Last October we travelled with Brett, Helen, Darren and Tania to Chile, Peru and Ecuador – including the Galapagos Islands. Naturally we visited Machu Picchu while in Peru and it was while climbing over a lot of Inca ruins I found out that I need some new knees. They are going to be installed in February.
Another day in paradise, Main Beach, Gold Coast, Australia. One day perfect and next day beautiful. As we approach the Indy 300 this weekend the streets are becoming more and more blocked with barriers and everyone is once again complaining about the traffic chaos that this event causes. Oh well, if you live in a tourist destination you must expect tourist events. Some of friends who live within the circuit have gone away on holiday as the noise is unbloodybelievable. Luckily we are outside the circuit so are not too badly affected.
Spent about 3 days back in Chicago going to places like downtown Chicago to meet up with Lia’s niece Pia who works in the Chilean Consulate, plus visiting Navy Pier and the Sears Building which is the highest building in Chicago. We also visited the B’hai Temple, and learnt about their very interesting beliefs. They believe that all religions are basically one religion and all the God’s such as Jesus and Mohammad who have been to earth are all the prophets of one God.
Then we were off again for more exploring with our friends Dan and Dalia to the Wisconston Dells, the circus musium and The House on the Rock. Wisconston Dells are on a section of the Wisconston River that is fairly deep so naturally we did a river cruise and an amphibious duck ride/cruise. The main street of the Dells has been turned into a giant amusement park with roller coasters, carosels, mini-golf courses, crazy houses, etc.
The circus musium is at a place that used to be the winter headquarters of the Ringling Brothers and Barton circus. Saw an excellent Chinese acrobat act and some great old circus wagons that used to be used in the grand parade that went through any town or city that the circus was being set up in.
The House on the Rock was just that. A house that a man built around a big rock outcrop. However this man also become a great collector and the house and accompanying buildings now house his collections. The collections are many, varied and staggering in their size. They include carosels, many large and small mechanical music exhibits, firearms, dolls and doll’s houses, model ships, an old village street containing all sorts of shops with appropriate merchandise inside and posters outside, and many other things. Overall, including a short lunch break, we were looking at the exhibits for 6 hours. Staggering.
Back in Chicago again we went to the Museum of Science and Industry and saw an excellent exhibition of the inventions of Leonado Da Vinchi and the Aquarium that has a huge collection of fish from all over the world.
On Sunday 16th July we said goodbye to our friends Dan and Dalia who had looked after us so well for 3 weeks and flew to Pensylvania and met up with other friends Bob and Bette who live in the middle of Amish country and very near to where the film “Witness” with Harrison Ford was filmed. Yesterday we spent driving around that area and today we went in town to see the market, the quilt museum (the Amish are famous for their quilt making among other things) and a number of Art Galleries. Tomorrow it is off to Washington DC.
Took an 8 day drive around Lake Michigan going as far north as Lake Superior and Ontario, Canada. The first time Lia has been to Canada and not even a stamp in the passport to prove it. In fact the border security seemed fairly lax although perhaps they thought that 4 older white people not much of a threat.
The highlights of the trip for us where:
At Munising, Lake Superior, a boat ride to see the Pictured Rocks National Park. The pictured rocks are sandstone and their shapes are the result of wave action, with colours in the cliffs caused by minerals and tannin leaching from the trees above. We also went on another boat ride to see ship wrecks through the glass bottom of the boat. Very interesting without having to dive into the cold water of the lake.
Return train ride from Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario Canada to Agawa Canyon where there are beautiful views and several spectacular water falls. And about 400 steps to the lookout that our legs still remember.
4th July fireworks in St Ignace and a visit to Mackinac Island where cars are not allowed and all transport is by foot, horse and cart or bicycle. We hired bicycles and rode around the island, about 5 miles. It was an accomplishment that we really enjoyed. Also it was on Lake Huron so that was the 3rd lake we visited on this trip.
On the trip we visited several small, beautiful little towns that border Lake Michigan. Everywhere there is some small inlet or channel a small town seems to exist and they are all very pretty in there own way.
From Hawaii to Oregon where we stayed for a week with friends of Lia’s, John and Lillian. They have a small acrerage in southern Oregon where we saw wild turkeys and chipmonks and there also reports of deer, bear, skunk and several other undesirables that we did not see. Went to a “House of Mystery” where there is an earth magnetic votex and some very strange things happened. Worth a visit if you are there. Also went to beautiful Crater Lake and down through some coastal redwood trees to Crescent City. It is on the coast and is the most northern city in California. Excellent seafood lunch at The Chartroom.
From Oregon on to Chicago to stay with other friends Dan and Dalia. So far we have seen a Bell Concert in the Chicago Botanical Gardens where classical music is played on large church types bells hung on a huge tower, a lot of downtown Chicago where skyscrapers are even more tightly packed then in the Gold Coast, lunch on the 95th floor of John Hancock Building. a couple of impromptue concerts, and an excellent collection of art at the Institute of Art. The difference is here they really care about the attractiveness of the architecture. Tomorrow we are leaving for a 8 or 9 day trip around Lake Michigen. No set agenda and we’ll take it as it comes and update this web page when we get back.
Hawaii – O’ahu. This is where Honolulu is. Took a drive around the island and had dinner at Dukes on Waikiki before joining the ship for the cruise around the other islands.
Kauai – Enjoyed a drive around the beaches to one end of the road where there are some caves with water in them so you can’t go very far in but they looked very attractive. Highlight of the island was a large canyon that was very impressive.
Hawaii - ”The large island” Really enjoyed the Volcano National Park and had our fill of lava flows (cold) and cinders. Went with some very nice people, Ethel and Randy, that we met on the ship. They are from Sacramento and we hope we will catch up with them some time in the future. Also went to a few art galleries where Lia got some good tips from the artists and we saw some excellent artwork.
Maui – where are currently. Claims to have the highest mountain in the world (measured from the sea bed, which goes to show you can do anything with statistics). Anyway we drove up it yesterday and reached a hight of 11,000 feet where we had to walk very slowly and both us got a little affected by the altitude. Unfortunately a lot of cloud around so we did not get a clear view.
We have enjoyed visiting Walmark on several of our stops and so far bought a top for Lia to protect her from the air conditioning on the ship, shoes for us both that are very inexpensive, sandals for Lia, a t-shirt and shorts for David, and socks for both of us. Prices are excellent.
The ship we have been travelling on has cure us of our cruising addiction but we don’t want to appear negative so I won’t list the many problems.
Day 1. Flew Brisbane to Auckland. Had dinner with daughter Tania and Darren and very good friends Gerry and Linda Kline.
Days 2 – 4. Hired car and drove to Whangarei, north of Auckland to meet up with David’s high school class mates. Originally there were 16 in his graduation class from Whangarei Boys High School but since then, 47 years ago, one has died. Of the 15 survivors, 11 and their partners, attended the dinner before attending the High School’s 125th anniversary over the next 3 days. Great times were had by all with many memories re-awakened, tall stories told, and old friendships renewed.
Day 5. Drove down to Mangawhia Heads. This is beach, just south of Whangarei, where our friends Bruce and Heather Rogan have a house. The intention being to joke, talk, eat, and drink with occasional activities like golf and fishing thown in to try to stave off the obesity virus.