Tonight’s Field Trip

We had an impromptu field trip this evening. We had just finished supper when we heard a helicopter quite close. A couple of children who were outside came in shouting that the Westpac Helicopter, the medical transport helicopter, was circling us, and then it obviously landed across the road in the rugby field. There is a thick hedge between us and the field, so everyone immediately took off running to see what they could see. I followed more slowly a little later, and found a gate to go through to where I could see. Gayle and the children stayed, beside the road, to watch until the helicopter took off; I just stayed a few minutes then came back. We don’t know what was wrong, but they said it looked like someone was injured. They were being transported to Christchurch.

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Late October Pictures

Yes, I’m behind. I should make a list of things that ought to be caught up before the baby arrives. Anyway, here are a few last pictures from October that I liked, that never got posted.

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Several of the boys have been finding bird’s nests this year. This was one of the first to be discovered.

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When you want to re-hang a gate that got crushed by a tree, you have to straighten it out first. Gayle and the boys spent an hour or two, using both vehicles, to try to get it straight. They still have to do a bit of welding, but it should be usable when they are finished.

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Esther did a little photo-shoot with the two youngest one day. I love the expressions on their faces!

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Shantytown and Arthur’s Pass

The final day of our trip to the West Coast, we stopped at Shantytown, a historic village, for several hours. I didn’t take many pictures there, because I had gotten to the point where I mainly needed to sit. Here are a few, though. One of the first things we did was to ride the steam train. They take you on about a 20-minute ride, back into the bush, then back. Most people got off on the way back at the restored sawmill, then toured the gold-mining area. I opted to go back to the village where I could sit and wait.

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This enormous stump was at the end of the line—apparently a sample of what they logged out of the area 100 years or more ago.

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Esther got this shot of our youngest at the sawmill.

While I was waiting, I amused myself watching Oriental (probably Japanese) tourists taking picture after picture of each other and themselves, and watching this weka go in and out of building after building.

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We also did the touristy kind of things—posing the boys in a stagecoach and playing around at the jail. The boys shoved their daddy into the jail—but a couple of them got locked in with him!

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Right to left, this is boys #1, 4, 6, 2, 3, and 5.

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This is our oldest, youngest, and third boy, with the fifth just visible inside the jail to the left.

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The two youngest enjoyed this play fire engine!

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And then, we were on the road again! We had originally planned to camp in the mountains that night and arrive home the next day, but the weather was cold and damp and we decided to push on for home. Towing a camper up Arthur’s Pass is a slightly risky proposition, with a 16% grade for several miles, but we made it. The van did heat up (we have some kind of radiator problem at the moment), so we stopped at an overlook at the top to cool off. That afforded quite a view of the Otira Viaduct, which we had just crossed.

This structure allows a waterfall to cross the road, just below the Viaduct.

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This is the road we were to take next, going east across the Pass.

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There were a lot of keas at the overlook. They are a wild mountain parrot, but not afraid of anything—and they love to eat rubber and plastic! We had to ward them off the open windows of the van so they wouldn’t eat the weatherstripping, but they did manage to eat part of the skylight of the camper. Naughty birds!

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And then, we were over the Pass and on the dry side of the island. The scenery on this side is much different! This top picture is Castle Hill. We had hoped to stop there, but it was getting too late.

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And, one more picture from the West Coast that I didn’t get stuck in anywhere else. As we drove the highway along the coast south of Hokitika, I was amazed at the trees. It was so obvious that the prevailing wind is from the sea!

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And speaking of wind, we arrived home to find damage from strong winds while we were gone. The chimney above the kitchen had fallen on the roof, and broken the light directly below it, and a row of willow trees lost their tops. One tree fell on this shed. The fellows spent the day after we got home fixing broken things and cutting wood.

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Joey’s Story

I knew when I first heard about this book that I wanted to read it. The main character is a woman I knew when we were growing up; she’s only a few years younger than I am. I was fascinated to read of her life, remembering, as I read, many of the events and people who were part of her life. However, the book would have been just as good if I didn’t know her.

The story opens with young Joey and her sister Maria struggling in a family with an unemployed father, a mother dying of cancer, three younger siblings including a young baby, and a number of renters (men) living in the basement of the trailer house. An older half-sister and two aunts also nearly live there, and let the girls in on their parties in the basement. The girls are taught to smoke, and often steal the last bits of beer from bottles left around. As their mother’s health deteriorates, the girl’s lives go from bad to worse, and Joey becomes an accomplished thief and shoplifter, as well as learning to swear. After their mother dies, things become even worse, and finally the children are removed from the home. They, and their father, are devastated.

After living in several foster homes, mostly good, one horrific, the children end up in a Children’s Home. They thrive there—and then their lives are changed again! A family wants to adopt all of them. More adjustments follow, especially when their adoptive father develops cancer. Joey struggles to believe in God after all she has experienced in her young life. Will she ever learn to forgive?

This is a vivid picture of what life is like for all too many children in our world today. It clearly depicts the beauty God can bring out of a ruined life of hurt and sin. This book will make your heart ache for Joey and so many other children in situations like hers.  It makes me want to hug my children and love them even more. Not written for children, it is told as discreetly as possible while still showing the horrors of Joey’s young life.

Disclaimer:  I was given a copy of this book to write a review of.  However, I was planning to purchase it anyway. A version of this post has been waiting in my drafts for nearly two years—oops! I just reread it so I could write a better review, and, as in the first reading, had a hard time putting the book down. Purchase the book here.

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Franz Josef Glacier

After we left Fox Glacier, on Friday evening of our trip, we tried to find a campground in the Fox Glacier Township. We knew it was supposed to rain, so we wanted a place where we could put part of the family in a cabin. The only place we could find cost about twice what we had paid the two previous nights! We decided to drive the half hour to Franz Josef and see if we could find a better place. The first place we checked out would have cost about three times as much, so we ended up at another of the chain we had tried in Fox Glacier. Still very expensive, but the best option we could find for that night. When the rain came down in torrents most of the night, leaving puddles all over, we were glad we had gotten a roof for the ones who were to have tented it! In the morning, then, we were thankful to see the sun, to dry out the camper before we closed it up. We were also treated to this glimpse of the mountains!

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After breakfast, packing up, and family worship, we drove to the glacier. It was a much easier walk than at Fox Glacier, since the track hadn’t washed out. Again, the faster members of the family went ahead, and Mom and I walked at the pace of a two-year-old. Life is quite interesting, viewed from that perspective! Once again, I’ve borrowed most of these pictures from my daughter. I let our oldest boy use my camera, but her pictures are better. There were, once again, many waterfalls along the rocky path. Everything we walked on was once under the glacier! It is retreating rapidly.DSCF9300DSCF9308DSCF9309DSCF9316DSCF9329DSCF9330

This is about where we slowpokes turned around. We got a good view of the glacier, and decided that if we didn’t want the rest of the crew to pass us up and have to wait for us, we’d better turn back. We got about halfway back, and suddenly some European tourists, passing us, exclaimed about the glacier. We turned to look, and the sun had come out on the ice! What a glorious sight! The picture Mom took, below, does not do it justice.

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And, here are a few more pictures from closer-up.

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Above: our oldest two. Below: Boys # 3, 2, 4.

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At one point along the trail, they found a chunk of ice from the glacier. Esther had a plastic bag to protect her camera, so they brought the ice back to the van to show the rest of us.

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Gayle and our 5th son—on the top of the world!

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Be prepared for danger!

A few of the boys raced back to the van ahead of the rest. I gave them permission to explore another trail, to the river below the glacier. They apparently took these pictures there. This is our 3rd and 2nd boy.SANY2685SANY2690

What a wonderful chance to explore a special part of God’s creation! We felt especially blessed when, just before all the explorers joined us back at the van, the heavens opened and rain poured most of the rest of the day! The weather had cleared just for a little while that morning, long enough to allow us to see the glacier.

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On the Countdown!

We only have a month till we get to meet this baby! I brought the tubs of baby clothes into the house last week to sort through them and find the tiny stuff, and a few days ago got the receiving blankets and burp cloths washed. I still haven’t touched the rest of the clothes, but at least that much is done. I was going to take a picture of those things on the clothesline, but took a nap first, and woke up, just half an hour after hanging them, to the sound of rain! They were halfway dry already, which I was thankful for. We’ve also been very thankful for several days of rain, badly needed here in North Canterbury. Anyway, here are the things I washed—a lot still around from when Esther was tiny! I just love seeing them again. Yes, that does look like a lot of burp cloths, but based on past experience, we’ll need them.

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Fox Glacier

The day after we visited Pancake Rocks, on our West Coast trip, we drove several hours farther south to Fox Glacier. We enjoyed some stunning sights along the way, such as this wall of rock as we came into Greymouth,

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and this road/rail bridge just south of Greymouth. (Well, maybe that one isn’t stunning—just unusual!)

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This mailbox (apparently) was beside the bridge, where we had to stop to wait for oncoming traffic to cross the bridge before we did.

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As it got near lunchtime, we needed a place to take a break and eat lunch, so we followed signs off the highway a mile or two to this spot by the bluest river I’ve ever seen. The blue comes from glacial melt, I believe. We ended up leaving in a hurry, though, because the toilets were closed for painting and some of us were desperate!

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The road from Franz Josef Glacier, which we passed up that day, to Fox Glacier, was lined with incredible ferns!

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We finally made it to the vicinity of Fox Glacier late in the afternoon. First we drove to a spot that promised views of the glacier, from the south side of the river. The road up to that spot was amazing enough:

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A short walk through the rain forest took us to where we could, indeed, catch a glimpse of it!

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We could just make out the end of the glacier at the bottom of that valley, about where the waterfalls come down.

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The shape of this mountain was intriguing!

As we got back into the van, some of the boys asked if they could run down the road to where we had seen a sign for warm springs. Sure—good way to burn a bit of energy! They took off running, and even though it must have been a good mile or two, they beat us. Yes, it was downhill, which I’m sure is the reason they got there so fast. They were dipping their toes in when we arrived.

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We then drove back to the main road and crossed to the north side of the river, where a sign indicated glacier access. This turned out to be a trail that led you to within something like 200 meters of the glacier, which is retreating fairly quickly. The first part of the trail had been wiped out by a slip, or landslide, and foot traffic was temporarily rerouted up a muddy, steep hillside, along a level, muddy, slippery trail, and back down another steep, muddy, slippery slope to the nice gravel path! Mom decided she shouldn’t try to tackle the climb, so she waited in the van. I wanted to see the glacier, so gave it a try, with the help of a walking stick my sweet second son found me—and made it through that worst part! The rest was easy, but I turned back, with our youngest, when we got to where I could see the glacier. Therefore, these pictures are Esther’s—thank you, Esther, for sharing. It was worth the hike to see the glacier!

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My husband and second-youngest at the glacier.IMG_0293

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