Pilot whales stranded on New Zealand beach…The kindness of humanity prevails…One year ago, quite a predicament..

Volunteers attending to stranded whales in New Zealand, 10 February 2017
Volunteers working hard to save some of the pilot whales that were stranded in Farewell Spit in New Zealand.  (Not our photo).

We continually hear of all the horrible things happening in the world.  It only takes a sorrowful event to remind us how humans rally for one another and for wildlife in times of need and sorrow.

So has been the case over the past few days when more than 400 pilot whales were stranded in shallow water in Farewell Spit on New Zealand’s South Island.  Volunteers including locals in this small community and visitors from all over the country traveled to this distant location to aid the surviving whales back out to sea.

Apparently, over 300 whales died during the stranding.  In the wake of this disaster for reasons unknown by the scientific community, many assume its some type of mass suicide.  But that seems unlikely, doesn’t it? 

Its in our nature as humans and animals to survive the elements and, life itself.  A mass suicide sounds more like a conspiracy theory spurred on by sensationalism-seeking-media when it might make a more “enticing” story.

More than 400 pilot whales stranded themselves on a New Zealand beach on the evening of Thursday February 9.
Hundreds of whales stranded on the beach. (Not our photo).

Bottom line, for whatever unknown reasons this massive event transpired, hundreds of concerned volunteers made their way to the beach to aid in an often futile attempt to save as many as possible.

According to records, this event has transpired in this same location over the years and occurs in other parts of the world from time to time.  There are endless theories on why these sad events occur but none is definitive.

After researching multiple news reports on this event, many varying in the story in one manner or another (duh!), I found this more scientific article that may shed some light on the topic.  Please click here for details.

Certainly, I’m no wildlife (or sea life) expert but wouldn’t it make sense that since whales and dolphins tend to swim in pods, it may be a navigational error or misjudgment. 

Huge team gathers at Farewell Spit to rescue stranded whales.
Huge team of rescuers gather for instructions as to how to aid the whales.  Click here for the rest of this story from NZ media source. (Not our photo).

Not even the most sophisticated navigational systems marine life can possess are immune from making bad decisions or, in getting caught in a bad scenario such as the low tide anomalies of this area and other areas where this occurs  repeatedly throughout the world. 

Like humans, wildlife is hardly exempt from becoming entrenched in precarious situations over which they have little or no control.  Perhaps, this is the case with these whales in this area when this event has transpired over and over throughout the years.

The theory that they’re all sick and dying sounds peculiar as well.  Surely, in any large group of living beings, some will always be sick and dying.  Whales and dolphin tend to “follow the pack” and may have become caught up in following a lesser numbers who were injured, caught in nets, sick and dying and choose to beach themselves when they can no longer swim.

In any case, my opinions are irrelevant.  The facts remain that this is a sad situation over which us humans have little opportunity or willingness to change.  Its human existence on the earth here again, over which we have little control.  Surely, these events have occurred since the beginning of life on our planet.

We’ll continue to stay updated on the progress of these dedicated rescuers and the outcome for the remaining precious animals.  Human or animal, we all have the right to a place in this world and must rally for one another in times of need.

Be well.

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Photo from one year ago today, February 11, 2016:

Ironically, one year ago (after today’s whale story in NZ), we were living on an alpaca farm in NZ when this situation occurred in the paddock in the backyard.  Luckily, it turned out OK for the alpacas.  We laughed over this once we realized they were both doing well after they figured out how to untangle themselves.  For more on this story, please click here.
 

Day 30…Circumventing the Australian continent…Are we disappointed its ending in three days?

This morning’s sunrise from our balcony over industrial port of Auckland, New Zealand.

“Sighting on the Ship in Australia”

Art from the ship’s gallery.

Tom and I both agree this cruise didn’t seem to pass too quickly nor did it linger with hopes for it to end.  We’ve loved every single day.  But we bear no disappointment in it soon ending.  Our journey continues on to yet another adventure which we anticipate with an entirely new sense of awe and wonder.

No doubt, a big part of the pleasure we’ve experienced on this cruise has been the often hilarious and interesting evenings we’ve spent with our friends Lois, Tom, Cheryl and Stan and the many other passengers we’ve met aboard this lengthy cruise.

Freighter and tugboats in Tauranga.

Each early evening at 4:30 pm, we’ve gathered at the Diamond Club lounge with our four friends for our complimentary wine and cocktails taking advantage of one of the many perks provided by our newly acquired Crown and Anchor Society designation after acquiring sufficient points from past cruises to become members.

With the friends preferring an early dinner, by 6:30 pm we all headed to the Cascades dining room to the same table each night for dinner.  By 8 pm, our friends had their fill of a busy day and headed to their respective cabins for the remainder of the evening.

More pretty views of port of Tauranga, New Zealand.

Other than a few nights, Tom and I stayed out playing pool, dancing, watching shows and mingling with other guests not turning in until after 11 pm.  By 6 am each morning, we were awake and preparing for yet another action packed day aboard ship or heading out to sightsee.

Its been quite an ideal routine but, once we’re settled in our new home in Penguin, Tasmania in three days, we’ll be ready for a little more sleep and to establish another new routine we’ll quickly incorporate into our lives, one we’ll certainly relish with equal enthusiasm.

City of Tauranga, New Zealand.

Its been easy to “live in the moment” during this lengthy cruise.  During this period, we’ve avoided conducting much research for future travels as each day aboard ship has presented its own unique brand of entertainment and diversions. 

Today the ship is docked in Auckland, New Zealand.  We’ve decided to stay onboard to prepare for tomorrow’s Part 2 of our world travel seminar which will be again conducted in the same venue at 11:15 am.  The agenda is in place but we’ll need to prepare the video portion of our presentation which may take few hours. 

The sea and an island at a distance.

With many other passengers off the ship for various tours we’ll have less distractions and zip through it in no time.  We’d previously visited Auckland and have no regrets to be staying aboard the ship. 

This second part of the presentation will give us a better perception as to whether or not this is something we may want to explore for future cruises.  Is the prospect of conducting seminars while cruising something that appeals to us?  We aren’t decided as yet, still uncertain if it will feel like too much like “work.” 

What a beautiful location!

Its for that very reason we’ve avoided writing a book or appearing on talk shows.  Keeping our sense of freedom firmly implanted into our lives of world travel is vital to maintain the level of fulfillment we derive each and every day. 

If we commit to a greater degree of work than we currently perform in presenting our daily posts, it could change everything.  We’ve loved the way it is.  Why mess with that which isn’t broken? 

Fishing boat in bay in Tauranga, New Zealand.

People often ask, why don’t you settle somewhere?  Our answer is always the same, “Why change what we’re doing when we already happy?”  Recently, many have asked why we didn’t tour New Zealand’s South Island while spending three months in New Plymouth, located on the North Island?

Here again, our answer was simple.  We were experiencing so much joy on the alpaca farm, we saw no reason to change anything at all.  But, isn’t that how life is, as we always say, “Love the One You’re With.”  If its not broken and we’re happy, why change it? 

The big and busy city of Auckland, New Zealand. 

We’re not subject to some perceived notion of what we should be doing, as opposed to what we want to do. A big piece of the magic of our lives, is in living our lives as we choose, on our terms, maximizing that which proves to provide us with the most enrichment.

May your day be enriching and meaningful however you may choose to spend it.

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

In Fiji, a neighbor’s newly planted garden coming to life. Many Fijians plant gardens in the rich soil.  For more details, please click here.

Day 29…Circumventing the Australian continent…Finally at a port of call in NZ…Did we forget something?

Boats in the harbor in Tauranga, New Zealand.  We have such fond memories of the three months we spent in this beautiful country.

“Sighting on the Ship in Australia”

Glass sculpture in hallway.

The second leg of this 33 night cruise is our 16th cruise in four years, averaging at one cruise every three months.  That’s not to say we’ve booked cruises for such an arbitrary schedule as four per year. Its just an average.

During our first year of world travel, we embarked on eight cruises in a little over five months.  Then, we had a 14 month gap with no cruises at all.  From there, we slowed down a bit to the current total of 16 cruises. 

While taking this photo I thought, “Humm…this looks familiar.”  We’ve only taken about 10,000 photos since taking this shot.  It would be easy to forget.

We book cruises when we find good deals with lots of perks in locations convenient to where we are at any given time.  Different from many cruise enthusiasts, we don’t necessarily focus on new ports of call we’ll visit, although this is of interest to us.

Instead, we focus on our joy of cruising and using a ship as our temporary home for a few weeks and in this case, for over a month.  Sure, the cost for cruising generally exceeds our preferred average daily cost of around US $200, AU $268, including vacation rental fees, transportation, visas, food, insurance, entertainment, Internet and miscellaneous.

Forest along the seaside in Tauranga.

In five days, we’ll be sharing our total expenses for this 33 night cruise including average daily costs, our final cruise bill for both legs and any incidentals we may have purchased along the way.  Please check back for these totals.

After our change in course due to inclement weather, the last week’s cruise itinerary has changed dramatically.  Today, we’re in Tauranga, New Zealand during which a funny thing happened to us.  Well, it was funny to us anyway.

The town of Tauranga, New Zealand.

“Tauranga total population

  • 114,789 people usually live in Tauranga City. This is an increase of 10,905 people, or 10.5 percent, since the 2006 Census.
  • Its population ranks 6th in size out of the 67 districts in New Zealand.
  • Tauranga City has 2.7 percent of New Zealand’s population.”

After four days at sea, passengers were chomping at the bit to get on land.  We never mind sea days.  The ship has been our home for this month and we’re happy whatever we’re doing, wherever we dock.  Its not unlike our daily lives. 

Not only are we grateful and enjoy the exciting days, we’ve found the quiet and mundane days to be enjoyable in their own way, as is the case for many of you.  Not everyday has to be emblazoned in our minds as highly memorable.

Shipping yard in Tauranga.

With today’s port of call of Tauranga, we decided to get off the ship.  I took a few photos from our balcony early this morning.  Neither of us were hungry so we decided to skip breakfast and eat later if we’re hungry.

As always, we set up our laptops in our usual Latte tudes Café on the fifth deck where we are often able to find comfortable seating with enough activity in the background to further entertain us while we work on the day’s post.

As we walked toward the port exit, everything started looking familiar.

This morning, we met with Kevin, the ship’s activity director, to discuss a possible Part 2 for yesterday’s successful seminar.  He’d received lots of positive feedback from passengers wanting to hear more of our story.

Of course, we’re flattered to hear this including all the positive feedback we received all day yesterday and again this morning after yesterday’s “event.”  We couldn’t be more pleased that our seminar was a success. 

Seagull hoping for a morsel from tourists.

Now, we’re scheduled to conduct Part 2 in two days, another sea day, and we hope for yet another good turnout.  What a great opportunity for us!  This morning instead of preparing the post, we created the new agenda and we’re comfortable with the content.

Since this information is so readily available in our minds no rehearsal is required, only the agenda to refer to on my laptop during the presentation. No stress.  No worries.  We’re totally at ease with the entire process.

Once we completed the agenda we decided to postpone preparing the post and head out to see Tauranga.  Its cool here today so we bundled up in jeans and parkas planning to spend a few hours visiting the town, a not too distant walk from the port.

Here’s another of New Zealand’s beautiful skies.

Once we entered the port exit gate, we looked at one another and laughed aloud. We walked this entire town in January when our then ship visited this same port of call.  Somehow we’d both forgotten we’d already toured this charming town. 

Cold and windy, we turned around and returned to the ship but not before we took today’s several photos.  There was no point in spending too much time in a port of call we’d already explored at length.  Here’s the link to our original visit in January, 2016.

Once back on board we busied ourselves working on today’s post and photos and soon, when done, we may just make a stop at the Windjammer Café  on deck 11 for a light bite to eat.

We hope all of our family, friends/readers in the US had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and warmest regards to all of your throughout the world.  Thanks for hanging with us through this lengthy cruise

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 Photo from one year ago today, November 28, 2015:
The beach along this area in Fiji was mostly rocky.  For more details, please click here.

Day 16…Circumventing the Australian continent…Consecutive cruising instructions…Super Moon from sea…




Tom’s last night’s shot of the sunset as we set sail to our next destination.

“Sighting on the Ship in Australia”

This artists rendition in the ship’s art gallery reminded us of Halloween, the day we
this ship in Sydney, our four year anniversary of traveling the world.

Yesterday at 1 pm a special meeting was held for the under 500 passengers on this 2500 capacity ship who are continuing on the back-to-back portion of the 33 night circumvention of the Australian continent. 

Although it may seem staying on the ship may be as simple a process of receiving a new SeaPass card, its much more complicated for both security and immigration purposes.

In parts, hot Port Hedland felt the Mohave desert in the US.

Luckily, we don’t have to change cabins as some passengers do when they booked too late to stay in the same cabin.  However, we either have to be off the ship by 9 am to be out of the way of the final disembarkation of the remaining 2000 passengers, or, we have to stay onboard tucked away in a lounge until the ship is cleared several hours later. 

The Woolworth’s grocery in Port Hedland could have been a market anywhere in the world.  We noticed Christmas products already for sale.

We understand and appreciate the need for these strict regulations to ensure no one gets onto the ship that shouldn’t be doing so.  Plus, the ship’s immigration staff has made the immigration process easy for those of us continuing on this second leg ending in Sydney on December 3rd.

Once again, safari luck prevails, and new friends, Michelle and Carlo, whom we met on RC Voyager of the Seas this past April are picking us up tomorrow to spend the day with them in Perth/Fremantle.  We’re so appreciative and excited to spend the day with this lovely couple in their beloved home city.

Industrial salt mining in Port Hedland.

When we return to the ship in the afternoon, we’ll be able to avoid the usual checking in process for the cruise or in going through customs or immigration, other than to pick up our new SeaPass cards awaiting us at a designated area for those on the consecutive cruises. 

Huge freighters at the port soon to depart.

Our new friends aboard this ship, Lois and Tom and Cheryl and Stan, are also continuing on to Sydney with us.  The nightly activities will continue.  And, although there will be a totally new group of 2000 passengers boarding in Perth, all of us have agreed we want to continue to enjoy our evenings together both at happy hour in the Diamond Club lounge where we partake of the free cocktails nightly and later at dinner in the Cascades dining room.

With two empty dining room seats opening up at our standing table for eight, after Kat and John disembark in Perth tomorrow, and with the addition of all these new people, we’ve agreed to find two new table mates, if possible, for this remaining 17 days. 

More enormous freighters.

It won’t be easy to replace Kat, John and little William but we’ll see how it goes.  We plan to see them when we spend the upcoming 40 days in Sydney beginning on March 13, 2017.  Here again, it adds so much to the upcoming stay knowing we have new friends nearby.

Equipment at the port used in the mining business.

Recently, we’d both read dozens of reviews written by Amazon readers regarding a book written by temporary world travelers.  A comment made over and over again by the readers was how annoyed they were when the authors constantly described their gatherings with friends they met in their travels or, had previously known.


Many tugboats were ready to assist.

We apologize if we’ve been a bit “overly bubbly” about our new friends.  After four years of travel, most of it has been spent blissfully alone together. However, without access to friends with whom we may have some common interests, cruises have proven to be a refreshing adjunct to our lives on the move. 

Please bear with us.  Within 18 days we’ll be in Tasmania, setting up housekeeping once again in two separate locations at six weeks each, and living life on our terms, always hopeful of making new friends but often not in an ideal scenario to do so.  We’ve easily become adapted to “just the two of us” but its certainly enhances our experiences when we make friends along the way

Sunlight reflecting on the sea.

We’ve arrived in Geraldton, Australia.  The queues to board the tender boats appear to require a four hour wait.  Based on the few sites in the small town of under 30,000, we may stay on the ship today knowing tomorrow will be a busy day in Perth.

Have a busy day doing that which brings you bliss! 👫

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

Beautiful tree hanging over the inlet, we spotted when we visited the village of Vuodomo in Fiji.  For more photos, please click here.

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. It’s 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 of 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?

The Rewa Rewa Bridge in New Plymouth was quite a sight 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 were 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. 

Mont 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.

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 10:00 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 the 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 OkurkuruWinery 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. It’s 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. It’s 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.

It’s 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 the 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 crias, 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!


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

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

Two days and counting…Moving right along…The SHED…

The alpaca in the middle here has a tendency to hog the food from my hand, never giving the others a chance.

Our goal had been to post favorite New Zealand photos today, but I’ve decided to do that tomorrow. Yesterday, when I’d intended to go through the zillions of photos we took here in New Zealand, I found myself distracted with organizing our stuff, tidying the house and preparing the final expenses for our last New Zealand post upcoming in two days.

Today, after we upload this post we’ll drive into town to purchase roasted chickens for the next two evening’s meals and to make a quick trip to the health food store to restock probiotics.

Hand feeding the alpacas has been pure joy! Often they “honk” at one another as they try to have a turn.

When we return we’ll finish packing, weigh our bags and pay the excess online to save 10% on the baggage fees as opposed to paying at the airport. Last night, Tom completed the online check-in for the cruise and tomorrow, 24 hours prior to the flight to Sydney, I’ll check us in for the flight. As always, it’s all coming together as we each undertake tasks we usually handle.

As Tom busied himself chatting with other passengers at CruiseCritic who are booked on the same upcoming cruise he discovered the following after posting an inquiry. He wrote:

“Last year, May/June, we were on a cruise from Honolulu to Sydney.
There were about 1400 Aussies on this cruise making it one of the best cruises we’ve ever been on.

On sea days at 14:00 or 15:00 there was a SHED get together for guys only.
All the problems of the world were solved each and every time we met.

Being a Yank, I didn’t know what the SHED was.  It was very enjoyable.

After the first get together ended I met up with my wife and she asked, “What is the SHED and what we did we discuss?”

I told her what the guys told me to tell her. “What happens in the SHED stays in the SHED.  If I tell you I’d have to kill you.”

I sure hope some of the Aussies set up a SHED get-together for sea days. It was very enjoyable.”

None of the youngsters are interested in being hand-fed.

A short time later, he received a response from another cruise passenger which read:

“Tom,
The shed meeting is on the ship’s Compass Magazine every afternoon at the Pig and  Whistle Bar on the Voyager. You will have your man shed for sure  🙂

Great< looking forward to them!  :)”

This made Tom smile from ear to ear.  Actually, it makes me equally thrilled to know he has a chance to interact with other guys without me always at his side. It’s a much-needed break for him although he’d never put it that way.
Many of the adult moms are shy and have no interest in being hand-fed.
The SHED will be scheduled on the daily “Compass Magazine” for mid-afternoons, usually around 3 pm, on the nine sea days during the 14 day cruise. During this two hour period, I’d often stay in the public areas reading, working on the next day’s post and photos.
More often than not, I’ll busy myself conversing with other women who’s significant others are also at the SHED. This was a good time for us to each have a little time apart.
This alpaca who’s name we don’t know if quite interested in the food.
Luckily, neither of us are the types that require “alone time.” I can’t recall either of us ever saying, “I need time to myself.”  If we feel compelled to get away from one another for a bit, we’ll naturally gravitate to some sort of project to work on without any analysis of any particular emotional need at the moment.
Over the years we’ve learned to give each other “space” when we’re engrossed in reading, writing or talking on Skype. It’s these commonalities that add to the ease of being together 24/7 as we live this peculiar life on the move.
A few will come to the deck after the hand-feeding ends to eat the scraps that fell during the process.

Speaking of this life on the move, as these last days wind down, we still spend as much time as we can interacting and observing the beautiful alpacas. Without a doubt, it will be hard to say goodbye but we look forward to all the wonderful people we’ll be meeting in the next few weeks aboard the ship.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with our favorite photos of New Zealand and on the following day, the final expenses of spending 87 days living on the farm.
Have a beautiful day!
Photo from one year ago today, April 13, 2015:
This photo from the Princeville Botanical Garden was a favorite from the venue. The Jackfruit is known for its health benefits. See this link for nutritional details. Please click here for more photos.

Details, details, details…Not as uncomplicated as one may think…

Ah, bull in the road. We stayed in the car while I took the photo through the windshield (referred to as a “windscreen” here in NZ).

Moving every few months has its challenges. If someone had asked me five years ago if we’d be willing to move every two or three months or more frequently, as will occur in a few months, I’d had said it was impossible.

Even now, after 42 months of experience, it could be an overwhelming task if we let the entire process flood our minds in one fell swoop. Instead, we take it in bite-sized pieces, collecting and sorting our stuff over a period of many days.

I handle all the small stuff and Tom handles the heavy stuff. Without ever discussing it or mapping a plan, we each gravitated toward the tasks well suited to our abilities and desires.

As a result, I handle the refrigerator, freezer, and food in the cabinets which in itself is a big job. We’ve been here for a full three months accumulating a number of ingredients, spices, and foods we’ve used in preparing meals.

Cows often stop grazing to check us out.  Are they happy to see us or annoyed?

Weeks before we leave, I assess all the remaining items. Together, we determine a menu based on what we have on hand in an attempt to “use up” the ingredients and what we’ll need to purchase to round out the meals.

For example, we had a partial bag of organic coconut flour, a jar of organic coconut oil, and an unopened can of unsweetened coconut milk, some of the ingredients used in making low-carb pancakes. Plus, there were several packages of streaky bacon left in the freezer.

With a trip to the Taranaki Farmer’s Market on Sunday, we purchased eggs we’d need to make for “breakfast for dinner,” one of our favorite occasional meals; coconut pancakes, scrambled eggs with onions and cheese, and a side of bacon.

Tonight, we’ll have this same meal for the second night, using the balance of the on-hand ingredients.  Tomorrow, we’ll head to town to purchase two organic, free-range pre-cooked chickens to which we’ll add a salad and green beans, more of which we still have on hand.

Green hills and the sea on a sunny day.

On Thursday, I’ll clean the refrigerator and freezer with a plan to leave it as clean as it was when we arrived.  We’ll leave behind only a few items; a can of salmon, a bag of unsweetened coconut, and a few spices.We have no room in our luggage to bring food with us, although we’d had done so in the past.

With the cost of baggage for upcoming flights, it makes no sense to pay to bring any type of food products.  Plus, both New Zealand and Australia have tight restrictions on bringing food into their countries.

Heading to Bali after the cruise we’ll board in four days, we’ll be living in a remote area for 59 days. We’re well aware we’ll have trouble finding many ingredients we use regularly, such as some of the above-mentioned coconut products. 

Every country has protein sources and vegetables. If necessary, if all we can eat is a grass-fed steak, free-range chicken, or wild-caught fish with a salad and vegetable, we’ll be fine. Also, we’ve yet to visit a country that doesn’t have free-range eggs and cheese. 

Cows, mountains, and sea at a distance.

Tom not only oversees the handling and weighing of the heavy bags, but carefully plans the packing, wrapping, and distribution of all of our power cords and power strips. Also, he’ll do the packing of our new wheeling computer backpack we purchased while here. We’re hoping to be able to eliminate a few carry-on items as we pack this time around.

Cruise lines don’t allow power strips in the cabins fearing too many items on one strip may present a fire hazard. Each time we board a cruise, our power strips are confiscated which we collect in “security” on disembarking day. Without these strips, we have a problem plugging in all of our equipment. 

In most cases, we’re able to get alternative smaller strips from our cabin steward which solves the issue.  There’s a shortage of outlets in the cabins although all ships on which we’ve sailed to date have US plug-ins. If we ever find that not to be the case, we can use the three converters/adapters we carry with us and use them in almost every country we visit.

Over the past few days, I tossed no less than 8 pounds, 3.6 kg, of “stuff” from our third bag. This bag has never been this light. At some point, we’ll replace our two clothing bags hoping to purchase even lighter weight bags as more and more styles become available. This may have to wait until we get to the US in 2017.

A cow escaped the paddock hanging out on the side of the road.

Today, I’ll neatly fold the shirts Tom wears to dinner on the cruises and a few shirts of mine, all of which have been hanging in the two closets. Most of our clothing is wrinkle-free, but we’ve yet to find any clothing that doesn’t wrinkle to some extent.

I’ve tried a number of methods to reduce wrinkles, but none seems to work or are too time-consuming and cumbersome to implement. Once we arrive at the cruise with our bags delivered to the cabin, we’ll immediately unpack and hang the necessary items, hoping the wrinkles will dissipate from the humidity in the cabin.

Also, today, I’ll restock our pill cases with my now only two prescriptions and a few vitamins and Tom’s few vitamins (he no longer takes any prescription meds). We both take probiotics daily. Long ago, we had to forgo packing vitamins and supplements when we just don’t have room in our luggage or access to restocking them in some countries.

In addition, we’re washing bath towels, bedding, and kitchen towels to leave everything in order when we depart. We’ll only have the sheets we slept on Thursday night and one bath towel each remaining unwashed when we leave on Friday morning.

Driving along a narrow road in farm country.

Yesterday, I completed the scanning of all of the tax-deductible receipts we accumulated while here in New Zealand. Our 2015 federal tax return, due on April 15th, was completed and submitted online by our Nevada accountant over a week ago. 

Later today, I’ll begin working on the final expenses (by category) for this three-month stay in New Plymouth which we’ll share in Friday’s post (Thursday to those on the other side of the International Dateline). Tomorrow, we’ll post our favorite New Zealand photos.

This morning, Tom gathered all the trash we’ve accumulated over the past few days as the packing began and drove it down to the recycle and trash bins at the far end of the road. We always attempt to leave no trash behind other than a few necessary items in the kitchen bins (tucked away in cabinets), never leaving any trash scattered about the house.

The ocean and a tiny island at dusk on a cloudy evening.

No doubt, we still have plenty to do. However, we’re on track, exactly where we need to be with three remaining days until we drive to Auckland for our flight to Sydney. 

As we peer out the windows on this rainy day, the alpacas continue to happily graze in the paddock. Although a little sad about leaving them, we feel complete and fulfilled by this memorable experience.

May your day bring you contentment and fulfillment!

Photo from one year ago today, April 12, 2015:

From the Princeville Botanical Garden one year ago today, we wrote: With many bees in this area, I chose not to move the green leaves for a better view of this exquisite bloom which was the size of a soccer ball. For more photos, please click here.

Wrapping it up!…Four days until we leave New Zealand…Fun videos…

Video #1, of the alpacas coming down our driveway
on Friday morning. 
I started today’s post at 7:30 am.  Up at 5 am, my new automatic wake up time, I bolted our of bed, folding and packing more items that have since dried indoors after the past few rainy days.

Today, when it started as a sunny day I started the washer as soon as I made it downstairs. With no clothes dryer, we have to take advantage of sunny days if we prefer to leave here with entirely clean clothes. 

 

Video #2 as the alpacas entered the paddock in our yard.
This past week I’ve been washing and wearing the same two outfits over and over, knowing I’m giving the shirt the heave-ho before leaving. Having purchased some new items here in NZ, there’s no room for any questionable or worn items I seldom wear. Tom is doing the same. 

Generally, our individual clothing suitcases (one each) weigh about the same. This time, we plan to be completely packed, able to weigh our bags by Wednesday, and pay for any excess online. 

On Friday morning, Trish and Neil gathered the alpacas in the smaller mating paddock. Some needed injections to keep them healthy and Neil, a physician, can easily handle this process without calling the vet.

We’re flying on Emirates Airline, our favorite airline to date. Their baggage allowance for one “free” bag each is 30 kg., 66 pounds. This helps us tremendously on the flight from Auckland to Sydney this coming Friday. Emirates provides a 10% discount if excess baggage is paid in advance online. Many other airlines don’t offer ‘free” checked bags.

They all look on as others got their injections.

When the upcoming cruise ends on April 30th, we’ll fly from Singapore to Bali on Jetstar Asia. They too have a “free ” allowance for one 20 kg, 44 pounds, checked bag. In this case, we’ll have considerable excess baggage fees and reorganizing our stuff the night before the cruise ends.

In both cases, we’ll have to pay extra for the third bag (between us) that contains shoes, toiletries, powers cords, business cards, and medical supplies. 

Sure, it would be great not to have a third bag, but as often as I go through that bag there is nothing we can eliminate.  After all, our bags contain every physical possession, we own and duh, we don’t have anywhere we call “home” to regroup and repack, unlike most other travelers.

Finally, they were done and releases the alpacas into the paddock.

We always get a kick out of seeing cruise passengers with more luggage than us. That used to be us in our old lives on the few occasions we traveled over the years – way too many heavy bags. As we’ve learned in our travels, at times, it’s a painful and expensive lesson.

Through the glass at the kitchen window, sleeping while standing.

Now, we accept the reality that what we have is what we have. Eliminating many items isn’t practical when many countries don’t have what we’d need to purchase to replace certain items during a short-term stay. 

Trish and Neil left for their three-week holiday in South Africa on a 17-hour flight on Friday. Early that morning they moved 47 of over 100 alpacas to our yard now that the grass has regrown. Also, they wanted us to have one more amazing week to interact with them.

Being an alpaca mom is an exhausting job and many naps on occasion during the day. The adult alpacas are tagged through their ears. The cria (newest babies) wear collars with nag tags until they later receive their permanent tags. It’s imperative to tag them for health and mating reasons.

A local woman they employ as a farm helper stops by a few times a day to add the extra nutrients the alpacas need, lined up in colorful bowls along the inside of the fence of the paddock. It’s hysterical to watch their enthusiasm when they see her coming with the bowls as they hover in one massive group close to the fence.

Today, our two videos include one; when Trish and Neil walked them up to our driveway, and two; as they entered the paddock outside our back door. Have a look! 

They’re funny and so adorable.

Most afternoons many will rest at the side of our house.  On sunny days most will sit in this location with shade, providing a break from the heat of the sun.

Since they arrived in the yard, we’ve spent hours outdoors watching their playful antics, treasuring every moment knowing soon we’ll say goodbye. Last night only minutes before dark, the antics of the young ones running and leaping through the air, left us laughing again and again.

Now, it’s time to stop “playing” and get “down to business” with laundry, packing, scanning receipts, and reorganizing the house to put everything back in its place.  We always attempt to leave the property as tidy as it was when we arrived.

May your day be productive as well!

Photo from one year ago today, April 11, 2015:
Although Hawaii may not be the perfect climate for cactus to proliferate, many varieties of cactus seem to thrive as this has that I spotted on the tour of the Princeville Botanical Garden. For more photos, please click here.

Itinerary for the next 666 days…In five days, we’ll leave NZ…In six days, we’ll board a cruise in Sydney…Tomorrow…two great videos!

Colorful sunset over the farm.


Our itinerary for the next 666 days…more to come in the future…

 Sydney Hotel 1  4/15/2016 – 4/16/2016 
 Cruise – Sydney to Singapore  14 RC Voyager of Seas   4/16/2016 – 4/30/2016 
 Bali House  59  4/30/2016 – 6/28/2016 
 Hotel Singapore 7  6/28/2016 – 7/5/2016 
 Hanoi Hotel 3  7/5/2016 – 7/8/2016 
 Cruise – Mekong River – Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City  15 Viking
Mekong
  
 7/8/2016 – 7/22/2016 
 Phuket House  41  7/22/2016 – 9/1/2016 
 Bali House  59  9/1/2016 – 10/30/2016 
 Sydney Hotel  1  10/30/2016 – 10/31/2016 
 Cruise – Sydney to Perth  16 RC Radiance of the Seas   10/31/2016 – 11/16/2016 
 Cruise – Perth to Sydney  17  RC Radiance of the Seas   11/16/2016 – 12/3/2016 
 Tasmania #1 Beach House  44  12/3/2016 – 1/16/2017 
 Tasmania #2 River Waterfront  44  1/16/2017 – 3/1/2017 
 Cruise – Sydney to Sydney  12 Celebrity Solstice   3/1/2017 – 3/13/2017 
 Sydney House 40  3/13/2017 – 4/22/2017 
 Cruise – Sydney to Seattle   24  RC Explorer of the Seas   4/22/2017 – 5/15/2017 
 GAP 5/15/2017 – 5/17/2017  2  5/15/2017 – 5/17/2017 
 Cruise – Vancouver to Seattle – Alaska   9 Celebrity Solstice   5/17/2017 – 5/26/2017 
 Seattle to Minneapolis – drive through Yellowstone – hotels  13  5/26/2017 – 6/8/2017 
 Minneapolis Family Visit – RV rental  42  6/8/2017 – 7/19/2017 
 Nevada Family Visit – Stay with son Richard in Henderson 11  7/19/2017 – 8/1/2017 
 Costa Rica – Atenas House 114  8/1/2017 – 11/22/2017 
 Hotel – Fort Lauderdale – Not booked  1  11/22/2017 – 11/23/2017 
 Cruise – Ft. Lauderdale – Santiago, Chile  15 Celebrity
Infinity
 11/23/2017 – 12/8/2017 
 Cruise – Santiago, Chili – Buenos Aires, Argentina  15 Celebrity
Infinity
 12/8/2017 – 12/23/2017 
 GAP Buenos Aires – Hotel or vacation homes 31  12/23/2017 – 1/23/2018 
 Cruise -Antarctica – Ushuaia, Argentina – Ushuaia, Argentina – 16 Ponant
Le Soleal
 1/23/2018 – 2/8/2018 
 Total number of days  (153 days cruising) 666

Each time we’ve posted an updated itinerary at least one reader writes asking if our journey will end at the conclusion of the posted itinerary. If and when we’re forced (for health reasons) to change the course of our travels, we promise to post our intent of the necessity of doing so. 

Also, we’ll certainly continue to document that process (health providing) including medical treatments, settling in to a new location whether temporary or permanent and the resulting expenses for all aspects of such a transition.

While on the way to shop we stopped for cows crossing the road.

Is there a chance the above won’t transpire? (Warning: morbid talk here). If we stay relatively healthy and are able to continue on, we may find life comes to an end for one of us during the journey. One way or another, we’ll notify our readers.

As we age, along with the rest of us, we realize that life may change at some point. Actually, life will change at some point. For now, we don’t worry or concern ourselves with that eventuality. 

The farmer offered to stop the flow but we insisted they carry on.

Striving for good health, living in the moment and joyful planning for the future are the main focus of our nomadic lifestyle. As we peruse our above itinerary it’s hard to wipe the smiles off of our faces. If happiness is instrumental in living a long and healthy life, we should be around for awhile.

A few stopped to check us out as the crossing continued from the paddock.

No, we aren’t slapstick happy every single day. Like the rest of us, we have quite uneventful days. We have other days where we may feel worried or angst-ridden. On occasion, we have fitful nights spent worrying about the well being of family and friends. 

But, overall, a powerful sense of contentment surrounds us. Yesterday, on the deck with 47 alpacas within our reach, we felt the endorphin rush of interacting with nature. Laughing, commenting, smiling while handing them an open palm of their grassy treats, we can’t help but appreciate every moment of our lives.

The cows were being moved to milking. Moving them must be a daily occurrence.

For however long this journey lasts, we remain grateful each and every day. Grateful for the experiences, grateful for the good health and grateful for the opportunity of sharing it with all of you!

Photo from one year ago today, April 10, 2015:
One year ago today, we wrote about “Birdie,” a Red Cardinal who visited our veranda in Kauai more times a day than we could count. I chopped batches of unsalted organic macadamia nuts, almonds, pecans and walnuts feeding them to him and his “wife” when they came to visit.  He sang a song when I didn’t get the nuts outside to him quickly enough. To hear his song in our video, please click here.  To see the year-ago-post, please click here.