Dear Family and Friends,
After months of planning, I finally get on a plane on Thursday to Los Angeles, where I will spend a day sightseeing with my brother before meeting up with great friend Susie and boarding another plane on Friday to Auckland, arriving early Sunday morning, May 3rd. I am very excited, but admittedly a little nervous because I have never been so far away from home for so long.
The itinerary was modified several times and what you see below is the latest but will likely change. Sadly, we had to cut a lot of places, including Bay of Islands (no surfing in New Zealand), Bay of Plenty, Christchurch, and the Milford Track in Fiordland National Park (hiking trail closes the end of April).
NORTH ISLAND, NEW ZEALAND
Sunday, May 3rd: Auckland
Monday, May 4th: Lake Taupo
Tuesday, May 5th. Tongariro National Park
Wednesday, May 6th: Whanganui National Park
Thursday, May 7th: Wellington
Friday, May 8th: Cross Cook Strait to Picton, South Island
SOUTH ISLAND, NEW ZEALAND
Saturday, May 9th: Half-marathon through Malborough wine country/Blenheim (followed by an ice bath!)
Sunday-Tuesday, May 10th thru 12th: Nelson and Abel Tasman National Park (trip highlight)
Wednesday, May 13th: Arthur’s Pass?
Thursday, May 14th: Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier
Friday, May 15th: Haast and Queenstown
Saturday, May 16th: Milford Sound?
Sunday, May 17th: Fly from Queenstown to Auckland
Monday-Thursday May 18th thru 21st
WESTERN SAMOA, UPOLU ISLAND
Wednesday, May 20th – 25th
Fly from Apia, Samoa to LA late night on May 25th, arriving afternoon of the 26th and then onward to DC, arriving at Dulles 5:25am on the 27th.
Total estimated air miles: 21,000
Total estimated flight hours: 45
Average temperature range: 55 degrees on South Island, NZ to 95 degrees in Samoa
The neighborhood library had a book sale on Saturday and I lucked out on some great paperbacks to take on the trip and unload as necessary to travel light. Started reading one of them, Aron Ralston’s Between a Rock and a Hard Place. If the name sounds familiar but you can't quite place it, he's the Colorado guy who self amputated his hand during a solo hike when it became trapped under a boulder. It’s a good read, and he actually wrote it himself, no ghost writer. Fans of Jon Krakauer would enjoy. By chance, did anyone recognize the title of this blog and its subheading? It’s Antoine de Saint Exupery. Just re-read The Little Prince and it's still one of my favorites!
Last Friday I was texting at the corner of my street when a passerby asked if I was lost and needed directions. The next day I was walking out of the house with a large but not heavy object. A couple walking by asked if they could help. Later that day I talked to a man who was having a furniture sale in front of his son’s house, up the street from the library. The man is from North Carolina, where he buys antiques, refinishes them, and sells the pieces up here as a hobby (he’s a retired banker). He remembered that I bought secretary from him in 2002 (amazing memory), and as I was leaving, gave me a bag of raw walnuts from the trees on his property back home. Really nice people. I value kindness above all else, and these interactions are reminders of what's good at home, but I hope to meet people on the trip who are as kind as the ones in my neighborhood.
The next post will be from Auckland. I will check mail whenever possible, so please stay in touch. Thank you for the wishes of safety and fun. Write to you soon.
P.S. Still learning how to use a digital camera (and how to insert pics into entries here), but these photos really capture the essence of the dogs.
Caesar. Handsome, no?
Hyena. A nice dog when she's sleeping.