11. THE TRIP BLOW BY BLOW11.1. Day 1 – Afternoon rush and road to VryburgDistance covered
: 851 kmRoute travelled
: Secunda-N17-N3-N12-Potchefstroom-Wolmaransstad-Vryburg-Kuruman-VZRDaily fuel consumption
: 7.7 l/100kmMaximum temperature
: nougat as on N17; breakfast burger and coffee in Potch; Springbok shank + malva pudding at restaurantHighlights spotted
: red-breasted swallow; N black korhaan; open highwayFavourite moment
: leaving to officially be on holiday; eye of Kuruman; dead horse in VZRBirding lifers
: No pics means no official lifers
As is typical, in the anticipation of a magical journey, I could not sleep. But this is okay, I was excited. Having tried going to bed early (this is at 2200 as opposed to midnight for me), I at least fell asleep somewhere around 2300. Full of pending joy – you know what I mean. All this effort, only to be woken before my alarm by my little baby, Penelope. Perhaps she just wanted to says au revoir before I put the cameras and laptop in and headed out the gate. I left at 0358 (as opposed to the planned 0445), out the gate, on my way, holiday in the road ahead of me.
I stopped in Potch for some body fuel. I had made good time as I was lucky enough to avoid any traffic and more importantly, made no navigational errors through an area of the city I know poorly. NOW, I was on holiday! I had a simple yummy breakfast type chicken burger and cappuccino as well as a decent 40 min break. I was way ahead of schedule as the roads were quiet and the weather good; also, I knew the long stretch was still to come.
It is of value to note that the drive through Klerksdorp is really pretty long and slow, all the way through the main road. There may have been a better route, but neither I nor my GPS knew it.
Next I reached Wolmaransstad. Rather a typical not-so-rich type town that reminded me of Karoo towns in the Eastern Cape. It seemed rather litter-filled but had some really nice buildings on show. As a collectable, I take shots of moederkerke (traditionally the main NG church in a town). If I cannot find one, I sometimes declare a cathedral or nearest church I could find the moederkerk. The reason for the obsession, in SA at any rate, there is a moederkerk in pretty much every town, and they are there at 0400, and on Saturday evenings – unlike fridge magnets and spoons or similar, a photo of a moederkerk is an easy way to prove you were in a certain town/city. Fridge magnets I reserve for the SANParks and specific camps thereof. Wolmaransstad had a particularly appealing moederkerk building, but I cannot say I felt awfully safe getting out with my camera to snap it, but oh well, I had to have it so I made sure for a clear getaway and open vision while aligning my shot.
Wolmaransstad - tick
All I had to do to get to Vryburg now was find the road to Schweizer Reneke (the spelling of which I constantly need to look up, so annoying). To do that I needed to either follow the sign, my trusty AA map or the signs. Signs usually work well for me in these little towns. However, as I had been fixated on making it to the steeple, I missed that I was on the right road to SR and went around the block to get back on the main road. All I did now was turn right and start leaving town, which made sense, all I now needed was a sin to say turn right to SR. All I saw was a giant military tank on a flatbed, an ostrich in a field next to the road and a policeman. So I pulled over, switched on the GPS (which I stupidly had switched off as I was keen to rely on my AA map and signs as I always had done on holidays) only to hear that friendly lady ask me to make a U-turn.
There you go
Reaching a town I had previously considered overnighting in, SR, was a dream as the name was unique, its placement remote (you pretty much had to be on this exact route to get there) and there was something attractive about the idea of this place. It was okay. I got another church building after filling with some rather low quality 93. The petrol attendant was not sure where the church was, but a passerby was yelled at by the attendant and she told me that it was just 2 blocks away, “Turn left at the train on the grass.” Fine, I should not really quote as it was obviously in Afrikaans as is dictated by the area of the country, but that is what was said. Note, please note, not all fuel in this area produced the same power; this SR fuel was pretty weak. Luckily, all fuel I got in KTP was decent, the Nossob batch being the best! I used the church pic opportunity as a double whammy opportunity and stretched my body a bit. Typically I cannot drive for more than 2 hours a stretch, but owing to the low traffic, being on holiday and the sublime comfort of my CRV (with arm rests; I will now ALWAYS want these special arm rests!).
SR - tick
No, it is not funny. Again I knew better and missed the turn. This time it was not so much my fault, although stupid not to be using the little lady’s voice, as the sign as gone.
Oh, I almost forgot, the train. It literally is a forlorn locomotive on a plain. There is also a banged up and I think partially burnt 1980’s (or so) car wreck with interesting graffiti on it in the same main drag. I really want to picture these some time, but the light was harsh, the crowds present and I really wanted to get a move on, so next time. It is good to leave something for next time.
The other side of SR had some, let’s call them challenges. The road was, well, partially there. After some really bad potholes (remember, I am from the coal area of Mpumalanga, we know potholes) the road works started. Thankfully, there was a new strip of sandy road to take while they built the new tar surface – time to test my off road courage I thought. Luckily the road had recently been graded and further dust settling and grading was ongoing while I drove it. Not too long and it was over.
While on the sand road, there was little traffic. So, as it is holiday, and I wanted to bask in the spirit thereof, I stopped for some random shots along the way. Just because. I also spotted a very rufous fronted swallow on a fence – knowing it is one of 2 possible species, after consulting my trusty Sasol guide I found it was the red-breasted swallow. But I was doing 80 at the time and was not going to make an emergency stop for a possible swallow shot, especially as reversing chows fuel in the CRV, and I wanted to make some records on this trip. For good fuel consumption, obviously. I later spotted a northern black korhaan, same story, same issue.
Random view shots