Friday, June 30, 2017

We Ate Lunch With A Giraffe

Yesterday we had a day adventure to Crescent Island Game Preserve. We took a boat to get there and it was so much fun. I LOVE being on the water. I think Rachel liked it too!
Rachel was a little tired and got spoiled with a piggyback ride from Ben. She was pretty happy about it.
It was amazing to set foot on the island and see no other people, just an expanse of land. We started walking and it wasn't long before we spotted a giraffe. I had no idea what to expect and it was just hanging out, eating.
It was unafraid of us and just kept eating while we took a lot of pictures. (And by "a lot," I mean we took 396 pictures yesterday and I managed to pick "only" 23 for this blog post. You're welcome!)
The kids are saying, "Check out that giraffe behind us!" It was maybe fifty to one hundred feet away.
Since the giraffe was just hanging out and eating lunch, we decided to join it (after taking a few hundred more pictures!). We had a snack of hard boiled eggs, dates, and cookies. It was delicious! When the giraffe saw we were leaving, it decided it had somewhere new to lead us. It turned out that it wanted us to meet its friends. It was so cool!
Besides giraffes, we got to spend some time with wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles.
Do you see all the animals out on the plain?
Now we're a little closer... a herd of zebra grazing...
...a bunch of gazelles running...
...and some wildebeest having lunch. We spent about half an hour taking family pictures with this as a background. It was pretty incredible.
Just a couple of siblings hugging with about two hundred animals behind them. Craziness!
Our boat ride back took us past some Cormorant nests. We have about thirty pictures of this, but I decided to just show you one. If you're interested I can post some more :)
However, I will share three of our one hundred pictures of hippos hanging out. We probably passed about five groups of at least ten hippos each. They were all having afternoon naps.
The hippos just sleep all over each other. Safety in numbers, maybe???
So before we left for Kenya, three different people warned us about hippo attacks. I always thought they were cute little (big!) things, and after hearing these warnings, I was a lot less naive about them. In this herd (pack? What do you call a group of hippos anyways???), one of the hippos decided to stand up and check us out, and I got a little nervous. That might be why this picture is sideways. Ha!

Yesterday also happened to be our ninth anniversary. Instead of gifts, we try to have a new experience together every year. I have to say, after eating lunch with a giraffe, it's going to be hard to top this year's anniversary celebrations!

*You can read about Day 7 here.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

This Will Never Get Old

On Tuesday we went to our first national park in Kenya. It was Hell's Gate National Park. For the drive from the entry gate to the parking lot where the trail started, a bunch of us jumped up on the roof for the best view of the animals. We saw zebra, gazelle, warthogs, and buffalo heading into the park. And not just one or two but a lot of each animal.
And then we pulled into the parking lot, under a tree, and I looked up and this Vervet monkey was staring us down. Yeeks.
Rachel was excited about all the obsidian lying around. Not all of it was as big as this display piece.
Dave and I were excited about the incredible views. Everywhere we looked was a postcard in the making. We walked down into the bottom of the gorge and we walked along this creek which was running through the bottom.
We checked out waterfalls. We learned that wherever there was green slime, there was warm water flowing. Supposedly, there are thermal vents near the park so some of the water was really quite warm, almost too warm to walk in.
We even did a trek into an offshoot of the gorge. It was amazing.
Also amazing, to me at least, is having all five of these kids together again. It's been so great!
Carla and I
Dave and I
There was a part of the trail where we had to hang onto a rope and climb up the rock. Rachel and Sam just went up like nobody's business. Dave and I were a little more cautious. This part of the trail was an "in and out" hike and going down this part of it was way harder than climbing up.
Each view was just incredible. We eventually stopped at a flat part near the river to eat lunch and hang out for a bit. After lunch we played in the mud for a few hours. It was heavenly. Rachel even gave me a foot mud spa :)

And then we drove out of the park. On our drive out of the park, Dave opted to ride in the truck and got all these amazing pictures.


At one point our friend mentioned, "After awhile seeing zebras gets to be old." I can see if you lived with this for while, you might feel that way, but since we're only here for two weeks, I have to say, I can't imagine this ever getting old. However, I'm perfectly willing to sign up for living here for a few years as an experiment to see if it does :)

*Days 5 and 8 were spent just hanging out. You can read here to get a sense of them. Or you can go here to read about Day 6.