Family: Brother, Pete Owens, sister, Susan Parker and four amazing nephews
Years in the Golden Isles: Born and raised – so 51
Occupation: Travel advisor
School: Frederica and UGA
Describe a perfect Saturday in the Golden Isles: HMMM – because I travel so much – a perfect Saturday for me is a pajama day! My dad always thought that was the funniest thing, but being able to relax around my house, and not get out of my pjs is just about the best Saturday out there. Maybe a little binge watching of my favorite shows, or working on some craft project, or cooking all day – but spending the day enjoying the ability to have nothing on my must do list!
What is the most fascinating place you have visited? Well – my answer, of course, is Africa. I think several places in Africa are totally fascinating. I love the open plains of the Masai Mara as well as the beauty of Cape Town. The gigantic sand dunes in Namibia are also overwhelming, along with the volcanoes in Rwanda that make up the habitat for the mountain gorillas. But culturally, the Himba people in Namibia are probably the most fascinating. They still live very traditional pastoral lives and have not assimilated into Western ways at all. I find this refreshing sometimes, but it is a very hard life living in the extremes of the northern Namibia and Angola. They fight such a harsh environment with very little vegetation and extreme temperature changes.
What is a “go-to” trip suggestion for those looking for something simple, yet adventurous? Simple yet adventurous – there are so many amazing places in the U.S., if you don’t want to go too far – a couple of my favorites are: Snowmobiling in Yellowstone in winter – normal vehicles are not permitted on the roads, so you can drive the snowmobiles all the way around the park and visit Old Faithful when it is not crowded. The trails outside of the park are beautiful as well, taking you up along the Continental Divide for fantastic views. I also think southern Utah has some of the most amazing parks and scenery if you want to hike or mountain bike or camp.
What is your favorite landmark? Locally – the last bridge onto the island – it reminds me I am home. Internationally – the Mara River in Kenya – when I fly over it – I know I am in my second home!
What is your favorite travel experience to date? Lord – that is a hard one! I have had so many – but I will give you two. First — the last trip to Kenya with my mom before she died. It was September 2015, and we had the most incredible “migration” safari that I have ever had. This is when the wildebeest are crossing the Mara River, and the crocodiles are waiting for them like you see on Animal Planet. We had thousands of animals crossing the river every day, and on one particular crossing approximately 60,000 animals crossed in a matter of a few minutes. There were so many special moments on this trip and I will remember it fondly forever, but especially because Mom was with me for such an amazing adventure. Second – taking my four nephews to Kenya for my 50th birthday. I had 15 friends and family join me on this special trip – but being able to share it with my nephews was extra special!
A local you admire: The people I admire the most are unfortunately no longer with us. My parents still inspire me daily. My father had such a kind heart with a no-nonsense attitude. He was witty and thoughtful, and a hard-working man with the utmost integrity. My mother was an absolute “lady” at all times, who loved adventure and travel. They were both such special people, and I strive daily to be more like them and make them proud.
Where do you plan to travel in 2020? I just got back from Yellowknife, Canada, up near the Arctic circle viewing the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) and it was fantastic. I leave (soon) to head back to Africa – Kenya and South Africa. In addition, I have a few other Africa trips planned for this summer and fall. I am also working on a possible trip to Borneo in the fall. I am planning Antarctica either this coming winter or next winter!