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 Post subject: Raptor142-Lessons to learn … again … and again …Dec 2010
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2011 10:23 pm 
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As with all trips, some planning went into our December 2010 Kruger retreat – first was the accommodation (the result of years of trial and error … and trial again). We made our booking early to ensure that we had what we wanted instead of hoping to get something alright later in the year.
And, as always, we had to select suitable company for the YO …. someone who
(first and foremost) could appreciate the experience on offer,
could actually open their eyes long enough at stupid o' clock (thanks VGStephens) to get into the car and maybe offer some additional game spotting as the light got brighter,
who could handle the collective sense of humour in the vehicle (and compliment it) … this would be the most difficult task.... it's a loooooong drive from Cape Town and even longer going back.

We decided on a cousin this year (one of those distant, multiple removed ones) – her mom is really off the wall and she is the apple that has fallen very close to the tree.

To make the YO's discernible for this TR (without compromising their true identities … MiXit, FB or otherwise...) we shall call them "AB" and "C".

C was invited in 2009 to make sure that she was able and keen to make the trip – she accepted and everyone was excited ….. I wondered if we might have a last minute “problem” due to other family engagements, or whatever ….

As the time grew nearer, we spoke on a few occasions to ensure that all was still in order, and I calmed myself and accepted that we would have a smooth departure on the 23rd December.....

The house sitter was arranged and arrived early on the day to get instructions on feeding cats, watering garden, caring for pool, etc.

Then, at about 9h30 the phone rang …...

It was C's mom ….:”We have a small problem.....”

I broke out laughing, because I was sure that a phone call with that tone at this time of this day was not about something small.

“C has mumps and won't be able to come with ….”

Now where do you find a backup friend at 3 hours notice …? 2 days before Christmas …!

The first few calls were fruitless and just seemed to make the mood worse, so we decided to continue the journey as 3 …. it could be nice bonding time just for the family albeit rather expensive.

After Worcester, we started brainstorming again about friends and family in Jhb and Pta. By Touws River the mood was declining again …. not to mention the quality of the bonding... so we travelled to Kimberley with iPod plugged into the ears in the back seat, and scant conversation in the front.

After Britstown, I had to travel a little slower (down to around 110kmh) because the Jeep was doing its traditional overheating tricks ….. I was listening to David Lee Roth singing …. “yeah we're running a little bit hot tonite …... I reach down … between my legs ….. ease the seat back ….” I didn't dare for fear of reprisals from the Kelly Clarkson “because of you...” in the back seat....

When we got to Iron Maiden with Two Minutes to Midnight, my eyes were very heavy and I allowed the co-pilot to take over the helm …. we arrived at our accommodation just after 0h30, and oh how inviting was that bed.....

Image
DSC_3466 by Raptor142, on Flickr

Next morning, the sunrise was beautiful, and after a short walk around the farmyard,

a quick dip in the cement dam swimming pool,
Image
DSC_3489 by Raptor142, on Flickr

and some photo's to remember what we were missing by being in such a hurry
Image
DSC_3491 by Raptor142, on Flickr
Image
DSC_3495 by Raptor142, on Flickr


….. we paid our dues and were on the road again...

With the new day came new hope, and SO and I were brainstorming again, when a great idea popped up in the mix – why can't C fly up when she is better? After some refinement of the idea, we made the call and asked her mom ….. another few calls (the staff at Vodacom can thank us for their Christmas bonus...) and some further refinements, the arrangements were made – C would fly up to KMIA on 29 December and we would collect her. Everyone was VERY HAPPY.

….then we figured out that we were sleeping in Shingwedzi on the 29th and 30th..... now there's a chapter to look forward to …..

Today's lesson:
The best laid plans of mites and men are never cast in stone
....the problems we may foresee are cast in the same clay as our best laid plans

_________________
Man's future may look brighter if he spent less time trying to outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority:(EB White)(adapted)

We don't inherit the earth from our parents - we borrow it from our children and theirs


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 Post subject: Re: Lessons to learn … again … and again …
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2011 4:39 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 12:28 pm
Posts: 87
A quick call to my Mom to wish her happy birthday, and to tell her when we expected to arrive ….. this customary call is just a thinly veiled reminder that (if she hasn't already done it) she needs to get baking ….. not that we need the extra food in the car, but she really likes to pile it in .... and I kinda enjoy the choc chip cookies....

We arrived at my baby sister's house, pretty much on schedule and had all the greetings and ooh's and aah's about how tall and how grownup all the kids (her two and our single lonely one...) had become. It wasn't too long before a shopping party was arranged and we had our first 5 days' groceries …. and more biltong and padkos (I'm sure that padkos is not a SA tradition – it is those little snacks that you enjoy on long roadtrips …. only in this car, padkos is a major weight consideration …!)

Christmas dinner was that evening and all three generations were well entertained and fed (thanks baby sis and SO).

Christmas morning …... “Good morning everyone – Happy Christmas – cheers, we're off now...”

… well it was just about that quick …. but we had to wait for my mom to bring her contributions to the padkos – two 2litre ice cream tubs filled with biscuits …. “Thanks Ma – you really shouldn't ….”

The resident wolf population checked the road to make sure it was clear for our departure and there we went again....
Image
DSC_3576 by Raptor142, on Flickr

The road was long ….with many a winding turn …... and VERY hot with too many uphills for the Jeep, so speed was again reduced and AirCon use severely curtailed for the last two or three hours before we got to Phalaborwa gate, which was already closed to day visitors. Book in was a breeze, but the air outside was still cooking and just as I was deflating the tyres (standard procedure for all parks) we managed to find something to disagree on ….. and things got really heavy ..... this disagreement almost took us on a U-turn back home but ended with multiple uses of the F-word …... “Fine” …... “Well Fine” …. “OK Fine”

...and we continued in silence to Letaba... i-Pod in the back seat, tears on the left and a scowl in the driver's seat …..

3 very opinionated individuals take some time to recover from such an event …
How dare they ruin my opening moments in Kruger …
How dare I lose my rag over something so mundane …

a lone blue waxbill on the electric fence
Image
DSC_3587 by Raptor142, on Flickr

a lone bushbuck ewe ignores me and scans the bush intently for the predator that she could smell
Image
DSC_3594 by Raptor142, on Flickr

… and Christmas night was quiet....

… and the morning of the 26th was quiet but I went for a drive – was it spite or just to get hold of myself...? By the time I had spotted my first breeding herd of Impies, frolicking in the fresh growth
Image
DSC_3635 by Raptor142, on Flickr


my mood was already changing and then watching the baboons' interactions
Image
DSC_3610 by Raptor142, on Flickr

and the young zebra with its mother
Image
DSC_3631 by Raptor142, on Flickr

…. and the baby vervet playing with its siblings
Image
DSC_3694 by Raptor142, on Flickr

…. all of nature shouting at me to just take note …..

On my return to camp, AB came over and said: “Dad, just apologise to mom so we can start enjoying ourselves” ….. fortunately SO is very loving and forgiving and ….. yes, it is not possible to be in Kruger and not enjoy ourselves

...so many lessons in this one ... whatever happens around you - it is what is within that dictates how you see, feel and experience life

_________________
Man's future may look brighter if he spent less time trying to outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority:(EB White)(adapted)

We don't inherit the earth from our parents - we borrow it from our children and theirs


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 Post subject: Re: Lessons to learn … again … and again …
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:37 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 12:28 pm
Posts: 87
…. and then our trip really began – everyone still rather tender but happy to do things together again …. and we had visitors to brighten our accommodation

a Kurrichane Chat came over for a …. chat... and watched resolutely that no harm came to his beloved spouse who was busy homemaking.
Image
DSC_3712 by Raptor142, on Flickr
Image
DSC_3715 by Raptor142, on Flickr

And a Red Eyed Dove gave us a look-over from the unused braai....
Image
DSC_3708 by Raptor142, on Flickr

...and I spotted this high flyer …. I overstopped by 2.5EV using centre weighted metering, and still didn't get a great shot, but I think it is an immature Hooded Vulture – I was a little surprised to read that it makes insects a regular part of its diet, due to the fact that it is too small to compete with other vultures at a kill....
Image
DSC_3723 by Raptor142, on Flickr

We made sure that the Yellow Ribbons would be visible from all angles by affixing them to the roof racks on both sides of the vehicle – their floral appearance apparently confusing some of the local caterpillars.
Image
DSC_3727 by Raptor142, on Flickr

A short drive down the S46 along the southern bank of Engelhard dam was very productive we stopped opposite Matambeni hide to see this majestic Waterbuck pair
Image
DSC_3733 by Raptor142, on Flickr

and a little further down the road these young Impies just enjoying their intimacy …..
Image
DSC_3738 by Raptor142, on Flickr

then on another loop to the dam, a movement above caught my eye …. a smallish eagle on a nest in the leafy top of a tree (sorry guys my tree knowledge is a little lacking, so if it grows tall from the ground, it's a tree … if it's not so high it's a bush...) I stopped and reached for the binocs, but it was definitely not the posing kind and hopped to a higher branch, a bit obscured from view …. only to attract the attention of a Fork Tailed Drongo that dived at and harried it for a few moments …. just enough time for me to move the Jeep slightly forward to get a few clear shots with the 300mm lens before he tired of all the attentions, and dropped off his perch to disappear in the riverine growth.
Image
DSC_3747 by Raptor142, on Flickr

Image
DSC_3749 by Raptor142, on Flickr

For ID ...... I'm sure it is sub adult (just about full adult plumage) but I'm torn between African Hawk Eagle and Ayre's Eagle, so again I'm hoping for some help …..

Then, reaching the junction with the S93, we were faced with a decision and, having no specific agenda, we continued southwards toward the S44 and Olifants camp.

Life everywhere, we were constantly entertained by Hippo in and around the Letaba river as we meandered along with it. Terrapins and Tortoises along the road and this young LBR posed politely right next to my window while I flashed at it …. NO, I was not wearing an overcoat! …. I prefer to fill with flash when a subject is backlit (and the easy flash intensity selection on the back of my SB800 allows me to get the right amount of fill for the specific shot). I sometimes get it over or under, but I liked this one ….
Image
DSC_3756 by Raptor142, on Flickr

These three young Whitebacked Vultures were a little too far for a flash, but I overexposed them by 1 stop …. and all three of us in the car could clearly hear them talking to each other …
Image
DSC_3758 by Raptor142, on Flickr
Image
DSC_3759 by Raptor142, on Flickr
Image
DSC_3760 by Raptor142, on Flickr

“...so whatcha wanna do ...”
“I dunno whatchoo wanna do ...”
“I dunno …. there are too few tourists getting out of their cars on this route to feed the Lions, so why don't we just ffffly off then ...”

This Mongoose is normally Slender, but I'm sure its bum looked a bit big in its pants due to the overabundance of bugs ….
Image
DSC_3768 by Raptor142, on Flickr

We stopped at the lookout point for a brief stretch, and continued along towards Olifants to be greeted by the well known Terrapins … we noticed that, in keeping with various guv'ment imposed quotas, racial integration is well underway in this pool ….
Image
DSC_3780 by Raptor142, on Flickr
Image
DSC_3778 by Raptor142, on Flickr

and we discovered that they had been joined by a young croc (many people will already know this, but it was fun for us to “discover” it). It is obvious that they are fed by some “tourists”, but If you don't feed them they will come out of the water, look at the car (and maybe give you the beady eye) before retreating to the water again ….
Image
DSCF7577 by Raptor142, on Flickr

it is always prudent to watch how many approach the vehicle, as some may wander underneath, making for unpleasant noises as you depart in a hurry ….

just over the hill, we were treated to a family of Klipspringers (Val also saw these , but they were much kinder to us) …. or were they – I think they were just a little too scared to go back into the bush because they were intent on something down there, they watched for a few minutes allowing us ample photo opportunities, before they bounced off along and over the road to higher ground.
Image
DSC_3783 by Raptor142, on Flickr
Image
DSC_3784 by Raptor142, on Flickr
Image
DSC_3786 by Raptor142, on Flickr

Positive that we were about to see a Leopard, I waited, then started the engine, selected 4L (Donkey gear) and idled along at 800 RPM - slower than walking speed … but if the Klippies couldn't see it, what chance did we have …?

Lessons: Patience .... perhaps if we had just sat and enjoyed a few more of the choc chip cookies, we might have had our first cat....?
Versatility .... even without a cat, we had had some marvellous sightings and a beautiful morning
Tolerance .... even though it often gives hastles, the old Jeep still has some nice tricks under its bonnet or bonnet for the USA contingent (it's kinda like a wife ....)

...now that's quite enough server hogging for one night .... but watch out for the "captive" in the next episode ....


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 Post subject: Re: Lessons to learn … again … and again …
Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2011 9:23 pm 
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Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2008 3:56 pm
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Location: CH - Lugano
Super bird pics and chat :wink: The raptor looks a lot like an african hawk-eagle :hmz:

Klipspringers close up :shock: :clap: well, it is not really your merit :twisted:


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