After hiking down the long seven mile trail to the river, our group of adventurers were each assigned to one of the ten rafts. Each raft had a leader who was the expert rower as well.
Our leader was an experienced athletic young woman who rowed us down the river with great skill.
During the first hour of the trip down river, while seated in the raft, I became aware of a small furry stripped animal looking up at me from under the raft seat. I thought to myself, how cute, the raft leader has an adorable pet who likes to ride the raft. I asked the raft leader if this was her pet.
She took one look at the animal, which turned out to be a wild ring-tailed cat and exclaimed” NO! That is not my pet!” Then all of the five people on board started to scoot around trying to catch the animal. It raced back and forth leaping from seat to seat. Meanwhile our raft leader was rowing us to the side of the river towards the shore.
I grabbed the animal by the tail and we let it loose to jump off the raft unto shore. I expressed some dismay that the cat would not be able to find its family as we were a few miles from where it jumped into the raft. The leader ignored me and kept on rowing down the river.
After riding down the river for a few hours, we came upon a shore on a beach where we camped for the night. The crew prepared a great meal then we all did clean up. We were given the rules and regulations of camping on the river. Everything had to be packed in and everything had to be packed out. We were each in tents and a latrine was set up.
The toilet area had minimal privacy and a view of the river. While I was sitting on the open air privy behind the rocks, I was looking out at the river. Soon I saw a rafting group come down the river. The whole group smiled and waved at me sitting there on the toilet. I was mortified. I guess I needed to lighten up, but this was way beyond my comfort level. I think the raft leaders had a sense of humor when they set up the latrine in the semi private area every day. They were all comfortable peeing in the river when ever the urge struck them. It must have been hilarious to them when they saw how squeamish some of us were about using the privy out in the open.
Later in the trip, we were on the raft and got caught in the current which took us past our camp. Our raft leader who was the main leader for the whole group told us that we all had to paddle really hard to get us up the river, against the current. We all got into the raft and began to paddle as hard as we could while the raft continued to go backwards.
Finally, our leader rowed ashore and had us all get out of the raft. She said that one of the leaders in the group would come back for the raft. We had to hike overland back up the canyon to our camp. I was already exhausted from rowing. I was still crippled from the down hill hike. I started to climb over the 8 foot high rocks. Then I started to hear the rattlesnakes. Then I saw the rattlesnakes, here and there among the rocks which I was struggling over. I told the leader that I was not going any further. She said that, yes I was. I said, no I am not going to risk getting bitten by a rattlesnake or falling on the rocks. She said yes I was going to finish the hike. I said no, I would just say there on the ground and wait till morning.
Without pointing a gun to my head, the leader made it very clear that, I did not have any option and I would be finishing the hike. So, I struggled up the rocks and down the rocks with tears streaming down my face. I fell several times cutting my hands and skinning my knees, cursing and vowing to never go on any rafting, hiking trips ever again if I got of this alive.
I hoped that I would see wildlife in the Grand Canyon. The ring-tailed cat which I met on the first day on the trip was the only wildlife I saw on this whole trip. I never had an opportunity to take a photo for any North American animal painting. The group leaders were pretty wild though. Their idea of fun was telling stories of drowned rafters from previous trips who they zipped up in black bags for the rest of the trip. This image stayed with me for the remainder of the trip. I was very relieved when this trip from hell was over and we returned home alive.
Our African trip was planned to coincide with the herd migrations. We decided to drive through Masai Mara where the wildebeest were heading to greener pastures. We drove through the Great Rift Valley in the early morning. We were heading along the highway traveling at 35 MPH. I looked out the window and was surprised to see an ostrich running along beside us, easily keeping pace with us. The ostrich was traveling along side the road, alone and apparently in a hurry to get somewhere.
Soon we were in a wooded area and came upon a creek which crossed the road. We saw no bridge so decided to drive through the creek. The water turned out to be deeper than we thought, but we made it through with water sloshing just below the doors of the bus. Farther along the road, we came to the river at one of the places where the wildebeests cross. There was a narrow bridge crossing the river. We got to the middle of the bridge and stopped to look down at the river. There was very a bad smell coming from the river area. When we looked closer, we saw the crocodiles, feasting on the drowned wildebeests, which were still floating in the water. I have seen this sight many times in nature films. However, experiencing this scene complete with smells and sounds was very thrilling.
After crossing the bridge, we continued towards the plains. We could see the occasional wildebeest, standing alone, separate from the herd. They are very funny looking animals and make strange noises, kind of a ga-nu sound (which probably led to their other name : gnu). Within a few miles, we saw the beginning of the wildebeest herd. We were compelled to stop the bus in the middle of the road. Soon, our bus was surrounded by twenty thousand or more wildebeests walking along and ga-nuing as they went. This was an amazing encounter and we just sat quietly while the animals slowly moved along on their way to new pastures.
After twenty minutes or so, the herd had finally crossed the road. We decided to find a place to camp for the night (inside the bus). We found a nice area under some acacia trees. Later that night after we had gone to sleep, something woke me up. I looked out the car window in the dim light and saw large ears flapping very close to the bus. I was immediately terror stricken. I thought we were in danger of being trampled by a herd of elephants. After my eyes had adjusted to the light, I realized my elephant vision was just our clothes line with some towels flapping in the breeze. My vivid imagination had fooled me.
After two weeks, our great African adventure had come to an end. It was a wonderful experience and we came home with hundreds of great photos of African scenery and African wildlife. Reluctantly, we boarded our flight and headed back to the United States, with many wonderful memories.
When we got out into the park in the morning, we wandered around for a few miles looking for wildlife. Jim encountered a giraffe and got out of the bus to take a few photos. We had been cautioned about not leaving the vehicle. So I was somewhat concerned that Jim not be out of the car for very long.
We then began to turn the vehicle around to return to the lodge. At that point, we saw a herd of twenty or thirty elephants of various ages’ right in front of us about fifty feet away. I enjoy seeing wildlife in its natural element, but this was more wildlife than I was prepared to encounter up close. I urged Jim to hurry up and get the bus turned around so we could get back to the lodge.
At that point, we got stuck in the middle of the road. I was trying to take movies but was having trouble as my hand was shaking so much. (Watching these videos later was almost impossible due to my trembling hands.) The elephants were now much closer, and two were charging each other. I expected them to charge us at any moment. Jim was obliged to leave the vehicle and try to push it with me behind the wheel urging him to speed it up. He was not able to budge the bus one bit, no matter how hard he pushed. The elephants were getting closer and I was getting more nervous.
This was when the park ranger came to the rescue. He got out of his jeep and helped push us back on the road. After receiving a stern warning from the ranger about never getting out of the vehicle, we returned to the lodge and heaved a big sign of relief. We had survived a close up encounter with a whole herd of elephants and lived to tell the tale.
Jacquie Vaux, renowned wildlife artist, announces the completion of her latest project, entitled “North American Wilderness.” The project, on which she has been working for the past year and a half, is slated to debut within the next six months and has been commissioned by Vail-Promenade Gallery in Vail, Colo.
Jacquie Vaux, landscape and wildlife artist. “I believe“Wildlife paintings are my passion, and I’m especially proud of this latest project,” says people will be especially pleased to see the unusually large watercolor wildlife paintings, as they really bring you up close to the beauty that lies in wildlife.”
The project consists of 12 wildlife art paintings, including such titles as “A Doe and Two Fawns at the Pond,” which is a large canvas, 66”x66”, done in acrylics. Additionally, the collection presents very large watercolor wildlife paintings that were constructed on special panels. Some of the completed pieces in the project include:
• “Wood Ducks Leaving the Nest” which is 68”x30”
• “Raccoons in Summer Aspen” measuring 30”x105”
• “Chickadees Socializing,” “Robins in the Nest,” “Ground Squirrels Having Fun,” and “A Grey Squirrel in his Tree,” all of which are 20”x20”
Titles that are currently or soon will be created include such titles as “Bear Family at the Pond,” “Elk in the Meadow,” “Mute Swans in a Pond,” “Red Fox Family,” and “Marmots at Playtime.” The wildlife art paintings have been anticipated by Jacquie Vaux’s art fans nationwide, as her work is know for portraying photo-realistic portraits of big cats, African animal paintings, lion prints, and a variety of other popular wildlife art prints.
“Wildlife art fans will not be disappointed by my latest project,” adds Vaux. “My passion for animal paintings is evident in my work and, in turn, it helps to create a greater appreciation for wildlife art.”
About Jacquie Vaux:
Jacquie Vaux is a landscape and wildlife artist who is known for photo-realistic portraits, especially of African wildlife paintings. She has over 35 years of experience, and several of her paintings have been reproduced as Giclee prints. Her work has been represented by Devin Galleries, Coeur d’ Alene, ID, Fascination Street, Denver, CO., and Olympia Nature World in Tokyo, Japan. In addition, her work will soon be included on ArtTopicsBlog.com. Her popular art prints include pet portraits, tiger prints, wolf eyes print, big cat prints, and a wide variety of African animal paintings. To learn more about Jacquie Vaux’s African wildlife art, visit the Web site http://www.jacquievauxart.com.
I’m very excited to be making my first post on this brand-new blog, so I can share my exciting adventures in the fabulous world of art with all of my friends out there and have the opportunity to make even more new friends. This site is dedicated to you , so please give me lots of feedback, ask questions and let me know what you’d like to hear about. So Welcome to my blog, and here’s to an exciting new adventure!