Monday, October 20, 2014

You Have To Love Sundays...

For my husband and I, Sundays are an adventure. Each week, we hop in the car and pick a direction to drive. Some of our jaunts keep us reasonably close by. Others involve hundreds of kilometres and an arrival home time in the small hours of the morning.

On this last Sunday - windy, warm and grey - we chose to visit Steveston, a beautiful spot not far from Vancouver.

On arrival, we came across a man feeding copious amounts of birdseed to the seagulls and crows. This gave me a chance to get some close-ups of birds in flight, always a welcome opportunity.

Next on our list was a visit to the boats docked by the pier, selling their fresh salmon, tuna and sea urchins. 

Because it's been a decent fishing season, we were able to get a large and 
inexpensive salmon for our dinner.

We managed to pass on our usual outdoor fish and chip feed, knowing we were going home to cook, but the dulce-de-leche gelato was beyond resisting.

The tide was higher than we've ever seen it, but I only took a few pictures of the slough as two swans vied for my attention. A local resident told me they are a pair who fly in every fall, and excel at begging for food.

Having just bought an enriched fresh loaf from the bakery, I thought to give them a slice each. 

While the female was shy and dainty, the male was pushy and bold. My fingers ended up in his beak a few times, as he saw them only as an extension of the food he was desperate to clamp on to.

Good thing I'm not   easily bothered by such things. 

The big male went on sentry duty at the end of the bridge, looking for more handouts, and while I passed him easily, the woman behind me did shriek when the swan stretched his neck  threateningly.

'Twas a wonderful day, with the sky closing in as we crossed the Alex Fraser Bridge to home. The salmon dinner went on the table a little later than usual, but it was well worth the wait...

I'm linking up with Our World Tuesday. To see more shots, click on the link below...

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Kenya's Mountain Lodge

Although I haven't been blogging lately, a friend of mine has recently returned from  South Africa, and her photos served to remind me how much of my heart I left on that continent. I thought I might do a series of posts to highlight the wonderful lodges we stayed at in the course of our safari...

 My husband and took a photo safari through Kenya and Tanzania eight years ago.This trip remains one of the true highlights of my life. I felt immediately at home with the golden savannahs that stretched on forever, and the hot sun that loosens tight muscles and seems, indeed, to slow down time itself. 

 Our first stop after leaving Nairobi was the Mountain Lodge. Mount Kenya is in the highlands of Kenya, so shrouded in mist that when we were there, I was only able to capture a shadowy shot of the mountain itself.
It is simply a magical place. The
lodge is wrapped around a waterhole that abounds with animals day and night.

(Google photo: We weren't allowed out there!)

Arriving just before dark, we found hot water bottles 
nestling in the cold beds to bid us welcome.


Sleep was the last thing we were thinking about. Each room has its own private balcony with a view of the waterhole and its visitors. Sitting there watching Elephants and Cape Buffalo wander in to drink, the rest of the world ceased to exist for me. 

With the shuffling of hooves and splashing water the only sounds to be heard, we could sit quietly and watch the animals go about their evening as if we were not there. It was a privilege to do so. 

Management informed us they 
could awaken us in the night if the more elusive animals showed up. As soon as the pre-dawn knock sounded on our door, I rushed out to our balcony and watched a leopard lap warily at the waterhole. 

I did not take a picture for fear of disturbing him in any way. It was one of the two very brief times we were to see a leopard on our safari. 

I may have no shots to show for it but my mind can instantly conjure up the long, tense lines of this striking predator who soon fled that open space for the safety and visibility afforded by the tall trees.

Monkeys are prevalent in Africa. Although undeniably cute, they are considered pests, and tourists are directed to discourage them. 

As well as viewing the animals from above, the lodge features an underground tunnel leading to a viewing room with tiny barred windows at ground level. It is wonderful to see the wildlife close up, though a somewhat dubious pleasure in the case of the very homely Marabou Stork!

The next day we were led on a walk through the forest, escorted by armed guards,one in front, one in the rear - rifles slung over their shoulders and fingers at the ready.  

We grew accustomed to their presence in East Africa.The guards protect tourists from possible animal attacks, but are also vital in the control of poachers whose ruthless greed is reducing the herds of African wildlife to alarming low numbers.

On this hot sunny day, we were also advised to cover up well, with trousers tucked into boots. The wisdom of that became clear when mosquitoes  swarmed around us and ants flooded over our feet in great numbers. Although tiny, these siafu have huge pincers that can inflict great pain upon reaching bare skin.

After walking for 
a while, we came 
to a clearing, and 
were delighted 
to see that tea 
had been set 
out for us. 

Sipping Earl Grey 
from a china cup and 
nibbling thin biscuits 
in the heart of an 
African forest is 
only one of the 
many lovely 
memories I took 
home with me. 

I strongly suspect no other afternoon tea I partake of will quite compare with this one... 

Next time, I'll take you to Kenya's Samburu Game Reserve.