A Travellerspoint blog

The Cook Islands

Monday, January 28

We made it to the Cook Islands! We met up with Rob and Mani in the LA airport about an hour before boarding our flight. 10 hours later (with only about 2 or 3 hours sleep for me) we arrived in Rarotonga at 7:30 am their time. I had a fellow Canadian sit beside me, a retired English teacher, who helped me play Wordstorm for some of the time. We had a couple of hours in the Rarotonga airport to get cash from the ATM, change into shorts, etc. before climbing into the little 12 seater plane which brought us to Aitutaki.
Small Inter-Island Plane

Small Inter-Island Plane


Don had emailed while we were in LA to make sure someone would be picking us up, but there was no one from Aretai Beach Villas there. So another woman, who was picking up people for another resort, managed to pack us and our luggage in the van as well and dropped us off at our place. The manager here, Mama, (she said we should just call her that, as everyone does) did not know we were coming – all email arrangements were made with her daughter-in-law in NZ. So the cottage we were to stay in was still boarded up from the hurricane that threatened a few days ago. So she got a young man who was working for her to take down the plywood over the door and windows, while we stood around and admired the beach. Finally we got settled in and Don and Rob went off to rent scooters for getting around. We did a little beach walk and got wet in the lagoon, but I was so tired that I went to bed at 7:00 without even having supper!!

Posted by katdill 13:53 Archived in Cook Islands Comments (0)

Redondo Beach

Sunday, January 27

We had a great day exploring Redondo Beach. We checked out of our hotel around noon, leaving our luggage there so we didn't have to have it in our rental car all day. We drove down to the Redondo Beach and Pier area and walked all around on their walking path. I found a little shop with a sink of live oysters. For the price of $11.00, I picked an oyster and the woman opened it up to find two grey black pearls. They seemed quite large too me, and she said I was lucky to get two so large. The deal is if you don't get a pearl in your oyster, you get to pick another one, but I think that doesn't happen very often, as they come from a pearl oyster farm in Japan. So I felt I got my money's worth - it was quite exciting to pick one and find out what was inside.
Oysters waiting for me to pick the lucky one

Oysters waiting for me to pick the lucky one

Redondo Pier

Redondo Pier


We had a nice lunch on the pier and also had a good time watching some pelicans and seals. The seals would dive down and get some kind of food from the bottom and the pelicans would be right there, squabbling over the scraps. Quite a relationship! It was amazing for us to see, but a local man on the dock said they do it all the time.
We drove around the Palos Verdes penisula and enjoyed the views of the ocean and the ritzy houses. Then after stopping for some food and our luggage we returned the rental car and got the shuttle to the airport. So here we sit waiting for our flight which boards at 10:00 p.m.

Posted by katdill 19:27 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Made it to Los Angeles

Saturday, January 26

We managed to get packed up and the house cleaned up early enough that we could get our rental car returned at the airport without having to pay for another day. However, this meant we were at the airport with our luggage 5 hours before our flight was to leave. So we found a comfortable spot and read and used the internet, etc. I thought that if we checked our bags in that early there was a greater risk of them being lost, so we waited for a couple of hours and then checked them in. And they did arrive, but of course, I have no idea if that had any influence or not. I enjoyed the art they have in the check-in area - lovely metal sculptures of birds in flight and a metal tree. You can see the art at http://www.tampaairport.com/about/guest_services/public_art/bird_sculptures/meeting_place.asp.
We flew to Houston and had a very quick change to another plane to LA, quick that is until we were loaded on the plane and then we sat there for almost an hour (loading cargo according to the announcements they gave!) before finally taking off. When we arrived in LA, they had trouble with the gantry thingy that you exit the plane with and it took about 20 minutes of waiting - with people standing in the aisles, etc. - before they got it fixed and let us out. So I was really glad we had scheduled an overnight stop here and didn't have to get on the plane for the 10 hour flight to the Cook Islands.
We got a shuttle to the rental car facility and drove to our hotel with no problem. Woke up with a view of the ocean, although it is a grey day and the streets are all wet, so I don't know how nice it will be by the ocean today.
Tonight we fly to the Cook Islands and I don't think we will have any regular internet service so I may not be able to post anything for 10 days or so.

Posted by katdill 07:31 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Last Day in St. Petersburg

Friday, January 25

We had an unusual start to the day. We attended a concert of the Florida Orchestra at 10:00 this morning. It was Tchaikovsky's music for Hamlet, The Tempest, and Romeo and Juliet. They had actors who performed a scene from each play just before the orchestra played. They had 300 school students attending as well as lots of gray heads. Maybe they have found the older people prefer morning concerts to evening ones. It was great and a very attractive theatre, as well. After the concert, we drove home so we could Skype Aly, because today is her 4th birthday. We had a nice chat and then had a little to eat. We drove back downtown to visit the Dale Chihuly blown glass collection on display at the Morean Arts Center. We watched a movie about his garden installations and working process and then toured the exhibition. It was great, although it seemed a little small for the price we paid!
Persian Sunset Wall

Persian Sunset Wall

Azul de Medianoche Chandelier

Azul de Medianoche Chandelier


Afterwards we walked out on The Pier and watched some fishermen catching sheepshead (fish) and boats coming into the marina. By the time we got back to the car, it was time to eat, so we went to Gratzzi for supper. Very nice restaurant with very quick service and a special deal for early diners. So it was a win, win! Now it's time to do the laundry and pack our bags so we are ready to head for the airport tomorrow morning.

Posted by katdill 16:15 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Exploring the Beaches

Thursday, January 24

After a slow start, due to our late night last night, we drove over to St. Pete's Beach, which is at the southern tip of a long key or narrow islands on the west side. We drove up the key almost to the north tip, about 25 miles, stopping several times to check out the beach. It was a very windy day, although sunny, so no one was in the water. We had lunch at Crabby Bill's, on their balcony overlooking the beach. Very good seafood.
The view from Crabby Bill's

The view from Crabby Bill's

Lovely Beach

Lovely Beach


After making it up to Clearwater Beach, we went inland and returned to the mini golf we had been at before. We had two free game coupons, so decided to take advantage of them. I'm happy to say I did quite a bit better the second time than the first time! Then we checked out the Crossroads Gallery at the Clearwater Campus for an exhibition of Indian prints I had seen advertised. It is a very small gallery and the show wasn't very exciting, so I was glad we hadn't driven all that way just for that. Then back home on the freeway in rush hour traffic to have supper.

Posted by katdill 16:39 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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