??Journey or destination??

Exploring life experiences at home and beyond – Destination Happiness


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Sunset Dinner and Show Cruise – Robinson Crusoe Island, Fiji

After a lazy day poolside, following a huge ( as always) buffet breakfast, we dressed up for a 4:15pm pick up for a sunset dinner cruise and show. The show was to be held on a small nearby island – obviously Robinson Crusoe Island.


The brochure promised us –
• 30 minute Jungle Cruise to the island

• Welcome Kava Ceremony

• Fijian “Lovo” (earth oven) Buffet

• Fire Walking Demonstration

• South Pacific Performance featuring Fire & Knife dancers

• Island bonfire and string band serenaders

and I must say it delivered!!

The bus arrived on time and after about a 45 minute bus trip we arrived at the Robinson Crusoe Island Ferry Jetty , with a few other mini buses and a coach.


We swapped our ticket vouchers for boarding passes and watched the first boat start its trip down the river. Our boat filled quickly. We were assured there was no deadly wildlife in the river, given instructions on the use of life jackets, then with a loud ‘BULA’ off we sped.


Our trip took us through the mangrove lined Tuva River. At the mouth of the river the sunset painted a glorious picture of orange glow. Small boats,the other ferry and palm trees cast silhouettes against the strong glow.



Docked on the island we were met by a serenade and we were led to the meeting area.


First we were told the story of chiefs and kava ceremonies. We watched a ceremony then all were invited to partake in Kava.

A bonfire on the beach followed. Songs were sung as hungry tummies awaited the final cooking stage of the Lovo. We soon watched the foods removed from their rock under earth oven.While the rocks were still sizzle hot we witnessed some Fijians walk on them. This must take a lot of mind psyching.


Dinner was served- a delicious menu of tender beef, chicken and an assortment of vegetables. With full plates on our tables ( and soon very full tummies) the performers serenaded us- melodic and peaceful.

The end of dinner signalled the start of the show- I was captivated from the beginning to the end. We watched as women and men performed traditional dances with a variety of costume changes. The knife dance was impressive but the fire twirling was what thrilled me the most- I have long been intrigued by watching the flicker of its dance. The finale is on the beach and without ruining it ,let’s say it was totally riveting and a spectacular visual.


To the strains of Isa Lei – The Fijian Farewell Song, our dinner show ended and we headed back to our buses via another trip in the island ferry.

It was a little unnerving wondering how the trip would be, aware we had seen no navigational poles but had seen tree stumps exposed in the rivers while on the daylight leg. The light turned out to be from someone sitting up on the roof with a large torchlight beam. A little concerning at first, but YOLO. The trip with the sparkling star sky canvas and the roaming floodlight beam added to the adventure.

Would thoroughly recommend this to Fijian visitors. It was an amazing evening! Money well spent 😀

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Cinderella – a modern day tale – a Zoom to Broome  

Once upon a time, Cinderella was transformed to a princess for a weekend, and flown to Broome. Her fairy godmother QANTAS cast the spell after viewing Cinderella’s competition entry video. You see, in this story, it wasn’t a prince looking for a princess but QANTAS sharing the celebration  of their 30 years of Frequent Flyers program with ordinary folk , also celebrating a special milestone in their lives. The competition involved either 25 words or less, explaining the milestone ( but as those that know this Cinderella know, this wouldn’t even see me finishing my introduction ) or a 30 second video. With a picture saying a thousand words, Cinderella saw this as her best chance. Her milestone was 30 years of marriage.

Proud of her effort she waited anxiously for the day the winners were to be announced. The day came and went and Cinderella thought the fairy godmother hadn’t chosen to be hers. But, just a day or two later, a phone call informed her she was in fact going to the ball….oops Broome. With a loud “Whacko the derrio” in the ear of the poor girl on the other end of the phone she zoomed on cloud nine before deciding just who her  lucky 3 guests were to be.  She took her own prince, and to accompany them were to be her son and daughter in law.

But fairy tales are narratives, and as such need a complication. This came in the shape of a broken ankle for her son. Surgery to place two pins and a metal plate ,  the wearing of a  moon boot and nil weight-bearing  provided  the complication. Seeking solutions she was met continually at brick walls as she searched her family for who to take now.  Her daughter and life-partner couldn’t make it logistically due to distance. Two sisters – maybe- but again one was distance challenged. Two  sets of ‘inlaws’ arghhhh….but then, one hadn’t been to Broome. And so the complication was solved. 

She started her magical adventure at Sydney Domestic Airport. After check in ( yes she needed a bag for all the clothes and accessories she would need for her 34 hour adventure) she headed off to the first ‘ballroom’ aka QANTAS lounge.  Entering the ( normally for her) forbidden doors she glided up the escalator with a grin rivalling the Cheshire Cat!! She wallowed in the fun, made herself a toastie and lined up for a barista coffee. 

Then, the flight board announced time to move to the next ‘ballroom’. Cinderella flew in the luxury of a private QANTAS flight on a 737-800. She sipped on cocktails and wine as a princess should. She ate foods that a princess should. The staff was so magical and ensured she was treated like a princess should be! On arrival in Broome a fairy godmother ( aka flight attendant) went the extra kilometre to allow Cinderella to sit in the business class seat and the flight captain let her peek in the cockpit. 


Cinderella’s bucket list already had so many ticks. Could it get any better?? Well it is a fairytale so we know anything can and does happen. Whisked away on a charter bus, she arrived at the resort to be entertained by a champagne reception. Even Mother Nature played her part with temperature ( 30C – excellent winter’s day !!)  and the bluest of clear sky. 


Entering her room at Kinberley Sands Resort, Cinderella noticed two bags of goodies.  Each contained a beautifully soft, large round beach towel, QANTAS bag tag ……and wait for it…QANTAS pyjamas- something Cinderella had only ever dreamed of, being an economy flight traveller. The room was beautiful and overlooked an azure pool, which at night was lit to a beautiful deep sea blue. 

A splash in the pool and then it was time to prepare for the dinner to be held at Cable Beach. A white dress affair, Cinderella managed to borrow suitable attire from a friend. It’s quite hard to find white summer clothing in the middle of a freezing winter. 

The sunset at Cable Beach deserves a photo. The hues change and colours deepen as the sun slinks to hide behind the ocean. As an east coast girl, sunset over the ocean thrilled Cinderella. Silhouetted against the sunset, a camel train made its way over the sand. A smoking ceremony signalled the beginning of the evening feast. And that it was, a feast for all senses!! Dinner was a night of sparkling pearl white, with a delicious menu to devour, washed down with quality wines, while listening to a melodic duet. Cinderell ate and drank like a princess should and had many laughs and interesting conversations. 

Next morning, saw Cinderella partake in a sumptuous breakfast before heading to Willie Creek Pearl farm. Here she held pearls that she could only have dreamt of ( one worth approximately $8000),  and enjoyed learning about the pearling industry, before taking a short cruise on the crystal blue waters to see the pearl farm. 

Regretfully now  for Cinderella, the hands of the clock seem to speed up. Before she knew it, she had boarded the flight home and was seeing the familiar sight of the marvellous harbour that is Sydney.  Her fairy godmothers and godfathers, in the form of QANTAS  staff, waved her a fond farewell . Cinderella doubted they could ever know the impact their actions had made on her. She did tell them, but knew they deserved more. 
On behalf of Cinderella I want to thank QANTAS for running this competition . I’ve often been a naysayer thinking these types of competitions weren’t won by real people but now I know different.  I encourage you, if you see a competition that has a prize you want, enter. You have nothing to lose and who knows, you too might be another Cinderella.

The glass slipper of memories will live forever in this Cinderella’s mind.
And someone missed us while we were gone for the weekend.


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Ways to enjoy a swimming pool and ensure others do too (?) !!

I decided although I like to wear the newest style clothing and hair, keep up to date with music and can tell you the latest Kardashian gossip with the best of them, there is still a hidden ‘old’ gene that surfaces every now and then. I think it was surfacing big time when I was sitting poolside at a resort and while I wrote this. 🙂

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1. If mum is sitting on the pool edge in her pretty bikini, well styled hair and make up, don’t jump in the water there. Instead walk the 10 paces to the stranger who is also sitting poolside, also has perfect make up and hair and is enjoying her quiet time. Jump right in there, creating a splash that won’t splash far enough to wet your mum.
2. Signs don’t apply to men. Don’t let the ‘No Diving ‘sign take away your fun. To maximise your fun, ignore those empty spots poolside when choosing your spot to execute your dive. Choose less than 30 cms from the lady sitting quietly poolside relishing in the peaceful water gently lapping over her feet. Select the lady who is enjoying the fact that she no longer has to do the ‘watch the kids safety’. Step as close as you can, bomb into the water. If you really want it do it well stand up after the dive ( yes the water is only shallow) then do your most splashiest duck dive. Very impressive.
3. Children need to practise their swimming strokes every opportunity. You have invested many dollars in those lessons and where better to practise the fast feet kicking. The best method is to do it pushing out from the beach area of the pool. More often that not the beach swim out is only used by one or two people. They are sitting there using the area as it is designed, to sit in the water without disturbing others and enjoying the sun’s rays dancing on the soft water lapping around them. Sit back on your deck chair and bellow ( oops use soft tones) at your children, “Do It again!” “Go back to the edge and kick harder this time!” This will buy you time without the kids . Those sitting close by will enjoy watching your children have fun and listening to your exquisite instructions, not to mention being covered in water splash. Another suitable venue for this activity is near the swim up bar as well. All those drinks being carried away can be made more tasty with a good splash of chlorinated swimming water.
4. The lady staring out at the water , saying nothing, enjoying the vision of palm trees swaying , music of a solo guitar player singing ‘her’ music,is just waiting for you to bring your baby over to splash right up close, and not to mention you engaging in loud cute baby talk and yes, splashing. Nothing cuter than someone else’s baby in a baby float that keeps floating to her and knocking her legs. What fun would the empty area of the pool be for this activity? No , close range to another is the preferable place.

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5. Don’t just bring a float to the pool. Bring a huge ( decent size) float then ride it close to others floating in the water. Up close those floats look even more impressive as they glide past a face , pushing glasses from the face of the plastic float free person. Don’t bother with a verbal apology, no, respond with a simple splash wave as enjoy your hands help you paddle on.
6. Bring a decent size ball ( talking regular football size of course!) to the pool. Stand the person who is least likely to catch the ball near the person who is standing and / or floating in the pool carefree. Purposely ignore the empty expanses in the pool. Have the strongest tosser hurl that ball so it skims the water creating a perfect splash – yes in the face of unsuspecting swimmers. This can only be topped in greatness if the player who didn’t catch the ball does some hectic water thrashing to reach the ball.
Most of all, always have your interactive pool fun as far away as possible from the empty parts of the pool…and your mum. Choose an unsuspecting stranger instead. 🙂

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Have you any other examples of where others involve you in their fun at the pool ?


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Dreams do come true!

With Father’s Day tomorrow in Australia, I was looking through early posts on my blog. I knew I had written one about my dad and wanted to re-read it. I found it (take a peek if you like). I also found a list of dreams I had written – not dreams as in sleep time but dreams of things I wanted to achieve. I wrote it 2 years ago so decided to see if I could tick any off the list.

The Ticked

Visit Port Douglas and the Daintree Rainforest

Almost ticked. The flights and accommodation are finalised and we will be there in around five weeks time. We are traveling around Cairns to Kuranda and up as far as Cape Tribulation. It will be a planes, trains and automobile style trip ( oh and throw in a cruise ship too!)file2101291129795

Visit the Blue Grotto and Pompeii

In June last year my family (husband and two grown up kids) traveled to Italy. It was an amazing holiday, made extra enjoyable by us all sharing it together. We didn’t actually get inside the Blue Grotto. Heavy seas, high tide fast approaching and a long queue of boats meant we only saw it from the outside. But, still we saw it (and a lot of other pretty grottos on our sail around Capri

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Pompeii is hard to put in words. It’s like you can still feel the lives of the people there both before the catastrophe and as they faced it. I cannot even imagine the fear that filled them as some struggled to escape (but to nowhere) nor those that curled up tightly with their family aware they could not beat this beast. And, there, looming in your vision is the all powerful Mt Vesuvius.

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Do a Sound of Music Tour

What an amazing time we had in Salzburg (July 2015) fulfilling this dream. The Mirabellplatz Gardens were opposite our accommodation. This Garden is the scene of the ‘Do-Re-Me’ steps, gnomes and trellises .Of course I sang the song as I jumped steps,tapped gnomes on the head and of course skipped ( yes skipped!!) through trellised walkways. I also did an organised SOM bus tour where I danced around a rotunda singing walked around lakes and saw the church of the marriage.

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Watch Sunrise and Kochie Live

Sunrise is an Australian morning news TV program. It is filmed at Martin place and is visible from the street.I’m a Kochie fan so was excited to make the trip to Sydney to stand outside to watch.I was extra thrilled when a few months later I actually got to be part of an inside audience, something they don’t have very often.

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Cook a three course meal

My cooking IS getting better. Maybe because I don’t do it so often now we are empty nesters. This makes the times I do it no longer the compulsory chore it used to be.

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Learn more conversational Italian

My Italian is still VERY limited but I loved listening to others using it during our travels. I was able to read the train ticket machines which was helpful.I also had a few(very simplistic) conversations-mostly transport or food related. Sadly since our return non-use means I need a HUGE refresher course.

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These on the list are YET TO BE COMPLETED but are still important to me.I’m taking Abbey Lee off the list though as I don’t watch the show much now.

*Visit USA again and see Abby Lee Dance Studio – and hopefully Abby Lee 🙂

*Visit Churchill to see the polar bears in the wild

*African wildlife safari

*Go to the Melbourne Cup

*See the Canadian Rocky Mountains by train

*Fly over Antarctica – preferable ice class 🙂

*Attend a dawn service for ANZAC DAY

*Be on Sydney Harbour for New Year’s Eve

*Write a children’s picture book

*Write a collection of short stories

Have you ticked off any of your own dreams lately? Did they live up to your expectations?


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Challenges

Can’t believe it’s first day of my holidays and I’m awake this early. Actually I awoke at 6 am with the alarm going off for my husband to get up for work. Guess my body is still in work mode.

 A friend set a challenge for those of us not going away for the holiday break to set ourselves some goals. I took up the challenge …

 1. To accept I’m not going away for the vacation period and so will make sure I don’t end up buying myself a ticket somewhere
This will be my hardest challenge. I’m not good at staying home during a holiday break. I get a bit twitchy and more often than not end up escaping somewhere if only got a few days. But, I have a vacation planned for later in the year and so I am going to work hard on meeting this challenge. Maybe Challenge 4 might help me stick to this one.

2. Write some blog posts and read the blogs of others.

I love writing but it seems to get pushed to the background with the demands of a day job. I love having time to sit back and paint my reflections of life with words but sometimes finding the time is the challenge. Reading the thoughts of others is insightful. It’s people watching of a different kind. It stretches my my mind to new ideas, opinions and visions and takes me to places that are already in my memory or have been beyond my thoughts.

3. Spend sometime outdoors in the sunshine admiring the beauty of where I live. 

 

 I live in a coastal town but rarely take time to enjoy the beauty of what I have at my doorstep. I allow the mundanes of life ( and my often sheer laziness to get moving) to get between me and this natural beauty. Winter is the perfect time for hot coffee watching the waves crash on the sand and possibly a whale frolicking on its northern migration. I’m getting out there!!
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4. Put together a photo book of my Europe trip of 2014.

 

This definitely might help me avoid a trip away as I relive memories and organise the photos and thoughts ( or will it make the desire to get away burn stronger- we’ll see). I have so many photos of the trip I took to Europe – travelling with my husband and our kidults. At this stage I’m imagining a coffee table style book . Anyone with suggestions of easy online bookmakers to work with?
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                                                                             Venice
So with those challenges set up , I think I shall make myself breakfast in bed and as I eat my jam and cheese toast and sip my coffee I’ll start with reading some of the blogs in my reader.


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Chat over Coffee

If we were to have coffee it would be in a cafe. I love having my coffee made for me ( those swirly pictures in the foam add to the experience) . Being able to choose something delicious ( like a cake, preferably with cream) to go with it is essential too – the whole experience- cemented together with friendship talk.

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My talk of course would start about my kidults, although they are grown up and live away from home we still keep in close contact and I couldn’t imagine life any other way. My son and his fiancé are mulling over wedding plans and their dog ( oh I miss him living here) has had an infected paw needing antibiotics. He is a beautiful natured Cavalier but one of those dogs ( like some people) that injuries and illness just seem to happen often too. Lucky he has good people watching over him closely. My daughter is off to school camp in Monday for three days. As an over anxious parent I always hated school camps and gave my kids strict instructions to stay near the teachers and not get lost wandering. Now she is the teacher – still told her to stay close to the others :)) Her partner is nursing a foot injury that has been recurring for quite a while. I feel for him not being able to pursue his love of running at the moment.

 

I’d tell you about our campsite home. This here will fill in the background talk. The floorboards are down and the painting is done with just a few touch ups go finish. The painting is thanks to my husband taking some of his holidays to finish the job and it does look great. Hopefully today we will start moving at least our bedroom furniture back into the room. I’m over having to get up from virtually down on the ground each morning. In keeping with my declutter theme a lot will not be returning to the rooms. I am taking part in a 30 day declutter challenge which is difficult for hoarders as my husband and I are, but it’s happening so it’s all good.

 

I wouldn’t bother you with telling about work except to say this year I’m being more realistic about my time spent on it at the expense of time doing things I enjoy.
Let’s not have this conversation all one sided. I’ll sip my coffee and devour the cake while I listen about your week. Look forward to reading about it in your comment 🙂

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Rush the mall and buy the shops out …falalalalalalalala

Christmas stress
I ‘penned’ this after reading this blog post on mybrownpaperpackages.com .

Christmas… I know it’s coming for a whole year so why then am I scrambling to get organised just 3 days out from the event? Truth is I enjoy the rush, I’m the type of person who works best under pressure.

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My last minute dashes are chaotic to others but to me they are stress free. I must admit I love the thrill of arriving early to get parking. I feel a sense of smug. I choose my car space so I can just drive out after my busy purchasing rather than reversing out trying to avoid pedestrians and (by that time ) illegally parked cars making it more than a challenge to leave.

 

 

 

Yesterday my arrival was timed perfectly. I glided around the shopping centre, my only list the names of my family and I hold that safe in my head. This year it’s gifts only for my immediate family. For the rest of the family it will be the getting together (sometime between mid December until mid January). With families spread and the circle widened as children become adults, this is the only way we can accommodate things.

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This event is meant to signify joy but if the faces and antics of many are what we judge I’d say the significance of the event is being overlooked…big time!! People glare angrily as they push past, curse loudly in queues, snatch rudely to select a product and ensure their frown lines get a really great workout.

Me, I smile a lot, wish people a Merry Christmas as I wait in lines and enjoy the opportunity to chat with friends as I bump ( sometimes literally) into them in my travels. Most of them are happy to stop for a chat but to some they are on a mission and sadly being friendly isn’t what this season brings out in them.

Maybe I’m getting old but I believe the best and perfect gift is time…time to enjoy shopping if you want to buy gifts , time to enjoy selecting the food you want to share with your loved ones and most importantly time spent with those loved ones creating and reliving the memories. Christmas seems to be an exercise in irony for many.

Can’t wait until tomorrow (Christmas Eve) to join the lines at the supermarket for food for my family. I’ll be there ‘crack of dawn’. You will recognise me by my huge smile and pleasant conversations :))

So, while I’m the calm , yet last minute organiser , just watch my stress levels on the day. Oh did I tell you I’m a perfectionist in presentation? Will hold that for another post.

 


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World Teachers’ Day 2014

“Teachers are an investment for the future of countries. What today’s children will face in adult life cannot be predicted and so the teachers of today and tomorrow need the skills, knowledge and support that will enable them to meet the diverse learning needs of every girl and boy.
This year on 5 October, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of World Teachers’ Day. The day commemorates the adoption of the ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the status of teachers in 1966. This recommendation is morally binding for all countries.”
UNESCO and partners working to provide every learner with professionally-trained, motivated and well-supported teachers … Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General  (link)
This time last year I wrote about this day. This year I’m writing again having just read this article, and had a laugh over this blog post.

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It seems whenever the subject of teachers arises so many are so consumed by the hours (or lack thereof), huge pay and easy workload.
Just for once I’d love to read …
“Teachers have it great! They get to interact daily with our children. They are a positive part of our children’s lives. Sure the resources mightn’t be always great but they are resourceful and will ensure children’s needs are met (to the best of their ability). Each day they get to witness milestones in the lives of our precious children.”
Or even …
“Teachers have it easy! The pay is higher than mine and their hours are much less. Their tasks are less time consuming than my current job description. They get excessive holidays. I AM GOING TO TRAIN TO BE A TEACHER!”
Job perks are often perceived differently from the outside. Many jobs come with perks but for every perk there are trade-offs. Movie stars get to travel in luxury and have large wealth but the trade-off is on a bad hair day they are public property. Teaching has perks not available to everyone such reduced childcare needs during the school holidays but the trade-off is you rarely get to see your children participate in school activities.

All jobs have their difficult moments but if you enjoy what you do you will find the silver lining. Like all jobs though, if you are there just for the money or the hours you won’t find happiness. You spend too long at work to be unhappy. To anyone considering joining the profession I’d say don’t be put off by the stories of ‘Woe is me’. The rewards will significantly outweigh the problems.
Would you trade your job to be a teacher? How different would your life be? Thoughts?

PS  Dare I tell you, due to school holidays, World Teachers Day is celebrated in Australia on the last Friday in October?


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The storm front rolls in

A large storm front rolled over Sydney in the late afternoon today. Thunderstorms aren’t out of the norm but the visual of this storm as it raced towards and over my home was impressive.

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Here you can see the edge of the front looking  west.

 

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This was the edge to the north.

567 This storm front raced. The view here is looking south.  572  573 The wind accompanying was strong and loud as it pushed these clouds on their path. I headed indoors after taking these photos as  lightning started. A heavy deluge followed and the temperature plummeted.

Any other NSW people have stories or photos of this event to share?


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Sometimes it just isn’t meant to be

FACT
A total lunar eclipse happens when the moon is completely in the Earth’s shadow.
Even though the moon is in the Earth’s shadow, some light does manage to hit the lunar surface during the eclipse, and this is what gives the moon it’s red – orange glow and hence it’s name BLOOD MOON

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Lunar  Eclipse

EXPERIENCE

I have been reading up about the blood moon that would appear tonight at 9:25pm EDST. As if on queue at 9:27pm the clouds began to part and a thin red hue glow began to appear on the edge of the moon. I raced inside to grab a camera to take some photos of this natural phenomena. Here are three taken about 10 minutes apart.
Did you take a look at the blood moon…what did you see ?

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Yes , the clouds regrouped 🙂