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November 2017

August 2018

South African Safari

Safari 1

Recently, I was fortunate to have some business travel take me to Cape Town South Africa. Since I would be traveling 20+ hours to get there, my wife and I decided to take a short vacation in the Sabi-Sands area on safari. I didn't realize most people plan these months or even a year in advance. Luckily, with the help of a local agency, we were able to find some cancelations and spend a few nights at two different private game reserves in the area. While the resorts were over-the-top fancy, we were there for the animals. Every morning at sunrise we would head out for a couple of hours in an open topped land rover with a guide and tracker to look for animals. And then we would repeat again in the afternoon until sunset. 

We were very fortunate to be able to see all of the "big 5" animals (rhino, hippo, elephant, lion, leopard) over the course of several days. We also saw wild african dogs, hyenas and a large number of antelopes: impala, kudu, nyala. In some cases we would be 10-15 feet from lions, zebras or elephants, which was a bit uncomfortable. You definitely appreciate where you are on the food chain. Leopards would be further away, but we bought a new camera (Canon SX 60 HS) with a good zoom lens for the trip. (I'll write up a more detailed review of this camera later on.)

This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Here are a few photos...

Leopard 2

Lion 2

Giraffe 2

Zebras 2

Cyclon Waterloo!

Zack Waterloo Bruce

The Toronto Bike Network (TBN) runs a series of rides outside of Toronto each year called Cyclon. I had the good fortune of taking part in their long weekend rides in Waterloo, Ontario this year with my brother Mike and my longtime buddy Bruce. We rode Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday. I skipped out of the Monday morning ride to drive back home to Michigan. We stayed at the Wilfred Laurier College dorms, just down the street from University of Waterloo where I attended graduate school, way back when.

Zack Waterloo jacket bikeThe rides ranged in distance from 30k to 100k, with many different distances and speeds on offer. All rides had leaders, though you were free to go at any pace and there was no attempt to keep people in formation. Groups ranged from a dozen to three dozen and after a while people spread out according accordingly. 

The Waterloo region is quite rural and we saw plenty of corn fields and working farms in Amish and Mennonite communities. The only downside was that temperatures were quite warm in the afternoon. But by keeping a good pace, we were finished riding before it got too hot. The event was well organized, food was plentiful and everyone was very friendly.

Waterloo and the Universities there have grown tremendously since I was a student. There's no shortage of excellent brewpubs, restaurants and prestigious research and academic buildings donated by Mike Lazaradis and Jim Balsillie, former CEOs of Blackberry (Research in Motion) who built Canada's largest tech company and then watched it drift into oblivion.

Cyclon weekend also happened to coincide with a local punk rock concert StrummerFest held in Waterloo Town Square commemorating Joe Strummer of the Clash. 

Here's a map of one of the rides we did out to Elora. We followed it up with a nice pub lunch at Elora Brewing Company.

Elora ride Cyclon 2018