A Travellerspoint blog

May 2016

Cape Town During Apartheid

My visit to Cape Town during the 1970's

Dale likes to play various genres of music, especially in the evenings. It varies from classical to rock and everything in-between. This evening was no different as we were preparing dinner.

Tonight’s music was Simon & Garfunkel. Most of this music happened before we knew each other, but we hadn’t really ever talked about the impact of the music on our lives, especially mine.

We’d listened to several pieces and as we prepared dinner and then when we put the soup on the table, he put on “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. As we listened to the song I was taken back in time, as I always am with this song.

The year was 1970, I was on a ship that went around the world for college for a semester. We were in South Africa and apartheid was in full swing, Vietnam was going on, Kent State was boiling over at home. We were a gazillion miles from home, no internet, only snail mail when we got into port.

There were about 500 of us onboard the ship, it was a tugboat next to the mother ship. But small enough so that most of knew each other. We went to class while at sea and played while in port. But while at sea was when we cultivated the close friendships, as we were all one family.
While at sea we would lay on the deck and look at stars, we’d do jumps on the bobbing deck during storms, we’d cry for each other, everything that family does.

I had received letters from home telling me that 2 of my friends had died in Vietnam, we’d passed close enough to Vietnam to be more than a little jittery. The news of my friends’ deaths became more real.

In South Africa apartheid was everywhere, white and everyone else’s drinking fountains, bathrooms and on and on. As I am brown, it was very apparent that I was out of place. Fortunately, my friends did not see the color of my skin.

One of my good friends was a black guy. He, his girlfriend, other friends, and I would hang out, sometimes just the 2 of us, sometimes more. There was a car accident, he was taken to a black hospital where he later died. I’ve always thought that it was because of the apartheid, and I still believe that.

Another student, a white kid who I met the 1st day of our adventure, also died hiking up to Table Mountain. I’m sure he would have received great treatment if he would have survived long enough. But enough of those thoughts.

When we 1st arrived in Cape Town, we toured a college for “Colored People” my brown color actually, not black. Another friend and I left the nonsensical presentation/propaganda and went to find real students. We found a lab where students were working and we walked in introducing ourselves. We were immediately invited to dinner at one woman’s home. These students took us on a tour of the real Cape Town and the Black Area. It was emotionally shaking.

Then near the end of our days in Cape Town a friend and I had been somewhere and were hitchhiking back to the ship. A couple of guys picked us up and invited us to their place that evening for a party. The guys picked us up and they’d invited more friends to meet these Americans. The guys had found a copy of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” banned in Cape Town. We hadn’t heard the song until this time, but the song was so meaningful.

How do I explain what the flood of experiences mean? Friends’ dead, new friends who faced horrible discrimination, banned songs and my own experiences of discrimination.

Posted by Miss Chris 13:54 Archived in South Africa Tagged travel cape_town apartheid bridge_over_troubled_water Comments (0)

The Ups and Downs of a Road Trip

Side visits with friends and vehicle breakdowns

sunny 100 °F

Now it was time to pack up and go back to the circus we call home. We didn’t need to check out until noon so there was no rush.

We made a nice breakfast of potato, fresh asparagus, and eggs, with a little leftover champagne, then sat outside on the picnic table, set up in the shade of a Joshua tree, and ate.

On our way to Joshua Tree, I’d realized that we’d be near the grandmother of one of our daughter-in-laws. I got her grandma’s info and we set a date to visit on our way home. This is a plus side of a road trip.

We drove to Great Mimi’s house intending to take her and her husband out to lunch. Great Mimi informed me by phone that it was her husband’s birthday and they would be taking us to lunch. Alas, our plan was thwarted and we were empty handed as well.

We got to Great Mimi’s and visited for a bit then went to lunch, Dale and I each taking a turn riding in her wonderful car!!!! What a treat, great people, great lunch and a ride in a great car. After lunch, there was more visiting and cake and ice cream.

It's always fun to visit with Great Mimi, she loves my photos and always makes us feel like we are doing probably more than we are. She has such great stories, has lived all over and I love talking to her. What a fun way to end our trip.

We left Great Mimi’s and started for home. It was over 100 but we’ve driven thru hotter weather and steeper hills. Dale obsesses over our truck so we were sure we’d make it home fine. WRONG!

About an hour down the road we stopped for fuel, nothing unusual here. But when Dale went to start the truck, it wouldn’t start. It would turn over, but wouldn’t start for anything. We started to get very anxious!

We began to discuss what to do: have the truck towed to Palm Springs or tow it home, what to do with the RV, what to do with us if we had it towed to Palm Springs. Then Dale called our trusty mechanic in Bakersfield. Bob, from Eye Street, told Dale to spray it with anything then try to start it.

A guy had pulled up at the same pump on the other side. He came over to see what was going on. Dale told him that he would need to get something to spray into the air intake. The guy went to his truck and came back with a can of spray brake cleaner. Dale sprayed the brake cleaner on the air intake and it fired right up. It hasn’t had a problem since so sounds like brake cleaner is the way to go!

Posted by Miss Chris 11:39 Archived in USA Tagged road_trip driving rv outdoors joshua_tree_national_park vehicle_breakdowns Comments (0)

Another Hike in Joshua Tree

Another amazing hike

sunny 85 °F

Sunrise wasn’t so nice this morning, there were high clouds and not much color.
We thought we’d take another hike, not a real long one but maybe a little longer than the one yesterday. We consulted the hiking map and figured out a trail, actually a combo of a couple of trails.

This time, we packed up lots of water and snacks of hummus with raw veggies and trail mix. We then took off to the West Loop trail. We would start on the West Loop then cut over and back down to the campground in time for a late lunch.

The West Loop trail is labeled as moderately strenuous. Like straight up and straight down hills strenuous. No build in steps, only loose dirt, so loose that one can about slide down the hill using hiking boots for skis.

We got to the cut-off and thought that the West Loop wasn’t so bad so far, we’d just stay on it even though it was a 5-mile hike. It was after the cutoff that the strenuous started in earnest.

But even though it wasIMG_20160511_124319786.jpgIMG_20160511_110757761.jpgIMG_20160511_110132662.jpg a tougher hike than the day before, it was amazingly beautiful, many types of plants in some of the passes. We saw so many different types of flowers blooming from cactus to shrubs. This time, I’d taken my tripod so hopefully photos will turn out, but it was a photographers dream!


We got back to the RV tired, sore and hungry. After a short rest, we could hardly walk, our calves were so sore. But wine and dinner made it better.

Posted by Miss Chris 16:39 Archived in USA Tagged nature hiking travel outdoors joshua_tree_national_park Comments (0)

A Short Hike in Joshua Tree

Hiking the High View Trail

sunny 80 °F

Before leaving home we’d decided that we would bring a good bottle of Champagne along for a celebration. We didn’t have anything in particular to celebrate but thought that we’d just celebrate us because we could and we are old enough. We brought an older bottle of Iron Horse.

After our snake adventure we were getting hungry but knew that we needed to pay for our campsite and decide what to do. The ranger at the visitor center said to just look around then we could pay after we had a plan. We drove around the campground, this time seeing the rutted roads. After looking around and thinking about driving to other campgrounds in the park, we decided our site was quite nice and we left the RV where it was.

Dale popped the champagne and we started cooking. We set up our little portable picnic table with a tablecloth, champagne flutes, and good tableware. I remembered the sterling when we started to eat and skipped that.

After a breakfast of eggs, grilled salmon and sautéed potatoes we thought we’d walk to the visitor center. We needed to figure out what to do for the day. The ranger suggested that we hike on the “High View” a nature trail. This is a trail with marked signposts along the way. She gave us a booklet that had descriptions to correspond with the marker posts.

The 1.3-mile trail is a moderate trail, but moderate here is so steep in places that there are steps up the hill. And, although it is a nature trail, it is not paved so not accessible to people who have trouble hiking.

The trail is a loop that goes along some ridges then down into a valley. We got our heart rates up but with the stops at the posts we were not too overworked.

We realized ½ way thru the hike that we should document the posts and share it with a cousin. This became a way to also take a closer look at our surroundings. When we explained our plan to the ranger, she said to keep the booklet and share that as well.
Dale grilled some chicken for dinner but it got so cold after dark that we had to eat inside the RV. This time using sterling. Ever the class act!

Posted by Miss Chris 15:15 Archived in USA Tagged road_trip nature hiking driving camping rv outdoors joshua_tree_national_park Comments (0)

A Snake In the Night

A snake in the Joshua Tree Campground

sunny 80 °F

Before Dale and I were married, and after, until the farm, we’d take off on our weekends to go wherever we wanted to go. Dale had a VW camper van and it was quite perfect for the 2 of us. We went to Solvang, Big Sur, San Diego, up and down the coast.

We’d been home for a week from Dallas and Oklahoma when I just felt like we needed to be the free birds we once were. Drama and family issues were pulling us in and I did not want to be a part of it. Additionally, since there has still been no work and Dale is retired, there seemed no reason to stay put. Well, there are plenty of projects to get done at home and in the RV, but those can be ignored. I told Dale that we should just pack up and go to Joshua Tree and he agreed.

We decided that we’d return home on Thurs, for no particular reason. We sat down and made some menus, then packed up what we’d need.
We got a late start out of Bakersfield as the truck seemed to be presenting problems for which there seemed to be no fix. Fortunately, Joshua Tree is only a 4-hour drive, however, with afternoon traffic, it was a little over 5 hours.

It was really getting dark when we arrived at Joshua Tree and there are few lights in the area. We decided to go directly to the closest campground, thinking that we’d leave in the morning when we could find a better site.

We drove into the campground and up past the visitor center when the paved roads turned into partially paved and rutted roads. In the dark, we couldn’t tell if we were on a road or a trail.

We drove out from the rutted roads and onto the main road, not knowing where we were, and ending up outside of the park. We found a place to turn around and went back into the park taking the 1st site we saw.

Dale backed into the site, and we got out into freezing winds. After setting up the RV we looked around a bit. Dale yelled for me to come to where he was, there on the ground was a snake. In the light of our flashlight, it looked like it was a mid-size snake with its head up. Now we are not snake people at all, so had no idea what we were looking at, except to move out of the way. We were grateful for an RV and not just a sleeping bag on the ground.
In the morning we went outside, only to find the snake still there, still in the same position. Again, as we do not like snakes, we were uncertain. Dale found a stick and after poking it discovered that the snake was only a toy. We had a good laugh and suspect that whoever left it had a good laugh as well.

Posted by Miss Chris 06:52 Archived in USA Tagged road_trip wildlife nature driving camping snake rv outdoors joshua_tree_national_park Comments (0)

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