Searching for locations: Taurangi, it’s an interesting town

Located at the bottom of Lake Taupo, in New Zealand, staying here would make more sense if you were here for the fishing, and, well, the skiing or the hiking, or just a relaxing half hour in the thermal pools.

I saw a sign somewhere that said that Taurangi was New Zealand’s premier fishing spot. I might have got the wrong, but it seems to me they’re right. On the other side of town, heading towards Taupo, there’s a lodge that puts up fly fishermen, and where you can see a number of them in an adjacent river trying their luck.

It’s what I would be doing if I had the patience.

But Taurangi is a rather central place to stay, located at the southernmost point of the lake. From there it is not far from the snowfields of Whakapapa and Turoa. Equally, at different times of the year, those ski fields become walking or hiking tracks, and the opportunity to look into a dormant volcano, Ruapehu.

It is basically surrounded by hills and mountains on three sides and a lake on the other. Most mornings, and certainly everyone is different, there is a remarkable sunrise, particularly from where we were staying on the lake, where it could be cloudy, clear, or just cold and refreshing, with a kaleidoscope of colors from the rising sun.

I don’t think I’ve been there to see two days the same.

However, Taurangi, on most days we’ve visited, is even more desolate than Taupo, both on the main street and the central mall. The same couldn’t be said for the precinct where New World, the local supermarket, a Z petrol station can be found. There it is somewhat more lively. The fact there’s a few more shops and a restaurant might help traffic flow.

There is also a mini golf course, and in the middle of winter, it is a bleak place to be, especially in the threatening rain, and the wind. It had also seen better days and in parts, in need of a spruce up, but it’s winter, and there are no crowds, so I guess it will wait till the Spring.

In the mall, there’s the expected bank, newsagent, gift shop and post office combined, and a number of other gift shops/galleries. But the best place is the café which I’ve never seen empty and has an extended range of pies pastries and cakes, along with the fast food staples of chips and chicken.
Oh, and you can also get a decent cup of coffee there.

There are two other coffee shops but we found this one the first time we came, we were given a warm welcome and assistance, and have never thought to go anywhere else, despite two known change of owners.

But despite all these reasons why someone might want to stay there, we don’t.

We have a timeshare, and there’s a timeshare in Pukaki called Oreti Village. That’s where we stay.

Searching for locations: Toowoomba Flower Festival, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia

The Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers is held in September, and this year ran from the 20th September through to the 30th.

We visited the Laurel Bank Park, where there are beds of many colorful flowers,

open spaces,

statues,

an area set aside for not only tulips but a model windmill

and quite a number of hedge sculptures

There was also the opportunity to go on a morning or afternoon garden tour which visited a number of private gardens of residences in Toowoomba.

Searching for locations: – Lake Louise, Canada, ice, snow, and cold

The Fairmont at Lake Louise, in Canada, is noted for its ice castle in winter.  This has been created by the ice sculptor, Lee Ross since 2007, using about 150 blocks of ice, each weighing roughly 300 pounds.

When I first saw it, from a distance, looked like it was made out of plastic  It’s not.  Venturing out into the very, very cold, a close inspection showed it was made of ice.


And, it’s not likely to melt in a hurry given the temperature when I went down to look at it was hovering around minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit.


And that was the warmest part of the day.

Searching for locations: – Lake Louise, Canada, ice, snow, and cold

The Fairmont at Lake Louise, in Canada, is noted for its ice castle in winter.  This has been created by the ice sculptor, Lee Ross since 2007, using about 150 blocks of ice, each weighing roughly 300 pounds.

When I first saw it, from a distance, looked like it was made out of plastic  It’s not.  Venturing out into the very, very cold, a close inspection showed it was made of ice.


And, it’s not likely to melt in a hurry given the temperature when I went down to look at it was hovering around minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit.


And that was the warmest part of the day.

Searching for locations: Lake Louise, Canada

We survived the first night and woke the next morning to look at the sun rising, and the fact everyone else was not lingering in bed when there was ice, snow, skating, skiing, and walking on (perhaps) thin ice to be done.

I was the first to brave the elements, it was about mins 10 still, or maybe a little colder, but I had come prepared with a hat, gloves, multiple layers of clothing and a (maybe) windproof jacket.

Of course, there was no wind, just cold.

Stepping out of the warm inside of the hotel to the cold outside was a shock, but after a minute or so to get used to it, I still didn’t think I’d be out too long.

First, a photo of the hotel, it was immense, and it explained why there were so many people about.

Then it was the partly frozen trees.  I suspect there had been a little thawing of the snow on the branches

Then of the frozen lake, and it is quite a large lake, and incredible one so large could completely freeze.  I’d like to see it in summer.

Then the brave adventurers who, in summer would be rowing to the end of the lake, who now were taking a hike, and praying no doubt, there was no thin ice

Were they trying to get a close look at this mountain, or considering climbing it.  Yes, there were actual mountain climbers staying at the hotel, and though we didn’t know it till later, there was a frozen waterfall which proved the most adventurous with an interesting challenge

More of course, on a unique feature at this hotel, the ice castle.

Searching for locations: Lake Louise, Canada

We survived the first night and woke the next morning to look at the sun rising, and the fact everyone else was not lingering in bed when there was ice, snow, skating, skiing, and walking on (perhaps) thin ice to be done.

I was the first to brave the elements, it was about mins 10 still, or maybe a little colder, but I had come prepared with a hat, gloves, multiple layers of clothing and a (maybe) windproof jacket.

Of course, there was no wind, just cold.

Stepping out of the warm inside of the hotel to the cold outside was a shock, but after a minute or so to get used to it, I still didn’t think I’d be out too long.

First, a photo of the hotel, it was immense, and it explained why there were so many people about.

Then it was the partly frozen trees.  I suspect there had been a little thawing of the snow on the branches

Then of the frozen lake, and it is quite a large lake, and incredible one so large could completely freeze.  I’d like to see it in summer.

Then the brave adventurers who, in summer would be rowing to the end of the lake, who now were taking a hike, and praying no doubt, there was no thin ice

Were they trying to get a close look at this mountain, or considering climbing it.  Yes, there were actual mountain climbers staying at the hotel, and though we didn’t know it till later, there was a frozen waterfall which proved the most adventurous with an interesting challenge

More of course, on a unique feature at this hotel, the ice castle.

It’s raining, it’s pouring…

Yes, and with the residual summer heat, it’s almost unbearable. I guess it might have something to do with climate change.

But, assumptions aside, I guess that’s about all we can expect from being nearly at the end of summer.

Outside, its been overcast most of the day, but I have to go out so I’m sure we’re going to get rain.

It’s been threatening for the last few days, and the meterology department, who rarely get the weather right, have been telling us there’s big storm movements coming our way.

The other night we got a hint of it with a few short sharp heavy falls, but then nothing.

So, half past two in the afternoon and I’m off on the grand child pickup run, one from the school up the road, and one from the railway stations some distance away.

Sitting in the car, I’m watching the dark clouds gather, whilst in the other direction the sky is blue. A rather fascinating contrast. Then, suddenly, as it hit 3 pm, time to collect the child, you guessed it, it began to rain.

Not five minutes before, not=r five minutes after, but just as I stopped at the slot for her to get in.

One wet child in the back.

We then head for the railway station, about three km away, and half way there, stuck in a traffic jam, the rain stops. I get a call from the child on the train, just to make sure I have remembered to pick her up.

The clouds are black and low, but there’s no rain.

Instead we have a lightning display, and sit in the car counting the seconds after the bright lightning strike. Younger grand daughter is trying to be brave, but the cracking thunder scares the both of us.

The train is arriving, and, you guessed it, the rain suddenly becomes torrential, and poor elder grand daughter gets drenched in the short distances from the train to the car.

A few minutes later it stops.

Weather is unpredictable, and sometimes a complete pain. At least I didn’t have to get out of the car, but the damp children, that will live on for a day or so as all wet material does, and for some reason seems to be worse in cars.

Let’s see if the weather can be kinder to us tomorrow.

Oh, and something else, we need the rain, specially for my garden. Water is very expensive these days, where once it was not.

Searching for locations: Vancouver to Kamloops, Canada

This morning started with a visit to the car rental place in Vancouver.  It reinforced the notion that you can be given the address and still not find the place.  It happened in Washington where it was hiding in the back of the main railway station, and it happened again in Vancouver when it was hidden inside a hotel.

We simply walked straight past it.  Pity there wasn’t a sign to let people know.

However…

We went in expecting a Grand Jeep Cherokee and walked out with a Ford Flex, suitable for three people and four large suitcases.  It actually seats 7, but forget the baggage, you’d be lucky to get two large suitcases in that configuration.

It is more than adequate for our requirements.

Things to note, it was delivered with just over a quarter of a tank of gas, and it had only done about 11,000 km, so it’s relatively new.  It’s reasonably spacious, and when the extra seats are folded down, there is plenty of baggage space.

So far, so good.

We finally leave the hotel about half-past ten, and it is raining.  It is a simple task to get on Highway 1, the TransCanada Highway, initially, and then onto Highway 5, the Coquihalla highway for the trip to Kamloops.

It rains all the way to the top of the mountain, progress hampered from time to time by water sprays from both vehicles and trucks.  The rain is relentless.  At the top of the mountain, the rain turns into snow and the road surface to slush.  It’s 0 degrees, but being the afternoon, I was not expecting it to turn to ice very quickly.

On the other side of the mountain, closer to Kamloops, there was sleet, then rain, then nothing, the last 100kms or so, in reasonably dry conditions.

Outside Kamloops, and in the town itself, there was evidence of snow recently cleared, and slushy roads.  Cars in various places were covered in snow, indicating the most recent falls had been the night before.

We’re staying at the Park Hotel, a heritage building, apparently built in the later 1920s.  In the style of the time, it is a little like a rabbit warren with passages turning off in a number of directions, and showing it is spread across a number of different buildings.

It has the original Otis elevator that can take a maximum of four passengers, and a sign on the wall that says “no horseplay inside the elevator” which is a rather interesting expression that only someone of my vintage would understand.  And, for those without a sense of humor, you definitely couldn’t fit a horse in it to play with.

The thing is, how do you find a balance between keeping the old world charm with modern day expectations.  You can’t.  Some hotels try valiantly to get that balance.  Here, it is simply old world charm, which I guess we should be grateful for because sooner rather than later it’s going to disappear forever.

In my writer’s mind, given the importance of the railways, this was probably a thriving place for travelers and once upon a time, there were a lot more hotels like this one.

Searching for locations: Taurangi, it’s an interesting town

Located at the bottom of Lake Taupo, in New Zealand, staying here would make more sense if you were here for the fishing, and, well, the skiing or the hiking, or just a relaxing half hour in the thermal pools.

I saw a sign somewhere that said that Taurangi was New Zealand’s premier fishing spot. I might have got the wrong, but it seems to me they’re right. On the other side of town, heading towards Taupo, there’s a lodge that puts up fly fishermen, and where you can see a number of them in an adjacent river trying their luck.

It’s what I would be doing if I had the patience.

But Taurangi is a rather central place to stay, located at the southernmost point of the lake. From there it is not far from the snowfields of Whakapapa and Turoa. Equally, at different times of the year, those ski fields become walking or hiking tracks, and the opportunity to look into a dormant volcano, Ruapehu.

It is basically surrounded by hills and mountains on three sides and a lake on the other. Most mornings, and certainly everyone is different, there is a remarkable sunrise, particularly from where we were staying on the lake, where it could be cloudy, clear, or just cold and refreshing, with a kaleidoscope of colors from the rising sun.

I don’t think I’ve been there to see two days the same.

However, Taurangi, on most days we’ve visited, is even more desolate than Taupo, both on the main street and the central mall. The same couldn’t be said for the precinct where New World, the local supermarket, a Z petrol station can be found. There it is somewhat more lively. The fact there’s a few more shops and a restaurant might help traffic flow.

There is also a mini golf course, and in the middle of winter, it is a bleak place to be, especially in the threatening rain, and the wind. It had also seen better days and in parts, in need of a spruce up, but it’s winter, and there are no crowds, so I guess it will wait till the Spring.

In the mall, there’s the expected bank, newsagent, gift shop and post office combined, and a number of other gift shops/galleries. But the best place is the café which I’ve never seen empty and has an extended range of pies pastries and cakes, along with the fast food staples of chips and chicken.
Oh, and you can also get a decent cup of coffee there.

There are two other coffee shops but we found this one the first time we came, we were given a warm welcome and assistance, and have never thought to go anywhere else, despite two known change of owners.

But despite all these reasons why someone might want to stay there, we don’t.

We have a timeshare, and there’s a timeshare in Pukaki called Oreti Village. That’s where we stay.

Searching for locations: Central Park, New York

It’s a place to go and spot the movie starts, or perhaps their dogs.

It’s a place to go for long walks on idyllic spring or autumn days

It’s a place to go to look at a zoo, though I didn’t realize there was one until I made a wrong turn.

It’s a place to go for a horse and carriage ride, although it does not last that long

It’s a place to go to look at statues, fountains, architecture, and in winter, an ice skating rink

I’m sure there’s a whole lot more there that I don’t know about.

I have to say I’ve only visited in winter, and the first time there was snow, the second, none.

Both times it was cold, but this didn’t seem to deter people.

But…

We escaped, before the real cold set in, and made it back to the hotel.  We’re going to return because there’s more to see.

Like statues,

Sir Walter Scott, of Ivanhoe fame, a Scottish historical novelist, poet, playwright, and historian

Robert Burns was a Scottish poet and lyricist,  He is regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement

Christopher Columbus, hang on, how did he get in this collection?

Fitz-Greene Halleck was an American poet notable for his satires and sometimes called “the American Byron”

And someone who’s not dead, and not likely to freeze in the cold air, a drummer, who was doing his best to entertain the few people who stopped to list.

And he wasn’t all that bad, either.