Another “must visit” on this trip to Wellington was the Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre. They are very well known for their captive breeding efforts of rare and endangered birds, and my particular interest was the Campbell Island Teal – a small flightless duck that had become extinct on Campbell Island, but which survived on an off-shore island. When I was at Campbell Island in about 1990 Department of Conservation (DOC) sent a team down to go to Dent Island to capture some of these teal to bring them to Mount Bruce to breed in captivity prior to the massive effort to remove the rats from Campbell Island, after which the Teal would be returned. This was all remarkably successful – rats gone, teal bred and over 150 of them were returned to Campbell Island. I had been hoping that some remained at Mount Bruce, but alas they had all been returned to Campbell Island some years ago, so we didn’t get a chance to see them, but we did get a chance to see other birds – some like the Takahe and Kaka we’d seen at Zealandia the previous day, others like the Kakariki, and the Kiwi we hadn’t seen yet.

A couple of particular highlights – the Kiwi egg in the incubator that we could see where the chick inside was pipping away at the shell ready to break out, and also seeing the very rare white Kiwi Manukura running around in the darkened enclosure foraging for food. Since the Kiwis are nocturnal, they are very hard to see in the dim light available in the enclosure, but we did get to see the pair of them.

And a great visit with Marlene – Marlene and I were at school together from 1962 when we were both 7 year old founding pupils at Fernlea School in Wainuiomata, through to the end of 1971 when she finished her 6th Form year and went off to journalism school – 45½ years ago –  we hadn’t seen each other since until this day.

 

We arrived in Wellington mid-Friday morning, having left Michigan late Wednesday afternoon – about 24 hours of travel in 3 flights from Grand Rapids – Houston – Auckland – Wellington. Once the rental car was picked up (it took a while as apparently the Dixie Chicks were playing Napier tonight and so the rental car outfit had 40 cars scheduled for pickup today, many of them to do with that concert) it was off to Zealandia to have lunch and see the wildlife there.

A great day of weather for it, and I got to see 3 species I’ve never seen in the wild before – the Takahē, which was thought to be extinct until it was discovered in a remote part of New Zealand in 1948, The playful Kākā – kind of a cousin to the Kea, and the Tuatara a lizard species that has its origins 200 million years ago!! (I have seen Tuatara before in more captive situations like museums, but not out in a vast area like we saw them today.) I had never seen Kākā or Takahē until today.

 

A visit to Christchurch for a week to see my Dad in August 2016 coincided with the first daffodil blooms in Hagley Park, so after a visit to see Dad on a Saturday afternoon, brother Alistair and I set out in the wee rental car to see if we could find some.

Mission Accomplished.

 

Seventh day in Salt Lake City – it’s almost been a week already…

On Thursday I had been given an “FGS Ambassador” ribbon for my name tag by some of the team at the FGS Booth, and Friday morning a message from Laurie Desmarais informed me that I could sit in the Media and Ambassadors area in the Keynote Hall – quite the honour as we’re talking about a block of seats within 10-15 rows of the front right in front of centre stage, and a huge improvement from about 10 rows from the back where I’d sat the previous day. So I made my way in and ended up sitting with Dick Eastman, J Paul Hawthorne, Thomas MacEntee and others with a much improved view of the stage.

Today’s keynote speakers were D Joshua Taylor – President of FGS and Director of Family History at FindMyPast, and then former First Lady Laura Bush and her daughter Jenna Bush Hager.

Josh talked about some of the things FindMyPast is doing, including digitising the records behind PERSI (PERiodical Source Index), and then taking us on a wee trip back in his past, including the tale of how as a young boy he would take the cheese grater and cheese in to his bedroom because he loved grated cheese, and then a connection to a distant relative – one William Heaps –  who was transported to Australia for stealing cheese!!

Dennis Brimhall of FamilySearch introduced former First Lady Laura Bush, and quipped that if he messed up in front of the First Lady it will be recorded in the Presidential Library. (For some reason Friday’s Keynote was NOT streamed live as Thursday’s had been, and Saturday’s would be.)

Laura Bush took the stage next with an interesting address that talked about the years her family spent in the White House – both as a son and daughter-in-law of a President, and then 8 years later as President and First Lady – and the importance of family to their family. Her and President Bush are proud grandparents now, and she noted that Grandpa and Grandma seem to be going out of fashion now – she’s “Mimi Maxwell” and George wants the baby to call him “Sir”.

She talked about the events of September 11, 2001 and noted that they were taken to a location beneath the White House furnished “during the Truman years”. One other thing I scribbled down as she spoke was that she’s had to tell George “Turmoil in East Timor is no longer an excuse to not pick up your socks”. And at the first baseball game at Yankee Stadium after September 11, where President Bush threw out the first pitch, Derek Jeter told President Bush to “be a man – throw from the mound, but don’t bounce it or they’ll boo you”.

The second part of the session saw Jenna Bush Hager come to the stage and interview Laura Bush in a more informal manner that also had a few family tales thrown in.

After the Keynote session was over there was a mad crush to leave the hall and descend on the Vendor/Exhibitor Hall.

I spent a short while in the Exhibits Hall, and then went back into the main Keynote Hall to watch the finals of the “Innovator Showdown“. Continue reading »

 

Dear WordPress Blog

Well it’s been a while since we had a new roof put on our house in October 2012!!! For much of the past several years my “blogging” has been carried out on Facebook where it’s so easy to write a quick status, link up a couple of photos and post it, or to create a photo album in iPhoto and then post that directly to Facebook.

Saturday 7 Feb 2015 saw us on what is becoming a familiar drive – the 3 hours to Chicago O’Hare airport to fly away somewhere – it’s much cheaper to do this than to fly out of Grand Rapids. This time we’re off to Salt Lake City for research in the Family History Library and the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) 2015 conference being held in association with RootsTech put on by Family Search (the genealogy and family history part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints).

Having left home with about 12″ of snow covering the ground, it was somewhat surprising to see much of the middle of the country devoid of snow – even the mountains around Salt Lake City only have snow on their upper reaches – not a good scene if they were trying to run a Winter Olympics here right now.

Upon arrival, picked up a rental car so we’d have a car for Sunday to be “bloody tourists” and headed off to the Radisson Hotel. Got checked in there and met up with Australian genealogist and blogger Jill Ball and headed out for dinner. The Red Iguana gets great reviews so we walked the mile or so (downhill) to there only to find it was standing room only out on the footpath of people waiting to get in – wait time at least an hour. So we caught the Trax back into town and went to the Blue Lemon for a delicious very reasonably priced meal.

Next up is Sunday. We’re going in the aforementioned rental car to head out of town, on a couple of trips – up in to the mountains to the south to the Timpaganos Caves area and then to Antelope Island – the “island” you can drive to that’s out in the Salt Lake. Stay Tuned!

 

Thanks to TripAdvisor, I got a coupon for a free book from Shutterfly – who could turn that down!!

Here it is here:

 

Click here to view this photo book larger

Photo books are the perfect gift for any occasion.

and posting this “should” get me $10 off the next one 🙂

 

After looking at the petroglyphs, we spent about an hour walking the 1.5 mile track that follows parts of the Cass River through the Historic State Park. It seemed for the most part eerily devoid of wildlife – apart from tiny flies and mosquitos!!!!!

The occasional Lobelia cardinalis – the Cardinal Flower – brightened the forest, and a few fungii on the trees and forest floor provided contrast to the greens we saw along the way.

(click any thumbnail to open a slideshow)

 

Lisa wanted to visit the Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park, so we set off on Wednesday to go over to the “thumb” area to see the Petroglyphs – quite a drive from Grand Rapids – 200 miles, plus afterwards another 150 miles down to Saline to stay the night with Lisa’s Mum!!

I was a bit underwhelmed by it, but it was interesting to see it. We also took the 1 hour walk around the track through the State Park.

(click any thumbnail to open a slideshow)

 

Friday was a nice sunny day, so after some “getting ready for Murder Mystery Dinner on Saturday” chores in the morning, Steve, Don, Lisa and I set out to rent some bicycles and then ride them around some of the carriage roads in Acadia National Park on Friday afternoon.

We picked up the bikes and loaded them into Steve’s Honda Ridgeline truck for the ride out to a car park at the north end of Eagle Lake. From there we set out south along Eagle Lake, and then Jordan Pond to Jordan Pond House for Popovers, then back north on different roads to the east side of Eagle Lake, and back to the car park.

Roger, the Bicycle and Eagle Lake

Roger poses beside the bicycle with Eagle Lake in the background.

Eagle Lake

Eagle Lake

A photo gallery of images from our ride follows: Continue reading »

 

Thursday was supposed to be “ride a bicycle around some of the Carriage Road” day, but it rained pretty much all day, so that idea got put on hold (or probably actually cancelled for 2010). The afternoon saw us heading off to see the Seal Cove Auto Museum – “The Brass with the Class”.

We had been before in 2008 (I think it was), just as they were getting ready to sell a sizable portion of the collection in order to be able to settle the estate of the founder of the museum who had died.

While there we took the opportunity to become “Charter Members” of the museum.

Firestone Wheel

Firestone Wheel

White Wheel

White Wheel

Below is a photo gallery of the radiator emblems of some of the cars that are remaining.

Continue reading »

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