Before we boarded the plane for Jaisalmer Mary came down with a case of “Deli Belly” which made for an uncomfortable flight for her. After landing and eating lunch I was down for the count.

By morning Mary was able to go on tour and shop. They saw the fort which houses 300 families with ties to the old royal family. The architecture was beautiful and the motifs were intricate, all preserved. The sanitation not so much..

In the evening we went to the desert for a camel ride. We were about 30 miles from the Pakistan border. From the looks of the age and number of camel riders it must be the hot spot for dates.. John rode a camel and the ladies rode in a camel cart. Today we will drive across the desert to Jodhpur, the blue city.

New and Old Delhi

Thursday we toured Old Delhi, one of the early capitals of India. Old Delhi is close to what my mind saw as my pre trip notion of India. Streets packed with honking cars darting in and out of traffic. People pushing their way through the streets. Homeless along the edges of streets and roads. Bright coloured clothes, street vendors and dusty streets. I didn’t expect people stopping us on the street and asking to take a selfie with us, well with Sally, the blonde in the group.

Our first stop was Jama Masjid, the mosque built in the 1600’s. About 20% of India’s population is Muslim. As we left the Mosque we walked through the city to get a feel for the commercial center. Our next stop was the Red Fort, the historic military center built by the creator of the Taj Mahal. It was built with red sandstone throughout. Originally it was surrounded by a moat. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and large park.

The last stop for the day was Raj Ghat, the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi. It is a somber black granite table with an eternal flame, the large piece of land surrounding the site is now a park.

In the evening we went on the Delhi Street Food Tour. I was a little nervous about this night time adventure, how many times have I been warned not to eat street food while traveling. It may end up as one of the top ten adventures of the trip. We wove in and out of alleys, thru crowds, around construction barriers, stopping only when the guide stopped at vetted food vendors. He would buy us a small small of food and then we would move on. Kebabs, butter chicken, and fresh Indian Ice’s were my favourites. One of the last stops was in a dark alley up the stairs to the flower market where marigold heads, rose blossoms and other flowers were being prepared for delivery to street vendors.

Friday was devoted to New Delhi, the section of the city built by the British. Newer, cleaner, fancy hotels, less human congestion, more cars and traffic noise.

India Gate is the the memorial to all the soldiers who have died in battle. Beyond that is an empty domed memorial where a large statue of King George once stood.

The Qutb Complex was built when the Muslim Armies conquered India. To assert power they destroyed a Hindu complex and inserted Muslim culture. They broke heads off of statues to comply with the Muslim laws against human figures in art. They buried bodies in tombs, to desecrate the area by defying the Hindu rules about creamation. Then they built a built a five story minaret to tower over everything. It is a lovely complex that blends parts of both cultures.

Built in 1565, Humayun’s Tomb was commissioned by the the Mughal emperors wife. It later Inspired the TAJ Mahal.

Major shopping was also sandwiched in before ending the day with High Tea at the grand Imperial hotel.

Saturday we leave Delhi

The Adventure Begins

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta


Two eight hour flights, layovers and we reached India at 1130 pm on Tuesdays. In Detroit we met a great couple from England, and an Elvis impersonator. In Paris I had to drag Mary thru a cornucopia of top brand name stores. On the planes we ate mediocre food and tried to sleep squeezed into tiny seats.


Our hotel room is fabulous. With a few hours sleep, Mary and I were ready to roll.


We hired a driver and set out to explore. At the National Culture Museum and the National Museum we began to learn about India. The real learning came as we explored the streets and stores. My favorite was the tea shop. I had a great lesson in the fine art of growing, buying and blending tea. Every person we have interacted with wants to share with us, in the airports, twice, it was turbaned, bearded Sihk gentlemen that helped with heavy luggage, it was the shop owners who could not wait to tell us the history and construction of the little boxes or tea we were buying.

It was a waiter who taught me how to eat coconut milk soup, a treat I will share at home.


Tomorrow the “guided tour begins “.



Auckland to Queenstown

We left the hotel early and boarded a plane to Queenstown on the South Island.
Our first stop was Arrow Town, built during the 1860 Gold Rush. It is a quaint town, similar to our old western town. There is a China Town as part of Arrow Town. The original gold discovery was by a Maori who took his initial find and left as everyone rushed to the area.

Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of New Zealand. The man who patented Bungee Jumping introduced it to the world in Queenstown. The Remarkable Mountains are great for skiing and para sailing. We took a Gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak for dinner. The view was great and watching the parasailing was phenomenal.

Sunday we traveled to Milford Sound, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The morning was rainy, the clouds were low, a prefect day for a boat ride. There were several nature walks along the route to the boat. This area is a temperate rain forest. The ferns, Moss, lichens along the path are dense. The area is so dense that they occasionally find species that they thought were extinct but have just retreated within the area of the sound.

The boat ride was similar to the Three Gorges in China, mountains on either side of the deep flowing water. Because of the rain the waterfalls were abundant. When the boat turned to make the return trip, the sun appeared, giving us a different view on the trip back.

Monday, Maggie and I traveled to Skippers Canyon for an adventuresome ride of hairpin curves through another gold mining site, far above Shotover river. The roads were carved along the canyon to allow access to gold. There were two schoolhouses, a telegraph office and a booming gold business. The river through the canyon now is used by jet boats and a rafting business.

Tonight we will travel to Walter’s peak by steam boat for dinner at the farm.

The economy appears to be a liberal’s delight, health insurance, social security, pensions, college investment funds, first time homeowners investment fund with government match and accident recovery insurance. There isn’t as much poverty as we see in the States investment in the children is always first.

Several years ago there was a large influx of Asian money in the real estate market. Large chunks of real estate we bought up and banked by outside investors. This caused housing shortages and a rapid increase in prices. The current government now is tightening control over outside investments.

Immigration is tight, no chain migration, we have met several people who have migrated from the states and are now citizens of New Zealand. You must prove yourself to be an economic asset to the state to stay.

The environment is interesting, there are few indigenous plants and animals, many invasive species which they are trying to control or eliminate. Deer were among the invasive species. After a great struggle they have now contained much of the herd and raise them on farms. Venison is one of their large exports, others are timber, milk, beef and lamb


In a Land Down Under

We finally made it. It’s Friday morning here, 72 and rainy. My sympathies in advance for the Friday you are expecting.

Tuesday and Thursday were gruelling. A near accident on the the way to the airport, but Maggie’s daughter’s common sense and cool head prevailed. Good job Kelly.

Waiting in Detroit airport, flying to Los Angels, waiting in their airport for eight hours, a fifteen hour flight to Sydney, 3 hours in that airport and finally 3 hours to Auckland New Zealand. It was so boring that Wednesday bailed at the dateline, we will pick her up on the way back. It was so boring that after reading, games, and eating I reverted to watching cooking shows. Neegla Lawson is my new hero, I am craving Queens Pudding, Middle Eastern Nachos and toasted Brie and fig sandwiches. In addition to Neegla the other trip Savior was our new TRTL head supports for sleeping – pictures to be included on a future post.

Today We are off to explore Auckland. Stay safe.

Flukes and Pukes


The morning was full of promise, we were boarding a boat to see two glaciers. I had my seasickness preventive patch on, lunch was to be prime rib, this was our last event. We saw otters playing in Resurrection Bay. Soon there were Orcas and Humpbacks breaching and blowing. What could be better? The light played on the mountains causing the minerals glimmer in the sun, the sea breeze was refreshing. We passed Bear Glacier and headed to the outlet to enter Aialik pass. At the being of the trip, the Captain warned us that if the waters were rough we would not go see the big glaciers, it was possible we would stay in Resurrection Bay.

The Captain announced that we should return to our seats because he was going to try the rough waters around the cape and try to enter the fjord. As I descended the stairs I saw the crew hustling around with little white bags, big plastic bags, napkins and ginger ale.

For the next 30 minutes, I was sure I was going to die.

After we entered Aialik Bay things improved. We saw the glaciers, we saw the calves, we heard the cracking and groaning of the ice.

But then there was the trip back to port with a repeat of the previous performance.

Again, once we entered the bay life was good. There were Orcas, Humpback Whales, glorious rock formations, mountains, waterfalls and fresh cool showers. What a way to end the trip.


###Please note these are some of the worst pictures of the trip..maybe the year.