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Author Topic: How about South Africa?  (Read 2996 times)

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Online Mrs. DantesDame

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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #50 on: March 15, 2020, 04:10:12 AM »
The other side of the pass was much more interesting than the one we had just come up. While coming up we were given expansive vistas and gently winding corners. Now we were facing steeply descending hair pin corners that dropped us into a deep gorge. It was beautiful to look at, and even more fun to ride.

I'm glad that the surface was good, because the corners tightened up as we descended
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Down into the valley - down, down, down, we go
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If I was a serious geologist, I'd never leave South Africa
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Swartberg Pass was only 20 kilometers, but they were 20 fantastic kilometers. And we still weren't to the bottom!
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #51 on: March 15, 2020, 04:10:34 AM »
Difficult lighting, but more amazing geology
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The end of the pass. The road straightened out and took us directly to the town of Prince Albert. We had another wonderful Guest House expecting us and I was looking forward a relaxing evening.

Jonathan moved this tortoise from the middle of the road
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One to beam up, Scotty!
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #52 on: March 15, 2020, 04:11:29 AM »
"The village of Prince Albert was founded in the early 1800's and in 1849 a post office was opened, followed by a school in 1852. One of eighteen gabled houses in the village, the 'De Bergkant Lodge' was built by Carel Lotz as a wedding present for his daughter in 1858." Our guest house had some history, to say the least! But unlike the Mountain View Hotel in Lady Grey, our lodgings tonight were spacious, well maintained and comfortable.

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We were each offered a glass of sherry upon our arrival
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I want a tree like this in my yard!
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The pool and breakfast area
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Reception area in the Manor House
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #53 on: March 15, 2020, 04:12:10 AM »
When Dan and I brought our gear up to our room we were met with a most unusual and unexpected surprise: a Basel Läckerli! This is a specialty known only in Basel; to see it here, over 9,000 kilometers from home, was crazy. Of course, this led to a conversation with our hostess later that evening, with the obvious-yet-surprising news that she is originally from Basel. And the world gets smaller...

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The irony of having a large tub, yet signs everywhere to conserve water
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His and Hers shower heads!
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We re-grouped and made the short walk to the village center - and to dinner. We arrived at the Gallery Cafe, which looked nothing like a restaurant from the outside, and was only reachable by climbing a set of well-worn wooden steps. It was worth the climb though, as the service was good and the food we were served was excellent.

Sunset during the walk to dinner
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The Gallery - the Cafe was next door
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Another Kudu meal was consumed and desserts were had by everyone. With all of this great food, I'm going to have a hard time fitting into my motorcycle gear!
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #54 on: March 18, 2020, 02:59:49 PM »
January 30 - Thursday - Storm River

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Much to my dismay, Prince Albert has mosquitos. And even worse, they were in our room. I had been enjoying the strong, cool, breeze that blew through our windows that evening, and naively assumed that leaving the windows open would guarantee a good night's sleep with plenty of fresh air. Instead, I spent a good portion of the night hiding under the blanket, keenly aware of how much I was not sleeping while I waited for the next whine of the little buggers. Other than that, it was a comfortable night!

Breakfast by the pool
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The breakfast buffet was light and healthy - just like I would expect from a Swiss person. Yogurt, muesli, veggies, meats, cheeses, cereals and juices; everything looked fresh and tasty. There were a couple of interesting additions to the layout that I have never seen before:

The juice pitchers had delicate lace clothes draped over them, weighted down by beautiful beadwork
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There were little rotating fans to keep insects from flying in the area
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« Last Edit: March 18, 2020, 03:39:28 PM by Mrs. DantesDame »
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #55 on: March 18, 2020, 03:00:17 PM »
At 9 o'clock our bikes were packed and we were ready to hit the road. We were heading east, parallel to the Groot Swartberg Nature Reserve.

"I am Groot."
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The roads were flat and straight. Oh-so-straight. It really was unbelievable just how straight a road could be.

Borrowed from GoogleMaps because I can't find my photos
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We had reached the edges of the Nature Reserve and the road took an abrupt turn south, into the Reserve itself. I assumed that we'd cross over the mountains, but instead of a road that crested over the top of the range, this road cut its way through, following the natural contours of the Grootrivier.

The Garden Route - "you are here"
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« Last Edit: March 18, 2020, 03:38:53 PM by Mrs. DantesDame »
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #56 on: March 18, 2020, 03:00:46 PM »
We had pulled off for a short diversion: the Meiringspoort Waterfall. It was a nice place to stop, and the waterfall itself was just a couple of minutes' walk from the parking area. I was once again happy that I finally had a pair of boots that are comfortable to walk in for more than ten minutes.

Walking to the waterfall
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The waterfall
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I would have loved to have taken more photos, but the lighting was "difficult" and I knew that I would just be frustrated with the under/over exposed pictures I'd have when I got home. So I took minimal photos and burned the images into my memory instead.

Walking back to the bikes
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I spied this pair napping in the cliff face
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After a quick fill-up in De Rust we once again headed east down yet another long, flat and very straight road.

More straight roads
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« Last Edit: March 18, 2020, 03:38:20 PM by Mrs. DantesDame »
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #57 on: March 18, 2020, 03:01:04 PM »
In the middle of one of those straight stretches of road, there was a sudden slow down and stop. At first it wasn't clear what was the cause, but eventually I could jockey into position to get a better look: a truck carrying a massive load of hay bales had lost part of its load. And the police took this opportunity to check the registrations of the vehicles that were now stopped. Fortunately he only checked Hana's bike and was apparently satisfied that we were all part of the same group and let us all go by.

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Oops
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And back up to speed
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I have to admit that when people raved about "The Garden Route" this is not at all what I had in mind. I was expecting more scenery, more curves, more dramatic elevation changes. The name comes from the verdant and diverse vegetation found here and the numerous estuaries and lakes dotted along the coast. That all sounds lovely, but it didn't seem like what I experienced. This photo is what I think of now when someone says "Oh! The Garden Route!"

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« Last Edit: March 18, 2020, 03:37:30 PM by Mrs. DantesDame »
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #58 on: March 18, 2020, 03:01:24 PM »
Our coffee stop today was in Uniondale, whose only claim to fame appears to be a ghost". Apparently the ghost is "a young woman who stands alone alongside the lonely stretch of road between Uniondale and Willowmore. When people stop to offer her a lift, she gets into the car and then – unsettlingly - vanishes." 

No ghosts hitched a ride with me when traveling through here. Bummer!

Coffee stop
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View across the street; that's a >Boer War monument on the hill in the background
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I zoomed in on the monument
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Back on the road!
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« Last Edit: March 18, 2020, 03:35:56 PM by Mrs. DantesDame »
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #59 on: March 18, 2020, 03:01:43 PM »
It was a really short ride after the coffee break before the pavement ran out. The new road surface was fast and easy packed dirt, and our group spaced itself out into "those who love dirt" and "those who tolerate dirt". And then me: "I love dirt but want to take photos". I ended up being at the back of the pack, and eventually back far enough that the dust had settled by the time I came by.

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This region reminded me a lot of eastern Oregon. The pine trees gave off a wonderful smell in the heat, the dry-but-green hills, and the mountains in the distance all made me think of the trips I'd taken through the Oregon outback. But this was not Oregon - this was South Africa!

The road was narrow, and narrowed considerably more as it dropped down into a valley. This wasn't an issue except that it was still a two-way road and many of the corners were blind. And while the road was fairly remote, it was still active and I had to keep on my toes - and on the left hand side of the road!

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« Last Edit: March 18, 2020, 03:34:43 PM by Mrs. DantesDame »
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #60 on: March 18, 2020, 03:02:05 PM »
We had reached the bottom of the valley, which was just a narrow flat area where the Keurboomrivier flows through. We were on Prince Alberts Pass, and it was a glorious road. The weather was outstanding - not too hot - and recent rain kept the dust down.

Angie's G-Spot
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Outstanding views
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We had stopped again for the view and some water. The road had been much more technical then I had expected. Nothing strenuous, but still enough ruts and switchbacks and loose patches to keep me on my toes. And when I'm on my toes, that means that the camera is not in my hand, so there is no photographic evidence.

Always something on the road to be aware of
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Workers taking care of the roadside
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« Last Edit: March 18, 2020, 03:40:59 PM by Mrs. DantesDame »
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #61 on: March 18, 2020, 03:02:28 PM »
We stopped for a break and a re-grouping of riders and the support truck. The views were amazing; I was really enjoying today's riding.

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While at one of our stops we were joined by a local rider "Jerry". He's from Cape Town and made this road part of one of his regular routes. Yes, we had taken a very roundabout way to get here. If we had been serious about getting to Prince Albert pass from Cape Town, we could have been here in six hours instead of five days. I could see making this a nice weekend overnight ride, if I lived in Cape Town.

Jerry at the end of Prince Albert Pass
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We returned to pavement, but not for long. It was lunch time! And Hana and David had quite a feast in store for us: we were going to a winery! And I am embarrassed to say that I do not know the name. This is really too bad, too, as it was an amazing meal.

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I love this style of map
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This meal was unique on this trip, as it was served "family style". Our servers just kept on bring platter after platter of scrumptious food to our table. Fresh bread, salmon, calamari, various salads...it was all amazing and our group was in full agreement that it was the best lunch we'd had so far.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2020, 03:41:30 PM by Mrs. DantesDame »
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #62 on: March 18, 2020, 03:02:51 PM »
The rest of today's riding was generally uneventful. We were on a major road and heading towards the coast. The speeds were fast and the traffic light.

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Toll roads suck on a motorcycle
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I loved these flowers, but had a hard time capturing them with my camera
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We were heading for "The Fernery Lodge and Chalets" near Storms River and in the Tsitsikamma National Park. It was a long, dirt road through a dense pine forest.

Colorful cows in this region
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Through a dense pine plantation
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Arriving at The Fernery
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Once we reached the Lodge itself there was a bit of confusion as to where we staying and how our bags would get there. The property was large, with individual lodges for us accessible by a walkway. But should we leave our bikes near reception? Or should we park them closer? They had someone to carry our bags to our rooms, but it was not clear how or when that would happen. But like most things, it worked itself out and we were soon in yet another amazing accommodation.

The pool, overlooking the Sanddriftrivier that flows into the Indian ocean
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Our lodge
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Another dual headed shower![/img]
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We had some time to explore the grounds, which Dan and I did gladly. We found that it is called "The Fernery" because they actually supply plants (ferns!) commercially. My green thumb was quite happy to see their green houses.

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Pond plants on the property
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Dew-covered webs
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Morning view of the Sanddriftrivier
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Right on the ocean!
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« Last Edit: March 18, 2020, 03:43:16 PM by Mrs. DantesDame »
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Online Mrs. DantesDame

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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #63 on: March 18, 2020, 03:03:48 PM »
I should be able to post up Day 6 by the weekend. I hope that I am still spinning an entertaining tale for you :popcorn:
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #64 on: March 18, 2020, 03:22:53 PM »
I should be able to post up Day 6 by the weekend. I hope that I am still spinning an entertaining tale for you :popcorn:

Yes! Yes! Yes!  :wings:
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #65 on: March 18, 2020, 05:30:15 PM »
I should be able to post up Day 6 by the weekend. I hope that I am still spinning an entertaining tale for you :popcorn:

Yes! Yes! Yes!  :wings:

Yes! Yes! Yes!  :wings:
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but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.   Vincent van Gogh

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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #66 on: March 18, 2020, 06:07:22 PM »
:popcorn:

Carry on.
If it weren't for the therapeutic properties of the occasional off-camber decreasing radius downhill right-hander I'd almost certainly go completely sane.

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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #67 on: March 18, 2020, 06:25:38 PM »
I did not expect this level of diverse landscapes.  Flip'n epic.

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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #68 on: March 19, 2020, 02:12:28 PM »
I did not expect this level of diverse landscapes.  Flip'n epic.

I was well and truly surprised as well! Pleasantly surprised, of course   8)
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #69 on: March 19, 2020, 02:14:05 PM »
January 31 - Friday - Addo

Map Link

I loved last night's lodging! It was very cozy and comfortable, and I slept quite well. We had breakfast at 8 am at the restaurant on site and planned to leave right afterwards. We wanted to get to our next destination in time for lunch. It would be another short day of riding, and with the humidity levels and temperatures this morning already, I was only too glad to hear it.

Leaving The Fernery behind
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I noticed that throughout South Africa there was always someone walking or standing along the roadsides. Many kids walked along the roads in their school uniforms, making their way home from classes in the late afternoon. The kids were almost always excited to see us ride by, with many waves and cheers greeting our odd caravan. The adults also seemed pleased to see us, especially out in the countryside. The shepherds in particular were quick to wave.  There were also people who stood at the side of the road in hopes of either someone stopping to pick them up or at least one of the numerous shuttle vans would come and get them. It seemed like a good system for a country that otherwise had a severe lack of public transit infrastructure.

Hitching a ride at the side of the road
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We were back on the toll road, but only for a short time. The temperature gauge on the bike's instrument display was rising. So far it had only gone from 27 C to 28 C, but I got the sense that it was going to continue to go up.

Large (controlled?) fire as we turn away from the coast
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Hitching a ride!
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Oooo - 33 C!
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #70 on: March 19, 2020, 02:14:35 PM »
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I found these trees interesting: they had the basic tree shape, and then an extra level of branches above
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We stopped for gas at the wonderfully named town of "Humansdorp," and had a quick coffee in the attached Wimpy's Burger. I had heard of Wimpy's before but didn't know much about it. I think that I associate it with "Wimpy" of Popeye fame - not that that really means anything. They had the usual fast food menu though, and plenty of coffee selections for the coffee connoisseurs among us.

Coffee break!
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There were a lot of people milling around near the gas station. It was payday and many of them looked dressed up for the occasion. They also lined up for blocks, presumably to cash their pay checks. I heard that it was a bad time to be on the road, as they tended to celebrate payday with a few drinks. Well, we'd be off the road in another hour or two, so hopefully we'd be safe.

Evidence of "The Garden Route": many citrus orchards
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Ugh
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #71 on: March 19, 2020, 02:15:03 PM »
As long as we kept moving, the heat didn't seem so bad. The scenery was green with open, rolling hills and it was pleasant to ride through. It wasn't challenging and the views were nice, but not overly interesting.

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That all changed when we reached the outskirts of the town of Uitenhage.

Outskirts of Uitenhage
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Something serious had happened here, and recently, too. There were numerous blackened lines across the road, the remains of a road block created to "disrupt funeral processions until the paving of Siwani Street is complete. Over 400 mourners were stopped from using Matanzima Road on Thursday afternoon, as about 100 protesters blocked it with rubble." The shacks that I could see looked empty in the midday heat, with the exception of three people who appeared to be building something

Future neighborhood?
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Two of many burn marks on the road
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Substandard housing near Uitenhage
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Selling food on the side of the road
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #72 on: March 19, 2020, 02:18:16 PM »
This region seems to have a lot of problems, based on what I found while researching the reason for the above protests. I found article headlines such as:

- Uitenhage residents want their pothole left alone - Land occupiers use water from the pothole for bathing and boil it for cooking

- Protesters say councillor’s office will remain closed until their toilets are cleaned - Uitenhage residents say seven toilets for 500 people are “full of faeces” and unusable

- Pigs feast on human excrement as township drain overflows

It seems like the region is the plagued with social problems  :crazy:
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #73 on: March 19, 2020, 02:18:38 PM »
Meanwhile, the temperature was still climbing
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Rolling through a quiet town
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More scenic roads
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Almost there!
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And not a moment too soon!
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South Africa uses narrow gauge tracks - and they really do seem narrow!
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #74 on: March 19, 2020, 02:26:47 PM »
We turned off the main road, crossed those narrow gauge tracks and reached the entrance to Addo Elephant Park. We had arrived!

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Hana arranged for our entry through the gates (check out those massive elephant skulls!) and we pulled ahead. But it turned out that we weren't done yet. The plan was to have lunch, leave the bikes here inside the park, and hitch a ride on a safari truck to our accommodations at River Bend Lodge.

Lunch was good and our driver was waiting for us by the time we were done. Because River Bend Lodge is a private game reserve outside of the park, and the long drive to the safety of the lodge buildings passed through the animals' territory, we were not allowed to ride our motorcycles within the grounds. For this reason, we needed a ride.

I'm not sure what sort of deal Hana and David have worked out, but the bikes stay here
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The gates to River Bend Lodge
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This is why we are not riding here!
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Immediate animal sightings
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"Show me your best side"
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The lodges at River Bend
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #75 on: March 19, 2020, 02:27:36 PM »
There was another gate to pass through and now we were "safe" inside an electrified fence. This fence made sure that the lions, baboons and other animals did not disturb us while we were spoiling ourselves in the pool or dining at the restaurant. The fence was subtle enough that we could easily watch the elephants stroll by, elands graze and the monkeys play in the fields.

Set on its own private 14,000 hectacre within the heart of SANPark’s “Big 5” Addo Elephant National Park, River Bend Lodge is known for colonial grace and luxury. The main building is a restored Eastern Cape farmhouse, with the original trees and vegetation still covering the landscape. Newer buildings had been built in a comfortable array around the property, giving each suite privacy while still keeping the overall footprint to a minimum.

A view of the grounds
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This bed is almost bigger than our bedroom at home!
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We dropped off our gear and bags, sorted out a bag of laundry that the staff would process for us, and put on some clean (and cool!) clothes after taking a refreshing shower - in our private outdoor shower, of course! I really had gone overboard in choosing this particular tour. I never expected this extravagant level of luxury. But hey: a person only celebrates turning 50 once in their life, right?

A very short tour of the grounds led us to the pool, which was the perfect place to relax in the afternoon heat
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Awww - Dan's martini glass is empty!
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The electric fence doesn't keep everyone out (but they never came close to us, that I noticed)
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Seats for viewing elephants at the waterhole
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Resident Leopard tortoise
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #76 on: March 19, 2020, 02:28:02 PM »
It was a relaxing afternoon. Some rested in their rooms, some used the time to call family members, and some of us sat in the shade and enjoyed a cool beverage and conversation. Dinner wasn't going to be until much later - close to sunset, actually - so we had plenty of time to ourselves and it was nice not to have "something on the agenda".

I zoomed in on a train in the distance - 4x engines, many, many, many cars; coal for the local energy plant?
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A quick check of the waterhole before dinner
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South African sunset
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When we sat down for our meal, the staff handed us our menus and inside was a personlized letter to each of us, welcoming us to River Bend. It was a nice touch, even if they did misspell my name. Our servers were egnimatic and friendly. I noticed for the first time that instead of saying "You're welcome", they said "Pleasure". Which lead to exchanges like:

"The meal was fantastic!"
"Pleasure"

It was a nice change to the usual phrase.

We were studying the menu when the lights went out. Needless to say, we were surprised. But the staff weren't - apparently this happens every night between 7 and 9 pm. The country cannot supply enough electricity for everyone, so various areas are shut down ("load shedding") at regular intervals. It seemed like an inconvenience that should not be tolerated by the populace, but the government was too strapped for cash to "fix it". I had seen some wind turbines on this trip, but the cost of them was too high to offer any serious coverage. It really is a shame, considering the constant and strong winds that we had experienced so far.

The staff brought out electric lanterns so that we could order our dishes and later, see what we were eating. The meal was fantastic, with a lovely variety of dishes on offer. By the time we finished our meal (and dessert, of course), the electricity had been restored. We said our good nights early, as we had plans for an early morning: a 5:30 am game drive!
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #77 on: March 19, 2020, 02:40:39 PM »
I never pictured South Africa to this beautiful. Thanks for posting.

ps 42°C is hot
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #78 on: March 19, 2020, 03:57:01 PM »
Jaw dropping beauty!
Show up on time, do your best and don't grumble about the outcome.

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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #79 on: March 19, 2020, 05:59:43 PM »
ps 42°C is hot

Oh ya, about 107*F.. 

Best report ever DD..  :popcorn:
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #80 on: March 20, 2020, 11:36:17 AM »
February 1 - Saturday - Safari (morning)

Five thirty was early. But Dan and I got up and met with our driver for this morning's activities. I could not tell you her name, but it was awesome with a native "click" tucked in the middle of it! Very cool to hear.

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The electric fence and active beehives
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Hana and David had brought their last tour group here, but they said that they hadn't seen any animals the entire time that they were here. And considering that the tour included the luxury of two nights here, that was saying something!

We set out through the gates with immediate guidance: two male lions had been spotted just a few minutes from the lodge. Because this is a private reserve, there is discussion among the staff as to known locations, so we headed in that direction immediately.

We were well-rewarded.

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One of two male cubs on the reserve, heading back to momma
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The lions had reportedly caught and ate a zebra the day before, so they had full bellies and really didn't care if we stared at them with wonder and awe.

Look at that full belly!
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #81 on: March 20, 2020, 11:36:45 AM »
The other safari truck left the area and our vehicle moved into a better position. Not that our first position left much to be desired.

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Eventually one of the males sat up and looked around
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Looks like someone got into a fight
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Walking around the front of our truck - so big and so close!
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I was in such awe of being so close that I completely forgot that my camera can take videos. Hana took one, so I will see if I can get a copy from her to share here.

Everything about this guy is big
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #82 on: March 20, 2020, 11:37:20 AM »
After taking a long lap of water, the lion wandered off to find somewhere else to sleep off his meal. We took the hint and went in search of other animals. It didn't take long at all before we found a jackal:

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And a trio of mongooses (Mongeese? Mongoosi?)
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African pied crow - great color pattern!
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Another jackal
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Landscape of the reserve
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #83 on: March 20, 2020, 11:37:53 AM »
I was pleased to see that today was not yet sunny or too warm. Without the sun beating down on my head, I found it to be a comfortable ride through the reserve. More recent rains also promoted the growth of herbivore foods and filled the watering holes.

One of the 300 species of birds on the reserve (and I forgot which one this is)
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That's a nasty looking thorn bush
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We drove back towards the lodge and then went off in another direction. With almost 35,000 acres of land, we had a lot of area to cover!

Kudu - cute and tasty!
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An ex-elephant
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Knowing that the lions were sleeping elsewhere in the park, our guide was comfortable in getting out of the truck to show us some of the native plants found in the region.

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A native's coffee substitute
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Looking back at the lodge
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The early morning start time was more difficult for some in the group
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Cool African starlings
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #84 on: March 20, 2020, 12:14:27 PM »
And then we could see them: a couple of elephants rumbling around in the bushes. Our guide pulled our truck (the "human rhino", as I liked to think of it) down a lane and then passed some tall vegetation. We had found the elephants.

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Many elephants!
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They say that while on safari, you have the best chance to see animals during a drought because they all congregate at the dwindling number of watering holes. But during a drought there is also a lot less food, so the animals that you do see are often thin, or sick. Personally, I'd prefer to take my chances on not seeing any animals if it meant that they were healthy and well-fed. On this trip, I scored on both accounts: lush vegetation and many healthy animals were seen.

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Just looking for a willing partner (he was in musth)
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We followed the couple of elephants we had first found and they led us into an opening with even more elephants. There were probably at least twenty elephants in this group, of both sexes and of varying ages.

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Video of elephants and our proximity to them

I love it when the young ones get feisty and stick out their ears!
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Video of a teenager who wasn't sure what to make of us

Probably one of the better photos I've taken
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The detail of an elephant butt - who knew it would be so interesting?
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #85 on: March 20, 2020, 12:21:08 PM »
Our guide followed the elephants for a little bit longer, trailing behind them as they made their way down the road. To my uneducated eye, it seemed like we were following too closely, but I like to think that the driver knew what she was doing.

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Video as we followed the two above

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I took a lot of photos - they were so amazing to watch!
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #86 on: March 20, 2020, 12:21:36 PM »
While I could have watched these creatures wander the landscape for hours, I doubt that the elephants would have appreciated it. We slowly pulled away and went off to see who else was out enjoying the still-overcast morning. We didn't have far to go when we saw this distinctive guy:

The warthog
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More zebras
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While we watched the zebras chase each other in the morning dew, it was time for a tea break. Like we did in Gondwana, hot thermoses were pulled out and tins of biscuits cracked open. Ah, this is the life.

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More thorn bushes - that could be painful!
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #87 on: March 20, 2020, 12:22:57 PM »
As we traveled down the main road I spied a different large group of elephants off to one side. I guess one could say we were on a "trunk" road (thank you - I'll see myself out). The zoom lens came in handy here, as the group was fairly far off in the distance.

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And then we spied her: a tiny baby lost in a sea of legs and trunks. Our guide estimated her age to be about 2 - 3 days. Days!

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Sticking close to momma
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Staying under momma keeps her safe from both predators and the sun
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Video of the baby staying under momma

Video showing the protection of the herd
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #88 on: March 20, 2020, 12:24:06 PM »
Just a note: there are some video links in the above posts. If you're just scrolling through for eye candy, you might miss them  :popcorn:
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #89 on: March 20, 2020, 12:24:24 PM »
Our day had been fantastic - and we hadn't even had breakfast yet! After watching the baby and her (I have no idea if it was male of female, to be honest) antics, we put the safari truck back on the trunk road (yes, I am finding this amusing) and meandered our way back towards the lodge.

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Our morning safari was over. It had been a grand three hour tour of the River Bend reserve, and I felt very lucky to have seen as much as I did.

Back through the lodge gates
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The rest of the day was ours to do with as we liked. There was a lovely breakfast on the porch while we watched yet more elephants wander by. Oh, and the power was cut during breakfast as well. Apparently this location suffers load shedding twice a day, for two hours at a time, which happened to be during breakfast and dinner.

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Nests of the southern masked weaver
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Southern masked weaver visits its young
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Another Leopard tortoise, eating the garden
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I still can't get over the size of these thorns
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And then it was nothing but relaxing, be it by the pool, resting in our rooms, enjoying a late lunch or going through the photos that had just been taken. For Hana and I, it was a shorter break than for the guys: we had opted to go on a bonus afternoon safari. I had seen so much already, but there was always the potential of "more". Plus, how often would I have this opportunity?
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #90 on: March 25, 2020, 04:40:43 PM »
February 2 - Sunday - Lady Grey

Map Link

I left the rains down in Aaaaaaaa-frica!

We had an amazing thunderstorm just as we were crawling into bed the previous night. It rained some, but not nearly as much as I expected based on the frequent sharp flashes of lightning and the extreme rooooooolllllling thunder. It was hard to go to bed and miss out on any of it.

There was an early breakfast (when the power was cut, of course!) where we were "joined" by an Eland and some monkeys in the nearby field.

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A troop of Vervet monkeys
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After breakfast we threw our bags in the truck and were driven back to Addo Park. Our bikes were waiting for us, just a little bit dustier than how we left them. Once our bikes had been re-packed and our gear was on, we hit the road.

And that road was unpaved!
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Termite mound - there were fields full of these!
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Hello Tom!
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #91 on: March 25, 2020, 04:41:33 PM »
It was a nice road and it felt good to "stretch my legs" again, after a day off the motorcycle. But once we met up with the pavement, the miles went by quickly. We would make good time today, which was welcome, considering that we had almost 500 kilometers to cover!

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Pushing their car - uphill
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Bridge to nowhere
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Hitching a ride
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Coming into Fort Beaufort
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #92 on: March 25, 2020, 04:41:53 PM »
A perfectly cloudy day
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Entering the Mpofu Nature reserve
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Waterdown Dam
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A cow, rubbing against the front door
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The burning landfill
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #93 on: March 25, 2020, 04:42:17 PM »
We were visiting <a href="https://www.queenstown.co.za/history.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Queenstown[/url] for lunch. It was a big city, with just under 100,000 residents, and the streets were full of people walking or sitting around, buying and selling. It was a city of industry!

But it was also a city that had a past to recover from. "After the world wide depression in the 1920's, Queenstown once again entered a period of prosperity while still acting as a supply and educational center for surrounding farmers and smaller towns. After 1948, and the beginning of the Apartheid era, the district changed character as white owned farms were bought out and the land incorporated in the Transkei and Ciskei and settled with people. Queenstown has since then been a service centre for these people." (<a href="https://www.queenstown.co.za/history.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Link[/url])

Queenstown
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It was hot. We crammed our bikes into the limited parking in front of Wimpy's Bugers and I was only too happy to go inside and cool off in the air conditioned shade. After an OK meal (the planned lunch location had apparently closed since Hana and David had been here last), we geared up and I reluctantly went back out into the sun.

Jonathan had expressed interest in trying out the 850, so he and I planned to switch bikes for a short bit of the afternoon's ride. That meant that I'd be riding the 1250, which while I had no real interest in riding it, I admit that was curious what a back-to-back comparison would be like.
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #94 on: March 25, 2020, 04:42:44 PM »
Because Jonathan now had my bike, he also had my tank bag and therefore my cameras. Fortunately for us both, the switch was short-lived. We had pulled over in a small rest area and Jonathan was only too ready to hand me my keys back. He liked the bike well enough for handling, but the reduced windscreen created too much wind flow for his comfort. Me? I was happy to have the smaller, more responsive 850 back under me.

Back on the road
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I loved today's clouds - so fluffy!
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It is a big country
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Somewhere outside of Aliwal North
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Friendly locals
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Aliwal North
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Wherever we go, we get an audience
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Nice church across the street
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Online Mrs. DantesDame

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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #95 on: March 25, 2020, 04:43:10 PM »
After filling up our bikes we had just a short way to go before we reached our destination: the town of Lady Grey. This was a new location for the tour, as Hana and David were always trying to find "the best" for their customers. They warned us that they didn't have any personal experience with tonight's hotel, so they asked for our understanding if it turned out to be "less than perfect".

Leaving Aliwal North behind
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The outskirts of Lady Grey
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As we traveled east, the land was consistently getting greener and more lush. But whereas the drier regions from the last few days seemed populated with people trying hard to get anything to grow there, the fields I saw here looked empty and overgrown. It seemed like a poor use of resources, but with the political history of the region, I could (sort of) understand why.   

One of the white owned farms that had been bought out and now sat abandoned
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Kids cooling off in the pond
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #96 on: March 25, 2020, 04:43:40 PM »
Lady Grey is a small town, but like most towns we had traveled through, the sidewalks and berms were full of people. It was surprising just how many people were sitting around, with what looked like nowhere to go anytime soon. I saw this phenomena all over South Africa: there were always people around, whether we were in a city or in the middle of the countryside.

We worked our way through the town, found our hotel, and parked the bikes for the day. It had been a surprisingly comfortable ride considering the number of kilometers we had covered and the heat of the day.

Mountain View "Boutique Hotel" in Lady Grey
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The building was an old one, "full of character", as one would say. Personally I love a place with this much character, but others expected a bit more class and finish, based on some of the comments that I heard. Since this was only Hana and David's second time running this route, it was a very fluid plan and they were always looking for ways to improve it, either via the route taken or places stayed. I think that they will continue to search for an alternative the next time they come this way. As for me, I love learning about the history of such a place, trying to imagine the variety of people that have passed through over the years. From the hotel's website:

"The age of the building is unknown (est. built in 1832) but we know that it was already operating as a Hotel in about 1872 when HR Giddy and his brother OS Giddy stayed over. ... On passing through Lady Grey, they “put up at the Commercial Hotel also known as Rose’s Hotel and today named the Mountain View Hotel”. This indicates that the Inn is more than 140 years old. In those early days, Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Rose, a German, was the owner of the Commercial Hotel.  When he died in 1897 his son, Carlie, took over. Carlie added a large stable, forage and harness room, cart shed and a four room cottage to the Hotel. Today this is the laundry, workshop, garages and storage rooms at the back of the hotel."

Stuff like this fascinates me!

Registration and lobby area
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Staircase to the upper rooms
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Upstairs hallway
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Our very small room, with a very awkward toilet/shower area
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View of the town from the front balcony
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Online Mrs. DantesDame

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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #97 on: March 25, 2020, 04:44:00 PM »
There was some time to kick back and relax before dinner. Dan and I even made the effort to clean off our motorcycle chains. That is one advantage of the 1250s: they have a shaft drive and relatively little maintenance. There wasn't enough time to really walk back into the heart of the town see in more detail what it had to offer, although to be honest, our initial drive through didn't inspire me to want to explore on foot.

Behind the main hotel building
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Spring rose
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Dinner was at 7 o'clock, which was perfectly timed with the load shedding of the region. Candles were brought out and some electric lighting was visible - apparently there was a generator somewhere on site. We were sitting in the darkened red dining room, with one other group of people sharing the space with us. The karaoke machine provided some music, and our group joked that we'd do some singing later. Thank goodness that never materialized!

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Rita was our waitress and she was a blast! She had so much enthusiasm and energy, dancing around as she explained what was - and wasn't - on the menu that night. Because of the load shedding, we couldn't have anything that required frying. No worries - we were here for some Kudu steak!

We finished our meal before the electricity came back on, so it was a good thing we had brought our flashlights with us. Dan and I went back up to our room, prepared for a relaxing evening and anticipated another exciting day of riding.
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #98 on: March 28, 2020, 02:40:52 AM »
Just a note that the next day is a lot of photos. LOTS. I could not get enough of the beauty and the roads, and it went on All Freakin' Day.

 
 :needpics:
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Re: How about South Africa?
« Reply #99 on: March 28, 2020, 02:42:31 AM »
February 3 - Monday - Lesotho

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We left the window open to enjoy the sounds of the thunder, the pitter-patter of rain, and feel the cool breeze. Unfortunately, we also enjoyed the whine of mosquitos. I did not sleep as well as I had hoped I would. I was awake at 2 am, and was fully awake at 6 am. Interestingly enough, the bed seemed to be permanently fitted with a most uncomfortable heated pad - complete with thick cables crisscrossing underneath me. Shelves in the corner of the room had heavy wool blankets on them, making me wonder just how cold it got during the winter in this region. I was rather wishing it was that cold.

Breakfast was served in the room next to the red dining room and while dinner had been great, breakfast was mediocre. We didn't hang around long and were only too eager to get back on the road.

The breakfast nook
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Today was a day that I been anticipating since I booked this tour: Lesotho, the Kingdom in the Sky. "The Kingdom of Lesotho is situated on a highland plateau entirely within South Africa. The lowest point in the mountainous country is 1,400 meters (4,593 ft) above sea level. It is home to 2.2 million residents, most of them poor, living off the land as farmers" (wiki). We were in for some good riding today.

I had no idea just how amazing it would be.
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