Friday, March 27, 2020

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Can You See Me?

Can you spot all five deer?

Harbingers of Spring

These tiny wildflowers are the first to come up in the springtime woods.
They are so tiny, they're easy to miss.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Home to Quarantine!

We arrived back in the USA on March 11,
just in time for the COVID19 Pandemic.

The first case of coronavirus in Indiana was on March 6, prompting the governor to declare a public health emergency.  On March 16, we had our first COVID19 death and all bars, restaurants and nightclubs were closed with the exception of take out food.  March 19 saw all schools closed, with March 20 seeing another death.  On March 23rd, a stay at home order was issued,  public gatherings were limited to 10 people or less, and non-essential businesses (beauty salons, entertainment venues, theaters) are all closed.  Many employers were encouraged to have anyone to work at home if possible.  Life as we knew it has ended.  At the end of the month, Indiana had 214 deaths and 2650 known cases of the virus.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Auckland, NZ

Our last stop in New Zealand was Auckland.

Auckland is a vibrant city and we enjoyed exploring.

We also took a ferry ride to nearby Waiheke Island, visiting wineries, olive groves and sightseeing.

We even learned how to make own flavors of gin & tonic using essential oils.

 Back in the city, we explored the fish market,

Sampled some sweets from the sweet shop

 And decided to have our last meal in New Zealand in the Sky Tower.

 It was a great way to end our trip!

We really enjoyed Australia and New Zealand.
They are clean, modern countries with warm friendly people.
Fond memories!

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Glowworms, Picnics & Peacocks

On our way to visit the national park, 
we toured a glowworm cave.

The glowworm glow due to bio luminescence to attract prey.
They like the humid climate in caves.

 No photos were allowed in the caves, but we did ride a boat through an marvel at the glowworms over our heads.

We also had lunch at a New Zealand farm
where they served us some of the best meatloaf I've ever had.
The owner had lovely gardens and look who we found in one of them!

 Stopped at another waterfall, Huka Falls.

And visited the Red Barn Experience to sample a farm-to-table meal
complete with our own self-churned butter!I think we got a pretty good taste of New Zealand!

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Tongariro National Park

Next we took an overland trip to Tongariro National Park located in the central North Island.

The park is New Zealand's oldest park 
and is recognized for its Maori culture and volcanic features.

We stayed a few nights in the quaint historic lodge at the base of Mt. Ruapehu.

We hiked with our Maori guide, Kenny who proudly showed us the park. 

This is Taranaki Falls, about 65 feet high.
We hiked about 6 miles round trip from the lodge to see this pretty falls.

This is Tawhai Falls, a much more accessible waterfall.
About a 15 minute walk from the parking lot.

 The views are spectacular.

 Did I mention volcanic features?

I really enjoyed visiting my first international national park!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Rotorua, New Zealand

Next was a steamin' hot place called Rotorua.
Its a geothermal area which we explored by bike.

Surprisingly, the geothermal area was in a park right in town.
The dangerous ares were fenced off.

 We rode our bikes all over the park and around a lake.

A bubbling mud pot

 The steamy bike trail

 The beach along the lake looked like a moonscape.

We rode past the old thermal bath house,
now converted into a museum and art gallery.

On our way back to the ship, we toured a kiwi orchard.

 The kiwi are trained to grow up these teepee cables.

Harvest season was over for now, but theses kiwi cars look kinda fun!

Monday, March 2, 2020

Wellington, New Zealand

Next we arrived at the "coolest little capital in the world", Wellington.

 Here's a view for the city rom an overlook.

 We visited the parliament precinct and saw more lovely architecture.

 This is the executive wing of parliament, known as the Beehive.

 And Wellington had some nice playgrounds for the kids in the precinct too.

We also visited the Lady Norwood Rose garden in the Botanic Garden.

That afternoon, we visited Zealandia, an urban ecosanctuary.
Its 500 acres are fully fenced, allowing only native species to inhabit the area.
20 species of native wildlife have been reintroduced while non-native species are trapped.

 This is a Korimako or Bellbird

 A kakariki or red crowned parrot

 This chicken-sized bird is Kereru or wood pigeon.

 A curious Kaka

This is a Tui, called the R2D2 bird because it sounds like the droid in Star Wars!

Can you see him?
This is a Tuatara, a descendant of the lizard-like retiles that lived here over 200 million years ago.
Tuatara means "spiny back" in Maori.
Wellington really was cool!