The Kaleberg Journal - December 2019

12/25 - Back Home Summary - Thanksgiving and Christmas

We went to New York City for a wedding in October, then to Ethiopia in November, but we still had Thanksgiving and Christmas and a trip to Seattle. This is in case you are wondering what we've been up to.

We returned from Ethiopia on Sunday, so we had four full days to Thanksgiving. We were doing Thanksgiving for about a dozen people, so we had to work quickly. Luckily, the turkey we had ordered arrived on time on Tuesday, so the rest of the time was spent shopping, cooking and recovering from jet lag. We had roast turkey, stuffing, kale salad, fennel salad, turnips with vanilla, delicata squash with oysters, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts hash, parmesan potatoes and cranberry chutney. Dessert was pumpkin pie, pecan pie, pecan brittle (just pecan pie filling) and our own dried apples with butter, sugar, and spices. It was a big success.

We chose a tree over the weekend and went into Seattle do some shopping for our Christmas party and to see the lights and sights. As usual, we checked out the gingerbread cookie sculptures on display at the Sheraton and Pike Place Market.

Our trees arrived the day after, and our party was that weekend. We set to with the lights, electric and candle, and started cooking. We soon had both trees under control and a cassoulet in the oven. We lit the candles on the cookie tree, and everyone tried to remember the words to O Christmas Tree. To our credit, no one tried to look them up online while the candles were lit.

We were home. We were out on the street when Santa came by on his illuminated firetruck, and we were all set for the big day.


Seattle sunset - Look, no viaduct!

Gingerbread village

Gingerbread city

Pike Place market

Another view of the market

Near the market

Back home in the grove

Our tree as yet unadorned, no Hanukah candles either


Ready to illuminate

Party night

Godzilla, his nuclear fires lit, admires the party spread

The pièce de résistance

Something to wash it down

Candles lit

All lit up

Santa is coming

The Christmas firetruck

Keywords: port angeles, seattle, christmas, thanksgiving

12/21 - To Addis Ababa and Home

We crossed the Sanetti Plateau one more time and made our way to the Gobe airport outside of Robe. The airport only has three flights a week, and it wasn't open when we arrived. Gate security wouldn't let us in for fifteen minutes when the Ethiopia Airlines ground crew arrived to open up the place.

Our flight was uneventful, and we collapsed in the luxury of the Sheraton with its electric power, cash machines, internet access and room service. We had a late flight out to Frankfort, so we booked an extra night and stayed in our room, explored the hotel grounds and took it easy. We were getting traveled out.

We slept on our flight to Frankfort then spent a few hours in the Lufthansa lounge before boarding our flight to Vancouver. We took a north polar route from Germany to the west coast of Canada. In late November, the polar regions are in darkness, so for a good part of our journey the sun was to our south giving us hours of pre-dawn light. The slow sun of the arctic does things like this. The green flash is a transient phenomenon where the rising or setting sun refracts green for perhaps a second or two, but one group at a south polar station saw it for 20 minutes during a slow polar sunrise.

From Vancouver, we took a puddle jumper to Fairchild airport in Porrt Angeles. Canadian entry was pretty straightforward though the ATM like machines were a bit confusing at first. American entry was easier for a small plane like ours. It was just a short drive from the airport. We were home.

Last look at Bale Mountain Lodge

Last look at the Sanetti Plateau

Another look

Night lighting at the Sheraton

Back in bustling Addis Ababa

While we were gone, the jacaranda came into bloom


More sunrise

Even more sunrise

Even more sunrise

The sun was to our south for much of our journey over the arctic

Canadian ice

And more ice

Another bit of sunrise

Sunrise and clouds

Keywords: ethiopia

12/20 - Rira Waterfall - Part One

We were tired on the last day of our stay at Bale Mountain Lodge, but we had to get out and see more. There was a waterfall trail in Rira, the village not far from the lodge, so we headed off to the trailhead by the road. We passed through pastureland with woven bamboo fences and across green grass dotted with boulders and trees. The air was much thicker than up on the Sanetti Plateau and the foliage lusher.

The trail sloped gently downwards, and we entered the forest. There were orchids blooming at the side of the trail. Down we went, then the trail became steeper. There were staircases to descend.

Morning at the lodge


Woven bamboo fence

Pasture and fences

Green country

Green boulders

More trail scenery

Green country

Gray sky on a misty day

The forest thickens

Possibly a coffee tree or some relative

More forest

At our feet

An orchid

More orchids

The trail continues

Blue orchids?

Another orchid

A stairway

Keywords: ethiopia

12/19 - Rira Waterfall - Part Two

We descended some more. We could hear the waterfall before we saw it. The air was moist and the foliage lush. We approached the pool and admired the waterfall for a bit. It wasn't Victoria Falls, but it was a pleasant sight to see. In the northern part of Ethiopia, some hermit would have set up his digs beneath it and started carving what would become a hermitage and then, centuries later, a church, shrine or monastery. As pretty as the site was, we weren't tempted.

Then we headed up a bit to see a smaller waterfall above this one. It was worth a bit more exploring. Then we retraced our steps, down to the lower waterfall, then up all the steps, through the forest, across the pasture and finally back towards the road where our driver was waiting for us. First, however, we had to check out a bunch of baboons who had come out to say goodbye. It was our last day in the Ethiopian country side. The next day we were heading back to Addis Ababa and then on to Frankfurt, Vancouver and finally Port Angeles.

Down towards the waterfall

More steps

The waterfall

Another view

As we started to climb

The stream

The upper waterfall

Another look

Downstream again

Interesting vegetation


Farther back along the trail

A small creek

A small bridge

Forest and pasture

Back to the woven bamboo fences

Goodbye baboons

Keywords: ethiopia

12/18 - Up to the Sanetti Plateau

We had crossed the Sanetti Plateau on our way to Bale Mountain Lodge. At over 13,000 feet, it had seemed like another world. Now, we were going to return and explore some more. We headed back through Rira and climbed over a mile to the plateau. It had been sunny at the lodge, but it was cloudy as we began to wander among the scrub plants, mainly ghostly artemesia, that covered the broad open plain. There was always something fascinating and beautiful to see whether it was some detail at our feet or the broad vista around us. We stopped at the shores of the alpine lakes that dotted the plain. It was exhiliarating.

It was sunny at the lodge.

Kale for sale in Rira

Gnarled trees along the road up to the plateau

Did we mention the great cell coverage?

Mists, mountains and the plain

Ghostly ground cover


A detail at our feet

Another detail

Rocks and knolls

Across the plain we wandered.

Another detail, someone's home?

Ghostly shrubs

Color in the scene

An alpine lake

One of the birds

More details

More color

Even more detail

Keywords: ethiopia

12/17 - Sanetti Plateau to Gobe

One of our missions was to replace our spare tire. We needed a new one, and the nearest service station was in Gobe, just north of the plateau. We took a nice long walk in the high country, then we headed down into town to eat lunch while our driver and guide wrangled a spare tire. There's nothing like the AAA in this part of Ethiopia.

Gobe was a busy town full of small shops selling everything. There were dress shops, furniture stores, cell phone stores, food stalls, restaurants, banks and the like. We could see signs of progress with electric power and satellite dishses, but it will be a while before the chain stores move in.

A lobelia

An alpine lake


Field of rocks

Misty vista

Heading down towards Gobe

A volcano to the north

Pastoral fields

It looks makeshift, but there is electricity.

Under construction

Another bit of Gobe

Many little stores

More of the main shopping street

A mosque in town

Ready for business

Alternate transportation

A restaurant

A gateway

Keywords: ethiopia

12/16 - Back on the Sanetti Plateau

With a new spare tire and fortified by lunch, we returned to the Sanetti Plateau. We took a longer walk passing through what one might call a lobelia forest.

Gray plain

Some lobelia, dead and living

Details at our feet

Ghost forest of lobelia

Lobelia dot the plain

A veritable grove

At our feet

Gray forest

Rock garden

Another field of lobelias

More scenery

Aged rocks

Endlessly fascinating

Lobelia are strange and surprising

An Abyssinian hare

A boulder

A distant mountain

A lone lobelia

Even more scenery

Keywords: ethiopia


12/15 - Alpine Lakes, Lobelia Forest, Another World

We passed a number of alpine lakes and wandered among the boulders and lobelias. It began to rain lightly. The sky was almost silver. Despite this, there was color all around us. There were shrubs and flowers and lichens. Here and there, the ground cover was green, not gray. We could have wandered and wandered, but eventually the wet and cold took their toll, and we headed back south to our lodge.

Gray and green

Yellow flowers

One grows fond of lobelias

A large alpine lake

A copse of lobelias

Green and gray

Misty mountain

More boulders

More green

More yellow flowers

Another bit of alpine lake

Rock wall behind a lake

Lobelias by the lakeside

Another hare

Another boulder

Red and green

Red and yellow

Gray lobelia sky

Across the plain


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