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No matter what the mode of travel or the destination it always seemed like someone was going to forget something.
Hmmm, left the iron on (seriously, we are going camping), left the back door unlocked, left the stove on… For most people these are just normal jitters & the best way to deal with them is also by having a quick checklist. No worries Dad, we can get the tent up… 10 minutes later… Ok, Dad how do you do this, we can’t figure out the poles… Well, where are the directions… Ummm halfway to Albuquerque, you see the wind… Two quick tips here, if you sense that might be an issue you might consider having a backup set of directions. Whether it is an issue with your rig, some new purchase (yeah, some assembly required…), or maybe even a fellow camper needing a hand, it is definitely a good idea to have some tools on hand.
Wrenches – double ended ones rock & seeing almost everything is metric a set that runs from 8 to 20 should see you through.
A Hammer – personally I simply have a camp ax (About half the size of a regular ax) which doubles as a hammer when needed. Drill & Bits – a hand drill with a small set of bits is great for fastening items back together with screws or bolts. Flashlight – while this should be in with your regular gear, it might be best to have a hands free “head” light that is locked away & the kids won’t be playing with. Speaking of batteries a terminal cleaner or better yet a simple wire bristle brush is great for cleaning off gunked up terminals or connections. Not only are tools important, but having some hardware, adhesives & sealants is a good idea also.
Definitely a must read for people who are planning to go on vacation and spend time with the family. Anything in a camping kit that works on batteries should have the batteries removed and stored separately between uses in a zipper-closure plastic freezer bag.
Hurricane Season - 5 Steps to being prepared Today is the start of Hurricane Season that has been predicted to be busier than usual. And I also made up a new one where you keep track of all the different-colored things you can find during the entire trip.  Put all of the papers into plastic sheet protectors and use a dry-erase marker to make them reusable!
Filed under: Kids, Printables, To make for Kids← Decoden Treasure ChestCraft Stash GIVEAWAY!
The Ford V4 may have been reliable yet it was a dog of an engine and would have thought the well-regarded Lancia V4 would have fitted just as easily as the Ford V4. That is unless Lancia did not have any production capacity to spare to supply the engines SAAB needed, also given Lancia’s financial problems would have thought that the latter would be open to selling their Fulvia V4 engines to other carmakers, short of them scaring other carmakers off due to pricing it too high.
Taking a driving test in Alabama is not much different from taking a drivers license test anywhere else around the country. Taking the driving test is one of the final steps in the process of obtaining an Alabama drivers license and you have to meet certain requirements before you get to this stage. The first thing you should do is to get an Alabama learners permit, which is also referred to as a learners license.
The main purpose of granting you a drivers permit is to allow you to practice driving skills before you take your Alabama driving test.
Once you are ready, schedule the driving test with the Alabama DPS, take the test and get your Alabama drivers license.
When it comes to making an appointment for the driver's test in Alabama, you are not bereft of options. If you want to schedule an appointment through the Internet service, proceed to the DPS website and you shall find the link to the service on the main page.
You must be aware of the fact that the DPS does not provide vehicles for driver testing, so it will be up to you to come up with a vehicle to take the test in. Unless you currently hold a driver license that allows you to drive a vehicle in Alabama, you will need to have someone drive you to the testing site or supervise you while you are driving to the site (remember, your permit does not grant you the privilege to drive without supervision). At the end of the test, the examiner will point out all of the mistakes you may have made and will explain what driving maneuvers need to be practiced a little more.
Karen and I had decided before we left that this would be a trip of very little planning - we would simply drive north from Cape Town up the coast and see what happened.
A short distance north of the road leading to the tiny fishing village of Yzerfontein we turned off the hectic racetrack with a sigh of relief and entered the West Coast National Park. The West Coast National Park consists of two fairly separate sections, one on each side of the Langebaan Lagoon. We drove up the peninsula that forms the western boundary of the lagoon, with the heavy surf and angry waves of the Atlantic Ocean pounding the shore on one side and the calm waters of Langebaan Lagoon on the other. We exited the park via the north gate, a road which leads directly into the town of Langebaan. The Saldanha steelworks, although a smoke-belching blight on the landscape, represents a huge industry in South Africa - iron (mainly) and manganese ore is railed south from Sishen in the Northern Cape on a railway line that was custom built in the 1970's.
We headed north-west out of Vredenburg and soon came to the village of Paternoster, nestled snugly against the sweeping curve of a bay. The fishing folk have been moved away from their location on "millionaire's row" above the beach and now reside in a community of concrete houses several blocks inland. It was the Easter weekend so we were a little concerned about whether we'd be able to find a place to stay in Paternoster. An early walk on the almost-deserted beach in the morning provided proof that the original reason for the existence of Paternoster was still valid - groups of fishermen were launching their boats into the surf. Comfortably replete, we packed up and drove out of Paternoster on the gravel road that leads west and then south to the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve.
We headed back the way we'd come, through Paternoster and north-east to Stompneusbaai ("Stump Nose Bay" in English), Shelley Point and Brittania Bay. Verlorenvlei is an important estuarine system and one of the largest natural wetlands along the west coast of South Africa.
The wetland is regarded as one of the ten most important wetlands for wading birds in the Western Cape - it supports over a thousand waders of at least eleven different species, mainly migrants from the northern hemisphere. On 28 June 1991 Verlorenvlei was designated a wetland of international importance in terms of the "Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat" (known as the Ramsar convention). The single hotel in Eland's Bay was quite full but luckily a couple of rooms were still available. Dining options in Eland's Bay are limited to say the least, so we had supper that night in the hotel's dining room. Breakfast at Eland's Bay hotel was a disappointing affair, in large part because the coffee was dreadful - insipid, weak and tasteless.
With great reluctance we tore ourselves away from our unexpectedly good coffee stop and drove off to the north. There was another flat in the same house next to our front door, and over the course of that day and the following morning we observed some interesting behaviour there. It's uncertain how rich the diamond pickings still are, but we saw several diamond boats in the harbour, their thick hoses coiled up like massive umbilical cords. Of course, it goes without saying that we simply HAD to stop at Vensterklip near Eland's Bay (where we'd had outstanding coffee the previous day) and have coffee again. It was a great weekend, and our decision not to pre-book any accommodation was not a problem after all.
When we first started out it was packing up the vehicle & sleeping in tents at a campground or staying at a hotel. After this happened once, twice, three times I developed a checklist that we used and tailored to where we were staying.
In our case you can see the pole arrangement is listed on the checklist (which I circled in red).


Without going overboard, here are our recommendations to help you handle most items that might pop up while saving valuable space and weight.
It is what accepts the incoming air, conditions it, (heating it or cooling it) and then delivers that conditioned air to just one room or to the whole house. So we threw some clothes into a couple of bags, chucked the bags into my car and headed off. From congestion, snarling road-rage and testosterone-hyped speeding drivers we entered the tranquility of a nature reserve, with a single road meandering through the park and a speed limit of 50 kilometres per hour.
Langebaan Lagoon is the southerly part of Saldanha Bay, a deep-water port and anchorage used primarily for ships loading iron and steel for export from the nearby steelworks. The temperature difference from one side to the other was extreme - the ocean side was foggy and cold, whereas near the lagoon it was warm and pleasant. The hide is sited in a wetland, with the lagoon on one side and marsh all around it ; to get to the hide from the parking area there is a wooden boardwalk, the last section of which is concealed behind high poles so that any birds nearby do not get disturbed by the arrival of noisy humans.
These days Langebaan is a weekend mecca for watersport enthusiasts from Cape Town, with guest houses, bed & breakfast establishments and self-catering cottages everywhere.
This 860 kilometre line handles millions of tons of ore per year by using extremely long trains ; the longest train ever on this route consisted of 660 wagons and seven locomotives, extending more than seven kilometres from end to end!
It is completely without charm or character, a dusty junction with roads leading out of it in several different directions. Paternoster used to be a backwater, connected to the outside world by one badly-maintained gravel road and inhabited by hard-bitten fishing folk. While this sounds like extreme exploitation, the reality is that the original cottages in which the fishing families lived had no running water or electricity and were probably squalid, cold and damp. However, it proved easy enough and soon we were settled into our room at the Mosselbank Bed & Breakfast, an establishment that was listed in our 2000 edition of Let's Go South Africa (yes, ten years old, proving that the owners of Mosselbank B&B must be doing something right to have been in business for that long).
The fishing boats were all small and open, some with engines but many powered only by strong arms and oars.
The reserve is bleak and desolate, with the harsh waves of the Atlantic Ocean pounding angrily against a rocky coastline. Shelley Point is a huge, luxury housing development on the northern tip of the West Coast "peninsula", thus including both west- and east-facing beaches. Along the way we chanced upon the Da Gama monument, a couple of granite slabs and a weathered inscription explaining how the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama made landfall at this point in 1497 on his long sea voyage round the Cape to India.
After passing through the small seaside settlement of Dwarskersbos the road was almost completely empty. In addition to these, it provides feeding, nesting and resting facilities to over 75 other bird species. The road dropped down until it was right on the edge of the lake (unfortunately our view of it was partially blocked by the high reeds that are characteristic of the Verlorenvlei) with a high sandstone ridge on the other side of the road. The hotel has clearly seen better days and is frequented by a tough, hard-drinking crowd ; we knew we were in for a noisy night because the room we were in was unfortunately directly above the bar. At least we tried to walk, but the fierce and relentless wind quickly drove us into the shelter of a sand dune, from where we watched a couple of kite surfers skittering along the waves.
The food wasn't great, but the view through the floor-to-ceiling windows over the Atlantic Ocean was superb.
Karen was particularly edgy, having got used to drinking strong Italian-style espresso every morning at home. At this point things got a bit confusing, because my road map was a few years old and appeared to bear little or no relation to the roads we found ourselves on. There is one large hotel and a profusion of guest houses, holiday flats and bed & breakfast establishments.
Three generations seemed to be in residence - a couple of young children, a fat, bloated father with a huge beer belly, a mother who never left the flat and two grandparents who seemed to be surgically attached to the couch in front of the TV. Unfortunately the former are in short supply these days, having been over-fished to near extinction, but there are birds a-plenty.
There was absolutely no activity ; however, it was the Easter long weekend, so perhaps the divers were also taking a well-deserved break. I was very grateful that I'd filled the petrol tank in Langebaan, because there was a long queue of irritated motorists at the only service station in Lambert's Bay - it was simultaneously the end of a long weekend and the end of school holidays, so everybody was heading home. And, as before, it was excellent, fortifying us for the long drive home via Dwarskersbos, Velddrift, Langebaan and the northern suburbs of Cape Town. In fact, it was an advantage - we were not constrained to be at a specific place every day but could decide on the spur of the moment whether we wanted to move on or stay where we were. The second one is to make sure you bring any applicable manuals with you & store them in an area where they won’t get lost or damaged. Not only does one have to deal with all the bouncing around causing the occasional loose connection, one has to worry about mice and other animals.
I’m invariably the guy who does something like this and then also takes a lot of ribbing for being so detailed oriented. Unfortunately we saw no wildlife apart from a couple of small tortoises scuttling at high speed across the road.
Thankfully the steelworks and harbour occupy only a small part of one end of Saldanha Bay, so the southern section is pristine and uncontaminated, a haven for birdlife, boardsailers and canoeists.
Narrow slits in the hide's walls allow visitors to sit inside, out of sight, and view the abundant birdlife from quite close up. This remains a world record length for a train on "Cape Gauge" tracks (1067 millimetres between the rails). Just out of town we passed an horrendously crass new development called The Weskus Mall, a huge shopping centre that appeared to contain all the usual retail suspects. The fishermen lived in tiny whitewashed stone cottages just above the beach and braved the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean in open boats to earn a living. Their new houses, although unlikely to win any prizes from "House & Home" magazine, certainly appear to be an improvement.
Tired after a long day of driving and exploring, we went for a walk along the beach and hit the sack early. The frigid water lapping at our bare toes caused us to be grateful that we did not have to brave the icy seas but could take a leisurely stroll back to our guest house for a hot shower followed by breakfast. The road ends at Tietiesbaai (an Afrikaans name, the translation of which into English I shall leave to your imagination), where there is a large camping and caravanning park and a couple of sheltered beaches in a secluded bay. The developers have tried to beautify the estate by planting avenues of exotic palm trees, but these merely succeed in making it look out of place amongst the bleak West Coast terrain. The scenery was typical of the West Coast - flat and windswept, with low scrubby bush and stony beaches hidden behind sand dunes. The system comprises a coastal lake and reed swamp connected to the sea near Eland's Bay by a small estuary. There are only two species of indigenous freshwater fish in the lake (the Cape Galaxia and the rare Barus Burgi), but a variety of mammals occur in the area, including several rare and threatened species such as the Cape clawless otter. After a few kilometres of snaking along the lakeshore we came to Eland's Bay, a town of a few weather-beaten houses and an hotel clustered around a bay and a long curved beach.
However, the room had just recently been renovated and was spotlessly clean and had a spacious, immaculately tiled bathroom.
The force of the wind was such that they were very quickly swept north and were unable to get back again ; they eventually beached themselves a long way further up the beach. We drove east out of town on the road to Redelinghuys, wondering where we could possibly get a caffeine jolt in this lonely area, and resigned to probably having to wait until we reached Lambert's Bay, further up the coast.


Luckily there aren't many roads in this lonely part of the country in the first place, so we successfully managed to avoid going to Redelinghuys, Leipoldtville or Graafwater and soon found ourselves heading towards Lambert's Bay. It was quite easy to find somewhere to stay the night - we merely drove round the streets, looking at the many signs that were up advertising accommodation, and found a self-catering flat in a large house a couple of blocks from the harbour. The children were in and out all the time, playing in the street and across the road amongst the rocks on the shore. Luckily the bulk of drivers took the route directly east to the N7 national road via Clanwilliam, so when we swung south towards Leipoldtville and Eland's Bay we had the road to ourselves again. We briefly stopped for lunch at a farm stall on the R27 near Yzerfontein, and were surprized to discover a well-stocked aviary behind the restaurant. No matter what your favorite mode of travel or destination is, there almost always to be something nagging at someone or an item gets forgotten. What we didn’t know, until we did a little snooping, is the intrigue surrounding the switch from the 3-cylinder 2-stroke engine to the the V-4 introduced in 1967. We had to thread our way through the crowded suburbs of Cape Town from south to north before getting onto the "West Coast Road" (the R27), the road that leads north out of Table View, Blouberg and Melkbos.
The lagoon is so shallow that when the tide goes out it dries up completely for several hundred metres near the shore ; this also means that, unlike the dangerous and icy cold Atlantic Ocean, the water in the lagoon is warm and perfectly safe for swimming.
When we arrived we found a small party of "twitchers" in the hide, discussing bird species and bandying around complicated Latin names in low voices. We had no interest in stopping so we drove right through town and headed north on the road to Vredenburg, past the Greek-style Club Mykonos holiday resort and the ugly steelworks clustered on the north end of Saldanha Bay. Massive billboards alongside the road had been exhorting us to visit this shopping mall ever since we'd left the outskirts of Cape Town, but we managed to resist any stray impulse to turn off and drove on past without stopping. Not any more - these days Paternoster is a popular weekend spot with the yuppie crowd from Cape Town, and none of the original fishermen's cottages remain ; in their place are rows of guest houses and holiday accommodation. Breakfast was a superb affair - fruit, muesli, yoghurt, eggs, bacon, sausage, tomato, mushrooms, toast, marmalade and a plunger of excellent coffee. The camp site was jam-packed, tents, campers and caravans standing right next to each other with only centimetres separating them. Shelley Point is advertised as being only "an hour from Cape Town", but this claim smacks of desperation and an ignorance of the distance and amount of traffic involved - it might, perhaps, be possible at 2 AM on a weekday with a Porsche and Michael Schumacher at the wheel. One side of the wide river mouth is used as a harbour by deep-sea fishing trawlers, while stretches of the river further inland have been transformed into an up-market housing estate with waterfront properties, a marina and a yacht club.
We passed the Rocherpan Nature Reserve and headed into increasingly arid terrain as the road veered away from the sea.
Situated amid dramatic topography, the lake is approximately 14 kilometres long and over a kilometre wide, and exists in the zone of transition between the karroid and fynbos vegetation types. To the south of town the sandstone ridge extends to the sea, ending in a sheer cliff above a rocky promontory called Baboon Point.
While we were sitting on the beach we heard a low rattling, clanking sound, and looked up to see an iron ore train coming through the railway tunnel to the south. However, opposite the turn-off to the north that would take us to Lambert's Bay we spotted a sign for a place called Vensterklip ("window stone" in English), and on impulse we drove in to have a look. The place wasn't very big, with a cramped kitchen and a poky lounge, but it was across the road from the sea with large windows facing the ocean, and the setting sun in the west filled it with a warm late-afternoon glow. The father emerged a few times, twice to buy beer and once to drive off with a couple of dodgy-looking characters who had been hanging around outside ; when he returned (alone) he had a plastic bag of something which looked suspiciously like abalone. The island is connected to the mainland via a man-made causeway so that visitors can walk over and view the birds from inside a specially-constructed "bird hide".
We wandered around, looking at the birds, before tackling the congested roads leading into Cape Town. Everything was cooked and exquisitely prepared by the daughter of the couple who owned the place.
Called Port Owen, this relatively new suburb looked slightly down-at-heel, as if it had never quite caught the real estate wave of success. It came as a relief when we breasted a slight rise and saw the blue waters of the Verlorenvlei ("Lost Lake" in English) stretched out in front of us. This results in a high species diversity, with a number of rare plants having been recorded in the area. The Sishen-Saldanha railway line passes behind the town, parallel to the sea and only a few metres from the last row of houses. Knowing that these trains are usually very long, we started counting the wagons and reached about 220 before two more locomotives appeared. It turns out that Vensterklip is a rustic adventure-style holiday resort on the banks of the Verlorenvlei, where you can camp, kayak or canoe on the lake or go abseiling, hiking or mountain-biking. The gannets cluster together in a massed swarm of birds, thousands of them, all squawking, pecking and flying around. Absolutely replete, we walked back to our rented flat in near-freezing weather, the wind off the Atlantic Ocean raw and icy.
But the yacht basin was pleasant, so we found a shady spot and had a picnic lunch on the side of the road, attracting some odd glances from people driving past. However, this wasn't the end of the train - there were another 170 or so wagons behind this second lot of locomotives, followed by three more locomotives at the end, meaning the train consisted of about 400 wagons and eight or nine locomotives.
It also has a restaurant in an old converted stone barn, with outside tables in a shaded, semi-enclosed garden. The two guys were poachers and our neighbour had bought some illicit seafood from them for the family's dinner that night. Mating pairs of birds engage in various forms of ritualistic behaviour, such as pointing their long beaks upwards and rubbing against each other.
Operation Kajsa is what they called it. The team worked in earnest testing different sources for engines. Given that an iron ore wagon is about ten metres long, this means that the entire train was well over four kilometres in length! It was all done very nicely, so we sat at one of the tables and ordered an Espresso (for Karen) and an Americano (for me), wondering what we'd get in this lonely, out-of-the-way place. The mother no doubt spent the entire weekend cooking and cleaning for the lot of them - we only saw her once, the following morning when they were packing to leave. Smaller numbers of cormorants, penguins and seagulls also use the island as a base, but it is interesting to note that the different species tend to keep to themselves.
The engineers were a disobedient lot and went behind the back of the CEO to the son of the largest shareholder of the company.
Incredible ; barista-style coffee served in an old barn on the back road between Eland's Bay and Redelinghuys!
The V-4 introduced in 1967 has an engine sourced from Ford because it fit easier than their first choice – the B18 from Volvo.
We would lose the whitewalls instantly. Click here for the eBay auction with a Buy It Now of $14,999.



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