November 10, 2014

November 10, 2014

We got up and had breakfast.  Mark had two eggs on top of pancakes and I opted for yogurt and American pancakes.  What we’ve noticed on our trip is that pancakes are more like crepes, so I was interested in seeing what these American pancakes would be like.  Wow, these are about 1 ½” tall and 3” diameter – but they tasted like what I’m used to.  We took a taxi to get to our swamp tour and saw people going about their everyday lives.  As usual, women had wrapped their babies in a large cloth and had the slings, hanging low on their backs.  It’s very common here and must be the preferred way of carrying a baby in Africa as we saw it in Tanzania as well.

It took about one hour to drive on dirt roads from Entebbe to the home of the Shoebill stork in the Mabamba Swamp, about 30 miles west of Kampala.  Mabamba Swamp is an extensive marsh stretching through a long narrow bay, fringed with papyrus towards the western main body of Lake Victoria.  The small village where the boats leave from is poor and we’re slightly nervous about the conspicuous nature of our expensive camera gear, but since this is a popular tour site, we are probably fine.  We are friendly and smile at everyone we see.  Our guide is Hannington, and he and another man took us out in his fishing boat.  It had a motor on the back and they used long poles to get us through the crowded grasses.  The day is beautiful!  There are numerous, beautiful, purple water lilies.  We found the shoebill without a problem.  What an interesting looking bird.  The incredibly large beak of the Shoebill helps it to scoop up its prey:  lungfish, catfish, frogs, and water snakes.  They can also use it to store water to take to dribble over its eggs or young during the heat of the day.  It really is an interesting, prehistoric-looking bird.   After we had taken several photos, we started heading back and we took photos of a few other birds.  We saw a Jacana, a beautiful malachite kingfisher, a goliath heron, and a couple of long-toed plovers.  We enjoyed the hour-long ride, but wished they would have kept us for two.  Since the mission of seeing the shoebill happened in the first ten minutes, I think they had decided that it would be a one hour tour.  The taxi had cost us $60 and the boat ride was $52.  We made it back to Carpe Diem and got cleaned up and repacked.  We were ready to go at 9:30 for our midnight flight.  Rogers got us to the airport and we thanked him and bid farewell.

The computers were down at the airport and after standing and waiting with our heavy backpacks and luggage, they started hand-writing the paperwork.  Long lines, weary travelers, over-worked employees.  Oh well.  We finally made it onboard and had an uneventful flight; we ate…we slept.  We made it to Heathrow in London and bought keychains for the kids for souvenirs.  The flight back to the US was just as expected and we survived customs as well in Philadelphia, before arriving back at home, tired, but happy after a 27 hours of flight.  What an adventure.

Now that the trip is over, we can compare and contrast how different our lives are in the US to those living in Tanzania and Uganda.  The kids we saw in Africa appeared to be so happy and carefree.  There doesn’t seem to be a lot of fear or over-protective parenting that we have here in the US.  The children played freely outside in their yards and walked next to the highway without fear.  They seemed so joyful.  “Hi, hi, hi, Mzumba!” as they ran and waved with big smiles.  Women washed clothes in the river or in buckets on their porches, with their babies on their backs, and transported whatever needed to be carried on their heads.  As expected, there were varying degrees of poverty.  It was strange to see a Maasai warrior, in his traditional garb, walking down the road, talking on a cell phone.   There were people walking everywhere, sometimes they seemed to have such a long journey ahead of them and I wondered if it’s a daily trip for them.  They have simple houses and if they are lucky, they have electricity.  As we would drive past, we could sometimes see the strained looks from the adults; other times there was a happy smile and a wave, just like the children.  Both countries were so incredibly beautiful.  The different cultures were so very interesting.  The people were beautiful and had a lot of pride.  The animals were also amazing and seemed to have a better sense of self-preservation than the animals in the US.  In Africa, they would jump away from the road as we would fly past.  This was a trip of a life-time and we will never forget it!  Maybe…just maybe, we’ll go back.  Good luck follows us everywhere!  But for now, we have 13,000 photos to go through.  ~ Mary & Mark

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November 9, 2014

November 9, 2014

We woke up to the sounds of a nearby mosque singing the morning prayers at 5 AM.  We had breakfast and said our goodbyes.  We’re off to Kampala to pick up our luggage.  We stopped to take a photo of a baboon sitting in the road.  We headed north out of Kibale and passed through Ft. Portal where we turned east on A109.  We also passed through Kyenjojo, Matiri, Kyegegwa, Mubende, Mityana, Bujuko, Buloba, Bulenga, Busega, and finally made it to Kampala.

As we passed through these little villages, we passed many people walking to and from church.  There are lots of furniture stores, with furniture sets outside.  It seems so dusty and I wonder what they do when it rains.  I suppose they get covered with tarps right away.  Once again, we see all of the colorful metal bunk beds in doubles and triples.  A triple bunk bed is something we don’t see at home!   People were transporting water, banana beer or banana gin in large yellow 4 liter containers.  We saw a roadside stand with small containers and a funnel.  I asked Rogers about this and he thinks they were selling small quantities of petrol or perhaps banana gin.  He indicates that it might be illegal to do that, but people will try to get away with it.   We also see a tawny eagle snatching a mouse on the shoulder of the road.  People take a lot of pride in their cars and motorcycles.  We frequently see them pulled off the side of the road and the owner washing their vehicle using drainage ditch water and rags.  Once again, women are washing clothes in the river and laying them out on bushes or rocks to dry. Then we saw the most amazing sight – a man transporting a red love seat strapped to the back of his motorcycle.  A little farther up the road, we saw another motorcycle with the two matching upholstered chairs, nested and strapped on to it.  Wow!  Rogers said, that sometimes people will buy new furniture, because they will be inviting their families to their homes at Christmas and it is a sign of success to have new furniture.  We made it to Kampala, picked up our luggage from the Fairway Inn, and explained that our plans had changed and we headed off to Intebbe, where Rogers and Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp had arranged new accommodations for us at Carpe Diem Guest House.  As we came into the city, the traffic was even more congested.  We even saw a cow eating beside the road in the city; it was really out of place.  Then, we saw something that really made us laugh.  A passenger on a motorcycle was carrying a mirror, about 3 ½’ x 3’ on his lap.  It was a weird optical illusion, as the driver was in front of him, but all we could see was the reflection of the passenger with the mirror!  It was such crazy traffic that we wondered if the mirror would arrive in one piece.  We passed the same grasshopper gathering sheet metal business that we had seen when we came to Intebbe, November 3.  We asked Rogers if he enjoyed eating the grasshopper snacks.  He laughed and said, “No. In his tribe, the grasshopper is their totem, so they don’t eat it.”  Hmm.  The different cultures are very interesting. Traffic was heavy, and it took us all day to get to our hotel, Carpe Diem Guest House.  We sat and talked to the owner, a young woman from the UK that married a local man and is expecting a baby.  We discussed a plan to replace the whitewater rafting trip on the Nile that we had had to scrap due to time restraints.  We settled on going in a wooden boat to see if we could find the rare shoebill stork in the Mabamba Swamp.  Actually, we had never heard of the shoebill, but apparently it’s a big deal in the birding community.  It sounded like fun.  We got settled into our very nice room, and took a bath.  Then, we had a nice dinner.  Mark had a t-bone steak and I had crumbed tilapia, and we shared a brownie with ice cream and a bottle of Leopards Leap Merlot, 2011.  This was special to us as we had made a batch of Stags Leap Merlot last spring (with Tony & Shelly Fisher) at Water to Wine in Denver, and had created a label for our 19 bottles, showing Mark swinging off the Diamant sail boat, when we were in the Grenadines, celebrating our 10th anniversary.  We took a 360 degree time-lapse video and then decided that we should take a time-lapse of the sunset over Lake Victoria.   Interestingly, this bed & breakfast is only about a block from the Executive Hotel, where we stayed our first night in Intebbe.  It was about $20 more, but so much nicer.  Our room is quite warm, but we have two fans.  We slept with the windows open and a net over the bed.  We got an 8 ½ hour sleep.  We needed it!   ~ Mary & Mark

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November 8, 2014

November 8, 2014 – Chimpanzee Trekking

After breakfast, we were off to see the chimpanzees.  Rogers drove us to Kibale (pronounced chi-ball-ee) National Park.  Kibale National Park is home to more than 1,400 chimpanzees.  Hiking through the rainforest to spot some of the chimpanzees that have been habituated for human visitors was near the top of our list of things to do in Uganda, and we were really looking forward to the adventure.  It takes at least two years of constant daily observation to get a chimpanzee troop to feel comfortable enough with human presence for safari chimpanzee treks to succeed.  Chimpanzees share 98.6 percent of human DNA and much of our behaviors, which is why observing these primates in the wild is so engaging.  The Kibale Chimpanzee Project is based in Kibale National Park, just east of the Ruwenzori Mountains in southwestern Uganda.  The park, established in 1993, encompasses 795 square kilometers of primarily moist evergreen and semi-deciduous forest.  Kibale’s rich ecosystem is highlighted by diverse populations of birds, butterflies, and mammals, including 13 primate species.  Four chimpanzee communities have been fully or partly habituated to humans for research or tourism.

We stopped and picked up our guide, Florence – a thirty year old woman!  She brings along rifle to protect us.  Then we continued on to the ranger station and met a porter that Rogers had secured for me for $30.  They don’t normally have porters, but I really felt that I needed one, and Rogers had come through for us.  His name is Shariffe and he is 28 years old.  He and Florence are both really nice.  We head off into the forest, which had a flat terrain, so I was happy about that.  We had been warned that we might have to hike for a good distance before we found any chimpanzees – if we found them at all.  Nonetheless, soon after beginning our trek in the forest, Florence was listening and located a couple of chimps high in the trees.  It’s a good thing I had Shariffe carrying my backpack and camera, because right away, I tripped over a vine and fell flat.  My left knee hit first, and then my left hand. I got up and dusted myself off and we carried on.  I noticed that my pant leg was turning red, but made no mention of it as I didn’t want to alarm anyone.  We continued on and saw a couple of chimps that we couldn’t keep up with.  We moved onto a service road, and saw a group of tourists ahead of us.   There was a chimp and we all took photos.  We moved on by ourselves, and then, we heard the screaming of the chimps.  Wow, this is very different than the quiet gorillas.  The chimps are loud!  Florence says that they are just communicating.  The alpha male might be telling the others that there was food.  Then, we came across a large chimp and took some photos.  Then, Florence made a call on her radio and she and Shariffe began a distinctive whistling.  They were alerting a group of tourists on the short tour that a chimp had been found.  Later, Florence explained that they only have a short time to see a chimp, and hadn’t seen one yet, and so the guides are obligated to help each other out.   Apparently, our guide is a tracker for the one hour groups.  After a while the other tour group moved on.  We stood there for a minute and Florence told us to look up.  We stared upwards, and saw a couple of chimp nests in the trees.  One nest was small and it became apparent that a baby was in it peeking over the top.  Wow.  I think she saved that discovery just for us.  After a few photos there, we moved on and found another large chimp.  We followed him and he sat by a tree.  He was looking upwards, kind of sideways.  Florence said he was looking for food and that he was going to climb it.  She was right, he climbed the tree and called to the others.  After a bit, the chimp decided that he had had enough, and came down out of the tree and we were on the move again.  Florence heard someone else on her radio and she and Shariffe whistled to another guide with a group of tourists.  They came…we all took photos and as the chimp decided to move on, Florence called for us to follow him.  Soon we were the only group tailing him as he made his way through the foliage.  This happened maybe another four times.  Sometimes, they would take just a few photos and leave as quickly as they had come, so it wasn’t too intrusive.  However, it was a little disconcerting to think that we had paid for a private full day trek and then have to share our personal chimp experience with groups of up to a dozen tourists who might possibly scare the chimps off.  Even with the annoyance of having to share the moment, there were many times that we had the chimps all to ourselves.  Sometimes, right after they left, Florence would say, “look up there,” and point out another chimp that they had completely missed.   She pointed out chimp nests high in the trees.  They build a new one every day by folding in branches and weaving them together.  They look like big birds’ nests.  There were a couple of olive baboons close by and Mark took some photos of them.  Then, we heard a drumming of sound.  A chimp was pounding on a fig tree buttress.  Florence could see him and with a smile said that he must be young and that he was doing it the wrong way; as he was pounding the buttress with his hand…not his foot.  Florence said the chimp was trying to alert others about food.  We followed a large chimp.  He was moving fast, and he was much more adept at maneuvering through the thick vegetation than we were.  We scrambled after him, to keep him in our sights.   We managed to catch up with him when he sat down.  As we quietly moved around him to get a closer look and take photos, he decided to move again.  We stopped for lunch and then continued on in the quest to find more chimpanzees.  Not too far away, we heard shrieking, and the sound of drumming of a buttress of a nearby fig tree.  I couldn’t help but think of the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and was certain that this was a battle cry, but Florence explained he was just communicating with the other chimpanzees.  Indeed, we could hear them shrieking in response all around us.  It sounds so distressing.  He took off again, and, once more we attempted to follow him.  Then we saw a chimp scale a tall tree, we craned our necks to watch him run around on the branches.  There was a whole troop of them in the trees. It had begun to rain and Florence and Shariffe were holding a large poncho over all of us to keep us dry.  More chimpanzee came to join the group in the trees.

All of a sudden a large chimp came charging past us slapping the ground. “Don’t move!”  Florence warned as he ran within a few feet of us.  Wow.  He climbed the tree to join the others and swung from branch to branch, screeching loudly.  She said he was called the “stubborn one,” and was just showing off.  He wanted to get attention and wants to be the alpha male.  But since there was already an alpha male and a second in command, he would keep trying to impress the others.  We just stood there, staring up in amazement, as the chimpanzees group swung about the treetops and feasted on fruit and mated.  We saw two pairs of chimps mating.  It only lasted a few seconds (very different from the grizzly bears in Yellowstone, where they mated for 22 minutes.)

Since it was raining, and we didn’t know if the rain would stop or if the chimps would come back down out of the tree, we decided to start making our way back, even though it was only 1:30.  It’s hard to get good photos of the chimps high in the trees with the backlighting of the sky.  We came upon another male chimp and we followed him.  He laid down under a tree and was resting with his foot resting on top of his knee and yawning from time to time.  It seemed very human like.  After some more photos, we made it back to the service road, and Rogers had come to pick us up.  We were ending the day sooner than we had signed up for, but we were tired.  By the time we had gotten in the vehicle, the rain had stopped, and we wondered if we had made the right decision, but it had been a good day, and we headed back to the ranger station.  Florence wrote down some of the names of the chimps that we had seen.  They are named for their personalities.

Kanyawara Chimpanzees  –  more than 120 individuals but they are spread into smaller groups.  We saw one of these smaller groups.

Rukara (Friendly)

Tiatina (Shy)

Kosa (Mistake)

Tabu (Danger/Problem)

Drumba (Named by Florence)

Ssebo  (Second in Command – means, Sir)

Mubende

Bahoire

Toti (he is very stubborn)

At the end of this report are some fascinating facts about (you can click on this link) chimpanzees!

Rogers took us back to kibale Forest Camp and we had them build a fire to heat up water, so that we could take a shower.  We walked around camp, sat in the bar and visited with other couples and took photos of black and white colobus monkeys and a red colobus monkey too.  They are rare in this area.  We also took a 360 degree time-lapse video to document our tent here.  The electricity is only on from 6-10 PM, so we charged our batteries at the bar, while we ate our dinner.    Tonight it was avocado with a vinegrette, pumpkin soup, pork chops with veges, and chocolate cake.  We headed back to our tent and got a good night’s sleep.  ~ Mary & Mark

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November 4, 2014

November 4, 2014  – Travel to  Bwindi Impenetrable National Park  Stayed at Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp

We wake up at 4:15 AM to get ready for our 5:30 departure.  We leave our two suitcases in storage at the hotel and take the 50 minute trip back to the Entebbe airport.  Our small plane has only five passengers.  There is a woman pilot with a male co-pilot.  She turned around in her seat and gave us the safety talk and, in gest, offered mints as the in-flight snack.   We have 3-point harness seatbelts.  Interesting.  The flight was only one hour, eight minutes.  It was pretty, as we were relatively close to the ground.  I took a time-lapse sequence – one photo every five seconds.  My arm was sore, from trying to hold the camera steady, but I think we’ll enjoy the video we put together.  The pilot carried my bag off the plane when we landed at Kihihi Airstrip.  One of the other passengers was a guide, and after a phone call it was decided that he would take us to meet our guide in his vehicle, at a nearby hotel.  The guides are friendly and helpful to each other.  We waited on the veranda at the hotel, until Rogers picked us up.  He will be with us until the end of our trip.  He’s a nice young man, with a quick smile and chuckle, maybe in his thirties.  He’s married with three kids:  Dennis (age 10), David (age 7), and Desire (age 3).  As we drove along the way we saw tea plantations, and small brick making operations along the side of the road.  Many of the small houses and buildings were being built with these bricks.  Rogers says it’s becoming the norm away from the mud huts, and the men make the bricks from the red mud and that are fired in a kiln for a couple of days.  There are piles of them in many places.  I imagine that they are for sale.  I see a few people transporting bundles of goods on bicycles that are entirely made of wood and is called a tsukudu.  They have no seats or pedals.  It has two wooden wheels and wooden handlebar for steering.  The goods are supported on the wood plank between the front and back wheel and it is pushed along.  Wow! When I first saw it, I thought that it was one-of-a-kind, but by the end of our visit to Uganda, I had seen several.  The towns were so poor and our vehicle had large lettering, stating, TOURIST VEHICLE, so I didn’t get the camera out.  Little kids ran to the road yelling, Mzumba!  The word Mzumba means, someone who wanders without purpose and comes from Kiswahili, where ‘zungu’ is the word for spinning around on the same spot.  That dizzy lost look was perfected by the first white people arriving in the African Great Lakes. The term is now used to refer to “someone with white skin.”   It can be affectionate or insulting.  We are greeted with big smiles and shouts of hi, hi, hi, Mzumba!  Or bye, bye, bye, Mzumba!  We drove south through Butagota and Buhoma and made it to Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, at the end of the road.  It’s actually located in the Bwindi Impenetrable National ParkWhat a beautiful location.  There are only eight tents.  Our tent was called Kingfisher.  As usual, there are canvas walls but there are pretty, carved double, wooden doors.  There was a big gap at the bottom of the doors, and I decided that it wouldn’t keep out creepy-crawly bugs, so I would be stuffing something underneath at night so that I can sleep without wondering.  There was a thatched structure that protected our tent, two queen beds, night stands, comfortable chair, a place to hang our clothes, and storage cubbies .  There were slippers and robes for us to use.  The bathroom was separated from the living area with double wooded doors.  The main bathroom was more open as it had mesh windows up high, which made it chillier than the bedroom area which had zipper canvas windows to keep the chill at bay at night.  The bathroom had a nice sink with mirror, a toilet in one cubicle, and a stone-lined shower next to it.  There was another door leading to a room with soaking tub, complete with candles.   We didn’t take advantage of the tub, as it was chilly and once again, only mesh windows.  On the porch there was nice furniture, and we had a nice view of the forest.  This place was nice!   Our permits to see the gorillas cost $350 each to spend one hour with them.  Wow, extremely expensive.  We had decided to spend two days with the gorillas, instead of one, just in case the first day didn’t go well.  To justify the second day we had decided to go at the beginning of the rainy season in order to get the discounted permit fee.  The normal fees are $600, the average per capita income of a Ugandan, and presumably helps protect the forest and its animals.  This was expensive, but not as expensive as seeing the mountain gorillas in Rwanda.  Those permits cost $700 for one hour.  It was hard to justify the expense, but since it was a bucket-list item, and we were satisfied with our decision.

Once again, we discovered that we were the only ones there, at least for a couple of days.  Jackson was the manager and made us feel at home.  Shallon was our waitress.  She was friendly and took good care of us.  After lunch, we walked to the little village, Buhoma.  There were about 50 craft stalls.  Most had the same carved gorillas and masks on the walls.  There is an orphanage here and the girls are taught to weave baskets, placemats, and make paper beads and the boys are taught to carve.  The shop keepers were desperate for business and they tried very hard to get us to buy something.  We were so limited by weight that we decided not to buy anything, but enjoyed looking.  I probably should have checked into how to take souvenirs home with the weight limit restrictions.   We walked back to Sanctuary and while Mark took a nap, I sat out on the porch and took a 360 degree time-lapse video to document our location.   It was thundering and cooling off, and began to rain.  While I was sitting on the couch on our porch, I saw smoke coming from beside our tent.  I went to investigate and discovered the stove that our room attendant kept stoked with wood so that we had hot water, day and night.  He also picked up our laundry to be washed.   The rain had stopped and Mark and I headed back to the restaurant and found that they had set up a campfire with a couple of chairs by it.  There was a man wearing a straw hat there, and he was playing music.  We discovered that it was Mr. Warren and he was a professional African harpist.  The music was very sweet.  He was also telling us a story, but he was so soft-spoken that we couldn’t understand him with his accent and the crackling of the fire.  Instead of asking him to speak up, we smiled and nodded a lot.  We should have moved our chairs closer!  Had we not been so exhausted, we might have engaged him more.  Mark gave him a tip and we headed up to the restaurant.  We saw an L’Heost’s monkey but it left before I could get a photo.  After a nice meal we were escorted back to our tent and as usual, a nice hot water bottle was warming our bed.  I had a hard time sleeping.  I must have been excited about tomorrow!  ~ Mary & Mark

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November 2, 2014

November 2, 2014   (4 lions + 10 = 14 lions, 1 black rhinoceros)  Travel out of the crater at stay at the Arusha Hotel

We got up to a chilly, foggy morning.   The forecast was for 50% chance of rain.  We’re hoping for 50% chance of sunshine – at least until evening.  (Good luck follows us everywhere we go.)  We’ve noticed trees with yellow fruit.  Michael said that they poisonous and called sodom apples – Solunum Incanan.  The Maasai use the roots to solve stomach problems.  As the day starts, we see an augur buzzard, zebra, and some cape buffalo.  Then we noticed three young black-backed jackals running down the road in front of us; every now and then, turning to see if we’re still coming.  Then we saw another family pack of five black-backed jackals, a herd of Grant’s gazelles, ostriches, and a troop of baboons.  Then we saw a pride of lions!  Two lionesses with a cub crossed in front of us to go to the river to get a drink.  They came back from the river and posed for some photos.  It was so cute.  They crossed over the road and laid down and the cub started nursing.  We saw a fourth lion in the grass, and then noticed a spotted hyena coming down the hillside.  We headed down the road and saw a pack of hyenas running at us.  We took a photo of an auger buzzard and continued on.  Then we saw a black rhino sleeping in the grass, but it was too far away to get a photo.  We saw a siege of grey crowned cranes and some Thomson’s gazelles and took more photos of some lesser flamingos, and a float of hippos with black crakes on their backs.  We also saw some sacred ibis and cattle egrets on the hippos backs too!  We moved on and saw a sounder of warthogs.  We took photos of a marabou stork, grey heron, and some sacred ibis.  Then up ahead we saw ostriches mating.  We missed the courtship, but fortunately, there was a repeat performance which Michael said was unusual.  What luck we have.  In the distance, we saw a hippo walking next to a group of flamingos.  On our way to the Lorai forest we saw some baboons, and then we drove up and out of the crater.  We headed south-east on Highway B144 towards Arusha.  Mark saw a store called Mrs. Obama’s gift shop.  Since President Obama’s father’s family is from Kenya, he is very popular in the region.  It’s amazing how many carts are pulled by cows in yokes.  Sometimes they have lots of barrels on them…perhaps water or fuel?  We stopped at a couple of craft shops but the prices were too high.  While we were trying to bargain with a lady (she was shorter than me…wow!) for a pair of wooden giraffes for Chelsea, Michael was playing a game called bao (it looks similar to a game called mancala) out front with a local audience.  He lost the first game and won the second.  We got back on the highway and drove through Karatu, past Lake Manyara and passed through Mto-wa-Mbu.  When we got to Makuyuni, we turned north-east on Highway A104 and passed through Kisongo.  There were lots of interesting shops and people to sneak taking photos of out the window at high speed.  There were a lot of stuffed furniture sets being sold along the road.  I wonder what they do if it rains or it’s dusty?  There are also numerous colorful metal bunk beds in doubles and triples, and wooded double beds.  Perhaps they’re made in the crude brick buildings, set back from the road, as I see one young man painting one of the beds, red, next to the road.  We made it to Arusha, and drove through the bad side of town again.  Michael had us lock the door and reminded us not to show anything of value at window level.  To me, it just looked like a poor section of town, although I did notice a person passed out next to the road.  We made it to the Arusha Hotel.  At first, they couldn’t find our reservation (we were glad Michael came in with us to make sure everything worked out).  Mark had kept good records and they found it and got us to our room.  Nice room on appearance, but as we looked closer, there were a few issues, e.g., one tissue folded in a fan shape in an empty box, lights that that have no way to plug in, internet not working, and the power cycles off and on for 10-15 seconds every now and then.  We had a nice balcony and I washed some clothes and hung them out to dry.   It’s pouring rain.  I guess it had to rain sometime, as it is the beginning of the rainy season.  We went for a buffet dinner.  The power cycles off and on.  Everyone seems used to this and it must be a common occurrence.  We have a nice meal and head and back to the room for our last night in Tanzania. ~ Mary & Mark

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May 23, 2014

We were hoping to see some wild horses near Lander.  We stopped at the BLM office and picked up a map.  We went to Green Mountain, BLM Road #2411.  We traveled 6.7 miles, but only found pronghorn antelope and pretty flowers, including Indian Paintbrush and a mountain bluebird.  We came to two different gates that were closed until June, so we’re out of luck here.

We really had a wonderful trip.  Now to get home and look at all of the photos we took. We’ve already decided that we will go back to Yellowstone in June!  ~  Mary & Mark

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May 22, 2014

Well, we took a day off and went to Bozeman Camera, yesterday.  They were very helpful.  By the time we left, we had bought a new Canon 6D camera with a  EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS II and a 2x teleconverter.  This camera will fit my hands better and should make a difference with the focusing.  We will be selling my other Nikon camera and a couple of lenses to compensate for the purchase.  Yay!  Now I just need to learn what the different settings are on this camera.

We drove over to Alum Creek and took photos of a cinnamon grizzly, then headed over to LeHardy’s Rapids but only saw a marmot, so we headed back to Alum Creek and took more photos of the same grizzly, but it was farther away.  We went from Canyon to Norris and saw a coyote hunting in the snow.  She pounced on a uinta.  She chomped on it without putting it down once.  That was the first time we had ever seen a coyote hunt.  Later, upon looking at the photos, we could see that she was a nursing mama.  We wonder where the den and pups are located.  We hadn’t stayed to see where she headed off to.  Although, it was probably well hidden, away from the paparazzi.  We drove over to Midway Geyser Basin and took photos of Grand Prismatic Spring.  It was so beautiful.  Then we headed over to Old Faithful.  We had lunch in the cafeteria and let my battery charge by our table.  Then we headed out of the park and stopped at the Oxbow Bend on the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park.  We stopped and took some photos of trumpeter swans.

We’re heading home and stayed at the Pronghorn Lodge in Lander, WY.  It’s right on the river, so it’s a pretty location. We had a good meal at the Oxbow Restaurant next to the hotel.  Tomorrow, we’ll drive home.   ~ Mary & Mark

Places we have seen Bears and more

Siting List:  Grizzly, Coyote, Hawk, Marmot

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