Sunday to Thursday was spent babysitting our granddaughter so the kids could work uninterrupted unpacking and organizing their new home! We definitely had the easiest and most fun job! Our granddaughter enjoys smiling and trying to roll over.
Our stay at the Newport News Park Campground was uneventful. We had a lot of shade which was very helpful.
We did walk some of the trails early in the morning because the temperature was up to the high 90s when we were there. On our first walk we passed some Civil War Earthworks!
We read on the Newport News Park Park Campground website that along one of the walking/biking loops crosses into the Colonial National Historical Park and you can view a placard on the site of where George Washington’s headquarters were during the American Revolutionary War. From our campsite it was a 4.73 mile roundtrip walk. It was a shaded walk but it was very humid even early in the morning.
The start of our walk.
a turn here off the trail
Placard about George Washington’s Headquarters.
George Washington’s Headquarters.
Thursday evening we said our goodbyes which was difficult. Friday morning we packed up our RV and we were on the road by 8:45 AM. We didn’t have any long delays or issues on our drive home. We stopped for lunch at a rest area and cooked grilled cheese sandwiches and soup in the RV. We are being very cautious due to COVID-19. We only used the RV restroom and ate our meals in the RV. When we needed gas, we wore our masks and sanitized our hands after filling the tank. We were home by dinnertime and had the RV unloaded before dark! We didn’t do the cleaning of the RV until the next day.
“Miss Daisy” is back in her spot at the RV storage lot until our next adventure with her. Who knows what will be next?
Today we leave Ohio for Virginia with Dave driving the RV and carrying our daughter-in-law, granddaughter and the 3 cats. Our son and I were driving the cars. We are the same caravan as before but with one MAJOR difference. The three cats are in a cat playpen that was placed on the bed in the RV and it has a bottom and top enclosure! I should have taken a picture of the cats in the playpen. It gave the cats room to move and held a portable litter box. All of us felt much better about this arrangement! It did its job in keeping the cats safe and our nerves calmed.
Traffic wasn’t bad but there was a lot of construction slow downs.
We arrived at the Newport News Park Campground and were settled before dark! We rented the campsite next to us to store the loaded car and trailer and the other car was parked in front of the RV. Once we were settled the cats were freed from their playpen and were able to explore the camper! Of course all of those crevices were still blocked with towels, boxes and suitcases! The cats did find that they could jump behind the recliner chairs and hide underneath but that was much easier to get them out! No more searching everywhere for cats in the RV!
After setting up camp we enjoyed relaxing outside in our portable gazebo! It was too warm to build a fire. During the day the temperature highs were in the upper 90s! 😅
This morning we had some visitors beside our campsite!
Thursday the kids had their final walk through before closing on their new home the next day. The final walk through today was also the first time that they actually saw their home in person. They had only viewed the house with their agent FaceTiming with them! We kept the baby and hoped they liked their new home! Thank goodness when they returned to the campsite they were pleased with the house and they had the opportunity to meet the owners.
Friday was closing day! We babysat when they went to close on their new home and after closing they emptied out one of the cars and then returned to the campsite. We all went to their new home with the cats included and the car with the loaded trailer! It didn’t take long for us to unload the SUV and the trailer!
We ran back to the RV and loaded up the SUV with more of their belongings. Several trips and they had all of their things that traveled from Florida to Ohio to Virginia.
The moving van will arrive tomorrow with all of their furniture and boxes. But in the meantime, getting the mattress from the U-Haul upstairs for them to sleep on tonight was a challenge!
Everyone tried to get a good night’s rest because it will be very busy tomorrow with the moving van arriving around 9:00 AM.
On Saturday morning, the movers arrived on time, a washer and dryer was delivered, and the internet was installed. The kids dealt with the movers and everyone was wearing masks, including the movers. Dave purchased a garage door opener because the house never had one and he worked on installing that and I had the best job of all, watching our granddaughter in a spare bedroom where the movers wouldn’t be bringing any boxes or furniture.
The cats were closed up in the primary bathroom with the doors taped so the movers would know not to open the doors!
Everything was going smoothly until Amy went to check on the cats and one was missing! Luna took her paw and opened one of the under the sink cabinets and went in to explore and there was an opening around the tub pipe and you can guess what she did. She was no where to be found! They were envisioning her down a wall and them having to saw into their new home wall or even something worse! That darn cat! Another long story made short, they left a treat trail and catnip to lure her out and the other two cats were now brought in with me. After many hours Amy went in to the bathroom to check and there sat Luna! She was picked up and put in the bedroom with us.
After a long day of them trying to unpack some boxes and direct the movers, the kids are so tired but before going to bed they had to find the box with the child-proof cabinet locks and attached them to all of the bathroom cabinets to keep a nosy little cat safe!!!
This third trip in the RV is to help the kids move from Florida to Virginia and a theme of 2 hour delays!!! The RV would be where we slept, ate our meals, and the best transportation for our granddaughter and their not one, not two, but three cats!
Our plan was to begin our drive from Ohio to Florida mid to late morning. W-e-l-l, that did not happen. You see when we were packed and ready to head out the RV equalizer system would not retract the levelers! Every light was blinking and we didn’t know why. We were reading the manual, which by the way was useless. Dave is calling the repair department where we bought the RV and I’m googling why won’t the equalizer system work?
To make a long story short as I’m sure you get the idea of the frustration, Dave finally talked to one of the mechanics who helped him locate the reset switch. Once that was found, the equalizer lifted the levelers. Of course, this cost us 2 hours of drive time. 😩
The drive for the rest of the day thank goodness was uneventful!
We stopped for the night at the South Carolina Welcome Center rest area. We tried to get a decent night’s sleep.
We were on the road early Thursday morning and we were making good time. We were just outside Jacksonville, Florida when a pick up truck pulled up beside us and motioned for Dave to put down his window. He said we had a flat tire and needed to pull over immediately. Dave did and we were on a slight slant so we couldn’t tell which tire was flat. We got off the highway at the next stop and saw that it was the back inside tire that was very low! Dave asked at the truck stop repair center if they could fix the tire and it is too small of a tire for them and they sent us to an auto shop across the street. We go there and they don’t repair RV tires! They gave us the name and address of an RV repair shop that was a couple of exits farther down and wasn’t out of our way. This guy doesn’t do tires but he did put air in the tire and after losing about 2 hours we are on our way again. He suggested we check the pressure of that tire when we get to our stop this evening.
Tonight we are staying at an RV park that is about half an hour from the kids house. We get set up and our son picks us up and we head to their place to help finish the last bit of packing that we can and have some dinner together. The moving company had left earlier in the day with all of their furniture and boxes.
On Friday morning we are up early to check out of the RV park and head to the kids house. We park the RV out front while the kids head to close on the sell of their home. We babysit the baby and also help load what still needs to go into the cars and RV. Everything is loaded including the 3 cats who are closed off in the back part of the RV where they would be safe.
By late morning we are on the road. The RV is the leader, then I’m following driving one of their cars which is completely full except for the driver’s seat and Ryan’s taking up the rear driving his car which is completely packed and pulling a small U-Haul trailer. We are definitely quite the sight heading North. Our plan is to drive until 8:30 PM, pull in to the nearest rest area, have dinner, relax and get some sleep!
You know how the best laid plans work out. As I’m following the RV, I notice that the tire that was low yesterday looks very low. When we stop for gas and lunch, Dave checks the pressure and it is flat no air at all. So we have to call and get the warranty service to get a mobile service there to pull off the flat tire and put on the spare. When the tire change was finished we were ready to get on the road again. The kids did a cat check and the youngest of the cats, Stella, couldn’t be found. We are all searching for her. Well, after quite a while, she was located and our daughter-in-law, Amy, was small enough to grab her and pull her out of the tight corner she had pushed herself into. There is a little opening under the bedside built in and she had squeezed herself into that space. What a scary moment for all of us. The cat was fine but panting!
Again we lost at least 2 hours sitting in the RV waiting to get the tire replaced and locating the missing cat! Thank heavens, the man who was sent was quick and did a great job and the cat rescued. At least there weren’t any accidents or construction closures to slow us down.
Saturday morning we are up and ready to go and on time. We made sure all of the cats are in the front of the camper so we can pull in the back bedroom slide. Next is to bring in the “living area” slide. We check for all 3 cats to move them to the back and one is missing, Luna! Oh no, not again! We are searching high and low. She is nowhere to be found. Our granddaughter is enjoying a break from her car seat
Our best guess is that she climbed somewhere under the bed through an opening where the slide goes in and out! Dave and our son, Ryan, take the bed apart and still don’t see the cat. Ryan takes his phone and reaches as far as he can where the water tank is located below the top of the bed area and we can’t remove it. With his phone he is stretching his arm under there and snapping pictures. A photo shows her stuffed up in by the boards and the water tank! Now they are trying to coax her out! Again after much effort they grab her.
We can now tell you where every crevice is that a silly cat could climb into! They proceeded to stuff towels, boxes, and anything they can to block where a cat could get trapped again! Needless to say we had planned to leave by 7:30 and it was about 9:30 before all of the cats were safe and our caravan began to head to our final destination of Ohio, another 2 hour delay! The rest of the day was uneventful. Whew!
Everyone was going to stay with us until midweek when we would caravan to their new location in Virginia. What will happen on our next adventure?????
This morning we took a walk first thing with our site coordinator from our hotel through the Queenstown Gardens. It was a hilly walk, downhill and uphill!
After wandering through the gardens we walked back to the dock where we will board a boat to cruise across Lake Wakatipu to the Walter Peak Farm. Our boat was the vintage TSS Earnslaw. It was built in 1912 and is a twin screw (propellers) steamer, which means it is steam-powered that is propelled by two screw propellers. It is also the only remaining passenger-carrying coal-fired steamship!
The view from the ship to our destination!
At the Walter Peak Farm we saw a demonstration on sheep shearing and how the working dogs are trained to herd the sheep.
The farm has a buffet restaurant where we enjoyed lunch and then had some time to explore the farm before boarding our boat to head back to Queenstown.
The rest of the afternoon we explored Queenstown and got a lot of exercise walking up and down the hilly streets which were really steep in some areas.
Our last sunset in Queenstown overlooking Lake Wakatipu!
Today consisted of a bus ride, boat ride, then bus, then boat, bus, boat and then bus ride to Queenstown to finish our day! We drove around Lake Te Anau on our coach to arrive at Lake Manapouri. Here we boarded a boat to cross the lake.
After crossing Lake Manapouri we boarded a bus to take us over Wilmot Pass, part of Fiordland National Park to the boat landing to explore Doubtful Sound which is only accessible by boat. Our original itinerary was to visit Milford Sound but due to recent flooding the road leading into the Sound was damaged. Our trip leader and our site coordinator told us that we were lucky to be seeing Doubtful Sound instead. They both felt is was better. Doubtful Sound is bigger and quieter than Milford Sound. It is also the deepest and second longest of the South Island’s fiords.
We enjoyed many waterfalls on our cruise through the Sound. Below are just a few!
At one point during our time on the Sound, the Captain turned off the boat’s engines and we enjoyed several minutes of silence. It was incredible.
It was an overcast day but the views were astounding!
We traveled along and saw where some seals were resting near Doubtful Sound’s opening into the Tasman Sea.
Opening to the Tasman Sea.
We returned to the bus when finished with our exploration of Doubtful Sound. Our bus driver had to maneuver around work crews clearing where they have had a landslide of boulders as we go across Wilmot Pass.
We stopped at the top of the Pass at a lookout area to view one last time Doubtful Sound.
Along our bus ride you could see some snow in the mountains!
When we got back to Lake Manapouri, we boarded the boat again to cross the lake.
After crossing the lake we boarded our coach for our ride to Queenstown which is located by Lake Wakatipu.
The view of the lake from our room!
This evening we had dinner at the restaurant atop Bob’s Peak. We rode a gondola car up to the top of Bob’s Peak.
We had spectacular views of Coronet Peak, The Remarkables mountain range, and Queenstown.
We sat on our balcony and watched a glorious sunset!
Today began with “Breakfast with the Penguins” at the International Antarctic Centre.
We were able to visit before the centre opened to the public. We were the only group of visitors touring the facility! Our breakfast was in front of the glass enclosure for the Little Blue penguins. During breakfast our docent presented a slideshow/talk about the centre and her journeys to Antarctica. It was interesting to hear about how the centre participates in the research base for the United States, New Zealand, Italy and South Korea. Christchurch is the closest mainland city to getting to Antarctica.
The International Antarctic Centre offers experiences similar to actually visiting Antarctica. We had the option of dressing accordingly and go into the Storm room. It is chilled to -8 degrees Celsius (about 18 degrees Fahrenheit) and a wind chill machine that drops it to -18 degrees Celsius (about -.04 degrees Fahrenheit).
A live Antarctica webcam.
Adding extra layers before entering the Antarctic Storm.
Exploring the room before the storm begins.
Dave in his extra gear!
The storm has begun and the wind is blowing and the temperature is dropping.
We also saw a 4D theater show film called “Ice Voyage”. It takes you on a trip to Antarctica! You experience wind, snow, water spray, motion action seats and other effects. Having been to Antarctica, we enjoyed the film and the expedition company used in the film was the same one that we were on when we went!
We went to the airport for our flight to Invercargill!
After arriving, we stopped for a lecture from a local expert who explained about Southland and its agricultural importance to New Zealand.
Our motorcoach then headed to Te Anau which is located on the eastern shore of Lake Te Anau. The lake is the second largest in New Zealand. On our way there we had a comfort stop at McCracken’s Rest. It is a beautiful lookout over Te Waewae Bay.
Upon arrival and check in to our hotel, we spent time doing laundry and then walked along the lake and into the city. We are staying here because it is located by Fiordland National Park and our destination tomorrow!
This morning we took a motorcoach to Banks Peninsula and stopped at Akaroa Harbour. On our way we stopped at Little River for a comfort stop.
When we arrived at Akaroa Wharf, we boarded a boat for a harbour cruise.
Our cruise boat.
Many stayed inside the cabin.
We bundled up and braved the weather!
This dog is being trained to spot the Hector dolphins.
On our tour we saw the dramatic cliff faces and amazing views.
Fur seals were also spotted laying on the hillside.
We would have to say the highlight of our cruise was seeing the Hector dolphins. Hector dolphins are rare, the smallest of the dolphins, and only found in New Zealand. They are endangered and it is estimated that only about 7,000 are left!
They were following and swimming around us for quite a while and at one point we spotted almost a dozen! Such beautiful creatures.
After our harbour cruise, we had some time to explore the town of Akaroa. We found The Brasserie Kitchen And Bar to have some fresh local food for lunch.
On our drive back to Christchurch we stopped at the Hilltop Lookout along Banks Peninsula and looking out at Akaroa Harbour.
When we reached Christchurch we stopped and visited the Cardboard Cathedral or the Transitional Cathedral which replaces the original church that was damaged heavily in the 2011 earthquake. The Japanese architect, Shigeru Ban, did the design and the cathedral opened in 2013. Cardboard tubes were used as well as shipping containers for the walls. It is a beautiful piece of architecture that will withstand any further earthquakes.
We took a walking tour of the city center with our site coordinator.
Our last stop today was walking through the University of Canterbury which was founded in 1873.
Boys’ High Building
Arts Center being supported from earthquake damage.
Happy Valentine’s day everyone! Our first stop was the National Kiwi Hatchery Aotearoa at Rainbow Springs. Our docent gave us a tour of the hatchery and explained about the endangered Kiwi. We toured their facility and saw how they care for the eggs and chicks until the chicks are ready for release into their natural habitat. We learned that a kiwi incubation period is around 78 days. Since 1995 they have hatched 2,042 Kiwi chicks. This season 119 chicks have hatched. No photos were allowed in the hatchery itself. We could photograph the introduction area and outside.
After our tour we left for the airport at Rotorua for our flight to Christchurch.
Christchurch is located on the South Island and up to now we were exploring the North Island. It is also the largest city on the South Island. We noticed upon arrival that the city is still dealing with the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes. They are still rebuilding and we saw a number of areas that are barren because of demolition of 80% of the buildings in the city center after the earthquakes.
This evening we visited Riccarton House. We toured the bush forest on the property.
After our bush walk with a naturalist we toured the homestead and had our dinner in their restaurant.
After dinner, we were entertained by a storyteller, Margaret Copland. She told us the story of early immigrants to the Canterbury area by portraying two different characters in her storytelling.
Our day began with learning more about Rotorua’s geothermal background by visiting the Waimangu Volcanic Valley. It was created by a volcanic eruption that occurred in 1886.
Frying Pan Lake
Inferno Crater Lake
We also took a cruise on Lake Rotomahana. It was created after a volcanic eruption in 1886. We passed steaming vents and geysers along the lakeshore.
On our way to lunch we walked through Rotorua’s Government Gardens. The site that the gardens are on is historically important to the local Māori people because many significant battles occurred in this location.
We saw some pukekos or swamphen.
We spent the afternoon in Te Puia, the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute and walked through the Whakarewarewa thermal area.
At the Whakarewarewa thermal area we saw the boiling mudpools and the Pohutu geyser.
This evening we experienced a hangi. A hangi is a traditional New Zealand Māori method of cooking food using heated rocks buried in a umu which is a pit oven.
A Māori cultural experience of songs, dances, and the hangi was enjoyed by all!
We were on the bus by 8:30 AM for a Tiki tour (New Zealand slang for scenic route to a destination) on our way to Rotorua. Our first stop was the Tūrangawaewae Marae, the official residence and reception center of the current Māori King.
Our second stop on our “tiki tour” was in Otorohanga, Kiwiana Town which has the Ed Hillary Walkway. It is a series of photo displays that feature things that are typically New Zealand.
Our barbecue lunch was at a farm cafe in the beautiful countryside. After lunch we had time to explore their bush trail.
Next stop was at the Waitomo glowworm caves. The glowworms were amazing to see but there was no photography allowed in the caves to protect the glowworms. The luminescent light from the glowworms was fascinating to view as we rode in a boat.
Our last “tiki tour” stop was at the Arapuni Swing bridge. This suspension bridge was built so that workers from Arapuni could get to the power station construction site on the other side of the Waikato river.
When we arrived at Rotorua, we checked into our room and went for a walk around Lake Rotorua.