Cdnpearly's Blog

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The “Also Ran” Animals of the Safari, Africa Part 3 November 7, 2012

There is no disputing the magnitude of the “Big Five” of the safari (as seen on my previous blog post: The Big Five: Africa Part 2), however, there are MANY other impressive animals to be seen in the Sabi Sands region of South Africa.  I want to give equal air time to these creatures as well…so I give you the also rans of the safari.

I really wanted to see giraffes.  Like elephants, these huge creatures appear and disappear astonishingly well.  You’d think that it would be difficult to miss seeing a giraffe, but their coloring and thin neck allow them to blend into tree lines very successfully.  We saw giraffes on several occasions.

Water bucks, kudu, impala and nyala abounded…and we saw one steenbok.  Very sweet…

And zebra!

One of my favorite animals was the blue wildebeest or brindled gnu.  This particular fellow was a single, waiting for some ladies to join him.  He roamed around his territory with high hopes, but alas, we didn’t get a chance to witness his success.  Rob explained that wildebeest are swift, but not especially smart.  I enjoyed watching him show off!

We also saw hippos…hippos spend most daylight hours in water.  Their skin needs to be moist.  They venture onto land at night to eat.  We saw one hippo on land, at night, thanks to Ronald’s spotlight.  Hippos are responsible for more human deaths than any other large animal in Africa (take THAT Big Five!) per about.com.  They are territorial and have big teeth!  Rob explained that these deaths are usually due to people not understanding hippos and their environment.  We observed a hippo near Idube.  Rob predicted the hippo’s early warning system.  First, he made lots of noise.  Next he showed us his [big] teeth and lastly he flicked poop with his tail.  Rob’s assessment:  the hippo has already assaulted 3 of your senses…get away, fast!

Warthogs roamed freely around the lodge.  They were adorable with their tails held high!

We saw a leopard tortoise on a grassy airstrip.  And a marvelous bird called:  lilac-breasted roller.  This bird was truly breathtaking.  When it flies, the turquoise colors are exposed on their wings.  So beautiful!

We saw a few baboons on the trails and some monkeys at the lodge–they liked to “clean up” after lunch!

Still on my animal list:  Hyenas (we saw one at night in the distance) and African painted dogs…

And finally, as promised, here is some footage of the cavorting elephants as well as some highlights that Ronald the Tracker captured from our safari…click here.

Next up:  the creepy crawlers of the safari!

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Canada in August=Sublime! September 15, 2012

August=the best time to visit Canada.  No bugs!  No snow!

We made our annual pilgrimage to the Great White North and spent a week at our family’s piece of heaven, aka Jack’s Lake.  We managed to squeeze in most of our summer traditions too…butter tarts (thank you Sweet Oven!); Weber’s Burgers; fishing with Grandpa; jumping in the lake with cousins and nabbing that all-important top bunk at camp! (Sidebar: there was a baby bear wandering around the camp when we dropped off Meg(!))

While Meg was busy and happy enjoying her 5th year at Glen Bernard Camp (aka the best camp in the world), I trekked out to the East Coast of Canada for a wonderful road trip with Cindy, Madge and a 3 month old baby!

As my faithful readers may recall, the Maritime Provinces are amongst my favorite places in the world.  Our trip to Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island set the bar high, but this adventure was just as great!

We started out from Ontario at the crack of dawn (and I do mean the crack!  I found myself walking in circles as the über efficient Cindy/Madge duo packed the car, including me) and we were off on the open road.  Despite an unfortunate GPS glitch (the highway button was unchecked, so we meandered through the countryside, carefully avoiding the direct route for about 6 hours until we figured it out), horrendous traffic in Montreal, and a stopover in Quebec city, we arrived in Moncton, New Brunswick about 30 hours after our departure.

Paula, Cindy’s sister lives on the Petitcodiac River.  The tidal influence of the Bay of Fundy on this river is mesmerizing. Per Petitcodiac.org, “Twice daily, one hundred billion tons of water from the Atlantic Ocean swirl their way up the shores of the Bay of Fundy. This water volume is estimated to nearly equal the 24-hour flow of all the rivers in the world.”  For the Petitcodiac River, this translates into a wave that “varies today from a few cm in height to as much as 75 cm (formerly as high as 2 m), and at speeds ranging from a few to 13 km/hour.”  In a word: amazing!

After a few days of r&r, we headed North to Baie Des Chaleurs. Cindy’s family has a wonderful home here, built by her dad many years ago.  It is perched above the bay, surrounded by wild clover.

It feels serene and restorative.  We walked the beach, enjoyed wonderful sunsets, read books, played games, gathered sea glass, and ate phenomenal food, including lobster, mussels, and [holy] mackerel which Vernon brought to us fresh from the fishing boats at the local wharf.  So tasty!

The week flew by…I guess that’s what happens when you hang with friends in paradise!

If you get a chance to visit the Maritimes, you DEFINITELY should go!

Moving on to a summer reading review:

The Kitchen House–an interesting story about an indentured servant on a tobacco farm in 1790.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry–a mash up of Forest Gump, Waking Ned Devine and The Notebook.  Loved it!

The 50 Shades Trilogy–I had to see what all the fuss was about.  Now I know…ahem!  As my friend Julia stated:  “We can do better than this folks”  Well said!

Currently reading:  Gone Girl.  Intense!

In queue:  What Alice Forgot

Winter Garden is in!  I seem to be obsessed with bok choi this year…I planted white choi, red choi and seeds for Green Fortune choi.  If you’re coming over for dinner anytime this winter, you know what you can expect as the veggie side!

What’s up next?  South Africa in October with my sister.  Can’t wait!!!

As fall approaches and I look back over the past few months, I declare that Summer 2012 has been the best EVER!

How about you?  I’d love to hear some of your summer highlights…maybe a book recommendation…garden plans…

Finally, a last sunset pic from the beautiful east coast of Canada…