Mike, Patricia, Katrina & Jackson have enjoyed a fantastic 5+ month world trip visiting family & friends around the world. We're now back in NZ.

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Kapiti Coast » Te Horo November 9th 2011

We're now back home, after uneventful flights from Hawaii-Auckland-Wellington and bus-train-drive back to Te Horo (thanks for leaving the car for us Carmen). But the taxi ride from the hotel to Honolulu airport was memorable - in a white stretch-limo. We only asked for a taxi big enough to take all our luggage and this was the next 'cab' off the rank, at no extra cost and actually cheaper than taking the shuttle! A fun way to end the trip. It's great to be back in the verdant green of late-spring in NZ, and to offload our bags for the last time - whew! Thanks to Amanda, our greatly-missed Roxy was at home to greet us in her most effusive fashion . And thanks to Elena and Luke, the house and garden were in immaculate condition. ... read more
Waikiki Beach
Stretch-limo ride
Stretch-limo ride

North America » United States » Hawaii » Oahu » Honolulu November 6th 2011

This is probably our penultimate blog. After all our travelling, we definitely needed a holiday! San Francisco was getting cool, so we had to fly west across the Pacific to Honolulu for a few days of R&R. This also puts us at just 1 hour time difference from NZ, so we should be able to get over most of the jetlag before we get home. Apart from replenishing some worn-out clothes we have no plans for here, apart from just relaxing. But when in Hawaii you have to do as the locals do, i.e. surf. Our hotel is just 5 minutes from Waikiki Beach, the sea is warm and the surf is a moderate 2-3 feet, so we've hired boards and gone out a couple of times already. We're not suffering. Jackson's journal tells us that ... read more
Waikiki Beach
Waikiki Beach

SF is one of our favourite cities. It's where Patricia once lived for a couple of years and where we got married in 1997. It has so much to offer in terms of attractions & sights, and is such an easy place to get around. Our hotel is close to Pier 39, so we did the obligatory tour of that area and watched the seals on the pontoons. We then took the ferry to Alcatraz Island and spent a few hours taking in the history of this former military base and high-security federal prison (only closed down in 1963). We put Katrina & Jackson in the cells once occupied by Al Capone, Robert Stroud ('Birdman of Alcatraz') et al, but they managed to escape, so we had to bring them back with us! It was good ... read more
SF from Alcatraz
Golden Gate Bridge

After having just experienced Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon and the Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks, I've run out of superlatives! Yosemite Valley was carved by glaciers and further sculped by water & ice. Of all the US National Parks, John Muir pronounced it to be the most magnificent. And who am I to argue. The crystal-clear river, the sheer cliffs, the waterfalls, the massive granite boulders, the wildlife, and the lush valley floor all combine to make this another amazing example of the beauty of the natural world. The scale of the valley was brought home to us when we saw rock climbers scaling the sheer face of El Capitan. They looked like ants on the 3,500-foot cliff, one of the longest rock faces in the world - so high that it takes 2 days to ... read more
Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite NP
Half Dome, Yosemite NP
El Capitan, Yosemite NP

We put in a couple of long days' driving from Grand Canyon National Park across the largely-empty Navajo desert to mid-California. That left us only a short drive to reach the Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, where we spent a long day climbing the rock formations and walking through the magical sequoia forests. A major highlight of the day was watching a baby brown bear cub on the side of the road, just metres from the car. Sequoia trees are massive. They may not be the tallest trees around but they are the biggest in terms of bulk and overall mass. They survive lightening and forest fires over centuries and the oldest tree here is approximately 3,200 years old. Fallen trees are even big enough to drive a car through! Walking through a grove of ... read more
Sequoia NP
Sequioa NP

From Vegas, we headed east through the desert to the Hoover Dam, which holds back the Colorado River on the border between Nevada and Arizona. This 80-year old structure and Lake Mead upstream of it provide the life-blood to the region, in terms of water and electricity. The massive structure contains two and a half million cubic metres of concrete (enough to build a 2-lane highway east-west across the whole USA!), and at 776 feet the dam is almost as high as the Eiffel Tower. Then a few more hours driving east to another sight that truly defines the word "awesome" - the Grand Canyon. 'Grand' seems a totally inadequate description of this natural wonder - it's a monster of almost indescribable beauty, etched from the desert landscape by the Colorado River over millions of years. ... read more
Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon

North America » United States » Nevada » Las Vegas October 25th 2011

We flew from Toronto via Chicago into Las Vegas, Nevada - from the cool autumnal north to sunshine and warm temperatures in the western desert. Vegas is, well, Vegas. No other city can be so garish and absurd, yet be so captivating and wonderfully entertaining. What an amazing juxtaposition of different features copied from around the world - 'The Strip' boasts scaled down (but by no means small) versions of an Egyptian pyramid, the Statue of Liberty and Eiffel Tower, cheek-by-jowl with roller-coasters, a Roman Collosseum, 3-masted ship and Venetian gondolas, etc. You can see Elvis impersonators on the street and show girls in full costume on their way to work. most hotels/casinos include wedding chapels with whatever theme takes your fancy. Super-stretch limos just don't look out of place here! Gambling is everywhere - in ... read more
Las Vegas
Rainforest cafe

North America » United States » New York » Niagara Falls October 22nd 2011

Great to make it to Niagara, near Buffalo NY, and see old friends Demaris & Whitey, and their delightful kids Jackson (8y) & Lilly (6y). A bit difficult having 2 young Jacksons in the same house, so our Jackson has been more commonly referred to by his nickname ('Twig'). Jackson took Twig to his elementary school and Twig enlightened his class about NZ, Kiwi life and where we've been on our world tour. Hopefully the local kids will now be able to perform the Haka in style and will all get up at 4am on Sunday morning to watch the All Blacks win the Rugby World Cup final! As a treat, both families spent two nights at the 'Great Wolf Lodge' just over the Canadian border. The kids had a great time on the indoor water ... read more
Dressed for 'Maid of the Mist'
Horseshoe Falls, Niagara

North America » United States » New York » Adirondacks » Lake Placid October 17th 2011

After leaving Boston, we headed north into New Hampshire then north-west into Vermont, then west into up-state New York, close to the Canadian border. We contemplated a quick detour into Maine (the most north-easterly US state) but decided that we couldn't do it justice, so it'll have to be the destination for a future trip. We feel we've truly taken in fall (autumn) in New England in all it's shades - from green to yellow to orange to red to bright red. We've driven through the most majestic scenery in the White Mountains (NH/VT), Green Mountains (VT) and the Adirondacks (NY; pronounced 'ad-deer-ron-dax') and it's been wonderful. Not only that, but we've had a taste (literally) of Ben & Jerry's ice-cream at the main company site in VT. Shame the production line wasn't operating on the ... read more
Adirondack Mts, NY
New Hampshire

North America » United States » Massachusetts » Marshfield October 15th 2011

If ever there was a place to rest & recuperate after our 3+ weeks on the road, this is it! Our good friend Janelle Sevier arranged for us to stay for a few days at the Sisters of Notre Dame beach house near Marshfield, just south of Boston, Massachusetts. The house is just 25 metres from the beach, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and we're spoilt by having loads of space to relax and spread out. After so much time sharing family rooms, Jackson & Katrina were delighted to not only have their own bed but their own room! We didn't realise how exhausted we all were, so we've spent much of our time indoors, watching TV, doing jigsaw puzzles, catching up on journal writing & e-mails, and enjoying Janelle's company. But we have done runs & ... read more
Happy birthday Janelle!
Plymouth Rock

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