Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Maxine Visits the USA - Angels Landing

So here we go - after a relaxing Sunday, Monday brought high adventure.  We hiked Angel's landing in Zion National Park.  It's not for the faint of heart.  Cliffs of around 1,500 feet surround you as you hike up a pinacle of rock that ultimately has a spectacular view.

This is the trail we climbed from the bottom of Zion Canyon to get to the top.

Brennen, Bruce and Maxine made it up to the top while Lisa and the kids played with tadpoles and snakes in the river below.

The view from on top.

After straining a few muscles...success.  We made it.

We hung around on top for about 25 mins before we headed back down.

Some quick video of the occasion.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Back to Johannesburg

We left on another rainy morning - glad to be leaving the wet and cold behind.

We had a 6+ hour drive to Johannesburg - we even saw snow on the Drakensburg Mountains - and snow in the mountain pass.  People were pulled over to take pictures and touch the snow.  Snow in Africa was a new sight for Bruce even though it wasn't much.

Some views from our drive:

More houses that I can't get enough of.

The Johannesburg skyline.

The sunset as we were coming into Johannesburg.

Our last day in Johannesburg:

Of course - shopping!!

This is Betty - Bruce's 2nd mom.  She has been with their family since Bruce was a little boy.

We are sad to be at the end of our trip.  It has been an amazing experience for all of us.  Being with Bruce's family has been more necessary than we ever could have known.  It has been great to be with them.  And, experiencing some of Africa has opened our eyes and helped us appreciate more all that we have.

Beach Day

Finally!  A beach day!

looking down our stairs to the beach

view down the beach - Bruce in the yellow

Why we aren't swimming on our beach day!  Because of the storms there were plenty of sharks in the water.  They found 2 in the shark nets this morning and some inside the nets.  No Swimming!!

So, we had literally a beach day - playing on the beach.  But, it was still great.

We were right next to a tidal pool/swimming area - and even though the Indian Ocean was rough and not very warm this time of year, our kids still resorted to swimming wherever they could.

We also found lots of sand crabs and shells.

My favorite thing to do on the beach!

The ship you can see in the distance is a ship that wrecked during the storm and ran aground.  We had watched the rescue helicopters during the storm.  Today we watched helicopters haul equipment out to the ship to pump out the oil they were illegally carrying. 

Our beach house.  The kids did swim in the freezing cold pool for a few minutes.  Sometimes you will do anything when you are desperate!

Sunset at the end of the day!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Brennen's African Birthday

Today is Brennen's 15th birthday!!  The day dawned looking like this:

Still gray and cloudy

Brennen with her birthday "ice cream" cake and sparkling candles

We decided to do something we hadn't done yet - and headed off to the Emdoneni Lodge Cat Rehabilitation Center.  This was the highlight of Spencer's trip to Africa.

Here is what we saw and did:

This is a Caracal.   It is related to the Lynx and is an amazing jumper.

It was feeding time and he was jumping to get his dinner. (some raw chicken)

This is a Serval.  Also a great jumper.

Licking out the feeding bucket.

We also saw African Wildcats, but they look pretty much like your regular house cat.  The highlight was this:

This is a 2 year old male Cheetah.

There were 2 male and 2 female Cheetahs.  This is one of the males.

After Spencer's picture, he said, "Okay, I can die now."  He spent the rest of the day scheming how he is going to get a pet Cheetah.

We learned a few things about Cheetahs:  They have non-retractable claws (and they are pretty vicious looking), they can run 120km per hour (75 mph) for 400 meters then need a break, there are only 7,000 Cheetahs left in South Africa and only 1 species left, their tails are basically the steering wheel and the brakes, they 'meow', and even tame - they are still a little scary sometimes.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rained Out

When you hear the words "This is the worst winter we have had in 20 years" - do you wonder why you are there?

Our 'beach vacation' week has been hurricane winds and torrential rains so far.  Of course, Sunday was beautiful - but Monday and Tuesday have been rain and more rain, and cold. (Remember it is winter here!)

However... Do you think that would stop my kids from trying to head to the beach?  Of course not.  Brennen and McKenzie thought they could still boogie board.  "What?  We are going to get wet anyway!"  

Ready to go out

You can see how gray and rough the ocean is looking

This is returning about 4.2 minutes later (and Brennen didn't even get in the water).

McKenzie and Spencer have both found huge sand crabs during the short times we've walked on the beach.  It is supposed to clear up in the next couple of days, so we should get at least a day to lounge on the beach!

We have hung out, read, shopped, and been to more members homes for dinner.  Today we drove to Amanzimtoti to a sort of orphanage.  Fifteen children who have been abandoned in different situations have been adopted by one lady.  A service organization out of Holland has sent in several volunteers that will stay for a couple of weeks at a time and help with schooling, homework, cooking, building, etc...  We toured their facility and learned about what they are doing there.  It is an incredible organization. 

Trying to find this place today we were driving around for over an hour - looking for the street, but we had missed one road and all the street signs have been stolen so it was difficult to find where we were going.  I am fascinated by the homes and living conditions we see.  Here are more homes we saw today:

This was our favorite new way to deal with the rain - wear a plasic bag on your head.  We've seen lots of people wearing garbage bags and attempts at using umbrellas, but this was the best.

This is Seke - she is the 2 year old daughter of one of the maids here.  We gave her a Happy Factory car and the next time we saw her it was strapped onto her back.  We loved it!