Friday, April 25, 2008

The next update

Greetings from the South Pacific!

Wednesday, 4/23/08
A day at sea and it has been pretty rough through the night but getting calmer today. Just kind of hung out, watched movies, played scrabble and cribbage. We enjoyed meeting new folks and eating. I have been enjoying the spa and the saunas and steam rooms. Just a little decadent but why not!

Thursday, 4/24/08
Finally after 5 days at sea and inclement weather, we landed in Auckland, New Zealand. We scheduled a bush and beach adventure in hopes of seeing the natural landscape of New Zealand vs. a city view. After all a lot of the cities are pretty much alike. I have been taking photos of all of the PWC buildings we have seen so that when we go international I’ll know right where they are. (Sorry Irene, I saw them first!)

Our tour ended up being a lot of fun. We ended up doing the tour with Sue, a lovely intensive care, surgical, you name it nurse from Ottawa, we met her because she is one of the roomies of a woman, Rebecca, that Roger has been doing puzzles with on the cruise. We ran into them in the morning and Sue hooked up with us. We really enjoyed having her along. We started out driving thru the city to get away out to the beach and we went over to the west side of the island and were in the Tasman Sea. The surf and waves and rocks and the black sand beaches were incredible. All of the beach sand was volcanic ash and there was a lot of titanium in it so when the sun shown it sparkled. We had time to walk on the beach for a bit and have a snack before we headed off to our second stop.

Our second stop was at a fern forest, almost a rain forest but not quite. Beautiful scenery! We did quite a hike up into the woods to get to a very picturesque waterfall and a swimming hole. None of us went swimming but it was just beautiful. The hike was pretty steep too. Thought I wouldn’t make it, but I did. I don’t know what is happening to me but I am really enjoying all of these nature walks and hikes. Who knew?

After the forest hike we then proceeded to a visitor center that had history and artifacts of the Mari tribe who are the indigenous people of New Zealand. It was quite interesting and the lookouts provided us views of both bodies of water, the Tasman Sea to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the north east. This portion of New Zealand is an isthmus, like Panama, so it is a very short distance between both sides of the island. New Zealand is made up of two major islands one very big where Auckland is and one smaller and further south which is where the Fiordland’s and Dunedin are located. At the look out we saw a black bird with these little white tufts under the bill and they called it a reverend bird. I’ll have to look up the real name and get back to you. It was very cute though.

We got back to the ship and just walked around the city of Auckland long enough to pick up a New Zealand Pin for my hat. That is what I decided to collect during our journey. A pin for every stop we make on the cruise. A small momento to keep that isn’t expensive and doesn’t weigh very much when it is time to pack up the suitcase for the journey home.

Friday, 4/25/08
Another day at sea and today it is rainy but not too cold. Just not a very nice day to be at sea on a beautiful ship with 4 pools, etc. However, we did run into Sue and Rebecca and some other folks after breakfast, all from Canada. We ended up chatting with them all morning. We went and had lunch anf then down to one of the lounges to play a game of scrabble. After our game of scrabble we decided to play cribbage. Before we could even play our first hand a really neat couple for Sydney sat down next to us and we talked for the next three hours. Bill and Leslie are on their way to see their sun row in a major collegiate towing competition in New Jersey. He currently is a senior at a university in Seattle. Once they travel to NJ and watch him they head back to Seattle to see him graduate. Both Bill and Leslie are retired but work part time as rowing coaches for private girls schools in Sydney. Bill has been a coach for a long time and was an Olympian back in his day. They were just filled with interesting information.

One thing we have found is that a lot of Canadians and Australians ask about the elections. They are very interested in hearing about it from an American’s point of view. I think it is probably the number one topic we discuss with every person we have met. It’s amazing, but traveling abroad for this period of time you learn how much a lot of the rest of the world is so in tune and in line with the US. Many economies depend and rely on the US. It has been very interesting to see this from a first-hand perspective.

We ended up having dinner with the 3 ladies and then going to the hypnotist show at 10:30. We are having so much fun. Tomorrow is another day at sea and then we start our South Pacific Island portion of the cruise!

Saturday, 4/26/08
This morning awoke at 7:00am and it was sunny and bright out our windows! Just a gorgeous day. We went up and had breakfast and then headed to the sun deck. Finally a chance to lay in the sun. I have probably done too much but you know me. I like to get a good tan to show that I have been away, and after 8 weeks I need a really good tan! After about 3:00pm, I decided it was time to come in, Roger went in before 2, but he did really well staying out so long. It has been about 83 degrees here all day and just a few clouds here and there which were most welcome after the hot sun.
After dinner we will most likely do a show and I will probably go see the movie tonight. It’s “Sweeny Todd”, which I did not see and would like to. We have seen a few good movies which is nice because we never go to the movies at home. A good change of pace for us. Tomorrow is our first Island stop, can’t wait! More in a few days!

Chris and Roger

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