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Auckland at last!

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[Note to my "followers" -- If you click on any of the photos in this post, they will enlarge to full screen and you can scroll through a slide show of the images -- a lot easier to see!]

So, it finally has come!I’ve arrived in New Zealand after sooooo many months of planning! Everything went smoothly right up to the bio-screening at NZ Customs … My hiking boots, which had been spotless the day before, had a bit of mud on them!Between leaving my lodging in Hawaii and arriving in Auckland, somewhere I had stepped in some mud.Wish I had thought to check them either at the Honolulu airport or at a restroom before going through customs … New Zealand takes soil contamination very seriously – and rightly so.Their iconic Kauri (pronounced Kody) trees are threatened from a soil fungus that was brought in years ago on the tracks of some earthmoving equipment.The inspection officer was nice about it and a quick rinse and I was on my way … I’ve never been “greeted” upon arrival like thi…

Hawaiian Stopover

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This is where it all starts!  Waiting to board my flight to Kauai, HI.  Breezed through security and am ready to go with plenty of time!   Got into Kauai late at night, so it wasn't until the next morning that I got a chance to start exploring (after of course a cup of coffee, breakfast and some KenKen.  I did some initial reconnaissance of Kapa'a and research of locatl trails and such.  It was mid afternoon before I knew it!  I figured I would find lunch and some nice scenery up at Hanalei Bay. After a great lunch at Tropical Taco, I walked just down the street to try my first ever shave ice!  I couldn't have picked a better spot than the Wishing Well Shave Ice (thanks Kim/Christine for the suggestion!)  It was amazing!  In the following days I sampled shave ice creations from 2 or 3 other locations on the island, but all paled in comparison!  I even drove back up on my last day to sample it again -- to see if it really was that great or just a first-time thing -- …

World Tour commences soon ...

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Well, one week from today, I embark on my "world tour" -- a friend of mine has persisted in pointing out that I was brandishing the "world tour" label incorrectly thus far as all of my travels through Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah have been travels through the continental US and do not qualify for "world tour" status.

Hopefully the upcoming trip to New Zealand and Australia will validate the "World Tour" status once and for all.

Preparation and planning have been a bit exhausting.  Selecting the travel date was easy -- I wanted to be somewhere else when the wind and rain come to Seattle -- November.  It wasn't until I had booked the flights that I realized I wasn't alone in this train of thought -- apparently half the world goes to New Zealand in the November - January timeframe ... (Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating, but that's the impression I've come to as I research accommodations and the l…