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

Saturday, March 7, 2020

The 2020 Africa Journals

Chapter One:  
The Outward Journey and How It Almost Didn't Happen

This is ridiculous, I admitted to myself.   I can’t go to Africa with an unusable right leg.  How would I manage the airports with their long walks?   How can I climb into the high safari vehicles?

And what about the pain itself?   

Reluctantly, I made my painful way up the stairs to the computer.  My trip was already paid in advance and that was a lot of money to forfeit.

The leg problem began in mid-December when I noticed some stiffness in and around the right knee.   By the end of the month, that stiffness had exploded into excruciating pain in the knee and walking was all but impossible.

In mid-January, I had a dental appointment in Anchorage, but not one for the knee problem.  Finally fed up, I staggered into an urgent care facility where the knee was x-rayed.

The doctor explained I had an old injury in which one of the horns at the top of the tibia had broken off.   It recently moved into a position to irritate the hell out of everything in its range.

The cure?   No weight on the leg for ten days and a prescription dose of Motrin.   Well, that’s a hoot.   About as impossible as climbing into a safari vehicle in my current situation.

By the time I left Anchorage, I had crutches and a walker stuffed into the back seats with my groceries.   No sooner did I whine on Facebook about the diagnosis/treatment, than my neighbor Shawn called and offered to keep me supplied with firewood.  That meant he came over once a day, loaded up from the back of the truck parked in the heated, attached garage and piled up the wood around my living room woodstove.

Soon, he was joined by Terri and between the two of them, I was able to avoid that chore and the stairs involved.  After about ten days, the knee was acceptable.   Not right, but acceptable.  As for staying off it for ten days?   Never happened, but I found that if I kept the leg perfectly straight, I could manage to walk without too much discomfort.

At the computer, my reluctance was almost palpable. After some research, I spent almost $1400 on trip insurance with no look back for prior medical conditions.   A lot of money, to be sure, but a pittance to what I would lose if I couldn’t go.

I also took the precaution of requesting wheelchair assistance in all the airports I would pass through, both going and returning.  That was a fortuitous stroke of genius.   My knee still hurt, but being wheeled to the front of all the immigration and customs lines, wheeled to the distant gates, wheeled to the baggage claim areas:   priceless.  I don’t think I could have done it on foot.

Alaska Airlines wing tip art

My route took me from home in Moose Pass to Anchorage by truck, where I overnighted at the Dimond Center Hotel as I had an early morning Alaska Airlines flight to Seattle and didn’t want to chance being caught behind an accident or avalanche that closed the highway to Anchorage.   It’s a practice I follow often.

From Seattle, I flew Icelandair to Reykjavik, Iceland, changed planes, and flew on to Amsterdam, where I once again spent the night, this time at the Park Inn.   Though the hotel provides a free shuttle in cooperation with several other hotels, the bus is too large to enter the hotel’s drive so it drops off passengers on the street.   It also isn’t a straight walk to the front entrance.   You have to drag your luggage around an open, lower-level car park. 


Looking out of my room window, the shuttle bus stop is around the lower level car park opening, down the drive ramp, and next to the bright light just right of center.

All-in-all, about a half-block walk over paving bricks.

My very nice room.

Over the bed decor.

Part of the fun of travel is figuring out how things work.   This inconspicuous clear device turns the floor lamp on and off.

At left, a light switch.   At right, insert your room key card to turn on the electricity in the room.  You always know where your key is and it saves electricity when you aren't in the room.

Big flush, little flush.

The variety of shower controls can be mind-boggling.

But, I was now in Amsterdam where—in the morning—I would go to Schiphol airport and meet Marg Woods and Mary Baures for our flight to Nairobi, Kenya.

So far, so good.  A good night’s sleep, a nice breakfast buffet, and front desk assistance to haul my bags to the shuttle stop.   

Cereals of many kinds

Breads and cold cuts.

Hot dishes:   eggs, potatoes, baked beans, etc.


Nice dining room.

On my way!



  1. The rough start to an awesome adventure. Enjoying your photos on Facebook.

  2. First, the apology. I have been remiss in visiting your blog. No excuses.

    The details of your trip preparations made my leg hurt in empathy. Often, a rocky beginning portends a surprisingly wonderful experience.

    A review of your recent posts was a very pleasant experience with this morning's coffee. The Song Sparrow sings because, unlike the hummingbird, she knows the words. I am going through the same process on deciding whether to change, or continue, the current blog. Here's wishing us both luck!

    I will try harder to visit regularly but I am too old to make promises.

    Wishing you pain-free days ahead.