African animals come to life in “Beast,” by John Banovich


© John Banovich, Giants of Kilimanjaro, 2016, oil on belgian linen, 24 x 24 in.                        Limited Edition Giclee on Canvas.

My father loves Africa, he has been there over 35 times. He was especially fascinated by elephants, lions and leopards. I believe they gave him strength to persevere, fight and drive himself to success. He is a self made man, ferocious reader and watches many documentaries. In fact, as we were growing up, he’d call us in to watch, “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” with Marlin Perkins. This show studied wild animals in their natural habitats, we learned the importance of conservation from Perkins’s stories.

Fast forward 35+ years and conservation efforts are stronger than ever. Years ago, my father and I came across an artist out of Montana named, “John Banovich.” We were immediately mesmerized by his larger than life paintings of African animals. Clearly, Banovich had the same passion for African animals as my father had with the ability to bring them to life. For example, take a look at this elephant painting by Banovich. It’s incredible, we can see the precision with which Banovich paints the wrinkles on the elephant’s skin, brings fierceness to his eyes, the tusks perfectly positioned with just the right color. What amazed my father and I was the “feeling” that we were facing the elephant “head on, eye to eye,” like a fight scene. He gives life to all of his paintings in this way. They are very powerful!

Banovich’s love of animals/nature runs deep. In 2007, he started the Banovich Wildscapes Foundation, a nonprofit organization created to conserve wildlife, wild places and the people who live there. Right now, he supports twelve projects in seven countries with a portion of artwork sales going to the Foundation. A few projects are saving lions in Africa, Siberian tigers in Russia Far East and brown bears in North America. On his Foundation’s website you can read specific information on each project.

In 2009, he published the book, “Beast.” This banovich-book-beastbook shares his life story and collection of paintings. It’s a beautiful book, one that should be put on a coffee table and shared with others.

Visit Banovich’s Facebook page for the latest news on his projects and events. His next event is in South Carolina. If you’d like to learn more about his work, this is your chance to meet him in person AND to support wildlife conservation!


Plantation Grille, Brays Island Plantation, SC
Guest Speaker: John Banovich, Artist/Conservationist
March 13, 2017, 3:30-5:00pm

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

imageNot long ago, I wrote about finding the Dragon Boat Racing group on Well, a few weeks ago I received a message about a NEW Meetup called, “Climbing Kili.” I immediately knew what that was. I opened the message to learn more about the group. I have always thought of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, so I found it interesting that this message came to my email.  Destiny?  Timing?  I decided to go and find out.

imageIf you haven’t used, you should try it. If you find a Meetup you like, you RSVP that you are attending. sends you a “reminder” message of the meeting date and people comment like they do on Facebook. For example, 12 people scheduled to attend and about 2 hours before the meeting time, people sent messages on “why” they couldn’t come. That was a bit annoying, but I still decided to go hoping a “few people” would make it.

Turns out it was great. The Meetup organizer was a very nice Australian woman who had climbed Kilimanjaro a few years ago and said it was fantastic. She was also a travel agent and has been to Africa many times. She started to fill us in on the trip. She climbed with two ladies who were in their 60s and one woman in her 30s. They ALL made it to the top. They were all in good shape, but not hard core athletes. As they were in different parts of U.S., they communicated by email regarding training. The organizer did long hilly walks on the weekends and in the gym used the stepper a few times a week. She used a normal type of hiking boot, nothing super expensive. She said they didn’t use or take expensive clothes with them either, they get so dirty. At the end of the trip, they left their hiking clothes and boots with the carriers – they appreciated having these things. They don’t have good shoes.

imageThe best time to climb Kili is Sept/Oct, Jan/Feb or early March. This is a 7 night / 8 day package. She said you hike 6-8 hours a day. While you need to be able to hike, Kili is more about acclimating to the altitude. The men in the photo carry your main baggage, the camping equipment and food. You just carry your very personal belongings as you hike. There are different types of packages, so you have to investigate online the cost of what “you” might want to do, i.e extra days, hiking a more secluded trail with less people, etc. She told us about the Machame Route, nicknamed the Whiskey route.

Great group of women at the meeting. One had just climbed Mt. Everest Basecamp, which was exciting. Two others talked about climbing Mt. Rainier in Washington and Machu Picchu (lots of stairs) in Peru. Turns out Mt. Kilimanjaro is one of the Seven Summits. Fun to meet like minded adventurers.

We are considering September 2017, she said there will be a full moon at that time.

If you’ve done the climb, share your story!

Africa – A Zebra and a Lucky Penny

zebra and penny2I read a book not long ago called, “There are No Accidents,” by Robert H. Hopcke.

The book was interesting, because we can all look back at our lives and remember situations where we met someone or were guided in a direction that felt like “it was meant to be.”

For years, I had been wondering if I would make it to Africa. It wasn’t my biggest desire to go there preferring to see Morocco, but still Africa lingered in my mind.

One day, I was out walking with my daughter in the neighborhood. We were sharing stories and suddenly in the middle of the side walk we saw this toy zebra.

We both stopped in surprise… How funny to see a zebra!?!

You see my father has been to Africa many times and we love the zebra, so I suddenly had that feeling of “you’re going to Africa, but I shook my head and thought — this is strange, no trip planned, why am I seeing this zebra?”

Another feeling came over us and that was a child who would be very sad when he/she got home and realized they had lost their zebra. We were on a busy street, no child in site. If we left the zebra someone else would take it, so we decided it was “meant to be” that it was passed on to us.

As we kept walking, suddenly there was a shiny penny in our path. Again, we BOTH looked at each other in surprise. I think you know, the penny is Lucky, because it says, “In God We Trust.”

I took a picture of the zebra and lucky penny and thought, “let’s see what happens.”

It must have been 18 months later when my Dad called and said, “Do you want to go to Namibia?”

What??  I had him repeat himself. I thought of my zebra and lucky penny and said, “YES, let’s go!”

I knew it had been pre-destined!

So, don’t pass up a “sign” no matter how odd it might seem… who knows where it will take you.