ej kenya samburu b 181-001Welcome to the new and refreshed Lion Tail Magic.

Do you ever feel a little like Life’s punching bag? We take a lot of hits over the years, don’t we? The secret to a joyful life is to not let those hits get you down — hit back by finding moments of beauty, fun, passion, serenity, giddiness. In this case, living well really is the best revenge!

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About

Erica with one of her lion buddies in ZimbabweThe adventure bug bit me at a really young age, after our family friends moved into the wilds of northern Ontario. The first time we drove up to visit them, I remember arriving at night, when fog blanketed the undulating gravel road so thickly that each dip in the road looked like a bottomless white well in the headlights.

We moved up there when I was six to live on a farm with a well for water, a wood-burning stove and furnace, and an outhouse. My brother and I would chop wood, walk to school in a one-room building, and play amid nature. We were 30 miles from the nearest grocery store over bumpy roads, so trips to town were big monthly occasions. One month, after I’d had a tonsillectomy, I couldn’t go, so my brother bought me a book about all the different places in the world, and I was fascinated by the descriptions of exotic jungles, India rubber balls, Mexican jumping beans. I vowed then and there that I would visit those places some day.

We all have defining moments in our lives, those moments that shape who we become. That book was probably my first moment — it helped me decide where I wanted to go.

The second one took place when I was sixteen. That summer I got hired for a weekend job selling refreshments at a concession stand at an air show at our local small airport. I fell in love with the planes, and met another girl who was equally fascinated, so when our booth — the farthest one out — was shut down for the second day of the air show due to lack of business, we used our employee passes to get back in for free and actually cadged a ride on one of the small twin-engine planes. It was the most exciting day of my young life, and that moment helped me understand that anything was possible if you want it badly enough to go after it.

Luckily I fell in love with a fellow adventurer, and he and I experienced my most profound moment together, on our first safari to Africa. That trip transformed our lives, so much so that it was hard to go back to normal life. I needed to find some way to integrate that magic experience into the rest of my life, and eventually decided to help other people find that same type of magic, an antidote to all our cares and troubles, to all the big and small things that wear us down and make us forget the wonder of life we carried when we were children. I blame it all on the magic of holding a lion’s tail on a bushwalk — but that’s a story best told in the book I’m working on.

In the meantime, I hope to inspire you to decide what will give your life meaning and purpose, and then to go out and live it!

Inspire Me! blog

DSC03474-001Most fun roads in the world!

I keep seeing articles about the craziest or most dangerous roads in the world. It makes for interesting reading, but who would want to ever tempt fate by going there? Okay, some people do, but there are plenty of other adventurous roads that are blissfully fun to venture along without the risk of death.

Tame roads are okay for a utilitarian journey from point A to point B, but how much more fun is it to bounce through the jungle or the African savannah on a wild ride along dirt roads that have been untouched since they were first created!

Here are some of my favourites. You may have your own, and feel free to offer your own picks in the Comments!

  1. The Okavango Delta at the end of the rainy season
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    The Okavango Delta was formed when seasonal waters from the Okavango River started draining, not into the ocean, but into the sands of the Kalahari Desert. Termite mounds and vegetation began to turn some areas into large enough patches of land that they become permanent islands even when the flood waters return every January. By the end of the rainy season in late March or early May (depending on how long the rains last), waters between the islands can be fairly high, and safari vehicles (thankfully built for this) go wading from island to island as if crossing the Red Sea. Once we actually had water bubbling up through the vehicle’s floor boards to form six-inch pools below our feet!
  2. Road-top pinball in Kenya
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    We take a lot for granted in North America, even though we love to ‘diss’ roads in poor repair. I’ve never seen anything like the roads in rural Kenya, though – completely pocked with potholes, to the point where cars simply drive around them in any direction to avoid blowing an axle. It really did look like a pinball game with cars.
  3. Cliff-hanger coastal roads in Peru
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    These are a doozy! In Peru the Andes mountains run straight down to the ocean in certain areas, so the coastal road sometimes clings to the side of the mountain, sometimes tunnels through it. In the photo above, you can see it doing both, and the exposed portion of the road is a hair-raiser, skirting the very edge of the sheer drop to the water without any guard rails. If you’re planning on going to Peru and have a problem with heights, you may want to look into exactly where your tour will be driving.
  4. The road to Mount Doom
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    New Zealand’s mountainous South Island is no slouch in the ‘oh my god one slip and we’ll go flying off into the wild blue yonder’ department, but both islands have roads that run through some of the most amazing scenery we’ve ever encountered. On the North Island, land of big volcanoes, try driving along with Mount Ngaurahoe, aka Mount Doom for Lord of the Rings fans, glowering at you in the distance, as in the photo above! A bit further along, you can stop for afternoon tea at Chateau Tongariro, a fantastic time warp back to the 1920s, while Mount Tongariro, visible through the tearoom windows, rumbles and steams the entire time, adding a little fillip of danger to your refreshment break.
  5. Flash flooding in paradise
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    Here in Canada we’re told never to drive through flood waters covering a roadway. In Tahiti it seems to be a matter of course in the rainy season. The island is one big mountain, so if it starts to rain while you’re out on a tour, the driver just keeps going — even if your road has unexpectedly turned into a river as the rain waters run down the mountain and across the flat edges to the sea. It all drains away in short order, leaving you to enjoy the dreamy beauty of this famed island.

Those have been some of my favourites that I have photos of. One that I can’t show you is from southern Egypt, on the road to Abu Simbel through the Sahara, at 4:00 am as plows were out removing huge drifts of sand from the asphalt – I didn’t have the opportunity to take a photo, sadly. Have you run across any crazy, entertaining roads? Please share your story!