Sunday, March 31, 2019

March ~ memories and moments

Another month has come and gone..
and I will start my re-cap with the last photo I took in March.

On this beautiful spring day we enjoyed a drive through the Chilliwack River valley.

March may not have had 'great beginnings'...
but it definitely ended well!

It's been many years since we had as much snow in March as we did this year.

With Elmer recovering from wrist surgery...
and hanging around the house much more than he was accustomed to...
we went for a drive to Hope one Saturday afternoon.

Who knew there was still so much snow in the hills?

I had somehow thought the roads would be bare... 
and decided this was as good a spot as any to turn back!

Mid-March and Cheam Lake was still mostly frozen.
I don't recall that ever happening before.

 On a sunny day earlier this month...
I had a lovely walk in my neighbourhood with Sharon Gaetz.
 Sharon served as our mayor for 10 years...from 2008 to 2018.
Now that she is 'footloose and fancy-free'...
she has decided to walk every street in Chilliwack in 2019. 
Since she was walking my neighbourhood, I joined her.
It took us three hours to walk to walk six or seven miles.
I think I will walk with Sharon more often...
it's a great way to connect with my neighbours.
Sharon knows everyone and stops to talk to them all...
even the animals along the way got a talking to!
BTW...As of yesterday, she has walked 1,000 kilometers so far this year.
How amazing is that?


On March 16th, I boarded a plane and flew over the Rocky Mountains...
and then on to  Fort Lauderdale, Florida where I joined the rest of my siblings and spouses for our 
'10 year anniversary cruise'.

 Oh, and my niece Kiley joined us as well.
(We needed a selfie taker along!)

Since we had 5 adjoining cabins...
we had our steward open all the partitions between our decks and had one long patio.
That was great!

As much as Elmer would have liked to be there...
he obeyed his surgeon's instructions and stayed home.

Trunk Bay
Saint John, U.S. Virgin Islands 

Twenty years ago...
 we sailed this same area...
and snorkelled in these very same waters.
It is such a beautiful spot.

Another port of call was St. Maartin (Kingdom of the Netherlands)...
where we opted to spend the day on the beautiful beach. 

We also stopped at Princess Cays...
a private island in the Bahamas.

Once again, we had a wonderful week together at sea...
five sisters and one brother from the west coast, the Canadian prairies, the US Midwest and Texas.
Dad would have liked to join us, but that just isn't possible anymore.
We brought him this photo instead. :)

In 1999, my parents took us all on a family cruise through the Panama Canal.
We decided then that would would try to do a 'repeat' every ten years.
Little did we know that one year later, my mom would no longer be with us.  

In 2009, we did a Texaribbean cruise from Galveston.

We parted ways in Fort Lauderdale...
until next time. 

We have no idea what the next decade will bring...but we will plan to be together somewhere again. 

The family is link to our past, bridge to our future.—Alex Haley

While I was away... 
Elmer was holding down the fort.
With one arm.
Apparently it was a very long week!

He spent a lot of time in his shop working on cars.
By the time I returned home...
he had the 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle completed.

That is quite a feat...
for someone who has never done a jigsaw puzzle before.

He also had lunch with dad several times...
lunch with friends...
dinner with the kids. 
 Even so...
he was quite ready for me to come home!

I came home in time for our annual spring break wiener roast with the grands.
It was a little chilly that night...
so we pulled out the hoodies and blankets.

Emme and Spencer just returned from a school trip to Thailand and had lots of stories to share.
What a great experience for them!

God painted a beautiful sky for us that night!

Today we hiked up to Bosumarne Falls, near Chilliwack Lake.

It is such a beautiful spot and not far from home!

And so ends March 2019...
'the lion and the lamb' and everything in between.

I will treasure the memories!

Friday, March 15, 2019

New Zealand ~ the other Land Down Under

Let me take you to New Zealand ~ home of the Kiwis (the people) and kiwifruit and the kiwis (flightless birds). We met them all!

After the heat of Australia...we found New Zealand on the cool side.  And very green!

No matter where you may live in New Zealand, you are always near the sea. The country boasts some 16,000 kms of coastline.  And they all seem to love their boats!

Our first port of call on our cruise was Auckland, a city of 1.6 million on the north island....known as the 'city of sails' for good reason.

Auckland's Anniversary Day Regatta was happening on the very day we were to dock there, so our arrival had to be delayed for some five hours. This year's regatta marked the 179th edition..

...and the harbour was still full of boats when we arrived.

We were met at the dock by Sandy and Ian...our personal tour guides for the day.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, Sandy was my next-door- neighbour during my school days and we had not met up for some five decades.  She has lived in Auckland all her adult life, and insisted on being our hosts for our day in port. We had a great day! (And yes, they own a boat as well.)

From Auckland we sailed south to the Bay of Plenty where Mount Mauao stands guard and beautiful beaches abound.

We walked off the dock and found a friendly local with a van who was ready and willing to give us a private tour (the best way to go!).

We visited a kiwi orchard...saw how they were grown and learned about the different varieties.

Who knew there were golden kiwis?  So sweet and juicy!

We sampled kiwi ice-cream.

We viewed the area from Minden Lookout...

...and drove by dairy farms along the way.

From there we set sail for Wellington...

...the capital city that sits on Cook Straight.

We rode the famous cable car to the top and walked to the Botanic Gardens...

...where they were celebrating their 150th birthday.

From lookouts over the city... gardens with upwards of 3,000 rose bushes, it was a most lovely stop on the trip.

I have long since forgotten the name of these blue flowering plants that are seen everywhere in New Zealand (apparently a weed, but quite lovely through my eyes).

Everything was lush and green...even the roofs!

The Te Papa Museum in Wellington is fabulous...and free. It was definitely worth a visit.

We also enjoyed a stroll along the Wellington Waterfront Walk...and watched 'boys being boys'.

Next stop...Akaroa, a wonderful little French town on the Banks Peninsula of the South Island.

Akaroa is known for its fabulous gardens and historical homes.

It was a great place to stop and 'smell the roses'!

Akaroa, which means Long Harbour in Maori, was a lovely stop along the way.

Our last on-shore excursion of the cruise was at Dunedin.  There we got on board the train and rode the historic Taieri Gorge Railway...

...over viaducts and through tunnels along the fabled route of pioneers and prospectors of the 1880's.

Cattle and sheep roamed the countryside...

...and occasionally we passed by a remote home with friendly folk on the front porch!  It was a wonderful way to see some of the country...riding a lovely old train that served tea as well as lunch.

We ended our full day excursion back at the beautiful Dunedin Train station where we began...with a young bagpiper serenading us on the front lawn.

Logging is huge industry in New Zealand.  Near every port, one would see piles of logs waiting to be shipped to market.  The plantation forests are mainly Monterey pine which can be harvested in about 20 years.

Our last day in New Zealand was spent sailing past the fiords and islands of Fiordland National Park...a  Unesco World Heritage site.

It was great to be on our deck, watching the seals lying on the rocks...

...and checking out the mammoth waterfalls we passed by.

There are fourteen fiords in the park, some reaching 40 kms inland.  It is an unspoiled paradise of ancient rainforests, shimmering lakes and granite peaks.  We feel privileged to have seen it.

Our last few days on the Majestic Princess were sea days...heading back to Sydney, Australia where we began our voyage. It was a lovely ship...with staff always visible and ready to serve.

And the food. What can I say?  We were so spoiled!

We dined with our friends every night at an ocean view table...and soon got to know the Croatian folks seated next to us. We were sorry to part ways after our last supper.

But 'all good things must come to an end'.
And that is just a wee glimpse of our visit to New Zealand.

 Cruising does not allow for any  flexibility in schedules...
and there is no extra time to wander or get lost.
But the advantage is that we were able to see both islands...
and did not have to worry about a car (or driving on the wrong side of the road) or switching hotel rooms every day or two. 
Our cruise was a great introduction to New Zealand...
and maybe one day we will explore more!  

And with that...I will end my blog posts of our time 'down under'.
If you missed any of the earlier ones, they can be found here:

Thanks for following along!