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Archive for the 'Travel' Category

Super Humans

Recently I watched the FBI drama Eleventh Hour and the episode dealt with super soldiers. In a coincidence, I’m reading the second book in Bianca D’Arc’s Resonance Mates series. (You know the one I mentioned in yesterday’s post—the one I don’t have time to read!) The series is about the Alvian race who takes over Earth. The only humans who survive the attacks are the ones with psychic gifts. The Alvians have taken genetics to the max and have no emotions. Anyone with emotions is suspect and the few remaining humans are subjected to experiments, some of which are horrid. Ms D’Arc writes a great book with awesome world building.

Nalini Singh’s Psy series also deals with something similar- the Psy race have managed to cancel out all emotions in order to make a “perfect” life.

In fiction I can live with this scenario, although I’m not sure I understand the drive behind a race seeking the perfect being. My personal opinion is that disease etc is nature’s way of limiting population. Emotions, both good and bad, bring color to life.

Anyhow, my question is do you think a super or perfect person is a good thing? Does anyone have any recommendations for sci-fi romances in a similar vein?

I have a guest spot at coco & kelley about travel. This blog is a new discovery for me and I enjoy my visits there, indulging my love of pretty clothes, interior decorating and the like. Here’s the link.

Rhino, Chitwan National Park

Camera Critters

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This week’s photo for Camera Critters is a rhino mother and baby, taken in Chitwan National Park, Nepal. We rode elephants into the park and were able to get quite close to the one-horned rhinoceros, which is an endangered species. I badly wanted to see a tiger, but we weren’t lucky enough on this trip. We did see a sloth bear, which was very exciting and seeing the rhinos was amazing. They’re a bit weird in appearance and look as if they’re wearing a suit of armor.

Women on the Move!

Our local council runs a program called Women on the Move. Each month they organize a day trip to help women get out in the great outdoors, exercise and have some fun. I took a day off writing today and joined their day trip to Tiritiri Matangi.

Tiritiri Matangi means “looking to the wind”. It’s an island sanctuary in the Hauraki Gulf, not far from Auckland. Not that long ago Tiritiri was farmed and the original forest cut down to make way for grassland. The Department of Conservation took over the island and hundreds of volunteers replanted native trees to reforest the island. All pests such as rats, cats, mice and stoats were eradicated. Once this was done some of New Zealand’s rarer birds were introduced to the pest-free sanctuary.

Before we arrived at the island by ferry we were asked to check our shoes and remove mud etc. We also had to check our bags and remove any rats or mice or other pests we found. Luckily I was all safe on that score!

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The weather has been horrid for the last couple of weeks but today it was a gorgeous morning. We walked through the bush, stopping regularly to check out the birds we saw.

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Today we saw:
Kakariki (a green parakeet)
North Island robin
Kokako (very rare)
Wood pigeon
Tui
Bellbirds
Stitchbirds
Whitehead
Saddlebacks
Takahe (thought extinct and rediscovered in 1948)
Fantails
Pukeko

They have kiwis on the island, although they’re nocturnal so we didn’t see any. They also have tuatara but the winter sun wasn’t enough to entice them out of their burrows.

It started raining just as we headed to the lighthouse for lunch. There’s a takahe called Greg. He’s 16 years old and is very bossy and cheeky. He hovered under our tables and tried to grab our sandwiches if we held them within his reach. He wandered inside the coffee shop, much to the amusement of the group of school kids and tried his luck in there before one of the ladies shooed him outside.

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After lunch we explored a little more, checking out the birds at the feeders before we headed down to the wharf to catch the ferry back to inner Auckland. I really enjoyed my day on Tiritiri.

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This is what a normal takahe looks like. They normally graze on grass not sandwiches stolen from lunch boxes.

Holidays and Ever Wondered?

I’m so excited – no, I haven’t sold another book. In fact I’ve been receiving a lot of rejections, but I’m not talking about those today. No, I’m not. Hubby came home last night and said, “How would you like to go on holiday in September?”

“September?” I said. “I thought we weren’t going on holiday again until next September.”

He grinned at me and said, “How would you feel about Phuket in Thailand?”

My answer was yes. (of course!) and so long story short, we’ll be jetting off to Singapore and Thailand in September for 11 nights. I’m really excited since we haven’t been to Phuket. We’ve visited Bangkok and also Singapore, but Phuket is new territory.

A few days ago Sandra Cox posted the following called Ever Wonder? It made both hubby and I chuckle, so I thought I’d repost for your enjoyment.

EVER WONDER …

Why the sun lightens our hair, but darkens our skin?
Why women can’t put on mascara with their mouth closed?
Why don’t you ever see the headline ‘Psychic Wins Lottery’?
Why is ‘abbreviated’ such a long word?
Why is it that doctors call what they do ‘practice’?
Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavor, and dishwashing liquid made with real lemons?
Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?
Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour?
Why isn’t there mouse-flavored cat food?
Why didn’t Noah swat those two mosquitoes? –
Why do they sterilize the needle for lethal injections?
You know that indestructible black box that is used on airplanes? Why don’t they make the whole plane out of that stuff?!
Why don’t sheep shrink when it rains?

I wondered recently what Samoan men wear under their lava-lavas. In fact, I’m still wondering because I didn’t like to ask…

What have you wondered recently?

A Wellington Trip

Thursday Thirteen

I mentioned last week that I was off to Wellington. I’m posting photos this week.

1. We left from Auckland Airport.

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2. It was raining in Auckland, but we had wonderful weather in Wellington. There were quite a few unaccompanied children on the flight, flying home after school holidays. They cracked me up with their shrieks of joy each time we hit turbulence.

3. We caught the cable car from the inner city to the Botanic Gardens.

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4. There were great views out over the harbor.

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5. It’s autumn here in New Zealand and the trees are changing color.

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6. It was ANZAC day and there were wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

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7. We had dinner at the Backbencher pub, which is opposite our Parliament. Very yummy food.

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8. The pub is known for its caricatures of our politicians. This is Helen Clark (a recent Prime Minister) and Winston Peters (very colorful is the kindest way to describe him)

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9. And this is Jenny Shipley who was the Prime Minister prior to Helen Clark. She looks remarkably like the fairy godmother from the second Shrek movie.

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10. This is the Buzzy Bee. Buzzy Bee is a well known childrens’ toy and is considered a NZ icon.

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11. This is me at the rugby stadium, also known as the CakeTin.

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12. The next day we went to Te Papa to see the Monet exhibition. I also wanted to see the colossal squid. The squid didn’t photograph very well, but it was very interesting.

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13. This is me outside Te Papa. The Monet exhibition was crowded, but very good. My favorite was the painting of Monet’s wife Camille and their child. My hubby loved the one of the Haystacks.

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And that’s me for this week. I’m off to Samoa tomorrow. I hope you’ll pop back during the next few days to check out my Samoan photos.

Running The Sheep.

In Spain, they have the running of the bulls. In New Zealand we have running of the sheep.

Mention the small town of Te Kuiti and most New Zealanders automatically think of sheep. It might have something to do with the fact that the NZ Shearing championships are held there or the fact that David Fagan, a world champion shearer comes from Te Kuiti. They have a huge statue of a shearer in the town centre. Each year they host the annual running of the sheep. The run took place a few days ago, and they had a few problems this year. The sheep ran amok, leaping over barriers designed to protect the spectators. One woman was knocked out. Around 1500 sheep were released and only 400 crossed the finish line.

Here’s a Youtube from a previous year showing images and live footage plus some foot-tapping music. Enjoy!

When people think about sheep and New Zealand, they often start with sheep jokes. I couldn’t find any definite figures on the number of sheep in NZ, but the numbers have definitely declined in recent years due to a surge in dairy farming. I know my father used to have quite a few sheep but has scarcely any these days. My sister has a pet lamb (now fully grown) called Pandora who terrorizes our little dog every time she visits. Scotty knows to keep far, far away from Pandora. I had pet lambs when I was a kid and entered agricultural shows. I still remember my pet lamb, Belinda. She was a real champion.

Some sheep facts from An Encyclopedia of New Zealand 1966 for the historians among us…

– New Zealand’s first sheep were set ashore by Captain Cook on 20 May 1773.

– Rapid sheep population growth in the 1850s and 1860s was mostly attributable to permanent immigration rather than natural increase. In 1864 alone, 13,000 sheep arrived in Canterbury from Australia. Droughts meant that sheep could always be bought cheaply from Australia. Drought continues to affect Australian farmers and sheep numbers.

– The first shipment of frozen lamb and mutton sailed to London from Port Chalmers aboard the Dunedin in 1882.

What would you do if a sheep came charging at you during the running of the sheep?

A Reason to Diet

Last week I taped a travel show because hubby and I are considering where we might visit next and some of the destinations looked interesting.

Singleton in Australia is one of the places they visited. It’s in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales and is known for the wife carrying competition.

Wife carrying originated in Finland. The sport is thought to originate from two historic tales. The first is a 19th century legend has it that men stole wives from neighboring villages. In a second tale, an outlaw named Rosvo-Ronkainen made potential soldiers prove themselves in a race where they carried heavy sacks. The result is the wife carrying contest.

The rules are fairly simple: everyone involved must have fun. Competitors don’t have to carry their own wives. Rules state that a part­icipant may carry his own wife, his neighbor’s wife or someone he found “farther afield.” The onl­y stipulation is that the wife must be more than 17 years of age and weigh a minimum o­f 108 pounds (49 kg). If the wife weighs less than that, she must carry a weighted rucksack to make up the difference. The official length of the track is 831 feet (253.5 meters). The surface of the track includes sections of sand, grass and gravel. There are two obstacles to climb over, as well as a 1-meter- (3.2-feet-) deep water obstacle to wade through.

Last year, Anthony Partridge and Angela Moore, both from Singleton, came fifth in the World Championship with a time of 70 seconds. The world record stands at 55.5 seconds and is held by a couple from Tallinn in Estonia.

There are three methods of carrying a wife – the traditional piggy back, the fireman’s lift and the Estonia lift, which is shown in the video.

Hubby took one took at the screen, he looked at me and then said, “I hope you realize I’d never lift you.”
I said, “I’d never let you carry me around like that.” We looked at each other, grinned and settled back to watch TV. Neither of us have any desire to try the sport.

Would you like to try wife carrying?

Women Take a Stand

I’m an avid traveler and a recent article in the travel section of the New Zealand Herald caught my attention. It spoke to me. It made me laugh.

In some countries, you still have travel with a father or a husband before being allowed to enter i.e. Saudi Arabia. In other countries I’ve visited, such as Iran, women have to wear head scarves, covered shoes and a long sleeved coat. I have a photo somewhere of me and two girlfriends in the back of a cab in Esfahan, Iran. We’re dressed in black from head to foot and wearing huge grins. We wore a black chador during our visit plus headscarves. I remember being uncomfortable and hot for the full seven days it took us to drive through the country. That said, it was a wonderful experience and we met some lovely people.

In other countries such as Pakistan, India and Turkey, a woman needs to dress with care to prevent giving local males the wrong idea, i.e. that’s she’s available and ready for sex.

But there’s one other thing about travel that’s an even bigger problem for women, and that’s going to the loo. (Restroom for those of you in the US) Sometimes it’s hard to find one and at other times, they’re plain disgusting. A man can go anywhere – choose a spot, take aim and go. For a woman it’s not that easy. Take it from me, I have firsthand experience with this dilemma!

When we traveled overland in India, we’d pull up in the middle of nowhere for lunch. The first thing all the girls did was dive off the truck and find a tree to squat behind because within minutes the locals would appear. Many a time, we’d turn around and find a stranger getting a good view from behind. We learned to be quick.

That’s why this article fascinated me. It was about a new product called the Shewee that allows women to relieve themselves while standing up. To pee with a Shewee you unzip your trousers and push your underwear to the side. The Shewee is placed against your body and the spout angled toward the toilet or ground. A quick shake of the liquid resistant plastic and it’s dry and ready to store for the next time. At 17cm long and being very light, it can be stowed easily.

Here’s the link to the New Zealand website where it sells for NZ$19.90. (there’s also a US website – follow the links from the NZ one)

What do you think?

A Visit to Banff National Park

My special guest today is Barbara Martin who lives in Canada. I met Barbara online and love visiting her blog because it’s always interesting. On each visit I learn something about wildlife, history or beauty spots in Canada. She writes dark fantasy, short stories and flash fiction. Today Barbara gives us an opportunity to visit a beautiful spot in Canada, Banff National Park. Once again, I think you’ll need your warm clothes for this visit, although the pool looks inviting.

Thank you, Shelley, for this opportunity to provide a post during your birthday month.

This post is on my favourite vacation location in Canada, Banff National Park in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. Every summer during my young formative years my family would come here to enjoy the sights and excursions, as my mother had done during her childhood.
Read the rest of this entry ?

Portrait of San Francisco

San Francisco would have to be one of my favorite cities to visit. I’m running a bit short of time today so I thought I’d post a few photos from our recent trip. I think I like San Francisco so much because of its situation on the sea. The hills are killers to walk up and down. Believe me, I know because Mr. Munro made me walk up and down several!

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The Golden Gate Bridge is an icon and known worldwide. During the summer months it’s also often shrouded in fog.

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Pier 39 is a fun place to wander. Lots of great ways to empty the wallet here! This is a shot of the merry-go-round. A shot of the resident sealions follows. You can smell them before you see them.

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Coit Tower is another icon. It’s fun to climb to the top and see the views of the city.

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This is a shot of Lombard Street. This end of Lombard Street is known as the crookedest street. It’s also very steep. There are traffic jams here as tourists queue to drive down the crooked street and grab a photo or two.

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Alcatraz Island is known worldwide. A trip out to the island jail is fascinating, although you need to book well ahead. This is a very popular trip.

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Cops on the beat.

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Here’s a statue of The Thinker. It’s at the Legion of Honor, a fine-art museum.

Have you visited San Francisco? If so, what’s your favorite place to visit in the city? If not, which place or thing in the city would you most like to see in person?