Ken & Linda Askren
BY ANITA NEAL HARRISON
“Guess what! We’re going to Africa!”
This was the unexpected announcement Ken Askren heard when he rejoined his wife, Linda, at his high school reunion. Linda had been chatting with one of Ken’s friends, Robert Hilton, while Ken caught up with other classmates. Linda and Robert’s conversation had turned to travel, and Robert had brought up his plans to go on a group trip to Africa. Linda had always wanted to go to Africa, and a quick check with the trip’s planners revealed there were two spots left.
“By the time I got back, she had big saucer eyes,” Ken says. “It was the most expensive high school reunion I’ve ever gone to.”
Ken and Linda took the trip this February. They spent 10 days and 10 nights in Tanzania, and the itinerary included daily game drives, a drive across the vast Ngorongoro Crater — where the landscape includes volcanoes, mountains, plains, lakes, forests and archaeological sites — and a few days in Serengeti National Park.
Some of their most vivid memories include taking a hot air balloon ride at sunrise on the Serengeti; getting stuck in the mud and watching the Great Migration of wildebeest, zebras and elephants part around them; finding wild elephants milling about in their lodge courtyard; and visiting with nomadic Masai people in their smoke-filled huts.
It was all as exotic as Ken and Linda had imagined it would be.
“We’ve been to several countries in Europe, and we had friends in Australia, so we’d been there, but this seemed like it would be a whole different world,” Linda says. “And it was. It was much different than anything we’d done before.”
“For me, it validated everything that I’d grown up thinking Africa might be from my National Geographic magazines,” Ken says. “It put a real flavor to it, rather than just being a beautiful photograph.”