Part 1...Road trip...Many new photos on a perfect day!

The sign outside the Fonterra Cheese Factory and retail store in Eltham, New Zealand.
With many cloudy days over these past few months, getting out to explore on a sunny day have been limited.  When any particular day started sunny, we'd plan to head out as soon as we finished posting.  Invariably, by the time we've completed the post around 11 am, the clouds would start rolling in and we'd change our plans, hoping for another day.

As I've mentioned on many occasions, I don't like taking photos on cloudy days.  I'm just not that good of a photographer to do a great job nor do I have an interest in spending hours editing dark photos, as more talented photographers may choose to tackle.

There are several refrigerated cases with a wide array of New Zealand made and Fonterra Cheese Factory made cheeses.  We only purchased cheese made at the factory when we can easily purchase the others at the local grocery stores.
Based on the fact that we take over 10,000 photos a year, spending time editing photos could take a few more hours each day.  When we don't usually finish posting until around 11 am seven days a week, adding a few more hours editing photos each day would definitely cut into the time we prefer to spend doing other things.

Yesterday morning, awakening to a totally clear sky without a single cloud in sight, we knew it was a good day to get out.  I hurried through the post using all new photos (most often all of our photos are new unless referencing a past experience), hung a load of laundry on the line and we were out the door before 11 am.

We'd never seen these "fruit pastes" which most likely are jam type items.
Over the past few months we've had a few places in mind we hoped to visit; the Fonterra Cheese Factory in Eltham and also the town of Stratford, fashioned with a Shakespearean theme.  As it turned out we saw much more which we'll share over these next several days.

Small jars of a variety of locally made chutneys, mustards and sauces.  In reviewing the ingredient's list on these items, most contained sugar or starches.
Actually, over a month ago, we headed out with the same two towns in mind getting sidetracked which resulted in a visit to Mount Taranaki which took most of the day. We decided we'd visit Eltham and Stratford another time but only on a sunny day.

Its a good thing we chose yesterday for the visit to these two towns since this morning, it was again cloudy as shown in this morning's photo below. We weren't disappointed when it stayed clear and cool all day, a perfect day for an outing.

We were happy we decided to go on yesterday's road trip when this morning, it was cloudy and now raining.
The furthest of the two towns is Eltham where the well known cheese factory is located.  Keeping in mind that cheese is one of the few treats I can eat, a plan to visit a factory with a wide array of locally made cheeses has been of particular interest in our worldwide travels.

This was only the third such occasion when we visited a cheese factory/specialty store; one in Belize as shown in this post and on another occasion when we visited Rusty's Market, a huge farmers market and tourist attraction in Cairns, Australia, to find an extensive cheese vendor on site which prompted us to purchase a huge amount of exotic cheeses as shown in this post.

If we had more time before leaving New Plymouth, we'd surely have purchased one of these avocado oils.
Its not as if we can make an outing for food items other travelers may find worth a long drive; a special restaurant, a popular ice cream parlor or a bakery known for its sweets and bread. 

For our way of eating only these specialty venues work for us including:  a farmer's market for fresh produce; a grass fed meat market; a fish wholesaler open to the public; a cheese factory or distributor; and a health food store.

Locally made oils.
When there's an opportunity to visit any of these types of shops we're as excited to do so as others may be when there's "food on a stick" at a state fair or visiting a special restaurant known for foods that don't work for us.

Yesterday, was no exception when we entered the Fonterra Cheese Factory. Although many of their options in the refrigerated displays were New Zealand made cheeses one may find at the local grocery stores, we asked the staff person to point out the cheeses that were made exclusively at their factory. No tours are offered or we'd definitely have participated.

Old newspaper articles about the cheese factory in Eltham.
After spending NZ $41, US $28, we were surprised how much we actually purchased.  We didn't go overboard in our purchase considering we'll be leaving New Plymouth two weeks from tomorrow. 

Our day consisted of many more surprises delightful experiences as we continued on our day long tour of the exquisite countryside. We even encountered some funny animals during our fun filled day. More on that yet to come.

We purchased five packages of cheese including that huge round of Brie.  I ate part of the smoked Havarti in the car while Tom ate this mint ice cream bar.  We were "out and about" when there are no "rules"  or comments from me on what he chooses to eat.  He said it wasn't that good after all.
May you share experiences with others, whether big or small, with enthusiasm and joy in your heart.

Photo from one year ago today, March 31, 2015:
A lazy day sitting under a tree with a cold beverage and good book is all many visitors to Kauai require for a glorious vacation.  Not everyone is into adventure hikes and sightseeing.  Many tourists come to the islands to get away from a "must do" lifestyle preferring to relax and unwind.  Lounging on the beach, dining in a popular restaurants and drinking Mai Tai's is all some travelers need for the perfect vacation. For more details, please click here.

Moving right along...Can't believe the number of posts...Errors along the way...

There's never a shortage of beautiful scenery here in New Zealand.
Today's post is #1339, not necessarily a milestone number but nonetheless a huge number in our minds.  Its hard to believe that on 1339 mornings, we've worked together, coffee in hand, to get yet another post uploaded.

Tom, busy with "fact checking" and answering the endless questions that pop into my head as I write, my fingers fly across the keyboard, making many typos along the way which both of us review and correct.

Tom can't proofread the post until I upload it online so those of our readers who read it immediately upon upload may notice errors we attempt to quickly correct as Tom reviews each and every word. 

With recent rains, the hills are lush green.
As soon as he spots a typo, fact inaccuracy or the exclusion of an important fact, immediately I return to "editing" mode and make the required corrections accordingly. 

We seldom disagree over any potential adjustments nor do I get defensive over Tom's suggestions and corrections.  Its a flow that's become natural for us.  At times, I feel as if we're in a conference room at an office working together harmoniously attempting  to do a job done well. 

However, as hard as we may try we still leave myriad errors in our wake, some as innocuous as a missing apostrophe, comma or misspelled word.  At times, we we'll read and reread the post and still miss the potentiality of a correction.

We tried to find out what this building once held to no avail.
In a way it reminds me of those identical side by side pictures that ask one to find the differences between the two photos.  My lack of patience prevents me from finding any interest in these.  Tom, on the other hand, can easily and quickly spot the differences in the same manner in which he discovers errors in movies and TV shows. 

Its all in a matter of how differently our brains work, whether its a female or male thing or a difference in who we are as people, as thinkers.  Most likely its a combination of both.  Its these distinct differences that serve us well in many areas of our lives.

Had we chosen to live in one or two locations, takings trips from time to time, as is the case for many retired people, we may never have had the opportunity to clearly define these innate differences in how we process facts and events in our daily lives, especially those in our daily posts that appeal to our worldwide reader population.

We often show only attractive buildings but now and then we find old dilapidated buildings as interesting as well.
Whether its in the planning for the future, managing our posts and photos or deciding how we'll spend the day, it always seems to revolve around our lives of world travel along with our desire to share it with readers.

Had we lived a more traditional life, we'd have looked at life in an entirely different manner which, if we didn't know what we know now, we wouldn't have questioned. 

The problem, if it is a "problem" is how we can ever "go back" to a life that isn't on the move, doesn't present the challenges, doesn't offer the opportunities to push us beyond our "comfort zone" to research and to explore the world around us.

A huge part of this tree must have fallen during a wind storm.
There's no doubt that someday we'll have no choice...we'll have to stop due to health constraints presented as we age.  As much as we try to prolong this inevitability by managing our health to the best of our ability, it lies before us "down the road."

In the interim, with our continuing goals of happiness and a sense of wellbeing, we live in the moment as much as possible.  We leave a space deep in our hearts that when the time comes, we'll hopefully carry our love of life and love of one another with us into the inevitable aspects and subsequent life of aging and possibly less-than-ideal health.

An old barn or house in ill repair.
For now, we can only hope that our errors, typos and impossible-to-edit line spacing issues are of less importance to our readers than their personal sense of traveling with us.

As we "move right along" from country to country we never feels as if we're "searching for something." Instead, we always feel as if we're "finding something" which ultimately we carry with us in our hearts and minds on to the next leg of our journey.

May you "find something" wonderful in your day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 30, 2015:

"Chicks in a Coconut," a professional photo taken by a native Kauai artist, Alia DeVille, whom we highlighted with her photos one year ago today.  For more of her beautiful photos, please click here.

Shopping and haircut at the mall...How to roll-up shirt sleeves with ease...

Tom's hair had grown unruly since his last haircut in Savusavu, Fiji in early November, almost five months ago.
After uploading yesterday's post we headed to the Centre City Mall in downtown New Plymouth for clothes shopping for me and a haircut for Tom. 

The thought of shopping while Tom waited outside the stores I perused was a little concerning when I knew I'd want to hurry (by my own design, not his) with him waiting on a bench outside.

I'd suggested he drop me off at the mall, picking me back up a few hours later.  Since he needed a haircut and the "Just Cuts Salon" was located in the mall it made sense for us to do both on this same occasion. 

Often, when we rent cars for two or three months at a time, we avoid adding me as a driver when there are additional fees.  I don't do so well driving on the opposite side of the road, as is the case in some countries.  As a result, I can't shop without Tom with me during these periods.  As much as he doesn't care to shop, he doesn't complain or seem to mind waiting for me.

When we arrived hair salon at 11:30 am, he was told to return at noon for his haircut.  Several other customers were ahead of him.  He waited on chairs outside the shop while I quickly darted from store to store searching for a few shops that appealed to my taste and needs.

The stylist was concerned about cutting his hair the correct length at the Just Cuts salon in the mall.
I wanted to purchase wrinkle free shirts/tops for the upcoming cruises over the next 15 months.  Deciding against any dressy items for cruise formal nights for practicality reasons, buying wash and wear items such as dressy tee shirts and button shirts was all I wanted to purchase.

At first, I panicked when all the shops were offering warm winter inventory including sweaters, jackets and layered clothing.  Hoping for a touch of color in my otherwise drab wardrobe, my hopes were dashed as I went from rack to rack only finding navy blue, varying shades of grey, black and brown. 

Rather than bring sweaters and cover-ups for the cool air conditioned evenings aboard ship I decided on all long sleeved items with sleeves that could be rolled or pushed up.  

A while ago I found this J. Crew website with instructions for the easiest way to roll shirts which can be implemented for men's or women's long sleeve buttoned shirts.  This way, I could toss my stretched out cover-ups I've been wearing for warmth at night in the air conditioned spaces.

Always considering the weight of items in our luggage, this is a good remedy to reduce the number of items in my singular clothing suitcase subsequently having an effect on the total weight. 

It all seemed to be going well with little coaching from me on how to cut the sides and back.
Joining Tom when it was time for his haircut, I showed the stylist a photo of him with his hair at his preferred length. (As it turned out she was from Texas, USA with a cute southern US and Kiwi accent after living here 18 years).  I decided to hang around to ensure the sides and back were trimmed properly finding it wise to do so.

Tom had brought along a NZ $5 coupon to use but when it was time to pay (oddly they didn't accept credit cards) he didn't need to use the coupon when she discounted the price to NZ $18, US $12, a certainly reasonable price. 

He was happy with the cut, commenting to the stylist how all his life he didn't need me to accompany him on haircut appointments.  I explained that I didn't have to look at him 24/7 at that time either.  We all giggled.

By the time his haircut was done at 12:30 I'd yet to purchase the first item on my list. However, while he waited on the chairs reading a book on his phone, I'd perused a few stores with items that may work for me. All I'd have to do was try on a few items to ensure a proper fit.

In an one hour period, I purchased three button up long sleeve shirts, five dressy tee shirts, six pairs of earrings and eight pairs of cotton panties, all in three separate stores.  An hour later, we were leaving the mall with my bags in tow. I was content with my haul.

We were both happy with the finished product.
Once back home as I busily removed  the tags I folded the items neatly for packing in the next few weeks. After totaling all the receipts, I was surprised I'd only spent a total of NZ $242, US $163 for the entire haul, all of which appeared to be good quality.

With a recent purchase of a pair of somewhat pricey black pants, I was set with clothing until we'll arrive in the US in summer of 2017.  I teased Tom as I totaled the receipts as to how odd it was that for under NZ $446, US $300 (including the black pants) I'd purchased all the clothes I'd need for a year or more here in New Zealand.

He laughed, saying, "That's $300 more than I spend in a year."  Pausing while making eye contact with me, "Just kidding, Sweetie!" 

Yea, well.  He has no interest in clothing (although he does need a few items) and has decided to wait to make any purchases until we arrive in the US.

On the way home, we made a few detours for photos happy to be out on a sunny day, a rarity most recently.  It was a good day.  We're anticipating today should be equally good.

We hope you have a good day as well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 29, 2015:
This spot at Hanalei Beach in Kauai looks out to a sleeping dragon shaped mountain that inspired Peter, Paul and Mary to interpret the song written by a friend, "Puff the Magic Dragon, lived by the sea and frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Hanalei."  There's considerable speculation that the words to the song were mainly centered around smoking marijuana which grew prolifically in Hanalei.  Here's a video that further explains the shape of the dragon.  For more details on this year-ago post, please click here.

Happy Easter! A movie made in New Zealand...More to my liking than Tom's...

Our favorite cow, a neighbor, whom we visit regularly on our "neighborhood" walks.  She's always happy to see us.  This was the closest we could get to an Easter photo.
Happy Easter to all of our family, friend/readers who celebrate throughout the world.  May you have many blessings and a very fulfilling day!

As we travel we attempt to watch a movie that is either about and/or filmed in the country in which we're living at any given time.  In reviewing all the movies filmed in New Zealand, we were in a quandary as to which movie we'd select.

Its not that New Zealand is short on options.  Nor are they lacking in producing many good movies and TV series, a few of which we've watched, particularly on Nat Geo, Discovery and the History Channel. 

What particularly caught my eye as I did the research were Peter Jackson's movies.  He's from Wellington on this North Island which we visited on a past cruise and plan to visit again on a future cruise in November.  Its a beautiful area.

Promo photo for King Kong 2005 remake.
Of course, many would suggest The Hobbit series of movies.  However, knowing Tom's taste in movies, he's hardly be interested in the subject matter, preferring reality to fantasy.  He also isn't interested in science fiction or horror which are favorites of mine. 

We compromise. If I want to watch such a movie, he'll stay busy on his laptop while I watch.  On occasion, he'll suffer it out with me as he did last night when we watched Peter Jackson's 2005 remake of King Kong.

He was totally into the movie until it got to the part on "Skull Island" when the dinosaurs started fighting.  This was beyond his scope of "reality" and I could see he was rapidly losing interest. 

I stayed glued to the flat screen TV to which we'd plugged in the HDMI cord (a gift from daughter Tammy at Christmas 2014 which we use almost every evening.  Thanks, Tammy!). 
When giant octopus and dinosaurs appeared in the movie, Tom quickly lost interest.  He's not into "monster" movies.
At a few points I found myself smiling non-stop as I reveled in the 11 year old technology and the quality remake of the classic movie originally made in 1933 (click here for video clip for the original movie). 

Tom's eyes were glazed over.  I knew at any moment, he'd either doze off or pick up his laptop.  Once the dinosaurs started fighting he chose the later while I remained entranced until the end.

Of course, a highlight of the movie was the scenery which was filmed in New Zealand which had the flavor of this beautiful country especially close to the shore for the ocean scenes.  We weren't readily able to identify certain locations but imagined many Kiwis would easily do so.

In any case, I enjoyed it immensely having never seen the remake in its entirety. Tom, not so much.

Here are a few mentions from this website on the filming locations:

Wellington locations
  • Skull Island / Shelly Bay and Lyall Bay: Filming for Skull Island took place at Lyall Bay. A second large-scale version, including the giant wall which separated Kong from the rest of the island, was built above the Massey Memorial near Shelly Bay. Skull Island was a key location in the original 1933 movie, and Jackson''s film follows the 1933 version faithfully, with a large portion of the film set on ''the island''.
  • New York / Seaview, Lower Hutt: 1930s New York came alive in New Zealand at Seaview in Wellington''s Hutt Valley as Jackson created a depression-era version of the Big Apple complete with Broadway, Times Square and Macy''s department store, as well as vintage cars and extras clad in period costume.
  • Venture ocean scenes / Kapiti Island and Cook Strait: Ocean scenes aboard the steamer Venture were filmed around Kapiti Island, a protected bird sanctuary off Wellington''s Kapiti Coast. Incidentally, Jackson and his crew made an unscheduled visit to Kapiti Island in March 2005 when they had to abandon the Venture because the boat began to take on water during filming, flooding the engine room.
  • Further ocean-going scenes were also shot on the Cook Strait, a stretch of water linking Wellington to Picton, at the tip of the South Island. The Strait is renowned for its rugged scenic beauty.
  • Venture pier scenes were shot at Miramar Wharf in Cobham Drive, Wellington.
Tom checked out when this guy appeared in the movie while I was excitedly reminded of the "Aliens" movies, one of my favorites.
Over the next five months we'll be off to many other countries where we shouldn't have any trouble finding appropriate movies to watch:  Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, Viet Nam and Thailand.  Whether we'll have a good enough wifi connection will determine our ability to download such movies along the way or thereafter.

Today, Monday, we're heading to the mall to shop and for Tom's first New Zealand haircut.  Of course, we'll be back with photos tomorrow!

Carpe diem!

Photo from one year ago today, March 28, 2015:
This Red Cardinal stopped by our condo in Kauai several times each day with his less similar female (smaller) partner, looking for a hand out which we generously provided several times each day. After only a few occasions, he'd sing a special song to get me to bring out the nuts.  Click here for more photos from that date.

In this part of the world...

Tom took all of these sunset photos last night, as the views changed in a matter of seconds. 
It started out as a dark and gloomy day, at 7 am this Easter Sunday in the South Pacific.  Low lying clouds shrouded views of the mountains.  If we looked hard, we were able to see the ocean through the mist.  Now, as we approach 10:30 am, the sun is out and the mist has cleared.

Peering out the windows we can see some of the nearby alpacas although many are now at distant paddocks requiring we walk quite a way to visit.  Today, as yesterday, we'll walk over a few times, again checking on Delilah and Mont Blanc. 

We can't actually see the sun at sunset due to the mountains but the sky delivers.
The magpies are loudly singing their wide variety of songs as always. They are one of few bird species in the immediate area (they scare off other birds), flying in pairs as they dash through the trees occasionally alighting on the patio or deck for our easy perusal, never quite long enough for a photo of their distinct black and white plumage.

With no big plans for today, we'll stay in.  This is our fourth Easter away from family and of course, we miss them, the festivities, the laughter and the noise of playful activities.  How could we not? 

These views aren't over the ocean.
But, we're content, at ease in our decisions, at home in any environment, at peace in having chosen this life on the move.  In a mere three weeks from today, we'll be boarding Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas for a 14 night cruise, having flown from Auckland the previous day for an overnight in Sydney.

Its funny how some venues refer to 14 nights or...14 days.  Often I refer to days/nights spent in various locations as "days" as opposed to "nights."  For us, the "days" seem most significant, the nights mostly spent in relaxation and slumber. 

Quickly darkness fall and the views dissipate.
On cruises, we stay up later at night thoroughly embracing the evening's socialization.  Then again, the days are rather enjoyable when we often find ourselves spending entire days in the company of other cruise passengers or languishing in our favorite ways to spend days aboard ship on our own.

For today, there's no special meal.  Tom's meal will include well seasoned baby back ribs (no sauce) and I'll have grilled yellow fin tuna. We'll both have a variety of low carb friendly side dishes. 

Taking photos of the two pink cockatoos through the narrow chain link fence is tricky.  This unedited photo illustrates the tightness of the fence. 
After busying myself in the kitchen after today's post, we'll take the walk to check on the animals, visit the pink cockatoos who get excited and noisy when they see us coming, and walk to the neighboring property to say hello to our favorite local cows, bulls and sheep.

Later in the day, if it stay sunny, we'll sit on the deck to toast a glass of New Zealand white wine, a pleasant Pinot Gris we picked up at the grocery store.

The lily pond continues to bloom pretty flowers
Ah, had we been farmers in our old lives how we would have appreciated being able to revel in the beauty and simplicity of farm life without the work.  Instead, we've been gifted during this exquisite three month period with the unique opportunity to experience just ideal farm life free from responsibilities. 

How fortunate we feel, even as the time quickly winds down toward leaving.  We're preparing ourselves for the upcoming busy next many months with our usual enthusiasm and joy.  Life is good.  May yours be as well.
Happy Easter to celebrants in this part of the world and tomorrow, for others.

Photo from one year ago today, March 27, 2015:
One year ago, the colors in this scene at the Princeville Ranch took our breath away.  For more details and photos, please click here.

Worried about Mont Blanc...Delilah...Watching over the alpacas this week...

Little Mont Blanc, dirty from days of rain, still small and fragile.
With Trish and Neil gone for Easter until next Wednesday, we're keeping an eye out on the alpacas.  Their friend Barb is stopping by each day to give them their daily vitamin feed which is placed in dozens of colorful bowls at the edges of the various paddocks.

Mont Blanc's mom, Giselle's half hearted grin.
We don't have much to do other than to check on pregnant mom, Delilah, who's due to deliver at anytime.  Her photo is shown below.

Much to our heavy hearts young Mont Blanc isn't doing well. He's now in a separate paddock with his mom and another mom that is also not doing well.  Her cria Latle is also in the paddock.

Latle, the healthy fast growing youngster with Giselle, Mont Blanc's mom, in the background.
Wednesday the vet came to examine Mont Blanc and determined he's having some type of digestive disorder preventing him from growing and thriving. 

A few weeks ago when we alerted Trish and Neil that Mont Blanc didn't seem to be nursing or pecking at the grass and appeared tiny and skinny compared to the other fast growing cria of similar age, they separated him and his mother to another paddock. 

Mont Blanc is much smaller than one month older Latle.
During that period, we'd spotted another cria nursing from Mont Blanc's mom, leaving less for him.  We sent Trish a photo showing the two babies attempting to nurse simultaneously, which proved to be an oddity.  Less than a week ago we posted the story with photos as shown here.

Latle is 29 days older than Mont Blanc and is growing well.
At first, once separated from the others, he gained weight and was seeming to improve.  Then, a few days ago he began to take a turn for the worse, losing the weight he'd gained, prompting Trish and Neil to call the vet to determine what was wrong.  The diagnosis of a digestive disorder left them uncertain as to his fate.

As for Delilah, the only remaining pregnant mom due to give birth this year, she's yet to deliver her cria.  We've been watching her progress daily but see no signs of impending birth. In Trish and Neil's absence we'll keep a close watch to ensure all goes well should she soon deliver.  She seems fine, is eating well. 

Mont Blanc does appear to munch on a bit of vegetation.
Delilah, pregnant and soon due to deliver, is one of the largest alpacas.  She is a less common rich dark brown.  Delilah appears to be the leader of her herd, always at the peak of alertness for any possible intruders.  She's become used to us visiting the paddock and expresses no concern when we come by.

Yesterday, we walked the distance to the paddock close to their house where Mont Blanc and his mom are located.  We made our way over the fence to get inside the paddock and gingerly approached.  They didn't move away as they were unconcerned by our presence having been around us for over two months.  Their means of communication, a tender little hum, was escalated by our presence.

Delilah, the last of the pregnant moms yet to deliver this season.
The other youngster in the paddock with his ailing mom is four weeks older than Mont Blanc but was easily triple his size.  This is worrisome.  We can only hope that somehow Mont Blanc survives this condition and soon begins to grow.  He seems alert and active.

After checking on Delilah with no obvious evidence of impending birth we headed back home, planning to stay home over the next few rainy days checking on them several times each day.

Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, March 26, 2015:

One year ago, we met with Curly, owner of the Princeville Ranch, at the entrance that adventure seekers use for the myriad activities offered on the ranch.  He took us on a tour of the vast property in his 4X4 vehicle which was quite an adventure in itself.  For more details, please click here.

Easter on the horizon...A frenzy in town...Food in our old days...More new photos...

The rocky cliffs and sprawling shoreline in New Plymouth.
Heading to town on Thursdays to grocery shop has worked well for us.  We leave within minutes after the house cleaner's arrival allowing them to do their work with us out of the way.

In all previous instances, arriving in town around 11 am has been ideal with little traffic and low numbers of shoppers in the markets.  Tom reads a book on his phone while waiting in the car while I do the shopping.

We stopped at Paritutu Centennial Park for a walk and to check out the scenery. 
When visiting the Costco/Sam's Club-like PAK'nSave every few weeks he joins me to  push the cart.  Yesterday, we a trip to New World was all that was necessary.  This particular week we had enough meat on hand and didn't make a stop at Kiwi Meats. 

Much to my surprise upon entering New World market almost every cart was taken while the aisles were jammed with busy shoppers.  I'd forgotten Easter was fast approaching until I noticed all the Easter baskets, candy and people.  I hadn't seen crowds such as this since a holiday weekend in the US a long time ago.

With no big plans for Easter dinner which among other holidays, over which we no longer make a big fuss or a special meal, it was grocery shopping as usual.  With our way of eating, it makes no sense spending days cooking in an attempt to adapt old recipes to work for our diet. 

Paritutu Rock is located along the the shore.  Some ambitious hikers climb to the top.  That didn't include us.
Sure, we occasionally discuss old Easter and other holiday favorites; green bean casserole, cheesy potatoes, honey baked ham, fluffy white buns, fruit whippy and of course,  our usual coconut and seven minute frosting covered chocolate bunny rabbit cake. 

Its easy to recall eating a big chunk of that delicious homemade cake which we usually saved for well after dinner to savor on a less full tummy.  Tom may have included a big glass of 2% milk. Those days are long gone.  We make no exceptions, other than Tom's occasional indulgences on cruises and dining out.

These steps leading down to the beach are used by surfers who frequent this area.
People often ask us if willpower keeps us from savoring these former treats and once considered hearty and healthy meals.  Its not about willpower.  Its  about choice.  As Tom always says, "If you put your hand on a hot stove and get burned, it doesn't take willpower to avoid putting your hand on the stove again."

In essence, its a conscious decision to maintain and continue to improve our health.  Since we began this way of eating almost five years ago, Tom was able to stop all medication including seven pills a day for conditions that have long ago disappeared.  Now, he takes no prescription medication

Signs such as this are often posted to remind visitors to be respectful of marine life.
As for me, I am down from four medications daily to two tiny pills taken in the morning both for moderate hormonal issues neither of which I've been able to control with lifestyle changes.  Most likely, I'll take these two pills a day for the remainder of my life.

We reduced our intake of vitamins due to the problems of hauling long term supplies.  Tom takes three 50 mg Vitamin B6 to keep kidney stones at bay which are apparently working for him. 

This area led to a picnic spot as shown in below photo.
Prior to him taking this supplement, he had three kidney stone surgeries in three years (in Minnesota).  Since taking the B6 and eventually changing his diet, he's had no recurrence.  We both take a daily probiotic supplement.  After many blood tests while in Trinity Beach last August neither of us had any deficiencies.

Of course, our wellness regime doesn't guaranty long term good health.  Nothing can guaranty that.  One never knows what lies on the horizon.  And on occasion we fall prey to viruses, colds, coughs and flu especially when exposed to the germs on cruises. 

From this website: "The Sugar Loaf Islands, off the coast of New Plymouth, are the eroded stumps of an ancient volcanic crater. Above the water you can see seven islands and several reefs. Below the surface, there are spectacular cliffs, canyons, boulder reefs and sand expanses. Captain Cook named the islands, taking inspiration from the lumps of sugar loaf he put in his tea. The "sugar" is actually bird guano."

We don't suggest you try any or all of this without first checking with your physician as to what lifestyle changes may work for you.  We have no intention or desire to suggest what we may do, may be suitable for you.

Thus, this way of life, like touching the hot stove, is a no-brainer for us.  Instead of exercising willpower, we tap into the innate motivation that results from the lifestyle changes that have proved to be successful for us.

Hard to see in this photo, there were a few surfers in the water.
As I made my way through the overly crowded grocery store, I loaded my cart with our usual foods; fresh organic veggies and avocados, coconut oil, full fat dairy products including no-sugars added locally made yogurt, kefir and delicious New Zealand "grass fed" butter. 

With plenty of grass fed meat products remaining in the freezer, all we needed in the way of protein sources was the two organic, no chemicals added, roasted chickens we purchase each week.  Most weeks, we've purchased these at New World but yesterday, there wasn't a single such chicken to be found.

It was sunny when we started out, clouding over shortly after we were on the road.
After wading through the crowded aisles, finally I made my way to the car with a relatively small haul at NZ $154, US $103.  Without chickens, we decided to stop at Countdown, another market along the highway on the way home hoping to find the right chickens.

They, too didn't have a single cooked organic free range chicken and their other non-organic roasted chickens had a list of 30 ingredients used in their preparation including sugar, wheat and a variety of starches and chemicals.  Not an option.

Mount Taranaki covered in fast moving clouds.
Perusing the refrigerated meat case I located fresh uncooked organic free range chickens, no chemicals added...plain whole chickens.  I was shocked over the great prices for the good sized chickens, NZ $12.95, US $8.68 each and quickly grabbed two as the supply was fast dwindling.

Yesterday afternoon, I roasted both chickens, delighted with the end results.  Lately, as a further attempt at enhancing health, we've been eating our main meal midday with a small healthy snack in the evening.  We've both noticed a difference in feeling better going to bed without feeling full.

In seconds the peak of Mount Taranaki was no longer visible due to cloud cover.
Eating the main meal midday won't work on cruises when one of the biggest highlights of each day is the fun "shared" dining experience each evening in the main dining room but for now its suiting us both well.

In two days, it will be Easter here. We won't miss a thing other than our family whom we look forward to seeing again in months to come.  The significance of this day remains in our hearts and minds and we wish the same for you, should you celebrate this particular religious holiday along with us.

Photo from one year ago today, March 25, 2015:

The "wet" tunnel at Tunnels Beach in Kauai is not open for swimming due to the stagnant water causing illness.  For more photos of Kauai, please click here.