September 27, 2010 GMT
The Orange River

From Keetmanshoop southwards the road was more of the same, like this:

This road, all the way from Windhoek, is called the B1, and that's about all it deserves to be called.

Any name more descriptive than that would be an overstatement.
Or maybe the Trans-Nowhere Highway.
Nothing to take note of, except it became colder and colder, needing a stop to put on the winter woollies. Hence the photo above.

A little later, approaching the Orange River and the South African border, the river valley appeared.......



......... and we dropped about 1,400 feet in the short distance to Noordoewer.

You can't fall off the edge of the world anymore, since those flat-earth people retired, but you can fall off of the edge of South Africa. It ends at these near-vertical cliffs above the Orange River.



Which made me think. All those bungy-jumpers must be kicking themselves, being born too late to bungy off of the edge of the world itself.

On this, the Namibian side, it's all volcanoes. This must have been another of those boiler house/engine rooms full of fiery activity back in pre-history times.

It looks like one of those volcanoes went on a dodgy brick-laying course.

View on the Namibian bank of the Orange River.

(And at last, a picture without that funny little blue motorbike lurking. Let's give it a rest from modelling duty).


These volcanoes must really have been vying for space. Maybe they had parking attendants.
"No, you can't erupt here, you'll block up that exit. Go over there, squeeze between Stromboli and Vesuvius. Ask Etna to back up a bit. And listen, there's a limit now on how many boulders you can chuck out. There're so many rolling around down in the valley that we'll soon be right out of dinosaurs."

And so, all being well, we'll shortly cross the final frontier into the final country.

H.M. The Bike just complained about not being in the last two photos. So here's a few more.
I'd noticed recently that stuff in the right hand pannier had been warming up. Even yesterday when it was so cold I had to stop for more layers.
The pannier rests against a plumber's heat-shield mat. The combined effects of the heat from the silencer underneath, and constant rubbing vibration has caused a few holes in it, and a lot of thinning. So it's not as effective now. It looks like this:


Under the mat is a coil of rubber gas hose. This is largely unaffected.
And is pop-rivetted to the plastic side panel, as here:

(From a very early posting)

The side panel is now in a very sad state. It's taken on the shape, more-or-less, of the silencer underneath and is almost wrapped around it. A metal bracket on the silencer, designed to maintain space between silencer and panel, has melted its way through the panel.

The only thing that has withstood the heat of the silencer and the weight of the pannier is the coil of rubber gas pipe. Except there are spaces between the coils, through which the bracket on the silencer can now contact the pannier.

So I've been casting around for ideas for a solution or improvement. These panniers are one of the best bits of equipment of the whole set-up, and should last a couple of lifetimes at least if reasonably protected from the heat. They're unaffected at the moment but that won't continue much longer.
This morning I visited the supermarket here in Noordoewer. It has the sort of little hardware department that you usually see in a supermarket where the customers live over a hundred miles from the nearest town of any size. So it had a roll of rubber gas pipe at about a pound per metre. From that I made this:

With coils close enough together to give more support and protection. I hope it's as heat-resistant as the pipe it will be assisting.

It fits here:


With camera in hand, I photographed this:

The small split in front tyre from the Boshua Pass.

Small, but quite deep, I think it might go all the way through.

So no visits to the Fish River Canyon. Despite what I'd been told by at least two people, one living in Keetmanshoop, both roads there are gravel, not tarmac. I passed and checked them yesterday.

Posted by Ken Thomas at September 27, 2010 08:24 PM GMT

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