#MySawyerBracelet

A friend’s 10 year old son Sawyer (nicknamed SOY) died unexpectedly in October 2016.  Sawyer’s loving and devastated family had bracelets made for their friends & family to wear and to remember Sawyer by.

To remember the joy of his life not the sadness of his death.

Sawyer’s mother, Jaime, created a blogspot so that folks can post pictures of the places they take the bracelets.  Having friends wear the bracelets helps the family connect with Sawyer’s memory and reminds them that he has not been forgotten.   As friends, we know that we are carrying the memory of Sawyer on the adventures we have and the places that we visit.

In addition to wearing #mysawyerbracelet throughout New Zealand and Australia, I wore a bracelet in honor of my friend David, who died in 2010.

The bracelets never left my wrist and accompanied me while I sat in the Chair for Contemplation at Rippon Winery in Wanaka New Zealand.

Through the pine forest along the Queenstown Hill Time Walk and when adding a rock to the pile

From the summit of Queenstown Hill

Overlooking Lake Wakatipu

From the top of Bob’s Peak

On the train to Sydney …

… and on the train back to Melbourne

While driving on the left side of the Great Ocean Road (and on the left side of the car)

While talking with another bracelet wearing bar patron about the friends and loved ones we carried along with us

Outside this tiny little house and over this tiny little door

and while enduring three rounds of incredibly “intimate” security checks.

#mysawyerbracelet was along with me while riding a gondola, a jetboat, a kayak, a 5 person trike, 3 summits, and 11 different planes.

It was an honor to bring the spirits of Sawyer and David along with me on this journey.

Hiking and Jetboating in Queenstown

It was with mixed emotions that the Wanaka Crew began to disperse Thursday morning, with all of us checked out of our gorgeous temporary home on Friday.  What an incredible journey blogging has been for all of us!  Who knew that when we all published our first posts, for me back  in June of 2012, we would meet and make such great friends.  The benefits to blogging are many and without a doubt, the best part is the worldwide connections that are made.

This image nipped from Alys’ FB page: Boomdee, Alys, Danella (daughter of Pauline), Pauline, Steve (partner of Joanna), me, Joanna (daughter of Pauline), and Mike (Alys’ husband).

After one last lunch with Pauline, Danella, Boomdee, and Siddy, with this view as the backdrop, I was dropped at my Queenstown Hotel.  It was time to start my solo adventure.

Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of the world, and with just one and a half days to spend there, I had many choices.  Ultimately, I decided to hike Queenstown Hill and, on the advice of Danella, to take a jet boat ride on Lake Wakatipu.

After walking by this gorgeous tree, I began my morning with the now customary Flat White.  I was thrilled to see this Giant Sequoia since I’ve not seen them in California yet.

They Call it a “Hill”

Queenstown Hill is a popular hike for locals and visitors alike despite the moderate to difficult rating.  While only 3k from the trail head and back, it was another 3k on foot to get to the trailhead.  It’s 500m to the summit, straight up hill all the way.  Click on each image in the gallery to get an idea of the steep climb, both on the street and the trail.

Soon enough I entered a magical area of stacked rocks.  I was capitavated and spent a good 15 minutes in peace and quiet, and then added my own rock.  The photography is poor as it was quite dark and I just didn’t capture the stacks well.

I knew that I was near the summit when I arrived at the Basket of Dreams.  Sculptor Caroline Robinson created this piece in 2000 for the Queenstown Millenium project which has  transformed the existing walk into a heritage and art trail.  The ‘Basket’ is near the top of the hill and “is built to lie inside of, eat your sandwich, and imagine. It provides a meeting place, a resting place, a dreaming spaceIts a place to be with others and with the magic of the Wakatipu landscape”.

I began what I thought were the final steps (the basket is right in the middle of this next image).  It is so tiny as seen here.  Then I turned around and saw that I had several more steps to go (see the second image).  Can you see the people on the summit?

Finally! I arrived on the summit and the view is indescribable, at least for me.  I mean, how many more times can a person say “incredible, gorgeous, stunning”?

I sat in complete contentment for a long while.  A woman came up and asked if she could take my photo as I looked so quiet and peaceful.  What a thoughtful gesture as I would not have been able to manage a selfie.

It was difficult to leave this place.  Thankfully, a celebratory beverage and a jetboat ride awaited me.  I enjoyed my Monteith’s Black as I looked back up to the summit.  Can you see it, peaking through the trees?

And then I looked towards the lake.

It was a specatacular day for a jetboat ride!

What a thrill, and even though 60 minutes, not long enough!  My time in New Zealand came to an end all too quickly, despite being there almost 2 weeks.   What a remarkable country!

Now though, it was almost time to get on that plane, and fly to Melbourne.

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!

Dunedin: Rest, Recovery, and Pauline’s World

When we finally went to bed, I can honestly say that I don’t remember my head hitting the pillow.   Eight solid hours of sleep later, I was wide awake and feeling pretty good.  Even still, it takes more than 8 hours to recover from that long day of travel, and I was glad that we had a low key day spent exploring Pauline’s world, including her family.

We awoke to see Danella’s patio garden.  Even though the day was overcast, the flowers beckoned and my camera was soon put into action.  I’ve never taken my laptop on a trip before but I knew that I would want to share photos from the camera, not just the phone.

Danella provided coffee and toast (perfect with fresh tomotoes!) and soon Pauline and Siddy joined us.  That Siddy! He is adored by everyone that he meets.  What a sweet puppy!

After a quick nap, we took the short ride to Pauline’s home.  After a lifetime of seeing the driver in the front left seat, it was odd to see just the opposite.  Siddy, on Alys’s lap, enjoyed the fresh air!

Fans of Pauline already know what a talented artist she is.  It was wonderful to see her space and all her creations, and of course, the illusive Orlando!

 

We enjoyed an assortment of snacks accompanied by New Zealand wine, and after being joined by Joanna and Steven, a delicious dinner.

Dessert was the traditional Pavlova, prepared by Pauline and served by Joanna.  Evidently, New Zealanders and Australians disagree over who created this yummy dessert.

Before heading back to Danella’s for the night, we took a drive to see the ocean.  See the next post!

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