This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.
Leading up to the adventure, Sparky and LewLew make plans. Then they make some more plans. Again, plans. Then the Dutch come along....
This whole adventure started at a Wild Turkey Federation banquet, which should have been seen as an omen. The safari originally wasn't purchased that night, but instead a few days later after some harmless inquiries were made. Sparky - generally known as Craig Larson - and LewLew - frequently referred to as Kelly Lewis (me) - were the intial members of the adventure. To summarize the year following the purchase of the safari, a variety of people were interested in joining the intrepid duo, the variety committed, some of the variety un-committed and went away, more came and went and in the end, only Sparky and LewLew remained. So continues the story...
The safari was purchased in the spring of 2011 - three years earlier than the Dastardly Duo had planned. Originally it was to be a celebration of the graduation from high school of our youngest children. However, the price was right and we figured we could swing it. After all, a deal is a deal, right? Like so many instances in our lives, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Our dealings with the safari company were actually filtered through their American agent, a creature thick of Texas accent and slow to return emails. The general feeling between Sparky and myself is that this cat's standard reply of "Most of this stuff is set up on the fly. These guys are really flexible" doesn't leave a comfortable feeling in our collective stomachs. You know what I mean? A good meal of perogies, ham and peas, washed down with cold milk and an apple cobbler chaser kind of feeling, as compared to three all-bean burritos, a pickled egg and two litres of Dr. Pepper kind of feeling. At times I wish I hadn't eaten the egg. Even though our references on the company checked out, we often second guessed our decision. TOO LATE.
Planning meetings took place in one of two locations - my sun room, or Sparky's "MAN ROOM". Options were explored daily via texts and emails, but it was when we sat face to face and actually put some words to our ideas that things happened. By the time today rolled around, we had made some pretty significant decisions. KLM would be our airline. Guns were decided upon and the respective ammo obtained. Individual safari gear was acquired. A taxidermist selected. This is where we stand today.
Actually, there is one thing left that we can't do much about. We need to have a permit to travel through Netherlands airspace. We don't actually have to touch our gun cases or luggage, but we need a permit. The application has been faxed twice by me, four times by Sparky, and still no reply. We think that part of the problem is we were short a copy of our export permit from Canada, but that was included on the last fax. They have till tomorrow before we start getting lathered up. Tomorrow is blast off minus 31 days.
This is what the view from the deck is going to look like, or so the website says. I will try to replicate it with my version of the same photo. I hope it will be very similar, but will likely have a moderately dishevelled version of Sparky swilling a beer in it.
I could say the same for this picture, but I KNOW Sparky will be somewhere in the picture pouring some local concoction down his throat.
Posted by morganhart
The Dutch have come through. Sort of....
The biggest concern for the illustrious Sparky and myself has been the lack of permits coming forth from the government of the Netherlands. It was one week ago today that everything was faxed - for about the fifth time - and good ol' Sparky was able to get an actual person on the phone. I nearly fell out of my chair when I got the text this morning. She told Sparky that they have our stuff, but they won't be sending out the permits until two days before we fly out. Again, my stomach did a bit of a dive. I told Sparky that the best we could do was record the info about the call and be prepared to offer bribes with reckless abandon when we reach Amsterdam.
I am also in the process of getting my traveling partner set up in his own blog. I am trying to make things as simple as possible, because although he is a nice guy, he really isn't that sharp. Did I say that out loud? Oops....
Things continue to happen. Arranging travelers cheques, figuring out pills, looking at the a la carte' menu on the plane, checking out which movies will be playing - all the important stuff. I don't expect to be posting here on a daily basis, but instead will post short burst of info and thoughts leading up to blast off. 30 days, 22 hours, 38 minutes and counting, but who's counting?
Posted by morganhart
27 Days and Counting...
It is almost like waiting for Christmas. I was in to see Sparky the other day and he is also a tad on the excited side. He had originally planned to pick up some supplies at Bass Pro this weekend, but the War Department (so to speak) had other plans. Maybe next week.
I was in the city Thursday - which happened to be my birthday - and I managed to pick up some Under Armour upon the recommendation of a South African contact of Sparky's. Apparently there is a lot of walking when on safari, and the best way to avoid chafing is to stay away from cotton and wear some kind of moisture-wicking base layer like Under Armour. Little does Sparky realize I work up a sweat scratching my ear, never mind hiking the sub-Kalihari in search of zebra. I guess wearing this magical stuff is something I should have experienced earlier.
Today is Father's day, and I have already put a call in to Pa, but he has departed the bunker for town. I will have to call him later. He was up last weekend and mentioned the traditional family picnic which will be taking place on July 22 in Moose Jaw. I told him I would be thinking of him as I scoured the Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces looking for critters. After all, it is the thought that counts.
Posted by morganhart
Apparently, Africa is quite large and saying you are going to Africa is like saying you are buying a truck. People want details...
So, people are curious, kind of like those inquisitive monkeys on the animal planet, only most of them don't throw poo. The people, that is. Our itinerary has actually been solidified for about two months - before that we were in flux as to where we should go fishing. More on that later...
We fly out of Calgary in the afternoon of July 14. The plan is to be there with plenty of time to spare - after all, we are going to be taking GUNS on the plane, automatically making us bad guys. KLM won't let us book our "dangerous baggage" until the week before we fly, so I hope there is room on the plane for it. Once we get checked in and our guns are whisked away to where ever things at the airport go, I expect Sparky and I will find a nice place which sells kool-aid and we will have some. Especially if they have grape.
Once we get in the air, our next stop will be Amsterdam. Sparky's plan is to take some super dope which will allow him to sleep the whole way, whereas I plan to beat myself into submission with a variety of complementary beverages. Amsterdam will be interesting. We only have an hour and a half between planes and in that time we have to find our plane and at some point produce our permits for transporting guns through Netherlands airspace. Those would be the permits that are HOPEFULLY going to be faxed to us two days before we leave Canada. HOPEFULLY being the key word.
It is supposed to take us nine hours to get to Amsterdam, and then another eleven to Johannesburg. We'll see.
Once we get to Johannesburg, we will be grabbing a taxi to a bed and breakfast. Normally, the outfitter likes to pick people up when they arrive, but we don't get in till late, so it is easier to spend the night near the airport and then head out early the next day.
Our main base for the safari is outside of Nelspruit, South Africa. It has hunting concessions in both the Mpumalunga and Limpopo provinces. Our American conduit - which is an accurate description of what I would like to whack him with - has informed us that we could be hunting out of the lodge and from "under canvas". The lodge, as the earlier presented picture indicates, is pretty spiffy. The canvas version likely has a smaller pool, more commonly called a bucket.
We will be hunting there until the 24th, at which time we will be heading for Johannesburg via our taxidermist in Pretoria, I think. We will be flying MANGO AIR to Durban for our fishing and relaxing portion of the trip. Durban will be rid of us on the 28th and we should be hauling our tired carcasses off the plane on the afternoon of the 29th.
All things being said, it will be a busy chunk of the summer. Sparky and I are getting excited and so are many of my friends and family members. It should be interesting.
Posted by morganhart
A sight I haven't seen since we last took the kid Disneyland....
SOOOOO.... I went out to visit Sparky last night. He had told me he had acquired some new duds for the adventure, and he also had gained some new insight into our adventure. I pull into the yard and find Sparking sitting in his Man-Land, pining for the fjords. After exchanging niceties, he started explaining his new-found knowledge about the weather we will be encountering on our adventuer. He said we can expect temperatures of 27 or higher, and that I we are likely to poach like salmon in our own juice. He has been speaking with his buddy from South Africa, and he showed him a website which shows the average temperatures for our travel time. I countered with my own research - which shows we are likely to hit nothing over 23 degrees, but whatever.
Then it happened. He walked over to a weight lifting bench cleverly disguised as a cat bed and removed a cat from on top of a suitcase. He opened the suitcase and there it was - he was packed. Only 18 days to go and he is packed. Good grief. The guy doesn't get out enough. I won't start packing for another week and a half, but no, he is ready to go right now.
On the way home, I got thinking about the idea of packing that early. My initial thought that only kids heading to Disneyland for the first time would be packed two and a half weeks early, but I got to thinking that he may be on to something. If I was to pack now, I would know what I have and don't have, what I need, what I don't have room for, what I can do without, how much room I have for souveniers, and whether or not I am going to be overweight in the suitcase department.
I have many tips for packing when going on a big trip. First, take your most comfortable underwear. Forget the broke elastic or holey back ends. Wear them once and throw them out, creating new space in your suitcase. Same thing works for socks, but you can usually get a couple days out each pair, unless you have particularly soggy feet. Take t-shirts without anything printed on them and wear them one way, then inside out. If you are partial to the shirt, try to wash it in the hotel sink and dry over the shower curtain rod. If you take it down in the morning and there is a big rust stripe on it, wear it proudly or throw it out. Jeans can usually last for many days unless you are pretty sloppy. If you are in warmer climates, you can take your jeans and make them into shorts, adding a couple extra days. Regardless, planning to far in advance, or thinking too hard, can result in pretty strange suitcase contents.
ANYWAY, I guess I shouldn't be too hard on good ol'Sparky. Afterall, to each his own. We eventually figured out that between us we will have all of the eventualities covered. One of us will be just spiffy, and the other will be the hapless foreigner. Maybe I should at least THINK about getting my suitcase out...
Posted by morganhart