Lili on the Loose: On Life and Getting Lost 

Making a Dream Trip to Egypt a Reality

I have always dreamt of Egypt ever since I was a little girl. I loved ancient history (and Indiana Jones) and wanted to see the temples and monuments in person. It was fascinated how they complex and old they were. And they were so beautiful from the photos! I would watch the history channel and just eat up anything related to ancient Egypt.

But it was always this far off exotic place that I hadn’t really thought of actually going to. Not until I heard a character in Anne of Green Gables shout this:

“I want to travel. It’s the one thing I’ve always longed for. I remember the one and only picture than hung on the wall of my room…a faded old print…it was a picture of palms around a spring in the desert, with a string of camels marching away in the distance. It literally fascinated me. I’ve always wanted to go and find it. I want to see the Taj Mahal and the Pillars of Karnak! I want to know…not just to believe…that the world is round. “

Due to my voracity for all things Egypt I knew that Karnak was an amazing temple in Luxor. And the quote stuck with me. If this simple teacher in the early 1900’s wished to go to Egypt, then one day I had to visit it as well.

As I grew up I continued my love of ancient Egypt. I would go to museums and special exhibits. I remember traveling to Chicago in 2006 for the Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs exhibit. My mother was going to get tickets…but didn’t. I was in tears when I found it was sold out. A man walked up to me and said “I’ve got 1 ticket, its yours!” My family couldn’t care less, they went off and did something else. I, however, was in heaven and enjoyed walking (quickly, as I knew my family didn’t want to wait on me) through the exhibit. The treasures were small but amazing.

I was inspired to start saving up. I knew not when I’d be able to go but I knew that I’d make the trip. A few years after graduating college I actually saved quite a bit of money and so picked up a guidebook to Egypt and read it cover to cover. But then life had other plans. After a horrific roommate experience I used the money to buy a condo in Boulder, CO in 2009.

This set me back but gave me more time to plan out my trip. I found a tour company GAP Adventures (now G Adventures) who had cheap tours to Egypt and was delighted to find that they didn’t charge you extra to go on your own like other tour companies. So I started saving hard again, now with a goal and plan in place. In 2010 I almost had enough money for the tour, now I only needed to save up for the flight! To fuel my aspirations I went a few times to to the Denver Art Museum’s Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs and really took the time to study the pieces there.

That December 2010 I went to a special talk by the head of antiquities, Dr. Zahi Hawass. It was great to hear about the latest discoveries in Egypt directly from the source. I even had a chance afterwards to talk with him and get a book and one of his signature hats signed. I was so pumped up after this lecture that I decided I’d book the trip for the following year in early 2012.

But then in January 2011, I was glued to my computer, watching Al Jazeera as the revolution took place. I was happy for the Egyptian people to finally have a say in their government’s future. And as things turned violent I weeped for them. And I realized I had to put my Egypt travel dreams on hold. Instead in 2012 I went to Costa Rica, a place that hadn’t even been on my radar, but since I had the money to burn decided to go on my first trip alone anyway. And I had great adventures in Costa Rica, and then a few years later to Guatemala, Belize, & Mexico. But Egypt kept calling me in my dreams.

In 2014 I had a lot of changes in my life. I got a new job, sold a condo, bought a new one. It also saw a 5 year relationship end. It was tough and I could feel myself falling a bit into depression. But I decided that I wasn’t going to do that again. Instead, while talking to my mother, I explained I needed to get my mind on something else. True to form, she suggested I plan a grand trip. So I started to price out trips. The new Harry Potter land interested me, but would be an expensive undertaking as a single person. I then looked at Panama…and found tickets to be nearly as expensive as a trip to Europe! So I then looked into Jordan to fulfill my Indiana Jones fantasy. That seemed like the winner, until I priced out Egypt. Egypt, Orlando, and Jordan would be around the same price. I figured my mother would say, “No! Don’t Go! Its not safe!” But she just looked at me and said, “Baby girl, this has been your dream since you were a child. And its time.”


She was right. And so I started furiously saving, cutting my budget down as much as I could. After finding a great deal on the flight I decided to book the trip for October 2015, a year after the relationship ended. That way I had enough time to save, and so I wouldn’t be focused on some arbitrary depressing date that didn’t matter. And it worked! After spending nearly 10 months saving, and reading every single book, blog, movie and documentary I’ve had nothing but Egypt on my mind. I completely forgot about the reason that made me book the trip in the first place!

So in a few weeks time, I’ll be on my way to my dream trip of a lifetime! I talked about this trip so often to my friends, family, and co-workers that I managed to convince one longtime friend to come with me! I cannot wait to make this childhood dream a reality!

Museum Monday: Poison in Detail


As I wrote before in my review, I loved The Power of Poison exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Here are some of the exhibits models and artifacts in more detail.


A blow dart gun, and the pot to brew & dip the tips in poison.


There is something so intriguing on massive ancient tomes.


I really enjoyed the faux magnification of various plants and animals in the forest area. It was very eye catching.


An actual “Mad” Hatter’s mercury laced hat.


So many Beautiful, but Toxic Butterflies!


Snow White’s area was beautifully decorated and felt like the story had come to life….or well that we were waiting for her prince to home bring her back to life!

The exhibit runs from July 10th, 2015 to January 10th, 2016 at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, 2001 Colorado Blvd, Denver 80205. The exhibit is included in the museum ticket price or member admission.

Museum Monday is an every other week series about museum news, objects, and reviews.

Souvenir Saturday: Tasty Memory

During a Girl’s Weekend in Las Vegas, I stopped into Sugar Factory and fell in love with their myriad of candy and caramel apple options. It took forever to decide on which one to get. It being a quick trip, I completely forgot to eat it until I got home. And it was delicious. Sadly, Sugar Factory closed their location in Las Vegas but they often have small kiosks at various locations and airports, so if you see be sure to check it out!


Souvenir Saturday

Souvenir Saturday is an every-other week series on the items that represent travel memories.

Local Activites: Boulder Farmer’s Market & Dushanbe Tea House


A favorite annual fall tradition for me is to go to the Boulder Farmer’s Market and pick out a ghost pumpkin. Sure there are tons of local farms where you can pick out a regular pumpkin but I like the white ghost pumpkins as they are more unique for Halloween.

I also love to walk through the market and pick out fresh fruits and veggies for the week. Nothing beats local apples (or peaches in the summer!)  And many of the stalls offer free samples.


The Boulder Market is located near 13th and Canyon and runs Saturdays from 8AM to 2PM. I often like to have lunch at the Dushanbe Teahouse after the market closes.

If you go:
Boulder Farmer’s Market is open Saturday mornings from 8-2 or Wednesday evenings from 4-8.
Dushanbe TeaHouse

Travel Missteps: Wrong Exit

The Sistine Chapel – known for Michelangelo’s beautiful ceiling and the grand finale of most Vatican Museum tours. After craning my neck trying to take it all in, it was time to leave…except I went through the wrong exit.

There are two ways to exit the Sistine Chapel. The main exit is to the left of the room as you enter. I’m told that this has a long walk back. The other exit is for licensed group tours only, and lets you out close to the entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica saving you a long hike back and skipping an additional security line. You are not supposed to take the group exit if you aren’t in a group and they randomly patrol this route.

A huge statue down the "secret corridor"

A huge statue down the “secret corridor”

But I didn’t know that and that day there was no guard. So I wandered down these huge steps and past huge statues along a long hallway. Halfway down I ran into a very confused Swiss Guard. He didn’t speak English, and so we couldn’t understand what he was saying.  We just smiled and waved to the confused guard. He was kind enough to let us take a photos of him before we continued wandering alone down the large staircase.

A confused Swiss Guard

A confused Swiss Guard

Eventually the staircase ended and a few more slightly upset Swiss Guards let us out and we found that we had completely bypassed the long line into St. Peter’s and instead were able to walk right on in.

The passageway spits you out right here, right in front of St. Peter's.

The passageway spits you out right here, right in front of St. Peter’s.

It wasn’t until later that I found out what that exit is for, and that it is usually closed as it does have passages that lead into the Papal section of Vatican City. Oops!

Travel Missteps

Travel Missteps is an every-other week series on how sometimes part of the journey is making mistakes and getting lost.


When traveling the jungles of Guatemala & Belize I was on the lookout for local wildlife. But at Tikal, I literally stumbled upon so many! Parrots, Macaws, grey foxes, and then I saw something I had no idea what it was, or how to identify it. I was told it was called a Coatimundi! If you see a group of them, its likely a band of females, as males are solitary. We saw many bands of them, and they were very curious, coming right up to us. They kind of remind me of more active raccoons, who are much cuter!

Every other week Travel Thursday brings you travel tips and information on the amazing sights and activities the world has to offer.

Museum Monday: Fayum Portrait of a Young Woman

The Städtische Galerie Liebieghaus in Frankfurt, Germany doesn’t just have statues, it also has a few beautiful Fayum Portraits. These portraits were often painted during life on wood, and were placed over the mummy upon death.

Portrait of a young woman

Portrait of a young woman

Read more about Fayum Portraits here.

Museum Monday is an every other week series about museum news, objects, and reviews.

Souvenir Saturday: Drink Like a Pirate Day

“Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest–
…Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done for the rest–
…Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!”


Today is National “Talk Like a Pirate Day!” or for others “Drink Like a Pirate Day!” Traveling the USVI and BVI via boat is the best way to experience the islands.  While stopping in Tortola, BVI I picked up this large tumbler with a recipe for a Rum Runner. I certainly had a few that trip!


Souvenir Saturday

Souvenir Saturday is an every-other week series on the items that represent travel memories.

Local Treats: The Cookie Lady

The Cookie Lady has a wide Variety of cookies, listed out in cute place-cards in front of the baskets.

The Cookie Lady has a wide Variety of cookies, listed out in cute place-cards in front of the baskets.

I had heard rumors since I started working in Downtown Denver, of the infamous “Cookie Lady”. Without much to go on, my mind ran rampant and likened her to the “Soup Nazi” of Seinfeld fame. So one day, when I smelled the most delicious fresh-baked-goods scent wafting through the air, I followed it down to the Santa Fe Cookie Company. But alas, that first visit was for nought. She was out of cookies! I nervously waited around, watching the woman make cookies for a bit, but then chickened out and left.

A few weeks later, I looked up “The Cookie Lady” and read about her easy system. Cash only, $1 for 3 cookies (or if you are lucky $1 for 2 small cupcakes or brownies!) You put bills in the milk jug, and change on the counter. Armed with this additional knowledge I went back again, this time thankfully she wasn’t sold out!

But I was still nervous, and when she saw me standing there too long, she explained the system to me. I realized she was not “Soup Nazi” material and calmly picked out a few different things…and then prompt dropped the coins in the milk jug. “Oh no!” I thought and then ran out of the store….yeah I’m a spaz.

Thankfully I’ve become a pro at getting cookies from the Cookie Lady, and my favorites are her carrot cake cupcakes, and her peanut butter cookies! Be sure to check it out!

Carrot Cake Cupcake & Peanut Butter Cookie

Carrot Cake Cupcake & Peanut Butter Cookie

Read more at:

If you go:
303 16th St. (16th & Tremont)
Denver, CO 80202
Essentially go down the stairs in front of the Starbucks, you’ll see the entrance to the Santa Fe Cookie Company at the left, next to the nail salon.

Bring Cash, everything is just $1 (for 3 cookies or 2 cupcakes) and don’t expect change. Its self serve. Grab your bag and Put bills in the milk jug, and coins on the counter.

Busiest in the mornings and around lunchtime.

Travel Missteps: No See Ums

The US Virgin Islands are full of amazingly beautiful sandy beaches. And those beaches are often infested with small biting and blood sucking insects sometimes called No See Ums, Sand Flies, as well as many other names.  They are almost invisible but their bites can swell up and look like mosquito bites.  They can also carry/transmit diseases. They are also not fast, if you are moving quickly into the water, you’ll likely not get bit, but its when you walk back through the sand, sit on a towel, or have stand sticking to you or your shoes that they can hitch a ride. They are also are more active at dusk and dawn.

I however, didn’t know this ahead of my first trip to St. John left me with many red bites, that I couldn’t help but itch until they bled. Re-scratching over and over can leave scars. In desperation I looked up how to ease the itching. It recommended Chamomile lotion, but being stuck on the island I didn’t have access to that. Instead one recommendation was rubbing alcohol, it stings but would stop the itching temporarily.  Again not having that I resorted to what I had…vodka and rum. I’d drizzle a little over the wounds, and the itching would stop for a short while and then started back up again. Rinse and repeat (and don’t forget to add a sip hear or there) and you’ll be slightly drunk, slightly itchy, and smell like a mixed drink.

So my second time around I did research on how to better avoid the bites. One suggestion was that No See Ums hate garlic, and suggested you take garlic pills 2 weeks or more before your trip. So I went to the local vitamin store and got 2 bottles of garlic pills. Let me tell you those suckers are big and hard to swallow. And they will make your skin reek. And for me…it didn’t help whatsoever with the sand flies. After spending the first half of my trip getting bitten I put the bottle in the “give/take” donation center at the campsite. I had to again rely on my get drunk/alcohol anti itching plan after the fact.

So what will I try next time to protect myself from No See Ums?

  • I’ve discounted over the counter insect repellent as it is very damaging for the environment and since the whole point of St. John is the nature I don’t want to kill its wonderful wildlife.
  • For a more natural repellent, I might try Lemon Eucalyptus oil or Lavender oil, or I hear many citrus juice can help keep away bites. But this will likely not be entirely helpful, as it will wash off once entering the water, and I suspect the bites are occurring on the walk back to the car.
  • Another example is to cover up so there isn’t as much exposed skin. And to wear lighter colors. Maybe I’ll look into longer snorkeling socks, and wear a sun cover up while on the beach.
  • And probably the most important thing to do is to shake out towels, blankets, and shoes to make sure no sand makes its way into the room or car.