We were long overdue for a VOG overnighter and I - VOG Dog - longed for the wind in my ears once again! So when the suggestion came up to revisit the Wayside Lodge and possibly see Oom Paul sitting on the stoep again, Werner Britz (the other naughty one), was tasked to make contact with the Mayor and Mayoress of Waterval Onder to request an audience.......
Here is a listing of the attendees for the outing:
Ben & Caroline Giani (VO460)
Corrie & Cathy JV Rensburg (VO243/ VO244)
Danie & Driekie Nienaber (VF483)
Derek & Michelle Meise (VO32)
Fanie & Chantelle van Dyk (VO258)
Francois and Moira Samouilhan - Ben's daughter and son-in-law
Thom Peeters (VO486) & friend Jaap Grobler
VOG Dog (VO000) - yours truly - the naughty one.
So it happened - and not to put Thom (with a Ha ha) on the spot (snigger......) - he was propositioned in Dullstroom (no less) and was asked if he would be willing to prepare an account of the day's ride?
Mr Peeters obliged and here follows his story:
"VOG Wayside Wander 2018 was planned well in advance for the long weekend of 22-24 September 2018. Although we were hoping for more attendees, the final turnout of 12 bikes and 14 people was a great group.
The starting group of Corrie and Cathy JV Rensburg, Derek and Michelle Meise, Fanie and Chantelle van Dyk, as well as yours truly, Thom with an H, and guest Jaap Grobler left from Zebra point at Engen GT in Kempton Park shortly after 08:00.
We met up with Ben and Caroline Giani and family guests Francois and Moira Samouilhan at the N12 Petroport about 70 km into the run. We later learnt that Francois is also known as Obelix – the man is huge, but gentle and great fun. Welcome guys.
Although we pit stopped at Alzu Petroport, we decided to ride on to Dullstroom for brunch at the Olde Transvaal Inn. Service here was a tad disappointing, with the the brunch turning to lunch and nearly supper for Cathy. She ordered a vetkoek, cheese and jam with chips!! The waiters couldn’t find that combination on the menu, so nothing happened. This aunty gave them hell and she is now known as anti Olde Transvaal Inn.
This is also where Corrie’s old trusty bike refused to start. I wonder why he calls it "Old Faithful? It was either a battery or a power issue. Luckily our hosts for the weekend, Pierre and Sally-Ann Urtel, could help by travelling through to Dullstroom, having hitched their trailer to take the bike to the Wayside Lodge in Waterval Onder. Werner Britz offered to collect it early on Monday. Thanks for your willingness to help, Werner.
And the fuel economy award for the weekend's ride goes to?
Anyway, from Dullstroom we dodged the potholes short of Lydenburg onto the Panorama Route and down the Long-Tom Pass. We pit-stopped at Hops Hollow (apparently the highest brewery in Africa) and tested their different brews. I can’t remember the real brew names, but based on taste I think we had cat pee blonde, brun and misty lite with ice tea variants. Probably an acquired taste - but I will go back for the view - not the beer.
After a few of us ran through a whole bunch of tasters with simple abbreviations as names, Derek decided that he fancied the "BB" beer. Turning out to be nothing to do with blonde, bosom, busty, buxom, booby etc etc - the "Blacksmith's Brew" was the taste of the day!!
From Hops Hollow we mosied on down the Long Tom Pass.
Taking the lead, I missed the right turn onto the R539 and was summarily removed as road captain and was sent to the rear....... Ben took over and put the hammer down. Something tells me Ben thought I was going too slow through the twists and turns. I suspect it had to do with his new shiny Formation Officer badge, because Caroline was so impressed that Corrie had to admonish those two to behave in public or take it to their rooms. Ahem !!
Our hosts Pierre and Sally-Ann were most welcoming when we arrived and I was relieved to see that they did not turn out looking like the picture that Derek Meise sent me earlier.......
Could not imagine Pierre wearing a kilt or Sally on a broomstick!!
After settling in, we went on to the more serious business of the day - relaxing. I can’t remember the sequence, but allow me to mention a few things I recall about the evening's events:
• After the Constitutional Court judgment on cannabis (dagga), everyone was asking Chantelle for her friend's recipes. Her explanation on how to extract the oil was fascinating. Fanie swears by the medicinal powers of the oil for cancers (so he hears). Speaking of Fanie, he was so disciplined and well behaved that even Chantelle was left gaping.
• Derek doted over Michelle, but can’t blame the man. Nice caring couple, but that goes for most other VOG members too. Fun, but respect. Don’t you just love VOG!
• Francois (Obelix) and Moira can really handle those BMW R1200 GS bikes. Moira was so proud of Obelix’s ability to throw menhirs. A lekka laugh and real sports.
• Just because Ben was riding his red 1982 Honda Gold Wing, I saw Jaap trying to recruit him. Jaap, ons watch jou. It’s great to have friends that slot in so easily.
• Driekie had her hands full to try to keep Danie decent. He’s a stirrer of note. Throws out these red herrings and revels in the reactions. Also great fun.
• Cathy gave vivid descriptions of what was to be expected after she ate some weird fruit pips. My problem is that I visualise everything. Run for cover, brothers and sisters!!
• Our discussion about the character who asked somewhere along the road what VOG stands for – Very old guys he was told. Moira and Francois were amused by the explanation.
A Braai master of note - Pierre showed his worth at the coals and proved the old saying: A T-bone on the fire is much more desirable than a T-bone on the road!!!!
Unfortunately I had to return home early on Sunday morning. Jaap rode back with me and bar a strong cross wind all the way, all went well. I will leave it up to VOG Dog to finish the story........
Thanks to Derek for organising the weekend and to Pierre and Sally-Ann for hosting us. It really was a super trip with great people and that’s what make memorable moments. I’ll surely do it again and again. Highly recommended."
Thom Peeters (VOG 486)
Part 2 by VOG Dog
So this was me on Saturday night - having fallen asleep at the bar counter after a long hard ride. This was not my drink - by the way.... While snoozing, the fella's thought it very tempting to set me up with this photograph.
Corrie had taken me as far as Dullstroom and after realising that I am actually "Old Faithful" - not the black beast that lets him down all too often, got bundled onto Derek's machine to carry on to Waterval Onder.
Now I'm not known as a professional singer, but as the sun rose the next morning, one of my favourite songs from the 70's came to mind:
Sunday morning, up with the lark
I think I'll take a walk in the park
Hey hey hey, it's a beautiful day
I've got someone waiting for me
And when I see her I know that she'll say
Hey hey hey, what a beautiful day
Hi hi hi, beautiful Sunday
This is my my my beautiful day
When you said said said said that you loved me
Oh my my my its a beautiful day
It was really a beautiful Sunday in the valley and when Derek the Detailer got the group together, we were looking forward to a great 300 kilo run round trip for the day.
Detail Dicky gave an explanation about the day's route - which would take in some of the points in our new adventure-to-be: "The Gold Rush Challenge" - encompassing the romantic story of the gold digging escapades that took place here in the late 1800's and of Paul Kruger's train trip from Pretoria along with his government in 1900 en route to his exile, which led him to Machadodorp, Waterval Onder, Nelspruit and finally into Mozambique.
Somewhere, somehow - a bundle of gold left Pretoria with him - destined to aid the cause of the Boer government, but today regarded as the Mystery of the missing Kruger millions!
I got to ride with the Boss again, but gave him the "back-to-back" treatment after he got conned into riding a "girly" bike - seeing that "Old Faithful" had taken the day off. Michelle quite happily rode pillion with Derek, after promising not to punch his ribs if he rode a little too fast.
Our first stop was The Cradle of Life. This fantastic venue is the ideal start of the Gold Rush Challenge – offering fuel facilities, accommodation, a convenience store, a restaurant and a fantastic collection of rocks & fossils. We chilled out here for a while, enjoying a buffet breakfast and socialising.
Here are some of the happy VOG people.
Nearby Badplaas is a small town on the R38 road between Carolina and Barberton, having been established on the Seekoeispruit at the site of a sulphur spring that delivers approximately 30,000 litres of hot water/ hour at a temperature of about 50 °C.
Swazi tribesmen were the first to discover the spring and called it "eManzana", which means "healing waters". It is believed that in about 1876 the Swazi chief presented this natural resource to a hunter by the name of Jacob de Clerq, who subsequently built a store nearby and developed the spring to allow for visitors’ use due to its supposed medicinal properties.
The spring became very popular when gold was discovered in the De Kaap Valley (near Barberton). Prospectors would visit there on weekends to get away from their strenuous work of digging for gold.
It was the ideal point for our first coco pan photographs.
One of the crew managed to catch Caroline trying to deck Ben with a poop scoop, after he said he wouldn't share his Kruger Millions treasure map with her.
Danie and Driekie made an effort to record parts of the ride and here is a slideshow of some of the photos they took while riding:
We headed into Barberton, a town rich with history of the gold mining days. Derek took the group first to the facade of the old Gold Exchange building, where Boss Corrie took a great group photie.
A little further down Pilgrim Street, we stopped for pic at the Phoenix Hotel - where the original hotel was built on this site in 1886. It is said that President Paul Kruger was entertained here after having had discussions with the Diggers. The hotel was so popular that on occasions when there was not enough accommodation, the guests had to sleep on or under the billiard table.
Point 2 coco pan stood right outside the hotel's front entrance.
We followed the Sheba Road - the route that the old "Jock of the Bushveld" wagon riders followed along the banks of the Kaaprivier to get to Kaapmuiden town.
A small distance out of Barberton, we stopped for liquid refreshments at the Digger's Retreat Hotel. Fortunately, we had indulged in a decent breakfast, as no meals were to be had here today, due their preparation for a large tourist group.
Point 3 coco pan photographs were snapped and the group assembled to take in the next stretch.
The route along the river and old wagon trail encompasses many interesting place names that reflect back on the gold mining history - with names such as Revolver Creek, Joe's Luck & Eureka.
The tiny village of Low’s Creek was named after Scot David Ireland Low, who discovered a gold bearing reef in the vicinity. In 1895 the town became one of the stations on the Barberton to Kaapmuiden railway line, which drew more people to this small agricultural community.
It is also the 4th point of the Gold Rush Challenge.
Having taken a rather scenic mountain drive to the south east of Nelspruit, we managed to avoid any major traffic in the town and was soon heading out of the city back into the mountains on the road to Kaapschehoop - a gem of a village.
Though steeped in Gold mining history, a rather romantic part of the area's story is about the multitude of wild horses that roam freely on the hillside. Tales of their origin range from them being left by soldiers after the war or from industry's that replaced horse power with mechanical devices. The most romantic explanation is that of a circus company that had been travelling by rail in the valley below. When the train derailed at Ngodwana, the circus horses escaped and fled up into the hills around Kaapschehoop.
The Bohemian Groove Restaurant at the town's entrance was the ideal place to park our bikes because it seemed be the most "happening" place in the area and we were able to record the next point of the challenge - another coco pan.
It was getting a bit late in the day and I think we were all a little tired. And so the group ride down to the N4 in the valley took us back to the Wayside Lodge - providing a chance to rest up before collecting again for the evening meal.
Pierre and Sally-Ann have found their "spot" in life and are doing a sterling job in their "raising of the Phoenix from the ashes". The Wayside has been transformed from rubble to splendour and we as guests, no..... friends, were proud to be associated with the transformation.
The couple were proudly presented with VOG's certificate of appreciation for their hosting of the Wayside Wander 2018 and we look forward to our next visit!