We’d planned a break from our nomadic ocean life to catch up with friends further afield. The plan was Johannesburg then Chicago then Toronto, a cottage at Halls Lake and then Niagara Falls before returning to Aura. We did post some pictures of our travels on FB, this is the blog account with a few more photos.
Aura was tied up at Pier 7 Marina and our Aussie yacht broker Keith kindly took me to the airport. The drive from Annapolis to the Washing DC airport (Dulles) is one and half hours on the freeway and if I was to take public transport that would have been 3 buses and a train…..in the States a car is a necessity.
It was an easy flight to Johannesburg; my first stop was to catch up with Rob and Nora. Since our last visit they had moved to a secure golf course estate. It was great to catch up, I don’t want to think how many years had passed but it was easy, fun and just like old times.
Kim had to rush home to Australia after her dad got sick and later passed away. She was soon on her way to JNB albeit via Singapore on a longer flight so she could spend a little extra time in Australia. She did get a chance to catch up with Paulie and Becfor a quick celebratory birthday lunch for Bec in Canberra before her flight.
I was able to join in the start of Steve’s birthday, “somethings to try before you die”. Yep as is fitting, lets brush up on our firearm skills and shoot a few guns. The catch up commenced, Milly and Will (Steve’s kids, well they are now adults…..time does get away), Dave from Brisbane and Bernice, Sean and Connor from Perth Plus many of Steve’s friends from SA, UK and Australia. Bang bang bang with a pump action shot gun …..Let the weekend begin! And just to name a few Glock, AK47 and the R5 Carbines.
Kim arrived early Saturday morning and we toured the grounds of the golf course estate, of course this was in golf cart. It wasn’t long before we found the 19th and with the time zone differences it was declared “its 5óclock somewhere”. As we do, a special restaurant was selected for lunch. We shared some fantastic Italian fare and SA wines. After a short nap we headed to our next engagement, a birthday braaie. We had such a great time and we soon realised how much we missed our “Perth” friends Khatiza and Steve.
Early the next morning, I wasn’t feeling the best. What I initially thought was over indulgence actually took me several weeks to recover. We were soon Ubering our way to Black Head, well Zwartkop sounds better. On route, there was a water stop and an emergency vomi stop on the way. On our arrival, there was a helicopter and Milly bailed out. We watched the take off with the open van door that filled the van with dust and grass….. Will that effect my Uber rating? While Steve is taking the scienic view of the track, Kim and I took the photo opportunity with his Ferrari 488. Ok let’s hit this, I jump in Steve’s GT3 with Will at the helm. We are hunting! Now last time I had seen Will he wasn’t old enough to have L plates. He is fanging this car around the tight track with just enough grip n slide to realise that know one is truly alive. He knows the car, the track and fortunately he has had a few lessons and many race track hours. I think Porsche needs to consider upgrading the seat belts as I’m lurched forward when Will hit the breaks to make each hard corner. Ok enough, time for me to purge………yesterday was fun but nothing like a catch up with one of the Barbados 50 yachts……what did I eat? While I took time to drink more water and loose it again, Kim was flying around the track in another Porsche. What model was that? Kim was then shooting around the track with Steve and his Ferrari. Next , Kim was the aerial view in the chopper. At least one of us is having fun. Oh and our Uber driver also had a great day, he had a few laps in the fleet of cars plus he took my spot for the helicopter ride……he will be talking about this Uber day for many years to come.
That evening we celebrated Steve’s birthday with the same race car theme. We had a wonderful time with Steve, Khatiza and their friends. It was great to see Di & Dave. We hadn’t seen them since a random encounter at our local Rosalie cinema. We had a surprise visit from Derek and Leanne(Ocean Blue) who so happened to be in the neighbourhood. We’d only just said bye to them in Rhode Island…..small world, he was close by visiting this Johannesburg office. Khatiza and Steve kindly invited them to join the celebrations.
There was a final farewell lunch and we were back at the airport……(Now if you sail and if haven’t heard the story next time you see Kim ask her about the Maltese Falcon).
Next stop Chicago with a stopover in Heathrow. I really didn’t need to reset my body clock as I’d only been in SA for 4 days. Kim needed a hard reset but she slept and she was perky when Rohan collected us at the airport. Sal & Rohan are friends from Brisbane; we first met in 2008 at the end of our last sailing adventure. Subsequently Kim worked with Sal, we’d go 4WD beach camping and boarding/skiing in Japan. Now these guys with little Maggie and V are living in the States. We settled in for some home-style family time and then explored the local neighbourhood including the mandatory brewery and gym. It was great to do a work out, something I hadn’t done since the marina in Barcelona. We felt at home, with such comfortable hospitality plus a chance to catch up. As every trip needs a high light, we headed into the city for our first base ball game. Beer and really bad hotdogs and nachos with a chemical type cheese…..ah it was about the game and we soon realised it was actually a social event for people to catch up that just so happens to have a game happening in the background plus great crowd watching…..similar to a game of cricket. A post game bar was in order. A few locals gave Sal and I a few shots at the “pong” beer cup game. It was a perfect setting for the one man band in the back ground. That day we ticked a few other boxes with a tapas meal followed by live blues music…….now that was a big day.
We were soon on our way back to the airport, next stop Toronto. We were greeted by Rob & Cathy with a sign. It was going to be an all Canadian trip, starting with a steak dinner at Keggs that was accompanied with a Canadian red. The next day we took in the local sights, Rob gave us the hop on and not get off tour of Toronto. The place has a great feel. We soon headed north and we had a lovely dinner with their close friends. And after another hour or so driving we arrived at the cottage. Picture perfect, just like in the movies with the cottage on the lake. It was time to relax, chill and even a sleep in. Of course a game of Mexican Train was in order, there was a spot of gardening, a hill top hike and a trip to the local dump…..yeah well that’s where you find the bears. Kim was dying to see a bear and when she did, it was immediately time to return to the safety of the pickup truck :- )
Road trip! We’re off to the famous tourist town of Niagara Falls. The pictures say it all.
Next up, back to the USA