Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What is in a name?


Well, it's been a while since this little exploration started, but it was not forgotten. And as it happens another opportunity to go explore presented itself at last.

My wheels for today's journey was the aptly named Dodge Journey, a capable 3.6L V6 with enough ground clearance to handle anything today might throw at it (I hope ). Also note how clean it is... for now.

Today I approached the area from a different direction, finding myself North of the Breede River traveling in an Easterly direction. In Beutler's day they would have been traveling East between the Breede and Zonderendriver, so that's where I needed to be. I crossed the Breede River on the R317 towards Stormsvlei, via the Red Iron Bridge:

The Red Iron bridge could easily be mistaken for a train bridge from a distance. It was built in the early 1900's, but apart from that I could not find any meaningful info on it. Structures like these have always fascinated me. Bridges connect people. Bridges provide safe passage over swollen rivers. Bridges allow the adventurer in you to go see what lies on the other side.

And today the Breede River was swollen, overflowing it's banks after the recent rain:

The road hugs the Breede River traveling east, and even includes a little pass. It's not spectacular as far as Western Cape passes go, but there you have it - Hessekwasnek Pass:

Soon the road comes to a T-junction and right across you are presented with this:

Now I am pretty sure had Beutler's party come across this all those years ago, they would have stopped and so did I. Wagon loaded with the newly acquired provisions I hit the road again.

The first gravel - you can see the earth is well and truly drenched at the moment.

Some scenery of the winter landscape:

Once again I did not have my T4A GPS, so I was merely following my nose with only a general idea of what direction I had to travel in.

Two roads diverged in the Overberg, and I, I took the one less traveled by...

And that has made all the difference!
(with apologies to Robert Frost)

Beginning to move down to the Zonderendriver valley.

The dense row of threes in the distance show where the river runs.

I stopped at the homestead to make my presence known, but no-one was home. I don't like being on some-ones land without permission, but the river was so painstakingly close now. I decided to drive the last couple of 100 meters to the river.

And there is was, overflowing it's banks between the trees.

Here wagons had to camp for days waiting for the river to run down. And here I am, on the exact same spot.

The Breede and Zonderend rivers converge mere kilometers from here, with Swellendam being North East, and more importantly, North of the Breede river. I wonder why travelers on their way to Swellendam crossed the Zonderendriver to get to the Southern side, only to be confronted by a full Breede River 8km further on? Surely crossing the Breede river higher upstream would have been a better option? I makes little sense to me now, but I am sure they had their reasons back then.

Some more scenery on the way out:

And just as I thought my little adventure was over, I was confronted with the same problem Beutler had! An impassible route due to flooding!

While taking the photo a truck approached, weighed the options of taking the detour, and decided to go for it.

That didn't seem so bad? At least I know the bridge is intact. Should I chance it? Why not?

Well, let me give you some advise. When a road is closed, don't chance it! It's NOT worth it. I drove over the bridge, but the water was much higher / stronger / faster than I anticipated! A wall of water quickly formed next to the car and I could feel the force of the water trying to push me off the bridge. I made it, through grace. Luckily I was in a big car with reasonable clearance!

The rest of the journey home was spent looking at the Canola fields in full bloom and reflecting on what I have found.

What is in a name?

Juliet did not attach much importance to it, but in this case there was more in a name I could have ever imagined. History, exploration, adventure. A name is the link of a place to it's past. I believe in traveling informed. It makes for a much richer travel experience and if you travel informed, a name is where your trip begins. So, Juliet, there is a lot in a name after all! When I first went to see what lay over that hill, some people would only have found a dead end, but because of the name, I now know that I stood where true explorers and adventurers once stood before. And that is very cool.

The last map of my travels:

(Click for full size map)


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