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The Great Gray Gift

dsc01786-2My last post discussed the lion–the first of the “Big Five”–but now let’s take a look at the BIGGEST of the “Big Five,” the elephant.

The African elephant is an herbivore, feeding on grasses, creepers, herbs, leaves and bark and is the largest living land animal on earth. Bulls reach a shoulder height of up to 13’ while the females are about 8 1/2’. Both male and female have tusks, which erupt when they are 1–3 years old and continue to grow throughout life. 

We can easily differentiate the African elephant from the smaller Asian elephant by its much larger ears which he uses both to cool himself and to get rid of pesky bugs.

Most of us have seen this gigantic beast at the circus or in a zoo, but no matter where you see them, they are usually eating.

I suppose that’s not surprising since they may consume up to 600 pounds of food a day. But for me, having seen them in the circus didn’t begin to compare to seeing them in their own environment—

—especially when they were at play.

Or simply finding relief from the African sun by chillin’ in the cool water.

The African Elephant population has been declining dramatically across the continent. Thank goodness for places like Kruger National Park which protect large herds. Because of these parks’ conservation measures, the Elephant population in South Africa has grown from about 120 in 1920 in 4 locations, to 10,000 at 40 locations to date.  They’re going to stay around, and that’s an amazing gift for which I am thankful.

DSC02157 (2)

That’s two of the Big Five down, and three to go.

To be continued...

 

A Close Encounter

In 2014 Lee and I made our second trip to South Africa with a side trip to Kruger National Park to see and photograph more spectacular African wildlife. I was excited by the prospect of what we were about to see but had no idea how exhilarating it would become.

Kruger is one of the largest game reserves in Africa and covers an area of 7,523 square miles in the provinces and Limpopo and Mpumalanga. There is a huge variety of animals in Kruger, including the “Big Five”–lion, leopard, elephant, cape buffalo, and rhino–and we were anxious to spot them all.

Detailed Map of Kruger NP

We were driving along with our friends (and guides) Andries and Steffi Van Wyjk when Steffi grabbed her camera and exclaimed, “Lions!” It took a moment before I saw them, but when I did, my jaw dropped and my heart quickened. There in front of us, coming right down the middle of the road, came a line of eleven female lions.

They continued coming until they passed right by our vehicle. They couldn’t have been more than three or four feet from us. Our hearts were hammering and four cameras were clicking furiously as they meandered on by. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have such a close encounter with a pride. This wasn’t the entire pride I’m sure since there were no males with them, but perhaps these ladies were on the hunt. It is the females, after all, who are the hunters.

Later in the day, we finally spotted the king of the jungle. He’d found himself a nice little shady spot for his cat nap, and though he was quite a distance away, it was a thrill to see him. Seeing these magnificent animals at home in their own environment is an honor and a privilege.

Nap Time

So, one of the “Big Five” down and four to go.

To be continued…

South Africa

As my husband, Lee, and I plan our fifth trip to South Africa, I am excitedly looking forward to many new adventures and experiences. I am also reflecting on our previous four visits and how incredible each has been.

The first time we traveled to this mysterious continent, I must admit I was somewhat apprehensive. I didn’t know what to expect, and it was only the reassurance I received from our hosts at Van Wijk Safaris that assuaged my concerns. The sights I saw on the drive from Johannesburg to the lodge near Vaalwater in the Limpopo Province were amazing, but imagine my surprise when we arrived and I first saw where we’d be staying. Not bad, right?

Lodge and pool

It wasn’t long before we were acclimated and ready to explore.

Me

I saw so many animals I’d never seen before or only seen in zoos. Possibly the most memorable adventure of our 2012 visit was the elephant experience. Not only did we learn more than I’d ever known about the world’s largest land animal, but I got to interact with and even take a long ride on one.

With elephant

And then there was our excursion to the Entebeni Game Reserve where we got to see many more animals up close and personal.

rhino

As evening fell on the last day of our ten-day excursion , we knew this wouldn’t be our last visit to the captivating South Africa.

sunset

Just two years later we embarked on our second adventure with Van Wijk Safaris. But that’s a story for another day.

A Nation Cries

half-staff

Another senseless massacre

took twenty-six lives last night.

A small town’s peace destroyed  

by the taking of so many lives,

and a nation cries

The news comes into our homes,

and though we’ve heard it before,

we sit in stunned silence and watch,

hearts breaking for all those who mourn,

and a nation cries

Flags fly low and heads are bowed

In memory of all those lost.

We try to forget such madmen’s acts

but can’t forget their terrible cost

So a nation cries…

Note: After hearing of the horrific tragedy in Texas on the news last night, I cried. I knew I was not alone in shedding those tears for all the lives cut short and loved ones left to mourn. This morning as I worked on my editing, my thoughts were repeatedly interrupted by the phrase, ‘and a nation cries.’ I was finally driven to write this as my way of expressing what I was feeling.  May God bless and comfort all those whose lives were torn asunder by one sick soul.

I can’t resist sharing Beverly’s blog about her precocious little fur ball, Jellybean.

Bev Stiffler Smith - Children's Author

Who needs a 130 sheet cross-cut shredder when you have a spunky little puppy that can take care of all your shredding needs?  This white and black model shreds paper of all types; copy paper, newspaper, wrapping paper, tissue paper, tissues (both clean and otherwise), magazines, cardboard, and yes, even the paper label around plastic water bottles.  Leave a tissue behind on the couch?  Leave the newspaper on the chair while you refill your tea?  Walk away from your Ladies Home Journal magazine?  Forget to put your water bottle in the recycling bin?  Never fear, Jellybean the shredder is here!  Moving faster than the community shred truck, Jellybean hones in on the treasure of the moment. Using her front paws to keep the object secure, Jellybean, begins pulling and tearing at her prize.  Pull, tear, spit!  Pull, tear, spit! Pull, tear, spit!  She continues until the object has been obliterated…

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After spending an amazing, thought provoking, super brain-filling weekend at the 30th Annual Pennwriters Conference in Pittsburgh, I came home to a delightful surprise.

What could be even more exciting than learning from some of the best–people in the field–like Chuck Sambuchino, Annette DashofyNancy Martin, Ramona DeFelice Long, Don Helin, and Deborah Riley-Magnus–(I’m  such a shameless name dropper.)–A box full of books?

YES… that is when it’s a box full of MY books!

DECEPTION BRIDGE

Book 1 of The Bridge Series

Box of books

Holding Book 1 of the series in my hot little hands is also extremely motivating. Now I’m excited to tackle the second draft of Book 2 in the series, and I’m already playing with ideas for the title. Maybe once I’ve narrowed the choices down, you can help me pick it.

Holding DB

In the meantime, the paperback and kindle versions of Deception Bridge are available on Amazon, OR you can contact me for your signed copy.

So, since Book 2 won’t write itself, I’d better get busy!

Gloria Bostic

To be released later this month–Stay tuned!

Here’s a sneak peek at the cover of Deception Bridge, Book 1 of The Bridge Series.

deceptionbridge-GB - Cover final

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