Category Archives: Parks

Riding Up the Na Pali Coast on a Blue Dolphin

kathi-on-south-coast-of-kauai-blue-dolphin-boat-toursWhat? You don’t think this is a blue dolphin? blue-dolphin-charter-ii-in-eleele-kauaiWell, truly it is: “The Blue Dolphin II” Charter catamaran! gorgeous-and-rugged-napali-coast And, here is Na Pali’s unbelievably romantic, misty coast! grand-hyatt-kauai-hawaiiThe Hawaiian Islands are the closest thing I’ve experienced
to “paradise on earth” (as far as visual beauty, comfort, and climate),valley-on-na-pali-coastand one of their most gorgeous islands is Kauai, “The Garden Island.” mists-along-na-pali-coastWithin Kauai lies the unique, ethereal Na Pali Coast, which is so rugged that no “Heavenly Hana Highway” can circumnavigate; it can only be accessed by boat! sail-in-the-sun-blue-dolphin-charters-kauaiLast week I tried to talk Alan into taking a ride with me, but he was afraid he’d get seasick in the 8-15′ waves, although he graciously encouraged me to go. na-pali-coast-kauaiIt was fabulous! waterfall-cascading-down-napali-coast-hawaiiNot only did we see incredibly beautiful scenery for hours, lucky-lady-catamaran-on-south-coast-of-kauaiwe stopped for a while scuba-divers-on-blue-dolphin-charter-cruise to go scuba diving snorkling-on-blue-dolphin-boat-toursswimming, or snorkeling along a remote reef area. fish-chasing-pretzels-off-south-shore-of-kauaiThis pristine swimming hole was teeming with colorful fish.sea-turtle-on-napali-coastThere was also a sea turtle swimming on the port side (left), a-pod-of-dolphins-in-hawaii and a pod of dolphins came to check us out on the starboard (right) side. fish-and-eels-underwater-na-pali-coast-kauaiTalk about fun!
na-pali-coast-inthe-distanceAfter this refreshing interlude, they served us breakfast,
and then we headed up the coast to see “the magic.” napali-coast-kauai-dragons-teethKauai and the Na Pali Coast are so idyllic
that they’ve been the used for filming many movies over the years: closeup-of-jagged-mountains-behind-beach-on-napali-coast-hawaiiPagan Love Song (starring Esther Williams back in 1950), waves-rolling-onto-sandy-beach-napali-coast-kauaiSouth Pacific (1958), Blue Hawaii (1961),valley-between-mountains-along-napali-coast-kauai Jurassic Park (1993), Outbreak (1995), set-for-famous-movies-along-napali-coast-hawaii and Pirates of the Caribbean 4 (2011). mist-on-the-mountains-na-pali-coast-kauaiAt high noon, we took a break from all the beauty lunch-on-blue-dophin-charter-catamaranand enjoyed a lunch of sandwiches made from fresh bakery bread
and deli meats, salads, drinks, and cookies. hidden-entry-to-valley-along-napali-coast-pirates-of-the-caribbeanAnd, because this post is getting so long, I’ll stop here for today, humpback-whale-starts-to-dive-napali-coast-kauaibut next week I hope to share the rest of my adventure, including a whale tale! sunshine-and-waterfall-along-kauais-na-pali-coastMeanwhile, wouldn’t you like to be able to live in paradise someday?  two-waterfalls-napali-coast-kauaiHe that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches;
To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life,
which is in the midst of the paradise of God
” (
Revelation 2:7).

Reflections On The Devil’s Pool: Did The Devil Make Me Do It?

victoria-falls-from-zimbabwe-national-parkAs one who taught life saving and served as a water safety instructor for ten years,  and as one who swims around our little lake most days during the summers, I thought we’d do okay at the Devil’s Pool. team-on-livingstone-island-preparing-for-devils-poolAlan wasn’t going to go at all, but he did sign up at the last minute—mostly in hopes of keeping me from drowning, I think. We did survive, but after thinking it over, I personally feel that the adrenaline rush and excitement wasn’t worth the risk to life, limb, and health. Here are my reasons:

view-of-hippos-on-zambezi-river-from-royal-livingstone-hotel-zambia1. We had to swim in the Zambezi River,
where I’d seen hippos and crocodiles upstream.warning-about-the-danger-of-the-devils-pool-zambia2. Even though there had been a twenty-year drought and we visited just before the rainy season began, there were all kinds of safety issues. zambezi-river-on-way-to-devils-pool-victoria-falls3. There was a definite current to negotiate. rocky-path-to-the-devils-pool-victoria-falls4. We had to walk on somewhat slippery rocks to reach the river. starting-across-the-zambezi-river-to-livingstone-island5. We had to feel our way over slippery rocks under the water
for part of the time. swimming-to-the-devils-pool-victoria-falls6. We also had to swim upstream (up river) for a short distance.sitting-atop-victoria-falls-zambia 7. Logs or other debris could have hit us at any time. basking-in-the-devils-pool8. Fish nibbled at our feet and made us all jumpy. current-in-the-devils-pool-zambia9. One false move could have sent one of us over the edge. top-of-victoria-falls-at-the-devils-pool10. The rock ledge, though sturdy, will doubtless one day give way. devils-poo-victoria-fallsMay it not happen when anybody’s nearby!
(That was the #1 reason our tour guide didn’t want to try it.)

basking-in-the-devils-pool-victoria-falls11. Last, but perhaps most importantly (and I didn’t know this until we were having dinner  a week ago with some friends who do medical mission work in Africa), the Zambezi River is known to have a strain of parasitic Schistosomiasis which is a common in Sub-saharan Africa and can be lethal if not treated. There are some 200 million people affected world wide, half of whom live in Africa. Since learning this, I’ve made an appointment with my doctor for testing.  So, to answer my question: Did the Devil Make Me Do It? No. I chose to do it. Was it a wise choice? I don’t think so. Would I do it again? No. Did I pray about it? Yes. Why didn’t God tell me not to go? I’m not sure. I think sometimes God allows us to do things that aren’t wise, just like a parent allows his child to do things that the parent knows are risky. I do believe in God’s divine will (which cannot be altered) and His permissive will (which allows us freedom of choice). I prayed and didn’t get a clear “No,” so I went. And, as with all unwise decisions, there may be consequences I didn’t consider when I made my choice. In future, I think I want a clear “Yes” before making decisions, not just a “You may!”

Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him” (Proverbs 26:12)

Taking a Dip In The Devil’s Pool and Enjoying the Loo with a View

waving-from-the-top-of-victoria-falls-at-the-edge-of-the-devils-poolToday I’m going to tell you about our thrilling adventure hanging out at the edge of the world’s largest waterfall, Victoria Falls, and swimming in the Devil’s Pool, although next Monday I’ll explain why I very strongly do not recommend it…not only for the obvious reasons you’ll notice today, but for one very un-obvious medical reason I only discovered after the fact. Even Alan, as a physician, hadn’t considered this tropical possibility when we made our decision to go! But, it was definitely one of those “adventure of a lifetime” sorts of events that we’ll never forget! hotel-in-livingstone-zimbabweFirst, we were staying in Zimbabwe, so we had to leave our comfy hotel and take a trip across the border into Zambia, which is a bit of an adventure in and of itself (but one that can’t be photographed).

group-waiting-at-royal-livingstone-hotel-for-boat-to-devils-pool      We met other adventurers at the Royal Livingstone Hotel, adventurer-waiting-to-go-to-the-devils-poolwhere we immediately noticed that the rest of the group were young adults
in the prime of life and fitness.
That was our first clue that we might be out of our depth!  🙂  livingstone-islandThe only way to access the Devil’s Pool is via Livingstone Island, and that’s mediated by the tour operator Tongabezi. Trips are expensive and sell out fast, view-of-devils-pool-and-victoria-falls-from-zambezi-national-park-zimbabwe-3so if you want to go, you need reservations ahead of time. In all fairness to Tongabezi, they have never lost a customer yet, and they’re very careful.
(Can you see people in the middle right in this picture? This is where we were.) boat-on-zambezi-river-to-take-us-to-livingstone-islandOur group were transported via a small motor craft on the Zambezi River,
which just ran a few people through the treacherous channels each time. boat-ride-to-livingstone-islandI’m told they are very careful to make sure there are no hippos or alligators deck-of-the-royal-livingstone-hotelroaming the water as they travel, although I did see some
just up the river from the deck of the hotel while we waited. david-livingstone-island-on-the-zambezi-riverOnce we all made it safely to Livingstone Island, we were taken on a short tour, changing-room-and-loo-with-a-view-livingstone-islandincluding the opportunity of using their unique “Loo with a View” bath house a-loo-with-a-view-on-livingstone-islandfor changing and to use the Loo (aka toilet). view-from-the-loo-with-a-view-zambezi-riverActually, it was only a three-sided loo, and it did have this pretty good view! welcome-drink-before-swimming-in-the-devils-poolAfter a welcoming (non-alcoholic) drink tent-on-livingstone-island-prepared-for-high-teawe were taken past the tent to let us know that a proper high tea
would be awaiting us after we’d accomplished our aquatic mission. view-of-victoria-falls-from-near-the-devils-poolNext, they walked us to the edge just to let us make sure we were “in” on this gig. approaching-the-edge-of-victoria-falls-zambiaAnyone who chickens out can stay and watch, but after paying good money,
I doubt many people take that option. david-livingstone-plague-angels-in-their-flight-over-victoria-fallsThere was also time to read a bit about David Livingstone and take a few photos.devils-pool-center(Devil’s Pool is behind the second rock to the right upper middle of this photo.)ropes-to-stop-people-who-sliipGetting to the pool was a bit of a challenge. These ropes are not to walk between; we had to walk and swim to the right of them, but the ropes offered two chances white-water-in-zambezi-on-was-to-devils-poolfor people who lost their balance or couldn’t swim against the current to catch a hold and pull themselves out rather than fall over the cliff. Reassuring, huh? waiting-for-our-turn-in-the-devils-pool-zambiaWith a little angst, we all made it to the edge, where we rested and waited. We had to experience the pool a few at a time so the tour guides could supervise us sitting-on-the-angels-armchair-in-the-devils-pooland take photos (since it’s the sort of thing everybody wanted to remember).   This little perch is called the Angel’s Armchair, and it’s a trick to stay on it!we-all-survived-the-devils-pool-victoria-fallsWe survived and felt quite brave (and relieved) once we were back on dry land!tea-party-in-tent-on-livingstone-island-devils-pool-zambiaTo celebrate, our hosts provided a lovely “high tea” (afternoon option).high-tea-party-at-livingstone-island-after-devils-pool-adventure We were extremely hungry and thirsty, so it was a most welcome treat!sunset-over-the-zambezi-river-with-steam-from-victoria-fallsOurs was the last tour of the day, so the sun was setting by the time we left.
I almost felt like God was smiling down on us.sunset-cruise-home-from-devils-pool-on-zambezi-riverIt turned out to be an amazing and most memorable trip! The Lord was gracious.view-of-devils-pool-and-victoria-falls-from-zambezi-national-park-zimbabwe-2Nevertheless, I wouldn’t do it again. Some chances aren’t worth taking. victoria-falls-along-the-zambezi-river-in-zambiaThe prudent sees danger and hides himself,
but the simple go on and suffer for it” (Proverbs 22:3).

Where Angels Gaze and Fools Rush In: The Devil’s Pool

victoria-fall-zimbabwe-national-park“Scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.”
—David Livingstone view-of-devils-pool-and-victoria-falls-from-zambezi-national-park-zimbabweThat’s rather what I thought too, and as we hiked along the the cliff opposite Victoria Falls, I couldn’t help but notice a group of happy adventurers view-of-devils-pool-and-victoria-falls-from-zambezi-national-park-zimbabwe-4basking Jacuzzi-style at the top of the world’s largest waterfall, waving at people view-of-devils-pool-and-victoria-falls-from-zambezi-national-park-zimbabwe-5and peering over the edge into the abyss of steamy spray below. victoria-falls-as-seen-from-zambezi-national-park-zimbabwe-8This spot is known as the Devil’s Pool. rainbow-at-victoria-falls-zambiaWith a name like that, I might have been more wary, but it looked so amazing that I signed up for a side tour that afternoon during our free time,victoria-falls-as-seen-from-zambezi-national-park-zimbabwe-6 despite our guide’s suggestion that I might be crazy and his reminder that it was so dangerous he had never gone (nor did our tour company endorse it). view-of-victoria-falls-from-zambiaI figured nobody would allow it if it was really that dangerous.
Well, let’s just say African and American standards are different!photo-shoot-in-devils-pool-victoria-fallsSince coming home, I’ve done a little research and noticed other descriptions, such as “the world’s most dangerous pool,” “the world’s ultimate infinity pool,” “most thrilling, insane, awesome,” “death-defying feat,” etc.helping-hand-at-victoria-fallsAt any rate, I’ll tell you more about our experience tomorrow, but next week
I’ll give you a list of 11 reasons why I don’t personally recommend it!siting-on-the-top-of-the-devils-pool-zambia-victoria-fallsThe wise man’s eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness.” (Ecclesiastes 2:14)

 

Bucket List Special: The World’s Largest Waterfall—Victoria!

salto-angel-falls-by-paulo-capiotti-wikiAlthough Angel Falls in Venezuela is the world’s highest waterfall (3,230 feet), WasserfŠlle von Iguacuand Iguazú Falls  in Argentina and Brazil is the widest (8,858 feet), victoria-falls-as-seen-from-zambezi-national-park-zimbabweVictoria Falls in Zambia is usually considered the largest waterfall in the world,victoria-falls-as-seen-from-zambezi-national-park-zimbabwe-3 because—based on its combined width (5,604 feet) and height (354 feet)—victoria-falls-as-seen-from-zambezi-national-park-zimbabwe-4it boasts the world’s largest sheet of falling water. monument-to-christian-explorer-dr-david-livingstone-zambezi-national-park-zimbabweEver since studying the life of David Livingstone as a teenager,
I’d dreamed of seeing this magnificent waterfall, and I was not disappointed! hiking-on-trail-in-zambezi-national-park-zimbabweOn our tour of southern Africa last fall, we spent one long morning hiking the trail in Zimbabwe National Park facing Victoria Falls, victoria-falls-as-seen-from-zambezi-national-park-zimbabwe-5and we had several hours to thrill over the beauty
of this magnificent natural wonder of the world. victoria-falls-rainbowAlthough we know it as “Victoria Falls,” so christened in honor of Queen Vic by the Scottish missionary doctor who first viewed the falls back in 1855,steam-rises-from-victoria-falls-on-the-zambezi-river the local name (in the Tonga language) is Mosi-oa-Tunya,
“The Smoke That Thunders.” victoria-falls-rainbow-fallsThere has been a devastating 20-year drought in this area,zambezi-river-and-victoria-falls-as-seen-from-zambezi-national-park-zimbabwe so the waterfall has diminished into a series of falls along the Zambezi River,victoria-falls-as-seen-from-zambezi-national-park-zimbabwe-9but that didn’t detract from my awe or pleasure one iota. victoria-falls-as-seen-from-zambezi-national-park-zimbabwe-1We went on a sparkling, cloudless morning, alan-and-duncan-on-trail-in-zambezi-national-park-zimbabweand our guide had us walk to the end and then meander back victoria-falls-rainbow-1 so we’d see all the rainbows from the eastern sun reflecting off the steamy spray. victoria-falls-as-seen-from-zambezi-national-park-zimbabwe-2As we hiked along, I thought about how easy it was for me to walk this path…
but how hard it must have been for David Livingstone, the original pathfinder, who paved the way 150 years ago with his own blood, sweat, and tears. statue-of-cecil-rhodes-in-capetown-saIn the nations of southern Africa, many of the statues of Cecil Rhodes have been torn down, because he was a British imperialist who oppressed the people. plaque-honoring-david-livingstone-on-trail-in-zambezi-national-park-zimbabweConversely, people still love David Livingstone, because he held “high Christian aims and ideals” and truly sought the welfare of the African peoples.

david-livingstone-by-frederick-havill-national-portrait-gallery-london-wiki-but-may-not-be-publishable-without-special-permissionIn fact, when Dr. Livingstone died (of malaria and internal bleeding from dysentery), his body was buried in Westminster Abby, London, but his heart was buried in Africa! He gave his life (blood, sweat and tears) to love and serve God

victoria-falls-as-seen-from-zambezi-national-park-zimbabwe-7and man. It was his heart to end slavery and oppression… to set the captives free!thorns-in-front-of-victoria-falls-as-seen-from-zambezi-national-park-zimbabwe Dr. Livingstone was a disciple of Christ,
who came to set us all free from oppression and slavery to sin.victoria-falls-seen-from-zambezi-national-park-zimbzbweHave you been set free? Are you willing to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and other courageous people who have given their lives to share the Gospel? fisherman-near-victoria-falls-as-seen-from-zambezi-national-park-zimbabweAnd he [Jesus] saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). victoria-falls-from-zimbabweIf the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).

(Photos of Angel Falls, Iguazú Falls, and the painting of Dr. Livingstone from the National Portrait Gallery in London are from Wiki. The rest are mine, taken on our recent trip to southern Africa.)

Are You Sitting on the Fence?

baboons-along-chapmans-highway-south-africa“Stop! Please!” Everybody wanted our bus driver to pull over so we could take photos of a troop of baboons traveling down the road beside us in South Africa.baboon-mothers-and-babies-along-the-side-of-the-road-in-south-africaWe were totally charmed by the mother baboons with their playful babies climbing all over them, but our guide was more enamored with four baboons who were perched on top of the fence poles, something he’d never seen before.baboons-on-posts-at-cape-of-good-hope-nature-reserve Apparently the fence was to protect the wildlife in the Cape of Good Hope Nature Preserve and give them a safe place of refuge. However, the curious baboons preferred roaming everywhere, despite the dangers on the highway, and four of them appeared to be contemplating whether or not to return home or just sit and survey the landscape. I wondered what they were thinking. Were they looking for predators, or trying to decide if they really wanted to go back inside the fence? baboon-contemplating-the-cape-of-good-hope-nature-preserve-south-africaHere it is January 3, 2017, and I find myself sitting on the fence, so to speak, contemplating the landscape. I still haven’t finished working out my New Year’s Resolution Reclamation Act. I’m pretty sure there’s a certain fear of failure. I may not be on the lookout for whatever harasses baboons, but I’m definitely thinking about how to negotiate all the challenges I see in front of me. baboon-sitting-on-highway-in-union-of-south-africa     Nevertheless, I’m quite sure sitting in the middle of the road isn’t safe, baboon-on-a-post-in-south-africa-oct-28-16                          and sitting on the fence will get me nowhere fast, mother-baboon-and-baby-on-chapman-highway-south-africaso I’m going to get back inside my wildlife refuge and take up the challenges God has for me there. How about you? Ready for the challenges of 2017?  chapmans-peak-drive-south-africaGod is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea…atlantic-coast-south-of-cape-town-south-africaBe still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge” (Psalm 46:1-2,10-11). chapmans-peak-drive-cape-town-s-a-atlantic-coast(All photos were taken along Chapman’s Peak Drive, south of Cape Town, South Africa, on our recent tour.)

 

Swimming with Penguins, Anyone?

penguin-colony-and-african-penguins-at-boulders-south-africa                   Penguins are nothing short of adorable in any context. swimming-with-african-penguins-at-boulders-south-africaWe have some at our local zoo, but it was a unique treat to visit the Boulders Beach colony near Simonstown, South Africa, which is the only place in the world where you’re allowed to swim with these perky little playmates. swimming-at-boulders-african-penguins-at-boulders-south-africaActually, it was November when we toured, and our group wasn’t allotted time to swim, but the beaches—with their warm sand and turquoise waters—looked irresistibly inviting. close-up-of-an-african-penguin-at-boulders-south-africaPenguins have razor-sharp beaks, however, so despite their appeal, one should keep a respectable distance from their acrobatic antics. kathi-on-boardwalk-with-african-penguins-at-boulders-south-africa        We visited Foxy Beach, perhaps Africa’s best site for viewing penguins.raised-walkways-through-foxy-beach-african-penguinsIt has raised boardwalks through one of only two nesting sites in South Africa,granite-boulders-and-african-penguins-at-boulders-south-africa where about 3,000 happy little fellows spend their days sunning on the granite boulders and cavorting in the deep blue sea in search of tasty treats like fish.african-penguins-at-boulders-south-africaIn the nineteenth century, there were over three million African penguins, but today there are less than 100,000 penguins left world-wide, and penguins are protected.  information-on-african-penguins-at-boulders-south-africaAfrican penguins are just under 20 inches tall and weigh about 4.5-8 pounds, about 100 pounds less than the ostriches that roam nearby. Still, they are bigger than the average bird, and their bones are heavier, making them great divers. They’ve been known to go as deep as 115 feet underwater, hold their breath for 1.5 minutes, and zip along at nearly 15 miles per hour, so in the bird world, they don’t have to be early or resort to catching worms to be a success!gorgeous-scenery-at-foxy-beach-boulders-penguin-colony-of-african-penguinsThey dress in tuxedos and dine on seafood at waterfront resorts. Very classy, don’t you think? 🙂 I’ve read that penguins usually live 11-12 years, but some have been known to live almost twice as long. african-penguins-at-boulders-south-africa-cute-coupleThey are practically obsessed with finding their way home for nesting (even climbing over fences, which is a trick for these flightless birds) and normally mate for life. They share parenting duties, are social, mild-mannered, and multiply rapidly if protected. (Sound like ideal children to anyone?!)african-penguin-couple-at-boulders-south-africaUnfortunately, they are not always protected, and they don’t always make wise choices. One of the biggest problems at Boulders is that the penguins like to stand in front of warm cars, and several have been run over!
group-of-african-penguins-at-boulders-south-africaThe worst tragedies in recent years have resulted from tankers spilling oil. In 1994 about 10,000 birds were oiled, and only about half of them were saved. In the 2000 disaster, when the tanker Treasure sank off Robben Island, 18,000 oiled penguins were rescued and cleaned, and another 19,000 unoiled penguins were transported to Port Elizabeth, where they were released. signpost-for-boulders-beach-african-penguins-at-boulders-south-africaHowever, almost all the penguins returned to their original home with amazing accuracy and speed. Reporters seemed hopeful that most of the penguins would survive, although it made me think of us as humans! african-penguins-at-boulders-south-africa-turquoise-waters-of-the-atlantic-oceanMany of us are rescued by Christ—saved, cleaned, and released in clean waters. What do we naturally do? Head straight for home, whether or not home is a safe place. If you’re a believer and have been delivered from an unsafe environment, please consider prayerfully if and when to return home. I am sure God wants us to love our families, but He doesn’t want us living in an environment that will kill us, like a coat of black slimy oil will kill a penguin.

sheltered-bay-and-african-penguins-at-boulders-south-africaAre you safe? Please don’t instinctively return home too soon.
Swim in clean water and let the Lord direct your paths.
warm-sand-for-african-penguins-at-boulders-south-africaThe Lord direct your hearts into the love of God,
and into the patient waiting for Christ
” (2 Thessalonians 3:5).