Elephant guns, mud, and catfish…

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Those two rifles? .416 Rigby. Big. Loud. Hard hitting.

Our guides on the bushwalk carried them as a backup. Leopard, lion, elephant, buffalo, big scary things… when you’re out in the bush you might stumble into one. The guides are well trained and, honestly, they do their best to avoid anything like lion or leopard when they’re with you. But, the bush and wildlife are unpredictable; they are armed for the worst case scenario.

Natasha and I went on one for our honeymoon and had a wonderful experience; so we booked one on this trip too, out of the Satara camp. On a bushwalk, you meet your guides at 05:15 and leave the camp around 05:30 for a 4hr trip. It’s a short drive out, an educational walk out in the bush (he guides use the good hunting technique of keeping the wind in the face as to avoid spooking game), and the drive back into camp. Because the drive out is in the dark, the guides use spotlights to illuminate the bush out to the sides of the truck on the drive out. This is an amazing time to see wildlife.

On this one, we saw a pride of lion on a buffalo kill, including the male lying on the road, just a few minutes past the gate. It was a huge pride, with some being around the carcass while others were lounging by a nearby waterhole. There were a few other players on the scene, including jackal and vultures, waiting for their turn to eat. It was a great sighting.

The real beauty of the bushwalk is getting close to or seeing animal tracks, habitat, and even animals that you wont by driving through the park. Our guides included a dam in our walk. As we approached it, we could see an African Fish Eagle in a tree overlooking the waterhole. It hadn’t rained since April in the Kruger, and the dam was dry except for the thick black mud in the middle.

As we approached it, the mud began to wiggle and splash. It was full of barbel catfish. They bury themselves in the mud and go dormant until the rains come. It’s a crazy phenomenon. There are even stories of locals making bricks with the mud only to have live fish come out of the walls when it rains.

If you look closely at these pics, you can see fins, mouths, whiskers.

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Of course, the Kruger National Park isn’t only about the big cats

Bushbuck:

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A naughty little Vervet Monkey (that is a candy wrapper that it’s licking):

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Zebra butt!:

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My wife’s favorite, the elegant Kudu:

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The endangered Southern Ground Hornbill (we saw four of them by the time we left):

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I will keep posting up more of the shots I have in the next few days. There are more of the Kruger, a whole bunch of trucks of course, and other scenes from our brief trip to South Africa.

Back from South Africa

I said that I was going to post a bunch while there… and… I didn’t. Why? Because we kept ourselves so busy in the Kruger, then in the Joburg area with family, and finally on the South Coast.

I’ll break up the photos, but here are some that we did take in the Kruger. I’ll start with the cats. We saw three separate lion prides, two of which were on kills. We also saw five leopards.

One pride gave me a good shot on their Zebra kill:

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This was the left overs of the buffalo kill:

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A leopard in a tree:

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We saw this female leopard at night (we were on a sunset game drive):

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This pride of lions was just sunning themselves near a waterhole:

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This photo has nothing to do with South Africa

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It was, however, shot with my Lomographic Fisheye 2 camera; that camera is now in my bag that is going to South Africa with me. I loaded it with some expired Fuji film and I’ll use it for some interesting images that I see there.

I also have a dSLR of course for everything else.

I wont post for a bit, but when I do… should be lots of cool stuff: or first 5 days or so will be in the Kruger National Park.

EDIT: this photo was taken in Alamosa, CO of a late summer/early fall storm brewing. That is the water tower in north Alamosa near the new high school.

The Tools I carry

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When I was a kid my dad had a black tool box with all of his automotive tools in it. I remember it being heavy. As I grew up, I went from not being able to pick it up, to being able to get it a couple of inches off the ground and basically drag it. Even when I was an adult, it was a load to pick up… right are being pulled down, left arm out for balance…

It wasn’t the box itself that was heavy, but it was all the shit he had in it. Wrenches, sockets, ratchets and drivers, screwdrivers, more sockets, 1157 light bulbs, fuses, pliers, bolts, nuts. It was all thrown in there. Looking for a 3/8″ drive 1/2″ socket? Good luck with that.

I always worked more on cars than my dad, so when I moved out I started gathering my own tools. And of course, I got a huge toolbox. Plastic though. And it’s still heavy because of all the stuff I throw in it. No light bulbs, bolts, or fuses though: just tools. This thing has survived being thrown in the back of various Land Cruisers, my wood truck, and dragged all over for different projects.

But, I never really gave thought to what I carry. It’s just a hodgepodge of tools I’ve bought over the years and stuffed in there. In 2012 SA4x4 (a very cool 4×4/Travel/overland magazine from South Africa) ran a contest called “Adendorff Toolin’ Around Challenge” where readers sent a pic and description of the tool kit they carry.

Interesting. I then decided to clean, organize, and catalog my tools. I’m changing to a soft bag by Bucket Boss (it fits into my drawer system because it’s more compact and can be squished).

This is what I carry with me:
in metric and standard:box wrenches, 1/4″ drive, 3/8″ drive, and 1/2″drive sockets
ratchets and extensions for each drive
two different size sparkplug sockets and a sparkplug gap tool
three different needle nose pliers
three different sizes of Vise Grips
two sizes of Crescent wrenches
wire stripper/crimper
snap ring plier
13mm/14mm line wrench
OBDII Reader
Allen keys
various screw drivers including electrical

I also carry zip-ties, electrical tape, duct tape, butt connectors, fuses, and small things like that. A few tools I like are brushes (wire, plastic, brass), 5-in-1 painter’s tool (can use it for scraping gaskets, etc.), box cutter…

I know I need to get a Torx set (the UZJ100 has those), replace some Allen keys, add a lighter and some shrink tube too…

I think it’s smart to know what you have and need before headed out; it’d be worth organizing your tools (I know that I need to get another wrench tool and a couple of tool rolls).

What tools and other odds and ends do you carry?

Del Monte Premium Bananas! Well, not in this box.

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“Banana boxes may sound like a joke but I copied the idea from a German veteran whose boxes were on their sixth African outing.” — pg 242 of Chris Scott’s “Overlander’s Handbook.”

On our last camping trip, my wife and I talked about ideal storage containers. We had used some milk crates on one trip only because I was too lazy to move items to better boxes. This time, everything was in an Igloo cooler (I stored it in there to save space in our small city apartment–and I was too lazy to transfer it and we had a smaller cooler for food). Natasha likes something that is kind of open so that she can see what’s in them and was wishing we had used the milk crates. I like that the cooler’s dimensions were better than a milk crate, allowing things to fit better. But, at the same time, the cooler was a bit bulky…

We talked about ammo boxes, Rubbermaid Action Packers, etc. I kept thinking about the brief paragraph in Scott’s book. I always laughed at that suggestion, even though I know that banana boxes are tough and free. They have good handles and coule probably be lashed down fairly easily. Since we can get clean ones at work, I brought one home and we’ll get a couple more to try.

These will be for kitchen supplies and such; the drawer system will still be used for heavier items that don’t leave the truck often (recovery gear, spares, etc.) And when we go to South Africa, we’ll look at dedicated ammo boxes and see if we think that the banana box is better.