Travels in 2018

Merida is my base now in January 2018 but I plan to travel to Colombia later in the month and to start using this blog again.

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Whale-watching Juneau May 2016

 

A sunny day in Juneau is spectacular and a week of sunny days is almost unheard of. That’s what we are experiencing right now.

 

Yesterday, I went whale-watching with one of the tour operators. We  ALWAYS see whales when I go out on a tour – the six humpbacks yesterday included a mother and her calf. The one seal and the hundreds of sea lions were other highlights of that day on the water on a sunny, calm morning.

 

Spanish group was fun as we talked about Chicxculub crater, the meteor and some explorations planned off the coast of Yucatan.

 

The AARP session on use of technology was too noisy so I decided to update the blog.

 

The session on investing this evening interests me, although it is a conflict between being outside and learning about options.

 

For me, life is easier if I stick with the first commitment. This afternoon, I will stay outside for some time and then go to the investment presentation

Life in Juneau – March to May 2016

Going to Merida is always fun – away from the rain in fall. Coming home to Juneau is always fun – to the quiet and beauty of nature. Of course, both places take some adjustments and, curiously, the adjustments are greater in Juneau. The cold and the more limited casual social interactions are a challenge.

Some activities occur only in Juneau, not in Merida.

Caucus

The Democratic caucus took place on Saturday, March 26 in our convention center. I’d never been to one and didn’t know quite what to expect. After one or two speeches for each candidate, the registered Democrats lined up by precincts (there are two here) and in lines of twenty for each of the two potential candidates for president. The whole process was chaotic and took about fifty minutes. This may be an once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. Like many Alaskans, I am Independent and could not participate. I could have changed my registration for the day but that did not seem quite ethical.

Bernie Sanders won here and in all of Alaska.

Empty Bowls April 24

The Juneau shelter and soup kitchen for the needy is known as the Glory Hole. Each year, various artists make and donate bowls for this fund raising event. Restaurants around town donate soup and bread. Anyone who wants donates items for a silent auction – float plane trips, aprons, catered dinners, tee shirts, whatever. Each attendee receives a bowl (empty) and all the soup he/she chooses to eat. It is a big annual, local event.

Strawberry Festival April 29

So many novels include descriptions of strawberry festivals – with women in flowery hats, held outdoors in summer gardens and with wonderful strawberries. I had never attended one and thought it sounded like fun.

Every year, the Salvation Army sponsors a Strawberry Festival in their main center downtown. Each of the ten tables seated about eight people, there were no big hats, and the event was indoors but it was fun. First, they served a light lunch including strawberry shortcake. Then, a locally famous emcee announced the start of the fashion show. All the models wore clothing from the Salvation Army “Family Store” across the street. They were actually very attractive. She stressed that the clothing would be available in the Family Store after the show. The models paraded down and back on the runway.

I have nothing to compare this to. Maybe Juneau does it differently but, if so, Juneau does it well. Our downtown state representative was one of the waiters.

Blessing of the Fleet and Maritime Festival

Juneau has some commercial fishing boats and a memorial to the fishers who have died. Originally it was for fishers who had died while fishing. Now, the requirements are looser. The ceremony is held on a Saturday morning in April and includes reading all the names of those fishers who have perished or died here. Flowers and the parade of boats along with the actual blessing are key to the ceremony.

 

The Maritime Festival started a few years ago and is a community activity before the season of tourists, fishing and outdoor activities season.

 

Kerikeri – a wonderful place to end this trip

The Northland of New Zealand is a great place to reflect on the trip, to walk a few beautiful trails, and to enjoy a warm climate. I am staying at the Woodlands, a  place of peace and quiet. The walls are decorated with the notice “Shoot for the moon; even if you miss, you will be with the stars.” Trite but I do like the positive attitude it expresses.

Yesterday, a few walks and much time around the pool and in the hot tub. Today, more of the same.

Tomorrow (Wed.) I take the five hour bus trip to Auckland and check into a hotel near the airport. I will leave my luggage there until I leave Thursday evening.

Thursday, my flight leaves at 7:30pm so I want to go to Auckland to see Brooklyn. It IS playing there. My success with movies has not been too high here. I liked Trumbo and The Big Short. I did not like Joy nor The Dressmaker and actually walked out on Suffragette. The Christchurch movie scene has been almost eliminated because of the earthquakes.

I have enjoyed the trip but am looking forward to getting home to Merida.

Kerikeri – Last Sunday in NZ

And what a wonderful day it was! I walked down to the Stone Store (the oldest stone building in NZ ) and toured both it and Kemp House (the oldest building in NZ.) They are located at an inlet which was an entry for early settlers to NZ, the stories of the interactions between the missionary settler families, the whalers, and the Maoris were fascinating.

There is a walkway along the river and I decided to walk back along that to my motel. The map was not too good but there seemed to be one bridge crossing the river near where I am staying. The walk was peaceful, shaded, and not too strenuous; after about two miles, I saw a sign for an exit to a road – not exactly where I wanted to exit but I really was not sure that there WAS an exit near that bridge. I decided to leave the trail along the river but got a bit lost looking for the road. I could see it but there was a fence blocking my access. I backtracked and finally came out on a street that stretched forever in either direction (OK – a bit of an exaggeration but you know what I mean.) i saw a house with an open door, knocked and a man’s voice told me to come on is. I walked through the house  and had a nice conversation with the owners (Danny and Janet) and their guest, Maureen. Janet drove me to the supermarket near my motel and even offered to wait and drive me back to the motel. I declined since it was only a block away.

Relaxed in the hot tub – the first time it has been warm enough to use the bathing suit.

Then, i saw Joy at the movies. SKIP IT! The walk back to the motel about six blocks was strange but not by NZ standards. It was about 10:15pm and the only people I saw on the streets were eight diners  outside a restaurant . The streets were deserted except for them. This is NZ!

Kerikeri is a very good place to end this trip. Nice walks, good restaurants, movies and not too crowded.

Paihia

This is what I expected New Zealand to be . It is warm and is open a bit past 5pm!

I took the car ferry to a small town and planned to walk the 6 miles into the port with the passenger ferry. The trail was tough – lots of roots and stairs. I did not feel safe doing it alone and left the trail as soon as I could – maybe after 2 miles. Then started walking along the road in the wrong direction for about a mile. ENOUGH! Started hitch-hiking;  a a nice Chinese family gave me a lift to to Russell, another seaside town across from Paihia. I had  lunch here and caught the ferry back later this afternoon.

Next day, I took a day trip around the bay of islands. The highlight was seeing the dolphins, which played around our boat but really seemed more interested in the people who were swimming near them. About twenty people and ten dolphins and all seemed to be enjoying the experience. Perhaps, someday when it is very warm, i will do that. Last trip here, I swam with the seals and that was fun, too.

We saw the Hole in the Rock, a small island about 100 feet by 100 feet and 400 feet height. There is a 60 foot hole there big enough for some boats but the sea was a bit too rough that day so we just saw the Hole in the Rock, which is heavily advertised in this area.

Paihia caters to travelers and I can understand why. Another day, I walked along the beach and then strolled back into town. Came across an exhibit called History of Paihia, which is being developed by a descendant of one of the early families. Lots of boards with information and a nice conversation with the entrepreneur who is developing this.

Hamilton Rain and Movie

Hamilton is a city between New Plymouth and Auckland. Not many claims to fame, in my mind except:

The Big Short is a fascinating movie. I learend new words and am stimulated to do more about investing regulations in the US.

Sushi by the piece is an excellent lunch.

Chilaquiles in Hamilton are quite different from in Merida. They come with black beans and very little cheese.