Sunday, December 30, 2007

By the seat of our pants

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The route... Hoggies to Seymour via Mitchell's pass...
The mountain with a heart... just for US!
The pass goes down there.....
Getting ready to mount up for the next stop... one of many for various reasons as well!
Now where did the road go, this looks like the Roof of Africa!
A short while later on a really bad patch we got to test our ATTGAT gear... after getting out from under the bike, dusting ourselves off and checking that all parts both on us and the bike worked we decided to roll the bike over a bad patch...
A noob off roader... seasoned off roaders would have hurtled down here flat out... it did get better later on as I got the hang of gunning it through obstacles... I have more confidence in my gear after dropping Shrek three times... or was it four! So a fall would not be too bad as I kept the speed pretty low, using lower gears to brake downhill and to scoot out of slippery bits. I am getting better at this dirt stuff but without the proper gear it would have been very painful.
Here one can see the busted clutch lever from the last "drop"... need to add that to my carry on spares next time.
and here is a KLR solution... use a tool as a spare part. (axle spanner lever) It works pretty well by the way.
a Much needed respite from a very hot and sweaty decent.
From here the road re-appeared and was quite fun to ride, we decided to return to Hoggies via Fort Beaufort and Alice. I was not up to facing more of this type of road for one day.
Of course we were very glad that we had Guardian Angels looking over us, we will be more carefull next time as I think they worked overtime this trip!
"Remember that nobody will ever get ahead of you as long as he is kicking you in the seat of the pants." Walter Winchell (1897 - 1972)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Happy Valley

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No Clouds... Yipee! We ride today.
This bunch of moo's have never seen a KLR before and cam rushing down the pasture as we stopped to take some pictures.
Contented moo's in Happy Vally... a very interesting ride on the way to Cathcart.
a Contented KLR in Happy Vally.
Today we ventured out on a slightly more adventurous trip, taking the R345 to Cathcart and then diverting through the Happy Vally, not a road for when it rains as it had very muddy and clay like sections, but by this time had dried out well and made a good surface. This must be cow heaven, I have never seen so many contented looking cows in my life. Moondancer of course had to check them for ticks... I never saw any by the way...

We had Coke and fruit cake in Cathcart and returned via the R345, catching up with 3 other bikes on the way to Hoggies. This was a great ride and my dirt confidence is growing...
"The ideal life is in our blood and never will be still. Sad will be the day for any man when he becomes contented with the thoughts he is thinking and the deeds he is doing -- where there is not forever beating at the doors of his soul some great desire to do something larger, which he knows that he was meant and made to do."
Phillips Brooks (1835 - 1893)

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Hogs

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Geared up for our first ride at Hoggies!
The Hogsback mountains...
a KLR and the Amatolas...
Above Hobbiton on Hogsback.
The lower steps of 39 Steps...
The rest of 39 Steps.
Up the road we go!
First dirt! Now the bike is happy...
And the rain returns!
Our first ride here at Hogsback was all along one of the forest roads, had magnificent views when I stopped, otherwise I was doing my best to keep us on the road. We had great fun and even had to manoeuvre the bike through a locked gate... show me a 4x4 that could do that!

Our hosts M and JD are great by the way so it was a pleasure to help out with some of the maintenance around the place. Got to sing for our supper!Always watch where you are going. Otherwise, you may step on a piece of the "Forest that was left out by mistake." Pooh's Little Instruction Book, inspired by A. A. Milne

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Sand in my shoes

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At last... here comes the sun!
Shades of Blue, White and Green... on our way to Gonubie for a taste of sea air.
First things first... breakfast!
The beach and lagoon was the place to be...
Then we headed for Haga Haga to hook up with friends...
All the sand made me think of Dido's song Sand In My Shoes...

Two weeks away it feels like the world should've changed
But I'm home now
And things still look the same
I think I'll leave it to tomorrow till unpack
Try to forget for one more night
That I'm back in my flat on the road
Where the cars never stop going through the night
To real life where I can't watch sunset
I don't have time
I don't have time

[Chorus:]
I've still got sand in my shoes
And I can't shake the thought of you
I shake it all, forget you
Why, why would I want to
I know we said goodbye
Anything else would've been confused but I wanna see you again

Tomorrow's back to work down to sanitation
should've run back ?? before I left here
Try to Mama show her that I was happy here
Before I knew that I could get on the plane and fly away
From the road where the cars never stop going through the night
To real life where I can't watch sunset
And take my time
Take up our time

[Chorus]

I wanna see you again
Two weeks away, all it takes to change in time around by falling
I walked away and never said that I wanted to see again

[Chorus x2]

I wanna see you again
I wanna see you again


All in all a brilliant sunny day, hopefully we can get out and about on the bike tomorrow and do some Hoggies exploring.
"The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone." George Eliot (1819 - 1880)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Boxed in

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Still no sign of sunshine...
The steps up to the rest of the establishment...
Four days of rain can be a bit much, I am itching to go exploring on Shrek but in the meantime we will chill out and wait for the weather to clear. The quite and peacefullness is what one needs on Boxing day. Most of us spent time reading, listening to music and browsing the web... we are spoiled with having an ASDL wireless network... you could blog from the bath if you wanted to! So being online I was able to look up why it is called Boxing day.
Boxing Day is so called because on this day it was the customary for tradesmen to collect their Christmas boxes or gifts in return for good service throughout the year. Also, it included giving money and other gifts to charitable institutions, and the needy.

The holiday may date from as early as the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is not known. It may have begun with the Lords and Ladies of England, who gave Christmas boxes/gifts to their servants on December 26, or maybe by priests, who opened the church's alms (charity boxes), and distributed the contents to the poor and needy.
I trust you all had a Blessed Christmas out there...
"Boxing Day is a holiday celebrated in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. It falls on December 26th, which is also St. Stephen's Day.
St. Stephen was a little known saint who achieved eternal fame by being the first Christian to be martyred for his faith, and he met his death by stoning."

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas day - 2007

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Woke up to the sound of rain once again... the forest is covered in mist...
Got dressed for the Church service at the Hogsback Inn, weather did not permit it to be held at the open air auditorium.
A view of the garden at Nutwood's.
Then we went for Christmas lunch at Nutwood's... the gazpacho was delicious but not appreciated by all but at the end it was a most enjoyable gastronomic event. Much later we got back to the cabin and had to take a nap...

The day reminded me that the greatest gift of all we can give is Love and that one day the giver of Love will return, I believe it will be on a Christmas morning... reminds me of the song by Dido...
Christmas day - Dido
A young gentleman came riding past,
On a snow blue winters day,
He asked to drink by our fire
And I was pleased to let him stay,

He drank there quietly for a while,
And then he turned and said to me,

Your eyes are green,
Like summer grass,
Your lips are red,
Like a fresh cut rose,
Your hair is soft,
Like an Irish stream,
And your voice,
Is filled with sweet beauty

And the last words I heard him say

Were I shall return,
For you,
My love,
On Christmas Day

And the night will come,
But I won't sleep,
As I watch the stars that lead him,
I cannot place where he is,
But still my heart goes with him,
I'm saving all my Sunday clothes
For the day that I'll be leaving,
Father knows,
My sister knows,
And my friends,
They're happy for me,
And the priest he says,
You should thank God,
For the blessing,
Of such beauty

And the last words
I heard him say,

Were I shall return,
For you,
My love,
On Christmas Day
I shall return,
For you,
My love,
On Christmas Day

(On Christmas Day)

(I shall return for you my love)

And the last words
I heard him say
Were the last words
I ever
Heard him say

I shall return,
For you,
My love
On Christmas Day
I swear,
I will return,
On Christmas Day,
And yes,
I shall return,
On Christmas Day,
I shall return,
For you,
On Christmas Day
My love,
I will return,
On Christmas Day
I shall return,
My love
On Christmas Day

On Christmas Day




[via FoxyTunes / Dido - Christmas Day]
So I hope you all had as wonderful a Christmas day as we have had here in the enchanted forests of Hogsback...
"If you can get nothing better out of the world, get a good dinner out of it, at least."
Herman Melville (1819 - 1891)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Toadstools, misty glades and Christmas eve

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We took a walk today and found enchantment at every step down the misty pathways...

Toadstools...

Hidden cabins in the forest mist...

and misty glades where ghostly dogs played...

When we got back it was time to wrap the last presents for the tree...


and our hostess was preparing for a scrumptious Xmas eve supper...
An day that will remain engraved in my soul for ever.
"Each day provides its own gifts."

American Proverb

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Green Mountain

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We arrived at Hogsback! I never knew places like this existed in South Africa... more to follow. The Amatolas are greener than green! I got wetter than wet getting here though... as the weather caught me out I was not able to take pictures on this leg of the trip, however here are some from yesterday. Had a surprise in Pick&Pay while waiting for Moondancer to hook up with me for the drive to Ilifu in Hogsback where we were to stay in Camerons Cabin. KatieB was down visiting her parents for Xmas.
This is where I spent the previous evening in Queenstown,

The nearby NG Church...

And a looming storm making a glorious sunset, a perfect end to the day as I prepared to rest for the final leg to Hogsback.

"Mountains are earth's undecaying monuments."
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804 - 1864)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Heading for Hoggies

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Packing to go...

Chicks and Shrek... the chicks at Smithfield were not even frightened when I parked right next to them.

Steers and Shrek... Getting a bite to eat in Aliwal North...

The Pass... awesome, I plan to do the "up run" on the way back from Hogsback.


The decent from the Drakensberg. The pass winds down the mountainside in the middle of the picture. The ride itself was most enjoyable.
Left Bloemfontein at around 10 am heading for Reddersburg, Smithfield, Rouxville, Aliwal North, Lady Grey, Barkly East, Elliot, Dortrecht and arrived at Queenstown at around 6 pm. A leisurely day's riding.
"Little by little, one travels far." J. R. R. Tolkien (1892 - 1973)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I'm ALIVE

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Read the words, anoyher song with hidden meanings... after this weekend's video this song just grabbed me while I was preparing all the stuff that needs to go on the Hogsback trip... yep, on the road again in a few days...
I Am Alive - Ultravox

I, I'm moving through time
Being human by design
Life
Unfulfilled but divine
Never ending
How could I be so blind?
What is this world
Doing to me?
Notwithstanding the lies
All the tears I have cried
I've opened my eyes

Chorus:
I am alive
I am who
I want to be
Walls are falling
I am alive
And this is my destiny
The King is calling
I am alive

Far from the maddening crowd
Playing mind games
Way out loud
Pictures of heroes
Lined up one by one
Embracing the future I have begun

(Chorus)

Passing strangers
Artificial life
Slowly falling
Look out for me
I am alive

(Chorus)

If I run over the video one day I will post it, in the meantime I am alive and I am embracing life with all it brings, every experience is moulding me, shaping me, making me the person I am meant to be. This is my destiny... The King is calling!
"Ideals are like stars: you will not succeed in touching them with your hands, but like the seafaring man on the ocean desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them, you reach your destiny."
Carl Schurz (1829 - 1906)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Think Bike

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I have joined...
This is something I feel very strongly about, as a victim of "I did not see you" syndrome and my own non compliance to ATGATT I have the tales to tell and the word to spread...
Please look out for BIKES folks... and we mean the pedal powered ones as well!

Now we just need to do something about the trucks that spill diesel all over the show...
"In the multitude of counsellors there is safety."
Bible, Proverbs xi. 14.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

End of an era

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Well sort of, I am moving the postings from two of my blogs back here, I feel I am not doing myself a favour having so many blogs, so bear with me as I repost some of my FeXIII and One Reality postings here again over the next month. Some of the One Reality will stay where they are as they need to have a place of their own. Some will be put in their proper date slot here and others may be re-gilded to the present as I see fit.
"How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book." Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862), Walden: Reading, 1854

Elemental Creation

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The Iron Sun Credit: SOHO - EIT Consortium, ESA, NASA
Explanation:
The ultraviolet light emitted by eleven times ionized iron at temperatures over 2 million degrees Fahrenheit was used to record the above picture of the Sun on September 22, 2001, the date of that year's autumnal equinox. The image was made by the EIT camera on board the SOHO spacecraft, a space observatory which can continuously observe the Sun. Eleven times ionized iron is atomic iron with eleven of its electrons stripped away. Here the electrons are stripped by the frantic collisions with other atoms and electrons which occur at the extreme temperatures in the Solar Corona. Since electrons are negatively charged, the resulting ionized iron atom is highly positively charged. Astronomer's "shorthand" for eleven times ionized iron is written "Fe XII", the chemical symbol for iron followed by a Roman numeral 12 (Fe I is neutral iron).
After reading the above article it struck me as being a great title for a blog about science, as I am interested in Science I have decided to make this my science blog... not a daily one but as I find something worth writing or commenting about. So here goes the first for FeXII...
Update 4/12/2007: Moved back to RfaBD!

Rough Men

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"We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm." George Orwell (1903 - 1950)
Being a South African and an ex infantryman one relates to this quote a lot, our media is filled with reports from here and afar about all sorts of mayhem and in the meantime the politicians sleep, secure in the knowlege that a bunch of rough men are guarding them, not so the average joe behind his burglar proofed house or even worse the woman in her shack... methinks it is time for some rough men to wake up the politicians in their own beds.
Continuing the thread but in a more world wide vein makes me think of all the forces fighting Islamic terrorism, yes I am calling it by name, until the followers of Islam stand up and fight this blight on their name it will continue to exist. Gemany banned and actively prosecute any Nazism but hey it's ok to teach a 6 year old that bombing infidels or Israelis is ok if you are a muslim... Reminds me of;
"We can forgive you for killing our sons. But we will never forgive you for making us kill yours."
Golda Meir (1898 - 1978), Golda Meir to Anwar Saddat just before the peace talks.
I believe the people of this earth that have become victims of this most abhorrent terror feel exactly the same as the above quote... We do not want to but will if needs be take the fight to the enemy as the USA has done. Y'all out there that think this is about oil should read the Good Book, ah! but you don't do you? That is irrellevant in todays new age world... The devil makes those blind he has decieved.
"As close as we are today, tomorrow when we come back from that battlefield, we will be as close as two men can possibly be, sharing a bond that can only be forged in the face of imminent disfigurement. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother."

Jeff Melvoin, Northern Exposure, Kaddish for Uncle Manny, 1993
Comrades in arms... I feel for the troops in Iraq and Afganistan... I was a lucky one, never ever heard a bullet crack in anger, never ever had to kill an enemy but I saw things no young man should see. The experience made me realise how one has to depend on one another, later on as a section leader I learned that to lead was a responsibility not a right, having one of your troops silently lift the heavy radio off your pack and take it himself without being ordered is a humbling experience but you know that he would follow you to the gates of hell and back if needed. Thanks Guys!
"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." John Stuart Mill (1806 - 1873)
Ok shoot me for that one... but I agree 100% I Hope and pray that the resolve of the American people will stand fast and elect someone that has proven his ability over the last four years...
This was originally posted just before the 2004 elections in the USA. I still feel te same way today, 3 years later.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

What have you done with it

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When I look at what some people have achieved in their lives I sometimes get a chill because I have not climbed Mount Everest or run the Comrades or built homes for the homeless...
We live in times that seem to demand this from a person, sort of a price to pay for the opportunities that are available. Then I read a blog like
Attitude of Gratitude and realise that all is not lost.
I have been able to not do a few things as well... I never smoked, never took drugs, never did a lot of negative things that I could have... because these things are also there to be done, just like the good things one can chose the bad as well.
Not that I am perfect at all, just an average person with all my faults as a human. I just made a choice not to do some of the things that were offered.
One of the biggest choices I made was to be a happy person, to be grateful for every sunrise and sunset, this has not been easy at all but since I have re connected with my Saviour it has become a lot easier. I believe being a grateful person and showing this in your life is maybe one of the greatest things you can do with your life.
"Gratitude is our most direct line to God and the angels. If we take the time, no matter how crazy and troubled we feel, we can find something to be thankful for." Terry Lynn Taylor