Our second trip to Khutse was in the new and improved Defender. The Yellow Peril is no more! The new color is called heritage green and it is one of the classic colors that defenders used to come in back in the early 1900s. Obviously I had wanted it to be turquoise as a first choice but was trying to pick a color that allowed it to maintain its African persona. Now we just have to come up with a new name. Maybe the Heritage Green Fighting Machine? No….thats horrible….
We headed up to Khutse for the weekend with the same crew of friends as the last Khutse trip – Tanya, James, Dave, and new additions Sattar and Crisna. We were really hoping to see the Kalahari lions this time….but they evaded us again! We saw more elephants this trip and some rare birds of prey – notably a marshall eagle.
The highlight of this trip was one – introducing our African friends to Fireball Whiskey. We served everyone a shot as is the standard protocol with fireball….but our friends misunderstood the point and started pouring full glasses of it. Between 4 people we finished off a whole bottle in one night! As you can imagine this lead to significant headache in the morning and the request that we never bring “that stuff” out again.
We also had a beautiful clear dark sky to be able to do some star photography. I’ve been working on this for a while but never seem to quite get the right conditions or I usually fall asleep and forget to do it! There are no words to describe the majesty of a Kalahari night sky. The milky way seems so bright and close that you might just be able to reach out and touch it! These pics are the first ones I’ve ever taken that even come close to giving you an idea of how amazing the starts are to see in real life.
The other important part of this trip is that is highlighted some unpleasant realities about the Defender. Although it looks like a million bucks now…..there are issues. Namely its tough to drive, LOUD, and hot. We got it stuck in some sand right next to the campsite which was a bit embarrassing because Defenders shouldn’t be getting stuck in this type of situation!!! We learned some good lessons about what we did wrong to get ourselves stuck and what to do in that situation in the future. I also started to heavily question whether the defender is the best vehicle to take on a 4 month road trip! These are tough questions but ones that need to be asked. Although it would be super devastating, it might be necessary to get a Toyota for the reliability, comfort and the fact that it is universally easier to get parts and service. No decisions have been made but we are doing A LOT of research and investigating all options….stay tuned for updates on the fate of the defender!