Friday, May 29, 2009

Early morn chillaxin' on the Etosha Highveld...

It's an early morning start for safari-goers in Etosha. Once the rest camp gates swing open at 6 AM, you have 12 hours of light to track down as many critters as you can. Trust me. There won't be a shortage of animals to see and miles of dirt track to drive.

Look what the cat dragged in... Early bird on the trail catches this pride of groggy lions (Panthera leo) chillaxin' on the grasslands of Etosha.

I love this time of the day. Calm, cool air precedes hot, dusty conditions later in the day. The morning light is perfect for photographing animals.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Etosha Bound - Northern Namibia...

I loved Namibia. So far, we've traveled amongst the monstrous red dunes of the Namib Desert, been perplexed by the surreal trees of Dead vlei, watched the birds of Walvis Bay, and surveyed the seal covered coast of Cape Cross. Next on the itinerary, we drove to the crown jewel of Namibia, Etosha National Park, perhaps the best wildlife preserve in all of Africa.

Here is an excerpt from my journal (November 27, 2006):

We bid farewell to Swakopmund today to embark on the next phase of the journey of bleakness.

Back to the blast furnace called the interior of Namibia. Gone were the cool sea breezes of the Atlantic.

6 hours later, first driving through bleakness then climbing the winding roads of the Erongo mountains we arrived Okaukuejo Camp, located in the extreme western end of the Etosha pan, the first of three such clusters of chalets and camping spaces in the Etosha.

To our chagrine, as we approached the Park gates, we could see dark ominous clouds forming overhead. Before we knew it, the heavens above opened up and pounded us with rain.

To our dismay, the girl at the Park gates informed us that it had been raining for the better part of a week prior to our arrival.

In biological terms, rain in parks like Etosha (dry savannah biome) means animal dispersal. Normally, in dry season, wildlife cluster around the numerous natural and manmade waterholes scattered around the savannah.

As we checked into our campsite, suffice to say, we were anxious whether we would see many animals during our safaris because of the rain.

However, despite the weather, it was good to be back.

[Ed. note: I visited Etosha Park ten years ago.]

View Larger Map
Map marks the location of Okaukuejo Rest Camp, Etosha National Park. Directly to the north (and east) the massive dry lake bed called Etosha Pan.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

2009 National Hockey League Semifinal Prognostications.

Well, it's come down to the Final Four hockey teams in the NHL playoffs.

Last round was not good for my reputation as an expert hackie analyst. I finished, haphazardly, with a .500 record of success. Suffice to say, the act of flipping a coin in the prognostication process may have yielded a similar or better result.

Hence, for the following semifinal predictions, I will complement my words of wisdom with the results the tossing of Maggie, BTOG's magical loonie (and Canada's favourite one dollar coin).

Shall we proceed?

Detroit Red Wings versus Chicago Blackhawks.
Again, the classic match up between the experienced team versus the young and restless team.

The youthful Blackhawks have cast off the more "experienced" Flames and Canuckleheads with little effort. However, may I say "experienced" in these cases really meant old and decrepit and little to do the talent required to advance in the playoffs.

In the Red Wings, the Hawks will be playing not only an experienced, playoff-hardened team, but a very deep, talented team. The only chink in the Red Wings' armour in their series with the Ducks may have been their slumping number one line of Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and Holstrom but the three other forward lines just picked it up a notch.

These young Blackhawks have indeed exhibited the necessary talent, moxie, savvy, and depth to win the precious Stanley Cup. I'll give them a 71 percent chance of an upset.

It will be an extremely close series.

But on the basis of depth of talent and true experience,

Red Wings in 7.

Red Wings being heads. Hawks being tails.

What say you, Maggie the BTOG loonie (and Canada's favourite dollar coin)?

Tails it is. Good job Maggie!!

Maggie prognosticates a Hawk victory.

Pittsburg Penguins versus Carolina Hurricanes.
This will be another difficult series to predict.

At a glance it would seem to be the Pens' Sidney Crosby versus the Carolina Hurricanes.

He will need help though, particularly from his friend and goaltender Marc Andre Fleury. (I'm sure he has given up on fellow superstar Evgeny Malkin. Apparently Gene only showed up for one game in the last series against the Washington Capitals.)

Will Crosby and Fleury be enough to defeat the Canes?

The Canes will be formidable. They have their own superstars in Staal and Cam Ward.

I predict Cam Ward will outplay the Pens' last goal tending foe, Capitals' Joe Varlamov and his glove made of Swiss cheese.

Penguins heads. Canes tails.

I'll give Maggie, BTOG's coin of prognostication, a toss.


I'll agree with Maggie on this one. Crosby will be a monster.

But it will be a squeaker as well.

Penguins in seven.