Queenstown

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We were now on our way from Christchurch to Queenstown – a bit of a bus ride as you can see by this map.

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We would be spending the next several days here.  We checked into the Rydges Lakeside Resort.

I don’t think I have mentioned yet how beautiful New Zealand is.  To give you an example, here are views that greeted us at breakfast each morning.

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We had several things scheduled for our first full day in Queenstown.  First was another Skyline Gondola ride.  I really don’t like cable cars.

The view from the top was impressive, though.

After the gondola ride it was off to a wine tour and tasting at Gibbston Valley Wineries.

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Kathy posed next to the greeter at the winery.

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We left there and headed to Arrowtown, an historic gold mining town.  This stop really made Kathy’s day.  I won’t say why, but I am sure you can figure it out from this picture.

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I would not be telling the truth if I said some purchases weren’t made here.  Arrowtown is basically a  one street town.

From there we headed back to the hotel because we had dinner plans.

At 5:30 that evening we headed down to the dock, a five minute walk from the hotel and boarded the TSS Ernslaw which would take us to Walter Peak for a gourmet BBQ and sheep sheering show.  The Ernslaw

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is a steam powered boat, so for the entire trip, about 1 hour, this guy shoveled coal.

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The sun set while we were on the boat giving us some beautiful sights.

People just sat and enjoyed the trip.

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At Walter Peak our group was assigned a table for dinner.

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The meal was delicious.

After eating, we went outside to a large shed for the sheep shearing show.  We had someone explain to us how, when, and why the sheep were sheared.

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He then went about defleecing(?) a sheep.

After that it was a stop at the mandatory gift shop.  I did buy myself a pair of gloves because I didn’t take any with me and it was cold.

We then headed back to the ship for our trip back to the hotel and a well earned sleep.  Next week, Milford Sound.

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Christchurch

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Well, our time in Australia is over, but our trip isn’t.  From Sydney we hopped a plane for a three hour flight to New Zealand.  We were warned that New Zealand is extremely strict on what you can and cannot bring into the country.  No food of any kind is permitted.  In fact, there are food sniffing dogs at the airport.  One of our troupe had an apple in his pocket that he ate at the Sydney airport.  The dog in NZ sniffed his pocket and he was asked about food.  Luckily he had eaten it because it is an automatic fine of $300 if you are caught bring food into NZ.

Map of New Zealand

As you can see, New Zealand is made up of a North and South island.  We started in the south at Christchurch. Some of you may remember an earthquake that hie Christchurch in 2011, I believe.  Well, the city is still recovering from it.  On our way to the hotel we passed a church that had received severe structural damage.  There is an ongoing argument by the people there as to whether it should be restored or torn down and rebuilt.  The main proponent of rebuilding is a bishop who wants her name preserved for posterity as the one who had it rebuilt.  You can see the damage in these pictures.

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This sculpture was in the courtyard in front of the church.  I just liked the looks of it.  I am sure there is a story to it , but I don’t know what it is.

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That evening we had an interesting dinner.  Instead of eating as a group or being left on our own to find a place to eat our tour guide divided us into groups of 4 – 7 and arranged for us to eat with a local family in their home.  This is the family Kathy and I , as well as four others, had the pleasure of dining with.

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We had a traditional meal of lamb with all of the fixings.  For dessert we had rhubarb pie made from rhubarb grown in the family’s back yard.  It was a delicious meal and plenty of interesting conversation.

The next day we started off on a six hour bus trip which I will talk about next week.  Before we left Christchurch we stopped here.

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In case you are wondering why we stopped here it was because this is New Zealand’s tribute to 9/11.  Those beams are from the World Trade Center.

Next week we travel south to Queenstown.

 

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Last Stop, Sydney

The last stop on out Australia trip was Sydney.  Our first night there we were scheduled for a harbor dinner cruise.

We are waiting as our boar comes into dock.

It was a relaxing and delicious meal.

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We saw the Opera House lit up.

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The next day we had a full day of sightseeing.  We hopped on the bus and headed to our first stop, Mrs. Macquaries Chair.  Instead of giving you a history lesson, here it the plaque so that you can read about it instead.

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And here is the chair with two of our friends sitting on it.

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From here we got back on the bus and headed out to Bondi Beach.  Along the way we stopped at this scenic spot.

Because of the height and the rocks below this point, many people have decided to jump from this point because life got to be too much for them.

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However, there was a man who lived across the road from this spot and whenever he saw someone who looked like they were contemplating jumping he would go over to them and invite them back to his house for tea.  He would talk to them and as result saved many lives.

Bondi Beach is considered one of the “must see” spots in the Sydney area.  It is easy to see why.

And one more.

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I was fascinated by these trees.  I love how the needles grow up.

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We left the beach for a tour of the Opera House.

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On prominent display is a portrait of Dame Joan Southerland.

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We got into several theatres where rehearsals were going on, but we were not allowed to take pictures.  It was then time for lunch.  Our tour director treated the group to pizza.  The toppings were a bit unusual.  One was a traditional cheese pizza. One had emu topping.   Another had kangaroo topping.  The last had crocodile topping.  Yes, I sampled all three.  I did like the croc the best.  Of course, put enough tomato sauce and cheese on anything and it has to taste good.

After lunch we took a walk onto the Sydney Harbor Bridge.  Some people chose to do the bridge climb; I did not.  Heights and I just don’t get along very well.  I did, however walk on to the pedestrian walk and took some pictures of the Opera House from the Bridge.

That night Kathy and I had tickets to see a operetta at the Opera House – “Two Weddings, One Bride”.   We took a cab back down to the harbor and got some more night pictures before the show.

On our last day in Sydney, we went to Featherdale Wildlife Park.  Of course there were more koalas to see.

There was a Cassowary:

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cassowaries (/ˈkæsəwɛəri/) are ratites (flightless birds without a keel on their sternum bone) in the genus Casuarius and are native to the tropical forests of New Guinea (Papua New Guinea and Indonesia), nearby islands, and northeastern Australia.[3]

There are three extant species. The most common of these, the southern cassowary, is the third-tallest and second-heaviest living bird, smaller only than the ostrich and emu.

Let’s not forget the quokka.

 

While there we were treated to some Billy Tea and got to see and learn about dingos.

With tea we had some delicious snacks.  My two favorites were lammingtons and ANZAC biscuits.  I even got a recipe for the biscuits (cookies) and have made them a few times.

After this it was back to the hotel to get ready for our flight from Australia.  Our trip, however, is not over.  Next week: New Zealand.

 

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Feeling Old

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Even though I will be celebrating my 66th birthday on Friday, I don’t always think of myself as old.  Granted, aches and pains I didn’t have years ago tell me otherwise.  I still try to keep active and do thing I enjoy doing, sometimes at a slower pace.

However, once in a while something happens that really makes me feel ancient.  One such thing happened last Thursday.  It was an normal day.  One where the only things planned were going to the annual newspaper book sale – paperbacks for $1.00 and hardbacks for $3.00 – and then taking Dustin to the vet in the afternoon.  Somehow he, or one of his housemates, scratched his eye so we had to put drops in ti for a week.  This was to be his follow up visit.  His eye is fine.

Getting sidetracked here – guess I am old.  Anyway, after the book sale I needed to go to Rite Aid to pick up something.  There is a Subway next door.  Because Dustin’s vet appointment wasn’t until 4:40 and I knew until we got home neither of us would feel like cooking dinner, I suggested to Kathy that we stop in Subway and get a sub to take home for dinner that evening.  She agreed.

We went in and a nice young man, I am thinking summer job, took care of making our sub.  We were talking back and forth while he loaded our sub with the things we wanted. The conversation eventually got around to books.  At one point the conversation went something like this:

Young Man:  “So, what is your favorite book?”

Kathy:  “Oh, my!  There are so many.  I guess one of my favorites would have to be Gone With the Wind.  I read it when I was in high school.”

YM:  “Oh (this is where I really felt old) I never heard of that one.  What was it about?”  (Oh my!)

K:  “Well, it was about the Civil War and the South”

YM:  “Sounds interesting.”

At this point I felt like get me a rocker for the porch and a blanket for my knees.

 

 

 

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Quilt Odyssey 2017

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On Friday Kathy and went took a trip to Hershey for the annual Quilt Odyssey.  As is always the case, the quilts on display did not disappoint.  Although this show is known more for its artsy quilts, there were a few more traditional ones on display as well.  Hope you enjoy this tour through the show.

To begin, there were more whole cloth quilts here than what I have usually seen.  In case you are not familiar with what a whole cloth quilt is let me explain.  It is usually one solid piece of fabric with an intricate design quilted over the entire top.  Sometimes batting is placed between rows of stitching to make the design pop. This is called trapunto.  You might be able to see some examples of trapunto on this quilt.

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If there are any hockey fans out there, this one is for you.

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Each quilt show has its share of pictorial quilts.  Here are a few.  This one won for best pictorial.

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This one I just loved.

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One more for the road.

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Animals of all sorts are a popular theme for many quilts.

And of course, my favorite animal.

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Traditional designs can take on a whole new look depending on the fabrics used.

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Here are a few more of the traditional variety.

I happen to like bold bright colors.

A quilt doesn’t need to have many colors in it to be striking.

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In recent years, row by row quilts have become more popular.

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I think you can see why this one won first place in the group quilt category.

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Here are a few more that I just decided to snap pictures of for no other reason than they caught my eye.

Not all quilts are square of rectangular.

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To end with, here is the quilt that was chosen as Best of Show.  No explanation needed.

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Next week, back to Sydney.

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Kuranda Rainforest and Aboriginal Park

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I can honestly say that today was one of the days we were really looking forward to.  It was an added excursion, but one we did not want to miss. Today was the day we would get to actually hold a koala.

At 8:00 A.M. we left the hotel to head to the Kuranda Village and Rainforest.  We would take a train up to the village and then ride the Skyrail back down – not something I was looking forward to which I will explain later.

Here we are waiting for the train, seeing it coming into the station, and the car that was designated for our group.

We got settled in for the hour ride up the mountain. There were some spectacular views.  At one point the train stopped so that we could get out and take some pictures.

When we reached our destination, Kuranda Village, it was off to the Koala Gardens.

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This is where we got to hold the koala.  There are only two or three places in the world where you can do this so there was no way we were not going to sign up for this opportunity.  It was worth it.

They are as cuddly as they appear although their claws are extremely sharp.  Here are some doing what koalas do.

Koalas were not the only animals in the gardens.  There were wallabies.  They didn’t mind eating from your hand.

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They were not fenced in.

In another section we saw this critters.  Not my favorite.

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Just in cast you would like a different angle.

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As we left the garden to get some lunch I spied this hanging on the wall. It has nothing to do with Australia, koalas, or anything else.  I just happen to play one so I had to take a picture.

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After lunch it was time to head back down the mountain via the Skyrail.   This was a 45 minute ride that took us above the rainforest.  If you have been reading my posts for any length of time you know that it is no secret that I am cot a fan of heights and cable cars in particular.  So here I was getting into a car that would take us over the rain forest.  Imagine how tall a rainforest can be and then imagine being that much higher over it.  Enough to give me the willies.  But I went.  Luckily Kathy and I had the car to ourselves.

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Before we could start down the mountain, we had to go up…and up…and up.

The view really were spectacular.

We finally got to the top and then started our trip down.

More beautiful views.

This was kind of interesting.  We weren’t sure what was happening.  We saw water skiers, but couldn’t see boats.  It seems that the skiers hold on to a bar that is attached to a cable which is attached to a mechanism that pulls them around the water.  Who needs a boat.

When we got off of the Skyrail it was a 3 minute walk to an Aboriginal village, our next stop.  Here anyone who wanted to could have their face painted.  I chose not to.

We had a short presentation on Aboriginal culture.

Everyone was invited to join them for a dance.  I took pictures instead.  I admit I am not adventurous.

From there our group was shown how to throw a spear.  No one impaled themselves.

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Then it was on to boomerang throwing.  No one hit themselves with a returning boomerang.

Next we had a lesson on herbs, foods, and medicines.

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Our day ended with a stop at the mandatory gift shop and then it was back to the hotel for dinner and a well deserved rest.  After all, tomorrow it would be off to Sydney.

 

 

 

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Cairns – Day 1

It is time once again to hop an plane, leave Uluru, and head to Cairns.

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As you can see from the map, we left the Outback and headed to the coast.  I must admit that I have always mispronounced the name.  I thoughts it was pronounced similar to Karens.  I was wrong. The correct pronunciation is “Cans”.  i never knew that.

Anyway, we spent two days here.  This post will just concentrate on Day 1 because I believe it is worth its own post.

We left out hotel at 8:00 A.M. and headed to the dock.  We boarded a boat similar to this one

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and headed out to spend the entire day at the Great Barrier Reef.  All I can say is, “Oh my!”

It took an hour plus to reach the docking platform.  You can see from these pictures that it was a beautiful day with beautiful views.

Of course, we were not the only boat traveling out to the reef.  However, each boat had its own docking platform so we were not overcrowded .

Because we were spending the entire day at the reef, there were sever activities we could do and lunch was provided.  Our choices included: Semi Sub, Glass Bottom Boat, Snorkel, Heli Flight, and Helmet Dive.

Not being swimmers Kathy and I just did the Semi Sub and Glass Bottom Boat.  We did each one twice.  The first time I was busy snapping pictures so I missed a lot.  The second time I didn’t have my camera or phone out so that I was able to enjoy the beauty of the reef.

Here are some pictures form the Semi Sub.

Because of the tinted windows and the water itself the pictures aren’t the best.  The coral was beautiful, though.

After the sub ride we went on the Glass Bottom Boat.  This gave a different perspective of the reef because we were looking down at it instead of riding through it.

Lunch was served next.  There was a great variety of things to eat.  I decided to start with some prawns.  IO admit that I don’t usually want my food looking at me as I am eating it.

 

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I will say that they weren’t as tasty as I thought they would be.

Do one on our tour opted for the Heli Ride.  I didn’t think I wanted to be in a helicopter over the water.

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Many of our group did go snorkeling.

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Through a window in the platform we could watch the Helmet divers.

One diver was spelling out the wordy “Hi Mom” and snapping a picture of it to send home.  Couldn’t get a picture of this, though.

Around 4:00 we boarded the boat and headed back to port.  A storm was headed our way but we got back to port before it hit.

You can imagine that after being out on the water all day we all had a good night’s sleep.

Nest week, Cairns, Day 2.

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