Busy day…I’m not cut out for this…Happy Leap Year Day!…

We were on a private tour in Placencia, Belize, in 2013 to see manatees and wildlife in the area. It was a successful day. Gosh, we were tan!

We hadn’t done a thorough cleaning in almost two weeks other than tidying up after ourselves, wiping down countertops, and cleaning the bathrooms and the kitchen. Today, we’re doing the bedding while I’m catching up on the rest of the laundry that has accumulated over the past several days. Tom will vacuum and wash the floors tomorrow while I do everything else.

The bedding and dark clothing are in the laundry room’s dryer, and I’m washing the bathroom rugs in two batches in the washer in our unit. Tom was worried they’d fall apart and we’d have to replace them, but I assured him that bathroom rugs are intended to be washed, even these thick bathroom rugs. They came out of the washer in perfect condition. Tom’s mind was at ease.

What would one do if bathroom rugs weren’t washable…send them to a dry cleaner? Who uses a dry cleaner unless they are cleaning wool, business attire, and dressy clothes? In the over 11 years we’ve been traveling, we haven’t had anything dry-cleaned, and we’ve rarely seen a dry-cleaning store.

Even in our old lives, I rarely took any clothes to the dry cleaner once I retired and began wearing more casual attire. I used an excellent product, Dryel, that did a fantastic job. I don’t think that product still exists as I remember it. For the heck of it, I checked Kroger/Smith’s, and the product, as I knew it, wasn’t available in either location, although Amazon has a newer version. We live in a “wash and wear” world these days.

I am still spoiled after having such fine household help in South Africa which was included in our rent and will be again when we return in three months. Jef and Vusi do a fantastic job keeping everything clean five days a week, with weekends off. They would do our laundry, but we feel they do enough, so we wash our clothes and hang them on a portable rack to dry. All we’ve ever done there on the weekend is make the bed, clean up after cooking, and do laundry, if necessary.

It’s incredible how much cleaning is required, even in this two-bedroom condo with little traffic. But, much to our surprise, it gets very dusty. I read this tidbit today:

“There’s a common misconception that it’s mostly human skin. It’s not that it mainly ends up in the bath or shower. Two thirds of the dust in your house comes from outside, as dirt tracked in on your feet, and airborne particles like pollen and soot. The rest is mostly carpet fluff, clothes fibers, and pet hair.” 

That’s interesting. I always thought dust was from human shedding skin cells. We don’t have carpets or pets and are a long walk away from the outdoors. We keep all exterior doors and windows closed in this cool winter weather in the desert. I wonder where all the dust is coming from. In any case, it requires a lot of cleaning.

Once we arrive in Apache Junction, living in the park model near Tom’s sisters, we’ll probably be faced with paying $200 a week or more for cleaning. Having a cleaner only once or twice a month makes no sense since we’d have to clean in the weeks in between. We’ll most likely do our cleaning again; it gets dusty in the small space. Thank goodness we don’t have clutter and aren’t messy. That helps a lot.

Today is Leap Year Day. It doesn’t mean a whole lot to us, but some celebrate this date in a variety of ways. If you do so, have a good time!

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, February 29, 2014:

There wasn’t a post ten years ago due to the fact it wasn’t a Leap Year at that time.

Answering questions about Africa from dear friends and readers, currently on a nine-month world cruise…

One of the most exciting sights in Kruger National Park is the elephants, along with the big cats, wildebeests, Cape buffalos, hippos, small animals, and birds. We were as close as we could safely be when we took these photos without the use of Zoom.

Last night, I received the following email from our dear friends Lea Ann and Chuck, who are currently on Royal Caribbean nine-month world cruise as follows:

On Wed, Feb 28, 2024, 12:21 AM, Lea Ann wrote:
I hope you dont mind we imposing upon your time but you are the most knowledgeable of anyone I know about this park. As you may know we have been rerouted around the African route to avoid the Suez Canal. We are sadly going to miss Egypt but no guarantees on seeing the pyramids anyway due to the other crisis up there. Going to Africa is my dream come true so we are elated!
Now for my much needed information. We want to go on a safari, of course. And what better place than Kruger National Park. Right in your wheelhouse!  Here are our thoughts. We are due into Dubai on 5/9. We would like to fly from there to Kruger NP and leave to meet the ship in Seychelles on 5/14. Not near enough time but it’s the best place in our schedule that we can go without missing a lot of the other opportunities on the cruise.  Here is a link of a place I was looking at for a 4-5 day trip. Have you heard of them? What do you think? We are looking at the luxury one. Otherwise, have you heard of any other types of safaris that can be all inclusive or partially? I know you have lots of contacts and Im hoping you could put me in touch with someone that you could recommend without a lot of trouble for you. I don’t want to impose but for me you are the one that knows this area more than anyone!
We are so excited and cant wait for this adventure. Thank you so much for  any help you can provide.
Chuck says hi too!
Love ya! Lea Ann

Our response:

Lea Ann and Chuck, we’re thrilled to hear that you are coming to Africa, particularly South Africa. We only wish we would be there when you come. We’re excited to hear about your experiences. We’re happy you are enjoying your nine-month cruise. I bet the days are moving too quickly!

We wish we had an easy answer regarding the quality of the tour company and lodges you are considering. During our four years in South Africa, we never stayed at a lodge or camp in Kruger National Park since we stayed in Marloth Park, which was only 20 minutes from one of the ten entrance gates, Crocodile Bridge.

About once a week, we did a self-drive into Kruger, which is allowed, but visitors aren’t allowed, for their safety, to leave the vehicle unless at a camp, lodge restaurant, or petrol station. We often participated in guided tours with visiting friends, using only one of the few guides or safari tour companies recommended by Louise and Danie, our dear friends and property owners/managers.

SanPark manages Kruger National Park, and they have a fantastic website with recommendations on where to stay and the camps approved to conduct business in the park. Their site may be found here. It is an excellent resource for safaris, camps, and lodges.

As for the tour company you’ve selected, we can’t give you any feedback on the quality of their camps and safaris. In our four total years visiting Kruger National Park, we probably went on over 200 safaris, most self-drive, and about a dozen guided safaris. All were exceptional.

But, as we became more experienced, we preferred the self-drive safaris since guided tours with others in the vehicles can become repetitive when they stopped for each impala and warthog when we were easily able to see them in our garden in Marloth Park, along with many other animals.

Since we were so close to the Crocodile Bridge entrance to Kruger, we never investigated any camps or lodges. We’d suggest you deeply research reviews on other sites for this company and its camps on such places as TripAdvisor or other travel sites. We’re sorry we can’t help in this regard. Their offerings may be legitimate and excellent for your five-day needs.

If you would like to check further before committing, since you have plenty of time, I suggest contacting Louise at info@marlothkruger.com. Not only does Louise manage and own many properties, but she also owns a tourist center in Marloth Park that handles everything regarding safaris, camps, and lodges in Kruger National Park. There are many “scam” type operations in South Africa (not to scare you, but it is important to know), as there are in many countries.

Louise is a native South African, and there are no fees to you for her assistance. Her knowledge and experience with Kruger is astounding. She can also book venues for you if you consider other options. Also, she may know something about the company you are considering and if it is safe and legitimate.

As for your Seychelles return….This is urgent! To enter Seychelles, you must complete an immigration/visa form. Without this, you won’t be allowed to board the flight from South Africa to Seychelles. Here is the website with the critical notice you must read and comply with. Please click here. This must be done before traveling to Seychelles. Since you are going off on your own, I doubt the cruise line will arrange this for you. Please check with them for details, but proceed with caution if they say they do it. They may not know the nuances required to enter Seychelles from a plane, not the cruise ship.

I hope that we’ve answered your questions based on our personal experiences. We promise you will not regret visiting Kruger National Park. It remains one of our favorite experiences in our world travels and may prove to be the same for you.

Much love to both of you and travel safely.

Jess & Tom

Photo from ten years ago. February 28, 2014:

As we were getting ready to leave Marloth Park after a three-month stay…Thank you, Mr. Tree Frog, for serving as the mascot for all the “small things” that brought us so much pleasure during our time in Marloth Park. Even you will be remembered. For more photos, please click here.

I don’t have much to say about this…

Tom and I were at my birthday party in Marloth Park at Jabula Lodge in 2018. It was really hot that night, and we were sweating.out on the veranda.

I don’t have much to say today. This is post #4201 since we began writing in March 2012. Unsurprisingly, I’ve been tongue-tied on occasion and barely have been able to muster a topic or line of discussion to share with our readers.

It doesn’t happen very often. Usually, in our daily lives, something comes up that provides me with a topic, and once I start writing, it flows from there with ease. But today, I am at a loss, perhaps a little distracted, after getting up so late. I didn’t leave the bedroom, showered, dressed, and ready for the day until around 10:15, a rarity for me.

It was a busy night of dreams, one of which consisted of me having a dinner party for eight people at a property I didn’t recognize. I was planning the menu and later preparing the table and the food with many courses, three of which were some type of mousse. I don’t usually make mousse. However, yesterday, I found myself searching online for a chocolate mousse recipe since I’ve been craving chocolate lately.

It’s funny how we can recall something that transpired in our day that appears in our dreams that night. After a vivid dream, I always think about what triggered some of the content of a dream that I am able to recall. Tom says he never remembers his dreams. I can’t seem to get them out of my head the following day.

After finding many low-carb mousse recipes online, I decided against making any of them. Those I found online were mostly made with heavy cream. Although cream is acceptable for a low-carb way of eating, I had no desire to consume an item that would have 400 calories and be consumed in only a few minutes.

Anyway, the dinner in my dream was a success, and I awoke thinking of food. Perhaps my lack of creativity today was spent in my dream, and I awoke with little to offer. Also, I am a little distracted to get going on my new exercise regime, more with the intent of getting it done than from any pleasure of doing it.

As much as I’d like to say I love working out, I do not. It’s a necessary evil. Fortunately, once completed, the reward of having got through it is worth all the work. Overall, I’ve worked out and watched my weight most of my adult life. I’ll never know if doing so has truly benefited me other than the fact that I’m 76 years old and still here, feeling well with known heart disease and a few other maladies I inherited from my mother’s side of the family.

Tom enjoyed the stir fry last night, but I had a different dinner. I used seasoning in the dish, sauces that contain sugar and I decided against eating it. Instead, I made myself an egg white and coconut pancake topped with sugar-free syrup, which I enjoyed. But, after dinner, I was still hungry and had a bowl of unsweetened Fage Greek yogurt with ground flax seeds to fill me up.

We watched a few more episodes of “Formula 1, Drive to Survive” on Netflix. If you haven’t watched this series, I assure you it is way more entertaining than you’d imagine. We’ve never been interested in Formula 1 racing, but this series is fascinating from a human interest aspect and the business of running this stressful and dangerous business. If you enjoy binge-watching, the series has six seasons, and every episode is spellbinding.

So here it is. I got through today’s less-than-creative post. In the future, I will make an effort to be more focused and topic-minded instead of being all over the place. Now, I’m off to do the exercises. Plus, I have set my timer to get up from the sofa and walk around every 30 minutes to avoid sitting too long.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, February 27, 2014:

Tangled necks! Love it! We were just about ready to leave Marloth Park for the first time. For more, please click here.

New exercise routine…Financial obligations?…

South Georgia Island and South Sandwich Island in Antarctica have the largest numbers of King Penguins, with as many as 1,000,000 of the amazing birds before our eyes. What an experience!

This morning, I bolted out of bed, aware that I needed to cut it into bite-size pieces and then marinate the meat for tonight’s dinner: Chicken, Broccoli, and Peanut stir fry. Yesterday, I did a lot of chopping and dicing of the vegetables, including onions, broccoli, mushrooms, celery, fresh ginger, and garlic.

Also, I needed to make our daily salad of romaine lettuce, carefully washed and cut into bite-size pieces, shredded cabbage, celery, and grape tomatoes. I make salad dressing using Greek yogurt, salt, and sweetener, tossing the salad right before dinner. Tom eats a small bowl of salad, and I always have a large portion. However, I eat about half as much as his main course. while he enjoys his white rice each evening.

Today, I have to fold the now-dry laundry on the indoor rack and put everything away. But, a little later, after I am done with today’s post, I am doing Day 2, my new 28-day exercise regime, from an app I found online entitled Better Me, which is an intense chair yoga program.

I’ve never been one to do yoga. But, after yesterday’s first day, I realized how badly I am out of shape, and walking is not improving my strength and stamina in my muscles. Also, my legs continue to hurt while walking, and I thought perhaps this program would help improve my leg strength in a more focused manner. I will continue to walk, but not as much, and will focus on combining these two modalities.

The entire yoga workout is 21 minutes, and with another 15 minutes of walking each day, that is enough for me for now. I don’t have a yoga mat and don’t want to carry one worldwide; thus, this chair method is ideal. The only “tools” I need are two water bottles or other equivalent items such as cans or other identical bottles of anything of the same weight and size and a chair.

I will try this for the 28-day program, and if I find it beneficial, I will continue. The nice part about this program is that I can do it anywhere we may be in the world. I don’t need a fitness center or equipment. Much to my surprise, I was actually feeling like I was working out and feeling a little stiff today, which is good.

This morning, I paid our second installment for our rent in South Africa, and before we get there, our three-month rent will be paid in full. The only “rent” we have to pay up until next September is the final installment on the place in Apache Junction, which is only $800, our hotel in Los Angeles when we visit my sister, and the about seven nights of hotel bills on our road trip to Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

We already paid so much that it’s comforting to know we’re only a few thousand dollars away from having all of our rental obligations paid into half of September 2024. The odd thing about world travel is that most rental situations require payment in full in advance of our arrival. In a “normal” life, most people pay rent or mortgage payments., one month at a time instead of paying any of this in advance.

The only other financial obligations we have each month are groceries, dining out and entertainment, flights, fuel and car rental, health insurance, and expenses relative to our website maintenance. Of course, there are federal tax obligations along with all of that. But we love not paying cable and utilities, although we pay for a few streaming services, never more than $60 monthly.

Each month, we pay Google Fi less than $80 for cell phone services, the best plan we’ve found so far befitting our nomadic lifestyle. It’s great not to pay a car payment and insurance since we often drive a new car with all the features we need, with no maintenance costs, and the credit card we use covers the insurance for the first 30 days. That’s why we’ve been trying to pick up a new car every 30 days. Annually, a rental car costs a maximum of $8100, or $675 a month.

We pay for everything using credit cards that acquire lots of reward points and pay them off each month, often using our accumulated points for additional future travel. It all works out well for us.

That’s it for today, folks.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, February 26, 2014:

We stayed in a new resort for one night to do a review. Although the walls of our accommodations had tent material on three sides, it was made to appear as a cottage. The veranda is on the opposite side, within feet of the electrified fence to Kruger National Park, keeping tourists safe from the big game. Allen and Scott showed us a video of elephants that had come directly up to the fence. For more, please click here.

It’s Sunday Morning!…Beginning of another wonderful day…Why are we still here?…

We were at a New Zealand car show, and Tom was incredibly excited to spot this Minnesota State Trooper vehicle so far from his birthplace.

The clock is ticking. We leave here in a little over a month. For now, every day we spend in Lake Las Vegas is unique in one way or another.

Each Sunday, we wait until the video is uploaded at CBS for their interesting weekly news-type series, “Sunday Morning.” I can’t start it until I finish the post since we have to use my laptop to plug in the HDMI cord. Tom’s soon-to-be-replaced laptop will also have an HDMI outlet so that we can watch it on his new laptop. I enjoy having something interesting to listen to while preparing a post, but it’s impossible when I need my laptop to do the post.

Occasionally, I’ve written the text on my phone while we’ve watched the show, but it takes me twice as long to type on the little keyboard. I am not as adept as many who can quickly write texts and send messages with such ease and efficacy. Neither of us is good at that. Did we miss something while we’ve been away, or are we simply getting too old to have such dexterity?

Once we leave the US in a little over 3½ months, we won’t be watching Sunday Morning unless I can convince Tom to watch it on one of our computer monitors. After all this time in the US, we’ve had access to a TV monitor with HDMI capability, but that’s not always the case.

In South Africa, our next foray outside the US, the TV is located up a very steep set of stairs we never used. We didn’t stream much from there, with often poor WiFi or our lack of interest in climbing those stairs each evening to watch something on a relatively small screen.

Instead, on occasion, we’d stream something on my laptop after we went to bed, but as mentioned., Tom doesn’t care to watch the small screens on the laptop. But, while there, the entertainment outdoors was enough to entertain us any evening, and of course, we had a busy social life at least two to three times each week.

Many have written asking why we haven’t left for other countries after being in the US for over two months. Remember that many readers don’t read our daily posts; instead, they “stop by” every few weeks or months. For those readers who are here today, I will explain that.

First, I needed to sign up for Part B Medicare and a supplement to be fully insured. This wasn’t easy in other countries when I had to snail mail my application and ancillary documents. In many countries, snail mail can take months to arrive, if it arrives at all. Snail mail in South Africa is impossible when letters and packages can sit in a warehouse for years.

Secondly, once the insurance was in place, which will be on March 1, 2024, I wanted to get a new heart ultrasound in the US and an opinion on going forward. I have already found a highly-rated heart clinic only five miles from here, which I’ll visit for the ultrasound in the next few weeks.

Third, we wanted to visit more family members in one fell swoop over a few months. In only a few months, we’ll travel by car to Arizona, California, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin to see everyone on both sides of our family. Our grandson Vincent graduates from high school this spring, and we promised to be in Minnesota for his graduation party in early June, as we will for all of our grandchildren. It’s been wonderful seeing Richard here in Nevada, our home state, but soon we’ll move on.

When will we return to the US? At this point, we have no idea. What new countries will we visit once we leave the US? The outcome of my test will determine the answers to those questions. If all is well, we will begin planning. If not? That may require a quicker return to the US for treatment. We are “playing it by ear” right now.

We will have accomplished everything we wanted to do while in the US on the trip. We’ll soon discover what happens from here and keep all of our readers updated.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, February 25, 2014:

“Hey, you guys, come on! They’re serving pellets for breakfast!” For more, please click here.

Medicare Part B card finally arrived…Plans change…Thinking about the future…

Our friends Ken (left of Tom) and Don at a dinner party at our bush home in 2018. Many great memories!

This morning, I received a notice from our mailing service that a letter had arrived from Railroad Retirement. I am assuming it is my Medicare Part B membership card, which, as a spouse of a railroad worker, comes from them as opposed to Medicare itself. Once I have the card in hand, I will make an appointment for a cardiac ultrasound to determine how good or bad my valves are.

Hoping for a good outcome, I am anxious to find out if I can avoid another open heart surgery. The report I had in Manta, Ecuador, a few months ago and in Nelspruit, South Africa, indicated I have issues with both my mitral and tricuspid valves. If I can avoid surgery, I will be extremely excited.

Many patients with these issues never opt for surgery, but not doing so may shorten their life expectancy. It’s a tough decision, but once I have this test done in the US for the first time and receive a diagnosis and recommendation, I’ll go from there. I am trying not to worry about it until I know more. Meanwhile, we’re continuing to enjoy our daily lives while looking forward to plans for the future.

This morning, Tom’s sister Colleen called Tom to tell him there would be a special party for their sister Betty in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to celebrate Betty’s 70 years as a nun. This impacts our plans for the date we’re leaving for South Africa, which we’d planned for June 14. Apparently, the date of the party is yet undetermined but should be around June 15.

We’d planned to visit Betty on our way to Minnesota to see the family in May. Fortunately, we hadn’t arranged our flight from Minneapolis to Nelspruit yet. We’ve been watching the airfares with plenty of time to book flights for June. But, instead of flying out of Minneapolis, we can make the one-plus hour drive from Milwaukee, after the party, to Chicago, Illinois.

By flying out of Chicago, instead of Minneapolis, we can save about $1000 on our combined flights. The layovers and overall flight times are long, but we’ve dealt with that more times than we can count. We’ll figure it out once we know the official date of the celebration.

Also, once we know the date, we’ll let Louise know our new arrival date, which will most likely be three or four days later than initially planned. We’d already signed a rental agreement, paid a deposit, and may lose those few days of rent. But, this celebration is worth it to us to support Sister Beth (her name as a nun) on this special occasion.

Sometimes, things change that are beyond our control. In each case, we attempt to make the best of the situation and accommodate schedule changes accordingly. It usually works out well.

Not much is on the agenda over the weekend. Since we were out to dinner twice this past week, celebrating my birthday, we’re not dining out as we have most weekends. Next weekend, we’ll get our usual schedule and dine out on Friday or Saturday night.

Tonight, we’re having homemade taco salads, minus the carb-laden shells, seasoned ground turkey for me, ground beef for Tom, diced onions, tomatoes, green olives, cheese, and shredded romaine lettuce. My salad will be topped with hot Pace Picante sauce and spicy guacamole. We serve the salads with heated meat and topped with cheese and other items. Delicious!

Have a lovely weekend, and be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, February 24, 2014:

A male kudu visited on Saturday, lounging in the shade. It was the first time we’d seen a kudu lying down. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…An experience unlike any other!…What a night!…What is “haptic seating”?…

Not our photos. LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JULY 04: Sphere lights up for the first time in celebration of Independence Day on July 04, 2023, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The 366-foot-tall, 516-foot-wide venue, the largest spherical structure on Earth, features an Exosphere with a 580,000-square-foot display, the largest LED screen in the world, and is expected to open later in 2023. on July 04, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Greg Doherty/Getty Images)

We are still reeling over the experience of visiting the Sphere in Las Vegas on Wednesday night, hosted by Richard, along with dinner at Aria Resort and Spa. What a fun night it was! I took a few photos, but when the scenes passed so quickly before our eyes, I had little time to adjust my phone’s camera to capture them. No regular cameras are allowed in the theatre.

Today, we’re sharing some photos we took during the presentation, Postcards from Earth, which was an astounding experience. An exciting aspect of the presentation was the “haptic seating,” which, of course, Richard ensured we had with our excellent seats:

“The Sphere at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas has 18,600 seats and a standing capacity of 20,000. The Sphere is a 516-foot-wide, 366-foot-tall, circular theater that opened to the public in September 2023.”

When we first saw this scene on the big screen, we all wondered, “Is this it?” But only a second later, the visuals appeared on the massive ceiling and dome of the entire theatre. It was breathtaking!  

“Haptic seating” is described as follows:

“The Sphere at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas has 10,000 haptic seats. The seats are integrated with Powersoft’s infrasound system, which uses a compact transducer called Mover to provide haptic feedback. Mover’s moving-magnet technology uses an audio signal with ultra-low-frequency reproduction to make the chairs vibrate and shake as desired for each performance.”

While we had the sensation of being in a spaceship, the effects were outstanding. It couldn’t have been more fun. We felt like kids on an innovative, technologically advanced ride at Disneyland or Disney World, except it was more profound than anything found at those venues.

It felt as if we were in an aquarium with these sting rays.

The cost to build the Sphere is astounding as follows:

“$2.3 billion
After accounting for design changes, supply chain crisis, and inflation, it is understood that The Sphere ultimately cost $2.3 billion.”
There are conflicting reports on whether the Sphere has been making money since its completion, included in the following:
“Las Vegas Sphere reports $98.4 million loss, the CFO quit as well,” said a post from Daily Loud, the “#1 Source For Hip-Hop/Viral News Across The Planet,” according to its X profile. Photography website PetaPixel went with a similar headline, saying, “Las Vegas Sphere’s CFO Quits as Company Posts $98.4 Million Loss.”
We all gasped as the beauty of this scene played out in 360 degrees.
In another report:
“As of February 5, 2024, Sphere Entertainment reported a $51 million profit in its second quarter. This includes $314 million in ticket sales and $159 million in expenses.”
Describe the technology of the Sphere:
“The Sphere in Las Vegas has many technologies, including:
  • LED screen
    The Sphere has a 16K resolution wraparound LED screen that wraps over and behind the audience. The screen uses Lens Projection Formulas and spherical trigonometry to map images onto the curved display. The screen is also designed to be permeable so that reverb doesn’t tarnish the sound.
  • Audio
    The Sphere has speakers with beamforming and wave field synthesis technologies. The 10,000 haptic seats have actuators that tune frequencies and act as low-frequency bass. The Sphere also uses a new camera system called Big Sky to create a new cinematic experience.
  • 4D experience
    The Sphere uses 4D technologies, including infrasonics and haptics, to create a 4D experience.
  • Energy
    The Sphere is powered by about 70% solar power, most coming from Nevada’s leading electricity utility, NV Energy.”
    We felt as if we were underwater with a school of fish.

Based on the above information, this venue has been quite an undertaking. Is it worth attending, even with family members, when tickets for good seats are over $200 each and parking is $70? That can only be determined by one’s willingness to bear this expense for a relatively short but astounding once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Would children enjoy this? I’d say it wouldn’t be suitable for kids under eight years old and might be frightening even for children of that age. Preteen and teenagers would undoubtedly enjoy it.

The haptic seats vibrated with the sounds of the elephant hooves hitting the ground. Guess what this reminded us of?

As for seniors? If mobility is a serious problem, we wouldn’t recommend it. Although the facility has options for wheelchair assistance, it would be essential to book this before booking the seats to ensure the senior or disabled person can maneuver the way to their seat, which is very difficult if mobility is an issue. It appeared they had particular seating areas for those in wheelchairs, which wouldn’t require climbing over people on the narrow, steep ledges.

Aside from today’s main photo, I took all the other images we’ve posted today from my seat, but the seating was too tight to turn around for better shots.

There were hundreds of scenes, many of which we’d seen in our travels. But, I needed to sit back, relax, and be immersed in the experience.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, February 23, 2014:

Marabou Storks will eat anything they can swallow, including shoes, clothing, and tin cans. They can become aggressive if fed by humans when they are refused food. Although not vultures, their behavior exceeds the traits of vultures whose diet consists of animal remains. For more, please click here.

Part 1…An experience unlike any other!…What a night!…

The exterior of the Sphere changes frequently due to unique technology.

When Richard suggested taking us to the Sphere in Las Vegas for my birthday, I jumped all over the idea. I couldn’t have been more excited to visit a venue packed with excellent entertainment in this wild city. He planned to take us to dinner at Javier’s at Aria Resort and Casino located on the strip. Then he and his lovely girlfriend would drop us off at the Sphere while they’d park the car and meet us where they left us at the corner of Sand and Koval after a long walk from a parking garage back to the venue.

The parking at the Sphere started at $70, and after the expensive cost of the tickets, which was about $200 per person, and the costly dinner at Aria, it made no sense for him to pay that much for parking. They parked at a casino where Richard had a parking pass and walked several blocks to meet up with us while we waited outside for about 20 minutes.

Once he told me he’d booked the tickets, I was concerned about access to our seats at the massive theatre. After reading dozens of reviews, many visitors complained about the steep steps, ramps, and walkways. This worried me. Although I can walk three miles a day in the corridors here, it’s level for easy walking; I couldn’t imagine how I’d manage to walk up and down ramps and multiple flights of stairs and make our way to our seats high in the theatre.

Moments after we arrived, the exterior changed to another view. It’s truly a fantastic experience, especially in the interior and the presentation on the full ceiling screen with haptic seats.

Richard discovered that the better seats were up high since the bulk of the viewing experience of the film, “Postcards from Earth,” included almost a full viewing of the massive ceiling. If seated too low in the arena, we would constantly be straining our necks to get a full view and perspective of the magical scenery. Once we were seated, we realized how difficult a lower seat would have been. But our seats proved to be perfect.

From when Richard booked the seat until we left yesterday late afternoon to head to his house, I often read reviews, looking for answers on how to make the trek to our seats easier for my troubled legs. Much to my delight, I found there were elevators and escalators inside the venue.

While we waited for them to meet up with us after parking, I spoke to a security guard, and he pointed us in the direction of the VIP entrance, where there were elevators that would take us directly to the floor where our seats were located. Once the four of us were together again, we walked less than a block to the bank of elevators, where an operator took us to the correct floor.

Tom’s dinner at Javier’s at the Aria beef taco and beef enchilada with Spanish rice.

Once off the elevator, we had a short walk to the entrance to our section, and then, the only tricky part of the experience began. We had to walk up a few flights of steep stairs and literally wiggle our way onto a very narrow ledge where the seats were situated. We had to squeeze by the knees of about eight already-seated people on this narrow ledge.

The seats were situated on theatre-style seating but were steeper than we’d ever seen. If a person had a problem with heights and elevation, this could have been a problem. All four of us maneuvered ourselves gingerly to access our dead-center seats. I must admit I did so with more caution than the others. Once I plopped down in my seat, I was thrilled to finally have made it with much more ease than I’d anticipated.

And then the magic began, more of which we’ll share in tomorrow’s Part 2. Today, we’re sharing a few food photos from our fantastic dinner at Javier’s at Aria before the show and more photos I took during the astounding show. No regular cameras were allowed, and I wasn’t sure that included smartphone cameras. I ensured my flash was off and managed to sneak in a few shots, although they did not fully represent the magnitude of the experience. That would be nearly impossible to do well when scenes on the full-circle ceiling and screen flew by in a blur. A video would have been impossible while seated in the steep and tight seating.

Although not as massive as some chopped salads, my chicken chopped salad was delicious.

What a terrific evening we had! I felt relieved knowing it all worked well and that I had no significant issues entering and leaving the theatre. Of course, as always, Tom kept a tight hold on me, which was comforting and reassuring.

More will follow tomorrow, including a description of “haptic seating.”

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, February 22, 2014:

Baby warthog, standing by the braai. “What’s on the menu?” he inquires. “Pellets, I hope! For more photos, please click here.

An exciting birthday surprise!…Wow!…What a thrill!…

The four of us at our table last night. What a fantastic time we had with the two of them.

I know why Tom pushed me so hard about dining out last night. No more than five minutes after we sat down at our favorite window table at Luna Rossa and ordered our drinks, I heard a familiar voice. Gingerly, I turned around to find our dear friends, Rita and Gerhard, standing there with wide grins on their faces and moments later embraced in hugs between. Tom was aware of the surprise and did great keeping it from me.

They flew all the way from the state of Washington, a two-hour flight to arrive on time for our 5:00 pm reservation at Luna Rossa restaurant, down the one flight of stairs for my birthday dinner at our favorite restaurant. Amid giggles and enthusiasm, we all sat down, thrilled to be together one more time. The last time we’d seen them was in September when, again, they came to visit us for dinner and then turned around and flew back to Washington only a few hours later.

Gerhard ordered the delicious lamb shank.

Last night, they had exactly two hours until they had to head out to catch their flight back to Washington to their home. They travel extensively but occasionally spend time with their adult kids and their house near Portland. They recently returned from a cruise to Antarctica, and it was fun to share our mutual experience, although we’d recently chatted at length on the phone.

I’m not one to spend much time talking on the phone, although occasionally, I do so with friends and family. After all, staying in touch and hearing their voices is terrific. We often text back and forth on the phone or via WhatsApp.

Yesterday, I couldn’t have been more delighted to hear from many friends, family members and readers. There wasn’t a single person I didn’t hear from to wish me happy birthday.

Rita had the red snapper with scallops and prawns with veggies on the side.

But, the surprise of seeing Rita and Gerhard was over the top again. They have surprised us on several occasions. A few years ago, while we were at a New Year’s Eve party in 2021 hosted by friends Flo and Jj at their bush resort in Marloth Park, Rita and Gerhard suddenly appeared to surprise us. We couldn’t stop squealing with delight for the rest of the evening. They’d come halfway around the world to be with us and enjoy the bush together for several weeks.

Then, in September 2023, they called to tell us they would join us for dinner only 24 hours before they arrived. They couldn’t surprise us that time since we had to ensure we had a good table at the Green Valley Ranch Spa and Casino and were available that night. They stayed for about eight hours that time, and we cherished each moment.

Last night, Rita and I sat next to each other with Tom and Gerhard at the opposite side of the table. The ambiance, the food, and the service were impeccable. Of course, Tom picked up the tab, and we ate and drank to our heart’s content. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

I ordered the sea bass. Rita and I tasted each other’s fish, and they tasted similar. Both dishes were delectable.

When it was time for them to go, and Gerhard needed to contact Uber for their ride back to the airport, we had time for them to come up the one flight of stairs and see our place. It was fun to show them this lovely condo and all it has to offer.

On top of it all, they gave me a fantastic birthday gift. It’s a new version of a digital insect repellent that they used in Marloth Park, and it works better than any others. I couldn’t have been more thrilled with this gift. They both know how much I love anything electronic and, in the past, have given me several devices of one sort or another. They are so thoughtful.

When they left, we walked down to the lobby with them and waited for their Uber, which arrived in time for them to make their flight back on time.

We walked back to our condo and settled in for the evening, streaming a fun series and enjoying the remainder of my birthday together. How fortunate I am! I am grateful and humbled by the wonderful people in our lives.

I must get ready to go down that same flight of stairs to the nail salon for my first pedicure since we arrived on December 15. Tonight will be another exciting evening; we’ll share photos and details tomorrow.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, February 21, 2014:

Nomsa and Zeff sing Happy Birthday to me in Zulu. The sign behind Zeff’s head says, “Take risks. If you win, you will be happy. If you lose, you will be wise.” So true. For more photos, please click here.

In awe of all of the love and birthday wishes…

Here we were with Doc Theo, who saved my life, and his lovely wife, Myrtah. 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.

Today’s photos (except the post from ten years ago) were from last year’s birthday party held on February 25, posted on the 26. More photos will be posted tomorrow.

What a day it has been so far, and it’s only close to noon! Family, friends, and readers have been flooding my inbox and on Facebook with heartwarming messages that mean the world to me! How did I get so lucky? Based on the number of wishes I receive, I doubt I will have time to walk today.

It’s okay to take a day off while responding to all of the warm wishes that surely will keep me busy. Exercise for the heart, in another way.

Delicious welcome drinks, including Bloody Marys, topped with a slice of crispy bacon and non-alcoholic vegetable juice. We caught a kudu eating off the wooden board.

Tom is off getting a haircut, and soon, I’ll head to the kitchen to make my favorite keto pancake, which I will thoroughly enjoy with sugar-free syrup. Then tonight, as mentioned, we’ll be off to dinner at Luna Rossa, which we’ve come to love, especially with it’s inviting ambiance and overall excellent food. Sure, there was one miss on one meal last week, but we are loyal fans and will continue to enjoy it during our remaining five-plus weeks in Lake Las Vegas.

Many people say they prefer to ignore their birthdays as they’ve gotten older, but I have always been a die-hard fan of celebrating mine and the people that I love on their special day. Just because one is older, it doesn’t mean that a birthday is less significant. One should celebrate each year of one’s life when they are young, for the growth and joys the new year can bring, and when old, for the opportunity to live yet another year, cherishing every morsel life has to offer.

A beautiful gin and vodka bar was set up in the dining room, where everyone could make their welcome drinks.

As I’ve gotten older, I find myself reveling in gratefulness for every gift bestowed upon me. These past years, physical gifts have not been a part of my birthdays, but the words and kindness of others have been cherished more than any gift-wrapped package.

Last year, when we had my 75th birthday in the bush, catered by Louise and Danie, and celebrated at their beautiful holiday home, Khaya Umdani, I was very specific that no one brings me gifts. A few couldn’t resist the temptation, and of course, I appreciated their thoughtfulness.

In the back row from left to right, Lorne and Sydney. and Tom. Sinndee, Leon, and Dawn are in the front row from left to right.

But the presence of those 25 guests celebrating the milestone year with me meant everything. And, although today will be a quiet day and evening, I feel equally blessed for the memories that fill my head, with more to come, celebrating tomorrow at an extraordinary event, details of which we’ll share in Thursday’s post.

Yesterday, I promised to re-post some of the photos from last year’s party, which some of you may have missed. or those that easily recall those photos, please excuse the redundancy.

Amid all the rain, Louise and Danie beautifully set up the house and the garden. It rained briefly but never caused issues with the guest’s enjoyment at the party.

Memories are the gifts that life bestows upon us to reflect upon as time passes that fill us with warm feelings of joy and gratefulness. My heart breaks for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease who are unable to recall events of their lives. All they have to reflect upon is the moment, however short and fleeting in their minds. That’s why it is so important to love, cherish, and visit those seniors (or younger) who are unable to recall the past. May we all take the time to make those precious moments for every person in our lives who cannot recall the precious moments of their lives.

Thank you, everyone, and be well.

Photos from ten years ago today, February 20, 2014:

We had a get-together at our bush house for my birthday in 2014. We were all thrilled when many zebras came to call in the dark. Our friend Kathy got up close and personal with him, hand-feeding him pellets. As a hostess gift for our dinner gathering, Kathy and Linda brought us a big bag of pellets instead of the usual wine, flowers, or candy. Nothing could have been more appropriate when we were running low. How did they know we needed pellets? For more photos, please click here.