Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Home Again!!

Hello All,

It is Wednesday evening at 11:27 pm in has been Wednesday for us for a very long time! Hopefully this last blog finds you all matter what country you live in!!

After flying from Christchurch to Auckland, we had a long but uneventful flight on Air New Zealand from Auckland to Los Angeles. Interesting how you have to move from one terminal to another in a lot of these cities if you are going from a domestic flight to an international flight. We were so thankful for the smart carts (well they call them that in Atlanta) to put our luggage on as we had to make about a 10 minute walk between terminals in Auckland to get on an international flight and then when we got to LA we had to do the same after going through customs and picking up our bags to get to the domestic terminal to board a Delta flight home.

Ron, Ken and Whitney met us at the airport and we stopped for a Starbucks on the way home. Upon arriving at our house Duff got his big surprise! While we were gone Ken oversaw a project I had requested. We have a new sprinkler system and a new lawn. They relocated a tree for us and now we just pray that the new lawn will not die before 'taking root'!! Atlanta is going thru a real drought and the county had threatened to turn off our water due to the sprinkling. (I guess a neighbor reported us while we were gone) However, there is an ordinance that new landscaping can water for a period of time.....who knew my timing would be soooo bad!

Our other surprise was all the work our daughters-in-law had done here. We had a welcome home basket and the essentials of food in the house and it is decorated for fall! Sweet welcome home signs everywhere and Michelle had cleaned the garage and by giving away some of our furniture from the basement (with our permission) we now have room to walk around down there. Looks like someone did up the laundry that was dirty when we left!
We are really blessed to have the family we do! Philip just called and they will be by tomorrow.

We cannot put into words how wonderful our trip was...........hopefully you have enjoyed it along with us and just ask us....we have pictures!!
Mary and Jim

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

West Coast NZ to Christchurch NZ

Tuesday we traveled from the beautiful west coast across the Southern Alps and Arthurs Pass (see picture) back to the West Coast returning to our hosts, Rob and Evelyn Meikle's home about 3 p. m. We returned the rental car, and walked back the few blocks to their home. We enjoyed yet another meal and evening with them until dropping into bed. Our last night out!!

This morning we have packed and are ready for our long journey home. We are currently 17 hours ahead of Atlanta. It will be interesting to see what type jet lag we experience! I think we arrive in Los Angeles before we leave here!

Take care until we see you or speak with you on the phone.
Jim and Mary

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Hokitika, New Zealand

Hi to All in USA, PNG and New Zealand!!

We have had very little feedback (comments) since sending our blog from New Zealand..........have you quit reading?? Today we had quite an active day!! Read on.............

We had a delightful breakfast with our hosts at the B&B we stayed at last night. Homemade multigrain bread, fresh squeezed juice, etc. (This was our splurge night!! Really the only one since we left home and it was wonderful.)

We left Murchison and stopped first at Maruia falls on the Buller river. These falls were caused by the 1929 earthquake that occurred in the area. We took a short walk down to the river.

Moving on toward Westport we stopped at N Z longest swinging bridge which crosses the Buller Gorge/River. Despite fear of heights Mary determined she would cross the bridge. Fortunately only the two of us were on the bridge at one time. We took a loop walk viewing remnants of an old gold mine, as well as the site of the fault line of the '29 earthquake. At the end of the loop walk we had to decide whether to return to the other side of the river on a zip line or on the same bridge. Finally we decided to ride tandem on the zip line! This was a blast and the guy at the other end was suppose to be videoing our ride and he forgot! Wouldn't you know it? all you get are 'still' shots!! (We have a video that Duff took from behind!) I would have insisted on another ride but I would have had to cross the bridge again.....not worth it!!

Our next stop was in Panakaiki....this was to view 'pancake rocks' and the blow holes. Unfortunately we saw only one small blow hole but the rock formations were incredible.

We got to Greymouth about 4 pm and stopped at the grocery store. Then we drove on to Hokitika. This is a seaside town with many more accomodations than eating establishments!! So we managed to find fish and chips at a take-away cafe for dinner.

After eating b'fast (Coffee, Evelyn's fruit and some date scones) in the morning we will head out for Arthur's Pass (nestled in the Southern Alps) and on to Christchurch. Tomorrow night and Wednesday morning we will spend with our fun & graciuos Christchurch hosts, the Meikles, and they will drop us at the airport midday Wednesday for our long journey home to the states!!

We have had an incredible 7 weeks and cannot even put into words what it meant to spend 4 of those weeks in PNG. We loved it!!

Our Best to all.....
Mary and Jim

Note to Jan and Patrick: We just enjoyed a Magnum in your honor!

Blenheim to Murchison, New Zealand

This is a short post to be filled in tomorrow, as it is late, almost 11 pm, and Mary is asleep.

We left Blenheim and favored the Queen Charlotte Drive along the Marlborough Sound, through Picton, Havelock (famous for the green shell mussel, so of course we ate a big bowl of the chowder...ummmm) and on down to Murchison. We are staying tonight in a B & B, on the Buller River, in a farm setting which is just delightful. Scenic, rustic, comfortable, and great hosts in Shirley and Merv, who are from the UK, and split their time between here and there. We happen to be the only guests tonight and so we had the 5 bedroom home all to ourselves this evening with a fire in the stove...very relaxing and we took a walk through the pasture to the river. See old bossy!! (Not Mary!)



Saturday, November 3, 2007

Blenheim, New Zealand

Blenheim, New Zealand
Northern South Island

It is Saturday evening, November 3, 2007. We did not report on our blog yesterday so this will be another catch up.

Yesterday morning we got up and after breakfast went with Bob and Evelyn to their holiday home. They had not been there since before they went to the states in May. The scenery along the very curvy road was spectacular! Their place is located near the Akaroa Harbour in Wainui. They have several fruit trees in the back yard and Evelyn gathered fruit, flowers and did some trimming while Bob and I used 2 mowers and mowed their lawn. I think Duff had a nice nap while we were outdoors. Evelyn had quiche prepared for us for lunch which was quite good! On the way back to Christchurch we walked around Akaroa, a neat little village established by French settlers in 1840 and stopped for a Latte’. We had been following the weather forecast and it did not yet look promising for the route we wanted to take which was west and south!

This morning we got up and due to the continued poor forecast for the west coast made our decision to travel north and see what we could. We did enjoy the scenery all day from the mountains to the sea! As we drove through the lush green rolling foothills leading to the mountains and observed all the sheep grazing all I could think about was the 23rd Psalm! Surely that was what David was seeing when he wrote that Psalm. Green pastures and still waters, the sheep and their shepherd!!

Stopping for lunch in Kaikoura, we sat outside and looked to our right and saw snow capped mountains and to the left the South Pacific Ocean. Driving along we saw seals sunning themselves on the rocks along the shore. It was truly an incredible drive. We arrived in Blenheim around 5 pm and after checking out several places we found a nice motel room.

Tomorrow we will tour the Marlborough Sounds area at the top of the south island before making our way to the west coast. We plan to take the next 3 days touring what we can based on weather. And cross back to Christchurch Tuesday afternoon where we will stay again with Bob and Evelyn before flying out on Wednesday the 7th.

Pictures are: 1) view from The Meikles holiday home 2) Mary and Jim today at lunch. We will check email and publish this in the morning before leaving town…having located a travel cyber spot this evening. Our best to all!
Mary and Jim

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Christchurch, New Zealand

It is Thursday evening..........

We blog last night. The hotel in Auckland had wireless but wanted to charge $$$$ and it was very late and so we said 'Forget It'.

This morning we flew into Christchurch where we were met by our new friends, Bob and Evelyn Meikle. This delightful couple are friends of my sister's and have stayed in her home many times off and on since the 80's. They volunteered to take us under their wing and guide us as to the activities we should undertake here on the south island of New Zealand, mostly based on weather patterns. Obviously we haven't a lot of time and we want to see it all, so I imagine we will have to come back some day.

Duff still isn't up to par having experienced some abdominal distress since last Sunday. After getting in today he took a nap for a couple of hours and Evelyn and I walked to the mall nearby. (If in doubt shop!!) No, really we went for groceries and while there we wandered through a couple of nearby stores. This afternoon Bob took us on a driving tour of Christchurch. This is beautiful country....lush scenery ....lots of sheep (well we are in New Zealand) We will make a decision in the morning after seeing how Duff feels and what the weather is doing as to just what direction we will head.

Attached is a picture of our gracious hosts! We are really enjoying them.....thanks Miriam for sharing.

More to you all tomorrow!!