Monday, May 31, 2010

Road Trippin'

Well, it was bound to happen eventually. I am buying a house in Florida and will soon start spending winters on the sunny shores of the sunshine coast and summers back in good 'ole SW Montana, with the rivers and mountains. This is how I've wanted it to be for years but only recently was it even a possibility. Now that the deal is about done, it's time for us gals to hop in the rig and drive to Florida. So we are rounding up all the unusual suspects for this road trip. There of course is Maggie the Wonder Dog, Mad Maddy from Montanny (the kitty) and then of course Thelma (Darlene) and Louise...that would be me. I'm not expecting the cops to be following us clear across country but then you never know, do you?

We are heading out first thing in the morning so will report back along the way. Our journey will take us from Oregon through Ogden, UT, through parts of Iowa and Nebraska, St. Louis, Nashville, Atlanta, Ga and then our new home. I can smell the salt air already and dreaming of palm trees and bonefish! There will be lots of new adventures to write about so stay tuned.

Louise, Thelma, Mad Maddy and of course the fab Maggie the Wonder Dog.......

Friday, May 28, 2010

Highlights from New Zealand

Day Off in Auckland

Today I had the day free to roam about Auckland so I decided to go sailing on an America's Cup yacht around Auckland Harbour. We left Auckland around 2:00 pm and sailed for a few hours getting back around 4:00. The weather was gorgeous although we could have used a bit more wind. All in all a great day and some beautiful rainbows to boot.

SailNZ has lots of activities from dolphin and whale tours to a few different sailing options. Or you can race on an America's Cup yacht. Everyone gets involved if you so choose. There are "grinders" needed to operate the different sails.

Or if you'd like to take the helm, you are more than welcome to take your turn driving. Anyone who wants to participate is encouraged to do so. It's a great time on the water and I highly recommend it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Rainbow Mushrooms

I've never found mushrooms as colorful as the ones I have found in New Zealand. Pink, red, green, orange, yellow, blue, you name it.

Here are some of the prettiest I found today in the forest.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


For the last 28 years since I became fascinated with wild mushrooms which has resulted in a passion and pretty much obsession, I have been enamored with mushrooms that are blue. They are quite rare in nature but there are some true beauties to be found in the woods.

Here in New Zealand there is one little mushroom that has won the hearts of many and is even depicted on the fifty dollar bill. That little mushroom is the blue entoloma aka Entoloma hochstetteri. I have been wanting to find this little mushroom to photograph for years but my trips to New Zealand usually take me there at the wrong time to find this mushroom that isn't available until the Autumn rains arrive each year.

This year I am in New Zealand in May which is the heart of the rainy season when the fungi are flourishing, especially on the South Island. I was on a quest to find the blue entoloma so when I left Queenstown and headed up the coast to Franz Josef Glacier, I decided to start searching the forests for my quarry. My first stop was a short hiking trail just past the Haast Visitors Center heading north. I hauled all my camera equipment into the woods with me through the swampy area and boardwalk. I stopped a few times to photograph the general view of the area and then just after stopping to take a photo I was just taking in the view and turned my head just to the right where right there in front of me was a blue entoloma, just the most gorgeous, vibrant, electric blue imaginable and protruding from a brilliant green mossy background on a tree just next to the boardwalk. I gasped with joy and excitement and started clicking off photos like a wild woman.

After overnighting at Holly Homestead in Franz Josef, I headed north the next morning to Greymouth, met up with some friends and then off to search for more blue mushrooms. We went to a hiking track near Lake Brunner and climbed to the top of a plateau and immediately started seeing blue here and there and everywhere. There were lots of other beautifully colored mushrooms I will post separately.

I have fallen in love with the blue entoloma and will continue to dream about it for some time to come.

Adventure Day in Queenstown

Yesterday was Nery's birthday so she invited some local business friends over to dinner to meet me. One couple, the owners of Glenorchy Air invited me to go with them on a scenic flight from Queenstown to Fox Glacier. I eagerly accepted and this morning, Nery and I went for a fly.

We arrived back at the airport and after a quick safety check and safety vests on we were ready to take off on our journey to the glacier. The weather in Queenstown was heavy overcast and cold but the forecast at the coast was sunny and clear so off we went. We started off looking like we were going to fly into a big cloud of fog and crash into a mountain but Robert our pilot and owner of Glenorchy Air decided visibility was not good enough so we pulled up, did a hard bank to the left and turned around and looked for another passage over the mountains which we found and we were on our way.

Once we got to a certain point, the skies cleared and the sun was shining and we were surrounded by snowy mountain peaks, glaciers and the most stunning views on the South Island.

On arrival at Fox Glacier we walked to a cafe for a cup of coffee and short break then we piled back into the plane and flew back along the gorgeous coastline back to Queenstown.

Once I got back to Queenstown I had only moments to get back into town, up the skyline gondola and down to the tree house to the ZipTrek for my next adventure of the day. ZipTrek is a series of four zip lines through the Douglas Fir trees high above Queenstown. All tied in to the ecology and giving a tour along the way the tour guides explain how you can do your part to preserve the land and how they are doing their part. It was fun, informative, thrilling and very well done.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hello New Zealand

After too long a hiatus from my normal annual trips to New Zealand I am finally back in the Land of the Long White Cloud. It's good to be back and this time, since it is autumn I will have a blast photographing wild mushrooms which seem to be everywhere.

I departed Roseburg where Maggie the Wonder dog and Madison her kitty sister are staying with friends on their farm vacation. Meanwhile, up to Eugene and then to Los Angeles and finally on my Air New Zealand flight to Auckland. A rocky nights' sleep and you arrive in Auckland at 5:30 am. After a short shuttle bus over to the domestic airport and another wait, I am on my final flight to Queenstown. On arrival in Queenstown the rental car company is there to meet me and I get my car, sign the papers and I'm off to my accommodation. Trelawn Place is a B&B I've used for years so it was good to see Michael and Nery again.