After the Kentucky Derby: Another weather detour

As we head west, we have been keeping track of the weather report for the Yellowstone National Park. It has not been good for two days of hiking we had planned, and the final report today was for snow and a high of 38 degrees. We talked to a couple from Minneapolis in the dining room at the Crazy Horse Memorial, where we had stopped to check on the carving’s progress. They said they walked the boardwalk among geysers in horizontal snow.

Then we received this email from the park: “As we are faced with workforce shortages, we are modifying our food service as well as operating dates and times at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel. . . . Considering the fluid situation in the park, you may wish to travel with some extra food items and snacks.”

We do carry food, but the prospect of being in an area of food insecurity was frightening to two people who have gained a pound for every day on the road.

We canceled our Yellowstone reservations and headed north to Billings. Drove through lots of rain, but no snow.

Some progress on Crazy Horse’s face since we visited 30 years ago, but it will still take another 100 years to finish carving the mountain into the chief’s head, hair, body and his horse’s head. We’ll check back in another 30 years.

Today’s bad weather was the first on this trip. It rained at the Kentucky Derby, but the mostly winning bets there have made that bad-weather memory fade away. Here’s what it’s been like as we traveled West:

Sunset from our cabin’s porch at the Lake of the Ozarks
Moon and Nebraska’s capital building in Lincoln, just across from where we stayed.
Alpenglow on the rocks across from our porch in the Badlands National Park.
This person is wanted in three counties for stealing rocks. However, she pocketed one here without charges.

Steve ruined my Derby bets — and saved the day

Steve at Emerald Downs.

When Rich Strike read what the pundits had written about him Saturday morning, it made him so mad he’d run like hell to prove them wrong.

That’s how Steve, my horse-race betting partner for years before he died in 2010, would explain how Rich Strike won the Kentucky Derby on May 7, 2022.

Steve always bet long shots, especially on horses with names that amused him or reminded him of his wife. As a steady reader of the Daily Racing Form and horses’ past performances, I would try to talk Steve out of his more “strange” bets, often by reading what the professional handicappers wrote. Kind of like they said about Rich Strike on Saturday:

“Poor speed figures. Best speed rating well below the average winning speed. Return to dirt might offer some hope for improvement.”

Steve would see such an assessment and say, “When the horse reads that, he’ll be so mad he’ll run like hell to show ’em.”

Nothing could persuade Steve to stop betting the looongest shots available, $2 to show on the least chalky choice. He didn’t hit often. But when he did, he’d signal “loo-ser” with an L to his forehead and wonder why I spent so much time with the racing form.

Nothing can persuade me to abandon the DRF. I can’t watch a race without an overnight session with the past performances. Leading up to the Derby, I had watched all the prep races, bet them, did OK and had a plan for the first Saturday in May: A Pick 3 with one horse in the first race (Jackie’s Warrior), four horses who might win in the second race (Shirl’s Speight, Cavalry Charge, Adhamo, Santin) and six horses who I thought could win the Derby (Mo Donegal, Epicenter, Messier, Tiz the Bomb, Zandon, White Abarrio) for a $24 bet. An Exacta boxed with Epicenter, Zandon and Tiz the Bomb for a $12 bet. And a graduated across the board bet on Epicenter, my fav: $5 to win, $10 to place and $15 to show.

Sixty-four dollars coming into the Derby. More than I usually bet on a race — or in a whole day at the races. But it’s the Derby, and I’m splitting my bets with Michael, my new horse-racing partner.

And things looked good coming into the Big Race. In the first race of my Pick 3, Jackie’s Warrior had gone wire to wire at even odds in the 10th race and in the 11th, Santin won by a neck at 7-1 odds, which would fatten up the payoff for my Pick 3.

Things looked even better when the horses were coming down the stretch in the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby. Epicenter was in the lead, holding off Zandon on the outside. A No. 3 (Epicenter) and No. 10 (Zandon) finish would complete my Pick 3, win my Exacta and pay off all three positions in my across-the-board bet. Just to win three bets on one race would be a first-ever accomplishment in my handicapping career.

My eyes were on Epicenter and not on what jockey Sonny Leon was doing with Rich Strike on the inside. Take a look at the great NBC overhead shot to see what a thread-the-needle ride Leon had on Rich Strike, which ended with 3 and 10 in second and third place. I tried to read the numbers of the winning horse. Was it No. 1, Mo Donegal? A possibility that Michael had bet because that was the hometown of his grandparents. Or No. 2, Happy Jack? A long shot but not out of the realm.

But No. 21? The horse that sneaked into the race at the last moment when Ethereal Road scratched? With odds at 81-1, ignored by betters even though he finished third behind Tiz the Bomb in his last race? This was the horse that destroyed all my carefully laid plans?

It was.

But who cared? Friends of Steve had kept his betting peculiarities going since he died. If we were ever at a track together, we’d place a bet in the last race on the horse with the longest odds. Just before Kathy and I left for the Derby, we had dinner with those friends and agreed to bet the longest odds in the Derby.

That would be No. 21. Rich Strike and Sonny Leon. We had placed a $10 show bet on the horse, which returned $147. Yeah, I lost all my well-planned bets (except for the place and show on Epicenter). But watching this race, having a bet on this uncertain winner and dancing around at the finish was the best race ever.

Thank you, Steve.

After Rich Strike had won the Kentucky Derby.

Road to Kentucky Derby: More than a sack lunch in Sac City

Boerewors, pap and sous

Chili served in Styrofoam bowls did not meet the standards of my wife, a former food writer. And that seemed to be the specialty of my favorite casino and hotel. We’d skipped supper there for a salad in town at a restaurant with five TVs tuned to News Max, Fox Views and other former state news stations with The Weather Channel doing their best to hold up the liberal side of political philosophy. We did not stop there for breakfast.

We drove on across Iowa until hunger forced us to turn at the first sign advertising food. That turned out to be a Subway advertisement on a signpost also directing us to the world’s largest popcorn ball. How could we resist?

The way to the world’s largest popcorn ball, located in Sac City, Iowa, was blocked by road construction (what isn’t?). So we had to park the car and walk in the direction of the world’s largest popcorn ball, hoping we would find a place to eat, Subway or otherwise. A block away, we came across a window in front of several tables laid out for a banquet. Back up to the nearest door and we saw the tiny sign: Cattlemen’s Steakhouse. In we went, and adjacent to the banquet room was a nice cafe with a counter and several tables, all filled with a luncheon crowd. A complete menu with this surprise: Boerewors, pap and sous (South African beef sausage made in Clarion, Iowa), polenta and spicy tomato stew. It was delicious as was Kathy’s chicken sandwich. The waitress told us that one of the owners was from South Africa as were the butchers in Clarion. Who cares that we never found the Subway? The restaurant displayed several historic pictures from Sac City and a very large cow head hanging over the table next to us.

After lunch, we retrieved the car and drove to the world’s largest popcorn ball, passing several large and elaborate houses. “As Sac City began to grow,” the Sac City website says, “local businesspersons erected beautiful stores and homes. The town is home to many wonderful examples of architecture. Queen Anne homes, Second Empire structures, buildings designed by noted architects, and striking public buildings continue to enrich the area. Sac City grew because of commerce, banking, and real estate investment.”

The population in the 1900 Census was 17,639. The 2020 Census counted only 2,059 and notes Sac City is currently declining at a rate of -0.15% annually and its population has decreased by -7.25% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 2,220 in 2010.”

My research has not answered why it was so rich once that houses could be built by noted architects and why is has been in decline recently.

It could be the world’s largest popcorn ball, which was a disappointment. Enclosed in a building with windows so reflective you can’t fully see what is inside. The popcorn is encased in blue tarp and a fence with only the top part of the ball showing. This probably is not the full story of Sac City’s decline. Our research continues.

Road to Kentucky Derby: My favorite Indian casino

Please don’t think that we took the snow detour around North Dakota so that we could stay at my favorite Indian casino. That would not be true. We went south after seeing the snow photo sent out by the North Dakota Department of Transportation. But once the decision had been made, well, the thought eventually formed in my head that a stop in the corn fields outside of Sloan, Iowa, would be right on our way and we should be arriving at check-in time.

The WinnaVegas Casino is not my favorite because of generous slots (I never play them), free drinks or blubbery buffets. I like it because of its location — standing alone out in the middle of corn fields. I wandered here some years back after seeing signs for it. Three miles down a country road after taking the Sloan exit off Interstate 29. There it stands: hotel, casino and Pony Express, where we filled our 12-gallon tank with $3.75 per gallon gas for under $50.

We checked in, and they issued me a new card (I left my old card in my gas-guzzling truck) and gave Kathy one with $10 on it to use in the casino. Getting the cards with $20 knocked off that amount off the room rate. But they got back the $20 within a few minutes after we found the electronic craps table. A video game the size of a real craps table but no side rails to stack your chips or shelves underneath to set your drinks, Put your money or your cards in a slot, push a button to place $5 on the pass line and you can lose money just as fast as at a craps table made of wood and felt. Dice are thrown across the video screen by swiping your hand over your console. They appear as red dice skittering across the table’s video surface from one side to the other rail. Numbers displayed and announced by a voice that also encourages other bets. “Line away,” the electronic woman says, as your $5 pass line bet disappears into the casino’s online bank.

The electronic version takes away the jobs of the the stickman, the boxman and their two helpers. It’s easier to follow because everything is displayed on the electronic table and the individual consoles. You don’t have to embarrassingly ask how much money to put on a $1 come bet to get the odds on a 5, but you miss the normal banter of a good stickman. It’s another step in America’s growing loneliness. Finding a gambling establishment with humans dealing craps and card games is more infrequent than hitting a hard 10.

We might have felt better about the electronic craps table if we had spent more time with it. But the $20 on our two cards didn’t last long before the electronic woman had most of them. We cashed in the $1.77 we had not lost with an apology for wasting the young Native American cashier’s time for an amount that would not buy a gallon of gas, even at the Pony Express.

The Winnebagos call themselves “Hochunkgra, a Siouan people.” The reservation is mostly in northeast Nebraska with a few corners that stick over the Missouri River into Iowa, which is where the WinnaVegas is. They were not always here. They once occupied the southern half of present day Wisconsin and the northern part of Illinois. “The Black Hawk War of 1832 and a series of treaties forced the Winnebago out of their homeland, and they were removed to reservations in Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, and finally to a portion of the Omaha Reservation in Nebraska.”

You could follow these Indian trails across America, as I have done for the Nez Perce (Nimiipuu) people from White Bird to Bears Paw. Or you could follow the Choctaws and Creek on the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma. None of them end happily.

Maybe it helps to follow them backwards — from where these peoples ended up in the West to a happier time and place back East, where they lived until the Europeans showed up. Our journey to the Kentucky Derby is now on that path as we travel from the Winnebago reservation to Illinois, where we stayed across the Rock River from the “Black Hawk” statue in Oregon, Illinois.

The “Black Hawk” statue in Oregon, Illinois

Road to Kentucky Derby: Scared out of North Dakota

Right out of the gate, our trip to the Kentucky Derby took an unexpected turn. We had left Missoula, MT, planning to go to Glendive, MT, and then across North Dakota, when our friend in Missoula texted this picture from the North Dakota Department of Transportation:

Maybe South Dakota would be a better choice. Not that we are afraid of driving in snow. Especially in my Dodge Ram truck with four new all-weather tires that cost more than my first car. But we are not in the truck. Because of high gas prices, we decided the Toyota Camry hybrid was a better choice. And for gas prices, it has been. For snow, not so much.

Once we crossed out of the land of high gas, house and food prices in the state of Washington, we have not found any gas stations that charge above $5 per gallon as in the Evergreen State where filling the 24-gallon tank in the truck cost more than $100. Wattabout $5 per gallon? Mostly they have been under $4 per gallon: $3.86 in Bonner, MT. $3.96 in Hardin, MT. $3.88 in Kadoka, SD. But the cheapest gas so far has been at the Pony Express at the WinnaVegas Casino in Sloan, IA: $3.75 per gallon (more on the WinnaVegas in the next post).

Detouring to South Dakota meant a long day of driving before we reached Deadwood, SD, home of Wild Bill Hickok’s fatal card game. We avoided the deadly casinos and stayed in a slime plant. The slime plant did have a casino, which we avoided, and is a hotel built in what used to be a plant that processed gold slurry (known as “slime”) from the mines in nearby Lead, SD. The plant closed in 1973, and in 2010, a group of preservationists and businessmen decided to save the building by opening a hotel there. Nice rooms for $119; dining and gambling inside the building. Looking down on the main part of Deadwood, we could see the melting drifts of snow that were left over from what must have been a winter with many snow storms. Fortunately, the roads across South Dakota were dry and bare of snow as we continued the next day.

Holiday Inn Resort Deadwood Mountain Grand (Photo by Kathy Triesch Saul)

Hawaii could be our only trip in The Year of the Plague

Boat whaleThe February Hawaii trip holds great fondness for me. Not just because of the successful whale-watching trip or the drive to Hana and around Maui on the once “forbidden-to rental-cars” road. The fondness is growing because it might be the only trip I take in this Year of the Plague.

All the time planning, getting camping permits, buying Kentucky Derby tickets, arranging hotel reservations, checking equipment for bike rides, kayak voyages and dreaming, dreaming, dreaming. About to be washed away while sheltering in place – as in staying home. And then Major League Rugby followed some of the minor sports by canceling its season. Tickets in Seattle, Atlanta and Denver, all in the trash.

I do have time to make my way through my reading list:

The Plague by Albert Camus

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara Tuckman

And, of course, A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe

Defoe editor note

Unfortunately, I will not be leaving these books behind on planes and in hotels as I usually do with my reading materials when traveling. When leaving the plane in Hawaii, I left behind a copy of the Ohio Farmer. Version 2The February 2020 issue had a scary story in it about “metabolic based resistance . . . occurs once weeds develop that can convert an active ingredient into metabolites that don’t kill the plant.” In other words, weeds that we can’t kill, sort of like viruses, only bigger. The weeds “continue stacking diverse herbicide-metabolism genes into their genetics,” spelling the end of chemical control of weeds, leading to a version of Tom Russell’s question: “Who’s going to hoe those beans when the Mexicans have all gone away?”

I always leave behind a copy of The Liberty Press, so people can keep up with the Mighty Tigers, the town’s sewer and water problems and a library expansion in a town of 1,000. You never know what you might read there. Did you know that the real name of the Big Bopper (as in “Chantilly Lace”) was Jiles Perry Richardson?

Who knows what good will come of my leaving behind my copy of the Washington Thoroughbred? Someone might contact www.blueribbonfarm.com to learn the stud fee for Atta Boy Roy, a horse I always liked even though I lost money on him. How could I with a horse that had both Secretariat and Seattle Slew as great grandparents? The plane cleaner who ponies up enough money to pay the stud fee might have a horse in the Kentucky Derby that maybe, some years from now, I might see run, and probably lose money on it.

We have done one trip since Hawaii, driving halfway across Oregon to deliver a grandson to his parents who had driven up from California. With Seattle University doing online classes only, the grandson, a junior at SU, went home where the governor has ordered him and his family to stay. Which seems a long ways from the Feb. 14 issue of The Week magazine I left behind at our hotel. The headline, not a lead headline, was: “China: Is it doing enough to control the coronavirus?” Yes, said an editorial in China’s Global Times. No, said the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. The dead: 420; infected: 20,000. We should remember Li Wenliang, the ophthalmologist who warned about the new illness, got carted away in the middle of the night by police and accused of spreading rumors. He has since died of the disease.

The Diamond Princess has just started a two-week quarantine with 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew members. Since then, more than 700 on board tested positive for the virus.

Another headline: “Coronavirus: Should you be afraid?” No, the article said, worry about the flu.

If only.

Wolf Creek

If you could re-pursue your career, I might shoot big cats

PantherWhen Shannon Wild presented her show “Pursuit of the Black Panther” in Seattle, we asked when the photographs and videos she had shot would be seen on TV. She said she hoped they would be on Nat Geo Wild in March.

Looking at the Nat Geo Wild upcoming shows, we find:

“The Real Black Panther”
One-hour special premieres Winter 2020; produced by Symbio Studios
The hot, dry, deciduous jungles of South India are no place for a melanistic leopard. But Saya is different. He is the only black panther in the entire Kabini Forest, and he’s got one thing on his mind: to take over and make this leopard paradise his own. But Scarface, the current ruler, won’t give it up easily. With one eye on his prey and the other on the ever-changing skies, Saya must befriend the sun and the clouds to master the shadows so that he can move unnoticed and hunt successfully. Between these trees lies an untold story — one that defies the laws of natural selection. Furthermore, it’s a story of astounding adaptability and success. Told in first-person narrative, this is the journey of Saya — the real black panther.

That may be the show Wild spoke of, but the above promo frames things in a much different way than how Wild depicted her adventures.

The TV promo seems to portray a standoff between wild cats (“Told in first-person narrative”? Meow, meow, grrrr!).

Wild’s presentation at Benaroya Hall on Jan. 14, 2020, seemed to be more about her versus all things that would foil her pursuit of the Black Panther, including being bitten by a cheetah, losing track of the elusive panther for weeks at a time and getting thrown from a truck and breaking her back.

Wild’s photographic career started in 2004 when she opened a pet photography business in her native Australia. As she showed the audience some of the pictures she had taken of cats and dogs, she explained her photographic philosophy: focus on the pets, pose them in natural settings, fade out the background and have vibrant colors in the photo. Also, she said, it helped to win the trust of the pet and be “welcomed into their world” – on the ground, close to the pet.

Above, Kathy shows Shannon Wild a photo of our pet cat Lily.

But after seven years of pet photography, Wild decided she wanted to photograph wildlife. So off she went to the Indonesian islands to photograph what she called “a true living dinosaur,” the Komodo dragon.

Somewhere along the line, she met Russell MacLaughlin, a photographer and videographer from South Africa. After a courtship of one week, they married. That was six years ago.

She moved to Africa and started photographing the wildlife there, using some of her pet philosophy but also learning more about cat behavior: When to hold ground, when to leave. Which didn’t always serve her well.

While photographing a cheetah in an enclosed reserve, she knelt to adjust equipment and should have recognized what the cat was doing: moving around behind her. The cheetah jumped over Wild’s back, clamped jaws down on her left arm and started squeezing it just like a cheetah would do to an antelope’s windpipe to kill it.

Russ and others rushed forward to pull the cat away. The video of her after 20 seconds in the cheetah’s jaws showed her laughing and making jokes “because I was embarrassed” before she went into shock.

She’s left-handed and lost the use of the arm for three months, but learned that “the most dangerous animal is the one you don’t see coming.”

But it didn’t stop her from pursuing wildlife. She and Russ collaborated with Shaaz Jung, a “big cat specialist,” to start filming the “panther pardus fusca,” the leopard in the Kabini Forest, part of the Nagarahole National Park in India. And how is a leopard a black panther? As the National Geographic says on its website: the result of a gene that causes a surplus of pigment in the skin or hair of an animal so that it appears black. (If you look at the third photo on this page you can see that the black panther has spots, as in a photo Wild showed in her presentation.)

The leopards in Africa spend a lot of their time in trees. Not so in India’s forest. There they are on the ground, which makes it harder to find and film them. Wild’s camera crew also had restrictions from the park: Film between 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., stay on the roads, etc.

WildAnd leopards don’t sit up and pose like pets do. Wild told about waiting four hours to get 10 minutes of the leopard in the open.

Then one day the leopard showed up with nasty scars across its face and damage to one eye. Leopards are territorial, and if another tries to encroach, well, a fight is in the offing. The leopard disappeared for eight weeks, and Wild and crew did not have enough footage yet to make a show.

They searched and waited, filmed wild dogs, Asian elephants (40,000 muscles in their trunks!) and stopped because they had too much footage of these animals.

Above, if you had 40,000 muscles in your trunk, you could do this. Saul video shot in Africa.

Finally, the panther reappeared. Thin but healed, a white scar across its face. Still had two eyes. Filming resumed. Until a nasty turn in a truck carrying Wild and her amazing equipment) sent the unbolted things flying. Equipment bolted; Wild not. Four broken vertebrae and weeks to recuperate. She adopted Phoebe, a pet cat, as in a small, kitty variety, that gave her “a reason to get up in the morning.”

When Wild returned, it was the rainy season, when the forest grows lush and it’s harder find and see the leopard. They learned the behavior of the animals, the sounds and were continuously listening, finding the animal’s territory, basically sharing their lives. You can get quite close, Wild said, as you become irrelevant: Neither prey nor enemy.

Until finally, there was enough footage and soon, Wild hopes, the show will appear on Nat Geo Wild. Don’t miss it if you love seeing wildlife in their natural setting.

Which I do. I envy Wild for her job filming big cats, probably our favorite on a fall trip to Kenya and Tanzania. Would love to do that full time, except that I would find these lion cubs I shot in the first video below so cute I would try to pet them. That would make me an enemy, soon to have my windpipe crushed.

Using women’s instinct to protect African wildlife

Once you have seen animals in the wild, protecting them can become an obsession, as it did for Damien Mander, who came to talk and show photographs Oct. 29, 2019 at Benaroya Hall in Seattle. It was the first event we have signed up for called “National Geographic Live.” I found out that I have fallen out of practice taking notes in the dark. So here’s from memory and the brochure handed out in the entry hall.

Damien

It seems that Mander is obsessed with more than saving wild animals. In fact, it looks as if he goes into all stages of his life in an obsessive fashion, out to do it all well, energetically and to the nth degree. Born in Australia, he was obsessed with water, could not stay out of the sea. He became a “clearance diver” in the Australian Navy.

Then on to Special Forces as a sniper and then a trainer in the Iraq War. He served three years there before abandoning it.

“The second mistake we made there, besides getting into it, was disbanding the Iraqi army,” Mander said. That took the jobs away from not just the soldiers, but also the income to the extended families depending on those jobs, alienating millions who probably were not sorry to see Saddam Hussein go and might have signed on to rebuild the nation.

Mander bounced around South America — photos of what looked like a good time in bars, but maybe not, as he also mentioned the statistics on Iraq War veterans’ suicides. Then to Africa where he was introduced to nature and had an epiphany — my word — when looking into the eyes of a buffalo that had ripped itself apart in a trap set by poachers. As his companion shot that animal, putting it out of its misery, Mander had found his next obsession.

In 2009, he founded the International Anti Poaching Foundation to preserve an ecosystem by “training and equipping rangers to fight the poaching crisis in Africa.” Given that a pound of ivory from an elephant’s tusk is worth $35,000 in Vietnam, it is no wonder that people in Zimbabwe, where 72 percent of the population is below the poverty line, would be attracted to poaching. So arresting poachers was taking the income from many families there, causing conflicts with local communities.

In 2017, the IAPF started “Akashinga,” which means Brave Ones in the Shona language. The idea was to empower “disadvantaged women to restore and manage a network of wilderness areas as an alternative economic model to trophy hunting” and poaching. As the brochure says:

“The women of Akashinga have built strong relationships with the locals, de-escalated conflict and invested into their communities. The community response to this was to work with us in conservation, rather than against us.”

Akashinga

A squad leader, Vimbai Kumire, who barely reaches up to the chest of Mander, also addressed us at Benaroya. Despite her diminutive size, she showed that passion could be more powerful than bullets. She told of the importance of animals to their culture and country and explained that it was not only an honor to protect them but was also providing income for her family and dignity for herself.

Many of the arrests made — “without firing a single shot” — are related to organized crime and the use of poisons.

“Syndicates have been broken open and we have been advised of an 80% reduction in elephant poaching across the region since 2016,” the brochure says.

The organization now has the responsibility for protecting wildlife in more than one million acres. The most asked question, Mander says, by those arrested is not “Why am I being arrested?” but “Why am I being arrested by a woman?”

“For so long, our vision has been clouded by ego from seeing the most powerful force in nature — a woman’s instinct to protect.”

It may take all of that and more to protect the wildlife in Africa. With more than two billion people living on that continent by 2040, the loss of wildlife habitat will continue to grow. According to an article in the Oct. 10, 2019  edition of The Times of London (picked up in Amsterdam on our way home from Africa), many countries have lost their rhinoceros populations because of habitat loss: Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Chad.

Because of poaching, the rhino population in Botswana could be wiped out in two years, the article said. Rhino horns fetch $50,000 per kilogram in Asia, where they are used in traditional therapies. Botswana has fewer than 400 rhinos and has lost one a month in 2019, a rate that is still increasing. Conservationists blame part of that on President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who has disarmed the anti-poaching unit. His predecessor, Ian Khama, had an “unofficial shoot-to-kill” policy.

PlaqueThe rhinos we saw in Kenya were kept under armed guard. Not chained up or penned, but accompanied by the guards. Theirs is a dangerous way to make a living. A plaque on the overlook into the Ngorongoro Crater listed conservationists who have lost their lives, including six killed by poachers or bandits.

“In truth, there are really only a few things that matter: character and spirit,” Mander writes in the brochure. “If you don’t have those things, you don’t have a chance. CV’s, references, qualifications and fitness levels mean nothing here. We don’t want perfect. We want scrappers. someone that knows what it’s like to have to fight for survival. The rest will be learned.”

 

 

What really went on in Africa. Anna tells all

Anna is a much better journalist than I. She can take notes in the back of a bouncing Land Cruiser on a dirt road in Kenya and Tanzania. She asks good questions. She can hear out of both ears, and she writes faster than I. And does so very well. She sends out stories about her and Ian’s travels in a newsletter, which should be a blog or a book.

I’m on her email list, and when I saw this, I asked permission to use it here as my way of tell madcapschemes.com readers what really went on during our two-week trip to East Africa.

Hope you enjoy it.

John B.

 

Meanderings 1

Meanderings 2

Meanderings 3

Meanderings 4

Meanderings 5

Meanderings 6

Meranderings 7

Meanderings 8

Kenya and Tanzania in a 38-photo slideshow

Still sorting through my photos from the recent trip to Kenya and Tanzania and realizing it will take forever to put them in some sort of arrangement that will be perfect. So I decided I would not let perfect be the enemy of good.

Here are some of what I think are some of my best in a slideshow. Hope you enjoy them.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Then I realized I had left out the cheetah. Didn’t want to cheetah you.

Cheetah