Friday, November 11, 2016


We first heard of Piper from one of Umma's friends. We told them that we were looking for a nice, family, dog and she told us about Piper. Piper's owners had left the country and had to leave Piper behind. They owned a guard dog facility and Piper stayed there for a year until we heard of her. They said that a man wanted to adopt her, but she had the opportunity to speak with a dog communicator. Apparently , Piper said that she didn't want to go with the man, she wanted to wait for a family.
Just a little while after that Umma, Oona and I went back to Seattle for the summer. Appa stayed in Kenya. After a lot of begging over Skype, he agreed to go see Piper. He thought that she would not be a good family dog because she looked old and not very healthy. Every time we Skyped with him, me and Oona would say, "We want Piper! We want Piper!" When we came back from Seattle, we went to go look at her. A man brought her over and the came right over to me and Oona and bumped her head on one of the chairs! Then we gave her a lot of treats which she enjoyed very much. It also resulted in a lot of tooting later on. We talked with someone for about ten minutes and then me and Oona both asked, "So can we get her? Please?" And then Umma and Appa said yes and Piper jumped in the car. Umma and Appa kept looking at each other on the way home like "What have we done? We have a strange dog in the back of the car..."

Above are pictures of Piper at the guard dog facility.

We were given a demonstration (which we never really asked for) of how they trained dogs. Above are pictures of men wearing (very flimsy and sketchy looking) protection clothes training dogs.

Taking Piper for one of her first walks in our neighborhood. See how skinny she is!

Piper sunbathing in the backyard.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

proper safari

Before going back to The States for the summer holiday we decided to make time to go on a "proper safari."  Up until now we have gone to several wildlife rich parks in Kenya, but have always done our own driving.  All of those locations were also fairly close to the city so we did not feel like we were really...out in the bush.

We flew from Nairobi's small domestic airport out over the Ngong hills and south toward Tanzania to the Masai Mara National Reserve.  Here we landed on a dirt runway fringed with Cape buffalo and gazelles. We stayed in a "tented camp." I add the quotes because really it was more like a small hotel room with a tent over the top of it.  It still felt a little bit wild however -especially when we discovered really large muddy paw prints on a bridge right next to our tent!

We went out on two or three game drives with a guide every day and were super lucky to see all of the "big five" in just two and a half days.  The whole experience was really quite surreal.  Sometimes I had to remind myself that this is all very real and not a cool Indiana Jones ride at Disney Land!

The Mara River - one of the rivers crossed during "the great migration"

ready to go at the Wilson Airport

The Violet Breasted Roller

Our first elephants in the wild - amazing
how we crossed the river - no bridge- just right across the rocks and through the water - this is when I really felt like I was on the Indiana Jones ride!

a pack of young hyena pups

a troup of baboons
Oleana scanning to horizon early in the morning

on our first early morning game drive - a flat tire - and the guide could hear an elephant lurking right around the corner!

Mr. Lion

giraffes and grants gazelles

this is how close the elephant came to our truck! She turned away at the very last moment!

sleepy Mr. lion
a young bachelor male

the lions walked right past the safari trucks apparently taking no notice of us at all!

elephant love

the illusive cheetah

a young rhino - only 49 individuals left in this reserve due to extensive poaching

the impala that the leopard had recently dragged up into the tree.

a sleepy leopard resting after storing her kill in a nearby tree

Hippos napping
a good view of the elephant mammary glands - My family thinks I am a little unnaturally interested in this but I think it is quite fascinating that elephants have breasts just like humans and other primates - something I did not know before.

our open sided "Landy" that took us on all of the game drives

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Swara Plains

view out over the Swara Plains

mile long fence made with re-purposed water bottles

 Adventure Sunday.
Now that we have explored many of the "hot spots" that the tourists hit nearby Nairobi, we have to look a little harder to find our destination locations for adventure Sundays.  Some friends of ours told us about a recent visit to Swara Plains, a catle ranch/ wildlife sanctuary about an hour east of Nairobi out the Mombasa road.  
truck traffic on the mombasa road
The Mombasa Road- This road goes from Nairobi to Mombasa, the major port city on the coast of Kenya.  This road is full of trucks who's drivers all drive as though they were driving sports cars - that is until they hit an up-hill part of the road at which point they slow to a crawl. Then all the other drivers recklessly attempt to pass the trucks; playing chicken with the oncoming traffic.  

We arrived at the Swara Plains, Acacia Camp and were greeted by a hoard of puppies.  There were three grown dogs and 5 tiny jack rustle terrier pups - just 11 weeks old.  The girls (and Nile) were in puppy-love and would have been totally happy to cuddle these little sweeties the whole day. 

farm equipment originally used on the property

Bandas (traditional house)

 The Acacia Camp has "bandas" where you can stay over.  Part of the story of this place is that the family who once lived here had adopted an abandoned baby cheetah.  There are reportedly still quite a few cheetah sightings on the reserve, but we were not that lucky.  The "big cats" have eluded us so far.

amazing cactus flower that attracted flies!

old safari truck

red billed hornbill

wildebeests a zebra and wildebeest babies resting

giraffes by the windmill staring us down
The game drive was dry and dusty.  We had a very nice encounter with two young giraffes who were mock-fighting, swinging their long powerful necks around and around and then locking necks and heads with one another.  The reserve here is also a working cattle ranch.  There are several herds of these unusual brama cows with the large hump between their shoulders.  At the point that I took this picture we had to wait for quite a while for the large beasts to get out of the road.