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Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Trailer Parking

After a couple of days hiking on a rain- and windswept coast, we headed back inland to the Elgin Valley to hole up at The Old Mac Daddy trailer park for one night before our Monday morning flight. Trailer park, what?? It’s a sister property to Cape Town’s Grand Daddy hotel, and the “trailers” in this case are refurbished Air Streams, decked out in hardwood floors, claw foot tubs, and all the trimmings.

We were on-site for about 10 minutes before the four of us decided that ONE night wouldn’t be enough! So flights were changed, rental cars were extended, jobs were notified, and we settled in for two chill days of doing nothing in a quiet apple orchard. In short, bliss.

Raising a toast to our friends Phil and Marguerite, who welcomed baby Mimi over the weekend!

Raising a toast to our friends Phil and Marguerite, who welcomed baby Mimi over the weekend!

JG tests out the hammock chair on the porch of the "Birdie" trailer

JG tests out the hammock chair on the porch of the “Birdie” trailer

Interior of the Birdie

Interior of the Birdie

C having a float on the giant pool cushion

C having a float on the giant pool cushion

View over the pool from the chair where I spent pretty much our entire stay

View over the pool from the chair where I spent pretty much our entire stay

JG in front of our home, Life Before Colour

JG in front of our home, “Life Before Colour”

Clawfoot tub in a trailer? Yes, please!

Clawfoot tub in a trailer? Yes, please!

Rolling hills from our front door

Rolling hills from our front door

The black-and-white scheme of our trailer, "Life Before Colour"

The black-and-white scheme of Life Before Colour

Not a bad spot to while away 36 hours.

Not a bad spot to while away 36 hours.

 

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Cape of Storms

We headed back down to Cape Town over Thanksgiving weekend (my 2nd trip in 5 weeks; JG’s fifth!) to meet up with Catherine and her friend Steve. We headed out to Gansbaai (with a few – okay, five – stops at various Elgin Valley wine farms along the way) for a 2-day guided hike along the coast. Mother Nature had a few tricks up her sleeve, but overall it was a smashing weekend!

We had fun with waiters and wine-pourers asking the group where we’re from, replying that we are two Americans who live in South Africa, one South African who lives in a America, and one un-confused South African who’s where he belongs.

Setting out on a 15km hike through 50km winds

Setting out on a 15km hike through 50km winds

"Spookdorp" (Ghost Town). South African planning at its best: the government built a sort of national park holiday resort right on the sand dunes, which the beach reclaimed within 5 years of opening.

“Spookdorp” (Ghost Town). South African planning at its best: the government built a sort of national park holiday resort right on the sand dunes, which the beach reclaimed within 5 years of its opening.

Catherine struggling to stay upright against the wind (I just mistyped that as "wine", which is rather another story altogether)

Catherine struggling to stay upright against the wind (I just mistyped that as “wine”, which was only later!)

Self portrait to demonstrate how many layers were involved in this "springtime" hike. Sunglasses were employed as sand goggles.

Self portrait to demonstrate how many layers were involved in this “springtime” hike. Sunglasses were employed as sand goggles.

In the mouth of one of the caves

Johnny G in the mouth of one of the caves

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4 hikers + an angry sea

4 hikers + an angry sea

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Day 2 = much nicer weather

JG, on top of the world

JG, on top of the world

We did a bit of caving with the most enthusiastic old local guy, who gives tours for free just because he loves to show off the caves.

We did a bit of caving with the most enthusiastic old local guy, who gives tours for free just because he loves to show off the caves.

Whales! Hard to capture, but this was a mother/baby pair, and the baby was albino. So cool!

Whales! Hard to capture, but this was a mother/baby pair, and the baby was albino!

We walked by the house where we stayed with the Cape Town peeps for Halloween 2010!

We walked by the house where we stayed with the Cape Town peeps for Halloween 2010!

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Buenos Cape Town

I am not the daring one in my group of old friends, as far as international moves go. That title would belong to my friend Beth, who has lived in Mexico City, Sri Lanka, and now Buenos Aires — the last two locations with 3 kids in tow! Her husband Jake is with the State Department, so they’ve had some cool opportunities to globe-hop when not living in their home base in Georgetown, DC.

I had met her twin boys Nick and Henry, now five, when they were tiny (so tiny, if I recall, that I accidentally let one of them topple over like a weeble-wobble. What?! You know I don’t know anything about babies!) But I had never met Olivia, who is three — which is the exact age where Beth and I became friends!

So it was a fabulous weekend of getting to know the three new little people, hanging out with Jake, and reconnecting with one of my oldest longest-known buddies. And man, are those kids portable! They happily went everywhere we did – including out to dinner at a fairly swanky spot at 8pm, and (of course) to a couple of wineries. Thanks for visiting, App family!

[Despite my promises to take tons of pics on my fancy new phone, I failed this weekend. Hopefully the official photographer of the trip will have more to share when they finish up their safari and head back to BA later this week…]

Family photo at Groot Constantia winery. Photo setup was like herding cats! Hopefully the official shot (the camera that Jake and Henry are looking at) turned out better.

Me and Beth, with Lion’s Head in the background – which the entire family hiked earlier that day!

Nick, Olivia, and Henry on what was deemed “the beach of a million shells”, which was probably down to about 950,000 by the time these three were done with it. I can only imagine what the family luggage must smell like by now!

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Rewind: November

So let’s kick this thing off with a bit of a recap of the last 9 months. When we left you in early October, Roxy was seeking shade under my butt and JG and I were recovering from another epic visit from Devin and Tyler. I really couldn’t tell you what the rest of October was spent doing — though I would assume sleeping normal hours, drinking less, eating better, and getting ready for a bunch of travel in November.

Which brings us to… Virginia! We enjoyed our semi-annual trip “home” during the first two weeks of the month, and spent it in our usual whirlwind style. Including:

  • A fabulous weekend at the Greenbrier at John’s Aunt Jeane’s beautiful vacation house. We drank bourbon under piles of blankets out on the porch by night, and played outside in the insanely cold but gorgeous weather by day. We were joined by both of our siblings and their families, so there was no shortage of fun to be had with our 5 nephews and niece!
  • 5 days in Roanoke visiting our parents — including a mini family reunion at John’s parents’ house, some good downtime in my parents’ awesome new condo (where I had spent a stressful week in August helping them move, so it was good to see it through more relaxed eyes), and — much to John’s excitement — a Hokie game on TV! During normal hours! With chicken wings!
  • One night visiting family in Kenbridge, with more bourbon (by a fire, this time) and more freezing cold. Great to catch up with the “country” Hawthornes, and always fun to witness the whirling dervish that is Cousin Jackson.
  • One last night up in NoVa with my sister and her peeps, then we were on a plane again! It’s always too short, but we’re so glad that we get to see everyone 2x/year.

Once we arrived back in SA, we had a few days to unpack and repack, then we were off to Cape Town to meet up with Catherine! She was in town for a conference, so we flew down to spend Thanksgiving weekend with her and another Richmond friend, Taylor. Hilarity ensued:

  • First, on the way down, my flight was struck by lightning. As soon as the BOOM/FLASH struck, my (female) seat partner and I (who hadn’t even acknowledged each other an hour into the flight) immediately grasped hands and proceed to freak the F out together. Everything turned out fine, but it was a funny moment to suddenly find myself holding hands with a stranger.
  • Thanksgiving dinner was celebrated at The Grand with a few of our old CPT friends.
  • We spent Friday touring Catherine and Taylor around Franschhoek, complete with delicious charcuterie lunch at Bread & Wine, and our traditional end-of-day bubbles on the front lawn of Haute Cabriere. I love Durban, but I do miss the winelands!!
  • Saturday found us on the road to Hermanus to freeze our butts off while looking for (nonexistent) whales, and then to a lovely night in the Elgin Valley at a wine farm owned by one of John’s colleagues. More freezing cold, more fires, more drinks (I’m sensing a theme for November), but a night of bellyaching laughs with some old and new friends.

I think that does it for November! All in all, a fabulous (though cold) month, filled with many hours on many planes (only one of which was struck by lightning, thank God) and lots of friends and family. Next up: December!

Living the good life with sis-in-law Tracy at Aunt Jeane’s

I may have cheated on Roxy just a little bit with Cousin Tanky

Gorgeous weather and setting for some corn hole action with Jeane and Chuck

Johnny G under a dogpile of nephews

Cousin John + Cousin Jackson

Finishing off a stunning day in Franschhoek with Catherine and Taylor

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And the Rest of It

Uncle! Uncle! I give up. Two weeks behind on the blog? How did that happen?! Easy: too much fun, two sets of visitors, a nasty respiratory infection (directly related to the excess of fun), and an overall lack of time. So please forgive me as I put up a few lamely-described highlights of the last 14 days:

  • We took the boys (including Johnny, who hadn’t been yet) on the hippo and croc cruise at St. Lucia Wetlands
  • JG and the boys went for a tour of Victoria Market with affable tour guide Terry
  • Paul and Addie flew up from Cape Town for a long weekend! They had fallen under Devin’s and Tyler’s charms during their last visit, so wanted to come up to hang out while the boys were here.
  • We all headed up to the Midlands for a night, and then for a day of poking around at the little markets and shops and cheeseries scattered around the area.
  • We all (with Paul and Addie, too) went to Steph and Terry’s cottage in the Drakensberg for the weekend, complete with a road trip to Injisuthi for the day
  • Johnny coincidentally had a client conference starting on Sunday, at a hotel approximately 100 meters from the cottage — so he passed the boys off as “American consultants” and took them to the outrageous kickoff party that night! (I stayed back at the cottage to nurse my terrible cold).
  • We put Tyler on a plane on Monday, then had a couple of days of downtime before Devin headed off to Mozambique with Terry. We were so psyched that he got to see the country through the same lens that we did, and to meet all of the amazing people in Terry and Steph’s village. And because they are Devin and Terry, they totally hit it off and had an absolute blast!!
They returned from Mozam yesterday afternoon, and we’re just enjoying a couple of final (and relatively quiet) days with Devin before we put him on a plane Thursday night. Back to regular blogging soon!

Devin gets to know some goats at the Swissland cheesery in the Midlands. I was a terrible historian for most of their trip - this is one of my only photos beyond the Oribi Gorge day!

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Indonesia… 5 Weeks Late

Sorry it’s been so long since we’ve posted! First, we were on holiday; then, we moved; then Roxy and I were too busy being fat and lazy while Lizzy was busy in Virginia helping her parents move. But we’re all back in SA now, so it’s back to life — and blogging — as usual!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Our trip to Indonesia was absolutely amazing. My brother and I have always thought of our cousins as more like extended siblings, so it was amazing for Lizzy and me to get to experience Indonesia through the eyes of my cousin Sara-Manson who lives there with her new hubby Chad. Also visiting were Manson’s brother / my cousin Bo and his wife Casey , along with two of Bo’s buddies from his Hotlanta days, Disco and Christie – or as Lizzy dubbed them, Crisco.

Manson and Chad were the perfect hosts – everything was organized and booked, and every event went off so seamlessly that it was easy to forget just how much planning had been done. And it’s quite dangerous to subject a new spouse to so much Hawthorne mojo so early in the marriage. Chad was touch and go for a while, but came out with minimal scarring and just a slight nervous tick.

What a place, what a group of people, what a trip! Lizzy’s captions on the pictures tell the story, so please take a few minutes to click through them. I just wanted to touch on a few highlights.

  • The Chinese market in Jakarta on our first day was amazing – where else can you buy your eels, dried squid, live cobra, 80 cent DVDs, and wiener shaped bottle opener and stop by the temple for a quick prayer, all in one convenient spot?
  • And Bali is just super cool. The laid back vibe hits you right in the sweet spot, and I can’t stress enough how refreshing the positivity, happiness, and joy that the Balinese bring to everyday life is. Such cool people.
  • A highlight for me was having a local Yogi take Lizzy, Manson, and I through a traditional Balinese Hindu healing ritual in an ancient local natural spring temple. Absolutely amazing.
  • And the sights! I could have stayed on our 5 star villa for 6 months without getting bored.
  • The 3 (yes, three) massages I had during our stay were the best I’ve ever had – and priced at about $20 for an hour. The villa had the nicest, warmest staff in the world.
  • Our bike/scooter ride through the countryside, the art, the food, the market in Ubud, all amazing. I picked up the book “Stuff White People Like” from Bo in our White Elephant gift exchange – it’s an absolute classic, and is reminding me of how White I am as I write this.
  • The Hotel Mulia, where Chad works and he and Manson live, is stunning. The number one hotel in Jakarta, with 1000 rooms. And who else do you know who has a night club in their basement?!

Thanks so much to our gracious hosts for showing us your home country, and to our fellow travellers for a holiday we will remember always. Enjoy the pics!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Click play to begin, the speech bubble to turn captions on/off, and the arrows to navigate. Or just click here to launch a full-size view of the album.

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The Suitcase Life

Unpacked from Indonesia just in time to pack everything for our move, then unpacked into the new house just in time to pack up for a quick trip to Virginia to help my parents pack and then unpack into their new condo. Dizzy yet? I am. Hope to see you back here later this month, with an eventual wrapup of the Indo trip and a return to normal content and regular posting!

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