When I left you yesterday we were still expecting some more water. It never came. In fact, by sunset the river was well on its way to being back where it’s supposed to be.
Actually, the river’s drainage is quite effective and the moment new water stops coming in from upstream it quickly reverts to its normal level. The exception was in 1988 when some trees got caught underneath the bridge by the weir and formed a dam. That time the river rose until it covered the surface of the bridge visible in the background on this photo.
I can hardly believe it’s already been three weeks since we’ve returned from vacation. That convinced me to quickly share the last few pics of our trip before I completely forget what it was like.
I left you in the tiny hamlet of De Vlugt, about two thirds of the way through the Prince Alfred’s Pass. You would recall that it’s a gravel pass that winds for seventy kilometres through the Outeniqua mountains between Knysna and Avontuur in the Western Cape Province. The road is quite narrow in places and tend to rise steeply around hairpin bends. We took it slow, stopping often, and had been driving for about two hours by the time we reached De Vlugt. We were starting to wonder if the pass was ever going to end.
By this time we had left the forests far behind, but it in no way diminished the beauty of the mountains.
I realise I’ve been giving myself (and this blog) over to a lot of rants recently. Sorry about that. Sometimes you just need to, you know, vent.
But today I’m going to remedy that. See, yesterday when I got home I saw to my great delight that my neighbour had returned. His name is Elmo.
Actually, I’m not sure if he’s name is really Elmo, or even if he’s really a he. But the wife and I named him Elmo because we like Elmo from Sesame Street (who doesn’t?), we have a friend named Elmo and it’s fun to say Elmo the emu. Oh, yeah! Elmo’s an emu. Meet Elmo.
Emu’s are large, flightless birds indigenous to Australia. They are the largest birds in Australia and second-largest in the world after the ostrich. Emus are farmed in Australia, the US, Peru and China for their meat, leather and oil made from their fat. I’ve never eaten emu. I have eaten ostrich (note: not “an ostrich” – that would be impossible).
I am a firm believer in the saying, the joy is in the journey. When I travel I don’t just focus on getting to my destination, but I like to enjoy the trip as well. To that end, whenever we go on vacation I try to spread at least one leg of the trip, either coming or going, over two or more days.
With the help of Google Maps I then plot us a route that strays off the beaten path, as it were. I avoid the main highways, stop over in little towns along the way, and sometimes take a road simply to see where it goes. (Once when I did that the “road” turned out to be a quad-trail and I had to go off-road in my bakkieto get back on a proper road, severing the speedometer cable in the process, so not necessarily a good idea.)
This time around I decided to try the Prince Alfred’s Pass between Knysna and the small town of Avontuur (Afrikaans for “adventure”. I don’t know why they chose that name. It’s one of those places you’ll miss if you were to sneeze while driving through and I spotted nothing particularly adventurous.)
This pass, named for the second son of Queen Victoria, was built in the 1960s by Thomas Bain who was responsible for many of the beautiful passes through South Africa’s mountains. A quick online search told me that, even though untarred for its entire length, the pass is driveable with a regular vehicle and our route was decided.