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!

Maine- Acadia National Park

Back to the sisters’ New England adventure in Maine.

We may have only seen a small part of Acadia National Park the day we visited, but what we saw was beautiful. The leaves have just started changing into the glorious fall colors.  I hope to return when I have at least a few days to spend exploring this amazing place.

Acadia National Park
Otter Cliff portrait

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My favorite place was Jordon PondThere is a wonderful trail that goes around the pond, weaving in and out of the forest. Every step brought a new discovery.

Exploring Jordon Pond
Exploring Jordon Pond

Jordon Pond

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View of Bar Harbor from Cadillac Mountain.

We had dinner at The Whale’s Tooth in Lincolnville. Disappointing.

Whale's Tooth Pub

When we arrived back at our apartment, Skip and Judi met us and invited us up to their place just in time to view the foxes and raccoons out their back window. I could have sat there all night. They are such wonderful hosts.

Final Thoughts for the Day:

Acadia National Park:  I loved the park. As a photographer, I usually try to be places early in the day or later in the afternoon. It just wasn’t possible during this trip. Which means, I need to go back. I’d love to plan sunrise at Cadillac Mountain. There were also so many places we missed that I want to visit. Still, it was incredible. Sisters’ Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

The Whale’s Tooth Pub: We were looking forward to dinner after a busy day so we stopped at the Whale’s Tooth Pub in Lincolnville. It was a disappointment. The service was terrible and the food wasn’t much better. My fried clams had too much breading and little flavor. Even a hot fudge sundae wouldn’t have changed my mind. After speaking with the manager, she comped the whole meal. At least we didn’t have to pay for our disappointing meal. Sisters’ Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars

Another Piece of the Puzzle

Have you experienced a time in your life when things started happening, leading you in a new direction? I’m in that place and not quite sure how it all fits.

Here are a few of the pieces:

  • I traveled to Churchill to see the polar bears. This is one of several trips I’ve taken related to similar things: wildlife, nature and diverse environments. I have loved every minute.
  • Annie, our guide, helped me focus beauty of the tundra by suggesting I listen, see, hear and feel the moment and to document those things. It was a profound experience for me that I don’t ever want to forget.
  • I took hundreds of photos on my trip and as I process them, my heart is telling me they have a purpose. (What? I’m not quite sure. How? No idea.) I know that sounds strange, but these photos shouldn’t just sit on my hard drive, be uploaded as stock photography to be used to sell products or just hang on my wall.
  • When I returned from Churchill, I attended a James Balog presentation on the Extreme Ice Survey. Annie had inspired me to learn more about global warming and this was my first opportunity. James Balog started with an idea based on the change he was seeing as he traveled. Today, because of his idea, there are cameras in many parts of the world attached to solar panels that take a picture every hour, documenting changing glaciers and ice.
  • After seeing some of my polar bear pictures on Facebook, one of my friends, Kerry Koepping, suggested we get together to share our experiences in the arctic. Kerry was inspired and recently traveled to Iceland to document change, not necessarily the same kind of change that James Balog is focused on, but change in general. You can see his work on the Arctic Arts Project website. We met for lunch yesterday and his passion and excitement were contagious.

inspired-arctic-arts.MOV from Arctic Arts Project on Vimeo.

Both of these men are working on amazing BIG PROJECTS. They are photographers. The photos they take are incredibly beautiful and tell a story about what is happening in the world around us.

In contrast, I’m a tourist. I travel on group trips hosted by travel companies. My travel leads me to tourist places: a tundra lodge where 29 tourists stay; a ship that has 50+ tourists traveling to Antarctica; camps in the Okavango Delta that have 8-10 permanent tent-like accommodations so tourists can stay in the bush. It’s different. I’m also in a different place in my life, working full time and with a limited budget.

So how do I take the BIG PROJECTS that inspire me and break them down into something that realistically contributes to my area of the world? How can I use my art to communicate and what is my story?

I have some of the pieces to the puzzle. I have no idea how they will come together. When and how things are meant to happen will become clear at some point. When it does, I’ll be ready…

Day Seven- Tundra Lodge

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This is the view of the Hudson bay from the shore. Ice is beginning to form along the shoreline.

This post was written on October 29th on the Tundra Lodge.

One more sleepover and we’re done. This was our last day out on the Polar Rover. Everyone went for the longer ride today except 5-6 people. They stayed behind hoping for some action at the lodge. I think they were concerned about having so many people on the rover. It was a bit more crowded, but everyone was very accommodating as far as getting photos.

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We saw a number of bears. The first one walked toward us. I managed to get out the back on the deck early and had a great photo.

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This was an early morning photo with the bear walking toward the Tundra Lodge where we stayed.

The next bear actually walked under the grate of the back deck area. He looked up and smelled our boots. He was so close, I had to use the little camera to get a photo. I couldn’t see what I was getting, but I kept taking pictures. It’s amazing how big he was. I don’t think I’ll ever be closer to a live polar bear then at that moment. I could hear him breathe. Unbelievable!!

We saw a couple bears sparring, then laying down together and eating kelp, then the cycle would begin again. I think it was a quiet day for bears so more rovers pulled up and the bears finally walked away. I’d seen a couple at a location at a time, but this was a little frustrating. There’s quite a bit of ice now, a lot more than when we came. You’d think with all the snow we’ve had over the last few days that we’d be knee deep. But, the snow keeps blowing. There was little wind today and that was really nice.

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I had an error show on my camera while I was taking photos of the sparring. I thought the battery had gotten cold, so I replaced it. Luckily the camera continued working. A bit later, it just quit. I tried everything I knew to do. It appears it has to go in for professional service per the error code 40. At least it waited until the trip was about over. The only thing left where I would have loved to have the big camera was the helicopter ride. At least I have the little one. I’m so glad I brought it.

As we sat at dinner, two bears sparred outside the window. Then, the kitchen bear that sleeps out back woke up and we had a chance to wish him goodbye. He’s scarred and, according to Annie, about 14-15 years old. He still will chase off the other bears, but he likes to conserve his energy. He’s beautiful!!

It was a good day. I had a chance to really talk to Bonnie about photography and her experience with the professionals coming through. She’s met some of the really famous photographers who have published photo books. It was an interesting conversation. She’s also a wonderful person. I think we lucked out. All the people, staff and travelers alike, have been fantastic.

We are up very early tomorrow. Luggage has to be out by 6:15am and breakfast is served at 6:30. Our helicopter flight is at 8:45 for an hour and then we have to be to lunch by 12:30. So, we have limited time to shop. Probably a good thing. So, off to bed.