What is better than the ThanXXXgiving holiday?

I call it that because I eat dinner with my pants off. My favorite holiday when nobody is prattling on about their god of choice, or when some supposed magical man was born, died, or came back to life as a zombie. It is the holiday I get to cook one of my favorite meals, and the only day each year I get to use my Sonic Blade. This meal is the only meal where each of the side dishes are screaming to be combined with one other. I guess the roots of this holiday are a little horrific, but if the nutty religious zealots are able to look past their history’s horrors and celebrate, I can do the same.

I spend this day with ¾ of my chosen little family. We relax, go for walks, watch movies, cook, eat, and repeat. We are in a resort town that transforms into an abandoned ghost town when it gets cold. Nobody around, we have the place all to ourselves.

ThanXXXgiving 2013

ThanXXXgiving 2013

Final Chapter of African Adventure Redux

Our last morning in the Crater we decided to sleep in and had a leisurely breakfast. On our drive to the airstrip from Ngorongoro Crater the world turned back into something we had not seen for 2 full weeks. The road was blacktop, there were houses, telephone poles, and human beings living their lives. We stepped through a Tanzanian door back into civilization. We stopped at a place called The Tee Shirt Shack for a geocache. Aziza was marveled there was a hidden treasure somewhere that I knew about a million miles from home. She drives by and stops at this shop all the time and had no idea there was something else fun to do here other than spend Tanzanian Shillings. She was nervous about wandering around back of the shop, but the shopkeeper obviously knew the treasure was back there. She made us go inside and purchase some tee shirts before searching out the prize. Her eyes got big and she smiled when I said, “here it is!”

We continued our drive to the airstrip for a 1:40pm scheduled flight. We got there about an hour early. 2 hours later, no plane for us. We were stuck in Tanzania needing to get to Rwanda. Luckily for us AndBeyond has a policy not to just drop off and leave passengers before watching their flight take off. Aziza got on the phone with the lodge. They said there was a mistake by the airline, Shitty Coastal Air, and they were going to send a private charter flight to pick us up and get us to Rwanda on time. The private flight plan ultimately fell through and we were stranded in Tanzania. Oh well, there are worse places to be stranded, like….ummm….Rwanda, I guess.

We sat at the airport for 5 hours, no plane for us. Apparently Coastal Air simply forgot about us. The decision was made to bring us back to the Crater Lodge, unlucky us, what a dump. Sike. It is not what we planned or wanted to do, but at least we were somewhere safe with people that knew us. The rest is a sad story in history. We changed our flights home and had to completely miss out on the gorilla trekking portion of our trip to Rwanda. It is not the end of the world but definitely sad to have looked forward to this for so long, and no payoff at the end. I was really looking forward to being made the honorary gorilla/human ambassador.

Oh well, these things happen, even to the luckiest boy in the world. 4 days earlier than planned we started the 40-hour adventure home. We made it safely (obviously), and in hindsight we are both glad to have been heading for home. I enjoyed almost every minute of this trip, but I was getting close to tired of traveling. I think Wifey felt the same way, maybe a bit homesick. She has been anxious about the Rwanda portion of our trip since the week we booked it. All she reads is horrible novels about terrorism. Couple that with email alerts she had been receiving from the embassy saying there has been gunfire here and there, and tourists should stay away. One more reason I keep myself in the dark about anything that does not concern me. This concludes the final chapter of the African Escapade Redux. Now we sit and wait for hopefully our next adventure. Maybe Alaska? Or Yosemite?

Mt. Kilimanjaro

Mt. Kilimanjaro

All we were missing was a small Asian boy

Can you believe this guy won't share a tree with Charlie?!
Charlie can’t believe this guy won’t share a tree with him?!?!

Another experience this weekend that makes it to the top of the memories list, brought to me solely because of Geocaching. Being Indiana Jones is pretty awesome, Steven Spielberg already showed us that. Yesterday Charlie the Dog, Josh, and I set out for another unbelievably fun day of adventuring. We drove up to Lebanon, PA for the sole purpose of finding a Geocache called Raiders of the Lost Cache. We have heard good things about this one for a long time now. It is the most favorited Geocache in the entire state of Pennsylvania.  We did over 6 miles of fairly grueling hiking, which means that Charlie did about 10 miles. The hide itself was in a cave of boulders. You either had to come down inside from the top, or crawl on your belly from underneath. This definitely classifies as one of the more adventurous things I have ever done. This statement is coming from a guy that once drove the length of Trail Gulch Road, just because my GPS machine told me to. Once inside, the entire “tomb” was decorated out like a scene from Raiders. Fake spider webs, skeletons, snakes, an actual Arc, the whole nine yards. It was completely worth the drive and the hike.

2013-11-09-Raiders-with-Josh-139After Josh and I had our fun inside the tomb it was time to pack up and exit. As I got to where I could see the light of day, all I saw was a patient little dog’s head waiting for me. It was so sweet. We thought it might be fun to get Charlie inside and see if he was good at spelunking. It took a bit of coercion, but we got him inside. 2013-11-09-Raiders-with-Josh-191Josh took some pics of two best friends hanging out inside a cave. What a blast we had. Yet another top of the list life experience I never would have had without Geocaching. Here are some pics in case you care.

 

 

2013-11-09-Raiders-with-Josh-073

Science has finally proven that men and women are not the same

Day of Safari in Ngorongoro Crater

Men and women are very different when it comes to taking a massive leak. It is both scientifically and biologically proven that a man cannot hold pee like a chick. Men have adapted and are accustomed to being able to go whenever and wherever we please. It is a fact that if a man has to go, and his brain thinks he is gearing up to go, the next action MUST be a full bladder draining. Today, (9/11/2013) was our first, last, and only day doing safari inside Ngorongoro Crater. Quite a different experience from the couple of other Africa-2013-2310safari adventures we have been lucky enough to enjoy. We arrived to a spot this morning in the Crater that was going to be our breakfast spot and bathroom break. When we got there, an elephant had decided to post himself up in the parking area. There was literally an elephant right where we wanted to park. At that time there were plenty of other people out wandering around and using the bathroom. Some peeps were enjoying a nice breakfast snack, others were taking pictures, but plenty of people were out and about. I assumed we would also be stopping to eat and use the bathroom, so my body, mind, and bladder geared up for a well needed evacuation. Our responsible ranger, Aziza, would not let us out of the vehicle. It was too late to turn back the hands of urine time. Ranger Aziza said we would go to the next spot, about 30 minutes away. I justifiable got extremely grumpy and pissed off. I sat in silence until the next bathroom stop. The only other passengers were ladies, Wifey and Ranger Aziza. They have no problem holding it. Do I have to mention the scientific findings again? I was stewing about the situation, my silence showed them who was boss. In hindsight these are the drawbacks of using a reputable, safe, and reliable outfit. That’s not bad, 30 minutes of grumping for a trip of this magnitude.

The great, redeeming news was there is a Geocache at that other picnic spot. Imagine the odds of that happening. That made jimmy all better…that and finally returning the water I borrowed to Mother Earth. I knew there was a Geocache in the Crater but was not sure if we would make it to that spot. We did. Aziza never heard of Geocaching and seemed fairly interested once we explained it to her. She was not quite as excited as Rabine, but showed (or faked) interest. We showed her where the geocache was, and what we meant by “hidden treasure”. We let her make the find and took her picture. She was shocked that there was something hidden in plain site, in an area that she visits every single day. She had no idea it was there, but will now keep an eye out for people wandering around a certain tree near this parking area.

Africa-2013-2240Today was our only day in the Crater. We got up really early, before sunrise, and made a half-day out of the adventure. We were back about 2pm. The Crater is definitely fascinating, but for sure a “been there done that” type place. I don’t think I would force it on anyone. I am thrilled we made this journey of getting here and actually seeing this land formation. Driving down into the crater first thing in the morning the fog was thick.

The way the game drives work inside of the Crater is like a guided theme park. There is only one way in and out, vehicles have to stay on assigned roads at all times, if you can call them roads. The ranger drives until they see something, stop and gawk with up to 20 other vehicles, and then continue driving straight ahead. Luckily we were never in a situation Africa-2013-2255with nearly that many other vehicles, but we were told there could be dozens of vehicles at 1 animal sighting. It is still fantastic, but hard to compare when coming from private land concessions, driving anywhere, off roading, and only 5 vehicles on a 10,000-acre plot of land. It is a unique and crazy ecosystem, glad we saw it. We saw most safari animals and some we only saw here. The most unique part of the Crater is a salt-water lake in the middle with countless pink flamingos. They were weird to see in Africa. I think of flamingos as more of a Caribbean thing.

There is very limited fresh water inside the Crater. The entire purpose of every animal inside the Crater is to not get eaten and walk in circles until it is time to drink again. Then when it is time to drink, sidle up to the water and hope that nothing in the vicinity is hungry. Watching the zebras try to hydrate and not die should be called “The Thirsty Games.”

We are out of here tomorrow, Africa that is. This was our last game drive, now we are off to Rwanda for Operation Gorilla Hair Conditioner.

Pictures of the views and wildlife in Ngorongoro Crater HERE. A few pictures of our surreal accommodations, lodge, and the view HERE.

View at sunrise

View at sunrise