Category Archives: What’s The story?

Morocco Safari Day 1-3

Cascades D'Ouzoud

Cascades D’Ouzoud

 

After spending the summer of 2004 preparing ourselves and our vehicle for our trip by Mid September we were ready to go.

We left our home with our fully equipped car, all the water we could carry and our three week supply of food and made our way to Southampton to catch the overnight ferry to France.  It took us three days to drive through France, cross over into Spain by the Pyrennes and finally met up with the rest of our group in Estepona in southern Spain to enjoy a final night of luxury in a European standard hotel.

I don’t think any of us slept well that night as we began to get anxious about what the next leg of our journey had in store for us.  Early the next morning we drove down to Tarifa and caught the ferry across to Tangier, Morocco.  The border crossing itself was a bit of a performance but luckily the leader of our group took care of most of it for us. As we left the port we experienced culture shock for the first time as our senses were assaulted with the sights, sounds and smells of a completely difference continent.  The city was chaotic and the strange signs in Arabic and French looked so odd to our British eyes that it was a relief to leave the chaos behind and head out into the countryside.

We drove though dry, dusty, flat landscape for the rest of the day before reaching a ‘campsite’ which was a dusty walled yard that had a toilet that was too disgusting to use, a few stray emaciated dogs and goats, a friendly chameleon and that was it.  Welcome to Morocco!

The following day was a 300km drive to another ‘campsite’ at Cascades D’Ouzoud.  By this time we had been travelling without decent facilites for a couple of days and as we were driving almost due south the temperature was getting hotter and hotter.  On arrival at the site we took a brief stroll to the river upstream of the waterfall and I was so hot and dirty that I lay in the river, fully clothed, to cool off!

The waterfall itself was pretty spectacular and we took a hike to the bottom the following morning, the climb back up however was not so easy and I was offered a ‘herbal remedy’ that looked suspiciously like cannabis by a little old Moroccan lady to help me with the climb, we managed to decline graciously and got the hell out of there!

This was our last designated campsite for the following 12 days which consisted of wild camping with two hotel stops to break it up.  Quite frankly the wild camping would be better than the campsites and a great deal cleaner!

As we left Cascade D’Ouzoud and headed further into the rural parts we reflected on the lessons we had learned so far:

Firstly, Our vehicle and equipment, with the kids DVD player in the back, caused a bit of a stir with Moroccans, we must have looked like aliens to them especially in the rural parts where there main mode of transport was a donkey.

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Secondly, the blonde hair that youngest son and I had attracted attention where ever we went that was so intense we soon decided not to leave the safety of our car while we were in the towns, even when we found a petrol station or somewhere to get water hubbie would lock us in the car when he went to pay.

Thirdly, it was extremely important that we followed the GPS co-ordinates set by our group leader as some areas where known to be extremely dangerous, we rarely had a phone signal and if we got lost help wasn’t coming, we were on our own!

Lastly, that however much we were enjoying ‘roughing it’ we couldn’t wait to get the our first hotel that night to sleep in a bed, wash ourselves and our clothes, use their pool and use a flushing toilet for the first time in 3 days!

As it turned out the night would be quite an adventurous one and it was extremely fortunate that we were in a hotel… with a proper bathroom….

More next week 😀

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What’s The Story? – Preparing for Morocco

 

This is my beloved Land rover Defender on the day we finally finished our preparations for our three week driving tour of Morocco in September 2004.

 

We bought the car in April 2004 and Hubbie immediately started modifying it to take all the off-roading supplies money could buy because 5 months later we were embarking on a road trip that took us through France and Spain and across Morocco to the Atlas Mountains and Sahara dessert.

 

Most of our Family and friends thought we were nuts as were prepared our car and ourselves for the trip.  The boys were just 3 and 10 at the time and we were going to spend 3 weeks driving hundreds of miles in what can only be described as harsh terrain.  Preparation was key to making this trip a success.

 

With less than 20 miles on the clock Hubbie took a drill to the body work to fit a roof rack and ladder (something that made my Dad shudder and exclaim that we were mental!), we fitted an auxiliary battery system and inverter to give us enough power to run a DVD player for the kids and a fridge to keep our food in.  The next thing was the roof tent for us to sleep in and a water tank to give us an emergency supply of water, just in case we had a breakdown.  After all we were going to spend about 3 days in the Sahara Desert itself and taking a chances was not an option.  A CB radio was next, followed by the roof storage boxes to keep a few spare parts.  The road tyres were changed for all terrain tyres and a snorkel was fitted on the side so the air intake was lifted high enough to  keep the air filter free of sand.  We fitted guards to protect sensitive parts of the car and lifted the suspension to give us a greater ground clearance, an awning on the side gave us protection from the harsh sun when we were camping.  Finally a bracket to fit some jerry cans for extra fuel and eventually we were ready to go.  Morocco here we come!

More next week 😀

 

What’s the Story? – Photobomb

This is one of those photos that always makes me smile, it’s one of the best photobombs I’ve seen eventhough it was taken well before the word even existed!

Mid-air photobomb

This was Boxing Day 2006 and we were on holiday in the Canadian Rockies in Alberta, the holiday that literally changed our lives.

 We were travelling between Banff and Jasper along the Icefields Parkway, often referred to as the most beautiful drive in the world and having done it I believe it to be true.  One of the places to see on the route is the Athabasca Falls which, being December, were mainly frozen except for the bright blue glacial water crashing under the ice, it was spectacular.  On the way back to the car hubbie had walked ahead of me and the boys and stopped to photograph us stumbling through the snow.  Eldest son and I stopped and posed for the shot before hearing a splat beside us as youngest son looked up at us from the snow, giggling. We had no idea what we had captured until we downloaded the photos later that evening…the ultimate mid-air photobomb.

Athabasca Falls

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What’s the story? – Fire Starter

Youngest son has always had a bit of an obsession with fire which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, my Dad is the same and he turned it into a long career as a firefighter. 🙂

 

We all love to camp so teaching the boys outdoor skills like tying knots and starting a fire has always been important to us.  We bought fire sticks so he could turn his interest into a useful skill and hubbie set about teaching him how to use it to start a fire when we were camping.  Attempt one was a bit of a disaster and ended abruptly when his frustration got the better of him.

So we were really surprised on our next trip when he got out the sticks, found some kindling and tried again.  This time his persistence paid off and he was so pleased with himself!

Sunset over Moore Lake

This was my Silent Sunday picture yesterday and it was taken at the end of our camping trip last week to Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park.  Through the Silent Sunday linky I have discovered that I really enjoy taking photos of landscapes. Many people like to photograph flowers, the sky, their kids or pets doing something cute but I always get the most amazing response when I post photos of the gorgeous scenery around me.  I really am fortunate enough to live in the most beautiful country and I love to share what I see.

Yesterday was no exception and I had the most amazing response to this photo of Moore Lake.

One night after dinner on our camping trip last week as we sat around the campfire I noticed the sky turn subtle shades of pink and peach.  We all grabbed our cameras and headed down to the beach by the lake to watch the sunset and that was the sight that greeted us.  It was so calm and so still without even a breath of wind.  It was completely void of human sound with just the occasional Cricket, Cicada or birdcall.

Youngest son capturing the sunset

There was the slightest hint of autumn in the air as the temperature dropped and the mist began to creep along the lake towards us.  So we stood and looked and absorbed the wonder that is Mother Nature.

Our First Portage, Samuel De Champlain Provincial Park

Portage:

noun

the carrying of a boat or its cargo between two navigable waters

 

We bought a canoe a fortnight ago and hubbie was itching to get out and explore during our camping trip ‘up north’ last week.  Our first two trips out with the boys were quite sedate, we travelled about 10km viewed the local wildlife and marveled at the scenery but the day before we were due to return home hubbie got it in his head to try something more adventurous.  The boys decided they had had enough of the fresh air, exercise and leeches (!) so opted to stay put in the campground while hubbie and I attempted a 14km route with 2 portages.

The first stretch was along the Mattawa River, an historic canoe route for the native peoples and the first European explorers to Canada.  There’s something very therapeutic about the total silence broken only by the plop-swoosh, plop-swoosh sound of your paddle as it enters the water and we completed this leg quite easily despite the heat.

Phase two involved navigating a river littered with fallen trees and a 30 meter portage to the connecting river.  We surprised ourselves that we managed this section well and as we completed our first portage we were feeling pretty pleased with ourselves.   A 210 meter portage was our final obstacle to the last leg of our trip.  So with achy arms and sore backs we yet gain found ourselves struggling to get through fallen trees at the end of the river.

After struggling to get out of the water, with the canoe, paddles, buoyancy aids and kit bag we started the hike to the last lake. After about 10 minutes of hiking uphill, sweating buckets, with my pretty pink pedicure covered in black swamp goop, carrying all our kit and hubbie lugging the canoe I couldn’t help but screech in a rather unladylike manner ‘210 meters my a*rse!”

Eventually I glimpsed the lake shimmering through the trees.

We launched the canoe and after another 20 minutes of paddling and we’d made it to the end of our journey.  It was hot, sticky and exhausting but the sense of achievement was awesome.

This was the view as I looked back across the final lake that we had just travelled using nothing but grit, determination and the power of our arms.