April 21st, 2011 (February 2011) – In the morning we dried our tent in the sun and went for a drive for a peek at the canyon. Our second day in Namibia almost resulted in catastrophe. Instead of heading to the main viewpoint we decided to follow a road along the canyon rim that looked particularly tantalizing. We did not realize how long the track was as the signs were a bit deceptive. First you see a sign that reads 8 km followed by another 12 km sign 8 km down the road. It’s like we were being lured into disaster.
On the way in neither of us happened to notice that one of these signs had the words ‘4x4-ish’ written upon it. 4x4-ish? The Spark does not qualify. In fact I would describe it as ‘4x2’-ish. On the way down an incline I began to have a sinking feeling as the gradient, although moderate at best, combined with abundance of larger rocks began setting off alarm bells. Danger Will Robinson!
Unfortunately, it was not possible to reverse course halfway down. Once we reached the bottom I immediately turned around and began going back. The incline was exponentially more intimidating than the decline. It was uneven, filled with rocks, and I could feel the Spark trembling with fear (Actually, that was probably me). I made repeated attempts to climb but was repelled by small boulders and a lack of sufficient momentum. Too slow and we began spinning in the rocks. Too fast and I risked bottoming out. I am pretty sure there was some fairly vital shit attached to the Spark’s undercarriage so prudence was paramount.
|Shortly after passing this tree it was all downhill (literally & figuratively).|
|Photo by Leslie|
I remounted my steed, crossed my fingers, toes, and testicles and gave it another couple of goes…….with Greaaaat Success! Pheeeew. After collecting ourselves and inspecting the Spark we headed back from whence we came. At the main view point we took in a spectacular view of the canyon and had some lunch. I befriend an orange-eyed blackbird that kindly posed for a couple of shots. After my blood pressure went up to 2 million over 5 thousand it was nice to just sit and take in the canyon.
|Is it just me or do I look totally fucking insane? More so than the bird? Tough call.|
|Get that camera out of my face before I peck your mutha f**kin' eyes out you goofy bastard!!!!!|
|Who's a good Sparky? You're a good Sparky. Yes, you are. Yes, you are....|
At a particularly large ‘puddle’ we paused to consider our point of entry. While doing so a man and his son in a 4WD came from the opposite direction. As he pulled up the look on the man’s face said it all. He eyed the Spark with suspicion while I happily punctuated the scene with a dopey smile and a ‘Yeeeeeaaaah, I’m an idiot’. We asked him about the road ahead to which he replied, ‘It’s too late to go back now.’ Stupendous.
He was kind enough to back through the pond and highlight an avenue of approach. I punched that son of a bitchin Spark and precariously glided/hydroplaned my way through. Spark: 2, Namibia: 0. Farther ahead the road was closed so we had to detour over a dam. Apparently torrential rains and gravel roads don’t mix that well. Not sure why but there was something otherworldly about driving over that dam in the rain. Again it felt like we were humanity’s last hope. If that were true the human race would f***ed. I’d be lying if I said the experience was not exhilarating but in the back of my mind I was mindful of the consequences of a breakdown.
Luderitz was out of the question so we headed instead to the nearby town of Keetmanshoop, found suitable lodging, and reflected upon the day. We decided we should probably stop pretending the Spark had magical 4WD powers and accept it for what it is. There is nothing wrong with 2WD. Know your limitations…..Sparky. However, as it turns out we were not quite finished testing Sparky’s mettle. Giddy up.
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'Love me or hate me, but spare me your indifference.' -- Libbie Fudim