Update on Nepal Notebook Campaign – Funds on the Way!

Well, after all that work, back-and-forth stress, and endless paperwork, our friendly bank here in the USA didn’t approve our international bank account application.  In response, we gave them the American Salute, and opened up a different account to avoid paying exorbitant bank fees and ensure that ALL of the money donated ends up in the hands of these students.  Long story, but the moral is:


Volunteers Unload First Batch of Notebooks

It’s hard to imagine that it’s been over 9 months since we began this project and your generous donations started pouring in.  We’re up to $3,530 in donations, over 85% of the way to our goal.  If you have an extra buck to spare, can you donate to help 30 children in remote Nepal receive an education?  Or, can you click on the facebook button at the bottom and share this with friends to help us reach our goal? 

Thank you as always for your support and included in this post are some pictures of the notebooks that have been purchased thus far.  More updates to follow!

Back Cover of Notebooks

Hundreds of scholarship forms have been received and we will choose 30 students to receive supplies, uniforms, and a fully funded school year thanks to your donation!

As promised, if you donated $140 or more to support a student for the year, you will receive a letter and photo from your sponsored child when they receive their items. Thank you for your patience, as we finalize these international transactions.

If you would like to learn more about this project, please visit our Nepal Notebook Campaign site!

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View second update article on this subject.

Safari Know-How in Southern Africa (on a Budget)

Zebra Hugs

Lions and Cheetahs.  Leopards and Elephants.  Rhinos, Hippos, Buffalos, Zebras, Giraffes and more.  You’ve seen it on Nat Geo or Discovery and you’ve most likely said “someday, I want to do that.”  But, safaris are pricey adventures, right?  Google “Safari Africa” or “Safari South Africa” and seeing packages for a week costing over $10,000 USD, you’d soon be led to believe that you’d have to seriously break the bank in order to witness these gorgeous creatures completely in their element.  Not so.  Leave it up to us to find a less expensive way of getting it done.  Here’s the nitty gritty on where best to find the Big 5 (Lion, Leopard, Black Rhino, Elephant, Buffalo) in Southern Africa and doing it on the cheap.

Continue reading “Safari Know-How in Southern Africa (on a Budget)”

How to Avoid Paying Bribes to Corrupt Police Officers Worldwide

Remember the last time you were abroad and were constantly getting pulled over or stopped by police, then asked for paperwork that doesn’t exist, fire extinguishers that don’t exist, and threats to take your license or passport to the capital 400 miles away?  Most times all these corrupt jerks wanted was a bribe and through bitten tongue, you ponied up.  Well, fear not, we’ve figured out how to avoid paying the bribe and you can too.  Just follow this simple advice and chances are you’ll be on your way!  BTW, we highly recommend color-photocopying and laminating your driver license for these exact scenarios and never, ever, giving up your passport.  Worst case scenario, tell them to keep the (fake) license!

Cape Town to Namibia: The Must-Do Activities

View from atop Table Mountain, Cape Town

Cape Town

Cape Town is pretty incredible.  First off, it’s stunning.  Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean, several bays, and the backdrop of Table Mountain, it’s pretty hard to beat for picturesque beauty.  Considering the city’s proximity to Wine Country, beaches and National Parks, not to mention near-perfect year-round weather, a great food scene, awesome music, and more culture than you can handle (this is Africa after all),  it’s no wonder that it has topped the list two years running for Best City for Tourists.

View to Camps Bay from Lion's Head in Cape Town

So, what to do, what to do.  Schneids and I like the outdoors so we were quick to climb Table Mountain and were  woefully underprepared, lacking ample food and water. (We actually were taking timed swigs every 10 minutes to conserve.)  It’s great at the top, no doubt, but if time is tight in town, save your hiking legs for nearby Lion’s Head.  It’s far less strenuous, more fun, and the 360-degree panam views are absolutely ridiculous.  City to beach, Table Mountain to the Twelve Apostles coastal range, you can see it all.  Time your summit with sunset, pack some wine and a flashlight and you’re in for a treat.

Live Music at Mama Africa on Long Street

Continue reading “Cape Town to Namibia: The Must-Do Activities”

48 Hours in London: Time to Reunite

Team Tartiflette sans Schneids

One of the best parts of extended travel is the great friends you make along the way.  No matter where you are in the world there will always be a common bond with that stranger sitting next to you on the bus, sharing the same dorm room, paddling for the same wave, or bellying up to the same bar.  The commonalities are endless but start with being away from home, friends, and fam, being on a budget, having a love for travel and good times, wanting to have incredible experiences, and naming your group of adventurers with silly yet meaningful names.  Fortunately for us, two of these groups of friends are centered in or would be in London around the time we’d be there, so it was only right to catch up, regale each other with more travel stories, and make more memories in the meantime.  This such time had us reuniting with Team Tartiflette, created in Laos in August 2011, and one of the founding members of Bolttin Hardcore, created in Indonesia in July 2011.

Keeping in mind our “good fortune” in getting delayed 24 hours from London to Dubai on Superbowl Sunday and getting a free $400 hotel room and $100 meal at a fancy-pants hotel in London, we were yet again delayed returning to London from Dubai to meet with Team Tartiflette, Joe and Carrie of London, Thomas and Claire from Nice, and of course, the PB Nomads.  But the short weekend was not lost and we met up with the team for some pints of really, really good English beer at a Samuel Smith’s Pub (the exact beer I wished for and received on my 21stbirthday!  Coincidence?  I think not) courtesy of Joe


and Carrie, our gracious local tour guides and hosts.  We had planned a dinner of authentic and very English fish & chips but since fish & chips are holy in England and this being a Sunday, the place was closed, so we audibled to a sinful, albeit amazing, American-style burger joint called Byron in SoHo.  Most, if not all, opted for the Burger, Bourbon and Craft Beer special which quickly made us miss the good ‘ol US of A for in all its glory. This place surely knows how to whip up incredible, fat, juicy burgers; wicked, high-gravity, artisan crafted beers; and sweet, strong, may-I-have-another, bourbons.  The Team, smacking their lips and feeling the buzz of the bourbon and beer, triumphantly agreed.  Bidding farewell to our London guides, we made plans to visit Abbey Road with the French delegation the following afternoon.

New vs. Original

I want you, Abbey Road.  Nearly 10 years have gone by since Erin and I began dating and this album played significance in its creation.  In that all-too-important moment of comparing musical-interests with the “girl you like,” Erin had the Abbey Road CD (as well as an impressive collection of Mason Jennings), thus cementing our relationship from “like” to “love.”  Being my all-time favorite Beatles album and crux of the PB Nomads relationship, it was only right to visit the site of the famous album cover.  Not at all surprising given that we were in London, the weather was cloudy and intermittently  rainy, and upon our arrival to the famous site, the hilarity had already begun.  The crosswalk is a real, active crosswalk at a relatively busy intersection with loads of traffic and even more tourists looking to recreate their own Beatles moment.  Time and time again, when traffic was lightest, tourists would rush into the crosswalk and their invited photographers would dash into the middle of the road, quickly posing and snapping as many photos as possible before horns began blaring and traffic lined up waiting for the “pedestrians” to cross.  Soon enough it was our turn and the picture turned out pretty darn good, with the passing of Peanut Butter– our prop to remember.  We dined on fish & chips with Thomas and Claire for lunch before bidding them farewell, hoping to meet up again soon, this time in the USA or France.

The French Abbey

That evening, the 48 hours of reunions continued and we met with Nick “Magico” of Bolttin Hardcore fame, whom we met in Indonesia.  We took the tube over to his hood and met at Tayyabs for Paki/Indian food, London’s second-most famous cuisine thanks in part to its abundance of immigrants over the last two centuries and its highly-traveled, worldly citizens.  It was, hands-down, the most delicious Pakistani food we had ever tried, and to make things even better, was actually affordable compared to the oft-expensive London eateries.  Nick treated, much to our protest, because “we were still traveling.”  These are the Good Karma rules of the road and we begrudgingly obliged, forever in debt to all of our good fortune and amazing hosts through the years, and eager to pay it forward again to visiting travelers in the USA.  So, next time you’re in London, go to Tayyabs!  Catching up with Nick was such a pleasure, as he stayed in Indo long after we had left and then continued onto the Philippines before returning home.  Responsible for arranging our amazing sailing trip around Komodo and Rinca Islands in Indonesia, he will forever be known as Magico.  Speaking loudly to the strength of Bolttin Hardcore, we had one last pint before bidding farewell, and were off to the airport for our flight to Cape Town, where we’d be reuniting with the last two members of Bolttin Hardcore, “Roger the First Mate” and “Sue Sea Q.”  We still need to see Captain Iggy Poppins and only Erin got to see Rio in SF in January.  Not fair!

Bolttin Hardcore: Reunite!

Well, until next time Team Tartiflette and Bolttin Hardcore, thank you for everything and looking forward to the next adventure, wherever that may be!

Ireland: Pubs, Music and Friends


My bucket list is a combination of things I’ve compiled from lucid dreams, wild flashbacks, vagabonding friends, other travelers, family and friends. And, maybe a thing or two from cool television shows, like “climbing a redwood tree.” So, how did we end up in Ireland? Well, semi-long story, semi-short: While in Nepal we dined with some Finnish friends, Ville and Anniina, recapping our spectacular hike around the Annapurna circuit when seemingly out of nowhere, Ville inquired, “Do Americans do heavy drinking?” A bit unsure how to answer that question, I probed deeper to find that in Finland, they “do heavy drinking.” This means when they go out with friends, they get wild, drink waaay too much, take shots, dance, shout, scream, sing, wake up with raging hangovers, wear dark sunglasses (unless it’s winter) and get together with the same friends for breakfast to find out what the hell actually happened the previous night. I smiled, laughed and answered him, “Yes, Ville, Americans do heavy drinking.” Immediately, I pulled out my handy-dandy iPhone, opened my notes app, and added “#35: Do some heavy drinking in Finland.” But before my phone could find its way back into my pocket, I quickly added,

#36: Do some heavy drinking in an Irish Pub (in Ireland)

Continue reading “Ireland: Pubs, Music and Friends”

Skiing the Austrian Alps and a Preview of Gnarlberg: A Love Story

After a month of bouncing around between family and friends in Philly, NYC, Michigan, LA and SF, we were off to the Austrian Alps to finally “Ski the Alps.”  Long on my list of things to do, we’ve heard the rumors about Austria from friends and were curious if they were true.  Are Austrians really born with skis on?  Is the apres ski in Austria really the best in the world?  And finally, do the mountains really make everything in North America seem tiny?  There was only one way to find out and to do just that we flew into Zurich and took a 2.5 hour train ride east to a well-known village, St. Anton.

Erin and I Viewing the Valley Below

The valley is cut deep and the mountains are high, with chairs and gondolas going up each side, behind and around the mountains.  Nestled two towns east of St. Anton’s ritzy, glam-and-gush center, lies little Schnann, our home for the next 9 days.  Haus Schoepf, our lovely guest house is predominantly run by Fiona, the guest-house mom extraordinaire.  Even with five kids, all girls, she somehow found the time to check us in and have breakfast ready to go by 7:30 sharp every morning.  Built around the Stube, a traditional Austrian/Bavarian-style room for eating and relaxing, the house is rather large and the rooms cozy.  And, at just a free, 15-minute bus ride away from all the slope-side fun you could possibly handle, at 1/10th the cost, this little gem was a no-brainer.

Calling this area a “resort” region is way too loose of a word.  There are essentially 5 villages – Lech, Zurs, St. Anton, St. Christoph, and Stuben, each a “resort” in their own right, but this doesn’t even include all of the terrain, with Rendl across the valley being world-class, and Zug to the far-north, an untouched powder paradise six days after a dump.  I can’t find the specifics online but I’d have to guess if you were to compare apples to apples, the Arlberg region is about the size of 4 Vails or 5 Squaw Valleys.  It’s massive, simply put.

Since it snowed so much here this year already, the Arlberg (Gnarlberg!) region has one of the largest bases in the world.  And, to make things even better, we arrived just before a massive storm that didn’t stop dumping snow on us for the next 6 days, creating what we’ve dubbed “eight for eight.”  Powder days, that is, and none being less than a foot deep.  “Dreams really do come true,” we constantly yelled, hopping off another cornice into fresh, untracked powder (h/t DDF.)

“Oooooh, you might say that I’m addicted.

You might say I’m really hooked.

But at least I’m not addicted to the powder that you sniff into your nose.

That would really suck.”

– Damien Filiatrault

Dunkels, Hefeweizens, and Frites

Due to the storm(s), we spent our first few days lapping the Galzigbahn gondola in St. Anton, enjoying fresh tracks all-day, every day, and anxiously waiting for the upper mountain to come off wind-hold.  Our friend Mark arrived, somehow in the eye of the storm, and we spent one day on the slopes with him, rebel yelling on each and every run.  Amazed that most, if not all, other skiers remained on-piste and directly between the trail lines, we laughed hysterically that getting fresh powder tracks on every run was actually happening.  Just like at home, at the end of any epic powder day we were ready for some celebratory drinks.  We were eager to enjoy an apres ski, French for heavy drinking post skiing, at Mooserwirt, consistently voted the best apres ski in the world.  Bellying up to the bar, we began with half-liter pints of dunkels and hefeweizens before getting heavy into the jagermeister, plum schnapps, and even worse, the hot widow (heisse witwe) aka the cougar shot due to its unabashed use of whipped cream and the ensuing mess.  Beer swilling continued and the lights got low, the DJ started spinning, and before long it was an absolute fist-pumping, dancing-in-your-ski-boots kind of party, which for us, ended before 6:30.  The only unfortunate thing was we had to ski down afterward and catch our bus home!  Luckily, we were taught how to snow plow.  🙂

We bid Mark farewell and enjoyed more incredible snow, finding more and more areas to get the good stuff.  Damien arrived the following night, eager to hit the slopes and enjoy what we’d been enjoying.  We hit Rendl and got 3-feet deep, face-shots-on-every-turn kind of snow.  We hit Kappal, and went Mach-18 down a snow-filled valley for 10 minutes straight, all untouched.  We traversed around a 10,000 foot peak for a field of snow, just waiting for us to dive in.  We jumped off cliffs, over cornice lips, into couloirs and down chutes.  Avalanche danger being of concern, we took all necessary precautions and as the week carried on, and the danger became less, we just kept getting more.  And more.  It was an endless bowl of snow, with free refills and we ate it all up.  On the final day, we split up accidentally, and Erin and I found what may have been the last untouched mecca of snow on the backside of Zurs.  After fifteen minutes of pure enjoyment, at the bottom of the slope, we looked back at our tracks and the two helicopters swooping between the peaks, smiled at each other, knowing that we had just poached heli-skiing terrain.

D, Schneids and I Waiting for Ski Bus in Schnann

Together, we bid farewell to Fiona and Haus Schoepf and caught the train to Zurich for a night of fondue and resting up before our early flight.  It was the trip of a lifetime and getting such enormous amounts of snow was certainly the icing on top.  Plus, with lift tickets and rentals for the week costing $45/day and our room at $30/day, we felt like we had gotten one heck of a deal compared to the $95/day lift-tickets-alone prices in N. America.

See more on how to “go budge” and get the sweetest deals by visiting Erin’s article at SF Examiner.

And finally, a preview of Gnarlberg: A Love Story

Following Bourdain’s Footsteps: Melbourne, Australia

We always said if we ever found a city with Philadelphia’s layout and San Francisco’s weather, we’d move there in a heartbeat.  Little did we know that’d require moving to the opposite side of the world to Australia’s hippest city, Melbourne.

We arrived in-style, fresh from Sydney after a perfectly executed 2-hour nap, starting before we took off and ending upon landing. We checked into our hostel within the CBD, Central Business District, a perfect rectangular shaped grid, eight blocks wide by four high.  Trams run in just about every direction but walking is easy enough unless you’re trying to get a bit out of “town” to visit some of the cool suburbs like Fitzroy and Collingwood for art, music and beer or South Yarra for high-end fashion and what would become our favorite restaurant.  We knew before arriving this was our kind of town as one of the few things on television worth watching, Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, had just done a special on Melbourne, and it had our mouths watering.  Whenever you build a city with immigrants from all over the world, you’re sure to find the Peanut Butter Nomads, fork, knife, spoon, chopstick, or freehand, ready to dig in.  Flush with some extra cash after a stellar month at my company, we proposed to spend a little extra and put ‘ol Bourdain to the true test.  We were going to follow in his footsteps, within reason of course, as it was unlikely we’d be getting tasting menus at the city’s most lauded kitchens, and see if the author was just full of fluff or really did make good suggestions and recommendations on his show. Continue reading “Following Bourdain’s Footsteps: Melbourne, Australia”

How To Sail Around the World and Live to Tell About It

Coast Guard Couple, Greg and Tiffany Norte

We met Greg and Tiffany Norte while on a liveaboard scuba diving boat in the Great Barrier Reef.  Between the 10 dives, overeating the surprisingly good buffet food, reminiscing about the greatest the USA has to offer, and getting my butt kicked at euchre (a rare occasion, just ask the Schneider’s!) so badly I had to jump off the boat naked, we delved deep into the “Coast Guard Couples” interesting lifestyle choice – as the title suggests – sailing around the world and sharing the skinny on how to do it yourself.  Heck, they’ve been doing it for two years straight and have 16 years of sailing experience between them!  So when it comes from them, you know you’re getting expert advice.  Fortunately, you don’t need to fly to Australia to meet them and pick their brain.  They’re giving out the deets here for free and have an absolutely infinite amount of quality how-to’s on their website, along with other great antidotes from the rarely seen South Pacific, at www.CoastGuardCouple.com.  So slip off your flip flops, crack into a Pacifico, and climb on board while Greg and Tiffany show us how to travel the world for free.  Oh, that sounds so nice, I need to write it again.  FOR FREE. Continue reading “How To Sail Around the World and Live to Tell About It”