Well, needless to say, we did not go on the cruise and are not spending a month in Florence. Sadly, we even had to cancel all of our pet and house sitting assignments in England.
We are in the most dangerous ages for this virus, over 65 and so we are hunkering down here at home. It is best for our safety and others. So we will be reorganizing the house, going through boxes and doing art work.
I am not sure when we will get to travel again , but when we do this blog with fill up again with picture and text about senior adventures.
We just returned from a 5 day trip to Sedona and the Grand Canyon. Sedona was stunning as always. Such a beautiful and spiritual place set in the red rock canyon.
While we were in that part of the country we made a side trip to Jerome. It is an old mining town on the side of a mountain. There is an old west vibe in the town and they have a haunted hotel.
The Grand Hotel was the hospital for the mining town and it is said that 9,000 people died there. I guess that is enough souls to leave a few behind to haunt the guests.
We also got to spend a day at the Grand Canyon. No matter how many times I go there I am always overwhelmed by this natural treasure.
It was a wonderful break in the routine. We will be leaving for Florence in 2 weeks. We will be taking a cruise across the Atlantic to Barcelona and flying to Florence. After a month there in an airbnb we will begin pet and house sitting in Europe. Go, go, go…..
Hobbiton was the film set for The Lord of the Rings in 1999. It is a beautiful sheep and cattle ranch on the North Island of New Zealand. Director Peter Jackson thought it had the perfect green rural valley look for the homes of those delightful hobbits . They put in 37 hobbit holes and decorated them with gardens and hedges. It is an interesting site for any Rings fans.
But it was not built to last and after filming it was partially torn down after filming. In 2010 , it was rebuilt in a more permanent fashion for the filming of the movie The Hobbit. Now, it has been converted into a tourist destination. The tour we took was about 2 hours long. We had a very nice tour guide. who filled us in on stories about filming the movies and other funny tidbits about the set.
It was an interesting tour and well worth the time and money. We thought it was the best tour that we took in New Zealand. Here are some photos from the tour.
We would highly recommend this for any visitor to New Zealand, it is a must see. The tour ends in the Green Dragon Inn, with an (included) cup of beer, wine, or ginger beer.
Hobbiton is only a couple of hours from Auckland, and Rotorua, our next stop, is only an hour more, so it was convenient to visit on the way.
We landed in Auckland. This trip was a sightseeing trip and it did not include any pet sits. The three of us took an uber to our hotel which was in the center of the city right by the Sky Tower. David got us rooms on the 22nd floor and we could see all of downtown Auckland from our room. Here is the the view of the Sky Tower from our bedroom.
We walked over to it the next day. There is an observation deck that is 360 degrees round. You can look down on the city, and the harbor from there.
Under the top deck there is a restaurant and a snack bar. We got a gelato and sat in the Sky Cafe until the sun set.
It was good that we went up the tower that day because the day after we left they had a fire on the roof of the convention center that was being built right behind the tower. The smoke was so heavy that we would have had to stay in our hotel for the day. It was a sad day for Auckland.
The next day in Auckland we went to Howick Historical Village. I love to visit this type of historical museum that has houses and exhibits that explain country’s historical time. “Howick Historical village is a re-creation of a New Zealand colonial village using houses and cottages saved from the surrounding Auckland suburb of Howick. ” ( Wikipedia) The English government offered retired soldiers and their families (called Fencible soldiers ) free passage to New Zealand, a house and an acre of land for 7 years of service in 1847. Their main service was to attend military parades every Sunday.
In 1962 the local historical society decided to put this village together with cottages and buildings that were still around the area.
It was a bright and sunny day; perfect to see the village and the reenactors that were bringing this history to life.
We spent an enjoyable afternoon exploring this historical village. The next day we were off to Hobbiton, the set for the Hobbit movies and The Ring trilogy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Needless to say, San Diego is an important part of my family heritage. So staying here is always a pleasure.
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.
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.
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.
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.We 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.
There were parks and small houses built on the shores of this large lake.And there were still flowers in October.The 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.
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.There are fountains everywhere and they all run cold, clean water all the time. You can always fill your water bottles for free.
I came across done fountain that someone had filled with fresh roses.It was a lovely city to visit for a week.
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.The main doors outside the cathedral have wonderful bronze sculptures that illustrate the bible stories designed by Italian sculptor Ludovico Pogliaghi .
Joseph and Mary marry
So many exquisite works of art inside the cathedral like these marble saints.
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.
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.I 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.There is also a sense of deeply felt faith even in sorrow.
And this grave stone which is an abstract.The city is a combination of faith and death.