21 February 2010
Sunday morning dawned and it was time to GO! I was riding alone again. The PLAN was to get on the N1 and take it from there.Dawn at Summerset Estate (S25 57 13 E028 05 43) where I had spent the previous few days. Just the two bags to attach to the bike with the cargo net and the back pack to put on and I'm OFF! It was 06:00 am and the odometer read: 65,814 kms. I had ridden over 5,000 kms so far.
It was getting light quickly. This is the best time of day to start any journey.
A view of Johannesburg to the south from the N1 on-ramp at Midrand. My first stop was at a Wimpy at Grasmere for fuel (Trip: 5,075 km) a 'Hashdown Splashdown' and coffee. I checked my Travelex Cashpassport balance at the ATM and then set off again.
The sun was shining brightly as I crossed the Vaal River near Sasolburg 10 kms to the east and Parys 20 kms to the southwest.
The 'Vaal' is quite a mighty river. It looks very full after so much rain in South Africa.
The motorbike is straddling the border between Gauteng (Transvaal) and Free State.
This is Shell Ultra City near Kroonstad. It is the best petrol and rest stop that I have ever experienced.
Having had a late night and an early start I made the decision to stop for a drink, a bite and a sleep! It was 10:00 am!
The biscuits were bought for nostalgic reasons. We used to have EET-SUM-MOR when I was a kid growing up in Johannesburg.
A few yards away, behind a wire fence, were these ostriches and also a buck. Somewhere a cock was crowing. This is MY kind of highway service station.
My decision was to continue on the N1 only as far as Ventersburg and then to turn southeast to Senekal on the R70. This farmhouse was just off the R70. Taking pics of old South African houses seems to be a fetish with me.
This is the hot little town of Senekal.
It was Sunday afternoon and Senekal had that relaxed lazy feel about the place. Just right for a Sunday. I bought some Litchi flavoured water and a banana here.
These roadside signs fascinated me. This one was actually near Clocolan. I actually rode past this farm stall & deli, but then turned back for a looksee. It was lovely.
Here is another brilliant farm gate sign. Is this tin man made from VW bits? I believe Driepan (farm?) is that way!
Or is THIS Driepan Farm?
This cowboy seems to be holding a bigger banana than the one I bought in Senekal. This was on the R707 to Marquard.
Marquard was worth the drive through. It was, however, too early to look for a place to stay for the night. I refuelled here (Trip: 5,391 km). The road out of Marquard to Clocolan is the R708. Clocolan (I like that name) was another sleepy little town with character and fascinating old corrugated-roof houses. It was still a little too early to stop for the night, so I picked up the R26 to Ladybrand.
Ladybrand is very close to the Lesotho border and the capital of Lesotho, Maseru. Lesotho is the homeland of the Basuto people who speak Sotho! Beautiful mountain scenery all the way and to the east of track. I rode in and out of Ladybrand. Nice little town too, and then headed for Hobhouse.
There was no obvious accommodation in Hobhouse and it was too soon to panic, so I continued on to Wepener. There was little sign of life in Wepener. I pulled in to the petrol station and spoke to a young man who was sitting on a step."Any B&Bs here, mate?"
"Oh," was my lightning response!
"Zastron has some."
"About 66 km from here?"
"Okay, thanks. S'long!"
After about 45 minutes of beautiful scenery l got to the lovely Free State town of Zastron. This area is spectacular.
I could live here. Look, there is a garage for my motorbike.
And there is a beautiful church to admire on Sunday morning ride-outs.
Zastron was the only place where I nearly had an accommodation hiccup. The first place I tried, up a few gravel roads, had beautiful mountain views but the 'welcome' was weird. "Sign the register here." I signed in and he held out his hand. "R350." I said, "I want to see the accommodation!" He looked a little put out, but headed off across the grass to a row of rooms. Basically I didn't like the accommodation. It was not up to standard and expensive. I said, "Cross my name off the register, I'll find somewhere else!" It was a frosty silent walk back. Tough! I got back on the bike and left. The dogs barked at me!
A few sand roads later I saw a police wagon. The policeman kindly lead me to The Highland Guest House. It was perfect for me.
The room was good. The bed was comfortable. The en suite bathroom was big and the water was hot. It was R250 without breakfast. It is also called De Oude Werf. The phone number is 051 673 1557.
This old Mercedes-Benz was parked in the carport. It looks like it still goes!
After a shower and brush up I walked a kilometer or less into the town. A beer was required, so I wandered into the Maluti Hotel and met the owner and proprietor Eben Swanepoel. I had a few beers and a nice friendly chat with my new friend Eben and then went to a sort of cafe and bought some toasted sandwiches. They were just the job. I walked back to the B&B in the dark. It had been another good day. 615 km on the road. Good rest stops. Great evening. I slept very well until dawn.