Month: August 2017

Plumeria

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I awoke to the sound of a rooster crowing in the distance, and opened my eyes to see the morning light seeping slowly into my room like honey from the side of a jar. Deep purple flowers are growing just outside my window and move slowly in the breeze, and a yellow butterfly lands just as I turned my head. My bedroom windows on this other wall faces the courtyard where the pool is, and I see a white plumeria blossom floating on the waters surface. It looks so beautiful against the turquoise of the pool. This is what peace feels like. We are home. It’s not the home we had wanted to be in – it’s not on the ocean, but that day will come again. We are home now, here in Bali, and this place where all the sounds of man in the world are blocked out, is my sanctuary. Later in the day I sweep the floors and stop to look over at my children. Jude, Aidan and Emma are in the pool, leaning their arms on the side and quietly listening to Mycah as she sits and sings a new song to them while strumming the ukulele. The sound of her voice, the look of admiration and love on her siblings faces…this is home. Peace. My sanctuary.There have been times when it feels like peace will never come again, but it does, and when you feel it once more it is even sweeter than before.

We are becoming more comfortable with driving scooters in complete chaos at this point, though I’ll never get used to the insane stunts people pull while driving. Here’s us on our scooters at a traffic light. (Thanks to Aidan for the photo)

One thing we failed to take into account when renting scooters and helmets, was the possibility of lice in the helmets…..you can guess where this is going! Jude and Emma are the proud new parents of a lovely batch of lice in their hair. It’s interesting because if Jude is within a 100 mile radius of one single louse, it’ll track her down and take up residence in her golden locks. Every orphanage we’ve worked in, she’s the ONLY ONE who has come away with lice! Every time! This is her 8th round in her sweet 19 years of life. Neither her nor Emma are thrilled with their unwanted tenants, and we have attacked the issue with full force. We have found the best way to take care of it is to wash the hair in apple cider vinegar, let it dry in the sun, then douse it in coconut oil to smother the little buggers for a few hours, then spend the next while combing every strand through with a nit comb. Here’s Jude and Emma smelling like pickles, waiting for their hair to dry. Everything is under control again now that we’ve washed all their bedding and clothing. We’ll check again in a few days. Even Jude, after being bitten by monkeys in Panama, has said that maybe getting a pet monkey to groom their hair is a good idea!

We recently met a beautiful family who are traveling to various places in the world, over a year period. They have 6 daughters, the older 3 being similar in age to our girls Their dad had arranged for all of them to go surfing today. The girls spent the night here at our home last night and it was so fun to hear the chatter and laughter. They ordered Coldstone Creamery Ice cream delivery and sat eating ice cream after they’d filled up on the pizza I had made for dinner.

This morning, Mycah, Mariah and I jumped on the scooters and went to the morning farmers market for some fresh produce.

We saw vegetables that we hadn’t seen before, like these babies…

And these…they look like giant okra.

So, we bought them to take home and stir fry up, and were pleasantly surprised.
Mangosteen have become a favorite fruit for us.

I loved watching the people weigh the produce, using cool old scales.

As always we met some beautiful people who, when first meeting them, they already seem familiar.

The Hindu people here set aside over half of their daily income to use in worship. Flowers and other offerings have to be purchased.

A little girl carried a bag of flowers her mother had purchased for offerings.

Many people have rice on their foreheads and chests from morning prayers. It falls off as the morning continues on. This man sold us some incense.

We came home with about $20 worth of treasures from the market. What a delicious sight. Can you tell that we love fresh fruits and vegetables?!

Danny has flown to Switzerland to pick up a BBJ, which he’ll fly to Beijing. Once there, the jet owner will inform him on the places he wants to go. We expect Danny to be gone for 1 to 2 months. It’s the first time he’s worked in 7 months and feels weird to have him gone, but we know he is passionate about flying and loving it.

As we get to know our surroundings, recognize faces, and can set aside the GPS to navigate, my love for Bali grows. I love that when I drive the scooter down our road I smell the wonderful scent of plumeria, followed by incense from Hindu offerings, followed by more plumeria, then the rich flavor of curry cooking someplace. It’s a delicious buffet of smells. I am so grateful for life.

Here’s what I know….

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We are finally done house hunting and will be moving in tomorrow. That should take about 30 seconds since all we have to do is drop the one duffle we each own (aside from duffles in NZ), and we will be moved in! The rental in unfurnished so Mycah is excited to be the official interior decorator, and decorate how ever she’d like. She’s always wanted the experience, so we thought we’d allow her. There are so many incredibly inexpensive local hole in the wall stores where unbelievable bargains can be found. We hope to make extra money to save up for the next boat by having some Air B&B rooms in our home, so the goal is well made and inexpensive, beautiful furniture. Pictures will follow.

As we settle into life here in Bali, we are learning all sorts of things about all sorts of things….

In order to really blend in, transportation in the form of a scooter is in order. The Balinese people really love Honda brands in black, red and white, and they can be bought or rented all over the island.

You can legally drive a scooter here if you’re 17 and over, though we’ve seen 12 years olds driving and if you happen to be pulled over, simply slipping the cop a couple small bills takes care of the issue. We figured that since Jude and Mycah are just learning, they won’t be carrying passengers, so we’d use 4 of them for our family – the twins riding on the back of mine and Danny’s.

The traffic here is crazier than you could ever imagine. It makes driving in Dominican Republic, Mexico or Panama look like a walk in the park. The rules of the road are that anyone can drive anywhere regardless of ‘lanes’, stripes, sidewalks, traffic direction etc. The person ahead of you has right of way, which means everyone does, and all drivers are caring and courteous and will gently tap their hooter as they approach just let let you know you’re loved and they’re there. At first it’s unnerving but quite reassuring after a while. As you drive down the road, people may be going at you from both side as if you were in a center lane surrounded by traffic going the opposite direction. Cars will randomly join in from who knows where just as someone pops in next to you from a side walk on the other side of the road.

Scooters have replaced pick up trucks, delivery trucks, minivans, food vendor vehicles, family cars and long bed semi’s. We’ve seen them riding past carrying entire families, including 99 year old Grandpa Ketut, the newborn twins that arrived just yesterday as well as visiting family and a bird cage with the pet budgie in it. We’ve seen scooters where the driver has 50 baskets stacked all around him as well as 17 more on his head, one man had all the produce from the entire farmers market on his with him, while others have 6 meters of rebar as well as 12 bags of dry cement mix arranged all about, and even with that kind of load, in the drivers left hand is a cell phone and the other hand has a lit cigaret which he takes a puff of periodically as he lifts the hygiene mask from off his nose to do it. Wouldn’t want to breathe those nasty car fumes in!

As far as naming ones children here, it’s really quite simple…the first born is always named Wayan, the second child is Kadek, the third is Komang and the forth is Ketut. In the absolutely crazy chance you have more than 4 kids, you just start over again with the fifth child being Wayan, the sixth is Kadek, seventh is Komang and eighth Ketut. The children can be given a second name of the parents choosing, and then of course they have the family last name. Mycah, who is the 8th child, has introduced herself as Ketut several times and the locals love it!

Danny and I went to the dentist this last week. I had full X-ray taken, teeth examined, cleaned and polished for $45. Danny had the X-ray done, one tooth pulled and three fillings done for $300. The facility was wonderful, staff were excellent, understood and spoke English, and I’d recommend them to anyone. So, if you know of anyone that needs good, inexpensive dental care, tell them we can set them up in our Air B&B and take them to the dentist! We’ll find out this week what medical care is like.

We’ve been warned not to drink the tap water here because if we do we’ll get ‘Bali belly’, which I’m told is quite unpleasant. I’d like to try it sometime just for kicks! The street food is so delicious and none of us have been sick once. The creatures thought they’d be funny and buy Danny a grilled chicken for lunch. It looked like someone had ridden over it several times with the scooter then rammed a stick through it and popped it on the barbie – head and all. Danny thought it was delicious!

We have learned that suksma means thank you, salama tasi is good morning, ma ap is sorry and maoli is you’re welcome. Our vocab is growing slowly but surely and we have made several friends. I taught the youth in our church today, 3 being mine, 3 from Utah and the remainer locals, and they were a great group of kids.

We love the Balinese people with their big smiles and sweet, kind personalities. We have been gathering information on places to do humanitarian work, and will jump in with sleeves rolled up as soon as we can. We are so blessed to be together in this experience of growing and learning.

Embracing Bali

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Yesterday, aside from looking at another home to rent, our driver, Sihol, took us to some places that are an important part of the Balinese culture. The first was Jambe Budaya to watch the Barong and Kris dance. The Balinese are Hiindu, and Barong is the name of the God who represents good,

and Rangda is the God who represents evil.

The play was about the fight between Barong and Rangda. Female dancers performed who were the servants of Rangda, and were searching for servants en route to the Pahti. Their movements were eerie yet beautiful.

Musicians played off to the side on rindiks, flutes, bells, drums and triangles.

A monkey appears, who is a friend of Barong, and helps him fight against Rangda.

After much turmoil, including being threatened to be eaten alive,

Barong’s followers appear and help him fight for good, and they conquer Rangda.

After the dance, we drove to the Monkey Forest which is a sacred area to the Hindu people. It is located in Ubud and the purpose of the forest is for those who enter to reach physical and spiritual well being.

The temple is in the center of the forest, where monkeys roam freely, and one can get permission to worship with them.

The monkeys are beautiful and gather together as families, cuddling and loving each other.

They are fed sweet potatoes three times a day, and those entering the forest have the opportunity to purchase bananas for them.

We walked up moss covered paths, surrounded by tall trees that seemed to have been around for centuries, each having their own story to tell.

Many statues stand representing the many God’s that the Hindu worship, and the monkeys perch on top watching the crowds walk by.

What an amazing place!

It’s interesting to be somewhere where one feels like the inferior race…the monkeys being the superior.

The town by the forest is busy with tourists, but that doesn’t stop the locals from continuing on with daily prayer rituals and offerings.

As soon as offerings are given, monkeys rush in and eat that which was offered to the Gods.

Once we left the Monkey Forest we drove to the Rice Terraces, which are layers of bright green steps of lush rice paddies.

Regardless of how the hills twist and turn, the rice terraces are molded to them. It seems unreal.

Water rushes into the top terrace then pools up and runs down to the ones below, filling each level then pouring into the next – all the way down to the very last level.

Once rice is harvested, new shoots are quickly planted and the process continues.

Every day that we are here in Bali, we seem to fall farther in love with the people, the culture and our surroundings. House hunting continues, and hopefully by Friday we will have a decision made. Danny will be leaving on a trip in about a week, and will be gone for a month – maybe two, so we want to be settled with a home and transportation before he flies off.
Speaking of transportation….we noticed that here in Bali, there’s even a McDonalds delivery service! We will most likely never use it, but it’s comical to see.

As far as our sweet Tanda Malaika goes, she is still sitting on the reef, holding tight. We get emails and texts every day from people making offers on parts of her that we salvaged. It’s good to know that she lives on in many sailboats. We are still not sure when she will be drug out and sunk. Thank you again to all of you that have been such an amazing support through this all – whether it be financially, emotionally or spiritually.

Safari Park in Bali

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We spent our last full day with my cousin and his beautiful wife and family, joining them in their adventure to the Bali Safari and Marine Park.

Usually zoo’s make me sad because enclosures are small and the animals looks so sad, but this place was great. Still not their natural habitats of course, but really nice big areas for the wildlife to live in.As we entered we heard the beautiful sound of the Rindik, and saw two men playing.

The rindik is an 11-13 keyed bamboo xylophone and has the most wonderful sound. Danny tried it out and did well – of course.

Quaid and Caleb tried it out too and were quite the pair. Notice how Quaid needs his tongue out to concentrate.

Amazing statues were around every corner,

decorated entry ways,

and costumes hung from ceilings.

We saw lions….

(Some of them very close up),

White tigers…

and leopards, oh my!

The cousins had a blast and half spending time together.

We saw intricately painted eggs,

amazing symbolic engravings and statues,

and offerings to the Gods with burning incense.

Orangutans entertained us,

elephants stole our hearts,

we even fed them – their curious trunks seemed to have a mind of their own.

Emma got slapped in the face by an elephant ear and laughed so hard it almost started an asthma attack!

It’s easy to fall in love with a baby hippo!

I felt like I was back in Africa for a moment as I watched zebra grazing,

giraffe eating with their big black tongues,

and meerkat mischievously looking for trouble to get into.

The best part of it all was spending time together as a family,

all while immersing ourselves in a beautiful culture.

We love this place and are so excited to continue learning. Hopefully this week we will be in a rental home and start riding around on scooters. We wish Anthony, Teresa and they beautiful family would just stay with us here, but hopefully we are close enough now that we’ll see each other soon again.

Exploring

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Yesterday we spent a bunch of time with a realtor and viewed 6 homes in Sanur. The homes here are divided into two categories – open plan and closed plan. Our realtor showed us a closed plan home first, which is not the traditional Balinese style. Homes that are closed plan are like homes in the US where all living areas are inside and closed in. We found the home to be a bit on the dark side. The open plan homes have open living spaces with kitchens and ‘living rooms’ outside. Many of them that we looked at had pools and surrounding the pools were three separate buildings – two of them containing two bedrooms and bathrooms each, then the third building would essentially have three sides and open to the pool area which is in the center. The three sided building would be the kitchen and an open area where benches can be placed for a gathering place. They are all so beautiful. We will be looking at some homes in other areas as well. We explored the beach front in Sanur, and were amazed at the amount of scooters and motor bikes parked along the road.

Various people sold items along the walkways, some by walking around carrying them to show like this man with knives,

some carried heavy containers of hot food to sell,

and some areas were lined with small store fronts.

We love street food, and the creatures saw something that intrigued them and decided to try it.

The food they tried looked like egg rolls but we think it may have been filled with tofu. The gentleman held the ‘rolls’ with tongs then cut them with a scissors, placed the pieces into a paper container, and smothered it with a combination of spices in a sauce. A long tooth pick type stick was provided as a utensil. The creatures said it was absolutely delicious. I listened to them talk and heard Jude saying, “ I’ve lived for 19 years eating all sorts of new things, and these flavors are so completely new to me. It’s so delicious!” I love watching them experience new things.

Several fishermen stood out in the water,

and some interesting little boats were anchored a short ways off shore.

Today we met my cousin, Anthony, and his wonderful family once again, and checked out a beach close to their hotel. We were welcomed by a cute little squirrel which was a fun treat since we haven’t seen a squirrel in years!

The beach was busy, and several locals had surf boards ready to rent out.

Many surfers were in the water,

and vendors constantly approached us selling clothing, sarongs, jewelry, food, puppets, and every other imaginable thing.

We met some beautiful people who I would love to spend days with, listening to their life experiences.

All the kids enjoyed watching the koi fish,

and some braved poking their fingers into the water to feel them latch on.

Tomorrow is the last day we have to spend with my cousin before they head back to Australia, so we are going to join them at a park with African animals, marine animals and some water slides.

We got word that after all this time, Tanda Malaika’s mast finally fell, which broke our hearts to hear. It fell because all the rest of her rigging was stolen and without shrouds, the mast is compromised. The fact that she is still sitting there holding tight, is quite a testament to the strength and durability of Leopard catamarans built in that year. She hasn’t been taken off the reef yet because some of the people on Huahine were considering dragging her onto land and using her as a house. We’d rather pay $25 000 to have her taken off the reef and taken to be used as a home for someone than pay
$25 000 plus $5000 and hour to be towed out and sunk. It is difficult to move on mentally and emotionally when we are still needing to deal with that, but we realize its necessary. Hopefully we will be able to close that chapter soon.

Bali!

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We’ve learned some interesting things about airlines as we traveled from NZ to Bali: When we flew from Tahiti to New Zealand, the baggage rules for Air New Zealand was that each person is allowed a 7 kg carry on and a 23 kg checked bag. We ended up paying an extra $1000 for our extra duffles, guitars and 2 skateboards that didn’t fit in duffles. We thought that was steep but had no choice but to pay it and move on. When we left NZ to travel to Bali, we flew on Quantas and their rules are a 7 kg carry on and a 30 kg checked bag, and anything after that is $28 per 1 kg in luggage. It was going to cost us about $600 per bag to fly them as freight, which meant a total of $2000 in extra luggage. We said forget it, and picked 6 duffles at the airport to check in as the regular baggage and sent the guitars, drone and extra duffles back with poor Conrad to keep at his house. Here’s the problem…we had no idea what was in the duffles we took with us because we consolidated clothing etc and spread them among the duffles so they all weighed 30 kg for Quantas. We figured it’d be a fun adventure to see what we end up with! The flights went well. We stopped in Sydney, Australia for 90 minutes then carried on to Bali. I took a photo of the beautiful Australian coast line.

As we stepped off the plane in Bali, we were greeted by warm, humid air. The airport was beautiful with wonderful, interesting architecture.

We checked into our hotel which is a whopping $39 a night for our two rooms, and were finally able to take showers then disappear below the heavy white comforters and crisp, cool sheets and drift into a deep, restful sleep. It felt SO GOOD!!!
I woke up at about 4:30am because my pain meds had worn off, then couldn’t get back to sleep, so I read some information about Bali. I was interested to read that they have no tolerance for drugs of any kind. If someone is caught with any drug – be it marijuana or anything else, they’ll get life in jail. If the authorities can prove that you are a dealer you get the death penalty.
As the morning light shone through spaces between the curtains, I moved over to the window to watch the world outside. An old woman stood below a large umbrella selling food, and had a regular stream of customers. Three large young men emerged from a narrow alley way and all climbed onto one small white scooter and drove off down the street. Mototbikes and scooters – all 49cc’s passed by in a steady flow. Some carried entire families of 3, 4 or 5,

others rode by carrying huge bundles of goods.

Words written on store fronts were ‘Martabak & Terang Bulan’, ‘Pangkas’, and ‘Kalasan’, and I thought about how excited I am to learn what they all mean. I want to learn the language, the recipes and the traditions.
Our rooms come with a complimentary breakfast buffet, which the creatures absolutely love. The buffet consists of everything from fruits, omelets, yoghurts and pastries to sushi, rice, meat and noodles. Then there’s the display of drinks…

I took what I thought was mango juice, and found it to be a thick turmeric mixture. Knowing that turmeric is so good for us, I did drink it, but it was definitely quite a surprise when my taste buds were expecting mango! One of the creatures taste buds were met with something we still haven’t identified when they thought they were drinking watermelon juice.
The creatures and I went for a walk down the sidewalk, and had to watch our step because periodically there would be a small basket with food and flowers that had been set out for the Hindu Gods.

We entered a large store which was filled with food, clothing, bedding, souvenirs and toiletries. I had with me 100 000 Rupiah, which translates to $7.50, and with it, purchased Aidan a pair of board shorts, a cute little dress for our grand daughter, lotion for Mycah, and some snake fruit which we’d never seen before and had to try, and I still got change back! I couldn’t believe how cheap it was. That $7.50 is not written wrong, it’s really that cheap!
The snake fruit is so pretty.

The skin is a dry, thin paper- like covering and when it is all peeled off you’re left with what appears to be a large clove of garlic.

I broke apart the ‘clove’ and bit into it and found it to be firm and crunchy and quite delicious. When the creatures saw it was safe they tried it too and enjoyed it. Inside each piece has a large brown seed.

We have been able to plug USB cords in to charge various things, but have had to use adapters on adapters on adapters to do it!

I have been so excited to get to Bali because just by chance, for this week, my cousin, Anthony, who lives in Australia, is visiting with his beautiful wife and 3 children. Anthony and I haven’t seen each other for about 30 years, and when I saw him I wrapped my arms around him and cried and didn’t want to let go. I love him so much!

What a reunion!!! I have loved getting to know his Sweetheart, Teresa, who I have no doubt would be my partner in crime if we lived close to each other.
We decided to all go for a walk to see what we could see.

The Balinese people are so sweet.

They are so friendly and kind and have beautiful big smiles. We felt like a group of giants because the locals are so short! Banners and flags have been hung everywhere because on the 17th of this month is their Independence Day celebration.

School children in uniforms gathered around street vendors who had carts and store fronts filled with food and things to drink.

I love the fresh fruit markets,

and when Mycah saw some massive dragonfruit for sale, she had to buy a few!

We watched a sweet elderly woman weave little boxes from strips of palm leaves. She was happy to show us and moved her hands so quickly.

As we made our way back to the hotel after eating some delicious local food, we past a patch of grass where hot peppers were being dried in the sun.

All the creatures grabbed swimsuits and we went up to the hotel roof were they enjoyed the pool. I didn’t swim because all my clothing aside from a couple dresses and t shirts, were left in NZ.

As the kids swam we could hear the call to prayer echo across the city. An eerie, yet beautiful chanting. We are so excited as a family to learn the culture, to understand the traditions and be a part of it all.

Today we will be meeting with a realtor to look at some rental homes. As always, the adventure continues.

Loving New Zealand

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We have fallen in love with New Zealand. It is so peaceful, clean and friendly. It seems like the place that time and corruption forgot. Perhaps everyone is so happy and friendly because here, one can purchase an endless supply of Cadbury’s chocolate and South African biltong! We have been learning the local terminology, and if you were here and heard the sentence, “Im going to grab my togs and jangles and head to the beach after morning tea.” You’d probably respond with, “Good on you!” Or maybe, “That’s choice!” And if you saw their togs and jangles and really liked them you may comment, “Sweet as!!!”, then head out for some nibbles before you drive off on the left side of the road.On the twins birthday while we were in Wellington waiting for our visas, Clare baked the them a delicious birthday cake and Mycah decorated it. She decided to go with a New Zealand theme…

the cake was a green hillside with a few rocks and many fluffy sheep! She’s so creative and the twins loved it.

We all sang to Aidan and Emma,

and together they successfully blew all the candles out! I have no doubt they are in for a wonderful and exciting year as 15 year olds. After all….how many 15 year olds can say they’ve been shipwrecked?!

The morning we left Wellington with visas in hand, our goofy creatures said their goodbyes to our wonderful friends, the Smith family.

We love Bruce, Clare, Lucy, Molly and Scoobie the dog so much and are grateful for their amazing generosity. We have no doubt that we will be friends forever.

We were quickly swept up into the gorgeous New Zealand scenery. As always, the ocean called to us so we spent a few minutes standing quietly, watching the waves and breathing in the peace we feel there.

Just around the corner as we headed North, we were surrounded by endless green fields with beautiful flocks of fluffy white sheep on them.

The creatures tried to approach them because Jude and Mycah REALLY wanted to give one a hug, but they just weren’t very keen on the idea and scattered.

We passed by beautiful lakes and the area called ‘Mordor’ in Lord of the Rings.

One minute, we were surrounded by large stands of trees that were covered in moss,

the next minute, dense forests covered the hillsides and the air was filled with that clean scent of pine.

We drove down roads framed in tropical trees and vines and set up camp for the night. The creatures played hide and seek until I called them in for a warm dinner I’d just prepared for them in the RV’s quaint little kitchen.

We climbed down tiny gaps in the earth that lead into a smorgasbord of tunnels which branched off from a raging river with New Zealand long finned eels living in them, all passing below us.

The Okupata Caves are beautiful, and when flashlights are turned off and ones eyes adjust to the darkness, glow worms cover the ceiling like a constellation. I thought I even saw the Southern Cross. We shined a light on some of the glow worms, and noticed their silk threads hanging from the ceiling of the cave. They produce the silk like ‘string’ that hangs down and place a sticky acid mucus like substance on it in several places which attracts insects for them to climb down and devour. The adult glow worm is about the size of a mosquito and their entire life cycle can be completed in the cave.

When we exited the cave and climbed a ladder back up to the trail, Danny stopped midway up the ladder, turned to me and said, “this could be called stairs or a ladder, but I tend to choose the ladder.” He’s so punny!

There are many thermal hot spots in New Zealand, and as the hot steam rising from the pools mixed with the cool air above, a brilliant rainbow formed – arching across the sky in a thick colorful banner.

The green of the country side is so breathtaking, and never ends.

Even though it is winter time and many trees are leafless, everything remains so picturesque.

Every corner we turned we were faced with more green, more hills, more places to run barefoot over and into the horizon.

One of the places we camped was across from a beautiful hike through the forest, so we saw it as a great opportunity for an adventure. We crossed over several small bridges,

and immersed ourselves in nature. Trees reaching for the heavens,

gentle streams,

tiny vines growing up trunks,

and thick carpets of moss covering every fallen log.

We also learned how kiwi vines are grown. They look like vineyards,

and are protected by tall hedges which line the roads for many kilometers.

We stopped by Skyline Rotorua, where we took the gondola up the mountain,

wearing spiffy helmets that smelled like a locker room,

then rode the luge back down the mountain. We reached pretty high speeds and Danny was quite the maniac because no speed is fast enough for him.

Danny and the creatures had a race on one of the trips down, and when they reached a traffic jam, Danny grabbed his cart, picked it up, ran ahead of everyone and jumped back on. Until then, Jude had been in the lead and was cussing his name when he cheated! He came down with a thumbs up like he’d won,

Jude followed and when they reached the final traffic jam a few meters from the end, Jude picked up her cart and ran to the end, winning the race!!!

Aidan came next saying he had to stop and rescue Mycah because she ran off the track and crashed.

Next came Emma who was all smiles and loving life.

Mycah finally arrived with a couple new wounds to add to her shipwreck wounds, and said she wanted to win and gave it all she had, took a corner too fast and ate dirt with her car ontop of her! We had a good laugh.

We passed through so many beautiful little towns, like Tauranga, where we looked at a college Jude is interested in, and Matamata also known as Hobbiton. The visitors center there is so beautiful.

We didn’t actually go through the movie sets of Hobbiton because it’s about $89 a person, but we’ll catch it another time.
The sun began to set as we neared Aukland, and I fell asleep for a little while. We love this place, and have enjoyed every second here. WE have loved staying in Aukland with my childhood friend, Teri, and her sweet husband, Conrad, and their children.

Tomorrow we fly to Bali and begin our adventures there. If ever you find yourself in New Zealand, make sure you take a long drive, eat some Jaffa and Pineapple lumps, and let me know what you think of this gorgeous place. I have no doubt my response will be, “Good on you!”