Part 2 (of three parts)…Month by month, emotional and memorable events from our world travels in 2023…Happy New Year!…

In May, when staying at The Villages, we spent a day on Lake Harris, boating with reader/friends Linda and Burt. We stopped at a campsite for lunch. It was a fun day!
It was a delightful day on Lake Harris and the Dora Canal.

May, June, and part of July 2023 – The Villages, Florida, USA

Tom’s cold isn’t going away. He doesn’t feel awful and has no new symptoms, but he’s not himself. We thought that after a week, it would be gone by today since we’d made plans for tomorrow that we’ve since canceled. Fortunately, I feel fine.

Our dear friends Rich and Karen came to visit us twice while we were in The Villages Florida.
Kristi and Kevin, Tom’s nephew, thoughtfully drove the eight-hour round-trip to see us. We had a fantastic day!

We had planned to clean the condo on Friday. When he awoke this morning, he was still not feeling well. For the first time in a very long time, I cleaned by myself. We’d purchased a Swiffer from Amazon with dry and wet pads, and I ran around doing one project after another, washing, wiping, dusting, and floors. It took me about an hour.

Our friends from Boca Raton, Mark and Carol. They are visiting us for three nights. We’re having an excellent time with them. See the post here.

After struggling for almost a year, I surprised myself with how energetic I am. Today, I will be up to 20 minutes on the exercise bike, adding one minute daily. I can’t believe how quickly I was able to increase the duration. Now, I will stop increasing time and instead increase the difficulty. Doing this has changed everything for me.

When they visited, we had a great time with friends Lea Ann and Chuck. Right now, they are on a nine-month world cruise. How fun!

Note: we’re waiting for one more photo from our dear friends in Florida, Karen and Rich, who visited us twice while staying at The Villages. We were so busy yakking we forgot to take photos!!!

Our dear friend Lisa is on the left, and her friend Vicki is on the right. We had a fantastic day and evening!

Soon, I will begin doing resistance exercises using light weights using the equipment in the Fitness Center in this condo complex. I know how to pace myself since I worked out six days a week before traveling the world 11 years ago for most of my adult life. I was always fit and ate healthy. But even so, I fell prey to heart disease due to heredity. There is little one can do to override our genes.

Fortunately, I don’t need to make any New Year’s resolutions this year. I’ve lost 21 pounds, am working out again, eating as healthfully as possible, and have reduced my occasional red wine consumption from two glasses to one. I considered giving up wine, but I love a glass of red, and it doesn’t seem to affect my heart or pulse rate; I decided to reduce the amount.

A few days ago, we stopped at Liquor World near the petrol station when Tom needed to refill the fuel in the rental car before returning it to the airport for another car. At that store, I found the brand Black Box, Cabernet Sauvignon, with only 5% alcohol, as opposed to the usual 12% to 14%. With this wine low in carbs, calories, and alcohol, I could drink a second glass, which still would be less alcohol than one glass of regular wine.

I realize low-alcohol wines don’t taste as good as regular wine, but it’s a tradeoff I am willing to make for my health, like the tradeoffs I’ve made with food. I haven’t opened it yet, but I think I will tonight, it’s New Year’s Eve. Tom won’t be celebrating with me but will once he’s feeling better.

Last night, we did a Grubhub order with a Henderson Asian restaurant. We purchased enough to last us for two nights. Tom had his usual sweet and sour pork with pork fried rice, and I had steamed shrimp and vegetables. It was delicious. We get Grubhub with no one-year delivery fees through our Amazon Prime membership. But still, the two-night order was $105, including Grubhub’s service fee, taxes, and tip. We rationalized the cost, realizing we’d spend more than this to go out to dinner one night. Once in a while, this is fun to do.

On another note, today’s post is to share what transpired in our world travels in 2023. There wasn’t much traveling in today’s second segment since we spent May, June, and part of July at The Villages in Florida while we waited to go on a few cruises, which we’ll share in tomorrow’s final segment. Although, we had a wonderful time when friends came to visit us.

However, in August, included in the second segment, we went on two cruises, and thus, the cruise-related photos continue in today’s “year in review” post.

July (end of the month) and August 2023 – Edinburgh, Scotland, and two cruises, one to Norway, the second to Greenland

We couldn’t post photos while we spent three days in Edinburgh. The WiFi connection at the hotel was too slow to add pictures. Then, when the three days ended, we immediately boarded the first of two cruises: the first on the Azamara Journey, with horrible WiFi preventing us from posting more than a few photos to Norway, and the second on Celebrity. Summit to Greenland, 17 days later. For detailed photos from these two cruises, please check our archives for August 2023. But here are a few. Please scroll down to see.

A few nights into the Norway cruise, we got off the ship to a theatre with local dancers and musicians performing. See the post here.
Tom’s photo today of the town of Isafjordur, Iceland, while on the Greenland cruise. See the post here.
Tom was squinting his eyes after he took off his glasses for a selfie. We had so much fun at the” Silent Disco.” From the post here.
Deep-sea sediment cores from northeast Greenland, the Fram Strait, and the south of Greenland suggest that the Greenland Ice Sheet has continuously existed since 18 million years ago. See the post here.
Cape Spear Lighthouse in Newfoundland. See the post here.

Running out of space with all of these photos, we will continue tomorrow with September through to the end of the year here in Lake Las Vegas, Nevada. Thanks for sharing this year with us. It wasn’t as exciting as some years ago, but we visited nine countries in 2023!

Happy New Year everyone. Have a safe and enjoyable segue into 2024!

Photo from ten years ago today, December 31, 2013:

On New Year’s Eve, after returning to the house in Marloth Park, this centipede on the wall by the bathroom door made us cringe. Tom, as always, disposed of it. Sleep didn’t come easy the remainder of the night, fearful that the rains of the past few days may have brought more of these inside the house. For more, please click here.

Part 1 (of three parts)…Month by month, emotional and memorable events from our world travels in 2023…

It was a great time celebrating my 75th birthday in February at Tamborina Restaurant in Komatipoort with Dawn and Leon, before our party five days later.

We haven’t always done our “Year in Review.” I’ve hesitated to do it each year because I’m unwilling to take the extra time necessary to go back over each month’s post and list the significant aspects of each month. Often we have plans at that time and spending extra hours hasn’t appealed to me. Often, I am busy preparing a special meal to celebrate the occasion.

This year,  with our two-day GrubHub Chinese dinner order for tonight and tomorrow night, I have no excuse. We planned to clean the house today, but with Tom still not feeling well and after his late night when he had to return the rental car to swap it out for another at 1:00 am this morning, I have no plans for today other than to head to the fitness center to work out around 2:00 pm.

Last night, when Tom left for the airport, I started coughing, wondering if I caught whatever cold he had the past three days. But when I got up this morning, I felt better and haven’t coughed since. Maybe I dodged a bullet and won’t get sick.

My plan for today’s post is to list each month, describing where we were at the time, with a photo we’d posted during that month with a link to go with it of our favorite experiences. Of course, if you’re interested in more details of any specific month, please peruse the archives on the right side of our home page and click any date. So here we go, beginning with January, 2023:

January 2023 – Marloth Park, South Africa

Octomom’s eight piglets, four of them her own, Lollie’s three, and another she adopted that she found alone in our garden. See the story below and the post here.

When we moved into the Ratel house in May 2022, after a cruise while we were still recovering from COVID-19, we came to know a number of animals that frequently visited our garden. One of our favorites, besides Norman and his family, was Lollie, a female warthog who decided our garden was her permanent home. Each morning and night, she parked herself near the veranda and occasionally wandered away for a few hours during the day. to roll around in a mud hole or search for food. We fed her plenty of pellets, carrots, and apples, but warthogs require a lot of food.

One day, we noticed she wasn’t there when we first wandered outdoors, and we didn’t see her for three days and nights. On the fourth day, she arrived with three piglets she birthed in her time away and couldn’t have been more proud to show them off to us. We fussed over all of them. Knowing she was feeding those little ones, we fed her plenty of food while the piglets were too young for pellets.

After about a week passed, we noticed something was hanging out of her backside. I took a photo and sent it to a ranger, only to discover it was most likely the afterbirth that she hadn’t released. Jaco explained that she would become infected and die if the afterbirth didn’t drop out. Each day, she looked weaker and weaker, and finally, about a week later, she arrived on her own without the piglets. She was dying and couldn’t care for them. We were heartbroken.  A few days later, the piglets arrived without her, and we knew then that she had passed away.

There were the three little pigs, squealing for their mom. They were hungry and too young to fend for themselves. Immediately, I called Deidre, Wild and Free Rehabilitation’s director, and asked her how we could feed the young piglets. At that point, they were about three weeks old. She explained we could start giving them pellets and bits of fruit and vegetables. Plus, we put out a shallow bowl of fresh water for them each day. The likelihood of them surviving at such a young age was remote but we were determined to try and save them.

A few days later, another mom with four piglets arrived in the garden with her young at the same time as Lollie’s orphaned three piglets. Miracle of all miracles, over the next few days, we saw she had adopted Lollie’s three piglets, and she was nursing them along with her four.  What a joy it was to see this miracle of nature.

A few days later, we spotted a lone piglet leaning up against a tree, crying and looking lost and forlorn. This same mom also adopted this eighth piglet. At this point, we named the mom Octomom, and in no time at all she responded to her name. On our last day in Marloth Park in April 2023, they were all in our garden, as if to say goodbye. What a beautiful experience we were gifted to have unfolded before our eyes.

February 2023 – Marloth Park, South Africa

Here we are with Doc Theo, who saved my life, and his lovely wife, Myrtah, on my 75th birthday in the bush. We were so happy they came to my party along with the other two doctors in the practice, Doc Mel and Doc Philip, and their lovely wives.

It couldn’t have been more exciting than to share my 75th birthday in the bush with many of our friends who attended my party hosted and catered by our dear friends Louise at Danie at their lovely Khaya Umdani house. See the post here for photos of the exquisite food and guests.

In January, we created a guest list and sent out invitations via WhatsApp. Every person we invited joined us on my special day. The party was held on February 25, and my birthday was on February 20th. But we wanted to hold the party on a weekend when Doc Theo, his associates, and their wives could attend rather than on a weekday. It worked out well for all of the attendees.

We had a fantastic time and laughed out loud when a male kudu stopped by to nibble on the starters (appetizers). The party didn’t end until almost 2:00 am. It was an evening I will always cherish and remember. The food, the friends and the ambiance couldn’t have been more perfect.

March 2023 – Marloth Park, South Africa

Tom’s brother Jerry and his lovely wife Lee, his favorite Norwegian. Jerry passed away in March, and Tom left the bush to fly to Minneapolis, US, for the funeral and to be with family. See the post here.

Tom’s eldest brother (by 24 years), Jerome, 94, also known as Jerry, passed away on March 1st. Tom immediately decided to fly to Minneapolis for the funeral and spend time with his family. It was my first time alone in the bush, but friends gathered around to ensure I wasn’t bored or lonely without him.

Jerome was totally blind, and shortly after we left for our world travels, he listened to our posts daily. using his “talking” computer. He always said that we “were his eyes as we traveled the world,” and it meant so much to know he was following along with us. It was a sad day when he passed. In 2013, his beloved wife Lee, passed away. In his resilience and strength, Jerry managed to live for ten years after losing Lee, in the family home. He was quite a special man.

I never felt fearful of being alone at the house. I kept the emergency button on the keyring on my nightstand at night and by my side during daylight hours. He was gone for two weeks, and it was wonderful to have him return. When we’ve returned to the US since Jerry’s passing, we always feel a sense of loss, knowing he is no longer there.

Over the past years of world travel, I lost my dear sister Susan while we were in lockdown in India for ten months, and then Tom lost Jerome. Our hearts were and still are heavy after each of us lost a sibling as we traveled. Sadly, I wasn’t able to return to the US when Susan passed due to our lockdown status in India and when the international airport was closed.

April 2023 – Marloth Park, South Africa and The Villages, Florida

Tom and Danie were in a huddle chatting up a storm, as always, at our going away party in the bush. See the post here.

At the end of April, our friends Dawn and Leon, owners of Jabula, hosted a going-away party for us. It was a fantastic party. We’ve become like most South Africans; we all love a good party, and most parties when friends get together are fantastic. Much to my disappointment, it was a few days later that I experienced the first bout of Afib and ended up in the hospital in Nelspruit for three nights, having lots of tests to determine the cause, which, at that time, was never determined.

Only four days before our flight to the US to stay in a lovely house in The Villages, Florida, was I released from the hospital feeling better but very weak. I don’t know how I managed to pack, but I somehow got through it. On the 15-hour flight from Johannesburg to Atlanta, Georgia, I had another bout of Afib that lasted for hours. To avoid worrying Tom, who was seated a few rows behind me, I waited it out, and finally, it stopped, and I was able to sleep a little.

While we spent almost three months in Florida, we had a wonderful time. Many of our friends came to visit, some staying overnight. Every Friday and Saturday night, we took off in the golf cart and went out to one of the village squares to enjoy dinner in a few excellent restaurants we found.

During the first four months of the year, we didn’t travel much, other than the above-mentioned occasions. We thoroughly enjoyed the first third of 2023 and looked forward to more travels to come, which will be shared in the next two posts on December 31 and January 1, 2024.

Please stay tuned for more.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 30, 2013:

Kudu closeup was taken while I stood directly before him, behind the veranda railing. For more photos, please click here.

Technology in the US is sometimes new to us!…

When I entered the laundry room to dry the bedding, I encountered a scenario where cash wasn’t accepted. See below for details.

This is a new one for us. With Tom still not feeling well this morning, I headed to the laundry room on this floor to dry our sheets and pillowcases. There’s a washer in our condo but no dryer. Drying the bedding on the small laundry drying rack was a pain. Instead, today, we decided to bring the wet bedding to the laundry room, pay the $1.50, and put them in a dryer.

It was the first time we attempted to do laundry in the condo’s laundry room, far down the hall on this floor. I already logged over 2000 steps on my Fitbit going back and forth. Tom had a partial roll of quarters I brought with me. When I arrived, I noticed the machines didn’t accept cash. What? This is an oddity for us.

After carefully reading the posted signs, I discovered that I had to download an app on my phone, Wash Code, load money in the app, load the clothes into the dryer, and then scan the QR code using the app to pay for a specific machine. As soon as I scanned the QR code, the dryer started operating.

This handy chart describes what to do, but it could confuse those who don’t use phone apps.

I could see how much time was left on the dryer using the app. The app alerted me when the dryer was done. I returned to the long corridor for the third time to find the laundry done and thoroughly dried. Plus, at any time, one can look at the app on their phone and see what washers and dryers are currently available. Wow. Slick.

Of course, I wondered how tricky this could be for someone who wasn’t savvy on their phone and using apps. There was no other way to get the machines started. I can imagine an inexperienced user’s difficulty getting this entire thing to work. We’ve never seen a former coin-operated laundry working this way, especially in other countries. No doubt, this will become the future of using public laundry rooms.

Then, on a similar note, I placed a Smith’s Marketplace online order for groceries last night. This morning, I received a text from the “picker” who was busy collecting my order to deliver it here between 10:00 am and 12:00 pm. The picker texted me to ask if I was available if she had to select a replacement item for which she’d need my approval.

The laundry room was clean and organized.

When I placed the order, I didn’t check the box to allow replacements they’d choose without my approval. There are many grocery items that I wouldn’t necessarily want in another brand or size. The picker only contacted me once, having to select a different brand of cherry tomatoes, which I approved. The remainder of the order was fine, except for three items we didn’t order for which we weren’t charged. I notified the picker to let her know, asking her what to do with the items.

I love all this stuff; there are more perks to spending time in the US. However, such amenities don’t inspire us to live here right now. Although someday we may need to due to health. We shall see what transpires.

On another note, we’d sent in my request to enroll in Part B Medicare, mailing the application to the Railroad Retirement Board at the nearby FedEx store (walking distance). I mentioned in a prior post I had been trying to reach them for weeks to ask a few questions, often holding on for two hours or more. They never answered the phone, so I completed the standard form and mailed it to their published address.

Early yesterday morning, I finally got a callback after I’d received a letter from our mailing service telling me I had to wait until after January 1 to mail in the application during their specific enrollment period. They couldn’t hold my application until January 2, the next day they’ll be open. Go figure.

There was a cash-accepting vending machine with laundry supplies and some toiletries.

On January 2, we’ll head to our mailing service, complete the form the rep sent me, and mail it to them that day. We have to pick up some other mail from there anyway, so it won’t be an extra trip. While in the US, we are attempting to take care of any paperwork we have to handle, which is much more easily accomplished here.

Tom is still holding his own with no new symptoms or escalation of his current symptoms. It just seems to be a regular cold with a runny nose. I suppose he’ll start to turn the corner in the next few days. So far, I have kept my distance and feel fine. I feel bad that tonight Tom has to return the rental car to the Las Vegas Airport after midnight when it’s due back.

At that point, he’ll pick up another car for the next ten days when he returns the newest car before he flies to Chicago for his appointment with the designated pulmonologist. When he returns within 24 hours, he’ll pick up another rental car for the next few weeks. The reason, as mentioned, for only keeping the cars for two weeks is the period for insurance covered by the credit card he uses to pay for the vehicle. It’s a pain, but buying car insurance saves us $30 a day.

That’s it for today, dear readers!

Bw well.

  Photo from ten years ago today, December 29, 2013

About 12 male tree frogs were mating on the foam nest the female made a few nights earlier. For more photos and a video, please click here.

Thanks for all of your comments…A little bit of this and that…

This photo of us was taken in January 2013 while on our first cruise through the Panama Canal.

Yesterday, after writing about Tom being under the weather with what appears to be a cold, we received more messages and comments than I could have possibly imagined. Unfortunately, as much as I’d like to respond to each one individually, I am writing a general thank you to everyone who wrote thoughtful comments. I hope you realize how time-consuming it would be if I wrote back to each one.

In any case, thank you all, with very similar comments that he may easily have become infected on his trip to Minnesota on December 19. Since he didn’t exhibit any symptoms until December 26, he may or may not have become infected on those flights or at the Union Christmas party.

However, where he picked up the virus is less important now. His recovery is of the utmost importance to us right now. So far, his symptoms haven’t escalated, and he’s feeling the same today as he did yesterday. No change. No coughing. No fever. No aches and pains.

A few suggested he may have Covid. Although we have some Covid tests left, we didn’t bother to test him. He’s only around me, and we have no plans to go out until he’s fully recovered. Thus, if he has a highly infectious virus, he’s staying away from people. I don’t have any sign of having been infected. I still feel great.

Instead, we’re laying low, cooking lovely meals and relaxing, except for me running around the house doing various tasks such as laundry, cooking, and cleaning up. Our condo is clean and tidy, and once Tom is fully recovered, we’ll do a whole-house cleaning, which should be easy. I don’t see any dust on any surfaces, and there’s hardly a crumb on the floor.

On Friday, we’ll have been here for two weeks, and everything is in good order, clean and neatly arranged. If we suddenly had company, there is nothing we’d have to do to get ready.

It is nice that we both are good at picking up after ourselves. Neither of us leaves a dish in the sink or a towel on the bathroom floor. Each morning, I make the bed the moment I get out of it. Tom takes care of all of the dishes, pots, and pans while I wipe down the counters and electric stove top after each meal.

Neither of us ever finds it necessary to comment about one of us not doing our “jobs,” contributing to our day-to-day lives being pleasant and cheerful. Overall, our tasks are balanced. It’s funny how we never decided on “who does what.” Somehow, it evolved seamlessly, never requiring specific conversation when Tom retired.

When he worked  12 hours daily for the railroad in our old lives, I did most of the household tasks. We had a weekly cleaner, which helped a lot. Although I also worked, I had more free time to take care of things. Since I cooked a lot more in those days, I had to do the kitchen floor after each meal.

At that time, we had carpeting and two little dogs, which also required more attention to cleaning when, at times, they entered the house with wet or muddy feet. I taught both of those two adorable dogs, Ben and Willie, to wait by the door for me to grab a treat. In no time at all, they learned, “Wipe your feet, get a treat.” They’d wipe their little feet on the rug in front of the door.

We often think of those two little dogs. Ben passed away in 2009 and Willie in 2011. It’s funny, but if they’d been alive in 2012 when we began our journey, we’d never have left when we did. The thought of leaving dogs in the hands of others was beyond our comprehension.

Many part-time travelers have mentioned how difficult it is for them to travel when trying to figure out where to board their dog(s) in their absence and how much they miss them while they are away.

It’s hard to believe New Year’s Eve is almost here. We don’t have any big plans while we’re here. If Tom is feeling well, we might go outside to see the fireworks from the Las Vegas Strip. Las Lake Vegas is elevated, and we can see the strip at night.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 28, 2013:

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

Oh, dear…Tom is sick…How did that happen?…

I couldn’t resist posting this photo of Tom one more time with the “germy” sombrero on his head. At the time, I thought this photo was hilarious. Maybe not so much now.

When we were out to dinner on Saturday night at Lindo Michoacan, I had mentioned to the hostess it was Tom’s birthday, thinking he might get a complimentary drink or dessert. Moments before the staff came to our table, they celebrated a little girl who also had a birthday on December 23.

The waitstaff sang the birthday song at her table after they’d placed an oversized sombrero on her head. When Tom saw this, he said, “Oh, that hat must be dirty from being on so many heads!” I shrugged it off. We’ve often been exposed to things others have handled, sick or not. I’ve often thought about those pagers you get in restaurants while waiting to be alerted that your table is ready.

Moments later, they came to our table; they handed Tom a complimentary Mexican dessert, plopped the oversized sombrero on his head, and sang the song. Trying to be a good sport, Tom went along with it, although it was evident that he was horrified he had that germy hat on his head for what proved to be no more than three minutes.

He ate the dessert, and we continued the lively conversation with Richard. Yesterday, three days later, he started sneezing like crazy, with his nose running incessantly. Most likely, it’s a cold, but the question in our minds is, “Did he catch a cold from the sombrero?”

There is no other location we’ve been to since we arrived except for Costco and  Smith’s Marketplace. He certainly could have caught it in either of those two locations.

I got out my arsenal of cold treatment products: zinc, Vitamin C, Tylenol (Paracetamol), and a twice-a-day nasal spray. When Tom grew up in a large family, they didn’t use Kleenex. Instead, he learned to “sniff it back up” rather than blow his nose. As a result, he refuses to blow his nose and sniffs every 30 seconds.

Need I say, the constant sniffing is very annoying, but I don’t say a word. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Tom, I am not implying you are an “old” dog but more a mature dog with well-established habits that I can’t change, especially not by nagging, which I prefer not to do.

Fortunately, he sleeps on his right side at night, and I sleep on my left, so we aren’t facing one another. Plus, the bed here is king-sized, which helps us keep our distance under these circumstances. I hope I don’t get it, and I am making every effort to avoid doing so.

We do not expect this cold to be Covid or RSV. He has no apparent symptoms of either. So far, he has no cough, sore throat, or headache. These days, after the pandemic, it’s easy to surmise one may have something more severe than a simple cold. We are keeping a close eye on his symptoms.

Did he catch the cold from the sombrero? Perhaps. Perhaps not. We’ll never know for sure.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 27, 2013:

This photo was taken a few days ago with the sun in my eyes. It wasn’t until I downloaded it to my computer that I realized the two birds, oxpeckers, were on the impala’s back. Check out the babies sitting in the grass near their mom. For more photos, please click here.

Happy Boxing Day to those who celebrate…

Today, December 26, is Boxing Day

At 6:00 am this morning, the first thing Tom said to me was, “Happy Boxing Day.” I chuckled. This isn’t a holiday we usually observe in our world travels unless we are in one of the countries that celebrate the day, which includes England, Wales, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and South Africa. In Ireland, it is known as St. Stephen’s Day.

We have spent 5 of the last 12 Christmases in countries that observe this particular day, December 26, in Australia(1) and South Africa (4). I can’t say we did anything special on Boxing Day, but we were aware of it based on our surroundings.

From this website, here is information about Boxing Day:

“Boxing Day, in Great Britain and some Commonwealth countries, particularly Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, was a holiday (December 26) on which servants, tradespeople, and the poor were traditionally presented with gifts. By the 21st century, it had become a day associated with shopping and sporting events.

Explanations for the origin of the name have varied, with some believing that it derived from the opening of alms boxes that had been placed in churches to collect donations to aid the poor. Others, however, have held that it came from the boxes of gifts given to employees on the day after Christmas. According to this theory, because the work of servants was required for the Christmas Day celebrations of their employers, they were allowed the following day for their own observance of the holiday. The practice of giving bonuses to service employees has continued, although it is now often done before rather than after Christmas Day.

When December 26 comes on a Saturday or Sunday, the following Monday is designated as the official public holiday. December 26 is also the feast day of St. Stephen (St. Stephen’s Day), the patron saint of horses, and Boxing Day has come to be a day of sporting events, including horse races, foxhunting, and rugby. Traditional foxhunting was modified in 2005 after the enactment of legislation in England and Wales that largely banned the use of hounds in hunts. The holiday was not perpetuated by the English in the American colonies.”

We had a pleasant Christmas Day. We talked to all of our kids and most of our grandkids. The turkey breast we cooked in the oven came out moist and delicious. We don’t have a grill here, but we’re fine using the oven. With several sides, it was a lovely dinner.

In the evening, we watched a wonderful movie on Netflix, “The Bank of Dave,” which we highly recommend as a perfect “feel good” movie for the holidays. The previous night, we streamed “I Can Only Imagine,” also on Netflix, another moving story worth watching.

Each day over the past week, I’ve been heading to the well-equipped fitness center in this building and working out on the stationary bike and treadmill. Slowly, I am building up stamina while carefully watching my heart rate. I am thrilled with my progress, especially after my 20-pound weight loss. I didn’t eat anything extra over Christmas and don’t intend to for the remainder of the holiday season and into the future.

Tom has been enjoying the 10 pounds of jelly-type candies he bought at Fleet Farm in Minneapolis when he flew there for the Union Christmas party a week ago today and also the two large pies he picked up at Costco: a pumpkin and an apple. The remaining pumpkin pie got moldy overnight, and he tossed it in the garbage last night and instead got to work on the apple pie. This “food police” person has kept her mouth shut while he’s enjoying things he can’t buy in other countries.

We had dinner with Richard on Saturday, Tom’s birthday, and will most likely try one of the restaurants downstairs in The Village this coming Saturday evening. With the cost of dining out so high in the US, most likely, we’ll only dine out once a week. In the meantime, we are enjoying home-cooked meals with easy availability of ingredients we only find in the US. When we return to South Africa in June, we can restart our Friday and Saturday night dining-out routine at Jabula. How fun that was!

For those who celebrate, have a fantastic Boxing Day, and for those who do not, have a fantastic day as well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 26, 2013:

The kudu’s neck will enlarge during the mating season. From the looks of our visitor, the mating season must be imminent. Look at the muscles on this big guy. Males can weigh as much or more than 700 pounds, 318 kg. This one was smaller than many we’ve seen, perhaps in the 500 pounds, 227 kg range. Kudus can easily scale a 5-foot, 1.5-meter wall. For more photos, please click here.

Merry Christmas, everyone!..Hope you are having a fantastic day, making memories…

Our dear friends, Kathy and Don from Hawaii (and Marloth Park), sent us this beautiful Christmas arrangement when they knew we didn’t have decorations for our newest holiday home.

We don’t buy a Christmas tree. We don’t have any Christmas decorations. We don’t send or receive Christmas cards other than thoughtful wishes on Facebook and through email from our many readers worldwide.

But, over the past several years, we have received a solitary Christmas card, which at times required a lot of effort to get to us from our dear friends Kathy and Don, whom we met ten years ago on Christmas Eve in Marloth Park. We may have told this story a few times in the past. But today, it was especially meaningful for us to tell it one more time for our newer readers who may not have seen it.

We arrived in Marloth Park for the first time in early December 2013. At that time, rental cars were outrageously expensive, so during those three months, we used the services of a driver, Okey Dokey, who became a precious friend to us as well. She was able to take us everywhere we needed to go for a reasonable cost, and we spent a lot of time with her.

Early on in our visit to Marloth Park, Leon, who has since become dear friends with his partner Dawn, owners of Jabula Lodge and Restaurant, picked us up at our holiday home, the Hornbill house, to take us on a game drive-through Marloth Park, ending at their restaurant where we had a spectacular dinner and made more friends.

Lynne and Mick were seated outdoors on the veranda, and Leon made the effort to introduce us to this lovely couple from the island of Jersey, UK. The four of us hit it off, so much so that they drove us back to the house later that night. They told us they’d connect us with dear friends Kathy and Don, who have a beautiful house in Marloth Park overlooking the Crocodile River.

We didn’t meet Kathy and Don until Christmas Eve, 2013, when they invited us to dinner at their home, never having met us. How brave they were to include us at their lovely Christmas Eve dinner when they’d never met us! With no plans of our own, we were honored to be invited.

As soon as we met Kathy and Don, I suspected we’d be friends for a long time. Little did we know at that time the depth of this friendship that has grown and endured over the past ten years. We have been blessed to make many close friends in Marloth Park over the years. If you are reading this, you know who you are and how much you mean to us.

Last week, while we were seated on the sofa, as I was preparing a post and Tom was watching football on his laptop, we heard a light tap on the door to our condo. I jumped up to see who was there to find the gorgeous Christmas arrangement as shown in today’s main photo.

We both were shocked to receive such a surprise and couldn’t imagine who it was from. It only took a moment to read the attached card to realize it was from Kathy and Don. My heart did a flip-flop with sheer delight. Only a few days earlier, when Kathy and I chatted on the phone (from their home in Hawaii), I mentioned that we had no decorations for Christmas.

We could hardly haul decorations around the world with us or spend money on a single year’s use of decorations. Years ago, Tom and I resigned ourselves that we’d never decorate as long as we were traveling. That may change if and when we ever stop traveling, but right now, we don’t see that in our immediate future.

That beautiful arrangement has meant so much to us, a reminder of the holiday season right before our eyes. In some ways, it looks like a Christmas tree. We thank our friends for their thoughtfulness, their friendship, and the heartwarming memories we’ve made together throughout the years.

We thank Kathy, Don, and all of our precious friends, readers, and family members for the joy they’ve brought into our lives throughout the years as we look to the future with love, hope, and determination for more amazing memories and adventures.

Merry Christmas!

Photo from ten years ago today, December 25, 2013:

Ten years ago today, with years of travel ahead of us, we posted this quote from Robert Frost, reminding us of what was yet to come. For more, please click here.

Merry Christmas Eve to all who celebrate…Fun evening out for Tom’s birthday…

Tom wore this giant sombrero while the staff sang “Happy Birthday.” It was funny!

Celebrating Tom’s birthday last night was fun at Lindo Michoacan, a Mexican restaurant in Henderson, about 25 minutes from our condo. The drive was pleasant when we could see not only plenty of Christmas lights but also high up where the condo building is located, and we could also see the lights of the Las Vegas Strip. It’s another world here.

Sure, there’s traffic, lots of stop lights, and careless drivers, but we stayed in good spirits as we looked forward to dinner and seeing my son Richard, who continues to be busy working up to Christmas. He is the #1 agent in the large company in Henderson and Las Vegas, and we’re proud of his continued accomplishments in the real estate business.

The waitstaff sang “Happy Birthday” to Tom.

It was fun catching up, and the busy restaurant’s festive atmosphere was palpable. We sat in a booth in the center of the main part of the restaurant and were surprised by the number of birthdays celebrated on December 23rd, so close to Christmas.

I informed the hostess that it was Tom’s birthday. After we ate our dinner, a group of waitstaff members stopped by, placed the giant sombrero on Tom’s head, and sang the birthday song. You can tell by today’s main photo that he felt a little awkward wearing the hat. I could tell he was more concerned about wearing a hat that had been on other people’s heads than the attention he was getting.

Tom’s taco salad with sirloin steak instead of ground meat or chicken.

As a generally outgoing guy, Tom doesn’t care for hoopla in his direction. But he’s always a good sport and goes along with it. The waiter brought him a Mexican dessert, which I dared to taste. Last night, I tasted only two tortilla chips and a bit of the refried beans and salsa dip that came with the baskets of chips.

Also, for the first time in over two months last night, I ordered a glass of Pinot Grigio, sipping on only one glass throughout the evening. It tasted so good that when we went to the little store again to buy bread for Tom’s morning toast, we purchased a small box of Cabernet Sauvignon. No, it wasn’t a fine wine, but at least with a boxed wine, it will keep longer than an opened bottle.

Richard’s chicken fajitas looked delicious.

That way, I can have one glass some nights, and it should last for a few weeks when the small box contains ten glasses of red wine. I won’t be having a glass every night and have decided I won’t drink more than one per evening.

When we ventured out to walk to the little store, we were surprised by how cold it was: 43F, 6C. It’s primarily cold in Nevada during winter and doesn’t start to warm until March. And, then, from there, are some of the hottest temperatures in the US.

On July 10, 2021, the record high was 117F, 47.7C. That’s hot! The humidity is low here in the desert, but even so, that is unbearable. We prefer to come here when it’s cool, and we’re both enjoying it here now and wearing jackets or zippered sweatshirts when we go out. We got by with long-sleeved shirts. Last night, it was a little warmer.

My Cobb salad was good, but I prefer small bites of chicken tossed with the ingredients.

The conversation at dinner was lively and animated, and we enjoyed the time together. By 9:00 pm, we were back at the condo. We streamed a comedy show, and I nodded off on the sofa, finally heading to bed around 10:30 for another good night’s sleep.

So, here we are, dear reader, on Christmas Eve. For those who celebrate, we wish you a very Merry Christmas with hope and love in your hearts and minds.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 24, 2013:

On our way to the Marloth Park Farmers Market, a few blocks from our home. We count the days until they return to our garden. For more photos, please click here.

Happy birthday to my dear husband, lover, and travel companion…

This photo was taken on “White Night” while on Azamara Journey as we sailed through the Norway fiords in August, only four months ago.

Today is Tom’s birthday. Being so close to Christmas has always been tricky, but I’ve always tried to make it a special day for him. Today will be no different when we celebrate with Richard and head to Lindo Michoacan, Tom’s favorite Mexican restaurant in Henderson, Nevada.

We’ve tried other Mexican restaurants when we’ve been in the US, but Tom only likes frothy blended Margaritas, and this particular restaurant makes a great Margarite to his liking. Plus, he enjoys their taco salads, the only item he orders in a Mexican restaurant. Who am I to say this when I also love taco salads, minus the corn tortilla shell or chips on the side?

It will be our first dinner out since we arrived eight days ago since we’ve been enjoying the vast array of groceries we’ve been able to buy here, a far cry from what was available in Ecuador. We hadn’t cooked our meals (other than in Ecuador) since the end of July when we left Florida for our two cruises.

In a while, we’ll head downstairs to the Village, which I recently discovered is called the MonteLago Village, to get a few items from the Seasons Grocery, only a few steps from the stairway. We are staying in for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, making special meals each occasion.

Tomorrow night, we’ll have bacon-wrapped filet mignon and lobster tails. On Thursday, we returned to Costco for a few items we needed. While there, we spotted a huge pack of 6 oz lobster tails and didn’t hesitate to buy them. We’ll each have one or two of the tails with our steaks for a fun dinner on Christmas Eve, leaving plenty for future meals.

Tom is not a massive fan of some seafood, but he likes lobster and crab but not shrimp. For many years, we enjoyed steak and lobster on Christmas Eve when, in our old lives, the kids and grandkids did their own thing that night. Instead, we’d see them on Christmas Day. Since we’ve been traveling, we haven’t spent Christmas in Minnesota since we’ve often been too far away.

Plus, we’ve avoided traveling during the holidays when flights are often canceled or delayed, and the commotion at the airport is intolerable. We’ve traveled close to the 4th of July, Memorial Day, and Labor Day, which aren’t as chaotic as Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I have a dumb gift for Tom for his birthday. Since we have no room for anything of additional weight in our bags, I purchased four “Space Bags’ for his luggage. Since we’ve been traveling, he’s liked using those oversized bags that he can squeeze out the air to condense the size of his clothes in the suitcase. Then, when we don’t unpack at some locations, he reaches into the bags to get out his sorted clothes.

Doing this never appealed to me, but he prefers the bags to my neatly stacked clothes. Buying him this gift is like a husband buying his wife an iron for her birthday. Tom, the practical guy he is, will appreciate this impersonal gift, which I will give him shortly. There is no wrapping paper or bow, nor is there a card. So he’ll open the Amazon package, including a bottle of Tylenol I purchased simultaneously.

We gave up giving each other gifts at Christmas, anniversaries, and birthdays when we began traveling. It made no sense to add to the weight of our luggage. Honestly, I haven’t missed receiving gifts. In a way, it has caused us both to focus more on the meaning of the occasion than the significance of giving and receiving gifts from one another.

We even stopped giving gifts to our adult children and asked them to stop buying for us. We send gifts to the grandkids, but that’s it. That has worked well for us. I suppose it would be different if we had a home, a Christmas tree, and all that goes with celebrating the holiday season. I doubt we’ll ever go back to that means of celebrating.

That’s it for today, folks. I will wrap this up (no pun intended) and give Tom his Amazon gift, and then we’ll head out to the Village.

P.S. When I handed Tom the Amazon box, explaining it was his birthday gift, he said, “I hope it isn’t something that has to fit in my suitcase.” I chuckled to myself. He loves it.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 23, 2013:

In our travels, we’ve found that two heads are better than one. These rhinos were so close to us that we didn’t require Zoom to take this photo. For more, please click here.

Tom’s trip to Minneapolis for the union Christmas party…And more…

From left: Bill, Terry, Kevin, Jim, Tom, and in the center, Don.

With other topics to address the past few days, I failed to write and post photos about Tom’s trip to Minneapolis on Tuesday, although I briefly mentioned it. He took several photos, which we’re sharing today, which may be of little interest to most of our readers.

But, for those who attended the party, we prepare this post out of respect for their dedicated service to the railroad, which often kept them away from their families and friends during many holiday celebrations. Tom was excited to attend the party for the first time since 2011 when, ten months later, we began our years-long journey to see the world.

Seated, Jerry and close by to the right, Terry and Don.

Many of his oldest friends and co-workers, too many to mention, have since passed away. He realized when he booked the flight to Minneapolis, returning to Las Vegas 26 hours later, that there may not be as many of those old friends that he so well recalled from years past.

There were about 100 attendees at the party, 20% of whom he knew. The remainder consisted of many new hires he’d never known. Representatives of the various law firms that hosted the party were in attendance. Many of his old friends and co-workers were surprised to see him at the party when most knew we’d been traveling since 2012.

A group of partygoers and one of the attorneys in the suit.

Some of his old friends read our posts, and we are grateful and honored. For those who haven’t read our posts, we hope that at some point, they may check us out and travel along with us. But, need I say that we greatly appreciate everyone who reads our posts, most of whom we never knew or met at any time in our lives?

Often, readers write to us as if they knew us. But, over years of reading our almost daily posts, they come to know us. What an oddity it is when we meet people who have read our posts for years and know about everything about us.

A perfect example of this is when our readers, who have since become great friends Marylin and Gary, came to stay in Marloth Park in one of Louise’s holiday rentals, and we met them a few days after they arrived. When we were chatting with them and our dear friends (we met the same way), Rita and Gerhard, Marylin corrected me in conversation when I didn’t recall an event in our world travels I had written in a prior post.

Another group of partygoers.

We laughed out loud when Marylin recalled our travel history after years of reading our posts better than we had. What a hoot! Marylin, you are amazing! These beautiful couples came to see us in Las Vegas the last time we were here, in September 2023, when we came to Nevada to renew our driver’s licenses and stayed at the Green Valley Ranch Spa and Casino.

In any case, friends are important to us in our world travels, and we look forward to returning to Marloth Park in less than six months on June 15, 2024. We’d planned to return on June 1, but our grandson Vincent is graduating from high school in June, and we want to be in Minnesota for that.

They were all having a good time. Food was provided with a cash bar.

A few days ago, I notified Louise we wouldn’t be arriving until June 15, which worked out for her with us staying in the same house we rented in past visits, the Ratel house. At this point, I am counting the months until we return, but before too long, I’ll be counting the days.

We hope your holiday plans are going well and all is wonderful for you and your family.

Don and another Tom…

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 22, 2013:

We spotted giraffes lumbering into a front garden on our way to dinner. What a delight! For more photos, please click here.