Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hobart Tasmania- Strahan Tasmania Day 13

We spent the entire morning at the Salmanca Market in Hobart. Phil and I ducked out a but to find a geocache in a lovely little park. All we bought was a ton of provisions for the trip.

Mead seller
Mead Seller
Knit Animal Caps at Salmanca Market
Picnic on the Road in Hamilton

On the road, our first stop was in the tiny town of Hamilton for gas and a picnic. Back into town for a coffee at a lovely café that had internet and when I looked up for a geocache the owner knew where it was. However, we never found it although it was just next to where we had our picnic.

The ride through the mountains was beautiful. We stopped for a look at a massive system of pipes taking water to a hydro plant and then headed toward Strahan.

Hydro Pant Pics

Our next break was in Queenstown, a depressed ex-mining town that had recently had a huge arson fire, making it even worse.

It wasn’t far down the mountain to Strahan where we checked into our very luxurious digs. We made lamb chops, salad and potatoes and drank a Lindeman’s chardonnay and a nice Tasmanian pinot noir.


See all today's pics

Friday, April 29, 2011

Clifton Springs, VIC - Hobart Tasmania Day 12

Up fairly early again to pack and head back to Melbourne for the flight to Hobart. We parked at an off sight lot next to the “World’s Largest Lolly Store”. We had tons of time at the airport and got sandwiches to take for lunch and coffee before the flight. In Hobart Phil’s bag got singled out once again (and I have not been searched once so far this trip!!!) because the search dogs smelled our sandwiches in his pack.

We got the rental car after some time and headed off despite some wrong directions to the penal colony at Port Arthur. It was a lovely ride, and we left the men off while Joy and I headed to a little nearby town for groceries. The stores were quite lacking and especially so the local liquor store, depressing in
Shopping in Tasmania
We stopped at a little state park, Stewart Bay Nature Reserve, to look for a geocache. We walked quite a ways to find a cache – I did the last rocky part alone, and was successful.

Stewarts Handle

We were nearly a half hour late picking up Phil and Barrie, but no problem since we were able to get back to the good roads to Hobart before pitch dark.

Port Arthur Prison
When we got to the hotel, The St. Ives, Michael Sims had left his business card. I texted him and Joy cooked supper – a chicken salad that was gorgeous and delicious.

Dinner at St. Ives
Michael came just as the Royal Wedding between the prince and Kate Middleton had started so we ended up sitting in Barrie and Joy’s room and chatting all evening with the festivities in the background. We learned lots about Michael’s family and his experiences both in and beyond Peekskill.
Michael Sims

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Christchurch - Clifton Springs Day 11

We got up at 3am to go to the airport. The city streets were deserted. We actually saw only one car and two fire trucks all the way to the airport! We were certainly early. We had to go around a strange way after checking in effortlessly. We had coffee and then when we finally decided to go through security the lines for passport control were quite long. Turns out it was the first day the new Christchurch international terminal had been opened. Our plane was late taking off as a result. Once on the plane, Phil discovered that he had taken Alison’s street map with him by mistake. We ate the apples and chocolate eggs that were in our packs for breakfast.

It didn’t take us long to go through passport control, but the wait was both for our luggage and huge queues to go through the agriculture inspection. Joy and Barrie were waiting for us and it was a lovely day. Back at the house we unpacked and Barrie did a wah for us. We had salmon patties for lunch and then went to the National Wool Museum in Geelong to see the Jacquard look in action. It was broken when we got there, but “Michael” worked on it and after our tour with a particularly garrulous tour guide, we got to see it go.
Jacquard Loom

Back at the house, we had a short nap and showers before going to eat at Alfio’s Italian Restaurant with the “retirees”, a group of 10 that Joy and Barrie have been eating out and tasting wines with for the last 19 years or so. I ate far too much and couldn’t get through my main which I shouldn’t have ordered!
The Retirees 2
The Retirees
Phil discovered he had lost his pajama bottoms somewhere between Christchurch and Australia – possibly when he was required to go through everything in his pack at Christchurch or his whole suitcase in Melbourne! Barrie lent him a set of bottoms for the duration. Shades of my lending Barrie my shorts in Russia to wear as a bathing suit!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Christchurch Day 10

I made eggs and toast for Phil and me for breakfast. I worked more on the blog> Julia decided to take us out touring at 10:30 and we rode about seeing some of the damage and then down to the pier at New Briton. A marvelous library lay at its feet and one walks through the library to get to the pier.
Phil and Julia at New Birghton Pier Library

The views were spectacular.
Brighton Beach

After spending some time enjoying the sounds of the surf and the view, we headed out to Scarborough at the South end of the harbour. Again massive rock slides and collapses. We had coffees at a lovely little café at the end of the beach before heading back into town. Julia let us out at the edge of North Hadley Park where we looked unsuccessfully for a cache near a hospital.

We had better luck walking further along the Avon River near the botanical gardens.
Avon Boat House

I directed us to the wrong bridge at first for finding the cache, but then succeeded. Several of the features in the park were roped off due to damage but on the whole the parks were lovely. Many of the cedars and redwoods were quite massive.
Giant Sequoia

We had coffee and shared a sandwich in the café in the garden before walking back. We had to skirt the CBD and were faced at every turn with collapsed brick walls and destruction.
Damaged Hotel Grand Chancellor CBD

We walked past Alison's office at Christchurch Polytechnic and loved the sculpture out front.

Buildings bore either green signs indicating safety, yellow signs indicating owners only could go in or red signs which indicated the building was unsafe and would have to be demolished.
CBD Red Zone

We got back to the flat just after Julia. I worked a bit more on the blog. I read my email to see that the vote against Schrum was 70 to 40 so it passed. Not good for SU. Julia and Phil went out for fish and chips and I made a salad which we ate for dinner. Phil went to bed ahead of me and I packed before going to sleep about 10:30. I woke up nearly hourly, but missed the 34 earthquake that Julia felt because she didn’t go to bed at all!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dunedin - Christchurch Day 9

Sam took his dad, John, Phil and me up to the Organ Pipes trail up Mt. Cargill where we looked for a geocache (Sam scrambled nd found it but we signed it, too) It was a very long up!

We went to lunch from there at the Otago Museum where many of the interactive displays were designed by Sam or his students. I had been there before and loved it even more this time.

We then went to the railroad station where we took the Naked Bus to Christchurch. If you book early enough the tickets are only $1 but I didn’t so they were about $20 each for a 250 mile trip! We got to see a lot of countryside. We had a bite to eat at a cafe in Temuka.

In Christchurch the center of town is in ruins, so the buses leave you off just outside the central zone. My friend Alison’s flat mate Julia met the bus and picked us up in Alison’s car to take us to their apartment. We stopped off at a super market and had a little ride around to see some of the damage. After she got us settled, Julia went to the pool to swim and we ate a bite. Just as we were eating a 4.1 after shock and another small one hit and really unnerved me. The rest of the night was uneventful, thank goodness.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Dunedin Day 8

Phil awoke with a sore throat but agreed to go for a walk with me. It was absolutely gorgeous around Sam and Lesley’s home and we tried to find two geocaches with no luck at all. But we certainly had a good time!
Sawyers Bay
When we got back, Sam, Lesley and Henry had returned from camping a Moreaki and took us to lunch at Orokonui Ecosanctuary.
Me, Phil, Henry, Sam, John and Lesley
Port Chalmers
What a fantastic place! The views were spectacular and the irony was that this massive site on top fo a mountain near Sam’s house, was the place that was having a fund raiser when I was here before and Sam and Lesley took me to the event in downtown Dunedin. Their pitch then did not do the reality justice!
Then we went to the train station where Phil and I joined an Elm Nature tour of the Otago Peninsula.
Railway Station
Although we did not get to see the albatross, we had a fabulous time seeing the rare Hooker’s Sea Lion, fur seals and golden eyed penguins really up close.
Yellow Eyed Penguin coming ashore
Hooker Seal
Hookers Sea Lions
Dunedin Rail Station
We went to dinner at a Turkish restaurant in downtown Dunedin before returning to Sawyer’s Bay.
Turkish Restaurant

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Queenstown to Dunedin via Taeri Gorge Railroad Day 7 Easter

I was up early and went to the top floor of the hotel to check email and enjoy the gorgeous view. Phil and I walked into town and found a geocache in the park and then enjoyed coffee on the waterfront before hearing back to join the tour to Dunedin via Track and Trail.
Queenstown Autumn We began in a mini bus and in Cromwell changed to a slightly larger bus with much narrower seats. Not what we expected. We traveled through a lot of wine groing country and then areas which reminded me of Wyoming before be left off in the middle of a nowhere landscape that looked like Veedawoo. There were several groups of bicyclists there also and a lonely outhouse.
Where we were left to board train
Finally the narrow gauge train the the Taiera Valley appeared and we boarded for the spectacular ride to Dunedin.

Greg Sawyer met us at the station and took us to their holiday rental house in St. Leonardis for a lovely Easter dinner with Cami, Addie and Matthew.
The Sawyer Familty
We were treated to a meal complete with hokey pokey ice cream and feijoas for dessert.
Feijoa Fruit at Cami's
They brought us to Sam and Lesley’s in Sawyers Bay where we were greeted by Sam’s dad, John who regaled us with storied of his establishing schools in Cambodia.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Queenstown Milford Sound and Return Day 6

We woke early but very refreshed and I made coffee with the filter thing I got at REI and the Starbucks I had brought. The bus for Milford Sound picked us up at the hotel – no double seats left but we ended up by sitting next to the guy from Texas we had met on the Rotorua trip.

The trip was a long one – our goal, Milford sound is probably only 50 km from here, but mountains are in the way, so we had to go 100 km south, 75 km west, then 125 km north! The ride itself was spectacular, at first along the Lake that Queenstown is on (Wakapitu), then across by Mossford (the red deer capital) and up through Te Anua which bordered a lake of the same name.

On the boat
Roadside walk

The fiord that we took a boat ride on, Milford Sound, was full of waterfalls due to the recent rain and spectacular.

Navigating near Tasman Sea
Milford Sound

Back at the hotel we rushed to the grocery for supplies and had a salad and hummus for dinner in our room.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Auckland to Queenstown Day 5

Up early to shower and pack. Alison made hot cross buns for breakfast.

They took us to the airport on the way to pick up Noah and Satine and visit Alison’s dad. I could not believe security 00 they didn’t even check our ids! We easily got a shuttle to the hotel (the Copthorne Lakefront Resort) and checked in.
We walked downtown and wandered through the shops and by the waterfront.
We walked up to the place where the gondola took off as well as the kiwi park. Instead we chose to walk through the cemetery.
Then back downtown where we got me a cap to replace the UT hat I lost; then to a grocery for wine and food except we couldn’t buy wine on Good Friday so we went back to the hotel and used the wines in the mini bar. I did a quick wash of my clothes and then to bed at an embarrassingly early hour.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Auckland Day 4 TiriTiri

Up early to go with Blair to Tiritiri Mutirangi Scientific Reserve – an hour and a half catamaran ride from Auckland Ferry Terminal to the island with a stop at Gulf Coast? Some dolphins swam along side the boat and we saw lots of blue penguins. When we docked at Gulf Harbour, we saw tons of white-faced terns.
At the reserve we were assigned a guide who was fantastic. She could identify all the plants and trees and helped us see 8 of the 12 special birds on the island on our long beautiful walk that took us from the beaches up through the forest and out to cleared land on top.


The first birds were a pair of NZ pigeons and a fantail near the potty who flew right near us. We saw incredibly old pohutokowa trees (the Christmas flower tree), a NZ bluebird, some brown quail, red crowned parakeets, lots of tuis with the white wattle, saddle backs, bell birds, whiteheads stitch birds, and at the top a welcome swallow, several takahe, English sparrows and a pokeko


I convinced Blair to take the bus back where Alison had set a beautiful table for she didn’t know how many guests. It was two – Nancy and Dave, ex-pat orchid growers who brought 3 long stems each with probably a dozen gorgeous orchids. We had a lovely meal of pork roast and winter veges (NZ spelling of veggies).