Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Fun Moment with Ben

Lisa, Ben and I met for lunch today. Nothing unusual there. We usually like to do this a few times over the summer when we can. What was surprising was Ben ordered his own lunch. The waitress asked what we wanted and, before Lisa or I could say anything, he piped right up that he wanted chicken fingers and squash casserole.

It was a cool growing up moment that I was glad Lisa and I got to share.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


It has been a crazy couple weeks for the Heinz household. I don't think I'll even try to recap all the shuffling around. There were days of three kids, two kids, one kid, and even a few days of no kids. It was quite an adventure.

Lisa attended Football 101 for Women at UGA last Friday. She has been going now for the past four or five years and loves it. It's basically a day to get out to Athens, meet the coaches, learn about what the players do, and get to participate in some of it. Usually, Lisa goes with her sister. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to make it this year since one of the twins got sick. On the bright side our friend Rachel was able to step in at the last minute. I think they ended up having a really good time.

This week starts Ben's second round of swimming lessons. He's on his own with the other kids and the teacher this time. It's really a bit odd not being in the pool to help him but he did great last night. I think he'd swim for days if we let him. Keeping his water bravery a bit in check at the beach this summer may get interesting.

Monday, June 2, 2008


So, I've been told you don't actually have to go out of the country to post a blog entry. So, here goes...

It's time for the twins to visit. So, while we are all having fun it is also a good bit of work (especially for Lisa while I'm working). Anyway, that's about it for the moment. More to come this summer.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

South Africa - Sunday (Mar 2)

Sunday started out much as Saturday had. The previous evening I had enjoyed a nice dinner at the Garden Route Game Lodge and then just relaxed enjoyed the extremely clear African sky. When I woke up in the morning I joined a number of other guests at the Land Rovers to begin our morning tour of the ranch.

The terrain at this ranch was much more open and we were afforded a greater opportunity to see the animals there. We saw lions, rhino, giraffe, wildebeest, springbok, elephant and others. Here are a few pictures from the tour.

Once again I departed the game ranch shortly after our return from the game drive and breakfast. I was on the road by 10:30 am or so on Sunday. The plan was to gradually make my way back to Cape Town along the coastal highway with a stop off in Hermanus for lunch.

Along the way I took this picture of the countryside. The terrain to the south along the Garden Route looks a lot like my home state of North Dakota. Thought it was very interesting.

About 1 pm I made it to Hermanus by following the N2 and the R326. Hermanus is a big whale watching town. In the winter many whales come and play in the bay and it attracts a lot of tourists. Since it was off season the town wasn't too packed and I was able to enjoy a nice lunch at this place called Two Oceans. It is setup right on the rocks by the Indian Ocean. Really a great setting and perfect weather.

After lunch I left Hermanus and drove along the coastal highway (R43/44) for a few hours back to Cape Town. The views from the highway were really spectacular.

That pretty much ends my South African odyssey. I won't bother going in to the return flight back to the states. Suffice to say it was brutal. Still, well worth it overall. I had a good work experience getting to know some new people and also had a great time getting to see a bit of the country.

South Africa - Saturday (Mar 1)

Saturday morning I awoke and joined a number of other guests on the Land Rovers to go touring the reserve and see what animals we could see. We left the lodge area around 7 am and drove out. There were three Land Rovers going out. Each had a guide and eight or nine guests. Once out past the lodge we split apart and each group went their separate ways.
The brush at Buffelsdrift is very thick so it is hard to see a lot of animals or very far on the landscape but it was very fun to get out and experience the countryside. We did run across some white rhinos and a number of giraffes.

The driving tour was a just over two hours then we returned to the lodge for breakfast by the lake. By that time it was near time for me to check out and be on my way.

After leaving Buffelsdrift I drove just a bit further north of Oudtshoorn to the Cango Caves. These are some truly amazing limestone caves that have been carved over the years. Not very much of the cave network is open to the public but they do offer a couple different tours. I just took in the standard tour rather than the adventure tour. The adventure tour requires some caving and working your way through tight cracks and such. On the standard tour you just walk through the caverns about 550 meters in to the mountain. They believe the whole network runs well over 5 kilometers. The pictures I took in the cave with it's lighting weren't that great so I'll let you look those up elsewhere. Really striking though.

I spent a couple hours up at the Cango Caves area then started heading back to Oudtshoorn. Along the way there is a semi-zoo like park called the Cango Wildlife Ranch. It is slightly cheesy but, more importantly, it is a cheetah rehabilitation facility. I guess it could most closely be related as SeaWorld for cats. Anyway, they have a lot of rare cats, birds and alligators there. You can even pay a bit extra to go in a pet some of the cheetahs or go cage diving in an alligator pond. I didn't do either.

Thought this was a funny shot of a turtle resting on an alligator.

I'm sorry but if you ever get up close to a stork, they are ugly. Why would we say they bring babies?

These are a pair of white lions. From what they told us there are less than 500 left.

Extremely rare white tiger.

So, as if all that wasn't enough for one day I then had to drive south to get on what they call the Garden Route. It's basically a beautiful scenic drive through the coastal region of South Africa. To get there from Oudtshoorn you can go really two main ways. You can take either the N12 to George or the R328 to Mossel Bay. Both routes take you through some beautiful mountain country. Most people end up taking the N12 to George and drive the popular Outiniqua Pass in the mountains. Francois suggested the Robinson Pass along the R328 was actually more striking. So, I ended up taking that route down to pick up the N2 near Mossel Bay.

After picking up the N2 in Mossel Bay I drove on for a while before finally stopping at my destination for the Saturday night - the Garden Route Game Lodge. It is located on the N2 just outside Albertinia.

South Africa - Friday (Feb 29)

I was able to get everything wrapped up with the client by mid-day on Friday. So, I took the afternoon off an headed out of town. As I mentioned, Francois setup a really great driving trip that took me in to the middle of South Africa. I was able to see some fantastic country during the drive. If you're following along on a map my route took me out of Cape Town along the N1 then a turn on to the R60/62 at Worchester. I followed this route through Ashton, Montagu, Barrydale, and Ladismith. My final stop for the evening was in Oudtshoorn at the Buffelsdrift Game Lodge.

Buffelsdrift game lodge is a private reserve which has a semi-resort atmosphere while also having a number of exotic animals. You stay in tents but they aren't really "tents" in the traditional sense. More like houses with canvas walls. Running water, electricity, tubs, showers, etc. Here are some pictures from my evening there.


It's been a while since I posted on the South Africa trip. Sorry about that. Been busy getting back home and caught up with family, friends and work. I'll add a few posts about my weekend travels in the near future.

Anyway, it is very nice to be back home with Lisa and Ben.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Last Weekend in South Africa

Heading in to my last weekend in South Africa I was able to take half-a-day off on Friday after we wrapped up work. Francois, one of the South Africans I've been working with, is also a guide down here and he put together a really good itinerary for me to try out. It was a little more than 600 miles in three days but I was able to see a lot of country and stop by some pretty cool places. I was able to stay overnight at a couple different game ranches, see the Cango Caves, and also visit the whale watching town of Hermanus. I'll try to give a brief recap of each day in the following posts.

One other thing I have to share since I haven't had a chance to do it in any other posts is ADT Home Security is much more, um, aggressive here. Here's a picture for those of you who haven't been seen this before. I wonder if we can get a sign like this in the US?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

South Africa - Table Mountain

The weather was perfect this afternoon. So, after work I took the opportunity to head up and visit the top of Table Mountain. I'm really glad I had the chance to do this. The views from there are incredible. You can see all of Cape Town as well as Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope. I was up there long enough to see the sunset as well.

Cape Point in the far distance.

Lion's Head and Robben Island in the background.

View of the Twelve Apostles

Overlooking Cape Town

Sunset from Table Mountain

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

South Africa - Sunday (Feb 24)

While I'm sure all of you spent your whole day waiting with bated breath for the Oscars I did get a few things done. Mark planned for us to go out to Cape Point today and see that area. His friend Wes Hutchinson was in town visiting and went with us. Additionally, Alister and Storm, two other friends of Mark's from Cape Town went along as well. (As a side note, Wes is a good songwriter and musician who's been working at "making it" for quite a while. He's got some really good tunes that are worth checking out - http://www.weshutchinson.com/)

So, we drove south from Cape Town via Hout Bay and out toward Simonstown. Really fantastic countryside with incredible ocean views. Lots of cyclists out too. They are training for the upcoming Argus, which is a 100+ km bike race around the Cape in a couple weeks. It's a really neat cycling event akin to Atlanta's Peachtree Road Race, just with bike's. It's a very athletic country. I think it would be really hard to live here and not spend as much time outside as you possible could. Anyway, here are a few pictures from our drive down to Cape Point.

By the way, the beach above has got to be the single largest piece of sand that's not a desert I've ever seen. If you look close you'll see some black specs on the beach. Those are horses. The more amazing thing is that it was a very beautiful day (80 degrees or so with almost no wind) and the beach was empty.

After an hour or so drive we did reach Cape Point, which actually isn't the farthest south point in Africa (Cape Agulhas has that honor). News to me. Anyway, upon reaching the Point our first stop was to get lunch at the restaurant perched over the Indian Ocean. The crazy thing is that there are baboons everywhere. It's a national park so they don't really contain them that much. They just try to keep them somewhat away from the tourists, etc. We actually had one jump on to the deck while we were eating, run across some tables, and grab some food off another table before being chased away by the waiters.

After lunch we hiked up to the Cape Point lighthouse. It was pretty cloudy as we got up there so not too much to see. Did take several pictures though.

So, after spending a few hours at Cape Point we started heading back to Cape Town. Along the way we stopped off at Boulders. This is another part of the Table Mountain National Park where African Penguins live right on the beach.

That was a very full weekend. Back to work for the rest of the week. Next weekend planning to see some more of the countryside.

South Africa - Saturday (Feb 23)

Well, the weekend arrived and I was able to get in some relaxing time and see some really fun sites too. Got up early and got going with a quick stop off for coffee. There's this really good chain of Portuguese coffee shops here called Vida e Caffe.

No, Woodstock does not come with the coffee. He's one of Ben's friends. He travelled along with me on the trip and I will occasionally take pictures of Woodstock doing something I'm doing and send them to Ben. He really seems to like it.

Well, after getting some coffee I tried to head up to Table Mountain again but it was even more windy this day than the previous Sunday. Looks like I'm striking out on going up Table Mountain altogether. I did get some good pictures from the base of the cable car though. Here's a picture of Lion's Head (left) and Signal Hill (right). Cape Town is below these to the right/north. From the water Lion's Head and Signal Hill together apparently look like a recumbent lion sitting next to the city.

After striking out at Table Mountain I drove back over to Camps Bay and walked the beach and checked out the storefronts for a while. I then found a good place to sit down and just relax with a smoothie for lunch and soak in the atmosphere.

For the afternoon I drove around to the back side of Table Mountain and took in the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. This is a really big garden. Something like 1300 acres. It was good to just walk around and take in all the flora from the different parts of Africa.

South Africa - At work.

The first work week here was very much like any other work week at home. The people we are working with here are extremely nice and accommodating. They really have gone out of their way to make this an enjoyable and productive stay.

Most evening after work I have been heading down to a place called the V&A Waterfront. Basically, it's a mall that happens to be down at the docks. It's pretty cool. The good thing about it is there's plenty to see and do. Also, lots of different restaurants to try.

On Wednesday I did go our rock climbing with Mark at a local rock climbing gym. That was really cool. It's kind of a Wednesday night tradition down here for a few guys. Afterward we went to the "best" Mexican restaurant in Cape Town. Let's just say I miss Cinco... Still a good time hanging out and getting to know some folks here.

The rest of the week was pretty standard. Lots of fun stuff to write about as we head in to the weekend though.

Monday, February 25, 2008

South Africa - Week 1 - Sunday (Feb 17)

On Sunday Mark picked me up and went driving around Cape Town to check things out. We actually managed to get a lot in this first day. First we drove out to Camps Bay and had a really good lunch at a restaurant on the beach.

After lunch we cruised up to Table Mountain, which overlooks Cape Town, but it was too windy to take the cable car up to the top. So, we drove across to Signal Hill and took and got a pretty good view of the city and bay from there. Here is a view of Table Mountain and Cape Town from the road up Signal Hill.

After seeing the sites Mark drove us out to a nearby vineyard called Speir. I guess it's more of a vineyard lite. More of a multi-purpose attraction with wine tasting sprinkled in. Still, it was fun to see. Afterward we returned to grab some dinner in Cape Town.