We lost a friend…Richard in Kauai…Little did we know…

Richard joined us for dinner on St. Patrick’s Day at a local restaurant.

Our hearts are heavy today. We lost a friend. Our dear friend Richard Turner, who stuck-like-glue from the moment we met him on January 24, 2015, the day we joined the Makai Country Club only days after our arrival in Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii. (Please click here for the link to the day we met Richard).

Little did we know…that meeting this special man would turn our four-month stay in Kauai into a whirlwind of an enriching and highly enjoyable social life with friendships we made for life including with him and his dear wife Elaine.

Little did we know…the friendship with Richard would be so short when yesterday, 13 months later, he passed away in his sleep, never to awaken to see the face of beloved wife Elaine and treasured cat, Daisy Mae. 

Elaine and Richard joined us for lunch at the local Westin Hotel where we languished in their company engaged in delightful conversation, as always.

He leaves in his wake a plethora of those who loved him;  family, friends and neighbors, and a world of clients with whom he diligently worked for decades as an attorney in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, all who admired his generosity of spirit and time as breathtaking in today’s hurried world. 

About eight years ago, he, Elaine, and Daisy Mae moved to Kauai to the home they’d owned for years and planned for eventual retirement. Overlooking the ocean, Richard was proud of his lovely home and shared its many treasures with us only days after we met. (Please click here for Part 1 of the tour of Elaine and Richard’s lovely home and here for Part 2 when he introduced us to the nesting Laysan Albatross in his neighborhood).

Little did we know…that meeting Richard would provide us with the pleasure we experienced from the many people we met at an endless array of parties and social events that we’d be gifted with the joy of regularly visiting the albatross and their eventual chicks, another of our favorite memories of Kauai.

Richard had finished off his garage to hold his magistrate’s desk he’d shipped from Missouri to Kauai. He was excited to share this favorite possession from his life as an attorney in Missouri.

Yesterday, I wrote the following in a Facebook comment with a photo we’d taken shortly after meeting Richard when he invited us to his home to meet Elaine: “We spent many hours together with Richard and his wife Elaine. He will be dearly missed by many who had the privilege of knowing this kind and caring ambassador of friendship and love.”

That was Richard, an ambassador of friendship and love. He had a magical way of bringing people together with a sense of pride in doing so as a parent who’d step back to watch the progression of friendships among the people he loved the most.

After we left Kauai on May 23, 2015, four months later, our hearts filled with appreciation for his love and friendship. He called us, “blue eyes and the Irishman” an endearing term that addressed every encounter and every precious email after we left. We often referred to him as “Ricky” and he never flinched. 

Tom and Richard had an instant bond, one he’ll always treasure.  They equally loved sharing their corny “guy” jokes and stories.

We never lost touch with Richard in this past year for more than a few days at a time, as he continually teased us to give up our world travels and move to Kauai to live in his neighborhood.

Little did we know…that had we ever decided to give up our continuing life of travel which began 40 months ago to live in Kauai, we’d have done so more to be close to him, Elaine, and the many people he introduced us to, than any other reason in the world.

However short our friendship, he’ll remain in our hearts forever. Rest in peace, dear friend. Little did we know…you’d leave us all so soon…

Photo from one year ago today, March 1, 2015:

With little wildlife in Kauai, other than chickens and roosters, we find ourselves more attracted to birds than we’ve been in the past.   These Zebra Doves are commonly seen in Kauai although not native to the Hawaiian Islands. Click here for more photos of Kauai.

Cyclone in Fiji…We missed it by seven weeks…

Lilies are blooming in the lily pad in the huge stone pot in the yard.

Many of our less frequent readers have written asking if we were still living in Fiji’s during the horrific Cyclone Winston on February 20th, (ironically, the day of my birthday). Having left Fiji on January 4th to fly to Sydney for our last cruise we were long gone from the islands. Thank you for all of your inquiries.

We’re grateful we left when we did, but saddened by the loss of 42 lives as recorded to date, thousands injured, and loss of homes, crops, and livelihood for many of its residents. 

We can’t possibly imagine how hard life must be for them now grieving for their lost loved ones and friends along with homes destroyed, no power and water, and, Savusavu roads to the village being completely washed out.

Had we still been living on the island of Vanua Levu high on the hills above the ocean, the house held up on stilts on the ocean view side, we can only speculate on the awful experience of living through one of the worst cyclones (referred to as a hurricane in the northern hemisphere) in recorded history. 

This streak across the sky seemed somewhat long and wide to be from a plane.

Here’s a link describing the storm in detail.

A cyclone or tropical storm is a system of winds rotating inward to an area of low atmospheric pressure with a counterclockwise (in the northern hemisphere) or clockwise southern hemisphere circulation; a depression.

As it was, there were power outages 10% of our time in Savusavu without any major storms. We can only speculate on how long the islands may be without power and public services over the next many months. I tried writing to our two past landlords on both islands, only to get the messages kicked back as “undeliverable.”

Here’s a video of some of the devastation in Savusavu, Fiji.

We spent our first three months in Vanua Levu beginning September 8, 2015, flying to Viti Levu, the main island on December 6th, living in Pacific Harbor, eventually leaving for Sydney on January 4, 2016.

View of Mount Taranaki from a walk in the neighborhood.

Five people were killed by the cyclone in Pacific Harbour, the small town where we spent our final 28 days in Fiji.

Here’s a video of some of the devastation in Pacific Harbour, Fiji. 

It’s hard for us to believe this occurred shortly after we left Fiji. In our world travels, we always run the risk of political unrest, wars, terrorist attacks, accidents, earthquakes, and destructive life-threatening weather. 

Some of our family members have expressed concern over our being exposed to such devastation to a greater degree by traveling the world. Sure, airport terminals, flights, and cruises do expose us to additional risks. 

The scenery from a recent drive.

But, as we watch the US news on a daily basis, we’re often appalled by the devastation that occurs in our native country; lives were taken by the radicals and lives taken by natural disasters. 

There’s no place in the world that is exempt from risk. We don’t take these risks lightly. As we thrive in this simple, beautiful life in seemingly innocuous New Zealand, we continually hear of more earthquakes in Christchurch, South Island, NZ.

On February 11, 2011, 80% of Christchurch and the surrounding areas were devastated by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake as described in this recent news story as more and more quakes continue to occur. As reported in the news 185 souls were lost as a result of this quake.

The flower blooming season is coming to an end.  I spotted this solitary flower yesterday on a walk in the neighborhood.

It makes no sense for us to spend our lives in fear of what “could happen.” We can only proceed with our journey with a degree of caution and alertness for our continued safety as we pray for those who suffer at the hands of humans and nature.

May the lovely people of Fiji find their way to recovery and healing with the heartfelt assistance and prayers from millions worldwide. May your lives be safe from harm.

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

There was no post on February 29, 2015, when there was no February 29th one year ago with this year as a leap year!  Back tomorrow with March 1st!

Is it true that “time flies when you’re having fun?”…Last day, new AmeriCARna photos…

Street rod. We weren’t certain as to the model or year.

When we recall living in Kauai, Hawaii a year ago at this time with yet another three months until we were scheduled to depart on the cruise from Honolulu to Sydney on May 24, 2015, it seems like years ago.

Although not an American-made car, Tom got a kick out of this Volkwagon Beetle, similar to Herbie from the movie, the Love Bug, on the street in Opunake.

Many memories of the eight months we spent on four islands in the Hawaiian archipelago remain fresh in our minds, when we consider the past nine months since leaving Hawaii, it feels as if we’ve had a wide array of experiences.

There were dozens of hot rods in the annual AmeriCARna procession.

Yesterday, Tom received an email from a friend, he’d made in Kauai, Pat from Wisconsin, with whom he’s stayed in touch via email. Pat and his wife had recently returned to Kauai for their annual vacation/holiday, sending Tom a new photo of our temporary home in Princeville during our four-month stay.

The local children got a break from school to visit the car show.

A pang of pleasant memories washed over me in seeing this photo. As long as the four months living in Kauai seemed at the time, we loved every moment, in the same manner, we’re feeling during these three months in New Zealand.

1949 Mercury as shown.
There’s no doubt that a year from now, we’ll look back at our post from these current three months on the farm in Taranaki with a similar sense of awe and appreciation over the exquisite time we experienced.
1959 Cadillac.

Yes, time does “fly when you’re having fun” as evidenced during these exceptional days and nights in New Zealand.  We always ask ourselves the question, “If we could live here long term, would this location appeal to us?”

A classic car.
1942 Ford or Mercury??? Any comments?

The answer is clear to us…we don’t want to live anywhere permanently unless it becomes absolutely necessary due to poor health which logically will occur at some point. Although, we do hope to return to a few favorites down the road for shorter periods, health providing.

Mid 60’s Cadillac.

The dream of continuing in our travels until the very last days of our lives is lofty if not impractical. What percentage of seniors in their (hopefully) 80’s and 90’s or more, continue to be able to travel on a regular basis, away from medical care and able to haul luggage, often spending hours in airports, boarding cruises, and visiting points of interest requiring hours of walking and standing?

Another classic car we weren’t able to name. 
Often we encounter seniors of advanced and varying ages using wheelchairs, walkers and rarely, if ever, hauling half of their luggage load through airports from one area to another, as we’ve often done these past years. This is a reality we must face every day in our travels as we look to the future, attempting to do so with grace and acceptance.
A ’67 Pontiac GTO, one of Tom’s favorites.
Side view of ’67 GTO.

Also, it may seem as we’ve aged as if time flies more quickly since we retired and no longer awake to an alarm clock in order to get to work on time. Perhaps the daily maintenance of our lives becomes less cumbersome as we choose to no longer spend endless hours engaged in strenuous tasks we undertook in our younger lives without giving it a thought.

’60 Cadillac convertible.

Many give this “winding down” process more credit than it deserves. Maybe the quality of our lives is extended by staying active and engaged in the many tasks and activities we enjoyed in our younger years. 

’59 Cadillac, two-door hardtop.

Is it possible if we stay active, stopping to embrace many of the most simple pleasures in life as well as the heart-pounding profound experiences we often find in front of us, that we can enhance those later years taking advantage of every seeming fast-flying moment in time? 

1933 street rod with a license plate, HER33.

We’re making every effort to capture those types of moments in our hearts and minds through preserving the fine memories in our posts and our photos living every moment in time to the fullest in the process. 

As the cars entered the venue, they were parked in neat rows.

Instead of spending a lot of time recalling past experiences as the basis of our existence, as seniors often do, we’re attempting to live in the moment as much as we possibly can and, of course, looking to the future in order to continue the process.

We wandered up and down the rows in case we missed any of the American-made vehicles.

This moment, a sunny day on the farm, I’ll soon step outdoors to perform the simplest of tasks, hanging the laundry on the clothesline, finding it to be a pure pleasure with the soft grass under my bare feet and the gentle humming sounds of the alpacas, music to my ears, as times seems to standstill.

Another street rod.

May every moment of your life stand still long enough for you to stop and embrace its magic.

Photo from one year ago today, February 28, 2015:

Spring flowers began to bloom as spring came early in Hawaii’s tropical climate one year ago. For more photos, please click here.

An unexpected AmeriCARna 2016 event in New Zealand!…A road trip like none other…Photo shocker at end of page…

This 1946 Chevy had “Tom” on the license plate.  Go figure!

When we noticed a brochure under the doormat outside the front door a week ago we decided attending this American only traveling hotrod and classic car show could be fun.

This map we keep in the car confirmed the easy route from New Plymouth to Opunake.

Although we’ve never attended any car shows in our travels, especially now that we don’t own a car, attending the AmeriCarna 2016 event in the Taranaki Region held special interest for us as Americans.  To be able to see the Kiwi’s enthusiastically waving the American flags was delightful, beyond all expectations.

The quaint town’s variety of farm and implement stores were decorated with American flags and banners.

Detailed information on the many stops the 650 classic cars make on their journey through the Taranaki Region provided many options with one in particular that appealed to us, the hour drive along the ocean to the quaint town of Opunake on the Surf Highway (SH) 45.

Before the cars arrived at the event centre some were parked along the street while owners stopped for coffee and breakfast at the various cafes.

Other options included a litany of locations where the parade would travel over the full three day event, beginning on Thursday, February 25th, ending today, February 27th with no locations more than a few hours from downtown New Plymouth.

The main street was lined with US flags and decorations.

Based on the location of the farm the most logical venue for us was the show was yesterday’s event in Opunake.  Neither of us are big on crowds and traffic, avoided when possible. Opunake provided the most suitable opportunity appealing to our preferences. 

Even the local bank got into the festivities.

The biggest and most crowded events (with all the same cars) were last night (Friday) and again today and tonight in downtown New Plymouth where the  main streets are closed for the parade and the later parking of the vehicles for viewing. 

Tom dashed across the street for this photo op.

Street vendors with fabulous smelling burgers and fried foods is a vital part of the festivities.  If we attended the evening events, we wouldn’t be able to dine when nothing would be appropriate for my way of eating.  The visit to Opunake was perfect when during the day, we easily bypassed the delicious smelling food vendors to later head home to our own tasty dinner.

As we wandered down the street we continued to be amazed by the festivities and enthusiasm of the locals.

Yesterday, in Opunake, we had the benefit of both the full parade and later the parked viewing on all of the cars which had made the drive as we had.  We left an hour earlier than the cars were due to arrive in Opunake leaving us time to visit with many owners of the shops and restaurants that lined the streets of the cozy town.

The café owner stopped to say hello as she finished decorating this mannequin.

After our tour of the town, we found a great parking spot close to the Sandford Event Centre and we were able to watch each of the cars as they arrived twice, once as they entered a nearby intersection as they headed to the event centre, again as they drove into the event centre and a third time while parked on the grounds of the event center.

The procession of car began from the highway to the event centre while we stood with the crowds at the intersection.  We started taking more photos when they were actually heading into the event centre at a much slower pace. More photos tomorrow.

Although the event in Opunake was crowded we were freely able to park, move about and be up close and personal with the cars.  It was ideal when we had to opportunity to talk to some of the car owners as they proudly displayed their own unique vehicles. 

We couldn’t have been more surprised to see this Minnesota State Trooper vehicle (we’re from Minnesota, USA) at the show especially when we didn’t see such cars from other states.  Ironic, eh?

From the AmeriCARna’s website“Americarna’s first event was in February 2007 and limited to 550 vehicles.  We wanted the event and every aspect to be about quality not quantity.  From those who attended the inaugural event, you (the public) told me we had it right.”

Tom couldn’t resist being in this photo!

As Americans, it was a special day for us, away from endless political spewing on the news and sad state of many US and world affairs.  The waving of the American flag by the joyful Kiwis, driving their American cars and having the time of their lives, made it a special day for us we’ll always remember as one many meaningful experiences we’ve had in this magical place.

More car photos with a new story will follow over the next few days. Please stop back!

CARpe diem!


Photo from one year ago today, February 27, 2015:

One year ago on a last night out of town in Kauai, a little strip of clouds added to the view of the setting sun in Poipu Beach, Kauai.  For more photos, please click here.

Alpacas mating…Video…Time consuming process…Not as simple as one may assume…

We took this video during the mating.

This morning at 9 am we’re heading an hour south for an exciting local event, returning late in the day. We’ll be back with photos over the next several days which we’re looking forward to sharing.

The males, called Machos, are kept in a separate paddock in order to maintain control over the mating process.

Today’s post prepared late yesterday and completed early this morning is a bit more rushed than usual.  Hopefully, the included video and photos speak for themselves.

We’re continually amazed by the amount of work required by Trish and Neil to manage this 100 alpaca farm, both of whom are also working away from the farm in a high level profession requiring considerable work and commitment.

The pair are placed in a smaller paddock for the purpose of mating. Notice the others looking on with considerable curiosity.

In itself, managing this farm could easily be a full-time commitment.  ]And yet, effortlessly and diligently they both spend many hours each week with nary a complaint. They love and care for these unique creatures with the utmost of love and concern.

Not only are they busy providing nutrient-rich foods a few times each day laid about the paddocks in dozens of colorful bowls as an adjunct to the hay and grass the alpacas graze, but, several entire herds in the various paddocks must be moved frequently to newly greened pastures.

The courtship is rather quick but the event can last for 45 minutes.

Moving the various herds of alpacas from one paddock to another is quite a sight to watch. The alpacas have become accustomed to this process and in their gentle ways, they respond to the carefully managed process that Trish and Neil perform with what appears to be relative ease.

We couldn’t help but laugh over the looks on the faces of the others during the mating.

For us neophytes, it looks a lot easier than it really is. Add the constant handling of baled hay as an additional food source for the alpacas, the annual shearing of all the alpacas, the attendance at alpaca shows throughout the country where they frequently win blue ribbons and awards.

Trish and Neil oversee the mating to ensure all is going well.  The Macho is wearing the harness used to bring him to the mating pen.

The record-keeping is a big part of the management of the farm with each alpaca tagged and named, as is the case for the cria shortly after birth. As much as we’re enjoying the playful entertainment by these amazing animals, we don’t take lightly the responsibility required in all of the above…including the mating process.

We don’t profess to know much about the breeding of alpaca other than the answers to questions we’ve asked of Trish and Neil as time has allowed with their busy schedules.

We were up close during this particular mating.  Others we’ve observed from a distance.

Today, we share the snippets we’ve gleaned, hoping if any of our readers have more specific questions they’ll refer online for more information with many sites providing details. Here are a few points of interest we gleaned in the process:

  • Females referred to as the “Hembra” with the male referred to as the “macho.” Males and females do not live together in the paddock and are only brought together for mating purposes.
The other hang close, so they can watch The crias were chasing one another mimicking the making behavior.
  • Hembra can be bred at one year of age and continue to breed until they are 14 to 15 years old. Machos reach maturity at 2 to 3 years of age.
  • Hembra are referred to as “induced ovulators” meaning they do not have a specific cycle. They can be mated at any time while ovulation is induced by the actions of the macho.
The female will only resist if she’s impregnated from a prior session which immediately is terminated ensuring Trish and Neil there no need to continue.
  • Gestation is approximately 11.5 (from 335 to 342 days) months. Hembra can be mated two weeks after giving birth of the “cria” of which there is only one birth per year.
  • 14 days after mating, the female is reintroduced to the male. If she is pregnant she will not sit down for the mating process. Instead, she will engage in what is referred to as the “spit off” test by kicking, running away, and spitting at the male. It’s this process that enables the farm owners to determine the Hembra is in fact pregnant until further blood tests at a later date. If the “spit off” doesn’t occur, this means the Hembra is not pregnant and she cooperates in the mating.
He was no worse for the wear after the event.

Having witnessed this entire life cycle at various stages since our arrival over one month ago we feel honored for the experience as we continue to observe this miracle of life.

He even offered a little smile for the camera.

Now, we’re off for our upcoming busy day and will return tomorrow with a new story and photos of a popular annual event in the Taranaki Region.  Have a great day!

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

One year ago, we visited Spouting Horn in Kauai where spouts in the lava formed from which the ocean spouted as the waves washed in and out to the shore. We could only imagine how majestic it would have been on a day when the waves were more aggressive. For more photos, please click here.

The photos ops never cease in New Zealand…Traveling far not always required for maximum enjoyment…

This “piece of art” in New Plymouth is playfully typical of Kiwi’s great sense of humor.

There’s no doubt if we traveled the day’s drive to reach the ferry to visit the South Island of New Zealand with a 3.5-hour ferry ride, we’d be in for a lot of surprises and amazing scenery. When we first arrived over five weeks ago, doing so had been a possibility.

We noticed ducks swimming in the waterway.

As we researched plans for the future, paying well in advance for upcoming cruises, airfare, hotels, and vacation homes, we came to the realization that the cost of traveling to the South Island didn’t fit our current budgetary guidelines.

This waterway runs through downtown New Plymouth with a small waterfall.

Having recently paid  NZ $5730, US $3800 for health insurance with a substantial tax bill upcoming on the US income tax day on April 15th, we’ve had to pick and choose what makes the most sense at this time.

As the ducks approached the waterway, they began to “go for it.”

We’re not unlike most people deciding on “vacations/holidays” as to when they make the most sense financially.  The round trip cost of the ferry to the South Island  $552, US $300. Add the cost of fuel, hotels, and meals on the road, we’d easily spend upwards of NZ $3011, US $2000 for a five-day getaway.

Even taking a minimum of five days with two full days of travel time getting to the South Island and back, leaving us only three days to travel which isn’t in essence enough time to visit the highlights.

It all happened so quickly I had no time to change the camera setting for better shots.

As always in our worldwide travels, we have to pick and choose what makes the most sense. Living entirely off our monthly income plus saving for pricey future plans such as Antarctica and South America, we aren’t able to do everything we find appealing.

We couldn’t stop laughing as we watched the ducks navigate the waterfall.

A part of the challenge for us is making all of our world travels work financially as well as encompassing our desires for vast experiences. So far, with as much world as we’ve seen to date, we’ve been confident with our decisions as to where we travel, our experiences,7 and upholding the maintenance of our carefully planned budget.

The area near the waterway.

We have no margin for unplanned/unbudgeted events, only emergencies that may arise from time to time.  Regardless of how good a “deal” we may receive on vacation home rentals, we still continue to have many other expenses in our travels. 

Calm waters out to sea in this area.

The fact that we’re always paying well in advance for future travels in large lump sums has had a bearing on what we choose to do in the interim. This strict adherence to our budget is the only way we can continue to travel the world.

In a way, it’s not unlike my strict dietary guidelines. If I didn’t follow this way of eating, always requiring a certain degree of self-control and sacrifice we wouldn’t be able to travel when I’d be subject to poor health. 

Elephant pained on side of the building in downtown New Plymouth.

It’s not a whole lot different with managing money…a certain degree of self-control and sacrifice is necessary.  Often we write that we don’t like to travel far from our current location with a substantial part of those reasons revolving around the fact that traveling costs more money. 

Paying for two places to “rest our heads” at night just doesn’t make a lot of sense to us on a regular basis, although on a rare special occasion we may choose to make an exception.

Walkway along the river in downtown New Plymouth.

As we continue to relish in every aspect of the beautiful expansive Taranaki Region, we feel comfortable being able to continually find interesting and appealing points of interest and experiences we freely embrace.

Thanks to all of our readers for sharing this continuing journey with us wherever we may be. Have a filled day engaged with the activities that work for you, for your health, well-being, and way of life.

Photo from one year ago today, February 25, 2015:

At first, the tree we saw at the Hawaii National Botanical Garden, one year ago, we thought this tree had been painted which would be ridiculous in the tropical garden. Upon closer inspection, I could hardly believe my eyes. It is a Rainbow Eucalyptus or Eucalyptus Deglupta For more photos, please click here.

Centre City Shopping Centre…Shopping in New Plymouth…

Tom, outside the shopping mall.

Visiting shopping malls throughout the world has proved rather interesting. Varying in size and appearance from tiny strip malls in Diani Beach, Kenya manned with armed military checking our driver’s vehicle for bombs and frisking us upon entering the shops, to massive luxurious indoor multi level modern malls such as in Dubai, United Arabic Emirates.

As we entered the mall, it was evident we were in a modern facility.
A nail salon, Regal Beauty Therapist.

We had few expectations for one of the two indoor malls in New Plymouth, the Centre City Shopping Centre. With the relatively small population in the area, under 80K, and the fact that this is a casual area we were surprised by the wide array of shops in the modern building. 

Serve yourself frozen yogurt with a separate unlocked display for easy access toppings.

Recently dining in two of the most “fancy” restaurants in town, like us, most were dressed in khaki pants, jeans, nice shorts, and shirts. Some women were wearing casual cotton-type skirts and casual dresses. 

Seating in the food court.

As a result of the casual nature of this area, the shops in the Centre City Shopping Centre mall located in downtown New Plymouth include many stores selling blue jeans to dressy casual, some cruise wear, mostly women’s clothing of all sizes with fewer men’s stores.

A book store.

The styles that appeal to my needs seemed few, but I had little chance to really check as we breezed through the mall. I haven’t been shopping for clothing in a large mall since our three-day trip to Boston 17 months ago, to visit family when our Atlantic crossing cruise ended. I have no idea as to current styles, colors, pant/jean designs for adult women these days.

Coffee shop with baked goods.

With limited clothing in our possession (as shown in our photos as we wear the same clothing over and over again) neutral is the best way to go. I only own two items with patterns, both of which are getting ready to toss, as they’ve worn out beyond repair.

More desserts and baked goods.

As we wandered the multiple-level mall, I checked the stores to see if there were anywhere I’d be able to find a few new items for the upcoming seven booked cruises. 

 Candy in NZ is referred to as “lollie.”  This Lollie Cake Slice looks good.

While in Hawaii, a year ago, I’d purchased a few new tops for the then-upcoming cruise from Hawaii to Sydney.  As mentioned above, a few of those items already show signs of wear and tear making them unsuitable for my taste.

A general merchandise shop.

I made an error in purchasing the remainder of the items in Hawaii that wrinkle so badly they’re unwearable unless ironed each time they’re worn. Next time I shop, I’ll choose wrinkle-free items.

Shoes in many styles.

As my eyes darted back and forth from store to store, I could tell Tom was antsy although he made every effort to allow me to peruse. There’s no way I’d be able to shop with him along, sensing how annoyed he gets in a mall.

Jeans store and chain haircutting shop Tom visited in Australia.

Thus, we decided that during our last month here, he’ll drop me off at the mall, picking me up a few hours later. The time constraint won’t bother me and hopefully, I’ll be able to find a few suitable items. 

Few men’s shops compared to women’s options.

In no time at all, I suggested we leave. We walked each of the three levels, checked out the food court, stopped in the pharmacy, looked at the “sweets” in a variety of shops as shown in photos (purchasing none) and it was time to be on our way.

Farmers is a popular larger department store.  Prices seem reasonable at most of the stores. 

Each time we’re out, when we return “home” we feel happy to have explored and happy to have embraced the way of life in our current location. New Zealand is special. The journey continues…

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

We were intrigued by the oblong shape of this palm tree trunk at Kukuiolono Park which we visited one year ago. For more details and photos, please click here.

Photos of a popular architecturally interesting Taranaki landmark…

There were numerous birds flying in the area most likely due to visitors feeding them when picnicking.

Yesterday morning, upon completion of the post, the sun was shining and we headed out to check out a few popular attractions. One of those that held particular interest to us was the Te Rewa Rewa Bridge.

The easy walkway to the Te Kewa Kewa bridge was pleasant.

From the “100% New Zealand” website, here’s their description:

Where functionality meets fine art – New Plymouth’s Te Rewa Rewa pedestrian/cycle bridge is an impressive illustration of innovative local engineering.  The tied arch bridge has a clear span of almost 70 meters and is part of the award-winning New Plymouth Coastal Walkway.

Spanning the Waiwhakaiho River, its iconic form represents the sacred relationship between the land, sea, and wind with the Ngati Tawhirikura tribe.

Te Rewa Rewa Bridge opened on June 5, 2010, as part of the extension of the Coastal Walkway, making possible a 10 kilometers off-road route for cycling, walking, running, skateboarding and rollerblading.

The bridge has quickly become a proud piece of Taranaki with a couple of international awards already to its name:

Footbridge Awards 2011 – Aesthetics Medium-Span Winner (for bridges with spans between 30 meters and 75 meters).

International Bridge Conference: Bridge Awards 2011 – Arthur G. Hayden Medal (for a single recent outstanding achievement in bridge engineering demonstrating innovation in special use bridges such as pedestrian, people-mover, or non-traditional structures).”

The unique architecturally interesting Te Kewa Kewa Bridge.

No more than 10 minutes down the highway toward town, the clouds completely covered the previously blue sky. We decided to check out the downtown mall, the modern Centre City Shopping Centre (yep, that’s the name) to kill some time hoping the skies would clear. Tomorrow, we’ll share photos of the modern mall complex.

Tom at the beginning of the bridge a short walk over the Waiwhakaiho River.

Spending a short time in the mall (Tom’s not a mall kind of guy) we headed out to The Rewa Rewa Bridge in hopes of taking some decent photos to share. The skies hadn’t cleared, but we decided to proceed with our plans.

The expanse of the Waiwhakaiho River to the sea is beautiful, most likely more so on a sunny day.

We were pleasantly surprised when we easily found the exquisite bridge built over the Waiwhakaiho River to find paved walkways, beaches, picnic areas, and fishing spots. 

The Waiwhakaiho River views with the ocean at a distance.

With the possibility of rain, it appeared few were enjoying the surroundings. With the tail end of summer in this part of the world, there have been few days where outdoor activities have attracted a lot of locals to the parks and beaches. Later, we discovered the reason why few visitors were in the water (see below).

There were bicyclists on the bridge.

We walked along some of the trails, stopping for photos finally making our way to the bridge as shown in these photos. The contemporary bridge is an obviously important work of art to the people of New Zealand that also is a well-built functional means of crossing the Waiwhakaiho River, which flows to the sea.

View from the bridge.

The activity on the bridge was busier than we’d anticipated with the few visitors seen in the area. There were walkers, runners, bicyclists, and tourists with cameras in hand. 

Many birds populate the area of the river and the Lake Rotomanu

Later, we discovered online that the sparse crowds at the Lake Rotomanu were a direct result of a recent notice of Escherichia coli or E Coli in the lake and river in this area. 

From this link“The council tested for fecal coliform, E Coli, and enterococci bacteria. Almost all samples which returned a high count were caused by birdlife such as seagulls, ducks, and pukekos.” The number of birds is evidenced in our photos which at the time, we had no idea their presence was an issue.

Warning signs are posted in the area.

We took our time in the well-planned area. New Zealand is not unlike the US and other countries with numerous lovely parks, lakes, beaches, and recreational areas, all well marked for dangers, rules, and regulations. 

More Lake Rotomanu photos will be posted another day.

The difference we find in New Zealand is their sense of humor that follows through on road signs, informational signs, news broadcasts, and any other means by which the city or country stresses a particular point to the public, often making following regulations more palatable for some visitors. We continually giggle over that sense of humor the longer we’re here.

View of the bridge from a distance.

Today, we’re staying in to catch up on laundry, visit the alpacas who are now moved to the far-from-the-house paddock for a week or so, and take the usual walk in this astoundingly wonderful neighborhood.  I’m looking forward to visiting our favorite cow.

Happy day to all!

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

One year ago, Tom and a scarecrow at the Kauai Coffee Company.  For more photos, please click here.

Using social media…Is Twitter or Instgram in our future?…New Facebook friends…Feedback, please…Horses…

These foals are hard to get close for more detailed photos when they’re very shy.

Glad we left Fiji!  Yesterday, there was a Category 5 Cyclone/Hurricane on the island where we spent our last month ending on January 4th. Our love and wishes for the safety of all our Fijian friends we left behind. According to this morning’s local news, that same cyclone may be heading our way. We’ll keep our readers updated.

Both Tom and I are Facebook users. Tom shares his opinions and humor with family, friends, and the many co-workers/friends he made over 42 years working on the railroad. Many of his friends are retired, spending a fair amount of time online, as does Tom.

For me, it’s less frequent, although I usually post a  favorite photo at least every other day. I read what my FB friends are saying, sharing and showing photos breezing through the posts in minutes. Overall, I may spend less than 20 minutes a day. Whereas Tom, a slower reader, can spend hours reading every post. We all have ways of entertaining ourselves.

This farm is close to our home in Taranaki. When we first arrived, we hadn’t seen the foal, only the two pregnant dams. Within a few days we noticed the young horses, hovering close to their mothers.  Both are still nursing.

If you’d like to friend me on Facebook, search at this time, Jessica Lyman, location, New Plymouth, New Zealand. (My location changes each time to move to a new country). There are a number of others with my name so please check the photo and location. 

As for Twitter, I’m on a fence about using it and have been so for some time. Isn’t Twitter more appropriate for younger folks who enjoy sharing their every moment or celebrities trying to build millions of followers to enhance their “brand?” 

I really don’t know what I’d say when I already spew many of my thoughts and opinions right here. It would be redundant. If we were involved in many other activities that took us to restaurants, malls, theatres, or multiple social occasions, as is the case for many active seniors, we may have more to say on Twitter.

They run together playfully as do the alpacas, especially in the evening when these photos were taken.

Instead, we do exactly what we love to do, get out to enjoy our surroundings, staying home to enjoy our surroundings, shopping and preparing our healthy delicious meals, taking endless photos in the process. These aren’t necessarily good fodder for social media.

The bottom line is a lack of desire to be online spending most of my day updating. As it is, I spend considerable time preparing these posts, managing hundreds of new photos, and joyfully responding to emails and comments from our readers. Occasionally, I check into my LinkedIn account, but spending a lot of time on that site, makes me feel as if I’m working.

Although there is a “working” element in preparing a daily blog with photos, I try to keep it within the framework of the pure pleasure it is after uploading 1300 posts. It’s hard for me to fathom, we’ve done 1300 posts. If I’d been told by an employer to deliver a post with photos 365 days a year, I’d have quit my job! The pressure would have been unbearable.

This foal has the same facial markings at it mother. Its elegant gait is amazing to see.

Posting here of my own volition, I feel energized and fresh-minded each morning as I begin. Writer’s block?  Never for more than a few minutes. When we have a TV we need only watch the news for a few minutes for a morsel of news to trigger my mind into a flurry of thoughts and ideas.

No, it’s not easy to manifest a concept for each day’s post. When we’ve been out touring, it’s easier. When we stay home at times for two or three days in a row, especially during rainy weather, we’re subject to sharing the most minute details of our daily lives, which may be of little interest to some readers.

They still stay close to their moms at this stage.

Each day I read our stats and can’t seem to find any connection between our content and the number of visits we have in any one day. I often think when I post a unique event more visitors will come although it’s not the case. There’s no rhyme or reason. In any case, we appreciate every reader that comes our way, whether it’s once, occasionally, or daily.

Please write if you feel you’d be interested in seeing us on other social media. How many respondents will be influential in our decision? I’m assuming many of our readers may be over 40 years old, people who don’t necessarily post “selfies” on a daily basis, nor would we. It will be fun to hear from YOU.

Have a beautiful day! 

Photo from one year ago today, February 22, 2015:

It is ironic that I’d planned to post photos of horses today and when I researched the year ago photo for today, this was our main photo. We took this photo on our way to Poipu Beach in Kauai while on a short holiday for my birthday. This horse seemed happy to see us as I approached the fence, giving us his version of a smile.  For more photos of that trip, please click here.

Birthday dinner in another fabulous New Plymouth, New Zealand restaurant…

View of Mount Taranaki, while on our way home last night after my birthday dinner.

Thanks to our family, friends, and readers and our thoughtful landlords, Trish and Neil, for the wonderful birthday wishes I received in the past 48 hours.  It means the world to me and I appreciate each and every acknowledgment.

Returning home last night, we found this pretty plant from Trish and Neil on the doorstep.  Wow! 

How is it possible that the relatively small city (compared to many other major cities in the world) of New Plymouth, New Zealand with a population of over 74,000 including all the farm and surrounding areas, has such great restaurants as far as we’re concerned?

Sure, we’ve only dined out twice. But, when perusing the list of 126 restaurants reviewed in the area, we see a general consensus of overall quality food even in many of the more out-of-the-way casual establishments.

A table was set for a large group at the Orangery.

Last night’s choice for my birthday dinner was The Orangery located in the Quality Hotel in downtown New Plymouth. A 20-minute drive from the farm, the scenery along the way is so breathtaking the drive is over quickly. 

The restaurant was cozy with comfortable seating and arrangements.

Nothing in the town is hard to find with the clearly marked road signs with well laid out streets. There’s a number of one-way streets. But Tom’s learned to navigate the area with ease often surprising me as to how well he’s learned his way around.

Tom was looking forward to bread!

As a passenger, I pay little attention to how we get to a specific location than the interesting scenery on our way. Last night’s drive to town was no exception. Before we leave “home” Tom takes a quick look at an online map, finds the location and without hesitation finds our destination. His innate ability to find most locations always adds to the ease of our travels. 

Wearing the same clothes as in many photos.  I’ve noticed little holes forming in this top and sadly must say goodbye soon.  Does this mean I get to buy something to replace it? Tom will cringe at the thought of going to the mall.

Of course, I’ll give him credit for having a great sense of direction when I’m totally inept in this area. I can get lost in the grocery store. It’s not that I’m not capable. It’s merely a matter of paying attention. With a short attention span, I really have to focus to find my way anywhere. 

This serving cart was rolled to our table in order for Denise to make Tom’s entrée tableside.

Luckily, as a couple, we fill in the blanks for one another even when dining out: Does he want to eat his salad or vegetables when he’s focused on the potatoes, meat, and bread?

At The Orangery last night, although we ordered different main courses, he supplemented my lack of starch, sugar, or grains by handing over his salad. As usual, with no premade salad dressings work for my way of eating when they’ve been made with soy or vegetable oil, which I don’t consume. 

Diane fired up Tom’s Steak Diane Flambé using Pernot and white wine while I took this shot. 

I usually order a cup of full-fat sour cream to which I add my liquid sweetener (which I carry in my pocket in a tiny bottle), salt, and pepper for a delicious tasting dressing I use almost every day. I’ve given up trying to find mayonnaise or salad dressing when all are made with soy, “seed” or vegetable oils, none of which I consume. 

Last night’s ordering was a little tricky when many items were made in sauces using flour, corn starch, or sugar.  After handing the food list on my phone to our conscientious server she showed it to the chef, who suggested I pick out a protein source I’d like and he’ll make it befitting the list.

Tom’s main dish included a side of mashed potatoes (not shown here) and a salad which he handed to me.

The food was wonderful, fresh, perfectly prepared, and served. Tom ordered the Steak Diane Flambé served tableside with mushrooms, garlic, onions, mashed potatoes, and a side of bread. I ordered the prawns sautéed in garlic butter, a side of avocado in place of veggie, and a mixed greens salad. Adding Tom’s salad to mine I had enough to eat between the salad, avo, and prawns.

Guess who ate this entire loaf of bread with special New Zealand butter? I tasted the delicious unsalted butter.

The biggest problem for me when dining out is the prospect of leaving hungry. Without bread, potatoes, or any starches, a portion of protein, salad and a small serving of a suitable vegetable may not be substantial enough to fill me up. 

Based on the fact I don’t eat any more often than once every 22 to 24 hours due to my commitment to a ketogenic, (LCHF – low carb, high fat, moderate protein) intermittent fasting way of eating, once I begin eating the one meal, hunger kicks in. It’s funny how that works.

My fluffy dish of sour cream and sliced avocado. Tom’s huge bowl of mashed potatoes is beside his plate.

As it turned out the meal was satisfying and I left feeling comfortable, not too full. Tom, on the other hand, was stuffed and uncomfortable. It’s funny how that works.

We had a very pleasant dinner in the lovely décor of The Orangery heading home before dark when we were able to take the above main photo of Mount Taranaki. Upon driving up to our cozy temporary New Zealand home, we noticed a beautiful flowering plant with a card from Trish and Neil wishing me a “happy kiwi birthday.” 

The combination of Tom’s salad and mine created an ample portion.

These thoughtful owners have made this experience on their alpaca farm memorable with their “over the top” consideration and kindness. We couldn’t be more grateful. When I wrote a heartfelt thank you email, I promised to diligently care for the blooming plant to ensure they can enjoy it later when we must leave it behind when we fly to Sydney on April 15th.

It was a happy birthday in many ways; hearing from loved ones, many messages by email with more wishes on Facebook than I can count. Tom’s sweet message on Facebook, a public declaration of his love, also warmed my heart. 

My prawns sautéed in butter were cooked perfectly and well seasoned.

This morning we left before 9 am to head to the Farmers Market Taranaki for eggs and produce including a trip to the grocery store. Thus, the late posting today.  When we returned “home” we spotted Miss Jessica looking our way from the paddock. Yes, it’s a good life in New Zealand…a very good life.

Photo from one year ago today, February 21, 2015:

A year ago today we headed to Waimea Canyon but the “vog” was so thick we couldn’t see a thing. For more details of our Kauai overnight road trip, please click here.