Harry & Sherry’s Grand Adventure


Howard’s Ah Ha Moment

When I told my friend Howard Hardison that Sherry and I were going on this 40 day cruise, he said I should look for the “ah ha” moments - the times when I truly understand an event, a custom, a moment in time. Ah ha moments are moments of great clarity.

In Spanish there are two verbs for the English infinitive “to know.” There is saber which means to know a fact or to know something. For example “Yo se la pelicula es de españa" - I know the film is from Spain.

Then there is conocer which means to know someone or some place. For example "Yo conozco tu amigo Juan” I know your friend John or "Yo conozco Santiago” I know Santiago - because I lived there for two weeks.

Howard, my ah ha moment occurred this afternoon as I took the shuttle bus back from Adelaide to the ship. Sherry and I spent about 6 hours there, walking around the downtown area and taking a tour of a historic house. The difference in traveling by cruise ship and visiting 20 different ports in 40 days and traveling to a place and spending a week or two in one area is the difference between knowing (saber) a city or a country or a people and knowing (conocer) a city or country or a people.

As I look back on my experiences in all the countries we have visited they mostly run together. With few exceptions I can’t tell you in which city we visited which building or place. With few exceptions I can’t tell you what conversation I had with what native in what city. But if you ask me about the time I spent in Spain or Chile or Costa Rica or Peru (all places I visited in the past), I can tell you about the librarian I met in Cuzco and how we helped her, or the mother I met in Santiago who gave me directions in English, or the Spanish teacher from Costa Rica to whom I taught the word coed.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been memorable moments on this cruise. But they have been memorable because we had private tours with local tour guides or we met a shopkeeper and were able to share stories and thus to know (concocer) them, to know their stories. 

There was Andres, our 20 something guide in Easter Island whose missionary parents came to Easter Island from Chile and stayed there to raise a family.

There was Robin our guide in Tauranga, NZ who taught us some Kiwi slang - hooligans (juvenile delinquents) are lericans and umbrellas are brolios

In Melbourne there was Fernando, our bus driver with whom I had a 5 minute conversation. He emigrated to Melbourne from Argentina in 1974 because the political situation there was dangerous. He was a dentist in Argentina but a bus driver in Melbourne. He has two children who are bilingual and who are professionals. 

Also in Melbourne I met Lisa who, along with her mother, owns and runs a doll shop. A life long resident of Melbourne she will be traveling soon to Pittsburg to  visit a male friend whom she met online and with whom she has been skyping for 7 years.

I now have memories of these places and the people who live there  (Yo las conozco - I know them) which I will never forget, but the other places  we visited are a blur, and it is difficult to  distinguish one from another.

The cruise has been a marvelous experience. I have met several wonderful people on board the ship and we shared our stories and have become good friends and I have experienced many beautiful places and seen wondrous things. But what I treasure the most about the ports we visited are the places where I have made a personal connection. What is important is not how many different ports I visit, but rather the connections with the people who live there that I make. And that Howard, is my  grand “Ah Ha” moment.

Day 48, March 16, Honolulu Hawai'i

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We slept 11 hours last night! We were  exhausted from our overnight flight and our bus trip to Waikiki.

After breakfast we took a bus ride to the Pearl Harbor Museum. We arrived around 11 and were lucky to get a ticket for the last tour of the Arizona Memorial (3:00 p.m.), but there was plenty to do and see.

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There are three or four museums about the war on site and we toured a couple of them. Next we toured a WWII submarine, the U.S.S. Bowfin, SS 287 which is permanently moored there. All subs of this class were named for fish. Of about 250 submarines used during WWII, only 14 of them sunk more enemy vessels than the Bowfin.

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It was really neat as well as interesting to tour the sub. The hatchways are, by necessity, really small and you have to be very careful not to bump your head as you pass through from one compartment to the next.

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There are about 65 sailors on the sub and the enlisted men share “hot bunks.” They don’t have their own bunks but have to share them with others. When your “watch” is complete you wake up the sailor who is relieving you and then take over his bunk. The photo on the left is of some of the bunks. The pinup was taped to the wall over the top bunk shown in the photo.

There are bunks located throughout the sub. There is a captain’s head (bathroom) an officer’s head, and one for the enlisted men. The ship desalinates sea water for it’s fresh water ergo showers are limited to one or two, per man, per week. I bet it reeked on those subs.

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After the tour we bought sandwiches and chips from the snack bar and at three p.m. were ushered into a theater for a 30 minute movie about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Next we boarded a shuttle, manned by two Navy bos’n mates 2nd class, for a ride to the Arizona.

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The white structure, seen in the photos above, is built over the remains of the Arizona. At the end opposite from the entrance is a memorial wall honoring the sailors who were killed when the ship was sunk. All of them are entombed in the ship. Several of the crewmen of the Arizona who survived the the Japanese attack have passed away and had their ashes interred underwater in one of the Arizona’s gun turrets.

Below is a photo of a plaque which shows part of the wall of remembrance and of the windows that are at either end of the wall. In the photo, behind the marine on the right is one of two plaques listing the survivors of the attack whose ashes have been interred in the Arizona. There is a similar spot on the other side of the wall.

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After the tour of the Arizona we toured the gift shop and there, lo and behold, was Elvis. It was our first sighting of “The King,” in our 50 day odyssey. 

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We rode a city bus back to the hotel, had pizza from Pizza hut delivered to our room. After dinner Sherry went to bed and I worked on this blog. It was a another wonderful day in Paradise and tomorrow we leave Honolulu for San Diego.


(Photo at left is of the flag that flys over the U.S.S. Arizona)

Day 47, March 15, Honolulu Hawai'i

Ok, I’ve skipped past a lot of days but I will get back to them, promise.

We left Cairns, Australia this afternoon around 1:oo p.m., Sunday, March 15. We flew to Sydney where we caught an overnight flight to Honolulu. We arrived in Honolulu around 7:30 a.m. Sunday, March 15. We are magical - it has something to do with the international date line and flying westward. Unfortunately we were not magical enough to put ourselves asleep on the plane!

We checked in to our hotel - Best Western Plaza - very near the airport and the Pearl Harbor Museum. For the privilege of forking over an additional $50 we were able to check in to our room immediately instead of waiting till 3 p.m. Folks, Highway Robbery still exists.

After depositing our luggage in the room we ate breakfast (Qantas Airline food is worse than hospital food) in the hotel restaurant (a mistake). After breakfast, Sherry hit the sack immediately but I plugged in my devices and checked email. I eventually slept for a couple of hours.

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We awoke, ravenous, around 4 p.m., took showers and looked for a place to eat dinner. The hotel is about 15 miles from Waikiki but is on the bus line. A 40 minute bus ride took us to the heart of Waikiki. We walked to the beach and with the help of a saleslady in a store found a restaurant on the beach. We sat outdoors and ate and watched the sun as it began its descent over the Pacific. Behind us was Diamond Head.

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After dinner we walked on the beach and met a military family who asked us to take their picture and they took ours (that’s Diamond Head behind us). The family had a visitor from Spain who spoke very little English so we were able to practice our spanish - ¡Que Bueno!

On the beach were these large wheeled vehicles pictured on the right (there were two of them) are tricycles which you can pedal in the surf. We didn’t get a chance to try them out. 

We caught a taxi back to our hotel, showered and went to bed.

Day 28, February 24, Half-Way, Some Reflections On Cruising

Sunday marked the half-way point of our cruise. We are having a grand time.

Cruising is a nice way to see the world but if you don’t work at it, you only get to see the surface. For Sherry and me, we believe you never get to know a town, a city, a country till you walk the off-the-beaten-path and see the neighborhoods where tourist don’t usually go, meet the people tourist don’t usually meet, talk with the locals, see where they live, eat the food they eat, all with goal of finding the heart of the place you are visiting. And it's not as easy to do when you are on a cruise.

On pre-scripted tours, like the ones the cruise ship offers, you travel, with 30 or 40 strangers in a bus, to pre-determined points of interest, to restaurants which cater to tourists and offer an americanized version of the local cuisine. It’s all well and good but you never “know” the place.

Let me give you an example. A few years ago we cruised the Baja peninsula and one of our ports of call was Mazatlan. Sherry had arranged a private tour for us. We visited local artisans and had an opportunity to talk with them. When it was time for lunch our guide asked us what we wanted to eat for lunch. We told her we wanted to eat where the locals eat. She was doubtful, but the driver of our car understood. He took us to a local sea food restaurant. We sat at tables close together, elbow to elbow with folks from the community. Our driver ordered for us and we sampled food prepared for the local population. We had an opportunity to talk with some of the people around us.

On the walls of the restaurant were photos of the rich and famous who had eaten there and among them was a picture of the then president of Mexico, Vicente Fox.

When we returned to the ship we spoke to some of our fellow cruisers who had taken a ship’s tour to the very places we visited. They saw the same things we saw but didn’t have the opportunity to interact with the artisans. They were taken to a restaurant with a prix fixe menu and ate elbow to elbow with the people from their tour. For us, our tour was an unforgettable experience, for most of them it was just another tour day.

Sherry had pre-arranged a few tours for us before we left Louisville. We also had signed up for a couple of ship’s tours (the one in Papeette, for example). Our tour in the Easter Islands was a private tour. We were driven by our guide and we were able to ask questions about his life on the island and to ask in depth questions about what he was telling us. That’s something you can’t readily do when you are sitting on a big tour bus. We also hand picked the places we most wanted to see on the island. If we had to rely on the ship’s tours we wouldn’t have been able to see the places which piqued our interest the most.

That’s my rant for the moment - there are others I will share with you.

Hope you are vicariously enjoying our travels as much as we enjoy sharing them with you.

Harry & Sherry

Day 28, February 24 - Napier, NZ

In 1931 Napier was leveled after a massive earthquake. When the the town was rebuilt an abundance of the buildings were built in the Art Deco style of the period. They are fascinating to look at and the photos below do not do them justice. (Click on individual photos to view).

There were other interesting buildings as well, like the museum below.

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We didn’t go inside the museum. We were a little travel weary and wanted a break from tours. We just walked around the town trying to get a feel for it. There was a beautiful garden near where the shuttle bus  dropped us off and the beach was amazing.

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Near the garden and the beach was Napier’s version of Stockholm’s Little Mermaid, Pania of the Reef, a Maori Legend.

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After lunch we went on a Supertrike tour of the sights of Napier. This vehicle was custom built for the owner and the engine is a Chevy 350 (I think that’s the right size) engine. The supertrike will hold 4 passengers. You can see more photos and videos on the Supertrike FB page.

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After lunch, where, as always, my drink of choice is a local brew, we returned to the ship. On the way back we passed a pier where timber was being loaded on a cargo ship bound for China. Timber is one of the largest industries in New Zealand. New Zealand is very green and after the clear a section of land they reforest it with seedlings. It takes about a 18 years for the trees to grow to harvesting size. In nearly every port we visited we saw timber being stacked and loaded onto ships. Click here to read about logging in New Zealand.

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Later that afternoon, we set sail for our next port of call, Wellington, New Zealand

Day 26, February 22, Tauranga, NZ-Part 3 Hobbiton

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Today we visited Hobbiton, the outdoor movie set for The Shire in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Hobbit movie. It was an extraordinary experience to see this place.

The story we were told is that director Peter Jackson flew over the islands of New Zealand looking for a location for the Hobbit village and Bag End - Bilbo Baggins’ home. After he saw this site he approached the two brothers that owned it, and their lives were changed forever. Their farm is now a major tourist attraction and they have exclusive rights to the tours, souvenirs, and t-shirts which they sell for 40 or 50 years. The photo above left is a scan of the ticket stub for the tour. It shows the front door of the Baggins home. The photo on the right is the photo I took of the same front door. 

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Peter Jackson built this village for the movies but the hobbit holes are facades only. None of the interior sequences were shot on site, with the possible exception of the shots in the Green Dragon (photo to the left). 

We were able to go into one of the hobbit holes but it was only one very small room and because hobbits are very short it is not possible to stand up in the room. Sherry is looking out the window of this hobbit hole in the photo on the right.

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The path to the right is the one, I believe, where Frodo awaits the arrival of Gandalf who is coming to celebrate Bilbo’s 111th birthday.

Photo below left is of  the hobbit holes. The one on the right is of beehives.

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On the right the dragon Smaug is coming for the hobbits.

Our visit to Hobbiton ranks 2nd only to our visit to Easter Island in excitement and thrills. What a wonderful adventure we are having.

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Day 26, February 22, Tauranga, NZ, Part 2

Walking distance from the Maori Village is the Pohutu Geyser and thermal springs. Unlike Yellowstone the geyser doesn’t erupt on schedule but as we approached it began to spout. It’s quite impressive. The boiling mud and sulphur laden water were fascinating to watch (see video below).

Sherry isn’t really blowing her top but it’s obvious she was enjoying herself. In the photo on the right you can see the steam rising from vents around the area.

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The sulphur laden water flows from the geyser runoff  into a pool. Along the way it makes these incredible formations.

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Up next our trip to Hobbiton!

Day 26, February 22, Tauranga, NZ, Part 1

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Today we landed in Tauranga, New Zealand. Sherry had arranged a tour to Hobbiton where The Lord of the Rings was filmed. The tour included a stop in Te Puia where we experienced a Maori cultural tradition and the Pohutu Geyser.

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Our guide, Robin, met us on the pier and our day began. As you can tell from the photo of Mount Maunganui,  it was an overcast day and Robin said he had brollies for us to use if we wanted. “A  brollie? we asked. Seems that’s New Zealand slang for umbrellas. Another slang word Robin used was “lerikans” Kiwi (nick name for new Zealanders) for hooligans which I think is Irish for trouble makers. (click on photos for full size images)

It was about a 45 minute drive to Te Puia and along the way we learned that Tauranga is a major producer of Kiwi, the national fruit. Still another Kiwi term not used in the states is “car park” for parking lot.

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Kiwi is a fragile fruit and is affected negatively by high winds. So Kiwi farmers have planted trees to form windbreaks which we saw all around the island on our way to Rotorura the location of Te Puia, a Maori village and cultural center. 

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At Te Puia we were met by an indigenous woman who explained that we would be greeted by a tribal leader. She selected one of our group to be our leader (photo at right). The tribal leader (left) approached our leader and performed a ritual intended to show his strength in case the visitor was hostile. Since our leader did not show signs of aggression, the chief laid a gift at his feet and he bent to pick up the proffered gift, thus accepting it, and we were invited inside the tribal meeting hall (right) and treated to a wonderful ritual of song and dance. (See video below).

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                On the right is a Maori Canoe. 

Below are recreations of Maori huts and a model of a Maori Building.

Below left is a carved arch at the entrance to the village. In the middle is a carved totem that was in the car park. On the far right is another totem - this one we saw on the way to the geyser.

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To learn more about the geyser go to Day 26, part 2.

Day 25, February 21, Auckland, NZ-Day 3

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We didn’t have anything scheduled for today other than to walk around the center of town. Auckland has some interesting buildings and the Auckland Civic Theater is a vintage theater which went into operation in 1929 as a movie house for “talkies.” It is of the same era as the Louisville Palace but not of the same style. 

Unfortunately we were unable to get past the doors leading to the lobby but it looked wonderful inside. As I write this I did a search and found a 360° tour of the theater on line. The theater is as grand inside as the Palace and very different.

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Like most of the cities we have visited Auckland has many interesting skyscrapers. Unlike Louisville, the majority of the tall buildings in the city were more than just rectangular boxes. The unique copper-colored  building pictured on the right was one of my favorites.

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For lunch we went to the Shakespeare Hotel and Brewery and had  local beer and fish and chips for lunch. We sat outside on a second floor balcony as we ate and watched the world go by. After lunch we returned to the ship and relaxed till 6 when the ship set sail for the next port and dinner was served.

Day 24, February 20-Auckland, NZ-Day 2 Rangitoto Volcanic Island

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Early this morning we left the ship and took a ferry to Rangitoto a volcanic island near Auckland. The carving to the left is at the apex of an arch that welcomes visitors to the island.

Rangitoto is the youngest and largest of Auckland's 48 volcanic cones, and is home to the world’s largest pohutukawa forest.

Rangitoto was formed by volcanic eruptions going back 1000 years but the last eruption was about 600 years ago. There is no soil only volcanic rock and no streams or water. The plants and trees that have grown on the island have pushed up through the rock and rely on rainfall to quench their thirst.

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After we disembarked from the ferry we walked a bit and met our guides John and Bob a few meters past the beginning of the trail. We boarded the tractor pulled tram for a ride to the top of the volcano.

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The views along the way to the top were magnificent. The forest is filled with different plants and trees and it’s hard to believe anything can grow in the volcanic rock (below left).

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We could only go so far before we had to get off the tram for the ten minute climb up the stairs to the very top of the crater.

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We had a wonderful, if tiring, day on Rangitoto.

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© Surveyor of the Passing Scene