Monday, October 20, 2008

Four wheeling 10/16

This afternoon, we went over to Tamboti to go on a quad ride with Derrick. We were supposed to go yesterday, but the only automatic bike he had was broken, and seeing as I have still not learned to drive a stick shift car there was no way I was getting on a manual bike. Derrick stopped over this morning to let us know the automatic bike was fixed, so we headed over there around 4:30 to go on a ride.

Tyson and Jori were both SO excited. They love to just sit on the quads whenever we are at Tamboti, so to actually go on a ride was like a huge thrill for them. After I drove around on my bike a little to get the feel of it, we headed off. Derrick went first with Tyson sitting in front of him, then came Darin and Jori and because I was riding the quad that smoked the most, I got to go last in line. Away we went! Over the sandy soil, under the thorn bushes and around the rocks and termite hills.

After riding along for a few minutes, we made our first stop at the “warthog hotel”. This was an area where warthogs had dug several tunnels all close together. Derrick believes these tunnels are all connected in the middle, but one would not know for sure unless you crawled through the tunnels to check it out. An interesting fact is that, during the day these holes are used by porcupines as a place to sleep, and at night when the porcupines head out to find food, the warthogs move in. In this same area, there was another giant hole that is home to a 16 foot long python. I am glad it was not home when we were there. While we were walking around this area, the kids both picked up some porcupine quills. Somewhere along the way, Tyson lost his quills, but Jori held them tightly in her chubby little hand the whole ride. She said they were from a zebra, which kind of makes sense because the quills are black and white.

The most interesting story about this area is that this is where a leopard attack happened a couple of years ago, right before Darin and I stayed at Tamboti. Derrick had driven past there one day and found a porcupine with a broken neck with its stomach split wide open with all the meat eaten. There were leopard prints all around and they traced the tracks for a couple miles before losing them. I found this out during our stay when we were sleeping in a tent on stilts about ½ mile from the kill site. This is where the irrational fear of leopards had its birth.

It was now time to continue our ride, so we all started up our bikes and took off. I did have to stop at one point, because one of my flip flops fell off. Thankfully Darin looked back and noticed I had fallen behind. I caught up in time to see Derrick pointing out some blesbok next to the four-wheeler trail. He didn't stop driving, so after a quick glance at the bok, I kept going. A little bit later we saw a herd of impala. Neither the blesbok or impala ran off when we came barreling down the road, as they are quite used to the intrusion.

We rode on for a couple minutes and then Darin stopped in front of me. He whistled at Derrick, who was ahead of him, to turn back around. Standing right off to our left were 4 giraffe! To quote Derrick, they were simply “stunning”. We all turned off our bikes and just watched the giraffe eating leaves off the tops of the trees. They didn't seem too bothered by our presence, so we were able to just sit and take pictures and listen to Derrick tell us all sorts of information about these beautiful creatures. I could have sat there for as long as the giraffe stayed in the area, but we did have to keep driving.

So we continued on. Did I mention that I have never drove a quad bike before, or if I have, I don't remember the experience? I kept telling myself “it's just like driving a jetski” only if you fall of on a jetski, you hit water and had I fallen off the quad I would have landed on hard rocks and thorns. I am just not comfortable driving something other than my minivan, so this was a big stretch for me. It didn't help that my quad, which had just been fixed the night before, was having some issues. Before we left, Derrick told me the left hand brake didn't really work because someone had crashed the bike into a tree. Well, what he didn't know was that the right hand brake was also not in good working order. We'd be driving along and the quads ahead of me would slow down and I would squeeze my brakes expecting to slow down as well, but no. That was not to be. One time, I just shut the bike off because I didn't want to crash into Darin. The accelerator was also having a little problem. Darin told me that if I just took my finger off the accelerator, the bike would start slowing down on its own. Well, I would be driving along, see the guys ahead of me make a sharp turn, and realize that my brakes were not going to be much help. So I would try to decelerate far enough before the turn so that my bike wouldn't tip or anything. My finger would go off the accelerator, and my bike would just continue on at the same speed. Huh? One reason my flip flop fell off early in our ride, was that I put my foot down to slow myself before a turn. Ok, so I know that wasn't really going to do anything, but I had to try something. Needless to say, it was an interesting ride.

That's enough about me and my tale of woe. We kept on riding and ended up back by the giraffe, only now there were 6 of them! We were even closer to them now, and they still didn't get too skittish with us there. It really was an amazing sight to see these animals up close. Tyson, however, was more interested in riding on the quad than seeing giraffe and was soon asking to turn the bikes back on so he could ride some more.

We got back to Tamboti without any mishaps. One of the volunteers from TYB was there when we got back, and when she heard we had just seen giraffe, she was all ready to go on a ride of her own. So our family packed up and the quads went on without us. We got home and started making french toast for dinner. While we were all in the kitchen, Tyson said “hey, I see something out there on our road”. Sure enough, there was a mother kudu and her baby right outside our gate. Darin went out to get a picture (because no one seems to know what a kudu is), but they ran off before he was even halfway to the gate. For those of you who still do not know what a kudu is, you can go to and search for “kudu pics” and your curiosity will be satisfied.

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