Home on Whidbey is a family blog revolving around Fran, Ed, Brad, Yessi, plus puppy Benton, and our family, travels, friends, neighbors and community. Thanks for reading.


New Year's Eve on Whidbey!

Happy New Year's Day, Brad. I know you're out there somewhere on the Te Araroa Trail, but my head sees the options like I see this sign. Where? And, I know it rains and rains, from all reports, so I hope you're dry and warm and content on this New Year's Day.

New Year's Eve Day

This picture isn't because I partied too much but because this past week I have been suffering from a bad cold. As a result, I didn't even get a timely Happy New Year's Eve wish off to Brad via this blog.

So dear Brad, one day late, I hope you had a wonderful New Year's Eve and are having a great first day of 2012. Happy New Year! May 2012 be a wonderful year of personal happiness and contentment for you.

In your rushed departure from Auckland, I neglected to find out where the bus from Auckland was going to drop you off, so I can't place your location on the trail. I'm going to take a wild guess and put your starting point, after your bus ride, to be south of Auckland with your trekking beginning at Puhinui Reserve which might, by now, put you at the end of the Auckland section, near Mercer. Although, given Mercer is described in the books as a suburb of Auckland, perhaps that's where the bus dropped you and where you started hiking again. In that case, you might have started trekking again at Waikato, in which case you'd now be somewhere near Kapamahunga Walkway.

Obviously, I have no idea where you are. South of Auckland is the best I can do. I can't wait to hear from you so I can pinpoint your location again and vicariously walk by your side.

This morning we were greeted by 33 degree temps and a sprinkling of snow. Later in the day it is, according to weather reports, predicted to reach a clear and sunny 43 degrees. Tomorrow, Sunday, 45 degrees with a chance of rain; and Monday 47 degrees with a chance of rain. In Auckland, NZ, Sunday will be 73 degrees with thunderstorms; Monday 72 degrees with sun; and Tuesday 73 degrees with a chance of rain.

Our blessings for 2012! Kisses from Fran; Hugs from Ed; and Tugs from Benton!

Big Cities

Auckland, on YouTube, which if you stay tuned, will take you to other dbBrad YouTube Te Araroa Trail clips.

Brad's home on Christmas Day (that's today there) is in Auckland, New Zealand. Base Auckland is a huge multi-story hostel, offering beds, showers, computer services and more. It has also been Brad's residence for the past several days as he buys new shoes, gets a haircut, picks up mail, blogs, resupplies, downloads his photos, and tends to a million other details before he heads out again.

Auckland respects
it's surroundings by offering displays of wilderness throughtout the city

I'm having a difficult time reconciling these pictures Brad took on the Te Araroa Trail to the city, Auckland, realizing how close these views are to the city. This must make living in Auckland awesome in one's ability to get to the oceans and forests and farmslands so quickly.

The trail leaving Auckland is a city trail. For two days, heading south out of the city, "trekking" is on the suburban sidewalks. Because Brad's swollen and sore knee is not liking pavement, he's considering a bus ride for this one section of the trail. Although, the last we spoke, yesterday, he was undecided. Part of him wants to put his feet on every inch of the trail. Part of him wants to protect his knee and his spirit by getting out of the city on a bus as quickly as possible.

Since today is Brad's Christmas day, I'm naturally, hoping he's having a wonderful day of hiking or friends or gaity or celebration or good food or all of those things. Merry Christmas Brad with love!



Home Sweet Home!

Our flight back from Victoria was calm, easy and uneventful, thanks to Fred's planning. He got us home before the storm, prepared our customs arrival in Friday Harbor for the greatest of ease, and piloted us with calm expertise.

We arrived back in Langley at Porter Field (now called Whidbey Airpark), not very far from Whidbey's famous Mulikteo Coffee Company, where one can drink excellent coffee and eat fabulous food, which we did immediately after touch down.

The views we enjoyed returning to Whidbey were of clouds (sometimes we were in them), gray skies and changing, windy weather conditions. Not the same beauty, or cold, of the previous day, but beautiful nevertheless although more volatile. The northwest seems to always have amazing light and ever changing weather patterns.

Langley Boat Harbor

Victoria the Beautiful

Why is the horse drawn carriage so romantic?

We've all seen these images hundreds of times but who can resist just one more photo shot. The romance, beauty, splendor and history of Victoria captivates our minds and imaginations while stimulating our visual impulses. Victoria is a splendid city!


An up close shot of an ornament, with the unintended and unplanned reflection of Ed and Fran. With better planning Ed's arm would not have been in front of Fran's face, but who planned?

The Empress Hotel

Numerous businesses sponsored theme Christmas trees with tree after tree lining the hallways of the Empress Hotel. This construction tree, with machines and hardhats, was sponsored by an equipment company. I needed to jump right in and ham it up in honor of Brad's love of big equipment. The hallways were crowded with people -- parents, children, couples, old and young -- viewing the trees. It was like an Italian promenade throughout the entire hotel.

The Empress lobby had this huge beautiful Christmas tree set up center stage in the lobby, providing a lovely back drop for a picture of Fred and Sharon.

The Empress lobby tree with a small sampling of companion display theme trees on the upper level.

The Empress! What a beautiful old building in remarkably good shape. We had never stayed at the Empress Hotel before but were glad we did and loved our stay there. The low hum of this huge old building was like the heart beat of a big gentle beast. A friendly beast with a kind mother's heart emitting low contented murmurings that soothed her visitors throughout the night.

It was delightful to stay at the Empress, in the hub of Victoria, during our short one-night stay. The Empress was a wise suggestion of Fred. Thanks Fred!

A Christmas Trip

A couple of days before Christmas we were invited to join Fred and Sharon on a flying trip to Victoria. On the flight up the view was unbelievably beautiful. Blue, blue water and sky; snow capped mountains; and clear vistas for hundreds of miles.

Ooh la la!

Fran & Ed at the Victoria Flying Club

Sharon, Fran & Fred at the Victoria Flying Club

Fred our talented pilot and his much-loved plane

Unloading our luggage for our stay in Victoria

A fabulous view shot

Another fabulous view shot!

Merry, Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.
-Agnes M. Pharo

Merry Christmas from Ed & Fran
& Benton too

First Day

The Five Days of Christmas

There is an enduring tenderness in the love of a mother to a son that transcends all other affections of the heart.

– Washington Irving

Brad, Te Araroa Trail, New Zealand, December 2011

To Brad ~ Happy New Year's Eve here, but Christmas Day there!

Have a Happy, Happy Kiwi Christmas!


Second Day

The Five Days of Christmas!

It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home.
~Author Unknown

Our beautiful home was designed and built by dbBrad

Third Day

The Five Days of Christmas

Family life is a bit like a runny peach pie - not perfect but who's complaining?
~Robert Brault

Fourth Day

The Five Days of Christmas

Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love!
~Hamilton Wright Mabie

From our window on Grace


Fifth Day

The Five Days of Christmas!

Happiness is a warm puppy.
~ Charles M. Schultz


Thanks for the Kiwi!

Brad sent us this darling Kiwi puzzle for Christmas. Thanks Brad! A very merry New Zealand Christmas to you! Our "missing-Brad-pangs" are kicking into holiday season high gear. Comfort and joy dear Brad.

Dog or Mountain Goat?

Benton's Paw

When Brad was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail this past summer with Benton, he reported that Benton liked to jump up on every log or rock along the way to see the vistas. I looked out the window this morning and there was Benton, high up on the straw bales. For quite a long time he stayed on the top bale surveying his neighborhood.

This posting is to Brad, in far off NZ, from Benton with tugs and hugs and kisses. He's missing his guy-of-energy-and-fun-and-play-and-tug-and-toss-and-run!


Brad's on Our Mind!

As Brad hikes, his family provides at-home-backup-support. We're lined up to tend to the details remaining after Brad's departure, but happily. The New Zealand trip is such a fabulous opportunity, we are pitching in to help with enthusiasm.

A temporary room built of straw for Brad's use, was dismantled today. Here Ed and Barry work to take out a window and remove support boards, all with the help of Sir Benton Cowboy. Benton has decided he loves jumping up on the straw bales and watching the activity. The straw is all sold, with about 30 bales waiting for pickup -- tomorrow we hope.

Ed, Barry and Benton

Barry and Ed

It was wonderful having Brad coming and going from Grace Lane for the past year. Now it's wonderful to see the barn return to it's original look -- open and majestic. But it's even more wonderful to be vicariously enjoying Brad's adventure of a life time.

Many tasks have resulted in several days of working with Barry, with Ed and Barry being quite the lifting, loading and rip-it-down team. I provide brownies, soup, and sandwiches. We come together with Brad as our focus, our glue, if you well, and enjoy our time together.

Mark Twain's Wisdom

Mark Twain 1835 – 1910

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

- Attributed to Mark Twain

I'm proud that Brad was able to "throw off the bowlines" as it were and venture into finding his bliss.


Waipu to Auckland


Brad last did a blog posting on December 12 from Waipu. According to my calculations he has approximately 100 miles to hike before arriving back in Auckland. At 20 miles a day he should be in touch again on about the 18th of December. Of course, he might have detoured for more cave exploration or surfing. Or he might have treated himself to a zero day (no hiking) or hiked fewer than 20 miles each day. But, however long it takes, I am looking forward to an e-mail contact and chat time with him in the not too distant future.

Auckland will be a time for Brad to tend to some business too, like getting his Visa finalized and refreshing his trail information for heading south from Auckland. He also should have a pile of mail to pick up.

The Te Araroa Trail is from tip-to-tip North Island to South Island. The North Island beginning at Cape Reinga is made up of seven trail sections:

Brad has finished the Far North section and is working on the Whangarei Section. He will soon be arriving in Auckland for beginning the Auckland to Waikato section.

I have never done a long distance walk or hike, but I've traveled a number of miles across several states by bicycle, and what one can see and experience on a bike vs. a car is amazing. Walking must make the views and experiences several degrees more intimate. Walking the entire length of New Zealand will, in some ways, make Brad more of a foot-to-soil expert on NZ than many citizens.

"There is nothing like walking to get the feel of a country. A fine landscape is like a piece of music; it must be taken at the right tempo. Even a bicycle goes too fast." ~Paul Scott Mowrer, The House of Europe


Water, Water, Water

In following the Te Araroa Trail, Brad needed to cross the Taihaururu Estuary. The recommended crossing time is low tide, but he got anxious to cross, so the water was sometimes waist deep during his crossing. It's interesting to think of a water trail for hiking, but that's what this trail is from time-to-time.

In 2004 two Orcas were trapped in the Taiharuru Estuary. I'm reminded of Orcas here in the Puget Sound and the trama flowing around their survival, given their reduced numbers and too frequent deaths. Our Orca Network does so much to inform, protect, educate and fight for the health and safety our Puget Sound Orca Pods.

The Grass is alway Greener on the Other Side of the Fence!

What's this man doing in shorts and short sleeves? Doesn't he know its winter?

As Brad hikes he gives us a nice video image of what he's seeing. The view is of Poor Knights Islands and definitely looks spectacular in all directions. In fact, the entire Tutukaka Coast is full of things to do and see. Brad has selected an amazing country to spend his winter. And, it's warm there.

It's cold on Whidbey Island. As I follow Brad's travels on the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand and see in his photos the sun and surfing and kayaking and short sleeved shirts and shorts, I do have to tamp down my jealously. I want a sunny day in the 40's, never mind the 60's. I'm beginning to understand the
snowbirds (a term thought to come from the Snow Bird song by Anne Murray), so sing along to pretend, if you're cold like me today, that it's really warm and sunny. The National Weather Service reports Langley weather to be cold and more cold. Our nights will be in the low 30's and high 20's this week, with the day time temperatures maxing out at 43 later in the week.


Tutukaka Coast

Brad is presently hiking on the Whangarei trail section on New Zealand's North Island. His hiking has taken him to Whananaki, Tutukaka and Ngungaru, and, I must admit, I'm a little confused about the relationships, and when he's been where and when, but they're all on theTutukaka Coast which consists of beaches, tropical forests, and, for him, a good deal of rain, but all beautiful.

The ways NZ makes trekking pleasurable are, for example, this fabulous foot bridge between Whananaki north and south and a typical NZ solution to climbing over a fence.

Longest in southern Hemisphere

Fence Stile

Hiking in the rain and hopefully, singing in the rain

December 6 - Brad and I were able to e-mail and even set outselves up to chat today. Technology pulls me along, sometimes kicking and screaming, but along I come. Mostly because Brad pushes, pulls and cajoles me into new territory, which I resist, but love.

Water is one of Brad's current challenges, and not just rain. He needs to cross bodies of water often and has rented a kayak in one instant but in other instances the guide books say get to the water early and catch a ride with a fisherman. He's tried that, but unsuccesfully so it's regroup time. When we were in contact the problem had not yet been resolved. It was 3:00 and he was headed out to dinner, a two hour hike, and then hopefully a boat hitch the next morning.

The things that make a mother's heart go ping.

Russell Forest

Russell Forest Trail

Brad's adventure took him to Russell Forest where he reports his view was magnificant of the inside of clouds, which was a bit tragic given Russell Forest is known for spectacular views of the Bay of Islands.

Bay of Islands

Somehow, Brad met a mother and son who invited him into their home and offered him an outlet to charge his camera, and perhaps a chance to dry off from the rain. I bet they never expected their picture, pajama clad, to be swirling around on the internet.

Paul and Jordan

Brad hiking in the jungle

Russell Forest was about Day 14 of hiking, but actually 20 days from Whidbey Island. Blisters are still bothering him. He reports many challenges peppered with rewards.