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.

On the road again!…Mini vacation, here we come!…

The flower blooming season is yet to come, which we’ll have the opportunity to experience before we depart in May. Even without flowers, the greenery is colorful in its own way.

On Friday, it will be my birthday. Away from family and old friends and with a desire to avoid making a commotion with new friends, yesterday we decided to head to Poipu, Kauai to see the Waimea Canyon and other local points of interest.

Tom in deep thought while gazing at the sea.

Leaving this Thursday morning, we’ll make the 70-minute drive to the hotel, the Sheraton Kauai, to drop off our stuff (one duffel bag) and check out some of the sites in the popular beach town. Later, we’ll spend a little time by the hotel’s pool and to check out the hotel’s amenities.

By using the Hotels.com link here on our site, we’ve been able to accumulate enough points recently for three nights in hotels. Recently, we used one of those night’s credits in Hilo before the flight from Big Island to Kauai and now a second credit for this hotel in Poipu.

With rates over $300, a night at the Sheraton Kauai including the “resort fee” ($30 extra charge hotels often charge in order to beef up their revenue), our credit for $216 was useful. 

By the time we visit the Waimea Canyon on Friday morning, we’ll have traveled almost the entire perimeter of the island at one point or another. Once we arrive at the northern tip of the Waimea Canyon, we’ll be relatively close to Princeville. However, the only way to return is the way we came, heading south following the eastern side of the island back up to the north. There are no roads from the Waimea Canyon area to Princeville.

Trees near the beaches provide welcome relief in the shade on sunny days.

It is the remote nature of many areas of this island that are particularly appealing to us. Of course, the towns along the way are crowded with tourists, not so much with the locals when the entire population for the island as of 2013 is only 69,512. Over 1,300,000 tourists visit Kauai each year.

In March, the road from Princeville will be under construction in parts. We had hoped to make this trip before it began. Now is as good a time as any to visit the Waimea Canyon.

Unlike many other beaches in the world, Kauai’s beaches are surrounded by vegetation.

As for the birthday thing, it’s of little importance to me and for that matter to Tom either. When we began our travels, we decided to forgo any hoopla about holidays, birthdays, cards, and gifts. Instead, we feel the love each and every day. 

The gift we’ve given one another of joyful, peaceful, and stress-free travel is all either of us need from the other. And this, we give to one another in abundance for which we both are very grateful.

The beach is equally beautiful on cloudy days.  Now, is Kauai’s rainy season and yet we’ve been fortunate to have many sunny days.

The age thing only plays any relevance to either of us in the hopes that our current level of health and fitness is maintained through many years to come. If I had a cake with candles to blow out (and surely it would be many candles) my only wish would be for the health and well-being of those we love and for our continuing health in our travels.

A few days ago we met a wonderful couple well into their 80’s that travels for most of the year. Although they have a home, unlike us, their goal is to be able to continue on. 

The rich colors of the rocky cliffs.

In essence, our lives are easier in many ways than for those who travel part of the time. We don’t have to go back to repack, pay bills, arrange maintenance for a house and yard, read the piles of mail, and tend to all the responsibilities of daily life. All we do is move to a new location every two to three months which now, with our reduced amount of luggage, can be accomplished in minutes not hours. 

We’re often surprised by how few people there on the beach each day.

One last comment on the age thing; I will be 67 on Friday, a number that has little effect on me one way or another. I have never been shy about my age. Age is only relevant in that time seems to be ticking a little faster as we’ve grown older. 

A bonfire, ready to light.

Working out with vigor once again makes me feel revitalized and more youthful. I am committed to continuing to find a place to workout wherever we may live in the future. It was impossible finding workout facilities in the mountains of Tuscany, the hills of Madeira, and in the bush in Africa. 

Waves, ready for surfers.

When we’ll soon head to Australia, New Zealand and some of the countries in which we’ll live in the South Pacific it appears there may be some types of accessible workout facilities. If not, I’ll manage a workout routine at home. 

We never tire of the beauty of the sky and surf.

We’ll continue to post each day including on Thursday morning before we leave Princeville and then again on Friday while in Poipu. We’re looking forward to sharing many new photos and adventures of our upcoming “get away” in days to come.

Have a happy day!

                                           Photo from one year ago today, February 17, 2014:

One year ago, we were on our final bush braai, a cookout in the bush at night in Kruger National Park, wild animals all around us and guards with rifles protecting the perimeter of our camp. For details, please click here.