Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Te Anau, New Zealand

It's very cold in the early morning

I have originally intended to spend a couple night near Milford Sound; however, the accommodations for Milford Sound are rather limited. After doing further research around Fiordland, I decided to visit Te Anau and take a cruise through Doubtful Sound instead. There are many choices for accommodation in Te Anau. I was able to get a single room at YHA Te Anau for a very good price. While I could share a room with others to save even more money, my dormitory days were long ago. I much prefer to get my own room unless I am only transiting.   


Te Anau is very small. There is one street called "Town Center," and that IS the town center. Many stores and restaurants are closed for winter. There are 2 major grocery stores, Four Square and Fresh Choice, Both stores are just a few blocks away from YHA. It was nice to be able to prepare my meals in the spacious YHA kitchen and save money for bigger cities that I will be visiting.

I booked an 8-hour Wilderness Cruise with Real Journeys. It involved getting on a bus, getting on a small ferry, getting on a bigger bus, and then getting on a bigger cruise. On the way back, we got back on the bus again. It was a long journey, so people started to connect with each other to exchange travel stories. The views were incredible, and it was a plus to have good companies.
  

The weather was nice once we sailed out in the open. We were told that it had been 30 days since the sun was out and the sky was blue. We all felt really lucky! We departed for the cruise at 8:45 a.m. By the time we return back to Te Anau, it was about 6 pm and completely dark. I went sleep early.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Arriving Middle Earth Again

aerial view of Queenstown

After more than 20 hours of traveling - from BART to SFO to Auckland and finally Queenstown, I have finally begun my second journey to Middle Earth on July 4th, 2015. I have not stopped thinking about coming back here ever since my last visit in July 2014. I wanted to visit more of The Lord of the Rings locations and just to see more of this beautiful green country. It was however difficult for me to leave Kelsey and Cracus for more than two week especially since this would be the first time I am away from Cracus since he was adopted on November 1st, 2014.

Lake Wakatipu

I stayed at YHA Queenstown Lakefront for my first stop. My home for the first two nights faces beautiful Lake Wakatipu. It involves a 10-minute walk into town, but it's a good way to start the day. This is where people come to ski, snowboard, and do bungy jump. I don't do any of those. I am here to see the beautiful scenery and to unwind from the hectic life of an elementary school administrator. The air is cold there, but I rarely feel cold when I am traveling. I am on foot for most of my journey, and it keeps my blood pumping.

Lake Wakatipu

There are many shops in the small area of Queenstown city center. As soon as I got off the bus, the display in the store window caught my attention.  It's a set of The Hobbit rings and necklaces. This is definitely Middle Earth. Tomorrow I will join a Safari of the Rings tour.


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Quail Eggs


It's been a month since Dusty passed away. He's been buried next to the kiwi vines. I have hosed the cage with water to make it as clean as possible. I wasn't sure what to do with it. It's a well built cage, so I certainly didn't want it to go to the landfill. I finally decided to post it on Craigslist's free section today. I got the cage from Craigslist nine years ago but paid a small amount of money for it. I was surprised to see this cage is made in Italy!  I don't know exactly how old this cage is, but as we know, almost everything is made in China these days.


It's a very well made cage with two openings, one in the front and one on the side. The bottom panel isn't made of wire, so it's better for the pet's paws or feet. I posted it as "first come, first serve" but someone emailed me a number and requested for a call back. He wanted the cage for his quails and would bring me some fresh quail eggs. That's more than what I expected. It was smart of him to make sure that I still had the cage before driving all the way over from San Pablo. I was happy that someone wanted it for other animals instead of taking it for scrap metal.  I brought the cage back into the driveway and waited for the quail guy to come. I am happy that the cage will be put into good use for many more years to come.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

R.I.P. Dusty ~2006-April 27, 2015


I adopted Dusty on May 13, 2006 from a family in San Rafael. He was just a few months old at the time. The photo above was the first picture I saw of him. It was love at first sight for me. At the time I lived in Mountain View. I have since moved twice more, and Dusty had been with me all this time. It had been almost nine years. I knew Dusty was getting old and slow. A few days ago he had stopped eating and drinking. I knew the time was getting close. In the last two days, he was not able to sit up anymore. I came home from work today, and he was still alive. A couple hours later he had taken his last breath. I will miss him and all the years we spent together.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Now Under 24 Hours Surveillance

I am able to see Dusty from work in the dark garage

A few weeks ago one of my co-workers showed me how she could watch her puppy through the WiFi camera on her iPhone. I was so intrigued. It appeared to be much easier to set up than I thought. I asked her a lot of questions. I figured if her father was able to set it up, I should be able to do it as well.  She has Motorola WiFi HD Home Monitor Cameras. They were just over $100 for 2. She showed me that they were available at Costco and Walmart. When I finally got around to make the purchase, they were no longer available. I started doing product research and found Foscam WiFi Cameras. They come in many different models. After much comparison, I settled on NVision FI8910W. I got 2 pack for $106 from Amazon. I had a $10 gift certificate.  These cameras are not in HD so they are a little cheaper than the HD model. However, they can be remotely pan and tilt, which the Motorola cameras can't do. I also didn't need to pay for any third party software. After all, I think these are a better deal than the Motorola cameras.

Chico is very curious of Dusty

As I was setting up the cameras, I ran into a complication. I was able to get everything working properly at home on the first night.  I found a very helpful Youtube tutorial from Awkward Hamster at https://youtu.be/2xKu4uZtt3M. I watched it carefully several times. Everything worked until I got to work. I was not able to access my camera login page. Okay, so perhaps I missed something. On the second day I set up IP forwarding. Everything looked great. The IP address pulled up my cameras at home. I got to work, and it was still unable to connect. I ended up emailing Awkward Hamster for advise. He was stumped as well. Third night I got home, I started digging for information on my router. It was obvious to me the problem was that my ports were not open and couldn't be viewed outside of my network. I have a Motorola SURFboard SBG6580.  I found the answer I was searching for at http://forums.comcast.com/t5/Home-Networking-Router-WiFi/Port-Forwarding-for-an-IP-Camera/td-p/1529477. It turned out that I had to enter 0.0.0.0 for the field that asks for external IP. How would anybody know this?  I filled in my external IP of course, and it just wouldn't work. As soon as I typed in 0.0.0.0. into my router configuration. I checked my ports again at http://www.canyouseeme.org/, and finally they were now open. My friends were able to pull up my Foscom login page from their homes.  On the third day, I was able to see my Cracus and Kelsey from my work computer, my Android tablet, and my very old Android phone. I thought I had to upgrade my cell phone, but it works just fine.

I caught Kelsey on the couch though the camera