A drive in the country when the sun peeked out...New photos...

Cattle are found everywhere in the New Zealand countryside.
Living on an island such as New Zealand the weather is constantly in flux.  What may start as a cool cloudy morning easily evolves into a few sunny hours, then clouding over later in the day.  Its during these sunny times we tend to run out for drive for an hour or two to further investigate our surroundings.


We spotted this sign to the motorcycle park and got out of the car to check it out.
As many of our readers have heard from us over and again, I just don't enjoy heading out on cloudy days.  Sorry about that.  I can't tell you how often we make plans to go explore and change those plans when the clouds roll in and raindrops begin to fall.

Although no racing was in action, it was fun to stumble upon this raceway in the countryside.
The fact that we're always "somewhere" where taking photos and exploring may be of great interest to us and our readers, we always feel we have plenty of time.

As time flies quickly, suddenly we have to move on and we often wonder if we shared enough photos during our stay.  In many cases, we're confident we've done so and can easily state an emphatic "yes."

Lounging longhorn cattle with swishing tail.
At other times, we look back and think we could have gone out on more of those cloudy days to explore and take photos anyway.  For now, here on the farm, we're comfortable with the photos we've taken thus far. 

We chose to come to New Zealand to live on an alpaca farm.  For the first time in either of our lives experiencing life on a farm surrounded by these and other amazing animals has been a real treasure. 

Another lounging longhorn sitting near his water supply in an old bathtub.
There's no doubt in our minds that many other parts of New Zealand including the South Island have considerable scenery that we'd most certainly find appealing.

Yesterday, as we drove through the countryside, I asked Tom if he feels we should take four or five days and drive to the South Island, staying in hotels along the way.

A pretty farmhouse at the end of a long driveway.
Its almost a day's drive and a ferry ride to the South Island, thus it a two day trip just getting there and back.  With more to see than we could possibly do in two or three more days, plus the expense we hadn't budgeted for such a trip,

Tom reminded me with our upcoming five cruises in the South Pacific, one of which will sail to New Zealand's South Island it makes more sense for us to wait and to see that area when our ship arrives at a few significant ports.

An usually shaped forest of evergreens.
I totally agreed.  Neither of us have felt like going on a road trip, especially in the older rental car we rented when we arrived.  Most rental car agencies don't offer their newer cars for our online-booked lower priced long term rentals. 

These less costly cars have worked well for us.  We have no complaints.  When most travelers rent a car for a week or two the fees don't seem too bad.  When we book and pay for a three month car rental contract plus often huge "holding fees" locked on our credit cards, it proves to be a relatively large layout in funds.

Often, when we walk out the door for a drive, the sky is totally clear.  Within a short period, everything changes.  By the end of yesterday's drive, it was dark and cloudy.
Let's face it, our lives are predicated by the budget.  We have no choice but to carefully monitor our spending.  After all, we've been on a "vacation/holiday" for 41 months.  It costs a lot of money which we must diligently monitor to ensure it never gets out of control.  This could happen easily in a moment of weakness.

We rarely, if ever, say "Oh, let's go for it," when an expensive for an "out of budget" situation occurs.  We pay off all of our credit cards at least as often as every two months, if not every month.  By the first of April, we won't owe a penny on any of our cards.   But, that won't last for long.


With recent rains the hills and valleys are bright green again.
Then, we start booking and paying for vacation homes, cruises and flights, big chunks all at once, all on the credit cards, the best and easiest way to pay.  At any given point, we know exactly where we are financially. For each expenditure whether it's for a cruise, a night in a hotel between flights or a trip to the farmers market, we log every penny. 

Luckily, I'm in the habit of entering all expenses within 24 hours of the time they incur while Tom's great at getting receipts for everything since he pays when we're out shopping. 

When we return 'home" I place the receipts next to my laptop, converting the amounts paid from foreign monies to US dollars, writing the amounts on the receipts and then, one by one, entering the expenditures into our spreadsheet in each of its many tabs (worksheets in Excel).
Flowers along the way.  Summer has ended here when yesterday was the first day of fall.
Its the close familiarity with "where we are" financially that definitely has a bearing on "where we'll go" and "what we'll spend."  Its only through this detailed diligence that we can continue on with peace of mind and...adequate funds to fully enjoy life in the process. 

As a result, we curtail some of our activities with expense in mind as I'm sure many of you do in managing your daily lives.  The challenge is finding the best way to fill our days with activities we love and can easily afford, living life to the fullest.

We wish the same for each and every one of YOU!
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Photo from one year ago today, March 22, 2015:

The final vestiges of the sunset over Kauai on Julie's last night of her visit.  We had a wonderful time together as she fell totally in love with Kauai.  For more sunset photos, please click here.

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