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, December 30, 2009

Under Siege - We're surrounded!

We are lucky to live in an area that has abundant wildlife. Our yard is home to many small birds, and at least one family of squirrels. The large cedar tree on the side of our house is also the home to a family of Raccoon. There have been new additions to the family each year, though the population seems to stay fairly constant.
The brown spot in the middle of the picture is their home.

A little closer

Nap time on a warm summer afternoon.
This fall we have noticed that there are now two families living in our yard, one in the regular raccoon homestead, and another group in a slightly smaller Cedar in our front yard. We enjoy having them around, and they have never been a bother. Well, that is until the past few weeks.
Open the door, and Raccoons come to beg for a handout - someone in the neighborhood is feeding them! They are not afraid of walking right up to you. This is not a good thing.

The problem came apparent a little over two weeks ago when one of the young Raccoons scaled our cat fence (first time in 5 years) and decided to come in the house for a visit. Luckily FloJo was on Guard duty that night and refused to let our uninvited guest through the cat door. We got out of bed and herded our visitor back over the fence and went back to bed. The next day we reinforced the fence and slept soundly knowing the little buggers couldn't get in now.

A few nights later we were in bed and Tricia heard the toenails clicking like a dog's across the floor. She jumped into action yelling and dashing through the house in hot pursuit of the house guest who sneaked in without the cats sounding the alarm. Down the hall towards the front door and the kitchen, Tricia quickly opened the door only to find one of his accomplices waiting to be let in. "Oh no you Don't" I heard as I followed down the hall. Luckily the house guest realized he had chosen the wrong house and made a hasty retreat out the door to his waiting friend. (Who I'm sure high-fived him for his bravery)

We are under siege! There are eyes glowing in the night all around us!
I am sure that on the two occasions since that night when the fence has been breached that our neighbors thought we were crazy yelling expletives into the dark to an unseen (to them) enemy.
The price you pay for living with wildlife. They are kind of cute, and as long as we can keep them at bay we are glad to share our yard with them.
We are planning to get an electric fence kit to deter any further incursions. Wish us luck fending off the masked marauders.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Our Last Day at Kruger

Our final morning in Kruger was a sad day for both of us. We didn't want this adventure to end, we needed more! I felt like an addict in search of more drugs, Kruger has become my drug of choice, and I needed to keep the high going. We dreaded the drive out of the park, and on to Jo'Berg and then America.A short distance south of Skukuza we stopped to watch a raptor attempting to pull a meal out of a hole in the side of a tree.

It was a sub-adult African Harrier-Hawk also known as a Gymnogene.It was interesting and amazing watching him contort his body and legs to reach inside the hole in the tree.
Back down the road towards the real world we pulled off and drove to the viewpoint at Mathekenyane and took a self portrait and a picture of the view of the bush.

Hopefully my self portrait is not confused with the group photos taken a little further south:

A little further down the road we saw a group of Impala, including this one who seemed to be scarred up badly, and very pregnant. I wonder if she survived an attack?

One last stop at Afsaal Traders for a snack, and then we were through the gate and back into the real world. I wish we could have stayed forever.A long journey back to Jo'Berg, followed by 26 hours in the air, and we made it home to Seattle. We were tired, drained, not looking forward to getting back to work, and missing Africa. After a couple of days we started getting back on track, though both still dreaming of the bush, and wanting to return.We are working out the details, and plan to return to Kruger for two weeks in October, 2010. Tricia and I are hooked on South Africa. We both feel free and at home in the bush, the worries of the world melt away, and the day to day rat race of the rest of the world fades quickly. Can't wait to return!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Satara to Skukuza September 24th - only one day left!

As we started our drive from Satara to Skukuza, we began to realize that our wonderful adventure was coming to an end. We kept our eyes on the bush, (and on the road) to make sure we didn't miss a thing. Not too far south of Satara we saw a few vehicles slowing in front of us. Another Hyena coming towards the road. We stopped and he crossed right in front of us. after crossing he decided to check us out.

As he got closer to the car, I was taking photos and tricia was filming with the digi-cam. Soon Tricia started quietly saying "roll up the window", each time she repeated it, she was a little louder, until I turned the key to raise the window. I got it rolled up when he was about a meter away.

We continued our drive and made another stop at Tshokwane for tea and a huge slice of carrot cake. It was very busy this time, but we still find it a wonderful rest stop. After our break we were back on the road and decided to stop at Silolweni Dam and Leeupan. We caught these Saddle-Billed Stork at Leeupan.

Our day ended at Skukuza, a booming metropolis in the bush. Too many people, too many cars, too much noise. Despite all of that, we found our bungalow, and settled in for our last night in Kruger. We decided to splurge at the restaurant for a last Kruger dinner. The service was marginal and the food was poorly prepared and poorly presented. We left disappointed.
The highlight of our stay at Skukuza was watching all of the bats under the eaves at the outdoor eating area near the cafeteria, that was special. After watching the bats coming and going, and those already roosting, we made our way back to our roost for our last night in Kruger.
It is hard to relay in words how amazing this trip was. The sights, sounds and smells of Kruger are imbedded in our minds. The amazing things we have seen and experienced are drawn in indelible ink in our hearts and souls, we will never forget, and look forward to continuing our adventure next year, and for years to come. I will make one more TR post later, with our drive down the H-3 to Malelane Gate, and back into the world.

More Satara Photos

Our stay at Satara gave us the opportunity to drive some back roads and explore at a more leisurely pace than our one night stays at the other camps. Here are more shots taken while at Satara.

2 Nights at Satara September 22 and 23, 2009

After our bush walk we were worn out, but still had much to do. Here are some more shots that I took while near Satara, most of them on the S100.

Satara was a nice stop for both of us, we felt like we could relax a little more, since we had two nights in the same place. Dinner at the restaurant was nice and relaxing, and all of the employees that we talked with were friendly and helpful. The morning of 24 September, started with the realization that we only had one more night in Kruger. It also was the point when Tricia and I decided to start planning our return in 2010 - after World Cup madness is over. As we drove through the gate we both wondered what our drive to Skukuza would bring.....more later!