The very first thing we did during our first trip to South Africa was go to see the penguins at Simon’s Town. It was our “baby moon” – a long weekend escape to Cape Town tacked onto S’s antenatal screening in Pretoria. We drove straight from the airport to Simon’s Town, arriving just as storm clouds gathered overhead. We spent enough time on the boardwalks observing the breeding penguin colony to feel that the visit had been worthwhile. Leaving as the first raindrops fell, however, we knew we would have to come back to do the Cape Peninsula justice.
Posts tagged ‘driving’
After spending a day with the elephants of Addo, we repacked the car and headed south toward the Garden Route – South Africa’s answer to Big Sur. Spanning some 300 kilometers (almost 200 miles) from Storms River to Mossel Bay, the Garden Route traverses several parks, with the main N2 highway sometimes running along the Cape shoreline and at other times winding inland into the mountains.
We sometimes wonder what goes through our young son’s head during our travels. He won’t remember these early trips – the ten European countries he visited before his second birthday, the African safaris and boat trips, the sojourns in New England to visit his grandparents – but does he enjoy these travels in the moment?
Four months in, we just might have found our favorite place in Rwanda. Picture gently sloping hills covered with tea plants that unroll like a green carpet towards a mist-covered forest. Now imagine that view as you sip freshly brewed tea with your breakfast, take a dip in a zero-gravity pool, or cozy up to a fireplace while dusk descends outside. All that plus impeccable service, which is a bit of a rarity in Rwanda, is on offer at the Nyungwe Forest Lodge.
We are far removed from our Kenya safari days when, unencumbered by a small child, we spent days on end jostling around the country’s many game parks. Our first road trip with Munchkin – when he was barely 3 months old and during which he slept peacefully so long as the car was in motion – is likewise far in our rearview. We were excited to take him on his first safari, to watch the emotions play out on his visage when he came face to face with the wild animals he had heretofore only seen in books. At the same time, we were apprehensive that he might not enjoy the experience, which would almost certainly mean that his screaming would ruin it for us as well.
Zion National Park is Utah’s Yosemite. It is big, beautiful, and full of massive monoliths that tower over a green valley. A placid river winds its serpentine way between the peaks, sometimes flooding the valley in monsoon season. Unlike many of the other parks we had visited during our road trip, which can be seen in a day or two, Zion demands more time and attention. With our stay in Utah winding down, we spent our last three days in the state hiking in Zion.
Spending a couple of weeks hiking through the Southwest’s canyons brings one face to face with the awesomeness of nature, in every sense of the word. Even as the unparalleled beauty of the region at times makes the jaw drop, it is impossible not to be filled simultaneously with awe at nature’s tremendous power. Just two weeks before we arrived in Escalante, 21 people drowned in flash floods in the very canyons that had drawn us to southern Utah. The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is famous for its unique slot canyons, but in light of recent events we found it prudent to adjust our hiking plans.
Our last night in Salt Lake City we set an alarm before going to bed — not because we were in any particular rush to get to our next destination, but because we wanted to thank and bid adieu to our hosts and did not trust ourselves to get out of bed before they left the house for the day. Our first few days on vacation without our son we continued to rise more or less with the sun, but by this point in our travels a week had passed since we left him with his grandparents, and we were beginning to regain the ability to sleep in.