New Orleans, the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean

Written by Harold McNeill on February 25th, 2012. Posted in Travelogue

Canadians Invade New Orleans: Seize Navigator of the Sea’s


Photo: SIC Beauty members with the Cruise Director: An important thing to do on any cruise is to become friends with the Cruise Director.

This post begins with the second part of our holiday when our twenty-two member travel crew joined forces aboard the Navigator of the Seas.  Rather than provide a traditional look at life aboard the ship, I have worked to provide a flavour of the special times and friendships that emerge when people actively seek out others to share their festivities.

There is little doubt that upon our departing from the Navigator, there will be a good percentage of the passengers and crew on board who will remember the fun-loving Canadians.  While I have drawn attention to some our antics, it was all good clean fun on this special family holiday.  


Relish Tea Room in Mana, New Zealand

Written by Harold McNeill on February 22nd, 2012. Posted in Travelogue

“Living your Dreams” is a theme that often appears on many Facebook posts, so Lynn and I are always looking for shining new examples. On our way down the West side of the North Island we stopped for tea at a picturesque little English style ‘tea room’ called the Relish Café. Located in Mana (just north of Wellington) we were met by Allan and Anne McNair, Allan being a brother of our friend, Gill Russell, (see previous Rotorua post). There we shared a few life stories over afternoon tea.

Once again, we found ourselves chatting with a couple who made a complete life change. Only a few years back, the McNairs were running a successful saddlery store which provided a comfortable income and a high degree of security for over 25 years. In addition, Allan was an experienced ferrier. Their two daughters were just finishing school and would soon be off establishing lives of their own.

A few years back, Allan began feeling the need for change – not that he was dissatisfied with his life, it was, after all, a very good life. He just wanted a new challenge and one of his dreams was to run his own restaurant. When he shared his dream with his family his oldest daughter laughed and pointed out: “Dad, you can’t even boil an egg”. Allan reluctantly conceded that point, but was quick to state: “Well then my dear daughter, I will learn.” And, over the next five years learn he did. He and Anne continued to run their saddlery and ferrier businesses, but one day each week Allan worked a full eight hour shift in a local restaurant.

Over the five years of working part time he learned what he thought he needed to know and between them the couple were ready to strike off on their own. They found a lovely little establishment in Mana (just north of Wellington) that was exactly the kind of place they had dreamed about. About one block of the highway, just accross the main South Island Railway was a small restaurant with seating for about thirty-five. A former cottage, the tables were divided into three medium sized rooms. The period furnishings gave each room a cosy warmth and the entire “cottage” was surrounded by a delightful “English Country Garden” just coming into bloom when Lynn and I arrived.

When the deal was finalized, the saddlery business was sold and the family was off on a new life adventure.


Christchurch: The Gateway to Antarctica

Written by Harold McNeill on January 31st, 2012. Posted in Travelogue

Following in the footsteps outlined in Shackleton’s Forgotten Expedition, Lynn takes the controls as we head north along McMurdo Sound toward our Winter Quarters below Mount Erebus. 

Five weeks and 5000 kilometers later, the final countdown for our time in New Zealand has finally arrived. We would have liked to stay longer but, due to a ticketing problem in our planned departure from Sidney Australia, we had to take a defined departure date. To make a change at this late date would have been far to expensive.

Our last few days are spent traveling up the East Coast from Invercargill through Dunedin where we visit the Lloyd family (Kim, the oldest daughter of our friends, David and Gill, and Kim’s husband Hywel and their two children – pictured in Rotorua story). After a short, but wonderful visit, we again head north along the coast toward Christchurch, making several stops along the way.

In scanning the slideshow you will note a group of amazing rocks, the Moeraki Boulders that look like giant cannonballs. Located at Koekohe Beach along a short stretch of the Otago coast, these boulders were formed millions of years ago in the Pleistocene era and only after millions of years of erosion have they made a surface appearance.  Each decade more rocks have become exposed and it appears this is the only area in the world where these unique rocks can be found.


New Zealand: Invercargill

Written by Harold McNeill on January 31st, 2012. Posted in Travelogue


South Tip of the South Island

While in Switzerland, Lynn and I struck up a friendship with Karen and Nobby, a couple who hailed from Invercargill — the very southern tip of the South Island of New Zealand (next stop Antarctica). Some weeks after the meeting in Switzerland, and just by pure chance, we ran into Karen and Nobby again in Venice, totally unplanned, in the midst of a crowd that must have numbered in the hundreds of thousands.  Can you imagine the coincidence?

Meant to be we figured and that we had best accept their invitation to visit their plantation in New Zealand! Well, that future came much sooner than expected when Lynn and I made the trek to Invercargill in late November, 2009.

So where does one start to tell the story of our visit with Nobby and Karen? Well, I suppose, I will do what Nobby would do in such a situation – just “tell it as you see it”. At one moment, Nobby is overwhelming a conversation with some witticism and the next he is in an engaging in conversation that demonstrates a wide knowledge of the world and of many interesting subjects.


Gisborne, New Zealand: Living Your Dream

Written by Harold McNeill on January 31st, 2012. Posted in Travelogue


While in Rotorua, Lynn and I decided to “scoot” over to Gisborne to pay a quick visit to the McKenzie family. The mom, Carmelle, is sister of our niece, Meryl Yochim who lives in Gold Canyon, AZ with her family.

“Scooting” over to Gisborne or anywhere in NZ for that matter is not that simple for in NZ the rule of “two kilometers forward, one kilometer sideways” applies to the most scenic routes and the “Waioeke Gorge” is no exception.

While the Gorge road is only some 50 to 60 kms in length, it only covers about 30 kms as the “crow flies”. Lynn loves the switchbacks, particularly when she is seated on the drop side of the road. The only two alternative roads to Gisborne were the Northern coastal route and the Southern mountain route – either of which would have very scenic but would have taken hours longer.

Photo: Parts of the road that do not wander along a cliff face are contained within a green curtain of vegetation.

As we moved out of Waioeke, we entered gently rolling hills – home to many sheep and cattle farms. The countryside slowly wound down to lush fertile flatland enroute to Ormond and Gisborne. Here we found row upon row of grapes, citrus and other field crops interspersed with fields reserved for grazing cattle and sheep. The fields were bordered by trees planted and pruned as windbreaks to protect the grape vines and fruit trees from wind damage.


New Zealand: High Moutain Pass

Written by Harold McNeill on January 31st, 2012. Posted in Travelogue


This shot provides a view of the road on the opposite side of the valley as we proceed around a band. In many places the road clings to the cliff anywhere from 500 to 2000 feet above the Shotover River.  Link here for full set of photos.

To the Shotover River Gold Mines

In Queenstown Lynn and I booked for a trip to the Shotover River. This was listed as a “Jet Boat River Ride” but, as it turned out, the real adrenaline rush was the one hour and fifteen minute four wheel drive to reach the river launch site.
For the trip our driver and guide, Craig, a young man who has made this trip dozens of times, was one of those people that truly make a trip special.

I managed to snag the “shot-gun” seat but fifteen minutes after leaving the secondary for the gravel mountain road I was not so sure it was the seat I wanted. Lynn was right behind me in a single seat and if she had a choice I am sure she would have abandoned the trip.

Although I took dozens of pictures (it kept my mind off the drop) it was hard to capture this road in two dimension. I wish I had used the video feature on my camera.

As we wound our way into the moutains we climbed from 500 to 2000 feet on a single lane gravel road that was barely wide enough to negotiate with our four wheel drive bus. In many areas Lynn and I were on the cliff side and you could not see the road below our window. The river would be our first stop if the side suddenly caved away or the driver made a misstep.

You must also remember this is a two way regulard NZ highway (see the road sign photo) with the usual rules – speed 80 km – you’ve got to be kidding. If you meet another vehicle, in most places you cannot pass as the road is only one narrow lane, therefore one vehicle must back up until you reach a section that will allow the pass. As you pass, one vehicle pulls to the cliff edge and the other squeezes by on the cliff side.

Anyone, even a new driver, can take to this road and we heard that on a few occasions drivers simply abandoned the trip as it would take (I am sure) nerves of steel or the fearlessness of youth) to actually drive on this road.

The road continues for what seems forever until we finally wind down into a valley to catch the jet boat for a further ride up the river. The boat ride at high speeds through screaming turns seems positively tame compared to the road trip. On the river we pass the location of the river flood scene in the “Lord of the Rings” and do several high speed 360 degree turns along the route.

Returning from the jet boat, Lynn and I seriously considered catching a “chopper” ride out as it provides regular service for those bus riders who might choose an alternative route out but opted for the bus as we did not want to bail on Craig. Several people from our bus waited for the chopper.

Not wanting to be a seat hog, I checked to see if anyone else might wish to ride shotgun but there were no takers.

Lynn and a couple of the passengers asked me not to talk to the driver (a nervous reaction on my part) as he always choose to look at me when he answered and I suppose they figured he should be watching the road.

Craig tells me that for years he has wanted to become a pilot and while I encouraged him to live his dream, I cannot imagine how flying would provide any greater thrill than taking this bus through that mountain road several times a week.

When we finally reached the paved road the muscles in my legs ached after compressing the floorboards for over an hour.

Lynn was still in a state of shock but I suspect she will now consider a normal paved mountain pass switchback road, like those in Canada, to be rather mundane. I also think she might even consider a parchute jump to be OK as it would be over in less than five minutes.

Shotover River
Queenstown, NZ


New Zealand: Heading into Queenstown

Written by Harold McNeill on January 31st, 2012. Posted in Travelogue

The weather continues to clear and warm as we move inland toward Queenstown. The mountain roads present incredibly beautiful scenes that would rival anything we have seen elsewhere in the world including Canada. While the roads are very good, we must continue to negotiate switchbacks that always take us two kilometers forward and one kilometer back. The nice part of this is that it gives you a chance to see every scene from a 360 degree perspective.

We pass through gold mining towns and sheep stations that provide us with some insight into the challenges faced by early settlers that first moved into this area. I don’t think even the local Maori people even spent much time in many of these areas.

We take a secondary highway through a place called Cardrona and not long thereafter navigate a mountain pass that is reported to be the highest paved road in New Zealand. We stop at a pullout near a lone dead tree and continue on foot, climbing another 500 meters on mountainsides covered with tussock grass.  Along the way we pass one small communite called, of all things Athole, another called Bush!  Apparently someone loved one of the US Bush boys as they removed Pine from the name.


New Zealand: To the South Island

Written by Harold McNeill on January 31st, 2012. Posted in Travelogue

Our travels in the North Island have pretty much wrapped up and we are now headed south. The weather turned blustery as we near Wellington and continued for several days through to the Fox Glacier. The ferry was as modern as any we have in British Columbia however the waters through which it travels is subject to severe storms. The ferry crossing was rough as you will note in the photos but we snagged front row seats in the passenger lounge with movie and, if we had wished, alcoholic drink. None of this dampened our spirits as there were so many sites to see.

Once off the ferry, we travelled south along the West Coast on roads that were almost devoid of traffic. Throughout NZ there are hundreds upon hundreds of one way bridges each of which has it’s own personality and the switchbacks on the narrow mountain roads have now become a way of life.

It seems that the north part of the South Island provides challenging life for those who desire to live in that rather remote area. As about 75% of Kiwi’s live in the North Island and the majority of those who live in the South Island occupy the main cities along the more temperate East Coast.

Never-the-less these hearty soles are a most welcoming people and no matter were we stay we always end up meeting people anxious to know more about Canada and Canadians and each of whom are eager to share a bit of their life story.

West Coast, South Island
New Zealand, 2009

Note:  Photo (below) comments will be added.  It seems they were lost in the blog transfer.  hdm



  • Mike Fedorowich

    September 1, 2023 |

    I have gone through the above noted text and have found it quite informative.
    I am a former member with several law enforcement agencies from across Canada.
    I worked in the First Nations service under the authority of the RCMP with the over sight of the OPP. My law enforcement service was conducted under the authority of the Nishnawbe – Aski Police Service in North West Ontario the Louis Bull Police Sevice in Hobbema AB, the Kitasoo Xaixais Police Service in Northern in side passage on Swindle Island, the Lac Suel Police Service North West Ontario and the Vancouver Transit Authority Sky Train Police Service. I’m presently dealing with an RCMP member for falsifying a report against me for a road rage event. Court case is finished and the charge was dropped but I have an on going complaint with the member and have forwarded to the WATCH DOGS IN OTTAWA FOR the RCMP review and consideration. I believe the said officer is in violation of his oath of office and should be held accountable for falsifying his RTCC all the while dragging me through the court system here in Nanaimo. RCMP continue to stonewall the appeal but Ottawa and the crowns office are still looking into the matter. if your able and find the time or the interest in this very brief introduction, I would very much like to speak with you and would be grateful to hear any wisdom that may come across from your end. I served with First Nations Police Services for ten years in isolation and six years with Transit Police out of New West Minster. I do value and appreciate any time you could spare to chat for a bit on this particular subject matter. Respectfully with out anger but an open mind, Mike Fedorowich Nanaimo BC 250 667 0060

  • Harold McNeill

    February 28, 2022 |

    Hi Robert, I do remember some of those folks from my early years in Cold Lake (Hazel was my aunt and our family spent many fond times with Uncle Melvin, Aunt Hazel and Family. I knew Lawrence and Adrian. Having read a half dozen accounts it is clear their were many false narratives and, perhaps, a few truths along the way. I tried my best to provide an even account from what I read. Cheers, Harold. (email:

  • Robert Martineau

    February 25, 2022 |

    Its been a long time since any post here, but its worth a shot. My Grandfather was Hazel Wheelers brother Lawrence, and son to Maggie and Adrien. Maggie Martineau (nee Delaney) is my great grandmother. The books and articles to date are based on the white mans viewpoint and the real story as passed down by the Elders in my family is much more nefarious. Some of the white men were providing food for the Indians in exchange for sexual favors performed by the Squaws. Maggie was the product of one of those encounters. Although I am extremely proud of my family and family name, I am ashamed about this part of it.

  • Julue

    January 28, 2022 |

    Good morning Harold!
    Gosh darn it, you are such a good writer. I hope you have been writing a book about your life. It could be turned into a movie.
    Thanks for this edition to your blog.
    I pray that Canadians will keep their cool this weekend and next week in Ottawa. How do you see our PM handling it? He has to do something and quick!
    Xo Julie

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.