Home Again Wednesday, Mar 30 2005 

Have had trouble getting into blogger the last couple of days so hence no blogging. We have had a wonderful time with Dwight and Joanne for the last few days and also spent a couple of days with Kathie in Ladysmith on the Island…where it rained, but we did get some sunshine today. We head back to Saskatoon tomorrow and arrive in around 7:00 pm. It is hard to believe that we are finishing off our vacation already and that 5 weeks have passed since we left Saskatoon. We are tired and “heavier” with all our travelling and eating…which has been amazing and our waists are showing the results of that….

Jerry and I talked on the Ferry today about going back home and some of the stresses we are feeling. Significant changes from happened while we were away and it will be interesting to see what life looks like when we get back. I hear it was in the +s today weather wise and hopefully that will continue. Yes home soon in our own bed…twill be nice…

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Back to Vancouver Thursday, Mar 24 2005 

We are heading back to Vancouver this evening…wonderful last 4 days here…lots of time at the ocean walking the beaches…great fun with the Scotts last night going out for dinner…great way to end our journies here in NZ…we leave for the Auckland Airport at 2:00 pm and our flight leaves at 6:40 today March 25th…we arrive in Vancouver on March 25th at 6:39 pm…one minute before we left Auckland…we gain the day back we lost when coming here…trust all of you will have a blessed Easter Season! till next time…..

Coromandel Peninsula – Whitianga Sunday, Mar 20 2005 

We are at Whitianga in the Coromandel Peninsula with wonderful coves with beautiful beaches…have walked most of the day along the sand…warm weather with a warm rain…beautiful…Tamara left us yesterday and is back in Taiwan…she arrived safely…it was hard saying goodbye, but we did have a wonderful 3 weeks here in beautiful New Zealand with her…we are in the homeward stretch…here until Wednesday when we head back to Taranga…we are connecting with Andrea Reimer on Wednesday evening…and then we will be leaving for Vancouver on Good Friday. We are enjoying our laid back part of this holiday…but beginning to miss home and looking forward to sleeping in our own bed soon and connecting with our family and friends. Have made some wonderful new friends here that we know will last for a long time as well…

til next time……..

Taranga, North Island Friday, Mar 18 2005 

We are back where we started when we arrived in New Zealand…back with Howard and Jen in Taranga. We connected with Cam and Tracy yesterday and watched Cam do his “mustarding” I think they call it…it where a person works with his dog by whistling and giving instructions to his dog to herd sheep up a certain set out pattern up a large hill…very interesting and very “New Zealand”…we certainly enjoyed it and had a great time with Cam and Tracy…we then drove back to Taranga in the evening.

Tamara leaves tomorrow back to Taiwan…it is hard to believe that 3 weeks has come and gone…we have had a great time and New Zealand has treated us well. We will head out to Auckland tomorrow to drop Tamara off at the airport and then Jerry and I are headed to the ocean for a couple days before we head back home. We leave on Good Friday, March 25th and get home on Good Friday, March 25th…we gain the day back we lost when we came here.

We have experienced rain the last couple of days, but today was absolutely beautiful so Howard and Jen took us to the ocean on their boat and we had a picnic on the beach…absolutely out of this world…you wear lots of sun screen here as the sun is very hot and one burns very quickly.

I feel totally cut off from the world I know…I do believe that the longer one stays away the easier it is for people to forget about who you are and what you are doing….I guess that is just life…Tamara would love to move here so who knows what will happen in the future. We certainly have met some wonderful people on this side of the world as well.

’til next time……..

Kaikoura, South Island Tuesday, Mar 15 2005 

We are into our last day on our South Island tour…we are in Kaikoura where Jerry and Tamara are going on a dolphin swim along…I couldn’t image going on the ocean on a small boat to swim…but Jerry and Tamara are really looking forward to it…it is raining but it is a warm rain…we enjoyed our time in Dunedin…we spent time at the Larnach Castle which was very interesting…the drive there was enough to make me sick even with gravol…but the scenery is absolutely amazing here…it is hard to imagine that much beauty…changing beauty…as we have seen on the South Island…did some shopping in Dunedin and spent a couple evenings watching movies and just vegging…tired of always packing and moving.

We then drove to Christchurch and thoroughly enjoyed our time there. Their downtown is absolutely amazing with the Canterbury University and all the buildings built in the late 1800’s…very beautiful…enjoyed our tram ride around the historical part of the city…we left our lights on the car and our battery was gone…the Zealand Automobile Association recognized our CAA and were given a boost with no cost…we arrived here last evening and it seems like the rain likes to follow us…Tamara has been cold as she is used to hot weather…Jerry and I have enjoyed the temperature…warm but cool…

It is hard to believe that we are heading into finishing our 3 weeks here in NZ…the time has flown…it will be hard to say goodbye to Tamara…it has been absolutely wonderful spending time with her…some great coffees together and browsing around the different shops and historical buildings…great time together

Driving and Bridges Friday, Mar 11 2005 

Jerry is quite accustomed to driving on the left side of the road…most of the time…and is back to his fast and aggressive driving habits…he must be at the front of the line and does not like driving behind any sort of vehicle whether it be tractor, truck, camper, et al…you can tell all the north american drivers if they are turning and their windshield wipers are on and it is not raining, you know they have hit the wrong handle…very funny…we are getting used to getting into the wrong side of the car…it is hard to get accustomed to looking to the right first and then the left…we have had some hilarious experiences…roundabouts are another story and sometimes that is exactly what we do we keep going roundabout…so far we have only had one horn honked at us for cutting someone off or so we think as Cam has a “Bush” sticker on the back of his car!

Bridges are quite an experience. Many of the bridges have just one lane…signs posted say which lane has preference…so if no one is coming you just dart across the bridge before the next person on the other side comes across…if there is a tie the preferential car goes first…some bridges are so long that they have one or two passing islands in the middle of them…that becomes quite confusing especially if there are cars on the other end waiting to cross…to top it all off we encountered two one lane bridges that we shared with the train…all you need to know about this is since you are receiving this blog you know we made it across. In one location one roundabout shared that location with the train track…not only did you have to look for cars on the right you had to make sure the train wasn’t coming as well!!!

Nelson to Franz Joseph Friday, Mar 11 2005 

We left Nelson early in the morning and drove west to Westport…what a difference in terrain…we stopped at an old townsite of Lyell…and hiked to the cemetery which was a ways up the mountain…that is all that is left of the town…it came with the gold rush and eventually totally died out…setting was beautiful…ferns very subtropical…beautiful…we had lunch at Cape Fowlwind…where Nelson beaches were blue and beautiful…here the waves just crashed into the rocks and ocean spray was everywhere…the ocean was dramatic and wild and very rugged…our lunch was amazing…the cheese is absolutely wonderful here and the fish and chips are second to none. Jerry and Tamara hiked to the seal farm in the rain…Gloria waited in the car…we then drove on down the west coast to the pancake rocks…another phenomen of nature…the cliffs along the west shore are layered very much like shale is in Canada only in thicker layers…they jet out of the sea up to 8 to 10 stories and are constantly being molded by wave action…there are caves along the beach washed out by the wave action…raining as we travel but the west coast is known for its moisture.

We arrived at Franz Joseph Glacier, which is actually just a little tourist town, with no rooms booked…to make a long story short Jerry ended up getting us a room, but that is all it was…it had a bunk bed…double bed on the bottom and single bed on the top…shared bathrooms…it will be something we joke about for the next 10 years…after that experience Tamara was given the responsibility of getting us rooms for each night…the price per night just increased $40/night…but there is no doubt we have been enjoying our hotels since!!

We hiked to the Franz Joseph glacier which was absolutely incredible…we went to the base of it and it is unbelieveably huge…very crystalline blue with a myriad of spires…very dangerous but you could go ice climbing with a guide…huge glacial crevices…not for novices…the people climbing the glacier were like little specks in comparison to the glacier…the tramp was great for us as we jumped water and rocks to make our way to the base…great fun and great exercise.

Walter Peak Friday, Mar 11 2005 

We crossed Lake Wakatipu from Queenstown to Walter Peak on the original 1905 Steamer…it was a great crossing as you could watch them shovel coal in the furnace to create steam for the engines…ragtime music being played on the piano with everyone singing or were supposed to sing. Cam had arranged for his friend JT to meet us at the dock and take us out on to the range so we could see firsthand where Cam had worked…it was amazing as we learned all kinds of facts about sheep, swede, cattle from the perspective of the Station owner…he drove us all around the Station with Jerry opening and closing all the gates…the Station had 18,000 sheep and 1,000 cattle…most of the sheep were grazing at the top of the mountains…saw Walter Peak where Cam had hiked…great country…rough and for the outdoor people…the West side of the Island is rough and tough…the land is not inhabited very much and has a totally different feel to it. We met JT’s wife Sharon and his daughter Kerri…their 5 puppies which were about 5 weeks old and oh so cute. Great opportunity for us to see firsthand the workings of the land.

Queenstown Friday, Mar 11 2005 

Drove from Franz Joseph Glacier Park along a winding west coast highway with the terrain very subtropical…any side roads off the highway tunnel through the bush…it is absolutely beautiful with ferns growing right up to the roadside…the vegetation along the roadside has to be periodically cut so it doesn’t grow out to the highway…not only along the ground but up the height of the vehicles. We passed through the southern Alps just east of Haast and experienced the incredible expanse of the Haast river cascading down the mountain side over rocks as huge as 2 to 3 stories high…water rushing everywhere…it was an incredible sight…we then tramped (they used tramped instead of hiked) to the Twin Blue Pools…Gloria faced her fears and walked across a swinging bridge over the Blue River although she was reciting the 23rd Psalm all the way…and if donkey could make it across in Shrek, Gloria could do it here…Tamara made sure she had a picture of it. We again climbed high into the mountains and came to the lookout over Queenstown and area…the scene before us again was amazing…surrounded by mountains but the bottom was flat and green with all kinds of fields and pastures…incredible sight…what is so different about NZ is that as you drive through it you always move into a new terrain and it is like you are in a different country. Queenstown is a bustling Banff…construction everywhere and full of tourists…prices are rising out of sight for property…beautiful place but just good to visit.

Milford Sound-Te Anau Friday, Mar 11 2005 

Drove to Milford Sound on Friday morning…beautiful scenery around Lake Wakatipu not unlike Kamloops BC but with more vegetation…the road from Te Anau to Milford Sound was something else…it was flat for part of the way with trees on each side of the road meeting above so the sky could not be seen…the closer to Milford Sound we came the more straight and stark the mountains became…in Te Anua they get 1400 mm of rain annually…in Milford Sound which is only 110 km away get 8,000 mm of rain annually…it rains 2 out of 3 days…phenomenal drive through Homer Tunnel completed in 1950 and goes straight through the mountain…it is absolutely unbelieveable…once through the tunnel you need good brakes as it is straight down for miles…the shear magnificance of the cliffs is breathtaking…there is no picture or description that can capture the spectacularness of the creation around you…when we finally made it to the bottom with our brakes burning and stinking to high heaven…we were ready for our 2 1/2 hour excursion through the Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea. Mitre Peak rises out of the sound to a height of 6,000 feet on the opposite side there was a shear cliff of 2,000 feet with a water fall coming over which turned to mist as it never hit the side of the cliff until it hit the water…it is hard to describe what we experienced…the boat went right under a waterfall and Gloria made sure she was at the front of the boat experiencing the water coming down…amazing…I needed a shower…going out in the Tasman Sea was amazing…Gloria was glad she took her gravol as the boat rolled over the waves…we all stayed outside the whole trip even though it was cold and cloudly…it was the first time this boat had been able to go out into the sea for 2 weeks as the weather had been quite severe…the trip back up to Te Anau meant we had to climb up the long stretch we had come down on…the car worked hard…so breathtaking and steep you didn’t want to look over the edge…New Zealand does not protect the side of the road with guardrails it is all open…another great day…Gloria fighting a sore throat and a cold…otherwise doing well…not that sick that I can’t eat lots of pastry and ice cream…the ice cream in honour of Don Pogoda!!!

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