Friday, 16 January 2015

Venturing - Off The Beaten Track In Pictures

As we ventured forth on the Botterkloof and Pakhuis pass, we tried to stop and take photos of the most breathtaking view of a steep beautiful lush ravine, but as we stopped, we saw cars coming up behind us and because the road was so narrow, we had to just carry on driving. We missed the beautiful view and all our photos were taken whilst driving.

FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!! we were back on a tar road, no man's land and the Northern Cape behind us.

We stopped at a lookout point to check if everything was still intact and to secure the bikes, one had come loose, but everything else was fine................

Oh My Word ........... the dust, I have never seen so much dust/dirt/sand in my life, not even when we came back from Mozambique and drove on a dirt road to get to the resort. We then drove through Clanwilliam - another beautiful town.

As we made our way through the outskirts of this exquisitely beautiful town, we all said "Can't we move here."  The Cape is so beautiful, but then again anywhere is better than Johannesburg/Gauteng. We filled up with diesel again, it was ludicrous the amount of fuel we went through and one of the trailer tyres was going flat, but the Petrol Station had no air (small town problems). Fortunately, Chad brought is Power Pack with, which has a compressor and we pumped up the tyre and were on our way again. We had been on the road for 16 hours and Paternoster was nowhere in sight and we were about to find out just how fortunate we were that Chad packed his Power Pack

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Adventures Through The Northern Cape And Beyond

I won't lie, I am a bit fuzzy about the long stretches of road and no pit stops in my first post - road tripping to Paternoster. Should I be worried that I have already forgotten where we stopped and the names of the towns? All my adult life, I have wanted to do proper travel diaries of our holidays, before blog days even, but I never have.

I do know that we drove 650km on the N14 and then 500km on the R27. We drove through all these little towns that flashed by in a blink of the eye and you literally missed the town if you just closed your eyes for a minute. We stopped in Brandvlei and filled up with diesel again and I was so relieved that they had toilets. You had to pay R2.00 and go through a turnstile, but I could understand why - there were so many "hang abouts" at the centre. At every single place we stopped, we had beggars descend on us in drones as we stopped. Giving one person money just caused others to come out of nowhere and hound us aggressively for money. We bought cold drinks and then it was back on the long never ending road. I think Brandvlei was before the oasis in the middle of the arid land and the oasis may have been called Keimos. If you know the area and I have it all wrong, please let me know in the comments.

The only interesting thing along the road was the multitude of swallow nests on the telephone/electricity poles and in trees along the road. They were massive and looked like a thatch roof. All these photos were taken through the window as we were driving by.

We have a truly beautiful country and even the dry arid countryside has a beauty of its own. I think this was the R27 - at a point I thought I would make notes on my Blackberry memo pad, but then forgot to carry on as our trip became more adventurous.

We drove and drove and drove on this never ending road with nothingness in our sites as the fuel light came on indicating that our very thirsty vehicle was parched and needed a refuel. It did push the anxiety levels up a bit, because running out of diesel on this deserted road would be no joke, then we remembered the bikes had a full tank of petrol and we had jerry cans and Mark could have gone on his bike to the nearest town to buy diesel.

Chad checked on the Garmin for the closest filling stations and there was one closer than it seemed. The vegetation became more green and less dry and dead.

.......... And then on the smell of diesel fumes we reached the Petrol Station.

I am not sure what the heading on the sign is in English, but the rest is -

  • Tuisgebak - Homemade (goods/eats/food)
  • Lekkernye - Sweets
  • Vars Melk - Fresh Milk
  • Koeldrank - Coldrink
  • Biltong - Is similar to Beef Jerky I think - Dried Salted Meat
  • Wegneem-Etes - Takeaways/Take Out.

We bought coldrinks and really fresh cheese ham and tomato sandwiches, not at this eccentric shop in the picture above, but at the shop next door. It was the first thing we had to eat since the Steers Toasted Sandwiches we had in the morning, many kilometers before. We also first made a beeline for the toilets and then made our way. By then we had done according to my estimation over 1000km's. Mark used to have an app on his phone and he kept a record of his fuel consumption, but he is not an "app" person and gave it up, so we had no idea how many kilometers we had done, what the fuel consumption really was and no one even bothered with the time.

Thank goodness for car air conditioning, because we were oblivious to the suffocating dry heat of the Northern Cape and our stops were too short for the heat to bother us before getting into an ice cold car again. The next leg of our journey was the R364 in Calvinia or on our way through Calvinia. We were following the GPS and our destination was now in the Garmin and suddenly we were on a dirt road. The dirt road just carried on and on. Chad checked the Garmin and we were on the right road and the sand road was the R364. The road was a 100km's long and 100km's does not seem long compared to the long 500km road until you drive it. The surrounding area still looked much the same as the R27.

You know you live in South Africa when the main road connecting two provinces is a dirt road - where the tar road comes to a dead stop and "no man's land" is ignored. However in hindsight, perhaps excavating and building a proper road will spoil the natural beauty of the mountain pass. Whilst driving on the road, I never thought that, as there were some hair raising moments.

The above picture was taken at the Botterkloof Pass - yes we drove around that narrow road with a trailer and two motorbikes on the trailer and two mountain bikes. Our Mazda Drifter is not a 4X4, it is a 2X4 with difflock and there were quite a few passenger vehicles along the road as well. Initially we thought we were the only "adventurers" on this remote mountain pass.

Mark bought a new Camp Master Fridge, because our other one we had, belonged to the Landrover and was sold with the Landrover. The new one had a remote adapter that plugged into the socket in the front of the car, so that you can check that your fridge/freezer is working all the time. Initially, the fridge connection in the load body was messing around and we had to stop a few times so Mark could tinker with the connection, but by the time we got to Delareyville a couple of hours into our trip, it never disconnected again. We thought we would have hassles with the fridge on the dirt road, but the connection in the load body never once came loose and our meat had no risk of being ruined by the scorching heat and sun beating down on our vehicle.

I have to say our trip down to Paternoster was the most exciting and adventurous day of our very laid back holiday. We laughed and joked so much along this road that tears were rolling down our cheeks. There was a car behind us at one stage and I am sure they must have thought we were crying as we crossed the narrow bridges and rounded the steep corners with sheer drops down the side.

More photos of Botterkloof Pass and Pakhuis Pass to follow in the next post.

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Thursday, 15 January 2015

Roadtripping To Paternoster

After a last minute hectic whirlwind day of shopping; cleaning; packing; organising etc on Saturday the 20th of December, I climbed into bed at around 10pm after a quick bath, fell into an exhausting sleep and woke again at 1 am to shower; get dressed, finish packing the car to leave at 2 am for our long trip to Paternoster in the Western Cape. At one stage Mark wanted to leave at 5 and sleepover somewhere, but our pet sitter had plans, he was having a braai (barbeque) which Chad went to for awhile, Mark fetched Chad at around 8. We were not comfortable leaving the dogs until the pet sitter came after the braai had finished, in case it went on until very late. It is a lesson that Mark never learns - people can't fit into his indecisiveness.

Saying Goodbye

We left at around 2.30 and put Miss Piggy and Pluto in the bathroom as normal and Spike and Jingles in the kitchen (they often stay in the kitchen when it rains and we go out - so it was nothing new). Garfield was on Clint's bed with her food and water in the diningroom. My nephew, our pet sitter came early on Sunday morning to let them out and check on them and then stayed there for the rest of the time as arranged. The confusion being that we were going on holiday on the 21st, but the house/pet sitter always stays from the night we leave; because we always leave during the early hours of the morning. Mark never explained that when he made the arrangements.

Saying goodbye to the animals is always stressful and sad; they always know something is up when the bags come out the cupboard, especially Garfield. I don't have photos of Spike and Jingles, because they were running around outside whilst Mark and Chad were loading the bikes and checking the trailer. Pluto and Miss Piggy go off to bed as soon as their beds are in the bathroom.

It was a worry that all would be ok and a relief when we received a photo of Spike lying on the couch early in the morning - proof that all was well at home. Mark had consulted with his "experts" about the best way to get to Paternoster, so as we set off, instead of adding the address or just Paternoster into the Garmin, he put in Delareyville as that was the route that was recommended by his "expert". The estimated time to Paternoster is 16 hours - very long without a break.

This was the start of quite an adventure. We drove and drove until about 4.30 and then Mark was feeling sleepy, so Chad drove and Mark slept at the back, whilst I kept a very very close eye on the roads.

We drove and drove and Chad was going to drive until the sun came up, but ended up driving perfectly for another 6 hours. At one stage we stopped at a filling station, as we were already a tank in (I can't remember the name of the town) and fortunately it had relatively clean toilets and luckily we used them as our adventure on Mark's recommended route did not include proper rest stops.

We drove and drove on the N14 for about 500km's on this long straight and extremely boring road. Sometimes the only car on the road for long stretches - listening to the news on the radio and reading the traffic reports on Twitter, I was pleased that we were on a quiet road.

The other roads were busy and there were so many reports of pileups and collisions and fatalities, but after 6 hours of no rest stops - no shops - I am not a pee in the bush person; I was wishing for busy roads and toll fees. The plan wasn't to go tollfree, but the best route possible - not sure that it was. We stopped at a Steers at some stage, in a little town, I think it was Kuruman, I know it was the Northern Cape and it was 9 am and hot as hell. I thought I would remember the names of the towns, but I didn't. The next place was Upington in the Garmin and off we went. In Upington we filled up again - no toilets again. Another tank of diesel, our third, the Drifter drank diesel and it doesn't have a small tank. I think it takes just under R1000.00 to fill it. By then Mark was driving, which was a good thing because we were driving around the busy centre of Upington looking for a Petrol Station.

Mark couldn't understand why we were using so much diesel, yes the trailer is heavy and add the two motorbikes and all our luggage at the back, but still he used to take heavier loads to Ballito in his bakkie (pick up truck) and it was light on fuel.

We drove and drove along this same quiet road, with mostly dry vegetation, interspersed with sporadic greenery from the vineyards in between the dry thorny lands. By then I had, had a sleep in the back before we had stopped in Kuruman, Chad was sleeping and I was in the front. The road just went on and on and on.

If we were gulping down diesel before, we were now guzzling it faster than ever. The road was long with a constant incline for miles and miles. Still hardly a car in sight, except when there were a few trucks holding everyone up and impatient idiots overtook on solid lines or on coming traffic.

It was a long and boring road and I would never do it with small children. There were plenty of "stops" along the road, where you could pull over and stretch your legs or have a mini picnic, if you were prepared and knew you were travelling on the road less travelled.

We drove through another town - an oasis in the middle of dry arid land. It even had a country club, but in a blink of an eye, the town was gone.

And then we went from roadtripping to extreme adventures..................

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