"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Saturday, July 7, 2018

The 2018 Africa Journals, Ch. 1: The Adventure Begins--Back to Africa

“Leave Alaska during the summer?!!!”   I exclaimed when my friend Marg suggested I accompany her to South Africa in June of 2018.

I can’t do that.  Alaska’s summer are short enough and missing a whole month would mean missing a third of our summer.

Besides, what would happen to the highway if I weren’t around to pick up litter?  All my prior efforts would be for naught and I’d have to start all over.

And, what about the heat?    Could I take that kind of heat?   After all, when the temperatures here in Moose Pass reach the high 70s (God forbid the 80s!), I hide in the house.   Africa???   In summer?   No way.

She added Kenya to the itinerary.   Specifically, the northern Maasai Mara.  She also mentioned Zimanga Private Game Reserve in South Africa.   “Birds,” she said.   “Birds from a hide.   Lots of birds.”

But, Africa....

I needed some wise advice, so I did what I always do when confronted with a dilemma.   I went to my collection of refrigerator magnet philosophical quotes.   One, in particular, has never failed me.  

“Ever notice,” Marilyn Monroe is purported to have said, “that ‘what the hell’ is always the right decision?”   


The spring of 2018 in Moose Pass and most of Southcentral Alaska was awful.  Caught in a series of low pressure systems, cold and windy was the daily description.   The spring vegetation was at least two weeks behind normal.  

So, when June 3rd arrived, it wasn’t hard at all to board an Alaska Airlines jet for Seattle, where I connected with a direct flight to Frankfurt, Germany, on Condor Airlines.   At the very least, I’d have one month of summer weather in Africa, I reasoned.   My Alaska Airlines mileage account, however, was entirely depleted to get a ticket.

i saw many of these car suit7cases on the trip, but none as cool as this one in the Anchorage airport.

Leaving Anchorage

Heading up Turnagain Arm, first explored by Capt. James Cook, who sent his boat captain, William Bligh, to see if this body of water might be the fabled Northwest Passage.    It wasn't, so they "turned again.  Bligh would go on to notoriety as captain of the HMS Bounty, and  Fletcher Christian's mutiny.

Passing the small communities of Indian and Bird Creek along the arm.

Just past the ski resort town of Girdwood.   From there, we entered the clouds or I night have caught a glimpse of my home.

I love these seat back TV screens that show the progress of the flight.

Why, yes, it is in  German.   Condor is based in Germany.

Dinner on Condor.   Pasta, cole slaw, a rich dark bread, mousse, cheese and crackers.   Typical airline food.

All went smoothly and the next afternoon I arrived in Frankfurt, where I stayed overnight.

Early the next morning, I boarded a KLM plane for Amsterdam, where I  met Marg and Holly, who arrived from Canada.   

Ever get home from a trip and wonder where you were when you took a certain photo?   If these are tulips, this must be Amsterdam.

Ditto.   If this is cheese, this must be Amsterdam.

 From there it was a long direct flight to Johannesburg, South Africa.  We were met by a representative from And Beyond travel company and escorted to City Lodge, a very reasonably-priced hotel attached to the air terminal.

Dinner on KLM, steerage class.    Chicken, rice, green beans, a veggie salad, another mousse-type dessert, and cheese and crackers.   So-so, typical airline food.

My very nice room at City Lodge in the Johannesburg air terminal.   For a little over $100, I got a single room with a fabulous breakfast and the convenience of not having to brave Johannesburg traffic looking for an off-site hotel late at night.   Well worth it!

The next morning, we will negotiate the massive Johannesburg airport to a gate where our flight on South African Airlink would take us to Skukuza Airport in the Sabi Sands area of Kruger National Park.

 But first, breakfast in the large open dining area of City Lodge.

Marg making a selection from the fabulous City Lodge included breakfast buffet.

As we lingered over tea and coffee, Marg looked up and said, “JANE GOODALL!” 

Actually, she whispered it, but in awe with lots of exclamation points.   We all looked in that direction and there she was in living color, obviously looking for someone as she tugged a small rolling suitcase behind her.

By the time I got my little camera turned on, she’d disappeared behind a pillar, never to be seen again.

Can you tell I was star struck?   Hurry, hurry, shake shake.   The pillar that swallowed up Jane Goodall and I tried to sneak a photo.

Jane Goodall!   What an auspicious beginning for our adventure.


  1. I always admired Marilyn for her beauty. Now I'm thrilled that she had the wisdom to convince you to make your second trip to Africa. Beauty and brains, some are lucky.

    Seeing Jane Goodall must have been almost as cool for you
    as when I was in your presence at the end of your driveway in 2014!

    Love your blog.

  2. I meant to say that being in your presence thrilled me even more than you were thrilled by seeing Jane.

  3. Well, Marilyn may have given you the final nudge you needed, but ... Africa is such a lure for you, I can imagine with some confidence that your were heavily tempted already! Jane Goodall ... Cap said to me, "Who is Jane Goodall?" I have lived with her as one of my all time heros most of my life. What a way to start your trip!! We are just back onto a computer from having been in the wilderness for awhile. Your post was a good homecoming. Hugs. Patti and Cap

  4. Glad to read this first chapter! I’ll be looking forward to the coming ones!