Booking new flights...We couldn't get any closer...

In the early evening a group of the babies get together to play, running through the paddock, making us laugh over their playful antics.
There are always flights looming in the future.  As much as we'd hoped to sail our way around the world using cruise ships as a means of transportation, it just doesn't work out that way.

As we've become more and more knowledgeable (Tom particularly) about the routes of cruise ships, we've come to accept how impossible that is to accomplish.  Were cost no object, it may be a different scenario opening up many more possibilities.

If money were entirely no object, one could easily charter ships to almost any part of the world.  Long ago, we accepted that we have limitations on what we can and can't do based on cost and practicality, neither of which is a disappointment, just a reality.

Not only do we dislike flying for the vast inconveniences, commotion and baggage fees, we don't get excited booking a flight as we do when booking a new location, a vacation home or a cruise. 

These two babies sat in this spot staring at us for hours, occasionally napping.
Its not the flying part we mind.  Its everything leading up to it including the laborious process of searching online to find the right flight, at the right time of day, on the right date, on the right airline, at the right place and with the right seats.

Then, there's the challenge of we book early (up to 330 days ahead of schedule as allowed by most airlines) or do we wait and hope for better flight options and prices further down the road?

I wish I could say we have a definitive plan for booking flights.  We don't.  We'll mention that we need to book a flight, discussing a possible time frame during which it needs to be done.  Then, on an unexpected day, one of us searches, discusses it and we find a suitable option, getting it booked and out of the way.

This isn't a quick process completed in five minutes.  We're often checking and rechecking to verify there are no errors.  We use Expedia on our website, accumulating points we've yet to use. 
The alpacas, young and mature all get along well and enjoy staying close to one another. With 30 in this paddock and 60 more in other paddocks, its a pleasure to see how they interact with one another.
We've found the jumping around to dozens of websites offering supposed better deals, only to discover that overall prices are not a whole lot different from one "supplier" to another. 

Often, blocks of flights and seats are offered by ancillary websites.  We've chosen not to spend hours trying to maneuver through all of these myriad options when in the end, we may pay the same price or at times, a better price.

Plus, we've found good customer service with Expedia when on a rare occasion we've encounter a booking question.  Their reps are easy to reach with quick and painless resolutions as their imminent objective.  This works for us.

Its hard to believe how these young alpacas have quickly adjusted to our presence.
The flight we needed to book (now completed) is upcoming on April 15th from Auckland, New Zealand to Sydney, Australia for our fourth visit to the beautiful harbor city. 

Again, we'll stay overnight one night to ensure there is no risk of missing the cruise.  Staying overnight the night prior to a cruise is a maneuver we long ago decided would best avoid stress. 

If we arranged a flight on the same day as a cruise and its delayed for any reason, we'd be in big trouble.  We've heard stories of this occurring and don't want any part of it. 

As always our motto comes into play as shown in the heading of our homepage. For one reason or another, we simply think of our travels in regard to our motto, "Wafting Through Our Worldwide Travels with Ease, Joy and Simplicity."  Its from this premise that we continue on, at times spending a little more to ensure the least amount of stress and frustration.

Napping together.
Finally, we booked the flight with our favorite (to date) airline, Emirates, who's coach seats are comparable to first class on other airlines.  It cost a little more than a few other options but its safety history, roomier seats and customer service are definitely a consideration. We could have saved a total of NZ $62, US $40 booking on another airline at a less desirable time. 

Instead, we chose our preferred choice of Emirates with which we may ultimately save the difference in baggage fees.  They don't charge for the first bag per person (see below) and there's no charge for carry on bags.

Here's the flight we selected which includes a two hour time difference:
Emirates logo

5:55p - 7:25p
3h 30m
$188.70 as of 59 minutes ago

5:55p to 7:25p 3h 30m  
Auckland (AKL) to Sydney (SYD)
Auckland Intl. (AKL) to Kingsford Smith Intl. (SYD)
Emirates 413
Economy / Coach (Q)
Airbus Industrie A380-800 Passenger
Preview availability
Bag fees
Baggage fees when purchased at the airport (Prices may be cheaper if purchased online with Emirates)
Carry on: No fee
1st checked bag: No fee up to 30 kg
2nd checked bag: No info
How to pay: Emirates
This airline doesn't charge fees for this weight of 30 kg, 66 pound which serves us well.  We'll only have to pay for our third smaller bag online. We're content we've made the right decision in booking this flight.

The babies all hang out together running through the paddock and playing.  All of these cria were born since this past December, growing quickly.
Now, back to matters at hand.  Yesterday, Trish and Neil moved the alpacas moms and babies to the paddock in front of our deck providing us with easier viewing.  We spent most of the day watching them enjoying every moment.  No longer afraid of us, they readily approach making our experience all the more heartwarming.
Soon, we're heading to the Farmers Market Taranaki for more eggs, fish and produce, hopefully arriving early enough to ensure these items are still available.
Have a joyful, stress free day!
Photo from one year ago today, January 31, 2015:

This was our first photo of "Birdie" whom we came to know and love.  In no time at all, he responded to his name coming when called many times each day, often bringing along his mate, another Red Cardinal with different markings and coloration.  His presence in our lives over the four months in Kauai added to our glorious experience.  For more details, please click here.

Zika Virus...A bearing on our future travels? Photos from a trip to the beach...

Many signs and names of towns are were based on the indigenous inhabitants of New Zealand, the Māori who's language has had official language status, with the right to use it in legal settings such as in court, since the Maori Language Act 1987. There are around 70,000 native speakers of Maori out of a population of over 500,000 Māori people, with 161,000 of the country's 4 million residents claiming conversational ability in Māori."
The Zika virus is rapidly spreading throughout the world with the majority of cases in South America, particularly in Brazil with over one million cases and growing out of control. 

Here's more information on the Zika virus from the US's Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Its easy to expect beaches throughout the world to be sandy and pristine with blue waters.  Many beaches such as in New Zealand and Australia aren't blue due to the interaction of light and particles present in the water. When there are mineral sediments lights from the blue spectrum are absorbed by the particles thus the water appears to be brown.   Also, not all beaches have the soft fine sand we found in Belize and Hawaii.
No doubt this virus will spread to other countries in South America and throughout the world unless drastic measures are taken to control it. What those measures may be at this point are unknown and under research in many laboratories worldwide. 

Low tide is more evident on many beaches but not all.
Will a vaccine, cure or remedy be available by 2017 when we head to South America?  At this point, we have no idea but continue to watch the news for updates.  Will we change our plans to spend as much as two years in South America from 2017 to 2019?

As we've traveled continents, island nations and many countries we've heard of a variety of viruses that may infect locals and travelers alike.  We don't take any of these illnesses lightly.  That's what precipitated our having as many as 18 vaccinations before we left the US which we'll update as needed over time.

With many surfers attracted to this area, a lifeguard is on duty, well equipped for rescue.
However, new viruses continue to develop throughout the world and our exposure is no doubt enhanced as we traveled to potentially infected countries.  We've already visited several of the countries on the currently "infected" list. 

Surfers awaiting an opportunity.
Now, as we've begun to book travel to South America, there's no doubt we've given the Vika virus consideration as to the impact it may have on us visiting such countries as Brazil. 

How else might we travel the Amazon River in Brazil and eventually, the top priority on our list...the Pantanal, the most wildlife diverse wetlands areas in the world (talk about mosquitoes!). 

Pretty cloud formation on a very cloudy day.  Note distant airplane and boat in left of photo.
At this point, after considerable discussion and information gathering we've decided to continue with our plans.  Its not as if we can say, "Oh, let's wait and go in 10 years?"  In twelve years I'll be 80 years old and Tom will be 75.  Will we have the health and stamina we now have to continue?  There's no way of knowing.

Campgrounds are located at the end of the road at Oakura Beach with an onsite office for booking space.
If we were young, putting off South America would be practical.  We're not.  The clock is ticking, whether we like it or not, as it is for everyone.  It just so happens we're closer to the final hour along with all the others our age throughout the world, many of us whom have "things to do" and "places to see" before its too late.

There are permanent and temporary sites for caravans (motorhomes) and travel trailer type homes.
Continuing with our desire of visiting each continent before it is too late, doesn't dissipate with news of a virus that based on information to date, is not life threatening for adults who aren't pregnant. 

If this virus was comparable to the deadly Ebola virus, we'd definitely change our plans.  If, at any point the virus is considered life threatening to older adults, we'll certainly reassess our views, changing plans if necessary.

Small sleeping tent sites are available for a fee which includes multiple facilities.
For now, we trek on...with hope in our hearts for a resolution for those living in infected countries and for our ongoing safety as we continue our journey.

Have a lovely weekend...
Photos from one year ago today, January 30, 2015:

The colors in the tunnels at Tunnels Beach were varied when we visited the Napali Coast in Kauai.  For more details, please click here.

Road trip...Endless array of interesting sites to see in NZ...

The grapes are robust and beautiful at the Okurukuru Taranaki Winery.
Waiting for a sunny day to get on the road was pointless.  With rainy weather on the horizon, we decided to head out anyway as soon as Isabel and Ra arrived to clean the house for the first time.  They'd be fine on their own and its always best when we're out of the way of the cleaners.

We were in awe of the beauty of the vines.

"In a few short decades New Zealand has gone from a practically non-existent wine status to wowing the world in international competitions on a regular basis."  For more about the growth of the New Zealand wine business, please click here.

The entrance to Okurukuru Taranaki Winery.
Without a plan in mind we decided to drive along the ocean in a southwest direction and see what we could find.  Unplanned outings have always been our favorite way to explore by driving until we feel like stopping.

We'd have preferred a sunny day for better photos.  Maybe it will be clear when we return.
Tom is the perfect driver in these scenarios anticipating when to stop for photos and offering to turn around if we quickly pass an interesting photo op.  Its almost as if I don't even have to ask when he has a sharper eye than I as he spots interesting scenes I may have easily missed.

The Sugarloaf Islands and Paritutu Rock, located in New Plymouth can be seen at a distance from the winery.
As we made our way along the highway, our first stop proved to be much more interesting than we'd ever expected we'd encounter on an unplanned road trip.  Before we headed out the door, Isabel and Ra suggested we stop and see the popular winery, Okurukuru.

We spotted several groups of tourists.
One may think visiting a winery when neither of us are wine drinkers could be pointless.  Yesterday, we discovered that's not the case at all.  With a beautiful restaurant and grounds there was plenty to see and we enjoyed every moment.

The vast ocean, the vineyards, the flowers and the green hills create a fabulous view.
Introducing ourselves to the manager while handing him our business card, we asked permission to wander about exploring the grounds and taking photos.  He welcomed our visit offering us free rein to explore at will.

Workers were preparing for an event on Saturday.
With neither of us hungry, staying for lunch wasn't on our radar.  Although, before leaving after touring the facilities and perusing their various menus, we made a dinner reservation for our upcoming wedding anniversary in March. 

We walked down several wide stairways for more views.
At this point, we've booked three fine dining dinner reservations; one for Valentine's Day on February 14th (not celebrated in all countries), another for my birthday on February 20th and now for our anniversary which is on March 7th.  With the winery closed on Mondays and a wedding scheduled for the 8th, we selected March 9th for our anniversary dinner celebration.

The grounds are meticulously maintained.
Tom often jokes about all of these celebratory occasions occurring within a three week period.  A dinner out is all either of us care to do for such events when we have no inclination toward buying each other gifts with the need for wrapping paper, tape and bows and, with no room in our luggage. 

Situated on the ocean, the winery's scenery is all the more exquisite.
Long ago, we decided on this plan with both of us at ease with a warm hug and kiss on the special day that totally fulfills our need for acknowledgement.  Our family members call, email or send a message in Facebook when its our birthdays or holidays and there again, that's appreciated and meaningful.

Future plantings at the vineyard.
Although an enthusiastic wine drinker at a period in my life, I gave it up when I changed my way of eating almost five years ago knowing in the long run it wasn't best for my health.  I do miss red wine. Tom drinks wine only when its placed in front of him when included in a meal, never ordering a glass when dining out or at a bar.

The winery's main building.
Neither of us had visited a winery for these reasons.  Now that we have, as of yesterday's tour, we're convinced visiting wineries may be worthwhile for the exquisite scenery, ambiance and meals.  We're excited to be returning in March.  When we do, we'll share photos of our multiple course meals and if Mother Nature cooperates, a sunset over the vineyards and the sea. 

Tom, at the bar and restaurant in the Okurukuru Taranaki Winery.
After we left the winery, we continued on the highway for more surprises along the road which we look forward to sharing over these next several days.  Please stay tuned...


Photo from one year ago today, January 29, 2015:

wisdom the albatross, with her 2014 chick
Wisdom, the oldest known tagged albatross, had a chick last year at 63 years old.  This photo (not ours) was taken last year as she tended to her chick.  For more photos, please click here.

Its a lot of bull...

"Ah, I'm so happy they stopped by to see us!"
There's talk on the local news of a possible upcoming tropical cyclone. High above the town and relatively far from the ocean with the property situated in the hills, we have no concerns over flooding in this area. 

Winds on the other hand are another matter as well as the possibility of losing power.  We're not worrying about any of it at this point.  We'll keep our readers updated.  If at any point, we lose power and/or wifi signal, we be back with updates as soon as possible. 

Soon, two cleaners are coming to work together for an hour and a half.  With as tidy as we are, the equivalent of three total hours of cleaning is all we ever need. 

"Hurry, take the darned photo already!  We can't stand like this forever!" says the four bulls.
Sure, the cost for the two cleaners, Ra and Isabel, is somewhat of a luxury at NZ $60, US $39.14 compared to what we've paid in other countries, but its something we'd prefer to arrange when house cleaners aren't included in the  the rent.  Long ago in the US,  we paid almost twice this amount for one cleaner for three hours.  We aren't complaining.

Yesterday, we stopped at multiple markets including the Kiwi Butcher, Pak & Save, New World and Countdown (another regular grocery store) where we found everything on our list.

Pak & Save is similar to Costco or Sam's Club in the US without a required membership.  When I looked at our full "trundler" (aka grocery cart in the US or trolley in many other countries) as we approached the register, I'd expected our total bill to be NZ $196, US $300.

We always attempt to refer to items using the popularly used words.  In NZ a grocery cart is referred to as a "trundler."
When the total was slightly under NZ $153, US $100, , I was shocked, causing me to look in the cart wondering if something hadn't been charged.  In reviewing the receipt, I confirmed the total.  

With four packs of toilet paper and paper towels and, two boxes of tissue at NZ $2, US $1.30 each, locally grown organic produce priced at half as much as in the regular market, it's no wonder our bill was reasonable. 

Once at home I was busy putting everything away for over an hour with all the veggies to wash before putting them in the fridge. As expected I found numerous insects, making me feel at ease that no pesticides had been used on the "locally grown produce." 

He poses coyly for the camera.
In all, we spent NZ $342, US $223, but that included a trip to the local health food store spending NZ $75, US $49 for a variety of specialty items that are always more costly.  Later, we realized we could have purchased many of the same or similar items at the Pak & Save at considerably lower prices. 

Next time we shop, we'll begin the shopping at the Pak & Save, leaving any items we can't find for the "regular" market.  We expect to easily be able to continue to keep the total under NZ $306, US $200 buying all grass fed meat, free range chickens and organic produce. 

The above totals include two cooked free range organic chickens, and a cooked free range pork loin roast we'll continue to purchase each week to cover a few dinner with the addition of a variety of homemade side dishes.  The amazing eggs from the weekly farmers marker will be an added cost at NZ $24, US $16 which we'll happily add to the total.

Neil explained that sheep seem less interested in humans than alpacas.  Although, these two couldn't get to the fence fast enough to see us.
In Fiji, we may have spent approximately 25% less for groceries but weren't able to find many items readily available in NZ.  It proved to us how easily we're able to adapt without many items when other options aren't available.  When items are available we opt on the side of enhancing our dining experience by willingly paying the added costs. 

While in the Pak & Save, a lovely retiree June, had asked Tom to reach a six pack of bottled beer from a high shelf.  A lengthy conversation ensued resulting in her inviting us to visit for tea and to tour her historic home located in the downtown area. 

We exchanged business cards planning to visit her and husband Simon once the bad weather passes.  In our old lives, I can't recall ever making new friends while shopping at the market. 

"Don't go," he says as we begin to walk away.
The warmth and friendliness of the New Zealand people further confirms our perception that most people throughout the world are kind and welcoming to foreigners who visit their homeland.

Today's photos of bulls are our new local animal friends who welcome us by approaching the fence each time we walk down the road which has been almost everyday.  That is, if one can make friends with cows and bulls based on their response to us, we have no doubt it's entirely possible.

No doubt, we're enjoying our bull friends and other local friends we meet along the way, human and otherwise.
Photo from one year ago today, January 28, 2015:

  It hard to believe it was one year ago that we took this video of the albatross we followed while spending four months in Kauai.  Click here for photos.

The miracle of life unfolds before our eyes...The progression of a tender event...

The mom, Gypsy Rose, had just given birth when we arrived only minutes later.  As shown, she'd yet to pass the afterbirth.  She didn't seem to mind we were there.
A snow capped mountain view with a fluffy cloud crown, an expanse of calm seas sprinkled with sunlight or a blazing orange and pink streaked sky at dusk, all represent jaw dropping beauty.
Only moments after birth the cria lay in the tall grass coming to life with the aid of its mother.
We've captured such scenes throughout the world with my amateurish, albeit enthusiastic, photography skills leaving us reeling with joy over having fallen witness to such pristine visions of nature.
A curly haired dark brown cria lying in the tall grass shortly after coming into the world.
But, nothing, dear readers, is capable of moving us more in our travels, stirring the deepest recesses of our hearts and minds, than the miracle of Life, in the finite proposition our higher power has made with humanity and wildlife to continue to propagate and perpetuate the species. 

The cria opens its eyes.

Last night, after dinner and dishes, as we hunkered down for a quiet evening, we heard a rambunctious knock at the door.  Tom dashed to the door to find Trish excitedly explaining to "hurry and come outside."  An alpaca was about to give birth.

As the minutes pass, the baby struggles to stand.  Trish and Neil explained its best if they stand within 20 minutes after birth to get their "muscular neurons working."
In my knee length nightshirt, I ran upstairs to grab the bottle of insect repellent, a paper towel to apply the messy liquid, flying back down the steps to slip on my shoes.  Tom was ready to go.  Within 90 seconds we were racing out the door to the paddock closest to the access road.

With a little help from Neil, the baby stands tentatively.
Running on the gravel driveway as quickly as we could, we saw Trish and Neil attending to the mom.  From the time Trish came to our door and we arrived at the scene of the birth, in a matter of two or three minutes the cria was born, lying in the tall grass where the mom had chosen to deliver.

"Hello, world!  Sitting is preferred at this point but I'll keep trying."
Missing the exact moment of the "plop" to the ground of the dark brown, curly haired, disproportionately long legged cria wasn't disappointing when we'd arrived so quickly after the big moment as shown in today's photos.

Mom continues to fuss over the tiny long legged cria.
I know I said I wouldn't focus all of our posts on the alpacas, nor will we over the long haul but for now, after here only eight days, the novelty hasn't worn off.  Then again, I doubt it will, when we never grew tired of a visiting zebra, giraffe or warthog in South Africa or, a little red bird we aptly named "Birdie" in Kauai. 

As we watched the process of the mom tending to her baby, after having lost her first baby last year, a stillborn, we had no doubt her loving devotion would make this precious cria thrive. 
This morning, only minutes ago, mom and baby.
As we watched the seeming helpless spindly creature lying on the ground struggling to "come to life" we couldn't imagine that in a week or two it will be running up and down the paddock with the other youngsters in the cooler evening as the sun goes down, a common occurrence we giggle over each night.

Standing to feed is a good motivator for the cria, as seen this morning.
So today, we "speak" less and "show" more with our photos which truly speak for themselves.  We're off soon to shop on a cooler, cloudy day always anxious to return "home" to see the latest "adventure of the day."

Have a glorious day filled with Life's wonders...

Photo from one year ago today, January 27, 2016:

New Kauai friend Richard had invited us to his and wife Elaine's lovely home.  A retired attorney, Richard sat behind his impressive magistrate's desk which he'd set up in his garage, giving us a feel as to how a visit to his office in St. Louis might have been. Meeting him was instrumental in our experiencing a busy social life in Kauai and for making this lifelong friend.  For more details and photos of their home, please click here.