Saturday, September 18, 2010

What I Did On My Summer/Winter Vacation

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

I seldom take vacations in the summer. I started this 'tradition' back in the good old days of the dreaded day job when everyone else wanted to take vacation time and being on the lower end of the pecking order, I got last pick. But then I discovered the beauty of traveling in the off season or what travel agents used to call 'shoulder season.' In the fall or late spring, the weather is still pretty good and there are no crowds even at the most popular tourist destinations.

So the DH and I have made most of our travel plans during months other than June, July, and August... until this year. I leave it to the DH to make most of our travel arrangements. After all, he is paying out for most of the travel expenses, but even more important, he has an uncanny knack for finding a GOOD DEAL!

This time he really out did himself. On a sunny May morning, I came home from having lunch with my BFF to be greeted with, "We're going to New Zealand!"

Turns out that Air New Zealand offered a two day special on air fares that came out roughly 2 for the price of 1 and my DH jumped on it. Of course that meant we had to leave in two weeks and we could only stay twelve days (the last day of the cheap return flight) but I didn't care! We were off to the #1 place on my "Bucket List!"

On June 2nd, off we flew on our first summer vacation in a very long time. But it was just turning to winter in New Zealand so once we arrived, our summer vacation actually became a winter one, complete with rain, snow, and lots of chilly weather! Not that we minded, since we were used to off season travel and we were in New Zealand after all!

Since our time was limited, we decided to stay on the north island (which means we'll have to go back someday soon to see the south island). We rented a car and with the DH driving the entire time, we drove from one end of the north island (The Bay of Islands) to the other (The Bay of Plenty and Wellington).

Here's a shot looking down from Kilborn to downtown Wellington and the harbor. Above is a piccie of Aunty at beautiful Haku Falls near Lake Taupo.

And here's a shot of the coastline along the gorgeous Bay of Plenty. Yes, the water really is that color. Remember, this is the South Pacific (west side of NZ). It wasn't always cold and rainy!

The trip was GREAT, just too short. New Zealand was every bit as wonderful as I expected it to be with magnificent scenery and friendly people everywhere we went. The only downsides were the 12 1/2 hour plane flight from LA to Auckland, and the narrow windy roads (we Californians are spoiled with our freeway systems). I would go back in a heartbeat, but I think the DH is now searching for a GOOD DEAL to Egypt!

As you will recall, Sven, the cabana boys, gladiators, and hockey hunks all took a summer vacation this year to Orlando with most of the Banditas. The exceptions were Paolo, Lars, Marcus, and Zach who were left behind with Posh, Jo-Mama, and Aunty to hold down the Lair. Being the generous sort, Aunty has granted our "Left Behind" boys a few days for their own off season vacation.

Please tell us where Paolo, Lars, Marcus, and Zach should go on their vacation and why! The boys will be forever grateful and Aunty will even give an autographed copy of one of her books (winner's choice) to one randomly selected commenter!


Linda Henderson said...

Come to me O Golden one.

Linda Henderson said...

I think they should go to Hawaii and work on their tan. They could go surfing with Jane Porter's husband and hang out at the beach.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Linda,
You and the GR are getting to be quite a little item! (Aunty raises her eyebrow knowingly)

Hawaii sounds LOVELY! Perhaps I need to go along as a 'chaperone'...


Anna Campbell said...

Linda, huge congrats! Gee, you were quick off the mark!

AC, how fabulous! And I love the photos. As you know, I'm going to New Zealand for the first time at the end of the year when I'm the guest speaker on a P&O cruise. How cool is that? I can hardly wait! So happy you had a wonderful time!

Helen said...

Well done Linda enjoy your day with him

I still can't believe that your were only a few hours from me and I didn't get to meet you in person :( one day. Those photos are really lovely I haven't been to NZ but one of my daughtes has and she too loved it and I do have and Aunty who comes from NZ although from the South Island Christchurch that was hit with the earthquake a few weeks ago.

As for where the Boys should go for a holiday I think they should visit me here in Australia I am sure I could show them a good time LOL

I so wish I could go on that cruise

Have Fun

Jane said...

Congrats on the GR, Linda.

Hi Aunty Cindy,
You really need to take me along on all your adventures. I really hope to visit Egypt soon, but it's pretty pricey. Great pics. I've wanted to see New Zealand since the LOTR trilogy came out. I'm not exactly sure where in NZ they filmed those movies, but I hear it's beautiful everywhere. I think the boys might enjoy a Mediterranean cruise. They deserve to be pampered for a few days. They could receive massages instead of giving them.

PinkPeony said...

Hi Loucinda!

Maybe the boys should book a cruise on the Queen Elizabeth or Queen Mary 2 from NY to London...and from there, hop on the Orient Express to Vienna. That's definitely on my bucket list.
Congrats on the GR, Linda!

barb said...

Well done Linda... don't spoil him too much.

My husband gave me 2 hours notice as a surprise for our 35th wedding anniversary, a few years ago, to pack for a trip to New Zealand to meet up with the bestman who we had not seen for over 30 years.

I agree with Helen and they should come to Sydney and I would put 2 up and Helen the other 2... don't mind which ones I have LOL We would show them all the sights in Sydney

PinkPeony said...

Oops..I wrote "Vienna", I meant "Venice". :)

Kim in Hawaii said...

Aloha! Of course the Left Behind Boys should come to Hawaii! They can surf on the North Shore, snorkel in Hananauma Bay with the turtles, hike up Diamond Head, ... and that's just on Oahu!

Welcome mat is always out for Bandits, the Boys, and their readers!

Laurie said...

Ever since I saw LOTR I've wanted to see New Zealand. Glad that you had a nice time.

I'd take the men to Croatia. I have neighbors from there. They say it's beautiful, reasonable and still relatively uncrowded.

PJ said...

Gorgeous photos, AC! I'd love to visit NZ and Australia one day. It's one of my goals. :)

Send the guys down here to South Carolina! I have plenty of room and would love to show them around. There are water sports on the lake, hiking in the mountains, beautiful waterfalls. We could re-enact the scene from "Last of the Mohicans." *g*

I'd introduce them to tailgating and football, Southern style, with mouth-watering food and 80,000 fans roaring their approval on a crisp, clear autumn day.

I also have a kitchen large enough to fit all of us and a few local Bandita Buddies too. Think of the fun we could have playing with all that chocolate!

Christie Kelley said...

AC, that is one of my bucket list vacations too. But that one will wait until the kids are older and out of the house so they don't think they're coming along.

The trip sounds fantastic. You should look into writing for travel magazines :)

As far as Sven and the boys, I think they need a good trip to Ireland. Then again, maybe I'll tag along with them.

Barbara E. said...

I think the boys should come to Orlando, to see what they missed. We have lots to do here, there are 7 amusement parks in the immediate area, the Kennedy Space Center is nearby, and the weather is getting nicer, not so stifling hot but still warm.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Morning Everyone,

(Aunty yawns expansively)

Fo, I'd love to come along on your cruise! And the holiday season is a great time for cruising. I know you're going to LOVE N-Zed.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Helen,
I can't wait to visit the south island. It has a lot less people and even more stunning scenery. But first I need to come back to Oz for another visit. I heard Quantas is giving some deals on low fares so you never know WHEN I might be knocking on your door...


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

The LOTR cemented my desire to visit NZ too! Many of the outdoor scenes were shot on the south island, but Peter Jackson's studio is on the north island in Wellington. There's also the set of Hobbiton on the north island that they've now turned into a tourist attraction. Nope, didn't go there. But you can definitely see where Jackson got so much of his inspirations.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Oh, and Jane, if the boys get to go on that Mediterranian cruise, I'm DEFINITELY going along. I think you should too!

Same with that Trans-Atlantic crossing on the Queen Mary, Pink! We need to 'supervise.' ;-) But I'm afraid I'll bow out of the Orient Express. I can't sleep worth a darn on trains, and believe me, I have TRIED!


catslady said...

I love the cruise idea - so many choices from Alaska, to the Carribbean or Mediterranean etc. The best part about cruises is you really have everything you want onboard (without worrying about luggage) but on the other hand you can get off at every port and explore touristy spots or out of the way adventures.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Barb,
What a FUN anniversary present! No wonder you keep your hubby around. ;-) Mine usually gives me a bit more notice than 2 hours, though it often feels like a few days is not enough time to get ready. Luckily, I always keep some items ALWAYS packed in my suitcase. :-)

I'm worried if we send the boys off to visit you and Helen that they might never come back! They will recognize what a good thing the GR has going Down Under and that will be the last we see of them.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I have hiked those 99 steps up Diamond Head -- WHEW! The boys will be in good shape after a few runs up and down those! And I LURVE Hananauma Bay!

If the boys don't visit you, I might have to anyway. ;-)


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

The pictures I've seen of Croatia look spectacular! Dubrovnik is the best preserved walled city in Europe, or so I've heard. And there are some spectacular lakes and forest regions inland.



Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

You are sooo right about cruising being most convenient. I LOVE only having to unpack once and always knowing where I'm going to eat dinner! Priorities you know. :-P

ready for cruise #17

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

A road trip to South Carolina sounds EXCELLENT! And, of course, re-enacting scenes from LOTM sounds like TONS of FUN! It could give new meaning to "the hills are alive!" ;-)


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Morning Christie,
Hope you awoke to quiet this am. ;-)

Actually, NZ reminded me a lot of Ireland -- very rural, small windy roads, super GREEN (even in winter) and super nice people...


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Barbara E.
Sending the boys to Orlando to follow in the others' footsteps has a lot of merit! They've been casting a lot of covetous glances on the souvenirs Sven and the other Cabana Boys have hanging in their rooms.

who much prefers Florida in Jan. or Feb. ;-)

Caren Crane said...

Linda, congrats on snagging the Golden Rooster. Better watch out or people will talk about you two! ;-)

AC, I dream of going to NZ one day. It is so beautiful and full of fun things to do. I could hike to my heart's content!

I'm not sure where the Left Behind boys would go on holiday. They all seem to be tired of frolicking in the tropical sun since they have been cabana boys so long now. I think, since it's nearing the end of September, they should head to Germany for Oktoberfest! Zach would definitely love that and I think the other boys would get the hang of it in a hurry.

Yes, Oktoberfest would be a great time. I may have to join them!

Caren Crane said...

Fo, I am so jealous of your cruise! It will be lovely. You must share pictures!

Caren Crane said...

Darling Helen, I'm sure the boys would have a blast in Australia! It will just be spring now, so maybe they could do lots of outdoor activities and wear themselves out. They are rather a high-energy lot!

Caren Crane said...

Pink, I would take either Venice or Vienna. I'm not picky!!

Caren Crane said...

Barbara E, the Orlando trip (without conference duties attached) sounds like a boys' paradise! I'm sure they would love Universal and all the roller coasters!

Gannon Carr said...

Oh, Aunty, lucky you! New Zealand and Australia are definitely on my bucket list!

The Boys would love Italy, I'm sure (I know I do!) and maybe Greece. Of course, if they want to stay in the old U.S. of A., they can always come over to the mountains of NC. The weather is glorious, and I'm sure I can find a few creative ways to entertain them. *g*

Laurie said...

New Zealand sounds lovely! My husband's cousin lives there and we'd love to visit.

I think the boys should visit Scotland. I'd love to see them all in kilts competing in highland games. ;)

Kim Colby said...

I'm actually from NZ but now living in the U.S.

So glad to hear you enjoyed your trip there.

I've stood in that exact same spot on the bridge over the Huka Falls many times...the rush and churning of the water never ceases to mesmerise me.

Hopefully I'll be able to go back for a visit to catch up with all my family soon, I didn't realise how lovely it all was until I left :o)

Lady_Graeye said...

I think they should take an aadventure that coincide with the events/holidays that occur in the next three months. Start them off in Salem, Mass. to party with some real witches. Thanksgiving brings them to New York City for the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and a quick gaunt to Plymouth for a lovely dinner at B&B. Christmas takes the smexy boys home to see momma cause you know momma has to have all of her babies home for the hoidays. New Years Eve rounds out our big adventure on Easter Island to be the first to bring in the New Year on an exotic island. I could have left them in New York for the Rockin New Year's Eve party with Dick Clark but hey, everyone wants to do that...right?

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Oktoberfest in Old Munich sounds GREAT but I'm afraid we wouldn't get the boys back for quite a loong time if we let them go gallivanting there. You and I could DEFINITELY have to go along and supervise! ;-)


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Posh and Pink,
I've never been to Vienna... Forget the boys, Let's GO!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I adore Italy too! And I haven't seen nearly enough of Greece...

The mountains of North Carolina are gorgeous! I have a mouse pad on my desk from Chimney Rock. ;-) Yes, I have great faith in you finding ways to entertain the boys if we decide to send them your way. (VBG)


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I HIGHLY recommend a visit to your hubby's cousin where ever in NZ s/he happens to live!

As for the Left Behind Boys in kilts... a HUGE YES for that. But they are NOT going to Scotland without Aunty! I've only ever been to Edinburgh and that was waaay too long ago. I need to go back SOON!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Kim C,
Thanx a BUNCH for stopping by. Your homeland is indeed STUNNING! We spent quite a bit of time in Rotorua and explored that area with all the lakes and the fantastic hot springs. When people tell me to go to H*LL (which happens quite often) I can now honestly reply, "I've already been to Hell's Gate!" LOL!

P.S. I'll be putting up more pictures soon on my Aunty Cindy blog. Hope you'll stop by and take a look.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Lady Graeye,
FORGET the boys, I want you to plan MY next itinerary! Easter Island?!?! I'd LOVE to go!


flchen1 said...

Let the boys take an extensive tour of the Far East--so much cool stuff to see and do and EAT! ;) You can go along if you'd like :D

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Fedora,
The Far East sounds FAB! I've already been to Thailand and China and am ready to go back to both. Of course there are dozens of other places in Asia and South East Asia I'd love to visit also.

Thanx for popping by,

Kim Colby said...

LOL....all the family holidays, from when we were young children, were spent in a cabin right on the edge of Lake Rotorua, I mean you could stand on the deck and spit in the lake it was that

Awesome times. I'll look forward to seeing the rest of your photos.