Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Leaving ...

There's nothing worse than hanging around waiting for the time to leave for the airport. Leaving is always hard - my parents, so dear, and soon so far away. Funny, when I'm here, it's as natural as breathing to be part of the South African way of life. Of course, when I get home and see Leigh and Matt again, sit back at my desk at work on Monday, etc., then that is my reality. Almost like a form of schizophrenia. Anyway, enough already - time to finish packing and say goodbye.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Last full day in South Africa

Today was a day for tying up loose ends and starting to pack for the long trip home tomorrow. Mum has a commission to paint the Umhlanga Rocks lighthouse, so this morning we went down to the beach to photograph it so she could use it for her watercolor. Right now we are waiting for friends, Sue & Bob before heading down to the Durban Country Club for a "last supper" nosh. The DCC must serve one of the best buffets on the planet. When I get back to Charleston I will have to quit eating and begin an aggressive exercise program. Maybe :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

More road hazards

Life is exciting in Africa - or maybe it's just normal for most locals, but when you've been away awhile, the freeways are the wild west, and turning a corner in a game reserve, you could come across some pretty large inhabitants, as I did today. Suffice to say that I paid my respects and slid away as inconspicuously as possible under the circumstances. I have so many other pics too - great images of wildlife, but I'll post those on my regular website when I get back to the USA next week, so watch my "current work/new images" on http://www.vanessak.com/

Monday, April 27, 2009

Durban prepares for FIFA 2010

I've been just hanging out here in Durban at Mum & Dad's place for the last couple of days. Had lunch with other family members today and drove around the city this afternoon just to re-aquaint myself with my hometown. So much has changed since I've been gone; not surprisingly since it's been 20 years since I lived here. Many areas are unrecognizable. Some previously squalid neighborhoods are fashionably yuppie these days, and some previously fancy neighborhoods look pretty tired and neglected. Funny how that happens. This photograph is of a new soccer stadium under construction in preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup - one of many incredible stadiums being built all over the country to accommodate this event.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The long road North

Well we left the Cape area three days ago and have traveled approximately 1,000 miles back to Durban, stopping overnight twice on the way. It's much warmer here, and more humid than in the Cape. The scenery changes so much along the way, from the scrubby Karoo, through the grassy Free State, and finally the midlands of Natal. There has been widespread rain, so all the dams have plenty of water, and even the Karoo - habitually parched - is green and full of puddles. Anyway, we are now trying to figure out what we will do with my remaining few days in South Africa. In the meantime, here is a collage that represents a couple of snapshots of the roadtrip. Some new friends I met at the Skietkuil B&B in the Upper Karoo, the road near Golden Gate in the Free State, and Mum and Dad at a coffee shop in Matjiesfontein, an historic town in the middle of nowhere, where we stopped for lunch. Dad is happily anticipating his next spoonful of icecream!

Travel hazards in the Western Cape

Yes I know the date is Saturday, 25th as I write, but I'm trying to play catch-up because for 3 days I have been in the boonies with no access to the internet. This photo was taken somewhere near Cape Agulhas as we criss-crossed the landscape going from bay to bay. The weather was wild most of the time with gales blowing and rain a lot of the time. It is so interesting to learn from memorabilia and old records housed in local hotels about the countless ships that were wrecked on this coastline from the 1600's up until 1982 when a relatively modern freighter was driven onto the rocks by the notorious Cape Southeaster. Anyway, getting back to this photo, we came around a corner to be met by these cows being herded home for the night.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Gales blowing at the Southernmost tip of Africa

We moved from Cape Town up to a small fishing village called Arniston. I was hoping of course to feast on quaint, photogenic scenes but there was a good old "southeaster" blowing and no sun - gusts up to 55kph and when I bravely ventured out with my camera, everything got sandblasted. So we stayed inland mostly, traveling down dirt roads and exploring the area. This is a picture of Mum and Judy, who at the time were the southernmost located people on the African continent. The place is Cape Agulhas - southernmost tip of Africa. Heading North tomorrow towards Durban, taking three days for the trip. First stop tomorrow night near a place called Three Sisters. Will get back online when I can ...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Heading for Arniston today

So the weather turns sunny just as we are packing up to leave Cape Town. We are leaving for Arniston after lunch and hopefully will be able to get some great pics in a few days. It is the boonies though, and we will be on the road until sometime Saturday when we arrive in Durban, so I don't know when I will be able to post again. This image was taken in Simonstown.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Today it was all about Family

Such a short time that we were all together, and there were a couple missing too, but today all 16 of us that could be together had lunch at the 120 year old Chapman's Peak Hotel in Hout Bay. The weather was miserable and grey, but the rain stopped long enough to take some family photographs on the beach afterwards. Here is one of them - the 4 girls. Afterwards, Lesley, Trev and their girls left the group and later this evening, the Coulsons left for their flight back to Wales. A bien tot!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Today it was all about Rebecca

As I speak, a bunch of kids are celebrating Rebecca's 18th birthday. Many of them probably won't go to sleep at all tonight. Earlier they spent time romping on the beach and this was one of the photos I took of some of the girls. After awhile us "old people" left - except for Graham who still thinks he's a kid anyway, and met at the Brass Bell in Kalk Bay for dinner. Great little place - appropriately tacky and suspended over the surf on the beach side of the station and railwayline.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I feel human again

Woke up early this morning when it was still dark. I guess my internal time clock is confused. Life at Hedge House is typically chaotic with guests being catered to, children being shuttled in different directions, and visiting family from Durban, Wales and the US adding their respective dynamics to the mix. Planning for Rebecca's 18th birthday party is underway. 40 kids in formal dress all getting on a train bound for Simonstown and partying overnight in Graham's recently renovated townhouses. There will be pictures ... Featured today are Anna, Peter and Catherine.

This was yesterday, or maybe the day before ...

The last couple of days were a blur of airports and planes and sitting, sitting, eating, sitting - oh my gosh. But I'm finally here, in Cape Town with lots of family, and it seems almost like it was yesterday that I was here and nothing much has changed. It's so funny. While I'm here, this is my reality and home in the US seems like a distant mirage, and then of course I go home and this seems like a faraway dream. Imagine the constant stimulus to be God and be everywhere and experience everything at the same time - mind-blowing stuff. This is Detroit airport - I will get going with this blog again on a regular basis soon. Got to go help prepare a big dinner for tonight.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I am officially on vacation - YES!

Before I left the office this afternoon, I activated my email "on vacation" auto-reply, changed my message on the voicemail "...I will be on vacation until Monday, May 4th ..." and hit the road. What a great feeling. I am not looking forward to my 27 hour trip via Detroit and Amsterdam and finally into Cape Town, but heck, I'll try and make it a worthwhile part of the whole package. This evening, I wanted to try one more time to shoot the Legare Flats, specifically Backman Seafoods for the "2009 Vanishing Landscapes" contest currently underway under the Coastal Conservation League's banner, but the lighting was flat and boring and I knew before I even headed out there that it wouldn't work. My friend Cosmo was a good sport and showed up with bucket, fishing rod and beer ready to be my lone angler model on the old, rotten dock. Nothing I shot was worthwhile, but I played with it in Photoshop and ended up with something completely different. OK - cannot procrastinate any longer - gotta pack. Back blogging in a couple of days from way south ...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Another weekend draws to a close

It was a great weekend. Not too hectic and time to catch up with some things that have been on my "to-do" list for awhile. I'm even half packed for my trip next week. The next couple of days will go by in a whirlwind of activity and before I know it, I'll be gone. I need to work on my list of instructions to leave behind for Leigh, you know like "feed the dog, take out the trash, water the plants, etc."
This photo was taken this evening on Legare Flats. I love this old dock, but it's getting dangerously rickety and rotten.

Friday, April 10, 2009

TGIF - and next Friday it won't matter

This week has been hectic. This evening I left the office early - being Good Friday, nothing was happening at work anyway. I took Logan to the JICP to socialize with other canines. Had a great idea to do this photo collage of doggie faces for my photo-a-day and I will post tomorrow. Marcia tagged me for one of her impromptu soirees this evening. I had plans to do all kinds of chores, but thanks to her I am now way too sleepy .........................

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Annapolis clan visit Charleston


It's been fun having Suzanne, Megan and Angela here. They have been doing the tourist thing during the day while I have been slaving away at the office. This evening we visited Logan's park where this photo was taken. They leave early tomorrow morning to head North for home. Thanks for coming - it was great to see you.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Looking for photo-a-day Inspiration ...

I leave for my South African trip a week from tomorrow and I still feel completely disorganized in terms of being prepared - leaving stuff running here, paying bills ahead of time, packing etc. I have family from Annapolis arriving later tonight for a couple of days. They are doing the quintessential college evaluation road trip, having visited Clemson earlier and planning to check out the College of Charleston over the next couple of days. This evening I took this technically unacceptable shot of our new crop of ducklings out on the pond. From 16 we are already down to only 9, but hopefully most of the rest will survive.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Back to work for some relative relaxation...

Yesterday I had an assignment to photograph a bunch of kids at an Easter egg hunt. The weather was great and all the plans came together and the kids had a great time. We had a live bunny as a photo prop and I know he slept even better than I did last night. Linda came along and helped out with a second camera; a good thing because it was a challenge to keep up with them all. She turned the camera on me in this photo - we took turns to calm down the bunny! There are more photos here http://www.vanessak.com/gallery/7775722_W5cCL#506549154_JLpKW/
Work was a breeze today by comparison :)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Another busy Saturday


I was on the road back to Edisto this morning by 7am ready to do a different angle on some shots for the Land Exchange magazine. It was a beautiful day - sunny and warm and it felt good to be outdoors. On my way back to Charleston I stopped at a favorite and by now very familiar shooting spot - Christ Church on Highway 174. In spring, the grounds are a riot of color with azaleas, wisteria, dogwoods etc. blooming everywhere as you can see from the photo. The pollen count of course is off the charts but it's worth it. In the early afternoon I met up with Linda and Melissa for bridal portraits. We moved around all over the place and got some diverse images. The one shown here was taken on the lawn of the Turnbull Mansion on the old Navy base. Another full day tomorrow photographing kids on an Easter egg hunt - I am ready for bed.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Countdown to the weekend

I have been bad this week with this blog. Very uninspired. The weather definitely has a lot to do with it - constant rain and dreariness. I will make up for it soon with lots of hopefully interesting commentary and photographs of South Africa. It's a funny thing about pending vacations; the closer they get, the more desperately you seem to need them. I'm sure it's all in the mind. One thing I'm not looking forward to is the long trip - Charleston, Detroit, Amsterdam, Cape Town plus a 6 hour time difference. I guess everything comes with a price. Logan gets to be featured today - what a cute dog.
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