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Hiking with the Cheetah

Before you visit South Africa:

  1. Visit a travel clinic.  I went to one, and they recommended typhoid and hepatitis shots, along with a prescription for Malarone (anti-malaria)
  2. Pack a flashlight, a safari hat, sunscreen and sunglasses

On the way to Johannesburg:

It was the first time I’ve flow South African Airways and the announcements were both in English and Afrikaans.   The food served on the flight was good and plentiful.

From Johannesburg to Hoedspruit airport to Tshukudu Lodge:

The flight was one hour.  When we deplaned the lodge met to pick us up.  Our luggage was brought to us on a tractor – I am sorry I didn’t get a picture of that.

The lodge was nice, with a room, bathroom, and refrigerator.  I was told to pack my shoes and not leave them on the floor – you don’t want geckos in your shoes!  The bed has a malaria net.

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The view from the lobby veranda is simply wonderful:

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After arriving, I had home made chicken pot pie for lunch.  At 3:30 was “high tea” where home made chocolate cake was served.

I was too tired for the afternoon drive, but attended the African “Boma” for dinner.  The Internet says “A Boma dinner is African outdoor dining at its best. A traditional Boma is set up enclosing guests to dine under the glittering African sky. The dinner is usually made up of a sumptuous barbeque meat buffet where the dishes are brought to tables by the warm, welcoming wait staff”

The food was fantastic and the service was fantastic.  The first night we had dinner with our ranger, Werner, who was friendly and knowledgable.   I slept soundly the first night, and was awake in time for 6:00 am coffee with rusks.    I tried not to miss the coffee with rusks, except the day we went to Kruger Park.

At 6:30 am is the morning walk.  The weather is nice for it – cool, and it was nice to meet Ntombi, the female cheetah.  The first day we followed her as she led the hike.

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A challenge for me (with a bad knee) was climbing in the 4×4 Toyota Land Cruiser, but I finally figured it out.  They have steps too to help you enter/exit the vehicle.

Then home-made breakfast is available at 8:00 am.  Eggs are made to order, you can have toast, fruit, croissants and of course, coffee.  I don’t think I missed any breakfasts either.

The morning drive after that (starting at 9:00 am) is an extra charge.  If it is too hot I don’t recommend it; everyone was saying “the animals are smart; they know it’s too hot to be outside”.

Lunch is served from 12:30 to 2:00 pm.  Then nothing until 3:30 high tea (with a treat).

The afternoon drive is from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm.  It is interesting as you get to see the sunset (called sundowners).

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Here is my animoto and video of my wonderful stay:

 

I am missing South Africa already

Month 6 of Hiking

I can’t believe it’s the 6th month I have been hiking.  This morning I was reflecting on this.

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I’ve decided that while the summer photos are picturesque, the humidity here almost makes it unbearable.  I hike early in the morning, and the humidity is sky-high.  The temperatures here are in the 70’s.

It’s a good opportunity for “mobile meditation”.   I tried a few times to listen to the iPod but then I can’t hear the birds, or other oncoming traffic behind me.

If you think that hiking isn’t for you, think again.  I am amazed to see all types of people on the trail, many older than I am (and they are faster too).  It is “mind over matter”.

I decided this morning that I prefer the winter hiking.  The weather is predictable ( you know it is going to be cold) whereas spring weather could hold anything.  At one point during a hike in the spring I experienced nice weather; then in mile 4-5 it started hailing and then snow.  You can’t prepare for it.

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I haven’t invested in any hiking gear; I am wondering if I should.  There is an older gentleman on the trail who has passed me twice in the same hike – should I be going faster?  So far I haven’t tracked my steps digitally – I don’t want to obsess about it.

So many times I have doubted if I could finish; at these moments, I say to myself “K” is for “Kan-do” – I am originally from Kansas.  Somehow since I have moved back east, saying this to

See you out on the trail.

 

Going in the reverse direction – hiking

So last night my team lost in the Elite Eight. So, along the lines of Seinfeld’s George Costanza, I decided to do the opposite today with my hike.

I did the hike in reverse direction of the way I normally go.  And I got to see parts of the lake I didn’t before:

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I saw this nice view of the lake I hadn’t noticed before.

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I noticed that even though it is Spring, the trees still do not have leaves.

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This is yet another view of the lake.  It was a peaceful, calming and very enjoyable.

Looking back I am very surprised that I have kept up hiking so far in 2016.  I am happy with my stamina, endurance, and that I am no longer sore after a 4.7 mile hike.  Overall it has been a great experience for me.   If you have the chance to start hiking, I encourage it.

I don’t have one of those fitbit monitors to see how many steps I am doing – it is more a competition with myself.  I hope I can continue doing this.  Maybe George Costanza is right, doing the opposite works.

 

Weekend 2 Hiking: Don’t Let the Puddles Stop You

So last week I started hiking at a local park; could I continue it this week?  Certainly I was sore last week – wrong shoes, and not as in shape as I would have liked.

 

I went back yesterday for a 4.7 hike.

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The above is how it looked at the start of the walk.  Overcast, but still really warm for January here.

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Since I was more familiar with the trail I could look to the sides and not just on the trail.  Some things struck me:

  • No trash on this trail – this is good
  • Politeness of everyone, saying hello or good morning

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The trail goes around Burke Lake, and the above is a view of the lake.  It is very peaceful.

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There is a dam on one side of the lake (towards the end of the trail) – yesterday was a little foggy, as you can see from the above.

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Above is the finish line.  Success!  It almost feels like early Fall with the leaves out.

I almost didn’t go hiking today as we had heavy rain last night.  But could I let the puddles stop me?

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The answer is no…and you can see from the above the winds causing ripples on the lake.

 

The weather forecast indicates it will be colder this upcoming weekend so we’ll see if I can continue.  Overall it is a refreshing experience.

 

Starting the New Year with a Hike

I follow DCRTV.com which is a web site dedicated to DC TV and radio.  On the side, the author also hikes in Fairfax County.

 

So yesterday I Googled hiking in Fairfax County and back came this link: http://www.fxva.com/listings/Burke-Lake/202/

I went to the Burke Lake Park website and printed the map. Here is the trail:

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The trail is 4.7 miles.  I was confident I could do this as I try to walk outside everyday, but not 4.7 miles.

Almost part way through the walk yesterday, I bring out the map, and see mile marker 2.  For sure I’d gone further than that?  It turns out no.  But I made the 4.7 miles.  Some interesting observations:

  1. I was the only person who used a printed map
  2. I need better shoes for this.  I’m wearing Vionics sneakers, recommended by Dr. Weil
  3. I slept very well last night

I did the hike this morning too with some pictures below:

 

Towards the end of the hike, I kept wondering, “can I finish, can I finish” and I kept saying to myself “Kan-do” – something I learned growing up in Kansas, “K” is for “Kan-do”

The weather turns chillier tomorrow, the park is only open during sun hours.  That means I can’t walk during the week if I decide to the continue this.  But I feel refreshed, and glad I could do this.

 

Happy New Year

 

ASUG Annual Conference – Work Better Connected

Next week is ASUG Annual Conference, co-located with SAPPHIRENOW in Orlando, Florida

This year’s theme of ASUG Annual Conference is “Work Better Connected”

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This is my 5th year on the ASUG Annual Conference Program Committee and at this point I ask myself “have I done enough”?  Next week we will see.  As ASUG Volunteers, we are measured on the attendance counts at our sessions.  If attendance is low, then next year we may not obtain as many slots. So as Volunteers we have promoted our sessions, asked our speakers to help promote sessions, and I hope the content is good enough.

It really takes a village of volunteers to look at the presentations, provide feedback to the speakers and then follow up.  If you are a speaker, I encourage you to follow the deadlines provided, read every single e-mail, and promote your session.

This year we had no speaker cancellations in the program area I work – and this is strange.  It is good because the schedule doesn’t need to be updated.

On Monday we kick things off with the a sold-out ASUG Pre-conference session with Visual BI’s Ingo Hilgefort.  Ingo is the master at creating in-depth exercises and slides that you can take with you.  He always senses when you need help.   The last pre-conference I did with him he helped me with SAP Lumira.  Now I look forward to more in-depth help with SAP Design Studio from him.

On the ASUG side we’ve written these promotional e-mails to go out as well.  Is it enough for attract people?  As ASUG Volunteers we tried to follow the survey responses and obtain roadmap sessions and customer stories.

I invite you to join us on the the third floor of the convention center.  I’ll be in rooms S330F, S330G, S330E, S330H Tuesday-Thursday.

ASUG Annual Conference Planning – a Look Back

For the past two months ASUG volunteers have been planning ASUG Annual Conference (to be held in Orlando, May 5-7) which is co-located with SAPPHIRENOW.  In some respects, it was made easier this year because of a new abstract tool that lets you easily filter on sessions.  In previous years, I was downloading to Excel, merging speaker files with abstracts and then using Lumira for data cleansing before the team could review the abstracts.

What also went well this year is ASUG had a speaker tips submission webcast.   This, in my opinion, lead to higher quality abstracts – a nice problem to have.

Of course there is never enough time to review everything in the time allowed.  Given that there are over 2200 abstracts submitted and roughly only 400 can be selected, and if you are in a lucky track with almost 500 submissions, the job is tough.

Earlier in the month I read Andy Steer, CTO/CMO of itelligence UK, blog about their conference planning. They are crowd-sourcing their conference’s agenda.  I looked at their survey and I wondered if ASUG could do something similar.  Perhaps for smaller scale conferences, not ASUG Annual Conference, given the scale.

I will be very interested to hear how the crowd sourcing goes for this conference.