Mexico City: Museum of Anthropology

Our first full day in Mexico City started late, after a good night’s sleep and a wonderful breakfast. Then we walked a few blocks to the Museum of Anthropology in Chapultepec Park. It was highly recommended and far exceeded expectations.

Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City

The exhibit followed a timeline, beginning in 30,000BC and ending in the current times, although we only were able to see half of the exhibits. It was spectacular. The use of technology, lighting and outdoor exhibit space was fabulous. It’s amazing how far back people created art. It was an integral part of the culture.

Museum of Anthropology Art

This is just a small assortment of the masks, sculptures and paintings that were on display. Works of art ranged from enormous stone carvings to intricate pieces of jewelry. The history was told in dioramas, videos and reconstructions of burial grounds.

Security Museum of Anthropology

There were a number of police officers on the grounds and I spotted this officer keeping a close eye on visitors from a high perch. Thanks for taking good care of us!

Museum of Anthropology

As we entered the main complex, we were greeted with an incredible totem pole style structure with sheets of water pouring down. The school children who were visiting stood in the face of the breeze that blew water in their faces. It was magnificent. Later in the day, the water was turned off, so if you plan on visiting, I’d suggest going earlier in the day.

And, as always, I love people watching.

Museum of Anthropology

 

Museum of Anthropology

 

On this one, I confirmed with mom that she approved of me taking their picture.

Museum of Anthropology Visitors

It was a wonderful day with beautiful weather and an opportunity to learn more about the rich Mexican culture at the Museum of Anthropology. It would take days to fully appreciate all the exhibits at the museum. Delia and I had to breeze through some sections we would have loved to spend more time in. We also only saw the exhibits on the first floor. There is a full second floor of mysteries that will require us to return.

It’s well worth a visit next time you are in Mexico City.

After a very full day, we headed back to the hotel to relax and, you guessed it, drink our margaritas.

On the Road to Monarchs

Monarch butterfly drawing

The cat was intent on its victim and didn’t notice my approach. The victim was a beautiful large butterfly held captive in the cat’s claws. I chased it away and picked up the butterfly, noticing the wings were a bit battered around the edges. It didn’t appear that there was other damage. As a young girl, I was fascinated by the huge colorful butterfly on my hand.

The butterfly sat on my hand for a very long time. I remember thinking it was grateful that I had saved it and that’s why it stayed. Now, I’m guessing it was probably in some kind of butterfly shock. It finally flew away. I’ve always remembered and treasured that moment. I don’t remember if it was a Monarch butterfly, just that I found it beautiful. Even today, I find butterflies magical.

I love the story of struggling to get out of the cocoon to make their wings strong and their incredible transformation. Then to find out that the Monarchs migrate and generations who have never been there find the path each year, created more of a mystery and allure. School children in the U.S. are planting milkweed to provide food for the butterflies as they migrate across the country. See…magical.

Today I’m in Mexico City a few days prior to our tour leaving to see the Migration of the Monarchs. My friend Delia is traveling with me and we’ve been looking forward to the adventure. I’ve never been to this area of Mexico and we plan on seeing a few of the local sites before we leave for the mountains.

Stay tuned!!

A Golden Retriever Puppy – First Year in Review

golden retriever puppy

Scarlett O’Hair-a entered this world on January 1st, 2016 as a New Year’s puppy. When she came home in mid March, Scarlett quickly reminded me of the never ending puppy energy. We adjusted pretty quickly and she has been a wonderful addition to the family.

Scarlett makes me laugh every day and has really bonded with Olive. I love to watch them together. Even Bubba the cat has welcomed her, and that’s saying something. This year’s challenge is for Scarlett to complete therapy dog training so we can begin visiting hospitals and other facilities that can benefit from a furry love bug.

With all the pictures I’ve taken over the last year, I created a slideshow/movie to summarize our last year. Happy birthday, Scarlett!

Kaikoura and the Seals

Our next destination was Kaikoura on the Pacific coast of the south island. We’d heard wonderful things about Kaikoura and were looking forward to the visit. Since we had a limited amount of time, we wanted to take advantage of every moment. Kaikoura means food (kai) and crayfish (koura) in the Maori language. Ken and Mary at Coleraine B & B made us feel right at home. Ken was in the middle of harvesting honey from his beehives when we arrived. I did enjoy some at breakfast the following morning. YUMMY!!

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Once again, we were hosted by the kindest and most friendly people. Spending time with them was a delight. I highly recommend a visit to Coleraine B & B. The large room we stayed in was on the first floor with the cutest patio. Mary and Ken’s primary living area is on the second floor with an incredible view off their large balcony.

Kaikoura landscape

We headed to the Pier Hotel for dinner a bit early so we could enjoy the views while the storm rolled in.

Kaikoura Pier

Kaikoura Skyline

The waves were crashing against the shore and up on the road in places. It was spectacular.

The next morning we had breakfast with Ken and Mary and discussed our itinerary. The first activity was whale watching and then, on our way out of town to Blenheim, Ken suggested visiting the seals and in particular, the seal pups. Sounded like a great plan.

Except…once we arrived to board our boat for whale watching, the caution was up on the screen.

EXTREME SEA SICKNESS WARNING!!!!

It’s me…not you. I have motion sickness issues and have been known to feed the fishes more than once. We waited to see if conditions would improve. NOT. So, reluctantly, we decided to cancel our boat trip. I was really disappointed. Delia was very understanding.

So, it was off to see the seals. Since we headed out earlier than planned, we had plenty of extra time. I’m so glad. It was another incredible New Zealand experience. We saw the seals off the shoreline and then moved further up the highway to Ohau Stream and the seal pups that swim in the pools while moms are relaxing near the ocean. Amazing!!

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I was able to sit just off the path and above the seals. Visitors are very respectful and keep their distance while the pups play.


The waterfall is not much further up the trail and I understand that pool can be filled with seals, but today there were only two and they quickly left the water to head back down the hill. Still, it’s a beautiful area and I’m glad we were able to see it. This little guy must have played hard. We found him resting on the rocks in the middle of a dense forest.

Seal pups of Ohau

Experiences like this are just one of the many reasons I travel. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity and wonderful hosts who make sure I stop to smell the roses, or pause to appreciate the antics of baby seals. Thanks Ken and Mary!

From Ice to Hot Springs Pool – Hanmer Springs

Denver snow

Here’s what it looked like in Denver while we were visiting Hanmer Springs on the South Island of New Zealand. (Thanks for the picture, Margie!)

Hamner Springs pools

We stayed at Rosie’s B and B which is a block from the center of town and the wonderful Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools. Each pool was a different temperature and it was so relaxing sitting in the heat of the water. They also had a therapy pool with jets that hit the perfect places on my back and shoulders. If it weren’t for my wrinkling fingers and toes, I might still be sitting there today. It was perfect timing. Delia and I were ready to be pampered and this is a wonderful place to slow down and take time to think about what a wonderful trip we’d had so far.

Breakfast included the most wonderful hot croissants along with our cereal and yogurts. After spending a few hours at the pools, it was time to move on to our next stay.

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Fox Glacier – From the Air

Late in the afternoon after our walk around Lake Matheson, we went into Fox Glacier and checked on helicopter flights for the following morning. We wanted to see the area from the air. The weather was supposed to be bad, so we were told not to expect a flight, but to show up anyway.

Luckily, while it was still overcast the next day, the bad weather held off and we loaded up on the helicopter. Delia and I were the only ones on the flight with the pilot, Dion. We’d seen the magnificence of the area from on the ground, now it was going to be from the air and we weren’t disappointed.

Fox Glacier

Our flight included Mount Cook and Fox Glacier. Mount Cook is 12,218 feet tall. Comparing that to Colorado, we have 53 14,000 foot peaks. The difference here is that this location is near the ocean, not already a mile high.

Mount Cook

The day before, we’d visited the beach at the Tasman Sea. So we had literally gone from sea level to over 12,000 feet.

Tasman Sea

And yes, I managed to get my feet into the water between bites from sand flies.

Tasman Sea

Now back to the flight. It was incredible. Early on, we were being buffeted around a bit and I was getting nervous, but once we made it around Mount Cook, the air settled down and I was too busy looking at views and taking photos to pay attention to anything else.

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier Helicopter

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We were able to set down and walk out on the glacier. It was amazing. The pictures tell part of the story, but can’t capture how beautiful it really was. There are a number of different companies that provide flights to the glaciers and they all cost about the same. It was worth every penny.

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The sun tried to break through but ended up being unsuccessful. The crevices added such wonderful textures across the snowy landscapes. The flight was over quickly. I’ll never forget how humbling it was to land on the glacier. A very small person in a very big ice field.

And as Forrest Gump would say, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

Fox Glacier – From the Ground Up

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier was another area of New Zealand that was high on our list. We arrived in the late afternoon and checked in to our B & B. It had been another long, but very beautiful drive, and we were tired. So we heated up our dinner and settled in. As usual, I was up in the middle of the night for a bathroom visit. The only issue? I couldn’t remember which door in the hallway led to the shared bathroom. All the doors were shut and I knew there were other guests. The hallway was really dark. I must have gone back and forth several times before my need to go forced me to select a door. I opened one door and felt the wall for the light switch. Nothing. Crap! Maybe it was a bedroom and I quickly shut the door as quietly as I could.

Then, out of desperation, I decided to head to an area of the house I knew was safe, the kitchen. I turned the light on and it lit up part of the hallway. I opened the door to the room I had guessed earlier and discovered a small bathroom that I never knew existed. Thank goodness. After I finished, I counted the doors, committed the location to memory and went back to bed.

The next morning, Delia asked me why I hadn’t used the flash light on my cell phone. Hmmm…good question.

Kirsty, our host, recommended we visit several places and we started with a walk around Lake Matheson. The walk is about 4.4K through an incredible rain forest. It was one of my favorite places on the whole trip, at least so far. As the helicopters flew people to the glacier and around the top of the mountains, we were walking through an area where the smallest detail was exquisite. It was very peaceful with few visitors.

Fox Glacier

Rainforest

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Occasionally the trees would part and a view of the lake would appear.

Lake Matheson

It was an overcast day, but still lovely.

Then it was back into the dense forest with roots that wove themselves into curves and crannies that cemented trees to the ground.

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New Zealand Rain Forest

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I was just waiting for the creatures of a fantasy world to peek out of the forest.

Then I stepped over the bridge and was back in the open places. The walk, with all my stops and starts, took about an hour and a half and was over too soon. But I just couldn’t resist a photo of the huge tree that provided the final period on a wonderful journey.

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Beach Bums Have it Made – Dunedin

After our overnight cruise in Milford Sound with Real Journeys, we had a long drive to Dunedin. Delia programed our GPS we had affectionately dubbed Harriet, and we were on our way. Harriet (GPS) threw in some interesting routes along the way and we saw more of the country than we ever expected including small gravel roads with lots of sheep and not a person in sight.

New Zealand Farmlands

Even the farming communities have beautiful scenery.

“Look at that beautiful herd of deer, Delia!”

She looked and we admired how many of them were standing in a gorgeous green field.

“There’s another herd!”

And another, and another. In New Zealand, they raise herds of deer along with sheep and cattle. That was a surprise. Venison is regularly featured on restaurant menus.

After many hours of driving, we drove over a hill and were greeted with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean. Every turn was a wonderful new scene. We were ready to find our new home for the next few nights with the Beach Bums in Brighton, just outside of Dunedin.

What a treat! Janine greeted us at the door. The end result of our journey? A jaw-dropping view of the ocean, just outside our windows and the most comfortable space imaginable.

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Dunedin

The windows were open on this beautiful afternoon and I loved hearing the waves crashing against the shore. We settled in and then went upstairs to have a glass of wine with Janine. Her husband, Ross, was out of town so we never did get a chance to meet him. We spent hours laughing with Janine. She and Ross built the house five years ago and were married on the small bit of land with the tree in the upper photo. It’s an island during high tide. Janine also loves photography so you know we had plenty of topics to cover.

We were also greeted by a few of her other family members…

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Dunedinweb2

The next morning we headed to one of Janine’s favorite places, Tunnel Beach. It is a steep grade down. It’s the climb back up where you pay for the privilege of visiting and for the large lunch planned for later in the day. Well worth it.

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Tunnel Beach

The tide was high, so there was no real beach to walk on, but it was beautiful with the crashing waves and hidden treasures. When we got to the bottom of the path, Janine had suggested to us that we continue through the tunnel.

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There was a roughly cut tunnel with steps. It was such a wonderful surprise.

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And through the tunnel was a very peaceful and beautiful place with fewer people. I climbed over some of the rocks and found a place to sit where I could just listen to the waves and stare out at the ocean. I love abstracts and this is a place of many textures and colors.

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After a bit of fun with some beautiful ladies from Malaysia, I headed back up the hill on the long climb.

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We spent the afternoon at the Royal Albatross Centre which is the only place in the world where the royal albatross nest on a mainland.

albatross

It was a fascinating tour and the New Zealanders have done an incredible job in support of this majestic endangered species. Later that evening, we went back to the centre to see the small blue penguins. They didn’t seem to want to see us, so we only saw a few and it was difficult to get photos. Still, it was a beautiful night on the coast. Tired and happy, we returned to our B&B and had a great night’s sleep.

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In the morning we woke to another beautiful sunrise, sent our fond farewells to Janine and headed back across the South Island to our next adventure. I highly recommend visiting Janine and Ross if you are heading to their area of the world. We felt at home from the first hello until the last. I hope to see you again, Janine. Thanks for everything.

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Making Waterfalls from Raindrops- Milford Sound

On the way to Milford Sound

The rain seemed to be following us along this trip, but I was hopeful that we’d have some blue sky at Milford Sound. The day dawned with just a few clouds. It was a four hour trip from Queenstown and we started around 9:30am so we’d have plenty of extra time to get there before our cruise boat left the dock.

When I was planning the trip, I heard from numerous people about the beauty of the south island. Still, I was amazed. Every turn exposed another incredible view. There is little traffic so it’s easy to pull off on the side for photos. We stopped in Te Anau, which is about halfway, to pick up snacks at the local grocery store. From that point, the drive is one of the most beautiful that I’ve ever seen. The canopy of the rain forest reaches out over the road and it feels like you’re encased in a tunnel of green. Every now and then the road takes you to places where you can see the massive mountain tops.

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

We made it to the port and relaxed until it was time to board. The clouds had definitely rolled in and the rain had started.

Milford Sound

The majority of pictures I’ve seen of Milford Sound include blue skies and clear mountain tops, so that’s what I expected. Now I know that it rains on Milford Sound 182 days a year, so the odds were 50/50 that we would be there during the rain. My friends who just visited told me about the increase in the number of waterfalls during the rain storms.

Milford Sound

As we moved into the sound, I stood on the open bow of the ship. By that time it was pounding rain. We slowly moved in towards a towering waterfall and I stood as close as I could to the front and closed my eyes as the wind pushed the spray into my face. It was such a magical moment. We moved on to the place where the ship would be moored overnight.

The mountains here are made of solid rock and there is no soil. Lichens and mosses take hold and an occasional tree. Once one tree finds a crack to hold onto or lichen to use as a base, other trees will start growing by intertwining their roots with the original tree. At some point, the load gets too much to bear and the original tree will give way pulling down all the trees and much of the base moss and lichen. It leaves behind a bare strip on the side of the mountain. I could see a number of places on the surrounding mountains where that had occurred.

The rain stopped briefly while we were out on a speed boat ride and we returned to the ship for dinner. We met one couple from San Francisco who were on a tour with a group of about forty people and they were the only Americans. The one question they kept hearing from people from outside the U.S. was their opinion about Donald Trump. I know Delia had a long conversation with one man, but I wasn’t really interested in discussing politics. I was actually glad to be away from all the chaos on this trip. During dinner, the rain started again. By the end of dinner, it was dark and we went back to our cabin to sleep.

It was still dark when we got up and headed to breakfast. The winds were very strong and the boat was rocking back and forth. In the distance we could see that the number of waterfalls had increased. It was difficult to open the door to the outside corridor on my way to the cabin and I held on tight every step of the way. I tend to get motion sickness and wanted to lie down for a bit. Delia managed to get a few amazing videos while I was resting.

This one shows the incredible size and amount of water from one of the larger waterfalls.

The second video shows the strength of the wind pushing the water back up and parallel to the ground until it finally falls further out over the water instead of directly down.

On the return trip to shore, there were dolphins near the bow of one of the other ships. I did get to watch them leap out of the water. They were amazing.

On the road after our cruise, I managed to get a few pictures along the way.

Milford Sound

While Milford Sound involved a lot of rain, it was still incredibly beautiful and we had wonderful waterfalls to enjoy. I don’t have many pictures to share, but I’ll treasure the memories. 

Harriet and the Perfect Glass of Iced Tea

I settled in on the stool at the Public Kitchen and Bar in Queenstown, New Zealand. Twenty four hours earlier, I’d been eating at Moo’s Gourmet Burgers watching the surfers and walking along the incredible beach in Manly, Australia, 1200 miles away.

Manly Beach

Manly Beach

Richard, our Sydney host, was kind enough to take us to the airport. We were flying Virgin Australian Airlines and wouldn’t you know it, they weighed our carry ons. Mine contained my backpack with all my camera gear, so it weighed double what it was supposed to. In the middle of the check-in area, we are reworking the contents of our bags. I pulled out my backpack and set it aside. The woman didn’t require that my backpack get weighed, or I would have been in big trouble. And…thank goodness, no underwear came flying out as we frantically tried to get our bags to compliance. The flight itself was uneventful.

We picked up our rental car and while I was focused on staying on the left, driving on the other side of the road, I had forgotten to disengage the emergency brake. Now, in my defense, there was no indicator anywhere that it was on until I looked out my side mirror and saw the car smoking. Delia figured it out quickly and we were back on track. Knowing that we are going to be driving thousands of miles on this trip, we added a GPS to the car rental. Several miles later, the GPS is telling me to turn left to our location.

Left? There isn’t a road to the left. So now, I’m cussing the GPS and calling her defective. We continue driving for another 5 miles looking for a road to the left. We finally spoke to some construction workers who redirected us back to where we were originally. Well, the GPS was right and the Remarkables Lodge had a tiny hidden driveway. Phew! Our GPS was working and it was only me that was defective.

Oops! The Remarkable Lodge showed us arriving the next day so they had to take about twenty minutes to get the room ready. Did I screw up the arrangements and was it for just this night or more nights to come? I was a bit panicky, but it looked like my lodging was scheduled for the right days. Still, our room was a welcome sight once we finally were checked in.

Okay, I know you are wondering about Harriet already, but I wanted to give you a bit of back story so there is a clear understanding about how our day went.

We headed to Queenstown for dinner and only had a few hours to spend. Queenstown is beautiful and while it is a resort style community, it is not as crowded as the resorts in Colorado and not as elite. And…the views are spectacular!

Queenstown Lakeshore

We stepped into the Public Kitchen and Bar and were welcomed by Harriet and the rest of the staff. Harriet is from England and asked for our drink order. Knowing I was still learning how to drive the New Zealand way, I decided not to have a glass of wine and instead ordered an iced tea. I am an iced tea addict and it sounded like the perfect dinner drink.

Harriet was very confused. An iced tea? She looked at Ruby, her coworker who paused, and then said it’s going to take us a minute to do it right. Then Harriet was all over it. An iced tea?

It was the prettiest and most perfect ice tea I’ve ever had.

iced tea

And…on top of all that, dinner was amazing. What a fabulous end to what had been a difficult day. We were in New Zealand where the iced tea was delicious and the scenery so pretty it doesn’t translate in pictures. 

Thank you Harriet!