Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My first day on a Serengeti safari!

Early up and out, this time we went with Henry and Gene, with Godfrey as our driver.  Again, the images will tell the story, but one of the first excitements was a leopard!  I don't know how Godfrey spotted it, sleeping, in a tree, with his naked eye, while driving, but he did and it was a pretty cool sight!  We saw three leopards that day; the second one walked from one tree to another for a vantage point to watch passing zebras, and the third one was napping in a tree after having hauled a Thomson's gazelle up into the tree! 
We did a lot of birding with Henry and Gene, crested rollers and bee eaters were some of the most colorful ones and while we were meandering we heard that the other group saw three cheetahs up on a mound!  Henry and Gene are both really nice guys and so easy to be fact, the whole group was easy to be with, which is pretty remarkable given all of our diverse backgrounds and personalities.  Gene is quite taken by his grand kids, whom he talks about often while taking pictures, "oh, my granddaughter is going to love this one!"...which makes him one of my favorite people, ever!  And Henry is sweet, very considerate about everyone getting the shot they want before moving on to something else.  I've never taken a workshop from Henry, but I am sure that he is a great instructor.
At one point we came across a pack of lions, napping under a tree, 5 of them, with a bigger male across the road under a different tree.  We spent a lot of time taking close-ups there, while the other group watched a crocodile across the road from us trying to snatch zebras as they came up to a watering hole (to no avail)! 
Lots of other animals, of course, but we ended the day about 25 feet from a small elephant herd, including a couple of really tiny babies!  We were so close and they were so packed together, stripping bark from a tree, that it was hard to get a good image (for me, I am kind of a minimalist photographer...I like things uncluttered!), but it was so fun to watch them all together at such close range.
Once again, we had overstayed our welcome in the park (those parks are not made for photographers...the best light is early morning and late in the day, but you aren't allowed to be wandering around in the park then...!) and this time the rangers ticketed us!  So, we had to head out on a direct path to camp!  Gene and I stood most of the drive back to witness an amazing sunset scene unfold...sun dogs above big thunderheads...and lots of color, 360 degrees of color in the sky.  It was a beautiful, warm evening...and a memorable drive.
Too late for "bush TV", we got our bucket showers and met for another nice dinner at Dunia, packed our bags for our next move and slept under an impressively loud thunder and rain storm!  It was an awesome day!

And now, the images...

Black-faced curious as we were!  There was a whole group of them playing in this huge looked like the tree was alive!

I love it when animals resemble humans...this monkey and I would get along well, as I see myself doing this...!


Did I mention that I loved all the zebras?!

Crested roller.


This is one of my favorites...again, a personification, comfort and love.

Beautiful face.

Big-eared baby!

Showing off for us!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Dunia Camp.

I went back to sleep after Mike left at 6 a.m. and slept until about 8:30, which was heavenly in and of itself!  I got up, got dressed and starting unzipping our tent flaps to let in the sunshine and the camp host, Richard, must have heard me because he came to the tent door with a friendly "Jambo!"
Borrowed this image from Dunia's website...this is exactly what our tent looked like, minus all of our gear laying about!
Also borrowed from Dunia's website, the overall camp layout.
He brought me coffee in a press, with fresh cream and sugar (yum), fresh, cold fruit (yummy mangoes!) and warm toast with jams and I sat in our front porch area and began this journal. When we told people we were staying in a tent camp, I don't think this is what first came to mind...hardly a tent at all, except for the fact it is made of canvas and's really amazing!
Throughout the day I've walked (a real luxury after having sat for days now, in planes and vehicles!), downloaded memory cards, charged batteries, written, watched birds and mongoose, recorded a little bit of video, eaten a delicious lunch overlooking the Serengeti (ice cream for dessert, yes please!) and even learned a little bit of Swahili from the very patient staff!
  • tafadali - please
  • asante sana - thank you very much
  • ndio - yes
  • hapana - no
  • karibu sana - you're very welcome
  • sawa - ok
Mostly I've been saying 'asante' because they have all been very sweet. I am the only one here today (there was another small group too but they left earlier this morning) so as Richard said "everything here is for you". 
He asked me if I was feeling okay (apparently not many people stay behind unless they are ill!) and I told him that I was fine, but that I was just in need of a day to slow down. He said, very quietly and very philosophically, that I "had already learned the secret to being in Africa - you can go out looking for Africa...but it's best to let Africa come into you."
The trail from the library tent.
The library/game/bar/receiving tent.
This guy was noisy outside my tent!
As was this one!
This is where "bush tv" takes place after sunset!
So my relaxing day continued...I took my camera down the trail a couple of times and encountered a family of mongoose who berated me for my presence!  I video-taped the remarkable tent camp (I cannot recommend it enough as a must-do, for anyone on safari in the Serengeti) and chatted with the staff over snacks.  I took a nap in our porch, listening to the most amazing array of birds and crickets!  Mostly, it was nice to relax! 
I realize that they are all going to come back here with amazing stories and incredible images...and I will be a little bit jealous...but just a little bit. Myself, I've had a blissfully uneventful, quiet day thus far, enjoying Dunia Camp...and I even had time to shave my legs!
At about 6:15 the cars arrived with the crew in tow, everyone looking excited but weary.  After quick bucket showers we all met up at "bush TV" - a fire pit with a roaring fire, beer and popcorn and our charming host Richard.  I got to hear all about their amazing adventures, including cheetahs and lions...and lion cubs (a little bit jealous about the lion cubs!) but I still didn't regret my peaceful day.  We enjoyed another yummy dinner in the impressively elegant dining tent and then retired for another day's adventure!
The dining tent at Dunia.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


So, it's taking me awhile to get through these Africa images and journal entries!  What is that saying, "life is what happens while you are making other plans"?!  Yep, a lot of life going on here...good stuff, good life!
Since I wrote last, I've gotten to spend a lot of time with our sweet little granddaughter, Harper Jean!
She's a doll, of course, and perfect in every way...(but I am not the one getting up every two hours during the night...that 'doll' is Ashley, who is SUCH a good mommy!).

A good mommy...oh, and beautiful too!
Momma kisses!
Big eyes!

She is growing so fast it is ridiculous!  I can't wait for her little personality to develop as she starts to coo and discover her world...but I am not in a hurry because I know all too well, they don't stay little for very long!
Studying her world!
Allison came home to see her new niece!  Stephen wasn't able to get away from his studies, so we look forward to this summer when we get to have them both here for a bit...but in the meantime, we loved having Allison around!  We decided Harper got a few features from her auntie...her wrinkly forehead and her eagerness to eat!
She and Ashley surprised Allison at the airport!  Harper was supposed to wait at home, but was too eager to meet Allison! 
Allison almost immediately took Harper shopping!
Lovin' up on Harper!
We didn't do much while she was home; spent a lot of time loving on Harper, ate at Bagelry a time or two, and also ate at Sumisu (sushi), watched some Friends reruns in our jammies...!  And then on Saturday we celebrated Ashley's 25th birthday!  I don't have any idea how I could have a daughter who is 25 already...but it seems to be the case...?!  We had a few people stop by for the party too...Kelly, Shannon, Stephanie, and Grandma & Grandpa were here staying with us!  Harper's gift was the best present...a hand painted canvas just for her mommy.

The tradition...a birthday banner!
Harper loved reading all of the cards!
And then, very early Sunday morning, Allison and I headed to Boise to catch a plane to Seattle!  Planes, then trains, and then buses...we spent a few days exploring the Emerald City; shopping, eating yummy foods, wandering neighborhoods in the University area (looking for housing options for them, they are moving in August!!!), checking out Pike's Place and the Seattle Center, and walking miles and miles each day!  We had amazing weather, a lot of luck finding buses and catching trains, and a great time just hanging out together.  I miss her when she is gone and love that we have so much fun when we are together!
Our plane ride, really early morning!
Arriving at the hotel, being silly with joy!
On campus!  Can't wait until they move here!
Saw a few dressing rooms...!
And a bookstore or two...!
Donuts and coffee and fresh fruit in the morning at Pike's Place!
The needle!
On top of the needle!
Windy day!
The view from the top!
I got really lucky to have two such amazing women as daughters, and as friends!
I love them!
All three of them!
Oh, and Papa, this one is just for you...Harper's new favorite's a Husky?!
(Yes, it's also "Myla"...her real life puppy...but still...!)