Fresh fish from the fish guy…Cooking in a new land…Sharp knives and gadgets…

Early morning cloudy view of a mountain with sun peeking through the clouds.

Yesterday morning I was up at 5:000 am busy preparing the day’s post. Our hope was to head out the door in time to make it to the Farmers Market Taranaki before all the fresh-caught fish was sold. 

The prior week, the fish guy explained we’d need to arrive by 9:00 am to ensure we’d be able to purchase fish when it often sold out in the first half-hour. Tom doesn’t care for fish unless it’s fried and thus, the purchase was exclusively for my dinner last night.

Preferring not to freeze any fish, we only purchased 500 grams, 1.1 pounds, of Red Cod, a fleshy fish cut into several boneless fillets, priced at NZ $15, US $9.72. With taco salad for Tom’s dinner for three nights, this portion would last three nights for me, which I’d use in my equivalent of a taco salad.

My salad was made with a few tablespoons of beef mince mixed with chunks of the sautéed fish added to lettuce, red peppers, avocado, celery, feta cheese, onion, tomato, lettuce, and tossed with my homemade sour cream dressing. It was delicious and I’m looking forward to tonight’s “rerun”.

As the clouds quickly moved, seconds later the view changed.

Tom’s taco salad includes the beef mince with taco seasoning (I can’t use the seasoning mix due to gluten and sugar), sliced olives, diced tomatoes, diced onions, lettuce, and grated “Tasty” cheese (NZ’s and AU’s version of cheddar). He also enjoyed his salad immensely.

Usually, when I make a meal requiring a lot of prep, chopping, and dicing, I make enough to last three nights.  In the case of the above meal, I’ll cut fresh tomatoes and lettuce each day with all other ingredients prepped on the first day. This way, I get a two-day break in spending lots of time in the kitchen. 

When we go out and about during these periods, the dinner is ready to go with only a few minutes of prep time.  My days of spending hours in the kitchen are long since passed. As for the above, when I have a good knife (which I borrowed from Trish a few days ago) I can do most of the prep in an hour with another half-hour required for cooking and seasoning all the protein.

Recently, we noticed a food processor tucked away in an upper cabinet.  I hadn’t used such a contemporary kitchen appliance in over three years. Tom pulled it out and we proceeded to hand wash every part in hot soapy water. 

Unfamiliar with all these varieties of fish, the fish guy suggested the Red Cod, which we purchased. He wrapped the fish with a small packet of ice and then in a newspaper. We placed it into our insulated bag to which we added a blue (injury type) ice pack. When we returned hours later, the fish was still ice cold.

In our old lives, I’d often use a Cuisinart food processor when I was cooking big meals when we frequently entertained. Since the onset of our travels, I’ve struggled with cooking never having access to any chopping gadgets of any type, let alone a sharp knife.

Early on in our travels, we carried a few sharp knives in our checked baggage which were later confiscated.  At that point, we decided to ask the property owners for a sharp knife or purchase one to leave behind. 

It’s the same with a cookie sheet and two 13×9 baking pans which we purchase when available leaving them behind, most often able to buy all three for under NZ $23, US $15 with the lower prices in most countries.  Purchasing these few items enables us to make meals with greater ease. 

If the pans aren’t available, we’ll purchase tin foil pans which are easily found in most countries although finding a cookie sheet is another matter (which we use to make sugar, grain, and starch-free coconut macaroons, a frequent evening snack for Tom). When unavailable, I’ll butter the bottom of a baking-sized tinfoil pan to use for baking the cookies.

This is apparently a more contemporary version of this item many of us used decades ago.

In this wonderful house in New Zealand, we’ve been thrilled to have the availability of many modern conveniences and gadgets although we’ve still purchased the three pans, none of which were available. Most tourists staying in vacation homes don’t bake, dining out for most meals. As a result property owners see little reason to include baking pans in their litany of household goods.

As a side dish to the salad, I made our usual mushroom casserole after I’d already washed and dried the food processor. Preferring not to have to wash it all again, I dug into the gadgets drawers to find this old-fashioned hand mixer. I hadn’t used one of these in years. It worked well for beating the eggs and thickened cream for this recipe.

We were thrilled to get this food processor cleaned and working.

After our delicious meal, we watched the second to last episode of Downton Abbey on my laptop. Tonight, we’ll watch the series finale. For some reason, our HDMI cord won’t work on this flat-screen TV.  All the ancillary TV equipment is synced to the satellite and we can’t find a TV remote to set up the use of the cord. Any suggestions out there to avoid un-syncing the TV setup?

After our trip to the farmers market, we explored a historic site in New Plymouth on its final day of public viewing due to the necessity of earthquake-proofing which we’ll share with photos tomorrow. Please check back! Carpe diem!

Photo from one year ago, February 1, 2016:

One year ago, I wrote: “Do I recognize this scowl, similar to Tom’s when driving in traffic?  Just kidding, honey!” For more details, please click here.

Booking new flights…We couldn’t get any closer…

In the early evening a group of the babies get together to play, running through the paddock, making us laugh over their playful antics.

There are always flights looming in the future.  As much as we’d hoped to sail our way around the world using cruise ships as a means of transportation, it just doesn’t work out that way.

As we’ve become more and more knowledgeable (Tom particularly) about the routes of cruise ships, we’ve come to accept how impossible that is to accomplish.  Were cost no object, it may be a different scenario opening up many more possibilities.

If money were entirely no object, one could easily charter ships to almost any part of the world.  Long ago, we accepted that we have limitations on what we can and can’t do based on cost and practicality, neither of which is a disappointment, just a reality.

Not only do we dislike flying for the vast inconveniences, commotion and baggage fees, we don’t get excited booking a flight as we do when booking a new location, a vacation home or a cruise. 

These two babies sat in this spot staring at us for hours, occasionally napping.

Its not the flying part we mind.  Its everything leading up to it including the laborious process of searching online to find the right flight, at the right time of day, on the right date, on the right airline, at the right place and with the right seats.

Then, there’s the challenge of deciding…do we book early (up to 330 days ahead of schedule as allowed by most airlines) or do we wait and hope for better flight options and prices further down the road?

I wish I could say we have a definitive plan for booking flights.  We don’t.  We’ll mention that we need to book a flight, discussing a possible time frame during which it needs to be done.  Then, on an unexpected day, one of us searches, discusses it and we find a suitable option, getting it booked and out of the way.

This isn’t a quick process completed in five minutes.  We’re often checking and rechecking to verify there are no errors.  We use Expedia on our website, accumulating points we’ve yet to use. 

The alpacas, young and mature all get along well and enjoy staying close to one another. With 30 in this paddock and 60 more in other paddocks, its a pleasure to see how they interact with one another.

We’ve found the jumping around to dozens of websites offering supposed better deals, only to discover that overall prices are not a whole lot different from one “supplier” to another. 

Often, blocks of flights and seats are offered by ancillary websites.  We’ve chosen not to spend hours trying to maneuver through all of these myriad options when in the end, we may pay the same price or at times, a better price.

Plus, we’ve found good customer service with Expedia when on a rare occasion we’ve encounter a booking question.  Their reps are easy to reach with quick and painless resolutions as their imminent objective.  This works for us.

Its hard to believe how these young alpacas have quickly adjusted to our presence.

The flight we needed to book (now completed) is upcoming on April 15th from Auckland, New Zealand to Sydney, Australia for our fourth visit to the beautiful harbor city. 

Again, we’ll stay overnight one night to ensure there is no risk of missing the cruise.  Staying overnight the night prior to a cruise is a maneuver we long ago decided would best avoid stress. 

If we arranged a flight on the same day as a cruise and its delayed for any reason, we’d be in big trouble.  We’ve heard stories of this occurring and don’t want any part of it. 

As always our motto comes into play as shown in the heading of our homepage. For one reason or another, we simply think of our travels in regard to our motto, “Wafting Through Our Worldwide Travels with Ease, Joy and Simplicity.”  Its from this premise that we continue on, at times spending a little more to ensure the least amount of stress and frustration.

Napping together.

Finally, we booked the flight with our favorite (to date) airline, Emirates, who’s coach seats are comparable to first class on other airlines.  It cost a little more than a few other options but its safety history, roomier seats and customer service are definitely a consideration. We could have saved a total of NZ $62, US $40 booking on another airline at a less desirable time. 

Instead, we chose our preferred choice of Emirates with which we may ultimately save the difference in baggage fees.  They don’t charge for the first bag per person (see below) and there’s no charge for carry on bags.

Here’s the flight we selected which includes a two hour time difference:

Emirates logo
3h 30m
$188.70 as of 59 minutes ago

5:55p to 7:25p 3h 30m  

Auckland (AKL) to Sydney (SYD)
Auckland Intl. (AKL) to Kingsford Smith Intl. (SYD)
Emirates 413
Economy / Coach (Q)
Airbus Industrie A380-800 Passenger
Preview availability
Bag fees
Baggage fees when purchased at the airport (Prices may be cheaper if purchased online with Emirates)
Carry on: No fee
1st checked bag: No fee up to 30 kg
2nd checked bag: No info
How to pay: Emirates
This airline doesn’t charge fees for this weight of 30 kg, 66 pound which serves us well.  We’ll only have to pay for our third smaller bag online. We’re content we’ve made the right decision in booking this flight.
The babies all hang out together running through the paddock and playing.  All of these cria were born since this past December, growing quickly.

Now, back to matters at hand.  Yesterday, Trish and Neil moved the alpacas moms and babies to the paddock in front of our deck providing us with easier viewing.  We spent most of the day watching them enjoying every moment.  No longer afraid of us, they readily approach making our experience all the more heartwarming.

Soon, we’re heading to the Farmers Market Taranaki for more eggs, fish and produce, hopefully arriving early enough to ensure these items are still available.
Have a joyful, stress free day!

Photo from one year ago today, January 31, 2015:

This was our first photo of “Birdie” whom we came to know and love.  In no time at all, he responded to his name coming when called many times each day, often bringing along his mate, another Red Cardinal with different markings and coloration.  His presence in our lives over the four months in Kauai added to our glorious experience.  For more details, please click here.

Zika Virus…A bearing on our future travels? Photos from a trip to the beach…

Many signs and names of towns are based on the indigenous inhabitants of New Zealand, the Māori whose’s language has had official language status, with the right to use it in legal settings such as in court, since the Maori Language Act 1987. There are around 70,000 native speakers of Maori out of a population of over 500,000 Māori people, with 161,000 of the country’s 4 million residents claiming conversational ability in Māori.”

The Zika virus is rapidly spreading throughout the world with the majority of cases in South America, particularly in Brazil with over one million cases and growing out of control. 

Here’s more information on the Zika virus from the US’s Center for Disease Control (CDC).

It’s easy to expect beaches throughout the world to be sandy, and pristine with blue waters.  Many beaches such as in New Zealand and Australia aren’t blue due to the interaction of light and particles present in the water. When there are mineral sediments lights from the blue spectrum are absorbed by the particles, thus the water appears to be brown.  Also, not all beaches have the soft, fine sand, we found in Belize and Hawaii.

No doubt this virus will spread to other countries in South America and throughout the world unless drastic measures are taken to control it. What those measures may be at this point are unknown and under research in many laboratories worldwide. 

Low tide is more evident on many beaches, but not all.

Will a vaccine, cure or remedy be available by 2017 when we head to South America? At this point, we have no idea, but continue to watch the news for updates. Will we change our plans to spend as much as two years in South America from 2017 to 2019?

As we’ve traveled continents, island nations, and many countries we’ve heard of a variety of viruses that may infect locals and travelers alike. We don’t take any of these illnesses lightly. That’s what precipitated our having as many as 18 vaccinations before we left the US which we’ll update as needed over time.

With many surfers attracted to this area, a lifeguard is on duty, well equipped for rescue.

However, new viruses continue to develop throughout the world and our exposure is no doubt enhanced as we traveled to potentially infected countries. We’ve already visited several of the countries on the currently “infected” list. 

Surfers awaiting an opportunity.

Now, as we’ve begun to book travel to South America, there’s no doubt we’ve given the Vika virus consideration as to the impact it may have on us visiting such countries as Brazil. 

How else might we travel the Amazon River in Brazil and eventually, the top priority on our list…the Pantanal, the most wildlife diverse wetlands areas in the world (talk about mosquitoes!). 

Pretty cloud formation on a very cloudy day.  Note distant airplane and boat in left of photo.

At this point, after considerable discussion and information gathering, we’ve decided to continue with our plans.  It’s not as if we can say, “Oh, let’s wait and go in 10 years?” In twelve years I’ll be 80 years old and Tom will be 75.  Will we have the health and stamina we now have to continue? There’s no way of knowing.

Campgrounds are located at the end of the road at Oakura Beach with an onsite office for booking space.

If we were young, putting off South America would be practical. We’re not. The clock is ticking, whether we like it or not, as it is for everyone. It just so happens we’re closer to the final hour along with all the others our age throughout the world, many of us who have “things to do” and “places to see” before it’s too late.

There are permanent and temporary sites for caravans (motorhomes) and travel trailer type homes.

Continuing with our desire of visiting each continent before it is too late, doesn’t dissipate with news of a virus that based on information to date, is not life threatening for adults who aren’t pregnant. 

If this virus was comparable to the deadly Ebola virus, we’d definitely change our plans. If at any point the virus is considered life threatening to older adults, we’ll certainly reassess our views, changing plans if necessary.

Small sleeping tent sites are available for a fee which includes multiple facilities.

For now, we trek on, with hope in our hearts for a resolution for those living in infected countries and for our ongoing safety as we continue our journey.

Have a lovely weekend.

Photos from one year ago today, January 30, 2015:

The colors in the tunnels at Tunnels Beach were varied when we visited the Napali Coast in Kauai. For more details, please click here.

Road trip…Endless array of interesting sites to see in NZ…

The grapes are robust and beautiful at the Okurukuru Taranaki Winery.

Waiting for a sunny day to get on the road was pointless. With rainy weather on the horizon, we decided to head out anyway, as soon as Isabel and Ra arrived to clean the house for the first time. They’d be fine on their own and it’s always best when we’re out of the way of the cleaners.

We were in awe of the beauty of the vines.

In a few short decades, New Zealand has gone from a practically non-existent wine status to wowing the world in international competitions on a regular basis.” For more about the growth of the New Zealand wine business, please click here.

The entrance to Okurukuru Taranaki Winery.

Without a plan in mind, we decided to drive along the ocean in a southwest direction and see what we could find. Unplanned outings have always been our favorite way to explore by driving until we feel like stopping.

We’d have preferred a sunny day for better photos.  Maybe it will be clear when we return.

Tom is the perfect driver in these scenarios anticipating when to stop for photos and offering to turn around if we quickly pass an interesting photo op. It’s almost as if I don’t even have to ask when he has a sharper eye than I as he spots interesting scenes I may have easily missed.

The Sugarloaf Islands and Paritutu Rock, located in New Plymouth can be seen at a distance from the winery.

As we made our way along the highway, our first stop proved to be much more interesting than we’d ever expected we’d encounter on an unplanned road trip. Before we headed out the door, Isabel and Ra suggested we stop and see the popular winery, Okurukuru.

We spotted several groups of tourists.

One may think visiting a winery when neither of us is wine drinkers could be pointless. Yesterday, we discovered that’s not the case at all. With a beautiful restaurant and grounds, there was plenty to see and we enjoyed every moment.

The vast ocean, the vineyards, the flowers, and the green hills create a fabulous view.

Introducing ourselves to the manager while handing him our business card, we asked permission to wander about exploring the grounds and taking photos. He welcomed our visit offering us free rein to explore at will.

Workers were preparing for an event on Saturday.

With neither of us hungry, staying for lunch wasn’t on our radar. Although, before leaving after touring the facilities and perusing their various menus, we made a dinner reservation for our upcoming wedding anniversary in March. 

We walked down several wide stairways for more views.

At this point, we’ve booked three fine dining dinner reservations; one for Valentine’s Day on February 14th (not celebrated in all countries), another for my birthday on February 20th, and now for our anniversary which is on March 7th. With the winery closed on Mondays and a wedding scheduled for the 8th, we selected March 9th for our anniversary dinner celebration.

The grounds are meticulously maintained.

Tom often jokes about all of these celebratory occasions occurring within a three-week period. A dinner out is all either of us care to do for such events when we have no inclination toward buying each other gifts with the need for wrapping paper, tape, and bows and, with no room in our luggage. 

Situated on the ocean, the winery’s scenery is all the more exquisite.

Long ago, we decided on this plan with both of us at ease with a warm hug and kiss on the special day that totally fulfills our need for acknowledgment. Our family members call, email, or send a message on Facebook when it’s our birthdays or holidays, and there again, that’s appreciated and meaningful.

Future plantings at the vineyard.

Although an enthusiastic wine drinker at a period in my life, I gave it up when I changed my way of eating almost five years ago knowing, in the long run, it wasn’t best for my health. I do miss red wine. Tom drinks wine only when it’s placed in front of him when included in a meal, never ordering a glass when dining out or at a bar.

The winery’s main building.

Neither of us had visited a winery for these reasons. Now that we have, as of yesterday’s tour, we’re convinced visiting wineries may be worthwhile for the exquisite scenery, ambiance, and meals. We’re excited to be returning in March. When we do, we’ll share photos of our multiple course meals and if Mother Nature cooperates, a sunset over the vineyards and the sea. 

Tom, at the bar and restaurant in the Okurukuru Taranaki Winery.

After we left the winery, we continued on the highway for more surprises along the road which we look forward to sharing over these next several days. Please stay tuned…

Photo from one year ago today, January 29, 2015:

Wisdom, the oldest known tagged albatross, had a chick last year at 63 years old.  This photo (not ours) was taken last year as she tended to her chick. For more photos, please click here.

Its a lot of bull…

“Ah, I’m so happy they stopped by to see us!”

There’s talk on the local news of a possible upcoming tropical cyclone. High above the town and relatively far from the ocean with the property situated in the hills, we have no concerns over flooding in this area. 

Winds, on the other hand, are another matter as well as the possibility of losing power. We’re not worrying about any of it at this point. We’ll keep our readers updated.  If at any point, we lose power and/or wifi signal, we’ll be back, with updates as soon as possible. 

Soon, two cleaners are coming to work together for an hour and a half. With as tidy as we are, the equivalent of three total hours of cleaning is all we ever need. 

“Hurry, take the darned photo already!  We can’t stand like this forever!” says the four bulls.

Sure, the cost of the two cleaners, Ra and Isabel, is somewhat of a luxury at NZ $60, US $39.14 compared to what we’ve paid in other countries. But it’s something we’d prefer to arrange when house cleaners aren’t included in the rent. Long ago in the US,  we paid almost twice this amount for one cleaner for three hours. We aren’t complaining.

Yesterday, we stopped at multiple markets, including the Kiwi Butcher, Pak & Save, New World, and Countdown (another regular grocery store) where we found everything on our list.

Pak n Save is similar to Costco or Sam’s Club in the US without a required membership. When I looked at our full “trundler” (aka grocery cart in the US or trolley in many other countries) as we approached the register, I’d expected our total bill to be NZ $196, US $300.

We always attempt to refer to items using the popularly used words.  In NZ a grocery cart is referred to as a “trundler.”

When the total was slightly under NZ $153, US $100, I was shocked, causing me to look in the cart wondering if something hadn’t been charged. In reviewing the receipt, I confirmed the total.  

With four packs of toilet paper and paper towels and, two boxes of tissue at NZ $2, US $1.30 each, locally grown organic produce priced at half as much as in the regular market, it’s no wonder our bill was reasonable. 

Once at home I was busy putting everything away for over an hour with all the veggies to wash before putting them in the fridge. As expected I found numerous insects, making me feel at ease that no pesticides had been used on the “locally grown produce.” 

He poses coyly for the camera.

In all, we spent NZ $342, US $223, but that included a trip to the local health food store spending NZ $75, US $49 for a variety of specialty items that are always more costly. Later, we realized we could have purchased many of the same or similar items at the Pak & Save at considerably lower prices. 

Next time we shop, we’ll begin the shopping at the Pak n Save, leaving any items we can’t find for the “regular” market. We expect to easily be able to continue to keep the total under NZ $306, US $200 buying all grass-fed meat, free-range chickens and organic produce. 

The above totals include two cooked free-range organic chickens, and a cooked free-range pork loin roast we’ll continue to purchase each week to cover a few dinners with the addition of a variety of homemade side dishes.  The amazing eggs from the weekly farmer’s market will be an added cost at NZ $24, US $16 which we’ll happily add to the total.

Neil explained that sheep seem less interested in humans than alpacas. Although, these two couldn’t get to the fence fast enough to see us.

In Fiji, we may have spent approximately 25% less on groceries but weren’t able to find many items readily available in NZ. It proved to us how easily we’re able to adapt without many items when other options aren’t available. When items are available we opt on the side of enhancing our dining experience by willingly paying the added costs. 

While in the Pak n Save, a lovely retiree we met, June, had asked Tom to reach a six-pack of bottled beer from a high shelf. A lengthy conversation ensued resulting in her inviting us to visit for tea and to tour her historic home located in the downtown area. 

We exchanged business cards planning to visit her and her husband Simon once the bad weather passes. In our old lives, I can’t recall ever making new friends while shopping at the market. 

“Don’t go,” he says as we begin to walk away.

The warmth and friendliness of the New Zealand people further confirm our perception that most people throughout the world are kind and welcoming to foreigners who visit their homeland.

Today’s photos of bulls are our new local animal friends who welcome us by approaching the fence each time we walk down the road which has been almost every day. That is, if one can make friends with cows and bulls based on their response to us, we have no doubt it’s entirely possible.

No doubt, we’re enjoying our bull friends and other local friends we meet along the way, human and otherwise.

Photo from one year ago today, January 28, 2015:
  It is hard to believe it was one year ago that we took this video of the albatross we followed while spending four months in Kauai. Click here for photos.

The miracle of life unfolds before our eyes…The progression of a tender event…

The mom, Gypsy Rose, had just given birth when we arrived only minutes later.As shown, she’d yet to pass the afterbirth. She didn’t seem to mind we were there.
A snow-capped mountain view with a fluffy cloud crown, an expanse of calm seas sprinkled with sunlight, or a blazing orange and pink-streaked sky at dusk, all represent jaw-dropping beauty.
Only moments after birth the cria lay in the tall grass coming to life with the aid of its mother.

We’ve captured such scenes throughout the world with my amateurish, albeit enthusiastic, photography skills leaving us reeling with joy over having fallen witness to such pristine visions of nature.

A curly-haired dark brown cria lying in the tall grass shortly after coming into the world.

But, nothing, dear readers, is capable of moving us more in our travels, stirring the deepest recesses of our hearts and minds, than the miracle of Life, in the finite proposition our higher power has made with humanity and wildlife to continue to propagate and perpetuate the species. 

The cria opens its eyes.

Last night, after dinner and dishes, as we hunkered down for a quiet evening, we heard a rambunctious knock at the door. Tom dashed to the door to find Trish excitedly explaining to “hurry and come outside.” An alpaca was about to give birth.

As the minutes passed, the baby struggled to stand.  Trish and Neil explained it’s best if they stand within 20 minutes after birth to get their “muscular neurons working.”

In my knee-length nightshirt, I ran upstairs to grab the bottle of insect repellent, a paper towel to apply the messy liquid, flying back down the steps to slip on my shoes. Tom was ready to go. Within 90 seconds we were racing out the door to the paddock closest to the access road.

With a little help from Neil, the baby stands tentatively.

Running on the gravel driveway as quickly as we could, we saw Trish and Neil attending to the mom. From the time Trish came to our door and we arrived at the scene of the birth, in a matter of two or three minutes the cria was born, lying in the tall grass where the mom had chosen to deliver.

“Hello, world!” Sitting is preferred at this point but I’ll keep trying.”

Missing the exact moment of the “plop” to the ground of the dark brown, curly-haired, disproportionately long-legged cria wasn’t disappointing when we’d arrived so quickly after the big moment as shown in today’s photos.

Mom continues to fuss over the tiny long-legged cria.

I know I said I wouldn’t focus all of our posts on the alpacas, nor will we over the long haul but for now, after here only eight days, the novelty hasn’t worn off. Then again, I doubt it will, when we never grew tired of a visiting zebra, giraffe, or warthog in South Africa or, a little red bird we aptly named “Birdie” in Kauai. 

As we watched the process of the mom tending to her baby, after having lost her first baby last year, a stillborn, we had no doubt her loving devotion would make this precious cria thrive. 

This morning, only minutes ago, mom and baby.

As we watched the seeming helpless spindly creature lying on the ground struggling to “come to life” we couldn’t imagine that in a week or two it will be running up and down the paddock with the other youngsters in the cooler evening as the sun goes down, a common occurrence we giggle over each night.

Standing to feed is a good motivator for the cria, as seen this morning.

So today, we “speak” less and “show” more with our photos which truly speak for themselves. We’re off soon to shop on a cooler, cloudy day always anxious to return “home” to see the latest “adventure of the day.”

Have a glorious day filled with Life’s wonders…

Photo from one year ago today, January 27, 2016:

New Kauai friend Richard had invited us to his and his wife Elaine’s lovely home. A retired attorney, Richard sat behind his impressive magistrate’s desk which he’d set up in his garage, giving us a feel as to how a visit to his office in St. Louis might have been. Meeting him was instrumental in our experiencing a busy social life in Kauai and in making this lifelong friend. For more details and photos of their home, please click here.

Worrisome event at the Alpaca Farm Retreat…Late posting…Too many delightful distractions…

Although a little tough to see with the long lashes, Mont Blanc has blue eyes and was the “cria’ that escaped the paddock yesterday, leaving us in quite a quandary.

As simple as farm life may seem for us casual observers for which no work on the farm is required or expected, it can have a few challenges from time to time. We’re observant guests here for three months to revel in the panoramic scenery and to be close at hand to the alpacas.

Recently moved to one of the two paddocks closest to the house the adorable alpacas are within 20 feet, 6 meters, from the house. As I sit here now, I can see them standing at the short fence. At the moment, a brown mom and brown baby are looking at me through the glass.

The mom, Gizelle, to the left in this photo is worried along with the aunties that the “cria,” Mont Blanc, had escaped the paddock by crawling under the fence.

Getting up to look outside, more often than one would imagine, we’re able to see the approximately 30 alpacas (out of 90) in this side paddock happily grazing on the thick grass, scrubs, and trees. We couldn’t enjoy this any more than we do.

They’ve become used to us now and don’t move away as we approach. This was a gradual process escalating when they were moved to this closer proximity to the house. 

Baby Mont Blanc worried while standing outside the paddock after he’d escaped under the fence. We don’t think he’ll try that again! Mom is looking on along with all the other moms and babies worried as well.

Early this morning Trish and Neil stopped by to drop off an umbrella for the outdoor table and extra linen, pick up our garbage and let us know that there are alpaca treats in a bin outdoors. Pellets? Sound familiar to our long-time readers? In checking it this morning, it wasn’t pellets but a chopped grass mix. Later, we’ll give this a try.

Although at this point we may not need to entice the alpacas with food when they already seem interested and curious about us. Especially…after yesterday’s unusual event (unusual to us, in any case).

After uploading the post, I couldn’t get outside quickly enough to spend time with them. Tom was wrapped up in the NFL football games which were broadcast live on ESPN at 9:00 am Monday (Sunday afternoon in the US). 

He darted about our patio trying to find a way back inside. the paddock.

As soon as I headed out the door, I spotted a new baby, born less than a week ago, had escaped the paddock by crawling under a wire mesh area of the paddock closest to the house. The baby was running back and forth along the fence line crying in a sound I’d never heard before, as the mother stood helplessly behind the paddock also crying her heart out.

My first instinct was to help. What could I do? The babies are sensitive and emotional. Would lifting it up over the fence be too stressful? Would handling it be detrimental to its relationship with its mother?  I just didn’t know enough to make a good decision.
Tom came running outside as I called out. He’d been wrapped up in the football and although sympathetic he wasn’t particularly interested in getting involved in finding a solution. I was on my own.
I’d hoped the baby would see where it had escaped but good grief, its only a week old today. Could an animal of such a young age be resourceful enough to figure this out? The mom and baby continued to race back and forth along the fence line crying and trying to figure out a solution.
Mom is on the other side of the fence hoping Tom will lift the baby over the fence.  Uncertain as to what to do and concerned over a possible injury, we decided to try to find an alternative plan.

No matter how hard I looked I couldn’t find a way to get the baby back inside the paddock. Everything was entirely secure with no unlocked gate or access point anywhere. Plus, there’s an electric fence in areas that Trish explained may be turned on from time to time. Was it on or off?  How would I check without getting shocked?

I’m fairly resourceful. I knew the backup plan would be to call Trish on the number she’d provided (using Skype). She and Neil both work in town. I didn’t want to disturb them requiring a 45 minute round trip drive if the baby found its way back inside while they were on their way. 

The mom was looking at me as if to ask for help. The other moms also cried out loudly along with the mom and baby. They were all obviously distressed. To see the love and concern of these long-necked somewhat odd-looking animals was heartwarming reminded me of the love the warthogs moms expressed for their young.   

Another week-old baby worried about Mont Blanc when he couldn’t get back inside the paddock.

The baby, although shy, approached me several times as if it too knew I could do something. At halftime, Tom came outdoors to see what he could do. Immediately, he noticed the escaped baby was in fact the one the owners had told us has blue eyes, an oddity in alpacas. Looking more carefully, we confirmed it. Its pale blue eyes looked into our faces asking for help.

Short of trying to corner the baby and pick it up placing it back over the fence there were no other options. Lifting an alpaca may be dangerous when on occasion they’re known to bite with their sharp teeth and  also have very sharp hooves. (Neil had mentioned he’d recently been bitten by one of the alpacas).

The moment they were reunited, hard to see but heartwarming.

There was no way we’d risk an injury as opposed to making a phone call. After about an hour with no remedy in sight, I called Trish. I sighed with relief when she explained they were both already on their way home to check on the farm and would soon arrive.

I was relieved and waited outside keeping a close eye on the whereabouts of the baby in fear it could run off to be gone forever. The mom ran back and forth about the paddock, crying loudly while attempting to stay focused on the baby as well.

While the others were busy dining on the green grasses, Gizelle and Mont Blanc lay together like this for hours after he was returned to the paddock.

Finally, Trish and Neil arrived and within minutes, together they lifted the baby over the fence while we watched him, named Mont Blanc, practically leap through the air toward his mother, Gizelle.  Although they were hidden behind a post during the emotional reunion, I made every effort to take a photo.

Only minutes later, I captured several shots of the two of them huddled together where they stayed for hours as I often checked on their wellbeing. They seemed content and at ease to be reunited.

Hours later, when the others had wandered to another paddock where they sleep at night, Gizelle and Mont Blanc remained close to one another. 

It was a hot day hovering around nearly 90F, 32C with high humidity. With no overhead fans, we decided to open all the doors for cross ventilation. By the end of the day, there were no less than 50 big noisy flies in the house. Before dinner, Tom swatted them with a cruise documents filled envelope killing all of them on the glass of the windows and doors.

While he did the dishes, I scrapped the fly guts off the windows and doors, spraying with window cleaner and picking up the dead flies from the slider grooves below,  gagging all the while. 

Another mom kissing her baby.

Afterward, we both agreed that leaving the doors open all day wasn’t a good option. We’d bring down the bedroom table fan for use during hot days, only opening the doors for a few minutes on windy days to cool down the inside air which always seems hotter than outside. After all, it’s midsummer here now and New Zealand isn’t exempt from high temps and humidity.

After hanging clothes on the line this morning, many of the alpacas approached me, now realizing that we mean no harm and that they and their babies are safe in our presence. Baby Mont Blanc approached me as did mom Gizelle, making eye contact with that adorable little smirk they appear to have on their funny little faces. Gee…

Photo from one year ago today, January 26, 2015:

Cloudy skies are not unusual in Kauai, known as the “garden island” where it can rain daily, clearing later. This view was from our veranda.  For more details, please click here.

Farmers Market Taranaki…a Sunday only visit…Eggs and other great things…

The tiny free-range eggs we purchased at the grocery store the day we arrived compared to the eggs we purchased at the Farmers Market Taranaki on Sunday. This morning, during the football game I made Tom nitrate-free local bacon and three of these jumbo eggs, scrambled with cheddar cheese (referred to as non-processed Tasty cheese in both AU and NZ).

We’d heard and read in a local paper that there’s a farmers market downtown on Sundays only from 9 am to noon. Busy posting each morning we weren’t certain we’d get done in time to visit.

However, after wakening very early yesterday, we uploaded the post by 10 am and headed out the door to the Farmers Market Taranaki. By the time we made the 20-minute drive to the quaint, charming, and easy to maneuver New Plymouth downtown, we found a convenient free Sunday parking spot and walked the short distance to the market.

The eggs are so big, the crates won’t close.  We’ll save the crates to return them to the farmer next week.

The Farmers Market Taranaki is located on a side street closed off on Sunday mornings only, with many bordering shops open, also hoping to sell their wares. Smaller than we’d expected with no more than 20 stalls, once we started perusing the products we realized two things; one, next time we’ll arrive at 9:00 am, when by 10:30 almost all of the produce was gone; two, many of the products they offered were right on target for our goal of a healthy lifestyle.

The market was unquestionably geared to unique health-type products with our greatest find, the free-range eggs. Over the years, we’ve become discriminating when buying eggs. Here’s a chart from the US Humane Society describing the differences in purchasing eggs:

Buying eggs may be confusing, even when fully aware of the details of this chart.  We feel most at ease when buying eggs in countries where food regulations are high, such as in Australia and New Zealand or in countries where we know the eggs are organic when buying from certain local farmers recommended by the locals.

Although a lot of plants were still available, most of the produce was already sold by the time we arrived, 90 minutes after opening.  Next time, we’ll arrive at 9 am.

Is consuming regular eggs from chickens squeezed into tiny spaces, fed chemicals, injected with drugs, ultimately dangerous? We can’t imagine it’s safe to eat chemically treated caged eggs, especially when eating as many eggs a week as we often do. 

A band was playing during the farmers market.

The USDA and FDA allow “regular” eggs and other food products to be sold which is no assurance of safety in today’s world when people are becoming ill (with many deaths) from listeria, salmonella, and other life-threatening conditions from poorly managed food processing and handling. (No, I won’t get out my soapbox on this topic). 

Of course, there’s no guaranty that buying organic eggs or other foods from local farmers is entirely safe. But, the odds are greatly improved without added chemicals and drugs and, with less handling and transporting.  We’ve opted on the safer side when possible.

Tom eyeballed the bread and pastries and as usual, was able to resist.

When we discover a friendly local egg farmer at the Farmers Market Taranaki with some of the finest looking eggs we’ve seen in a while, we couldn’t resist purchasing four dozen at NZ $6, US $3.89 each, an excellent price. 

Prices are reasonable for the baked goods when based on today’s rates the NZ $1 is equivalent to US $.65.

What surprised us the most was the size of the eggs after the tiny organic eggs we purchased at the supermarket when we first arrived when no other options were available at the time. Out of the first dozen of the store-bought “organic” eggs, four or five eggs were bad. Although able to handle seeing and touching gross things in general, I cringe and almost gag when cracking open a bad egg.

The organic guy was busy consulting with a customer taking time to handle our two purchases, Himalayan salt and raw walnuts.

These free-range organic eggs from the local Carpe Diem Farms were not only huge, as shown in the above photo, compared to the supermarket eggs but they were fresh after using several when making last night’s dinner and Tom’s breakfast this morning. We never encountered a single bad egg.

Excited over the eggs, knowing we’d return for all of all future egg purchases, we continued perusing and buying more products as we walked along the two rows of vendors.

We purchased finely ground Himalayan salt for cooking and brushing teeth at NZ $10, US $6.49. I couldn’t resist a 500 gram (over one pound) bag of raw organic unsalted walnuts at NZ $30, US $19.47. Plus, we bought two bags of tomatoes, one acid-free and another bag of regular tomatoes at NZ $5, US $3.25 each which we had with our homemade Asian burgers (no buns) last night.

A variety of vegetable and fruit plants and trees were offered for sale. Its summer here (comparable to July in the northern hemisphere).  Soon, more locally grown produce will be available.

With our yellow Costco bag almost filled to the brim, we stopped at the last vendor booth to find a treat I’d never expected to find; organic, flavored without sugar, coconut butter. Samples were provided and after tasting each of the four flavors offered, we purchased three flavors; toasted coconut, chocolate, and vanilla. Its texture is comparable to eating peanut butter out of the jar. What a treat! 

It’s a rare occasion that I can have something that naturally tastes like a dessert. Last night after dinner (a rare dessert-like dish) I filled a small bowl with a square of leftover homemade sugar-free, grain-free, starch-free coconut cake, topped with this amazing coconut butter, a dollop of full fat sour cream and a handful of the raw walnuts. 

To the left are the organic acid-free tomatoes with organic regular tomatoes to the right, all priced at NZ $5, US $3.25 per batch as shown. We purchased both for comparison for future purchases. So far, the acid-free are winning at the same price.

My after-dinner treat was comparable to eating a fine dessert!  Then again, this may not appeal to everyone when my taste buds have adjusted to living without much sweetness. Most nights, I don’t eat anything after dinner.

We spent a total of NZ $110, US $71.40 at the Farmers Market Taranaki, much more than we’ve ever spent at any farmers market when in most cases we only purchase produce and eggs. Prices are often higher for organic specialty foods. Next week, we’ll make a point of arriving by 9:00 am to ensure we can buy the fresh fish (our favorites were gone) and produce which was cleaned out by the time we arrived (except for the tomatoes).

These jars of coconut butter, priced at NZ $12, US $7.79 each, are delicious, low carb, gluten-free, sugar-free, and starch-free with a texture similar to peanut butter. The Himalayan salt was NZ $10, US $6.49. The organic raw walnuts were NZ $30, US $19.47.

This isn’t a poor area by any means. Whereby in Fiji, the local farmers, desperate to earn a meager living, worked the farmer’s markets almost daily selling their products at very low prices. Most of the produce in the grocery stores is organic but prices are considerably higher, which we expected. 

With the help of the staff in the produce department, we’ve been able to determine which veggies to buy that are provided by larger local farms that don’t use pesticides/herbicides on their crops. We do the best we can, based on what is offered locally.

Four baby alpacas hanging out together close to our driveway, all born in the past week.

Tom’s busy watching NFL football which started at 9:00 am today. I’ll be busy making dinner and taking photos today. Last night, Trish and Neil moved the alpacas to our side yard to give the other paddock rest for a week.  Now, these adorable creatures are visible from where I’m sitting now only a few feet outside the sliding door to the wraparound veranda. Wow!

To all of you in the US have a great football day and to those in the rest of the world, enjoy your other forms of football (footy in Australia) which are equally popular if not more.

Photo from one year ago today, January 24, 2015:

One year ago, we were thrilled when we began to experience a social life, many thanks to our new friend Richard whom we’d met at the golf club. Here’s a view while crossing a bridge on our way to Hanalei Bay for more exquisite scenery in Kauai. For more details please click here.

A walk on the road like none other…Well, almost…A story of new life…More meaningful friend/reader comments…

The pregnant alpaca with this adorable unusual white marking on her face, the day prior to giving birth.

The only other country where a walk in the neighborhood bestowed such magical wonders upon us was in South Africa, when on one of our first walks we encountered “Clive,” the ostrich who later proved to be “Clove” when she had chicks after we’d left. Here’s the link for that post and the photo below:

 We couldn’t have been more thrilled to see this site on our first walk in the neighborhood. Click here for that post. Click here to see the photos of Clive/Clove in front of our house a month later when she made a personal visit.

After that experience never made an assumption that a walk in the neighborhood would make us smile to the point of returning home with a glow far beyond the benefit of the much-needed exercise. 

Tom is still at a loss as to why he’s “walking” in retirement, but one can hardly travel the world and not walk on a consistent basis. He always says with a grin from ear to ear, “I never imagined walking much in retirement, other than from the sofa to the cupboard for more candy.” Ha!  Look at him now!  I’m impressed to say to least!
The next day, the “cria” was born. (A cria (pronounced /kriː.ə/) is the name for a baby camelid such as a llama, alpaca, vicuña, or guanaco. It comes from the Spanish word cría, meaning “baby)”. The baby lay listlessly on the ground for a day or two. We watched with a sense of worry, wondering if it was OK.
In this glorious area with so much to see, we can’t help but get outside many times each day, let alone jump into the car for a drive. Then again, sitting in my comfy rocking recliner as I write here today, I need only lift my head to look out the window to see alpacas on one hill and cows on another. 
The blue skies, the bordering forests, and greenery on the rolling hills take our breath away. As a load of laundry is finishing in the washer, I anticipate its completion for the pleasure of hanging it on the clothesline outdoors when the crisp clean air stimulates our senses and the views leave us reeling with an indescribable high.
The next day, we were excited to see it had picked up its head and was more lively.  Note the cute pink nose.  The mother, dark brown, had a pure white baby.

Each morning, I slather on the insect repellent with an additional reapplication six hours later, which so far has prevented me from one more sand fly bite. The original batch of bites from our first day finally subsided and I’ve learned my lesson.

We’ve also learned that we can open the screen-less heavy sliding doors for a few hours each day as long as we do it before 4:00 pm when zillions of flies will come inside. Why this time of day? We haven’t figured that out yet.
Soon, the cria was on its feet walking about the paddock checking out the other pregnant moms and other crias.

Anyway, back to the walks. We’ve found ourselves walking to the “pregnant mom’s” paddock a short distance from the house to see if any babies have been born. Trish and Neil explained they are usually born between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm, nature’s way of ensuring moms are awake and alert to care for them.

When, a few days ago, we noticed a newborn lying on the ground near the mom for hours, we were worried until finally, we saw it move. It appears this is a normal part of the process, the newborn lying on the ground for a few days until it’s strong enough to get up and walk about with its mom, nursing and beginning to interact with the others. What a joy to see!
Now, they wander about the paddock together and sometimes apart. Neil explained that at times the mothers may be less attentive than some other species.
And yesterday, on a walk slightly further down the road, we encountered a pregnant cow who saw us from a distance and ambled bulkly toward the fence to greet us appearing engaged and happy to see us. Taking photos and talking to the cow, when we began to walk away, it started mooing loudly at us. We laughed out loud, surprised the cow was so disappointed to see us go.
This pregnant cow couldn’t waddle over to the fence quickly enough when she saw us walking down the road.
The ability of animals to interact with humans never ceases to amaze us. It’s that level of communication, curiosity, and interest we show one another that makes the observation of their daily lives so fascinating to us as we travel the world.
Whether it’s an ostrich, a cow, an elephant, a lion, or a bird, they all are a part of this magical world in which we live, and blissfully, we continue to explore as we travel from country to country, from continent to continent. We are in awe and eternally grateful.
She wildly mooed at us when we began to wander away, making us laugh.
Another email comment arrived in my inbox this morning from a friend/reader, that inspires us and leaves us reeling with an appreciation for every one of YOU taking the time to read our daily posts. Here’s Thelma’s comment:
“I have been so excited for you to arrive at the Alpaca Farm. I look forward to hearing about them and New Zealand.  Since I cannot travel to all the places you have,  I love hearing about your experiences. I know you writing a blog each and every day is a lot of work. I really appreciate that you take the time to share your adventures with us.  Know that each morning in Ohio a lady is sitting at her computer with her cup of tea and sharing in your travels. Have a great day! Can’t wait till the alpacas will come up to you! Safe travels.”
Thank you, Thelma!  Thank you to all of our readers! 
 Photo from one year ago, January 24, 2015:
We walked along the pier in Hanalei Bay on a beautiful day. Tom has some nice color from being outdoors in Kauai. For more details, please click here.

Comment from a friend/reader…Love hearing from all of you!…

It had rained for the first several days since we arrived.  Yesterday, the first sunny day, we stumbled upon this view. We were both mesmerized by the beauty of Mount Taranaki.  (We’re located in the Taranaki region of New Zealand). The trek up this mountain can be dangerous, which we heard aboard the ship, as per this link.

This morning, checking my email, as I do first thing each day, reading the comments from our friends/readers, I saw that Staci wrote the following:

“What a gorgeous place! I remember when you booked this location, I couldn’t wait to see how it turned out! I can tell you all are just having an outstanding experience, and you can write about the alpacas every day for all I care! 🙂 Have a great weekend.”

At the end of yesterday’s post, I commented how we laughed over her comment about us posting excessively about the alpacas. As each day passes, I’ve come to realize how impossible it will be for me not to write about them and post photos.

After all, there are approximately 90 alpacas surroundings us along with a wide array of cows on the bordering properties. How can we avoid noticing their activities throughout the day with a perfect spot to sit in the warmth of the sun on the veranda and with huge windows and walls of glass throughout the house?

This morning’s view from the veranda of the cows on the adjacent property.  We easily hear mooing all day.  Having never lived on a farm, this is all quite a joy for both of us. 

The first thing we see each morning in the master bath’s window (instead of a mirror over the sink) is one of the many paddocks on this property with 20 alpacas huddled together to stay warm in the coolness of the morning.  They recently had been sheared for their precious fleece which is hypoallergenic.

I’d rather look at them each morning rather than myself as I start my day! (There’s another vanity area with a mirror and sink in the master bedroom that serves that purpose).

As the sun rises each day, my heart flips in my chest seeing them, closely connected for companionship, love, and warmth. They’re still shy about us but surely in time, they’ll come to know us to approach more readily.  For now, we wait patiently, keeping a distance to ensure their ease and comfort.

At some point, we’ll drive to the area of the mountain where there are beautiful lakes we’d like to see such as Lake Mangamahoe.

Over these past few days, that it’s nearly impossible for us not to address the alpacas in our posts, at least with one or two photos added to other photos for the day.  Humor me, folks.  I’m totally in love with them and Tom is a close second.  The alpacas are our new “warthogs” with whom we also fell in love in South Africa after their multiple daily visits to our veranda.

Yesterday, was a wonderfully busy day. After finishing the last of the wash while delighting in hanging the clothes outside on a breezy, sunny day, we took a drive into the town of New Plymouth to check out the ocean views and become familiar with the “downtown” area. Later, after being back home, we went back out a second time, taking more photos.

New Plymouth, with a population of over 68,000 has commercial areas reminding us more of a community area than a tourist area. None of the areas we’ve seen to date feels touristy and over-marketed. We spotted a mall but it didn’t have that “tourist attraction” kind of appearance.

As we drove to another location again we spotted Mount Taranaki as the clouds had moved from the peak.

Of course, we’ve only been here a few days and have yet to formulate any concrete observations or opinions. Although, this we know for certain…we love it here, especially out in the countryside where we’ll live for the next three months.

In only a matter of 20 minutes, we’re able to drive to town to shop for anything we could want. With 117 restaurants listed in TripAdvisor for New Plymouth, we’ll never run out of dining out options. 

The difficult part will be choosing to dine out when the robust selection of wonderful foods at the markets far exceeds anything we’ve seen in a very long time. In many ways, the options are even more abundant than what we discovered in Trinity Beach, Australia. 

Hours after being born, this baby alpaca is nursing.  Pinch me!  This is so sweet!

Then again, with Valentine’s Day, my birthday, and our wedding anniversary all upcoming in the next six weeks, we’ll certainly plan a few nights out to dine at some of the above-noted top restaurants in the area.  For now, we’ve just begun to explore the 35 acres surrounding us.  Um…heavenly!

Photo from one year ago today, January 23, 2015:

One year ago, while living in Kauai, we stumbled upon this view driving down an unexpected road.  For more details, please click here. (The same occurred yesterday when again we stumbled across the main photo view when we drove down an “unexpected road.”)