Four big boys near the river…Safari luck prevails…

The four lions had a destination in mind…a recent kill.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This kudu had an anomaly in the markings of dark circles around her eyes.

Having an opportunity to take photos of lions out in the open is rare and unexpected. Yesterday morning on a whim, we took off for the river road overlooking Crocodile River between Marloth Park and Kruger National Park.

They walked along the river embankment, single file but not too close to one another.

As we approached the “Two Trees” overlook, a regular spot for sighting lions and other giant beasts across the river, we knew we were going to see lions as we approached several vehicles in the parking lot.

Each of the four male lions was obviously on a mission.

Prepared to stretch ourselves to spot a lion or two, often hidden under trees or between craggy rocks and ravines, we were shocked to easily see the four lions with the naked eye walking on the embankment out in the open.

It was a rarity to see them out in the open like this.

We squealed with delight. This easy sighting was truly a first. Weather conditions were right, overcast and dark, and the lions weren’t hiding in the shade as we often discover.

They were moving at a good clip.  We had to change our location to continue seeing them.

Keeping in mind, it’s quite a distance from the fence to their location. I maneuvered my way down a ridge to get as close as possible to the fence. As mentioned in earlier posts, there are two fences one must navigate to get a clear shot into the park.

Finally, they reached the kill, perhaps left behind by another lion.

One of the fences has barbed wire every 15 cm (6 inches), which requires caution when using the wire as a guide to steady the camera for the distant shot. Set further out from the barbed wire is the electrified fence which doesn’t present any risks based on its distance from the barbed wire.

It was difficult to ascertain exactly what animals had been killed.

I commend whoever designed the layout of the two fences. It certainly allows amateur photographers like me to use the barbed wire fence as temporary support to steady the camera.

We, amateur photographers, need all the help we can get in shooting distant photos, especially in cases like ours with less than ideal cameras and lenses.

The four lions didn’t stay at the kill for long.  It could have been decayed or already eaten.

As we took photo after photo, we were in awe of what lies before our eyes once again. But, this time was special. This time was unique. We thought about Tom and Lois and how much they’d have loved seeing these four male lions in plain sight. Hopefully, they’ve recovered from their long travel day(s) and will see this post sometime today.

Last night we had another delightful evening at Jabula Lodge, this time dining with new friends/readers Rita and Gerhard.  The conversation was lively and animated as Rita and I chatted like long-lost friends, and Gerhard and Tom did the same.
One by one, they wandered off, searching for other opportunities.

We’re excited they’ll be staying in Marloth until February, minus a few weeks away for other plans and, we look forward to many more get-togethers with them.

This morning we’d hope to have breakfast at Steop Cafe when we had a few grocery items to pick up for tonight’s dinner at Spar in Komatipoort. Alas, Steop Cafe is closed on Sunday, much to our surprise so we hurried through the market and returned home.

We couldn’t have been more thrilled for these out-in-the-open photo ops.

I’ve already prepared the dinner, which only requires oven time an hour before we dine. Tonight now that it’s clear and sunny again, should be a fantastic night on the veranda.  

Hopefully, many of our wildlife friends will stop by. So far today, we’ve had visits from female and male bushbucks and some exciting birds but no one else. The park is packed with visitors this weekend which once they begin to leave, will increase the number of visitors we see in the garden.

May you have an excellent day and evening!

Photo from one year ago today, November 4, 2017:

Tom’s early morning view of the moon setting on the horizon on Costa Rica, taken from the veranda. For more photos, please click here.

Reviewing “the numbers”…How many posts?…How can that be?…

An impala male who lost a horn, most likely in a fight for dominance.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

An elephant’s feet must carry a lot of weight:  “Elephants are the largest living terrestrial animals. The average male African bush elephant is 3.20 m (10.5 ft) tall at the shoulder and has a body mass of 6,000 kg (13,228 lb), whereas the average female is 2.60 m (8.53 ft) tall at the shoulder and have a mass of 3,000 kg (6,614 lb).”

Today’s post is #2254. Yes, that’s right. Wow! That’s even hard for us to believe! We’ve uploaded two thousand two hundred fifty-four posts since post #1 was uploaded on March 14, 2012 (click here for our first post).

Cape buffalos and elephants seem to get along well in the wild.

When we recall every location we’ve visited over this past almost six years since we left Minnesota on October 31, 2012, we can easily picture ourselves sitting somewhere in a vacation/holiday home, hotel, or cruise ship, preparing each day’s story.

Cape buffalos on the Marloth Park side of the river.

In the beginning, we didn’t include many photos. Still, once we left the US on January 3, 2013 (after a two-month stay in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Henderson, Nevada, while making the final preparations for our departure), we knew photos would become an integral aspect continuing our world journey and subsequent story.

With technology aligned to make this all possible, we knew we’d selected the right time in our lives to go on this adventure. Little did we know then how long we’d continue, and still today, we can’t predict the future…good health is the highest priority.

This crocodile hide looks different than others.  Any comments?

We started the first post, as mentioned above, in March 2012 and today, September 29, 2018. It’s 2390 days later. How is that possible? Where did the extra 136 posts come from? That adds up to an average of an additional 21 posts per year.

Big elephant cooling off in Sunset Dam in Kruger.

In reviewing the list of the archives its easy to see that some months, some years, we uploaded extra posts when the Wi-Fi signal was weak (a common occurrence in many countries) or the power was going off and on, often long enough for us to post a notice we were having difficulties and would prepare the post once services were restored.

At other times, we posted a short blurb on travel days, unsure if we’d later be able to prepare a full post at an airport while waiting to board a flight. Often, we were able to connect. 

Each giraffe’s face appears to have a unique expression.

Less often, we had situations where we had something to share that required periodic updates, such as inclement weather, earthquakes, hurricanes, and rough days at sea.

Cape buffalos were lounging by the water on a scorching day.

In the first year, we wrote less often. For example, in 2012, we only posted 160 stories, but in 2014, we posted 377 times. One can see the totals for each year at the archives listed on the right side of the homepage, which changes daily with each new post.

Cape buffalo grazing close to the fence in Marloth Park.

Now you may ask, “Haven’t we run out of topics yet?” Not quite. As long as we continue to enhance our days with new sightings, new activities, new cultures, meeting new people, embarking on tours and other adventures, we can’t imagine running out of topics.

After this long dry season, this is all that’s left of the water in Vurhami Dam in Kruger.

I’ll admit at times. Our posts are mundane and less enjoyable. Sorry about that.  But, I ask myself this…if someone told us we’d have to write the equivalent of an essay every single day of our lives, sick days included, I’d say it was impossible. 

Elephant family enjoying the cooling water on a hot day.

Then, we’d have to add new photos to each post every day, always on the search for new photo ops. I’d say it was not something I could discipline myself to do. Yet, here we are today on post #2254 with nary a moment’s consideration of stopping.

Impalas in the background.

What keeps us motivated is all of YOU, our worldwide readers who share their stories with us, who send email regularly, who inquire as to how this life may work for them, or, as in many cases, to say “thank you” for providing this ongoing story. 

An impala and a giraffe under the shade of a large tree.

But, we thank every one of you for following along with us. We never take your readership for granted and are eternally grateful for the opportunity to continue on this journey with you at our side. 

May your day be as unique as you.


Photo from one year ago today, September 29, 2017:

One year ago, we posted photos of various churches we’d seen to date in our travels, including the busy preparations surrounded the Igreja De Campanario church in Campanario, Madeira, in July 2014 as workers rushed to get the decorations in place for Saturday’s religious festivities.  See our link here.

A delicious and entertaining dinner in Marloth Park…See “Sighting of the Day in the Bush”…Language barriers and adapting…

For the first time, last night at Jabula Restaurant, we saw a Thick-Tailed Bushbaby. These are huge compared to the tiny bushbabies, the “Lesser Bushbaby,” which we see each night on the little stand where we place the little cup of fruity yogurt.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

From this site: “Thick-tailed Bushbabies have caused alarm for many visitors to the wilderness areas of Africa with their child-like screams during the night with some visitors complaining of child abuse among staff members at lodges. The Afrikaans name for bushbabies is nagapies which mean small night apes.”

Last night’s dinner at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant couldn’t have been more fun.  Sitting at the bar, Tom having his usual brandy and Sprite Zero on the rocks while I had my new favorite low alcohol red wine I’ve been enjoying lately (South Africa’s Four Cousins Skinny Red).

The environment at Jabula Restaurant is comfortable and inviting. We usually dine outdoors on the veranda, but we had fun with owners Dawn and Leon last night. We ate sitting at the bar for the first time.

This wine tastes great (now that I’ve acquired a taste for it), and with its low alcohol, low carb content with reduced tannins, it doesn’t cause the potential for aftereffects some of us suffer from when consuming a few glasses of red wine in an evening.

We both perused Jabula‘s expansive menu for quite a while as we sat at the bar, chatting back and forth with Dawn, Leon, and their assistant Lyn. The bar was packed when we arrived, while the locals enthusiastically watched a rugby game on the flat-screen TV, which ended, unfortunately, with South Africa losing to moans and groans in the audience.

The bar at Jabula Restaurant where Dawn and Leon chat with their guests.  It was an enjoyable evening.

Suddenly, we heard a commotion on the veranda. Guests dining outdoors had spotted a Thick-Tailed Bushbaby on the thatched roof. We’d heard a lot about these huge bushbabies but had yet to see one in our “garden” at night. I couldn’t grab the camera quickly enough and was thrilled to get these photos in the dark of night.

Speaking of “garden,” I will stop using the word “yard” in our posts. Here in Marloth Park and South Africa, they don’t use the word “yard” or “backyard” about their lot included with their home. Also, in South Africa, they don’t call a piece of land a “lot.” It’s called a “stand.”

Tom ordered Eisbein, a fried pork knuckle that is unbelievably delicious (I always take a few bites of this monstrous item).  We brought the bone home for the warthogs. They don’t like the meat, just the bone. Tom splurged and ordered the “chips.” The food and ambiance were exceptional as always.

Henceforth, when writing our posts and in speaking with others locally, we’ll use the local verbiage as a “garden” instead of a “yard” and of a “stand” instead of a “lot.”  We try to fit in. 

It’s bad enough that the locals have to speak English when around us when most native Caucasian South Africans speak the Afrikaans language. It amazes us how well they speak English as a second language, even in conjugating verbs and understanding slang and euphemisms.

But then, he splurged further and ordered a giant plate of fried onion rings. I didn’t complain. He eats healthy meals when I cook and splurges when we dine out.

As a result, we need to make every effort to blend in, not only in our behavior and interests but also in our acceptance of words they’ve incorporated in their use of the English language.

When we return to the US for a visit in nine and a half months, we can re-do our language to fit into the expectations of conversing in our native language.  There are always adjustments such as these when we live in a country for several months.

My grilled chicken breast, steamed spinach, and carrots.

And such was the case last night at Jabula. The bar, filled with locals, chatting to other locals in their Afrikaans language, never made us feel “left out” of the conversation. On a dime, any one of them would quickly revert to speaking English for our benefit.

But, this is how it is here in Marloth Park, friendly, open, and easy to make friends with. I should qualify this and state that not all locals in Marloth Park are from South Africa. Many homeowners here in the park are from many other parts of the world, including the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, and other parts of Europe.

Tom gave me his salad which we ordered without the feta cheese when I no longer eat dairy products.

The only Americans we’ve met in Marloth are friends Kathy and Don.  Kathy grew up in California like me, and Don was born and raised in Kenya. They have homes in other parts of the world, including Hawaii and South Africa, spending part of the year here. Other than the two of them, we’ve yet to meet anyone here from the US.

Today is another perfect weather day, sunny, comfortably warm. After we upload the post, we’ll head out to see what we can find, again, hoping to spot the lioness. It will undoubtedly be a good day.

May you have a good day as well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 24, 2017:

Last year on this date, Tom and son TJ hung out together at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, where TJ had his 1954 Buick Special on display next to his canopy set-up at the “Back to the 50’s” annual event.  For more photos, please click here.