There is nothing like it.
All the things you love.
A pillow that is so small and soft…
It fits you just right.
The dog, fresh flowers, the sound of the sprinkler during the night.
We arrived in Queenstown and went directly to the waiting helicopter…
Off to Minaret Station.
A remote lodge only accessible by chopper.
The flight to our lodge was so breathtaking and so frightening that I had to make myself breathe.
After a 45 minute trip over mountain ridges and deep still lakes, we arrive.
Ten days, four venues, and a small carry-on bag.
That’s all I can say.
I am usually pretty good at packing, but this one is a challenge.
We are about half way through this leg of the trip.
I have stored a large suitcase at the airport and now continue with a single carry-on.
Can’t get on a helicopter with a big bag.
We waded down a completely quiet stream on this chilly morning.
We pulled on our gear…
wading pants with feet and then boots that slide over the waders.
They were bulky and hard to hike in at first.
Carefully we secured each step in the moving water, looking for fish.
Wading in the stream.
The water was so clear that you could see the brown trout lying on the bottom…
But that doesn’t mean they will take the fly.
Our guide Fishy Steve was a total professional.
He reminds us of where to cast.
Changing the flies to try different approaches to get the elusive trout to feed.
He coaches me on how to stop the line.
I am still very much a novice and need his constant instruction.
We crawled along the bank of the river to try to spy where the biggest fish were resting and if they were feeding.
We need to cross the rapidly rushing stream to reach just the right spot.
We find a big one coming to the surface to eat…
He is feasting on a small moth, which are plentiful this time of year.
I cast with Steve’s continual direction and yes, the fish takes the fly.
Carefully, for the next ten minutes or so, I patiently bring the shy Rainbow trout to the net.
I am thrilled with the challenge and the prize of actually catching him.
We take quick photos and lower him back to the stream.
Away to the wild.
The sun is strong now, and I am quite tired.
New Zealand fly fishing.
It has been on my list for years.
Is it a bucket list?
Just a goal.
On my list of 10 things to do before I can’t.
A day well lived.
Now that’s the big goal.
// Fishy Steve //
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We arrived in Auckland this morning.
After collecting ourselves and a small white car of unknown make and model, we begin our drive.
My husband and I love the beach.
Any beach and almost every beach has a special draw for us.
With that thought in mind we follow the map to the coast of New Zealand.
We have a recommendation from a woman in the airport and off we go.
After a harrowing drive through a mountain pass, driving on the left side of the road, we arrive in a small village known as the antique capitol of NZ.
Needing a mental break, we take an hour to look at the local famous shops.
Shocking, truly surprising, stores are packed full of dishes from the 1950’s and hats from the sixties.
Jewelry from that era and furs…
How could I resist?
I had to own a fur from a famous Auckland store stuck in time.
A soft brown mink stole.
So with my new treasure in hand we proceed to the beach.
At last Mt. Maunganui appears.
A small mountain tucked into the Pacific Ocean.
Ripping, roaring waves so large you could feel Gods hands pulling and pushing the water surrounding us and the mountain…
This view was worth every minute of driving.
We sit quietly at a small cafe, sip a local white wine and watch the sea.
Watching our time, sadly we leave the beach to travel on.
Driving several hours we travel deep into the heart of NZ.
We are staying at a remote fishing lodge on Lake Tarawera.
It is important we find it before sundown.
At last we are here.
Total peace surrounds us and we gather our things to settle into the lodge.
We have come here to soak in a bit of this corner of the world.
Some day we will be too old to make this small adventure.
Time will rob us of our choices.
Right now we must appreciate it and be thankful for the small slice of a different world.
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The sunrise over the islands is deep pink with streaks of pale blue.
The small rocky islands push through the ocean.
I am reminded of how thankful I am to be able to see.
and to be here.
This special little inlet at the northern most point of New Zealand reminds me a bit of Scotland.
There are small houses tucked into the side of the mountains.
Creating a little cozy village.
A sleek dock slides in the ocean, bright yellow umbrellas shade people eating fresh fish.
We sit under the shade and drink a golden thick local beer.
The fish and chips are covered with large chunks of sea salt.
We soak in the scenery.
I watch with envy as a small boat arrives with tourists after completing a morning of fishing.
They hold a large fat yellow-tail snapper and take photos before the first mate cleans the prize catch.
As we walk along the beach the wind is so strong we can hardly continue.
Looking at the sea roaring makes me less jealous of the tourists.
The soft yellow scarf I threw in my bag has been a life saver.
Scarves and travel…
A pair that cannot be understated.
We pass a house with a large stack of avocados and oranges on a small table.
The box next to the fruit says “honor box”
People pass by, take an orange and leave money in the treasury on the card table.
It’s almost like Bay of Islands is stuck in a simpler time.
I ask someone about some of the challenges of living here.
He replies that they have problems with possums.
You can hunt them and make quite a penny the old man tells me.
If you can pluck them quickly it can really add up.
Dog food he whispers.
Hmmm, I reply.
I think I’ll put that off until another trip.
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This week I have seen some of the most beautiful black pearls.
From pearls that are deep grey to light golden.
Ones that fetch thousands of dollars each and ones sold for two bucks.
The entire Island’s economic base is supported by them.
There is something almost magical about Pearls.
Here they are what feed families and keep tourists like me dreaming of which set I can take home.
I choose a simple, single pearl.
Not from a jewelry store but from a family stringing and selling them at the dock.
Something about buying from them gave me pleasure.
We travel on, spending the next two days at sea.
The sky and ocean go on into infinity.
I wake early as to not miss the sunrise over the Pacific Ocean.
Bulging full moons light the deck at night.
Tomorrow we will lose a day crossing the International Date Line.
Everyone is talking about what day we lose and when we get it back.
How many days do we lose in our lives for no reason?
For not soaking in the sky, or because we are angry…
or just too busy to stop and love those closest to us.
The date line in our life should be one where we never let that day go unappreciated.
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We spent the day in Bora Bora.
The azure colored water is impossible to describe.
There is a famous mountain that dominates the main island.
Every inch of the land is blanketed with deep green Palm trees and thick foliage.
Sprinkled over some of the trees are fuchsia colored flowers.
We board an open boat with green stems from the local bush taped to all the edges.
“Coral Garden” to snorkel and dive.
Bursting from the bottom of the ocean is brilliant colored coral and tropical fish.
Each crevice hides small angel fish and big parrot fish…
Ok, here is a little confession.
I am afraid of snorkeling.
But how could I miss such an adventure!
I slip off the boat into the clear water, swim out a yard or so and look into the sea.
I feel panicked.
The coral is stunning and jagged; the giant holes are 20 feet deep with grouper like fish drifting about…
I head back to the boat.
Grab a life jacket and pull it over my chest.
Happily I float out into the ocean again.
I know it’s a big sissy move.
And a little embarrassing in front of the other divers…
Some as old as my mother, but you know who really cares?
I love the experience and just embrace who I am.
An Ohio girl who is not a strong swimmer and a bit of a chicken.
We boarded the boat and two people remarked that they went into the water because they saw me with a life jacket and followed suit.
We sailed on to swim with black tipped sharks and giant manta rays
I kept my trusted orange companion under my arm and soaked in the adventure.
As for the next steps in my journey?
I am making a conscious decision to rethink what I say “yes” to in my life at home.
I have worn the busy badge like a status symbol.
This trip my goal is to untangle that habit.
Soak in more of what I love.
Even if it’s got a life jacket attached.
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We woke early to meet our guide for a day of fishing.
Our co-captains (a husband and wife team) pulled into the dock a few moments late.
The winds were really kicking up making it difficult to board.
We had to get on a tug boat and hop over the deck to get inside.
It is one of the adventurous things I love about fishing.
You never know what can happen.
The team did not speak much English; yet somehow we managed to be friends for the day.
They have two grown girls and three grandchildren.
One is a teacher and they love to take the grandkids fishing.
People are the same all over the world.
They were quite like us, even though we live very different lives.
We caught several Tuna, not any big prize fish though.
The prize of the day was the scenery.
Sharp mountains jetting out of the ocean.
A waterfall pouring from large cuts in the rocks and all the land was covered with lush vegetation.
Nothing can describe the royal blue water.
Deeper than any blue I have ever seen.
As we trolled along, waiting for the fish to bite.
I had time to think about the day.
I wanted to choose my favorite thing each day of the trip.
This day was a hard choice.
Perhaps it would be the sun setting over the island next to us.
Perhaps it would be the tiny finch with bold stripes that has a nest next to our cabin.
I think it has to be the flying fish that jump from the sea and flap their tiny wings coasting for such a great distance before returning to be a fish.
That is my new goal; to choose one thing each day that I have loved and sear it in my mind.
I am searing this day for sure.
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We arrived in Papeete, Tahiti Saturday morning at about 7:00 am.
The breeze and air here are warm and thick.
Just the way I like it…by the way.
We are staying in a bungalow on the water overlooking the island of Moorea.
The scenery is breath taking.
Music spills out of every crevice, men holding small guitars begin singing.
I cannot figure out if this is their lifestyle or if it’s staged for our benefit.
Maybe a bit of both.
We traveled to the city center.
It’s a bit grimy, filled with people selling their fresh fish, vegetables and crafts.
Of course there are plenty of choices for Tahitian pearls.
Small ones with deep dark grey hue’s.
Then there are the multicolored ones that glisten like a diamond.
One little stand is squeezing fresh tropical fruit in an ice cold cup.
It tasted a bit like mango, but that is not quite it.
On the rim of the glass is a slice of fruit that mimics a green grapefruit.
Today we will soak in the sun, perhaps have a rum punch and be completely lazy.
Tomorrow we will meet our fishing guide at 7:30 am and begin our Pacific Rim adventure.
I realize how passionate I am about fishing, but it also gives me anxiety.
Will my super shocking anti-nausea watch work all day?
Will there be a bathroom?
What if the seas are really choppy or aren’t safe?
But all that is overruled by:
What if I catch a really big fish?!?
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