02 December 2007

Hike at Old Stone Fort

Mom invited Claudia and me to join her on a hike the day after Thanksgiving. It was organized by her local chapter of the Tennessee Trails Association. It was a trail at Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park near Manchester, TN. See http://www.tennessee.gov/environment/parks/OldStoneFort/ for more information. It was pretty chilly out that morning -- 39F/3C. We had rain the day before Thanksgiving, so a lot of the pretty leaves had been knocked down by the rain.
Clod shows off her red gloves.

Mom feels the chill!

The Little Duck River.

Claudia and Mom.

Claudia and Mom again.

Rock bluffs and blue sky.

Mom, Tony, Millette, and Dr. Bud.

Dave, the hike leader.

Small waterfall on the Duck River.

Natural pool. I'd like to come back here in summer to swim!

Remains of a 19th C. paper mill.

Fall in Birmingham

I'm not broadcasting this post, but adding it so my South African friends can see how beautiful fall in Birmingham is. I really missed fall colors while I was in SA!
Looking up Yorkshire, the street on which I live.

Looking down Yorkshire.

A big sugar maple.

Dogwood in front, and Japanese maple next to house.

Another sugar maple with young magnolia in front.

A nice morning to walk the baby.

Tall crape myrtles.

Gorgeous Japanese maple.

The first of three of my favorite houses in this neighborhood.

The second favorite house.

The third favorite house.

A view from the back bedroom window.

Same view.

06 October 2007

My Last Visit to Kruger National Park

Debbie, Lola and I drove to Kruger National Park for a couple of days towards the end of their trip. They were lucky indeed. We arrived on Wednesday afternoon (12th Sept) and had a couple of hours driving time in the park before we had to be at our rest camp (gates close at 6.00 pm this time of year). We had a full day of driving on Thursday, and a couple of hours on Friday before we departed. And in that time, they got to see all of the so-called Big Five -- elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard. These are not called the Big Five due to their size, but because of their worth to hunters of old.

We also saw lots of the regular things -- impala, zebra, giraffe, warthog, vervet monkeys, baboons, and loads of birds. On the first afternoon, we also saw a couple of cheetah lazing in the afternoon sun. That was a first for me, and the leopard we saw on the final morning was closer than the one I'd seen on my first visit. Still didn't get great photos of the leopard because I need a better camera! And I didn't even try to get the cheetah; they were just a bit too far away and blend into the bush too well for my camera to pick them up.

I've been back in the U.S. for one week now, and it was while I was uploading these photos that I cried for South Africa for the first time since being home. I so loved going to Kruger. My trips there will be some of the highlights of my life.

Steenbok. As you'll see from these first photos (added in chronological order), the first afternoon and next morning we were in an area that had been extensively burned. Uncontrolled bush fires are often a problem in South Africa, especially during the dry winters.

A magnificent male kudu.


A big herd of Cape buffalo. They crossed the road nonchalantly, unaware of the cars they were holding up.

More buffalo.

A southern ground hornbill. This is a closer photo than the one from April, 2007.

Gosh, he's a funky bird.

Two female lions, taking a morning break.

A bungalow at Skukuza Rest Camp, the largest camp in the park.

The Stevenson-Hamilton Memorial Library. They're an EBSCO customer! Named for James Stevenson-Hamilton, the first warden of what was originally called the Sabie Game Reserve. It was renamed in 1926 and became South Africa's first national park.

Lola and Debbie at one of the few places in the park where you're allowed to "alight" from your vehicle.

Blue wildebeest, also called gnu, at a watering pan.

Rhino, impala and zebra at the same pan. There were lots of animals at that pan!

A Swainson's francolin chases a yellow hornbill.

That same yellow hornbill.

A steenbok rests in the shade.

A pond that was full of hippos. Crocs, too.

As you know by now, I love the guinea fowl!!!

Big and weird nests, and an Egyptian goose drinks.

We wait for the elephant to cross the road. Wouldn't you?

More elephants.

You know I love a good sunset. Hi, Bonnie.

Sunset over the Lower Sabie Rest Camp, where we stayed the 2nd night.

A big guy.

Leopard in the center of photo. Really.

Trust me, she's there.

Still there.