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Friends and Family

Tea with Friends

Looking over Auckland Harbor, Gail, Alison Laurence, Hazel Foote

Looking over Auckland Harbor, Gail, Alison Laurence, Hazel Foote

After leaving Kelly Tarlton’s, Alison and Hazel drove me up to the lookout so we could look out on the Auckland Harbor and beyond to the volcanic islands that dot the waters.  Rangitoto Island is almost certainly Auckland’s most iconic natural landmark, with its distinctive symmetrical cone and location.  In the last few years this, and other nearby islands have been cleared of mammals and the emergent vegetation is brilliantly green.  I hope that I can visit these islands one day after they reintroduce the rare endemic birds found only in this country.

Auckland has 48 volcanos that make for spectacular scenery and if one is so inspired they can all be climbed.  New Zealand is part of the ‘Ring of Fire’ that stretches around the edge of the Pacific Ocean and where a large proportion of the Earth’s volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.

Alison and Hazel

Alison and Hazel

During our 2014 New Zealand tour, you may very well meet either or both Hazel and Alison.  One of our stops is the home of Juliet Fitness, a well-known New Zealand quilter.  Her home is located in the hills west of Auckland on a 10 acre section of native bush.  It is nothing short of amazing.

Flowers in Winter

Flowers in Winter

After a lovely lunch at a beachfront cafe, we adjourned to Hazel’s garden and beautiful home to enjoy a cup of tea.  Her garden was full of blooms even though it was the dead of winter.

Hazel Foote's Quilt for the Tutor's Exhibit at Taupo Symposium.

Hazel Foote’s Quilt for the Tutor’s Exhibit at Taupo Symposium.

Hazel is a notable quiltmaker and designer.  I did not learn the name of the quilt above, but it is stunning!   Hazel also was a tutor at the National Symposium in Taupo.  I so appreciate the friendliness and camaraderie of my New Zealand pals!  It feels like my other home.

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Auckland Aquatics and Friends

Auckland

Auckland

Back to the city, we traveled with new adventures in mind.  The skyline of Auckland is dominated by the Sky Tower.  At 328 meters tall, (~1,000 ft), it is the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere with its impressive spire!  Visitors can ride to the top in the glass-fronted lifts to one of the three spectacular viewing platforms, or for more thrills and excitement, SkyWalk round the pergola, or even SkyJump off the Tower!  Now, there’s a thrilling ride!  You also can relax with a coffee or light refreshments at Sky Lounge or dine at Orbit – Auckland’s only 360-degree revolving restaurant.  But, my new day hosts, Alison Laurence and Hazel Foote, had lowlier destinations in mind!

Gentoo Swim

Gentoo Swim

Knowing about my passion for all things feathered, we headed down to Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium.  Built from the abandoned former sewage tunnels, it opened in 1985.  The original Underwater World was the vision of Kelly Tarlton – an extraordinary Kiwi adventurer, diver, explorer and inventor, who wanted to share his love of the ocean with others.

The attraction is made up of different zones, such as the Antarctic Ice Encounter, which is home to New Zealand’s largest sub-Antarctic penguin colony, offering a rare opportunity to see the magnificent birds up close in their icy domain. With the new walking paths, visitors can spend as long as they like watching the 80-strong colony of King and Gentoo penguins and their playful antics on the snow and their elegant flight underwater.

Gentoo Penguin

Gentoo Penguin

Kelly Tarlton’s has undergone major renovations since my last visit there 19 months ago.  Gone is the mock Antarctic vehicle that used to transport visitors through the tunnels.  In its place are spacious walking tracks with large windows, perfect for viewing the penguin colony above and below ground.  We got great looks at the Gentoo Penguins both above and below the surface.

King Penguins

King Penguins

The larger King Penguins tended to stay aloof from the boisterous Gentoos.  We were there for feeding time, which was a real treat.  The second largest penguin, smaller only than the Emperor Penguin, no other bird has a longer breeding cycle. They take 14 to 16 months to fledge a single chick. During the winter, chicks may be left to fast for from one to five months (May to September/October). Adults can rear a maximum of only two chicks every three years.

King and Gentoo Penguins

King and Gentoo Penguins

We were there for feeding time at 11 a.m. which was an extra thrill.  One of the King Penguins is quite elderly and arthritic and spends much of the day on a heated area to help with this arthritic feet.  He moves slowly but with determination.  During feeding this charmer vocalized for his caretaker with whom he has bonded.  Such a treat!

In addition to the penguins, SEA LIFE has an extensive museum with artifacts, photos and a walk-through replica of Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s Antarctic hut (established back in 1911), complete with authentic memorabilia offers a glimpse at what it was like to live 100 years ago in the coldest place on Earth.

Lion Fish

Lionfish

Of course, the aquarium hosts many forms of sea life in a huge array of tanks.  However, it’s really hard to get a decent photo of any thing that is swimming in a tank of water, so this lionfish was the best I could do! In addition to being a major tourist attraction, SEA LIFE has established the SEA LIFE Conservation Fund (SLCF), an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to conserving and protecting New Zealand’s unique aquatic habitats and the incredible animals that live in them.  SLCF is dedicated to conserving the marine environment by funding and carrying out research and educational projects that will help protect threatened species and habitats, and teach us more about the relatively little-known marine world.

Jaws!

Jaws!

And then there were the BIG FISH I was happy that I didn’t meet!  Or should that be meat?

 

 

 

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Adventures in Northland

Diane Anderson, Gail, Melissa Gelder

Diane Anderson, Gail, Melissa Gelder

On my first full day in Auckland, Diane and Melissa took me on a tour to Northland, checking out quilt shops, cafes, and magnificent scenery.  It wasn’t long before we stopped for morning tea, replete with sweets to provide energy for our outing.

Morning Tea

Morning Tea

It was here that I was able to enjoy my most favorite ever coffee, a flat white.  It seems to be a New Zealand/Australia espresso drink that is not available here in the U.S.  Note that each of our sweets is divided into thirds.  We shared!

Pukeko Patch

Pukeko Patch

Along the way we stopped at the Pukeko Patch outside of Warkworth which was closed.  Actually, the shop was open, but we had driven instead to the owner’s home in the countryside!  Duh!  So we never did get to visit that shop.  I am sure it is wonderful. And, FYI, the shop is located in the community of Warkworth – right near where we had coffee.

The Apple Basket

The Apple Basket

Our next stop was the Apple Basket Patchwork Shop, in Kaiwaka, where we were warmly welcomed.  They publish a series of New Zealand style patterns for birds and flowers and the shop carries both the patterns and  kits that include the fabrics.  Be sure to check them out.

Kerry Glen and Quilt

Kerry Glen and Quilt

Our final destination was the home of Kerry Glen, owner of Tulis Textiles. “Tulis” is an Indonesian word that means to write.  Although Tulis Textiles is located in Kerry’s home in Marsden Point, right on the water, she is open for business by appointment.  Most of her business is conducted online and she has a substantial website.

Melissa shops

Melissa shops

Kerry travels regularly to Bali where her collection of batik fabrics are dyed with her stamps and to her specifications, so she can maintain the quality, versatility and vibrancy of her fabrics. She stocks over 500 batik fabrics in a wide range of colors.

Ikat Fabrics from Indonesia

Ikat Fabrics from Indonesia

Kerry also stocks a unique selection of hand-selected Ikats!  It was so very hard to decide.  We also enjoyed a lovely lunch with views over the sea, but all too soon is was time to pack up our parcels and head back to Auckland.  My April 2014 Quilting and Textile Tour of New Zealand will include tea and shopping at Kerry’s Home!  I think you will love her fabrics.

 

 

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My Other Favorite Country

It feels like I am coming home when I get off the plane in this beautiful city.

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We were off to Northland on the first full day, destination Marsden Point, accompanied by my friend and hostess, Diane Anderson and Melissa Gelder, my new friend and trip instigator. But first, we stopped at Warkworth for morning tea, a magnificent flat white, possibly the best coffee in the world and some sweets.

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You might begin noticing some images of my ringed hands. The three rings stand for the “three M’s”. That stands for Michele, Mom, and me. I wear my Mom’s wedding ring and I think about her every morning when I place her ring on my pinkie finger. Mom passed away last November after fighting degenerative dementia for 8.5 years. Michele is fighting cancer. She wanted to join me on this trip and share in my adventures. So, she surprised me with a gift of her retirement ring from PNM where she worked for thirty years, right before I left on this trip. The third ring is mine, a Navajo story ring that I purchased at a trading post. It is my favorite.

So, watch for some upcoming 3M image here and there in my posts.
Mom and Michele — I love you!

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Next up — Batik Heaven!

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Farewell to Halibut Cove

Stillpoint Staff

Stillpoint Staff

We waved good-bye to the amazing staff at Stillpoint Lodge.  Most of them are working throughout the summer season in return for room, board and tips!  Each was dedicated and professional.  In conversation with several of them, I learned that most had found the job on a site called CoolJobs which bills itself as the coolest jobs in the entertainment industry!

Leaving Halibut Cove

Leaving Halibut Cove

And then we were off, to board the Danny J and return to Homer.  Once there, the hustle and bustle was impressive as everyone’s belongings got schlepped up the VERY steep board ramp (tide was out) and into the various vehicles.  We joined in the melee, packing up Maret’s SUV and heading down the road.  However, it wasn’t long after that that Maret suddenly pulled over on the side of the road.

Moose on Roadside

Moose on Roadside

There she was!  Our first really good look at a moose, not 30 feet away.  She seemed unconcerned abut us, taking many photos from the photography blind also known as a car.  We were careful not to get out so as not to disturb her meal.  What a treat!

On the way homeAs we drove northward, we looked out across Katchemak Bay at the other side of the peninsula toward the distant mountains.  That part of the peninsula, which is roadless and sans humans, leads to the elusive Aleutian Islands.

 

Good-bye Alaska Mountains

Good-bye Alaska Mountains

As we neared the Portage Glacier and the run around Turnagin Arm, we stopped for lunch and some photos.  It was our farewell kiss to the magnificence that is our northernmost state.  But, true to it’s very nature, Alaska still had a couple of treats up its sleeve.

Dandelions

Dandelions

Among the short grasses, a veritable bouquet of yellow bloomed across the countryside.  It was the lowly dandelion, brilliantly shining amid a thousand siblings.  Again, thanks to Maret Anderson of Seams Like Home for this amazing experience!

But wait . . .

 

 

 

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Three Days of Heaven

Were fast drawing to and end.

Maret Anderson and Gail

Maret Anderson and Gail

Many, many thanks to Maret Anderson, owner of Seams Like Home in Anchorage, Alaska for organizing this retreat and making our wonderful Alaska adventure possible.  It was simply the best!  The students thought so too.

Jyl and her Quilt Top

Jyl and her Quilt Top

Jyl had opted to bring a pre-printed panel and design fillers to coordinate.  She completely finished her quilt top!

Flying Colors at Stillpoint Retreat 2013

Flying Colors at Stillpoint Retreat 2013

It was simply the best time ever!  If you have a craving for an Alaskan adventure, I highly recommend this retreat.  The next one is scheduled for June 2014.  Read all about it at Seams Like Home.  And, thanks again Maret! All that was left to do was to pack up and head on down the road, first via the Danny J, then the gorgeous drive back to Anchorage.

Alaska still held a few more adventures.  So, stayed tuned . . .

 

 

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Tide Pooling

 

The Tide is Out

The Tide is Out

The tides can range up to 20 feet in Halibut Cove. One morning, Michele and I signed up to go Tide Pooling with group leader, Becca, who doubles as the manager of Stillpoint Lodge.  At first glance, it looks like just a muddy mess, but

Anemone

Anemone

Right away, Becca found this small anemone, attached to a piece of the giant kelp that was exposed in the low tide.

Becca demonstrates the tactile abilities of a sea star

Becca demonstrates the tactile abilities of a sea star

What an exciting outing this was!  I learned so much, like the fact that these animals are not called starfish at all, but rather sea stars.  They don’t like being picked up and turned upside down either.  So, with little hairlike tentacles, they grab onto the hairs on your arms in an attempt to right themselves.

Sea Star

Sea Star

Much better now!  Here’s the not-so-little sea star right side up shortly before Becca returned him/her to the sea.

Sea Star Dining Opportunity

Sea Star Dining Opportunity

Sea stars are predatory echinoderms, members of the class Asteroidea.  This four-legged fellow must have lost one of his legs somehow.  Although it should grow back, it hasn’t yet.  Nevertheless, he was chomping on a mussel.  Sea stars extrude their stomachs into the animals they eat, sucking out the edible portions.

Michele and the sea star

Michele and the sea star

Michele was surprised by the grip of this sea star.

Sunflower sea star

Sunflower sea star

On another trip down to the tide pool, we unearthed two Sunflower Sea Stars.   These are the largest and possibly the and fastest sea star in the world.  It can move up to 3 meters per minute, and has been known to travel at least 3 km.  It has over 15,000 tube feet, the little tentacle-like protrusions that help it to move.  Found mostly in the north eastern Pacific, they are voracious predators, feeding on bivalves, snails, urchins, other asteroids, sea cucumbers, sand dollars, and crabs (in other words, just about anything it wants!).

Holding the Sunflower Sea Star

Holding the Sunflower Sea Star

Holding one of these sea stars is rather like holding a large handful of wet slime.  The little (yes, he’s still a little one!) one did not appreciate being out of the sea.

Upside down Sunflower Sea Star

Upside down Sunflower Sea Star

This one didn’t like being upside down either, but enabled us to see all the little feet trying to right the animal.  What amazing creatures these are.

Decorator Crab

Decorator Crab

Last, but not least, Lucas unearthed this Decorator Crab from the tide pool.  These little crabs ‘decorate’ themselves with various materials to help camouflage themselves from predators, like the sunflower sea star.  Our excursion introduced us to the wonders that lurked beneath the surface of the water right at water’s edge!  Definitely educational!

Stay tuned, more stitching ahead . . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Welcome to Stillpoint Lodge

Stillpoint Lodge

Stillpoint Lodge

Stillpoint Lodge would be home to 20 of us, Michele and me from Albuqueque, and 18 others from the Anchorage area who would be taking my Flying Colors multi-day workshop (more on that in the next post).  The lodge is open only during the summer months and hosts a variety of retreats.

Da Crab

Da Crab

An artists’ pastoral retreat, the grounds boast hidden sculptures and other art, like this little crab that shouted a silent welcome.

Bird Art

Bird Art

This little pair of birds was strategically positioned alongside one of the walking paths.

Tree roots

Tree roots

Even the tree roots appeared to be artistically arranged.

View from the Deck

View from the Deck

My favorite view from the lodge was the one from the main room, and my classroom, as well as the deck.  It looks out onto Katchemak Bay State Park.  There are glaciers behind them thar mountains!

Pipe Art

Pipe Art

I was shown to my very own little cabin where this pipe art marked the turn off to my path.

Hermitage View

Hermitage View

My cabin was called the Hermitage, a tiny little place with the tiniest kitchen ever.  Talk about a well-planned cabin with an incredible view!  Not a morsel of space was wasted, but it was comfortable and homey!

Shell Wreath

Shell Wreath

A little shell wreath graced the wall next to my cabin door!  What a restful retreat from the world and a wonderful classroom environment!

Next up:  Class begins!

 

 

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