'Great Migrations' Day One: Wildebeests have to be more civilized.

wildebeests2.jpg Zap2it's Jacqueline Cutler is traveling with National Geographic Channel as part of their "Great Migrations Preview Trip" to Kenya, Africa. Her appreciation and enthusiasm for NGC's content and award-winning programming led them to offer this precious opportunity to her first, as one of only two hand-picked U.S. press members to join the safari. For several incredible days, Jacqueline has a front-row seat to all the behind-the-scenes activity that goes into filming this seven-part global programming event that will follow millions of animals during their life-and-death migration across an ever-changing world.  This first-of-its-kind production will have its television premiere in November.

Day One: Friday, Sept. 10, 2010

NEWARK -- Didn't feel real until I had to show my passport. Since I was leaving from my home in New Jersey, I went through Newark Airport. As always, a bit disorganized, depressing and people are rude.

Who cares? I'm en route to Kenya, where I'll see the great migration. This is unbearably exciting. though perhaps I should mention that I am terrified of most animals. I don't shriek or anything, I just avoid them, even my own dogs. A family of groundhogs lives under my house. If they are out, I keep driving unless I must enter. They're so Narnian, I fully expect them to talk and ask for Darjeeling tea.

I'm pretty much as citified as someone can be. Though I live in the suburbs, I only venture into the backyard when summoned. I don't hike; I walk. I get nervous when I'm around more trees than buildings.

But this is an experience that can't be missed, though the odds were stacked.

I was at this hellhole of an airport yesterday to pick up one of my oldest friends. In nearly 17 years of being parents, my husband and I never both had to be away at the same time.

Getting to this place, a gray industrial chair, in Delta's terminal, was not easy.  Not surprisingly my daughter, 16, thought we could leave her and her brother, four years her junior, alone for a week. The thought of her, a pheromone with legs, and the boy who will do anything for laugh, alone with five bedrooms, a liquor cabinet, two cars and easy access to Manhattan, seemed, well, idiotic. And given that my son gave himself burns while eating ice cream in June, and tripped the house's wiring last week, an adult presence was mandated.

Oddly, no one begged for the task of staying with two teenagers in New Jersey. Throw in a crumbling house, two mangy dogs and a turtle of bionic proportions, and you would think someone would want to try it. Barry, a world-traveler, intrepid journalist, and one of my lifelong friends, is with my kids. He's always been brave.

And so I am leaving Jersey where Snooki is not an exotic creature. Last night, a full house watched "Casablanca" and as I was gathering dishes my kids and the exchange student, who was staying with us, had tuned into "Jersey Shore."

Wildebeests have to be more civilized.

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