The next day, I slept until noon. I got up, cleaned up, and visited my local Pizza Hut for some good American food! I spent the rest of the day reading mail, catching up on email, etc., and calling close friends.
It took about a week to readjust to Rochester time. Each day, I felt a bit less tired.I was my old self by the following Sunday.
I quickly discovered that I was closer to budget than I had predicted. Therefore, I would have to wait a few weeks before I could develop any of the film. I kept it tightly sealed in it's x-ray bag in the refrigerator.
About the time I finally had the money, Rochester got nailed by the blizzard of '99! We got 25 inches of snow on a Thursday, followed by another 18 inches on Saturday! The roads here quickly became worse than anything we had traversed in East Africa. I took a lot of pictures of the blizzard, and it's effects. I plan to send a few of these to Njau to show him what can happen to our roads!
As soon as the blizzard was past, I got the film to a quality developer. I decided to spend the extra money on premium processing as it might be the only trip I will ever make. It was expensive, but I think it was worth it. The film processing bill came to nearly $500, but I knew it was done right. The color balance was even correct on the notoriously-hard-to-get-right Fuji film.
As soon as the pictures were in hand, I started to write this Journal, which took from mid-March to the end of May. I used the master set of photos to work on the journal, and the duplicate set is being passed around to anyone who wants to see them. A few photos (Lions, of course!) were posted on my website, and someone has already paid me for very high resolution scans of some of those pictures!
During June and July, I scanned in the 843-some pictures that I had taken. They still need to be shrunk down to web-browser size before making the CD-ROM I plan to make.
I had a surprise in mid August regarding the events of this trip. One day, I was in an unusual situation where I was watching the 'Newshour with Jim Lerher'. I never normally watch this show, but work circumstances put me in the same room as a TV with this show on. (This is a show the TV station I work for carries.) They were doing a segment on worker housing and vehicle traffic problems around Grand Canyon National Park. Much to my (pleasant) shock and surprise, one of the people they interviewed was Teri Cleeland! I had been having a rough day, and this event turned it around!I emailed her and told her of my surprise.
Mid September finds me doing the proofreading and minor corrections to this journal. For some reason, these ended up requiring an agonizing amount of work, much more than I had ever anticipated. It will be posted on my website as soon as the final proofread is done. The HTML version will follow shortly, as soon as the image processing work is complete. I will go through the pictures in the next few days and pick out 40 or so to post on my website along with the HTML version. Due to an excessively heavy work load at work, it was not until October 11 that the final proofread of this journal was completed.
In October and November, I did the image shrinks when I could find time. Our TV station got another football contract that ate up all of my weekends during that time. Finally, during the long Thanksgiving weekend, I completed the image shrinks. I took all the pictures to work, and used the huge boardroom table to lay them all out and pick the best ones. I also cataloged the photos by subject. HTMLizing of the text version of the journal is in progress. I am expecting the web version to be on the internet by the first weekend in December, and the CD-ROM version to be in the mail to reach family/friends by Christmas. After that, reprints of some images will be made, and sent to various people, including Njau and Teri Cleeland. (Njau will also finally get his tapes!) Once this is done, the Africa project can truly be said to be complete!
Tools used to complete this project: The images were scanned in using a Canon flatbed scanner. Canon's software running under windows 95 was used for the inital scans. All images were then moved into a Linux unix enviroment. All subsequent image manipulation was done using GIMP, which worked flawlessly. The programmable keyboard shortcuts saved hours and hours of work. The journal was written in Staroffice running under Linux. After conversion to text, all subsequent work was done using GNU EMACS. This includes hand-coding all of the HTML (Hand coding produces much cleaner and predictable HTML. It is also as fast or faster than using an HTML editor on a project like this.) Finally, Staroffice will be used again to produce a Word 97-compatible version of the journal for those who want a 'nice' version for printing out.
Will I visit East Africa again? Of course! Will I use the same tour company? Yes, if they have the itinerary I am looking for. (They recently announced a participation camping version of this trip that is nearly half the cost. This is what I will probably take next time. Although the luxury camping is Ok, I am really there to see wildlife. So, if rough camping or a lodge safari offer me better game viewing, I will gladly pocket the savings! If I could choose, I prefer camping over a lodge.) I can never see enough of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater! Of course, the other parks were very good, too.
I also want to visit some of the parks in Kenya, namely Tsavo and Samburu. The Field Museum of Natural History is opening interpretive centers in the Tsavo area as the result of the discovery of a cave where the maneating lions supposedly lived. I hope to also see the infamous bridge that started the whole Tsavo Maneaters incident. And of course, one never visits Kenya without visiting the Masai Mara, the North end of the Serengeti ecosystem!
There are also excellent game parks in other African countries: South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Namibia to name a few. None of these, however, boasts the lion populations of East Africa!
What would I do differently? A number of things:
There are many other things I can't think of right now that I'm sure I will do differently. It's hard to include them all in one writing session!
Planning is already underway for another visit in 2001!
In any case, I hope you have enjoyed reading this, and are now motivated to make the trip to East Africa yourself!Tim Stoffel