Visited my sister for first time in over two years…The Las Vegas Strip for dinner…Food photos…

Chase, Susan’s adorable Yorkie.

Yesterday afternoon, I drove to Summerlin, Nevada, to see my sister Susan, who moved into an assisted living facility on November 1st. This move was long overdue when she required quite a bit of help in her day-to-day activities. I hope she’ll be able to manage there when she no longer has as much support staff as she had in her apartment.

My sister has been bedridden for approximately 14 years, from what I recall. She suffers from numerous health conditions, including COPD and pain syndrome, which requires constant oxygen, many medications, and frequent doctor visits.
Seafood salad.

Her spirits are good and always have been. She’s accepted her limitations with dignity and grace. As my older sister by four years, she’s always been an inspiration to me. How dare I ever complain when I am up and around traveling the world while she lingers in a bed around the clock?

But, as we know, everything is relative. When we suffer, regardless of the cause, thinking of the suffering of others doesn’t necessarily bring us comfort. It may for a few moments when we contemplate the suffering of others but rarely does it make us become pillars of strength and resiliency. It’s the nature of the human spirit.

Fried chicken.

As I sat there with her for three hours, hacking and coughing, she was more concerned for me than for herself. I dismissed the annoying cough as a mere inconvenience that eventually would go away. 

And it will. This morning I noticed a slight improvement. On the other hand, Tom is in the throes of the worst of it, behind me by about two weeks. Hopefully, soon with his robust constitution, he’ll be on the mend. It’s unlike him to become ill.

Chicken Piccata.

I will return to see my sister on Monday, joining her for lunch at the facility. They allow visitors to have meals with residents for a $9 fee. I noticed they had a salad on Monday that will work for me. The food is irrelevant. It’s the interaction that bespeaks it all. I will be able to dine with her.

When I returned to the house, we drove to New York, New York Hotel and Casino and walked through the casino to the Venetian Hotel to a restaurant Richard suggested, The Grand Lux Cafe.

Guess who ordered the beef pot roast with mashed potatoes?

The offerings were primarily American fare which Tom prefers the most, and we all had an excellent meal. Once again, I had salad, seafood salad, but that is always the easy go-to for me.
Today will be low-key. Soon, I am going to Smith’s Market to buy some groceries. Today, I am making pumpkin pies, both regular and low carb, which we all missed over the Thanksgiving period. It will be wonderful to have a slice of low-carb pie topped with natural whipped cream.

Most likely tonight, we’ll dine out, and then tomorrow, I’ll do some cooking for a few days. Richard only eats chicken, so it will surely be a “chicken fest” while attempting to make a few favorite chicken recipes. I haven’t cooked a meal in almost a month.

May you have a spectacular weekend!

Photo from one year ago today, November 30, 2018:

Bushbuck baby, maybe dad and mom often stop at the bottom of the steps for their pellets.  For more, please click here.

Another difficult travel day in the US…

Five years ago, we’d seen photos of this car, a 1959 Cadillac convertible (woody) hanging from the ceiling at Hard Rock Café in Lahaina. On our return drive from Kaanapali Beach, we stopped to take a few photos of our own, as shown. For more photos, please click here.

This may sound awful to say as proud American citizens, but we’re are disappointed with the service at airports in the US. Questions go unanswered, the staff appears disinterested in traveler’s needs, and we discovered somewhat of a blase attitude of many airport employees.

Of course, there are many exceptions but these past two flights, one from Fort Lauderdale to Minnesota and yesterday’s flight from Minnesota to Nevada, left us wondering if the average worker is dissatisfied with their job.

No, I won’t get into all the potential reasons why we may have experienced these inconsistencies. Nonetheless, we were grateful to arrive safely on somewhat of an uneventful flight, barring some turbulence as we approached Las Vegas, where it was raining.

It is cool here, but we don’t mind. It’s certainly not as cold as it was in Minnesota. Today’s high is expected to be 45F (7.2C), cool enough to require we dress warmly. The sun is shining today after a few days of rain.

It was wonderful to see my son Richard after two years and four months. Once we arrived at his home, we dropped off our luggage, piled into his Escalade, and headed right back out the door to go to Thanksgiving dinner. 

The restaurant he selected located across the road at Green Valley Ranch was perfect. Tom and Richard ordered the traditional Thanksgiving dinner while I had a Cobb salad. The turkey dinner had too many items I couldn’t eat, and the salad was filling and satisfying. 

As I’d mentioned, Tom’s cough has exacerbated, and last night after returning after dinner, he went directly to bed. I am still coughing but am now convinced it’s a virus, not a bacterial infection, and there is nothing we can do to make it go away. Not antibiotics, not steroids…just time.

This gives me pause when considering upcoming cruises. What can we do to prevent catching the dreaded cruise cough? I can only surmise that avoiding the buffet, restrooms, and elevators when we can maybe the only way to ramp up our avoidance of catching these awful bugs.

We’d hoped that today we would go to the DMV to renew our driver’s licenses. We’ve heard stories of people waiting all day to be called for their renewal. We have no interest in waiting in a queue for hours. Richard suggested we wait until next Tuesday when it won’t be as busy. 

Soon, I’ll take off to visit my sister Susan at her new home in Las Vegas, a beautiful assisted living facility, about 30 minutes from here. I can hardly wait to see her.

Tonight, we’ll all head out for dinner at a favorite spot of Richard‘s on the strip. Many new hotels and restaurants have been built in the past few years. We’ll enjoy having an opportunity to see the new properties and dine at one of the restaurants.

At the moment, I’m seated in his comfy living room with a great cup of Dunkin’ Donuts Decaf Keurig coffee. At some point today or tomorrow, I’ll grocery shop to make a meal in the next few days. We’ve been eating out almost every day (except for a few fabulous dinners Karen made) since we arrived in the US on November 8th.

A home-cooked meal may be just what the doctor ordered. Settling in here in this low-key environment is also on the list of healing properties, a little more leisurely pace than we had in Minnesota.

We wish our friends in the US a fruitful “Black Friday.” the big sale after Thanksgiving each year. We prefer not to partake in the festivities! We hope everyone who celebrated Thanksgiving had a fabulous meal with quality time spent with family and friends.

Photo from one year ago today, November 29, 2018:
Many species visited our garden in the early mornings;  kudus, bushbucks, warthogs, helmeted guineafowl, and duikers. What a great start to the day! For more photos, please click here.

Report from cardiology appointment at Minneapolis Heart Institute….On the move again…Happy Thanksgiving to all!!!

Upon arriving in Mombasa on Thanksgiving Day in 2013, we took this photo from the ferry as another ferry took off. Notice the crowds. For more photos from that day, please click here.

For the past few weeks, amid this awful continuing cough (which Tom has also), I’ve felt apprehensive about my upcoming cardiology appointment. After leaving South Africa, I had a final exam by the cardiothoracic surgeon who performed the triple bypass surgery. That very day he arranged for me to be readmitted to the hospital for the infections in both of my legs.

This third admission resulted in two more surgeries on both of my legs, days apart, from which I’ve only recovered in the past two months, especially after stopping three heart medications that impeded my ability to walk without pain.

As time has passed after stopping the three drugs, I’ve begun to feel like myself again, although I may be inclined to call it a “new normal,” as the saying goes. Then, while on this most recent transatlantic cruise, both Tom and I contracted a horrible cough, his only exacerbating in the past few weeks, mine continuing with enthusiasm even after treatment with cortisone and antibiotics.

The coughing has continued, albeit not as frequently and without the intensity of a few weeks ago. I believe I’m on the mend. But this ailment became of little importance when I met with cardiologist Dr. Ash at Minneapolis Heart Institute yesterday morning.

Instead, the conversation and exam centered entirely on the condition of my heart, arteries, and recovery from the bypass surgery on February 12th, nine and a half months ago.

An EKG (aka ECG) was done, and I was thoroughly examined by both the PA and the doctor ending up spending an hour with the doctor. I was shocked and pleased by the amount of time he spent with me in that exam room. 

He was very thorough in his assessment, reading all of the medical reports page-by-page to ensure he didn’t miss a thing. My pulse and blood pressure were slightly elevated from sheer terror for the results. Still, later everything returned to excellent readings as the appointment continued especially when I got good news.

Result: I am good to go!!! We’re thankful beyond words.

He freely expressed how impressed he was by our ongoing world travels, including the period we continued after leaving South Africa in May. Not only did my EKG look normal, but he also assured me that the very best thing I could do for my health was to continue to be happy. 

Happiness is good for the heart, along with exercise, management of diet, and good sleep. I’m right on track. 

He didn’t object to my getting off the two evil FDA Black Box drugs, Amiodarone and Bisoproplol, but as expected, he did push a little on statins which I refused to take when they caused me to feel extreme pain in my extremities. That’s not for me. 

He understood my hesitancy, but doctors can’t help themselves in pushing statins for all practical purposes. They may be beneficial for those who don’t have side effects, but the quality of life is the name of the game for me, especially with this lifestyle we lead with hopes to continue.

I promised to return for another appointment and a few more tests when we next returned to Minnesota. But, for now, he didn’t see any reason for a myriad of unnecessary tests when all looks good. 

Yes, I have severe arterial disease, which didn’t go away with the surgery, but I will no longer live my life in fear of some dreadful heart event. I have peace of mind, which is golden as we continue.

In a few hours, we’ll head to Greg’s home to say goodbye to Camille and the grandchildren, and at 2:00 pm, he’ll drive us to the airport. Our bags are packed, weighed, and paid for, and ready to be loaded into the minivan, which Greg will use to drive us to Terminal 2, only 20 minutes from his house.

So, that’s it for Minnesota folks! Thanks for “hanging in there” with us during this seeming uneventful, mundane, not-necessarily-entertaining period in our travels. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who celebrate this popular US holiday, and we’ll be back with you soon. Eat well!

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

The five lions in the pride. All were adult females. For more photos, please click here.

Snow storm in Minnesota!…Dinner with kids…New photos!…One day and counting…

Last night at dinner with granddaughter Maisie at Pinstripes in Edina.

Last night we had a fabulous evening with son Greg and grandchildren Maisie, Miles, and Madighan at Pinstripes Restaurant in Edina. Unfortunately, Camille was unable to join us. We had little fun gifts for the kids, and I’d brought a bag of clothes for Maisie. She’s still quite a bit smaller than I am, but she’s embraced some of my things.

The snow had yet to fall at 6:00 PM, although it was predicted to start earlier. The drive was slow at rush hour, but we arrived at the restaurant in no time at all.

It was a particular time with the kids. Without the distractions at their home, we had their undivided attention allowing for plenty of playful and thoughtful conversation and laughter. We’re grateful we had this particular time with them and Greg.

Last night, with granddaughter Madighan.

Afterward, we headed back to Karen and Rich’s home. Rich made room in the garage for Tom to park Camille’s minivan inside, a perfect decision after last night’s heavy snowfall.

The snow finally began to fall around 9:00 pm when we were all safely inside and off the slippery roads. When we went to bed, the windows without shades reflected the ambient light from the falling snow eliciting many memories from our old lives.

Last night with grandson Miles.

As tricky as driving in the snow, something magical about a fluffy snowfall, especially during the holiday season. No regrets…just reminiscent about past times.

Yesterday afternoon, my friend Chere and I drove to the Twin Cities Premium Outlet Mall in Eagan to shop for Tom at the Tommy Hilfiger store. Two lovely salespeople, Edina (her name is the same as the city as mentioned above) and Jill, both helped in ways we never imagined possible. We couldn’t have had more fun.

Tom’s new clothes from Tommy Hilfiger. Over $700 in merchandise was purchased for $286 at the Twin Cities Outlet Mall in Eagan.

At the last minute, when checking out, Jill helped with a 20% online discount coupon making the total sales amount all the more palatable. The store should be proud of these two dedicated staff members, focused on customer satisfaction and service. It couldn’t have been a more enjoyable process.

This morning we put together a big bag of clothing and dropped it off at the Goodwill store. As it turned out, every item I purchased fit Tom perfectly, and he was pleased with his new things. Whew! We’re moving forward with many new items in our luggage.

About 8 inches of snow fell in Eden Prairie overnight.

We’re almost completely packed for tomorrow’s departure for Las Vegas, this time flying out of Terminal 2 on Sun Country Airlines, our only nonstop option on Thanksgiving Day. Son Greg will drop us off around 2:30 pm for our 4:00 pm flight.

In the morning, Tom will load up the minivan with our bags, and in the early afternoon, we’ll drive to Greg’s to say goodbye, drop off the coats we borrowed, deliver the pumpkin pie I baked today and be on our way.
Nothing is as pretty as the freshly fallen snow.

As soon as I upload this post, I’ll be heading to the kitchen to bake the pumpkin pie I promised to make for their Thanksgiving dinner. We wish we could have stayed to have Thanksgiving with them, but it wasn’t possible with my severe allergy to cats. Thus, tomorrow on Thanksgiving Day, we fly away.

Tomorrow, we’ll share the details of today’s cardiology appointment and our final goodbye from Minnesota.

This morning’s snow.

May those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving revel in the preparations and the ultimately, the fantastic meal. We’ll be sharing Thanksgiving dinner with son Richard in Henderson, Nevada, tomorrow evening.

Photo from one year ago today, November 27, 2018:

A tower of giraffes crossing the paved road in Kruger. How magical? Be well. For more photos, please click here.

Blizzard coming…Two days and counting…

Photos from a walk on the beach at the Indian Ocean in Kenya in 2013. For more photos, please click here.

With my cardiology appointment tomorrow morning, I’m beginning to wonder if it could possibly be canceled due to the upcoming snowstorm kicking off this evening. 

If that’s the case, I will have to reschedule another appointment in Arizona, where we’ll be for almost seven weeks. We won’t have enough time in Nevada for only 12 days with so much to do while there.

Yesterday, I hadn’t fully explained what I’d done as a volunteer at my grandkid’s school. As it turned out Camille wasn’t feeling well and was unable to attend so I went on her behalf on my own. I was there for 2¼ hours serving lunches to approximately half the charter school’s students.

My “job” consisted of assisting staff in counting numbers of fruit cups, bagged vegetables, sandwiches, either peanut butter, and jelly or chicken subs and placing them into easy-access containers. 

Once the kids began to arrive to collect their lunches, I provided them with an open brown bag ready to fill with their choices, also including milk containers, plastic wear, and napkins. Often, it required my assisting them in serving the bags and encouraging them to take the little bag of veggies which many tried to avoid.

The kids appeared at the service area based at pre-set times based on their grade. The older the kids, the more time-consuming it became. The two lovely staff members who worked at my side did most of the heavy lifting, which immensely helped.

In most cases, the kids were funny and friendly. But what thrilled me the most was the fact that my three grandchildren, Maisie, Miles, and Madighan (who’d brought lunch from home) each stopped by to give their grandma a big hug. That made the experience all the more special.

Afterward, I headed back to the house to finish the day’s post, wrap a few gifts for the kids to open now (with their significant gifts yet to arrive for Christmas), choose some clothing items out of my suitcase to bring to Goodwill, and take tags off casual clothing I’d purchased at TJ Maxx.

My original plan hadn’t been to purchase clothing at TJ Maxx but as it turned out when we stopped to buy the carry-on suitcase, I found a number of items that work perfectly for me, primarily comfy tops and activewear pants and leggings.

It will be cool in Nevada. When we arrive on Thursday, it will be raining (very unusual) with a high of 52F (11C) with a low of 39F (3.9C) definitely cool weather for the wardrobe I already had in my luggage.

When we arrive at Apache Junction a few weeks from now, the weather will be comparable to Nevada. However, both areas are known for sunny days all winter with a strong possibility of warmer temperatures.

Here’s this morning’s news story about the upcoming weather in Minnesota over the next few days:

“Minnesota Weather: November Snow Storm Could Be Biggest In Decade

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A winter storm warning will go into effect for the Twin Cities area and most of southern and central Minnesota starting Tuesday night in what meteorologists say could be the biggest November snowstorm in nine years.

WCCO’s Chris Shaffer says the warning centers mainly on the southern third of the state, including the entire Twin Cities metro area — which the storm is expected to reach by 10 p.m. Snowfall totals in the metro could get between 5 and 10 inches.

The snow will not impact either the morning or evening commutes Tuesday, but Wednesday morning will be a very different story. The snow will stack up in the overnight hours, but the massive system will clear out by lunchtime.

Heavy winds will bring the possibility of blowing snow on Minnesota roads Wednesday.

The timing couldn’t be much worse, either. AAA expects the second-highest number of travelers in a decade on Wednesday, with 1.6 million more expected this year than in 2018.

Shaffer said that might not be the end of the snow this week, either. Another winter storm could develop after Thanksgiving into the weekend, but that storm could bring snow, rain, or a mix. Thanksgiving’s highs will hover just around the freezing mark.

A Minnesota Department of Transportation spokesman said the agency has more than 800 snowplows ready to go, with plenty of salt on hand as well.”

Tonight we’re going out to dinner with Greg, Camille, and the three grandchildren. Hopefully, the snow situation isn’t so awful that none of us can safely make it. We’ll have to play it by ear.

Today at 12:30 pm, I am picking up my friend Chere at her house and we’re driving to the Twin Cities Premium Outlet, located in Eagan, about a 35-minute drive. There’s a Tommy Hilfiger store there where I’ll purchase clothes for Tom. We’ve found the quality of this brand to last the longest over many other brands.

We’ll be back tomorrow, most likely after the cardiology appointment, providing the appointment isn’t canceled due to the weather conditions.

Thanks for stopping by.

Photo from one year ago today, November 26, 2018:

Suckling lion cub as seen from the fence between Marloth Park and Kruger National Park. For more photos, please click here.

Winding down…Three days and counting…New phone makes me smile…

Five years ago today, views from the second-floor balcony at Whalers Village in Kaanapali Beach were breathtaking. For more photos from this post, please click here.

The next few days will be action-packed. We need to do laundry, pack our bags, wrap gifts for grandkids, make pumpkin pie for Greg’s family, pack and weigh our bags and on Wednesday, go to the cardiology appointment. 

If time allows, I’d like to head out to the Premium Outlet Mall to buy Tom several Tommy Hilfiger tee shirts. They are very durable, priced right, and will last until the next time we come to the US. 

Hopefully, tomorrow if time allows, my friend Chere and I will make the 45-minute drive tomorrow afternoon, spending every last moment together while I’ll be able to purchase the shirts.

This morning I’m heading to the grandkid’s school to help with lunch for the kids, on a volunteer basis, in place of Camille. Later in the day, I’ll return to complete this post, make edits and upload it.

When I return this afternoon, I’ll get to work on laundry, packing, and gift wrapping. This evening we’ll stay in having dinner with Karen and Rich. She made two delicious crockpots filled with pot roast and veggies. One of the pots was traditional pot roast, and the other was Asian. 

What a meal! We can’t wait for tonight’s leftovers. Karen is quite an accomplished cook. It’s been amazing to dig into some of her treasures! In our old lives, we visited back and forth to each other’s homes for fabulous meals.

As for my new Google world phone…I love it. Not only do we have voice and data anywhere in the world with an installed worldwide SIM card, but its features are leaving me in awe over how technology in the US has changed over the years.

Over the past several years, we’ve had to purchase expensive SIM cards each time we landed in a new country. Those days are long gone. And, although the signal may be sketchy in some parts of the world as it would be with a SIM card, we’ll be connected in over 150 countries for a reasonable pay-as-you-go fee which will usually be no more than $30 a month for voice and data.

Another feature that boggles my mind is our ability to text. We haven’t been able to text outside of any country we’ve been in at any time…only countrywide texting has been available.

Of course, there are charges for calls from other countries, but we’ll use Whatsapp in those cases. Now the challenge is getting family members to load Whatsapp on their phone for free calls, video chats, and text regardless of where we may be at any given time.

Plus, the phones may be used as “hotspots” for our laptops when we can’t get online for whatever reason (power and WiFi outages). This is a massive factor for us. 

The ability for the phone to talk to us and us to it is astounding and done so with great ease. Being able to say, “Where is the closest grocery store?” is mind-boggling for us, a feature we haven’t had access to with our previous obsolete equipment.

We’d hoped to purchase laptops while here but have decided to wait until we get to Arizona, where we’ll have more time to research, shop, and ultimately get everything set up.

Off, I go now to the grandkid’s school. I’ll be back later to wrap this up.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago, November 25, 2018:

The strength and coordination required of a giraffe to bend this low are astounding.  We could not believe what we were witnessing in our garden. For more photos, please click here.

A fun win with fun photos…Four days and counting…

Tom won the last game, Bingo Coverall winning $200! Fun! (He looks tired, having had
little sleep while here, mainly due to me coughing all night).

Each day when I sit down on the comfy sofa in the walkout (ground level) lower level of Karen and Rich’s gorgeous home in Eden Praire, I’ve wondered if I would have enough time to get the post completed and uploaded. Today is no different. 

There’s always something to do before the day ends; dinners out and activities with family members or friends, visits to various family members’ homes, and a plan for dinner if we’re alone.

Rich was served a bloody Mary with a BLT (bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich)
at the end of his straw. That is so USA!

Last night’s plans were dashed last minute when Greg and Camille weren’t feeling well. Instead, we stayed in, munching on various snacks we had on hand, still full from yesterday’s big lunch event at Lucky 13 Pub, where we had a great time with Karen and Rich.

They’d suggested we take a break from our busy status to join them in this popular pub where bingo is played for three hours every Saturday from noon to 3:00 pm. We jumped on board and headed out in two cars when we had some shopping to do afterward.

Tom’s Rueben sandwich with jumbo onion rings.

It’s easy to spend upwards of $40 combined with two people playing bingo with two cards (each with three games) during each of the 13 rounds. It couldn’t have been more fun! We never gamble, and for me, this felt like gambling, but I tossed aside my anti-gambling mentality and went with the flow.

Tom was all in, determined to win, but the disappointing thing about bingo, it’s entirely a game of chance with no opportunity for strategy or clever play. What a surprise! Little did we know or anticipate either of us would win, but he won the $200 cash prize in the last match, as shown in the main photo.

Karen’s huge platter of chicken tacos. Complimentary popcorn was served.

After the lunch and bingo playing ended, we each took off in our respective vehicles while we headed to TJ Maxx to purchase a carry-on bag. Our black duffle bag finally died on this last flight. 

When the old duffle bag’s wheels weren’t very functional, and the load was often heavy with its contents consisting of mostly jeans and heavy clothing, it was time to replace it with an easier to use a carry-on bag with sturdy wheels. 

Rich’s burger and fries.

It took us quite a while to find just the right bag, but finally, after carefully inspecting several suitcases, we found a high-quality London Fog bag that fit the bill. With sturdy wheels and a handle, it definitely will be easier to use. 

In the next few days, we’ll be loading up the new bag with the former contents of the duffle bag and begin packing. We’re leaving Minnesota in a mere four days. The time passed quickly, but we’re grateful for the quality time we spent with family and friends.

My fresh and delicious Cobb salad with chicken, bacon, avocado, hard-boiled egg, tomato,
onion, and bleu cheese crumbles.

This morning, we drove to Blaine (45 minutes each way) to see Tom’s sister Patty and say goodbye. We have no idea when we’ll see her again, along with everyone else. It was beautiful to spend time with her.

When we returned to Karen’s and Rich’s after visiting Patty, we dropped Tom off while I did a little local shopping: Target (first time there this trip for a few items); and Lakewind’s Food Coop. 

The rules of play for Lucky 13 Bingo in Bloomington, only available from 12:00 to 3:00 pm on Saturdays at this festive pub and restaurant, plus the dabbers, which were provided at no cost. Each three-game sheet was $1. Overall, we spent about $50 to win the $200.

My friend Chere, a highly experienced nutritionist and motivational speaker, introduced me to Simply Snakin’ seasoned chicken and beef sticks. Made with grass-fed and free-range meats, these low-carb, sugar-free, chemical-free 60 calorie meat sticks are the perfect pick-me-up snack. They may be purchased at Lakewinds in this area or Amazon online at this link.

Back at the house after shopping, I got to work on today’s post but took out 30 minutes to speak to my old friend Lisa on the phone with whom I’ve been friends for over 30 years. It was such a treat getting to hear her voice. 

The brightly lit, typical bar/restaurant was set for the bingo enthusiastic, eat and play.

There are many other friends we’d have loved to see and spoken to, but the time here has just been too short. Also, I believe my pre-occupation with recovering from this dreadful virus and cough has put a damper on many activities, including spending time at my son Greg’s house. I am grossly allergic to cats and couldn’t pay the amount of time at their home that I’d have loved.

Tomorrow, I’ll spend the better part of the day with DIL Camille. There’s a project at the kid’s school in which I plan to participate. Then, some shopping for grandkids’ Christmas gifts. It will be another busy day. Tom will finally have a day to relax and catch up while I am away.

We’ll be back tomorrow, most likely later than usual, since I’ll be leaving early in the morning and won’t be able to work on the post until later in the day.

Have a superb evening!

Photo from one year ago today, November 24, 2018:

Mom was very easy-going and loving with each of her piglets, even when they ate pellets intended for her. For more photos, please click here.

I did it again!…I forgot to take photos…

Lovely drive into the Kahili Golf Course in Maui from our post on this date in 2014, found here.

The photo-taking situation hasn’t been good while we’ve been in Minnesota. The only way I can explain this is the fact that we’ve been so distracted by the interactions with family and friends, we’ve forgotten to take photos. 

Once we’re on the move again and feel we’re “traveling” again, we’ll surely kick the photo-taking back into gear. During this time in the US, it doesn’t feel as if we’re traveling even if we will be moving to other states over the next 67 days until we leave the US again.

Several times, we’ve been asked when we expect to return to the US. At this point, we have no idea. With my looming cardiology appointment, we’re a bit tentative to book far into the future.

Providing I get a good result from the appointment, we’ll feel more at ease in booking plans for the future. We’ll have to see how it goes this upcoming Wednesday.

Last night was another fabulously entertaining evening. We met with Marie and Bill (friends/readers) for dinner at Redstone Restaurant and had a delightful time catching up. Of course, they didn’t need much catching up from us. 

They’d been reading our posts from the beginning and have been apprised of everything that’s transpired over these past seven years. It was fun hearing how much they knew about us, our travels, and of course, our trials and tribulations. It was great hearing about their lives. They are a lovely couple, and we hope to see them again next time we come to Minnesota.

As we mentioned in yesterday’s post here, by coincidence, Karen and Rich had plans to also meet a couple at the exact Redstone location for dinner. After dinner, Marie and Bill had to head out for an early morning road trip to attend a funeral out of town. Karen had stopped by to welcome us to join their group at their table when we were available.

Well, of course, again, we had a fantastic time, chatting, laughing, and sharing stories as a group of six. Tom and I each ordered another beverage and settled in for a few more hours of good times.

We didn’t get to bed until after 1:00 am. Fortunately, we both slept well, albeit with my less frequent coughing (improving a little each day) awakening at around 8:00.

This morning, we’re going to lunch with Karen and Rich at a pub in Bloomington where guests can play bingo while dining. We’ll be leaving here soon to get cash from an ATM, and off we go to “Lucky 13.” 

They both raved about how fun this establishment is and wanted to share the experience with us. We could hardly turn down another opportunity for a good time.

After we’re done there, about 3:00 PM, we do a little shopping and then meet Greg, Camille, and the three kids at Pinstripes in Edina for dinner and bowling. I made reservations as is often required for any events in busy Minneapolis and its suburbs. We’re meeting at 5:00 pm for dinner, and the bowling begins after dining. 

I doubt I’ll be able to bowl at this point, but it will be fun to watch them all enjoy playfully competing with one another. Most likely, we’ll be back at the house around 10:00 pm and perhaps have an early night tonight.

It’s incredible how well we both are holding out with the constant activity. Neither of us feels exhausted or overwhelmed. We’re simply rolling with the punches and the high level of activity.

We don’t have big plans tomorrow other than to visit Tom’s sister Patty to say goodbye. She won’t be coming to Arizona this winter, and this will be the last time we’ll see her until we leave on Thursday.

It’s hard to believe we are leaving for Nevada in a mere five days.

Please stay in touch for more as we wind down our time in Minnesota.

Have a fabulous weekend wherever you may be.

Photo from one year ago today, November 23, 2018:

We call this pair of wildebeest, Dad & Son.  They aren’t frequent visitors like Wildebeest Willie but always welcome, as are the zebras and warthogs. For more photos, please click here.

Another action packed day…

Photo from today’s date in 2014 when we stopped along the highway in Maui for a breathtaking view. For more photos from this date, please click here.

With only six days remaining until we leave here, the time is going quickly. We’re still trying to get in as much as we can with our family and friends.

Yesterday was a busy day when I visited my friend Chere at her home in Eden prairie after having glaucoma surgery the previous day. It was good, and I’m hoping to have an opportunity to see her again before leaving Minnesota next Thursday.

After meeting with Chere, I returned to the house to work on the day’s post while Tom put together all the documents we’d need for applying for the second passport this morning.

In the late afternoon, we drove to a restaurant near daughter Tammy’s work to say goodbye. Today, she and her family left for Washington DC and Pennsylvania for their Thanksgiving holiday.

It was always hard to say goodbye, but Tom is grateful for the quality time together. Unfortunately, I only had an opportunity to see them a few times and enjoyed every moment.

We remained busy all afternoon with necessary piles of paperwork and later joined Karen and Rich for happy hour and leftovers from the previous night’s dinner at Gianni’s.

As always, the evening passed quickly as we were all engaged in lively conversation and endless laughter, finally heading off to bed close to 11:00 pm.
This morning we returned the rental car to the airport. DIL Camille offered her a minivan for the remainder of our time in Minnesota. We so appreciate this.

After dropping off the car, I picked up Tom at the rental car ramp. Using Whatsapp on our phones, we were easily able to locate each other in the complicated ramp. With plenty of time until our 11:40 am appointment, we decided to stop at Perkins on returning from the airport for breakfast.

We arrived at the passport application appointment at the government service center in Chanhassen earlier than expected. Although the place was packed, we were called within 10 or 15 minutes because we had pre-booked an appointment.

Tom had done such a thorough job of putting all the paperwork in order we breezed through the appointment in no time at all, confident all should go well.

There was a showing at Karen’s house today between 12:00 and 1:00 pm. We tidied up and hid away all of our belongings before we’d left this morning, leaving not a single bit of evidence of our stay.

When the passport appointment ended earlier than we’d expected, we decided to head to visit Tom’s brother Jerome in Coon Rapids, which is almost an hour’s drive away. It was still too early to return to the house due to the showing, so we took advantage of the extra hour to visit Jerome.

Jerry is blind and uses the narrator on his computer to read our daily posts, which Tom sends to him each day after removing the photos. It was wonderful visiting with him as we’d done over two years ago when we came to the US for a family visit. It’s been such a joy to share our lives with him and…he with us.

Tonight at 5:30 pm. we’re meeting long-time friends/readers Marie and Bill for dinner at Redstone restaurant in Eden Prairie. Coincidentally, Karen and Rich are also going to Redstone tonight for dinner with other friends. I’m sure we’ll all have a drink together and then go off to our respective tables to have our dinner with our other friends. Small world.

Tomorrow’s another busy day, but we’ll report on that in the next post with hopefully some new photos to share.

May every one of you have a fantastic weekend.

We’ll be back with you soon!

Photo from one year ago today, November 22, 2018:

Tusker’s left ear was severely injured a few months ago, but it has continued to heal, although he can no longer “perk it up.”  Here he is at night, lying down at the edge of the veranda, relaxing after eating quite a few pellets. He’s a gentle little soul for having such giant tusks. For more details, please click here.

Oh, my…what a night we had!…

Our hosts and dear friends Karen and Rich.

Today’s another busy day as we prepare for our upcoming four-year passport appointment tomorrow at the local government service center at 11:40 am. We had piles of forms and paperwork to prepare and accumulate for the upcoming appointment.

Also, I needed to make copies of all the medical documents from my heart surgery in preparation for my upcoming cardiology appointment next Wednesday, November 27th.

The two of us were at dinner last night.

Subsequently, it made sense to place everything on a flash drive to take to an OfficeMax store for printing. With so many forms, it took me almost an hour to get everything printed at the store resulting in a stack of about 80 pages.

Before heading to the OfficeMax store, at 10:00 am, I visited my dear long-time friend Chere at her home in Eden Prairie, only a few miles from Karen’s home. We chatted in her cozy living room, sipping on organic caffeine-free tea as Chere and I had often done over the years, anxious to take advantage of every moment as time is running out until we leave Minnesota a week from today.

The four of us were ready for dinner at the fabulous Gianni’s Steakhouse in Wayzata, Minnesota.

After leaving her home, I headed to the Office Max store and then stopped to purchase a few “unwiches” (breadless healthy sub sandwiches like we often make in our travels).

Tom has some leftovers from last night’s big dinner at Gianni’s Steakhouse but may need to supplement it with at least a part of an “unwich.” Since I couldn’t have bread or potatoes, I ultimately finished my salad and scallops and thus purchased an “unwich” for tonight’s dinner.

Tom was thrilled to dig into these rolls and garlic toasts.

We’re at a point where we don’t feel like rushing off to a restaurant every night but rather save those meals to enjoy with family and friends. At this point, selecting some healthy “to go” dinner options fit the bill for us. 

A few nights ago, we had Chinese food (I had steamed prawns and vegetables), and then the next night, I had the Chipotle chicken bowl; double grilled chicken, lettuce, tomato salsa, cheese, and guacamole while Tom had Chinese leftovers. The abundance of food offerings here in the US is quite a treat for us.
Our efficient and friendly waiter prepared our choose-your-ingredients-salad tableside. Delicious!

Last night’s dinner at Gianni’s Steakhouse in Wayzata was the pièce de résistance when it comes to dining. We insisted on taking Karen and Rich out to dinner at this fantastic restaurant where, many years ago, Tom and I dined on special occasions.

It was as spectacular as we remembered. Every morsel, every bit of service, the presentation, the options, and the ambiance was over-the-top. We feared the food and service may have declined over the past seven years, but we were delightfully wrong. It was as wonderful as we remembered.
Karen and I each ordered the scallops with pureed butternut in a delicious gluten-free buttery sauce.

Adding to the food and ambiance of the celebratory evening was being with Karen and Rich, with whom we made an even greater bond than we’d expected. I’ve been friends with Karen for many years but only met her love and partner, Rich. 

He and Tom have hit it off famously, and I haven’t fallen far behind. Our evenings together, after family events have ended for the day, have been exceptionally enjoyable, as we’ve mentioned several times over the past few days.
Both Rich and Tom ordered the grilled “double” pork chops with baked garlic and creamed corn.

With one week remaining until we depart for Nevada, we’ll continue to make the most of each day with our family and friends. This has been a great visit, one we’ll always treasure.

These hashbrown potatoes, a signature dish at Gianni’s Steakhouse, are filled with cheese and sour cream.

Next, we’re off to see daughter Tammy say goodbye. Tomorrow, their family leaves for Washington, DC, for a holiday and then spent Thanksgiving with Tracy’s family in Pennsylvania.

Please check back for more as we continue over the next several days. Finally, I am on the mend from this dreadful cough and virus, looking forward to feeling well once again.

Photo from one year ago today, November 21, 2018:

We drove past friends Kathy and Don’s home yesterday, and their front garden was filled with kudus and impalas. Click here for more photos. Take care, dear readers.