Today ended up being a park kind of day. I started off at Hagley Park. Today is a holiday in New Zealand (it’s Monday), so there were a lot of families out and about enjoying the nice weather.


After that I went to Mona Vale, which is a very nice garden. It felt so far away from the city, even though it was quite close. It reminded me of the Arboretum. Because it is spring, the roses weren’t out, but I imagine the rose garden is quite nice. Speaking of spring, I forgot to mention that I saw a lilac tree yesterday in Akaroa. I smelled it before I saw it. I so love the smell of lilacs. It was a special treat. The Avon River flows through the Mona Vale, and I got some good shots there.


The highlight of the day for me was Riccarton Bush. I felt like I was in forest when I ventured into the grove area. The area is the remnants of the Canterbury original forest. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went, but it blew my mind. It was so quiet. No city noise. Just the sound of birds and animals moving around. I would recommend this place as a much see, and it is free. According to my guidebook, some of the kahikatea trees are half-millennium-old. I really like tree trunks and I like to see old roots that seem to pop out of the ground. The roots run deep.


I also went to the Botanic Gardens, which is next to Hagley Park. I enjoyed it. I don’t think I saw all of it. I was started to get tired, and I had been walking quite a bit by then.


But alas, I did keep walking. I had been eyeing the tram even though I thought it was kind of pricey. So I decided to walk the loop map. It didn’t take me anywhere new, but it was a sure fire way to see all of the main spots in the center. I also walked it out of order as I added in the parks where they fell along the route.


So I took the route: Cathedral Junction – New Regent Street, Victoria Square (which is closed) – Casino – Cranmer Square – Hagley Park Corner – I then ventured off course to go Mona Vale and Riccarton Bush and the Botanic Garden – before coming back on line for Worcester Boulevard – Art Gallery – City Punting – Cathedral Square – Mill Island – The Terrace – Ballantynes – Manchester – The Crossing – High Street. So a little out of order. It was a good walk though.


No bloopers to report. It’s only 8:30 p.m. right now, but I feel really tired so will go to bed early. I feel like I am getting good rest. I have just been doing a lot of walking.


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Akaroa and the drive there

There is one other guest at the Airbnb I am staying at. His name is Johannes, and he is from Germany. The days are starting to blend, but I believe he came the day after me. When we see each, we stop and chat. When I saw him yesterday, we were talking about things we had did or things we had planned to do. I mentioned I was going to go to Akaroa (I had planned on signing up for a day tour from a company because none of the metro buses go there). It just so happens he had planned to rent a car to go there today, so I was able to ride with him. It was a blessing because I think the tours here are very expensive. For example, one of the Lord of the Rings tours in over $200. While I love Lord of the Rings, I won’t pay that about to see a location that has been extremely digitally enhanced.


We left in the morning, and he drove there. It is weird being on the wrong side of the street, but I get used to it. We stopped along the way there for impromptu photos. So I have a lot of great pictures from the drive there (and back). It was such a beautiful drive.


When we got there, we walked around, had a picnic lunch, walked some more, and had coffee/hot chocolate. We talked about a wide range of topics. After spending the last days by myself, it was nice to have someone to talk to.


On the way back, we took a different route for part of the way, so we were able to get some other shots.


Akaroa is about an hour and half away from Christchurch. The first Europeans who came to the area were from France. So some of the architecture has a French influence and some of the street names are French. It was a quaint town, and I am glad I had a chance to go. It was one of the places recommended to me by Stephie.


No bloopers for today, so I will share one that happened on the flight down. Now mind you, I was tired. Before I go to sleep, I lock my backpack. The key is supposed to be in the small travel purse I wear around my body when traveling. I can cover it with a blanket when I am sleeping. Anyway, long story short, the key was in my backpack when I locked it. I had a moment of panic because the address to the B&B and instructions on which bus to take to get there were in it. I asked one of the flight attendants if he had a pair of scissors. I was willing to sacrifice the bag. He said he would check. After a while, Stephie and I started trying to pick the lock, which was not working (which is not a bad thing). Anyway, longer story short, Stephie was able to play with the zipper and get the backpack to open enough for me to squeeze some fingers in to unzip the pocket the key was in and pull it out. That is not a mistake I will be repeating anytime soon. Always make sure the key is where it should be before locking luggage.

I will edit when I get home :).

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Sumner, Taylor’s Mistake, Godley Head

Today, I opted to take the bus to Sumner, which is a beach suburb. It was supposed to be a nice quiet day at the beach, then what had happened was…


I started the day at the beach in Sumner. It felt nice to be on the water on a very warm day. I walked along the beach. Listened to the waves. Took pictures. Saw Cave Rock.


My guidebook mentioned a place called Taylor’s Mistake that was an hour walk from the Sumner beach. In my head, this walk was flat and along the water. It was not. So I started walking toward it, and I realized I was heading up hill. I made eyes with a jogger, and he stopped to help. He said the path goes uphill and confirmed that it would take about an hour to get there. He told me I could hitch a ride there because that’s what all the local kids do. But he did assure me that the walk would be worth it.


Now I have been watching ION television Saturdays when I clean, and they have a marathon of Law and Order SVU, and I sometimes end up watching way more episodes than I intended. Then on Sundays, they have a marathon of Criminal Minds. I am pretty sure that is how one of those stories start. I was like, yeah, no. I will call this today’s blooper. If I ever were to have a reality television show, part of the show would have to be playing out the thoughts that go through my mind because the thought of hitching a ride brought so many shows to my mind.


I love to walk. I love to walk on flat areas. There were many, many times, I thought to turn around because I hate cardio and I hate walking up steep places. But I kept going. Then I would pause and catch my breath. I finally made it to the top to discover that the trail going down had been closed because of the earthquake. So I walked down using the sidewalk then side of the road when the sidewalk ending. I will have to say, it was worth the journey. So he was right, as was the woman I saw later who confirmed I was heading in the right direction. There were less surfers and people there, so it was more peaceful. But the waves in both places were amazing.


Now I realized I needed to walk back up the hill to get back to the Sumner beach. This is why the next part of the story makes no sense.


So the guidebook also mentioned Godley Head. I am not sure how I ended up walking up and down, then up and down some more on that pathway. It was there, and I did it. So then when it was time to walk back up the hill to get back to Sumner, I was double tired. And thirsty. I half-heartedly walked along Sumner’s streets of shops and restaurants. But I was really just looking for somewhere to buy some Gatorade. I am not sure how long I hiked. It was hours, and I know I will sleep very well tonight.

In general, I did not plan to do any hiking, but I find myself having hiked two days in a row.

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Lyttelton, Diamond Harbor, Gondola

When I rode the metro bus from the airport to the stop near my B&B, I noticed that the station was playing a lot of 80’s music. Today when I took the metro bus to Lyttelton, I noticed the same thing. Gotta love 80’s music.

Lyttelton sounded like an interesting place to do a day trip, mainly because it is a port city. It is about 7 miles southeast of central Christchurch. The first stop was the wharf to take a ferry over to Diamond Harbor. I wasn’t sure on the timing of the ferry, but I ended up having to wait 50 minutes. So I walked around and got some pictures of the port activity. It is so nice to see a working waterfront. I took the ferry over to Diamond Harbor. I did a little bit of walking around and started down this trail before it was time to return to catch the ferry back to Lyttelton. I am considering this trip prep for the Seattle half in November. Once back in Lyttelton, I walked around for a few hours. I walked up and down hills looking at different streets. The main street was London Street and there was a square called Albion Square. Originally, I thought about going tomorrow because they have a market, but I have plenty of market pictures from my travels. The homes there are on the slopes of Port Hills. I imagined I would be driving up and down them if I lived there. I walked by a church that had a funeral service happening. There was overflow into the courtyard, and I heard a little bit of the words. It felt very intimate. I could see were Lyttelton could be a place to come and relax for the day. It is very small and compact.

On the way to Lyttelton, the bus stopped at the gondola entrance, which was an aha moment. So I abbreviated my time between Diamond Harbor and Lyttelton to get off at the gondola stop on the way back since going there was in my plans anyway. In case we have not met, I do not like gondola rides. For me, they are up there with zip lining, which I did once…totally out of my comfort zone. On this ride, it stopped for what felt like two minutes toward the top. It was rocking, and I was like, “Why, Lord, why?” I didn’t panic though. Lol! It was beautiful. Very nice views of Christchurch and Lyttelton/Diamond Harbor (it was cool to look down and see where I had been). I did a bit of hiking. I followed the trail to the Cavendish Bluff Lookout. I went a little further before turning back. The saying, “What goes up, must come down.” Needs to be reversed. “What goes down, must come up.” This is especially true when talking about hills. But certainly worth the view.

I need to do an article of travel saving tips. I can think of a few from this trip. Like there is a shuttle that leaves the Botanical Gardens that goes to the gondola. But for half the cost, you can take a local bus. Now granted, the local bus will take longer because of the number of stops, but if you are watching your dollars and not constrained for time, it’s one of the costs that could add up. I also want to write an article about balancing travel. For me the sweet spot is three nights, at least, in each city. More if you want to do day trips from the spot. But one or two nights per place is exhausting, and I have done that before.

I would like to add a bloopers part to the travel blog posts. These stories will lean toward the funny. The thing about the blog is that it is the highlights. It doesn’t capture things like missed buses, wrong buses, wrong gates, or funny things that happen.

Today’s Blooper:

When I got to the gondola, I was told what time the last ride down available was. No problems. I had plenty of time. So then what had happened was, when I got back, the gate leading back to the building was locked. I tried walking around the corner to see if there was another entrance. There was not. So I had no choice, I had to climb the fence. I had not climbed a fence in a long time. I opted for the wooden part, not the wire part. One day, if I ever run for office, I am sure there is a video of me climbing that fence that will surface. I had to hike up my skirt and climb over. It was not graceful or pretty. I kept thinking, I am going to create an international incident with “breaking and entering.” But I made it over. Lol!

I actually wanted to write more and give more detail about yesterday, but I feel the bed calling. Last night, I went to bed at 9:30 and got up at 8:30, so I am still tired from the trip over. Depending on what tomorrow bring, I may have time to write more. I also wanted to post more pictures. But I need to go to bed.

As always, I will edit when I get home.

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Christchurch – Day One

I made it safe and sound to Christchurch.


I left Tuesday evening and arrived Thursday morning. Christchurch is 20 hours ahead. So, it makes for an interesting dynamic in terms of jetlag. It’s kind of like traveling to the east coast, only it’s the next day.


I had a pleasant surprise when I got to the airport. My colleague, Christine, was also there. She too was heading down to Southern Cal but on a different flight.


On my flight from LAX to Auckland, I sat next to a woman younger than me. She had spent three weeks in the states touring. It turns out she is from Christchurch, she gave me some ideas of things I can do here and perhaps some day trips.


Christchurch had two big earthquakes. One in 2010 and the other in 2011. They are still rebuilding. There is construction everywhere and a lot of buildings that are partly standing, damaged. There is also a lot of open spaces.


The first place I went was Cardboard Cathedral. It is a transitional building for the neo-Gothic Cathedral that collapsed during the 2011 earthquake. It is made of cardboard, wood, and steel. Part of the structure reminds me of the paper towel tubes. I went back later for a choral evensong of the men’s choir. Both times, I met very kind and engaging people.


A street away is an art piece that has 185 white chairs and stools. They represent the 185 people killed in the 2011 earthquake.


I went to Cathedral Square and saw the ruins of the Christchurch Cathedral. The cost to rebuild seems to be cost prohibitive,


There is a niffy mall called Re:START mall. When they were starting to rebuild, they used a lot of shipping containers. I have seen a lot of containers in the city in general.


I also went along Victoria Street, which is supposed to be a happening neighborhood. There was a church I wanted to see, Knox Presbyterian Church, but it is only opened until 12:00. I did see a cool Victorian Clock Tower along the way. Another trending neighborhood is New Regent Street. I think the goal is to recreate places where people can come and be social.


I basically did a lot of walking as I was trying to figure out where everything is and how everything comes together. A lot of streets end and then begin again, so it’s kind of weird.


For this leg of my trip I will be staying at an Airbnb. The hostess is extremely nice and friendly. The place is in a great location very close to the city center.


It is only 8:30 p.m. here, but I am looking forward to laying my tired head down. I did get some sleep on the plane, but it is not the same.


As always, I will edit when I get home.


More later


love. hug. xoxo. ltb.

PCC Scroll: Editor’s Corner – Preparing the Soil

The editing team met for our yearly retreat in July. Our retreats are an opportunity to reset and to refocus on the ministry and its purpose, which is “Spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ and equipping the People of God through the written word.” During the retreat, we talked about what was pressing in each of our spirits.


One editor talked about stretching physically, mentally and spiritually in preparation for what is to come. We become uncomfortable as we are being stretched. Muscles being stretched can be painful but expansion requires stretching.


Another editor reflected on how are our minds and hearts connecting in terms of what God is expecting. Who are we listening to? Who are we talking to? What are we saying? Are we imitating Christ or the world?


I shared a list of scriptures I have been meditating on. Scriptures like Jeremiah 1:5, Jeremiah 29:11, 1 Corinthians 2:9 and Isaiah 64:4. If you read the scriptures, you will see a common theme in all of them. They are scriptures that encourage me to maintain my journey.


As we talked, the conversation turned to gardening. The overarching theme that surfaced was “Preparing for the harvest: positioning ourselves to grow.” We thought the first step to preparing for the harvest was preparing the soil. The imagery that came to mind was getting rid of weeds and adding fertilizer to provide nutrients, which allows roots to grow deep to expand.


I consider the last few and the next few years of my life to be a time of preparation. I am on a journey of laying down the ground work for the direction I am heading. I can envision my desired future, and I am trying to lay a solid foundation to build upon.


As I reflect on my life and this current season (and think about the preparation work I feel I am doing now), I often wonder about the phrase “due season.” I wonder when due season will arrive. But perhaps I am taking the term out of context. In Leviticus 26:4, the Bible says, “Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.” Then in Galatians 6:9 it says, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”


In some ways, I want my envisioned future to manifest right now (well actually yesterday). My current struggle is resisting weariness as I impatiently wait for the shoots of my labor to spring forth. I occasionally catch myself fretting. I must remind myself to breathe and remember to trust in God’s timing, which is so much different than my own. This can be difficult when the journey of life takes those odd turns that leave me asking, “Why?”


In the end, I just need to continue laying down the foundation. I must believe that every situation that comes my way is a lesson that I needed to learn in preparation for my future.


I believe that many of us are working toward our hopes and dreams. All things will come to pass, “if we faint not.”


For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end,” Jeremiah 29:11.


PCC: Word of the Quarter – Parable of the Soils

To illustrate lessons on life, Jesus often told parables.


In Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20 and Luke 8:1-15, we find the Parable of the Sower, which is also referred to as the Parable of the Soils.


In verses 3-8 of Matthew 13, Jesus tells the parable to His disciples and the multitude. “…Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.”


It isn’t until verses 19-23 of Matthew 13 that Jesus explains the parable to His disciples. “When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the wayside. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”


Although this parable refers to the conditions of men’s hearts when they hear the Word of God, we can also use the analogy to illustrate the importance of preparing our soil as we position ourselves to grow in God and grow in ministry.


If we are preparing for future growth but unsure of our direction and filled with unbelief, our efforts can fall by the wayside and be devoured. Unfortunately, the fowl can also represent people in our lives who don’t understand our futures and can sometimes become a stumbling block.


If we are preparing for future growth but become discouraged by setbacks, then the stony ground of our hearts could cause us to walk away. Our gifts must be allowed to take root, or they will wither away at the first sign of adversity.


If we are preparing for future growth but become distracted by “all that glitters,” the cares of this life could choke out our fruit. We have to have the maturity to be able to stand where our gifts and talents might take us.


This is why it is so important to invest in preparing good ground. When planting seeds, it is important to allow space for roots to expand. It is important to pull away weeds that will compete for nourishment. And it is important to add fertilizer that adds nutrients to the soil and helps plants grow.


We invite you to prepare your soil.