The Constant Apprentice is a place for curious humans to explore craft, visual arts, writing, nature, food, and all things classic, then and now.
{ Curators: Roseann & Jonathan Hanson —> }|{ Craft }|{ Classics }|{ Travel }|{ Food }|{ Nature }|{ Science }|{ Writing }|{Visual Arts}

Urban snorkel

Who would have thought my ARB Safari snorkel would have come in handy in LA? Over the last week 18" of rain has fallen, average rate of .5 to 1" per hour!

Heading home now, just found a new favorite food stop, in the Palm Desert north Palm Springs, a mile north of I10. The Windmill Market has great tacos and sandwiches, a great selection of micro-brew sodas, and date shakes. And super friendly owner to boot. A nice stop.

-- Posted from my iPhone

-- Posted from my iPhone


Passing through Phoenix:

Haven't seen water in the sky here in southern Arizona since September. On our way to LA and forecast is for lots of this stuff. Bring it on!

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Perfect Sunday

Gorgeous weather in southern Arizona lured Roseann and friend Bruce out for a 100-mile adventure ride - through the grassland hills of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge to Gadsden Coffee Co in Arivaca.
It was so warm we passed a rattlenake sunning on the road.

Just arrived home to this:

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What we have to be thankful for

We are especially thankful this year for the wonderful people we count as true friends. We spent part of the weekend in west-central Arizona, just south of the Bill Williams River Wilderness. We see most of these people once a year or every few years yet are blessed by the time we do spend, meeting up in remote beautiful locations.

A little backroads exploring with good food, good drink, good people. Isn't this what it is all about?

Heading toward the Bill Williams River, a beautiful desert oasis.

Look for Al's 'bar flag' and that's where you'll find the action . . . and the tequila selection.

No campfire is complete without marshmallows.
Chris and Sharon made everyone pancakes with all the fixing.

If you are on Facebook, you can see a full photo album here.

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Tuesday sunset

Beautiful end to a lovely day. A lot to be thankful for this week.
Thank you to all our supporters!

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Profiles in scientific courage

While today's scientific explorers face physical, intellectual, and financial challenges, their hardships hardly compare with those faced by science pioneers from years past. I recently found this interesting re-posting on Science News on Explorersweb. The question posed is: ""Historical scientists and their importance to society - What moves a person to give up everything in defense of truth?" Profiles include Hypatia (depicted in a painting, above; who ran a library in Alexandria 1400 years ago). A good quick read.

Internship opportunity in Argentina

Here's a great opportunity for someone with modern communication skills (the dreaded social media!) to spend a year in the remote Patagonia region of Argentina, at a community conservation and sustainable living project called La Confluencia.

D.I.Y. foreign aid ~ a great article by Nicolas Kristof

There is a very long but very interesting and thoughtful article in the NYT by Nicolas Kristof on the many people, especially the young, who are embarking on their own charities for causes about which they are passionate. Some really inspiring stories:

Luncheon companions

Had lunch with potential partners at the Living Desert zoo in Palm Springs. These Asian leopards were our companions. I love this work!

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Back home, in style!

After 24+ hours on planes and in airports we arrived home to our beautiful Sonoran Desert. At the airport in Phoenix a friendly bellhop offered to get us a cab to our truck parked at a friend's house in Tempe; but what he got us was a limo! Same price as a yellow cab, so what the heck? 3000 miles of African roads, then the last 25 of our trip by limo. At least it wasn't a Hummer limo.

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The dreaded exclamation you don't want to hear: safari ants!

Millions of them invaded our camp/lodge last night. Quite an impressive sight, and even more impressive bites. Ouch! And they don't let go. We slept lightly imagining them invading our beds.

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South Rift Game Scouts donation

Some of the 'bull-dust' common in the Rift Valley during the dry season. The dust is the texture of cornsilk and billows like water - and enters any possible crack and settles on everything.

We arrived at the South Rift Resource Centre in southern Kenya yesterday afternoon after a spectacular drive from the moist highlands of Nairobi down the Great Rift Valley wall, and today spent the day with the South Rift Game Scouts from the two nearby communities.

We brought with us 5 lightweight tents donated by Sierra Designs, and waterproof binoculars and GPS units (and a solar battery recharger) donated by ConserVentures members and supporters.

Jonathan showed the scouts how to pitch the tents and set up and use the binoculars.

The equipment is just the start of a support program we are developing for the community conservation area game scouts in the region. Over half the famous East African wildlife in Kenya exists outside the parks, in community owned lands like the Maasai. They have developed their own scouts program to guard against poaching (which they are very effective at), and act as liaisons with the community when there are wildlife conflicts such as lions eating cattle. Not too long ago these young men would have been 'employed' in their communities as warriors; now they are warriors of sorts, but on the front lines of conservation.

Everything takes longer in Africa ...

...But fortunately the rewards are commensurate.

Delays because of roads, ferries and long lunch service put us behind our hoped-for schedule but that means an extra night on the shores of Lake Victoria. Not bad for the eve of Jonathan's birthday (his third in Africa).

Tomorrow: long day to Nairobi where we have a meeting, then on to the South Rift to deliver the tents, GPSs and binoculars to the game scouts.

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Katavi to Kigoma to Lake Victoria

The track from Katavi NP to Kigoma was a surprise -- beautiful scenery, wild, up and over the Masito Escarpment, including a dramatic waterfall. It was a long day, but Kigoma, on Lake Tanganyika, held a little gem to revive us: the Livingstone - Stanley Memorial and museum. It is strictly a labor of love for a delightful Swahili gentleman who gave us a charming tour. He is passionate about the history.

Kigoma has tons of colonial charm but its past is dark: millions of Africans began their forced slave march to the east coast of Africa here.

Tonight we are en route to Lake Victoria where we take a ferry to Mwanza and then cross to Kenya.

Beautiful zebu cattle near Bwanga.

Most villages have guard stations going in and out. The guards are almost always friendly.

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Remote Africa

Katavi National Park is one of Africa's most remote and largest, as well as least visited, parks. We saw only a handful of people this morning and then no one the rest of the day as we pushed farther into the park on little travelled tracks. We we rewarded with this idyllic scene -- waterfall and elephant.

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Moonset over Lake Tanganika

Our reward this morning after an epic drive yesterday. Halfway over a mountain, no people, no cellular, the Land Rover died. At dusk. Visions of real bush camping, but Jonathan got it going. Today: Kitavi NP.

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Rock chip turned into a huge starburst on the road to Ruaha. Luckily it does not obscure driver vision. We have 1000 miles to go-- hope it will hold.

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Leopard day

Entered Ruaha National Park this morning (barely got in -- they only take US dollars and we had changed most of our funds to shillings). Within 30 minutes we came upon a lovely big leopard sitting in an acasia. Shortly after lunch we found another leopard. And then six lions snoozing off breakfast. Ended the day with sundowners at the Great Ruaha River with the hippos and crocs.

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Dodoma to Ruaha National Park

We have covered 600 miles of some of the roughest of Africa's classic 'b' roads -- major routes (buses, trucks) but unpaved or historically surfaced but now rocks and ruts. We had hoped to make Ruaha NP last night but only made it as far as Iringa, a really lovely town near tea plantations. Guest house was US$10 including breakfast and classic Tanzanian dinner with 2 Serengeti lagers was $8. Ugali (polenta-like corn), greens, meat and peas in delicious sauce & fruit.

We found a great Tanzanian-owned campsite just outside the park--includes a big tent for just $15 more a night. Campsites in the park are $50 bare--no shade, no services. We can cook or have food cooked, and they have hot showers. Another plus is daytime security while we are on safari. Our camp for the next 2 days:

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Arusha to Dodoma

Leaving Arusha, it was a tight fit. Footpaths suffice as roads barely as wide as a Land Rover.

Tarangire National Park, at Whistling Thorn Camp. A perfect first night.

One of the very best things about Tanzania are the enthusiastic kids. Everywhere you go they chase you or wave.

We arrived in Dodoma today, after 300 miles of classic Africa dirt roads, cattle, goats, trucks. Just had nyama choma (BBQ) and Serengeti lager.
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Safari Land Rover

Picked up our Land Rover from Shaw Safaris--fully kitted out for camping and with everything you would need, including a sling shot for marauding baboons!

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Environmental Bill of Rights

Kenyans just voted in a new Constitution. Interestingly, it includes several environmental articles. It's very inspiring.

Kenyan coffee

One of the top reasons to spend some time in Nairobi. Outstanding Dorman's Coffee, sitting at a sidewalk table at Karen Dukas, ogling Land Cruiser diesels and classic Land Rover.

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Nairobi - cool and wet

Arrived last night after an easy journey, with all our bags! Always a gamble flying Amsterdam route. We are staying at a private residence that was built by Beryl Markham's father. This week is a climate change conference, meeting with BBC, and business for ConserVentures.

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Win an overland trip to a jaguar reserve

Apply to win a spot on our Nov. 26-28, 2010 Sonoran Safari to the El Aribabi Conservation Ranch in northern Sonora, Mexico ~ sponsored by Overland Experts. Winner will also receive 50% off a one-day training with Overland Experts. For more information about the trip, click here. All you have tell us about yourself, why you are interested in exploration, and how your participation can help jaguar and ocelot conservation. Enter now, we will announce the winner on October 20, 2010.

Donations for wildlife rangers

The five tents donated by Sierra Designs arrived today. We are busy packing for the trip to take them to Kenya's South Rift Game Scout Association. Five Garmin GPSs and 5 waterproof Bushnell binoculars are also on the way. Thanks to everyone for your support!

Fall is in the air

Anyone else feel fall this morning? In the desert, it is quiet, sneaky. It was nearly in the 60s this morning ~ cool for us! ~ and the sun is mellow golden, the air crisp, with a hint of something other than the 100+degrees days we've been having. Bird migration is underway, we have vultures gathering in large kettles, and orioles, grosbeaks, and hummingbirds moving through in larger numbers.

Tanking up

Here's Jonathan tanking up before his whirlwind round-the-Grand Canyon ride, fantastic fajitas at Cliff Dwellers Lodge. Where does he put it?

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Vermillion Cliffs

At Cliff Dweller's Lodge, Grand Canyon - seeing Jonathan off on a solo ride around the Grand Canyon. Howling wind today all the way from Tucson!

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Summer garden

The hills around Ravenrock are as green as an English garden, with flowers and butterflies everywhere. We leave in a few weeks for East Africa and will land deep in their dry season. But at least the heat is the same!

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Sunning vultures

After a rainy night, our local vultures were sunning themselves in the morning sun in trees along the big Raven Wash. I love when they hold their wings out like this - perhaps the only time you could call vultures beautiful!

Local safari: West Coast Tank, aborted

One of our favorite summer activities is to explore the beautiful ranchlands and wildlife refuge immediately south of Ravenrock—one of the best destinations being West Coast Tank, an enormous cattle pond that fills up (about 5 acres) every summer with the rains. We've had inches of rain, so we headed south to West Coast. But halfway there we had to turn around, because another flooded tank had totally backed up into the road:

We explored a new route around to the east, and discovered some lovely country and lots of little temporary creeks running from the Sierrita Mountains. The desert is bursting green, and the sky was lovely blue, the Baboquivari Mountains a vibrant purple-blue. Lots of new flowers and butterflies, including ghost brimstones and bright yellow giant sulphurs.

We had lunch at the Gadsden Coffee Company in Arivaca, then out to I-19 via Amado, where we saw this sign—rural church humor. Pretty funny.

Tortoises are emerging

With the summer rains come our cavalcade of tortoises. We've seen little ones and really big ones; this young guy, a medium-sized one, was ambling down the trail on our morning walk today (on males you can see the hook on the front of the plastron or belly plate, that is thought to be used during 'combat' with other males for territory; the plastron is also slightly dished, to facilitate mating).


Big, fat drops falling. Newly dampened dust-smell is wonderful. Just one medium cloud over us now, but a promising start!

-- Posted from my iPhone