Off to New Zealand by way of a cruise from San Francisco

We were so excited to start our cruise to New Zealand from San Francisco. We spent three days touring the city before we got on the Golden Princess to start our 20-day cruise to Auckland. We were travelling with my sister, Sandi for the trip. Our cabin was an aft cabin that had a wonderful balcony on the back of the ship.

Our cabin was on the back of the ship

It was exciting to see our ship go under the Golden Gate Bridge. I took this photo of it.

We were at sea for several days and finally arrived in Hilo on the big island of Hawaii. We got off the ship and rented a car and drove down to the Kilauea volcano. It was almost completely closed because of the volcano’s eruptions last year. So we drove down the coast to see the black sand beach where the sea turtles rest on the sand.

The pond by the black sand beach

Linda and Sandi at the black sand beach
One of the turtles resting in the sand

Next day we called at Honolulu where we visited the summer palace and walked around Waikiki. We had lunch at Duke’s, which we do whenever we find ourselves near one of their locations.

After six more days at sea, we arrived at the island of Bora Bora. The color of the sea was extraordinary. The variations of blues were stunning. We took a boat out to the lagoon to snorkel in the crystal blue waters.

A local man anchoring a snorkel boat in a lagoon

The next day we landed in Tahiti. It is another beautiful island . We took a bus tour around the island to see their historical sites and beautiful beaches.

These local musicians greeted us as we left the ship
One of the local ducks
A view of one of the many beautiful beaches on Tahiti

After a few more days we landed in American Samoa. There was not much to do on this island. We went off and walked around the city. It was very hot and muggy and it rained. We, and about 60 other passengers, visited McDonald’s to try to use their WiFi. It was a little, umm, slow. I did get a good photo of a beach as we left.

We celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary on the ship on Oct. 13. We had a special dinner in one of the specialty restaurants on board.

After a total of twenty days on the Golden Princess (and crossing the international date line), we arrived in the modern city of Auckland, New Zealand. We spend two nights in a hotel on the 22nd floor in downtown Auckland. Here is a photograph from our hotel room of the Auckland skyline. That’s the Sky Tower, which we visited on Sunday evening. You might have read about the big fire that erupted at the adjacent convention center the day after we left.

I will continue the story of the two weeks we spent touring New Zealand before flying home to Los Angeles.

Denali National Park, Alaska

We managed to get away for a twelve day vacation to Alaska before I have to have a medical problem taken care of. We flew up from Los Angeles and stayed one night in Anchorage and rented a car. The next day we drove up to Denali National Park. Of course, it took all day to get there because I had to stop to take photographs of the incredible scenery. We stopped in an old town; Talkeetna that maintained an historic main street. Many of the original log cabins were still standing.

But the best part of the trip north was a turn out to see Denali in almost clear skies. Just one cloud covered the middle of the mountain.

We spent the night at the Denali Princess Wilderness Resort where the mosquitoes were already roaming the area looking for fresh blood.

Today we went into the Park and met some very helpful and cute park rangers.

We drove down the one 15 mile road looking for critter and were very lucky to find a few. We saw a grizzly bear but he was too far away from us to take a photograph. But we did see an Arctic ground squirrel , and two caribou.

We leave tomorrow to return to Anchorage. It has been an exciting adventure.

We drove back to Anchorage from Denali Park. There were some stunning snow covered mountains. Thought I would add these photos to this blog.

Enjoy the beauty of this part of the world.

Cat sitting in San Diego

We are cat sitting in Hillcrest in San Diego. We love this city. It is a pleasure to take care of these two kitties in this fun part of San Diego. The sunset view of the downtown from Shelter Island is a beautiful photograph.

We got to spend some time walking around Balboa Park and saw some of the baby ducklings in the pond before the botanical gardens.

corridor in Balboa Park

Old Globe theater in Balboa Park

Today, we drove up to the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. My great, great grandfather, Christopher McAleer was the assistant light house keeper around 1865. The lighthouse is on the end of the Point Loma peninsula. In 1865 when he was working there, it was about a five mile ride over empty land to Old Town, San Diego. It must have been worth the ride because he went to a party in Old Town and met my great , great grandmother. After being the assistant light house keeper for only 8 months he married the pretty ,young senorita and the rest is history, as they say. Thank God for this meeting as I would not been here today.

Old Point Loma Lighthouse
Casa de Estudillo in Old Town , San Diego where they married

Needless to say, San Diego is an important part of my family heritage. So staying here is always a pleasure.

Pet and house sitting in the United States

When we are home from Europe during the winter we sometimes pet and house sit domestically. ( If you want to know more about how to pet and house sit please look at this blog post;
https://seniorgapyear.wordpress.com/2016/02/07/house-and-pet-sitting-on-the-road/ ).

This last January we pet sat in Santa Cruz for a wonderful cat named, Baxter.  He warmed up right away and spent a lot of time sitting next to us purring when he did not command a good spot on our bed, grin.  We also met his humans, Susan and Rick and enjoyed having dinner and getting to know them.

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Santa Cruz is a beautiful beach town in Northern California and we had a great time there.  Here is a photo of the sunset from the pier where we are dinner. There are many redwood forests in the mountains that are very close so we took 3 drives up to see them.Here is a deer that we saw from the road out of the Big Basin Redwood national park. The highlight for me was the trip down to Monterey to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  Taking photographs there was thrilling.

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moon jellyfish dancing
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Shark being hand fed by diver
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One of the most spectacular sites was at the beach watching the kite surfers.  It is amazing how high they fly above the ocean.It was a wonderful pet sit and it was good to be able to go somewhere different in our home state of California.

We tacked on a visit to relatives in Sacramento on our way home.  I love pet sitting.

Zurich, Switzerland is beautiful, clean, and expensive

We pet- and house-sat in Zurich, Switzerland as our last sit this summer.  We took care of a very sweet dog named Lilly.  Lilly loved to chase balls in the backyard.Switzerland lilly the dog netWe were about 12 miles outside of Zurich, out in the countryside.  We would take Lilly for walks through beautiful green farm lands. There were lakes and rivers everywhere in the country.  This is Lake Zurich.Lake Zurich trees net

There were parks and small houses built on the shores of this large lake.Lake zurich house netLake Zurich bench netAnd there were still flowers in October.orange spike flower closer netsweet pea pastel netThe public transportation was good and easy but really expensive.  To go into Zurich on the train, (12 miles) and return was $22.00 each.  This was like 3 times more expensive than in the other places we have visited.   The expensiveness of everything was kind of off putting.  A coke at a cafe was $6, a hamburger was $13, a box of cereal was $7 and gas was $8 a gallon.  We purchased two small pieces of chocolate and it came to $4.50.Switzerland handmade chocolates net

Even postcards were $2.50.  Needless to say, we ate at home and did not buy much.

But the city of Zurich was beautiful.  It is cut in half by the Limmet River, and there are many bridges to cross from one side to the other.Zurich Limmet river netThere are fountains everywhere and they all run cold, clean water all the time.  You can always fill your water bottles for free.Zurich fish fountain net 

I came across done fountain that someone had filled with fresh roses.Zurich rose fountain 2 netIt was a lovely city to visit for a week.

Milan a city of faith and death

We spent several days in Milan.  The city is a mixture of celebration of the Roman Catholic faith and honoring the dead.  The Milan Cathedral is a magnificent example of  Italian Gothic architecture.  In 1386 the church was started and was not finished until 1965. It is the largest church in Italy.Milan cathedral netThe main doors outside the cathedral have wonderful bronze  sculptures that illustrate the bible stories designed by Italian sculptor Ludovico Pogliaghi .

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Joseph and Mary marry

 

So many exquisite works of art inside the cathedral like these marble saints.Milan Cathedral saints net

And the body of St. Carlo Borromeo who was the archbishop of Milan in 1564 to 1684.  It is in a crystal coffin in the crypt of the church.  It is the site of pilgrims who come to pray for the saint’s help.

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His face is made of silver

The monumental cemetery in Milan is one of europe’s best.  The sculptures and grave stones are artistic and creative.  This is one of my favorites; a woman expressing profound grief.milan monumental cemetery grief netI will say that the majority of the statues are women expressing grief at the passing of their husbands.  Though there were some honoring women and children who have passed.milan monumental cemetery woman netThere is also a sense of deeply felt faith even in sorrow.milan monumental cemetery grief woman net

 

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And this grave stone which is an abstract.milan monumental cemetery abstract netThe city is a combination of faith and death.

Lake Como a wonderful place to visit

I am two weeks out from losing my dear dog, Mac.  I am still sad but I am doing better.  So I thought I would start to catch up with the adventures in our trip.

We spent two days in Lake Como.  lake como hill netIt was really lovely and because it is the end of the season there were less people to contend with.  We used the all day ferry pass to visit small towns on both sides of the lake.Lake Como ferry netThe second day we took the hydrofoil ( fast boat) to the city of Como because if you do not it takes two and a half hours by regular ferry.  Como is a lovely small town with a cathedral.como cathedral altar netThe late afternoon brings a light fog over the lake.Lake Como hills netThe last sunset over the lake was stunning.Como sun clouds net

I will be putting up more blogs as we are going home on the Celebrity Reflections across the Atlantic.Lake Como dark sunset net