About Me

My photo
Dreaming of Africa
I am married, a lifelong musician, somewhat competent photographer, and world traveler. Having been around for over 60 years, I have lots of "stuff" floating around inside my head that is screaming to get out.


All photos and text on this blog are copyright 2008-2010 Norman Arnett, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise noted. All content not owned is used with permission and is also protected by copyright.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

All work and no play makes for a real drag

Work, Work Work that is all that it seems that we do. Up in the morning, home late at night, eat dinner, go to bed and get up to do it all again. Oh yeah, there are a few bright spots.....seeing my wife on our one day off together, going to Tai Chi classes, and 2 workouts a week at the Y, but other than that, it's not a lot of excitement for us.

We splurged a couple of weeks ago and headed to the coast for a mini vacation, probably our only time off together until late fall. Pacific Beach was a great getaway. This time of year is the height of the annual northern migration of thousands of birds up the west coast, and the Grays Harbor area is one of the nations greatest stopover points for those birds.

 We relaxed, watched birds, shopped and walked the beaches, getting our exercise walking up the beach for a few miles. And packing spotting scopes and cameras all over the place.  But it was all too short and after a long trip home, it was back to the grind.

Maybe we'll get away again soon...............

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Once again, I have neglected my blog

So much has happened since our trip to Africa. One thing that I neglected to mention is that our Queen cat - Kerry Ann died while we were in Africa. It broke our hearts, and the remaining members of our Torti Clan have been saddened by her loss. She was their leader, their ruler, and the Queen of our house.
We started thinking about our next great adventure shortly after we returned from Africa. First we thought we would return to Ireland, to visit relatives and the places Tricia remembers from her childhood. Next we thought, no let's go to Costa Rica and go Birding. Finally we decided to return to Yellowstone and take a course from the Yellowstone Institute on Elk and Wolves. Should be a great trip, and this time we are making a big loop though Montana so that I can show Tricia places that I lived and enjoyed in the 70's.
I will try to be more responsible and put my fingers to the keyboards more regularly in the future.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Our first full day back in Kruger

After checking in, we settled in to our home for the next five nights. Lower Sabie camp is a wonderful camp, with a variety of facilities available. Camping areas, safari tents, Bungalows and Cabins that are meant for larger families are available and there is something for every budget. We settled in to our bungalow, I cooked dinner and we ate and then hit the pillows, fast asleep within minutes. The gate opens at 5:30 in the morning, and I wanted to be first in line. We were up long before any the sun, and by the looks of the bungalows across the way, we were up before anyone else. I quickly packed our breakfast and made tea. We were just packing the cooler in the car when our neighbor quickly hopped in his vehicle and was off toward the gate. Oh well, there went being first in line. By the time we got to the gate we ended up 3rd in line. A short wait and the gate was opened, the first two cars turned right and that put us first on the road to the left, which is where we wanted to go. Last year we had good luck on the Mlondozi Loop, where we saw eight Cheetah. I had decided to see if we could repeat our good fortune from last year so we were off. We had to stop on the Dam to watch the sun come up.

We were hoping for more Cheetah on this morning. The first few kilometers were a little slow, not too much moving except a few Wildebeest and Zebra browsing in the distance. Then to the south we saw a large bull, he was a long way off, but things were looking up.

Soon we saw two more large bulls fairly close to the road. This can become dangerous as Bulls can be cranky and charge at any time.

 We were so busy with this big boy that when we made it past him we almost didn't see a White Rhino standing within 2 meters of the road.

It was barely 8 in the morning and it was already getting warm. We got to the Mlondozi Picnic area and had breakfast. Watching out for a gang of thieves who was nearby attempting to steal a bite to eat from those not on the lookout.
They were quick and aggressive, but would back down if confronted. They were successful in stealing breakfast from a number of those picnicking. Here is the view we enjoyed while eating.

On the way back to camp for a break we saw a Martial Eagle. They are very shy and avoid contact with people. This was a first for us. All I was able to get was a shot of it flying nearby.

Another Journey back to Africa

It has been quite a while since I have had a chance to sit down and put my fingers to the keys, and I have neglected telling everyone what is going on. During October, we returned to South Africa for another adventure. This time we spent two weeks in Kruger National Park. 
What an amazing journey!
Well it was amazing except for the LONG, LONG flight. We left Seattle just before midday on Friday, and arrived in Johannesburg at about 6pm on Saturday. That works out to be about 26 hours in coach. I would give anything to fly First Class on these trips, but it would require donating body parts or mortgaging our house to be able to stretch out, use real silverware, enjoy better food, and be able to really sleep.
   Since our flight arrived late in the day we stayed at the Garden Court Inn near the airport again. We have found it to be easy to get to, reasonably priced and a very tasty morning breakfast buffet. After getting a good nights sleep, we headed back to the airport to pick up our SUV and then headed east towards Kruger.
After about five hours and a couple of stops we drove through the Numbi Gate and headed towards our first destination Lower Sabie. Lower Sabie is 95km (59 miles) from the gate, and the speed limit is 50km, which logically would take one a little over an hour to navigate. However, Kruger distances cannot be judged in a normal way. Because of game sightings and roadblocks (whether from traffic jambs or from Animals on the road) time and distance are not easily linked. The Kruger website says the time from Numbi gate to Lower Sabie is 3.5 hours. I had calculated we would arrive at camp around 5pm, an hour before the gate closes. Being outside of a camp after the gates close is strictly forbidden and being caught outside can result in fines of several hundred dollars each. Five rolled around and we were still many kilometers from our destination. I pushed the limit and drove slightly over the speed limit and made it to camp at 6:05pm. The ranger at the gate looked at our pass and waved us through with a stern word about gate closing time.
This was the first sunset back in Kruger taken shortly before arriving at camp.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Time keeps on ticking, ticking, ticking....

Here it is, one week until we leave for Africa on our annual adventure. I have been packing and deciding what I really need to take. My carry-on is almost full, and camera gear makes up the bulk of its contents. Thanks to Think Tank, my camera gear will be easy to carry on, and I am confident that the rest of my belongings will follow in the cargo hold of our transport  without incident.

We have been anxious for the past few weeks, partially in anticipation of our trip, but mostly because our Queen cat, Kerry Ann has been diagnosed with Kidney Disease and a Heart problem. She has been dropping weight like crazy, and has a difficult time getting around, but doesn't seem to want to go yet. We are taking it day to day, and are realizing that we have to accept that she won't be around forever. She is eighteen, and has always been the matriarch of our Torti Clan. We call her the Super, Wonder, Yoga, Squeaker cat. She holds a special place in our lives and in our hearts.

 I plan to post a trip report as soon as I can and promise to include pictures.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dogs, Dames, and Detectives - Opening lines to a great (?) mystery novel

A steady rain pounded down in a staccato, like the hammering of keys on my Smith Corona. It was a cool wet morning as I sat in my office waiting on a client looking for her lost dog. I lit a cigarette and watched the smoke curl towards the ceiling, I didn't hear her enter the room, but I knew she was there by the scent of her perfume. A shiver went up my spine, Something told me this dame was lookin' for more than a little doggie. I spun in my chair, as she approached closely, bent down and handed me a fat envelope full of cold hard cash.

There was something strangely familiar about her perfume...and that lipstick, it matches the stain on my collar! What is going on? and how did I get here? "Hey Rick, how's the head this morning?" She hissed.
"Those were some mean Martini's you were drowning in last night." Martini's?, all I remember is sitting down at Murphy's bar and ordering a tall, cool one. WHAT IS GOING ON? Boy could I use a drink. She walked to the water cooler, and filled a glass. "That wasn't what I had in mind", I mumbled. As the water hit my face, it all started rushing back to me...........

Sunday, July 4, 2010

I have been a bad blogger!

It has been forever since I last put words down to let you know what I have been up to. In fact I have had a hard time finding the time to even read the blogs of friends and relatives.
We are fighting the good fight and treading water in this topsy-turvy economy. We get the opportunity to travel back to Africa for our third visit late this fall, and have begun counting the days until we are back in the bush.
Africa is a place that you either love or hate, but I believe that if you go and are bitten by the "Africa bug" you will always dream of Africa and will always return to her treasures.
We are currently smitten with the Kruger National Park in South Africa. A park more than twice the size of Yellowstone National Park here in the United States, Kruger is an unbelievable experience.

A lone Kudu Bull. The regal symbol of South Africa's National Parks

Helmeted Guinea Fowl

An Old Bull who appeared out of nowhere right next to our car!

We watched an Egyptian Goose honk and harass this small crocodile for a long time, so much that the croc eventually escaped into the river

Hyena resting in the shade on a hot dry day
96F - 35C

The King of Beasts - what a lazy lot! During the day all they do is sleep!

It won't be too long before I am back!