Aspects of New Zealand's stunning, diverse landscapes -- her rolling hills, and deep blue lakes, and mountain fjords -- felt both familiar, and, at the same time, brand new. And we benefited from two other elements that make a place a home: meeting dear new friends (who reintroduced us to our old loves, music and poetry) and visiting with much-loved family.
We were blessed to see almost all of both the stunning North and South Islands, and do most of that ambitious journey with my 78-year-old Mom, (who awed us, once again, with her spirit, energy and vitality); and enjoyed a 2nd visit with family, and two children that hold a special place in our hearts. We toured (gorgeous) Bay of Islands, took the Northern Explorer train from Auckland to Wellington, took the ferry from Wellington across Cook Strait to Picton, and visited Christchurch, Queenstown, Milford Sound, Fox Glacier and Nelson -- all in 1 epic road trip. Mom navigated the trip with grace, good humour, and her always inspiring joie de vivre, despite the fact she spent most of it sitting cramped in the back seat of our little car, (so that I, with my fuzzy head, could ride shotgun, in the front). I thought: even now, she is still both inspiring me, and "taking care of me". And then: what a blessing, to experience beautiful places like this with dear friends and family.
We will never forget our trip home, to Middle Earth. Here's to the beautiful places in this well-made world, and to the friends and family whose love and presence makes them "home", where the heart is.