Part 7: Auckland, Volcanos and The Marriage Survives!

More pictures at

We finally arrived in Auckland in the late afternoon. Our hotel was lovely, if a bit unexpected. The Langham Hotel is veddy, veddy much in the old British style, stately and serene with butlers galore to take care of you. We heard that this is where former president Clinton stays when he visits Auckland, ostensibly for the fly-fishing. Our tour guide claimed it was because the red-light district is just a couple blocks away, and therefore most convenient for “Billy-boy”.

Read more

Part 5: Queenstown to Christchurch … and onward to Rohan

Queenstown Harbor from Above

Our last full day in Queenstown was spent wandering around the city one last time. We went down to the beach and saw a lot of eye candy, which we both appreciated. Hey, just ’cause we’ve been married 30 years doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy looking! And then I saw something that made my eyes hurt. Let’s just say, the dude should not have been wearing a Speedo.

Read more

Part 4: Boats, Roads and Itty-Bitty Airplanes

TSS Earnslaw

Our first full day in Queenstown, we hopped on board a vintage coal-fired steamship, the T.S.S. Earnslaw, and crossed Lake Wakatipu to visit Walter Peak High Country Farm. It was a beautiful ride to another beautiful place. The Farm is a working sheep farm. We saw a very businesslike border collie herd sheep. Our tour guide then gave a sheep-shearing demonstration. The tour guide was a real character who delighted in pulling the wool over the tourists’ eyes, shall we say. We got a real kick out of him. The farm also had a herd of Scottish Highland Cattle, which we visited, and a small herd of fairly friendly deer. The stag had a very impressive rack, which he allowed me to touch carefully through the fence. The tour guide had told us that deer antler is much prized throughout Asia, being thought of as an aphrodisiac. However, I am not about to start sprinkling antler powder on my breakfast cereal for any reason!

Read more

Part 3: From One Country to Another – Sydney to Queenstown

More pictures at

Our last day in Australia was, as the others had been, hot. Every day we slathered on the sunblock before leaving the hotel. I also put on bug repellant, which unfortunately didn’t discourage the hungry bugs nearly as much as I’d hoped. Australia has some mighty tenacious bugs, damn their miserable, rotten exoskeletons.

Leo met with a group of his readers that morning while I did my share to stimulate the Australian economy at some of the local gift shops. Then we walked over to the Royal Botanical Gardens, which offer a really nice view of the harbor and Opera House as well as interesting flora. We really liked the various fig trees in the Gardens. Their roots and branches looked perfect for climbing and just lent the trees more personality. I especially liked the plumeria trees with their fragrant blossoms. The formal gardens of the Government House were rather disappointing in that there weren’t many things blooming, and of what was blooming, most things I was already familiar with. I was hoping to see something really tropical and exotic.

Read more

Part 2: Olga Fizzles, but Sydney Shines

Port Douglas is as pretty a harbor town as you could imagine. There are big parks at both ends of the main street, a beautiful marina just a couple blocks from downtown and multiple cozy coffee shops and bakeries. Lush foliage was planted everywhere. The shopkeepers were all friendly. It was so hot, nobody was in much of a hurry. It was a relaxing place.

We headed back to Thala Beach after stocking up on a few essentials. The road was lined with various resorts, and field after field of sugar cane. I remember thinking parts of Hawaii must look very similar.

Read more

Our Trip Down Under, Part 1: Large Aircraft, High Humidity and Koalas

[Kathy decided to write up our trip, both to help us remember it better as the years go by, and to share the story with friends. With her permission, and in installments, here ’tis for all.]

Joo, Kathy and Eugene

We left Seattle on a typically gray, damp day. The first flight was to L.A., where our good friends Joo and Simon and their 6 month old son Eugene met us. It was our first time to meet Eugene, who of course cried every time I held him. Simon said I shouldn’t feel bad, as Eugene cries when Simon holds him too. He is very much a velcro baby and wants to stick to Joo all the time. But he sure is cute.

Read more

Auckland Meet-Up

Thank You! to John, Dave and Jerry who joined me at the Symonds Street Starbucks. It was very nice to meet you all. I’m sorry there’s no group shot, but in addition to not all being there at the same time, my “camera person” had elected to sleep in that morning. And for the record, … Read more

Auckland, NZ

I was expecting not to be too impressed with Auckland. Not sure why, just didn’t expect to be.

Read more

Dinner in Hell

Today was a “day off”, so we shuttled into “downtown” Rotorua for some shopping and just general wandering around.

Read more

Rohan, Edoras and … a Corgi

The Lord of the Rings was filmed in several locations all over New Zealand. Even just flying into Queenstown on our arrival evoked images of many beautiful scenes from the movie.

So, it only made sense that we would take a “Lord of the Rings” based tour while we were here.

The Tour Vehicle's Plate

Read more

Blue Mountains

The Look

With the cancellation of the planed activities up in Port Douglas due to Cyclone Olga, we took our first formally organized tour – a bus tour up into the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.

The weather threatened (again) but things turned out quite well.

Read more

Sydney and Aussie Day

Here’s a thousand words:

Sydney Opera House

Yep – I took that, and yes, that’s the view out of our hotel room.

Actually it’s a small part of the view, since to the right is Circular Quay, and to the left the Sydney Harbor bridge.

I did take a panoramic shot from the roof of the hotel. (Because of the layout of the accessible roof portion, the picture’s mostly roof, but it’s pretty cool nonetheless.)

Read more