Friday, March 20, 2015

Cross Driving

Driving through the territory is a daily adventure. You never know what to expect. Instead of paved roads and cars lined along either side of you, you get roads filled with bumps and ditches and most of the time the only other thing along side you on the road is an animal such as a zebra or giraffe. Driving through the territory during the migration has been one of my favorite experiences. The plains are lined with wildebeest and giraffe making it seem like you are driving through a parade of ungulates.

One of the key elements that makes driving throughout the territory possible is crossings. Not all crossings are created equal. While some are a breeze to drive through others must be met with extra caution and care.  Here X marks the spot. Without these crossings it would be difficult to follow our hyenas into the unknown. I have put together a list of my favorite crossings in the Talek West territory.

Suicide Crossing

Well the name pretty much says it all for this one. The first time you drive through Suicide your heart is pumping and you are praying that you don’t destroy the car in the process (at least that’s how it felt for me). Suicide is the first crossing we past through to enter the territory. It marks both the start and the end of the work day. We usually avoid using this crossing when it rains because the bottom of it fills with water making it difficult for the car to get through. 4-wheel drive can become your best friend when going through this crossing on a muddy day.

Coucal Crossing
Coucal X or as I like to call it Coo-cow X is one of our most frequently used crossings. We use this crossing to enter or leave an area of the territory we call Baboon Cul-de-sac. Coucal is not known for getting people stuck but it can be a source of “traffic jams”. Lots of animals use this crossing. Occasionally you will see a hyena loping by as you are driving through it.

Chai Tee Crossing

Nope that’s not a typo. Chai Tee X is one of the newest crossings in Talek West. We recently discovered it while following some hyenas after a carcass session. My middle name is Tee and after discovering this the guys in camp (specifically Benson and Wilson) decided to give me the nickname Chai. Chai is tea in Swahili and thanks to some clever word play by Chase this crossing was created. Chai Tee X is another crossing you would want to avoid when wet. It has lots of holes that fill with water after it rains. These water-filled holes create the perfect recipe for getting stuck. 

15 Year Crossing

Drivers beware. This crossing is not for the faint of heart. While it looks harmless it is far from easy. You should only use this crossing if you’re willing and ready to be stuck for at least 15 years. Once wet the mud within this crossing will suck you down making it impossible to escape. Make sure you have your shovel and rain boots ready. A nice snack and lots of water are also handy to have. Digging a car out of 15 year is a very tiring and demanding task (just ask Hadley and Wilson who were stuck in 15 year for over 4 hours trying to dig out one of our poor ‘ol cruisers). Make sure the gears are locked and 4-wheel drive is set before you go through this one.

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