Anne Marie Gold

AMG

Anne Marie Gold





This is an unexpected but very personal blog. Steve and I have been on a brief road trip for the past ten days - exploring Rocky Mountain National Park, enjoying red rock country in Moab, UT with friends with lots of hiking at Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, drinking in the beauty of Colorado and indulging in a sybaritic weekend at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. But today this road trip turned into something very different that has caused us to pause, think about and honor some important American heroes. Tonight we had the opportunity of seeing some real American heroes. The Warrior Games - http://www.teamusa.org/warriorgames/ - are an annual celebration of the spirit, tenacity and grit of America's wounded warriors. The carnage of war is no respecter of gender, ethnicity, size, education or background and ... read more
Air Force sitting volleyball
A family affair
General Shelton with his wounded warriors

Oceania » Australia February 25th 2013

What an adventure! When we were planning the trip we wondered if nearly 7 weeks was going to be too long - or as our daughter worried "Would we even be talking to each other by the end????" Well, the good news is that we're still talking, albeit with an occasional spat generally whilst (as the Aussie's say) driving a roundabout. Just thinking about everywhere we've been makes my head spin - thank heavens for the blog to remind me. A friend asked how I had the discipline to blog - well, I'm fortunate in that words flow easily for me, and anyway, it was the only way I could insure I didn't drink too much wine at dinner every night. I love to watch human nature at work and much of what we both enjoyed ... read more
Fly much?

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island February 24th 2013

Greymouth is a feisty little town, the business base of the West Coast of the South Island. When the Tranz Alpine train arrives once a day, it springs to life with queues for rental cars, hungry tourists clambering for a cold beer at the station hotel, and then slowly sinks back into its usual torpor. This is big coal mining country and on the train over the mountains we pass a long train, its cars loaded with coal. At the rental car counter we are "upgraded" to a behemoth white SUV - a Toyota Highlander - I'm sure they figured that as Californians we had to drive this type of gas guzzler. Well, think about negotiating these little two lane roads, with the one lane bridges, with GW (we've named it Great White) and wish us ... read more
Haast Valley
Blue Pools
Driving through the Haast Valley

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island February 17th 2013

Another pleasant ferry ride between Wellington on the North Island and Picton on the South Island - about 3 hours across the Cook Strait, calm seas, flying dolphins trailing the ship...and even wifi on board. Watching the ship load was fascinating - the train tracks run right into the hold of the ship and the boxcars go right into the ship...and then out the other side when we arrive - pretty neat to watch. Another day, another automotive adventure but the South Island is very rural so it's easy going. We are headed for the Marlborough wine country, renown for their Sauvignon Blanc. As we drive into the valley, its gorgeous with the late afternoon sun slanting through the vineyards. We arrive at Straw Lodge, a B&B at World's End Vineyard, and are greeted enthusiastically by ... read more
Vineyard platter extraordinaire
Tex taking us to breakfast
The start of a nice "long" walk

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island February 13th 2013

After one of those long, useless travel days - night at an airport hotel in Hobart to catch an early flight from Hobart to Melbourne, arrive at the domestic concourse and stumble our way to the international concourse, goodbye Australia, on our way to New Zealand, Melbourne to Auckland, and then...another shout out for our Global Entry card, which works here also...nice to have allies who figure that if we're not a threat in the USA we're not a threat here too. We've been treating ourselves to airport pickups when we first arrive in new cities/countries and so we are met by a jolly, white-haired older woman from the Langham, where we are staying, and whisked away to Auckland, accompanied by her funny running commentary on the lack of highways into downtown, politics, sports, etc. - ... read more
Auckland skyline
Hang glider off Mt. Maunganui
Fun walk with Graham

Oceania » Australia » Tasmania February 8th 2013

An overnight ferry really is a civilized way to travel. We caught the Spirit of Tasmania ferry from the port in Melbourne, sailing at 7:30 in the evening. However, it was nearly the "taxi to Tassy" as our cab driver didn't really know where the passenger drop off was at the dock and he inadvertently got in the line for cars boarding the ferry - was he surprised...and the Aussie drivers got a good laugh out of it all. Easy boarding and a gorgeous cabin right up over the prow of the ship (our entire cabin on the Solway Lass could have fit in the bathroom here). We had dinner in a nice dining room, and enjoyed watching the Chinese family at the table next to us, consisting of a young boy, about 13, and his ... read more
Crater Lake, Cradle Mountain National Park
Marion's Outlook...where we didn't go
Cradle Mounain

Oceania » Australia » Victoria » Melbourne February 5th 2013

In our next lives we want to live in Melbourne. What a great city - a sense of urbanity, verdant green spaces, walkable, fabulous restaurants, sports culture... I could go on and on. We thoroughly enjoyed our all too short time there. I would rarely give a shout out to a credit card but... We switched to the United Mileage Plus Card before this trip, primarily to get no foreign exchange fees and the extra miles, but the card has truly shown its worth this trip through its premium hotel reservation services. We fall in love with the Park Hyatt Melbourne, with our upgraded spa suite looking out over the city, a gracious staff, and a lovely location close to the CBD but in a small, leafy nitch by itself, with breakfast and a nice meal ... read more
Queen Victoria Market
Healesville Sanctuary
Healesville Sanctuary

Oceania » Australia » Northern Territory » Uluru February 1st 2013

It really is true what they say of the Outback - it goes on forever. Flying from Cairns to Alice Springs, as soon as we pass over the coastal mountain ranges, the vastness of interior Australia hits you. About 2/3 of Australia's population is gathered in its urbanized coastal cities, primarily the east coast. The government categorizes the population ranging from Major Cities to Very Remote - in the Northern Territory where we are headed, which is 520,000 square miles, there are only 210,000 people, or less than 3 per square mile - that definitely qualifies as Very Remote. We fly into the legendary Alice Springs but it appears that the legend has outlived the reality. What first catches our fancy however is the time change - just half an hour - apparently each state determines ... read more
Sails in the Desert
Sunset at Uluru
Sounds of Silence dinner under the stars

Oceania » Australia » Queensland » Port Douglas January 30th 2013

We seem to be on the track for smaller planes as when we board the plane at the Hamilton Island airport for Cairns, we notice these big long spokes hanging off the engine - it's a Bombadier prop jet. The flight up the Queensland coast is gorgeous and the benefit of the plane is that it flies at a lower altitude so we can see the reefs poking up through the aquamarine sea below us. We had chatted with a Qantas flight attendant aboard the hop on hop off bus in Singapore and he recommended window seats on the left side of the plane so, taking his advice, we had a breathtaking flight. All this in preparation for our next breathtaking experience - driving on the other side of the road. The very nice Aussie at ... read more
Leona and Bob
Frangipani B&B
Boyd's Forest Dragon

Oceania » Australia » Queensland » Hamilton Island January 25th 2013

Tuesday, January 22 Goodbye to Sydney but not a total farewell since we'll be back at the end of our trip - we've really enjoyed this city. A quick flight to Hamilton Island on Jetstar, Qantas's discount subsidiary, which seems to operate just as nicely as our regular full price airlines. The airport was full of families going on holiday as the school break is coming to an end at the end of January and this coming weekend is the big national holiday, Australia Day, similar to our Fourth of July. Hamilton Island is the largest of the Whitsunday Islands, which are located about 1,200 miles north of Sydney on the Queensland coast, and it is one of the prime sailing destinations for Australia. There are 74 islands in the area, all rising mountainously out of ... read more
Captain Anne Marie at the controls
Islands from the air
Islands from the air




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