Kruger National Park 2017

I probably warned you back when I started making plans for this trip, that you would be hearing much more about it.  :)  If I didn’t warn you – sorry, but this will not be the last post on it. 😉

Anyway, this trip has been booked and mostly paid for, for a few months now and by my calculations, I will be leaving in 153 days.  The only things not paid for are things like the car rental (which is booked), the hotel for a 1 night stay at Johannesburg (which is booked), the Wild Card for Kruger, the meals I will be eating and the gas for the car.  I have made sure I will have the extra insurance on the car for tyre (tire) and windscreen (windshield) damage, since I completely damaged a tyre there last time and have completely damaged a windshield here since then.

Most of the people that I have met online are people who have a lot of similar interests as I have (pets, wildlife, nature, etc), which is the reason we met in the first place.  I remember one time when I was driving to a picnic in Ohio to meet a group of people from an online mail list and the border guard looked at me as if I was crazy.  :D  The thing is that I knew these people (and the others I met personally) for many years before actually meeting them.

This trip I will meet one more friend for sure and possibly another one.  I should also get to spend time with 2 other online friends who I met last time I went to Africa.

I met all of these particular friends online because of Africam.  I still have my addiction to Africam and spend every evening watching the cams and taking pictures to post on their website.

Penny and Jurek will be meeting me at the airport in Skukuza and letting me stay with them for a couple of days before returning me to Skukuza where I pick up my car.  There is a good chance we will meet again in mid May since we are both booked into the same camp then.

Janine will let me know where/when we can meet closer to or after my arrival when she will have a better way of having her busy schedule sorted.

Gerda and I will meet in early June when we are staying at nearby camps.

Julia (Bushie) and I will hopefully meet near the end of May when I will be staying close to her camp.

This trip will be the best of 2 worlds – I get lots of time alone in the bush, where it is just nature and me, and I will get to spend time with friends to talk about the bush and nature as well as to share some photos. 🙂

I will probably be out of touch with the rest of the world while I am there.  Last time I was only able to get internet connection while with Penny & Jurek and for about an hour in one of the camps with a very slow connection.  I expect it will be similar this time also.  Once I return home, the rest of the world will be getting my stories and pictures here and on Face Book.

aug-12-026-800x600

I will end with a picture I took of a Waterbuck on my first day alone in Kruger in 2012.

 

Posted in Africa, animals, birds, critters, Kruger, Nature, pets, pictures, south africa, travel, vacation, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Fort Whyte Morning in December

It was time for a nice walk and where better to go than Fort Whyte Alive?  So, that is where I went this morning.

I was surprised that my first sighting was about a dozen Mallard Ducks.  I thought they would have been long gone by now – but there was still plenty of open water on the large lakes and they were using it.

2016-12-02-dec-2-16-003-800x532

2016-12-02-dec-2-16-004-800x504-2

I did see one lone Canada Goose fly by, honking for his friends or family – I hope he finds them before too long.  I saw 2 large flocks fly by my apartment yesterday.  They didn’t look like they would be stopping soon.

I followed a trail to one of the bird feeding stations.

There I found Chickadees, a squirrel and what looks like a good place for Santa to sit.

We don’t have a lot of snow, but the little we have sure changes how things look now.  The trail was slippery due the the slush we had when it first snowed that changed into ice as it froze.

2016-12-02-dec-2-16-032-800x600

This looks like deer and squirrel tracks to me – along with my own footprints.

You can see larger pictures if you click on them. 🙂

More snowy scenes, along with a couple of squirrel houses (I assume) and a couple of Bison.

It was a cloudy morning with a temperature hovering around -4C,  with no wind and the air was fresh so it was nice walking along the trails.  Other than one noisy school group, it was quiet and peaceful. 🙂

Posted in animals, birds, critters, ducks, Fort Whyte Alive, ice, Nature, pictures, snow, trees, walking, weather, Wildlife, Winnipeg, winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hoarfrost in the Morning

I woke up to a foggy morning and with temperatures below 0C, hoarfrost is everywhere.  I didn’t have to even leave my apartment to get pictures of it.  After taking a few pictures from inside my apartment, I decided to go outside to take more anyway.  Towards the Seine River at the back of the property here, I knew I would find some interesting scenes.

First, the pictures of the River Birch outside my window.

And now the rest of the pictures taken on my walk to the Seine River.

Hoarfrost always looks so beautiful when the sky is blue and the sun is shining on the frost – but, the frost happens because of the clouds and fog, and disappears soon after those are gone.  The sun is supposed to shine this afternoon, so I’ll see if any hoarfrost is left by then.

It is currently -4C here with a high expected of +2C.  Have a great day everyone.

Posted in apartment, Nature, pictures, Seine River, snow, trees, weather, Winnpeg, winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Riding Mountain National Park – Day 2 continued

It seems amazing to me that I could be on a 2nd post for a day and I haven’t even had breakfast yet – but that is what happened on my 2nd day in the park this time.

I was just leaving Graying Lake at the end of the last post, so there was the drive back to the lodge.  Of course, I am still driving slow and watching for wildlife, but now there is a bit more traffic around.

My only sighting on the way back was a pair of deer – a mom and her baby from this spring.  They were nice enough to pose for a couple of pictures for me.

2016-11-21-173-800x6542016-11-21-175-800x5992016-11-21-176-2-712x800

I wish I hadn’t cut the mom’s ears off on the last picture.

I had a wonderful omelette back at the lodge for breakfast and then I checked out to slowly start my return trip home (with a few stops on the way).  My plan was to exit using highway 19 to the East Gate, which is a nice long drive with lots of possibilities for sightings.

First stop was the Wishing Well road.

More of my “not great” pictures, but I believe these are Common Goldeneye.  There were quite a few of them further out too.

I took the little drive from there that brought me through the woods and back to the highway.  I was going to go to the Spruces, but I passed through a construction set up, on the way back from Grayling Lake earlier.  I would have had a delay there again as it started before the Spruces.

Then we have some forest and stream views from #19.

Please click on a picture to scroll through larger views.

I didn’t see any cars the whole time I was on #19 and it was nice to just drive and enjoy the scenery and the birds.  Unfortunately, the birds were on the road, which meant I had to take pictures through the windshield and those seldom turn out.  Two of them were nice enough to fly into a tree, but even one of those made sure that branches were in the way.  I believe I got some poor pictures of Ruffed Grouse and Spruce Grouse and 1 good picture of a female Spruce Grouse.  I also got more poor pictures, but decided to spare you having to see them. 😉

2016-11-21-197-800x599-2

2016-11-21-199-657x800

2016-11-21-204-800x599

2016-11-21-207-800x600

I managed to miss the Lynx family – yes FAMILY – that someone else found and photographed the same day I traveled on this road.  :(   I don’t know what time they were seen, so don’t know if I missed them by minutes or by hours, but it sure would have been amazing to see them.

The rest of the ride home was uneventful, except for a stone chip on my windshield that happened on the Yellowhead Highway around Gladstone.  This was my second stone chip within 2 months after 45 years of driving without it ever happening.  I went in to get it fixed before going home since the other chip turned into a huge crack overnight due to a frost and I knew frost was possible tonight.  This one was fixed without having to replace the whole windshield, so my insurance covered it.

It snowed in Winnipeg while I was gone.  Winter is here.

Posted in animals, birds, critters, ducks, Nature, Riding Mountain National Park, snow, tree, trees, weather, Wildlife, Winnpeg, winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Riding Mountain National Park November – Day 2

I like to have breakfast when I get up, but I didn’t bring anything with me to eat and the restaurant doesn’t open until 7:00 am.  According to the weather forecast, the sunrise should be shortly after 8:00 am and at the speed I drive in the park, it would take about an hour to drive to Moon Lake where I plan on watching.  So I made myself a cup of coffee and headed out before 7am without my breakfast.  I will be better prepared next time. 🙂

It was dark and because of the freezing rain last night, I was extra cautious on the road, but the work put in by the road crew last night, kept the roads in good condition for driving, so I didn’t have to worry.  I didn’t see any critters on the drive to Moon Lake and it was starting to get light by the time I got there.

Moon Lake was amazingly serene and beautiful in the early morning light.  The sun hadn’t come up yet, but I was snapping pictures and just taking in the fresh air and beauty of the place.  It looks like the lake is pretty much frozen and the ice is nice & smooth.  I haven’t been camping in many years, but that is where my thoughts were as I enjoyed the peaceful beauty.  I may have to look into the purchase of camping gear, but I know that it would not be this peaceful during the summer when there are lots of campers around.

I took a picture of the moon above me and a bird flying overhead also.  Wasn’t sure what the bird was until I got home and checked the picture.  One of my many “not good, but it’s the best I could get” pictures – but at least you can see that it is a Bald Eagle (I hope).  I also kept looking over my shoulder behind me, thinking that I might be in the wrong place for the sunrise, because it looked like it was coming up in another spot.

I decided to start heading back, but stopped on the road to get one rising sun picture. Then I stopped at Grayling Lake to get more scenic pictures and another rising sun.

This is the first time I’ve stopped at Grayling Lake, but it is a very nice little spot to visit.  There was some open water here, but much of this lake was also frozen.

Both Grayling and Moon Lakes are on the right hand side of the road heading north, which would indicate that they are east of the road and a good place to see the sunrise.  The road is not straight though and at Moon Lake, you are looking more north across the lake, which is why the sun was coming up off to the side and behind me.

I took a picture of a map and it clearly shows the picnic area is at the south end of the lake, so I could have gone to the campground or followed the trail and  got my sunrise picture right there.  Another tip for next time.  :)  Here is the map.

mwsnap02076-2016-11-24

I enjoyed my morning outing in the search for the sunrise anyway, but now it is time to head back and get some breakfast.

The rest of this day will continue tomorrow.

Posted in Activities, birds, eagle, Moon, Nature, pictures, Riding Mountain National Park, sunrise, travel, winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Riding Mountain Nation Park November – Day 1

The snow had still been holding off this year, which is very unusual for Manitoba, so I decided to head back to Riding Mountain National Park.  The days are so short now though, that I booked a room at the Elkhorn Resort.  Six hours of driving (3 there and 3 back in a day) pretty much limits the exploring time to nothing otherwise.  Sunrise and sunsets were on my list to see and photograph, as well as whatever critters and landscapes I could find.

On the drive there, I saw a couple of huge flocks of Canada Geese in the distance and then a few on a frozen pond by the side of the road.  I also saw lots of trees covered in hoarfrost, which looked very pretty.   Most of the small ponds were frozen with some patches of snow in many places.  You can click on a picture and scroll through larger images.

My plan was to head for Moon Lake, stopping off at the Wishing Well and Spruces along the way and that is what I did – without seeing a single critter, but taking a few pictures along the way anyway (mostly ice on the lake). Then I headed back to check into my room, which was right beside the one I had last time with my view of the stables.

I ate the leftovers I brought with me and then headed back out to see what I could find.  I hadn’t gone far (in the freezing drizzle that had started) when I found a deer.  Of course, I stopped to take pictures, but he wasn’t very cooperative.  He moved every time I pressed the shutter – but I’ll show you the best of what I did manage. Add the drizzle to his movement, and I hope you can understand that these pictures aren’t great.

After I left him, I turned into the Wishing Well road and immediately noticed a bump in the water that I didn’t remember before, so I went to investigate.  It was a little Muskrat hanging onto a stick in the water.  It took awhile to figure out what he was doing.  He would hang on the stick and then swim away and disappear under the water, returning a minute later to climb back on the stick.  I finally realized he was grabbing something to eat from under the water and bringing it up to eat on the stick.  One time he didn’t come back to the stick, but I found him again – on some ice closer to the shore around the corner.

Again – pictures aren’t great, but you can see him anyway.

By then it was starting to get a little darker and it was time to head for the Spruces to see if I could get a sunset picture.  I knew the chances weren’t good, since it was very cloudy, but the drizzle had finally stopped and I figured it was worth heading there.  The roads in the park were being sanded and driving was fine.

As expected, I didn’t actually get to see the sun – but I could see the clouds that it was hiding behind and they made a couple of interesting photos.

After making my way to my room, I realized that all that time in the car meant that my FitBit hadn’t been looked after properly, so I went down to the fitness centre and walked a couple of miles on the treadmill there.

Posted in Activities, animals, critters, FitBit, Nature, pictures, Riding Mountain National Park, travel, walking, weather, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Italian Crescent Casserole

Every once in awhile a recipe appeals to me and I decide to give it a try.  If you have seen any of my food blogs before, you will know that I seldom follow it completely though. 🙂

This one – found at Pillsbury is no exception.  I like to use recipes as a general guideline and guesstimate the amounts instead of measuring, and substitute ingredients for what I have on hand.

This calls for – 1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury  Refrigerated Crescent Dinner Rolls,  1 lb ground beef (cooked & drained),  1 cup basil & garlic tomato paste sauce,  1 1/2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend,  1/4 tsp dried basil leaves.

I used – the can of crescent dinner rolls as indicated, somewhat more than 1 lb of ground beef (cooked & drained), a couple of handfuls of mushrooms partially cooked with the beef, approximately 1/2 cup of uncooked instant brown rice,  a small tin of regular tomato paste with some water and various spices added (garlic blend, onion blend, basil), approximately 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese.

Directions:  In 10-inch skillet, mix beef and pasta sauce. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.  Separate dough into 8 triangles. Place dough in ungreased 9-inch glass pie plate in spoke pattern, with narrow tips overlapping rim of plate about 3 inches. Press dough in side and bottom to form crust; sprinkle with 1 cup of the cheese. Spoon meat mixture evenly over cheese. Bring tips of dough over filling to meet in center; do not overlap. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and the basil. 

Bake at 375°F 15 to 20 minutes.

I pretty much followed the directions, but my meat mixture included the mushrooms and rice as well as the tomato paste.

You can see their picture of the finished meal by following the link above, but here are my in progress and finished pictures.

 

It is quite good and I expect that I will make this again another time.

I am not sure why they specified the pie plate should not be greased, since it did stick a bit and I will probably at least give it a quick spray the next time I make this.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Baking, Food, pictures | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

From my Window

Last night, I noticed that the condos next door have Christmas lights on their trees  – so I took a picture.  I have to work on night pictures obviously, but here it is.2016-11-15-nov-16-16-001-800x400

This morning, I was looking at the dark clouds (our break from winter will soon be over), so I took cloud pictures.

Some Canada Geese managed to get into a couple of pictures.  Have a good trip south!

Then I noticed that some of the trees still had a leaf or 2 hanging on, so I zoomed in on them too.

The last pictures were actually taken first, in the early morning yesterday and the day before.    To me, the moon didn’t look any different, but I wasn’t seeing it at the horizon, where it was supposed to look much larger than normal.  I decided to zoom in on it anyway to see what it looked like closer up.  All the moon pictures were taken from my balcony.

Morning of November 14th

Morning of November 14th

Morning of November 15th

On the 15th, I brought my tripod out so I could keep the camera steady enough to use more zoom.

Posted in apartment, birds, Moon, Nature, pictures, trees, weather, Wildlife, Winnipeg | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

It’s Been Awhile

It’s been awhile since I walked down the little country road on the other side of the Seine River.  I’ve started to go a few times, but it isn’t as quiet as it used to be as others have obviously discovered it.  When I see I am following people I usually go somewhere else, since they would disturb any wildlife along there.

This morning I went anyway.  I didn’t see any wildlife except for geese flying overhead, but it is still a nice walk.  At the end, where I usually turn around, I decided to follow a trail that went between the railway tracks and the farmer’s field.  I’ve often wondered how far I would be able to go on it. It was a dead end trail and I had to go back, but it was good to have a reason to stay out in the fresh air a little longer.

2016-11-13-nov-13-16-002-800x411

2016-11-13-nov-13-16-003-800x6002016-11-13-nov-13-16-004-800x5882016-11-13-nov-13-16-005-800x6052016-11-13-nov-13-16-006-800x4752016-11-13-nov-13-16-008-800x5942016-11-13-nov-13-16-010-800x6002016-11-13-nov-13-16-011-800x5982016-11-13-nov-13-16-012-800x600

The leaves are all gone now and the colours are muted, but there is no snow or ice to be found yet.  Great weather for mid November.

Posted in animals, birds, critters, Nature, pictures, snow, trees, walking, weather, Wildlife, Winnipeg | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Day Trip to Riding Mountain National Park – Nov 9

It is a long way to go for a day trip – although not as far as it was to Churchill for my day trip there – but the flight time to Churchill was less than the drive time to RMNP.

Anyway – the weather here is just so gorgeous, that I had to take a quick trip there to see what I could see.  I left around 5:30 am and shortly after 8:30 am, I drove into the park.

As usual, I slowed down as soon as I entered to make it easier to search for critters.  Others are always in a hurry, so I would pull over as far as I could to let them zoom by me.

First stop was at the road to the Wishing Well.  A Gull was floating on the calm waters of Clear Lake and a Magpie stopped moving long enough for a photo.  I also took a picture of Clear Lake and the calm waters while I was there.

It is  a nice drive past the Wishing Well on a narrow road that ends up back on the main highway and then continued north.  I was heading for Moon Lake where a lot of people manage to see Moose, but so far I haven’t had any luck finding them myself.  I stopped at Spruces for a look around and took a picture & then continued.

2016-11-09-nov-9-16-016-800x590

By the time I got to Moon Lake, I was hungry, since I had eaten breakfast at 5 am and it was now 10:30 am.  I ate my sandwich before going out for a walk to the lake to take more pictures.

2016-11-09-nov-9-16-020-800x590

The dark spot catches me each time I’ve been there – at a distance it looks like a bear.

When I got back to the car, I decided to eat my fruit before heading back out.  As I reached for my lunch bag, I looked out the passenger window and saw a Black Bear at the end of the parking lot heading my way. :)  He was just slowly wandering over, but there were some large trees in between us.

When he got really close to the trees, a guy drove in and drove right up to the bear and scared him away.  :(  Then he drove back close to me (where he could have parked in the first place and allowed the bear to continue his walk towards us).  He got out of the car and walked over to the lake (where the bear headed).  Probably to make sure he was completely chased away so I couldn’t get any more pics.  In reality – he has no idea how to view wildlife – just how to chase them. 😦

I waited awhile after he left just in case the bear came back – but no luck, so I headed back south.  As I slowly drove, a White-tail deer passed me in the ditch on the left – LOL – that’s how slow I was driving.  She bounded along with her tail up and then I saw a 2nd one following and then a Buck following the 2 does.  As the first one disappeared into the bush, I suddenly remembered that I had a camera with me and I snapped one quick picture before the other 2 completely disappeared.  It is not a great photo, but it is nice to have with the explanation.  One of the does came back out again twice further along, but I didn’t see the other doe or the buck, so maybe they were busy.  I am guessing that the 2 does were the mother and her almost adult baby – but I could be wrong.  They were moving pretty fast.

2016-11-09-nov-9-16-031-800x490

Just before I started moving again, a Snowshoe Hare bounded across the road.  This guy was already pure white in anticipation of the snow, so he stood out now.  I wasn’t fast enough to get a picture of him at all.

I then went back through the Spruces and then to the Wishing Well road, but entered from the other end.  I was stopped by a Ruffed Grouse this time and it posed very nicely for a few pictures for me.

Two more scenic pictures – one of the sky and clouds and one taken on the road to the buffalo enclosure where I stopped for a couple of minutes.

I headed further south and took a drive through the town before getting back on the highway to head for home.  What a great day!

Posted in Activities, animals, birds, critters, Nature, pictures, Riding Mountain National Park, travel, trees, weather, Wildlife, Winnpeg | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments