Heading out soon…Final expenses for New Zealand…Saying goodbye…The cycle of life on the farm..



Me and Miss Jessica.  I was flattered that Trish and Neil named this sweet girl after me.

Checking and rechecking, I confirmed our final expenses for 87 days in New Zealand.  Its important we keep accurate records for our ongoing world travels. It was a relief to see how reasonably we lived in this lovely country on this equally enchanting alpaca farm.

Then, they named a new male, Minnesota. 

When we originally booked the property, it was evident Trish and Neil gave us special pricing based on our long term stay.  Also, with the added worldwide exposure our landlords receive when we’re frequently posting links for properties in which we live, this becomes an additional factor in providing us with an excellent long term rate.

Considering the reasonable cost for fresh organic produce, grass fed meat and free range chicken and eggs, we’ve been pleasantly surprised with the cost of groceries.

One of our favorite scenery photos of the shore close to the town of New Plymouth.

Dining out was also reasonable, although we only dined out on four occasions.  Do most people dine out a lot more often than we did here on an average of once every three weeks?  We’ve been gone from the US for so long, we don’t have a clue what others may do. 

Most certainly working people purchase ready-made and carry out (takeaway)meals when busy and/or disinterested in cooking. Furthermore, most tourists dine out for most meals except perhaps one meal a day when they a kitchen or facilities in their hotel or vacation rental.

Trish and Neil’s two adorable pink cockatoos.

Then, again, we aren’t tourists.  Dining out just isn’t important to either of us, nor has it ever been.  Even when I wasn’t eating this restricted diet, we seldom dined out preferring to enjoy homemade meals and to entertain at our home. 

With these two above points in mind, most likely we spend less than most travelers would spend in this time frame.  Also, the fact that Tom seldom orders a cocktail when we do dine out (except on cruises) and the fact that I haven’t been ordering wine or a cocktail for many years, that’s another area where we’ve saved tremendous sums over these past years on the move.

This face is too cute for words.  Is she smiling?

Recently, I had some wine while here at the farm but once the two bottles we shared were gone, a red and a white, we had little interest in purchasing more.  I get drunk too quickly.  I‘d have to build up a tolerance to the alcohol in the wine.  Is that something I really want to do after my diligent efforts to improve my health?

Te Rewa Rewa Bridge in New Plymouth was quite a site to see.

As a result, we spend less in many areas, one of the reasons we’re generally able to stay within our budget each year.  Of course, the pricey Antarctica cruise is an exception we’ve chosen to make for the beginning of 2018 which we’re already considering in our future spending as we continue on.

In the photo booth at Everybody’s Theatre in Opunake.

To avoid prolonging the suspense a moment longer, here is the breakdown of our expenses in New Zealand:














































































Expense US Dollar New Zealand
Dollar
Vacation Rental  $  4,701.00  $ 6,855.00
Auto Rental & Fuel  $  1,999.00  $ 2,884.00
Airfare (arrived by ship)  $         0     $      0                              
Taxi  $         0                        $      0                              
House Cleaning  $       442.00  $     645.00
Wifi  $       528.00  $     770.00
Groceries  $    2,547.00  $  3,673.00
Dining Out  $       163.00  $      238.00
Clothing  $       263.00  $      384.00
Camera  $       404.00  $      589.00
Pharmacy/ Dental  $       564.00  $      814.00
Total  $ 11,611.00  $ 16,749.00
   
Avg Daily Cost –
87 Days
 $    133.00  $    192.00


Surprising?  Perhaps to some, perhaps not to others.  For us, we’re pleased.  We certainly got our money’s worth out of this extraordinary experience.  On numerous occasions we’ve espoused the virtues of this beautiful, perfectly built and well equipped house, let alone the magnificent surroundings, views, sounds, and smells.

A bee on a flower at the botanical garden.

Tom mentioned a few days ago that he’d hesitated over the concept of living on a farm fearing annoying biting flies and the smells one encounters in close proximity to farm animals.  Not the case here. 

Tom standing next to a Minnesota State Trooper vehicle when we were at the AmeriCarna show in Opunake.

The smells of the fresh green pastures, the clean air, the blooming flowers, plants and nature itself was almost intoxicating.  I’ll miss that. The alpacas don’t seem to have an unpleasant smell and walking through the paddocks doesn’t present any offensive aroma. 

The lily pad pool on the grounds was always blooming while we were on the farm.

The sounds?  Music to our ears.  The gentle humming sounds these precious creatures make, which we’ve been able to easily mimic to gain their attention, is unlike any sound we’ve ever heard in nature.  I’ll miss that sound.

This Optical illusion photo made us laugh when we stopped to visit the Belted Galloways.

And them?  If a person can miss a razor sharp tusked warthog in the bush, can you imagine how easy it will be to recall the joy of the tender nature of alpacas? When people heard we’d be living on an alpaca farm, they warned that they spit and could be nasty.  We never saw that, never once. 

Tom, my happy guy, when we were out to dinner on Valentine’s Day.

We laughed over their playful antics, whether young or mature and the beautiful way they so lovingly relate to one another, even when competing for a handful of special grasses or bumping into one another. 

This is perfect for “overly grumpy” days which could prove to be today on travel day.  We shall see how it goes.

In all this time, we never wrapped our arms around an alpaca other than in today’s photo of me and my namesake cria, Miss Jessica, a tribute to my love of them that Trish and Neil quickly discovered through our daily posting and stories.

Our favorite cow and her offspring separated by a fence often stood side by side.

And later, a male was named “Minnesota” which equally warmed our hearts as our home state from many moons ago.  These namesakes were a gift handed to us on a silver platter. 

This face…so precious.

And then, Mont Blanc…we never once held him in our arms or scratched his head when alpacas prefer not to be touched by humans.  But, the look in his eyes, said it all and I fell in love with him from the moment he escaped the paddock. And then, he was gone.  Tears well up in my eyes over the loss of his little life.  He tried so hard to make it.

Alpacas mating.  The male is called the “macho” and the female, the “dam.”

So now, dear readers, we carry on.  We learn, we grow, we change in the process as we acquire a new perspective of an area of life we’d never imagined or experienced before. 

Mount Blanc and his mom Giselle on the day they were reunited after he’d escaped from the paddock.

We say goodbye to this wonderful life on the alpaca farm where we saw the creation of life, the birth of the cria and the loss of little Mont Blanc.  Once again, we say hello to the world…in awe, in love and eternally grateful.  There’s so much more yet to come.

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Photo from one year ago today, April 15, 2015:

The sea across the street from our condo in Kauai always presented gorgeous views.  For more photos, please click here.

Favorite photos..Leaving for Auckland tomorrow morning at 10 am…



This cria who’s birth we were able to attend  when we first arrived on the farm was born only 30 minutes earlier. 

Normally, a five hour drive to get to an airport would be too long in our perspective.  But, New Zealand is so beautiful, we have no qualms about the long drive especially when we’re leaving early enough we won’t feel rushed. 

When we first arrived and flowers were still blooming, we particularly loved this photo of Mount Taranaki.

On this return trip to the airport in Auckland, we won’t feel compelled to stop to take photos when we’ll have completed all of our NZ photos unless, of course, we see an irresistible sight.

A one day old cria nursing.

Upon arrival in Auckland we’ll make our way to the car rental facility, drop off the vehicle taking their free shuttle to the airport.  Our flight isn’t until 5:55 pm.

Our favorite neighborhood cow who’d walked up to the fence to see us when we were on a walk.

We’ve finished most of the packing except for the clothes we’re wearing today and the few toiletries we’ll use through tomorrow morning.  Staying overnight in Sydney, we’ll both will wear the same clothes tomorrow and again on the day we board the cruise, only changing underwear. 

This photo made us laugh over and over especially with the shorter alpacas ears down and other alpaca’s ears at full attention. 

Spending two weeks on a ship with limited wardrobes along with the cost of having laundry done by the ship’s laundry service (necessary mid cruise) getting two sets of clothing dirty before we even board the cruise makes no sense.  If we spill on ourselves, we’ll haul something clean out of a suitcase.  

Grapes growing at the Okurkuru Winery which we visited on two occasions.

Once on the cruise, we have enough to wear to avoid frequent repeats. Jeans and khakis are allowed in the main dining room except on dress up nights.  Shorts and nice tee shirts are acceptable everywhere on the ship during the day.

This peculiar occurrence, never observed by Trish and Neil, had us ready to go into the paddock to help these two tangled alpacas.  The larger alpaca wasn’t too happy with this situation.  Fortunately they managed to break apart.  Once we knew they were OK, we couldn’t stop laughing. 

We weighed our bags moving items around to reduce the baggage fees we’ll pay later today for the third checked bag.  Its tricky weighing the bags on our stand-on travel scale. Tom weighs himself first and then weighs himself again holding the bag. 

We visited the Taranaki Cathedral Church of St. Mary in downtown New Plymouth on its last open day when it was closing permanently due to earthquake instability.

The only way we could weigh the bags is in the upstairs bathroom with a solid surface floor with the remaining floors carpeted.  Once Tom lifted the large bags he barely had room to stand on the scale and not bump into something. 

This photo, taken through the glass in the kitchen window, was the first of many times she peered inside watching me prepare dinner.  Love this!

It all worked out when both of our larger bags weighed under the allowance of 30 kg, 66 pounds.  The remaining third bag, based on our reshuffling everything should weigh under 20 kg, 44 pounds, resulting in fees of NZ $522, US $362.  Its frustrating to have to pay so much for the extra bag but as hard as we try we can’t dispose of one more item in our possession. 

Tom at Taylor Dental in New Plymouth on the day he had his abscessed tooth pulled, a painless and inexpensive experience at NZ $170, US $115.

Today, when all is done, including both today’s and tomorrow’s post, we’ll spend time with the alpacas, hand feeding those interested and laughing over the playful antics of the youngsters. 


There are countless creeks and streams in New Zealand.  We’d hope for sunny day photos but many times when we went out for the day it started sunny and clouded over within the first hour.

Its not easy leaving here.  We have many memories we’ll carry with us, some of which we’re sharing in today’s and tomorrow’s post as our favorite photos. Tomorrow, we’ll share the expenses for our 87 days in New Zealand.

We visited Plas Mawr, a historic architecturally interesting home by invitation of its owner June, whom we met while grocery shopping.

Unfortunately, the Internet signal here doesn’t allow posting of as many photos as we’d have preferred and, with the many photos we took while here it was difficult to pick and choose favorites.  Many others were left behind that our less frequent readers may have missed and possibly enjoyed.

When Trish and Neil went on holiday, we watched over the birth of two cria, an extraordinary experience for both of us.

Feel free to go through the archives on the right side of our daily homepage to see any posts you may have missed for this location or any other locations, all the way back to 2012 when we first began posting.  To access each year, month or day, click on the little black triangle to open that period of time.

The front dining room at the Table Restaurant where we dined on Valentine’s Day.

We’ll be back tomorrow with the final expenses and a heartfelt goodbye to this special location and superior experience.

Beautiful flowers when we visited the Pukekura Botanical Garden near the mountain.

May your day bring you a superior experience as well!

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Photo from one year ago today, April 14, 2015:

Sunset in Kauai, one year ago.  For more photos, please click here.
 

Photo of our wonderful hosts, Trish and Neil, and final alpaca faces…


Neil and Trish, our amazing hosts have made this one of our favorite world travel experiences.  For the link to this exquisite location, please click here.

Last evening, at 6:45 we drove the short distance in the dark to Trish and Neil’s home to say goodbye and spend a little time together over a glass of wine and some thoughtfully appropriate munchies befitting my diet.

Our favorite of the day!  Note the set of ears from an alpaca in the background.

Upon entering their beautiful house, we hunkered down in the cozy den on comfortable furniture with the intent of only staying a short time, knowing they had to work today and may not have had dinner after returning home from work.

This “macho” (male) was leashed for a mating ritual.  The males live separately from the females and cria.

We made a point of eating at 3 pm.  As I continue with intermittent fasting eating only once every 20 to 24 hours I knew if we stayed at their home for awhile I’d be chomping at the bit to get home to eat.  We didn’t want the need to eat to interfere with our anticipated great evening.  Nor, did we want to have a meal after returning home.

Confident youngster.

And, it was a great evening.  We didn’t leave their door until after 9:30 pm.  We had a blast.  After spending time with them shortly before they leave on a three week holiday to South Africa, we wished we’d somehow had more time to spend with them.

The face of an adoring cria as he looks up at his mom.

We joked over the fact that the only major conversations in which we’ve engaged over these past three months (besides to one another) and a few others) has been has been cooing and fussing over their over 100 alpacas.  No doubt, we “hogged” the conversation with excited banter. 

This is the face of Delilah who proved not to be pregnant after all and was mated in the past few days.

With the sadness over the recent loss of Mont Blanc, we felt especially thrilled when they told us they’ll be moving the alpacas to our backyard in the next 24 hours where they’ll stay until we depart in nine days.

Last night, Neil explained that the new set of lower teeth grow in prior to the old set falling out as shown in this photo.  This is nature’s way of ensuring the alpacas always have a set of teeth to use for grazing.  Its nature amazing?

Yesterday, I packed my clothes except for a few hanging items I’m trying to keep wrinkle free and, a load of blue jeans yet to wash.  I tossed out no less than 10 pounds of old clothing and stuff, none of which was worthy of donation. 

Having been sheared early in the spring, their fluffy fleece has begun to grow back. 

I must admit I’ve been wearing some overly worn clothing, some with holes, whenever we stay home all day.  Tom has done the same, wearing the same tee shirts over and over until they can finally be tossed.  This may have been obvious in our photos.

A mouth full of teeth and dried grass with one ear tucked back as I took this close up.

Luckily, we both have some newer items we’ve saved to wear after tossing the worn clothing.  Soon, we’ll be digging those out.  As I packed yesterday, I was pleased to see I’d have plenty of newer items to wear as we continue on, all of which fit into a single suitcase.  That fact alone continues to amaze me.

Funny face!

Today, we received some exciting news for future bookings we look forward to sharing in the next few posts.  We prefer to wait to post information about future bookings until we have the “paperwork in hand” (figuratively speaking, since its always online).

A peaceful expression with almost a smile.

Soon, we’re heading to town to grocery shop, visit the pharmacy for a final stop, and purchase a new SIM card for our NZ device. Once back home we’ll begin entering the newest bookings on the spreadsheet.




A bad hair day and missing tooth while a cria looks on wondering what we’re doing.
May you receive exciting news today whether its a friend stopping by for a cup of coffee or tea or an event you’ve longed to experience.
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Photo from one year ago today, April 6, 2015:

A year ago today in Kauai, we posted this orchid photo. Many flowers continue to bloom throughout the year in Hawaii’s tropical climate.  For more photos, please click here.
 

Part 2…Taranaki Pioneer Village…New video…Farm life coming to a close…

 Check out our video from the Taranaki Pioneer Village!

Its funny how when we love where we’re living, the final weeks seem to pass quickly.  Isn’t that how life is anyway?  As they say, “time flies when you’re having fun!”

The 10 acre grounds at the Taranaki Pioneer Village has much to offer.

Its been a great three months here in New Plymouth in the Taranaki Region of New Zealand, as our regular readers have read over and over again.  We couldn’t rave about this farm and location enough. 

For typical travelers on a one or two week holiday/vacation this lifestyle may be a little too slow and laid back.  Although, this area, this island, this country has plenty to do for the most enthusiastic traveler if they have a rental car, time and interest in getting on the road. 

Footbridge over the lake with many ducks below.

Many have commented how we’re missing out not living on the South Island but for us, the cost for a long term rental was prohibitive.  Plus, we found this area so beautiful and rewarding, we could hardly have expected or wanted more. 

As we began the walk on the paths chickens and roosters started following us, certainly used to being fed by tourists.

It isn’t always about the “very best” location.  Affordability and our interests prevail in most of our decisions.  On occasion, we may falter in these priorities and when we do, we accept the inevitable…that perhaps we didn’t make the best decision at the time we booked the vacation home, cruise or location in general.

Instead of berating ourselves for making occasional decisions for less than ideal situations, we prefer to adapt to the environment as well as we can and strive to embrace the aspects we may find appealing and engaging.  Attitude is everything in this lifestyle and in any lifestyle for that matter. 

Tom also got a kick out of how many chickens and roosters began to follow us.

We always remind ourselves that if we have our health and our loved ones are healthy and doing well, there’s little room for complaint.  Yes, in some locations there may have been bugs in the bed (not here), flies buzzing around our heads, “mozzies” dining on our blood, unbearable heat without AC and limited amenities and food options.

The chickens and roosters joined us when we stopped to visit the sheep who were also baahing and begging for food.  I’d seen pellets for sale in the visitors center but didn’t think of buying any. At that point we were too far away to go back to buy a bag.

From early on in our travels, we discovered that complaining wasn’t productive.  Solving problems to the best of our abilities is productive and even then, when we get a “no, it can’t be done” we press and then press again, always attempting to keep kindness and diplomacy in mind.

The two sheep didn’t take their eyes off of us as they made lots of noise.

What may seem difficult for us may be a “normal” way of life for others.  Its through living with some of those same challenges that we learn and grow.  Ultimately, isn’t that what we wanted to accomplish in our travels…experience life in a manner we never knew in our old lives?

We felt like the Pied Piper as they continued with us on the tour.

In this beautiful region, in this ideal home, living on these breathtaking 35 acres with nature surrounding us, we’ve experienced no hardships; not the flies that entered the house when we had no choice but to leave the screen-less doors open on warm days; not the sand fleas that required my constant use of toxic repellent (when “natural” didn’t work); not the bugs in the bedroom at night when the metal roof made the upper level bedroom so hot we had to open the windows. 

We stopped to see these horses but they had no interest in us.

None of this mattered to us.  We adapted.  We purchased a fly swatter and used it to kill dozens of flies before sitting down to a meal, closing all the doors and windows so we could dine in peace without flies landing on our food. 

A chicken with fluffy feet.

As I scurried about the well-equipped kitchen each day with the final touches for the upcoming meal, Tom killed flies. He quickly learned to “swipe” as opposed to “splat” to ensure no fly guts remained on the windows, walls, furniture and cabinets. 

We stopped to sit on a park bench to enjoy the scenery while the chickens waited for us to continue on.

The rest?  It’s been so easy, so pleasant and so rewarding.  And now, with packing on the horizon we’ve accept one more reality…we are leaving in 11 days, heading to Auckland (a five hour drive) for a three plus hour flight to Sydney where we’ll spend one night, boarding a cruise the next day.

This rooster followed us during our entire walk through the grounds, up until we entered the visitors center at the end of our tour.

Its all good.  We’re grateful for the experience and we’ll be ready to move along when the time comes.

May you find experiences that find you grateful, whether its in living a simple daily life, not unlike ours, or a day filled with excitement and adventure.  Be well.

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Photo from one year ago today, April 4, 2015:

In Kauai, one year ago, we speculated based on appearance, that there’s some sort of permanent pouch beneath the shedding skin of this Green Anole.  For more Kauai 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 a 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, its 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 cria 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.  Its 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!

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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.

A birthday gift like none other!!…Alert!…Graphic birthing photos!

There I am with my namesake, Miss Jessica, when she’s only a week old.

For those on the other side of the International Dateline its currently February 19th.  For us here in the South Pacific its February 20th, the date of my actual birthday.  As a result, we’re celebrating today.

We didn’t have to physically assist in the birth, although we were prepared to do so just in case.  Another pregnant mom observed the miracle of life. 

Oh, gee, what’s to celebrate about turning another page on the old age calendar other than one simple fact…it one more blessed day of life, the greatest gift of all.  For this I’m eternally grateful whether its my birthday or not.

Mom, while in labor, moved about the paddock for the perfect birthing spot.

In our old lives we had certain expectations on our birthdays. A bit of fanfare was definitely in order when both Tom and I, family, friends and co-workers made every effort to make us feel loved and acknowledged on our birthdays. 

Now, my fourth birthday since leaving the US, its an entirely different scenario; no printed birthday cards, no balloons, no banners, no gifts, no cake (which I can’t eat anyway) and no “surprise” party (or any party for that matter).  (Although my new girlfriends in South Africa went over the top to make it special in 2014).


The exact moment when the cria gently hit the ground.  The dark spot on mom’s side is dirt, not a permanent mark on her coat.  These alpacas are sheared once a year.  With enough rain, she’ll clean off soon.  Alpacas love to roll around in the dirt.

Now, a phone call on Skype, an acknowledgement in Facebook or an email makes my heart sing with appreciation as if unwrapping the finest of gifts.  Who needs gifts when everyday is a gift of life?

Within 25 minutes after birth, Miss Jessica struggled to stand.

This morning immediately upon awakening Tom wished me “happy birthday” with a kiss and that’s all I need or want.  Throughout the day, I have no doubt he’ll continue to make me feel special.  Then again, each day with Tom makes me feel special.

Almost standing.

Tonight we’re heading out to dinner at another well-reviewed restaurant in New Plymouth, leaving early to meander about the town on late Saturday afternoon if its not raining.  But, even this is unnecessary.  A fine dinner at home and a good movie is a great way to spend an evening, any evening, including my birthday. 

Her collar is pink partly not visible due to the dense coat.

I guess my age as of today is also not a big deal.  I have no qualms about sharing the news that its my 68th year of life as of today.  For this, I’m less frustrated and more grateful.  I never expected to spend these later years of life, living this glorious life in good health with my wonderful husband, lover, friend and travel mate. 

Miss Jessica hovers close to mom and aunties except when playing with the other youngsters.  She’s already playfully running through the paddock with the others, especially in the late afternoon, typical for cria.

Although, I must admit, I did receive a special birthday week gift, one I never expected and couldn’t appreciate and enjoy more…Trish and Neil,  the thoughtful owners of our house here in the Taranaki countryside, named the baby alpaca after me, “Miss Jessica” after we’d overseen her birth while they were away.

I couldn’t have been more flattered and appreciative.  For me, this simple act of kindness meant the world. On the first sunny day after the good news this week, we dashed over to the side paddock to take photos of “Miss Jessica.”

Their adorable pink lips and noses turn dark as they mature.

The 35 or so alpacas we’ve been observing and interacting with were moved from the paddock nearest the house to allow the grass to generate.  We’ve missed their close proximity but surely they’ll return to this area someday soon.  For now, we need only walk down the driveway to see them.

Trish was outside when we arrived to take the photos, busy setting out the few dozen colorful bowls filled with nutritional pellets used to keep the alpacas healthy in addition to their constant grazing.  She helped us with Miss Jessica so we could take these photos.  Also, included today are a few new photos of her birth a week ago that we hadn’t posted previously.

Alpacas have long eyelashes as shown here on Miss Jessica. 

We hope you enjoy these photos of this special gift as much as we enjoy sharing them with all of our readers, which…having you beside us as we continue on our journey is truly a gift we both treasure each and every day!

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Photo from one year ago today, February 20, 2015:

The Queen’s Bath from the last point until descending into the water. With the number of fatalities occurring as a result of  swimming in this area, we opted to stay on the land.  The hike was treacherous enough for us.  For more details, please click here.

Carving out time for other things? Should we be doing more?

Traditional Maori meeting house near the Oakura Beach.  Visit this site for more information.

In speaking on Skype with my sister Julie yesterday, an avid reader of our site, she asked, “When are you guys going to travel the country and visit some other gorgeous areas?  Don’t your readers want to see you traveling?”


My answer to my sister allowed me to say aloud something we’ve both thought and spoken only to one another and now to all of you.  We love sharing our story, our story of living in different locations all over the world embracing our surroundings and learning to live in a manner comparable as to how the locals may live, not as a tourist.

The Maori had set up tents for a special event.

No, we don’t visit a lot of tourist attractions, although we visit some.  No, we don’t eat out a lot, although we do on occasions.  No, we don’t go on lengthy road trips staying overnight in hotels, spending budgeted dollars on attendance at popular venues tourists often flock to, rightfully so, when they travel for short periods of time.


We don’t consider ourselves tourists.  Instead, we’re visitors, temporary residents, respecting laws, culture and traditions of the locale, the people and the surroundings while we live life on our terms. 

Is defining our lives important?  For us, not so much.  As committed as we are to providing interesting stories and photos for our readers, it would be unrealistic to say that our personal desires don’t come first.  For true happiness, one must consider the ways in which to choose to navigate life, not always an easy task. 

We’ll continue to return to this site  of Oakura Beach in hopes of spotting blue penguins.

We appreciate every one of our readers but we truly believe based on responses we continually receive from those treasured readers, that they accept the fact that they are following the simple story of our daily lives.

We’re an older couple, unencumbered with “stuff,” as we move from country to country sharing the nuances, challenges and joys of our surroundings which may not appeal to some.  We don’t expect everyone to find our story interesting. 

We looked for the blue penguins but doubted we’d see any with people in the area.

Long ago, when we decided to travel the world, part of our motivation was to feel free to live how we choose.  After spending the majority of my adult life with chronic pain from which I am now “free” we decided we’d live life to the fullest spending each day doing exactly what we feel like doing.  It could all change in a day, or an hour.

Some days, we feel like getting out to see what’s around us.  Other days, we don’t feel like doing anything other than hanging out together, outside as much as possible, taking walks, taking short drives to explore the area and visiting our “temporary” town or village.

On each drive through the country, we find many rivers.

In essence, this site is not as much of a “travel log” as it is a “life log.”  Should we ever decide to write a book (which we’re not interested in doing at this time), it wouldn’t be entitled, “A Guide to Traveling the World to See the Most Popular Sites.”  That’s been done over and over again in books and websites.

It may be entitled, “Wafting Through our Worldwide Travels with Ease, Joy and Simplicity,” as indicated in our mission listed at the top of each page in our heading. 

We hadn’t seen a pinecone in a long time.

We wrote that motto in 2012.  It remains the same for us today.  Nothing has changed in our beliefs.  Everything has changed on how we respond to our surroundings; adapting, accepting, learning and growing.

Sure, we have quiet days without a smidgeon of excitement or adventure.  Who doesn’t?  But, here on the Alpaca Farm in New Plymouth, New Zealand and in many other parts of the world we’ve only needed to step outdoors to find our hearts soaring with a sense of pure pleasure and joy. 

A river under a bridge when we drove down an unmarked road.

Being able to share that joy with all of our readers, each and every day only enhances the experience.  If, in a small way, we bring a smile to the face of one reader a day, we’ve been gifted with an opportunity we never imagined possible.  Thank you for sharing “our world” with us.

We smile with you…there’s so much more yet to come.

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Photo from one year ago today, February 16, 2015:

One year ago, in Princeville Kauai, where we lived for four months, an albatross chick safely nestled in the grass under mom or dad’s legs. Its these kinds of experiences that make our travels especially meaningful.  For more photos please click here.