My dad, "El Lobo, The Alpha Wolf, takes me hiking. He is the Coolest Dude!"
"Our daily deeds as ordinary South Africans must produce an actual South African reality that will reinforce humanity's belief in justice, strengthen its confidence in the nobility of the human soul, and sustain all our hopes for a glorious life for all."
We always spend some time in New York when traveling east. This time we took a “walk on the wild side” to Harlem and the next day attended “Something Beautiful” the Carol King story a smash broadway hit. We loved the music and she had a great story to tell. We shamelessly have become foodies and enjoyed Italian food at Eataly, a reasonably new block long complex of small restaurants.
This African trip was visually astonishing, culturally rich and educationally sobering. The 22 hours of dreadful flight time home was worth every minute of misery.
We saw many sides of life, including a visit to Soweto and spending a sad day at the former residence of Nobel Peace prize winner Nelson Mandella, and the Hector Peterson memorial for the victims of civil unrest of the 70s. We also visited the Apartheid Museum and had an in depth historical look at the system of extreme racial segregation from 1948 until 1994.
We took the time to visit a local children’s home that provides shelter for abandoned babies, many of them HIV positive. It was heartbreaking!
We met Martha…one of the saints that provides care for these underprivileged kids.
Our time in Africa included 4 days in Cape-town, where we visited the historic Malay quarter, Table Mountain… a striking landmark recently announced as one of the world’s new Seven Wonders of nature. We dined at some really fine restaurants and shopped at the Cape Town Waterfront and enjoyed an excursion to beautiful Stellenosch located in the heart of the Cape Wine-lands.
From here we flew to Johannesburg and drove to Hazyview located just a few miles fro Kruger National Park where we went of a safari and viewed many animals. From here we went to Blyde River Canyon for some hiking and then on to our lodge in the Karongwe Private Game Preserve. We did three safaris here and a “bush walk” Our guides carried rifles.
We had many nice sightings….that included the “Big Five” … elephants, cape buffalos, leopards lions and the extremely endangered white rhinos.
For dinner, one evening, I feasted on crocodile, warthog, kudu, and worms. Delicious!! Gerry loved the warthog. (for no good reason)
Back to “Jo-Berg” where we stayed in an elegant 5 star hotel for three days and shopped till we dropped at the incredible Nelson Mandella Plaza.
Next… we flew to Victoria Falls and checked into a fabulous safari lodge, where we stayed for four days and visited the falls on the Zimbabwe and Zambezi sides. We had great views from our room of a watering hole on a plateau of Zambezi National Park. The animals would come down for water at dusk and in the evening.
We crossed the border without much delay into Botswana and did a land and water safari. In Chobe National Park we must have seen over 200 elephants. There are 50,000 elephants in Chobe and the rangers “shoot to kill” all poachers.
We flew back to Jo-burg for our torturous flights back home. The atmosphere in the airport was tense, there was a high level of security and the police would check and recheck passports, and carry ons. They continuously searched through trash cans.
We arrived in New York at 6 A.M. and In Phoenix early afternoon Thanksgiving day, in time for Thanksgiving dinner….. Chinese take-out - Perfect!!
"The desert takes our dreams away from us, and they don't always return.... Those who don't return become a part of the clouds, a part of the animals that hide in the ravines and of the water that comes from the earth. They become part of everything … They become the Soul of the World.”
We were up earlier than necessary the next morning for breakfast and to get a Navajo permit because our phones did not register the correct time zone. Navajo time.
To the Canyon……..
UNFREQUENTED CAPE SOLITUDE GRAND CANYON…3000+ feet below is the confluence with the Little Colorado River and Colorado River.
Twenty six miles (one way) of white knuckled, bone jarring, nasty Navajo backroads and 7 miles (one way) of desert backpacking on this route to get this view. You could avoid the backroad travel and start at Desert View and walk 15 miles,(30 Round Trip) but there is no water on this route so we chose to get a Navajo permit and take our chances with the rocky, muddy backroads and cut the hiking distance in half.
If you break down on these remote Navajo back roads you are pretty much screwed as most Navajos have abandoned their ranching. It is essential that you carry extra food and water in your vehicle, as well as assuring that it has good tires and spare and is in excellent operating condition.
Dingo’s Tahoe was our vehicle of choice.
During the 1990s you could expect to see a few Navajos involved in herding cattle, sheep and horses. Now, perhaps you might see just a few head of cattle.
The younger generation Navajos are not interested in this demanding life and instead have taken jobs in Flagstaff, Tuba City or perhaps Kayenta.
I miss seeing them and talking with them.
Finally! Perfect cool weather. This trip has been on my radar for 15 years! I have been below the rim at the confluence, having hiked down the Tanner and Beemer Trails and there on a couple river trips but I always wanted to see it from above.
Dingo, Larry the Mountain Man and I attempted to mountain bike to Cape Solitude several years ago but the sandy washes and heat slowed us down (no shade at all) and we ran out of daylight and had to turn back with 5 miles to go. Other trip plans have been cancelled by snow and logistics.
This trip was particularly fun as our eyes feasted on magnificent wildlife views on the road and trail. First, we spotted a nice healthy herd of wild horses and a very large zone-tailed hawk.
Hiking to Solitude we saw a large herd of elk and several big eared jack rabbits. Crow woman was circling above us. At night, the coyotes yipped and 1000 stars covered the sky. Bats nose dived our camp. On the way out, we came across a herd of pronghorn antelopes. We were entertained by a tarantula came out from under a rock during our break.
The drive out was arduous. Dingo did a stellar job of negotiating the back road. We celebrated with a cajun dinner at Satchmos in Flagstaff-Excellent!
Our return was delayed about an hour due to an accident on 17 but we still arrived at my house around 9 P.M…..early enough to clean and put away gear.
This was a fabulous little adventure. Thanks to Dingo for driving and Dingo and Mark for the time we shared.
The incurably popular …..Men Behaving Badly
Dingo….for his right wing nut obsession with Hillary. We could actually feel his sexual fantasy with her!!!
All……. for the dialogue always reverting back to bikinis, Playboy and SI Swim suit models.
Dingo…. for more ranting about Hillary during our camp cocktail time. At least he brought the whiskey and made manhattans!!
Dingo…. for bringing girly man craft beer. ELG brought Bud light!!
Dingo…. for thinking that he forgot the topo map and then finding it in his pack after the trip was over!!
Dingo…. for forgetting his camera!! Hey the whole idea was to get some photos of the confluence!!
Lobo……for one particularly nasty SBD in the car…Hey!! Whatcha expect after a Navajo Taco filled with red beans???
Dingo…. for probing into the sex life of EL Lobo
“It is wonderful to be here in the great state of Chicago”
The ELG and Gerry all come to look for America Tour.
This was a stateside vacation that is the stuff that dreams are made of. We took a train from Flagstaff to Chicago in a first class sleeper car.
The countryside was gorgeous and we really enjoyed the dining car. The trip took 36 hours and made several stops in New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas and Ohio.
We both had been to Chicago many times on business but really never had the opportunity to get “a taste of Chicago.” We made the most out of our five days, staying in a lovely Boutique Hotel -The Willows in Wrigleyville.
We had incredible seats for a game at the legendary 100 year old Wrigley Field and could practically reach out and touch the Cardinals manager, Mike Matheny in the dugout.
The Art Institute of Chicago is the second largest museum in the country and and houses a treasure trove from around the world. The collection of impressionist and post impressionist paintings is second only to those in France. The Public art downtown is extraordinary, particularly in Millennium Park.
There are over 200 theaters in Chicago and we caught a great comedy, a Broadway hit….Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at the Goodman Theatre. The play was hilarious!
We took an Architecture Cruise on the river and felt Chicago’s steely power while looking up, while cloud-poking towers glided by. Excellent!! We had drinks at the top of the 100 story Hancock Building-too cool!
At the White Sox game we got ripped off by a scalper that used a bait and switch scam and stupid us ended up with $7 dollar tickets that we paid $60 for. The seats were at the very top of the stadium, Gerry’s nose started to bleed, however ELG saved the day and we ended up sitting in some really good seats and enjoyed the game.
The eats were global and out of this world. Of course we had to have Chicago Pizza and enjoyed an evening with Chicago friends Susan and Jim.
Souvenirs at Hard Rock, and then on to Cleveland.
Cleveland was a really pleasant surprise. The city is under stated. The last time I was there was in the early 70s and the Cuyahoga River was on fire. Cleveland has been totally cleaned up and is really a great destination. The people were so warm and friendly and so very proud of their city. The Indians, Browns and Cavaliers regularly sell out.
We stayed at a historic B & B called the Brownstone Inn. It was beautiful and nicely located. The Innkeeper Robin, provided us with an ongoing interesting overview of Cleveland’s history.
I have been waiting since the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened in 1986 to go. The experience was beyond description. It is so well done. We stayed for almost six hours and I had tears in my eyes for half the time.
This is a treasure, not to be missed in your lifetime.
We caught an Indians game that had one dollar hot dogs and two dollar beers. Awesome!!
Other activities included a really interesting river cruise on the Cuyahoga River, dining in outside cafes, hitting the Hard Rock, and spending more quality time at the exquisite Cleveland Museum of Art.
"We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love... and then we return home." - Australian Aboriginal sayingG’Day Mates!!This three week trip was off the charts of fun and fulfilled the full spectrum of cultural and adventure fantasies. It was Gerry’s first experience in the land down under and my second. Of course Australia is so vast and diverse, three weeks is not nearly enough time. We are already planning a return trip to meet up with wonderful new friends “Bong” and “Griz" from Adelaide.We found excellent vibe in all the locations we explored. The people were happy, friendly and relaxed, a multicultural mix.I think that the feature that unites Australians is diversity.It was so refreshing to watch news that reported simply news and not biased editorials like we get in the USA.Sydney was exuberant, sassy and stacks of fun, outrageously good looking, like sexy Bondi Beach. The fine dining was excellent.I discovered White Rabbit Beer and fell in love. We took a train for 2 hours and hiked in the brilliant Blue Mountains. We took along a Japanese woman, who spoke little English. She looked lost on the street and she said “ Blue Mountain”? to Gerry, close to the train station. Her name was Mari and she had a wonderful time and glowed with pleasure at the creeks and waterfalls. She was in her 60s but kept up with us on 3 difficult hikes in and out of canyons.I just received a nice note from her daughter, Sayaka, thanking us for our kindness. It was Mari, that was the kind gentle person! We loved the time we shared with this beautiful human being.This area reminded me of the magnificent Mogollon Rim escarpment here in northern Arizona.Melbourne was artsy and dynamic, bubbling with global culture. The city looooves to shop. Our hotel was right in the City Center.The Great Ocean Road is a must side trip from Melbourne. It curves from Torquay to Warrnambool and the views rival Big Sur and California’s Highway 1. It is a unique blend of bush, beach, rock and saltwater.Witnessing the world’s smallest and cutest penguins emerge from the sea on Phillip Island just after sunset and waddle their way to their land based nests is a life changing experience.Going to Tasmania is truly "living the dream.” It is simply dazzling and has it all: ….“Tassie” has vast uninhabited slabs of wilderness where we hiked some toughies on the Overland. Gerry was awesome!! We saw bountiful wildlife…wallabies, kangaroos, koalas, wombats, tas devils and on and on.We loved the gourmet food and wine and thriving arts scene in Hobart, particularly the MONA Museum, quite provocative and contemporary. It requires an open mind to enjoy.From Hobart we “ enjoyed” a white knuckle drive on a winding mountain road for five hours to the seaside village of Strahan and stayed at a fabulous B & B and hiked in a nearby rainforest. We had a killer dinner, one of the best ever, at a local establishment.From Strahan we had another mountain drive to Cradle Mountain National Park and stayed at a cozy cabin at the Pepper Lodge.For four days we hiked extraordinary trails and some off trails in the snow. This is where we met Bong and Griz and had dinner with them each night and plenty of White Rabbits. Bong led us on a really difficult route one day and we were treated to his in depth interpretive knowledge.We had to get up very early for a drive to Launceston airport on a dark, icy mountain road. Of course this is the opposite side of the road and a bit of a challenge considering all the animals were active, crossing the road at that time in the morning. Hitting a wombat or Kangaroo would do serious damage and injury, but we focused and grinded it through, not our favorite part of the trip.Man behaving Badly:On the trip back to LA, the flight attendant with the second best legs in the world (Gerry numero uno) called me a “Cheeky Bugger” because I kept requesting more free drinks. Hey, I needed them to go to sleep!!Next up-Chicago-(Wrigley) and Cleveland (R & R Hall of Fame)