08 July, 2013

Bike Ride 45 - Touring Mpumalanga - Day 4

Today the 3rd of July was to be our last day of touring Mpumalanga. In a way it was sad that it was over, but in another way we were glad we would be sleeping in our own beds again. I think this is the longest time Trish and I have spent together without the kids since 2006 when we both went to Europe.

Once we were awake we started packing, and lazily departed Troutways Family Retreat.
I was a little disappointed with the finishings in the place where we stayed but the bed and duvets were awesome. We again slept like babies, and with out a blanket on top either. I want one of those duvets at home.

First stop was in Machadodorp at the church for a BMW Club challenge photo. I also attempted a geocache at a church but could not find it. Then it was off in the direction of Carolina. On the way I saw a geocache pop up on the map and decided to attempt this one. It was next to the road next to an old stone bridge. Which from the geocache listing is a national monument, but now resides on private land.

Once we arrive in Carolina we looked for a place to eat, and while looking found an open parking area right in front of the post office so that is where we took our BMW Club challenge photo. On the GPS it said there was a "De oude Kerk Restaurant" which looked interesting, but it had closed down. So we settled for a small home converted into a shop in the main street.

They were not really serving breakfasts but they made a plan for us, and made some. While we were waiting for the drinks a very furry black cat came over and entertained us. We did remove home from the table once our breakfast arrived. Afterwards we browsed the shop for some small memorabilia of  visit, and Trish wanted one of the home made place mats. The shop owner made a call to her mom if we could buy one of the place mats which was OKed at R30.00 Bargain. Trish went around to each table, as we were the only once there, to find "just the right one. She settled on a "Good to drink coffee until its time to start drinking wine" (Or something like that). Both are her favourite drinks. Once we satisfied our hungers we headed towards Hendrina.
Hendrina had one traffic light in the centre of town. Riding around a few blocks exploring the town revealed a good photo location at the local gym.

Pullen's Hope was our next stop. I find it a very interesting name and wondered if the town was perhaps founded on gold. But arriving in town, it is one more of those very run down towns, with some glimpses of the old glory days. It seems to be a small coal mining town. All the houses run down, and very little going on.
Google also did not turn up much info about this little town.
We approached Pullen's Hope from the NE (going SW) and all was fine and dandy. Leaving town we were met with a sand road. I hoped that it would change to tar, but 500 meters further over the rise it was still dirt all the way. We turned around and tried another road, and again it was dirt. Using the GPS's there was a road not to far away, and in the hope that that was tar we persisted with the sand road. Riding down the sand road my spedomenter hit 42500 km. I stopped and took a photo of the mini mile stone.
Soon we were back on tar, but it was bumpy all the way to Komati, and we had to ride a relatively slow speed. There we took another town photo (Not a BMW Club challenge photo) and then onwards to Blinkpan.
We were a small, 2 people on a motorbike between big 18 wheel trucks. Had to be very careful in this area.
Took a photo at a "Supermarket" sign, and then left. This town was a little bit of a disappointment.

By this time both Trish and I were gatvol from riding and just wanted to get home. All these towns south of the N4 (Pullen's Hope, Blink Pan, Ogies) are not very interesting towns to visit. They are dirty coal mining dorpies, and quite a let down after the amzing dorpies like Pilgrims Rest, and Kaapsehoop we visited the previous few days.
With this in mind I did not want to make another special trip all the way out to Ogies some other day so we took the 20 minute detour to Ogies after sipping down coffee (Trish) and milkshake (Anton) in Witbank.
We rode a little through town to find a nice photo opertunity, and found one by the NG Kerk. Oh yes all the other towns did not have any Shell garages (that we saw) but Ogies had 2. Yes two, opposite each other on the same road.WOW.
From there it was abother 40 minutes or so all the way home to Edenvale, where  we arrived 15H45.

Total Distance for the day: 363 km
Geocaches completed: 1.
BMW Club challenges completed: 6

06 July, 2013

Bike Ride 44 - Touring Mpumalanga - Day 3

We had a long route planned for today the 2nd July 2013, but we both were a little tired from riding so much. (We are new to riding bike). So we discussed and decided that a shorter route with less travelling would suit us both better. From other people I have heard the Kaapsehoop (or Kaapschehoop as I have seen in spelt) was a must do stop, and I wanted to visit that place. So it was decided to leave the route via Barberton to Kaapsehoop and just take the N4 there.

After packing up, we headed toward Alkmaar for the BMW Club Challenge photo, as well as a qucik geocache just out of the town by the river. Beryl from the Crock Lodge gave us 4 naartjies, and since the log sheet of the geocache was wet, I opted to dry it out a bit and eat one of the fruits. Trish obviously had a lekker loooong smoke break there.
 From there we headed further west on the N4, and put petrol in at the garage by the paper mill, and then headed towards what would be the highlight of the day .... Kaapsehoop. A brief stop at Ngodwana for a photo. This time however since it had restricved access we did not drive through the town as we are now starting to get accustomed to do each time we visit one of these towns. On the way up we first saw some monkeys playing on the road, and later on some horses. Trish wondered if the horses were wild. "Can't be... they must belong to the local farmer" I replied ... only to be proven incorrect about 500 meters further by a huge big signpost.
And what a lovely little town Kaapsehoop turned out to be. Wow, wow, wow! I expected it to by much like Pilgrims Rest, and yes it is a lot the same but then also not the same. We took a slow drive through the town taking it all in, and looking for just the right place to take our challenge photo. After some deliberating it was confirmed to be on the one street corner where GPS co-ords and an old telephone booth. We also rode up the one road and saw a lovely little church at the top. We stopped at what looked like the only open restaurant in town, and ordered drinks and breakfast.
 After breakfast was consumed, Trish wanted another cup of coffee, and I decided to walk to the closest geocache just down the road by a small open field. A short search later the geocache was found, signed and returned to its hiding spot. Back at the restaurant Trish was still sipping away at her coffee, and  I could go do another geocache on the other side of town. This time I took the bike. The geocache was hidden by the old prison ruins, and close the the church we had seen earlier. As I rode around the church I saw it had a lovely darkened window, with stained glass at the doors, and just knew I had to bring Trish back to come see this. As I rode back down I saw some of the "wild" horses grazing lazily in town. As I still had some time left decided to try another geocache further up in the koppies, but I could not find that one. Pity. But I'll be back to look for that one and all the others in town sometime in the future.
Once back at Trish we paid the bill, and went back to show her the other side of the little church and after closer investigation saw the doors were open so we had a quick look inside.
Of all the towns visited so far in our BMW Club challenge this one is our top one and gets 10 stars from us. A must do one!

 From there we rode all the way through to Waterval Onder, and then to Waterfal Boven. On the way up just before the tunnel they were trapping, and I am sure I was going faster then the given speed limit, but they did not jump up to stop me or anything, and luckily motorbikes don't have a front numberplate.
Trish said this is also the road she enjoyed travelling on the most so far. It wide, smooth, and open. All these elements allowed me to go a little but faster then I usually do ... which is the part Trish liked.
Once at Waterfal Boven, we took in the town by slowly driving through it, and I must say I have never seen so many churches in one town. I am sure we counted over 8 churches ... and a mosque.
We stopped of at the bottle store for some wine, a can of beer, and sprite, and then went searching of our nights accommodation. This was just outside of town with no cellphone reception. The farm manager had some pigs, geese and ducks, which were fed just before we left back to town for dinner.
Dinner was had at what seemed the only open place. I ordered a T-Bone and Trish a burger. While we were waiting for our dinner a guy came chatting to us. His name was Dewalt. He had just moved into town from Vereeniging way, and I think we were to be his entertainment for the afternoon. Well he was also our entertainment for the afternoon. It was very interesting to chat to him.

As out food arrived he said he had to go home and start the fire. Perhaps sometime we will meet up with Dewalt again. After dinner it was back to the Trout farm. There was no working TV, so we chatted for a while and then turned into bed. Although the place lacked a few things (like a working TV) the bed was excelent and the Duvet the best we had in the last 3 days. We again slept like babies.

Total Distance for the day: 141 km
Geocaches completed: 3.
BMW Club challenges completed:4

Bike Ride 43 - Touring Mpumalanga - Day 2

Monday the 1st of July was day 2 of our touring the Mpumalanga area doing a few caches as well as visiting various towns and passes in the BMW Club Alphabet Challenge.

We both awoke early and set of for Steelpoort, but again I thought I knew better then the GPSr and followed my own nose. A little bit outside of town Trish saw some wild animal figures, and asked if we could go and have a look. Looking for a good, safe, place to turn around I saw there was a geocache justr over the bridge. We stopped there first and within 5 minutes I had signed the log book, and we were on our way back to the wild animal figures. I stopped right next to a $ sign (LOL). We took some photos, while trish had another puff, and set off again.

We were now travelling on the R36 from Lydenburg to Ohrigstad, and it was a lovely winding road full of beautiful scenery. We both thoroughly enjoyed. Half way through the pass I realised we were on the wrong road, but it was to late to turn around so we just continued to Ohrigstad. Once there we took a photo at the local church sign, and then decided to leave Steelpoort and Burgersfort, and just go to Pilgrims rest.

On the way into Pilgrims we logged our first Tar Pass in the @BMWMotorradSA #AlphabetChallenge at the Robber pass sign.

About 200 meters further I did my second geocache for the day at the Robbers pass memorial plaque. Then it was all the way down into the valley in with Pilgrims Rest lies. At first I was using my breaks quite a bit, but from the ADA day remembered that I should let the engine do all the work. The road down did have a few potholes but nothing to bad. 
Once in town we took a slow ride all the way through deciding which place to have breakfast at. In the end we decided to have it in down-town Pilgrims Rest. Trish ordered a coffee (or two) and I myself ordered some Rooibos tea to start off with. After breakfast I needed the loo, and took this (see below) picture in the "crapper". They also had a lovely African Grey in the shop which whistled and spoke a few words. I forgot its name. Made us long for Peanut back home (our African Grey).

Then it was a quick photo for the #AlphabetChallenge, and then we set off for Grasskop.
I just want to add doing Pilgrims Rest on the motorbike is a tick off my bucket list. I have always wanted to do that. Now its done.The other bucket tick lists, is doing Zwaziland, Leshotho, Cape Town on the motorbike. Slowly working towards that.
The road from Pilgrims to Graskop was not to bad, but a few big potholes were to be seen every now and then. The windy roads are lovely to ride. And we were steadily doing it a bit faster when the road was in good condition. At Graskop we attempted another geocache by the old train station, but it was to well hidden. But this allowed us to see the Graskop sign by the station so we decided to take our challenge photo there. Nice turn of events.
Then the highlight of the trip occurred for Trish as we let Graskop towards Kowyn's pass. As we rounded the one corner there was just green ferns all over the mountain. And a cool breeze, blowing over us. Lovely to see and lovely to feel. We rode a little but further down the pass to experience a little more of it, and turned around after we saw there would not be better photo opportunities ahead. Took our photo at an old dilapidated monument. There was also a small sand road going up to the top of the Telkom tower at the top. If we were two bikes I would have liked to attempt it. (And there is a geocache up there as well!!!). But by myself, and leaving Trish at the bottom was not an option this time around.

As we were riding from Graskop to Sabie where we were set to have lunch. I saw a earth geocache pop up on the GPS and wanted to do it. It turned out to be the Mac Mac falls. Trish has never been here before so it was a good stop. Paid our R10.00 per vehicle to get in, and soon walked in full bike gear down to the bottom to look at the water fall. Trish did not find it that awesome. I liked it and I get another smiley on my geocache finds (now standing at 1671 finds).
Then it was not much further on some lekker twisties to Sabie. First time we back after spending our first honeymoon night here just over 20 years ago.
Again we took a slow drive through town, experiencing the people and town, looking for a place to eat.
Both Trish and I prefer to try a restaurant that is not commercialised like Spur, KFC, McDonalds etc. It more interesting to try some of the local tastes and sounds. So we ended up at a restaurant which was in a old railway coach. As we were not very hungry we opted to share a plate of chips and a toasted sarmie. Drank lots of cool drink, after our Mac Mac falls walk.

The via some more twisties all the way to Hendriksdal, which is to be our first "Dusty Town" challenge done. Not much of a dusty town, as it has a sort-of tar road into the main part of town. Well town is more like 4 or 5 houses. Access road littered with pot holes. We did ride about 500 meters through town on "dust" to see if there was a good signboard to take the photo at. In the end the only sign we could find was at the main tar road leading off to the little town.
From there it was off to Witrivier. There were again some serious potholes every now and then and some roadworks on the go as well. A few cars passed us on the twisties. Obviously they know the corners. Not taking any chances on the bike though so I let them pass. Some roadworks also happening along the route. Nice thing with the bike ... one goes right to the front of the cue.
In Witrevier we took our challenge photo at the "Welcome to" sign (as well as at the post office). Drew some money at the ABSA ATM at a garage, and then went to visit some geocaching friends on the other side of Nelspruit.

Had a lekker beer with Andy and Lindy, a good chat. And as a bonus did the geocache right outside their house.

Before it got dark we left to get some take-away dinner, and then did he short ride to Crocodile Lodge just outside Alkmaar which Trish had booked for us. We had a lovely rondavel, small kitchen, and bathroom. Byryl who runs the place was awesome and made us feel right at home. She had two cats, one named "Cricket" and the other "Monkey". Strange names. Also had some dogs, and they made themselves at home on our front step and at time inside the little kitchen. We both loved this very homely place. We will be back.
And so ended day 2 of our Mpumalanga trip. We were both exhausted, and slept like babies.

Total Distance for the day: 270 km
Geocaches completed: 4 geocaches.
BMW Club challenges completed: 7

05 July, 2013

Bike Ride 42 - Touring Mpumalanga - Day 1

On Saturday I attended JSinSA with was excellent, but did take away 1 extra day we could have had touring Mpumalanga. But that's the way the cookie crumbled this time around.

I got home Saturday night and we did the final packing for the next day. Not much to pack as the space is very limited on the bike.

We left Sunday morning early, stopped in Bapsfontein for some petrol, and took our first town photo in Bronkhorstspruit, at the "Welcome to" sign we saw. From there I thought I knew better then the GPSr and ignored it and rode further north. This was the wrong road to follow to get to Loskop dam via a sand road I had ridden before with some other bikers. We rode through Dennilton and after turning right to Loskop dam took our first smoke break. 20 minutes later we were at Loskop restaurant ordering breakfast. After the breakfast we stopped at the wall so Trish could have a look as it was the first time ever she was here.

Then it was off towards Middelburg, and on route we stopped for 2 geocaches. One we could not find (on a dirt road) but had much more luck with the second one right next to the tar road as one goes up the pass.
Then it was along go-around-trip to get to Stoffberg via Middleburg. This road from Loskop dam to middleburg was in excelent condition. From middleburg we pointed norht again and stopped for our first @BMWMotorradSA #AlphabetChallenge photo at Stoffberg. Then it was not to far to Roossenekal where we turned right and went towards Lydenburg which would be our first night stop.

On the way to Lydenburg we stopped on Steenkampsberg pass for a geocache. This really was a superb geocache location as one gets a good view of the country side. Somehow I missed that it was part of the BMW Club Alphabet Challenge and so we did not take any photos of us there. Oh well. I am sure we will come past this point again in the future. Then it was not to far to Lydenburg where we filled up with petrol again at the Shell garage. My trustee steed only drinks Shell (although later on this trip I was not able to do this all the time). Shell garage toilets were clean, but the soap dispenser did not work and there were no paper towels. As there was still some light left we did a 3rd geocache in town by an old munument, and then it was off to get some dinner.

After dinner at Spur we rode the 2 km out of town to Rooidraai Estate Guest lodge, where we had a lekker shower, before turning in. I found this place 5 stars good. They had DSTV, coffee and tea, with milk ready. this place was the smallest of the 3 days, but I think superb. Trish did not like it that much.

Total Distance for the day: 413 km
Caches completed: 3 geocaches.