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.


Birds of Kapiti Island

Lot's of wonders along the Kapiti Coast, including the birds of Kapiti Island. If you click on the bird's name, you can hear it's song.

Kapiti Coast Ahead

Leaving Palmerston North, heading south, the next town Brad will stop in, after Levin, will probably* be Waikanae and the northern gateway of the Kapiti Coast located off Kapiti Island.

*I say "probably" because it's always a guessing game for me where Brad will be next. If you're reading Brad's blog you'll know he's now doing the "Te Araroa Free Style".

Map of the territory Brad tracks -- Palmerston North to Wellington, North Island, NZ

View of Kapiti Coast from Paekakaariki Hill

View of Kapiti Island from beach

Levin, NZ, 2/1/12

Ha, I located Brad, well, with a little help from Brad. He's in Levin, NZ about 50 road km from Palmerston North. He, Ludo and Flore decided to rest another day. Tomorrow they will be heading back into the bush. Brad reports this leg of the trek will take a little over a week with lots of vertical but lots of hut options too. Wellington is at least two weeks away, 93 road km from Levin to Wellington.

I think this is the library Brad is using for his computing needs today.

Slow and Steady

Two days ago Brad left Palmerston North with two friends, Ludo and Flore, at a slowed down pace of about 22 k each day. With Brad's sore and swollen knee and Ludo and Flore's very heavy packs they were traveling at a compatible pace for tracking together. A quick e-mail home from a library, approximately 30 miles south of Palmerton North, let me know the injured Brad was doing well (even if living on Tylenol and Ibuprofen to keep the swelling down) and is enjoying good tracking companions. Today the three of them head back out into the bush for six days of hiking before reaching another town for communicating home.

Another doctor was visited after Brad's two days of hiking to check his knee again. It was determined, as with the first doctor's visit, that there were no pulled, ripped or broken parts, just a very bad sprain. So, he pushes on, hopefully without doing permanent damage to his knee.

I'm pleased, especially given Brad's injury, that he has companions to trek with.


Sneak Preview

Brad, once he can find a computer again, will finish a draft blog on his site that will have many new photos. I have lifted these two because they so capture the romance I feel with boardwalks and swinging bridges. Both have popped up in my life from early on, and I've always loved them. These photos were taken by Brad on the Te Araroa Trail north of Palmerston North, but I don't know where. For Brad, with "just another day of wet feet on the Te Araroa Trail" experiences, he must have cherished the opportunity for staying out of the streams and puddles and mud.


Heading South from Palmerston North

Departing Palmerston North, headed south, the Te Araroa Trail crosses the Manawatu River on the Fitzherbert Bridge. The hike Brad did yesterday was from Fitzherbert Bridge to Burttons Track (estimated time 8 hours). With a sore knee, 8 hours might have been too much. But, he is somewhere on this section of the Te Araroa Trail. Happy and pain free tracking, Brad.

Second Fitzherbert Bridge 1935 - demolished?

First Fitzherbert Bridge 1877 - 1987

The newest Fitzherbert Bridge crossed by Brad yesterday, as he left Palmerston North.


Holed up Healing

Brad has been in Palmerston North for the past few days. He was able to see an emergency room doctor and the two of them determined, by manipulating his knee, that there were no torn tendons or broken bones so no need for surgical repair. Having his mind put to ease with the need for just rest, rest and more rest, he perked right up about his trekking future. Once the swelling goes down and the pain recedes he'll be able to get back on the Te Araroa Trail. Tomorrow, he's thinking, will be the day he starts walking again but with short, easy days at first. Perhaps throwing in some hitching to avoid over using it.

In the mean time, Brad has been hanging out at the Polytechnic Institute. He's been meeting instructors, touring the campus, helping out with a green building project, using the computer in the faculty room, feeding his teaching dreams, and generally enjoying academia and the ideas, computers, people and projects that go along with it, not to mention the fabulous campus architecture.

Polytechnic Institute

From Palmerston North it is 145 km by road to Wellington, although probably much further by trail. With Wellington in his sights, he is closing in on finishing the North Island of the Te Araroa Trail. Wellington is the southern most city on the Northern Island. From Wellington he will need to ferry to the South Island. There the trail picks up again
in Picton, located
at the head of the Marlborough Sounds


Metaphoric Comfort!

I woke up early this morning with Brad's accident, and the update of his accident we received via e-mail yesterday, on my mind. I couldn't sleep for thinking of ways to send him comfort, metaphorically, that is.

His knee is swollen and he can't walk so he's been staying at a hostel hoping for it to improve. It hasn't. He is, naturally, distressed about being injured and bummed about not being on the trail. Today he will be seeing a doctor and finding out what the prognosis is for his knee and his prospects for finishing the Te Araroa trail. Will it be possible or is his knee too damaged to continue his trek? Will he be able to switch to a bicycle? Lots of questions. Right now, no answers.

So back to metaphoric comfort and a mom's need to care for her far, far away son. Here are some images for symbolizing my ideas of loving and caring for Brad.

When Brad's here, I often make him hot cocoa or coffee to cheer him up or warm him up when he's needing comfort. Here is my thermos of hot cocoa to cure his blues and help heal the knee:

A warm blanket symbolizes warmth and comfort and "tucking in" has always been an important ritual in our home. Here's my blanket image to tuck Brad in and to provide to him warmth and comfort:

Or perhaps, it's an image of the home and garden he helped us create that will cheer him up. Here's our home for its symbol of warmth and beauty and love and family and a warm meal and a couch with a view:

And, of course, one always thinks of mom as a symbol of love, so I am sending all the good thoughts for a rapid recovery I can muster, wrapped in a million hugs:

But what could cure better than a sweet, warm puppy? Sir Benton Cowboy is just the hit Brad really needs to cheer him up and lend him warmth and love and a world class cuddle:

Heal quickly dear Brad.

Kisses from Mom
Hugs from Ed
Tugs from Benton


Cold NW Beauty

Native snowberry captured inside an ice palace.

Photo courtesy of Gary B. Larson


A World Apart!

Our three days of snow on Whidbey have run parallel with Brad's three days on the Whanganui River. We stomp through white powder as he paddles white water. The contrasts, over the same three days, are fun to imagine. Cold here; warm there. Snowing and cloudy here; sunny and clear there. Winter here; summer there.

Later today our weather is expected to change from snow to rain and Brad will be leaving the river to hike again. Life, back to normal for us on Whidbey and Brad on the Te Araroa Trail.

Whidbey Island

Whanganui River


New Zealand is very, very far away.

Mt. Ruapehu

As a mom, it seems natural to me that when one’s child takes off for an adventure, whatever it is, biking around the world, kayaking to Alaska, or trekking New Zealand, a mother’s concern is on high alert. Out of the ordinary travels can trigger unease, but adding long distances away from home, and a mom’s inability to be there for her child, even an adult child, increases the intensity of, “but what if?”.

Despite my lifelong propensity to worry about Brad, I have been largely free of anxiety about his NZ trek. I think of him often; travel by his side vicariously; enjoy researching the places he’s headed for; and even envy his adventure. As a result, I was somewhat unprepared for his call home the other night. Yes, there had been an accident.

Brad had hiked to Mt. Ruapehu for a one night stay. On his way back to Whakapapa Village, after a very cold night, he slipped and slid down an icy slope at a rapid speed, coming to a sudden stop on a rock outcrop. He ripped his clothing, broke both walking poles, seriously burned both arms and wrenched his already sore knee. A nasty accident with a happy spin-off. Construction workers gave him a ride back to the lodge in a helicopter.

A few hours later, and by the time he called home, he was warm, fed, doctored and healing, but very sore. He’d found a seamstress to repair his clothes and was planning to depart early the next day for a three-day canoe trip on the Whanganui River.

I’m left with questions: How is he doing on the river trip? How are his arms healing? How is his knee? Will the accident spoil his trip? In other words, is he ok?

I won’t hear from him again for at least six days.


Snow Day!

A beautiful snow day on Whidbey Island, with more snow expected later today and tomorrow. It's glorious!

Ed & Benton

Fran & Benton

Rose Hips in the Snow

Looking South from our home

Too cold for tea, but somewhat inviting nevertheless


"Just another day with wet feet on the Te Araroa Trail!"

If you've read of the missing man on the Whanganui River, it is not Brad. Can you hear this mother's huge sigh of relief? A man, part of a canoe group, tried to swim across the river and was swept away.

Brad is due on the Whanganui River for a three-day canoe trip on the 18th (17th here). I hope it stops raining so he can have three clear-blue-sky-days, along with a safer river. Unfortunately, he reports the weather of late has been horrible. In fact, here he is with: "Just another day with wet feet on the Te Araroa Trail."

Brad is currently in Whakapapa, in the rain. His view is mostly of clouds at Whakapapa Village where he's holed up waiting for the weather to improve.

Whakapapa Village

Current weather conditions over Whakapapa Village - rain and wind!

Whakapapa winter wonderland


Not the NW natives I know!

Ok, I admit, this posting is only for plants people. But, look at this sampling of flora! Wow! Just one more reason to get on the plane and head for New Zealand. Fabulous unexplored flora for us Pacific Northwest folks.

Urtica ferox (Tree Nettle)

Alectryon excelsus (Fruit of Titoki)

Metrosideros umbellta (Southern Rata)

Metrosideros robusta (Northern Rata)

Myroporum laetum (Ngaio) - flower

Rhapalostylis sapida (only palm tree endemic to NZ)

Hoheria populnea (Lacebark)

Pseufowintera colorata

Kohekohe flowers. Produced directly from the tree's trunk or branches.

Dysoxylum spectabile (Kohekohe)

Karaka Tree

Hebe (a familiar plant - finally)

Fuchsia excorticata

Dracophyllum traversii (Mountain Neinei)

Cordyline australis (Cabbage Tree)

Dodanaea viscosa (Aleake)

Prumnopitys ferruginea (Miro)

Aristotelia aserrate


Beilschmiedia tawa

Moss (NZ has 523 speciess of moss)




Tecomanthe speciosa

Pingao (Golden Sand Sage)

Ranunculus lyallii (Mt. Cook Lily)

Mistletoe in winter

Bush Lawyer Plant

Tecomanthe speciosa


Blechnum discolor

Podocarpus cunninghamii

Black Tree Fern