“Catherine WHAT are you doing?” These words uttered in a bemused tone are the soundtrack to almost any travels my dad and I undertake together. And they are usually spoken as I try to assemble a tent or start a fire. The thing is, it seems my dad subscribes to the ‘my way or the highway’ mentality and I have long come to accept that no matter how adept I am at doing something, when it comes to outdoor endeavours, dad’s way is always best, at least for the sake of a harmonious relationship.
Despite his slightly OCD bush behaviours, we have always had a good relationship and with Father’s Day coming up on the 16th June and retail outlets yapping on about gifts I thought about the most precious gift my dad has given me. The simultaneous love for travel, Africa and the great outdoors.
Throughout the years we have visited numerous corners of South Africa, always under the steam of a Land Rover. On some journeys I have been a willing participant (anyone feel like visiting the snow in Hogsback? Yes!), on some journey’s I have been actively involved in the planning (Dad PLEASE can we go and visit Ntombekhaya’s family in the Transkei?) and others I have dragged my feet a little more (let’s visit the remote Richtersveld National Park over your 16th birthday! No-o-o-o-o!). No matter what my attitudes going in though, I inevitably come out the other end extremely grateful for the experience. And we have had some pretty note-worthy experiences.
Once a disastrous storm wreaked havoc on the camp site at the Tsitsikamma National Park, forcing us to abort the mission and landing us on the steps, bedraggled and desperate, at the Twin Palms Inn in Humansdorp. This hotel was most notable for the fact that the hand towel was chained to the towel rail and that I could pretty much bounce my fried egg across the dining room. We awarded it ½ a star for saving our bums on a cold, wet, windy night and then got the hell out of there.
On a separate occasion, I recall watching a baby elephant playing in a dam at the Addo Elephant National Park. It threw itself backwards disappearing under water and then poked it’s trunk out above the surface like a snorkel. To this day it is one of my favourite bush memories and yet that was a trip I was hesitant about taking, no doubt because it clashed with my adolescent social life.
On a different occasion, I recall ‘wild camping’ (no designated camping facilities) on a beach up the West Coast near the Namibian border. It was winter, it was cold but it was also starkly beautiful.
Throughout our travels, whenever we reached a bump in the road (as you inevitably do) my dad saw it as an adventure. I learnt by example and today I thrive on such challenges and nothing makes me happier than getting out there and experiencing the world in all its gory glory. Travel is something that continues to enrich my life beyond words and I have my dad to thank for instilling this love in me.
Considering what a giant gift my dad has given me, finding an appropriate gift for father’s day this year seems like quite a tall order! Any ideas?!
And for anyone considering travelling in South Africa, do it! Sleeping-OUT can help you with accommodation in South Africa.
Photo credits, in order from top: Joadl, Conrad88, leoza1, Ossewa all from wikicommons.