Joined: Feb 2006
Location: Close to Cumming (GA that is)
An Unexpected Visitor
Day 8: Barrydale Spa - Port Elizabeth
We left the Spa bright and early (and quite crisply if I remember correctly given the weather conditions).
The immediate dirt road start didn't result in any pilot mishaps and we rejoined the N62 after a couple of kms and headed east towards Oudtshoorn (once known as the Ostritch feather capital of the world apparently).
In light of Cindy's mishap with a pillion at the end of yesterday, Paul saddled up with Di on the back and Cindy strapped the balance of Paul's luggage onto her steed.
On the outskirts of town Oudtshoorn, the GPS was consulted for a suitable breakfast location and predictably the inevitable Wimpy soon came into view.
Wimpy Parking Lot
By my calculations, it was actually a couple of days since we'd darkened a Wimpy's doorstep, so I guess the culinary director can be partially forgiven just this once.
Loaded up on caffeine/nicotine/fat the crew headed out on the N12 towards Meringspoort, which is home to one of the best canyon style passes in the country.
It was a treat to ride, being technical in places and incorporating some stunning scenery, reminiscent of the semi-arid red rock formations in Western Colorado. The pass itself was a detour from overall route, so we ended up treating it as a spur and riding it twice.
Gary and I ran a pretty good pace along there, but Koshik cruised happily along with us too, which was impressive as the two up blade must've been a bit of a handfull in some of the tighter sections compared to the dual sport bikes we were riding.
'Where did I put me ciggies?'
Continuing along the N12 back through Oudsthoorn, we headed south and rode some excellent twisties before ending up at the Outeniqua pass, which from the looks of the number of sport bikes tooling up and down there is a favorite haunt of the local knee dragging crowd. The SA guys had arranged to meet their buddy Chris, who's a Firstcare Medic in the area. We sat and chatted with him for a while at the top of the pass while a selection of high performance hardware blasted back and forth.
Koshik made a couple of passes too and we got a couple of decent action shots.
The scenery at this point was quite spectacular with deep valleys running in either direction.
The crew and Chris at Outeniqua pass
Fortunately it was a quiet day
The road carried on down to the town of George, where we joined the N2 and ran eastwards along some beautiful coastal roads ultimately towards Knysna.
Initially, we got a little out of tune musical accompaniment at the gas stop in George.....
A little Fluid Film soon improved things
Rotary = Roundabout = Circle - 'keep left'
The N2 to Knysna
Location, Location, Location
Knysna reminded me more of someplace more akin to an upscale intracoastal waterway resort in Florida, rather than the sort of thing I was expecting to see in South Africa.
The town sits on a lagoon and we stopped at a waterside mall, spending quite sometime eating lunch and relaxing.
More lunch anyone?
Even by the laid back schedule that we'd generally been running on, this particular stop seemed to take much longer than usual.
Gary - trying to figure out cricket - forget it buddy we're only here for three weeks
However as we were filling up at a petrol station after lunch the reason for our tardiness revealed itself as Ian rolled up on his GS all the way from Jo'burg.
'Last time I saw you, I was sucking your exhaust fumes in Soweto'
He'd sorted out whatever had kept him from joining the trip at the outset and had set off very early that morning to ironbutt it down to meet us. Paul and Cindy had been monitoring his progress the whole day and the timing of his arrival I guess didn't go exactly as planned hence the lunch time delay.
With our new crew meber warmly welcomed, we set off once more and headed along through Plattenburg Bay and along to Kurland where we made a detour off the N2 down to the coast at Nature's Valley.
Scenery at Nature's valley
Fluid Film, and other FF's at Nature's Valley
Narissa's continued inability to order a decent backup lunch for him, finally gets the better of Koshik
The weather had taken a turn for the worse sometime after lunch and at the coast it was windy and overcast, but so far not too much rain had fallen. Leaving Natures Valley eventually, we carried on down the N2 to Tsitsikamma National Park (http://www.sanparks.org/parks/tsitsikamma/) and the park roads eventually led the group to rugged coastline scenery where the Storms River enters the ocean.
The rugged inlet at Tsitsikamma National Park
Gift shop and restaurant
At this point there was some discussion about calling it a day and staying at the park's beautiful ocean side campgrounds. However the apparent reluctance to break out that 'emergency' camping gear was pretty evident throughout the group, so it was decided that we'd hightail it to Port Elizabeth and spend the night under the cover of some bricks and mortar instead.
By my rough calculations we still had about 150 kms left between us and Port Elizabeth, which was unfortunate as fatigue was beginning to become a factor for some, especially, I would assume Ian, who'd have ridden around 1000 miles on the day by nightfall.
The ride to Port Elizabeth was going to be over as quickly as possible judging by the rate we set off at, however progress was delayed somewhat when we lost Cindy. Paul had stopped on and off ramp at Humansdorp and unbeknown to either of them (probably shielded by a truck) Cindy had blown right by. The rest of us stopped for gas and started to stress over her whereabouts. Koshik left Narissa with the group and was dispatched further eastwards on a high speed reconnaissance mission. Finding no sign of Cindy, but instead some debris in the road (looked like maybe a TV set that had fallen off a truck) which heightened the collective sense of disaster, he reported back the bad news. In the meantime without Narissa to hold it down, the passenger accommodation had slipped off the 'Blade and burned on its' upswept pipe. Without any other sensible course of action, the group decided to carry on to Port Elizabeth and hope that we'd spot her along the way. In the meantime apparently, Cindy, having figured she was going to run out of gas eventually, stopped to refuel, but didn't bother calling any of us. Eventually we found her sitting on the side of the N2 (by now in the twilight) waiting for our arrival.
Paul, if you're reading this, I never got the chance to cuff her upside the head (maybe it was the panic and subsequent relief that she was in one piece). Please do the honors on my behalf when you get the chance.
'Praise Dog' - a church earlier that day
With the crew fully assembled once more, we continued into Port Elizabeth to find a hotel. However before that was taken care of, we inexplicably stopped at a Diner for a bite to eat, which was strange because no-one seemed that bothered about eating at the time. Some good did come of it though, since serial purse misplacer Di (beating my wallet loss by 2-1 with this one) had this time left the offending item at the top of the pass earlier in the day; but a couple from Uitenhage had picked it up and brought it down to the Diner where it was returned to it's rightful owner. Eventually rooms were booked at a local B&B, but on arrival we couldn't find anyone there to let us in. We did come across an apparent alcoholic at the premises though, who let us in to the gated courtyard. However, he seemed more concerned about the delivery of his next bottle of whiskey rather than our predicament, and ultimately I was happy enough to leave just to get away from his whining. We called a number of places, but since it was getting late, there were very few vacancies for a party of our size. Ultimately we made a reservation a couple of miles outside the town center, which seemed much further at the time given our collective level of fatigue. It turned out to be the best place we stayed at the whole trip though and looked something like a converted stable block in a large country house, but by the time we got there we were all too tired to care. One little treat was still waiting though, as the long driveway was about 60% sand, so of course our deputy GSA rider did an admirable job of perpetuating the Sand reputation of the big Beemer and wiped out in about the first fifty yards.
'Deja vous Di' with Deputy Mikie
I guess I'll cut him some slack this time though, since he was probably running on fumes by that stage.
Style points 8/10
The accommodation came with it's own security guard, who appeared to be a little hungry
Douf screwed with this post 04-01-2009 at 09:12 AM