Sunday, April 27, 2008

Cara's world Map! Gotta love these!

And people say I have traveled a lot! After creating this stunning map, it told me 'Visited 19 countries (8%)' it says. I've only seen 8% of the world....and that would assume I have seen every inch of the countries highlighted!

SOOOO many- beautiful and incredible things still to see!
-languages to learn, fumble and smile your way through
-cultures to absorb and comprehend
-people to befriend, understand and renew your faith in the world
-mountains to climb atop to sing and dance
-pictures to take, savor and show to others who want to know why you have 100 pictures of the same thing (because it was the moment and that moment will never come again and can never be duplicated)
-memories to be made, treasured and bittersweetly longed for
-things to make you grow as a person (possibly horizontally if you don't watch the wine and cheese in France)

create your own visited country map

So I still have to go:
Mexico (to experience the culture and see the Aztec temples), South America (to climb Machu Picchu), Africa (to speak French, volunteer, see wildlife and be humbled), Scandinavia (must meet my Sweedih ancestry), Iceland (to pay outlandish prices but experience Iceland), the trans Siberian railway...and the list goes does my sojourn...=)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Cara's weekend- Playing in Berkeley with Patrice

FRIDAY: Fashion Design and Illustration Class. Great teacher. We started working with oil and chalk pastels. My drawing is improving and I really enjoy the class. Hence why I am still in the class and not taking Fridays to relax/ do homework! The in the afternoon I spent time with my digital girlfriends (aka: I watched Sex in the City) and then in the evening I worked taking photos in's my newest and latest job! I got my friend Jude to come along with me and away we went to Petaluma where I took 150 photos...I get paid per photo...we'll see....?

SATURDAY: Managed to awake at a somewhat respectable hour and proceeded to take care of some of the business of life; there is so much of it and it just will not go away- banking, cleaning, filing, organizing, calling, emailing, applying, researching.

Then I drove the hour and a half to Berkeley in my teal green Tacoma pick up truck that I have affectionately named 'the boat' due to it's ghastly size. After an hour and a half of driving on insane American freeways and traversing the double decker Oakland/Richmond bridge (using my motto: 'Don't get off the freeway, Don't get lost'- because you'll never find your way back onto the madness that is the freeway') I made my way through traffic riddled Berkeley to Patrice's apartment. Patrice is an Aussie gal I worked with at my University in Melbourne who is currently living it up on exchange in Berkeley.

We spent the afternoon planning, plotting and indeed scheming (rubbing our hands together) in regards to our upcoming road trip. The trip is scheduled for May 23rd until June 18th....or at least Patty's section...i'm still deciding if I shall go on or stop there. After our planning pow wow finished we walked around Berkeley which was teeming with people on a sunny but breezy Saturday. I was surprised at how cold the wind was...I guess I am not used to it coming off the ocean.

In the evening I had dinner with an old friend of my Mum's, Lew. We enjoyed a great dinner at 'La Mediterranee' and then Patty, her friend Ashley and I went to the Afterparty for Patty's hip hop dancing group which had performed earlier that day. We walked into a bar/club that looked like it was having a slow night, went upstairs to the private party on mezzanine level and were instantly engulfed in humidity due to sweaty hip hop dancers. Ashley commented that 'Feels like we're in a mosh pit! and I couldnt help but giggle in my head at the idea that to me it was more like 'Feels like we're in a midget pit! Me, a white girl in my boots, towered over almost everyone at the party. I guess the majority of dancers were asian and if they happened to be any other race they were petite or short. Not that I am not height-est...I am happy to admit I'm a giant

SUNDAY: Patty and I went for a power walk/jog behind Berkeley University. We are very proud of our efforts and enthusiasm and as strangers in a foreign land (ok, I was born here but it's worse because you over eat those childhood foods you can't get overseas) are both trying to be active and fight weigh gain. We walked up into the Berkeley hills where we had a great view of San Fran, the golden gate and it's surrounds. We then met Lew and I played chauffeur and drove us all to Walnut Creek to see a post secret exhibition. The exhibition was not there after all to my disappoint (hey...I deserved it after more freeways, including a multi-lane, multi directional, multi traffic tunnel) but we stayed to see the gallery anyway and then returned to Berkeley. Patty and I made an divided up and agreed upon what each of us will be researching this week for the road trip.

My list:
1-Stops on the 2nd half of our trip and how long to spend at each place
2-Converting a car to run on canola/veggie oil
3-Finding other travellers for the trip by posting in couch surfing

Then I headed back to Sonoma County and my beloved Santa Rosa after stopping quickly at an op shop/thrift store on my way out that has a huge $1 rack on Sundays. It's called 'Out of the Closet' and it raises money for HIV treatment. They have some great stuff...although most thrift stores do in's pretty incredible what you find.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cara, Couch Surfing and the news! Fame!

So I was in the news! Oh yes I was, oh yay! Cara's 5 minutes of fame:

Below is an article published in The Buffalo News on February 24th, 2008.

I did a phone-interview with a reporter about my experience with Couch Surfing and specifically, Couch Surfing (CS) in Buffalo, NY. The article’s main focus was Hilary Whitely whom I met in Buffalo last year on my tour of the East Coast and Canada. Hilary worked at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and we became fast friends after she offered to give me a lift to my accommodation that evening, my CS host Ben. I told Hilary about the CS program and encouraged her to join (I try to work positively for Couch Surfing in this way…to give back the CS community).

After returning to Ben's, I mentioned Hilary and her kindness. Low and behold in the small town that is Buffalo they knew each other....and Ben remembered she was cute. So in the end, Hilary signed up to the program (YAY!) and has become a very active member being interviewed by the media! AND Hilary and Ben are an item! Oh how 'tweet!


Cara Bradley, a couch surfer living in Santa Rosa, Calif., admits she was nervous at first at the prospect of traveling as a single woman to stay on a stranger's couch, but she finally did it.

She said the worst experience she had on her lengthy 2007 couch surfing trip, which included a stay with Breault in Buffalo, was a bachelor pad in Montreal that wasn't very clean.

"They're trusting you, so you trust them," said Bradley, 23.

Couch surfers said the site is safe thanks to the security measures in place.


Couch surfing adds a new wrinkle to travel

Online community matches travelers with hosts who provide free lodging, local knowledge

Date: Sunday, February 24, 2008
Section: News
Edition: Final
Page: A1
By Stephen T. Watson - NEWS STAFF REPORTER
Illustration: Derek Gee/Buffalo News

Hilary Whiteley used to find a place to crash in Budapest, Hungary, last December.

For decades, people have traveled the globe by ship, train and plane.

Now, all they need is a computer and a couch.

Scores of people in the Buffalo area, and hundreds of thousands around the world, have jumped into the latest trend in traveling -- couch surfing.

"It's the only way to travel," Buffalo native Mike Laudico said in an e-mail from Vietnam, where he is currently couch surfing.

Couch surfers use the Web to find people willing to put up a total stranger for a night or a weekend while they are traveling through a new city.The surfers get a free place to stay, sure, but they also get a knowledgeable local guide to fill them in on the best restaurants, cultural attractions and other things to see in town.

"I think it's an idea that a lot of people can get behind, that you can have a couch to crash on anywhere in the world," said Hilary Whiteley, 24, a couch surfer and University at Buffalo graduate student. "It's just a good way to get out and see more of the world."

Hitchhikers, backpackers and people who stay in low-budget hostels are the psychic forefathers of couch surfers.

They tend to be young, unmarried, open-minded adventurers who would never think of taking a cruise or a guided bus tour of a destination. They rarely stay in hotels, either.

With the development of the Internet and computer databases, it's now much easier for them to locate and communicate with their peers around the world.

Buffalonians who do this say they've had good experiences while surfing couches in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia because these Web sites make safety a priority.

They've also met an interesting mix of people while hosting surfers from other cities.

"It's fairly obvious when you start reading profiles that people involved in this are very like-minded, very community-oriented," said Eric Justin Levinson, 24, a couch surfer and UB graduate who moved to Brooklyn this winter.

Couch surfing is a great way to encourage connections across national borders, something the world needs more of these days, according to those who practice this computer travel networking.

And surfers feel like they're part of an international community, with local members of this fraternity bonding over barbecues and potluck dinners.

"This is like having a friend in every city in the world," said Benjamin Breault, 25, a Buffalo resident and student teacher of social studies in the Buffalo Public Schools who is a dedicated couch surfing host.

>How it all got started

The principal founder of got the idea to create the site after using the Web to find a place to stay on a visit to Iceland.

Casey Fenton didn't have enough money for a hotel, according to his site profile. He then dug up the online directory for the University of Iceland, e-mailed 1,500 students and got dozens of responses.

He thought this was something that could be replicated on a wider scale, so he started the site with a few friends in 2004.

"What appeals to me is the potential for meaningful human connection, which is typically not available when traveling to an area where you don't know anyone," Daniel Hoffer, a founding member of the Couch Surfing Web site, told The News.

On, users create a profile, describe themselves, put up a photo, say where they live and whether they can host a traveler.

Some users, such as those who live in dorms or at home, say they can't host but are willing to meet visitors for drinks and tell them the best things to do while in town.

Once users have set up a profile, they can search through the pages of other members to find a host in a city they plan to visit.

There are 160 people from Buffalo registered on, and another 93 members from Buffalo and surrounding communities on

Couch surfers say members have the kind of local information that you can't get out of Fodor's or a travel agent.

"A lot of Americans, they vacation, they don't travel. I differentiate between vacationing and traveling," Breault said. "You're learning something about the world, rather than viewing the world."

>Cultural immersion

Over Christmas, Whiteley spent three days couch surfing in Budapest, Hungary.

Her first day there, she attended a couch surfing event at a bar and met 30 people from a couple of dozen countries who were also surfing in Budapest.

"It was amazing," said Whiteley, who was pulled into couch surfing by her boyfriend, Breault.

Kasia Olszewska, a student at the University of Toronto's Mississauga campus, found out about couch surfing last March after Googling cheap ways to travel.

She surfed in Europe for a couple months last summer.

"It just blew my mind that someone would welcome me into their house in exchange for nothing," said Olszewska, 19, a native of Poland who runs aFacebook couch surfing group.

She said her couch surfing trip was much more enjoyable than an "awful" organized tour she took of Italy the previous year.

"You get immersed in the culture and the language and the way of life," Olszewska said. "It was the best time of my life."

It seems that Laudico, the Buffalo native, won't stop until he's couch surfed the entire planet.

He's stayed in a lobster hatchery in Maine; loft apartments in Montreal; a huge house in Alaska, where he ate elk meatloaf and halibut lasagna; a one-room flat in Ireland; a farmhouse in Italy; and assorted basements, barns, garages and parked recreational vehicles.

"I've been contemplating finding some work to extend my travels, but at the very least I will circumnavigate the globe, returning to Buffalo sometime in the summer," Laudico said.

Laudico and the other Buffalo members say they've hosted some cool out-of-town surfers, most who were on their way to Canada or New York City.

Breault, a member since January 2007, tries to take surfers to places they might not otherwise know about, such as Zoar Valley, Amy's Place restaurant and Nietzsche's bar.

"One weekend in September, I had six people staying with me," the student teacher said.

>The site is rated safe

Cara Bradley, a couch surfer living in Santa Rosa, Calif., admits she was nervous at first at the prospect of traveling as a single woman to stay on a stranger's couch, but she finally did it.

She said the worst experience she had on her lengthy 2007 couch surfing trip, which included a stay with Breault in Buffalo, was a bachelor pad in Montreal that wasn't very clean.

"They're trusting you, so you trust them," said Bradley, 23.

Couch surfers said the site is safe thanks to the security measures in place.

For example, users are encouraged to rate every experience they've had staying with or hosting a fellow user. The references are posted on the members' profiles for all to see.

The site also allows veteran members to vouch for other trusted members, and site administrators can verify the e-mail addresses, mailing addresses and credit card numbers of members.

Hoffer, the founding member, said he's not aware of any attacks by a host on a couch surfer, or vice versa, that have been reported to police.

There's a belief that the Internet isolates people from each other, but couch surfing shows that the Web in fact can help build interpersonal connections, said Alex Halavais, an assistant professor of communication at Quinnipiac University who previously taught at UB.

Web sites such as and are able to create networks among people who have never met each other in person, Halavais said.

"It's this neat idea of trust without knowledge. You're trusting the system," he said.

The couch surfers in Buffalo, Ontario and Pennsylvania have become quite close, holding potluck dinners and other social events.

Creating an international sense of community is important, couch surfers said, because Americans need to build connections with their peers in other countries.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Cara and the Cuckoo

Caked in stage makeup,

garnished with classy red orange lip stick,

and fake eyelashes still to come;

here is Cara, actress style:

Yes, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is over sadly, although the extra time is appreciated....where is that extra time?