Final expenses for 82 days in the USA!…We’re off for India today!…

At lunch that day, two years ago, one of the chefs on our Antarctica cruise, on Ponant Le’Boreal, was preparing a beef and vegetable stir-fry outdoors.  We all partook of the delicious offering but decided to dine indoors.  It was a little too cold to eat outside for our liking. For more photos, please click here.

Last night, we played our final round of buck euchre with Gene and Eugene. As always it was quite enjoyable. Tom and I speculated over how fun it would be to find players in our future travels.

However, that’s highly unlikely. That particular card game is popular in the Midwest and is seldom played in other parts of the world. When we return to the US in about two years, we’ll play cards with his family once again.

Tom’s sisters and brothers-in-law only spend their winters in Apache Junction, Arizona and the balance of the year in Minnesota. Most likely, next time we visit Minnesota, it won’t be during the cold winter months and we’ll see his family and our kids and grandchildren in Minnesota, once again.

This morning, as I sit here preparing today’s post, I’m feeling at ease. Most of our packing is complete and all I have left to do is restock my 28-day pill case and empty the food in the refrigerator. 

We’re bringing all the remaining non-perishables and perishables over to the sisters to see if there is anything they can use. If not, their friend Margie (another Margie) will bring everything to the local Food Shelf where she volunteers. 

We’ve weighed all of our bags except for the supplies bag which is always questionable in meeting the weight restrictions in this case 50 pounds (23 kg) per bag .

Assuming we won’t have easy access to a pharmacy for toiletries, I’ve had to pack enough to last for three months; two months in India and 29-days on the following cruise from Mumbai to London. Once we arrive in the UK, and then Europe, we’ll easily find the products we use.

Last night’s my six hours of sleep was filled with crazy dreams and frequent periods of wakefulness. Tom experienced the same. But this morning upon awakening I felt fine and ready to tackle the remaining tasks for the day.

Our new friend Jodi, kindly volunteered to take us to the airport. This is so appreciated, especially since we must leave during rush hour at 5:30 pm. With the traffic we should arrive by 6:15 pm with our first flight departing at 8:40 PM.

We’ll fly all night for 10 hours, and as mentioned, we’ll spend 8 of the daytime hours at busy Heathrow Airport. We’ll attempt to find a place to plug-in our equipment and busy ourselves online.

Here are our combined final expenses for our 82 days in the USA, beginning on November 8, 2019 and ending today:

Final Expenses USA  US Dollar 
Vacation Home  AZ   $ 3,626.00
Gifts & Misc.   $    325.00
Airfare    $    872.00
Rental Car  $    996.78
Groceries  $ 4,100.32
Dining Out   $ 2,082.00
Supplies & Pharmacy   $ 1,674.05
Total Cost (82 days)   $13,675.83
Average Daily Cost (82 days)   $    166.78

We did not include the cost of new digital equipment and clothing, but we did include the cost of supplies we purchased for the next three months.

Also, we paid no rent while staying with friends Karen and Rich for three weeks  in Minnesota nor did we pay rent during the 11 nights we spent with son Richard in Nevada. Of course, we hosted a number of dinners out, in sincere thanks for their hospitality.

Here in Arizona, we paid the above mentioned rent from 12/09/2019 to 1/31/2020. The property manager gave us a discount to compensate for our early departure, today on January 29th.

Most likely, we’ll upload a post tomorrow during out 8-hour layover, providing we have access to wifi and a place to plug in our equipment. If not, sit tight. As soon as get settled in the hotel in a few days, we’ll prepare a new post.

Thanks for all the warm wishes from many of our loyal readers/friends. We so appreciate your kindness and words of encouragement.

We’ll be back at you soon! Take care and be well!


Photos from one year ago today, January 29, 2019:

We could only guess why this particular lioness hadn’t been hunting and eating. For more photos, please click here.

It’s all good…Releasing apprehension…

Two years ago today, this elephant seal on Steeple Jason Island didn’t care for our photo taking antics. For more photos, please click here.
This trip to India will be my first foray into testing my “new normal” after having open heart surgery almost one year ago on February 12, 2019. Of course, there’s a little apprehension about the prospect of the long upcoming flights and the busy days in India where we’ll be on a guided tour for 55 days, doing something new and different each and every day.
The past year was spent with considerable down time, allowing me to heal at my own pace, rarely feeling rushed or imposed upon with responsibilities and obligations I couldn’t easily handle.
Now that we’re facing a very long flight of almost 30 hours, this time in coach, not business class, which includes an 8-hour layover and two overnight flights on either end, no doubt, I am a little apprehensive.
Neither of us are able to sleep sitting up. Sure, once in a while we nod off while watching a show, perhaps dozing for five or ten minutes at most. Also, the seats on a plane aren’t nearly as comfortable as a recliner or sofa in any of our past vacation/holiday homes.
It’s odd that this flight includes two-overnight flights. That transpires due to the fact of the various time changes and the 8-hour daytime layover in London. I’m not looking forward to it. Then again, neither of us ever looks forward to flying, mainly due to layovers, lots of waiting and uncomfortable seating.
As for the priority lounge, we’ve decided to check them out once we arrive at Heathrow Airport. We’ve been reading varying reviews on these lounges and feel its important to see what they’re like before spending the extra fees, some of which are close to $200 for the two of us. We shall see.
As for today, we’ll slow down the socializing, although this afternoon, after we’ve done the laundry and packed what we’re keeping into our respective suitcases, we’re meeting up with Eugene and Gene for one final round of buck euchre. 
After playing cards, we’ll head back to our place, to have dinner and do any last minute packing. Although we don’t have to leave for the airport until late afternoon on Wednesday, we’d like to have almost everything handled by the end of today, leaving us free for a few last minute tasks such as returning the furniture to its original positioning and tidying up the park model.
Tomorrow, we’ll post the final expenses for our 82 days in the US in Minnesota, Nevada, and Arizona, which began on November 8, 2019 and ends on January 29, 2020. I’ve already put together all of the numbers but didn’t include the cost for new clothing and digital equipment we’d purchased while here.
Regardless of a smidgen of apprehension, I’m mentally and physically prepared for the challenge ahead, as is Tom. Once we’re settled into our hotel in Mumbai we’ll be greatly relieved to have this long journey behind us. From there, it should be pure pleasure and we’ll share every moment.
Happy day and evening to all!


Photo from one year ago today, January 27,2019:

This was an exciting sighting for us, the elusive Nyala which we’d never seen during this past year in South Africa.  From this site:  The handsome slate-brown shaggy coat is marked with white vertical stripes and spots on the flanks. Rams appear more charcoal-gray in color. The rams have long inward curved horns 650 mm (26 inches) and a white chevron on their face. They have a ridge of long hairs along the underparts, from behind the chin to between the hind legs, they also have a mane of thick, black hair from the head along the spine to the rump. Rams weigh 115 kg (254 pounds) and measure 1.05 m (41 inches) at the shoulders. Ewes are much smaller and do not have horns, and weigh 59 kg (130 pounds) and stand 900 mm (35 inches) at the shoulders. Ewes are chestnut-coated with even more prominent white stripes on the flanks. For more photos, please click here.

Recycling pleasures…4 days and counting…

A photo from six years ago today at this link. On either side of the face are two hanging red-tipped hanging pieces of skin. When the Helmeted Guinea-fowl moves about, these swing around as would a pair of dangling earrings. Ah, the beauty of the wild!

When none of Tom’s sisters required a used computer, when they each had well-working devices of their own, their friend Jodi (and now ours), volunteered to take it off my hands, rather than dropping it off a recycling facility.

Subsequently, I reformatted the drive and it’s now running like a brand new laptop. Today at noon, I’m heading over to Jodi’s park model to set it up for her. This may be more of a thrill for me than for Jodi!

Recycling any personal possessions provides a great sense of satisfaction for the donor and also the recipient, not only for reasons concerning the environment but, also for the joy of transferring your treasured items to someone who will enjoy the use of the item. 

Perhaps for sentimental reasons, it’s gratifying to know the recipient will carry on the legacy of a special item that may have been a big part of the history of the donor. 

Whoa! My old laptop has been around the world! I’ve pounded out millions of words on that keyboard after using it since January 2015 when I purchased it while in Big Island, Hawaii at a Costco store.

And, I’ve uploaded 2725 posts (as of today), done so with our passion for the world, our ability to continue to travel and the amazing people and wildlife we’ve been blessed to meet along the way.

Of course, all remnants of the past have been deleted and only a fresh palate remains. It’s not so much that I’ve been emotionally attached to it. More so, it symbolizes all the experiences we’ve gleaned along the way since we purchased it five years ago.

As we donate clothing to Goodwill, particularly when it was a favorite item, it makes us wonder who may one day own that item and hoping they will enjoy it as much as we did.

We live in a “throw-away society” described as follows: “The throwaway society” is a human society strongly influenced by consumerism. The term describes a critical view of overconsumption and excessive production of short-lived or disposable items over durable goods that can be repaired.”

We observe this throughout the world. It’s not exclusive only to the USA. Even in some of the most remote areas of the world, we’ve witnessed the rampant disregard for our world and its future.

Each of us has the opportunity to play a small role in passing on our used items, that we’ve since replaced, especially when we take a little time to bring them up to a usable condition for the recipient. 

No, we aren’t perfect in this area, nor will we ever be. But we began to appreciate it more when in 2012 we sold or gave away everything we owned to travel the world. 

It was at this crucial time in our lives, that we began to understand this concept of letting go of “stuff” we didn’t need and hopefully, putting it into the hands of those who may.

Soon, we’ll begin packing. We’ve discovered we need to further lighten our load for the constant traveling in India. We’ll donate some items, and those we’ll need down the road, we’ll send to our mailing service to be held until we can use them again. 

Trying to figure out how to handle “stuff” is a fact of our peculiar lives. We do our best to do so in a manner that befits our appreciation of our world and the many gifts it has to offer…those we cannot hold in our hands but only in our hearts and minds.

Be well.


Photo from one year ago today, January 25, 2019:

We spotted a giraffe with two male impalas in Marloth Park. For more photos please click here.

Fantastic visit to Goodyear Arizona…5 days and counting…

Tom and his four sisters (two weren’t able to travel to Arizona). From left to right (back row);
Colleen, Tom, Mary Ellen with Rita, and Margie (front row).
The hour-long drive passed in no time at all with five of us riding in Margie’s car while Tom drove. He drank only iced tea all-day to ensure he could be the “designated driver” on the return drive after dark.

Laurie and Craig’s stunning house was a delight to see. Every room is exquisitely designed and decorated and we oohed and aahed as we took the tour. 
Gorgeous lounge area on the veranda.
Afterward, I asked Tom if this gorgeous home reminded him of the beautiful home we’d left behind over seven years ago and if, seeing this home caused him to wish we had never left our old life.

He laughed and said, mimicking my feelings, that it’s a pleasure to see Laurie and Craig’s home and admire every nook and cranny, but in no way did it make him wish we had a home and a different life. We both concurred that we are thrilled for them and their obvious success but didn’t feel an iota of longing.
Laurie and Craig’s home and veranda overlook the golf course.
Not only was the house exquisite but the hosts had gone over the top to prepare a delicious meal consisting of many pre-dinner snacks, most of which I could eat and smoked baby back ribs and chicken prepared on their outdoor smoker.

Craig kept aside a portion of ribs and chicken for me without the sweet sauce he added at the end of the roasting period. The rich smells of smoking hardwoods wafting through the air leaving all of us looking forward to partaking in the delightful offerings.
Fifteen attended the barbecue including some friends.
The beer, wine, and drinks flowed along with the conversation among the 15 of us, four of which included friends of the family while Tom faithfully sipped on his iced tea. 

The weather couldn’t have been more perfect at a sunny 74F (23C). We dined at both the indoor and outdoor tables. Once darkness fell when it always cools off considerably in the desert, we all wandered indoors to continue our lively conversations.
The smoker in Laurie and Craig’s backyard with meats ready for the final cooking.
We’d arrived a little after 1:00 pm and by 8:00 pm, those of us heading back to Apache Junction piled into the two vehicles and were on our way back to Apache Junction, arriving a little after 9:00 pm.

As late as it was, we didn’t continue the party and each headed back to our respective “park models” to spend a quiet remainder of the evening. Later today, we’ll all get together to play cards at Colleen’s home.

Soon, I’ll head out to the bank to get cash and a quick trip to the grocery store for a few items to hold us until we depart in a mere five days. 

Have a fabulous Friday! We’ll be back soon.
Photo from one year ago today, January 24, 2019:
It was hard to believe how quickly these ostrich chicks have grown from the tiny little things they were six months ago. For more photos, please click here.

Coronavirus…How does this risk impact us as we head to India?..6 days and counting…

This photo taken in 2014 when we toured the Panorama Route was posted last year on this date. This handsome cheetah we met at Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre was recovering from poisoning, as the result of an attempt to kill him for his hide. He won’t be able to return to the wild due to the risk of being killed by his own species. He’s been made an “ambassador” to represent the rehab center in saving his and other species from becoming endangered.  Watching him through the electrified fencing, we were anxious to get inside for “hands-on.Here‘s the link from that post.
Note: I’d failed to set up the spell checker for yesterday’s post. Today Tom noticed all the spelling errors. It’s not that I can’t spell. It’s due to the fact I am a lousy typist. All of the errors have since been corrected. Stuff happens.

Of course, we’re concerned about the outbreak of Coronavirus in countries throughout the world. As of today’s stats here is a breakdown of the countries impacted by this deadly virus: “The disease has also spread to at least seven other countries: Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, and the US. 

At first, authorities suspected that the coronavirus — which most likely originated at a seafood market — could be spread to humans only from animals.”

Now, it’s been discovered that the virus spreads easily from human to human. This is a big concern for us. This morning we ordered more face masks certified to be specifically for protection against viruses spreading from human to human.
We’ve decided to wear them non-stop for the almost 30-hour upcoming travel day and while at any public, crowded areas and, at all times at airports. We don’t care how it looks. We’ll be diligent.

No doubt in no time the virus will reach India, which is adjacent to China. However, in the article below it appears India is being pro-active in screening passengers entering the country, although this one step is no guaranty the virus won’t enter the country.

See this article below:

“India screens over 9,150 passengers for Coronavirus (from this site)

  • The health and civil aviation ministries have issued a travel advisory and shared it on their Twitter handle for wider circulation
  • The death toll from the coronavirus has risen to nine in Wuhan, China, with several cases reported across the country.
NEW DELHI: The health ministry has screened over 9,150 passengers of 43 flights for the Coronavirus disease at seven airports. After the outbreak of the virus in China, India has stepped up its preparedness to prevent the entry of the virus in the country.
“Till now, no case has been detected through these screening efforts. We are on alert … Passengers traveling from China are being requested to report to the nearest public health facility in case they feel any symptoms,” said Preeti Sudan, secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The health and civil aviation ministries have issued a travel advisory and shared it on their Twitter handle for wider circulation.
The health ministry has instructed airport health organizations at Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Cochin to screen passengers coming from mainland China at these seven international airports.
“Signages have been put up at prominent locations in these airports for encouraging public about self-reporting of illness. Immigration officers manning the counters have been sensitized at these airports. Close coordination is being maintained with the Ministry of Civil Aviation to coordinate the screening effort and dissemination of information to inbound passengers through in-flight announcements,” a health ministry statement said. “The Health Ministry is constantly reviewing the evolving scenario working closely with the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Ministry of External Affairs, Department of Health Research and the Indian Embassy in China.”
The ministry has consulted the World Health Organisation (WHO) for updates on technical inputs. “Series of meetings have been held to review the evolving scenario, preparedness in terms of disease surveillance, laboratory support infection prevention, and control, logistics, risk communication and, in particular, hospital preparedness and need for coordination and collaboration with other Ministries,” said a senior health ministry official.
The health ministry has also written to all states and union territories to review their preparedness, identify gaps and strengthen core capacities needed to prepare for, detect and respond to possible outbreaks.
National Institute of Virology, Pune, and 10 laboratories under the Indian Council of Medical Research’s Viral Research and Diagnostics Laboratories network have geared up to test samples of the virus. Medical stores have maintained adequate stock of equipment for personal protection, the health ministry said.
The death toll from the coronavirus has risen to nine in Wuhan, China, with several cases reported across the country. The US has also reported a case of the virus, raising concerns across the world.
The World Health Organization convened an emergency meeting in Geneva on Wednesday for deciding whether the fast-spreading outbreak is a “public health emergency of international concern”, and what recommendations should be made to tackle it.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. The outbreak is that of a new, unknown form of pneumonia, which has so far infected at least 400 patients across central China, spreading from the city of Wuhan, where the first case was identified on 31 December and killing six. As per the latest reports, the deadly virus has also traveled to South Korea and a case was reported in Thailand, and Japan each.”

This puts a bit of a damper on our travels, especially after we suffered from the outrageous virus we contracted on our last cruise in October, which lasted for over six weeks, resulting in the worst cough either of us ever suffered. 

But, we continue on with hope and prayers for a safe departure and for time spent in the next leg of our journey and also the cruise from Mumbai on which we’ll embark on April 3, 2020. Will we need to wear face masks on the cruise? At this point, we don’t know.

From there, we’ll be in England, Scotland, Spain, and Portugal. Hopefully, strict precautions are being implemented in these and other countries. Some may say we’re foolish to continue travel but now, the virus has arrived in the US. Nowhere in the world is exempt from the risks.

Today, we’re off to Goodyear, Arizona to Laurie and Craig’s house. We’ll be back with photos for tomorrow’s post.

Have a safe and healthy day!

Photo from one year ago today, January 23, 2019:

We’d posted photos from 2014 on this date in 2019. Tom volunteered to feed the vultures raw meat.  He wore a leather sleeve on his right arm from fingertips to shoulder.  As soon as our guide put the raw meat into his hand, several vultures flew at him to grab it, leaving two to fight over it.  Exciting, to say the least. See the year-ago post here.

Finally, a new fitness watch and a bag…7 days and counting…

One year ago, we posted this photo we’d taken in 2013 while on a road trip. Bourke’s Luck Potholes was definitely our favorite photo of the day on our three-day tour of the Panorama Route and Blyde River Canyon. See the original post here.

Yesterday, after completing the post, I headed out shopping. I don’t care to shop for anything other than groceries which I find quite enjoyable. Browsing through any type of department store, makes me cringe. 

I wasn’t this way in my old life, but with my limited wardrobe over the past seven-plus years, knowing I have to toss something from my one suitcase of clothing to maintain the consistent flight approved weight if I purchase something new. This fact makes shopping less than fun.

Over the past three years, I have been using a blue cloth grocery bag as a means of carrying the necessary items with me when we’re going out for an extended period.

On shorter outings, I only bring a lipstick to be stuffed into my or Tom’s pockets. (Many women’s pants don’t have pockets). Now, that my flip-open RFID phone case has space for ID, cash and credit cards, I no longer have a need for a wallet.

Over the past three years, I’ve become tired of using the navy blue grocery bag. With the long and arduous upcoming flight to India, I reconsidered if I actually wanted to carry that blue bag one more time. I do not.

What I wanted to find was a cloth-type bag that can be squished enough to fit under the seat on an airplane and yet large enough to hold what I usually carry with me onto the plane: phone, camera, cosmetic bag, hairbrush, earpieces, and charging cords and a wide array of odds and ends.

(With this upcoming flight, we’ll need to bring along a few toiletries based on traveling for almost 30 hours including an eight-hour layover. In checking information on British Airways, it appears they provide toothbrushes and toothpaste, our biggest concern).

As it turned out, I found the perfect item at TJ Maxx, a black Steve Madden padded, parachute material bag that zips with several pockets, all secure leaving the contents relatively theft-proof. Sure, a thief could steal the entire bag off my arm, the reason I haven’t carried an obvious handbag all these years. This new bag is more of a carry-on type bag.

The next item I wanted was a fitness watch. I’d ordered one online in December and it never arrived. I am now awaiting a refund. If I don’t see it come through in the next few days, I will contact the credit card company to remove the charge, especially since I have an email from the company apologizing for their error in not sending out their product.

After the trip to TJ Maxx in Mesa (a 20-minute drive), I followed the road that circled the mall to the Best Buy store. They had a number of models, but many that included music and Amazon’s Alexa. 

Since Alexa doesn’t work in most countries I saw no need to purchase the more expensive FitBit Fitness watch. I selected the FitBit Charge 3 that suited my needs at a fixed price of $149. I’d shopped quite a bit online over the past week researching models and settled on this particular watch.

Yesterday, while wrapping up the completion of setting up Tom’s old laptop for my use, I also set-up the watch itself as well as the app for the device on my phone, and the computer. 

By dinner time, I had everything set-up and was thrilled with the results. I love my new FitBit. Overnight, last night I downloaded all the photos from my old laptop onto our external hard drive, My Passport. 

Now, I can reformat the drive on my old laptop and offer it to Tom’s sisters, if they’re interested. If not, we will recycle it at a proper facility, as mentioned.

Tom just left for the Mesa airport to pick up his sister Rita from South Dakota who will be staying with Margie for a week. Now there will be nine of us, including Mary and Eugene’s son, Kevin who’ll be leaving in three or four days. It looks like some fun card playing is on the agenda!

Once Tom brings Rita to Margie’s home, we’ll pack up food for me and beverages for both of us. This morning Tom purchased a roasted chicken for me to bring today since they’ll all be having sandwiches and chips.

That’s all for today, folks. We’ll be back again tomorrow with more. 

Have a fantastic Wednesday!


Photo from one year ago today, January 22, 2019:

Basket the Bully was feeling sad after his right ear was nearly torn off in what must have been as a result of a fight he most likely provoked. We comforted him with pellets, apples, and carrots before he took his nap in the hay. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…2020…A new year…a new decade…Our travels, a year in review…

At the New Year’s Eve party a few nights ago.

Today’s post is late since this morning we were distracted when we met our new neighbors who moved into the unit behind us. Coincidentally, they are also from Minnesota and it was fun sharing stories with the two of them.

View of hotels along the beach from the ship on our way back to the US in Nassau, the Bahamas from this post.

No doubt, we’ll see them both again soon. The socialization at the park is over the top. No less than three or four evenings a week we are getting together with family and new friends to chat, laugh and share stories.

Socializing is different here than it is on a cruise ship when most passengers are frequent travelers from all over the world. All the seniors (55+) we’ve met thus far are from all over the US, many from the Midwest and other cold climate locations.

Out to dinner With dear friends Karen and Rich for a “thank you for hosting us at your home” at Gianni’s Restaurant in Wayzata, Minnesota. For more from this post, please click here.

A few nights ago, we met a lovely couple from Arkansas while standing in line for the New Year’s Eve party where winter climates are temperate. However, the draw of this simple life is appealing to seniors from all over the country.

And now, as we have rolled into the New Year, with more and more people coming here to stay for the winter, no doubt we’ll meet more residents and like the couple we met this morning, those staying in a rental unit such as ours.

Tom won the last game, Bingo Coverall, winning $200 when we were out to lunch with Karen and Rich where bingo is played at a bar on Saturdays mornings only. He looks tired from little sleep from coughing all night while in Minnesota. For this post, please click here.

Today’s photos, from the remainder of the year, were all while we have been in the US since November 8, 2019, almost two months ago. Being in the US during this time has been great, seeing family and friends.

Now we’re gearing up for leaving the US once again and most likely won’t return for another two years. We have a lot of world left to see and look forward to the next leg of our journey.

As mentioned yesterday, 2019 was definitely the most challenging of our seven years of world travel. We’ll never forget what we went through, but we take the memories with us and hopefully have learned from our experiences as we move into the future.
Our next stop was Nevada, where I had the opportunity to visit my sister Susan. This is her pup, Chase, an adorable little guy. See the post here.

Sure, there’s a bit of trepidation going forward. Will we be close to competent medical care? Are the risks of future issues with my health going to hold us back in any way? We could easily make ourselves stressed contemplating these raw facts.

However, we choose to free our minds from stress and to focus on the good fortune we’ve had in discovering my heart issues in time to avert a possible life-changing event and, of course, our ability to continue on.

Tonight, we’ll lay low and enjoy our delicious leftovers from last night’s successful dinner party. The sisters and brothers-in-law came to our house around 3:30 pm and stayed until close to 9:00 pm. 

It was wonderful to meet up with old friends, Jerry and Vicki. It was amazing to see them so many years later when we’d met in Kauai in 2015. For this post, please click here.

As often the case, the conversation was filled with stories of experiences they all shared about their years of growing up in a large family. They are quite an entertaining group. 

We’re attending another party at 3:00 pm on Saturday by the fire pit. It’s warmed up a bit and when the sun is shining, it’s quite comfortable being outdoors. Tom is picking up Margie at the Mesa airport on Saturday. It will be great to have her back with the six of us.

Have a wonderful day!


Photo from one year ago today, January 2, 2018:

Last year on this date, we posted “year in review” with this photo of two female rhinos on the trail of a nearby male.  See this link here for more from the date this photo was taken. Click here for the year-ago post.

Part 1…2020…A new year…a new decade…Our travels, a year in review…

In Devon on a farm, Tom had the unusual experience of shepherding 150 lambs. For that post, please click here.

Since we’ve posted so many photos from Africa we’ve decided not to post favorite photos from 2019 that include our time in Africa. Our readers have seen them over and over again. We appreciate your patience and interest.

While in Ireland we got a good shot of this pair of cows, most likely a mom and baby from this post.

Instead, today (with more to follow tomorrow), as mentioned in yesterday’s post (click here) we’ll review where we’ve traveled over the last 12 months. Based on the fact my open heart surgery was in February and we weren’t able to do much during the remaining three months we spent in Marloth park while I recovered thus, the dates are as follows:

January to May – Marloth Park, South Africa 
May to August – Connemara, Ireland (three months)
August – Flight to Amsterdam, where we spent two nights
August – September – Baltic Cruise – 12 nights
September to October – Stayed in four locations in the UK: Falmouth, Witheridge, Devon, England and, Chepstow, Wales, two of which included living in the English countryside on working farms
October – Drove to Southampton, England where we spent two nights and then boarded a ship for a 15-night cruise to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA
November to December – Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA to visit family (3 weeks)
November to December – Henderson/Las Vegas, Nevada, USA to visit family (11 nights)
December – Apache Junction, Arizona, USA – the balance of December has been spent visiting family (Tom’s sisters and spouses)

While in Amsterdam wished we could post the identity of all of these amazing highlights on our canal boat tour, but it wasn’t possible as the boat moved along. For this post, please click here.
  • Number of Flights: 5 
  • Number of Cruises: 2 
  • Number of Vacation Home Rentals: 7
  • Number of nights in hotels: 4
  • Number of nights spent with family or friends: 32 (with friend Karen in Minnesota and son Richard in Henderson)
  • Number of Rental Cars: 5 
The opulence in the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg was indescribable. See the post here.

Considering the awful condition I was in until October, unable to walk from the surgeries and dreadful medications which I later stopped taking, and then the awful virus we both caught on the cruise back to the US, we traveled quite a bit.

These birds in Tiverton, Devon reminded us of the Helmeted Guinea-fowl we had in our garden in Marloth Park. For this post, please click here.

Now that we are both feeling well, we’re finally able to relax and focus our time with Tom’s family members and preparing for our upcoming trip to India in a mere four weeks from today.

In some ways, it was a good year. In other ways, it was frightening and disheartening. As the year ended last night at midnight when we stood on the dance floor at the party here at the resort and shared a long kiss, we couldn’t help but smile for the New Year to come. 

This is the view from our veranda in Falmouth, England. For this post, please click here.

No, we can’t totally dismiss what we’ve been through this past year, but we can and have embraced a feeling of gratefulness and good fortune, to have made our way through a very difficult time.

In the rain on the farm in Witheridge, Tom was using the wheelbarrow to bring the wood to Pond Cottage. See the post here.

The party last night was fine. There were a few nuances we could have done without, such as eating prime rib (which was good) with a plastic fork and knife. But, the people we relatively friendly and the two of us had a good time together as always. 

Friends Linda and Ken from South Africa came to visit us while we were in Chepstow, Wales. Here’s a photo of the four of us and here’s the post from that date.

We couldn’t resist staying until the stroke of midnight to hear and sing the traditional song, Auld Lang Syne. Oddly, one of the participants on the dance floor collapsed right at midnight. Shortly after the song ended, an ambulance came to take the poor woman to the hospital. We never heard what had transpired.

The table top is a plain white blank canvas, making such colorful presentations possible while we dined on the ship experiencing Le Lewtit Chef a digital dining experience. For that post, please click here.

Back at our park model (as they are called) by 12:15, we unloaded our bag of beverages and went off to bed. Actually, we both slept fairly well awakening to a new year, a new decade and a new journey we’ll continue with joy in our hearts.

Today, we’re making dinner for the family: baby back ribs, mashed garlic potatoes, sweet corn, dinner rolls, salad, and dessert. Based on time constraints, we’ll continue this post tomorrow. Please check back.

Happy New Year everyone!


Photo from one year ago today, January 1, 2019:

Last year on this date, we posted favorite photos from 2018. This is a two-year-old Rock Hopper Penguin on New Island in the Falkland Islands yet to grow his full plumage when we visited Antarctica.  Please click here for more photos.

Social nirvana into the New Year…

We often encountered beautiful flowers when we walked the neighborhood in Pacific Harbor, Fiji on this date in 2015.

We knew that staying in Apache Junction would provide us with an opportunity to not only to spend enjoyable times with Tom’s sisters and spouses, but also with other resort residents we’d meet along the way.

Yesterday afternoon at 3:00 pm was no exception. When Colleen and Mary were invited to an afternoon “happy hour” of course, they ensured we were included as well.

When we arrived at Sue and Ed’s lovely park home, we were heartily welcomed. The group of eight of us engaged in lively conversation. As the afternoon wore on, word got out and four others showed up, all of whom we’d met at other parties over the past three weeks.

The 12 of us were a lively group and there was no shortage of chatter in the room. How they managed to squeeze enough chairs into the room to accommodate everyone baffled me. I guess groups this size must be a common occurrence with all the socializing.

When we’d brought up New Year’s Eve to Tom’s sibling none sounded enthused to going out to celebrate. Tom also hesitated to plan anything and yet, I’d have loved to go out to celebrate, especially if we could do so nearby.

There’s a New Year’s Eve party planned at the resort, but we’d heard the tickets were sold out. Ironically, last night a couple, Sue and Mike mentioned they were trying to sell their two tickets to the New Year’s Eve party for which they paid $64. They preferred to attend another party at a nearby resort.

The husband, Mike, was open for negotiations on the price of the tickets. He agreed to $50 for the pair. I offered $40. After all, the party occurs in only two days. He agreed to $45. I stuck to my guns at $40 and eventually, he agreed, knowing it would be unlikely he could sell them at this late a date.

Hostess Sue (lots of Sue’s here) suggested we sit with them and hang out with them at the party. We may know a few others in attendance, but this plan was most preferred.

This morning I baked blueberry muffins and just took a huge egg, sausage, mushroom and onion bake out of the oven to bring to Colleen and Gene’s home for brunch for the six of us. We’ll be watching the Minnesota Vikings game from Tom’s laptop on their big-screen TV using our HDMI cord.

Tomorrow, we’ll all celebrate Colleen’s birthday at the local bar and the next night we’ll attend the New Year’s Eve party. It’s quite fun being here. We’re enjoying every moment.

Have a fantastic day, dear readers! Go Vikings!


Photo from one year ago today, December 29, 2018:

Tom took this photo of two hadeda birds on the roof of a neighboring property.  Click here to hear the sounds they make, which resulted in their name.  They are known as the loudest birds in South Africa. For more photos, please click here.

Researching the future…We’re behind schedule…

Taking this photo without zoom on this date in 2013 gives a perspective of the small size of this island, somehow appealing to her for its varied vegetation. For more photos from that date, please click here.

Since we arrived in the US on November 8th, we’ve been preoccupied with visiting family and planning for our upcoming two months in India. At this point, we’ve yet to begin booking where we’ll stay after our 29-night cruise from Mumbai to London which ends on May 2, 2020.

It may seem to be a long time away, but in our world, four or five months fly by in a flash, especially when we are having a great time. As much as we’d like to postpone the time it takes to conduct an in-depth search, the time has come for us to get to work.

The hardest part of booking the six months we have to fill between the end of the cruise until the next cruise in November is where exactly would we’d like to travel.

With the Schengen visa requirement that we can only stay in Europe for 90 days out of 180 days it makes sense for us to spend more time in the UK that doesn’t fall into the Schengen requirements. 

Undoubtedly, it makes sense to stay in Scotland (a part of the UK) for a period of time, which neither of us has visited so far. There appears to be a number of available options for the summer months. But, undoubtedly, we’d better get something booked soon.

It’s still hanging up in the air concerning our return to South Africa at the end of the November cruise. But one thing we have decided is we won’t stay in South Africa over the holidays due to increased seasonal rental costs and excessive power outages, especially when there are so many people in Marloth Park. They are experiencing such issues now as we’ve seen mentioned many times on Facebook.

Instead, we’re contemplating getting off the ship a few days prior to the end of the cruise when the ship docks in a port of call in Luderitz or Walvis Bay, Namibia and stay there for a few months while awaiting the end of the holiday season in South Africa. This makes a lot of sense to us.

After the upcoming first of January, we’ll be contacting an immigration attorney in South Africa to assist us in getting the waiver we applied for which has yet to be approved.  

It’s been almost eight months since we applied and yet have no response. Without the waiver, we won’t be able to return to South Africa until May 2024. That’s too far out for any planning at this point.

This morning we visited Mary and Eugene and Colleen and Gene (Margie returned to Minnesota for a few weeks to attend her granddaughter’s wedding on New Year’s Eve). No one seems interested in doing anything out and about on New Year’s Eve, but there are a few activities transpiring in the next few days.

Tomorrow, before noon we’ll get together for the Minnesota Vikings Game at Colleen and Gene’s home where we’ll hook up Tom’s laptop via the HDMI cord to their large TV. I am making an egg, mushroom, onions and sausage casserole to bring for brunch.

On Monday, its Colleen’s birthday and the six of us will go out for happy hour and a bite to eat at a local pub, “What’s the Hell.” It will be fun to celebrate with her as we did over Tom’s birthday on Monday.

Now, I’m off to the market once more for a few items. We’ll spend a quiet day and evening at our place, having dinner and perhaps watching a movie in the evening. We’ve already completed our walk now that the rain stopped.

Happy day!


Photo from one year ago today, December 28, 2018:

It’s easier for male kudus to eat this way as opposed to bending down with those giant horns.  Wildebeest Willie waits in the background for his turn. For more details, please click here.