Yes it has been a while! I have been reprimanded, scolded, and verbally flogged for not updating my blog since November 2008. If I journaled it all here no one would read it because it would take more words than even I have! I'll update through our trip home and back.
So to encapsulate… Frank and I left GBI on a lovely blue sky day, enjoying an absolutely perfect sail into Auckland's Westhaven Marina where we spent a few days getting the engine's reverse working again – requiring the gear box to be completely taken out and parts replaced. We rented a car for a few days, exploring the area and decided that Auckland deserved a return visit on our way back up in the Fall (March '09).
We were scheduled to be in Tauranga by the first week of December, so on December 2nd, under near perfect conditions sailed an easy overnighter into Tauranga's Bridge Marina. My captain timed our arrival so perfectly that we arrived at dawn during slack tide, which we soon discovered is ABSOLUTELY necessary due to the surge and up to 5 knot current in the bay during "regular hours". We immediately fell in love with the area, rightly called the Bay of Plenty. Our harbor was halfway between Tauranga proper and Mt. Maunganui ("The Mount"). The coastline from The Mount is so lovely and inviting that we spent as much time as possible there – hiking the Mount, walking the beaches, sitting at sidewalk cafes and pubs of course so Frank could continue his NZ beer tasting, and sampling every ice cream shop we encountered. This area reminded us very much of some of our favorite beach areas of California. The marina and staff were wonderful. The
shopping and provisioning were world-class. We only had about a week to enjoy the onset of New Zealand's summer before our flight back to the States.
On December 10th we flew from New Zealand back to the US. First stop was Los Angeles where we spent a whirlwind 2 days in the Beverly Hills area. Our dear friends, Andy and Melissa from S/V Spectacle who were also back home spent a day with us showing us their favorite haunts and shopping for cruising and touring guides to countries we will be visiting in the upcoming year followed by an incredible gourmet dinner, featuring Chef Andy Heger, at his mom, Asrtid's beautiful home.
Then off to Denver on the 12th, staying with our dear friends, Jeff and Jeri Lyn Martin we filled in our dance cards with lunches, dinners, coffees, shopping, cookie baking (yum!) and annual physical checkups (eyes, ears, innards and outards). I was able to have some girl time with my friends and to see some chick flicks. Frank met with buddies for drinks and lunches and spent time with Karen and Bill. We saw one another on the fly but had a wonderful and all too quick visit there. Of course, we left New Zealand's summer to spend minus zero temps in Denver – what were we thinking!?!?
On the 23rd of December we flew to Virginia in time to spend Christmas with the Johnson/Edwards/Gladney side of the clan at Tom and Mary's "resort". We had a great time visiting the nieces and nephews, although we were accused of bringing the winter chill with us from Denver – there was no escaping the cold! Even brought some snow. Did more shopping, went to lots of movies, out to the farm in Front Royal for some quiet time with Tom and Mary. Visited with Ma as much as possible. I was happy to get to spend some special time with my Godson, Clint, and to see Sarah home from school.
On January 6, 2009, we set off for Houston, TX for time with Jennifer & Trace, our grandson, Mom and Dad, sis and clan and big bro and family. I was stunned at how adult my niece, Sherrie and nephew Little Scotty (not so little anymore, towering over me!), had become. Tom and Bev had both come to town and we spent a lot of the time helping Mom and Dad get things sorted out and then I got a chance to hang out with some of my girlfriends. We did get some couples time with Debra and Sandy. Frank golfed with his school chum, Steve Haltom, who flew in from Tulsa just to see him. We went down to Seabrook to stay with Jen and Trace a few times. Got to meet Jen's sweetie, Jacob. Nice guy – glad to have him in her life. I got "cut, colored and made over" by my expert daughter. Visited my brother's new beautiful home on a lake in Magnolia. We were fortunate to get to be in town for Trace's 5th birthday and to celebrate Dad's and Mom's together.
Then, it was time to leave.
Jan 23rd (Dad's actual b-day) we flew back to Denver for another all too quick visit. Again the Martin's opened their beautiful home to us. A very funny side note here…Jeri Lyn announced that we had tickets for the National Western Stock Show (aka annual big time rodeo), so we got dolled up, went to dinner and then arrived at the rodeo to discover that our really, really fantastic seats were for the Draft Horse and Mule competition! Ha ha – joke was on us! We were way over dressed and over classed for this event. We enjoyed the Draft Horse competitions immensely, but could have lived our entire lives without having seen the mule events. It would not have been nearly as enjoyable with any other couple I must say. Those two can have a good time in the middle of a desert!
February 3rd (my Mom's b-day), we left Denver, landed in Los Angeles and drove down to San Diego – our favorite city in the USA. We were graciously invited to stay with Bob Bergman whom we had met during the process of buying our boat. Bob has become a dear friend to us. Our time in San Diego whizzed by as we shopped for boat parts and personal gear – filling up an entire 4th rolling duffle bag! We had begun the trip with 2! We left San Diego early on the morning of the 7th, intending to get to LAX with time enough to drop our bags off and head to Venice Beach before returning our rental car. Frank dropped me off with all 4 bags and took off to find parking. An Air New Zealand attendant was kind enough to approach me, asking if I was scheduled for the 7:30 PM flight to Auckland. I answered in the affirmative to a very sad-eyed shaking head. He apologized telling me that our flight was cancelled! UGH! He further told me that I could go ahead
and check our bags since they would eventually need to be done – so I did, and while doing so was informed the airline had arranged a replacement flight at 7:00 AM the following morning, and was putting all passengers up in the local Hilton for the night, with group transportation at 4 AM back to the airport. Anyone who knows me also knows that 4 AM and I don't get along very well. Not even Frank does 4 AM well. We got to the hotel realizing that we had laptops and some carry-on toiletries but no change of clothes, overnight bags or whatever we would need to spend another night away. Oh well – not the worst thing in the world. The beds were very comfy.
So we got up at 4 AM, shuffled onto the shuttle bus got on the flight and arrived in Auckland at 5 PM the next day. Fortunately we had been able to contact the private shuttle service we'd arranged to get us from Auckland to the marina in Tauranga to let them know of our flight's delay. We were so happy to see the lady holding up the little sign with our names on it when we got through bio-security! Then she says to us "Hi! Welcome to New Zealand; I have good news and I have bad news". I hate it when someone starts out with that! Come on! We never did figure out what the good news was because all I heard was… "We are awaiting the arrival of another couple with whom you are sharing your ride and their flight is 2 ½ hours delayed – why don't you just find a nice bar somewhere and get comfy?" I can't even go into how unhappy I was with this announcement – so I won't. The short version: we got on board Destiny around 11:30 PM
on Feb 9th. We were so happy to be home we went straight to bed and slept for about 12 hours.
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