in Milton, IL


Day 4 Bloomington/Normal rest day
Distance  24.39 miles.
Another 95° day with high humidity. At breakfast I ran into Normal with a fellow rider for geocaching and lunch. Heading up the Constitution Trail, we cached our way into town then met Kent for lunch at Flattop Grill. On our way back we pick up a few more geocaches. Amazing how short a 24 mile ride seemed.
Day 5 Bloomington normal to Pontiac
Distance  45.52 miles. Cities on our route: Lexington, Chenoa,
Today’s ride mostly north and east. Strong headwinds from the north at 14 MPH plus gusts. Cycling in farmland, the wind is relentless. With partly cloudy skies temps remained in the 80’s. After the ride I heading into town to see the The Pontiac Museum. Their Pontiac auto memorabilia includes cars and a large collection of hood ornaments. We stopped at the Route 66 Museum and saw the VW bus owned by artist Route 66 evangelist Bob Waldmire. Did you know actor Bobby Troup penned “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” while driving along the route to Los Angeles? Part of our ride today took us on the pavement of the original Route 66. The Gilded Arts Museum displayed tools and explained the techniques on this art. We learned an ounce of gold was more than enough to cover the museum floor with gild. The city of Pontiac hung out a huge welcome sign and Pontiac Mayor Bob Russell of greeted individually as we waited in line for dinner presenting each of us with a with a small gift. We caught the Vermillion Players opening night of “Legally  Blonde” musical with the entire cast aged 16-25. Great job.

Pontiac Mayor Bob Russell of greeted individually as we waited in line for dinner presenting each of us with a with a small gift.

Pontiac Mayor Bob Russell of greeted individually as we waited in line for dinner presenting each of us with a with a small gift.

Day 6 Pontiac to Coal City
Distance for 47.53 miles.  Cities on our route:  Odell, Dwight, Gardner
Today’s ride took us back in time along many miles of Historic Route 66, the Mother Road. Our first rest stop was the restored Standard Oil Gas Station in Odell. The rest of the day was not as hot, mid 80s and flat. Another day of corn fields and soybeans for miles on end with a few wind turbines thrown in for variety. While the mileage was not as high as other days, my energy level was beginning to wear. Our route took us along various sections of Route 66 including the Dixon Information Center housed in an restored gas station. The volunteers were out in force with cold water, fruit and granola bars for us. A welcome site!

Dwight, IL info center

Built in 1933, Ambler’s Texaco Station is not the Dwight, IL info center which welcomed us with cold water, fruit and granola bars!

I was glad to pull into the parking lot, collect my bags and head home. My first GITAP was a success and a ton of fun. I met friendly people and enjoyed my week in small town America. Ride on!

Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens Rockford

Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens on the Rock River in Rockford boasts 11,00o square feet of tropical plants to enjoy. Massive palm trees soar several stories into the air within the glass enclosed building. Nestled among ponds and waterfalls, the greenery to give soothing background sounds. There are plenty of places to sit and take in the sights, allowing your body and mind to relax as you your senses take in everything around you. Whimsical sculptures appear dotted along the winding pathways. Plants stream down from the ceiling, along the walls, from pots and decorative picture frames.

We timed our visit for the butterfly exhibit where dazzling splashes of color flitted about the room and allowed for up close examination. Caterpillars and chrysalis hung in the first room as the prepared to emerge. Adult butterflies dried their wings in preparation for their move to the main exhibit area. It was interesting to note each type of caterpillar created a unique chrysalis.

Before we entered the main exhibit, we took off our coats to prevent hitchhikers from leaving with us. We entered through a set of double doors to prevent escapees. Once inside, we were handed sponge swabs doused in Gatorade to attract the insects. Every color of the rainbow was represented in the flying collection. The butterflies perched on greenery or screens allowing visiting to get an up close and personal look at each insect.

Butterflies up close

Butterflies up close

Outside the conservatory, walk through the colorful gardens near the front entrance, along the side and rear of the building filled with seasonal plantings. A lagoon with two fountains adds to the fun. Statues are perched in various locations along the paths. Bring your lunch and take in the sights from the patio area outside or indoors.


The conservatory gift shop offers moderately priced wind chimes, note cards, jewelry and other remembrances of your trip. Toni’s Cafe of Winnebago serves soups, sandwiches and desserts.

A variety of classes from photography to yoga are available. Managed by the Rockford Park District, Nicholas Conservatory is open every day except Monday. Entrance fees are reasonable, even more so when you visit on Tropical Tuesdays when entrance fees are only $3.00.

After your visit, stroll along the Rock River. There is a paved path popular with walkers and bicyclists. We even found a unique group of statues comprised of rocks, of course, along the Rock River.

Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook

We recently toured 15 Royal Tern Road, Sea Pines and the Peabody Estate built by Francis Stuyvesant Peabody. His 36 room Tudor Revival Style on 848 areas completed in 1921. F. S Peabody earned his fortune with the Peabody Coal Company. Always looking for new places to visit and seeing little parts of the world in my backyard, I ventured out with my adventure buddy April M. Williams.
Woah….that was the first word out of my mouth when we walked into this time capsule. I think I even surprised our tour guides with my gasps. The beauty, foresight and opulence of this estate is really beyond words. Anyone can look up Mayslake and the Peabody Estate and get a bucket full of information.  Taking a tour and hearing the “little stories” is worth a trip out to Oak Brook, Illinois.
 Peabody Estate in Oak Brook, Illinois. Photo credit: Peabody Estate.

Peabody Estate in Oak Brook, Illinois. Photo credit: Peabody Estate.

Social class, I guess, has always been a “thing”. Important. You’ll find this holds true when touring old mansions. Mr. Peabody’s bedroom, as the leader of the home is on the highest level of the home. Three steps up from Mrs. Peabody’s room. I’ve learned over recent weeks that husbands and wives often had their own sleeping rooms with private doors that connected them so guests and servants would not see the comings and goings.
What I found so enthralling was the beautiful wood wall of shelves that hid Mr. Peabody’s great escape route. A secret stairway which led through the many levels of the mansion to the “world ending” shelter of the basement. No one truly knows why he had this safe room but it’s fun to speculate why. Upon leaving the master’s suite there is a progression of levels from the sleeping suites to rooms. Mr. Peabody’s, Mrs. Peabody’s, guest rooms, head maid and so on down, down, down. The rooms go from sheer opulence to rooms with just a bed. I must say though, all had spectacular views of the property.
Besides the lowering levels there were other signs of rank, other than the obvious separate entrances for servants. The bedroom doors had beautiful door knobs and wood exteriors on the side leading to the hallways. However, on the inside of the rooms the knobs were plain, simple, white. A reminder to the staff that they were, well, staff. Subtle reminders.
Nothing was overlooked in this mansion. The fire hoses built-in to many of the rooms and the built-in safes that could hold an army to the central vacuüm system. Wow, central vac in 1920!  Who knew!

Chapel at Peabody Estate in Oak brook, IL. Photo credit Peabody Estate.

These are just the simple, silly little things that draw me in and make me wonder about time gone by and the people who once lived. There is so much more but you should lean them on your own and feel the experience.

Waikiki Hula on the Kuhio Beach Hula Mound

Watching graceful hula dancers is one of my favorite activities during visits to Honolulu on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Many nights during the week you can watch a hula show for free at Kuhio Beach Hula Mound on Waikiki Beach. Located just east of the famous Duke Kahanamoku statue, you won’t miss the crowds filling in just before show time. The Hawaiian hula is a living record of the island’s history and legends of the Hawaiian people. The dancers’ movements, music and chanting combine to tell the stories of their forefathers.

The show starts after the tiki torch lighting which adds to the festive atmosphere. The outdoor shows feature local hula dancers ranging from novice keiki (children) to aunties (adults). I like to go to the show multiple nights to watch different halau (dance groups) perform. Each group has its own repertoire of songs, costumes and instruments.

Hula Kuhio Mound Waikiki

If you are anywhere along the beach, you will know the show is about to begin when you hear the traditional blowing of the conch shell. Sometimes a torch lighter joins them as they make their way along the beach. This alerts vacationers to get their spot so as not to miss the start of the show. Bring a beach chair or pick up an inexpensive beach mat from any of the local quick marts and grab a spot near the mound.

Usually a narrator will introduce the history of Hawaiian culture and language to the group. Before the dancers begin, you will learn about each song’s message and the story it tells.

These dancers may wear traditional hula attire or more modern dress. To make the time-honored hula skirts, the dancers harvest and treat the long flat leaves of the green ti plant. Colorful tropical flowers are fashioned into beautiful, fragrant leis. A variety of nuts grown in the islands are strung together as necklaces.

Dancers share the mound with vocalists who chant and sing the traditional stories. Musicians join in with their mix of modern and traditional instruments to make each tale come alive. The large drums made of gourds or tree trunks have a full sound which carries along the beach.

Weather-permitting, you can catch these hula shows Tues., Thurs. and Sat. at 6:30-7:30 p.m. (6:00-7:00 Nov.-Jan). These hula shows are one of my favorite stops on trips to Waikiki. Check out these shows often to learn more about the people and culture of the Hawaiian island. Aloha…

18th Annual AES Superfest Hamfest Milwaukee Wisconsin

18th Annual AES Superfest Hamfest Milwaukee, Wisconsin was held March 31, 2012. Amateur radio equipment manufactures, Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL), Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS),  Emergency Services and Disaster Agency (ESDA), American Red Cross and local ham radio clubs were there with booths and exhibits.

Ham radio operators from Wisconsin and surrounding states attended the one day event. Volunteer examiners (VEs) were on hand with FCC tests for those so to be new hams and hams upgrading their licenses.

The American Red Cross and other disaster preparedness agencies displayed their emergency response equipment including radios.

American Red Cross Disaster Response Vehicle

American Red Cross Disaster Response Vehicle

It was a full house at AES for their annual Superfest!

Madagascar Is My Favorite Country (that I barely know)

People ask me all the time what my favorite country is. I really don’t know how to answer that; in particular: do they mean my favorite country that I’ve already been to, or the country that I most want to go to? So I usually split the difference, most attracted to countries I’ve seen a bit of, and like, but didn’t get enough time there, and want to go back! At the top of that list is Madagascar. It’s nothing like the movie. It’s not like most people’s conception of it, either. Most people assume that, because it’s so close to the African continent, that it must be predominantly African. No, not really.


The Streeets of Madagascar

Guess again. Well, since it’s so close to the Swahili coast of Africa, then it must have been an Arab entrepot. Not exactly. Madagascar was settled first and foremost by Asians, of Indonesian origin, with linguistic connections to this day, but little or nothing else—except rice, and noodles, and a certain slimness of figure. Sure, some of that comes from a Vietnamese admixture via the French, but not most, and certainly not all.

Madagascar is also one of the most expensive countries to get to, so maybe its inaccessibility is part of its desirability. It also helps if you speak a little French, since that is the language that most people will use with you, as a foreigner, as the French were the colonizers. Strangely enough, English is one of the four official languages, even though hardly anyone—except hotel clerks—can speak it.


What a view!

The capital Antananarivo is equal parts Asian, French, African, and… unique, its own style. The architecture is French, but not really, while the food is Asian, but not really, while the poverty is definitely African, even if it doesn’t really look like it. That was the biggest shock, that the country was as poor or poorer than most of Africa. Watch out for pickpockets.

But the strangest sight was the last one, catching an early morning flight, and catching a ride to the airport in total blackness, around 3 a.m., when I saw literally thousands of early morning runners, clogging the roads and jogging the highways. I guess they were beating the heat. But for my early flight, I’d have never known. I’ll get back one day.v

Hardie Karges has traveled to more than one hundred fifty countries over the course of forty years. He is the author of “Hypertravel” and the seven-part series “Backpackers and Flashpackers: Guides to World Hostels.” He expects to open his first backpackers’ hostel soon.

Red Run Raises Funds to End Child Sex Trafficking

The Red Dress Run started with a couple of women jogging through downtown Algonquin. Their red outfits caught the eyes of passing motorists and let them get the word out: they’re running to save the lives of little girls at risk of sex trafficking.
Local moms Cortina Nystad and Kristen Guerrieri started The Red Run 5K in 2012. Over 500 runners and walkers participated. Registration is now open for the second Red Run 5K Run/Walk, which will be held Aug. 10 at Presidential Park in Algonquin.
“I personally volunteer with both of the local organizations we support,” said Kristen Guerrieri. “I visit Anne’s house monthly and last night was my first outreach with The Dreamcatcher Foundation!  This is pretty dark stuff.”
This year’s USATF-certified race will benefit the Dreamcatcher Foundation, a survivor-founded, survivor-led and focused organization in Chicago. Brenda Myers-Powell, Co-Founder, will be the featured speaker at the event. Additional beneficiaries include the Salvation Army PROMISE (Anne’s House), a local residential program that provides aftercare for victims and Love146, an organization that provides prevention and aftercare solutions internationally. Prizes will be awarded for the top male and female finishers and for the top three finishers in each age category.
After the race join the exclusive post-race breakfast at Port Edward Restaurant ($15 per person), with a percentage of the proceeds benefiting the Red Run.
the red run
To register, visit theredrun.org. Pre-registration is $30 for runners and $25 for walkers. Registration fees increase by $10 on race day. For more information or to learn about sponsorship opportunities, contact Kristen Guerrieri at kristen @ theredrun.org. Concerned citizens can call (888) 373-7888 or text “INFO” or “HELP” to befree (233733).