We've made it to the South Island of New Zealand, and are ready to experience some of the truly awesome examples of nature in the world, including the Trans-Alpine train across the Southern Alps, Franz Joseph Glacier, Queenstown, and the fjords of Doubtful Sound. The first stop, however, is a tour of Christchurch, the site of the catastrophic earthquake of 2011, and the second quake in nearby Kaikoura in 2016. Coming from Florida, I've lived through a hurricane, which was bad enough. Seeing first hand the havoc wreaked by an earthquake, however, is very unsettling.
We've been hiking in Yosemite National Park now for several days. Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Falls and El Capitan have been world class. Today, my family and I are going to tackle Half Dome, one of the great granite rock formations in Yosemite Valley.
We appear to have lucked out with the weather-beautiful, sunny and low humidity. There is no need to dress in layers today. The visitor center has been consulted, the trail highlighted in green magic marker, sandwiches packed and camera batteries charged. We're ready to go.