SA20081130b - Vanrhynsdorp to Upington - Ben Oostdam's journal
    Ben Oostdam's

    SA 2008-2 JOURNEY

    JOURNAL : November 18 to December 5

    Part 11b: November 30, 2008 - VANRHYNSDORP to UPINGTON

    much abbreviated and expurgated - especially where original was illegible


    By 07:15 in the morning I was all packed, showered and shaved and greeted Jani on his way to church (it was Sunday, and appropriately also the last day of the month). Jani was immaculately dressed, and probably due to yesterday's early morning conversation in French it came immediately to mind: "tire par quatre epingles!" He felt better than last night, had lost his wife to cancer a few years ago and told me she had a grandfather with last name of "Louw" (like my wife Mercia's) who lived in The Paarl. (like brother in law Jackie). We said a quick goodbye and he referred me to his sister in law who made a fine breakfast and collected the R 220 due ....signing my journal by way of receipt. This was about the third time I visited van Rhynsdorp (I prefer to spell it that way!), the first being for the 1964 inquest when we had lost my good friend Joe Wright in a diving accident off the Namaqua coast.
    After enjoying my eggs with bacon, sausage and church bell concert, I departed at 09:00 bel dobt (odometer reading 516.9 019587), taking R 27 over the van Rhynspass, 268m at the same reststop I had favored on my last trip, since I recollected the sign S.A. Road Agency Ltd and the wheat and the oak. I was now in North Cape Province on some altiplano ...

    My next stop was at strangely named Nieuwoudtville (lit. new-old town), the alleged World bulb capital (some Dutch cities might vie...) where I bought 35 Rands on 2 small bottles of milk, 3 soft drinks and a pack of Namakwa biscuits from an unhappy-looking long haired white shopkeeper.

    Contentedly, I then drove on on R27 to Calvinia past (haunted? nomen est omen...q.v.) Oorlogskloof through a lonely country with only occasional cars passing, and many weaverbird nests on telegraph poles.

    I stopped at Soetwater [NONO, not that one!!! but much more peaceful ... (odo 609.8 19680, time NA)] to take picts (remember, I lost them on the CD after having seen how good they were...) of weaverbirds, plants and sheep. There had been a fire along the roadside, scorching about one mile, and the new fences everywhere postdated the fire, my dear Watson!
    This was also near a right hand turn sign or R 355 to Ceres, allegedly one of the longest stretches of bare roads (over 200 kms? check it out, dude!)

    The town of Calvinia was next - I had visited it a few years ago but this time I stopped to take in the Old Synagogues - now a very interesting Agricultural Museum (my second Synagogue on this trip) with a sturdy old locomotive in the garden to boot! Again, I took dozens of fine photographs now as lost as an Israeli tribe of South African Jews!
    (Some Googling back in Conestoga, PA, yielded by way of atonement this info : about 1,633K links and 9K images of Calvinia on May 5, 2009 as well as these links: more about Calvinia incl. photos and still more
    and the following
    An hourís drive down the road we reach Calvinia a quaint town at the bottom of the majestic Hantam Mountains.
    Traditions of the Afrikaner, descendants of Dutch settlers, are still kept alive.
    The environment represents no less than five different climates:
  1. The Ceres-Karoo - semi-desert in the south-east,
  2. The Bokkeveld - famous for its Fynbos, Proteas and herbs in the north-west,
  3. The Namaqualand - with the famous Aizoaceae (flowering about noon) and succulents in the north,
  4. The Bushman land - in the north-east, and
  5. The Roggeveld - lowest temperatures in the south
  6. unquote

    As an Earth Scientist, I was intrigued by these graphs of temperatures 1857-1999
    for Capetown and Calvinia: and the adjacent trend-sketch for the last
    forty years of "global warming"...:

    I am ashamed to admit that I skipped the Khoi rock paintings and am unlikely to attend the Hantam vleisfees, on August 29, 2009 ]

    I left Calvinia as early as 11:45 (odometer 644.9 19,715) for the long stretch of R27 to Kenhardt (289KM) and almost got lost at a traffic sign straight for Williamson (90km) and turn left for Brandvlei - where I arrived at 13:06 for icecream and milk and 32.33 liters of SASOL 'petrol' for R.296,00. I also got a kick about the many signs marked "Loop" ...and then some number like 9.....Of course, "loop" is a good English word but in Dutch it means "walk" ...a dreadful thought in this desert full of saltpans and more....
    [Googling a half a year later, I noticed some interesting items I missed, including the following among the 13K links and 3K images for Brandvlei:

    Camels photographed by Jeanine
    near Calvinia or Brandvlei or in between

    A colonade of columns in building
    opposite the NG Church in Brandvlei

    Brandvlei Dam or Reservoir/Lake
    Please click to get it right!

    and the 1,660 Google links and 388 images for the intriguing Verneukpan . . . . .

    . . . which lies northeast of Brandvlei between Swartkop and Diemansput....
    quote...and became famous in 1929 when Captain (later Sir) Malcolm Campbell (1885 - 1948) attempted to break world land-speed record. He tried to reach 300 miles per hour (482.8 Km/h). Malcolm Campbell (1885 - 1948) The car used was a Napier-Arrol-Astor Bluebird. His mean speed for the measured mile was 218.45 mph (351.56 Km/h) Campbell did eventually exceed 300 miles per hour reaching 301.337 mph, but not in South Africa. Today Verneukpan is used by kite-surfers, an extreme sport using wind buggies. These bicycle-like vehicles with a sail attached to them. Speeds of up to 70Km per hour are reached. unquote
    In 2006, Johan Jacobs died after his Jet powered car rolled at 500km/h during an attempt to set a new record at Verneukpan.

    At 15:00 (odometer reading 1751 870022) with a tank still 90% full, I reached Kenhardt where I needed to pay R 2 to get into a turnstile pay-toilet ready to take a bath in the sink or the toilet bowl - whichever was cleaner...

    [On Google, Kenhardt boasted 25K links and 3,370 images on this celebration-canceled May 5, 2009 Mexican Feast Day - including the nearby Kenhardt Kokerboom Forest, assorted Acacia and several selected succulents ss's, as well as these accredited photographs:

    Kenhardt Kokerboom Forest
    by bavarianbirdnet

    Old Church

    Double-banded Courser
    by J.v.d.W., NL

    I was now at the end of R27, joining N14, in the KKK area of Kenhardt-Kakamas-Keimoes and close to the Orange River, hurrah! Judging from my entry-less journal, I was getting tired and tempted to stay in Keimoes where I crossed the Orange River and several islands. I enjoyed the Wharf and almost decided to "live it up" at the Werf Guesthouse, but felt duty-bound (Calvinistic?) to reach Upington this evening, so on I went.(next time?))
    The scenery changed a lot, at least along the fertile and well irrigated Orange River valley, a vintner's paradise..

    [200905052210: Google spewed up
    25.8K links to Keimoes in 0.10 seconds,
    as well as 778 images in 0.13 seconds ...
    from which I picked these below:

    water wheel

    Keimoes bikers
    by Wen Woo

    Around 17:00 I reached the island in the Orange River at Upington where on our 1998 tour we had found a cottage in the Camp Site. This time, however, no such luck...the lady at the gate beswore me that - even on this Sunday to Monday night, all 240 beds were filled....Filled with disbelief, I drove through the town and ended up finding a cute B and B for R 300 near the river and opposite the Kalahari Guesthouse - which was guarded by three baboons.
    After a brief walk, I was too tired to go for dinner, so I went to bed with a bottle of milk and a pack of Kalahari trackers and watched a TV show about the terror regime of crocodiles in Florida....wondering if the Orange River also hosted crocodiles or alligators...

    [Google stats for Upington per 20090506: 91,300 links, 32,900 images, "breakfast is severed" .....]

    Locomotive: "GRIETJIE"
    I knew I was in for trouble when 10 minutes into the journey he apologised for bringing a sackload of potatoes along for the ride. That?s an Afrikaans expression in case you didn?t know, which refers to bringing a whole sackload of problems into a discussion. You start off with a little potato and, before you know it, you have a whole table full of them and you?re being asked to give your considered opinion on each one.
    Orange River Vineyards

    Upington, Keimoes - Lithops = "living stones" - Ruda Wahl from Keimoes...ancestry - Upington Accommodations
    and a NOTE: My wife Mercia just told me that one of her most vivid childhood memories was the train journey from Capetown to Upington, traveling two nights and a full day in between .... with a load of school children ready to start their annual vacation !!
    BLO fecit 20090503_6 - Contents of SA 2008-2 Journey