Our holiday has finally come to an end. It is our last day here in Cape Town. The weather has changed and become quite rainy and cold. We didn't fill the day with many things. We just wanted to get things sorted and relax before the long flight home.
I rose early and took an uber to a sacrament meeting on Main and Grove Dr. I can't tell you how cozy it felt to walk into the church house and hear the hymns being played on the piano. It felt like home. The spirit was there and the saints were friendly. It was a wonderful feeling.
After arriving back at the apartment, I packed up my things and worked on updating my blog. We had a 13:00 booking at Kloof Street House for lunch. It was a great way to end our time here. We sat in the courtyard and listened to the live jazz music. There was such a great ambience, I could have stayed all day.
We are now just resting before tackling the 29 hour flight home. It has been a great holiday with so many amazing experiences. I am so glad I had the opportunity to come and grateful for the graciousness of my friend and those who assisted in our travels.
Let me begin by saying that there simply is no way I can share everything in this one blog post. Let me also say that the experience I had in Kruger National Park is one I will never forget. I will try to do the last five days justice, however, I am not sure that is possible.
We began the trip by flying from Cape Town to Johannesburg. There we rented a car and drove to our first rest camp. Laurie had done a lot of research on the best route and I truly believe she chose the best one. The drive was a long one, but definitely worth it.
Although I have not included any of the travel and landscape pics in the slideshow for this post, let me just say that the South African landscape is diverse, expansive, lush and overall, breathtaking. We drove through what I call "parallel forests", citrus plantations, grasslands, shanty towns (townships), and big cities.
Our flight left Cape Town at 6:00 and we finally arrived at Orpen Gate in the Kruger National Park at 17:00. Although the drive was only a 6 hour drive, as you can see, we took our own sweet time. It was imparative, however, that we make it to the gate before it closed. For obvious reasons, the gates close and open at very specific times, without exception. Luckily, we made it in time. It seemed as if Kruger sent out a welcoming committee because within less than five minutes we were greeted by a herd of impala. After being surprised by the impala, we came within ten feet of feeding elephants. We also viewed a mongoose, kudu, water buck, and eland as we drove to our tent in Tamboti rest camp. Once settled in, we were visited by a honey badger and a genet and heard the hyena crying all night. The welcome was incredible. We couldn't wait for our sunrise game drive.
Our game viewing experience was incredible within 24 hours we were able to view all of the big five - elephant, lion, leopard, rhino, and buffalo. We had an excellent guide named Patrick for both our drives in Tamboti. He was very knowledgeable and shared more than just facts about the animals. He shared his culture and history with us as well. Other animals we viewed in Tamboti were blue wildebeest, hyena, zebra, giraffe, white-bearded vulture, daika, bushbok, steinbok and warthog. We were visited by the honeybadger each night and were victims of the baboon and vervet monkey thievery. Actually, those were some of my favorite moments. The vervet monkeys stole our spices and the baboons stole our bread. They didn't ransak our lodgings for these prized possessions, they simply took them right off the table while we were eating and preparing our meals. It was crazy!
We spent our last two nights at the Lower Sabie rest camp. Lower Sabie was a complete shift in accomodations and landscape. Where Tamboti had been nestled in the bush, Lower Sabie sat on the river bank. We stayed in a safari tent in Tamboti and our accomodation at Lower Sabie was a hut with more of a community feel. We had storage and all the ammenities needed to be self-sufficient. There was a restaurant and gift shop and even a swimming pool at Lower Sabie. Not only were the accomodations different so were the game drives. Although we saw many lions the rest of the drive was underwhelming. The thrill of viewing many of these animals had worn off as our time went on. We hoped to see a cheetah and many were sighted while we were there, however, we were not that lucky. The game viewing was much different than I had expected. I thought that we would spend five days looking for animals and see a lion, an elephant, a buffalo, not herds of them. It was amazing!
Like I said, I cannot begin to share even a portion of the experience in Kruger National Park and do it justice. I can simply say that without a doubt this experience is one that I will always remember.
Today was a reality check. I have always been an active person and have been looking forward to hiking Table Mountain here in Cape Town especially after arriving and viewing it from the window of the dining room for several days. However, I was neither ready for the mental or physical challenges the route chosen would offer.
We chose to embark on our hike in the late afternoon hoping to bask in the glorious sunset atop the summit. Today was the hottest day of the trip so far, and one of the hottest Cape Town has seen in many months. We had scheduled two and one half hours for the hike. In order to arrive at the final destination and enjoy the sunset we needed to begin the hike at 16:00. There are many trail systems all around Table Mountain, however, the trailhead that David chose to hike was India Venster. I had read blogs and spoken with friends about the hike. All of them had said that the first few 100 meters were the worst. This I had planned on. I told both Laurie and David that I thought it would take me more time considering that I have been inactive due to back problems for close to 18 months. Let me just jump to the point and say, I thought I was going to die!!! When we finally got to the chains, I knew -with heavy heart- that I was not going to be able to complete the hike in enough time to catch the last cable car scheduled.
This was quite a defeating moment for me. One that has given me a lot of momentum in terms of getting back into physical fitness. However, the hike wasn't a totally failure. We chose to hike across the mountian instead of up the mountain which I am so glad we did. I got amazing pictures of the bay including the rolling fog settling over the entire ocean and shores of Cape Town. We ran into a Puff Adder (holy moly!!!) on the trail and drank from a natural spring. It really was an amazing experience. However, I do feel like I want to come back and tackle that darn mountain - India Venster and all!
Today was a long day, but full of amazing experiences. We began by heading out to a Family Market at Blaauwklippen near Stellenbosch. I love purchasing items that are handmade and authentic to the region that I am visiting. I love chatting with the vendors and hearing their stories. Today, I met a wonderful couple at the Serenity Knitwear tent where I purchased a handmade sweater (which I think will now be my favorite - forever!) I also spoke with a woman who makes darling stuffed animals (of course, Harlee is getting one of those, too). We were asked quite a bit today where we were from, and no one knows where Utah is. However, the woman from Baby Cuddles actually has a brother who moved to Wyoming years ago, so she knew where we were from. I met a young lady from Congo who made jewelry and decor from recycled materials. There were many other vendors who I spoke with today making the market experience extremely enjoyable.
After leaving the market we moved on to Somerset West where we had a lunch booking at the Waterkloof restaurant at 12:30 p.m. If ever you have experienced fine dining, you will know what I mean when I say that dining at this restaurant was an event. There was no in and out. There was no "here's your check. See ya later." There was, "How can we make your dining experience more enjoyable." It was lovely. With each course we were given a complete description of what was on our plates; however, I didn't really understand what they were saying. Not because I didn't speak the language -they speak very good English- but simply because I don't speak fine dining! So, don't ask me what I ate because I don't know. I can just tell you that it was delicious (that isn't even a good enough word for it) and filling. As you can see in the pictures, presentation is as important as ingredients. I won't go into the history of Waterkloof, but, when they say organic, they mean it. Visit the Waterkloof website to get a complete picture of our experience. (Make sure to view the gallery and videos which give the most complete overview.) I will try to paint somewhat of a picture of our experience.
We were seated in the dining area which is a floor-to-ceiling windowed room overlooking the vineyard. We each ordered a three course meal beginning with a starter. Before the starter came out, we were served warm sourdough breads with a collection of butter. This wasn't your everyday butter. There was a wine-infused butter, a no preservatives all-natural butter, a pecan and something or other butter, and a fancy-shmancy spicy kind of butter, plus a balsamic cream sauce for dipping. What? I know. Then, we were served a little teeny tiny granola thingy which was super yummy. The appetizers came out next. I selected egg 63 which was recommended by the server. OMG! (in capital bold-faced letters). Need I say more? After the appetizers, we received, "compliments of the chef", crepes suzette. Finally, our entrees were served. The poached chicken with mushroom pepper that I ordered was truly the most tender piece of meat I have ever had. It cut through like butter. In fact, I cut it with a butter knife. Abby and David had the lamb and Laurie selected the kod.
After the main course, we each received the dessert of choice. There were actually four choices and we selected one of each plus an additional cheese platter (David wasn't too keen on the idea of sharing). Laurie selected the milk, milk...milk. Abby chose the Apple dessert. And, I chose the citrus. Each was divine. However, that wasn't all. We received also, "compliments of the chef", citrus and ginger lollipops (popsicles), macaroons, and a glass encased peanut butter dessert to die for. Finally, the chef personally brought us a plate of their finest chocolates.
Before we left the winery, we were able to walk around and take several pictures. It was such a great experience. Overall the dinner took three and a half hours.
We took a long drive home stopping in Milnerton to pick up David's equipment and see his new home and Sunset Beach which is literally a 3 minute walk. Then, we drove through Constantia and Noorhoek, and took Chapman's Peak Drive (one of the world's top ten best views by roadway) along the coastline. There we stopped to watch the sunset above Hout Bay. Our final travels took us by Llandudno, through Camp's Bay and home.
The pictures I have taken today will not in any way represent the experience, but I hope that you will enjoy them anyway. This day is one I will never forget. Today I felt special.
Our second day in the city has been wonderful. We woke rested after a good night's sleep and headed to the beach. We took a short walk to the Saturday Morning Market at Granger Bay. The first thing I noticed was how busy it was. It was, however, extremely clean and did not feel like your everyday farmer's market. There weren't any tarps or canopies. Everything was very uniform and apparently the same vendors supply the market weekly. It was absolutely beautiful. I'm not just describing the space, but the food and the presentation of all the goods was immaculate as well.
We purchased our breakfast meals, each of us choosing what suited us, and sat in the garden plaza to eat. We enjoyed visiting and watching the activity at the market for some time. Then, after purchasing a couple coffees and a Rooibar Red Cappuccino, we began perusing the stalls. Laurie purchased some artisan stoneground wheat sourdough bread from her favorite vendor and a jar of Mango & Garandilla jam from Leo's Little Jars. Abby selected a "brookie" (yes, that's a mix between a brownie and a cookie). It was large and very sweet which is why we have been nibbling on it all day and it isn't gone yet! I about died when I saw the That Kid Cole shop with dresses and shoes for little ones. I had to purchase the Protea (South Africa's national flower) slippers for my sweetie, Miss Harlee.
After visiting the market we stopped at the beach to take a few pictures and were pleased that the fog had cleared enough to view Robben Island (Nelson Mandela's place of imprisonment for more than two decades). It was quite sureal to stand on the beach that he once looked at from his prison cell.
Laurie's boyfriend, David, a director of photography (DP), has been away on a shot for British Airways and was arriving back in Cape Town this afternoon. So, she left me and Abby to our own devices as she went to pick him up from the airport and spend some time with him. At first, we had high expectations of filling our day with a Red Bus Tour and seeing more of Cape Town. In the end, we put our pjs back on and spent the day relaxing in the apartment.
Our night ended at The Fugard Theatre. As you can see from the photos, The Fugard is an old church which was converted into a theater. The reception area was simply charming. I loved the feel of the old church stonework. However, the space felt very current.
After ordering hors d'oeuvres and relaxing, we moved into the theater for the show. The main stage was stunning in its simplicity. The wooden backdrop was created for the production of "Shakespeare in Love". The moving walls seamlessly provided entrance and exit for the many players. The main roles of William Shakespeare and Viola were masterfully acted, and the supporting characters were perfectly portrayed. It was simply delightful. I found myself laughing and crying as the show unfolded. What a wonderful experience.
Although the title of this post is Day 1, it is actually Day 3. My journey began at 3:30 a.m. on the morning of October 3. After a two-hour drive to the Las Vegas McCarran Airport, we boarded the plane and began our 29 hour flight. To be honest, I thought the flight would be worse than it actually was. I was recently in a car accident and was extremely worried about the lack of movement for that amount of time; however, I did take the opportunity to move as much as I could and didn't get sore or stiff at all. A great friend, who is a nurse and who has also traveled to South Africa, loaned me a pair of embolism socks, so I didn't have problems with circulation. I read a wonderful novel titled Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry and watched several movies including Incredibles 2 and Ferdinand. (I know...they are children's movies, but they were so enjoyable.)
After the long flight ended, I was greeted by my good friend, Laurie Hackett, who picked us up from the airport and drove us to her home on Kloof Street. ("Kloof" in Afrikaans means valley. It is a very common word such as it is in the US - death valley, sun valley, etc.)
I woke this morning at around 7 a.m. (11 p.m. MST) Laurie was making coffee in the kitchen as I groggily wandered into the bathroom. Afterwards, I stopped in the kitchen to say hello, but I was so incoherent that when Laurie looked at me, she simply said, "You should go back to bed, honey!" I'm not sure if I responded, but I do know that I made it back to bed.
I finally awoke at 11:30 a.m. and have been feeling rested all day. After getting ready for the day, we went on a walking tour of downtown Cape Town. Laurie is a wonderful tour guide. She is very knowledgable of the culture and history of South Africa, particularly of Cape Town. We walked along Kloof street, Bree Street, and Long Street. We viewed the Parade Plaza where Nelson Mandela addressed thousands of South African citizens when he was released from prison in the early nineties. We enjoyed a walk through The Company's Garden Park (the Central Park of Cape Town). It was beautiful with trees from all nations, and a flower and vegetable garden. We viewed the steelwork architecture of the Central Library, and had a great brunch at Bread Milk and Honey. I reached over 14,000 steps today touring the neighborhoods and downtown streets of Cape Town. It was wonderful.
After a couple hours relaxing at the apartment, we gussied up for dinner. We walked two blocks to a new hangout called The Moveable Feast, a French restaurant. The dinner and conversation were, oh, so good. I enjoyed a tender Springbok flank in the most divine sauce with a side of Pom Puree (otherwise known as mashed potatoes).
Today was a great day. I am a little awed by the fact that although I am halfway around the globe, I don't feel like I'm too far away from home. Yes, I do hear many different languages spoken on the streets and there a beautiful people of all colors here. It isn't a small town like little St. George, but being with my sister and best friend sort of makes it feel like home.
Alright, kiddos! It is finally time for me to leave on my trip to Africa. I am really excited about this opportunity; however, it is really hard leaving you for 6 days. Your sub will be Mrs. H. Some of the kids know her as being Mrs. Lytle's sub last year when she had her baby. I have heard that she is tough, but that is a good thing. She will keep to our schedule and will be able to help you complete your tasklists. I know that having a sub is hard, but I trust that you will be respectful and get your work done. I have set up some activities for you to practice the skills we are working on. You will be taking a test while I am gone. So, stay focused and do your best.
I will try to update this blog every few days so you can see pictures of Africa and can keep up on what I've been doing. Remember, I miss you!
When teaching in a 21st century classroom it is impossible to avoid technology. This year, I have fully embraced it. This isn't to say that I haven't incorporated technology into my teaching and lesson planning, because I have for many years. However, this summer I finished my Ed Tech Endorsment and something shifted in me. A power and passion has driven me to a new motto. Create, Collaborate, and Contribute!
Yes. I have been using technology in my classroom, however, it wasn't in an authentic way. I see the world around us changing and if we don't change with it then what good are we to the students we teach? It is inevitable that our students will be challenged to use technology in many different ways from this day forth. And, unless there is an apocolypse (I'm certainly not crying dooms day) technology will continue to advance. I am thrilled by the myriad of options students have on a daily basis to contribute to the world. Of course, their is social media. But, how many students also have their own Youtube channels and add to them on a regular basis? More than I think we know.
Students are creative. They are young and full of life. They question everything. They want to know. They want to explore the world around them. With technology they have the ability to do that. Anything that sparks an interest can be explored through video, blogs, news articles, virtual tours, and more. To not introduce these methods of learning into my classroom is shameful. If my goal as a teacher is for my students to learn, then right now is the perfect time to share the world with them.
This week, my plan is to guide seventh grade students as they build their own websites. These websites will provide an avenue for creation, collaboration, and ultimately to contribute. Creating and maintaining a website will allow students to authentically interact with the world by sharing their thoughts on literature, current events, social issues and more. I have not allowed students this opportunity before. It will be an adventure. But, one I am ready to embark on.
Prompt: How did you spend your summer vacation?
Oh yes, I have heard it, as have many other teachers. The question that seems to plague us as we pack up our supplies for a few short weeks of "summer break".
"What do you do with all your time off?"
My response, "Time off? What's that?"
To be honest, I don't know how to take time off. When I see a free day, I immediately begin to fill it up. In fact, before the school year was finished I began planning - filling my summer days with training opportunities, endorsement classes, and a few family outings.
So, now that summer has come to a close, you ask, "how did I spend my summer vacation?"
This summer, I took 9 credits to complete my technology endorsement, and completed two certifications - Google Certified Educator - Level 1 certification and Powerschool Unified Classroom Trainer Certification. I also taught two endorsement courses for teachers. I learned so many things this summer my brain is on overload. I learned about blended learning in the classroom, personalized learning for all students, teaching in the digital world, how to build a website, how to incorporate video lessons and student projects, writing in the digital world, how to navigate the school's learning management system and how to create online assessments for my students.
I didn't spend my entire summer break taking or teaching classes however, I did have time for relaxing. I spent time camping on Cedar Mountain, and we visited our cabin on Kolob Mountain once or twice. I travelled to Nashville, Tennessee for some training, but was able to enjoy the Grand Ole' Opry and other fun sites while visiting there. And, I just returned home from a trip to Yellowstone National Park with my family.
As you can clearly see, summer vacation for teachers isn't "time off" really. If I had to label it, summer vacation is really just an extended version of our "planning time". Of course, we travel and plan our "vacations" for the summer time, and we may not have a set schedule or a regular work day for a couple of weeks, but we are still planning and preparing and learning.