Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"Tanzania Beautiful" 2009 Calendar

This year’s calendar is a selection of some of my all-time favorites from my three years in Tanzania. Launching into college in 2009, I know I will also cherish this calendar as a memory book –a reflection of my years in Tanzania. I hope that through these reflections you can have a peek into Tanzania’s beauty, and catch a glimpse of my passion for photography. All the profits from this calendar go directly to my college savings. Thank you for your contribution, and enjoy Tanzania Beautiful.

The calendars are $15 in the US or 15,000 Tz Shillings if you live in Tanzania. They are 10x8 inches and make great Christmas presents! If you are interested in buying one (or a few) either leave a comment or email me at for details.

A couple reminders: “S Russell Photos” is not on the calendars; I just do that so no one can steal my pics. And just so you know, the calendar format starts the week on Sunday and ends on Saturday.




Sunday, May 11, 2008

SAT: done!

That's right: I have taken my SAT test and I am done!

It feels so good to have it behind me! It's taken so much pressure of me. I've been studying and studying for it for the last couple months, and now: AAHHH...

...I don't have to think about it

(unless I decide to take it again in Oct/Nov)

But, let's not think about that now....

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I Poem That I Like

I told the Sun that I was glad,
I'm sure I don't know why;
Somehow the pleasant way he had
Of shining in the sky,
Just put a notion in my head
That wouldn't it be fun
If, walking on the hill, I said
"I'm happy" to the Sun.

-John Drinkwater

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Motocross Mayhem

Ten motorcycle tires each just an inch from the elastic rope.

Ten riders watch as the 30-second board is flipped to the 5-second board.

The combined high-pitch wail of ten machines as their riders wait…


The elastic rope is gone.

The drag race to the first corner is mayhem.

The race is on…

This weekend, I had the privilege of experiencing this first-hand. I must say: it is addicting. It gives you such an adrenaline rush. It’s so intense. It requires so much focus. It demands so much will power.

Motocross weekend contained four classes: Kiddies, 250cc, Open Class, and Old Farts (age 40+). There were three heats per class. One heat is 3 laps around the 3.8k track (full of burms, jumps, ditches, whoops and even a lake). I was in the 250cc class with nine other riders.

1st Heat:
I only went down once (hehe). Was passed by about 5 or 6 riders, but regained my position and finished 2nd!

2nd Heat:
As I was getting ready to ride to the starting line, I realized that the keys for my motorcycle were gone. Either I had dropped them somewhere or someone had stolen them out of the ignition. Hot-wiring the motorcycle took a while so I started a lap behind. I finished last but still got points for finishing.

3rd Heat:
Somehow, early in the first lap, I got into first place. (I can’t even remember where I passed the guy who was in first-haha). The whole rest of the race, I could hear that determined rider right on my tail, trying to catch up to me and pass me. It scared me to death!!! Somehow, I kept my lead. I FINISHED FIRST!!!

I was so stoked! I got 2nd overall. I got a medal and a certificate.

I can’t wait for the next race (sometime in May)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Zanzibar Pics

Kili Trip

Our Kili trip was so awesome! It was hard…very hard; but so rewarding.

We took the Marangu Route (6 days). The first couple days weren’t very hard climbs. The guides made us go really slowly, but it was nice because we could enjoy the scenery. The first day’s entire hike was through lush rainforest: so gorgeous! We saw some Blue Monkeys and a Duiker. I heard a lot of birds, but saw hardly any. They liked hiding. But there’s just something so magical about the rainforest. I love it so much. It makes me want to crawl way back into the thick of it and sit down in all the ferns. It makes me want to find a comfortable place and wait to see what little critters will find me. I like seeing the little birds hopping closer and closer in curiosity toward the newcomer of the forest. …anyway, we weren’t going THAT slow. We had to keep walking.

We reached the first huts, Mandara Huts (elev. 8,888 ft), at 4 o’clock. There were quite a few A-frame buildings for hikers and one bigger one that acted as the dinning room. Our group of 15 stayed in the long narrow room directly above the dinning room. It was kinda cozey cuz we could all have a fun time talking as a group and we didn’t have to split up into different cabins, …but, it was a bit noisy having the dinning room below us (we could see the people eating below us through little cracks in the floor). It was at these Huts that we celebrated New Years. Well…we didn’t do a whole lot of celebrating, but some German hikers sure had a good time. As we were trying to fall asleep we could hear them singing songs with a ukulele (someone actually brought a ukulele up the mountain), and I even felt the cork of a Champaign bottle hit the roof just under me☺.

The second day’s hike was through beautiful Mooreland. I loved the pastel-ly colors (“saturated non-punchy colors” as someone said), the clumpy grasses, the scraggly, wind-bent trees with moss and lichen draping off them. It was really beautiful.

We spent the next two nights at Horombo Huts (elev. 12,340 ft). We spent the extra night so that we could acclimate by taking a hike up to the saddle and returning to the same huts that day. We hike to Zebra Rocks. Not far from here was where we had our first really good view of Kibo. We could see the peak all the way to the base. It was pretty impressive, a bit intimidating, but to me mostly a challenge. I was excited to conquer it!

The next day we hiked to Kibo Huts (elev. 15,400). I was starting to feel the altitude. When we were at the Huts, it was pretty bad. I was getting head aches, and feeling week and tired. Sleeping was almost impossible. We went to bed just after dinner and got up at 11 that night to do the final summit. When I was woken up I felt really bad. I seriously didn’t know if I’d be able to go on. I was so so so weak. It was hard just to walk out the door, down the hall and to the kitchen. I knew I needed to drink a lot of water, but I didn’t have any, cuz our guides were still filling up our bottles. Instead I drank two cups of tea and one cup of hot water. I started feeling better almost immediately.

We headed off at 11:35. We marched in single file behind our guide, Photo (such a nice guy!). I was excited at first, but that soon wore off.

The next eight hours was like hell! The higher we got, the worse it got. Altitude’s grip got stronger and stronger as we ventured further and further into her domain. She made it hard for me to breath. She weakened my legs, and drained all my strength. She put extra weights on my eyelids so that I had to fight just to keep them open. She made me dizzy and gave me headaches. Another of our mighty foes was the cold. She was brutal! She nipped at any exposed skin. She froze the camel-back hoses. She froze shut our water bottles, and put ice chunks in the water. She sprinkled frost on our backpacks. She froze the sweat on our brows. She forced our bodies to use the little energy we had to keep our bodies warm and functioning.

Reality faded …and faded. Everything became a dream. Nothing was real. Some of us had been dragged farther from reality than others. David and Ryan had it pretty bad. At times, David said he would reach for a rock to lean against, but it wouldn’t be there. It would be over here to the right of where he placed his hand. A lot of us were throwing up. We were all exhausted beyond belief. Like I said, it was a battle just to keep your eyelids open to see where you were walking. At times I would glance at the path in front of me, let my eyelids drop and take up to five steps before opening my eyes again to see where I was going. Even with my eyes open it was hard to walk straight. At times, I would sway back and forth; sometimes almost tipping down the slope. Luckily we had good (very good) assistant guides. There were 14 of us climbers, 1 guide, and 6 assistant guides. That meant that for every two climbers there was a guide. Whenever anyone looked like they were going to tip over, or fall down, or just too tired to carry on, they’d be right there to help you.

We reached Gilman’s Point (18,638 ft) just before sunrise. That is where we came over the rim and could see the hilly crater before us, as well as the jagged rim curving around to our left. I had expected a good rest once we got there, but we didn’t stay there long at all. We had to keep moving. We still had another hour or so of hiking around the rim to get to Uhuru Peak (19,340 ft), the rooftop of Africa, the highest point in Africa!

Although the incline of the rim was minimal, this last leg of the climb was the most torturous! I felt absolutely miserable. I literally felt like I was drunk. I couldn’t walk straight. I distinctly remember one time when I started leaning one way and couldn’t catch myself until I was three feet from where I was. I would take 10 tiny steps and then lean on my trekking pole in exhaustion. My body was yelling at me to stop and go to sleep. The slope just rose gently higher and higher. The peak was always over the next little rise. It was here, on this last 100 yds. to the peak that I threw up for the first and only time. It took so much energy to get it out, but I felt better afterward (NOT that I felt good. I felt better –just a little better- than I had before I threw up, but I still felt horrible).

Honestly, Uhuru Peak was anticlimactic. It was just on top of a little rise. (Gilman’s Point was the most climactic for me). But we were there. We made it. And there was the sign:

You are now at Uhuru Peak, Tanzania 5898m. AMSL
Africa’s Highest Point
World’s Highest Free-standing Mountain
One of the world’s largest volcanoes

I didn’t feel like staying up there very long. I really didn’t feel like taking any pictures, though I took my camera all the way up there. Out of obligation I took it out and took a few pics (I just took it out of its bag, stood in one place, swiveled around, and snapped about 4 shots. I know… not very photographer-like).

The view from the top was pretty incredible! It wasn’t crystal clear weather, but it was still really clear. We could see Mt. Meru, the Pare Mts., and a couple lakes. We could also see an impressive glacier wall just a little bit down from the peak. If I wanted to spend the energy, I could have walked down and touched it, but I was too miserable!

As soon as we started heading down, I started feeling better. The lower we got, the better we all felt. But it was still a long 3-hr. hike back down to Kibo Huts. Once we got there, we had lunch, a very short nap and then hiked another 3 hours back to Horombo Huts. Having only had 5 hours of sleep in the last 39 hours, we all slept VERY well that night at Horombo Huts.

God blessed us with amazing weather the whole trip! We didn’t get rained on the entire trip…except for the last hour of the very last day (just before the gate).

So…there’s a “short” account of our Kili Trip!

[I've been having trouble getting pics uploades because of our slow internet. If i can, i'll get some kili pics up soon]

Monday, January 21, 2008


I've been trying to get this post up for ages. I really wanted to upload the pics with it but our internet has been too slow. So here's the post (if i can, i'll put the pics up latter).

We're back from an extremely relaxing time in Zanzibar. It was so good for us to just get away and just be alone as a family.

Here are a few pics to show you a few of my favorite aspects of the trip

1. Absolutely gorgeous sunsets over the Indian Ocean (a rare privilege for us in East Africa) with dhows and canoes drifting by adding to the picturesque moment

2. The ancient architecture and ornate doors that give Stonetown such a mystical feel

3. Playing pool and beach volleyball together

4. Swimming out to the dhows to jump off them

5. Going spear fishing for the first time and catching a total of fifteen (small) fish between four of us.

6. Stunning aqua marine (warm) water and fishing nets and canoes that decorate the bleached white sand

7. Family

8. Oh yeah, and this tortoise we found on the drive back (who looks pretty stylish in shades)