Sunday, November 14, 2010

Reflections on our trip to South Africa...

Oct 6-23, 2010

As I scanned back through some of our pics from the trip, I found a few photos where we caught moments of each other just taking it all in...  what a fabulous time together and a beautiful country to see.
Blyde River Canyon
Sunset on the Beach
Watching the Sunset while Sailing
Tsitsikamma National Park
Rode Four-Wheelers to this Waterfall
For those of you who followed our blog, I hope you enjoyed it.  I highly recommend touring South Africa if you ever get the opportunity.
This was taken Oct 6, 2010, the day we left on our trip.
One of my favorite t-shirts to wear ...
 We love to see the world and do fun adventurous things!
People comment on this shirt all the time.

Headed Home Today

Friday, Oct 22, 2010  South Africa

Storm Brewing...
Today, we are headed home... and a good day for that with a storm coming!  We have had a great time, but I am ready to go home and see my family.  We've been away for almost 3 weeks.  We awoke to a very cloudy, windy morning.  We have been so fortunate with our weather and have been able to do everything we wanted to do.  We had the much wanted overcast on the days we wanted to do the Safaris and we had sunshine on the days we wanted to go whaling, shark feeding, fishing and such.

Some areas are in desperate need of rain and the rainy season is just starting.  Things will green up fast  and will make it more difficult for sighting the animals.  The obvious watering-holes won't be so popular either, as they will begin to find other water sources more hidden.

I did some research and knew this was a good time for safari adventures and I knew that we were catching the tail end of the whale watching season... so lucky for us, our timing was good and we got to do and see everything we came for.

Obviously, South Africa is very large and we only touched on the Eastern and the Southern areas, so one could spend much more time touring.  I guess that just gives us reason to travel back again some day.  We made some new friends along the way and maybe one day we will see them again.

On our way down the windy road at the Wilderness Dunes, I stopped to take a few more pics...  It seemed that everyday something new was blooming!  They took such good care of everything and kept the roads swept and cleared of fallen blooms... amazing the time they spent on making the grounds so pretty.  Off to return our rental car and to the airport!

We ended up traveling a total of 23 hours on the actual airplane with a total of 30 hours in the airport/airplane just to get home... and we had been up all day before leaving.  The seats on the return flight were not as comfortable as when we flew out.  I'm not kidding, my tailbone hurt so bad!  I had a donut pillow which helped, but the seats were in desperate need of more padding.  Neither one of us slept much on the way home.  One of these days we'll pay the extra bucks and fly first-class... well maybe, I just think about with the money it would take to do that, that could be another plane ticket paid to somewhere else! ... and I have a list of places to go!

One other thing, it is a small world... we were in the George Airport waiting for our flight to Johannesburg, when I walked past Christine from the Mossel Bay Rotary Club.  She was headed to Joburg as well and then on to London.  I couldn't believe I actually remembered her name right off the top of my head.  Was nice to have another good-bye with her.

And with our gladness, "1 Time Airline" was on time, and we didn't have to change gates -- not even once nor did we have to ride a shuttle bus!  Thank goodness!  We had plenty of time for check-in at Delta for our final flight to Tulsa.

I will say though, that South Africa is not as strict with airline procedures.  We didn't have to take off our shoes, jacket, jewelry, or such to get through any security.  We didn't even go through customs upon arriving in their Country.  We got our luggage and proceeded to the rental car counter.  We did have security check points at George getting to JoBurg, then again at JoBurg as we headed to the U.S.  But what was interesting was that while we were at the gate ready to board the plane they came and did another security check at the gate.  Full pat down for every passenger and a manual search through all carry-on luggage.  I found out they do that for every flight heading to the U.S.  So sad that is needed, but I will simply say-- "Thank you"!

Was sure nice to see Ashley when she picked us up at the airport 10 a.m. on Oct 23, 2010.  And sleeping in our own bed that night was a nice bonus!

Fishing at Dawn-Thirty!!

Thursday, Oct 21  Sunrise in South Africa

It's rare that I ever see a sunrise, but it was spectacular!!

This was probably the first time on this trip that I ask myself what the heck I was doing?!?  Paying someone so I could set my alarm for 4 a.m. and drive 1.5 hours to get on a fishing boat.  Thank goodness we had good weather and we did catch fish!  Dennis was happy... so I was happy!
Dennis caught the first fish-- a "Hake"
We fished with 2 other young men and we all caught fish, but Dennis and I caught the most.  Hake was our mission for deep sea fishing at a depth of 200 feet with our weight on the bottom of the ocean.  We both caught our limit of 5; plus, Dennis caught some for the other two guys.
...but no doubt, I caught the biggest "Hake"!
Thanks to Mark he baited our hooks and unhooked all our fish for us!  He even held them for our pics, I just had to drop and crank... I could do that!

DT caught a few throw-backs as well.  He actually caught 4 small sharks and a catfish-looking thing that had poisonous barbed fins.  Guide said it wouldn't kill you, but most likely you would have reaction to the  stick.
This is the shark he caught in deep sea.
Once we moved to the reef area we fished at a depth of only 50 feet and our weight was raised just off the bottom. Sure made for "less cranking"!  I caught the first 4 fish in that area... I was trying to catch up with Dennis!
I caught 3 of these Red Romans
I caught couple of these, I don't know real name,
but they call it "Big Eye"
Dennis caught 3 reef sharks that were striped, called  "Pajama Shark".  Sorry, this is not very good pic to see the stripe on the side... but he was a shark fishing fool!
Pajama Shark
I caught the only "Rock Cod"
We did see a seal and that little rascal stole one of the guy's fish he was reeling up while we were in deep sea.

While deep sea fishing, we also saw a "Mola Mola Ocean Sunfish". which the guide said was about 600 lbs!  It looked like all head and a short-tailed blob.  I read on internet, they get to be over 2,000 lbs.
Mola Mola Ocean Sunfish about 600 lbs
This one, it is laying sideways
It was curious and swam around the boat in circles a few times and then went away.   He surfaced once and then stayed just a few feet under the clear water when he was circling.  He would swim upright or lay sideways and go along.  We could see him and tried to take pictures, but they weren't very good.  He was really cool.   He was huge!   Here's a better pic I got off the internet, so you could see what it looked like (I was going to insert a link, but heck, here's the pic)
Mola Mola Ocean Sunfish... I'm sure this is a copyright violation...oops!
After fishing the two areas and catching lots of fish, we took our catch and headed back to shore.
I drove the boat as we headed back to shore...
you can see the captain standing in front of the driver's area.
He had total faith in me!  ...but, rest of the passengers didn't!
As we approached shore, it was the same as the whaling boat -- just ramming full speed upon the sand.   So strange, I wasn't driving then!
This is a view in the boat ramming full speed straight ahead to that sandy shore!
Perfect skid onto the sand!  Waiting for the trailer.
Our Captain, Darrell, filleted some of our fish for the four of us to eat for lunch!
... and the local restaurant right there at the ocean shore cooked them for us along with some chips.    We had Hake and actually there was another fish that DT caught, but I could never understand what they called it... it sounded something like cabajero.  It was similar texture to the Hake - white and flaky.
It's only fresher if it's still swimming!   It was yummy!
While we were waiting for our fish to be cooked, we sat on the deck at the restaurant and watched them load the boat onto the trailer.  They basically, just forced the trailer down and partially under the boat from the front of the boat.
Forced trailer under boat...
The trailer had rollers on the top side, so the boat began to partially roll onto the trailer, but the back of the boat was still on the ground.  At that point they began to hoist the boat all the way on the trailer with a winch attached to the tractor.
Winched boat rest of the way onto trailer...
The trailer can be pushed or pulled by the tractor.  There is no nose on the trailer, it has a straight bar that can be used on both ends; therefore, he can push the boat out forward or pull them in forward.
Parked and ready for the next Fishing Charter!
I'm sure this was information you were anxious to know! It was pretty interesting to watch though - ha!
Fun day of Fishing with Plett Fishing Charters
Mark, Me, Darrell,  and Dennis

...but, it was still too early to get up!

Sailing from Knysna Bay

Wednesday, Oct 20  South Africa
Knysna Bay
After a leisure day in the Knysna Bay area we set out for a beautiful late afternoon Sailing with one other couple, along with our captain and two crew members.  We enjoyed drinks, dinner and a lovely sunset.
Sails begin to go up...
Springtide Sailing Charters
This pic from their web site, so you can see whole sailing yacht.
We set out from the bay area and went out past the Knysna Heads into the Indian Ocean seeing incredible rock bluffs, caves, birds, and some elaborate homes overlooking the waters.   We saw one whale, but not close enough for a pic.
Knysna Heads
Beautiful home overlooking the Bay
These rocks were awesome
We didn't have much wind, so we motored out into the ocean and then the wind almost completely died.  We did spend some time actually sailing, and as we were heading back in for dinner and sunset, the wind began to be almost gale forced winds... crazy!!
Here's close up of the rocks... note all the nests and birds roosting
Life is good on a sailboat!
Not our prettiest sunset, but still lovely!
Dennis caught me with my hands full... probably my camera!
Headed in and Dennis is helping put the last sail in it's holder/bag
Our captain on his cell requesting the bridge be raised so we could get back to dock.
But, that was only after his cell phone died,
 so he had to put his sim card in a crew member's phone
 because his sim had the phone number to call.
Was a great day in Knysna!

Morning in Kynsna

Wednesday, Oct 20  South Africa

We headed to Knysna for the day.
Very Quaint Little Bay Area
Again beautiful flowers and plants... I didn't have a book on trees and flowers, so I don't know the names of everything; but, it was Spring and everything was blooming!

This looks like "Red Hot Poker", but I also liked the bright brown grass blooms!

We saw several of these trees in bloom
This is close up of the blooms
Close up of bloom
I think this is some type of a geranium
Crepe's with an Ostrich filling, nice fresh salad and hot tea for brunch... it was yummy!
The restaurant had a Ziggy Wagtail that would come in and eat cheese from a plate they had set out for him and then he would fly back out.  
Employee told me this was a Ziggy Wagtail
They also had a pair of Zebra Doves that hung around.  Very pretty little bird.

While we ate, it was fun to watch this Spectacled Weaver steal strips of iris blades from the gardens to build his nest.
He came in to strip the blade from the Iris leaf
He's holding his newly stripped piece
Heading back to his nest
After returning home, I found this picture of the nest they build.
It is very intricately weaved with the opening usually in the bottom.
Again, here is a picture I found of finished nest.
We strolled along the water's edge and stopped to watch several people hand-line fishing from an old pier.  You could see the old railway tracks and a place to tie off ships, but it definitely is not being used now for any shipments.

The hand-line fishing they swing the hook and line above their head several times, then toss it into the water, and just pull it in as needed.  They were using prawns for bait.  Most said they were not having much luck, but a few of them had caught some kind of small silver fish.  They kept everything they caught.
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