Lion spark

Let’s go to the lion park, Dad, I’ve never seen lions!
This is Jess. I remind her that she has, actually, in Zambia – but she was little – five years old, 2003. I must show her the pics in South Luangwa Park.

They’re in hard bargaining mode, as we’re on our way to my folks’ place in PMB. It’s my ole man’s 91st birthday lunch, which is why I’m dragging them to Sleepy Hollow. It’s not their best place to visit, so I agree: Behave sociably and we can go to the lion park after lunch. OK?

By the time we get to the “Lion Park” it’s closed, but we can “see the lions only”. Same price, one hundred Saffrican Ront. I decide stuffit, let’s rather do this properly. “Stuff these lions” I announce, “We’re going to Mfolosi game reserve for the day tomorrow”. “Let’s go and see if we can spot some real lions”.

We left at 6:00am sharp and were in the park at 8:40am, already paid and entered, R240 for the five of us and the car for the day.

We had a ball. The kids were expert spotters, we saw lots & lots of eles, rhino, buff, giraffe, nyala, impala, bushbuck, wilderbeasts, wartpigs ensovoorts. – And a clear sighting of a gorgeous bush shrike!!

Mfolosi (45)

 

Mfolosi 2013 Dec Sunday

We sang rap and Mama Mia all the way there and back. And we laughed! These brats have decided they don’t like mixing with too many communities. Especially in crowds. Used to be bantu, then plurals, anderskleuriges, euphemisms, etc. Now its communities.

“Don’t stop here, Dad” as we drive through a village, “there are too many communities here”. I threaten to buy them each a mirror so they can check their mahogany brown selves whenever they think of such nonsense, but they just hose themselves at me.

They must have introspected a bit, though, because at lunch at the picnic spot they announce: “Hey we’re the only communities here!” To shine them up I made them do a spot of community tribal dancing in a tree.

The communities doing a tribal dance
– the communities climb a tree – Jess & Minenhle –

Mfolosi (16)

And of course the two 12yr olds Tom & Lungelo couldn’t miss the opportunity to disgust the teenage girls by letting rip on the way back, causing a hasty winding down of windows and heads hanging out for fresh air till the green fumes could waft away.

So the lion park sparked a search for ‘real’ lions.

We didn’t see a lion this visit, but I heard a whole lotta lyin’.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Saffrican Ront – South African Rand; worth anywhere from 70 US cents (1973) to 15 US dollars (2015)! Depends when you ask;

ensovoorts – etc.

~~~oo0oo~~~

The Dawn (chorus) Is Nigh

Barry Porter was – rightly – immensely proud of the birdlife on their Hella Hella farm on the Umkomaas River in KZN. We would sit on their stoep many weekend mornings over the years discussing the dawn chorus we had heard beofr erising which was ongoing as we drank our early morning chorus. Barry would tell us how, in all his travels, no place ever rivalled THIS dawn chorus; “His” dawn chorus. The Hella Hella Dawn Chorus.

He did have a bit of an advantage, what with 5000 acres, different habitats, twenty years of indigenous planting and the the beautiful Krantzes, cliffs, grasslands and the Umkomaas valley!

Hella Hella, Port Shepstone, Harold Porter.jpg
Hella Hella collage

On a rare visit to the big smoke, he and Lyn stayed with us at 7 River Drive Westville and at breakfast he said in awe: This is the first place I’ve been where the dawn chorus rivals Hella Hella! I knew that, but I’d been diplomatic all those years! We recorded 121 bird species in River Drive, and found evidence of breeding in 20 of them – nests, eggs, chicks or fledglings. Our dawn chorus, too, was magnificent.

Porters RiverDr (1).jpg
Porters visit River Drive; Carol, Lyn, Sandra & Trish

Now, our new place, 10 Elston Place Westville was a horse of a completely different kettle of tea (and that phrase was a FreeState Reed-ism) when we got here seven years ago. There was one native strelitzia – the rest of the weeds were foreign nursery plants. The main trees were an avocado, a flamboyant, a loquat and a row of Aussie camelfoots.

Aitch and I soon changed that and this morning I woke up to hear an AMAZING dawn chorus!! Shades of River Drive.

Black-bellied starlings, dark-backed weavers, brown-hooded kingfisher (the Westville Kookaburra), olive sunbirds, bulbuls, white-eyes, touracos, white-eared barbets, drongos, prinias, both mannikins, puffback, boubou, francolin, ‘our’ robin, sombre and belly-aching greenbuls, GT woodpecker and all their cousins were singing, shouting and laughing at 10 Elston Place.

What a joy!

2015-04-05

——-ooo000ooo——-

Terry Brauer warbled:

That is awesome Pete! Summer is on the way and I will bet Aitch is part of that chorus!!

Mike Lello honked:

You mean to say the tenor clarinet – he who never pays attention to the conductor and plays with great volume and gusto – was absent? I have 4 curved-beaked unemployed youngsters on my roof desperate for an audition. Ha Ha (Hadeda!)

hadeda

Steve Reed chirped: Ibises, Mike, I’m guessing? Maybe not. Breeding well in Queensland. They have a strong presence at any sidewalk cafe anywhere in Brisbane. Especially where French fries are on the menu.

I replied: Yep. I’m sure Mike was mentioning the dreaded Greater Westville Pterodactyl – the HaDeDa, Bostrychia hagedash. I always thought the species name was hadeda, but I looked it up now: hagedash! Dave Hill once rose from a hungover sleep and shot one on his Mid-Illovo farmhouse roof for playing the tenor clarinet with great volume and gusto without paying attention to the conductor. Here are two lurking Greater Westville Pterodactyls above our roof, perched on the dead avocado tree, waiting to let rip: Ha Ha Hadeda!

– Westville’s Pterodactyls lurk, obviously waiting to pounce! –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Back from Afriski

Afriski Savanna 2013

James gets First Prize – takes after Ma!

Just got back last evening.
Nine slow hours there on Thursday, and nine hours back today. Dawdled through the Oos Vrystaat. Saw jackal (Tommy spotted him just outside Clarens), mongoose, springbok, blesbok, hartebeest, white-tailed gnu, zebra, grey rhebok, and lotsa birds. Sterkfontein full to the brim and looking blue as the sky. Fascinating to think beneath those clear waters is Nuwejaarsvlei, the farm my Mom was born on in 1928. Lived there till she was eight.

The air was crystal clear, we could see every detail of the Malutis and the ‘Berg. Here’s the whole High Berg from Sentinel to Giants Castle (click on the pic).

The Full High 'Berg Panorama
– all of the High Berg – seen from the top of Oliviershoek Pass –

Kids were a pleasure. Jess took a friend Savanna, and they giggled and ogled the ski instructors non-stop. The Naudes joined us again, so Tom had Joshua and we had James and Michael, old-time skiers all, now – *yawn*!

Ma Michelle took to skiing like a duck to water and won all the bum boarding races hands-down. Must be technique, as I thought my superior attraction to gravity would beat her, but no.

Car Trouble! Craig had car trouble and spent two nights in Ficksburg after we’d all left!! He took his new black Jeep CherryOkie and burnt out the starter motor trying to ignite frozen diesel. Ernest the resident Afriski diesel mech (he keeps the Pisten Bullys going) tried, but no go, so a flatbed truck was summoned from Ficksburg, land of the Cherry Cherry beauty contest.

Before the flatbed arrived, he borrowed my bakkie and took his vrou Michelle and three boys to the Free State Holy City by the River Jordan (OK, Bethlehem). Hired a car for them, so they got back to Westville one night before we did (Monday night). He got back to Afriski late Monday, just before Braam arrived wif ve flatbed. R3600 later the Jeep was dropped on (or off) a jack at the Ficksburg auto-electrician’s, cracking the sump.
So Craig is still in F’burg, two nights later. F*ckit, I think he said . . .

The Resort: Afriski is MUCH more organised now that PIN (the guys I bought thru) have 51% and management control.

This was our seventh trip, so I’m happy we’ve made good use of it. The kids still look forward to it all year – they’re already plotting next year! And they always ask, “Can we go again in the holidays?” and I have to explain how it costs a stack if you go out of your allocated week.

I paid R125 000, so still expensive, but getting less each year! The big question will come when we decide to sell! (update 2020: Well, COVID lockdown played havoc with the resort’s finances; if it survives – it’s touch and go – it’ll be a while before we’ll be able to sell ).

Our chalet is very comfy, 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a big lounge, 12 beds. Lovely kitchen, well-equipped. About 500m from the slope, so we get plenty of exercise in the thin air!

Eye Candy: On our last day six gorgeous shapely models arrived for a photo shoot and had a ski lesson. It was a glorious bright sunny day so they all wore skimpy tops and I had to check up on the kids wif me binocs.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Long Drive to Kruger Park

On Tuesday, April 9, 2013, Pete S wrote:
Drove twelve hours from home to Hazyview on Thursday. Then eleven hours back on Sunday. 1750km in all, with plenty of road repairs on the way. ‘Stop-Go Controls’ where the road narrows to one lane in places. Plus plenty of stops for juice, snacks and leg-stretching for the hungry hordes. Both of them. OK, all three of us.
Madness.

But the two days we spent at Sabie Park were a real chill. Just us and Dave Hill in a wonderful corner of the bushveld on the Sabie River at Kruger gate adjacent to the KNP. Big Al’s Lodge, he calls it. We gazed across the river at eles, buff, waterbuck and hippos in the park coming down to the beautiful Sabie river to drink.

Next time it’ll have to be for longer, though.

——–
On 2013/04/08, steve reed wrote:
There is just nothing, nothing, nothing to beat sitting watching the other side of a riverbank with binocs, a beer and a savoury snack. It has to be an African river. I have tried it in Aussie and it’s not anywhere near the same.
S’ true!

============
I agree. I can lurk like a crocodile. Even better if one of the companions is restless and feels the need to braai nearby. I can smell the smoke, watch me birds and eat when told to.

I need to fix my telescope now. I missed it there.

============

Inside the lodge:

and outside:

Sabie Park.jpg

 

An Owl!

In fifteen years at 7 River Drive we never saw or heard a single owl. Wasn’t for lack of trying.

In two years at 10 Windsor we heard a Wood Owl, which was magic. The furthest south I’d heard them before was Zululand.

After seven years at 10 Elston I had heard Wood Owls and caught one glimpse of an owl (?Barn Owl) flying over the house, but TONIGHT I finally saw a Spotted Eagle Owl sitting in our dead avocado tree!

Heard him first while I was hanging curtain rails in the cottage. Went out and there he was staring at me. 11pm.

Wonderful!

=======ooo000ooo=======

pic from theflacks.co.za – thank you – wonderful bird pics

R.I.P Barry Porter

BARRY PORTER 18th September 1946 to 27th April 2011

Barry as we’ll all remember him, soaking up the wonders of the big outdoors:

Barry Porter_3.JPG
Photo: Andy Ruffle

A memorial service was held for Barry at the Port Shepstone Country Club.

Dress attire casual – as Barry would’ve liked.

A request for no flowers has come from his family. His son feels it fitting that donations be made to Birdlife Trogons Bird Club in lieu of flowers.

A TRIBUTE TO BARRY PORTER FROM BIRDLIFE TROGONS BIRD CLUB

Friend Colleague Confidant Gentleman

Born in Johannesburg into a family steeped in South Coast history.

Educated at St Andrew’s College, Grahamstown and immensely proud of it.

Reserved, scientific and tempered with technical ability.

Environmentally possessed.

Concluded his education at Natal University PMB with a BSc Agri Degree and commenced a farming career at Hella Hella.

His knowledge of environmental issues was unsurpassed and covered everything from birds to frogs to trees to grasses to game – from common names to scientific names to even Zulu names in which language he was fluent.

The use of this language in regard to Zulu tree names often led to very interesting and vigorous debates between ourselves and our Zulu speaking compatriots. To disagree with him was a complete waste of time, he would just quietly walk away, leaving one to wonder why did we even try and realising that we had not obtained an ‘A’ in that subject.

His knowledge of birds was unsurpassed and he studied avian issues with an undisclosed passion. He was a dedicated member of the Bird Rarity Committee and was always ready to give a fair judgement on all requests. As Chairman of Trogons Bird Club for a numbers of years (under duress) he never appreciated his ability being noticed and he led the club to be one of the most active and productive in Natal (if not the country) and he had the ability to motivate his committee to perform above expectations to the benefit of its members. He served on many Avian orientated committees where his knowledge was highly regarded.

Apart from his scientific knowledge, his technical ability was quite fascinating and he was adept at repairing and studying all aspects of modern engineering.

He was very computer literate and enjoyed all the advantages of its intricacies to the extreme .

The loss of his wife, Lyn, some six months ago left him tragically scarred – a scar that he bore bravely and undisclosed and no doubt had a bearing on his tragic demise.

His passing will leave a void that will be difficult to fill as there are very few people with his reserved manner and willingness to impart their knowledge to others available in this world today.

May he rest in peace.

Your civility and reservedness which endeared you to so many will not be forgotten.

~~~oo0oo~~~

TRIBUTE POSTED ON SABAP2 WEBSITE

I have sad news to report. One of the stalwarts of SABAP2, Barry Porter, passed away on Wednesday after a short spell in hospital. Barry’s contribution to the BirdLife Trogons Bird Club was legendary.
An email sent to me by one of his friends, Carol Bosman, includes this paragraph which helps to sum up all our feelings: “Barry lived for birds and whenever I stayed with him he would take me out to record the various pentads for the Bird Atlas Project. His wife Lyn passed away only five months ago. What saddens me the most, I guess, is the loss of a ‘fountain’ of information as Barry was so well read in so many subjects. Your project has lost an incredibly knowledgeable observer and participant.”
Barry submitted a total of 261 checklists for 77 pentads, mostly in southern KwaZulu-Natal, but extending further afield as well. His first checklist was made on 19 August 2007, right at the outset of SABAP2, and the most recent was on 27 March this year, a month ago. Over this whole period there were very few months in which Barry did not submit a checklist.


He was a regular contributor of interesting comments on fora such as SABirdnet.
On 14 June last year during the World Cup he wrote this email, with the subject line “Soccer Birds”: “I went birding yesterday in the normally tranquil rural tribal lands inland from Hibberdene. I struggled to fill my atlas card, very difficult to hear birds voices – ‘the hills are alive with the sound of vuvuzelas!'”

The birding community and SABAP2 are poorer with the passing away of this passionate citizen scientist.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Here’s a pic by Barry of the Trogons at his brother’s litchi farm. Lyn is in the picture, second from left:

Barry Porter & Lyn - Litchi Syndicate.jpg

The vulture hide at Oribi Gorge – in the feature pic – was named in Barry’s honour. He would secretly have loved that.

I wrote a tribute to Barry here.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Panjo Still Roaming Free – and I know why!

28 July 2010 – Groblersdal

A 17-month-old Bengal tiger has caught the attention of the whole country after somehow escaping from his owners’ Ford F250 bakkie on Monday night. He is now roaming about somewhere between Groblersdal and Delmas – which is very far from Bengal!

His owners Goosey (51) and Rosa (45), hope he will arrive at their smallholding at Endicott near Springs on Wednesday, though how he will do that without GPS they don’t say. Oh, and they don’t have a permit for the tiger.

According to Rosa, anyone who spots him should point a stick at him and say “NO!” or give him some chicken to eat. That’s Tiger 101, everyone knows that.

If the permit-less tiger is spotted, people are asked to phone the local police station immediately,” says Sersant Wilson at 082 6__ 5___

Well! No wonder they can’t find it!! Everyone knows a tiger is STRIPED, fgdsake!

I can just see Sersant Wilson’s konstabels tip-toeing thru the bush, seeing Panjo and saying voetsek wena! as they continue their search for a spotted creature!

~~~o0o~~~

For a little while the whole of South Africa knew where Groblersdal was. Sort-of: That place you must avoid; there’s a tiger on the loose! One old fellow, when warned there was a tiger around said, ‘Yes, he knows, that’s why he’s carrying a stick. It’s not cos he can’t walk without a stick!’ One lovely lady, asked what she would do if the tiger came to her house, said she’d buy chicken from her neighbour who sells chickens, then quickly dress up so she’d look good when the TV cameras arrived.

Panjo was finally found on the farm Swartkoppies in Verena. The tiger’s spoor had first been picked up by tracker Johnson Mhlanga from Singita in Mpumalanga, then by ace tracking dog Zingela, a Weimeraner whose forebears came from Germany aus. He and his owner Conrad work in Sabi Sands Game Reserve, where they track wounded game.

– Zingela – hopefully he was also given some chicken –

So Panjo didn’t find his way home to Endicott near Springs; he had to be fetched and driven there. I hope he thanked Zingela and gave him half his KFC. Or some bratwurst at least.

~~~oo0oo~~~

voetsek wena – be off with you

Cape Vidal Storm Disaster

We took the trailer and found a lovely campsite and settled in.

Bushman Camping - Annotated trailer

Tom was a mad keen fisherman and Jess loved the waves. Blissful. Peaceful. Tom had his first real fishing rod – a huge surf rod given to him by Trish’s Dad Gompa Neil. Jess was mad keen on gymnastics and swimming back then. Game drives were not as exciting – let’s go back to the beach! – but when I let them drive they were thrilled again. Such an easy-to-please stage of their lives!

– Cape Vidal Jess 2005 –
– Cape Vidal Tom 2005 – Granpa Neil’s rod on the right –
– Cape Vidal 2005 –

While the gillie unties knots and baits up, the fisherman dreams of big catches: C’mon gillie, move it up already!

– gillie prepares the tackle. Ace fisherman looks on –

When we got back to camp from the beach things had changed: The Boksburg and Benoni Fishing and Hengel Club had moved in with their V8 4X4’s, their caravans, tents and boats with twin 200hp Yamahas, and surrounded us! There goes the neighbourhood, we thought. Huge tents and gazebos and afdaks and windscreens, caravans and trailers had sprung up, complete with large braais, TV satellite dishes and you-name-it!

Lovely people. We soon struck up a conversation with our nearest neighbour. The Boksburg and Benoni Fishing and Hengel Club had been coming to Vidal for their annual By-Die-See excursion for decades. Highlight of the year, he told us. That night there was revelry and much smoke and brandy, but not too late – they planned an early start the next day to get their boats out to sea to fill their hatches and deep freezes. Serious fishermen, these.

Things settled and the night went quiet a while; then a big storm sprang up. Soon the wind was howling through the trees and our trailer-top tent was rocking. I climbed down to check all was secured. Soon afterwards I heard an almighty crack and the sound of something heavy falling and striking a tent pole. Uh! Oh! I thought and listened to the voices in the dark all around us, barely audible above the howling gale.

Soon a few engines were started and I thought “Here we go, they’re revving up their 4X4’s and the boat motors ready for a first-light departure”. Then a chainsaw started snarling and I thought “Give it a break, guys! Wait till morning!” but it carried on! Mayhem!

At last there was quiet. Next morning I hailed our neighbour: “Hey! Did you survive the storm?” He came scurrying over and in a hushed voice said “Yes, but Joan didn’t!”

Turns out a massive branch had fallen on top of one of their friends sleeping in a tent, missing her husband by inches. Durban friends of ours camping nearby went to assist as the lady was a vet. She had to give them the sad news that Joan’s chest was crushed, she had no chance and had died instantly. The police arrived, then a mortuary van. The whole gang from the Boksburg and Benoni Fishing and Hengel Club, tight-knit friends as they were, packed up and left to accompany Joan’s husband home, the adventure over before it had really started.

We had a look at the branch: Now in pieces, it had been over 3m long and over 50cm in diameter and had fallen from about 10m up. What a bummer.

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

Album Safari 2003

Trish (Aitch) and 5yr-old Jess made a paste-and-cut album when we got back from our trip to five Southern African countries. I found it lying around so thought I’d photograph it and paste it here as a gallery. Hope you enjoy.

Traffic Directions / Life Advice

We’d had supper and imbibed a few with Rita and a gang of her – now also our – friends and were on our way to a club, recommended by the guys. A number of Rita’s friends are gay and call her their ‘Fag Hag.’ Wicked humour abounds, they know everything, we’d been to the ‘in’ restaurant of the moment – ‘ooh, you need to book well in advance, but I know the owner’ type of place – and were on our way to the ‘in’ club. Much hilarity in the rented car.

I was driving and Aitch was directing, her being a Cape Town local. At an intersection she said, “Go straight,” which elicited an immediate chorus of “NO!! Gaily forward! Gaily forward!” from the guys.

I nearly pranged the car I laughed so hard.

~~~oo0oo~~~

My second ‘hometown’ Apache Oklahoma

Apache was my ‘hometown’ for a year in 1973 as a Rotary exchange student.

Here you’ll find a collection of my 1973 Apache memories.

Former Apache resident Rebekah Cooksey (about ten to fifteen years after me, I guess) wrote “Top 10 Things Heard This Weekend in Apache, Oklahoma” after a return visit to her hometown. Her blog now seems to have disappeared, but I got these extracts from it.

Here’s Rebekah:

Small town Oklahoma defined my early life. My hometown was Apache. Population: 1500. Our school was so small we had no class electives; My class pictures between kindergarten and 12th grade included all the same people, generally in the same position.

I am the youngest of seven kids; Dad was a minister, Mom was a nurse. I think at one point we were actually below the poverty level but I have such great selective memory that period is all kind of blurry. I do remember being laughed at because of my clothes and wishing that we could live in a mobile home because some of my friends lived in them, and their homes were nicer than ours. While I had good friends (whom I still keep in touch with), I always knew I would move away because there really wasn’t anything there for me.

Those of you who actually read my blog (thanks, Mom!) know that my family and I went to Apache Oklahoma this past weekend to attend the annual Apache Fair.

Going to Apache is always a bittersweet event for me. Growing up in this small town of 1500 people was mostly a frustrating experience, and I spent my junior high and high school years plotting my escape. But even after almost twenty years of being away, I am tied to this place by my memories, my values, and my dreams for my own children — because the kind of town I ran from is exactly the kind of town I’d like to raise them in (but hopefully with a larger population by a factor of 10).

Why bittersweet? Going back reminds me of the many wonderful things about being raised in a town where everyone knows everyone, where the same families have farmed the same land for generation after generation, where the values are so traditional that Home Economics is a required course for girls and Ag Shop (agricultural workshop – welding, woodworking, leather tooling) is a required course for boys. But, it also makes me sad, because many of the store fronts are boarded up, the family-owned businesses have been replaced by Sonic and Dollar General, and the landscape is dotted with barns falling into themselves, rusted cars and vans, and, in general, signs of the struggle of the lower-middle class.

– the main drag –

The best way to describe it, I’ve decided, is ‘Mayberry’ meets ‘Sanford and Son’, with a Native American twist.

So, in a lighthearted way, I’m going to attempt to share with you some of the highlights of the weekend. Again, while this may appear like I’m poking fun – well, OK, it will be poking fun – but remember, I grew up here, so I’m allowed. I’m laughing with my fellow Apacheans, not at them.

Do you feel that breeze? There was a lot of controversy over the installation of one hundred and fifty wind turbines southwest of Apache because of the blight on the landscape. Not surprising: when you have been living with an unobstructed view of the Wichita Mountains for years, and suddenly someone proposes to build wind turbines across the horizon, that’s bound to put a bee in your bonnet. But the Slick Hills (as the foothills of the Wichitas are known) supposedly have some of the best wind in the USA. The Blue Canyon Wind Farm now produces the energy equivalent of powering 60,000 cars on the road. Now with gas hovering just under $4 a gallon, I don’t think the residents mind so much anymore.

– we’ll have to wait our turn to get on the bridge –

We actually didn’t stay in Apache for the weekend; instead, we rented a cabin in Medicine Park, a tiny tourist village about half an hour away just outside the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. If you can desensitize yourself to an over-abundance of junked out cars, scrap heaps, and crumbling mobile homes, Medicine Park is quite a cute destination and the natural beauty is astounding. Definitely worth a weekend trip from Dallas-Fort Worth. But my mention here is just about the one-lane bridge that goes across the river in Medicine Park and joins East Lake Drive with West Lake Drive. You don’t see many of these anymore.

In Medicine Park we found what must be the actual model for Tow-Mater from the animated movie Cars. Also in Medicine Park, we were amazed that the most beautiful real estate in at least a 200 mile radius is used by a waste water treatment plant is astounding to me. With a view of the Wichita Mountains, Lake Lawtonka and the surrounding hills, anywhere else this plot would be turned into million dollar homes (or, adjusted for Oklahoman prices, maybe $250K homes). Seriously, it made my heart sad to see the $32.5m facility sitting smack dab on top of the best view in the area.

wichita
– the nearby Wichita Mountains –

I remember when the blinking red stoplight was installed at the main intersection when I was in junior high in the early 80′s. It seemed like no time at all had passed before the light burned out. No one seemed to notice, really, and it took years before it was replaced. Clearly progress has been made because the town’s only stoplight was blinking when we drove through town.

– Hey, the stoplight is working! –
– Apache’s Rattlesnake Festival drew 60,000 people last year –

Rattlesnake Festival – Our little town of Apache is host to one of the largest Rattlesnake Festivals in the USA. The Apache Rattlesnake Festival was created by some local townspeople (one of whom was my high school best friend’s Dad) back in 1986, and features guided snake hunts, contests for the longest/heaviest/ugliest rattlesnake, an ever-growing flea market/craft fair, and a carnival. Last year, they had 60,000 people come through for the 3-day event, and Discovery America was there to film it. Pretty good for this small hometown.

Livestock Fairs – One of the big attractions of the Fair is livestock judging. Most FFA students have animals that they show at fairs such as this for prize money and bragging rights. This night was cattle judging night, so Jack and Luke got plenty of opportunity to see cows. I think this was the first real “Moo” they had ever heard, poor things. Usually it’s me trying to sound like a cow when I sing Old MacDonald.

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

Glimpses into Me — By Cooksey on August 20, 2008 Blog: MyKindOfMom – ‘Fraid Rebekah’s site has ‘gone off the air’!

Aitch at SabiSabi for ‘Seven Habits’

At SabiSabi River Camp Trish broke the ice and got the “Seven Habits” weekend going when her loud peal of delighted laughter allowed everyone to relax, forget stuffiness and start relating as equals. Colin Hall wrote to her afterwards:“Your contribution was so special so wholesome so special – you may never know just what magic you made. We really wanted you here!”

Colin was then CEO of Wooltru and had the “Seven Habits of Highly Successful People” franchise for SA. He wanted to adapt it to African conditions, as it used references to American farming practice and Colin wanted to allude to the African bush and the lessons it could give us. He needed the OK from the Covey top brass, so they sent Roger (co-founder of the Covey Leadership Center – now FranklinCovey Co.) & Rebecca Merrill to assess a trial run. As it was a trial, Colin invited people to participate, and it didn’t cost us a cent! As he would say: YeeHa!!

What we didn’t know was a whole bunch of notables had also been invited. We were the minnows there. Captains of industry, politicians, struggle icons and rising business people in the old and new South Africa were there. It was September 1994, the New South Africa was five months old, everyone was optimistic and it seemed the world was our oyster.

When the group first gathered, all strangers, all important and all wary, we were given one of those ice-breaking group exercises where the answer seems impossible, but very obvious when explained. Like many others, Trish didn’t “get it”, but unlike them when it was explained she let out a peal of delighted “Oh no! You fool!” self-deprecating laughter which broke the ice in the best way possible. She was the darling of the bunch from then on – and revelled in the limelight!

The challenge: Cross the river without falling off the bridge
Focus!
Gabi __ and Aitch on left
SabiSabi book crop

Colin Hall wrote:“Your contribution was so special so wholesome so special – you may never know just what magic you made. We really wanted you here!”

Other comments she got were:

Thanks for your ‘ubuntu’ – Daphne Motsepe

– Daphne Motsepe –

I’m glad we were thrown into this struggle together! Love always – Monhla Hlahla

– Monhla Hlahla –

Your spontaneity is very refreshing – Div Geeringh

Its a great experience and you’ve both added terrifically – Judy Gathercole

Trish, was great being around you. Keep the soft core intact – Sej Motau

Its been great with you. Keep up the laughs – Khumo Radebe

It was a pleasure to guide you driving blindfolded – Anton Moolman

Best wishes for the future as we strive to implement the 7 Habits – Sheila & Lungi Sisulu

– Sheila Sisulu –

A great experience! Valued your team efforts at “Go Getters!” – Gaby Magomolo

– Gaby and Nana Magomolo –

A quiet, telling comment came when Gaby, sitting next to me said words to the effect of, ‘Only when we have established ourselves’ when Henri, tearing up, spoke emotionally of ‘Letting go the past.’ Some clear-eyed sense amongst the blurry-eyed sentiment of 1994.

It was some experience to watch you behind the wheel coming down the bank! – Grant Ashfield

Honeymoon 1988 itinerary

Venturing forth . .

. . into Deepest Darkest America, we go kitted out in readiness . .

– off to Darkest America in a Ford Sierra (well, to the bottom of the garden anyway . . ) –

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

Eight weeks; Yep, lo-ong leave; Seven destinations in the USA and one week in England;

I got these details from Aitch’s diary

FLORIDA – Miami airport – 3rd March 1988;
Fly on to Orlando, Florida – Sheraton Hotel
Disney World
Epcot Centre
Rent a car and drive east to Merritt Island – sparrows and mosquitoes
Kennedy Space Centre

Fly back to Miami and rent a car
Titusville (Town Motel $28.90 for the room)
Biscayne Nature Reserve
Florida City (Town Motel)
Everglades – Long Pine Key; Mrazek Lake; Mahogany Hammock

– Florida Everglades –

Flamingo Lodge in the Everglades

On Saturday, 12 March we drive to Big Cypress along the Tamiami Trail and on to
Everglade City – The Rod & Gun Club – 2 nights

CALIFORNIA – San Francisco, California – Tuesday, 15th March

Aitch said “I want to see an American city, not just nature reserves! so we walked , bussed and rode trams in the city. Stay in a Howard Johnson’s Motel, where I use the phone book to enquire about hiring a camping van. Its more expensive than a small car and motels, so . . we hire a Ford 351 cubic inch V8 RecVee from Western RV Rentals! The first night near Escalon we sleep in a parking lot – maybe illegal, but free!

– I worked out it would only be a little more expensive than a small car plus motels – right! –

Yosemite National Park
We walk to Mirror Lake
Badger Pass Ski Resort
Wawona Rail Creek
Camp in Wawona campground (pay $6 in a box – honour system)
Maraposa Grove
Paso Robles
Atascadero
Santa Marguerita – Campground ($8)
Rinconada
Santa Marguerita Lake
Los Osos; Baywood Park
Morro Bay
Cayucos Beach
San Simeon
Los Padres National Forest
Plaskett Creek camp ($8) – Van loo overflowed – Big clean up delayed departure!
Carmel town
Sunset Beach KOA camp ($20.95, ‘all amenities’)
Santa Cruz
Natural Bridges Park
Halfmoon Bay
We return the RecVee – and pay $59 damage for a fender scrape in Yosemite! Ouch!
Total $679 for 7 nights – more than car hire + motels, it’s true. But much more fun!

– whattavan! – whattagal! –

Hired a car (from Snappy!) and drove around San Francisco – Lombard Street, Chinatown, over Golden Gate bridge to Muirwoods Rec area & beach
Marin – Fountain Motel
Downtown San Francisco – Macy’s, Sears, JC Penney – Aitch finally saw a few shops! I bought a telescope – not a good buy!
Slept in the airport; Aitch wrote postcards;

WYOMING – Jackson Hole, Wyoming – Tuesday, 24th March (via Salt Lake City)
Toyota Tercel 4WD – I loved it!
Antler Motel ($28 for the room); Dinner at The Blue Lion (delish. Aitch: “Like St Geran”)
Breakfast at Vernet Cafe
Wilson (saw a Dipper underwater!)
Dinner at Anthony’s
Turned back before Teton Village – road blocked due to thick snow on the Moose/Jenny Lake road; Yellowstone south gate closed!

– the Grand Tetons –

Moran Junction to Jackson Lake
Sleigh ride at Teton Village – see a white grouse in a tree
Kelly (NE of Jackson Hole)

WASHINGTON – Seattle, Washington (via Salt Lake City) – Sunday 27th March 1988
Puget Sound
San Juan Islands
We hire another all-wheel-drive Toyota Tercel and drive north to Anacortes – San Juan Motel
Ferry crossing to Guernes (Guemes?)
Orcas Island
Capt Cook’s Resort

– me and our Toyota Tercel – with sort-of 4X4 – On Orcas Island –

Drive up Mt Constitution until snow blocks road
Walk around Mountain Lake
East Sound
Doe Bay Resort – stay in a rustic cabin (very rustic! but its cheap, Aitch!) called Decatur; hot tubs, ‘suits optional’

– Aitch in the hot tub sans suit –
– the Pacific in the Puget Sound visible in the background –

Back on the ferry – 30th March; In Seattle we handed back the little Tercel – our 2nd-best vehicle on honeymoon;

OKLAHOMA – Fly south to Dallas / Fort Worth, planning to go to the gulf; But we change our plans and head back north to Lawton, Oklahoma – 30th March; This because the newspaper said: ‘You don’t want to be flying over Easter’ and we asked our air hostess ‘When’s Easter?’ and she said ‘Easter? That’s tomorrow;’
We drive to the farm outside Apache – Apache Oklahoma – 31st March;
Only Jimmy there when we arrive after dark;
Jim & Katie arrive – 4yrs since my last visit; 15yrs since I stayed with them;

– Jim n Katie got a huge SA flag from the embassy in Houston! –

Anadarko shopping

Jim gives me the Chevy Suburban 4X4 keys – ours to drive – our best vehicle on honeymoon!

1st April, my birthday – Breakfast in bed!
Lunch with Granma (Patterson)
Mary Kate arrives from OU

Big family gathering at Plantation Restaurant in Wichita Wildlife Reserve, near Meers. We drive past the old Patterson Ranch;

Jim gives Aitch the Cadillac convertible keys – hers to drive!

– You had Mustang Sally and now there’s Cadillac Aitch –

Tuesday 5 Apr – We take the Cadillac convertible to town to the First National Bank of Apache’s drive-in window
Lawton to the drive-thru liquor store
Porter Hill
Clung’s Store

I forget to go to my Rotary meeting! Damn! That really was a bad slip-up! BIG BAD!! We were searching for a Vermillion Flycatcher and I forgot!

Jim and I settle in front of the TV to watch a ballgame. Oklahoma U playing someone. Katie and Trish decide that’s way too boring so they load up on Bloody Marys internally and in a hebcooler and drive off in the night looking for owls. They spot a possum and tail it in the headlights. It shuffles onto the dirt road in front of them and Trish is watching in awesome wonder when Katie asks, ‘Shall I kill it?’ Trish is horrified and gasps ‘No!’ and Katie, seeing what she’s thinking exclaims, ‘Not the possum! The engine!’

They collapsed with laughter as they repeatedly regaled us with the tale when they got home, giggling and unmanageable.

OHIO – Fly away!! Lawton/Dallas/Ft Worth/Little Rock Arkansas/Cincinatti – Akron
Akron, Ohio – Friday 8 April
Dave “Z” picked us up and took us to his condominium and fed us (Larry busy)
On to Larry’s beautiful old home on North Portage Path
Cuyahoga River State Park (Quarry area)
Shopping at a great Deli
Larry cooks delicious steaks and he and Trish hit the piano. They ask me not to sing so loud;

– we bought, we cooked, we drank, we ate –

Kendall Lake

– a bit of gentle hiking to justify yet another banquet –

Cleveland
Lake Erie
Supper at a French restaurant on Larry; Home to liquers and piano and song; They ask me not to sing so loud;
Bed 2am, rise 5.30am

MASSACHUSETTS – Boston, Massachusetts – 13 April – we rent a car and drive on the busiest highway to date – thru Boston in traffic
Hingham (stay in motel $39)
Cohasset
Cape Cod

– Cape Cod, Massachusetts –

Daniel Webster Inn for supper
Sandwich (stay in Country Acres Motel $33)
Wellfleet Bay
Orleans
Meadows Motel ($35)
Back in Boston its late and we have to return the car so we stay in the most convenient place, a Ramada Inn ($89 for the room! Most expensive night in the USA)

Boston/ JFK New York/ London – 18 April 1988

Last flight: Our 30-day Delta pass expired, but we still had a free return ticket we got for giving up our seat on an overbooked flight earlier on; So we use it to get from Boston to JFK

On to England: A week in England – to Paddock Wood in Kent where Val & Pete Excell, oldtime friends of Trish from Cape Town, host us; Then they take us on a road tip to Cornwall, through Dartmoor to stay with Mel Spaggiari’s folks Den & Mary Blewett on their farm outside Bodmin. Where we saw a newt and a hedgehog!

Then home – HOME to our Marriott Road flat in Durban.

– back home – me, Mel & Enea Spaggiari and sister Sheila look at honeymoon pics including Mel’s folks’ place in Cornwall –

~~~oo0oo~~~