The winter solstice and holiday season begins again in the bush…Taking care in Marloth park

This male was “standing watch” so the others could relax and nod off.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Playful warthog antics always make us laugh.

Yesterday was the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere. It’s hard to believe it’s winter here when the temperature is in the 30C (86F) range most days. Henceforth, the days will be getting longer.

We’ve had a handful of very cool days but overall, few requiring extra warm clothing. Mornings and nights are very cool, often requiring we bundle up. But, once the sun begins to shine almost every day, it warms up sufficiently for shorts and short sleeves.

Last night, shortly before dark, we encountered this “confusion” (yep, that’s right!) of wildebeest in front of the property along the river. 

When summer arrives on December 21st here in the southern hemisphere, it’s an entirely different story. The thoughts one conjures up about heat, humidity, and dust flying through the air will be exactly what we’ll expect.

We remember these difficult conditions when we were here over four years ago during December, January, and February. There were more insects, more dust, and more sweaty days and nights. Thank goodness for air con in the bedrooms. 

We haven’t had many wildebeest visitors at our house, making it especially enjoyable to see these last night.

We’ll do the same as we do now during the days, spending our days and nights on the veranda regardless of weather conditions. The only conditions that drive us indoors will be rain with wind. Otherwise, we’ve learned to tolerate temps in the 40Cs (104F) while being outdoors under the protection of the veranda roof from the scorching sun.

For now, we’ll enjoy the cooler days and nights as we continue to spend our days and nights observing the world around us, which never disappoints, as evidenced by our daily photos.

We always stop to observe these magnificent animals.

Now that it’s summer in the northern hemisphere, we’ll begin seeing more and more tourists in Marloth Park, particularly tourists from Europe who find this environment ideal for their summer family holidays. 

Before too long, perhaps beginning this weekend, we’ll see families with children in their rented four-wheel-drive vehicles driving through Marloth Park and Kruger National Park. 

Often, we spot one lone elephant, often a young male, off to the side away from the rest of the “parade.”

The number of vehicles on the roads definitely has an impact on the number of visiting animals.  We’ve noticed this each time it’s been holiday time. They seem to stay undercover or are preoccupied with tourists feeding them, hopefully, the healthful pellets, fruit and vegetables, and not biscuits, cookies, and potato chips.

Unfortunately, a handful of tourists aren’t respectful of the wildlife, feeding them foods they cannot digest, which may result in illness or even death. Also, Marloth Park is a highly flammable environment with a lack of rain and dry brush surrounding us. 

Elephants grazing on the bank of Crocodile River, as seen from Marloth Park. There’s always a few cattle egret nearby.

We can only pray that visitors will be mindful of the high risk of fire due to the vast amount of alien invasive plants that exacerbate fires in an incomprehensible and ultimately terrifying manner. (More on this later).

The moment I said to Tom, “We often see giraffes on this road.” Just like that, we spotted this giraffe.

Ensuring that no hot coals, embers, or fires are dumped into any areas within the park and all braai fires or bonfires are completely out before retiring for the evening is of the utmost importance for the preservation of human and animal life in this magical place.

Originally Marloth Park was intended as a holiday destination. Over the years, many holidaymakers found it irresistible to be here, deciding to build a retirement or seasonal home here. This building continues within the park, causing quite a bit of controversy as more and more wildlife habitat is lost to construction. It’s quite a debate we won’t get into here. 

A “forkl” of kudu, boys, and girls, also referred to as a harem.

After all, we’re only visitors ourselves making every effort to leave as light a “footprint” as possible in hopes that in years to come, Marloth Park will continue to thrive and welcome our return as our schedule allows.

A happy band of mongoose lapping up raw scrambled eggs we put down for them in a flat bowl.

Today, we’ll embark upon one of our usual drives before the roads become too crowded over the weekend as we continue to search, appreciate and admire the nature surrounding us.

Have a lovely weekend as your summer or winter has begun…

Photo from one year ago today, June 22, 2017:

Southeast Steam Plant, aka Twin City Rapid Transit Company Steam Power Plant. For more photos along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, please click here.

An interesting and unusual day at camp…What’s cardboard got to do with it?…Tom, Tammy & TJ at Minnesota Twins Game…

Grandpa and Vincent at Cardboard Camp.
Time is flying by quickly.  With a little over two weeks remaining until we depart Minnesota, we’re packing our days and nights full of activities with family and friends.

View of Lake Johanna at Tony Schmidt Regional Park in Arden Hills, Minnesota where we picked up Vincent from “Cardboard Park” yesterday.

Yesterday, after completing the day’s post and taking care of some online tasks, at 2:00 pm we headed to Arden Hills (35-minute drive) to pick up grandson Vincent from camp and to spend quality time with him.  

Vincent’s summers are action packed at a variety of overnight and day camps.  We didn’t expect his schedule to change with us here this summer but we’ve managed to work around his busy schedule and ours to be together.

The kids from Cardboard Camp at their end-of-the-day gathering with camp leaders.

Arriving at Tony Schmidt Regional Park, we easily found the location for the camp with the help of the excellent navigation system in the red SUV and a few suggestions from his parents, Tammy and Tracy.

We had no idea what to expect when we arrived at Cardboard Camp.  After parking at a distant lot, we hiked up a steep paved trail to find a wonderland of kid’s made cardboard castles, tools, play weapons, and structures intended as a concept befitting “Knights of the Round Table.”

This is a cardboard castle the kids made using slabs of cardboard, the theme of this summer day camp.

Here are a few of the details about Cardboard Camp from their website.  Please click here for more information:


All weeks of classic AiC include castle buildingarms & armorgames and swimming whenever beaches are available at hosting parks. The terrain varies widely from park to park. Campers will have elective opportunities over the course of each week to customize their experience.

Building in the Armory

Build anything you want for your character or your Esteemed House. Usually, people begin by designing their own suit of armor and personal arms: The Realm can be a dangerous place! Work independently or collaborate with a team. Add spikes, fins, scales, plates, helmets, gauntlets, shields limited only by your imagination. Go classic or go mythic. Create your heirloom sword, ax, mace, halberd, spear or other deadly accouterments. Use and improve what you make in daily games of capture the flag.
Or… scrap the arms and armor and work instead on magical tomes, artifacts of power, hoods, capes, crowns, wands and rings of power!
Or… work on a farmstead and corral, a shop in the village, a tavern with games of chance, a forest hut for your sorcerer or a library for your wizened sage.
Each week will also have optional special projects with visiting local artists. Create a village, work on a giant maze, focus on siege engines, specialty bows or on more advanced live-action games.

Creating a Castle and Fortified Village

Design and build an actual castle or fortified village to inhabit, attack and defend with basic woodwork framing and large cardboard construction. Make walls festooned with battlements. Raise towers. Install a gatehouse with portcullis, arrow-loops, and drop-holes for defense.
Later in the week, this sprawling fortification becomes the locus for many role playing activities. It’s final size and the variety of activities that go on inside of its walls is up to our collective imagination. And for every person who manages to become Queen beware the Sword of Damocles that hang above your head
Vincent in front of one of the many cardboard structures.

Our mouths were agape over what we found in the lush green park with Lake Johanna across the road.  Plenty of camp counselors were busy interacting with the kids as they ran around the park, playing with cardboard and duct tape swords in hand, engaged in countless activities.  Who knew?

It was expected to rain last night which inspired the camp leaders to cover some of the structures with tarps.

We’d never heard of nor seen such an exciting environment where the kid’s own creativity and imagination would be at play as they built the cardboard castles, other structures and “tools of the trade.” 

They created a play world from another time in history providing them with an opportunity to literally (no pun intended) think “outside the box.”  The joyful look on all of their faces on Day 2 of the one week-long camp was indicative of how fun and interesting this concept was to each individual.
Cardboard camp rules.

The day camp ends at 3:00 pm, each of the five days.  While we waited for Vincent to collect his backpack, we had an opportunity to speak to one of the counselors about the exciting concept and the kid’s reaction to each day’s activities.

Cardboard Camp road block.

Vincent took us on a tour of the various cardboard structures while I’ll happily shot many photos as we wandered throughout their designated area of the park.  He was excited and proud to share the details with us explaining the meaning and purpose of the various structures.

Earlier in the day, Tracy dropped off Vincent’s fishing rod, tackle box and two portable chairs encouraging us to take Vincent fishing at Lake Johanna across the road from the camp.  We stopped for bait on the way to Arden Hills.

Many games and activities center around the camp’s theme.

Although the fishing wasn’t quite exciting enough for Vincent, he did catch a few tiny sunfish while we sat in the chairs on the lake’s dock, encouraging him along.  After an hour, we were on our way to grab some dinner at Wendy’s for Vincent and drop him off at home.  We returned all the fishing gear and visited with Tracy and Vincent before we took off for the next item on our busy agenda.

Many of the cardboard structures represent businesses to supply the needs of the participants.

On Monday next week, when Miles will be with us for the day, we’ll be taking him fishing as well at a lake in his part of town.  Good grief, there are over 15,000 lakes in Minnesota.  Everywhere one turns, there’s a possible fishing lake. 

Covering the structures with tarps in the event of rain is quite a job.

We intended to go fishing with the boys sooner but somehow time got away from us in the flurry of already planned activities.  We’ll post both boys fishing photos after Monday.

Tom wanted to attend a 6:30 pm railroad union meeting to see more of his buddies from BNSF with many of whom he worked for over 42 years.  Since they drink beer in the bar after the hour-long meeting end, the plan was for me to drop him off and pick him up later.  That’s me…handy designated driver, a title I’m happy to provide for Tom at any time or place.
Apparently, the urinal wasn’t working!

With about 40 minutes left until the meeting, we stopped at a restaurant/bar for a quick bite to eat.  The options for me were very limited and once again I opted for a chopped salad, this time with a chunk of grilled ahi tuna sitting atop the pile of bitter greens.  Not my favorite meal to date but what I eat isn’t all that important to me right now.  Tom had a Reuben sandwich with fries.  “Too many bad carbs,” she thinks with mouth shut.

Cardboard Camp requires a lot of planning and preparations in which the kids participate.

After I dropped him off at the bar in Northeast Minneapolis, I headed back to the hotel with the intention of preparing today’s post, at least in part.  With Maisie spending the day with me today, I didn’t want her to be bored while I clicked away on the keyboard in a frenzy to get done. 

Tj, Tom, and Tammy at the Twins game on Father’s Day.

Last night, when I returned to the hotel I was fully preoccupied speaking to my sister Julie in California.  We really hadn’t had time to talk lately during this busy period.  The time flew and before I knew it, Tom rang through, ready for me to drive back to Northeast Minneapolis and pick him up.

This was the first time in this past almost four weeks that I didn’t have ample time to do a post, at least in part, before spending the next day with the kids.  Luckily, this morning Maisie brought along an iPad and has been easily entertaining herself while I prepared this post.

Target Field in downtown Minneapolis holds 39,029 fans.

This morning at 8:00 am I hit the road again to pick up Maisie.  Luckily, the traffic wasn’t too bad and I arrived by 8:30.  After saying hello to Greg, Camille and Miles (Madighan was still sleeping), Maisie and I were on our way back to the hotel for breakfast. 

They had great seats in the 8th row on the first base line, priced at $102 each plus taxes and fees.

As soon as I’m done here, we’re hoping to be heading to the St. Louis Park Rec Center pool for a day of sun and fun at their massive pool.  Today’s weather, a very cool partly cloudy day, may make this outing impossible since the rec center requires temperatures to be at least 72F to open the facility.  So far, the temp is hovering between 70F and 71F.  We’ll come up with a Plan B if all else fails.

Tonight, we’ll both be attending Maisie’s soccer game at 7:00 pm, after which we’ll find a spot for dinner.  Busy days. Busy nights.  Memorable occasions.

The Twins lost.

Be well, dear readers and thanks for hanging in with us during this intense family visit.  More exciting travel stuff to come when we arrive in the travel mecca of the US…Las Vegas Nevada, in 16 days! 

From what son Richard reports, temps yesterday hit a record breaking 117F,  47C.  That in itself is rather interesting, eh?


Photo from one year ago today, June 21, 2016:

Tom’s tuna, rice and veggie dinner in Bali.  He lost weight eating these plentiful and flavorful meals.  We’re looking forward to cooking our own meals again.  We’re both feeling a little full from dining out every night.  For more photos, please click here.