9/7/12 (Friday):  Yes, it's been a VERY long time since I blogged!  I'm not even sure I have any regular readers any more.  But, we're up in Michigan visiting my son and his family and have had a few small adventures I wanted to share.  I really wanted to post a video of Wiley; unfortunately, the campground WiFi is too slow.  For the past year, Wiley has been having a lot of trouble with balance, walking and speech.  He's been using a walker all the time and sometimes needs to be in the wheelchair.  The neurologist here at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor decided to try a different approach from the neurologist in Orlando, and we're very pleased with the results.  Wiley is now walking more easily, sometimes even with just a cane.

Voageurs and Ottawa Indian with Canoe
 I also wanted to share some pictures from a Voyageur Encampment (a reenactment, of course) that we went to.  It was on Lake St. Claire, about an hour north of where we're camping.   The reenactors included soldiers, craftsmen and women and Ottawa Indians.
There were lots of canvas tents, huge voyageur canoes, demonstrations of muskets and cannons (Wiley's favorite), crafts and food. 
Pewter Spoons in Mold
 The reenactors were actually camped on the shores of the lake just as they would have 200 years ago.  Many were cooking meals over the campfire.
 We also made a visit to the peach festival in Romeo.  Romeo is famous for this festival, which has been held annually since the 1930's.  We sampled peach preserves, peach pie and peach salad dressing.  Romeo is a neat little town, full of Victorian houses, neat shops and restaurants and beautiful gardens everywhere.  It was once a hub for the timber industry, and many wealthy timber families resided there.  It has a cool, traditional downtown which has never seen a major fire. Because of this, there are stores and restaurants downtown that have original tin ceilings from as long ago as the Civil War.

 We're camped under some gorgeous tall old oak trees.  They're called burr oaks because the acorns have a row of fuzz on the cap.  The trees are so tall that one of the acorns came right through our plastic vent lid!  We have ordered a new one and it should get here shortly.
We're trying to do a bunch of free things and prepare most of our meals at home because this has been an expensive trip.  Gasoline is high, espeically when you're pulling a trailer, and campground fees on top of having just purchased a home and taken a trip to New Zealand have us stretched a bit.  But we couldn't resist a meal in one of our favorite restaurants up here, Boneheads.  The name is awful -- it's a tiny old inn that's been beautifully restored.  The food is American and quite good.

We've also been enjoying visiting Tom and his family.  My granddaughters are so grown up.  Anna just turned 10, Margo is 8 and Claire is 6 years old.  They started back to school this year.  I taught each of them to crochet when they turned 6.  This year was Claire's turn.  Like her sisters, she learned very quickly.  Anna wanted to learn to knit, so I taught her.  She's making me a dishcloth.  Here they are working on some cross stitch projects I brought them.

We have a second appointment with the neurologist on 9/11 and then will probably be home by 9/14.  It's been a very rewarding trip, despite being stuffed into a tiny 18' RV.  Wiley is doing so much better that we think it was worth it, though.  And, of course, visiting family is a great bonus.

Can't promise when (if) I'll be doing another blog.  I still post on Facebook regularly, though.  Leave me a comment and let me know I still have some readers, won't you?!

3/31/12 (Saturday):  Not much going on since we got back from New Zealand.  Lots of appointments and personal business.  We enjoyed some unseasonably warm weather here--there have been folks in the pool since early March!

Tricolor Heron on Rowboat
There's a restaurant near us (The Lighthouse) where we like to have breakfast occasionally.  My friends, Lucie and Elaine, came for the day a couple of weeks ago and I took them there for lunch.  Behind the restaurant is a canal (one of many in New Smyrna Beach).  It's small, but quite pretty, and this tricolor heron thought it made a good spot for a rest and overview of the fishing possibilities.
Elaine, Lucie and Joyce
After lunch, we headed for Canaveral National Seashore, where we did the grand tour, including climbing to the top of Turtle Mound.  We also visited the little ghost town of Eldora and walked the beach.  Suggestion:  if you don't want to see more of strangers than expected, don't hike too far south at Canaveral.  The area after the furthest south parking lot is frequented by naturists (not naturalists of a bird watching type).

Papaya Growing on Turtle Mound
Another day, I joined Mag, Cathy, Darcie and Valerie for a day of browsing around The Barn in Lake Alfred.  It's a neat place that used to be a working farm.  Now there are shops, gardens and a nice outdoor cafe.  We had fun catching up with one another and enjoying the good weather.  I got some things to make a fairy garden.  I'll post pictures of it when I'm finished so you'll know what I'm talking about.

 I volunteer at Canaveral National Seashore every Friday.  Usually, I alternate between working in the Visitor Center and being a docent at the historic house in Eldora.  In the Visitor Center, I greet visitors, answer the phone, make camping reservations and check in campers and folks taking the pontoon boat cruise.  At Eldora I give tours of the historic house and discuss the history of the ghost town.  Recently, though, I got a call asking whether I could be first mate/interpreter on one of the pontoon boat cruises.  I'd been a passenger on one of these once, but was a little nervous about being an interpreter.  As it turned out, Captain Walt and I carried it off without a hitch.  These 2-hour tours are a great bargain ($20 each, or $10 for folks with the senior pass).  We saw dolphins, manatees and lots of birds.

The last time I volunteered at Eldora, another volunteer and I sat on the porch of the restored house wearing 19th century costume and knitted.  I finished the socks I started in New Zealand!

Roasting Pan Banjo
Last, but not least, in our life of small adventures:  Wiley and I went to the Volusia County Flea Market.  I bought a pressure cooker and Wiley bought some fruit.  I was intrigued by this fellow who was playing a banjo that he made himself from an old roasting pan!

Don't know when I'll blog again.  We'll have to see if any of our adventures are blog worthy.  Enjoy the Spring weather wherever you are!
3/2/12 (Friday):  We're back in the good ol' U.S. of A. -- and it's good to be home.  We had an incredible trip.  It was great to see my family again.  I miss them already.  I have a few pictures to share from our last couple of days there.  We just hung out in Wellington and enjoyed the nearby beach and being together.

Austin Practicing Guitar

Mark and Heather Enjoying a "Flat White" (Coffee) at the Chocolate Frog Cafe

Eden on the Beach Near Home

Heather and Eden Walking on Beach

Weta Cave
Gollum (from Lord of the Rings Movie) in Weta Cave
Sweet Pea

Yellow Lupine
We're still in Winter Park helping Mag with all the paperwork following Wiley Senior's death.  She's a real trooper -- doing very well.  We'll be home in New Smyrna Beach this weekend.  Life goes on no matter how long the trip you took.
Blue Penguin
2/21/12 (Tuesday):  We're enjoying spending some quiet days with family now that our adventure on the South Island is done.  Mark and Heather have a beautiful home just a few blocks from Worser Bay.  Mark and Wiley have been fishing several times (and actually caught some fish).  Heather is teaching me how to knit socks, which I've wanted to do for a long time.  I've taken the dog for some walks on the beach where we explore the tide pools.  We even saw a blue penguin right at the pier!


We've driven to Breaker Bay, also nearby, a couple of times and had lunch in the little cafe.  Restaurant food is very expensive here, though, so we're mostly enjoying Heather's good cooking.  (And I've cooked some of the fish the boys caught.)  Heather even made us a Pavlova, which is a Russian cake that's very popular in New Zealand (go figure!).  I'm bringing back the recipe, Mag.

 Yesterday, Mark took us into Wellington to the part of Weta (where he works) that allows tourists.  He actually works for Weta Digital, and the Weta Cave that we visited puts more emphasis on Weta Workshop, where they craft the props and costumes.  He has a very cool job!

Fishing on Seatoun Pier

The guys have gone fishing several times right from the nearby pier.  They caught enough fish that I did a fish fry for them one night.  Mark and Hudson are like me and don't care for fish, so there was plenty for Wiley, Heather and Austin.

Last Friday, Mark drove us to a wildlife sanctuary on Mt. Bruce, about 2 hours from home.  I just realized that I haven't showed many pictures of the little villages in New Zealand.  There are only a couple of real cities in NZ (Aukland and Wellington are the only ones we've visited).  The villages that we've been through on both islands remind me of Old West towns in the U.S.  The black and white pole with the red circle on top is a pedestrian crossing.  They call them "zebra crossings" and pedestrians in them have the right of way.
I love the railroad crossing signs!
But I digress...  The Bruce Mountain Wildlife Center was great!  They had a great walk through a forest with a creek (this is a redwood grove).

This bird, a tui, has a terrific song that just surrounded you as you walked.  Some of the rare birds were in large landscaped enclosures, but many, like this tui, were free.

These Pukekos look a lot like our purple gallinules in Florida, but they're much larger.

 This Kokako is supposed to have a haunting cry.  This particular one actually does the wolf whistle over and over.  You could hear him throughout the grounds.  When I wolf whistled back, he got very interested and responded to me every time.  Poor thing must have been very lonely and bored!

The little creek that wound through the park was very jungle-y and pretty.  It made you feel like taking off your shoes and socks and going wading.

Giant Freshwater Eels

I lost the desire to wade when we came upon these giant eels.  They were hanging around the part of the creek where they get fed on a regular schedule.  Ick!


The big draw of this wildlife preserve is the kiwis.  They are nocturnal birds, very shy and endangered, and therefore very difficult to see in the wild.  Here they're kept in an enclosure where they turn on lights all night and keep it dark, with red lights, during the day.  It's very difficult to get pictures of them.  I felt super bad because I thought I'd turned my flash off, but it was on.  It didn't seem to bother the bird, which kept on feeding, but that mistake could have had awful consequences.

 This particular photo was a mistake, but I thought it was kind of amusing.  I was trying to take a picture of the grocery store so I could show you how each village has its own little shops.  Now you can see how I operate -- I always have the camera with me and I'm prone to drive other drivers (and passengers) crazy when I pull off the road and shoot pictures!  (I was in the passenger seat on the left side of the car and Mark was driving here, so it's not quite as dangerous as it looks!)

This is the New World Supermarket that I was trying to take a picture of from the car.  They're very similar to supermarkets in the U.S., including having a lot of familiar brands. 

Not every village has a supermarket, though.  There are a lot of small towns that have a small, old fashioned grocery store like this one in the next town we visited, Castle Point.

Castlepoint is a tiny seaside town where there was a lighthouse we wanted to take a picture of.  The Castlepoint Light was named by Captain Cook because the promontory on which it sits resembles a medieval fortress.

They were pulling boats up out of the water with these odd tractor devices when we arrived.  The beace is very hard sand and there was nowhere to put a boat ramp, so these unique vehicles were used.

Mark and I ignored this danger sign about rogue waves and climbed to the top of the rocks to get a better view.

From the top you can see that there's a rocky ridge separating the Pacific from a lagoon area.  The lagoon is filled at high tide when waves crash over the low point in the rocks.  Or when a rogue wave comes along, which is the reason for the danger sign.

It was altogether a lovely day.  Today Mark is back to work, the boys are back to school, and we're having a lazy morning.  This afternoon Heather has a friend visiting.  We may walk down to the beach to get a picture of the arch I saw when I didn't have my camera.  Or we may just continue to be lazy and knit.  Both sound like pleasant choices.  We head back to the States on Saturday the 25th.  Not sure whether I've got another blog in me, but I can still be reached via email or Facebook.  Bye for now.
2/19/12 (Sunday):  We're having a quiet morning, waiting for the rest of the household to awaken.  Wiley and I are usually up before the rest of the gang (maybe still on U.S. time a little?).  I'm learning how to knit socks, so I tried my hand at a couple of rows while Heather was still in bed, but I think I messed up, so I quit until she can help me.  I'll take advantage of the quiet and try to get caught up on my blogging.  We left you last time in Nelson, where we spent the last night of our South Island trip.  The final leg of the journey was short, because we had to return the camper and catch the 1:30 ferry.  But it was another beautiful leg of the journey, along the Pelorus River, through the Rai Vallen and finally along Queen Charlotte Sound.  Here's a map

We left Nelson on my birthday, and I was looking for something special to mark the day.  So, when we came across the signs for the longest swingbridge in New Zealand, I just had to check it out.  I walked all the way across this bridge and even took my hands off the railings to take pictures of the waterfall.
The bridge crosses the Buller River.  It was a fantastic experience!

The Pelorus River is a river at the northern end of the South Island in the Marlborough Region. It flows from the Richmond Range into Pelorus Sound.  This area is fantastic for camping and is renowned for its magnificent river swimming where the Pelorus River runs through a gorge.

 We enjoyed traveling on some more winding mountain roads with striking views around every curve and a number of one-lane bridges to cross.  These bridges are especially common on the South Island.  There are signs ahead of time that tell you who has the right-of-way and you sometimes have to wait a few minutes while other vehicles finish crossing.  These bridges make a lot of sense to me -- why pay to build a two lane bridge in an area where there's little traffic and people are going slowly anyhow?

Settlements are quite scattered and remote.  This sheep station is typical.

We especially enjoyed the end of our South Island adventure along the Queen Charlotte Sound.  I had to pay close attention to the driving, but the scenery was just breathtaking.  We enjoyed watching some folks gathering mussels at low tide near these boathouses.  

We were thankful there were places to pull over like this one.  Because we had the camper, we didn't need to worry about finding a place to eat, use the bathroom or just take a break from driving.

Finally, though, we had to say "goodbye" to the South Island, turn in our camper and board the ferry for the 3-hour trip back to the North Island and Mark and family.  It was a much sunnier day for the trip back and we enjoyed seeing the tops of the mountains that had previously been hidden in the clouds.

Next blog:  Continuing adventures on the North Island!  Stay tuned, and E noho rā for now!

Joyce and Wiley

Joyce and Wiley
Our Home on Wheels

About Me

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We took early retirement from careers as Executive Assistant (Joyce) and Lawn Care company owner (Wiley). We have been full-time RV'rs since March, 2006. We've taken our RV to Maine, Michigan, California, North Carolina and everything in between. We live in Florida in the winters and travel in the summers. It's a tough life, but someone has to live it!