29 June 2008

On the road again...

We are traveling home right now. Been on a road trip for the last two weeks. All this to expain the silence eminating from the endless pursuit of Life and why I don't have a delicious Daring Bakers post. Sorry my DBers, until next month....

12 June 2008

what's that they say about your plate and it being full?

I'll update again. I promise. I've gotten myself a lots to do. And blogging isn't making the cut. I'll give you a hint at one of those things keeping me busy though...

click here

03 June 2008

Dug and Tricia vs The World, part 7 - The Last of Kruger

This is final round-up of our Kruger safari. It's a bit long, but that's mostly due to lots of pictures. Click on the picture for a bigger version.

This is our thatched roof cabin. We stayed in Skukuza camp during our Kruger visit. (If you click on the link, Skukuza is NW of the green word "PARK" in the southern part of the map.) There were two rooms, each with their own bath, with a central living room/dining room and a fully-equipped kitchen. The best part is that the camp gates opened at 5:30am while the outside park gates weren't opened until 6:30am. Those who stay at the camps get to start an hour earlier! If you go to Kruger, we highly suggest getting a cabin in one of the camps.

On to the animals!
Nyala look a lot like kudu with their striped backs but they've got bearded necks. I guess they knew their small spiraling horns couldn't compete with the kudu's super-impressively large spiraling horns and decided to grow some major neck hair to make up for it. And, as usual in the animal kingdom, this male gots himself some females.

This was my favorite lizard. I don't know it's real name, but I always called them Rainbow Lizards. Creative, huh?

The first animals we saw (Even before impala, which is nothing short of amazing. Those things are everywhere!) were these rhinos. They were resting under some trees right inside the gate. This was the closest we got to rhinos the rest of the trip. And look, they do have those birds on their backs all the time. Just like they taught us in school and on Animal Planet.

This little guy is a leopard tortoise. I'll tell you a little secret. Dug got out of the car (a BIG no no) and carried one off the road and placed it into the brush so it wouldn't get hit by a car. He risked attack by some wild predator to save this little reptile. *sigh* My hero!

The only steenbok we saw was this little fella. He was about 50 yards off the road and almost impossible to see until he turned sideways. They're pretty small and quick as lightning, so they're rather hard to find in the brush, let alone photograph.

Take a look at this plant. It is a species of acacia and the elephant's favorite tree to nibble on. Holy crap! The large thorns are 5-6 inches long! No, I don't know how they eat them. (More importantly, how do they pass them? That's what I really want to know. Yee-owch!)

Here we have a vervet monkey. Cute to watch eat berries out of a tree. Cute to watch grooming each other. Not cute jumping on your table and stealing your freshly cooked eggs and potatoes. Not cute when you have to stand guard at your table with a tree branch, trying to keep them away when you really want to eat your delicious, hot meal that your dad and husband just cooked on these cute outdoor wok-things that you rent from the rest area people. Nope, not cute at all.

Warthogs. Uglier than sin. Skittishier (I know that's not a word but it fits.) than a cockroach. I think they have some sort of radar. As soon as we approached they would stick their tails straight in the air and run into the nearest underbrush. No curiosity at all. Their shyness and speed made them difficult subjects to catch on film. (Technically, not on film, but, you know.) This trio lacked the usual crazed bolting. Obviously they've had experience in emergency situations. They knew the motto: "Calmly make your way to the nearest exit."

You will now know how to recognize a waterbuck by my mother's fail-safe method. "Just look at their butts. If they look like they sat on a freshly painted toilet seat, it's a waterbuck!" Congratulations. Now you are one who knows.

I love this shot. It's rather classic-Africa looking. Wildebeest seeking out shade from the mid-day sun, one looks at the camera. Thank you, wildebeest family, for being so obliging.

We drove by and parked at a few watering holes. Finally. Finally, I found one where an animal was actually drinking. I was so thankful for this zebra's thirst. I mean, besides a frontal of an elephant, what says "Africa" like a zebra drinking at the edge of a watering hole? The only thing better would be a crocodile exploding out of the water in the next second. Oh well. Maybe next time.

And that's it. Thanks Kruger! You rock!

01 June 2008

Dug and Tricia vs The World, part 6 - A Tale of Two Lions

I finally got my CD-Rom to recognize my Africa CD! So here is another installment of our safari in Kruger National Park in South Africa.

Since we left off with leopards, the next animal on my list is lions! They were so impressive that instead of one shot and description, you get a story. As usual, click on any picture for a larger, more detailed version.

We woke up super early (really! I mean it! 4:30am!) and around 6:30am we noticed a tour truck stopped up ahead. This means that they'd spotted something camera-worthy. As we slowly approached there was a male lion standing in the middle of the road right in front of us! Let's call him Screech. He's the one pictured above, standing in front of the truck.

As we were focused on him a lioness approached from behind us on the left side of the road and almost immediately another male crossed the car in front of us and joined her. Let's call this second male Mr. T. There he is at left. You can see how full of himself he is, can't you?

So now it was time to see what being the dominant male really meant. Before the lioness could make it to Screech, Mr. T blocked her and in lionspeak told her, "Get back from that lesser guy and stay here with a real lion, woman!" (Pictured at right is his blocking maneuver.) After this masculine exhibition, I noticed Mr. T looking across the road towards the brush he had previously walked out from. As I turned to see what he was staring at another lioness appeared right before me, walked not six feet from our car, across the street and Mr. T. "allowed" her to approach him.

Once she was corralled in with the other lioness, a third lioness walked in front of our car from the same spot in the brush and joined Mr. T's harem. Every time a lioness tried to visit the lonely Screech, Mr. T would run his interference play and usher her back to the others. By the end, Mr. T was just sitting there gloating. Obvious gloating. Poor Screech. He just sat there and watched as Mr. T basked in his overabundance of feline femininity. Isn't that how it always is? One guy gets all the chicks while the other guy just wants one? After 45 minutes of this wildlife soap opera, we decided to move on and let them resolve their problems without our prying eyes.

This is the second lioness as she approached on the right side of the car. Isn't she beautiful? It was an incredible, almost frightening moment to look out your window as a lioness silently appeared out of the brush.

Here is Screech as we were leaving. He just gave up. Poor guy. What I really want you to notice is the shape that these wild lions are in. Most of us only see well-fed lions in the zoo that merely have to walk a few feet to their next meal. Wild lions are thin. It amazed me how skinny they were. You could see the back bones on all the lions, moreso with the males. And the scars...you could definitely tell they had to fight for their food.

This is our last picture of Mr. T and his lionesses. Look at him. I really think he's laughing. That little selfish, bad-guy laugh. The understated 'heh heh heh', low and quiet. Sure, we know his progeny will be all over the savannah next year. But he knows that we know...and he relishes every moment!