Destination: The Cape of Needles

I hadn’t done this for a while, but on Friday night I got the sudden urge to jump in the car the next day and just drive somewhere — so I did.

The destination this time was somewhere I’d wanted to go for a long time but hadn’t managed to get around to — Cape Agulhas, the southern tip of Africa.  After leaving Cape Town at around 11:00 and making a lunch stop en-route, I snapped this pic with the mobile phone camera around three hours later:

End of the road!

(You may need to click on the image to load the full size version if you can’t read the text on the plaque.)

After exploring the area, I took the scenic route back — cut across a dirt road from Bredasdorp to Gansbaai, and then followed the route along the coast through Stanton, Hermanus, Kleinmond and Betty’s Bay (bringing back pleasant memories) before hitting the N2 again at Gordon’s Bay and following that home.  (No photos, sorry — the light was fading by this time.  Maybe next time…)

Total distance travelled: just a touch over 500 km.  Just short of the road distance between Durban and Johannesburg.  Not bad going.

Up next: grab some mates and head off to Ronnie’s Sex Shop!

Roadtrip rules

These come courtesy of Megan (an old friend of mine), who has recently driven down from Durban to Stellenbosch to start studying at Maties.  Having recently done the Cape Town to Durban roadtrip myself (albeit the N1-N5-N3 route, whereas Megan followed the N2 down the coast), I definitely agree with these!

  1. The driver picks the music.
  2. “Aww, I like this song!” trumps rule #1.
  3. If you stop at a township, you have to take a shot.  Pun not intended.
  4. No car flirting in the Transkei, there are only trucks on the road.  [Ron — this also applies to anywhere on the N3!]
  5. Fist pumps are acceptable, and indeed welcomed.
  6. Don’t say “I’m going to crash early tonight” when still on roadtrip.  “I’m moeg” will suffice.
  7. If you are not the driver, you don’t need to see.

I’ll add more as I think of them.  If you have any good ideas, feel free to leave them in the comments below…

Stillness in the bay

image

After spending a day here in Stilbaai, I can see how this place gets its name – all is still and peaceful.  I liked this town the first time that I came here, and it’s definitely grown on me a lot now.

It’s just me and Chris (who plays the piano in our church band) out here, and all we’ve really done is watch sport on the telly (Chris, while watching a rather soggy cricket match between England and India: “Kind of ironic that all the sports that need good weather come from England…”) drink beer (Chris, while I was writing this: “All I’ve had to drink since I’ve gotten here is beer!”) and play pool on a full-sized snooker table (which is great fun).  Right now, we’ve got some Rachmaninov playing, just watching the sunset.  It’s awesome.

The only bummer is that we have to return to Cape Town and work, bills and so forth tomorrow…

The Stilbaai excursion

Yesterday evening, after playing in the church band for the Sunday evening service, a few of us headed out to a local eatery for dinner.  The conversation between two of the guys revolved around their planned weekend away in Stilbaai (this coming weekend) – and halfway through, they turned to me…

“Hey, want to come along?”

You don’t need to ask me that twice!

Hence, I won’t be around this weekend (but may be able to post remotely).  This time though, I will remember to take the camera with me, so there should be a few photos posted around this time next week.

Stilbaai is, for those who have never been there, a rather peaceful and relaxed little dorp on the southern Indian Ocean coast, around four hours drive east of Cape Town (you take the N2 out and turn off just after you go past Riversdale).  I’ve been there once before in January, when some friends from Gauteng were staying in a holiday house there and phoned me up inviting me to pop over for the weekend.  I’ve only good good memories of that place, and I should be adding more in a few days time.

This does however mean that I need to get moving with my roadtrip playlist

Roadtrip music

My sister and I are doing the Cape Town to Durban roadtrip in December (visiting the folks for Christmas).  Obviously, 20 hours of driving (per direction) is going to get a little bit tedious, so I’m trying to come up with the ultimate roadtrip playlist.

Below are what I’ve thought of so far.  If you know of any other good tracks to include, please mention it in the comments!

  • Alistair Griffin – Just Drive
  • Motorcycle – As The Rush Comes
  • AC/DC – Highway To Hell
  • Rascal Flatts – Life Is A Highway
  • Steppenwolf – Born To Be Wild
  • U2 – Beautiful Day
  • Andain – Beautiful Things
  • Tracy Chapman – Fast Car (how can I not include this?)
  • Daft Punk – Around The World
  • DJ Shah feat. Adrina Thorpe – Who Will Find Me
  • Jose Amnesia feat. Jennifer Rene – Wouldn’t Change A Thing
  • Willie Nelson – On The Road Again
  • Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Road Trippin’
  • Armin van Buuren – Coming Home

And after coming up with the measly playlist above (which won’t get me past Worcester!), my brain has decided that it’s fried for the day…

Between the mountains and ocean

Memories of a weekend past:  some random bored browsing on YouTube uncovered these clips of the R44 drive between Betty’s Bay and Gordon’s Bay:

(For the trance addicts that follow this blog: the background track for the second clip is Adam Nickey – In Motion.  I’m not sure what was used for the first clip – yet.)

On the road again…

Yes, I’ve got another road trip coming up. This time I’m off to Cape Town, as my sister managed to get into UCT Medical School. And guess who the lucky one is who has to drive her and her wardrobe down? I’m not sure of dates at the moment, but it’s whenever the residences open (early February if I’m not mistaken).

I’ll probably drive down on the Saturday/Sunday, spend the week in Cape Town taking a break and catching up with old friends of mine that I haven’t seen for a long time – there’s quite a few of them (yes jerith, you’re on that list), then drive back up on Friday and Saturday, which gives me Sunday to recover from the 2 day trip back. I’ll probably be taking the N2 route, as usual. The first day is really dodge the livestock, natives, and native transport (*cough* taxis *cough*) in the Transkei, but the second half of the trip (the Garden Route section) is really awesome. I can just see myself leaving Port Elizabeth early and getting to Cape Town late, as I usually go and stop off at all the little places along the way. One of those places is Storms River Mouth, by far my favourite place in South Africa. If you ever find yourself driving along that way, I would strongly suggest that you take that detour (it’s only 10-15 minutes off the main road, and trust me, it’s well worth it).

What I find really fascinating is that on the N2 drive to Cape Town, there’s only two tollgates, one at Port Shepstone and the other in the Tsitsikamma area, and last time I drove that way (April 2004), they were only around R10 each. By comparison, the trip to Johannesburg is 560km compared with ~1700km to Cape Town, you have five tollgates (Mariannhill, Mooi River, Tugela, Wilge and De Hoek), and four of them cost more individually than what you pay in toll fees for the entire trip to Cape Town. Well, at least none of us have to travel on the N4 in the Nelspruit area, apparently there’s one tollgate there that’s something like R50.

By the way, if you’re reading this and you’ve been communicating with me via e-mail for this past week, the reason why my responses have been so slow is that we’re having some issues with our e-mail system, which we’re trying to sort out. I know that it’s probably extremely frustrating for you, but there’s not much that I can do about it (apparently it’s Head Office’s fault).

rAge 2006.

This post is a little late, I know, but student holidays are over and work’s been keeping me busy again. But anyway…

We left Durban at 06:00 (after picking up the two guys that I was taking up with me) and headed on up. Stopped at Mooi River for some breakfast after waiting 10 minutes at the ramp toll gate because the truck drivers were taking their sweet bloody time to pay the toll fees. Nevertheless, it was only a minor annoyance (and we had the pleasure of listening to a hilarious clip on the radio on pilots wanting to be radio DJs while we waited). Anyway, an hour out of Mooi River, I was feeling relaxed and settled. I’d had a good breakfast, hardly any traffic on the road – you know, that sort of thing. I was feeling confident that I’d reach Johannesburg between 13:00 and 14:00…

Then, as I got to the top of Van Reenen’s Pass, at the last left-hand bend before you cross into the Free State (just past the Little Church turn-off, for those of you that’s been that way before), I came to a queue of stationary vehicles. We’d just gone though some roadworks, so my first thought was: “More roadworks. Probably one of those 20 minute stop/go thingies. Won’t take too long before I’m though.” But then a Hazardous Materials vehicle came by on the wrong side of the road (which was eerily deserted) and I knew that it was something bad.

Then a cop car came driving past, and informed us that a tanker carrying hazardous stuff had overturned just past the bend that we were on. So we had to turn off all cellphones, and that sort of thing. One of the two guys I was taking up smokes like a chimney, so he wasn’t too happy about that. We walked 500m up the road, and there lay the tanker. It was obstructing the two lanes going to Harrismith, and was leaking all its contents all over the other two lanes. What we found really ironic is that the cop car that had warned us earlier was parked in the middle of all the foam that the Hazmat truck had sprayed down. Idiotic bugger.

We realised that the road would probably be closed for the remainder of the day, and had to decide: do we wait or find another route? After a brief discussion, we got back into the car, turned around, and headed back down the pass. Our new route: the old route before Van Reenen’s pass existed – the N11 going through Ladysmith, Newcastle and Volksrust, then the R23 going though Standerton before rejoining the N3 at Heidelburg.

We had lunch at a Wimpy we found on the outskirts of Newcastle, where the service was excruciatingly slow. But then, I suppose that’s what you’d expect at a small town. I next ended up stopping three hours later when we finally reached Heidelburg, as there were no places to stop at inbetween. Not only that, but the stretch between Volksrust and Standerton turned out to be the biggest one-way out there. I got stuck behind a truck for the best past of 60km, unable to overtake. Fortunately, when we reached Standerton, the truck decided to continue its journey on the road to Secunda. When I finally found a garage at the interchange with the N3, my arms were just about ready to fall off.

By then, it was 16:45 and we were anticipating heavy traffic on the road ahead. To our surprise, there was heavy traffic, but it was all heading in the opposite direction, and we reached our destination, the Coca-Cola Dome in Northgate without further incident.

As for the LAN itself, it was extremely well organised, with an efficient registration system. We fortunately found seats right next to the other group of guys that went up (they went up the day before and spent the night in Harrismith, therefore avoiding the tanker chaos). What was really nice, is that you could wish for any game, and you were almost guaranteed of someone playing it. Needless to say, Flatout 2 was pretty much the order of the day as far as I was concerned. I also tried my hand at some deathmatch games (really fun with a full server) and stayed well clear of Counter-Strike and DotA.

#ifndef OFFTOPIC_RANT
#define OFFTOPIC_RANT
I’m convinced that the only reason that people still play Counter-Strike is that they can’t afford a computer to play a better game on. Then again, when they get said better computer, they’ll probably play nothing else but Counter-Strike: Source. There were two guys in my immediate vicinity that played nothing else the entire time.
#endif

On Saturday, we visited the exhibition itself, and saw a whole lot of shiny gadgets and new toys to play around with. I also popped to the PCFormat stand and met Cameron. Cameron is the guy who does the PCFormat cover discs, and if you’ll recall, he left a comment on here a while back. He’s probably one of the friendliest people that I’ve ever met. I also met up with some old friends of mine that I haven’t seen in years, and met some new ones. I’d brought up my spare PSU to give to one of them who needed it badly – the poor guy was doing some modding and fried his one. He was really appreciative when I handed that PSU over.

I also realised that I wouldn’t get much sleep there (bearing in mind that I still had to drive back home on Sunday), so on Saturday evening I headed off to Benoni to spend the night with some family friends. They were thrilled to see me, and we spent the best part of Sunday morning catching up on news. Then I headed back to pick up my computer and the other two guys, and off we went back to Durban. The drive back was totally uneventful, except for some rather extreme weather conditions that we encountered between Mooi River and Pietermaritzburg.

Bring on rAge 2007.