Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The next morning we went of a tour of Auckland with a stop at Mt. Eden, the highest point in Auckland. The city is built on old volcanoes so it is very hilly.

Then we went on to the Auckland Museum. We were supposed to have a guided tour of the Maori section of the museum, but, like several, I preferred the world war I and world war II sections so we had our own guide. I was particularly interested in the Gallipoli section. In the first world war, the ANZAC forces from Australia and New Zealand were to attack the Turks at a coastline called Gallipoli. The soldiers were put in at the wrong place and had to fight up steep hills for weeks. They were slaughtered. This was Churchill's idea. (Yes, I know it was only World War I but he had some military position.)

ANZAC Day is celebrated in Australia and New Zealand on April 25. It is something like a combination Memorial Day and Veterans Day. (Where in this country we have the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, in Australia and New Zealand they have (RSAs) Returned Servicemen's Associations.

Then we saw a performance of Maori dances. I would not have paid extra for it but since it came with the tour, I watched it and it was pretty good, considering my lack of interest in such things. Except that I love the haka that the rugby All Blacks do before their matches.

Back in town, in what they call the Central Business District, I had some lunch and then started on my bus ride. I enjoyed going along Tamaki Drive. The road follows the shore around the bays and the houses along there are very expensive. Then we went up into the cliffs along the ocean. We started on the backside of Riddell Road, the street we lived on.

By then, everyone on the bus knew that I was looking for my house from 25 years ago and they all were trying to help me. We passed Churchill Park School, where Anne and Beth went. I didn't get my camera ready in time to take a picture so the city bus driver offered to turn around and go back!!!!! I didn't want to get her in trouble so I declined. We kept going slowly along the road but I never found the house. If I had to do it again, I would have at some point gotten off and walked from that point back to the school. I would have found the house then surely, but I didn't.

I felt I had let the bus riders down. They were so disappointed that I did not find my house. I just rode back to the city center.

The next day was my last in Auckland. I checked out of the hotel at noon and went for a walk around Sky City. Sky City is the tallest building in the southern hemisphere. It consists of a tall thin tower with restaurants and look out platforms. Then around it are two hotels, the Sky City Hotel and the Sky City Grand.

Besides observing and eating, you can also bungee jump from the platform. It is more of a controlled bungee jump as you are more or less lowered down on two fixed ropes. Or you can walk around up there on a flat platform with no railings. You are only tethered by ropes. I don't think I can do that.

We left for the airport about 4. Mot people were on a 7 o'clock flight to Los Angeles.

Don Stanley and his son Seth from Arizona were on the 11 o'clock flight with me .. It was a long wait.

We tried to get on the earlier flight. There were seats but there were none in our "booking code." It would have cost $200 each to change to the earlier flight. I have more time than money so I declined.

On the way over to NZ I tried to watch a movie but the noise on the plane was too loud for me to enjoy the movie. I couldn't understand the dialogue.

I did watch Seth Stanley's screen sometime. He was watching a wonderful cartoon movie. I think it was called "Meet the Robinsons." I would like to see it. The little boy reminds me of George.

On the flight back from Auckland, I had the same problem, but I discovered a sports channel that had old All Blacks' Rugby Union games. They did not have the 2007 Rugby World Cup game where NZ lost to France in the semi-finals. That was a national disaster.

I watched all of a 2000 match between the All Blacks and the Australian Wallabies. The NZ side still had my favorites, Jonah Lomu and Andrew Mehrtens. NZ won 35-34 in a game the announcers pronounced the best of all time.

I started watching a 2003 game between the All Blacks and the South African Springboks. I did not get to finish that game because we were coming into Los Angeles and I needed to turn off the TV. Maybe I will look it up to see who won.

I enjoy watching rugby but I know almost nothing of rules or strategy. In New Zealand 5 year olds know more than I do. All I know is if the ball is further toward one end of the field it is good for the All Blacks. If the ball is toward the either end , it is bad. Like in American football, which they call gridiron.

I had no problems going through immigration and customs.

I probably waited only 30 seconds outside the international terminal before the shuttle came by to take me to the hotel. I stayed at the Hilton LAX on a Priceline deal of $60. It is a very swank hotel.

That is my New Zealand trip.

On Monday nights, TV One shows a show called Borderline about NZ immigration officials going after illegal aliens. Mainly by making raids on businesses.

I really detest Helen Clark, the NZ Labour Prime Minister. She just rubs me the wrong way. Mary thinks Helen likes herself in the spotlight a little too much. I think I agree. She pops up everywhere. Not content with playing a major part at Sir Edmund Hillary's funeral, she then days later goes out on the boat with his family to scater his askes on the sea.

On Monday morning we got up and left Queenstown and flew to Auckland.

Auckland is big and bustling. It was great to be back but it is a different city than we lived in. On the way from the airport I noticed a surburban McDonald's that advertising their drive-thru was open 24 hours. The New Zealand economy has gone from heavily regulated to almost free-for-all.

We checked into the Heritage Towers on Nelson Street, two streets over from Queen Street, the main shopping avenue.

I went out for a long walk. My goal was to find out how to get to the Glendowie section of Auckland to find our old house. Bus 767 leaves from the station Britomart from Bay D13. I checked out some souvenir stores but bought nothing.

The business men in Auckland now wear long pants in the summer time. This was a disappointment to me. Years ago the summer business outfit was white short sleeved shirt, tie, Bermuda shorts, and knee socks. The men looked so attractive. I thought George Rodney would look good in this outfit but no matter what we tried, it just did not look right on him, something was missing. On this trip I did see one man dressed this old. He was old with white hair but he looked good.

I brought an umbrella with me but did not need it. It did not rain on me all the time I was in New Zealand. Strange.

As usual in most places in the world, the NZ paper money is graduated in size and multicolored. Actually, there is no paper money as it is all plastic. At one end of each bill is a 5/8 inch long scollaped oval with a clear plastic window, like a peephole. Sir Edmuch Hillary is on the $5 bill. There is not a bill smaller than $5. There are $1 and $2 gold-colored coins.

My hotel was amazing. The room was very large. It had a kitchen with stove, oven, microwave, refrigerator, and dishwasher. In the bathroom is a washer and dryer. It was nice but I did not use those things. But the very best was I had a harbor view. The floor to celing windows looked out an the water with the lovely Auckland Harbour Bridge to the left. It is especially beautiful at night.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Jetboats are a NZ invention. It is propelled like a jet engine except that it takes in water and expels it for propulsion. It has almost no draft; it can operate in 4 inches of water and is exceedingly maneuverable.

First we donned long black waterproof coats. One tour member asked me "And how long have you been in the monastery?"

Then lifejackets.

The boats hold 14 people. I was on the outside of row 3.

The ride gets through areas where the river is shallow with gravel banks, areas with big boulders in the river, and other times throuh gorges with rock vertical walls.

The boat goes very fast all the time. We careened from side to side of the river, narrowly missing rocks and walls. If there was a wide place in the river, we made a fast 360 degree turn on a dime.

It was a great ride. I wish my little thrillseeker George had been with me.

Afterward the bus dropped me off in town. I had lunch at Subway and then found an internet cafe.

I logged onto the Clarion-Ledger website and went to the Mississipi State sports beat writer's blog. He reported that at the SEC basketball tournament in Atlanta Mississippi State was down by 3 at halftime.

I read more and went back to his blog where he reported that Mississippi State was ahead by three in overtime when a tornado blew the roof off the building. At first I thought he was joking. I kept going back to the site but it wasn't updated.

The internet is reasonable in New Zealand. At hotels it is usually $NZ2 for 20 minutes. At internet cafes, it is usually 3 to 4 dollars for an hour. Then, in Auckland, it is an unbelievable $10 for 10 minutes at the hotel we stayed at.

I stopped at a grocery store and got some food for supper and then began the walk home to the hotel. I am bad at distances but it is probably 1/2 mile from downtownt o the hotel. That's okay but it is up a long steep hill, a killer hill. I was tired when I got back. After this one time, I walked to town but took the hotel shuttle back to the hotel.

With traffic driving on the left side of the road, it is very hard for pedestrians from right-side driving countries. We go against decades of training of looking to the left for traffic. After a few days of close calls I developed my thumb system to cope. When I am wanting to cross a road, I turn my thumb to the right so I can remember that the traffic is coming from that side. When I get to the center of the street, I point my thumb to the left because cars are coming from that side. It has worked beautifully, no more close calls.

Richard Henderson is the worst at this I have ever seen. In London he was always stepping in front of a car after looking left. We decide that when he was killed in a traffic accident, we would bury him in London and call it the Tomb of the Unknown Tourist.

Today Sunday was a leisure day. I meant to leave at lunch but Flight 93, the movie about the 9-11 flight that crashed at Shanksville, PA, was on TV. I watched that.

Then I walked to Queenstown Gardens, which is a large city park on a peninsula out into Lake Wakatipu. I spent a while sitting on a bench just looking at the activities on the lake and enjoying the mountains, the Remarkables.

I found the spot I was looking for, another memorial to Robert Scott, the polar explorer. This time it is a huge boulder, maybe 8 feet tall studded with bronze plaques memorializing both Scott and Lt. Oates, one of his men. It is very effusive about Oates who went out in the snow and froze to death in an attempt to increase the odds of the other men surviving. He told them "I am going outside for a while. I may be some time."

I walked on downtown and later took the hotel shuttle back to the hotel.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

We were up and off to Milford Sound.

It was pouring rain all day in 1981 when the four of us took a boat tour of Milford Sound. It caused thousands of waterfalls to cascade down the mountains into the valleys and the sound.

A sound is built by a rive.r Milford Sound was built by glaciers so technically it is not a sound but a fiord.

We had a box lunch on the boat. The weather was beautiful but whether it is perfect is up to interpretation. In the end, I prefer the rain and the waterfalls but everyone on the tour was thrilled with the weather.

Last time I was anxious and worried during the cruise. This time I was not.

To what do I attribute this:
1. I'm older and wiser.
2. My children are not with me. I no longer have to worry about them drowning.
3. Prozac

Milford Sound is very deep and the mountains walls are steep so the water is deep up to the edge. The boat goes very close to the walls and that bothered me last time. It must be safe though. The Sound is narrow but it is deep enough that the Queen Elizabeth II used to visit and sail into it.

Dolphins like to get in front of the boats because they catch a free ride. Very beautiful.

After the boat trip it was back on the bus and we drove over to Queenstown.

Our beautiful hotel is the Millennium and we will be here three nights.

This morning I ate breakfast and then we started on our trip. First to Arrowtown, then a winery, and then to the bungee jumping site.

My resolve never wavered. I knew I would jump. I wasn't really scared; I just wanted to get it over with.

First they weighed me and marked my weight in red on the back of my hand. How humiliating. I pulled my sleeve over it. I also had to carry a card that plainly showed both my weight and my age. Just great.

Then out on the bridge to wait our turns. Three other men from our tour group chose to jump.

The first man, about my age, got wet after the jump as they were getting him in the raft.

They ask before the jump is you want to go in the water, touch the water, or no water.

The next man, young, said he wanted to touch the water. He went in head first to water higher than his waist. He had a sweatshirt around his waist that came off in the water. He was able to grab it and people said it looked as if he were doing his laundry in the river.

Then it was my turn.

I told them I did not want to touch the water. Previously I had been given and put on a harness, like a rappelling harness, that fit around my waist with two loops around my thighs.

I sat on the deck and the bungee guy wrapped a folded beach towel around my ankles. Then he wrapped a webstrap around the towels between my legs. The straps were then hooked onto the bungee cord in two places and then the harness was also hooked onto the cord.

One woman on my tour wanted to do the jump but she wanted them to push her. Our guide said they were not allowed to push jumpers.

I had a hard time moving to the jump platform even though it was only about two feet. My feet were so bound that I could hardly move my feet.

At the platform with my toes over the edge, they counted three-two-one, go. And then the guy pushed me! A nudge, I don't think so. I was ready to jump but instead the push meant I was falling feet first.

I turned over into a swan dive. I was falling head first and then.........it was so much fun. I absolutely loved it. I was sorry when the jerk came at the bottom. I was bobbing up and down, and unfortunately, spinning round and round.

When that stopped, the raft was paddled out into the river and they stuck a pole up to me. I grabbed it and they pulled me into the boat where they removed the paraphernalia and let me off at the edge of the river.

If you jump 14 stories, you then have to walk up 14 stories through switchbacks to the top of the gorge.

I was so drunk from the spinning that I was staggering from one side of the trail to another. I was afraid I was going to fall into the river but I suppose because of the adrenaline, I never realized I could stop. I had to work at it to even keep from falling down.

About halfway up, I came upon a bench. I got enough of my brains to working to realize I needed to clear my head. I only sat a minute or so.

Soon the trail had a handrail and I held onto that to keep my balance.

At the top it was high fives all around.

I wish I could do it again. I considered doing it again another day but it is just too expensive. I couldn't justify it.

If I did it again, I would swan dive myself and have that wonderful feeling longer. Also I would ask to touch the water.

Back on the bus we went to the jetboats on the Shotover river.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Thursday, March 13, 2008
Te Anau, New Zealand

I am at Te Anau tonight.

Last night and this morning I was really down. I felt like an idiot because I had lost my camera. I was afraid I had left it when I sat down to talk to some fellow tour members at Moeraki Boulders.

The I remembered that I took pictures at The World's Steepest Street and at the University of Otago in Dunedin after that visit.

My hope was that I had left it on the bus and that turned out to be true so I have it back.

It was quite cold in Dunedin this morning. I think I had planned beautifully for any type of weather. Unfortunately losing my blazer in the Auckland airport made my clothing inadequate.

The wind was blowing in Dunedin also.

I walked around town this morning. Dunedin was the richest town in New Zealand in the 1800's because of the gold mining and the buildings show it. The railway station in particular is stunning. Many of the buildings in Otago are built of Oamaru limestone. It is very white. It is so soft they can be cut with saws. When it weathers though, it becomes hard.

After lunch we left Dunedin and went through farmland to Te Anau. We saw a lot of sheep.

The bus is very comfortable. We are 25 people in a bus that probably could hold close to 50 so I am never in a bad seat. I usually sit by myself about in the middle of the bus on the right side.

I am very pleased with my Gate 1 tour package. We have seen many more sights than were in the brochure and they are very accommodating about extras. The hotels are much better than I had expected. I would definitely go with them again.

Houses in New Zealand seem to be priced around $400,000 for an ordinary house. The interest rate on mortgages is about 9.5%. The length of a mortgage is between 6 months and 5 years. No mortgage is more than five years. When your mortgage expires, you find another mortgage for a further period.

Today's hotel also has a big flat screen TV. When I got here I could not turn it one with the remote. Just could not figure it out. I went to the front desk to inquire and they asked if I had turned the TV on on the side of the TV. Well, no. Maybe flat screens around the world are this way and I showed myself as being too poor to have one at home.


6:30 Wake-up call
7:30 Suitcase in hall
8:30 leave for Milford Sound
11:30 Cruise on the Sound
Later on we go to Queenstown where we spend 3 nights.

Saturday, March 15, 2008
Queenstown, New Zealand

We were up and off to Milford Sound.

It was pouring rain all day in 1981 when the four of us took a boat tour of Milford Sound. It caused thousands of waterfalls to cascade down the mountains into the valleys and the sound.

A sound is built by a river. Milford Sound was built by glaciers so technically it is not a sound but a fiord.

We had a box lunch on the boat. The weather was beautiful but whether it is perfect is up to interpretation. In the end, I prefer the rain and the waterfalls, but everyone on the tour was thrilled with the weather.

Last time I was anxious and worried during the cruise, this time I was not.

To what do I attribute this:
1. I'm older and wiser.
2. My children and not with me so I no longer have to worry about them drowning.
3. Prozac.

Milford Sound is very deep and the mountain walls are steep so the water is deep up to the edge. Although the sound is narrow, the Queen Elizabeth II used to go into Milford Sound.The tour boats go very close to the walls and that bothered me last time. This year, no.

The dolphins came out in front of the boat. They like to surf in front of the boat because the water just pushes them along.

After the boat trip it was back on the bus and we drove over to Queenstown. Our beautiful hotel is the Millennium and we will be here three nights.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Dunedin, New Zealand

I have tonight watched Australian versions of 1 vs 100 and Deal or No Deal.

Yesterday was a wonderful day. First I went on an included tour of Christchurch. Stops included a beach and Mona Vale house and gardens, neither of which I had seen before and Littleton harbor and the Sign of the Takeha, which I have been to before. We passed Burnside High School, Anne's old school. A sign in front said Burnside's 50th Anniversary, Easter, 2010. It would be nice if Anne could go to that. They dropped us at the airport Antarctica Center. The tour guide negotiated a reduced rate for those of us who wanted to visit it.

I enjoyed the center especially the Storm Center. You get coated and booted up and go into a chamber where an Antarctic storm is simulated with severe cold and high winds. One man from Minnesota did walk out. He said he suddenly thought, "What am I doing here? This is what I left back home."

They do have a penguin exhibit.

I also took the Haaglund Ride in one of the track vehicles they use at the South Pole. These will go up 45 degree hills and we did. We also tilted at 30 degrees, went across 4 foot gaps, and went across a small lake. It was exciting but not worth the money.

I ate lunch there and then took a city bus back to Central Christchurch.

I called Tim Gibbons' mother Mary Anicich and we arranged for me to take her to supper.

She came at 6 and we had just a wonderful evening. We walked over to the Boulevard restaurant on the banks of the Avon. She had lamb loin and I had lamb shanks. It was very good but there was too much food. Strangely we drank two wine bottles of water.

Afterwards we walked to Mary's car where her daughter Kathryn met us. Kathryn drove us around. I sat in the front passenger seat which is on the left side. It is a strange feeling; I feel I should be driving.

Then we went out to Canterbury University where we hound the house lived in in 1986. I feared it had been torn down to construct a new building for the university. Instead, while it was still there, the university is using it for offices.

The neighborhood is also different. The corner stores where the girls used to buy me flowers is all gone, replaced by a brand new service station. The roundabout in front is gone, replaced by a traffic light.

After the university, we drove up to the hills for a wonderful view over the night-time lit up Christchurch. Kathryn pointed out the Southern Cross in the sky to me.

Then it was back to the hotel after a perfect evening. We talked solid for four hours and we could have spoken for 8 more.

By the way, Tim is in Australia and has never married. Mary prays for partners for Tim and Kathryn. The other daughter Tanya is married, lives in Wellington, and has two adorable little girls.

I had such a good time that I forgot to take pictures of Mary and Kathryn. Darn.

On this trip I did not see the Wizard at Cathredral Square. I understand that he is semi-retired and seldom shows up anymore.

Wednesday morning we had an early wakeup call. My suitcase had to be in the hall at 7:30 for pickup. We left at 8 for Dunedin.

We saw a lot of sheep along the way but the role of sheep in the New Zealand economy has declined. There are 4 million people in NZ and 44 million sheep but that is down from 80 million 20 years ago.

The other important sectors in the economy are dairy farming, natural resources, particularly timber and coal, and tourism. Tourism will soon account for 25% of the economy.

The most memorable sight in rural South Island is the Macrocarpal windbreaks. These trees make a solid hedge of 2o feet high. They are trimmed to their perfect rectangular shape by huge hedge trimmers mounted on trucks. The hedges protect people, houses, and livestock from the strong south-westerly winds from the South Pole.

We stopped for breaks at Timaru, Oamaru, and Moeraki Boulders. The boulders are naturally occurring perfectly round rocks of 3 to 6 feet in diameter strewn on the beach.

We had a short tour of Dunedin. While Christchurch is all English, Dunedin is all Scottish. We went to Baldwin Street, which they claim is the world;s steepest street. San Francisco says it is Lombard Street. We also visited the University of Otago.

I am now staying in the Scenic Circle Southern Cross Hotel, the most luxurious hotel I have ever stayed in. I have a huge plasma TV. The bed linens are soft and I have a down comforter. I have heard of Pillow Menus but never thought I would see one.

Other potato chip flavors: Lime and cracked pepper, also spicy tomato.

Friday, March 21, 2008

I will be posting all the entries in my journal that I kept on the trip to New Zealand. It is long. I kept the journal to remember what went on and my general impressions of New Zealand in 2008. It is not meant to be literature.

One of the books I read on the trip was Nancy Mitford:A Memoir by Harold Acton. She made a trip to Russia during the thirties and wrote about it to her friends "I think I must write it all down and send it to various buddies--no obligation to read."

I feel that way about this blog, you have no obligation to read it.

March 10, 2008, Christchurch, New Zealand

I am sitting now at Victoria Square, a park across the street from my hotel, the Copthorne. This lovely fountain, featured on postcards, can be seen from the balcony of my room.

The Coptherne is about my speed. The room is serviceable, clean, all all the amenities, not too dated, centrally located. More luxury is wasted on me. The bathroom, however, is fabulous.

Ken and I left the Rucker house about 6 am on Saturday the 8th. Several inches of snow was on the ground and it was snowing. We had no problem getting to the airport. More truthfully, Ken had no problem. He was driving Anne's heavy SUV with 4 wheel drive, although he never had to use the 4 wheel drive. He doesn't worry about the snow, just the other cars.

No problems on the Southwest flight to LA. When we landed the pilot said "from snow to sun." It was lovely weather. I just walked to the international terminal from the domestic terminal that services Southwest. After checking in at Air New Zealand, I had many hours to wait.

I have never been on a flight with a famous person, but, this time, Scott Hamlin, the former US champion figure skater, was on the plane from Nashville. His wife is from somewhere in west Tennessee.

The plane from LAX to Auckland had a 3-4-3 seat configuration. Naturally I had a window seat. Wonderful if you enjoy looking out at blackness.

Next to me was Seth Stanley and in the aisle seat his father Don. They also were on the Gate 1 tour. We sat next to each other on all the flights. Seth is 11 and loves penguins so his father was taking him to see the ones outside of Dunedin.

This was the best overseas flight I have ever been on. After supper I went to sleep and did not wake up until breakfast was being served.

It took almost 50 hours to get here but I feel okay.

One unfortunate thing is I lost my black Talbot's blazer, a cornerstone of my planned wardrobe. I had it with me when I got off the plane in Auckland and didn't have it when I got off the plane in Christchurch.

I checked into the hotel and went for a walk.

First I bought this journal I am writing in and a NZ magazine The Listener.

I walked to Cathedral Square, past the beautiful cathedral and past the dreadful new modern sculpture called the Chalice. On over to the river Avon where I found exactly what I wanted, Robert Scott, the Antarctic explorer. Notice I did not say the statue of Robert Scott, but it is Robert Scott himself. George Rodney told me, and, of course, I believe him, that this is the actual perpetually frozen body of Scott. An Englishman, Scott left with his party from NZ to attempt to be the first man at the South Pole. He got to the pole only to find evidence that the Norwegian Amundsen had gotten there first. Scott and his men froze to death on the way back.

I walked along the Avon trying to find the little sandwich room, where George Rodney and I used to eat a lunch of bread and butter wrapped around asparagus. Yum! I never found it.

I wound up at McDonald's where I ordered a hamburger. It cam without either pineapple or beet, New Zealand standards. That was a disappointment.

In 86, the only US fast food chain in Christchurch was Pizza Hut, one store. Now they are all here, McDonald's, Burger King, Subway, KFC, Starbucks. In Australia they call Starbucks the American Embassy.

Around the world fast food places are staffed by immigrants. Here they are Asians. It is odd to hear a Kiwi accent from a Chinese face.

I went into a small food shop and bought our favorites, Milky Bars, Chicken-flavored potato chips, and wine gums.

There are new flavors of potato chips I want to try, or maybe not. For example, roast lamb with mint flavored potato chips?

I walked along the rivor Avon for a while watching in Japanese in kayaks run into the banks.

I walked to the Canterbury Museum. I am old enough not to feel I have to look at everything I am not interested. I whizzed through the Maori section, but lingered in the early settlers part. The Antarctic section was my favorite. I am very interested in cold weather regions--the Arctic and high mountains. On the other hand I am personally very cold natured and hate to be cold.

There was a concerted effort during the nineties to clean up old scientific stations in Anarctica. They dismantled early buildings and rebuilt them at the Canterbury Museum. Soome look like huts or sheds but one was metal and looks sort of like a diving bell.

I went fast through the waterfowl and accelerated through the Chinese history section. Even Chinese porcelain doesn't interest me.

Outside I spent some time wandering through the Botanical Garden. A very enjoyable time.

I stopped at some souvenir shops and found a lot to buy but the prices are high. I will delay my buying unntil Auckland. The cheaper souvenirs are made in china while the more quality products are made in NZ.

One new product is Merinomink. This very expensive, very soft blend is made of merino wool and possum fur hairs. Possum fur is used by itself in high quality, high cost gloves, vests, and hats. It is exceedingly lightweight. I have seen it in extreme lightweight backpacking catgalogs at home. I haven't seen any of them here in New Zealand for sale.

I am watching an England-New Zealand cricket match on TV. I have no idea what is going on but from the commentary I think NZ is winning. This was George Rodney's favorite NZ sport because he loved to see them break for tea.

Oh, no tea time today. New Zealand just won. This was a three day match.

Besides the US fast food places, there are a lot of shops selling Asian food including several sushi places.


Floors are numbered as they are in Europe. The first floor is G, ground floor, the next floor is the first floor. Myt room is 329 and I am on the US fourth floor.

2. I have 10 channels on the hotel TV. Better than the two channels New Zealand had when we were here. No many how many choices you have there is rarely anything to watch. This afternoon Susan Lucci was selling her skin system and Dr. Phil was solving problems. There was s Jeremy Somebody show where they were doing test to determine who was the baby's father, like Maury Povich. Actually 32 channels are listed in The Listener, the TV Guide, of New Zealand. Hopefully I will get more at other hotels.

3. On the flight from Auckland to Christchurch, the TVs showed questions about New Zealand that I could not answer. It bothered me that there were two bad grammatical errors. One question contained a phrase like "who's name" when they obviously should have used whose. Another had a question the equivalent to "The man is whom?" I guess whom just sounds more genteel. Maybe these questions were prepared by a summer intern.

6. I saw a group of Maoris dressed in tribal outfits. I thought they were singing Maori songs but when I listened carefully they were singing"You Are My Sunshine."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Kia Ora

I am blogging from the lobby of my hotel in Te Anau. Tomorrow we go on a boat trip on Milford Sound.

I am having a really good time. I can't tell you how happy I am. Things are going so well.

Night before last Tim Gibbons' mum, also Mary, went to dinner with me. Then we went for a drive by our old house. It is no longer a home. The university uses it for offices. The little corner shops where the girls used to buy flowers for me are gone. Now there is a shiny new service station. The roundabout there is also gone, replaced by a traffic light.

I am keeping a journal so I will have lots more to say when I get home.

Friday, March 07, 2008

I am now at Anne's. I came up yesterday instead of today because of the threat of snow.

I got to Nashville in time to take the boys to their karate lesson. They are so cute in their little uniforms, bowing, taking stances, hitting, etc. I asked them when they would learn to break boards. They said they had already done that but couldn't do it often because they have to pay for the boards. George made something out of the first board he broke. I must remember to ask him what he made.

Sadly, their dog Dixie has died. Anne and Ken do a great job of explaining things to the children. George, Adam, and Emma, but mostly Emma, told me all about Dixie but they were using words and phrases that I knew had been told to them. They said that Dixie had not been "aging well" but Madison, the other dog, was. They said Dixie had died of "natural causes" and they buried her at Ken's mother's, where all Ken's other dogs are buried.

Even though the snow is supposed to be all over Tennessee, Ken is going to Memphis today for business and won't return until Saturday night. George and Adam are going to a sleep-over birthday party tonight so Anne, Emma, and I will have an all-girls night.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I'm practically speechless that I got back onto this blog. I really came here to set up a new account but I am delighted to be back on this spot.

I leave for New Zealand on Saturday. I may try to update this blog from there. I think it is free from libraries there and I know where the library is in Christchurch and the one in Auckland is near my hotel. Actually I know where the library was in Christchurch 20 years ago.

More later.

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