Welcome to our Adventure!

Al and I are thrilled that you have found your way to our blog. We hope you enjoy reading our journal and viewing our photographs of the natural wonder of our United States of America. Let's hit the road together!
Homer, Alaska

Saturday, February 19, 2011

5 Weeks to go!

Well, we were back to work this week after being off for 2 weeks. We did get tons of work accomplished during the 2 weeks in the house, so I am satisfied with that. The house is ready for the painters on Monday, and we will be shopping for the new appliances during this president's weekend holiday..good sales! If we could only get the sale of the business finalized, my stress level would be so reduced....just take a deep breath, all will be well!

Today I will take you on a picture tour of our morning boat safari back in February 2008...for those people just joining, I had decided it was waaay too boring to keep writing about cleaning my house and packing, so I am re-living the memories of our "trip of a lifetime" and telling you all about it! When I left off last time, we were waiting for our camp escort to arrive and bring us down to the lake for our boat safari. We met the rest of our group at the office, and headed off down to the lakefront to board our boats.
As you can see, they were very small, only 4 passengers to a boat and it had very low sides. I wonder how close to the animals we will get in these?? As we marched down the path, we could here a low grunting noise..huh, huh, huh, and blowing noises. Our guide Arnold asked if we knew what that was..of course, NO! It was a group of hippos nearby...oh my! Now, hippos are one of the most dangerous animals, not because they will eat you, they are not carnivorous, but the sheer size and weight, and teeth which you'll see later, will cause them to crush a man completely, especially if they feel threatened when out of the water. We were told NEVER come between a hippo and the path to water..OK, no problem!

We climbed into our boat, joined by 2 Canadian sisters, Brenda and Broda. The driver started the engine, and we slowly putted into the lake, passing by the back of our camp:

This was our tent with the couch and writing table on the veranda facing the lake. Awesome!

We drifted close to the hippos: It was so interesting to watch them on their own level. As the slowly bobbed up and down, it reminded me of the carnival game, Whack-a-Mole :-).

We left the hippos to continue their games, and floated past the shore. One thing we had heard about the Selous was that there was abundant birdlife there. Not being birders at this point, I was like, whatever, birds are ok, but I want to see the animals. Well, let me tell you, this trip also changed our outlook on that as well, and yes, now we love birdwatching. Below are pictures of the extraordinary birds we saw as we floated on the lake.

Fishing Eagle

European Bee-eater
Golden Weaver...these birds weave nests that hang from tree branches. They make several of them in one tree, using them as decoys so that predators can't tell which nest has the young in it.
Goliath heron...this dude was really very tall, unfortunately there's nothing in the picture to give a size comparison.
And for the "circle of life" photo...yes, these
Malachite Kingfishers are doing what you think they are :-). I was so very fortunate to get this photo, they are tiny and move very fast. I was stunned upon reviewing the photos at how clear and focused it is.

We continued down the lake, cruising past beautiful, unusual scenery ( to our eyes, anyway) and some impala grazing along the shore.

As we turned to head back in, we came across this guy lying in the sun. As we got closer, he moved, very swiftly, slipping into the water and completely disappearing. I think the only think more unnerving than seeing a crocodile is not KNOWING where the crocodile is!

Nile Crocodile

As we wound up our cruise, it was with a feeling of disbelief...48 hours previously, I was back home on Long Island, waiting breathlessly to board my plane, wondering what on earth I had gotten myself into. Now, here, I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to experience this. And, I still have 9 1/2 days left!

After returning to dock, we were taken to the dining "tent" for lunch:
The tents were on stilts, I'm not quite sure why, but it did give us a spectacular view of the lake during our meals. The room on the left is the bar/lounge area, where we would meet before dinner each night, and Arnold would explain the next day's itinerary and we could share pictures and stories over a drink. The room on the right is the dining room. The kitchen is actually off to the far left, away from the eating area. The kitchen and wait staff would be cooking and running the food in between the two areas. Amazing! This was to keep the heat away from the dining area,making it more comfortable for the guests.

Note the beautiful painting on the wall, the statues in the corner, how nicely the tables are made up. Incredibly civilized, eh?
After a delicious lunch of cold gazpacho soup, and barbecued chicken with roasted potatoes, we were taken back to our tents for afternoon siesta. It was very hot and humid this far south, and the break was designed to give you time to take a nap, have a shower, or write about your adventures so far! I could get used to a siesta :-). At 3PM we would be brought back to the office, and go out on our afternoon jeep safari. And that will be my next tale! Thanks so much for reading, and see you soon!

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