Woke to rain, cold and yucky looking weather this morning. Thank goodness for a great day yesterday!

Not a cloud in the sky, not a breath of wind, how many times can we say the words "this is magnificent". Lakes Hawea and Wanaka and the Haast Pass are beautiful on a day like today.

We set off on another day of following our nose. Decided to head a different direction to Lake Hawea today but then decided to continue on through Haast Pass as it was such a delightful day. So pleased we did, the scenery along the way has been fabulous with the weather of the kind that you probably have to be lucky to come across.

A catch up weekend with 'the crew' for Arthur's birthday weekend which we have missed along the way.

Pat was also a part of this to celebrate his 70th birthday.

We all stayed in cabins at the Soldieres Point Caravan Park right on the lakeside. Had a barbeque dinner with everyone mingling on the Friday night then Saturday evening we had dinner at the Soldiers Point Sailing Club.

Another of our great weekends over!

A 2 day cruise from our last stop at Peurto Vallarta to arrive early morning in San Diego.

Loved San Diego - 2 full days here along the harbour front - an absolutely idyllic area for cyclists, walkers, day strollers, cafes, shops etc - loved it. Didn't venture much further though, having been away from home now for over a month we are keen to get back there!

Photos here.

Our Panama Canal cruise has finally come to an end - a wonderful 17 day cruise on board Holland America Cruise ship "The Veendam". The ship carried 1200 guests mostly from Canada, Australia and the USA, and 500 crew mostly from the Philippines. The crew themselves are wonderful people and ever so friendly. All very polite and courteous and anything you need, they aim to please.

A full day onshore here, Kemm had booked a tour for Tequila tasting and food at 'wherever', I had opted to do my own thing so took my time getting organised and eventually made my way ashore about 10.30am.

Found a couple of older ladies who were seated and waiting until their new-found guide had another few people for a city tour so joined them and a few minutes later just the three of us were off. I had planned to just use the shuttle service into town and wander but turned out the better option as we were about to embark on a 3 hour tour around the area stopping along the way at all the pertinent spots to visit and photograph.
'Jimmy' was a wealth of knowledge of the area and talked as though he would never stop!!!

Peurto Vallarta, Mexico
Peurto Vallarta, Mexico

Had a day out in Costa Rica yesterday. You tend to know the place name 'Costa Rica', and that it's 'somewhere over there . . .however a visit to the actual country and a bus tour where there is a tour guide to tell you all about the history of the country, it's economy and major exports etc, gives you a much better perspective of the area.

Costa Rica is the country just north of it's neighbour Panama and having a northern neighbour Nicaragua.

Coffee and Intel Computer Chips are the main exports from Costa Rica - a basic wage for workers in plantations and similar is about $2 an hour. It's not exactly a very wealthy looking country judging by the roadsides we passed.

It's been a long day for us so far - very tiring watching our own ship move!

It was an early morning start - I was up just after 4am, more out of knowing that there might be something happening and might miss it if I didn't get up! Watching the passing ships in the night (literally) for a little while on our balcony and left Kemm to sleep a little longer. About 5am I ventured up on deck to determine how many others were up and about and whether the coffee was ready. Surprisingly there were a number of other people milling around up on the highest outside deck and the coffee machine was definitely working!

We've had 3 days of very calm seas now - if we were a yacht we would be becalmed out in the middle of the Caribbean Ocean.

The weather has improved from the previously cloudy days and as we are now at equator level or thereabouts, things have become very warm and steamy.

It's amazing that travelling with us are a number of small swallows who hop day and night around the decks and in and around our balcony. I'm sure they live off the small crumbs of food around but if the poor little things took flight out into the wide blue yonder there would be no hope for them.

New York city is now in the past and although it was an opportunity to visit and be part of the city bustle for a few days, am pleased it's over, it's way too busy a place, noisy, dirty and everyone in a hurry! Oh to be back on my patch of dirt overlooking the golf course with a drink in hand.

Our flight down to Fort Lauderdale was 2 ½ hours flying time so a little like Brisbane to Melbourne I guess time and distance wise - further than I thought - it's hard to know distances when you're in another big country.

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