This will be my last update for this trip journal. It is later than initially planned due to my getting the "creeping crud" on the cruise ship. Fortunately, I am almost completely over the sinus infection that the ship-borne respiratory illness morphed into.
Due to the aforementioned illness, I had to curtail plans to venture back north to visit some nice people in Vancouver. Alas, those people were also not in town, just some others...okay, okay...I'm kidding. I am sorry that plans to see Barb and Bevin, Penny and Terry, Jan and Gord, and Brenda and John did not work. They are all nice people whom I am fortunate to know and like. Of course, it should go without saying that they are, indeed, extremely lucky to know me too!!
For those who have never been to Vancouver, British Columbia, I have included several pictures I took from the ship upon my arrival the morning of Mother's Day (10 May). Vancouver is a beautiful area with an extensive harbor, the panoramic mountains in the background, and the large Stanley Park. Oh, a little factoid for you is that the park is named after Lord Stanley for whom the National Hockey League's championship trophy is also named (Stanley Cup).
I accidentally found two small movie clips I experimented in taking with my new Sony camera, but they were too large to upload to the journal. So much for my mastery (Hah!) of digital technology. Perhaps another time.
I promised a sort of retrospective about the trip, and here it is. I had a great time! Alright, just kidding to a degree.
I believe I mentioned this earlier, but it is worth mentioning again. In spite of much research and planning, as I was in the security line at LA International Airport to go to Auckland, New Zealand, I found myself questioning whether taking such a long trip by myself was wise. After all, I was going somewhere I had never been, and this place(s) was a damn long way from home. Additionally, I was going to be visiting a lot of places as part of the journey. Of course, ultimately I got over the "jitters" about taking such a long, complicated trip alone, partly because I decided that it was exactly that, a journey. It was going to be a physical journey to some exotic and unusual places. It was going to be the longest physical journey I ever undertook. More importantly, it was going be to a life journey for me. That is a journey which would serve as the beginning of a new part of my life since I am now retired. I could not think of a better way to not only challenge myself to experience something new, but also to definitively provide a sort of demarcation line between my former working world life and my forthcoming retired life. While working, I could not have devoted almost three months as I did to undertake such a travel adventure.
I don't know where this new phase of my life will take me, but I am very glad that I opened it with such a life experience.
Okay, now I'll address the more non-philosophical aspects of the journey. I'm not going to attempt to put these in some exact priority order, but some will hopefully make sense as I describe them.
First, I want to again thank my friend Jan for somewhat dubbing me "Adventure Bill" during the long stay in Maui some years ago. I don't honestly know if she did so "tongue in cheek" or not, but obviously I decided to adopt that moniker in some fashion because I do like to engage in adventures. I suppose that may be why I liked the character of Bilbo in the Hobbit trilogy movies because he pushed himself beyond his "normal state of being" to have adventures that wound up crafting him into a different person. I don't claim this trip did so for me. Rather, I believe it served as either a starting point, or fulcrum, for beginning to craft myself into a newer person whom I will have to discover as I journey this new life path. Okay, truly that's enough with the philosophy.
Second, my travel agent, Garbo, did a magnificent job in arranging all the pieces of this complicated trip. For that I thank him profusely. If anyone needs a good travel agent, I highly recommend him.
Third, one of the most important joys of this trip was people. Seeing and talking with various people throughout the trip added an important element to the adventure. Sydney proved large and beautiful and was a highlight for me. Meeting and talking with people on the street, at Bondi Beach, on ferries, etc. greatly enriched the whole experience. Another aspect of the people part was meeting some very interesting individuals and couples along my journey. Alice and Gordon from Calgary were nice to share the ship's dance floor with to the tunes of the Beatles and ABBA. The widow, Margaret, I met on the bus ride from Rotorua to Wellington, New Zealand not only helped me pass the long ride, but also shared her life experiences of living in New Zealand and those after her long-time husband died. In almost every place I visited, I met varying people, including the clod who knocked my camera out of my hands in Christchurch, NZ, and did not stop to voice an apology.
Fourth, seeing the different places in both New Zealand and Australia gave me a more first hand perspective of the courage and/or desperation of the people who migrated there. In the days people moved there, their journey took months, and I presume not easy months, and they knew with an almost absolute certainty that they would never again see their friends, family, and country which they left. If you really think about that, I wonder how many of us could find it within ourselves to make such a decision. I came to admire their courage to leave, make the journey, and then to survive and prosper in a totally new environment.
Fifth, I really enjoyed seeing all the places in each part of New Zealand and Australia that I visited. A great number of the Australians I met, when I told them of my travels in their country, stated that I had seen more of their country than they did. I've been asked by people in both countries what my favorite place was, and have consistently found it difficult to provide an answer. Each place was different, and I liked experiencing and savoring the differences. For instance, volcanic and sulphurous Rotorua proved quite different than scenic Auckland with all its water vistas. Yet, I found both compelling in their own right. Similarly, Australia's steamy, humid Darwin was rather different in climate, size, and cultural atmosphere from that of Sydney or Melbourne. Boiled down, I appreciated each for its uniqueness.
Finally, I want to thank each of you who voluntarily shared this journey with me. As I prepared each journal update, I asked myself what among the pictures I took might be of interest to either the audience at large and/or to some specific people. I also applied that concept on what to put into the text of each update. I confess that I have a wide range of intellectual interests and may have strayed afar in describing things about volcanology, plate tectonics, or whatever. Hopefully, that did not deter your interest in sharing my adventure. I sincerely appreciated the opportunity to share my adventure.
Speaking of adventures, I am now contemplating my next one, but no decision has been made. Possibilities range from a trans-Atlantic cruise from the Caribbean to Lisbon, Portugal followed by visiting that country, Spain, Gibraltar, Morocco, and back to doing a mini-Celtic trip to Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England. I'd like some company on the next adventure. So, if any of these, or something of your own thought, occurs to you, let me know. Thanks for reading.