Gorillas: a whisper documentary

While I was our designated photographer of our safari (and let’s be honest, in life in general) Rachel was our videographer.  She took video of our various safari-ing experiences with my cute little video camera (thanks mom!).  I like seeing video because it gives of a sense of place than pictures can sometimes.

While my next safari post will be telling the full story of our gorilla trekking experience, today I am excited to share with you a video of our gorilla friends.  It is set to wonderfully cheesy music from the Lion King.  And most importantly it includes Rachel whisper-narrating her nature documentary, as any good nature documentary maker does.

I would recommend going full screen for this, and remember that my video camera doesn’t have any zoom, so how far away the gorillas are from us is really how far/close we were.  This is real life, folks.

We tracked the Habinyajna family in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.  And let me tell you – there is a reason they call it impenetrable.  The video shows us on nice little paths at the beginning of our hike, but just know that this did not continue for the whole hike.  I frequently found myself tripping on vines and getting my hair caught on thorny branches as we followed our guide.  When we got close to the gorillas, the lead person had a machete and they cut through the jungle to make a path for us.  It truly was walking where no man has gone before (well, except for the 5 people walking ahead of us on the hike….)

Ok, I’ll stop there because I want to save the rest for my next post, which will have awesome pictures and tales of adventure.   Watch my movie!  Do it!  Then you can pretend you were along with us for the tracking.

And then tell me if I am the only person that tries to lean around people in the video to better see the baby gorilla on the mom’s back, only to remember I’m watching a movie and leaning to my left won’t give me a better view of what is happening…

Gorilla Trekking from Laura Karsjens on Vimeo.

Pitter Patter. Roar.

Every now and then, something happens in life that just takes your breath away.

Seeing lions in Uganda was exactly that.

We had just driven out the fishing village, and we slowed by another safari vehicle and our drivers chatted to get the lowdown on where the cool animals were.

We then went on our merry way.

Soon we pulled up behind another van.  And looked out our windows and saw this:

Obed said, “There are lions!  Climb up on the roof.”

So we did.

We stared out into the grassy field, trying to figure out where exactly these supposed lions were.

Then we saw it.

The swish of a tail.

We caught out breath and stared endlessly at that patch of tall grass.  Waiting.  And waiting.

At one point during our staring match with the lazy unseen lions, another car pulled up behind us.  A family piled out, and Joseph, our guide, quietly called over to them, “Get your kids back in the car!  There are lions close by!”  The mom looked around nervously, with a bit of confusion seeing as there were no animals anywhere in sight.  But she did herd her children back to safety.

We snickered at the over-dramatization of the situation.

Then went on with the staring.

But the wait was worth it.  We went on with the staring and we soon saw a female lioness rise out of the dry field.

It was a moment that truly took my breath away.

Our hearts were so happy.  It was seriously like the coolest thing ever.

And then it got better.  The male lion, who we had no idea was even there, began to stand up.


They were so majestic.  And powerful.  And big.

The zoo didn’t really ever convey to me just how amazing lions are.

I suppose I should have paid better attention to The Lion King (who are we kidding, I used to sing along to the soundtrack in my room with a small microphone and pretend I was starring in the show)

This long walk was a little taxing on Mr. Lion.  Soon he sat down to take a little rest…

Mrs. Lion continued on meandering through the grassland alone.

We chanted his name (quietly in our hearts so as not to scare away the wildlife), and soon Mr. Lion found a second wind.  Yes!

We were sad to see that our lion friend had so many wounds.

I like to think he is roaring.  But let’s be honest.  He is yawning.  Being a lion is hard work.

The lions were only up out of the grass for a few minutes, but it was an incredible few minutes.  They really did take my breath away.  Even typing about them now puts a smile on my face and my heart go pitter patter.

Love, love, love.


Schoolhouse Rock vol. 28

Field trip days are always hilarious days.

Today we went to a park near our school and naturalists taught us about rivers and ponds.  A couple of highlights include…

On the walk down a dirt trail on a hill to get to the river, one little girl was clinging to my hand, “I’m scared!”  I told her she was fine and needed to walk on her own.  About 30 seconds later, a little boy at the front says, “Miss K!  Are you scared?  It’s ok!”  and this little girl in front of me turns around and in a sweet, soothing voice, she says, “Miss K, don’t be scared.  It’s fun!”  to which I say, “but I’m NOT scared.”  and this girl, obviously relieved, shouts down to the little boy, “It’s ok!  She’s not scared!!!”  Apparently I seem the type to be scared of small hills.  (nope kids, of all the irrational fears I have had over the years, small hills are not one of them)

They were also quite concerned about walking by the groundhog’s hole.  They did not want to run into him.  I told them to ask Ms Aydt about the time she saw a groundhog at this park, because it was hilarious!  One girl commented, “We have a groundhog at my house and we are NOT a fan of him!”

At one point during the morning, a little girl came up to me with worried eyes: “But how are we gonna have a picnic??  We forgot to bring our covers!”  Yes, next year let’s all bring our blankets from our beds.  Or on second thought, let’s stick with the picnic table option.

Basically the kids were bouncing around, unable to contain their excitement all morning.  It is like they had never seen nature before.  But they are city kids.  So they probably haven’t.  Mosquito larvae??  AWESOME!  A short-cut walk through the “spooky” woods?? “Best thing ever!”  Beetles swimming on pond water? “No way!”  A real river, “Wow!” A bird?  “Neat!!!”

Thanks nature, for being so awesome.  Or thanks five year olds, for appreciating having your horizons broadened.

it was very good

“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” Genesis 1:31a 

 “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”  Psalm 19:1

I love seeing God’s glory displayed through His creation.  God is so creative and so powerful.  I love it!  When I am surrounded by nature, I cannot help but praise God.

I’ve seen some beautiful places.  I’m seriously impressed by God’s handiwork.

Sunset from the top of a volcano in Guatemala? Wow.

Snorkeling in the East China Sea: breathtaking. And if you think it is beautiful above the water, you should see what God did with the coral and all the sea creatures. AWESOME!

Not pictured because I went here back in the day of film cameras: Foz do Iguacu – BEAUTIFUL.  (I have a photo displayed in my room.  Let’s just say literal double rainbow over magestic waterfalls.)


the train ride from Vancouver to Whistler

Mountains? Yes, please.


the Wachau Valley

a day at lake

walking around a lake in Minneapolis

I love it all.  And I am so blessed to have seen these incredible places.

And yet I hear God whispering in my heart, “I can’t wait for you to see what I did when I created Africa.”  

Oh man, I can’t wait either.

I’m glad we have a creative God who shows off his power and glory in creation.

Save the Squirrels!

Tonight as I went for a walk in my neighborhood, I was overwhelmed by all the nature in suburbia.  First, there was a squirrel on the forest floor, then there was the butterfly by the flowers, the turtle crossing the driveway, the puppy on a leash, and another squirrel crossing the road down yonder.  Instead of enjoying this trek into the wilds of the neighborhood, I just kept reliving the harrowing experience of little kitty turned squirrel-murderer.  I am not as concerned about the turtle – it probably can snap.  The butterfly can just flit away, and the puppy, well it would for sure win against the cat.

But that squirrel?  Those innocent squirrels?  When I saw the first one, I just wanted to shout, “Run away, little buddy!  Run as fast as you can!”  When I saw the second one, actually IN the street, so similar to the scene of the crime of last week, I just wanted to invite the poor little squirrel home with me, to safety.

And then I wondered, “does the squirrel even know the danger it is in?  Someone needs to tell it!”  Then I pictured myself picketing the streets with signs, “Save the squirrels” and “Cats are not your friend!”  so that they will know.  But then I got to wondering, can squirrels even read?

So now I have decided that one of my summer hobbies will be holding summer school, literacy focused classes, at the local parks around the cities, teaching squirrels to read, so I can make signs to inform them of the eminent danger they are in from orange cats.

A winning idea, for sure.