Lake Tahoe

Hello, everyone,

I know. I usually write blog posts when I am in another country; however, right here in Northern California, we have a most beautiful place to visit: Lake Tahoe. The lake does sit on the border of California and Nevada, and both side are very lovely. We (Frank and I) decided to take a week, for R&R, and stay (almost) local. This area is a two hour drive from our home. We came up here Friday afternoon, and checked into the Lake Tahoe Vacation Club. This is a very nice resort, and our room has a kitchen that makes it easy to do some cooking, if I want to do that. We weren’t here to cook, however, so we looked at other alternatives, like having fun!

Friday night, we took a dinner cruise on the paddle wheel boat, Tahoe Queen. That was a nice treat. Although it did get too dark to see much of the lake scenery, we enjoyed the dinner, visiting with our table companions and hearing the captain’s commentary on the history of the lake. The history is very interesting, but I would have to do more research to write intelligently on the subject. What I do know is that the lake is 2 to 3 million years old, and that it is the second deepest lake in the United States, surpassed only by Crater Lake in Oregon.

We arrived at the boat dock just as the sun was setting. I couldn’t ask for a more striking sunset.

So lovely.

Although the lake is shallower than usual, due to the drought, the boat was able to get through the narrow inlet into Emerald Bay. We enjoyed our little voyage. We had to be bussed from our vacation resort over to Zephyr Cove to take this trip. Usually, the Tahoe Queen sails from a dock not 100 yards from our hotel. Again, the drought is to blame.

Sunday we took a drive, went over the Carson mountain range into the desert terrain of western Nevada. We wanted to see Virginia City, which had been a booming metropolis in the 1890’s, during the silver mining heyday. It is hard, for me, to imagine the hardships people had to go through, to get up to Virginia City during that time. The road up to that city now is twisty, windy, lots of gear shifting and we were driving on a highway.! We had driven over the mountains from the very green, mountainous region of Lake Tahoe, crossed the Carson Range, and went immediately into desert country. However, visiting Virginia City is a step back in time, about 150 years, so I felt it was worth the drive to see this old city.

At St. Mary’s’ of the Mountains.

We parked near this church. This church was built in 1875, burned to the ground in 1875 and rebuilt in 1876. That tells me that the church was a very important part of the silver miner’s life. One block away stands the Episcopal church, built in the same era. So the miners had choices for their religious needs.

The Episcopal church

To get to the city center, we walked 2 blocks, uphill, to the Main Street.. On this street we saw saloon after saloon, a few brothels and an opera house. One saloon had a Suicide Table. I didn’t really investigate that, but we enjoyed our step back into time, without finding how to kills ourselves.

Yesterday, with the wind blowing all clouds away, leaving us with a wonderful sunny day, we decided to drive all the way around the lake. From our hotel, we drove west, then took a right turn onto Highway 89, and started following the highway that goes up the western side of the lake.

We stopped at an overlook where we could see the island in Emerald Bay.

There is one of the paddle wheel boats, going around the island.

We continued on our trip. I wanted to stop in Tahoe City, and see the area which is the only outlet from Lake Tahoe to the Truckee River. Usually, we would stand on the bridge, watch the fish swim up into the lake. So many people would be hanging over the railings, watching this, that the bridge became known as Fanny Bridge. Not so, now.

Not so good for swimming or diving.

We continued on our way, stopping at Gar Woods, in Carnelian Bay, for a late lunch, then back on to our home for the week.

Despite the drought, this area is still so peaceful, lovely to see, and lovely to stay here.

Today, the sky is an ominous gray. The temperature reached a high of 60 degrees F. We really hope that the rain predicted for tomorrow, does comes about, although it would impact our hiking plans. We need the rain..

I am happy we chose to do this time away from home. I am so glad to see the beauty of our Sierra mountains, and I am also happy that we only had to drive 2 hours to get here.

As I was driving, I remembered that one item on my Bucket List, is to kayak around the perimeter of the lake. The lake has 72 miles of shoreline. I think, that by kayaking 8 to 10 miles a day, I could do this in 10 days. However, I do not want to sleep on the beaches. I want a boat that has a motor, to follow me, just in case I get into trouble, and also someone to ferry me up to a nice hotel at the end of each day, so that I can shower, have a good meal, a glass or two of wine, sleep well, then be ferried back to my kayak the next day. I also would like someone to kayak with me.. Do I have any takers to join me on this trek?

This gorgeous lake.
Until we talk again,

Ciao for now,


I have to apologize. We were so busy during our last few days in New Zealand, that I simply did not have time to write without feeling rushed; therefore, I am writing about Wellington after I am back on United States soil. Nevertheless, Wellington is still very much in my mind. What a lovely city.

The official welcoming sign, showing how breezy Wellington can be..

We were fortunate that the weather continued to be in our favor. We had arrived in Wellington at night, so we were very happy to wake up to a beautiful sunny day for our tour of the city. Aaron had arranged a tiny little minibus with a driver, to take us on our tour. As Wellington is a very hilly town, we soon saw the wisdom in that choice.

First, we drove up to the top of a hill that can also be accessed by a cable car. From this vantage point, one can walk down through the lovely Botanical Gardens. We did not have time for that leisurely stroll, so our little bus took us down to the glass buildings of the gardens.

Some of the lovely orchids growing in the glass house.

Next, our driver took us up another very winding road to an overlook, where we could see the city and the Harbour.

Looking down at the city and the Lamdon Harbour

We visited Old St. Paul’s Church. This church was built in the 1860’s, by shipbuilders. It was the Diocese of the Anglican Church for over 100 years. When a new cathedral was built, this church was in danger of being torn down. Thank goodness the Historical Society prevailed, as this church is beautiful.

Looking down the aisle of the church. You can see the ceiling looks like an upside down ship’s hull. There is so much lovely wood in the church…engraved beams, the pews, the altars.

We drove past the Parliament houses…

The Beehive. This is the Executive Wing of New Zealand Parliament. I assume the beehive shape is to project how busy the Parliament is, in there.

But my favorite place of all was the National Museum, Te Papa. It is situated on the waterfront and is a fabulous collection of Maori culture, memories and exhibits of both World Wars, science exhibits, showing, and letting one feel, earthquakes. Dioramas of how volcanoes erupt, how the mountains are pushed up by sliding tectonic plates. We entered the realm of the deepest seas, and saw a giant squid, who was under glass and dead, I am happy to say.

Part of the quilt exhibit. Handmade quilts tell many stories in the Maori culture. These were so pretty, stitching so intricate. Maori women make these quilts, often as a social get-together, but there is a story in each one.

There was so much to see. Nearby our hotel, the waterfront area was so entertaining. Many shops, restaurants, outdoor art works, places to sit and relax. It is hard to believe this area was a thriving United States Marine Corps base during World War II. When the Marines left, they gave this land back to New Zealand, and this waterfront area was developed. What a great gift.

The day we left, I just had to go back to the museum. It had made such an impression on me, and there were areas I hadn’t seen, some I wanted to see again. One very nice feature of the museum is that is open to everyone, free of charge. There is a donation box so that contributions can be made to keep it free.

All in all, Wellington is a lovely city. There were so many little nooks and crannies…small parks with children playing, people sitting on the grass eating lunch, enjoying the sunshine. I could have spent more time there. However, all good things come to an end, so Wednesday afternoon we had to trek off to the airport, fly to Aukland and from Auckland fly back home to the United States.

This was a marvelous trip. Everyday was a new and exciting adventure. I enjoyed every minute of the trip.

There are still some stories and pictures I would like to share, in future posts. Particularly some of the foods that are considered ?delicacies? So, as I continue to re-live my fabulous New Zealand adventure, I will write more about the country.

Can you believe I have hardly mentioned the fantastic wines from this country? Oh, my. Definitely more posts coming your way.

But I must say, goodby for now,

Kia Ora,

It is now late at night. I am in my very comfortable hotel room in the heart of Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city. We had such a long day, I was certain I would sleep well. But, no. That was not to be. I was jolted out of a deep sleep by the sound of an emergency vehicle siren going past on the street below. I realized then, that we had not been in a big city since we left Auckland, which was nine days ago. How quickly my mind and body had adjusted to the quieter atmosphere of the smaller towns and the peacefulness of the great outdoors.

Early this morning, right after breakfast, we boarded our bus and left the west coast town of Greymouth. We had been blessed all week with sunny, pleasant weather. This morning, though, there were some clouds in the sky, and the air was quite chilly. With our excellent driver, Paul, we started going inland traveling a bit south and east, traversing the Southern Alps. We went over Arthur’s Pass, one of the highest mountain passes, driving on a steep, winding highway. Paul stopped the bus at a turnout, so that we could take pictures. The temperature outside was 34 degrees Fahrenheit, and a sharp, cold breeze blowing.

Looking back at the road we had just traveled, to get to the top of Arthur’s Pass and the river flowing along the base of the mountains.

We each took a couple photos, and we’re more than ready to hop back on the bus. We went just a bit further up the road, and stopped again at a cafe, so we could all get a cup of coffee. Then Aaron, our tour guide, led us on a short walk to a small chapel, then to the Visitor’s Center The little church was very pretty, as the window behind the pulpit looked out at a grand waterfall. Unfortunately, my picture did not turn out well, as the sun was shining brightly on the waterfall.

I will show you the window in the chapel, anyway, even if you cannot see the waterfall.

This area has many different kinds of outdoor activities: hiking, mountain biking, white water sports (don’t think that tiny river below the highway is the only river here). There is river fishing, lake fishing, just about any kind of outdoor activity is available. This is very rugged country, so one has to be knowledgable and prepared for dealing with the elements. One poster in the Visitors’ Center was entitled, “How to Kill Yourself in Arthur’s Pass”.

Back on the bus again, we started our descent into the valley, leaving the Alps behind us.

Sheep grazing in the mountain fields. This is prime country for Merino sheep, as they thrive best when they can graze on the mountains. We were told, later, when we visited the sheep station, that Merino sheep need a very different diet from the sheep that are raised in the valleys.

We visited a working sheep station, where the owner and his dog, Pete, gave us a demonstration of the herding qualities of the Border Collie. The shepherd actually use another dog, called a Huntawey (I don’t know how to spell that). The Huntawey barks, causing the sheep to group together in a herd. Then the Border Collie keeps them in a herd, and directs them towards the shepherd. We also got to see sheep shearing.

Pete, being loved by Stephanie

The naked sheep, with her wool on the floor.

Next, we went to a remote resort area for lunch. We had grilled lamb patties, sausages, baked potatoes and salads, along with several dessert selections. After lunch,we visited the alpacas, and some more sheep.

The alpacas.

When we left this place, we continued on to Christchurch, on the east coast. Christchurch had been devastated by two earthquakes: the first, in September, 2010, but the second one, in February, 2011, caused the greatest destruction. For me, it was very sad to see the city as it is now. Rebuilding has been very difficult. So many buildings have been torn down; others waiting to be restored or demolished. We had stayed in Christchurch in 2005, and the vision I saw today made me very sad.

The ruined cathedral.

We left the city, went towards the airport, and visited the Antarctic Center, which is right near the airport. I loved seeing the little blue penguins. That cheered me up.

These are the tiniest penguins in the world. The ones we saw today have been rescued, having suffered injuries to their tiny feet or flippers, rehabilitated, but they would not survive in the wild again, so their permanent home is at the Antarctic Center.

After our visit there, we were taken to the airport; there we had to say goodbye to Paul, who had been our driver and companion for the past several days. We flew from Christchurch to Wellington, arriving a little after 8:00 p.m. As I said earlier, it had been a very long day, but with so many interesting stops and sights.

We will be here for the next few days, and then our fantastic New Zealand adventure will come to a close. I will fly back to the United States late Wednesday afternoon.

I will try to get another blog post written, after we have had the chance to visit Wellington.

I do trust you have enjoyed visiting this amazing country with me, and that you are planning your own OAT trip to New Zealand.

There is so much that I haven’t written about. I haven’t told you about the food, the cultural differences between our countries…I will try to write about those things, and more, after I get home.

So I shall say goodnight for now, and try to get some sleep. I can only hope another siren doesn’t go by and wake me again. I shall try to adjust to city life again,


Kia Ora,

We had stayed overnight in the little town of Fox, very close to Franz Josef. Today, on a beautiful sunny day,me drove to Franz Josef. We were met at the beginning of the nature walk path by Paul, a local guide and expert on the geology and history of this glacier. Paul walked with us for about an hour, telling us about this fast-moving glacier. I had seen this ten years ago, and could not believe how far the glacier had retreated in that time.

There were some lovely waterfalls coming down the mountainsides.

The geology and the dynamics of this glacier were pointed out to us by Paul.

Paul and our group.

After visiting the glacier, we boarded our bus again and headed toward Greymouth, where we would stay for the next two nights. Being the pragmatic person that I am, I had thought I would compose my blog posts as we drove along the roads to each destination. Not going to happen! The scenery was so astounding, and so lovely, I just had to look out the window and see the cattle in the fields, the sheep on the hillsides, the deer farms, where they raise this very tasty venison as a market crop. In the background were the icy, snow topped Southern Alps. Wherever we went, the scenery was lovely, relaxing and I simply could not do anything but enjoy the view.

So simple, so clean and unadulterated.

When we got closer to the sea, where the rivers meet the sea, fishermen were netting “whitebait”. This is such a cultural delicacy that I shall not go into it now..this merits its own post.

Whitebait and Other New Zealand Delicacies. Coming soon.

We arrived at Greymouth in the early evening, got settled into our rooms, then enjoyed a cocktail and dinner with our group at the hotel.

Today we headed further north, still following the Tasman seacoast, until we came to Pancake Rocks, a geological but unique and beautiful natural phenomenon along the coast.
If you can see the layers of rocks, resembling pancakes: layers upon layers of fossilized sea life and minerals. Amazing. These do not exist anywhere else in the world.

Back on the bus again, we traveled inland to Reeftown, an old gold mining town, but still alive and vibrant. We had a special guide, again, another Paul. (We have learned that most of our guides and/or drivers are named either Paul or Mike). We had lunch at the visitor center, where we were joined by several kids from the schools around Reefton, as well as a few adults, who joined us for lunch and told us about life In their hometown.

After lunch we went to the re-created Bearded Miners’ Camp, where the old guys told us about the miners’ life in early Reeftown.

One of the miners explaining life in the old days.

We finished our day trip with a visit to a dairy farm. There, Nancy, one of our travelers, got to check an item off her bucket list. She got to milk a cow.

There goes Nancy, into the pit.
We visited with the delightful family that own the farm, and we’re very captivated by Laughlin, the 9 year old grandson, who took over the tour guiding, leading us into the gardens.

Laughlin is either going to be an OAT tour leader in about ten years, or a politician. He was very charismatic, explaining how his artistic aunt had built the garden over the past thirty years.

Eventually, we made our way back to Greymouth. We had the best intentions of going down to the beach for a sunset picnic, but we had some wine and snacks in Margaret and Maureen’s room here in the hotel, and we never got to the beach.

This has been a most awesome trip. The country of New Zealand is so unspoiled..towns are small and separated by miles and miles of open fields, mountains, or just treacherous terrain. The people living here are resilient, able to fix anything with Number 8 wire…they are very friendly and receptive to us, as tourists.

Also, our group of twelve are probably the most compatible group of travelers I have ever had the pleasure of traveling with. All of us have traveled extensively. In fact, Aaron told us, that between the twelve of us, we have done 65 OAT or Grand Circle tours, and we don’t even know how many trips we have each taken independently. This makes a wonderful group experience, when we talk about our travels, as we did tonight, over wine and snacks.

> Aaron, our tour leader, is a native New Zealander; he is a real Kiwi. Aaron is so passionate about his country, and he is so knowledgeable. Here is a picture of Aaron, taken in the Redwood Forest in Rotorua, showing us the silver fern, which is the national symbol of New Zealand.

It is hard to believe that tomorrow we will fly to Wellington, and in three days we will have to fly home.

I will try to write more later, but, as I said, I am so busy soaking up the scenery, the culture, the history of this country, I have been remiss in my writing, I know you will forgive me.

After I get home, I plan to write about differences in New Zealand culture from ours, as well as cuisine of this country, other aspects of New Zealand that I just haven’t had the time to write about.

I know, if you come here, once you see those snowy peaks of the Southern Alps, you will understand why I am writing when everyone else is sleeping . This is the only time I am not being distracted by the beauty of New Zealand.

Just one last picture, and I will stop.

Goodnight for now. Are you booking your Overseas Adventure Travel tour yet? A visit to this country should be on everyone’s bucket list.


Pictures of New Zealand

I will once again try to post some pictures of amazingly beautiful New Zealand. These will go along with the post of Queenstown and Mitford Sounds.

Reflection of the mountains in Mirror Lake

Beautiful snow capped peaks

Just got my water bottle filled in this pristine creek.

Mitre Peak, on Milford Sound.
I am sending these now, as I have so much more to write about this wild, unblemished South Island, especially the west coast.

Goodbye for a short time.


No pictures

I apologize for no pictures appearing on the Queenstown post of yesterday. I will try to troubleshoot the problem today. You simply must see the grandeur of this country.

I will see if these pictures will post here.

More to come later.

Off to more adventures.


For some reason, the pictures did not show up on the blog post

Begin forwarded message:

From: Dolly Goolsby <dollygoolsby>
Date: September 24, 2015 at 9:10:27 PM GMT+12
To: “soqi815jige” <soqi815jige>
Subject: Queens town and Milford Sound

Kia Ora,

Time is just flying by. I thought I would write about Queenstown and Milford Sound before now; however, there is so much to tell you, I had to revise again and again, to give you the highlights. This is such a beautiful, unique, majestic area that finding the words to describe it was a task.

First, we flew into Queenstown by way of Christchurch when we left Rotorua. After leaving Christchurch, flying south, these magnificent Southern Alps came into view. The day was brilliantly sunny, and I was constantly looking out the window. I finally had to take a short break, as I felt that I might go snow blind!

A view from the plane.

It was so interesting. All that vast expanse of land, mountains, lakes and streams, and no sign of human activity. As we neared Queenstown, I did see one isolated farm. One long lonely road leading up to it. The rivers were so interesting. They looked like giant silver braids. The small streams running down the mountainside were children’s scribbling lines. The mountains, with the snow on them, seemed to me that I was looking down and across a meringue pie. This scene, for the one hour flight, was absolutely breathtaking. How could the scenery get any better?

After we collected our bags and started for the town of Queenstown, we stopped on the way to visit Arrowtown, an old gold rush town that has been maintained to still have the 1860’s charm. There is one section that was the Chinese miners camp. Some of those old, tiny buildings have been kept as they were 150 years ago.

Main Street, Arrowtown

One of the larger huts in the Chinese miners’ section of the city.

After visiting Arrowtown, we made our way through Queenstown, to our hotel, which was situated on a hill overlooking Lake Wakatipu, just about a mile from the city center.
We all walked downtown that evening, had a great dinner in a pub in the city center, then Aaron arranged taxis to take us back up the hill, to the hotel and a good night’s sleep.

Early the next morning, we set off for Milford Sound. This involved a long bus ride through some of the prettiest country I have ever seen. For the first hour, we followed the lake side. Then we went inland, seeing different terrain, fields of sheep, fields of cattle grazing, pastures of farmed deer. We had to stop at one point, and let the farmer herd his cattle down the only road in the area.

It was rather fun, seeing the cattle being herded with a pick-up truck.

We stopped several times. Each time we were looking at another wonderful sight. Here we were, at a clear, pristine creek. We were able to fill our water bottles from the stream. The mountains in the background were so magnificent.

Now we stopped at Mirror Lakes

Eventually, we reached Milford Sound. By now we had traveled for over 5 hours, and the scenery had been so astounding. We were ready for a different kind of visual beauty: the lovely Milford Sound.

I hope you will know now why it has taken me so long to write this blog post. It is impossible to try to convey all the beauty, the magnificence of that area in this tiny blog post. (I have this one request: if you have not been to New Zealand, put it on your bucket list.). I think New Zealand is the most pristine, green and beautiful country in the world. I also think I will have to get a new Thesaurus, as I need more words to describe what I am seeing here.

Now Milford Sound. This is a body of water that flows out to Tasman Sea. We boarded a boat for a two-hour cruise of the Sound. We had a most lovely, sunny day to see all the surrounding hills and inlets, and the waterfalls cascading down the mountains.

One of the many waterfalls along the cruise.

We had such an adventure. Sadly, the cruise ended, and we had to go back to our hotel in Queenstown. We did travel back the way we came, so once again we were treated to the visual cornicopia. Aaron put on a movie for the last two hours of our trip; a film about a New Zealander and his desire to see how fast his motorcycle would go. If you haven’t seen it already, rent the movie , “World’s Fastest Indian”, starring Anthony Hopkins. It is based on a true story, of a real, genuine New Zealander.

We got back to the hotel late in the evening, a bus load of tired, but happy travelers.

As I said earlier, could the scenery get any better? I don’t know if the scenery is better, but we certainly have seen more and more spectacular views.

Today was another day of visual, sensory overload. I will try to get today’s adventure onto the blog soon, as tomorrow we will have another adventure.

I am so happy that I have had the opportunity to see New Zealand again, and that I can share it with you. At least a bit of it. You must come see it for yourself.

Until next time,

Good night,


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