Back to Orlando

Tuesday, August 30, 2016 Back to Orlando

The hotel had a great breakfast which we partook of this morning. The weather was starting to change so we waited until about 830 am to leave to make a run by Byrd’s cookies since they weren’t open last night at City Market. One of my favorites wineries has a store there, Meinhardt, but it closes Sun-Tue so no good on this trip. So we get to Byrd’s and we are the first customers. The place looks so different from when we were there last. I guess the father sold out to the daughter and she has made lots of changes to the inside. Luckily not to the cookies though! After that we stopped in a Publix to see if they carried the Meinhardt wine like they do with local wines here but they didn’t.

So now it’s time to head South back to FL and try and beat the weather on the way. Most of the trip we were successful but we did get wet a few times. Made it home by 230 pm and called the dog sitter to get our puppy back. Started laundry and sorted through the mail. Another trip has come to a close.

Trip home to Orlando by way of Savannah

Monday, August 29, 2016 Trip home to Orlando by way of Savannah

This morning we just kind of dawdled around and had breakfast at the hotel and packed. About 11 am we left to return the rental car and check our bag at RDU on our Southwest flight. We walked through security and found our gate and sat down. About 15 minutes later CC got a text saying our flight was delayed. We were right next to the gate and they didn’t make an announcement yet. After about 30 minutes the gate agent told us the plane’s AC had broken and they were fixing it in Nashville (BNA). CC looked at me and said do you want to drive? We waited for a little while and they told us it would be a 4 hour delay. The flight was not full and they were rerouting all the connecting people to other flights. Then CC said what if we spend the night in Savannah? Yes! I’m in. So we went to the desk to tell them we were driving. They gave us $200 vouchers on Southwest good for a year and we can use the portion of our ticket that didn’t get used. The agent got our luggage back and we went to Budget for a car. Now CC is a Fastbreak member and the cars are supposed to be ready but not at RDU. We had already waited 20 minutes for a shuttle to show up and now we were waiting to get the car. I think we spent about 45 minutes in the line. And there was only 1 person in front of us that was also a Fastbreak member!

Finally we got a car and were on our way! We love Savannah. Been there many times. Love the food, the shops, the history. A great day for a drive and the car they gave us had satellite radio (which didn’t work well for us). We had made a reservation for the new Homewood Suites by Hilton on the river. The room was great but small. It had a queen bed and a pullout sofa with a small kitchen and large bath. If we all 3 come here again it would be a good place to stay. We were right on River Street so close to what we wanted to do. Eat!

Before we left we stopped in to the Happy Hour for a glass of wine and some cheese and crackers to tide us over. They had a real great display of food, have to keep that in mind for another stay. CC likes a place called Huey’s for dinner so first we stopped at the Peanut Store to stock up since they would probably be closed when we finished with dinner. We had just been to the one in Sarasota so we didn’t need much but still bought 4 cans. Then we went through the Candy Store. And on to dinner.

We gorged ourselves with fried green tomatoes, red beans and rice, shrimp and grits and a hamburger. If that wasn’t enough we had the beignets for dessert. I think we went into a food coma. Afterwards we walked back to the hotel and went up on the roof deck. The pool is up there with cabanas and a bar. It would have been a nice place to hang out if we weren’t so full and tired of traveling.

More National Landmarks

Sunday, August 28,2016 More National Landmarks

We got up and had some breakfast that the hotel provides. Most of them have been very good. Then off to Explore Park to finish our visit from yesterday. We first drove down to the historic village to walk around. They had about a dozen buildings scattered around that had been reassembled here. There was a grist mill, a blacksmith’s shop, couple of barns, and some homesteads. There were also several trails to explore. Lots of bugs again. Enough with the bugs! CC and I wandered around and took a trail down to the frontier fort and then walked along the river to come back. We stopped in the visitor’s center to look around and use the restrooms and get on our way to our next stop.

Booker T Washington National Monument

Not too far down the road was our next location at Booker T Washington’s birthplace. We stopped in and got the Jr Ranger book, a pin and my stamp. Spent time in the exhibits working on the book and then walked the trail to the kitchen where he lived with his mom, brother, and sister. The family that owned him had 14 kids and 6 of them went to fight in the Civil War. The plantation was pretty compact and easy to see everything. They had animals on the farm, we saw horses, sheep, a cow, pigs and a black snake!

After departing we started to make our way to Greensboro, NC where our next stop would be. As we got closer I saw a sign for Autumn Creek Vineyards and we stopped here. It was a beautiful location. With rolling hills, gazebo and an awesome interior. Some locals stopped by for a glass of wine. I think they were staying on the property in a cabin. The vineyard hosts lots of concerts on the weekends. I had a tasting $7 for 6 wines. Already a better price than VA. Also some of the wines were made with Muscadine grapes which I’ve come to like very much. I ended up buying 3 bottles and they gave me the wine glass. Now I have to figure out how to pack them because I will have to check my bag. The local couple told us about a place called Rody’s to have lunch so we set off on our way to find it. We did stop there and enjoyed the food. I don’t think I’ve ever been served so fast!

North Carolina Vineyard and Park

After lunch we continued on our way to the Guildford Courthouse National Military Park. This was our only Revolutionary stop on our trip. This was a battle between the Continental Army and British that we lost. Namely Nathaniel Greene and Charles Earl Cornwallis. There was a really nice video that explained the battle and some exhibits in the building. This is more a walk or drive park and they have a phone tour as well to go with it. Since I wasn’t up for walking with my foot we chose to drive and stop when able. After getting the Jr Ranger book, stamp and pin we set off to explore. We stopped at a few of the monuments to get out and look around. It was a pretty park that lots of people were running and walking in it. After finishing we completed our trip by driving into Raleigh, NC.

We ended up going to a Walmart for bubble wrap to wrap the wine bottles and stopping at a sub shop for CC to get dinner. I was too full from lunch still. Luckily I had brought a duffle with us in case I found some wine but we didn’t need to use it as everything fit into CC’s bag.

Bridges, Blue Ridge and Black Dog

The Natural Bridge

Saturday, August 27, 2016 Bridges, Blue Ridge and Black Dog

Today we are going to see Natural Bridge park. It’s located in a quaint little town with nothing else in it from what we could see. Right now it’s privately owned but at the end of September the State of VA will own the bridge portion and trail but not the store or hotel. The bridge is formed from limestone and actually has a road on top of it that is still used today RT 11. There is a stream running underneath it as well. A nice older man gave us a bus ride down to the trail and we walked underneath the bridge. It is immense. At night they do a laser light show on the walls. The path continues on to an Indian village of the Monacan Tribe. There were lots of huts representing the different areas that they worked and lived.

We then walked on to see a cave that had formed from the water. After that CC left me to walk up to the waterfall called Lace Falls. We had talked to a family that was coming back and they said it wasn’t spectacular but was pretty. CC loves waterfalls so I let him walk without me. My foot was hurting since I wasn’t wearing my boot so I rested next to the stream while he went to see it. He also saw another cave that was spewing water from it. It was called the invisible cave. We were able to get another ride back up and bought a watercolor postcard from the store.

Natural Bridge Virginia

After leaving we were hungry and stopped in the town of Glasgow for lunch. We found an old time looking pharmacy and diner to eat at. It took forever to get our food. The waitress took our order but the grill guy seemed like he could only make food in batches of 10. So we were the first to order and had to wait over 25 minutes for our food while the last people in were served pretty quick. Our lunch ended up taking over an hour for a grilled cheese and chicken fried steak. But we were on vacation.

Inside Ransone's Buchanan Virginia

Next we jumped up on the Blue Ridge in an area we hadn’t driven before. We stopped in at the Peaks of Otter Visitor Center for a stamp and pin and then drove down to VA Explore Park Visitor Center. We didn’t have enough time to go through it today so we will come back tomorrow.

Steve and Mike of Black Dog Salvage

Our next destination was Black Dog Salvage in Roanoke, VA from the show Salvage Dogs. We really enjoy the show and the dynamic the crew has with each other. So we were excited to go here. Upon pulling up I saw Grayson working outside with the old truck. We took our pictures in front of the rocket ship. Then went inside the store. It is very large inside with 2 floors of stuff. Surprisingly it is very organized. I’ve been in many of these that are not and it is hard to find things. As we were looking around Mike comes up to CC and welcomes us to the store and says he’s glad we stopped by. We had a few moments chat with him and Sally the dog. He was leaving to go work a beerfest in downtown Roanoke. We later saw Robert helping customers. So they really do work at their business and not hand it off to others. We looked around awhile but didn’t find anything I could put into a carryon bag. Loved their raw wood tables. Wished we’d driven my vehicle up there. Maybe we will go back someday soon.

Since this was our last stop today we packed it in and went to our hotel for the night.

Blue Ridge Parkway and Roanoake

Driving the Whole Shenandoah Park on Skyline Dr

Shenandoah National Park Sign

Friday, August 26, 2016 Driving the Whole Shenandoah Park on Skyline Dr

Today after a great breakfast at the hotel, CC had his meeting and I caught up on some reading while waiting for him to come back. We checked out (they gave us more cookies), and started our journey to Skyline Dr. Since I hadn’t seen any wineries yesterday that we could stop at I made my mission today to find some. So when we were almost to Skyline I found King Family Vineyards. We stopped there and admired the property. It had beautiful rolling hills, horses, and a large polo field with barns. There was a large building for the winery works and a tasting room. We went in for the tasting which cost $10.00 for 6 wines. The inside was just as pretty as the outside. CC doesn’t drink so he took lots of pictures while I was occupied. I was placed in a group that had shown up before us. We ended up with a very talkative employee. Wished I was in the group that showed up after us as their employee was a faster pourer. That group was on a drinking tour though so they wanted to get in as much as possible in one day. I didn’t buy any of their wines as they were all too dry for my taste.

We then drove a little further down the road until we came to Valley Road Vineyards. They had just opened their tasting room the weekend before. All their wines were actually coming from King Family where we had just stopped. Their tasting was $6 for 5 wines. They did taste different, a little milder, but I still didn’t buy any. They also had a beautiful piece of property.

Now it’s on to the big event: driving the Skyline. We entered at the 105 mile marker at Rockfish Gap in the South. Today is actually the National Parks 100th birthday so there is free entry this weekend. Normally it would be $10 car. I got my stamp for my book, also a Jr Ranger book for the drive and our map. We started off by stopping at each overlook but soon had to pass some by as we would never finish the drive in one day if we didn’t. The views were very scenic with the blue haze and lots of mountains. At least to Floridians they are mountains. I know people in the West would argue about that. We passed a place called Beagle Gap and I texted the sign to Miss CC. Since we own a beagle I thought it was funny. We traveled on until we reached Loft Mountain.

The bugs in VA and NC have been annoying. As soon as you exit your vehicle they land on you. I always thought Florida had bugs but not like these. You couldn’t even talk without them trying to get into your mouth. At Loft Mountain there is a camp store, campground and an ampitheater. Also hiking/nature trails. We stopped at the overlook and I took a picture of CC walking the width of the Appalachian Trail like he did in GA. He has a shirt at home that has this saying as well. There were lots of farms and butterflies and flowers to see. I guess it’s their last bloom before Fall comes.

Our next stop was at Lewis Mountain Lodge. It has a campground, cabins and a small store with picnic area. It’s a stop on the Appalachian Trail as well. The cabins looked pretty rustic.

Next stop was Big Meadows, one of the two Visitor’s Centers on the Skyline. Here we walked through the exhibits and worked on the Jr Ranger book. I was able to get another stamp here too. I think this was the only place on the Skyline to get gas without getting off the road as well.

Then on to Skyland where you could rent a room in their hotel for $174 a night. Most don’t have AC in them. They are doing a lot of remodeling work here as well.

Then on to Mary’s Rock Tunnel which was 600 ft long through granite. It took 3 months of blasting and carrying the rock away to get through to the other side. From the outside it looks like the rock will fall on you as you enter the tunnel.

Last stop was Dickey Ridge Visitor Center. We were trying so hard to make it before they closed. We ended up pulling in at 10 minutes until 5 pm. So I was able to get my stamp here. Unfortunately because of the times we stopped I never did get to view a nature talk by a ranger. The ranger here signed off for me anyway. CC was able to get some incredible views of the valley from the top of the ridge while sunset was starting to happen. We saw a deer jump over the road here.

After we left we drove on to I-66 then to I-81 looking for a place to spend the night. We ended up in Woodstock, VA at a Hampton Inn. We ate at a Denny’s then spent some time in the hot tub and turned in as it had been a long day, with lots of turning and twisty roads to drive.

Shenandoah National Park

Orlando to Charlottesville, VA (Via Appomattox Court House)

Appomattox Court House

Thursday, August 25, 2016 Trip to Charlottesville, VA

Curbcrusher had asked me(Lady CC) if I wanted to accompany him to Charlottesville after Miss CC had gone away to college. Absolutely! I said. So we set off on Thursday via Southwest Airlines at 10 am. We had Pre-check which makes it easy to fly except right now I’m wearing a walking boot for plantar fasciitis. Which means I go through the full body scanner and get wiped with a cloth for ammunition residue. After we cleared we went to the gate to wait for our flight. This one wasn’t full like all the others we have been on recently. It was a short 1.5 hours and we landed in Raleigh NC picked up our car, a red Nissan Altima from Thrifty, to start our drive to Charlottesville. We could have landed closer but we wanted to see some historic sites on the way so this worked for us.

Our first stop was Appomattox Court House in VA. Neither one of us was ever great at saying this name. I had to keep thinking of phone apps to remember how to say it. This is the location for the official end of the Civil War where Lee surrendered to Grant. We got the Junior Ranger handbook and CC bought his National Park pin. The books we started with Miss CC years ago and I liked doing them so I always get one if they have it available. Right now we have 62 badges we’ve earned and been to more parks than that, since not every park has a Jr Ranger program. So we set off to explore the park. Everything here is pretty compact which was good since walking uphill on pea gravel was not the easiest thing in the walking boot. I didn’t get to see the buildings that were farther out but CC went to a few of the areas to get some pictures. We toured the Visitor’s Center with a movie and exhibits and then went to the slave quarters, looked at Clover Hill Tavern and the tavern kitchen (which is now the bookstore). Then on to the guest house, law office and storehouse, as well as the Meek’s Store where all the goods of the time were displayed.

McLean House
We spent some time in the McLean house where the surrender papers were signed. There was a ranger in there giving a tour. After looking around for awhile we headed back to get on the road to Charlottesville again.

We checked into the Doubletree in Charlottesville and were greeted with chocolate chip cookies and then went to dinner. After we came back we had a soak in the hot tub which was great. They have a very pretty garden setting in a glass house for their pool and hot tub so I’m sure it’s pretty in the winter when it’s cold outside.

Alexander Springs

Alexander Springs

For the last number of years in September, generally right after school starts, we’ve headed to Rock Springs for the day. (Of course we used to camp) As the days of August wore down, we realized that our daughter was not going to be her in September, instead she’d be away at college. We also realized that since we couldn’t go to Rock Springs on a day during the week after school started, that it would be way to crowded to enjoy for a day trip. So, we found an alternative.

About an hour and a half north of Orlando is the Ocala National Forest, and there are a number of springs and recreation areas there. In the past we’ve camped at the Salt Springs area and visited some of the other springs. We decided we’d do a mid week trip to the Alexander Springs Recreation Area and check it out.

This is a federal recreation area in the Ocala National Forest, and it cost $5.50 a person to enter. Once in, there is a paved parking lot, bathrooms, and a store. The store has an air compressor outside so that you can fill up any inflatables you may have brought. It is about a 100 yard walk on a boardwalk and paved sidewalks from the parking lot down to the springs. There is also canoe rental so that you can venture out from the springs along the run. While there are some pavilions and picnic tables, we were able to find a spot under the large trees to set up.

Claiming our space at Alexander Springs

Except for the area around the spring-head, the water was shallow enough to walk around, and deep enough to just float if that’s your desire. With the fresh spring water at a constant 72 degrees, hanging around in the spring is the best way to enjoy nature’s air conditioner and cool down in the August Florida heat. We didn’t see a ton of fish in the spring, and the clear water was great for putting on a snorkel and wandering around the spring-head. There are also a couple of walking trails that run along the banks of the springs with boardwalks through the marshy parts. Alexander Springs is a great way to enjoy the natural Florida while not overheating.

Following our three or so hours at the spring, everyone was hungry. As we left the springs, and everyone was talking about how hungry they were, I noted that if we made a left we’d be at Sparky’s in about 10 minutes. We first visited Sparky’s back in 2010, and nothing has really changed since I wrote that review. It’s still the best cheeseburger around.

We had a great “last day of summer” kind of day: Laying around the springs and eating good at Sparky’s. All the pics in the slideshow below.

Alexander Springs Sign

Auckland Day 14 – Headed Home

Our Plane Bound For Houston

Well today is the last day. We are going up to the Skytower to see the city one last time. Since we got 24 hours to use our pass if we get there before 10 am we are good. So up we go suited up for rain again. The elevator moves very fast going up 50 floors. We are able to view for a short while before the rain moves in again.

We leave and go to a coffee shop down the street from our apartment. I ordered an espresso but it was awful and bitter. Should have done what Eaglet did and order a tea. We went back to the apartment and finished our packing and called for an Uber.

The guy who came was on his 2nd day of driving. He is actually a performing arts major/dancer and can’t find work right now so he drives an Uber.

Before too long we are at the airport and checking in. This time they make us follow all the rules. We don’t like checking bags but they weighed all our carry-ons and wouldn’t let us on with them so we had to redistribute things and check our roll aboard luggage. Air New Zealand checked them all the way to Orlando but I suggested we will off the tags in Houston where we go through Customs and keep them for the next flight. [And once again, CurbCursher’s passport will not work in the automated reader at immigration while exiting the country. The New Zealand officer tells me that I’m not the problem. This is apparently a regular problem with US passports according to him.]

After arriving in Houston and clearing customs, we keep our bags and are glad we did. Our Air New Zealand flight was great until the last 30 minutes when we hit turbulence near Houston. They had a lot of storms today and we had to fly through them to land. We went through Customs and got our bags back. Then looked for our next gate. We weren’t supposed to leave until a 3 pm flight but we saw there was an Orlando one that was still on the gate from a mechanical so we went to see if we could catch that one. The gate agents said no, they had already closed the flight, so we went to sit and wait. [To make a very long story short, we didn’t leave Houston until 12:00pm the next day, getting home about 19 hours after we were scheduled, making the trip home twice as long, a 38 hour trip vs. the schedule 19.]

Auckland Day 13 – Just Roaming Around

View from Sky Tower View from Sky Tower

Today is our last full day in Auckland. I think today we will go up to the SkyTower to see some good views. It is lit up red for the firefighters climb on Saturday for leukemia. Victoria from the last 2 days told us for $4 more you can go up as much as you want in 24 hrs.

So we got ready after breakfast and walked about 4 blocks to go down into the Skytower. That’s where you catch the elevator that takes you up 50 floors to an observation deck. The elevator has a glass floor so you can see the shaft as you go up as well as cut outs in the walls to see how high you are.

The doors open at the 50th floor and it’s a beautiful view this morning. It hasn’t rained yet though. We were able to see all the islands we visited as well as the rest of Auckland. They also have glass floor panels in 4 places to look out below. One floor above here (on 51) is where they do bungee jumping and Skywalks where you are harnessed and walk around a platform outside.

We saw a beautiful rainbow over the city and surprise! it started raining while we were up there. You could see the rain moving in from over the water. Then we preceded up to the 60th floor for even better views. Here is where we could see the workers getting the harnesses ready for the day below us. There is a restaurant and café up here that turn once an hour and at the bottom of the tower is a casino, night club, 36 more restaurants and 2 hotels.

Rainbow from Sky Tower View from Sky Tower

Once we saw our fill we went down to the bottom where they play a movie of how it was built and a gift shop. We found a fern ornament and a pin for CurbCrusher’s collection. Then we were off to Albert Park to walk around and then through the campus of the University of Auckland.

Fountain in Albert Park Floral Clock in Albert Park

After that we walked over to the Domain which is a large park with a rain forest trail, Winter Gardens (a conservatory) and the Auckland Museum. We took the coast to coast walk and ended up at the Duck Gardens which had geese as well.

The Duck Ponds Auckland Domain Steve and Kelsea in Auckland Domain

Then onto the Winter Gardens that had a beautiful hot house (and it was hot and humid!) then on to the fernery which was a mini rain forest inside (it was 3 floors with winding paths). Then we walked up to the museum and walked around it and looked at the views. We went inside to see the gift shop but you had to buy a ticket to access it so we left again.

The Winter Garden The Winter Garden

On the way back we walked the Auckland rain forest Lovers’ Lane path which was winding and had a stream with a small waterfall. Then we retraced our steps to the University of Auckland where we ate lunch from a food truck on campus. Then we finished up with hot donut holes from another food truck.

We went to Countdown grocery to look for Manuka Honey. We can’t afford 100% (it’s around $75!) so we bought a blend at the grocery along with New Zealand coffee. Then off to the souvenir shop near the wharf for Rugby Lambs and CurbCrusher’s pin.

St Patricks Cathederal St Patricks Cathederal

We stopped to look inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral that we can see from our window. The inside is beautiful, they have beautiful pipes for the organ in the balcony and the ceiling looks like the inside of a ship. It was built around 1905. Later today near sunset (5:15pm) we are going back to the Sky Tower to see the lights of the city.

Sunset from the Sky Tower Evening View From Sky Tower

We went back later to see the sunset and were able to make out some of it but as usual in Auckland it started raining again. It was cool to watch the rain move across the bays and into the city. After watching for awhile and seeing all the lights of Auckland we left to go to Subway and get dinner. We took it back to the apartment and ate and started packing to leave tomorrow.

Total step count for the day – 15,288

2016 - Auckland

Auckland Day 12 – Rangitoto Island

Auckland Skyline from Ferry

Today is Rangitoto [the youngest of the volcanic islands that are found in the bay at Auckland. It is an uninhabited national and can only be reached by ferry] Day. We need to make the 9:10 am ferry so we have as much time as possible on the island before having to catch the return ferry at 3:15pm which is the last one of the day. We got ready and then left the apartment and stopped at Ronnie’s Bakery for some ham and cheese croissant sandwiches. There is nothing available on the island because it is a national sanctuary.

Map of Ferry Destinations Rangitoto Island

We had to brush our shoes off before going on the ferry because of the pests we might bring to the island. Our ferry today was ½ the size of the one to Waiheke Island and Victoria from Germany joined us on the trip over. We stopped in Devonport again and landed at 9:45am.

The island is mostly lava bed so everywhere you look there is black lava rocks. The paths up to the summit consisted of nothing but lava rocks. We got off the ferry and walked by a natural swimming pool that fills with seawater, next to it was an arch left when it was a prison camp for men.

Arriving Rangitoto Public Seawater Pool Rangitoto

We started up the path with a lot of volunteers who I think were going to the neighboring island of Motutapu to do some work. The path became pretty steep fast and by halfway up Eaglet and I shed our fleeces and then our rain jackets. CurbCrusher took off his rain jacket. The high temperature today was only 60F with intermittent rains all day.

Trail to Rangitoto Summit Lava Field On Trail to Rangitoto Summit

We finally got to an area that has lava caves and we saw 3 or 4 and walked the loop around them. We shined our flashlights into them but didn’t find the ones Eaglet saw online that you could stand up in. Most look collapsed to me. Coming down from the tubes on a really rocky slippery path it started to rain. So we had to scramble and get covered again.

Lava Cave Trail Sign Lava Cave

We had hiked about 40 minutes so far and the tubes were another 20 minutes of walking around and we still had to walk another steep path to the summit boardwalk for another 20 minutes. At least the path became wider and less rocky. We came to stairs that led to a viewpoint area that if it wasn’t raining would have been an awesome view of Auckland.

Kelsea on Rangitoto Summit Trail Rangitoto Summit
Views from Rangitoto Summit Nadine and Kelsea on Rangitoto Crater Rim Track

We then waked the Crater Rim Track for 15 minutes which hooked up to the boardwalk stairs that led to the Summit Road (a million stairs it seemed) [At the bottom of the stairs we ran into Victoria, who was the first person we’d seen since the summit. She was walking the same loop we were in the opposite direction]. The views were gorgeous once the rain cleared up. But the wind became fierce. We walked along the Park Rd which was nice and wide and mostly level for about 45 minutes until we reached Mackenzie Bay and the Beacon Lighthouse. It was a cute short Lighthouse with red and white stripes.

Road From Summit to McKenzie Bay McKenzie Bay Lighthouse

We decided to make use of the toilets located here and to eat on the beach. So we sat on a huge piece of driftwood log and ate lunch while admiring the view, it was sunny but the wind was cold. After we finished we started walking back toward the wharf on the road.

McKenzie Bay McKenzie Bay Lighthouse
Panoramic of McKenzie Bay

Rangitoto Island is supposed to be known for birds but there really weren’t a lot today, maybe because winter’s coming. They had lots of traps set to catch predators that eat the birds with an egg in each trap.

The walk through the mangrove are took about 1 hour and 15 minutes. We crossed a causeway and noticed there were no fish in the pools either. So not a lot happening on Rangitoto Island today. [It was about here that we ran into a family of four that had been on the morning ferry walking in the opposite direction from us. To give an ideal of how deserted this island is, they were the first people we’d seen in the 2+ hours since we’d run into Victoria at the bottom of the Summit Stairs.]

Rangitoto Summit View From Road McKenzie Bay to Wharf Road McKenzie Bay to Wharf

Getting closer to the wharves there were several Baches (beach houses) or signs for them. Most of them were built in 1906 or so and lots of them were knocked down by people in 1978-82. There were only a few left standing. One is a museum open on Saturdays during the warmer season. [It seems while Rangitoto was never really officially occupied by people, in the early 1900’s camping permits were issued for a shilling a year. Some folks built some rather permanent camping facilities (the Bachs) and a community starting growing up there following WWII. In the 50’s the government made an attempt to clear the island of residents, but gave life deeds for some Bachs. People transferred the titles to their children in order to keep the Bach private longer. Hence there are still a few Bachs left on the island.]

Bach Bach Interpretive Sign

We ended up back at the wharf area and waited for the return ferry. We ended earlier so we are taking the 2:15pm ferry back.

Departing Ferry Higher than Dock Bean Rock Lighthouse

When it arrived it was about the size of the snorkel boat in Cairns. The captain gave us a running commentary [Actually, the 2:15 ferry from Rangitoto to Auckland is also the 1:30 harbor cruise, so you are basically joining the harbor cruise in the middle.]the entire way back which included a closeup view of the Bean Rock Lighthouse and the new commercial harbor they are building. Also, we were able to see a close up of Queen’s wharf where the cruise ships dock (next to a large white caterpillar awning). We then walked back to the apartment and rested for a while until dinner. We had walked over 10 miles on the island today according to our phones and CurbCrusher’s Garmin.

Total step count for the day – 23,770

2016 - Rangitoto Island Auckland