You’re cancelling on us? How can that be?

We never tire of this amazing view of Hideaways Beach and Hanalei Bay.

We knew the possibility existed that a vacation rental, a flight or a cruise could be cancelled over which we’d have no control.  If it were a flight, in most cases that would be remedied within 24 hours.  If it were a vacation rental, especially if we’d booked it for weeks or months, it would be a difficult scenario to resolve of the above three possibilities. 

If it was a cruise, leaving two weeks or more of our lives with a hole in our schedule, this could be costly in trying to fill the period of time. Besides, we often use cruises as a means of getting us to one location or another resulting in added airfare expenses. 

The combination of colors from the sea and the vegetation is always breathtaking.

The worst case scenario would be the necessity of paying for a hotel, airfare and meals for two weeks which if planned carefully we could accomplish for a cost similar to the cost of the cruise.  Inconvenient?  Yes.  Costly? To a degree (see below).

Yesterday, we discovered that our booked cruise was cancelled, scheduled from Sydney to Perth on April 12, 2016 to April 28, 2016, for a total of 16 nights. 

Tom had been reading comments online at cruisecritic.com about this possibility.  We were never notified directly nor were our online friends, Staci and Glenn who were also scheduled on this cruise, whom we were looking forward to meeting in person. 

Beautiful orchids.

Yesterday, Tom called our rep at Vacationstogo.com to inquire as to the status of the cruise.  They weren’t notified either.  Or perhaps with the thousands of cruises in their system, it could easily have been missed.

In any case, it was cancelled, as we’ve discovered due to it being booked in its entirety for a private charter.  If a wealthy individual or company chose to book an entire ship for an event, someone would be inconvenienced. They often begin to book as soon as their posted at time two years out.  In this case, the inconvenience lies with us.  Good thing we didn’t wait any longer to find out. 

Remote Hideaways Beach, accessible only by a steep partially paved path.

Yesterday, after speaking with our rep about alternatives, Tom went ahead instructing her to book us on a similar cruise that Royal Caribbean was offering as one of three options for replacement, all different dates, all different itineraries. Should we choose one of these three options, we’d been given a $200 onboard credit.

In reviewing the three options, only one offered dates similar to the cancelled cruise, the Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas, sailing on April 16, 2016 to April 30, 2016, for a total of 14 nights, the price slightly less for the shorter by two night cruise. 

Another portion of Hideaways Beach.

Originally, we paid $4714.20 for a balcony cabin with taxes and gratuities included.  The new cruise at $4510.36 for the same type of cabin, is not an appreciable difference although shorter by two days. The $200 credit will be sucked up in the first 30 minutes on a cruise when we order the $800 Internet package.

Sure, we could call RC and make some noise.  Then again, what’s the point?  Plus, that’s just not our style.  In reality, we’re being compensated and for most of us, kinking a cruise a few days, a year in advance for $200 may not seem to be such a big deal. Although, we wonder how long they’d have waited before telling the passengers?

Zooming in, we spotted these sunbathers on the beach.  Looks like the guy standing is adjusting his snorkel.

For us, its presents a few issues, none of which we can’t manage with relative ease.  One, we need to stay in New Zealand at the alpaca farm for four more nights or, if not available, a hotel in Sydney.  On the other end, we’ll be two days late in arriving for our booked rental in Bali.  They will either accept our change of dates or we’ll have to pay for two nights that we won’t be there. 

In all, this could cost us for six nights somewhere at an average cost of $200 per night, including housing and meals.  Its the nature of the beast.  We budgeted for scenarios such as this and have seldom had to tap into that.  Who’s to complain?   Instead it becomes a matter of figuring it out on both ends and biting the bullet for the added costs.

Future lily pods.  They almost look like apples and are almost as large.

So far, we’re waiting to hear back from the property owners to see what transpires.  We’ll post updates as to how it is resolved.  In the meanwhile, here is the itinerary for the cancelled cruise and then, the new cruise:

Cancelled cruise itinerary:
Royal Caribbean – Explorer of the Seas, departs 4/12/16, 16 nights
Tue Apr 12 Sydney, Australia  9:00pm

Wed Apr 13 At Sea 
Thu Apr 14 At Sea 
Fri Apr 15 Wellington, New Zealand 3:00pm 10:00pm
Sat Apr 16 Picton, New Zealand 8:00am 6:00pm
Sun Apr 17 At Sea 
Mon Apr 18 Dunedin (Port Chalmers), New Zealand 7:00am 5:00pm
Tue Apr 19 Dusky Sound, New Zealand (Cruising) 9:00am 10:00am
Tue Apr 19 Doubtful Sound, New Zealand (Cruising) Noon 1:00pm
Tue Apr 19 Milford Sound, New Zealand (Cruising) 4:30pm 5:30pm
Wed Apr 20 At Sea 

Thu Apr 21 At Sea 
Fri Apr 22 Melbourne, Australia 8:00am 7:00pm
Sat Apr 23 At Sea 
Sun Apr 24 Adelaide, Australia 8:00am 7:00pm
Mon Apr 25 At Sea 
Tue Apr 26 At Sea 
Wed Apr 27 At Sea 
Thu Apr 28 Perth (Fremantle), Australia 6:00am 

New cruise itinerary:
Royal Caribbean – Voyager of the Seas, departs 4/16/16, 14 nights
Sat Apr 16 Sydney, Australia  5:00pm

Sun Apr 17 At Sea 
Mon Apr 18 Brisbane, Australia 7:00am 4:00pm
Tue Apr 19 At Sea 
Wed Apr 20 At Sea 
Thu Apr 21 At Sea 
Fri Apr 22 At Sea 
Sat Apr 23 Darwin, Australia 9:00am 5:00pm
Sun Apr 24 At Sea 
Mon Apr 25 At Sea 
Tue Apr 26 At Sea
Wed Apr 27 At Sea 
Thu Apr 28 Kuala Lumpur (Port Kelang), Malaysia 8:00am 5:00pm
Fri Apr 29 Singapore 10:00am Sat Apr 30 Singapore Disembark


As shown, this second cruise is by no means as exciting as the first with considerably less ports of call and yet the price is comparable.  Based on visa restrictions we must proceed with this new cruise or we’ll end up staying too long in either location. 

Pools refilled each day from the surf at high tide.

We booked it.  Our previously paid $900 deposit transferred over, the $200 cabin credit is listed in our new cruise documents and the balance is due on the same date, January 16, 2016.  Yesterday, I entered all the changes in our spreadsheet in several locations:  itinerary, Deposits Paid and Balances Due, Cruises.

There it is, folks, the realities of the possible inconveniences of living a life in motion.  We both took this in our stride.  I suppose if this was our only vacation for a year or more, we may have felt differently.  But, in this life, it goes with the territory.  Literally.

Happy day!
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Photo from one year ago today, May 1, 2014:

In between the enclosed area of the souks was outdoor areas where more products are offered for sale.  For details from that date, please click here.

Trip to a doctor? What about a dentist? How does this work in foreign lands?

The path we’ve walked these few rainy days where we’ve found many beautiful plants and flowers.

This morning I was returning an email to our dear friend and 26 year neighbor Sue in Minnesota.  She has homes in both Florida and Minnesota and will soon return to Minnesota now that the horrific winter has finally ended.

As I reported that we’re feeling well and healthy, I was reminded by the fact that neither of us have been to a doctor in a long time, me in September, 2012 and Tom in December, 2012 (he had tests while we were in Scottsdale) when we both received a clean bill of health.

It wasn’t as if we never intend see a doctor.  We simply decided that we won’t do so unless we can’t manage an injury or illness on our own.  With plenty of antibiotics in our possession, we feel relatively secure, never taking them unless absolutely necessary.



These pretty pink flowers, Double Hibiscus, has begun to bloom right outside our door.

We’ve only used the antibiotics on a few occasions since we left when I couldn’t kick a three week old sinus infection and again in Morocco a year ago when I had tried to recover for two weeks from an horrible intestinal infection I’d picked up from a salad on our first day there.  I never ate a salad or uncooked item in a restaurant again while in Morocco.

There have been a few occasions that seeing a doctor came to mind especially when we were injured on the collapsing stairs in Belize on our anniversary in 2013.  Please click here to read about and see photos of what transpired.  

I had hurt my back and neck so badly, I thought I broke something.  It took over a month to recover with self care.  To see a doctor in Belize required a four hour drive each way.  We didn’t go based on my insistence.

Chi’a Flower blooms in many colors.

In our old lives, especially when I was suffering from chronic pain and abnormal blood tests, it wasn’t uncommon for me to visit the doctor once every month or so.  Once I began my way of eating in August 2011, within three months I no longer had the abnormal blood tests nor any pain, resulting in only visiting the doctor before we left Minnesota for a general physical and multiple immunizations in preparation for traveling to Africa.

Tom, who’d followed along on the diet with me and is doing so now, had lost 40 pounds, dropped seven medications a day and no longer had IBS, GERD (heartburn) or Barrett’s Disease (an inflamed esophagus).  To this day, he has no symptoms and in December, 2012 when he had his final tests everything was normal.

Sure, a physical check up, mainly for blood tests, would be good to do at some point.  For now, we feel no need to do so other than to get a new prescription for our two Epipens which have both expired.  Both allergic to bees (hornets and wasps) and with the huge bee population in Australia, we may need to make a doctor appointment in Cairns, shortly after we arrive.

This is the ever blooming Ixora a widely used plant in landscaping in Hawaii.


My insurance doesn’t pay for office visits since Medicare doesn’t work outside the US.  Plus, I waived Part B when discovering it won’t pay.  Instead we purchased international major medical for me and a policy for Tom as well, although he still has insurance that may or may not pay outside the US. Once he turns 65, his insurance drops and he’ll continue on with our international policy which offer emergency evacuation as well.

The fact that we don’t have insurance to pay for doctor visits has had little effect on our decision to avoid doctor visits other than consideration of the cost in Hawaii.  We’d have gone here for the Epipens but, from what we’ve read online, the required office visit will cost considerably less in Australia than it would in the US, let alone Hawaii.

The bark on this live tree was peeling making us wonder if it was a seasonal thing.

We aren’t concerned that we haven’t been to a doctor all this time.  We both feel wonderful healthy.  Why would we?  When we were kids we hardly ever saw the doctor unless we had a high fever or couldn’t shake an infection after many days, often weeks of waiting for it to subside.  Those of you in our age group can relate to this.

As for the dentist, we tried once in Maui.  But, Tom didn’t feel right when we arrived at the peculiar office arrangement to be told we’d have to wait an hour for our appointment.  Somehow, red flags popped up for him.  We cancelled and left, especially after we were told to wait for our appointment at the senior center across the street. 

More stunning anthurium flowers.

I would have been OK going ahead with it.  Long ago, we agreed that if one of us doesn’t feel comfortable with an activity, we won’t do it, avoiding any argument, feelings of being pressured or in shaming one another.
 
In the interim, we continue to spend tremendous effort in caring for our teeth.  Currently, neither of us has any issues with our teeth or gums.  At some point, we’ll try for a cleaning in another country.

A Brown Gecko is commonly seen in the Hawaiian Islands.

This philosophy continues to work out well for us. Its also works the other way around as well; if one of us longs to see a certain part of the world, then we’ll go.  Its always about safety and passion, safety first, passion second.

Again today, its raining off and on as it had for over a week.  Although I’ve continued to work out at the Makai Golf Course’s fitness center and pool, we’ve only lounged by the pool on one occasion in the past week. 

A pair of Myna Birds on the hunt for food.  Not too much available in this parking lot.

When the sun peeks out for a bit and it often does, we head out for a stroll in hopes of getting a dose of Vitamin D, considerably important for the senior population. Here’s an excellent article on a study on the benefits of Vitamin D for both seniors and younger population.

With a busy social weekend ahead on both Friday and Saturday night, we’re looking forward to seeing many of our friends once again.  We’ll report back on these two events.

Be well and enjoy a wonderful Wednesday!
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Photos from one year ago today, April 29, 2014:

These clumps of yarn were hanging outside to dry on this railing outside the souk creating this scene.  For details from this post, one year ago, please click here.


1000th post today! How did we ever come to this? A fabulous video to share! Please check it out!


It took considerable time to get this video.  Finally, Tom suggested I kept the camera opened and ready when we realized if I stood up to take the video, he’d stop singing.  As a result, part of this video is through the screen door to the lanai, my view from where I was sitting at the time.  Enjoy this simple video with us for the magnificence of Mother Nature and for the world around us, whether its a little bird or a goliath rhino.  It all matters.
 

Today we’re posting for the 1000th time.  How did this happen so fast? Where did the time go?  When we look back at prior posts we realize that so much has transpired, that we’ve had so many diverse experiences.

Often we noticed digitally enhanced photos of roses with raindrops.  This photo is exactly as we took it when we walked after a rain shower a few days ago.

Its hard to believe  that on March 14, 2012, I sat down in my comfy chair in my old life and wrote the very first post found here?  In the early days, I wrote sporadically as is the case for most bloggers. 

There are numerous varieties of anthurium these included.

At that time, I seldom included photos for which I used my less-than-ideal smart phone camera, with little knowledge on how to adequately use the digital camera we had. 

It was only after we left the US on our first cruise that we purchased the first of three digital cameras we’ve since owned, each a little more sophisticated than the other.  Finally, I began to learn to take photos and include photos in the posts which has proven to be an ongoing learning experience but a pure labor of love.

Apparently, this is a Giant Sunflower, the first we’ve seen in our neighborhood.

There was a gap in time from leaving Minnesota until we first left the US, from October 31 to January 3, 2013, slightly over two months.  Originally, when we were completing our paperwork to leave the US, we decided to rent a vacation rental in Scottsdale, Arizona for a few months.

This way, we’d be close to eldest son Richard in Henderson, Nevada, my sister in Los Angeles and Tom’s sisters who spent the Minnesota winters in Apache Junction, Arizona each year. 

Often ambitious gardeners plant these parasitic type pods to palm tree in order to grow more orchids. 

With plans to get together for the holidays of 2012 with all of the above family members, and more we also rented a vacation home in Henderson, Nevada for a week, leaving behind the rented condo in Scottsdale which had no room for overnight guests.  We had a blast to say the least.

During the remainder of our time in Scottsdale, we kept busy taking care of “paperwork” and other tasks associated with leaving the US; taxes, banking investments, lowest ATM fees and exchange rate credit cards, new computers, phones and digital equipment and on and on.

Close up of the orchids growing on the above parasitic pod is eye catching.

We were busy almost everyday of those two months in Scottsdale working on all of the above, talking walks in the neighborhood, going out to breakfast at a favorite local restaurant, US Egg, and fine tuning our scheduled bookings for the upcoming two years. 

Packing in those days was a nightmare.  We had 17 pieces of luggage. Now we’re down to two large, one medium, one computer bag and purse, for a total of five items.  Big difference.  Now, we can pack in 30 minutes.  Then, it took days.

A new little palm tree had sprouted at the base of this tree.

After the holidays and saying goodbye, we left Henderson to return to the Scottsdale condo on December 27, 2012 for the few remaining days until we were ready to leave for San Diego, California for our first ever upcoming cruise which was scheduled to sail on January 3, 2013. 

We loaded everything into Tom’s car and on January 1, 2013, we drove to San Diego to stay with my niece and her husband for two nights.  On January 3rd, we drove to the pier in San Diego, spotted our ship, the Celebrity Century and for the first time the excitement kicked in. 

It looks like these are impatiens a popular shady area flower we often planted in Minnesota.

My sister Julie, her partner and Richard met us in San Diego at the pier.  Julie wanted to say goodbye and Richard came to say goodbye and to take the car off of our hands, later to sell it.  Wow!  How this all worked out so well still baffles us.

The excitement, the trepidation, the uncertainty and a bit of fear washed over both of us.  As the ship sailed away from the pier we looked at one another as we stood on the deck of the ship and Tom said, “Can you believe we did this?”

We were baffled when we spotted these buds unsure of what they’d become.

I shook my head as I looked deep into his blue eyes, “No, I can’t believe we did this.”

In time, the fear wafted away to be replaced by an innate sense of adventure and excitement which remains firmly in place today, 1000 posts later.  In 26 days the adventure will continue as we board yet another ship on cruise #11 since that date in January, 2013. 

And then, we walked a little further to spot these and we had our answer, more exquisite orchids.

In eighteen days at sea we’ll be in Australia, living close to the Great Barrier Reef, the Outback, the ocean, the jungle and wildlife galore, Funnel Web Spiders, Tiger Snakes, and crocs.  Now, we’re talking adventure!

Thanks to all of our readers all over the world who have followed us, written to us, challenged us.  Thanks to all the contributors to our site.  Thanks to all the wonderful people we’ve met in our travels, on cruises, on beaches, at vacation homes, who invited us to social events and to all of the people who assisted us in one way or another. 

A different arrangement of orchid buds.  We’re looking forward to when these all bloom, hopefully in the next 25 days while we’re still in Kauai.

We are humbled.  We are grateful and most of all, we’re in awe of the world around us.  Let’s see what happens over the next 1000 posts!  Whatever it is, you’ll find it here, each day when you turn on your laptop, desktop, iPad, iPhone or other smart phone to see what’s happening…in the life…

Have a terrific Tuesday!
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Photo from one year ago today, April 28, 2014:

Houseman Samir warned us about purchasing spices from open containers such as these which were often stale or contaminated.  Since Madame Zahra did all of our cooking, we had no use for spices during our period in Morocco.  For more details, please click here.


Rainy days and Mondays always get me down…Not really…How much time do we have left?…Reading list…Tom adds a story!




This Marigold was the most beautiful we’ve seen. 

Here’s the song from 1971 by the Carpenters that popped into my head first thing this morning when I noticed the cloudy day and the Monday morning.  Sorry about the ad which you can push past.  Sure brings us back to reality that this song was popular 44 years ago.  Gee…didn’t I just turn 44?  Ha! Where did the time go?

The days, the weeks, the months are flying by so quickly now, there’s hardly time to stop and reflect upon days passed.  The weekend wafted by in a flurried mix of long walks, good movies, good food and speaking to friends on Skype. 

Pink Orchids, common to the Hawaiian Islands.

“They” (whomever “they” are) say as we age and eventually retire, time flies more quickly.  Perhaps, as we age its not about time flying faster and more about the fact that we are more resilient and less stressed with the daily activities around working, raising a family (or not) and trying to “make it.”

Once we retire, we let the dreams go of fame, wealth and prosperity (for those of us who haven’t achieved those levels) and we comfortably settle into a life of reality.  Here’s who I am.  Here’s those who love me.  Here’s how much I can spend to live.  Here’s what I can realistically accomplish in the years I have left to live.


The vibrant hot pink in these orchids was breathtaking.

Have you ever counted the years you may have left on this earth using your expected longevity based on your health and heritage?  I do every so often, realizing that at 67, my life may end in 20 years.  Then I recall back to 20 years ago, trying to get a frame of reference as to how much time I may actually have left.  

Twenty years ago, I married Tom.  I was as happy as I could be.  Now, these 20 years later, most of which were happy, some of which were wrought with worry and strife, as life often is, I realize that I do have enough time to complete my mission, health and safety providing.


The color of these tiny flowers is almost florescent.  We’ve yet to find the name.  With the help of reader, Annie, these are Pentas.  Thanks, Annie!

And aren’t we kind of like a company needing our own mission statement to decide what we want to accomplish and how we’ll go about achieving it?  Many of us go through life waiting for the “next best thing” to happen to determine our path.

For many years I did this along with a thought that quality of life was based on how hard you worked, how hard you loved and how kind you were, all of which were thrown into a bucket waiting for “luck” to be thrown into the mix.  I’ve learned it doesn’t work that way.  It took a long time.

When I turned 50 years old, one day I woke up and got it.  I wasn’t going to make the billions I dreamed of and life the life commensurate with those billions. 

Golden tipped Anthurium.

I wasn’t going to be standing at a podium in front of an applauding audience extoling the virtues of hard work and dedication, along with a magic potion of all the insightful morsels of every motivational speaker I’d ever heard.

Nope, this is it.  This is the life I chose and the person I chose to live it with.  Now 17 years after my revelation, I’m happy.  (We’ve been together for 24 years, married for 20).  Oh, its not jumping up and down happy, although at times we both feel that way.  Instead, as I awake each day I hear these words in my head, “Yeah, another day I can have a whack at it!”  I’m grateful, to say the least.  He is too.

This is Poinsettia in its off season.  Still lovely.

This life has nothing to do with luck.  Happiness has nothing to do with luck. For both of us it has everything to do with sacrifice, letting go, stepping outside the box, being fearless, strict adherence to health and well being and above all, a determined choice to get along with one another and allow ourselves the privilege of being happy.

So many couples (bear with me, single people) waste years of their lives together in disharmony. How many times have we heard from the one left behind how they wished they’d have been more tolerant, more patient, more loving?  Not us, we decided to do that now.  If I want to curse him or vise versa, we can save it for when the other is gone in 20 years, 30 years or who knows?

What a peculiar growing thing!

Ah, enough pontificating.  On with the reading list which will not be belabored by any means.

Here’s Tom most recent reading material:
1.  Railroad War by Leon Speroff
2.  Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin
3.  Dial M, The Murder of Carol Thompson by William Swanson
4.  Stolen from the Garden by William Swanson
5.  Vince Flynn, Minnesota author who’s since passed away, having written about a dozen books, all of which Tom’s read since we left.
6.  Why Coolidge Matters by Charles C. Johnson
7.  Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robisson
8.  Preposterous Papa by Lewis Meyer (This book was written by friend Richard’s uncle about the life of his grandfather). 


Tiny puffs, miniature Bottle Brush flowers.

 Here’s what I’m reading:
1.  Keto Clarity by Jimmy Moore and Dr. Eric Westman
2.  Wheat Belly Total Health by Dr. William Davis
3.  Altered Genes, Twisted Truth by Steven M. Druker
4.  The Big Fat Surprise by Nin Teicholz
5.  The Paleo Manifesto by John Durant

You can copy and paste any of these titles into the amazon link on the right side of the page for more details or email us for assistance or with questions.

________________________________________

Today’s post reminded Tom of a story he wanted to share.  Here it is:

“A successful man was giving a speech about how he achieved his success.
 
He told the story of losing all his money gambling in Las Vegas and he didn’t have the 10 cents required in those days to use the toilet.

He explained his predicament to the first guy he sees outside the restroom  door asking if he’d give him a dime for the toilet.  The guy pulled a dime out of his pocket and handed it to him.
 
As he entered the restroom he notices the last person had left the toilet door open.  So he used the toilet.

After exiting the restroom he put the dime into a slot machine and hit $100.00 jackpot.  He took the $100 to play blackjack winning $1000.
 
He then played craps and won $10,000.

He used this money to invest in stocks on Wall St. and made tens of millions.

In closing his speech he said if he could find the man who helped him he would give him half of his worldly goods.

A man stood up in the audience and said, “I’m the guy who gave you the dime in Vegas!”
 
The speaker replied, “Not you, sir. It was the guy who left the toilet door open.”


 Thanks for sharing, Honey!

Have a magnificent Monday, rainy day or not.
________________________________________



This wasn’t our photo that we posted it one year ago.  The shop keepers wouldn’t allow photos of their clothing on display. On this date, we discussed gender roles as we perceived them in Marrakech.  For more details, please click here.

When all the sightseeing is said and done…What do we do for entertainment?… All new photos…

Every Friday night, we see Norwegian’s Pride of America ship after leaving the port in Nawiliwili, Kauai.  It sails along the Napali Coast and then turns back toward Honolulu where the seven day cruises end on Saturday morning at 7 am to depart again on a new cruise that evening at 7:00 pm.

We’ve fairly well exhausted most of the possible sightseeing adventures in Kauai that appeals to our senses, level of fitness and interests.

With no house to maintain, no garden to tend, no grass to cut, no weeds to pull, no barbecue parties to host in the yard and no family functions to attend, what could we possibly do to entertain ourselves during our 27 remaining days on the island of Kauai?

New photo of one of our favorite views in Kauai, the mountains and sea at Hanalei Bay.

Our average day consists of doing the requisite loads of laundry, cleaning the small condo, washing windows, preparing meals and grocery shopping every five days or so and on occasion making a trip to the Healthy Hut in Kilauea. 

At night we dine and watch a few favorite downloaded TV shows or even a few shows that are on the TV, such as tonight’s AD The Bible and tomorrow evening’s Dancing with the Stars.  In some ways our lives are not unlike that of many other retirees worldwide who live in condos or apartments.

Colorful orchid bloom.

But, in many ways we have more free time based on the above mentioned items and more.  With a rental car, we don’t even have the occasional obligation of having the oil changed or performing general maintenance.  We never have a doctor, dentist or eye doctor appointment.

Tom’s says he doesn’t have to chase the geese off the lawn.  Instead, he spends the better portion of each day chasing the pigeons off the lanai railing to make way for the feeding nuts to our favorite birds who visit several times each day.  In a funny way our preoccupation with the same familiar birds stopping by occupies a portion of our time, calling them, watching them and laughing at their antics.

Beautiful overlook.

I no longer spend endless hours in the kitchen chopping, cooking and baking for us, for family and friends, foods that no longer suits our way of eating, for those who are no longer a short distance away, spending the better part of the day stopping by with a delivery of some delectable plate or pan of something that I’d made to share.  Those days are long gone.

Instead, I spend each morning from the time I’m up showered and dressed for the day, hair fixed with makeup on, ready to tackle the world, sitting at my computer writing, editing and posting.  Usually, I begin by 7:00 or 7:30 and end anywhere from 10:30 to noon. 

Sunset last night. 

During this period, Tom assists me by researching past posts for links and other information I may be posting that particular day.  When done assisting me, he perused his favorite websites such as Facebook, news, financial markets and of course, his passion, Ancestry.com.

As soon as the post is uploaded we often head to the Makai Golf Course which is listed as one of the world’s five most scenic golf courses.  We head to the pool and fitness center where we’ll usually find Richard and Larry. 

The overlook at the Hanalei Wildlife Refuse where one can see the world’s largest taro fields.

As mentioned in past posts, we never spend more than 45 minutes in the sun  all the while chatting with our friends as we acquire a good dose of Vitamin D.  Doing so for 20 minutes a day without the use of sunscreen may prevent the necessity of taking Vitamin D supplements, a necessity for bone health for seniors.  This avoids the necessity of hauling several more bottles of vitamins in our already heavy luggage. (Its important to gradually work up to the 20 minutes by tanning 10 minutes on each side to avoid a sunburn).

Several times each week after the pool we stop to visit the albatross, the grocery store or visit a local farmer’s market.  At other times, we drive for awhile looking for new photo ops, later to return home to change back into our clothes and head out for a walk.  By the time we return from the walk,  its often 2:30 pm as the day quickly moves along. 

One of Kauai’s most popular overlooks.

Had we been retired and living our old lives, on occasion we’d have made a trip to Home Depot, a local nursery or Costco.  Returning home, we’d have had “stuff” to put away, projects to start, a garden to tend or a meal to prepare for arriving family or friends. The day would have easily become filled with activities.

We’re never disappointed when we stop for photos at this amazing spot.

A few evenings a week, we have social plans.  We stay home the remainder of the, watching for a brilliant sunset and enjoying our evenings as if every night is a playful Saturday night.  Add in a good meal and at times, a movie and what more could we want?  Never bored, we relish each moment as new and interesting.


Red Lipstick Tree branches.

Often on a daily basis there’s tons of email to reply to, banking and finances to handle and plans for the future to investigate  We’ve found ourselves tackling what may have felt like as a task in the past, as now being a pleasant experience.  Perhaps, the lack of hustle and bustle in our lives makes paying bills online kind of fun.

On top of our simple daily lives, we both enjoy reading; me, an occasional novel but, mostly scientific studies, health, nutrition and medicine and Tom, international intrigue and espionage novels and biographies of people he’s admired and respected over the years.

Cattle Egret are commonly found near excavation areas, golf course, lawn moving and gardening areas.  They hang around this specific areas in hopes of worms and bugs being brought to the surface.  We always laugh over seeing dozens of these birds at excavation sites.

Tomorrow, we’ll share our current reading list.  We’d love to hear from any of our readers who may have suggestions for reading material they’ve found interesting that may appeal to us.  How fun would that be!

May your Sunday be relaxing and fulfilling whatever you decide to do!
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Photo from one year ago today, April 26, 2014:



It wasn’t uncommon to find orange trees growing in restaurants in Marrakech when most restaurants were built, similar to our riad, with an open air center courtyard. For details from that date as our time in Morocco was winding down, please click here.

An email that sent us over the moon…A special person we met in our lives of travel…

Anderson, standing at the marker for the border between Kenya and Tanzania.

Yesterday morning, I discovered an email in my inbox from Anderson, our guide while on safari in the Masai Mara.  The email in his words:

“Jambo from masai-mara,Kenya.
Hi jessica and tom,how are you doing my friends?.long time since we meet at masai-mara at sanctuary olonana camp,where are you now?..since you told me that,you were travelling all over the world!..am sorry that i did not  have time to visit you at mombasa-ukunda.
Concerning my employment,i resigned from olonana few months ago,and i bought a new safari land-cruiser to start my own safari business within kenya,tanzania and uganda.so please if happen that you want to do a safari, am always there for you,..and please recomment me to your friends for me. Thanks my friends, Best regards from Anderson ole Pemba.”


In October 2013, over 18 months ago, we went on safari in the Masai Mara (aka Maasai Mara), situated in southwest Kenya as one of Africa’s most magnificent wildlife reserve.  Connected to the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania it is the world’s most popular safari game viewing environment.

We stress the fact that our expedition was game viewing, not hunting.  We would never engage in the self serving slaughter of exquisite animals in the wild as their numbers dwindle based on the intervention of humans. 

How we got so lucky to have Anderson as our guide falls into the same “safari luck” category that seeing the Big 5 in our first 10 hours on safari seemed to fall into, all accomplished only due to Anderson‘s expert skills and keen eye.  No one on the planet can drive across rough terrain with his expertise nor can spot a lion sleeping in a tree all the way across the plains.


Tom and Anderson really hit it off.  This was within moments of arrival at the dirt runway airport in the Masai Mara.

Not only was his warm, thoughtful and engaging personal a factor but his sense of adventure, willingness to literally “go the extra mile (kilometer) and his vast knowledge left us with a memory that will truly last a lifetime. 

An amateur photographer such as I with a less than ideal camera was able to take photos that will always stay in our hearts and minds and into infinity, located here on the Internet for generations to come.

Anderson‘s efforts made this lifelong dream of mine become a reality.  As a child I dreamed of Africa, the Africa we experienced in the Masai Mara, and Anderson helped make it a reality we’ll both always treasure.

When the short three day period as guests at Camp Olonana by Sanctuary Retreats came to a close my heart ached over having to say goodbye.  Would we ever return to the Masai Mara in Kenya with so much political unrest in the country and when there’s still so much world to see? 

I knew we were in good hands the moment we met Anderson. 

Yes, someday we’ll return to Africa to see Victoria Falls in both Zambia and Zimbabwe and to see the gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda, although there are other locations where they are to be found.  Plus, my heart longs to return to Marloth Park for a period of time as well.  Someday.

Although we spent only three days with Anderson, for as much as eight hours each day, the time was never enough.  Realistically, three days in the Masai Mara is enough time during which with a great guide, one can see and take photos of many of the treasures in this extraordinary location.

Not only did he ensure we could see all that we longed to see, he left an indelible mark on our hearts not only with his skills but, with his delightful demeanor, sense of humor and passion to please regardless of the size of the group in his vehicle, at most six tourists. 

When we arrived at the dirt runway airport in the Masai Mara, Anderson was waiting for us immediately taking me into the circle of his strong arms for a bear hug.  At that moment, I knew we were in good hands.  He’d take good care of us, ensure our safety and equally ensure we had the time of our lives.

Anderson had arranged a breakfast in the bush with the chefs preparing foods I could eat along with standards for the others. 

At the airport we had to wait for another couple’s plane arriving in an hour and a half.  Instead of standing around waiting in the hot sun, Anderson suggested he take us out to see what we could find in that short period of time. 

And find, we did, as shown in the many photos in this post which we uploaded that first evening when we were exhausted after a quick meal having arrived too late from an sunset safari to shower and change for dinner. 

With dust all over our clothes and with no Internet access in our tent, after dinner we sat on the sofa in the lodge with a wifi poor connection attempting to upload multiple photos and story, knowing our readers were waiting to hear from us. 

With wild animals all around us, we dined on a perfect breakfast without a moment of fear.  We always felt safe with him even if we were only 15 feet from a hungry lion.

The posts were a mess with poor formatting and typos but, we knew once we returned to Diani Beach, Kenya, we’d have plenty of time to go back and make any necessary edits. 

At 7 am the next morning we were ready to go again although the gurgling sound of the hippos in the Mara River outside of our tent awoke us at 4 am.  I feel back to sleep with a smile on my face relishing every aspect of this amazing experience.

Our first day out, Anderson explained that if we needed to pee to simple say, “I need to check the tire pressure.”  Within a matter of minutes, he’d find a rock or a bush appropriate for providing a modicum of privacy. 

That’s not to say that the trek to the rock or bush wasn’t fraught with a bit of trepidation for what may be lurking in the tall grass.  Those breaks were vital to our experience as the daytime heat kept us sipping on bottles of beverages he kept on ice in a cooler in the front seat.

I took this photo of our group on safari that morning.  Its cool in the Masai Mara in the mornings, heating up considerably as the day worn on.  That large rock to the right was the spot where we’d “check the tire pressure.”

I could go on and on.  Instead, I’ll let our interested readers click back to the posts to read the remainder that continued over a period of over two weeks.  The stories and photos seemed never ending, as did the memories with Anderson.

Yesterday, when we received the above email we were thrilled to hear from him.  At the time, we’d given him our card knowing it was unlikely we’d hear back with lack of Internet access in the area.  We’d invited him to stay with us in Ukunda (Diani Beach) when he’d hoped to make a trip to Mombasa although he was unable to come. 

If any of our readers knows of anyone interested in a safari in Kenya, Tanzania or Uganda, feel free to contact Anderson here at this link.  We noticed that he’s working in Uganda.  We only hope by the time we’re ready to see the gorillas, that we can be with him once again.

Notice my BugsAway hat wrapped around my lower face while we were in Tanzania in an effort to keep the flies out of my mouth.

Speaking of Tanzania, when Anderson was concerned that I was greatly disappointed that we’d missed the Great Migration by one week, on the last day, he drove us over some mighty rough terrain to the border of Tanzania.

There, we were able to see the tail end of the migration while batting off zillions of flies as a result of the dung from 2,000,000 wildebeest and other animals crossing the Mara River numerous times as it winds through the Serengeti, on this annual trek.  Only he would try to please to that degree for which we’re eternally grateful.

Thank you, Anderson, for an experience of a lifetime, that in many ways changed our lives and in many ways enhanced our desire to experience more of the wild and its treasures that we’ve yet to behold.
______________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, April 25, 2014:

A huge pile of yarn was lying on the ground in the souk, ready to be woven into an article to be sold.  Notice the black cat cuddled up on the yard.  At this point one year ago, we were three weeks from departing Marrakech, Morocco and we were ready to go.  For details please click here.

Tom loves cruising…I like cruising…Is that a problem for us? My food list…Homemade mayo recipe…

A view of the Hanelei Wildlife Refuse from a hard to find overlook in Princeville. 

The tiny cabin is not an issue  balcony cabins they’re often as small as 171 square feet (15.89 square meters) or as big as 194 square feet (18.02 square meters).  Oddly, we adapt to it very well.  The fact that we’re both tidy by not leaving out our clothing, shoes and miscellaneous lying about, definitely helps.

Maneuvering around each other while dressing isn’t a issue either.  After 10 cruises in the past 30 months, we’ve got it figured out.  I go first in the morning, showering and dressing for the day and he goes first in the afternoon, doing the same, allowing me time to get ready to go out for the evening. 


Another view from the obscure overlook.

With few clothing options dressing for dinner is easy for us on cruises.  Wear this.  Wear that.  That’s it.  Since recently disposing of many worn out clothing, soon I’ll head to a women’s clothing store in the Princeville Mall to buy a few items for the upcoming cruise.  They seem to have affordable and useful items that may work for me. 

Tom has a white dress shirt waiting to be mailed soon with our other supplies accumulating at our mailing service in Nevada.  He’ll wear the shirt with black pants on dress up nights.  We’ll post photos at the time.

Its relatively easy to find excellent scenic spots from most areas of Kauai.

With the size of the cabin being acceptable to me, what is my hesitation keeping me from loving it as opposed to my current “liking it?”  Here are my two reasons:

1.  The poor wifi connection makes it difficult for me to write and upload each day causing me considerable time and frustration.
2.  The food is challenging in both selection and taste.  Our cruise representative at Vacations to Go has forwarded my food list to the upcoming cruise line, Royal Caribbean, to let them know what I can and can’t have. 

Crossing the one lane bridge over the Hanalei River.

I don’t believe I’ve ever posted this list.  For those interested here it is:

No to the following in any form:

  • Wheat or any type of flour, bread, buns, crepes, pancakes, pastries, bagels, 
  • Grains:  rice, corn, quinoa, lentils, oatmeal
  • Fruit or fruit juice 
  • Starch: potatoes, potato starch, winter squash, beans (green beans OK), pasta 
  • Sugar, honey, agave or sugar alternatives 
  • Chemicals:  MSG, food starch, additives 
  • Vegetable oils of any type except olive oil and nut oils
  • Soy sauce or any soy products
  • Gluten in any form 
  • Pre-made egg mix 
  • Yogurt, milk or milk products (cheese OK) 
  • Dessert, even if gluten and sugar free 
  • No foods labeled LOW FAT 
  • Bottled salad dressing or mayonnaise

Yes to these:

  • Beef, pork, poultry, wild caught fish and shellfish, nitrate free bacon or sausages made without gluten, starch or sugar
  • Escargot, made without gluten, starch or sugar 
  • Fois gras, made without gluten, starch or sugar   
  • Non starchy vegetables: such as aubergine (eggplant), peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, asparagus, lettuce, kale, spinach, cabbage, carrots (in moderation) cauliflower, etc. 
  • Fresh eggs 
  • Cheeses – non processed (good as a dessert without fruit or crackers on plate) 
  • Full fat cream 
  • Full fat sour cream
  • Full fat cream cheese
  • Home made mayonnaise 
  • Full fat cream and butter reduction sauce made without thickener 
  • Olive oil, coconut oil, butter, homemade GF hollandaise sauce

When cooking at home, I tighten up this list, using only grass fed meat, organic free range poultry and eggs, organic dairy, organic grass fed butter and organic produce.  On a cruise, I’m unable to get this buttoned up list.  For the upcoming 18 day cruise, I’ll manage.

View from an obscure overlook we found in Princeville.

On past cruises, I suffered no ill effects, eating in moderation; bacon, eggs and veggies for breakfast; protein source, veggies and salad (salad dressing is an issue) for dinner.  Some chefs would make homemade mayo or hollandaise sauce for me which has worked well.  All bottled mayo is made with soybean oil which I won’t eat, along with any other soy foods.

At home, I make mayonnaise using the following recipe:

Walnut Oil Mayonnaise
2
large egg yolks (I use pasteurized eggs for safety)
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoons powdered mustard powder
1 teaspoon Himalayan salt
1 1/2 cup toasted walnut oil or other nut oil (other oils such as olive oil or coconut oil impart a strong taste whereby walnut oil or macadamia nut oil impart a subtle taste)

In a medium bowl combine egg yolk, lemon juice, mustard powder and sale.  Whisk until well combined for 30 seconds.  Whisking
constantly, add walnut oil a few drops at a time using a 1/4 teaspoon measure.
Keep whisking and adding slowly until you’ve added about 1/4 cup of the walnut
oil and mixture is noticeably lighter in colour. Very slowly, add the remaining
1/2 cup oil in a thin stream until mayonnaise is thick and a creamy light
yellow.  If available, a blender may be used following the slow adding of the oil while blending at a low speed. Cover and keep chilled using within 2 weeks.  Shake or stir before using.  I store it in a glass jar with lid.


Adding a few drop of sweetener or seasonings of your choice when serving adds a nice touch to the flavor when used as a salad dressing.


Makes
approximately 2 cups.
 


Its highly unlikely the cruise line chef will make this recipe for me nor do I expect them to prepare any special dressings or sauces.  At times, they bring me the list of ingredients on a bottled item to see if it works for me.  It’s seldom acceptable.


A  gnarly old tree on a secluded beach at Anina Beach.

Otherwise, a meal of plain seasoned protein, non starchy vegetables and a few slices of a hard cheese will fill me for a meal.  To ensure I get enough fat, I can easily add butter and/or olive oil.

Overlook view on a cloudy day.


As for Tom’s dietary habits on a cruise, he eats whatever appeals to him, often gaining two or three pounds on each cruise.  Surprisingly, he doesn’t load up on a lot of sweets during the day, other than a few small cinnamon rolls at breakfast and a small dessert at dinner. 


Fences such as this are often used by property owners in an attempt to keep the wild pigs out. 

His taste buds control what he eats and often he finds pastries and desserts generally unappetizing after years of eating homemade desserts that I’d made in our old lives.

Overall, we both enjoy cruising, baring these few issues.  Ultimately, we have a fabulous time especially meeting other cruisers, often making new friends and gaining many more new reader.

We never tire of this view, continuing to take new photos each time we’re nearby.

Recently, a cruise ship heading to Sydney ran into a bad storm at sea and was unable to dock at the port.  Here’s the story.  This news doesn’t concern us a bit.  We’ve already experienced 50 foot swells at sea.  Anything less than that, we can handle.

We continue to visit the Laysan Albatross chicks every few days.  At this point this chick is almost as large as the parents.  When she lifts a wing we can see pure white feathers beginning to fill in.  Notice her feet as she settles her butt into the ground.  We continue to share photos as they grow.

Have a fabulous spring weekend preparing your homes and yards for the upcoming summer.  For those in the southern hemisphere where it’s currently the fall season, we’ll see you soon!
______________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, April 24, 2014:

A view of the souk from an upper level.  For details of that date, please click here.



One month from today…We’re off to Australia…Is this a lonely life?

The Wai’oli hui’ai Church in Hanalei which the congregation built in 1841.

Need I say to our readers that we’re ready to go, in that we’ve been counting the days?  Don’t get me wrong, we love Kauai; its people, its beauty and its charm. Its just time to go. 

The church was made of lime and plaster which was made from coral dug at low tide.

Living in Hawaii these past almost eight months worried us.  We were concerned that we’d lose many of our readers who’d tire of the constant Hawaii news, scenery and our occasional ramblings about food.

Services are still held at this church today. The mission bell was acquired in 1843 and placed in the belfry behind the Mission Hall which is the oldest surviving church building on the island of Kauai.

However, we’ve literally gained thousands of readers in these past many months, many from across the seas and many from here in the islands, passed on from one to another from families to friends.  We couldn’t be more grateful.

This morning when I look at our stats I squealed with delight to see our readership as higher than its typically been on travel days. It seems our readers are curious as to our safe arrival at the next location and perhaps curious as to how we’ve handled any travel day challenges along the way.


The church was adorned with several stained glass windows.

In a funny way, on travel days, I feel as if you’re all traveling along with us making me anxious to getting settled and online to let everyone know we arrived safely. 

At airports, we’re always looking for wifi so we can write a few words to post.  At times, we’ve paid outrageous hourly fees to ensure we let everyone know how its going and where we are at the moment. 


The Mission School was also built in 1843 allowing children and adults to read the bible which the missionaries translated into Hawaiian. Abner and Lucy Wilcox arrived in 1846 to spend over 20 years as educational missionaries and pioneered vocational training as well.

Our friend Richard, a retired attorney from St. Louis, Missouri, USA, often nags us to turn this site into a highly profitable business, even offering to help us do it.  We appreciate his kind intentions.  But, making the effort to turn our posts into a highly profitable business would make it a “job.”

And…although this is a business based on having advertisers generating a small income and certain relevant expenses, right now, this feels only like a labor of love.


We assumed this lovely couple had just been married in the church.

There isn’t one morning that I get my coffee, plunk down onto the sofa or chair, never as comfortable as in our old lives, that my heart doesn’t race with enthusiasm.  Most often, unless we’ve recently had a specific experience to share, I have no idea what to write.

Magically, as if beyond my control, a topic flies to my fingers more so than to my brain and those fingers fly across the keyboard with a mind of their own.

View along the road in Hanalei.

The topics, albeit less exciting at times, are presented with a pure passion and desire to entertain, amuse or merely whittle away time for even one reader out there who may also may have a cup of coffee or tea on hand and sits down to see what’s happening.

Then, when I see that hundreds if not thousands of people are reading today, my heart flips in my chest with joy, not as braggadocio over our unique life but as joy in knowing we are not alone. 


Miniature flowers blooming on the church grounds.

This life we live could be lonely without all of you.  Sure, we have one another who fills each others cup every single day with a potion that continually renews our love and interest in one another. 

And, we have the friends we’ve made along the way but not quite yet the friends we had in our old lives who we could say, “Hey, want to go to the farmer’s market with me this afternoon?”  Or, “I made some soup and want to drop off a jar at your house on my way to the health club.” 


Surf shop in Hanalei.

Its different now.  But, we have YOU.  Having YOU takes away any possible feeling of isolation or loneliness.  Having YOU motivates us to explore, to take photos, to get outside the safe cocoon we create for ourselves everywhere we go.

So, dear readers, hang with us for one more month in Hawaii and then hang onto your chairs because one month from today a new level of excitement will begin as we leave Kauai, head to Honolulu for one night to sail away on the 24th for 18 days and nights across the ocean to the South Pacific. 


The Ching Young Village, a quaint shopping mall in Hanalei.

We’ll live in the South Pacific for almost 22 months, moving at least as often as every 89 days (or as little as one month) discovering new lands, new adventures, new wildlife and new scenery. 

There will be scary looking insects, Funnel Web spiders, dangerous snakes and inclement weather. There will be kangaroos, koala bears and crocs, some of which we’ll love to the point of ad nauseam and others which we’ll cautiously fear. 


The Ching Young Store is a café and general store.

Once again, we’ll be using the app on our phones to figure out the metric system, figuring out how to use the outlets and appliances, learning the local lingo and dialect and overall, trying to “fit in.”

All of this and more, we’ll share with YOU. 

Happy Thursday.  Today is 5% off for old timers at Foodland.  Think we’ll stop by.
______________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, April 23, 2014:

Although we never so much as tasted any of the scrumptious looking pastries in Marrakech, looking at them was almost as much fun.  Our time was winding down and we were looking forward to our next stop, Madeira, Portugal located off the coast of Morocco.  For details please click here.

Flight and rental car booked for Australia…Great deals! Sharing the best prices we’ve found for car rentals…




Taro root, growing in this field, is popular item used in Hawaiian cooking.

As many of our long term readers are well aware, often our photos don’t match our stories.  We continue to search for new and hopefully interesting photo ops in our explorations of any area in which we’re living at any given time.  Thus is the case today, as is often the case, with the exception of the car photo listed below.

The Hawaiian Coot, most often found near water.  It was our first sighting of this bird.

We commence with today’s story:

We booked all of our airfare through the Expedia link on our website.  As a listed advertiser for us, we get a tiny commission for using it although the pricing is no better or worse than through Expedia directly. 

If our readers click on any of our advertiser links, we receive more tiny commissions, none of which will make us  rich but help offset some of the costs of maintaining our site.  Please feel free to use them as needed. 

The Hanalei Wildlife Refuse provides a lush habitat for a considerable number of birds in Kauai.

There’s no pressure from us to use these links. Our site is “free” to our worldwide readers. But, if you’re going to shop at any of these sites, please consider doing so through us.  We appreciate it!

However, when shopping for flights and car rentals, best pricing is always our first consideration.  For airline tickets, we’ve had considerable luck with Expedia. 

We were surprised it had taken us so long to travel this particular road.  We were glad we did.

However, with car rentals, especially for our extended periods, we’ve had to perform extended searches for the best possible pricing.  Over these past 30 months, we’ve spent hundreds of hours researching off and on as to where to get the best pricing on car rentals.

So far, for us, the best bet has been at this link for rentalcars.com.  Once we enter dates and times, their site searches all providers allowing us to choose the best cars for the best prices.  Here’s what we locked up a few days ago:

The Okolehao Trail begins here, leading up a steep incline using ropes to assist experienced hikers only up a two to three hour hike up the mountains.  Not quite suitable for us.  Click here for details.

Car Group: Hyundai i20 or similar
Supplier: Europcar

Pick-up details:
Country: Australia
City: Cairns
Location: Cairns Airport
Date: 11 Jun 2015 10:00

Drop-off details:
Location: Cairns Airport
Date: 8 Sep 2015 10:00

Total Cost: US$1709.50
Flight number:

That’s US $1709.50 for 89 days!  That total at $19.21 per day, not too bad or an average of $576 24 per month.  Here in Kauai we paid a little more at $677 per month, still an excellent deal.

Sure, a Hyundai 120 is a small car.  See photo below:

This Hyundai i20 is ideal for our needs with excellent gas mileage and, we can easily fit all of our luggage between the hatchback and back seat, our first consideration when renting a car.

Often, once we arrive at the desk of the provider at the airport, they often try to up-sell us a larger car.  We rarely consider an upgrade.  What’s the purpose?  However, when we lived in Madeira almost a year ago, we chose a larger car with a more powerful engine in order to navigate the many steep hills. 

The difference, if I recall correctly, was about $50 more a month and well worth the expense under those special circumstances. Those steep winding hills with Tom driving a stick shift were tough enough in our upgrade.

Its good to know that cattle  are no longer branded, instead wearing tags (in this case orange tags) on their ears as shown in this photo.

Our next expenditure a few days ago, was to purchase airline tickets from Sydney, Australia to Cairns, Australia when we arrive by ship on June 11th.  Careful planning, considering the time of day the ship reaches the dock, the time it will take to disembark 2000 passengers and how long it will take to get a taxi to the airport in Sydney.

The ship will dock in Sydney at 6:00 am and be ready for passengers to disembark by 8:00 am. However, based on past experience it can take several hours to get our luggage, go through customs and  immigration and to wait in line for a taxi.

A lone horse, tied to a rope looked our way as we stopped for this photo.

With only a few nonstop flights to Cairns each day (pronounced Cannes, like the French city), we chose the afternoon flight, leaving us almost about five hours to run through the entire process. 

We often set up our transportation from cruises in this same manner, leaving lots of time for the process.  We lay back on getting off the ship, staying in our cabin until they kick us out.  Its either wait on the ship or wait at the airport, neither of which makes any difference to us.

The Hanalei River continues for 15 miles.

Why didn’t we chose an earlier flight?   As it says in our tag line or motto: “Wafting Through Our World Wide Travels with Ease, Joy and Simplicity,” we always attempt to take the less stress-invoking means of arriving at our next location.

What if there were a customs or immigration delay at the ship?  We don’t want to be rushing and worrying.  A day of travel is a day of travel.  The things we control we plan to be easy and hopefully seamless.  The things we have no control over…we plan for extra time to accommodate them.

Driving down a road we hadn’t traveled, we followed the shore of the Hanalei River.

The cost of this nonstop one way  flight for both of us, from Sydney to Cairns, is as follows:

Qantas Price Summary

  •     $235.40
    • Flight          $218.00
    • Taxes & Fees $17.40
  •     $235.40
    • Flight           $218.00
    • Taxes & Fees  $17.40
    • Total:          $470.80

 
Based on the fact we’re able to fly Qantas Airline, one of the highest rated airlines on the world, we’re pleased with this booking.
 
We’ll pick up the rental car and be on our way on the relatively short drive from the airport to Trinity Beach, the location of our next 89 day rental.  The estimated drive time is 22 minutes or 12.18 miles, 19.6 kilometers.

Nene birds, the Hawaiian state bird are often found near water as in this case as we drove along the Hanalei River.

Hopefully, by 6 pm, we’ll arrive at our new home, get settled and head out to dinner. These days, unpacking only requires about 30 minutes. The following day we’ll find a grocery store and familiarize ourselves with the area. 

 
With these two bookings out of the way, we have peace of mind, a valued commodity in our lifestyle.  Low stress…good for health…good for life. 

Have a wild and wonderful Wednesday!
______________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, April 22, 2014:

Each of the shop owners in the souks in Marrakech took responsibility for keeping the souks clean and free of trash and debris.  When they washed the stone floors, one had to proceed with caution to avoid falling.  For details from that date, please click her

What, no oven?…We made an error in booking a future rental…



Two intertwined white Hibiscus flowers.

In this past week, amid all of our busy days and nights, we realized it was time to start preparing for the upcoming trip to Australia and the South Pacific.  In the process, we reviewed the upcoming rentals over the next year to see if there were any issues we needed to address.


Kauai always presents a beautiful mountain view.


Disappointed that
we missed it during the booking process, we discovered that there is no oven in the first house in Fiji.  There’s only a built in stove top.  How did we fail to notice this when we carefully read every detail before booking any property?

I suppose it was not unlike when we booked the house in Kenya…we didn’t think of asking if there was an indoor living room or lounge area or indoor sofa (there was not). 

Hanalei Beach as seen from one of the wraparound lanais at the St. Regis Hotel, where we often walk.

As a result of our failure to ask if there was a living room we spent three full months from 7 am to 11 pm sitting outdoors on the screen-less veranda, getting bitten by mosquitoes and other insects, carefully stepping over poisonous centipedes seven days a week in scorching humid heat.  (This proved to be a good thing when it toughened us up for the remaining almost nine months In Africa).

Who ever thought of asking if there’s a living room?  (It was so hot and humid that the zippers on our luggage turned green). We now ask or verify in photos that there’s an indoor lounge, salon or living room.  Lesson learned.

There’s always something burning in that area.  We aren’t certain what it is.

We booked Fiji after the no-living-room-situation in Kenya.  In the fuzzy photos we could barely see a modern kitchen with a built in stove top assuming that there was an oven below.  We also observed a microwave on the counter top assuming if there’s a microwave, surely there’s an oven  We’d never discussed anything about an oven.

Lo and behold, a few days ago upon further inspection on the website, and based on the fact we’ll be moving into that particular property on September 8th, a mere 4 1/2 months from now, we carefully inspected the listing to discover that there’s no oven, no toaster oven, no convection oven.

Savusavu villa rental - very spacious living room with fully equipped kitchen and dining of Villa B.B.
The kitchen in Fiji is along the back wall.  Its easy to see how we could have missed noticing if there was an oven or not by looking at this fuzzy photo.  We’ve never been in a property with a stove top but no oven.  As a result we “assumed” if there was a stove top, surely there would be an oven.  We learn as we go.

For some travelers, not having an oven would be no big deal.  However, spending 89 days in a single location cooking most of our meals, we need an oven.  Plain and simple.  Our way of eating requires considerable cooking in an oven.

View to the sea over African Tulip trees.

First step, rather than panicking was to contact the property manager Mario, to ask a few questions about the lack of an oven:
1.  What would the on site cook charge us (its a resort) to come get our prepared items, bake them for us in whatever kitchen she uses to prepare meals for guests and return it, ready to be eaten?
2.  Is there a portable convection oven anywhere on the grounds that we could  use or have in our house for the 89 days?

Mario, a most thoughtful and helpful property manager, immediately went to work on coming up with a solution when I kindly asked for his assistance or suggestions.

Within 12 hours, Mario got back to me.  He went to town and purchased a full sized stove/oven which will be hooked up awaiting our arrival in September!  We were both shocked and extremely pleased by his generosity and thoughtfulness.

View from several stories above this beach at the St. Regis Hotel.  Tom has verbal slips, often referring to this as the St. Frances Hotel.  His sister Beth is a nun and her order is the St. Frances.  How that trips up his brain makes me laugh!

We never expected this amazing solution, nor would we have backed out of our commitment to end up booking somewhere else with an oven.  The deposit we’d paid to date was only $300 and if we were different people, we may have forfeited the $300 and moved on.  There are other rentals in Fiji.

Backing out is not our style.  Mario had locked up that property for us over a year ago for our three month stay.  Leaving them in the lurch just isn’t our style. 

We would have learned to cook everything on the stove top.  I even went as far as looking online to see if there was a way to bake a low carb pizza or low carb muffins atop the stove.  A microwave just won’t cut it. 

A bit of ocean, mountain and vegetation create an exquisite view.

We use an oven almost everyday for something; baked eggs muffins, Tom’s blueberry scones, a roast, a whole chicken (all low carb, starch, sugar and grain free) and on and on.  It would have been very limiting.  Plus, there’s no grill available on the property which would have been a difficult but acceptable alternative.

This kind of attention to detail and desire to please the customer doesn’t occur without the utmost of appreciation and gratefulness on our part.  He didn’t even ask for a portion of the balance of the rent in order to buy the oven which isn’t due for several weeks.  Wow!


We stopped for a moment to savor the view as we wandered through the St. Regis.

Did we learn a new lesson?  Most certainly.  Added to our list of other items to verify in the future is now an oven.  Here’s are some of our considerations for all of our rentals:

1.  Wireless broadband, directly in the property. TV not required.
2.  A living room with sofa and/or comfortable chairs. 
3.  Ceiling fans or if not available, air conditioning in the bedroom for hot nights (we’ve never used it here in Kauai).
4.  A full kitchen with an oven and stove top.  Dishwasher not necessary.  Microwave optional. 
5.  Ideally, an ocean view or other significant view if property is located in the interior.
6.  A table and chairs or counter top area for dining. 
7.  A coffee pot, a large bowl, dishes, pots and pans, kitchen utensils and knives.
8.  Bath towels.  Believe it or not, some properties advertise to “bring your own linen.”  This doesn’t work for us. 
9.  Easy access to a washing machine.  We don’t need a dryer, only a drying rack or clothesline.  We prefer to avoid taking our laundry to a Laundromat.
10. Access to grocery store within a 30 minute drive.
11. A parking spot if we have a rental car. (In Fiji, we’ll use a driver).
12. An outdoor area of some sort.  A pool preferred, not necessary.
13. Access to a safe area for walks or walks along the beach.
14. A comfortable bed, preferably larger than double.  In the past, we’ve managed with a double bed provided it has adequate pillows and comfortable, clean bedding.  There’s no way to determine this until the first night’s sleep.  In these past few years, we’ve adapted to some horribly uncomfortable beds. If a problem arises, we don’t hesitate to address it with the property owner.  In December, on the Big Island, the owner immediately replaced an awful bed and threadbare linen upon at our request.

The chandelier at the St. Regis is not necessarily befitting this tropical environment.

Anything included beyond the above, is considered a bonus and in many cases when we’ve walked in the door of a new property, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by some extras we hadn’t expected; a laundry basket, cleaning supplies, a vacuum, a blender or an ice machine (as opposed to using ice cube trays which is most often the case).

When we look back at all the abundance in our old lives such as possessing every kitchen gadget known to woman/man, or TV’s with DVRs, high definition all access cable channels, or comfortable chaise lounges on a sunny patio or an outdoor table and chairs with an umbrella, its easy to see how much we have changed.

View across  an indoor water display at the St. Regis.

We’ve lowered our expectations, not only in what amenities we’ll expect in a vacation home that we rent for a period of time or, in a hotel for one night or, even at a restaurant.  There’s nothing more satisfying than a pleasant surprise.

On the other hand, we make every effort  to prepare ourselves for potential disappointments by figuring out workarounds rather than whining and complaining for two to three months. 

These commonly seen bright balls grow on various palm trees as future leaves, not always flowers.

I’ll send this post to Mario to ensure he realizes how much we appreciate what he’s done for us and how much it means to our level of enjoyment and comfort while in Fiji.  Thank you, Mario.  We look forward to meeting you and Tatjana in September.

Have a thought provoking Tuesday filled with solutions for what may keep you awake at night.  I only had to think about an oven in the middle for one night, thanks to Mario.
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Photo from one year ago today, April 21, 2014:

On the rooftop of our riad in Marrakech a small area was designated for the washer.  With Madame Zahra and Ouimama doing our laundry, we never had to use it.  Of course, as is the case in many countries, wet clothes are hung outdoors.  For details and more photos of the riad, please click here.