Monday, August 18, 2014

Hell's Gate .......

New Zealand, as a country is located on the “Ring of Fire” where the earth is always in a state of upheaval. This is no more evident than in Rotorua on New Zealand's volcanic plateau where geothermal activity is pronounced including erupting hot water, steaming fumaroles, mud pools and hot geothermal springs.


Hells Gate Geothermal Park is set in 50 acres with a large variety of thermal features. Walk past steaming fumeroles and hot pools of boiling MUD so violent they are unnerving. Follow the footsteps of ancient Maori Warriors through the swirling clouds of steam, past the hot pool where the Maori Princess “Hurutini” lost her life, see the violent geothermal activity of the Inferno and the Kakahi Falls, the largest hot waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere.  Here, warriors would bathe in the sulphurous waters to  heal their wounds after battle and remove the “tapu” (sacredness) of war.

Hell's gate is where we head tomorrow after a day at a local school and journey to the northern part of the island.....

My school visit was not quite what I had in mind, but when in Rome ....Auckland Grammar is an all boy's school that covers grades 6-12. It is lovely and the school is built right on the side of Mt Eden. On the Rugby field are huge lava columns and the grass covers the lava flow. I met with two very knowledgeable teachers on the subject of volcanoes , but alas, they were not too keen on me seeing some classes or meeting some of the students. Of course I was seriously the only female around. After that we went up to the northern part of the North Island and visited the coast and the Southern Alps. We saw 800 and 600 year old Kurai trees and ate at a small café that was amazing. Tons of sheep and that was hard not to stop and pet them.....

Back in Auckland for the evening and supper ..... quick night's sleep and now off to Hell's Gate for some more culture and thermal experiences..... maybe a quick dip in a hot spring. Weather will be a bit dicey today.... cold and rainy ... but thermal areas are warmer  so maybe we will be ok...

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Climbing a volcano is not easy.... leaving the volcanic " stuff " that is everywhere is harder......

Rangitoto volcano is the island.................a short 30 minute ferry ride and you are dropped off at the base of the mountain. There is a small building with 4 toilets and a sign that tells you a bit about the island and after that all you see is trees, birds, lava fields , spectacular views, panting people, high pathways and guiding signs. The steps are made for people taller than 5'3" and the angle of ascent is deceiving : starting you out gently as you start your climb and then forcing you to continue at almost vertical levels. Did people give up? Did they stop at the fabulous photo opportunities and say that they had climbed the mountain? They must have , because by the time we got to the crater rim, the amount of people had been cut by at least 75%.

Were they dumb? Well , you know we each have to do what is the best for us.. I think that they missed out. But, I was one that  was a panter, sweater and almost giver-up. It was a hard climb. Of course my hiking decided that we could make the 60 minute climb in 35 , so we were really moving. Nathan is not one to follow conventionality and he didn't think that we needed that whole hour.

In hind sight, he was right. We made it and it was amazing. Not as open anymore as the crater might once have been , but 2400 years of growing vegetation will do that to a mountain. We stayed crater side for about 30 minutes and then headed to the lava caves. That was a walk down a path that was covered in protruding pieces of lava with twisting bends and steep climbing. But it was worth it as well. There was nothing that wasn't doing on Rangitoto!! I am sadden at the people that were only there to take a few photos or walk along the shore. I wanted to bring back all sorts of pieces of the lava..............but my conscience and that of Nathan's stopped me. It was ultimately harder to do than the climb.

Our descent was supposed to take 60 minutes as well ( based on the guide sign.). It was not going to take anywhere near that long, I mean we cut the ascent in half ... did we honestly think the descent would take long? Back at the ferry in about the same time it took to go, we have a little more time to explore the shore. There was a colony of people living on the island until about 50 years ago. They had acquired the land and built homes, rather nice cottages with exquisite views. The government came along and took over the island and told the folks that they had to leave. They were given 20 years to relocate. In that time, the ruling was challenged, since they had purchased the land, how could they be kicked off it? So, sovereignty was granted to extend to the children. As each family died out, the cottages were no longer in habited. I am not sure who is maintaining them because they are not falling down and decaying.

Our time has come to an end on the island of Rangitoto and we head back to the ferry. We will have about 2 hours once we get back to get cleaned up and then walk up Queen's Street to the theater. Todays production of a " Good Soul in Szechuan" starts at 4 and since we don't really know the theater or the rules , we need to be there a bit early. The play is unknown to me , but sometimes that is a good thing.

What a thought provoking story it turned out to be. The whole idea was that the Gods were looking for a good soul to validate the continuation of humans on Earth. They are led to a prostitute in Szechuan and are so impressed with her humanitarian ideas that they decide to help her get a tobacco shop. The rest of the story is the trials and tribulations of her life over the next 10 or so years. And the moral is : How do you be a good soul with the drive and need to help others when all it does is bring you trouble and then bad things happen to you?

Since the show was early , we didn't grab supper before it and so we needed to eat and fast. Not much food on the mountain and not much between coming " home" and the show. Where did we eat? There was a great place called , appropriately enough , " Taste of China". The food was incredible and the fact that we were the only Europeans in the place wasn't a deterrent at  all.  But now, I have to think about sleep and the new adventure at a local school tomorrow !

Two appropriate thoughts in closing :
He aha te mea nui o te ao?
He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!
What is the most important thing in the world?
It is people! It is people! It is people!

Whāia te iti kahurangi
Ki te tūohu koe, me he maunga teitei
Pursue excellence – should you stumble, let it be to a lofty mountain

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Rangitoto in legend...............

A wee preview of the Rangitoto Volcano.... 

About 600 years ago, Māori watched from nearby Motutapu Island as Rangitoto rose from the sea in a series of fiery volcanic explosions.Māori have a long association with Rangitoto, but did not live there because of the arid, rocky terrain. The island was used as a lookout over the Hauraki Gulf in times of war and as a parrot reserve/rahui-kaka. Ancient burial caves served as a resting place for bones brought from neighbouring Motutapu. Māori know the island as ‘Te Rangi i totongia a Tamatekapua’ – the day the blood of Tamatekapua was shed. Tamatekapua, chief of the Arawa canoe that arrived around 1350, fought a major battle with Tainui at Islington Bay and lost.

According to Tama-te-kapua’s descendants, the Ngati Tai, Rangitoto came into being as the result of a legendary domestic dispute on the North Shore.
A giant couple lived with their slave on a mountain that stood where Lake Pupuke is today. The couple became so engrossed in a blazing row that they let their household fire go out. When they noticed, they cursed the fire goddess Mahuika, who called on Mataoho, the local god associated with volcanoes, to teach them a lesson. He obliged by destroying their home with the explosive eruption of Lake Pupuke, and imprisoning the couple and their slave in the triple peak of a new mountain out to sea – Rangitoto.


In ancient times a tribe of giants lived on the coast between the heads of Manuka (Manukau) and the Kaipara heads, in some of their ………. of boasting some said that they could do feats of strength that the others could not do, as these people by their power could obtain by cultivation and fishing and ………. and rat catching obtain enough for their daily wants and have time to spare, they amused themselves with games in one of these games of throwing stones from hill to hill, and in casting big rocks, from place to place one of them said he could carry a certain hill pointing to one that stood like a sugar loaf on the north of the Karekare creek, which hill was composed of rock and stood near to the cliffs on the coast, he was dared by his companions to do it, he at once went to the hill and taking hold of it drew it up as a farmer would pull up a turnip and carried it across the mountain range of the Titirangi and coming out above the creek at Henderson Mill he came on and across the Waitemata River at Takapuna he deposited the hill between Takapuna and the Motutapu School, which hill being put there has ever since remained as Rangi-toto. The hole out of which the hill was taken is pointed out at Karekare creek to this day and is called the "Uruhanga-o-Rangitoto". 


One night a husband and wife argued and cursed the fire deity Mahuika. She complained to Mataoho, the deity of earthquakes and eruptions, who sent an eruption to destroy the couple’s mountain home. It was swallowed up by the earth and became Lake Pupuke on Auckland’s North Shore, and Rangitoto rose out of the sea. When mist surrounds Rangitoto, it is the tears of the couple as they weep over their lost home.

stories courtesy of the archives at Wellington

Ko Rotorua mīharo .Na ka maha tētehi waiariki ( Rotorua was amazing . So many geothermal vents)...............

Off we go at an earlier time than when we went to the Waitomo caves because we are under the impression that there are areas that you can drive and see thermal vents and mud pots and that kind of cool stuff. But, misconceptions get you in trouble sometimes and so we found out. I was grateful to Lori or the heads up on the driving skills of the Kiwis, especially on the roads outside of the city centres; but I was also pleasantly surprised to find that there were no super crazies and the roads were all set up to protect us with rails if we were on ridges and such. The roads are particularly  narrow and that in itself sometimes is a wee scary.

We enter the rolling hills that are just the weathered away areas of volcano and get into the steeper sided hills with huge monolithic pieces of granite sticking out and reaching to the sky. The views are spectacular every direction you turn, but , remember I told you that the roads are narrow and so the opportunity to pull over and take a photo is non existent. We didn't eat  before we left and our petrol is getting on the short side , so in Huntly we stop at gas station that has a ( you guessed it ) coffee and pie shop next to it. This shop, Shands claims to have been in business since 1914. well, I have never had a pie and they make lattes , so I am game.

The boys get egg, cheese and bacon pies and I got what I thought was a steak and cheese pie. Alas, there was no cheese and I really didn't like the consistency of the " gravy" that held all the steak together. The crust was really good, but I guess I am just not a pie person.

Once in Rotorua, the best thing to do is check at the visitor's centre to get the lay of the land. So, apparently, you have to tour everything. Now by tour , I don't mean : me going and checking things out myself. They are all guided etc. Ok, let me check out a few places for some legends books and think about how to do this.

I didn't find many story books but I found a geothermal tour book and a coffee shop, so we will check them both out. It seems that there is a great driving network to see the geothermal sights and so that is what we are considering. Most include Lake Rotorua   : here's your history.

The lake was formed from the crater of a large volcano in the Taupo Volacon Zone . Its last major eruption was about 240,000 years ago. After the eruption, the magma chamber  underneath the volcano collapsed. The circular depression left behind is the Rotorua Caldera, which is the site of the lake. Lake Rotorua is the second largest lake  in the North island by surface area, and covers 79.8 km2  With a mean depth of only 10 metres it is considerably smaller than nearby Lake Tarawera n terms of volume of water. It is located in the Bay of Plenty region.

As we are getting ready to leave and I am focused on the difference between Vegemite and a local version, Nathan spotted a tiny brochure that says Maori experience: bring this and receive a discount. Now, we had already discussed that we were ok with not seeing another show , since we saw a pretty good one at the museum, but we are so close to the living village ; what will it hurt to ask?

To get into the thermally active and living village, it will be $30.00 but we can roam around to our heart's content and see the show. Good bargain.... so we buy our tickets and head into the arch welcoming us......Whakarewarewa  certainly lives up to its name. the smell of sulfur an the drip of spray in the air is everywhere. Tuhourangi Ngati Wahiao people have lived here for generations and we are literally walking the streets of their village and among their homes. That is a little disconcerting as you almost feel intrusive at times,  so that is always on our minds . I was amazing however and the cultural show was very energetic. We ALL sang and danced and learned very quickly that this girl could not be a Polynesian dancer unless it was a comedy show.  Our visit to Rotorua ended at the lake and the quiet, mellow feeling of just looking out over the water, watching black swans and remembering the legend we had just heard.

Tutanekai lived on Mokoia Island, Lake Rotorua, where of an evening he and his friend Tiki used to play – the one on a “horn”, the other on a “pipe”. The sound of this music could be heard across Lake Rotorua at Owhata and it charmed the beautiful and noble-born Hinemoa who lived there. When Tutanekai visited the mainland with his people, he met Hinemoa and they fell in love. The young man had perforce to return to his village, but the lovers arranged that every night he would play and that Hinemoa would follow the sound of his music to join him.
Tutanekai kept up a nightly serenade but Hinemoa's people, suspecting something was afoot, had hidden all the canoes. The maiden, however, was not to be deterred and, selecting six large, dry, empty gourds as floats, she decided to swim to the island. Guided by the strains of her loved one's music, Hinemoa safely reached the other shore and landed near a hot spring, Waikimihia, in which she warmed and refreshed herself – the pool is on Mokoia Island to this day. Just at that moment Tutanekai sent his servant for water. This man disturbed the girl who, pretending to be a man, spoke in a gruff voice and, when she learnt his errand, begged for a drink from the calabash which she smashed as soon as she had had her fill. The servant then went back and reported to Tutanekai what had happened. He was ordered back again and again, each time with the same result, until all the calabashes were broken. The now irate young man himself went down to the pool and to his joy discovered Hinemoa. Like all good stories, the legend has a conventional ending – they lived happily ever after.

Once back in Auckland, we decide to enter a different cultural world and as we ate dinner, we joined the crowd watching the Rugby team as it went for an international record 18 consecutive wins. The opponent was the Aussie Wallabys and they  were not about to let that happen. Final score 12-12 and the streak was ended.............. but a good time was had by all ; I mean it wasn't a loss .... right? Tomorrow we take the ferry to Rangitoto - Te Rangi-i-totongia-a-Tama-te-kapua  and climb it. By the way, for those that are interested. The volcanoes here are shield volcanoes and I will be adding them and their stories to my repertoire this year! Off to bed so I will be ready for the climb....

Me tōku aroha tino nui
(With all my love)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Pai te ata ki oku hoa

An exciting day , although not as out and about as we have been in the past few days. We will meet Phoebe, my cultural ambassador and head off to the museum to see some cultural things. But first, we take to the streets of Auckland to see what else we haven't seen. Breakfast first at the Federal and Wolfe - amazing muesli and yoghurt with a wee bit of rhubarb saucy jammie stuff. It was sooooo good. Add in a latte and my breakfast was just right , hit the spot perfectly. Nathan and Steve had different things but equally as yummy looking. Steve's omelet looked like a giant egg pizza and Nathan's meal had Egyptian cheese and chorizo with soft boiled eggs and some great grain toast.

Breakfast finished and we head to Auckland University to check out the sights and also try to find some All Whites gear. It is very very easy to find All Blacks , but not so much the All Whites. Now before anyone thinks I am completely racist..............the All Whites is the National Soccer team and the All Blacks is the national Rugby team and the names come from the fact the they use either white or black in the name , with the exception of the women's rugby team which is the Silver Fern's.

So, back to what I was saying... we stopped into this one sports place called " The Champions" and when I asked for All Whites gear, the gentlemen in the shop rather laughed at me. Not impolitely , but still. I was glad when they took the time to explain that soccer is #3 on the list of sports adored in NZ. Now when I say #3, that sounds great , right? Well , not really as there are only 4 majorly followed sports and the 4th is just getting started. Soccer is behind Rugby and Cricket and only in front of basketball.

The Uni ( short for university) is in the middle of town , but edged by a lovely park. It looks progressive and inviting. Nathan did find the Law School without looking...... is this a sign?

The bookstore on the other hand was elusive and we needed to search it out more when we got back to the hotel. It is nice on one hand not to have access to the internet , but hard also when you are coordinating meetings with people. Luckily we found a coffee shop ( surprise? ) called Remedy Coffee and I was able to access the internet. Good thing as Phoebe had contacted us and given us a time of 12:40 is to meet to head to the museum. Finish our coffee , locate the team shirts we were hunting , run across a DD and head back to the hotel.

Everything successfully accomplished and we are now simply waiting for Phoebe....... and here she comes; and off we go to the Auckland museum and some Maori cultural exhibits.......

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Let it Snow, let it snow......

Off we go today to visit Waitomo caves and the glow worms. Now you need to understand that I have been to caves a lot.. I love caves so I am not really sure that I want to spend the time going to more caves, but off we go. It is a clear, yes I said clear , but chilly day and the traffic is not so bad headed out of town. But, holey moley ! going into town , now that is a totally different story. The traffic back up makes Charlotte look like only a few cars travel on I77 or I 85. Sitting in the back seat allows me to take lots of pictures and it is about 20 minutes or so into the trip that I see my first rainbow of the day: A total that ultimately reached 15 over some of the most fabulous landscape I have ever seen. It is best to describe it as Ireland green covering the rolling ( sometimes not so rolling - straight up ) hillsides of a volcano field.

Steve is getting hungry and to be truthful , we all are. I especially am missing that early morning coffee jolt that you can only get from a great cup of espresso...... coming up on a turn - about , we spy a wee small café called Lola's. Lola's looks perfect! Small , local and very inviting as the clouds have rolled back in and it is starting to drizzle.

My breakfast , in fact all of our breakfasts were yoghurt with honey drizzled on it , fruit and home made muesli.  This is sort of like granola only much more delicate and full of dried fruit. Top that off with a latte and my breakfast was just right! We enjoyed the quiet sit and just watched  the cars and the local people.... About 30 or so minutes later, it is time to continue the trek to the caves and surrounding area.

The moisture falling from the sky has changed. Well, Nathan did say that the temperature was dropping. DROPPING? It is not rain anymore..... it is spitting snow!! SNOW ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages.......that does not bode well for the journey.

Off we head! and about 90 minutes or so later we arrive at Blackwater Rafting. I have been in contact with them for about two months and trying to set up the cave experience. Leo, that's the guy in charge, said that there were no issues and that we should be able to get any type of your when we get is off season, you know. Well, duh! I found out yesterday when it started snowing.! Our guide Meeka was the best guide ever in the history of guides. She was funny and knowledgeable.  

The first cave was Ruakuri Cave. Meeka told us that the Maori name means two dogs and that the story goes like this. There were several Maori that had been watching the cave so that they could use it, but they wanted to make sure that it was unoccupied. Over a few days they watched two wild dogs coming and going and finally trapped them , cooked and ate them The cave was now empty and became the tribe's. The tribe used the cave over the men's lives and when they died  , they buried them in  the cave to honor the men who had discovered it. The cave had been called Ruakuri since that was how it was discovered , by watching two dogs. When it was discovered again in the early 20th Century, the entrance that was found was the burial site. Because it was a sacred place, it wasn' t a great way into the cave and so other entrances were searched out. To this day , the final count of entrances is eight and when you leave the cave , you pass close to the original entrance where you can stop and pay your respects , if you so chose.

Our next cave is supposed to be Aranui Cave at 1 pm and then the glow worm cave. But we have quite a bit of time in between and only about .5km distance , so best thing to do is see if there is any way to see the glow worms earlier than planned. SUCCESS!!! come right on in..  It is an awesome cave and it is interesting to hear the same general descriptions told by two different people..... Although Stephen is a full Maori and has great tales to tell ... like the cave is owned by his family and has been for generations and that the family is huge, he is not the best speaker in the world. But again, we were spoiled by Meeka!  We tour the cave and start to get a wee nervous about the time . Haven't made it to the worms yet......

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

practice climbing the volcano..................

Day 2 of actually being in Auckland dawned with a beautiful sunrise and about 9 hours of sleep , which isn't bad all things considered. Rather than eat at the hotel , we headed out into the city in search of : you guessed correctly! Local , fair trade , home grown coffee!! As we found out later , there are coffee shops on every corner , but not knowing this we grabbed the first one we saw and fed our bodies the life giving fluid. Wandering around the city started with a trek to the Sky Tower to go WAY WAY above the city. We actually bought the all day tickets and will go back and look at the city and harbor at night. I am not a big fan of heights , but the view really was awe inspiring and I saw so many volcanoes....... Auckland is sitting in a volcano field of about 42 volcanoes. Most are really old and so really weathered. The Mount Eden near the All Black's stadium Eden Park , hasn't erupted in about 1500 years . However, the rather large volcano , Rangitoto (Maori for bloody sky ) has erupted within the past 600 years. They are anticipating eruptions from Rangitoto will continue since it is only dormant! That is what we will be climbing on Saturday and I am pretty excited. the name came from the fact that the last time it erupted, the sky turned red with ash that was spewed and the people all had to flee or die.

How do I know all this you ask? Well a great and kind man named Vincent was the guide on the 51st floor of the tower and he is part Maori. When I told him that my goal was to gather stories to put with the science , he was very excited to share. He said that most people don't care about that type of thing anymore. Well, I do!!

From the sky tower, we went in search of local theatrical culture and found an underground theater group performing , The Good Soul of Szechuan. We are theater goers on Sunday evening!!!

Picture taking, tooth brush hunting and  walking about makes people thirsty and so of course we hunted  up coffee.........Baa Baa Black Sheep espresso met our needs. As we ducked in and out of rain showers ( like they literally last two minutes but pop up about every 30 mins or so) , we determined that we would go to Devonport and off we went to get ferry tickets. Not too shabby - round trip for $11.00................. beautiful ride around the harbor and off we go into town. But, umm on the way we pass the beach. Now most of you know that I cannot resist sand and adding sand to my collection . This had the added benefit of wee pieces of volcanic material , so I had to stop and gather. You knew I could not resist. Steve and Nathan were very patient and that was nice of them and I was most appreciative. Devonport is a very small place and then add  to it the fact that we are in late winter/early spring and it was rather quiet. As we wandered around the streets, we got closer and closer to the island's volcano ...... yes they are everywhere!! Headed up the hill , Nathan spots a theater advertising the Rocky Horror Picture Show and we go in to inquire about it............ so now we will go to the show on Friday night.............A Kiwi presentation and I am looking forward to it! Nathan has never been and apparently Steve likes it......

The theater manager was very gracious in giving us directions to Mount Victoria................. she told us how to climb the way the locals do and although we considered it , it was a bit muddy and so we elected to take the road. I have never roamed about in an extinct ( at least that is what we were told ) volcano's caldera or looked over the edge to the valley below. I must say that it was rather unnerving , basically just dropped off to nothing. We " toured " around the crater and then headed down because we could see off in the distance a wall of rain headed our way......sorry to say we didn't make it and the rain , rain , rain came down, down . down and we got wet. So what do you do when you get wet? Stop into the theater and buy tickets for Friday night for the Rocky Horror Picture Show..........

So what is available to do at 3am? Finish the blog you started the night before. We have events scheduled for our days , or at least tentatively scheduled and now for some of our nights. It makes for long days but that is quite all right with me. After getting back to the hotel and experiencing a little down and recharging time ( not only me but all our electronics ) we elect to have supper at the Shakespeare . I honestly have never had a plate of food as enormous as I was served here. A lamb burger that was the size of my head, but it was so flavorful! Good thing we walked over the city today and are headed back to the tower to see the city in the night. It is beautiful , but somehow the night enhances my dislike for heights and I am super uncomfortable. Felt ever so much better after my feet hit the ground. A pleasant rain-free stroll back to the hotel and we are ready for Rugby game highlights and falling asleep................

I have found a small wool shop just down the road from me that sells possum fur ( yes that is the appropriate spelling in NZ and the fur on the critter here feels like mink!!! ) Guess I will bring some home.... a wee reminder of NZ...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Good morning starshine!

It is Day 2 of the journey of a lifetime............. actually I think it is really day 3 but I am avoiding counting the travel time since it really is excruciatingly long! We made it to Tahiti and were greeted by traditional singing and dancing as we entered. I of course headed immediately for coffee and when we went to sit down and enjoy it, I found that I had wandered outside of the actual building and was now sitting amongst statues and palm trees with the sun rising and a gentle breeze blowing. Are you kidding me? I could live this life easily and not really worry too much about anything . Sure, but honestly, I would miss the kids and all the crazy things that happen at school.

Flight time is in about 40 minutes,  but as the sun comes up, I can see the most incredible mountains across on one of the outlying islands that make up Tahiti. But there is this really huge plane in the way of what would be the photo op of a life time. Can't move the plane, but maybe I can move me? Can't go on the tarmac; can't go past the ropes for the gate.. there must be a way... I ask the gate attendant if when we walk out to the plane , there would be enough time to stop and take a few shots. This creates quite a stir and they want to know what the shots are for etc etc etc.....I tell them it is to show my students in class and all of a sudden, I am now being escorted out onto the tarmac and told I can take all the photos I would like. I am thinking ," How cool is this?" Steve of course has no idea where I am and is a bit concerned when he sees me out near the planes.

Loading time!!! So this is a huge jumbo jet and we load about 30 people. We can sit anywhere we want .....I move to the windows and get a better look at the island as we leave - photos are beautiful ...getting settled back in for a 5 hour leg ... the last leg ( I seem to say that a lot lately! )...

We are here!!! Auckland , New Zealand!! What a gorgeous place from the air.... it is so green! OH MAN!! Those volcanoes are just indescribable !!!  Customs and luggage pick up are a breeze. We check in with Hertz ; car ready : check and then decide that the best plan of action is to wait for Nathan because that way we can just add him as a driver from the start. Besides, people watching at an airport is pretty funny..... 2 hours later Nathan has arrived, car is picked up, it is raining again and we are off to the hotel. The adventure has officially started!!!

a winter's tale begins..................

I can honestly say that it has been a trip that will be a memory for a lifetime. But where to begin the tale? Do I start with the rainy day in Charlotte and the US AIR flight that was 5 hours to LA with no food or entertainment? or do I start with all the lattes I have finished off in the past 36 hours to try to stay awake? They have been awesome and delicious but believe it or not I am not craving one at the moment. Yes! I actually said that I do not want a latte at the you all understand that this is me speaking and we all know that this sentiment will most likely last a grand total of time that is not even measurable..............

Ok so to pick up with the story. We have arrived at LAX and it is about 12 midnight. Ok so at that point I do want a latte and I am a wee bit hungry. Latte and strawberry almond scone scored and eaten.... didn't make much of a dent in the hunger , but it will have to do. We decide it is a good time to check on the gate and times and discover that the American Airline reservation that I thought I had is actually an Air Tahiti reservation and it is in the international terminal for LAX. This is not a problem though  and we wander on to the Tom Bradley International Terminal . Interestingly enough, it is like walking into a whole world of foreign visitors and there were relatively few folks that had the definite US citizen look. LOL !! We did though.............. Our flight to LA was so-so but the flight to Tahiti started by walking onto a plane that was brightly colored and full of flowered patterns and pictures. The flight attendants all had on brightly colored outfits and the food was nonstop. I did opt to sleep though because the time was starting to catch up on me and I knew that I had a long way to still travel.

Well that was refreshing and as I awake I am sure that I have slept most of the trip..... unfortunately, I have only slept about 4 hours and that is nowhere near long enough.....The flight is full and so no sleeping across rows for me! Pick a movie: Lilo & Stitch....looks ok and so the marathon sessions start; would really rather catch up on Longmire , but no wifi puts an end to that.

What happened once we got to Tahiti? Tune in tomorrow will surprise you. Well maybe not all of you because you know me so well.....