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Author Topic: Kaokoland: a perspective from a pink bike  (Read 21229 times)

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Offline DRme

Re: Kaokoland: a perspective from a pink bike
« Reply #60 on: June 25, 2019, 07:28:02 pm »
Hi Zanie, we are all waiting in great anticipation for the rest !!

Offline Zanie

Re: Kaokoland: a perspective from a pink bike
« Reply #61 on: June 25, 2019, 10:21:45 pm »
Sorry all. You will have to bear with me here. Lance and I have recently tried to set aside an hour on week-night evenings to work on this. Weekend is bike time though. >:D So it is progressing slowly, but it is progressing at least.

Offline Zanie

Re: Kaokoland: a perspective from a pink bike
« Reply #62 on: July 06, 2019, 11:27:10 pm »
Day 5: Epupa Falls to Van Zyl's Camp (145 km)

Video of day 5:
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/8MBw9aJPD58" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/8MBw9aJPD58</a>

Today’s route distance was the shortest yet of the trip (but not the shortest overall). When applying the law of shorter distance = more technical, it was an indication that today the fun starts!

Waking up to a view of bikes and Ian. Let’s hope Lance was wearing underwear or else there’s a whole new meaning to Ian’s smile.

The 690 getting a loving lubing:

Breakfast was the egg-and-bacon jaffles we did not have time to munch yesterday.

Lance looked like he suspected Kobus of mass murder. Maybe of jaffles…

Everyone happily partaking off the mass jaffle murder:

Lance and I decided to risk going to the Epupa Falls view point before we commenced with the day’s journey. I guess you cannot sneak into a place on motorbikes. Despite the early-ish hour, the collector-of-the-R40-per-person fee was on the ball. Thanks to a lack of change, we coughed up R100 in total. The light was also not great. Oh well. You only live once.

The place is great for sundowners, with chairs stationed beneath a shady structure.

The falls span a huge area:

Heading back down the viewing hill:

Pretty scenery:

From the photos above and below, you can see our luggage set-up: the bare minimum on our backs (water, snacks, soft-brim hat and slops), a handlebar bag for a wallet and cell phone (a.k.a. camera – it was in flight mode to extend battery life), and spare fuel and basic repair tools, including tubes for both bikes and a mini compressor, on the back of the Rally.

My aquapack could carry 3 litres, but that weight hurt my back, so I kept it to 2 litres. I’m able to survive on quite little water. The most I drank during riding on any day was 3 litres (I had to fill up again halfway through the day).

Hardy told everyone to take a sachet of Rehidrat every morning and evening. I thought it was a gimmick, but it really does work. I sometimes get a dehydration headache after a day out riding. I never got one during this trip and felt super throughout.

Rally with back-up tools and fuel:

A local young cattle herder on his steed, no back-up fuel required:

According to custom, a shady tree sprouted bikers.

Tired bikers.

At least, most rested. It didn’t take long for a couple of the crazies, Lance included, to head off down the nearby riverbed just for kicks and giggles.

The group dispersed from this point onwards. Actually, let me rephrase that. The fast okes f***d off! Lance resigned himself to a sedate trundle with me and whoever else happened to be hanging around at the back. Today it Ian, largely because he had lost touch with the middle-to-front runners and trusted Lance’s navigation skills more than his own. Abel, the brand-new-to-multi-day-off-road-trips-guy, rounded out our little back-markers group.

Chilling at 44 in the 80 zone:

Ian awaiting guidance below. Lance had already communicated to me via the comms that right was right, despite the road sign.

Funky tree with “spaghetti arms”:

Ian ride-by:

The road became interesting.

Very interesting!

This may have precipitated the hand-signals we saw from Ian.


Rocky step-up.

Lance figured we could do with a rest in the shade. The temperature was hot and we needed a rest after “interesting”. A patch of deep shade beckoned back where we came from; a bit off the track down a river bed.

See it?

Ian had to extricate himself from an awkward parking spot. I suspect he was there in the first place due to the close proximity of dappled shade.

Lance couldn’t resist a recce of the riverbed; shooting past the shade. I knew what he was doing, so I didn’t follow. My mission was shade, not madness.

Ian followed trustingly and got sand for his faith.

Shady bliss!

We rested until Abel caught up, along with the sweepers: Hardy, Kobus and the back-up vehicle.

Kobus in the zone:

Trying to find the zone:

From the above pic you can see I stupidly forgot to tie the aqua-pack straps to my waist. It was annoying and scary when I forgot, because it would eventually hook onto the bike and jerk me downwards.

Fun riding:

The back-up vehicle waiting for us to pass:

It was on this day that I realized I made the right choice of bike. Scary dual-sport riding was turned into something resembling a marathon funduro.

Abel was facing the worst conditions he ever had to tackle in his newly-fledged dual-sport riding hobby. This was a very extreme introduction! And it was going to get much worse…

Abel resting, with Kobus offering moral support (or riding tips):

Not that we didn’t rest!

Hardy watching over all the ‘laatlammetjies’ and ‘agterosse’.

Lance and I were commenting to each other that we were glad Ian was stuck with us. He had more experience than Abel and was gaining confidence at breakneck pace. He was at that dangerous point in the learning curve where confidence overtakes skill. We’ve all been there. Lance and I both have busted bones to show for it. We were scared Ian was going to write himself off! Campfire banter would not be the same without our lead joker.

As mentioned previously (I think) Abel and Ian seemed to compete on the number of falls. Abel’s falls did more damage to bike and person. Ian seems to be made of rubber or some other bouncy substance.

‘Spot the difference’, with Abel and Ian:

Soon we were on our way again, and Lance was fighting with the local flora:

The road gave us a scenic reprieve…

…before it turned into sand!

Hardy zoomed past us, exclaiming “We have problems here!”

He knew what was going to happen:

Sure enough, Abel was down, with his foot pinned beneath the bike.

Hardy trying to park his bike in a preferably upright position, with Abel patiently awaiting rescue in the background:

Thankfully no serious damage.

Ian styling some ‘sand-snakes’ before joining us:

“Was that me?”

A recuperating rest-stop was just what the doctor ordered.

It wasn’t just the people that needed doctoring. Kobus’s KTM was misbehaving. It was a mystery issue that caused it to run like a sick cheetah – still fast, but a bit out of breath. The symptoms were blamed at various points in time on the air filter, the air box, and the universe. The universe hit back with a flat tyre.

When everything else has been tried, sometimes all you can do is sit and stare:

All good things must come to an end, so we headed out onto the sand again.

Actually everything must come to an end, even sand.

Though the sand still enjoyed cameo appearances throughout the day.

There were many, many 4x4s out today. Some were awake and observant. Others bloody clueless. The latter insult is levelled at those bright sparks who did not make room for the faster bikes to go past.

We passed these two relatively painlessly:

A rare sight in Namibia: multiple water crossings!

A non-rare sight for the next couple of days: rocky roads.

Another herd of 4x4s, at least stationary:

Fighting with a bush or sand (either are equally likely):

It was just Lance and I for this stretch. I think Ian had those wings Red Bull gives you.

We did catch up with Ian; only because he stopped at a shady bush. Ian was fantasizing about a cold drink, along the lines of: “I could murder a Coke now.” The universe heard him and provided, in the form of two kind gents in a bestickered 4x4.

Coke was not the only beverage on offer, but we had a day to conquer. Anyway, the way Mr Moustache pours drinks could probably kill you. Or make you a sand-riding god, since you’ll be astral-planing in an alternate dimension with no sand.

That glass only had the tiniest smidgeon of Coke…

Refreshed, we headed off again. Ian disappeared into the distance. Apparently Coke can give you wings too.

The terrain kept switching from rocks to sand and back. Either way, it was equally beautiful and kept you on your toes! Or more like it kept you off your seat. My legs were burning from all the sit-stand-sit squats.

One of Lance’s few falls happened here, on rock-hard-concrete sand. One of the panels cracked. Lance did offer to replace it after the trip, but I’ve heard rumours that the panels are pricy and if the damage doesn’t affect the functioning of the bike, I’m not too worried.


I always wonder what people do in these small middle-of-nowhere villages.

Farm sheep…?

Either that or farm rocks.

We caught up with Abel, who had passed us while we were having our Coke break.

We had also been passed by the herd of 4x4s.

Most of the drivers were oblivious; making it rather difficult to pass them on the narrow track.

Engage skill: dodgem.

Weave right!

Weave left!

Weave right again!

Engage emotion: frustration.

We eventually managed to squeeze past, because the cars slowed down to a crawl with the ever-deteriorating road conditions. They can’t go as fast as the bikes over this:

« Last Edit: June 20, 2020, 08:10:19 pm by Zanie »
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Offline Zanie

Re: Kaokoland: a perspective from a pink bike
« Reply #63 on: July 06, 2019, 11:31:38 pm »
Day 5 continued

The group was starting to bunch together again, and we spotted some almost-forgotten faces. Today I gained new respect for Gordon and it only grew as the road conditions worsened. He was on the heaviest bike of the group, a 230-odd kg 750 Africa Twin, but he could ride!

Gordon disappearing into the distance:

The road was bad no matter if you picked the left or right line:

And it just got worse…

A moment of pause, to think about life and why the hell I’m here:

Once you hit the rocky slope, there’s no stopping until you get to the bottom, unless you want to risk a fall. I placed my trust in my bike and just clung on for dear life. I’m not good at choosing the best lines, but commitment seems to matter more than the line.

Obviously the strategy worked. I heard a worried Lance over the comms: “Hey! Why are you running away? Don’t go so fast!”

There was a scary, steep and rocky jumbled mess. I executed the whatever-line-goes-commitment strategy and survived. Next it was Lance’s turn.

Lance: “What the hell’s going on here?”
Me: “Any line!”
Lance: “Pick one? I don’t like these lines!”

It seems that guys have commitment issues.

A lot of three-dimensional data is lost on footage or photos…

Lance found his line:

The slightly-less-grand canyon:

Which side looks better? Left?

Nope. Left is bad too.

Most of us regrouped for a last breather before the big challenge of the day. You heard right. All the riding so far was a taster. We had this enigma dubbed “Heartbreak Hill” to look forward to. Most of the day Lance and I kept wondering “Is this Heartbreak Hill?” whenever we hit a particularly rough patch.

The fast guys (Henk, Hennie R, Brian and Duncan) were long gone. They’d arrived about two years earlier, with Brian riding up-and-down laps of Heartbreak Hill just for kicks and giggles….

Bertie was usually racing up-front with Henk, so that may be why he looks a bit awkward in the presence of the middle-to-back-group.

Left to right: Gordon, Craig, Lance, Bertie and Hardy. It looks like a Bikers Anonymous meeting.

Oubones (Hennie D) and Pete. Obviously no need for larger group counselling.

Abel joined us eventually; slow but steady.

I can only imagine what was going through his head. When you’ve had the most technical day’s riding ever, you don’t want to see this…Heartbreak Hill.

Abel is a triathlon athlete though, so he is used to switching between disciples. Mountain climbing and weight-lifting were also part of the skill-set. Translation: walking up Heartbreak Hill with all your biker kit. Lance, the eternal nutter, took Abel’s bike up the hill.

On a bike he’s never ridden before, tackling a hill he hasn’t scoped:

Apparently the larger Honda was also a lot taller than the Rally he was now used to.

The rocks appear to coalesce and grow the further you go:

The middle section looked bad…

…but it was the top that was the most problematic.

A last rocky ridge presented a final fall-inducing barrier.

Lance was not exempt from gravity.

Neither was Bertie.

Back up and ready to go, on the bump that caused many a mishap.

I stationed myself midway, yelling when the coast was clear for the next bike. You wanted an unobstructed run-up here!

Lance made his way down to offer assistance and to capture the moments of mishap by GoPro (the real reason of course).

Next up was Pete.

He made an impressive start, with dust flying.

Things unraveled at the three-quarter mark.

It looked like quite a hard fall!

It was a hard fall. Hard enough to wedge the front brake lever beneath the handguard. In this position, it could not be pulled in entirely. Pete had to tackle the rest of the hill minus a front brake…

It makes it extremely difficult, because your front brake is your “handbrake”, needed to keep you in one spot while you build up revs and nerves to tackle the next obstacle.

Pete made it near the top, before he bought the next plot.

How to get on without the bike rolling back?

Lance held the bike stationary while Pete got back on his steed. Note that all a biker needs to fix anything (in this case, a boot) is some cable ties and/or duct tape.

A rock blocked Pete’s back wheel…

…and the bike rolled the moment he left off the gas. (Note Abel making his way up the hard way!)

Anyone will be tired of falling at this point in time. There’s only so much punishment a human body and spirit can take. Lance tried his hand at moving the brakeless bike forward. He also had to sacrifice a bit of body/soul to the earth!

The lack of front brake really catches you unaware. I’ve ridden a bike with a snapped-off front brake and no matter how many times you try to remind yourself that you have no front brake, you’ll only really remember when you reach for it.

Case in point: Lance finally reaching the top on the DR and then trying to hit non-existent brakes before he hit Abel’s Honda! He had just enough time to change tack to the back. It was close.

Craig the Camelman was next. He stayed upright and threw rocks at anyone who dared to get close.

Then it was Gordon; the big guy on the big bike.

He got distracted by a rock.

Such a beautiful rock…

…from any angle.

No-nonsense pose reinstalled and back in business.

He rode this bike as if it was a much smaller object.

Nope. Not small. It also moved rocks.

Gordon got caught out at the top, as many did, but he was a dot on the footage, so there’s no picture. I think he planned it that way.

Hardy zipped past. I now know the secret to the ease of his riding. He doesn’t ride. He floats on a bike hovercraft. I kid you not. Do you see any tyres on the ground?

Oubones chugged past on the old KLR. No fanfare. No drama. That’s the older generation for you.

A vehicle not from our group headed through. Watching its tortuous journey reminded me just why I’d never want to drive a car here.

The clock was ticking. That 4x4 was one of a group – a group that was getting restless. We needed to move. Lance abandoned his filming post and rode the Rally up.

Ian was in such a hurry…

…that he almost went into a tree! He charted a completely new path to the top.

Now how to get out of this precarious situation?

Ian was there to undo all the grey hairs the rest of us gave Hardy, through comedic relief.

It was my turn. This is going to start sounding like a stuck record: but I was so very grateful I was on a miniature bike! I would have struggled even on the little Rally.

I even look like I may have skill if the video is paused at very strategic moments:

The same strategic pause strategy does reveal some epic failures, but (again) not as epic as the snapshot may have you believe!

I obviously don’t subscribe to Monopoly. No plots were bought, by miracle or fluke. I did need help though on that last stubborn rock bump.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.



Kobus has a very tall bike, but his super-spidey long legs prevented a tip-over.

Is that smoke?

There was a last rocky section…

…before things turned sandy again. Did you know that sand can look welcoming?

Whenever the ground turned hard, it was easy to miss the main track, especially since there were a couple of tracks crisscrossing the landscape.

I’m sure these people know exactly where they are.

This is not working out. Lance instructs us to try another direction.

Now where is that road?


The last bit of variegated riding of the day:

The grand finale was a sandy riverbed crossing...

…that Lance was more than happy to extend…

…before ending at the big campsite tree…

…where the front-runners were waiting in their half-naked manliness.

Note an object of jealousy during this trip: Lance’s riding shorts. He bought them as mountain bike shorts, but they are made of tough biker-material stuff. He wore them along with soft knee guards and MX boots.

Lance was quick to de-kit. The men get all the perks. If you’re wondering why the men are trying to “cool down” at the fire: they were trying to hide from the muggies in the smoke.

It had been a long day…

…and riding kit was stiff from sweat…

…but now we were here; at the beautiful Van Zyl’s Campsite.

We watched the last couple of riders arrive. Gordon’s entrance was the most spectacular, with his big earth-moving machinery.

Abel’s bike was a bit worse for wear after the day. It picked up some relatively serious damage and was leaking oil.

The damage to the oil filter cover warped the metal in such a way that it did not seal properly. Hardy and Kobus did their best to wangle a temporary fix.

Aside: Sincere apologies to Abel if the damage was caused by Lance’s fall while taking the bike up Heartbreak Hill!

There were ablution facilities, but the toilets were no longer functional. You had to go for a bit of a hike to find a private spot for a veldtie. At least the “bathroom” had a beautiful setting!

The showers and taps were functional on arrival. I had a cold-water shower after the long hot day to refresh. Hot water was available though…until later that night, when all the water ran out. We suspect the water pumps were solar powered. No sun = no water.

Lance heading to the semi-functional ablution facilities:

Despite the lack of ablution facilities, this was still a gem of a spot. I really enjoyed these middle-of-nowhere places.

We feared mozzies, due to the earlier muggie invasion, so we pitched a tent. It turns out we needn’t have bothered. Unlike the muggies, the mozzies weren’t wild out here.

Our digs for the night:

Supper consisted of good old braai food: wors, chops and salad.

It had been a tough day: 7 hours to cover just over 140 km. Tomorrow’s distance was only 60-odd km. Using the distance-difficulty inverse law, tomorrow will be even harder…

If we thought today was difficult, we ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!
« Last Edit: July 07, 2019, 09:45:57 pm by Zanie »
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Offline Highsider

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Re: Kaokoland: a perspective from a pink bike
« Reply #64 on: July 07, 2019, 03:34:54 am »
Wonderful RR.  Look forward to the next chapter.

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Offline dirt rat

Re: Kaokoland: a perspective from a pink bike
« Reply #65 on: July 07, 2019, 06:22:29 am »
Zanie and Lance - Thank you for this amazing ride report.I can imagine the time it must take to compile.
It is also one of the few ride reports that actually captures the essence of the technicality of the conditions.
As a footnote I would like to ad that Zanie is the first girl to do Van Zyls and Kaokoland with Specialised Adventures without once handing her bike to someone else to overcome any obstacles.
I think this record may stand for a long time.
Even though only on day five of eleven I think this ride report is heading towards the roll of honour.
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Offline Zanie

Re: Kaokoland: a perspective from a pink bike
« Reply #66 on: July 07, 2019, 06:20:45 pm »
Thanks for the kind words dirt rat. I hoped to do the road conditions and the area justice. It is a stunning, but treacherous place. We have Lance and his GoPro to thank. Almost all of the 'photos' are from his footage. He also spent a couple of hours doing a quick "prettify" of all 214 photos used for day 5 in Lightroom.

On Van Zyl's Pass, it must be noted that I had a distinct advantage: a 115 kg bike! I also needed plenty of assistance. I don't think I would have survived this trip on a heavier bike.  :o

Offline Tom van Brits

Re: Kaokoland: a perspective from a pink bike
« Reply #67 on: July 07, 2019, 09:35:34 pm »
Awesome RR, I enjoy every bit of it  :thumleft:

Offline Zanie

Re: Kaokoland: a perspective from a pink bike
« Reply #68 on: July 07, 2019, 09:55:25 pm »
Thanks TVB.

General comment: It seems that I forgot to reduce the size of the photos before uploading to Flickr. I've resized and relinked all the photos, so the page should load faster now (47 MB of photos, rather than 159 MB).  :o

Two hours of labour later. I won't do that again in a hurry...

Offline Minxy

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Re: Kaokoland: a perspective from a pink bike
« Reply #69 on: July 08, 2019, 08:38:28 am »
Thank you for sharing all the photos Zanie, this really brings back great memories. The road looks just as I remembered! My camera bombed out when we were on the Honda Quest and I couldn't get any recording done. I can't wait to show your photos to HSK @Hondsekierie . We really want to go back and do it again soon (on the 500s this time :P ). This is one of the most incredible adventure routes I've ever done at least. It is great to see more people sharing in this magical (and life changing) experience. :thumleft:
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Offline DRme

Re: Kaokoland: a perspective from a pink bike
« Reply #70 on: July 08, 2019, 10:02:19 pm »
Thank you Zanie and Lance for a really fascinating ride report. Excellent footage and descriptions. We enjoy sharing your adventurous experience.

Offline Frannarossi

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Re: Kaokoland: a perspective from a pink bike
« Reply #71 on: July 10, 2019, 10:09:12 am »
Loving this ride report :thumleft:
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Offline exkdx

Re: Kaokoland: a perspective from a pink bike
« Reply #72 on: July 10, 2019, 08:33:45 pm »
 :sip: Fantastic stuff...
Respect to do this tough route (even on a miniature bike :biggrin:)
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Offline Sandvreter

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Re: Kaokoland: a perspective from a pink bike
« Reply #73 on: July 11, 2019, 04:02:37 pm »
Wow what a great report!
Thanks so much! Am very impressed those photos can be grabbed from the gopro. Hours of footage and you guys made it look amazing.
I have looked at this trip and all the  previous ride reports and the fantastic setup..... for a while and sadly today, after watching the video and looking through the photos again I have to ask, again....everyone EVERYONE is ATGATT.  No helmet?
Van zyls with a cap? Eish
« Last Edit: July 12, 2019, 04:07:24 pm by Sandvreter »
I bleed next to my bike , thanks.
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Offline Zanie

Re: Kaokoland: a perspective from a pink bike
« Reply #74 on: July 14, 2019, 01:58:48 pm »
We really want to go back and do it again soon (on the 500s this time :P ).

Respect for tackling the routes on a 1000cc bike. :o I wouldn't have survived. You handle the big beasts in sand way better than I can. I need an enduro bike to make it to the end.  :-\

Thanks so much! Am very impressed those photos can be grabbed from the gopro.

It actually works quite well and, thanks to the ability of choosing any split-second, you can get really fun caught-in-the-act snaps. Lance does some small touching-up in Lightroom, largely to correct the exposure, and then they're ready to go.

I have looked at this trip and all the  previous ride reports and the fantastic setup..... for a while and sadly today, after watching the video and looking through the photos again I have to ask, again....everyone EVERYONE is ATGATT.  No helmet?
Van zyls with a cap? Eish

Each to his own I suppose. This wasn't a fast day and the helmet appeared when the speed went up. I get more cheesed off at the crazies riding at speed on tar, putting others' lives in danger. If your choice only affects you, then I'm pretty mellow about it. My choice, of course, is to ATGATT it up all the time. I've done my time in plaster/splints and on crutches. It's no fun.

Offline dirt rat

Re: Kaokoland: a perspective from a pink bike
« Reply #75 on: September 04, 2019, 08:26:13 am »
Zanie - what's up ? It has been a while.

Offline stcomza

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Re: Kaokoland: a perspective from a pink bike
« Reply #76 on: September 04, 2019, 10:31:32 am »

This is truly an awesome RR  :thumleft:

Can we get some more, please  :biggrin:
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Offline LanC

Re: Kaokoland: a perspective from a pink bike
« Reply #77 on: September 06, 2019, 10:56:18 am »
Zanie is busy exploring Croatia from a yellow bike perspective. Its amazing where a 50cc 2stroke scooter can take you, everywhere except a steep uphill.

We were almost done with the Van Zyls pass day story and video but then got distracted  by Croatia so will post it later in September when we get back.

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Re: Kaokoland: a perspective from a pink bike
« Reply #78 on: September 06, 2019, 02:05:12 pm »
Thanks for the outstanding Kaoko RR so far - and enjoy Croatia!
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Offline Zanie

Re: Kaokoland: a perspective from a pink bike
« Reply #79 on: October 06, 2019, 06:59:11 pm »
I must humbly apologise to all those who are hanging out in this cobwebbed thread, hoping for something to happen. Lance and I got hit squarely by Murphy's Law as we returned from our trip.

I had taken my work laptop with to Croatia. Not to do "actual" work, but to work on this RR in the quiet periods. When we got back, I transferred all the files back onto our home laptop (a heavy monster of note, which was why I took my work laptop). Guess which file was the only one that got corrupted during that transfer...  :eek7:

All my choices of photos were preserved (they're stored in a separate folder), but the writing for the Van Zyl's day was gone. Two different types of file recovery software (Lance is a developer/programmer, so knows his stuff) and 4-5 days of recovery effort did not mediate the situation.

An even larger horror awaited: Lance's desktop would not switch on. All the work he had put towards a video for that day of the RR was at stake. Thankfully this situation was remedied. The PC death was "only" a dead motherboard. The hard drives were intact! So... one new PC later, and the video could still be completed from where he had left off.

The delay, therefore, has been on my side, as I had to rewrite day 6. I am happy to report that we are almost done (only some 200-odd photos to quick-edit, upload and link), so the next installment should be up within 2-3 days, barring (another) disaster.