Saturday, April 14, 2012


Easter weekend here comes in the autumn, and for most folks it is a four day weekend. Working on an American schedule, I could not take the four days, but Kathy and I - along with our friends Nina and Lon - did manage to get away for a couple of nights to do some relaxing. And, of course, some more zip-lining.

The morning of our departure began with these birds singing outside our kitchen door:

I do not know if you can tell from the picture, but these particular birds (Hadeda Ibis) look like they were drawn by Dr. Seuss. And they sound like it, too. The name Hadeda, in fact, comes from the sound of their call, a loud and rough "Haaa -dee-dah! Haaa-dee-dah!"

Soon, though, we left the crooning of our neighborhood birds behind to hit the road, where we encountered this wonderful piece of truth in advertising:

Our destination was Magaliesberg, just outside Johannesburg. For most of our trip, I mispronounced the name: "MAG-uhl-eez-berg". Turns out it is pronounced: "Muh-CHALL-eez-berg", with the "CH" pronounced as in "chutzpah". We stayed at the Misty Hills Country Hotel, mainly out of sheer dumb luck, as we did our booking late for a holiday weekend and it was what we could find. It turned out to be gorgeous, with a touch of color that seemed appropriate for the holiday.

The main entrance to reception was really quite grand, and unexpectedly so, given that we were expecting less after having struggled to find anything at all. Of course, our expectations were also adjusted by Google maps, which auto-completed the address with Drift Street instead of Drift Boulevard (which I failed to notice), and thus led us into a rather dreary, dead end and semi-threatening neighborhood in Johannesburg where the police pulled us over. All they did, though, was ask us what kind of car we were driving and then speed off - without much assistance provided in terms of finding our way. So when we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised:

The entrance to our bungalow was an equally pleasant surprise, albeit less grand and more relaxing:

The inside was rather nice, as well, replete with natural materials and light:

After settling in, we found a lovely spot on site for lunch:

Then, because the place itself, rather than being the dingy roadside motel we had expected, was a large complex of wandering paths, foliage and relaxing moments, we decided to wander around a bit.

These, to be clear, are statues. But very cool, nonetheless...

We even found, still on the grounds of Misty Hills, this castle in miniature, ready for children of all ages to release their imaginations:

We soon retired for the evening, relaxed after a long day of driving and an afternoon of strolling about in luxury. Next day, we had a leisurely breakfast, then headed out for the Magaliesberg Canopy Tour. We arrived, received instruction, were fitted out with gear, and then driven to Ysterhout Kloof, a canyon carved into a mountain side. There, we began zip-lining back and forth across the gorge, admiring the view, daring to look down, and learning to brake...

Here you can see my beautiful and amazing wife in action. She was the first to dare the crossing:

I followed her, though crossing far less gracefully:

Then our friend Lon, who out-cooled everyone else in the group with his jacket and shades:

And Nina, who always seemed to know where the camera was:

This is the canyon, or
kloof, itself:

And here are three of us posing cliff side for Kathy to take a picture:

The I went for another ride (there were ten crossings in all):

Most of the video I have for this posting comes from the folks who run the tour, but I did try putting my own video camera in my shirt pocket to see what I could get. Generally, I got cables against a backdrop of sky, but this one is pretty cool, I think:

Here comes that daredevil wife of mine again, showing me how it is done with aplomb:

Here is the only other of those camera-in-my-pocket experiments that turned out to be worth watching:

Here we are, enjoying married life in Magaliesberg. First in repose...

... and then in action...

Talk about hanging out!

Had to show you one more time how this sort of thing is really done:

We even had an audience, as a rock dassie (the elephant's closest living relative) paused to wonder what those silly humans were up to this time:

We are having quite the time, my wife and I ... Who says the romance and adventure ever ends?