CarSoup and security…I’ll take a bowl of that!…

It may be going a little overboard!  For $34 at we purchased these three items putting my mind at ease.

Months ago, Tom and I easily came to the conclusion that owning a car in the US while traveling the world was both foolish and costly. As we’d mentioned in a recent post, it will be peculiar not to own a car which took us a few days to accept.  With only a few calculations, we knew it was the right decision.

Tom’s car, only two years old, still has a remaining balance on a loan. My car also has a loan, a small remaining balance after having bought out the lease a few years ago when offered an irresistible deal for a below market price, certification and an extended warranty. 

Our combined payments are $1048 a month. Add in the auto insurance at $152 a month (me, fender benders!), maintenance at $100 month (my warranty ran out), gas at $300 a month (estimated after retirement for both cars) for a monthly total of $1600.

Keeping a car in the US would have resulted in the continuation of most of these expenses with the $300 a month intended for gas instead going to the cost of storage. Ridiculous!  We had no difficulty making the decision to sell both cars. Most certainly, we can rent cars for considerably less than this amount anywhere we may be in the world

Selling my car in October presents a dilemma: I will be without a car for a few weeks at most.  I can manage by working out and grocery shopping when Tom is home after work and on the few remaining weekends.  

Most of my time these last weeks will be spent completing the packing, cleaning and organizing. Family and friends will visit me here for the next three and a half weeks, until we move to our friend’s home for the remaining week, October 24th to October 31st, our departure date.  We’ll be out of the way during the estate sale. 

Yesterday, I listed my car for the seven day free trial at CarSoup.  If it doesn’t sell in a week, I’ll re-list it committed to the minimum one month contract for $9.95.  What if it doesn’t sell?  

The Cadillac dealer from whom I purchased my car new, most likely will buy it. A few months ago, I’d received a letter from them, inquiring as to my interest in selling them my car. Their used car inventory was low.  Serendipity.  Of course, the price will be much lower than my possible private sale, but at that point, I’ll have no alternative.

Here’s my ad on CarSoup, in case you know of anyone that may be interested. Hopefully soon, gone, gone, gone.

As for Tom’s car, we’ve made a carefully analyzed decision to drive his 2010 SUV to Scottsdale, Arizona for our last 60 days in the US. With its great gas mileage, space for all of our luggage, navigation system and a great security system we’ll be at ease with our decision.  We’ll also drive the SUV to Henderson, Nevada for Christmas with family and friends, finally driving ourselves to the pier in San Diego, for our first cruise. 

We are offering our prospective buyer a good price (a person well known to us), to fly to San Diego and pick up the SUV at the pier, where we’ll have left it on January 3, 2013.  We’ll have financial matters completed prior to this time and have sent him a set of keys.  Easy peasy.  If anything falls through (we always have to have a Plan B), we’ll engage the same practice as for my car, sell the car to a dealer, taking the hit. Whoosh!  $1600 a month, gone!

My next auto related concern: all of our luggage in the back of Tom’s SUV while we make the leisurely four day drive from Minnesota to Arizona.  Our condo in Scottsdale won’t be available until November 4th.  We thought it would be great to take our time during Tom’s first four days of retirement having fun along the way.  A road trip is a great way to start our year’s long adventure!

So again, me worrying.  What if the SUV is vandalized or stolen and our bags, all six of them, are ripped off?  Of course, we’ll be insured. But suddenly, all of our worldly possessions would be gone. Everything. Nada. All of the hundreds  of hours spent researching and buying just the right clothing and products, for at least the first three years of our travels, gone. Scary!  What would we do?  

We’ve discussed this possibility.  We’d continue on to Scottsdale, clothes on our backs with 60 days to find and replace everything we would have lost. Stressful, yes. Frustrating, of course. Doable, yes.

A solution, although not a guarantee, was to amp up his SUV’s security. First, we tested the functionality of his factory installed car alarm.  Next, we made a conscious decision to only stay in motels whereby the SUV will be parked outside our room door.  Also, we’ll be signing up for OnStar for the 60 day period at $18.95 a month.  If the car is stolen, it can be tracked by GPS, immediately reporting to the police.  

With highly sensitive hearing and as a very light sleeper, I’ll sleep with the key fob in my hand (I’ve slept with the TV remote in my hand all night. Why not the fob?).  If I hear a sound, I’ll set off the alarm long before the car alarm goes off, hopefully scaring away a possible thief.  

We are subject to many variables in regard to our two vehicles over the next 90 days.  We have accepted these somewhat painstaking scenarios are part of the process in order to be able to eventually lounge in a lawn chair, overlooking the ocean, knowing this “vacation” may never have to end.  

I’ll tell you how that feels when it happens.

Bye, bye, musical memories…

A few hours later the CDs were organized and ready to be sold at the upcoming estate sale. 

Having not moved in 26 years, it’s difficult for me to comprehend having everything in order in 20 days when the estate sale people arrive to start the process of sorting and pricing our belongings.  Ouch! Moving in the past seemed easier: pack, label and seal cardboard boxes, moving them to the next home, placing the boxes in the appropriate rooms to begin the process of unpacking. 

We’ve all experienced this at different times in our lives and although a stress laden experience, we all have managed our way through it to eventually unpack and put it away. The goal was to unpack neatly with the hope and expectation that the cupboards, drawers and closets would stay organized forever. Ha!

As I look around our house, decorative items still on the shelves, clothes still hanging in closets, pictures still on the walls, I see piles of boxes of photos and memorabilia ready to be mailed or dropped off to our grown children including boxes of special items to be distributed to the grandchildren as they mature; boxes of items to be sold at the sale and our never ending pile of luggage.  

Have I gone through every nook and cranny in this house, extricating the memorabilia or items that we may choose to take with us on our travels?  Our estate sale guy promises we’ll have one last time to peruse the items prior to the sale to ensure we haven’t missed a handmade treasure from our child’s or grandchild’s art class. That’s comforting.

In the past few days, I’ve removed every personal item from my car which is to be offered for sale next week on CarSoup where I had successfully and seamlessly sold my last car years ago, in a matter of a few days. 

In the process of cleaning my trunk, glove box and center console, I discovered no less than 15 music CDs most of which were installed in the multi-CD player.   Bringing them inside the house to sort and place them back into the cases, it dawned on me that I had yet to sort the 100+ music CDs we have accumulated in the house over the years.

As I handled each one, “memories flooded my mind” of disco dancing days, romantic dinners for two and quiet reflections to “new age” music so popular in the 80’s.  The thought of our magical Christmas’s, with music filling the air during our festive holiday celebrations, brought tears to my eyes. 

Ah, letting go of stuff, the process continues. One month and one day from today, it will all be gone.  What will remain? The memories. The memories. And the memories. 

X-Ray views of our travel jackets…

It would be no exaggeration to say that I have spent no less than 20 hours searching online for travel jackets for both Tom and me.  Our goals were simple: functional, all weather, comfortable, affordable and attractive. 

After the first 10 hours, I threw “affordable” and possibly “attractive” out the window.  When buying coats and jackets for us over the years, I’ve always relished in the search for the $500 jacket on sale for $195, throwing a 20% coupon in the mix for a great jacket purchased for a grand total of $156. 
With no sales tax on clothing in Minnesota, we’d be thrilled with the total acquisition cost, wearing the jacket over several years.  As a good “laundress” I’d be able to wash and dry them each year in order for them to look like new for the following year.  

Tiring of our jacket years later, long before they’d wear out, we’d donate them pleased to know that the recipient could enjoy many more years of wear. On occasion, a treasured well-fitting, good looking jacket would remain in the closet for years to come. We struggled to let it go. Would we ever wear it again? Probably not. But the attachment remained.

In frigid Minnesota, one becomes particularly attracted to warm, comfortable, functional jackets that when donned, provide us with a feeling of who we really are, or in some cases, who we’d really like to be.  Funny how an article of clothing, an inanimate object, can do that.
When the search for jackets began months ago, I took it quite seriously.  Tom poo pooed jacket after jacket that I had sent to his inbox.  At night after work, as he’d peruse upwards of 100 email jokes that had filtered in throughout the day, he’d see a subject line from me, reading, “Honey, I found your jacket! Look at this one!”

My heart sank each time he shook his head saying, “Naw, not this one.”  After awhile, I gave up asking why he didn’t like my most recent find. His answer never brought me one step closer to finding what he would like.  

I suppose it’s not unlike falling in love we just do. It’s the way that wispy chunk of silky hair falls over their right eye, the flash of white teeth in a winsome smile, or the laugh, so frequent, so sincere, that makes us fall in love. Over time, the wisp of hair becomes dull and gray, the teeth yellowed but that laugh endures, and we stay in love. I speak from experience.

Finding him a jacket he’d love “matters” to me, as he “matters” to me. Patiently the search continued.  Somehow I felt that once I found a jacket for Tom, one for me would naturally follow.   
Early on in the search, I discovered Scottevest, a travel wear company dedicated to quality and function, offering jackets with “zillions” of hidden pockets.  This concept appealed to both of us, especially during the times we have no alternative but to fly. 

With multiple pockets suited to technological gear, there are hidden plackets for headsets, chargers and devices. Very interesting!
Tom didn’t like the “look” of the available lightweight options for him, although I was drawn to The Molly in black. From time to time I’d send him information about the Standard Jacket to no response. 

Signing up at the Scottevest website to receive daily email on discounted items, last month he reluctantly agreed to the Windbreaker. I purchased a size large for him in olive along with a size small for me in blue.  With the then 20% off discount, these unisex 17 pocket jackets would serve us well most of the time, at only $60 each.  

Folding inside themselves for easy packing was an appealing feature that unfortunately requires an engineering degree. At this point we haven’t taken the time to figure this out.  Other fish to fry.  
Thus remained the task of finding a slightly heavier jacket for those cool days at sea and chilly mornings in Africa on safari.

As the search continued off and on, often days in between, an email popped into my inbox last week, offering a number of jackets at 40% off. (If interested in this sale click this link which was extended until midnight tonight but doesn’t allow for returns. BTW, we have nothing to do with the promotion or marketing of this company or their products).

And wouldn’t you know, The Molly and the Standard Jacket were both included in the sale. At last, Tom relented, finally realizing that the look may not be perfect, but the function of this 20 pocket jacket would serve him well in many ways. I ordered black for both of us in each of our chosen styles.  

Fearful they wouldn’t fit, resulting in having to resell them on eBay, I anxiously awaited their arrival.  Two days later, the package arrived.  Tom, exhausted from work and distracted, didn’t try his on until Friday night when I did the same. His recent weight loss made the size consideration tricky as this was a more fitted jacket than the Windbreaker that we had previously purchased.

Alas!  We were both thrilled with the perfect fit in each of our jackets and at last, Tom seemed content with this decision, partially due to price, partly due to practicality, partly due to the 20 pockets and perhaps, a tiny piece, to end my relentless search freeing me to attend to other tasks, only one month and six days from departure.

Logistics of the final days…

Our estate sale will occur from Thursday, October 25th through Sunday, October 28th. Our estate sale guy, Jim Anderson of Caring Estate Sales explained that we must be gone for those four days.  

He’ll start pricing items a week before the sale officially begins.  At that point, we must have all of our personal effects and items we want to keep, out of the cabinets, drawers, cabinets and off of the walls and a week later, out of the house.

In regard to most estate sales the homeowner is dead, obviously not around, pestering with comments such as, “Oh, that’s not enough money for that!”  We must be out of the house the entire four days of the sale.  

Dilemma #1:  Where will I go for those four days with no car (mine will have been sold)?  Tom will be at work during the hours of the sale.

When the sale is complete on Sunday, October 28th,  Tom has to go to work three more days, planning to be done by 9 am on Wednesday, the 31st where he’ll go to work only to receive his “retirement cake” a tradition at the railroad for all retirees.  (I guess he’ll eat gluten that day.  Oh, well. After 42 years he deserves to eat cake).  

End result, we need to stop using our house as we’ve known it around October 18th.  We’ll be able to use the built in appliances to cook and a few old pans, plates and flatware that we don’t plan to sell, tossing them when we’re done.  

Dilemma #2: Do we stay in the house (after I find somewhere to go for the four days) until the 31st when Tom’s work ends, at which point we sign the papers on the house and begin the drive in Tom’s car to Scottsdale? Do we live in the house after everything is gone, TVs, our two comfy chairs, sofas, bar stools at the huge island in the kitchen?  How will it feel to watch everything we’ve loved and enjoyed dwindle down to a bed in which we’ll fitfully sleep until we leave?

Our dear neighbor Jamie kindly suggested I hang out at her house for those four days. (Our three adult kids have cats to which I am allergic. I can’t spend more than an hour in their homes  plus I won’t have transportation). How will I feel watching the cars driving down our narrow road toward our home, later driving away with our belongings in their cars, trucks, and SUVs?  Yikes!

Yesterday morning, thinking aloud to one another, we considered the following realities:

  1. I won’t have transportation
  2. The four days of the estate sale, we’ll have to be out of the house by 7 am each morning, most difficult on the weekend when we are both here. What will we do all weekend from 7 am to 5 pm?
  3. How will we live in our house, stripped of all its accouterments, with only a bed for several days, no chair, no sofa, no table?
After multiple possible scenarios we narrowed it down to this:  We must entirely move out of the house beginning Wednesday, October 24th, coming back to inspect the status, make decisions on remaining items and collect our money.

The estate sale guy will remove all refuse, haul items to be donated to various organizations and our dear long term house cleaner, Teresa, will do the final cleaning.  We’ll pay fees for this additional support, but have determined it will be well worth the cost, reducing our stress at such a crucial time.

Sure, we could stay in a hotel for a week. Used to the reasonable cost of vacation rentals, I cringed at the price of a decent hotel, a car rental (or I’d be trapped in a hotel room for a week) and meals for a week at a total cost of around $1500, a cost for which I hadn’t budgeted.  

One of my closest friends has offered that we stay at her beautiful and spacious home, a mere 15 minutes away, an offer made with the utmost of sincerity.  Tom and I adore her and her two sons and have been to their home many times, as they have ours.  It will feel comfortable.  They eat the same healthful diet as we do.  I can prepare dinner for all of us each day.

Alone at her home during the days, I will work out when Tom returns when we go to see the house in the evenings during the sale. My laptop on hand, I’ll continue to write here, do additional research for our travels and fine tune our spreadsheets. It will be fine. Thank you, dear friend.

On Saturday afternoon the 27th, we’ll head out for the hour’s drive to Tom’s retirement party for his co-workers and family members, close to his work at a large hall. Youngest of 11 children, his family alone will account for over 100 guests. Add 42 years of co-worker/friends, we could be looking at 100’s. Oh.

Busy planning the food, the invitations, the cake and other necessities of party planning, need I say, life is busy. It’s no doubt, that we’ll need a multi-year vacation!

Laundry around the world…

Peculiarly, caring for our clothing is somewhat of a hobby of mine. Perhaps, I was a laundress in another lifetime (not to say there is such a thing as another lifetime). Perhaps, I slept in a laundry basket as a baby.

It began when I was quite young, this fascination with laundry.  The middle of three sisters, I was assigned the task of washing, folding and ironing the family’s wardrobe when I was 10 years old. I didn’t mind at all. 

In grade school I attended a “girls only” home economics class (remember that, babyboomers?) where I learned to iron a man’s 100% cotton long sleeved dress shirt from the inside out in two minutes flat.  Failure to do a perfect job resulted in a brisk slap on the hands with a wooden ruler. (Can you imagine what would happen to that teacher in this day and age?)

Over many months, my hands were red and bruised every Thursday after the class.  I didn’t cry or complain to my parents. Determined to get it right, I practiced at home, night after night with a clunky old Sunbeam iron and a wobbly ironing board, often leaving rusty iron stains on my father’s old white dress shirt.

In time, I became the best “ironer” in the class. By the end of the school year I was presented with a pink and white certificate. Not only were my shirts the most neatly ironed in class, but I was able to accomplish the feat in 90 seconds flat.  I’d make a good housewife someday. This was 1958.  

Over the years, my ironing skills honed as irons improved and I could iron a dress shirt in 60 seconds, still doing so today.  

Folding is also quite enjoyable.  I love laundry. Putting away?  Not so much.

In this old house, the laundry is located in our creepy, cobwebbed basement, a full flight of stairs and long walk away. I don’t mind. The exercise is good, up and down, six times a day, to accomplish a mere two loads of wash.

Six flights a day, on average, over the past 26 years and I’ve run up or down, 56,940 flights of stairs!  I’d probably weight 100 more pounds had our laundry room been on the main floor.  I like laundry.

Of course, as time marches on toward the beginning of our year’s long world travels, I can’t help but think about laundry. 

Here are my concerns while living in vacation homes:

  1. Will the washers and dryers work efficiently in each of our rental homes?
  2. Will there be a nearby laundromat in the event one or both doesn’t work or in the case of the Stone House in Cajarc, France with no washer or dryer in the house at all?
  3. Will I be able to remove wrinkles with our new dual voltage steam iron?  
After considerable research, I have discovered that most cruise ships, on which we’ll spend almost one third of our time during the first five months, have no self service laundry facilities. This was both surprising and disappointing to me, far beyond my personal pleasure in doing our laundry, for the following reasons:
  1. Sending out a single tee shirt to be laundered by the ship’s staff may cost upwards of $4! Can you imagine the cost of an entire load of laundry? Including the tips payable for the staff person returning the items to the cabin and two loads of laundry may cost $100!
  2. Irons are not allowed on cruise ships and are confiscated upon entry, an obvious safety hazard (I get this). Thus, one must “send out a dress, shirt or suit coat” to be ironed, costing more than $15 each.  Ouch!  Hopefully, we can depend on that steamer.
  3. Piling up dirty underwear, socks, tee shirts and daily wear to repack in one’s suitcase is rather unappealing. Some of our cruises two weeks or longer. How many pairs of dirty underpants will we accumulate between the two of us and how much space will they take in our otherwise stuffed bags?  No, we won’t turn our underpants inside out and wear them again the next day!  No, thank you!  Dirty socks?  Yuck!!!
My little brain went to work on these realities. As for the vacation homes, we’ll just have to wing it, unaware of what we are up against until we arrive.  If the facilities are not manageable, we’ll plan a weekly outing, doubled up with other activities when we’re already renting a car and make the trip to the local laundromat a fun experience,  playing cards or reading aloud while we wait.  

I’d more than be willing to go to the laundromat without Tom, laundress that I am, but Tom insists that he’ll join me. In certain areas one won’t be safe alone at the laundromat. Daily laundry as I have known, most likely will be a thing of the past. Also, I surrender the fact that I will not be ironing unless an iron is provided.  

As for the cruises, my fingers went flying across the keyboard searching for a solution. In reading reviews at varying cruise websites, I noticed a common comment: many cruises purposely don’t have bathroom sinks with a closing drain.  Here is our solution to washing our own underwear, tee shirts, and small items, purchased from
Laundry Pack w/ Sink Stopper  Price  $16

Travelon Laundry Soap Sheets, 50-Count

Travelon Laundry Soap Sheets, 50-Count

by Travelon

List Price: $7.19
Price: $4.42 ($0.28 / oz) & eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25. Details
You Save: $2.77 (39%)

I purchased four of the above laundry packets which fit into the palm of my hand weighing only a few ounces.  These will provide us with 200 sinks-full of wash.  With the above clothes line that suctions inside the shower walls plus soap for my delicate items, we’ll save $100’s while cruising, leaving instead with a small load to deal with at our next vacation home.

Traveling the world for several years with no home, no place to return to repack, restock and replenish, all of these items will save us money, frustration and most of all, precious time doing that which we love, for me; a lot of love and laughter, a touch of adventure, and a little bit of laundry; for Tom, a lot of love and laughter, a touch of adventure and a smile while watching me do laundry. Ah, life is good.

We’ll have bug bites, we’ll be hot and sweaty, the bed will be lumpy, our feet will be tired, we’ll leave a shoe behind, a flight will be cancelled and a vacation home won’t be as described online.  But, in any case, our clothes will be clean.

Letting go, not so simple…

Here are our two comfy chairs and fluffy blankets. I had the lamp on the table made for Tom for Christmas in 2007 along with three bowls and another lamp from downed trees in our yard. A storm the prior August felled 20 trees in our yard. Everything you see in this picture will be sold at our upcoming estate sale October 25-28th.

In January, when our plans to travel the world were mulling around our heads, we gradually began the process of rummaging through every cupboard, drawer, and closet, contemplating mementos worthy of saving, that which to toss, ultimately what to sell.

Practically speaking, it was a necessary process.  Emotionally, it was filled with laughter recalling the stories attached to the photos, the trinkets, the handmade crafts from our children when young and now from our grandchildren.  

With tear filled eyes we have accepted the price we must pay to let go of one dream in order to build another, saying goodbye, first to those we love, second, to the peninsula home and all that it has contained, that which we have treasured and enjoyed. 

How do we say goodbye to these two comfy chairs, our fluffy blankets neatly folded during each day to be tossed onto our laps each night, winter and summer, when the air conditioning, the bowl of ice cream and sheer exhaustion rendered us chilled and sleepy?  

The conversations we shared in these chairs, the giggles we couldn’t control while sitting here either together or while watching the grandchildren play with the big tote of toys we continued to fill over the years with newly found treasures.  

Yes, we are grateful as we venture out into this unknown new territory of our lives, away from the familiar, the predictable, the routine that we have never found to be mundane or, to be boring. 

We loved the routine; Tom, rushing out the door to chase the pesky geese off of the lawn in summer or blowing the copious amounts of snow blocking the narrow road here on the peninsula in the winter, often too high for him to accomplish requiring that we call the guy with the bobcat.

Whether marching up and down the stairs to the basement each day in a futile effort to finally finish the laundry or enthusiastically preparing our lofty health-promoting nightly dinners, the routine, two years after my retirement was still comforting and peaceful. So simple.

And neverm and I mean never, did he walk in the door after a long day’s work, did I not greet him at the door with a kiss so heartfelt and yet, so routine that moments later, we’d often kiss hello again, uncertain if we’d already kissed. This simple routine will be changed when seldom leaving each other’s side, beginning six weeks from today.

Whether it was the dinner parties for friends laden with adventurous dishes and printed menus, the ambitious meals for the family working around special diets and food allergies, the ear splitting noise of the kids playing rambunctiously amid our patient observation, we loved it all.

And now, six weeks to go.  We’ll walk out the door for the last time.  We’ll have already kissed all of them all goodbye with tear filled eyes, holding back the sobs with the hope of appearing strong.  The house will be empty, the belongings sold and taken away, the bed, staying until the last night of anticipated fitful sleep.  

It will be Halloween that day.  Tom’s SUV will be loaded up with the orange luggage. For the first time in our adult lives, we won’t anxiously wait by the door to hand out a special treat to the well-dressed young visitors.  

Saying goodbye.  Not so simple.

First aid in the world…

Soon it will be too late to order any further supplies for our journey.  Many items (always new, unopened and unused) come from all over the world often requiring four to six weeks delivery time.  

As of this coming upcoming Wednesday, we’ll leave Minnesota on Halloween, in exactly six weeks. We won’t be able to conveniently receive packages after we leave. (More on receiving mail next month).

As a result of these time constraints, my thoughts went into full gear, reviewing every item we are packing in addition to our completed wardrobes, to analyze if there are any items we may need.

A month ago while cleaning cupboards and drawers, I started gathering first aid items, creating a homemade “kit” placing everything in a sturdy plastic bag: Band-aids, sterile pads and gauze, antibiotic cream, hydrogen peroxide, liquid bandage, ace bandage, knee supporter, shoulder sling, temporary ice packs and a heating pad.  

Let’s face it, those of us folks over 60 may have aches and pains from time to time. Adding some Aleve, Tylenol, and Motrin to our kit made it feel complete.  

The first aid kit securely packed in an orange Antler bag, (we paid $111 each a few months ago. Note price increase), I felt confident that any additional items we may need most likely could be purchased at any nearby grocery store or pharmacy.  

Why bring all of these items when we could purchase them in any country? Simply for economic reasons. While living in the 17th century renovated farmhouse in Tuscany all next summer we’ll be renting a car from time to time.  
Daily, we’ll walk to the open market for items for dinner, a bouquet of flowers or a bottle of wine. Perhaps once a week, we’ll rent a car for a day or two to drive the five miles to a grocery store, take a drive to explore the area and dine at a recommended restaurant.  

Upon returning the rental car, we’ll travel on foot until the next week, perhaps going on a local daily four mile walking tour of historical homes and buildings.

Cooking dinner with the farm fresh ingredients, let’s say I cut my finger, not requiring stitches, a common occurrence in our kitchen. The first aid kit prevents the cost of a cab, the inflated price at the pharmacy for supplies and, peace of mind.  

The achy knee, the pinched shoulder, so familiar in our day-to-day lives, are easily treated at home with our own supplies and over-the-counter products.  

With one third of our time on cruises during the first five months, these items may come in handy.  Have you ever seen a final bill on a cruise after a trip to the medical clinic for a minor injury?  A cut finger, antibiotic cream and a bandage  from a visit with the nurse or doctor, may result in a $300 bill. That’s one expensive Band-aid!

Over the past month additional thoughts for preparedness of the kit kept popping into my mind eventually driving me back to  

Here are the items we added to the kit. (Amazon prevents easy “copy and paste” features of their items.  Please excuse the formatting).

Recapit No Mix Cement, Maximum Strength, 1 g.
Imagine the benefit of having this product hand when hesitant to see a dentist in a remote area!

Dental Tarter Scraper and Remover Set, SS

by Osung

Price: $43.95
Sale: $31.95
You Save: $12.00 (27%)
Dental Tarter Scraper and Remover Set, SS
With the help of an online training program
we’ll learn how to perform basis teeth cleaning procedures until our next dental appointment.


Recapit No Mix Cement, Maximum Strength, 1 g.

Price: $4.65 ($2.91 / oz)
3M Steri Strip Skin Closures 1/4'' X 3'' - 10 Packages of 3
Imagine the benefit of having this product on hand
when cut is deep but not requiring stitches.

3M Steri Strip Skin Closures 1/4” X 3” – 10 Packages of 3 By STERI
4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (33 customer reviews) | Like

Price: $6.75


Certainly, most doctors or dentists would cringe at our planned self-treatment.  We understand the risks.  Our goal will always be to put safety first, never taking outrageous risks with our lives of limbs.

Part of the magic of our adventure is to go where we want to go, that is safe for travelers; when we want to go, within the confines of our rental agreements and transportation schedules; continue on as long as we mutually desire, and for as long as our health allows.

Freedom…with certain reasonable constraints.  Nonetheless…freedom. 

Its all in the details…

Our crab cracking and dining tools 

As a person entrenched in the details, it’s not unusual to me that I have six tools one could use to crack crab legs: two types of crackers, two types of crab scissors, a pick and a small fork, service for eight. It’s not coincidental that I have service for eight.  Who would want to “shell out” (couldn’t resist) enough crab legs for more than eight people? 

This came to mind yesterday when I recklessly spent $48 for two bags of king crab legs plus $28 for the accompanying grass fed New York strip steaks.  

This is for three of us for Sunday night’s dinner; Tom and I and our friend Sue, who comes for dinner every Sunday night since the passing of her dear husband and our beloved friend Chip. She’s a trooper. Our hearts break for her. They were our role models as a happy, retired couple. Now, we are witnessing the depth of the loss of a beloved partner, excruciatingly sorrowful, a double whammy.

We laugh, we cry and we tell endless stories of our 26 years here on the point. (You can read about Chip in my post on June 1, 2012 found here in the archives).  We three deserve steak and crab.  

The combined cost of the meat at $76, plus the veggies and the salad, it may prove to be a $90 dinner at $30 each. We seldom eat in a restaurant.  However, each of the past two Saturday nights we did, first at Osaka in Coon Rapids with daughter and family and then at Biella In Excelsior with son and his wife.  

Dining in those restaurants, the average cost per person was in the $40 range. This justifies my $30 per person cost dining at home on this special night. After all, this is one of five remaining Sunday nights we have left before we leave for our world wide adventure.

Around the 15th of October, the processing of the estate sale begins leaving us no longer able to cook while everything in the cabinets and drawers; the dishes, the silverware, my gadgets and the pots and pans will be marked for sale. Ouch. My gadgets. Bye, bye, gadgets.

So today, while Tom is off to our oldest grandson’s football game, I’ll stay behind and begin the process of going through my many cookbooks.   

Most of my favorite recipes have been scanned, leaving hundreds we’ll never enjoy again due to our low carb, gluten free, grain free, starch free and sugar free diet.  

This diet gave us back our health, evident in the amazing blood test results we each received this past Thursday after Monday’s final doctor appointment.  Best results ever.  Everything perfect. The diet worked.  We’ll never fail to remember that we wouldn’t be able to travel the world for the next number of years if we hadn’t greatly improved our health by eating in this restricted manner. A small sacrifice in the realm of things.  

However, king crab and steak is no sacrifice, allowable for our way of eating. Besides, I can’t wait to set the table one last time with those six crab utensils before some crazy detail orientated fool such as I, buys all eight sets for a ridiculously low price. 

Hum, could I fit two sets of crab tools inside a shoe in one of the six orange suitcases?  Or perhaps, four sets in case we have company.

Aboard ship for 59 days in the first 5 months…

On January 3, 2013 we’ll leave the US to embark on our first cruise. Over the next five months we’ll experience a total of seven cruises totaling 59 days at sea. Later, we’ll post more details about these upcoming cruises and house rentals.

First 5 months after leaving the US:

Cruises                                  #Days          Start Date        End Date
San Diego to Panama to Miami    15              01/03/13        01/18/13
Fort Lauderdale to Belize Cruise    8              01/21/13        01/29/13
Belize to Miami Cruise                  3              04/09/13        04/13/13
Miami to the Caribbean                7               04/13/13       04/20/13
Miami to Barcelona                     11              04/20/13        05/01/13
Barcelona to Mallorca                   3               05/01/13       05/04/13
Barcelona to Venice                    12              06/04/13        06/16/13
Total cruise days                        59
Homes included in above dates:
Placencia, Belize                         60              01/29/13         03/29/13
Ambergris Caye, Belize                 9               03/29/13        04/09/13
Majorca, Spain                           30               05/04/13        06/04/13
We’ll spend November and December, 2012 living in a lovely first floor condo overlooking the pool in Scottsdale Arizona, a commitment we’d made long before we decided to travel the world. That commitment created extra expense and inconvenience but we chose to honor our agreement.
We’ve decided to utilize these two months in Scottsdale to purchase and set up our new laptops (awaiting Windows 8 release soon), our new unlocked smart phones (being released into the market in November) and other technological devices that we’ll describe later upon purchase.

To take advantage of these two months we’ll prepare as much as we can of our 2012 taxes, forwarding everything to our accountant in Minnesota. We’ll get new passport photos taken (outdated after six months), apply for our second passports and visas, download 100 or more movies onto our portable external hard drive and get Tom’s new eyeglasses at Costco (great deal).

With the condo only 25 minutes from the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, we’ve decided to follow our doctor’s orders and arrange appointment for Tom in gastroenterology for one last check (as recommended every few years) when one has IBS and Celiac Disease. Although he is symptom free due to our diet these two tests can confirm provide us with peace of mind; a colonoscopy and an endoscopy.

Tom’s sisters spend the winters in Arizona, about an hour’s drive and we’ll visit them. In the first half of November we’ll drive to Nevada to establish residency, apply for NV driver’s licenses and visit family, later to spend eight days at Christmas in a house we’ve rented in Henderson to be close to family and friends for one last time.

We’ll celebrate Thanksgiving in Arizona. In Nevada, on December 20th we’ll have our teeth cleaned. We’ll observe the Mayan Calendar’s End of Time on December 21st (hopefully, not really the end!), Tom’s 60th birthday on December 23rd, and of course, Christmas, away from “home,” the first time as true vagabonds.

A year ago, we would have laughed aloud at the thought of leaving behind everyone we love and everything we own, except for a gaggle of suitcases and hearts full of memories. 

Here we are, packed to the gills, totes filled with memorabilia currently scattered about the house for our kids to store for us. Our paperwork and photos are scanned, our documents and spreadsheets bursting with pertinent data stored in Dropbox for safekeeping, accessible from anywhere in the world.

Yesterday I spent an entire hour scanning a lengthy booklet from our well known national bank on wire transfer procedures, accounts which we’ve set up in both of our names. I inquired as to whether this booklet was online to be downloaded. “No, not yet,” they say. “Gee…kind of behind the times,” I thought.

It’s this little tasks that fill up substantial portions of my everyday. As I sit here in my comfy chair, writing this today, I tapped my Android smart phone (on its last days) to take yet another peek at the handy app on my home screen, Retirement Countdown Free and today, it reads: “1 Month 18 Days.”

One month and eighteen days from today we close the door to our home one last time. We leave behind our loved ones, the lives that we’ve known, our three little dogs buried in the yard, the friends on the peninsula, the eagle swooping in the trees in the summer, the coyotes hovering hungrily in the winter and the gentle fluttering call of the loons.

On a lighter note, we joyfully leave behind six foot snow drifts often trapping us for days and, mountains of goose poop. Yes, mountains of goose poop!

Our final doctor appointments…

With a degree of angst we headed out yesterday afternoon with empty stomachs in preparation for blood tests to our last doctor appointments, Tom’s and mine scheduled together for a full hour.  I imagine that most people don’t enjoy going to the doctor, but for me it is a dreaded experience.

Doctor, dentist, Ob-Gyn and optometrist all fall into the same category. I don’t like it, don’t want it, don’t want to take my clothes off, don’t want anyone looking in my mouth or other such places and don’t want to stand on that disgusting scale. No, no, no!

We had to go. Yes, I know, it would be our last appointment for a long while (hopefully). Obviously, I have some type of “issues” around this, a mixed bag of good and bad.  That which makes me diligent, impatient, goal orientated and downright persistent adds to my ability to spend endless hours planning our year’s long world adventure. 

On the flip side, it makes me feel “out of control” to have a stranger poking and prodding at me, obviously looking for something wrong as opposed to something right.  Perhaps everyone feels the same way.  Perhaps the only difference is that I am more vocal about it.

So, off we went to our long time physician Dr. Dennis Showalter of Park Nicollet, a youngish (40″), kind, physically fit and smart man, for our final appointments (except for one more travel clinic appointment for each of us, Tom’s later this week, mine in early October).

Greeted with, “Do you have your insurance card and ID?” as opposed to  a cheerful “hello” never ceases to amaze me. I suppose the job of doctor office assistant is demanding, wrought with frustration.  Answering the endless array of the same questions over and over, accompanied by grumpy comments from ill patients (who also don’t want to be there), pushes them over the edge. 

When calling for an appointment they grumble their name immediately asking, “What’s your name and date of birth?”  I cringe while giving them my age, something I am otherwise not ashamed of, having posted it many times in this blog.  I literally cringe.  Knowing their job is thankless, I go overboard with kindness and thoughtfulness, complying with their every wish.

I refused to go on the scale.  Tom was standing right there, edging me on.  I have weighed myself in front of him at home.  I’m skinny, but still, as a woman, I have the same insecurity about “the number.” 

Tom jumps on the scale with an enthusiastic bounce.  I remind him to take off his “three pound tennis shoes.”  He laughs and says he doesn’t care. Oh, yeah, he’s a guy. His weight was five pounds more than at home naked on the digital scale; heavy jeans, tee shirt, keys in pockets, wallet and those shoes.  “OK, maybe the home scale is accurate after all,” I think.

We’re escorted to a room, blood pressures checked by another rushed assistant and left alone.  Tom squeezes my hand aware of my discomfort. He tells me a joke.  I didn’t get it, a guy joke but I laughed anyway. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention.

Moments later, a light knock on the door and in walks the tall, slender doctor, an example of robust health, warmth in his eyes, hand extended. 

An hour later, a year’s worth of prescriptions on hand to be mailed to (please see my post as to how we’ll handle prescriptions from afar) for the best pricing. (Tom went from four prescriptions down to one from our low carb, gluten-free, sugar-free, grain-free, starch-free diet over the past year). Doc was impressed at his weight loss.  He didn’t ask me why I didn’t get on the scale.  He knows. 

We meandered off to the  lab down the hall to have “every blood test known to man” for one final check before we go on our year’s long worldwide adventure. One test that we determined to be crucial, in the event of an emergency, was blood typing. This information wasn’t in either of our charts.  Good information to know, just in case.Holding hands, Tom and I left the clinic, smiling from ear to ear, me relieved it was over, Tom was anxious to get home to enjoy the remainder of the day he had taken off work for this appointment.  

Thank you, Dr. S.  Hopefully, in a year, we’ll have our online Skype appointment with him to review of our health and refills. Perhaps, we’ll use our portable travel scale and maybe, just maybe, I’ll weigh myself on it!