Hazy Days

Archives for holidays

Day 7 in the Eastern Cape

Our last day coincided with Kiera’s 11th birthday.  We woke up early to make sure we could do the usual morning birthday thing.  Delight!

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Then it was our last breakfast. Yum yum.  We tucked in one last time.  I do believe I gained at least 2kg in one week thanks to the delicious food!

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I also finally remembered to take some inside shots – now you can see all the trophy heads that freaked Kiera out initially.  She got used to it though!

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Eventually we were making jokes about them and everyone had a good guess as to which one contained the security camera! 

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That’s a giraffe skull on the table below.  And giraffe bones beneath the table.

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After finally saying goodbye to our wonderful hosts, we hit the road around 8:30.  First stop was the Bloukrans Bungy jump bridge …

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The idea was that I *may* jump off it.  But, I had hurt my back the day before carrying Micah and so wasn’t so sure it was a good idea.  And then I took another look at the jump.  Yes.  Well, I chickened out.  I do still want to do it, but I’m not keen on doing the walkway up to the jumping point without someone I know going with me!  Next time?  Maybe!

Next stop was the Wolf Sanctuary just outside of Knysna.  We spent a good amount of time here with all the animals, much to the delight of my kids…

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Rabbits anyone?

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Okay, Kelly, I know you and Kai love goats, but really?  They stink! 

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Kiera’s biggest motivation to be there were the wolves of course.  She lapped up all the information she could…

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We saw loads of crazy animals – these guys looked like they needed a good brush.  Although, they were doing a pretty good imitation of the 80s perm-look.

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More smelly creatures!

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Billy goat gruff.

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We carried on to Knysna for lunch.  Part of Kiera’s birthday present was the promise of an ear-piercing when we got home.  So, when we walked into a jewellery store on a Sunday on the off chance that they did piercing, she didn’t have the pre-piercing nerves we usually have.  It was a quick decision, quick pierce and a delighted girl that left the store.

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Kiera with her new purple and gold earrings.  Yes, she, the self-professed Tomboy, is branching out into the world of girly colours again.  Albeit it only cautiously!  Purple is her new favourite colour.

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Lunch at the Knysna Quays – we treated the sushi lovers in our family to sushi.  Yum yum!

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Then it was back on the road for the rest of the 6 hours home.  And can I just say that I am forever indebted to audio books!  We’ve used audio books on our longer car trips before, but this is the first time I’ve downloaded from Audible.  We had Johanna Ward read The Secret Garden to our family on the way up and down.  All 8 hours of it.  It was such a beautifully-read version of the unabridged book.  The kids loved it and kept asking for us to put it on (we took breaks for naps, chats and music).  I love that the whole family got to hear a story together that we now refer back to from time to time.  Long audio books are definitely a repeat tactic for future long car journeys.  We also had a lovely long chat about my next book – with everyone contributing plot ideas.  What fun!

Quite frankly, I am very happy to travel by car all over the place with my brood.  Not one “are we there, yet?”  Instead, mostly a cooperative, wonderful time together.  Of course, a few squabbles, but mostly just good times.  I highly recommend listening to audio books together.  We took a friend’s iPad-contraption-thingie in case we wanted to let the kids watch a movie comfortably, but we never ended up using it.  I’m feeling ridiculously blissful about the journey. 

We finally made it home 12 hours after we set off.  The last photo for the trip was just before we all got out… Micah playing leg guitar with Kiera!

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It was a wonderful family holiday.  Of course, we had a moments of grumpiness, discipline and so one, but mostly it was a wonderful holiday filled with tons of learning, fun times, shared experiences and awesome memories.  I remarked to Craig that I think the kids learnt more in that week than they had in any other given week in our school year.  Unschooling, anyone?

Day 6 in the Eastern Cape

With our hosts being farmers as well as a professional hunters, we got to learn a whole lot about life in the Eastern Cape around the dinner table.  It was fascinating!  Kerneels and Vanessa, our hosts, graciously answered our dozens of questions.  We got to meet a few other PHs and hear their stories.  It’s a world I know nothing about, but came to appreciate for its worth.  We learnt about taxidermy, how the animal dies (it’s a whole lot more humane than an abattoir and definitely more so than in the wild!), how they shoot, the type of people that come to do shooting with them and so on.   Fascinating stuff. 

I still think that I will stick to game viewing, rather than shooting though!  And on our second last day, we had lots of game-viewing fun.  We headed to the Seaview Predator Park first.  We got to see more giraffe – they don’t occur naturally in this region, so we didn’t see any at Addo.  These guys were a real treat at Seaview!

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It’s lions, tigers and beautiful cubs at this place!  We were treated to seeing some beautiful animals.  Seaview has a great volunteer and internship programme. so we got to meet young people from around the world who are spending part of their gap years looking after big cats.  That’s a pretty cool experience!

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We ate packed lunch in the car and, after visiting more lions, headed home.  But, then we turned around and decided to visit the Kragga Kamma Game Park.  It’s really a farm with wild animals roaming about!  It makes game viewing really easy when one can see the borders of the park all around.  We saw lots of wildebeest, rhinos and other animals too.

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Their rhinos have had their horns half-sawn off to protect them from poachers.  Poaching is rife and our rhinos are endangered thanks to the terrible atrocities of the black market.Thankfully this guy is safe, even if he looks a bit odd!

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Nyala:

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Kragga Kamma has a cheetah enclosure.  It has a man-trap gate – you drive in through an automatic gate and wait for it to close behind you.  Then only can you drive through the second gate and into the enclosure where the 6 cheetah are kept separate from the rest of Kragga Kamma’s animals.  Wow, they are beautiful!

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We watched them for a while and then decided to leave, until they decided to follow the car!  See my face?  That was all for show!  But really, there was a moment or two when we wondered if we’d ever get out without the cheetah following us into the man trap!

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We did escape, though.  And then the “danger” was Craig’s driving. Just kidding.  Craig took us on a rather angled road – and the kids had loads of fun slipping and sliding along the seats, pretending that death was imminent!

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Each of the kids had a turn at steering the car, much to their delight…

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All too soon it was getting dusky – time for us to head home.  Craig managed to snap this shot shortly before we left.  Whiskey, anyone?

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Home again to the lodge where we dined with our hosts and German guests from Stuttgard and New Zealand guest who was out on a 5-day trophy hunting expedition.  He’s in the army currently stationed in Egypt and enjoying his break in sunny SA.  A different life for sure!  But no less fascinating!

Yum yum!

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Day 5 in the Eastern Cape

Finally it was Friday – day of Kiera’s competition.  But, as with all her competitions lately, her group was due on only much later that afternoon.  So, we headed off to the Volkswagen Plant in Uitenhage that morning.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t have a cool factory tour in these little buggies:

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Why? When the motor industry goes on strike there is no production to view on a tour.  So, we didn’t get to enjoy that.  But we did get to go to the Pavilion which is a museum to all things Volkswagen.  We spent a good 1 3/4 hours browsing through there.  It was a blast!

First off, travelling the world in a beetle…

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Love the green screen!

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We went through the history of the Volkswagen company with fascinating tidbits and wall quizzes and such.  Then, I pulled open a drawer marked, rather Alice-in-Wonderland-ish, with “Pull” …  immediately a screen lit up and began playing through all the VW ads from yesteryear.  Wow!  What an experience.  The kids got to see all the ads that Craig and I grew up on.  And we had such a fun time down memory lane. Our favourite ads were played, including the David Kramer ones, complete with the red veldskoene!  And, of course, that emotion-inducing “V W you and me, we all believe in quality, we’re all kinds of people in the Volkswagen family” song that ends with the VW sign formed by the people of the industry.  Ah!  Brought tears to my eyes again!

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The museum-come-science-centre was a blast.  All sorts of interesting facts and opportunities to learn.  I pressed a button on this display and suddenly the car broke in half!  Well, gently lowered one half – but how fascinating to see what it all looked like in cross-section.

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Lots of fun photo ops:

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And fascinating stories behind the few one-off cars that were built, like this one that they couldn’t even test 1-100km/hour for speed because the torque steer was so big that it ripped the steering wheel out of the driver’s hands.  It is one SUPER charged golf!

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There were a few virtual driving opportunities:

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And it was no surprise to see which of my kids ended up taking the general knowledge quiz over and over…

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Or who stayed in the driver’s seat for as long as possible!

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Loads of historical vehicles spending their retirement at the museum:

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We finally headed out for lunch and then back to the lodge for a rest.  Finally… competition time!  This was what we call Zonals – basically it’s inter-provincials with Kiera representing our province, Western Province, along with her teammates.  Kiera was quite nervous but handled herself well.  Better than me, I can tell you.  Her attitude afterwards was wonderful.  Despite getting a zero on vault (thankfully they get two chances on that apparatus, so she went through on her first try’s score) and despite really strict judging on floor, she came away happy, saying, “I had fun, mom!”

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I love watching them.  And hate it.  I get so nervous and wince at every wrong move, hoping no one gets hurt!

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She ended up in the gold category, coming eleventh over all and sharing first place for beam. 

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A very excited girl and tired family went home for an early supper and bed.

Day 4 in the Eastern Cape

Thursday took us back to Addo.  But first we headed to the Daniell Cheetah Project.  There Kiera fell in love with animal conservation, particularly with the big cats, and determined that THIS is what she wants to do when she grows up. 

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Our guide was really helpful – she too fell in love with the cats and the work and has been on the farm for years now.  She has a special relationship with some of the cats whom she helped raise from cubs.

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We were greeted by the meetkat greeting committee when we arrived:

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And then the serval cats:

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Cheetah:

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And lion…

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After Daniell’s Cheetah Project, we headed to Addo for more game-viewing… hello, tortoise!

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Yup, more ellies and warthogs…IMG_1171

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Some spectacular fights…

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We drove for hours and hours, only leaving the park just as the gates closed.  To be honest, I expected that we’d hear refrains of “I’m bored!  Can we go back to the lodge?  Can I play on the iPad?” halfway through the trip, but these kids must have game-viewing in their blood.  They couldn’t get enough of it.  They weren’t bored for a second and even seemed to enjoy the long stretches of NOTHING.  It was a week of no electronics and the kids lapped it all up like starving kittens.  It was simply brilliant.

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And so ended another fantastic day… we enjoyed another delicious suiwer Afrikaner meal at the end of the day, complete with sweetened sweet potato mash, delicious veg, kudu casserole, roasted potatoes, rice and farm bread.  No dieting happening on this trip!

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Hazy Days