Video: Taupo, New Zealand: From a Duckling to Rafting by da-AL

Taupo Public Library.

At the risk of sounding like I’m getting paid for this (all us bloggers are wealthy, no?) New Zealand truly has everything! We loved urban Auckland, relaxing Rotorua, the stunning Redwoods, amazing Huka Falls, and astounding Craters of the Moon and Pirongia, as well as Hamilton Gardens. (Later in Australia’s Gold Coast, we visited familyand birds of Australia Part 1 of 2 plus Part 2 of 2, then we marveled at the Spectacular Views in and Around Gold Coast, enjoyed a delicious meal on the beach, and saw some wild things and cute things at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.)

In Taupo, we had great fun! We stayed at Sharon Drinnan’s small family farm cottage (you can reach her at DrinnanClan@Farmside.co.NZ). Sharon was so kind that she even made sure we saw this charmer who’d hatched only hours earlier!…

Can one ever get enough of looking wonderfulnesses that includes a dog as black and cute as mine? This dog belongs to our hostess, Sharon…

After breakfast, we drove into town. On the way — “Stop the car!” I yelled, intending to photograph a mamma pig with her small piggies. She, however, had other plans! Before I knew it, she’d corralled the babies into a far corner, then returned to confront me!…

Don’t mess with Mother Pig.

Anyone who visits Happiness Between Tails knows I adore libraries. Taupo has a great one! (More later about the Pūkana expression on the red Māori sculpture)…

The city of Taupo lies along the shore of Lake Taupo — where we enjoyed a river rafting adventure. We had too much fun to take photos. However, after our adventure, my husband took these photos of me with our river guide, Tau Thompson of Tongariro River Rafting when another river guide photo-bombed us. Those Pūkana expressions we’re making (same as on the library statue). Facial expressions are essential to Māori performance…

What’s your best facial expression?

Huntington Library, Art, and Gardens by da-AL

da-AL at The Huntington, sitting on a bench in rose garden

What better way is there to celebrate a special occasion than with an all-day excursion of gorgeous weather, strolling an array of gardens that span rainforest to desert and Japanese to Australian to more, seeing the worlds’s stinkiest (and amusingly phallic) plant, eating international fare, admiring fine art museums, and ending it all with a high tea?

My honey and I spent our special day at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens (a collections-based educational and research institution) located in San Marino, California. Tap photos for captions…

da-AL and her honey having high tea at The Huntington

What’s your favorite way to celebrate a special day?

Guest Blog Post: Six Warm Piglets by Cecilia Mary Gunther

photo of piglets feeding

Warning: reality check, then Cuteness Overload! It’s not for nothing that the human star of the glorious pig movie, “Babe,” went vegetarian…

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If you were hanging out in the Kitchen’s Garden Lounge of Comments yesterday you would have read that a piglet was lost in that first cold night.  I found him dead on Poppy’s side of their quarters.  Being the Lady Pig Farmer is not always easy. All our focus these first few days is keeping the babies safe and well fed. This task feels mutually exclusive at times.

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Pretty Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France by da-AL

We were headed for Basque country. The region has its own language and operates much like an independent country located within two countries. Half is in France (Pays basque français), the other half is in Spain (País Vasco).

my husband and I amid French farmland
We had a great time in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port!

Our vacation started in Spain (which I love so much that my upcoming novel is titled, “Flamenco & the Sitting Cat”) with Barcelona, where we rented a car. Along the way, we had lunch in the city of Huesca. A day’s drive and five miles past the Spanish border, we arrived at our introduction to the Basque region, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. We spent a night and the following half day in the lovely one-main-street town.

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port lies along the river Nive. It’s the starting point for the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrim’s way that’s as popular among the devout as it is with hikers, cyclists, and tourists.

 

Author and husband in front of French farmhouse
We stayed at this 300-year-old farmhouse that used to be a monastery.

This vacation was our first time staying at people’s homes instead of hotels. The experience turned out to be as exciting and fun as visiting the cities.

 

Melanie, her place, and her food were all terrific!

Melanie, originally from California, was an excellent hostess. She married into a family that for 300 years has owned this farmhouse and the expanse of grassy farmland around it.

Melanie works hard on remodeling the farmhouse.

 

My husband and I are good at packing, but with this trip we surpassed ourselves.

I can hardly believe we traveled this light!

Thanks to watching several Rick Steves’ travel videos, we decided that we wouldn’t have any baggage to check in for our flight. This is our entire baggage for our two-and-a-half week trip.

Our vacation had started in beautiful Barcelona. From there we drove through wonderful Huesca, pretty Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.

Next we were off to enchanting Espelette, and into French Basque Country.

Then, back in Spain, we’d marvel at the food and seaside dogs of San Sebastián, Spain and breathtaking Bilbao

What’s your favorite part of travelling?

Guest Blog Post: “Be Bold be Beautiful Be You,” in lisalemuya’s exact words

How much do you know about Kenya? One of the zillion things I love about blogging is how it makes the world friendlier and smaller. Here lisalemuya shares about her beloved Kenya …

Be Bold Be Beautiful Be you

I have noticed most of my followers are not from my native country and that’s great having different views from all over the world is a breath of fresh air i get to know a bit of their cultures and they can learn a bit of mine.Here it goes…

I come from Kenya a country on the eastern side of Africa

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we are made up of roughly 42 different cultural communities who have different languages(i know crazy but we manage).This makes us diverse and in a way very accommodating, actually if you compare us to our neighbouring countries we are very cosmopolitan. Apart from the 42 tribes we have various other non natives from all over the world we have expatriates  from all over the world who fell in love with the country and decided to be citizens for good .There is a considerable indian population mostly they came to…

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