A Pause in the Story

Some of you have been able to follow along as the Blogger Babes have shared happy stories from New Zealand and Australia.

Photo Credit: Alys’ camera on timer ūüôā

Pauline (and her oh so much fun daughters Danella and Joanna, and Joanna’s partner Steve), Alys (and her husband Mike), Boomdee, and I had the most amazing time! Its hard to believe that after all the anticipation and planning, we are back home and blogging about it. I urge you to visit the blogs of these remarkable women and read their posts about the Blogger Babes Trip of a Lifetime. In case you are checking in for the first time, we:

All too soon our holiday came to an end, and some of our group journeyed back home. As for me, and for Alys and Mike, further adventures awaited. While Alys and Mike toured more of New Zealand, I prepared to fly off to Australia to begin my solo adventure. Before that though, I enjoyed hiking and jetboating in Queenstown.

Once in Australia, I spent two days touring Melbourne and one fabulous day in Sydney.

The trip was incredible and after a couple years of anticipation and planning, it is hard to believe that the trip is over, and that we are all back home. Of course, being back home means that the world intrudes and the fullness of life gets in the way of blogging, and visiting blogger friends. So while I have so much more to share from the trip, I’m going to take a short break from writing new posts to visit all of you.

I’ll be back soon to share stories and images from The Great Ocean Road and Grampians National Park.

Cheers!

Melbourne in 2 Days: The Solo Adventure Continues

With not even two full days to spend in Melbourne, I was up and out early, ready to explore.

The first thing that I did was find new accomodations.  Since my Air BnB experience proved to be less than satisfactory, I walked right next door to the Holiday Inn and booked a room.  Perhaps my assumptions were too high and I expected a bit more of a welcome rather than 3 changes in my contact person prior to arrival.  Perhaps as a newbie to the city, I needed a bit more guidance and information.  Perhaps I just needed a bit more cleanliness. Whatever the reason, my instincts had me moving on.  After booking a room and feeling much better about the situation, I eagerly set out to learn a bit about Melbourne.  I truly have no idea how many miles I walked (more than 5, less than 10), but I do know that I walked the city for hours.

What better way to start my tour than by taking a view of the city from the 88th floor of the Skydeck.

Next up was a walk through the National Gallery of Victoria,

and by the Victoria Barracks.

From the Skydeck I had seen the Shrine of Remembrance and knew that I needed to visit this solumn place.

During my two days of exploring this great city, I was so pleased to see all the green!  Melbourne boasts many parks full of gorgeous, mature trees, and the streets are adorned similarly.

Initially I wondered why so many of the abundant sidewalk cafes were not full (I never waited long for a table!).  Then I realized that the parks were full of people enjoying a picnic lunch.

The public art and celebration of the aboriginal culture were quite evident, as were the signs of activism and efforts to protect the environment. Aren’t you glad I didn’t take a photo of one of the many, many recycling bins?¬† Well, to be honest, I did! I just didn’t share it ūüôā

The city of Melbourne has an annual cultural festival called Moomba, an Aboriginal term which means ‘lets get together and have fun.’
What a crowd!

I thoroughly enjoyed this street performer while drinking a cold, local  beer at a nearby pub.

Both old and new architecture, often right next to the other, were eye catching.

My friends who enjoy searching for the good deal would have loved the Queen Victoria Market.

This city accomodates and all are welcome.  I loved seeing and took advantage of the free and easy Public Transportation, the easy walkability, the recycling bins, the Free WiFi, and YES, the clean toilets everywhere!

Melbourne is such an easy place to be a tourist, and I could not have been happier with my two days there.

Thanks to Boomdee and Alys for teaching me, after 6 years of blogging, how to use a photo gallery.

Thanks for reaching the end of this very full post.  Next Post:  Sydney!

New Zealand Wine Tasting

A trip to New Zealand would just not be complete without a visit to a winery, and we were fortunate to have Rippon within walking distance.  No matter the wine, the view alone is worth the visit.

Is that not incredible?  Stunning!

During the tasting we learned that “the winegrowing team’s principal commitment is to the soil. Nurturing a healthy, responsive medium underfoot binds the vines and the people to their land.¬† Biodynamic farming and no irrigation help the vine drive energy into its seed and issue raw material that is capable of fostering wines that are true to their place”.

My favorite of the wines that we tasted was the Pinot Noir.   The winery also produces a Sauvignon Blanc, an Osteiner, a Gerwurtztraminer, and an Riesling.  Of course, part of the fun of any tasting is the people you are with.

After the tasting, we enjoyed playing with photography,

and hanging out in the Chair for Contemplation.

Finally, with no Designated Driver required, we walked home.

Happiness!

Kayaking Lake Wanaka

On Monday, four members of the Wanaka Crew spent a couple hours kayaking on Lake Wanaka.  What a blast!  Photo credits go to Alys, Danella, and Joanna as I left my camera and phone on shore.  Information about Lake Wanaka was taken from various online sources.

Lake Wanaka¬†covers an area of 192¬†km2¬†(74¬†sq¬†mi)¬†and is New Zealand’s fourth largest lake.¬† It is estimated to be more than 300¬†m (980¬†ft) deep.¬† The clarity of the water is remarkable, especially to one who is used to the New River and Claytor Lake, which are full of organic matter.¬† The name Wanaka is Maori and means ‘The place of Anaka’, a local tribal chief.

At its greatest extent, which is roughly along a north-south axis, the lake is 42 k / 26 miles long. Its widest point, at the southern end, is 10 k / 6 miles.¬† The lake’s western shore is lined with high peaks rising to over 2000 metres / 6500 ft above sea level.

Wanaka lies in a u-shaped valley formed by glacial erosion during the last ice age more than 10,000 years ago. It is fed by the Matukituki and Makarora Rivers, and is the source of the Clutha River. Nearby Lake Hawea lies in a parallel valley carved by a neighbouring glacier.

We rented the kayaks from Paddle Wanaka, and while they did not provide much instruction or information (thank goodness I am not a novice!), they did encourage us to paddle out to Ruby Island.

Ruby Island – photo credit: Me!

We put in along the beach of Wanaka’s town center and paddled past an area of construction.¬† This tourist town is rapidly growing as evidenced by several new areas of development.

It took us about an hour to paddle out to the island.  Ruby Island has a boat jetty, a picnic table, and even a toilet (the word restroom is infrequently used here).  Our happy group posed in front of the Ruby Island sign.

 

Joanna took this great shot looking back out across the lake to our put in.

Other than a slight sunburn, it was a glorious day on the lake!

Daytrip to Queenstown

With Alys’ husband due to fly into the Queenstown airport, the 7 of us piled into two vehicles and drove the 68k into the city.

Can you guess who my seat mate was?

Along the way, we passed Bradrona, the famous “bra fence of Cardrona”.¬† The collection of bras started¬†around¬†1999, when four bras mysteriously appeared overnight on a fence along the Cardrona Valley Road.¬† It wasn’t until an unknown bra thief began cutting them away under the shadow of the night that the fence gained its notoriety.¬† Every time they were cut away, even more were added, and the bra count has reached over 7000.¬† The infamous¬†fence was rebranded to “Bradrona” in 2015 to raise money for breast cancer and $30,000 has been raised by people leaving¬†donations in a box at the site.

What a powerful monument to say the least.  While we did not leave our bras, we did make a monetary donation.

We weren’t on the road long before, unable to resist the incredible view, we stopped at the top of the mountain.

What a thrill and what a chill!

Check out that road down the mountain!

Our first views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu took our breath away!

One of the fun things about New Zealand is the ever present cafe with ourdoor seating.  We found a table and enjoyed the view, the buskers, and the coffee.

A quick walk through the Queenstown Gardens revealed old growth trees, more beautiful views, and quiet time for reflection.

Then it was off to ride the Gondola!

Absolutely incredible!

After oohing and aahing over the view, and taking many a photo, we settled into the lounge for drinks.

Photo Credit Alys Milner and her selfie stick

The clouds began to roll in.  Check out the difference between these next two images.

We took the trip back down and after dinner in the Queenstown city centre, we hit the road for Wanaka.

Tommorow: Kayaking!

Three Days in Dunedin

Please take a moment to read Alys’ take on our journey thus far ‚̧

Gardening Nirvana

I’m having the time of my life!

In some ways this journey began two years ago.  During a Skype session, the Blogging Babes, as we’ve come to call ourselves, dreamed out loud of a trip to see Pauline in New Zealand. In 2015 Pauline joined us on our side of the world for an incredible trip to Virginia and Washington, D.C. Our time together deepened the friendships and expanded our hearts.

Now here we are three years later, meeting up with Pauline and her two lovely daughters in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Mike drove me to the San Francisco airport where I connected with Laurie. Though I dreaded the 13 hour flight across the Pacific, I was in for some lovely surprises.

SFO at Joe & the Juice Putting our heads together at Joe & the Juice, SFO (This one’s for you, Joe)

We got our sillies on five minutes into our journey, before boarding the…

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The Drive to Wanaka

After organizing 7 people and packing up 2 cars, we were off to Wanaka (sounds like Monica or Hanukkah).  As is typical for New Zealand roads, the route was curvy and the scenery beautiful.

A brief stop along the way allowed Siddy to get a(nother) treat.

By 2pm, we were ready for a late lunch, and Monteith’s Brewery Bar in Alexandra was the perfect stop.¬† We enjoyed puppy friendly al fresco dining accompanied by Murphy’s Irish Stout (for me) and followed by a yummy flat white.

Soon enough, we were back on the road but another brief stop, this time at the Clyde Dam, offered some nice photo ops. The Clyde Dam, New Zealand’s third largest hydroelectric dam, is built on the Clutha River near the town of Clyde

With 45 minutes to go, we let Siddy enjoy the breeze.

And THEN we arrived at our temporary home.

What an incredible gift this week in Wanaka will be!