New Zealand: The North Island

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


Note: The New Zealand Travelogue series is from a tour Lynn and I made just before Christmas 2009. First posted live to Facebook it is being reposted here along with more photographs taken during the trip.

We have been told that New Zealand is a kaleidoscope of ever-changing scenes and our first three days touring the coastal route north from Auckland to Paihia, then across the top to the West Coast and Tasman Sea, provides ample confirmation.

Along the “car rally” coastal route, new and stunning vista’s greet us as we round each curve and top each hill. Finding a safe place to stop to grab a few pictures is a challenge as their are few road-side view points. Even at that, Lynn is beginning to think I am going to wear out my camera before we even get started. It is indeed a good thing I bought that extra 8 gig card and spare battery.

Along the east coast we see the first samples of lush tropical vegitation that we discover covers much of New Zealand and as we approach Paihia, the South Pacific to the east is filled with thousands of Islands. We could not find a viewpoint at the highest points so grabbed one photo from the Web to give you a sense of the sights we see in an area called the “Bay of Islands”” (Opening Photo of this Post)

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Index to Travel Stories

Written by Harold McNeill on November 8th, 2011. Posted in Index to Posts, Travelogue


My Best Friend and Life Companion

Just give Lynn a call and whether she be in Prague (as above – taking a call) or in the outer reaches of the Wadi Rum, she will attend to your travel needs.

 About Travelynn

Over the past several years, Lynn has attended to our travel planning needs as we set out to explore a small part of the world. Many of the stories, first posted on Facebook, are now being transitioned to this blog section.

Now as an Independent Travel Consultant with the Expedia CruiseShipCenters, working from home and the Bevan Street office located in Sidney, British Columbia, Lynn is providing the same excellent service to others that she has long provided to our family, friends and business associates.

Working with one of the leading travel offices on Vancouver Island, Lynn continues to expand her knowledge of the travel industry and everyone who knows her, will agree she always gives 100% to the task at hand and, for those who don’t know her, that fact will soon become apparent.

Photo (2012): Lynn working at her Cruise Desk in the Sidney Office.

For background on Lynn link to a short biography at: Life Long Learner

If you need help with your travel plans, be they by land, sea or air, just give Lynn a call at:

Work: 250-656-5441, Toll Free: 1-800-561-2350

Expedia email: lynnmcneill@cruiseshipcenters.com,

Or visit her on the web at:  www.cruiseshipcenters.ca/LynnMcNeill

Harold McNeill
March, 2012

Index and Thumbnails follow

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The Swiss Family Hanggi

Written by Harold McNeill on November 8th, 2011. Posted in Travelogue


“To the top of the world to the top of the wall, fly away, fly away, fly away all.”  (Modified from the verse “Two Little Dickey Birds” that accompanied a sleight of hand trick taught to us by our mother). The verse sums up the brief tour Lynn and I made to Switzerland and our visit with the Hanggi family. The next three posts describe that incredible visit.

Above Photo:  A Rose Frozen in Time, an Ice Sculpture original by Bruno Hanggi

From the moment we arrived in Interlaken to the moment of departure, we were hosted in grand style by Hanggi Family – Bruno, Nicole and their daughter, Sandra.

Our connection to the Hanggi family came through their other daughter, Claudia, a delightful young woman who worked for BC Soccer in Vancouver, during my terms as a member of the ClaudiaBCSA Board of Directors. Claudia spoke lovingly of her mom, dad and sister and told Lynn and me that if ever we touched foot in Switzerland (which she insisted we must), a visit with her parents and sister was the order of the day. Now, when Claudia told someone, even a board member, to do something, it was as good as done.  Of course, in our travels, we did as she directed and the week spent with the Hanggi family was a week we shall long remember.

Photo (2010): We caught up with Claudia (and her friend) by the Winter Olympics Skelton Track in Whistler.

At our stop in Interlauken and on first meeting Bruno, his words of greeting were: “Claudia told me to meet you, and she told me I had better show you a good time! Now, I always listen to Claudia because, if I don’t, I know I will never hear the end of it…” It is safe to say that Bruno and I were on the same page in that regard, and so began our friendship with the Swiss Family Hanggi.

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The Top of Europe

Written by Harold McNeill on November 7th, 2011. Posted in Travelogue


A Swiss Wonderland

Photo:  January 2, 2012. A Giant Flag illuminated on the face of the Eiger was created by Swiss artist Gerry Hofsetter.  The photo commemorates the 100-year anniversary of the Jungfrau Railway (see general story below). Photo taken by:
Michael Bulholzer/Reuters

There are many beautiful places around the world to which one could travel by land, sea or air, but ranking near the top must be Switzerland, the Swiss Alps and, in particular, the Top of Europe. Expansive alpine meadows and rolling hills fall gently into mist covered valleys as mountain streams and rivers build in strength as they flow down from the Eiger, Monach and Jungfraujoch peaks.

The trip to the Top of Europe was a surprise gift from friends in Interlauken, the Hanggi’s. Our third day in Interlauken that saw us heading into this wonderland after climbing aboard the early morning OST train bound for the top of one of Europe’s largest glaciated regions (photo above).  (note: Interlauken appears to be spelt both with and without a “u”)

On that full day trip, we climbed from 550 meters (1800 feet) in Interlauken, to just shy of 4158 meters (13,500 feet), first by standard rail, then by cog train, (photos below) capable of climbing and descending 25% grades. It is an unsual feeling to be sitting on a train climbing at an angle three times steeper than that leading up the Vancouver side of the Coquihilla Highway enroute to Kamloops, British Columbia. During the first part of the trip, there is a gradual climb takes us through several small villages and farms that could have been original scenes for a book of Fairy Tales.  Milk cows filled rolling green pastures, grazing unconcernedly as we continue our climb toward the high alpine meadows. 

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Interlauken: Soaring with Eagles

Written by Harold McNeill on October 2nd, 2011. Posted in Travelogue


Harold and Lynn

The Eagles Hatch a Plan

On impulse, something that is very much a part of our lives these days, Lynn and I booked a flight with a paragliding group. Over the past few days in Interlaken, Switzerland, we watched as dozens of paragliders soar like Eagles through the mountains, then touch down in the middle of the city.

It was something we did not want to miss as neither of us had ever hung in a parachute. Perhaps this statement speaks more for Harold than Lynn, as Lynn was quite happy to keep her feet on good old terra firma. Well, being the adventuresome life partner she is, the answer was ‘sure’, although to be truthful, it was given in less than convincing manner. We booked a flight for noon the next day, but as luck (very good luck from Lynn’s point of view) would have it, the next morning found the mountains shrouded in heavy cloud.

Lynn noted the dismal conditions but the transparently of her message conveyed a different though: “Well, we could just laze around and catch up on our reading. That would be fun, wouldn’t it?”  Sorry Lynn, not to be, as by noon the clouds were clearing and our adventure was re-booked for 3:00 pm.

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Dining with a Difference

Written by Harold McNeill on September 10th, 2011. Posted in Travelogue


The article was reprinted along with photographs in February/April 2011 issue of the Island RV Guide (p. 38ff)

Dining with a Difference stakes a claim at Clover Point in Victoria, British Columbia

In our third month of outdoor exploration, Lynn and I continue to search for novel ways to experience our city. While “Dinner and a Movie” proved to be a lot of fun during the winter (see Movie Reviews), we wanted to keep to the outdoors as September is such a special time of the year.

In Victoria, and indeed across Canada, beginning in September there is a period of time referred to for centuries as Indian Summer. In the prairies, it came after the first frosts began to darken the tops and vines of garden plants, and the trees slowly displayed their fall colours. I remember my first days of school as lazy and warm, perhaps a time to escape for a few days or weeks to help with the fall harvest. The evening chill and frost was a sure sign that the bitter cold days of winter were patiently waiting to attack with their penetrating winds.

Fog over Island ViewHere on the coast, it is a time when banks of fog drift across the coastal waters (see Island View Post) and envelop our Island paradise. The drifting fog slowly fills the low lying valleys well before dawn and can often take until noon to burn off. Looking across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the base of the Olympic Mountains is often buried to half their depth.

Photo: Early morning fog drifts in over Island View Beach.

In past times, one could hear the forlorn sound of a foghorn. It was a sound that reminded me of my first winter in Victoria in the fall of 1963 while living in James Bay. Most recently, Lynn and I awoke in a forested area at Kemp Lake (west of Sooke) to the sound of a foghorn somewhere in our midst. Perhaps it was Shearingham Point? This surprised me as I thought all horns had been silenced in favour of satellite navigation systems.

As for finding new ways to incorporate a September evening walk along the waterfront, we decided to try dining at a few of our favourite spots?  Accompanied by our good friends, Linda and Bjorn Simonsen,we headed down to a wonderful Victoria waterfront walk around Clover Point. 

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Island View Beach – Camping Close to Home

Written by Harold McNeill on August 24th, 2011. Posted in Travelogue


7 sunrise crow 3

Crow at Sunrise (more in the series footer)
Island View Beach

Over the years, Lynn and I, along with various friends, have camped in all manner of locations in the Capital Region.  Most times we found very scenic campsites, but sometimes, just out a sense of adventure, we would set up camp for dinner and an evening of cards in places such as Beacon Hill Park, Clover Point, Oak Bay Marina and other spots.  No one ever bothered us as we were respectful of where we were and what we were doing.

The article was reprinted along with photographs in September/October 2011 issue of the Island RV Guide (p. 37ff)

 Keeping with our plan to camp close to home over the summer, we drove north along Pat Bay Highway (#17), intending to camp at McDonald National Park, five minutes north of Sidney. While enroute, we decided to stop at Island View Beach and have a peek at the final resting place Lynn’s Mom’s ashes (story previously posted on FB).  While we have often visited the Island View, we had not realized the Capital Regional District (CRD) had established a Campground just north of the public picnic area. It was a serendipitous find and we ended up camping right next to the beach for ten days.  McDonald Park will have to wait until another day.

View from our CampsiteSince setting out on our summer trek on June 28, we have travelled just over 5000 km, camped at fifteen or more sites across the Interior, and on Vancouver Island as far north as Campbell River and Elk Falls. While each of the many camping areas offers a unique experience, Island View Beach clearly ranks with the very best.

While services at the site (now in its second year of operation) are limited, that only adds to the ‘get-a-way’ flavour. Not only does one get to camp next to the incredibly beautiful driftwood and sand-covered beach, but there is also an ever-changing view of James Island (a short distance across Cordova Channel) and numerous other Islands that extend all the way to the Washington State shoreline.

The ever stately, snow-covered, Mount Baker, a mountain well known to residents of the region, stands majestically in the distance. With the amount of white still displayed on the west and south slopes, this late August, one can only imagine how deep the winter’s pack must have been just a few months back.

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  • 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.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.