Only a short time until we’re back in the bush…

On our way out of the Nelspruit airport, we spotted the dark brown impala we’d seen during past trips to the airport from last time he was a little calf. Now he’s fast growing to adulthood. There was also a female but we weren’t able to take a good photo of her.

We are seated on the final flight of this long journey from Las Vegas, Nevada, the USA, to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger. Within the next two hours, we will arrive in Marloth Park. We will be more at ease when done with the 90-minute drive on the dangerous N4 highway, which is rife with car jackings. 

We stayed at the  Tambo Airport City Lodge Hotel in Joburg to avoid driving that road at night. The 15-hour flight from Newark was relatively smooth, with little turbulence over the ocean. 

Gosh, we have crossed the Atlantic Ocean four times in the past two months since we left South Africa two months ago. So much happened in the past two months. We won’t reiterate them here, ad nauseam. We have said enough already.

But even this morning at the airport, we stumbled upon another example of human error when we checked our bags at the Airlink counter. They couldn’t find the information that we paid for our bags in Las Vegas and wanted to charge us again. 

We showed them our all-the-way-through itinerary that included our baggage purchases at the beginning. After a 25-minute delay, they finally figured it out, and they let us go through without additional payment.  We always book the entire trip, including short flights, to avoid extra baggage fees. But it was just “one more thing” we encountered on this trip.

We had a great time in Florida with friends Karen and Rich at their lovely waterfront home in Apollo Beach. Plus, we had an absolute blast during the first eight days of the cruise, and it was downhill from there. On disembarkation day, we found ourselves on the “COVID bus” to our hotel with dozens of other sick passengers.

Last night, after the 15-hour flight, we could finally get to our hotel room. It was so cold in the hotel and our room that we couldn’t warm up, partly due to our exhaustion and the low temps in Joburg.  We didn’t sleep much. My feet were so cold. We went to bed at 9:30, but it was early morning to us. We each dozed about an hour on the plane, certainly not enough to ease the tiredness, and perhaps another two or three hours during the night at the hotel.

We just were informed by the pilot to prepare for landing. We will be on the ground and anxious to be on our way in moments. We’ll pick up yet small, affordable rental car and be on our way.

In a few hours, we will be at our new holiday home in the bush, a colorful, African-themed, unique house with everything we could need or want. Louise never misses a beat in ensuring that the property suits our taste and desires wherever we rent.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with photos of our house, the garden, and our new animal friends. In no time at all, we’ll be reconnecting with our human friends as well.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 24, 2021:

This mongoose must have been injured and lost hers/his lips. Possibly, due to inbreeding, it could have been a congenital disability. But they were as rowdy as the others for some paloney and eggs. For more photos, please click here.

We’re on the move…Travel day#1…Flight got canceled…

This was our limo this morning to the airport from Green Valley Ranch Resort.

We are at the United gate at Las Vegas McCarren Airport, waiting to board our new flight in a few hours. Yesterday afternoon, I got a text on my phone stating that our 7:00 am flight to Newark was canceled, and the new flight would depart at 10:28 am. We got excited about the change, which meant we wouldn’t have to get up at 3:00 am to get to the airport three hours early, as required, by 4:00 am.

The message stated that we’d have to book different seats on the new flight. Immediately, we checked online, only to find two seats left, one a window and another a middle seat in different rows, both of which we don’t like. We both prefer aisle seats and had previously booked our seats across the aisle from one another. But, this leg of our journey is slightly less than five hours, and we can manage this situation.

Unbelievably, United doesn’t credit passengers for their previous seat purchases when flights change. We’d paid extra on the old flight for better seats but had to take the two lousy seats that were available without the possibility of a refund. Go figure. They get you coming and going, duh, literally.

This morning, another text arrived stating the flight would be departing until 10:55 am, a change that didn’t make a difference to us one way or another. We’d already arranged our ride to the airport, and it was too late to change it. We were scheduled to be picked up by the limo at 7:00 am, but then, at 6:25, I received a text from the driver that he had arrived and if we were ready to go.

The interior of the limo.

We figured we’d either be waiting in the hotel lobby or at the airport. That was fine. By 6:40, our bags were loaded, and we were in the limo on the short 12-minute drive to the airport. The cost for the limo with tip was US $100. But, with this big festival going on in Las Vegas, there were no Ubers, Lyfts, or taxis available. We had no choice but to take the limo at four times the cost of a taxi. We felt we were lucky to get a ride at all. We weren’t about to complain about that.

Little did we know the driver would arrive in a black stretch limo. Gosh, I can’t recall the last time I rode in one of those. Riding in a limo has never been important to either of us. But I couldn’t resist taking a few photos. At least I’d have something to add to today’s post when the photo ops were slim. It was a far cry from the small rental car we’ll be driving on the N4 from Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport when we arrive in two days. As long as we have transportation, we don’t give it much thought.

Once we arrived at the airport, we discovered curbside check-in for United. But the rep explained that due to our international connection, we’d have to go to the ticket counter for United, using the kiosk to get our bags checked, receive our boarding passes, scan our passports and show our PCR test.

The kindly reps at the kiosk who assisted passengers were unaware that South Africa doesn’t allow entry from US passengers with only a CDC white vaccination card. When we showed them the comments on entry restrictions on their screen, which clearly stated that PCR or Antigen tests were required and CDC cards alone wouldn’t do, they were shocked. They had no idea. They said many passengers scheduled for flights for South Africa were in for a big surprise.

It was Tom who found this new requirement online. The reps were surprised we found the small print about the change in this requirement. What a nightmare that could have been.

Slot machines at the airport in Las Vegas.

Then, our bags were then whisked away to the check-in counter, where they were weighed. All four of our checked bags, none of which required payment for an international flight, were weighed and none were overweight. We had weighed all of them in our hotel room on our travel scale, which miraculously has lasted for over 9½ years.

We breezed through security and made our way to the gate, where we are still sitting with my phone plugged into the charger on the seat. By the time we get on the plane, my phone and this laptop will be 100% charged. Apparently, based on the new location of our seats on this first flight, there are no plug-ins for devices. Good grief.

With only a two-hour layover in Newark, based on the flight cancellation, we are grateful for, as opposed to the previous six-plus-hour layover, I wouldn’t have had time to do today’s post. Since we arrived at the Las Vegas airport so early, I had ample time to upload a post. There are slot machines about 20 feet from us, but we don’t play.

Tom offered to get me a cup of decaf coffee, but after waiting in line at a Starbucks, he discovered they didn’t sell decaf. That’s weird. I’ll wait and have coffee on the plane in about two hours.

Ah, dear readers, this has been one long and difficult time in the US. We saw son Greg and the three grandchildren in Minneapolis for about 20 minutes while seated in the rental car with masks on while they kept back about 10 feet from the vehicle. We never saw Richard in Las Vegas/Henderson since we were still coughing. We wonder if Covid-19 will ever go away and if the visiting family will be possible.

The next time we write will be when we arrive in Johannesburg on Monday, after the 15 hour red eye where we’ll spend part of the night at the airport hotel, trying to catch up on some sleep.

See you next time.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today. May 22. 2021:

The river is beautiful at sunset. For more photos, please click here.

We’re on the move in less than 15 hours…Happy to be heading back to our “happy place.” after all of the challenges…

On Tuesday, we will arrive back in Marloth Park. We’re excited to see some new and old animal friends and human friends at our new location.

We are so done with this trip; we can’t wait to be on the move. However, the two-day journey will be exhausting. A sense of enthusiasm and excitement will surely guide us through the two long days and nights until, once again, we are driving up to Louise and Danie’s Info Centre to pick up the keys to our new house. Then, a two-minute drive to the house, around the corner from where they live.

If all goes as planned, we should be seeing their warm, smiling faces by 10:30 Tuesday morning. South Africa is nine hours later than here in Nevada. It will feel like 1:30 am Tuesday to us, but immediately, we adapt to the local time zones. We may have lost two nights of sleep at that point, but we’ll stay awake until bedtime on Tuesday night, desperately trying to avoid taking a nap.

Hopefully, on Wednesday morning, we’ll wake up to a sunny day with mild temperatures since it’s almost winter in the Southern Hemisphere. Our favorite time in the bush was with the cooler temps, fewer mosquitos and other insects, and fewer snakes slithering around the garden. The nights will be very cool, and the days will be comparable to winter weather in Florida and Arizona in the US. Lovely.

I’ll still wear repellent on exposed skin since we don’t take any malaria prophylactics. But Tom, who never gets bit, doesn’t have to give it a thought.

We’d packed our dry goods in plastic bins before we left on March 23, and they will be waiting in the house for us to unpack. Most likely, by Wednesday afternoon, we’ll be entirely unpacked and can then settle into the beautiful routine of “life in the bush” we so much love; animals, friends, drives in the park to look for more wildlife, trips to nearby Kruger National Park to see the bigger game and weekly trips to the town of Komatipoort to grocery shop.

Once settled, we’ll book appointments with Doc Theo to have him check us out as we continue to recover from Covid-19, which we contracted, as you know, on the last few days on Celebrity Silhouette, spending those two-day quarantined in a different balcony cabin on a specific deck where others who’d tested positive were also in isolation. It was a tough few days.

Not only were we served less than ideal room service meals, but when it was time to disembark, we were shuttled like cattle to the “Covid bus” to be dropped off at our respective hotels in Southampton, UK. We saw many other passengers with whom we’d conversed on that bus where we were all well masked (moot point). Did we give it to them or them to us? It didn’t matter. No blaming is allowed in this scenario.

Since we arrived at the Leonardo Grand Harbour Hotel, where we stayed for seven nights, the time seems to have passed in a blur. I barely remember our trip to Marriott Hotel in Gatwick (close to London), where we stayed for another three days waiting for negative PCR tests so we could fly to Minnesota.

We had to cancel the cruise back across the Atlantic Ocean on the Queen Mary 2 and the flight from the disembarkation point in New York. We received a partial credit from Cunard for the cruise (which we’ll deal with once back in SA) and credit with American Airlines for the missed flight from New York to Minnesota. We doubt we’ll ever use the American Airlines credit since we seldom fly their routes, and there is a time limit on using the credit.

Gosh, we purchased all those dressy clothes for the Queen Mary 2 cruise, and now they hang in the closet, wondering when we’ll ever wear them.

Amid all this madness, numerous situations occurred, all of which we posted here, which created more stress and frustration. Many resulted from “human error,” mostly “theirs” and a little of ours. After all, one of the significant symptoms we both experienced was brain fog, which is finally beginning to recede a month later.

Fortunately, last night, the two Covid-19 PCR tests we had taken at CVS Pharmacy were negative. But, last night, before the results arrived, their website was down, and I was worried we wouldn’t get the test results on time. I lost a few hours of sleep thinking about this. I needed the night’s sleep since it was the last full night’s sleep before Tuesday.

Now, I’m a bit tired, but I don’t dare nap when we have to get up at 3:00 am, in a mere 15 hours. since it’s around noon here now. We plan to have dinner early and try to sleep early, but we’ll see how that goes. We rarely fall asleep before 11:00 pm.

We’ve already printed our negative Covid-19 test results and a copy of our 90-day rental agreement with Louise, which we may have to produce if asked why we want to stay for 90 days in South Africa. All we have left is to pack the toiletries we’ll use tonight and tomorrow morning and our laptops with various cables and adapters into Tom’s backpack.

Tonight, we’ll eat in our room after picking up dinner in the resort’s food court, where we both found items to our liking and suitable for my way of eating.

Hopefully, we are looking forward to the next few days being as stress-free as possible. Tomorrow, we’ll prepare a new post during the six-plus hour layover in Newark before boarding the 15-hour flight to Johannesburg. We’ll be back with you then! Thanks to everyone for all the well wishes!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 21, 2021:

A playful pair of elephants across the Crocodile River. For more photos, please click here.

Resolving the Las Vegas car rental issue…Challenges continue…Two days and counting…

We are thrilled with the quality of the photos using my new Google Pixel Pro XL6 phone. They appear to be more precise than those using our camera.

This morning, a kindly Uber driver picked us up from our hotel and took us to the nearby CVS pharmacy for our Covid-19 PCR tests, which we’ll use to fly to South Africa in two days. The driver picked us up at 10:30 and returned after one more stop at Smith’s market to pick up our curbside order of Crystal Light iced tea.

We couldn’t purchase enough iced tea to last for the next year, but it was enough to get us through the next few months until we placed an order on Ubuy, an online service that ships to South Africa. Crystal Light is not sold at any of the markets in the country. We’ll pay a premium price for the product, but it still will be less than shipping it from the US.

The walkway over the main pool at the resort.

Although we’ve given up many of our favorite products since we began traveling almost ten years ago, there are some items that we haven’t been willing to stop using, and this is one of them. Finding alternatives to many grocery items has been easy overall with our limited way of eating. Still, we search for a specific item and have trouble finding it from time to time.

The past 24 hours have been somewhat wacky. We’ve been busy taking care of phone calls necessary to ensure we’ve received proper credits for multiple scenarios, including the charges still showing on a credit card for the rental car we weren’t able to obtain from ACE car rentals on Sunday when we couldn’t produce a Nevada utility bill.

A portion of the attractive grounds at the resort.

The credit card company’s service rep was accommodating. After about 40 minutes on the phone, they credited our card the US $366 and will contact us if there are any future issues in processing the credit from the company, Wise Cars, which we’ll never use again. All of their phone numbers were disconnected. Is it any wonder?

This morning, we stopped at the concierge desk to speak to kindly Douglas once again. Could he arrange for a ride for us to the airport on Sunday at 4:00 am? As it turns out, there’s this huge event going on now, EDC, Electric Daisy Carnival, which brings hundreds of thousands of visitors worldwide to participate in the 24-hour-a-day partying event.

With it around 100F, 43C, outside, we had no interest in sitting by the pool at the resort.

Subsequently, getting an Uber or a taxi at this time in the morning is impossible since many of the shows on the strip end in the middle of the night. Douglas said he’d start calling around to see what he could find. The only option was a private limo at three times the cost of a taxi at US $74.26. With a tip, the cost will be close to US $100. We authorized Douglas to book this for us.

Then, when the confirmation document arrived from the limo company, we noticed it said 4:00 pm not 4:00 am. That resulted in another phone call and email. We have the corrected confirmation and can plan to be downstairs with our luggage at 4:00 am on Sunday. We will have to get up at 3:00 am to shower and dress to get downstairs on time.

The next time it is 4:00 to us, we’ll be on the flight from Newark to Johannesburg. The next 4:00 am after that; we’ll be getting up again from the partial overnight stay in the airport hotel in Joburg to ensure we get to the gate on time for our final leg on the flight to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger airport to pick up the rental car to begin the 90-minute drive on the N4 to Marloth Park.

The cabanas are appealing, but the suffocating heat is unappealing at this time.

This crazy schedule means getting up at 3:00 or 4:00 am for three nights in a row, considering the only sleeping time we’ll have once it begins when we’re at the airport hotel in Johannesburg, where we’ll try to get some sleep for a few hours. It’s hard to get much sleep when we know we have to wake up in the middle of the night.

Still feeling weak and tired from Covid-19, this schedule won’t be easy. The key will be to get through the 6½ hour layover in Newark and be able to sleep a little on the flight. The plane will be full, but we won’t know for sure until we board. Then, if either of us can end up with two empty seats beside us, we may be able to lay down and get some rest.

This makes me exhausted just writing about it. If we weren’t recovering from Covid-19, this would be easier. And although we are making every effort to be optimistic, we aren’t foolhardy. We’ve traveled on long flight itineraries for many years, and we are well aware of the challenges.

Today, we’ll continue with more tasks we need to accomplish and hopefully get a good night’s sleep tonight; the last night we’ll have until next Tuesday when we arrive in Marloth Park and move into our new house. Since we’ll arrive before noon, we’ll have time to start unpacking, perhaps take a nap and head out to Jabula for dinner. Gee…that would be nice.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 20, 2021:

These two wildebeests visit often. The one on the left is CF, for Crooked Face, and his loyal friend is Hal. For more photos, please click here.

Vague and confusing rules to re-enter South Africa…Three days and counting…

If I could eat sweets, most likely I’d choose some of these. We wondered what they did with the items that didn’t sell and how many days they stayed in the case.

As it turned out, the two Covid-19 antigen tests we purchased at Walgreens are not suitable for travel. In my state of COVID brain fog, along with a long queue in the pharmacy that day, I failed to ask the question to the pharmacist before I purchased the kits.

We’d used the same brand name kit to enter the US, but apparently, the tests I purchased in the US don’t have the red stripe across the box. It is the brand name, but it didn’t say it couldn’t be used for travel. Upon further investigation online, Tom discovered these test kits wouldn’t work.

These baked goods for sale at the Lucky Penny are much larger than they appear in this photo.

The next point was the confusion over whether South Africa requires a PCR or antigen test. According to several government sites, on March 22, 2022, it was no longer necessary to have a PCR test to enter the country if a person had a valid vaccination card.

The tricky part is they won’t accept the CDC white vaccination cards, which we have. They will only accept a vaccination certificate with a QR code.

These baked goods are twice the size of those you’d find in a bakery. Everything in Las Vegas is vast!

Yesterday afternoon, we spent hours finding out where and how we could get such a certificate. If we had weeks to spare, we could request it and get it in the mail at our “home” address. Well, that doesn’t work for us. Our only option is to get a new PCR test at a drive-through at CVS pharmacy. We don’t have a car. We’ll have to pay for a taxi to take us to CVS’s drive-through to get the test.

But that expense is a lot less than having a company come to the hotel to do our tests. After checking with the concierge, we discovered the cost is US $199 per person. Our taxi bill will be a lot less than the US $398.

These macaroons were the size of a man’s fist and stuffed with something creamy.

This is a bit frustrating, especially after all we’ve been through the past four-plus weeks. Our two tests are booked at a nearby CVS for 11:00, and 11:10 am tomorrow. We should have the results by Saturday, which we’ll print at the hotel, along with our rental agreement with Louise, which is required to enter the country for three months.

The next hurdle we had to handle was that we couldn’t find confirmation for the 90-day car rental for the vehicle we’re picking up at Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport (MQP). Indeed the issue was more about Covid brain fog and our lack of ability to locate the booking information easily. This has never been an issue for us. I always enter the booking details on our Cozi travel calendar. There was nothing there.

These massive chocolate cream puffs made my mouth water. The brownies on the far right were at least 4″ squares.

We spent at least two hours figuring out which car rental company we’d used and which company was supplying the car. We went through past credit card statements and finally found three small deposits we’d paid in March. Finally, we figured it out, after calling the company..

This error occurred when we were rushed to book this entire trip to the US, one hotel and flight after another. When we returned to South Africa, the records for that one rental car fell through the cracks when we were swamped booking flights and vehicles for Florida, Minnesota, and Nevada.

Yes, we love bacon, but I’m not sure about chocolate-covered bacon. Thank goodness I can’t have sugar. I’d have been tempted to try it. I encouraged Tom to try one of these fantastic items, but he prefers plain old-fashioned doughnuts, which weren’t available.

Thankfully, all is fine now, and the car will be waiting for us at the airport next Tuesday. However, we weren’t able to secure a straight 90-day booking. Every 30 days, we’ll have to return the car to Nelspruit (a three-hour turnaround) to sign another 30-day contract. However, we will make every effort to convince them to let us send them photos of the car and odometer readings to allow us to keep it the entire time. We shall see how that goes.

Whew! Lots of challenges this time around. Fortunately, with sheer determination, I managed to set up my new laptop completely, finishing early this morning. That’s a relief to have out of the way. In the next few days, we’ll reorganize the contents of our luggage, weighing everything to ensure we comply. Then, at 4:00 am Sunday, we’ll leave the hotel for the airport.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 19, 2021:

This photo astounded us. See the post for details of the unusual phenomenon from our trail cam in Marloth Park. For more information, please click here.

What an undertaking!…Switching from Chromebook to Windows 11…

Tom’s dinner consisted of a fresh turkey club sandwich and chips (fries) when we dined once again in the Lucky Penny restaurant in the resort.

In the “old” days switching from one Windows computer to another was implemented by using a cable between the old and new computers. Some apps and data could be transferred wirelessly or using a flash drive or external hard drive as time progressed.

But now, after using a Chromebook for the past two-plus years, and storing all my saved files on the cloud, Google Drive, I need to rethink how I store and use the information we need to keep. I saved all my old files on an external hard drive and the cloud from the time I last used Windows in early 2020, but I don’t want to clutter this laptop with all those unnecessary files. This time, I am starting anew.

Our old posts and photos are stored online, so there’s no issue there. The old posts and included photos can easily be accessed via our archives. There is no need for me to save any of those offline. New bookings, photos, and financial information will be easier to access via files and folders saved on my desktop, which I missed with the Chromebook. There is no way to save folders on the desktop on a Chromebook, at least not by any means by which I was familiar.

Gosh, when I think of people who are not computer savvy and find it necessary to make a change such as this, it baffles me how they’d get through this process. Indeed, it would be daunting and overwhelming.  Then again, those who are very active on and offline already know how to do this stuff. For those who use email and Facebook and browse online, it could be relatively easy.

Tom’s daily breakfast in the Lucky Penny; eggs, hash browns, ham and toast with jelly. He’s certainly enjoying this big meal.

But, for those seeking to participate in advanced tasks, such as keeping detailed and accurate records for business and personal use, making such a change could be time-consuming and difficult. I am not finding it difficult. But, starting from scratch  it will take some time.

So far, as I’m preparing today’s post, I keep encountering the necessity of adding apps I use in preparing each day’s post, some of which are Google-related (Chromebook), not Microsoft-related (Windows). I have found it necessary to continue to use some Google features I like, such as Google Photos, Google Keep, and… I may keep using the Gmail app instead of Outlook. I was never a big fan of Outlook, even in the early days when I used it exclusively.

In any case, I won’t continue to bore our readers with this massive change after today’s mention. Each day, I’ll add more and more apps and files, and perhaps in the next week or so, I’ll have it done. I am looking forward to being done, although I must admit, I enjoy doing this for some odd reason.

As I prepare today’s post, I’m thrilled about how much easier it is to type. When I started working on this Lenovo Flex 5 yesterday afternoon, I automatically banged extra hard on the letter “L,” which motivated me to purchase a new laptop. Other keys and the spacebar required me to bang on the keys to get a result.

My breakfast of three egg white gluten free tortillas, with chicken, guacamole, salsa and onions. It is low carb and very delicious.

What a pleasure it is now. I can type easily, although I am learning to use a different keyboard with numerical keys on the far right that I didn’t have on the old Chromebook. Thus, I need to position my hands toward the left to avoid accidentally hitting numbers instead of letters. In no time at all, I’ll get used to this change.

How are we feeling today”? Tom says he is 75% to 80% better than a week ago. I am, too, but I am still experiencing a lot of congestion, a sinus-type headache, and a degree of lethargy. Although not a napper like Tom, I am getting well over eight hours of sleep each night, according to my Fitbit. It seems sleep is the most beneficial aspect for the recovery of Omicron. We tested positive four weeks ago today.

In four days, we’ll depart for South Africa on a two day journey, spending one night in Johannesburg to avoid driving on the dangerous Highway N4 at night. There have been countless car-jackings using a device called spiking which tear up a car’s tires and causes drivers to stop and get out of their vehicles. At that point, the drivers and passengers are often killed and robbed of their belongings. This is scary. There is no way we’d drive on that highway in the dark.

Well, folks, that’s it for today. Sorry for the lack of interesting photos. Neither of us feels up to looking for photos ops right now. We’ll have plenty of opportunities when we’ll be back in Marloth Park in less than a week.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 18, 2021:

Mongoose waited at the door for food before we’d even gone outside in the morning. For more photos, please click here.

Tasks, done and dusted…Setting up my new laptop…

My new laptop. See the specs below.

This morning, we picked up the hotel arranged rental, a new BMW, a lovely car, much more upscale than many we rent while living in different countries. It was an easy process. We arrived at the concierge desk, and within 10 minutes, the car was delivered to the valet area, where we jumped in and were on our way.

Well, I shouldn’t say “jumped in.” I am recovering more slowly. We’re still somewhat weak and lethargic, me more so than Tom. He’s rapidly on the mend, off of all medication, and regaining daily strength and stamina. The headache over my left eye is relentless, making me wonder if I may have developed a sinus infection from having Covid.

I’m not going to a doctor here in Nevada. Once we return to Marloth Park a week from today, I will make an appointment with Dr. Theo, as will Tom, to be checked after the dreadful round of Omicron, lasting a month so far. I can’t wait to feel like my energized self, as I had when we left Marloth Park on March 23, after I’d been vigorously walking 7000 to 8000 steps a day.

We’re getting in about 5000 steps a day in this vast property, but I am exhausted after each walk through the property. This is a typical after-effect of having a more extreme case of Omicron, not significant enough to require hospitalization but dramatic enough to impact the quality of our lives over the past many weeks.

Tom’s new Samsonite suitcase.

The thought of heading out shopping for a new laptop for me and a large suitcase for Tom intimidated me. How would I feel walking around Costco feeling as weak as I do? But, somehow, once inside the giant store, with the prospect of buying a new laptop, a burst of adrenaline and enthusiasm got me through selecting a computer that would serve my heavy use needs.

I selected a Lenovo Ideapad Flex 5 with an Intel i7 processor, a lighted keyboard, and a touchscreen with Windows 11, including these specs:

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 15IIL05 81X3000VUS (Intel i7-1065G7 4-Core, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, Intel Iris Plus, 15.6″ Touch Full HD (1920×1080), Fingerprint, Win 11 Home) Graphite Grey Convertible Laptop

This same laptop is for sale on Amazon for US $999. The Costco price was US $799, but we had a shop card from Costco for US $310 plus a $80 credit from our prior use of our Costco Premium membership. We only had to pay the difference with tax. We feel comfortable that we got a good deal.

It was nice to ride in an excellent car like this BMW that we rented through the hotel for US $79 a day. We’ll turn it back in tomorrow morning.

I am still typing on my old Chromebook with the bad letter “L.” As it turned out, this cheap HP Chromebook wasn’t sophisticated enough for my heavy use. This new computer has a larger monitor, better for our regular streaming of various services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. The screen’s better resolution will be a big bonus as well.

Two of my favorite features are the built-in card reader for my camera and the lighted keyboard. Although I don’t type much in the dark, I’ve always loved a lighted keyboard and haven’t been able to get this feature on my last few laptops. I am thrilled to have this now.

I encouraged Tom to get a new one like mine, but his Chromebook still works well, and he has no interest in replacing it right now. By tomorrow morning, I will have everything set up on the new machine and be able to post using it. We will keep this old laptop for streaming news broadcasts, sports, and other background shows while working on our regular laptops.

After the trip to Costco, where Tom had no luck finding a new large suitcase, we headed to TJ Maxx and within minutes found Tom a fantastic black Samsonite bag, easy to identify with two tan stripes running down the black surface. He’s already moved his clothes into the new bag and is content with his purchase.

The car has an elaborate console.

Then, we stopped at Walgreens Pharmacy to pick up a few Covid-19 antigen test kits we’ll use the day we depart for South Africa on Sunday.

That’s it for today, folks. I am anxious to wrap this up to continue setting up my new laptop. Switching from Chromebook to Windows 11 will be time-consuming, but I am looking forward to working on it. I won’t be carrying over all the junk files from the past by doing a manual update so that I can start with a clean slate. All of my old files are on Google Drive, which I will easily be able to access on this new device.

It may take me weeks to get everything set up to my liking since I’m not feeling 100%, but I have all the time in the world.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 17, 2021:

Kudus stopped by for pellets at sundowner time. While watching wildlife, it will be fun to be back in the bush, feeling better and sipping on an adult beverage, such as my favorite Skinny (ow alcohol) red wine. We haven’t had a drink in almost a month. For more photos, please click here.

Weird news…Bad news…Good news…

Last nigh, Tom enjoyed his Rueben sandwich in Lucky Penny restaurant in the resort.

Our flight to Las Vegas from Minneapolis had a late departure, by almost an hour. The flight itself was good on a newer Delta plane with entertainment screens which helped the time pass more quickly. Tom and I each had aisle seats across from one another. We wore our masks on the plane, but less than 25% of the passengers did the same.

The flight arrived at 6:30 pm. We drank only bottled water and ate a few little packets of almonds. Tom has insisted I ride in a wheelchair since I was too slow walking after being sick for almost a month with Covid-19 and mainly lying in bed. Poor Tom had to handle the luggage but paid for a trolley to assist, the only place in the world where we’ve had to pay for a trolley.

I should mention that the fabulous helper that wheeled my chair was so conscientious that it shocked us. His name is Lee Paolo Matela. He works for a company called LAS Prospect, and they surely couldn’t hire a better candidate to work for their company. While I waited for Tom to collect the rental car, I emailed the company praising Lee Paolo for his kindness, efficiency, professionalism, and customer service. What a treasure this guy is!

I needed to wait for Tom at entrance #26 on the departure level with the trolley with our bags. He was gone no less than an hour. We knew it would take a long time when the rental car area was far from the airport, requiring transportation on both a bus and a van.

I watched out the window for every car approaching, hoping it was him. Finally, he shows up on foot without a car. What? I was shocked to see him on foot. When he explained that ACE car rental refused him the vehicle, they required a copy of a home utility bill for Nevada residents (which we are) to rent a car. We don’t have a utility bill for a home in Las Vegas. We don’t have a home. Good grief! That’s the weird news!

There we were, exhausted from the lingering effects of Covid-19. We hadn’t eaten anything in 13 hours except for those few nuts, and now we had no transportation. It turned out, a comedy of errors. We had to make our way to a distant area to get in line for the taxi stand. Tom pushed me in the wheelchair, insisting I stay in the chair while I pushed the trolley using his strength from behind me.  This would have been quite the sight to see.

Finally, we found a worker who grabbed a taxi for us, and we were on our way to the Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa in Henderson, Nevada. How we’d manage to go to Costco, replace Tom’s broken suitcase, and pick up supplies at our mailing service, a 30-minute drive from here, baffled us at that moment. We could barely think straight to come up with a plan. We both agreed to worry about this today instead of last night.

Check-in was relatively painless. A bellman delivered our bags to our lovely hotel room on the 7th floor. Since we’d booked the hotel with Expedia on our site, the best price we could find, we received priority status and received a coupon for 20% off on all of our meals. It looked like we’d be eating at the hotel without a car. Besides, we still didn’t feel well enough to go out to a restaurant or even have a beer or glass of wine.

Last night, I managed to eat every bite of this delicious Cobb salad at Lucky Penny.

This week will be one month since we tested positive for Covid-19. So far, we’ve spent 26 days in isolation; two on the ship and the remainder in hotel rooms. Tom’s cough is much better. He’s taken all of the antibiotics as of last night and the last of the cortisone this morning. He’s still using the nebulizer six times a day and will continue for a few more days. His coughing is 75% better and improving each day. That’s good news!

Walking to and from the hotel’s restaurant takes everything we’ve got. I am still getting headaches, occasional fast pulse, and minimal coughing. Of course, both of us are struggling with becoming exhausted from exerting ourselves in any way.

OK. So our big concern is getting our stuff at the mailing service, which has the Costco gift card we received for using Costco Travel for sailing on the Celebrity cruise, during which we got Covid-19, which we’ve intended to use toward the purchase of a new computer for me. The keyboard is dying from overuse. It’s over two years old, and I am ready to upgrade and return to Windows. I can’t bring myself to become a devoted user of Chromebook for the long haul. I need easy access to desktop folders with files that can be easily accessed.

We headed to dinner at 9:00 pm here, 11:00 pm to us, to the Lucky Penny in the resort. It has excellent food and service, and most likely, we’ll have breakfast and dinner there each of the remaining six days we’ll spend in this town, in this hotel. Tom had a fantastic Rueben sandwich with chips (fries), and I had a Cobb salad, both of which we’ve included photos here today.

This morning at breakfast in the same restaurant, savoring delicious meals, we came up with a plan. We’d arrange for a rental car through the hotel’s concierge for one day. After breakfast, we met with Douglas, the Concierge, who, with the greatest of ease, arranged a rental car for us for 24 hours, starting tomorrow morning, for only US $79. At 10:00 am tomorrow, the car will be driven up to the hotel’s valet station, and off we’ll go, no utility bill required. Good grief! Good news!

We’ll return the car tomorrow night and get all of our projects handled; head to our mailing service to pick up our mail which contains the gift card for Costco; then to Costco to use the gift card toward the purchase of my new laptop and Tom’s new suitcase; Walgreens for two Covid-19 tests for our upcoming flights to South Africa, using the US $15 coupons we received for Tom’s US $300 of prescriptions.

Our goal is to continue to rest and recover, which we both see as vital to our recovery. This morning, just walking in the hotel to breakfast used almost 2500 steps registered on my Fitbit. After dinnertime, I’m sure we’ll be up to over 5000 steps which equals over two miles. Based on how we’re still feeling, we’d never consider walking two miles while we’re still recovering. Once we both feel better, we’ll gradually amp up our activity levels and exercise.

We aren’t looking forward to the difficult upcoming two travel days back to Marloth Park. We have an over six-hour layover in Newark, followed by the 15-hour flight and having to spend the night in Johannesburg, to avoid the risk of the excessive number of carjackings after dark, on the N4 highway from the airport to Marloth Park.

When we leave Las Vegas on May 22, we’ll have to get up at 4:00 am to get to the airport for the international flight and then again at 4:00 am when we leave Johannesburg the following day.

We’re anxious to be in our new house in the bush to get back to some semblance of “normal life” among our human and animal friends in the bush.

As lovely as this resort is, it doesn’t feel like a “holiday” as much as it feels like another hotel room in which to recover from this dreaded virus. All we can say, at this point, is to do whatever possible to protect yourself from this virus. Perhaps we should consider ourselves lucky. It could have been worse, much worse. For that, we are grateful. The rest? An annoyance and gross and costly inconvenience. We can recover from this!

Take care, everyone!

Photo from one year ago today, May 16, 2021:

Our photo of the black sparrowhawk when it took a break from devouring its kill. For more photos, please click here.

On the move again…We’re off to Las Vegas…

The pool at the Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa where we’ll arrive later today.

The thought of the upcoming trip to Las Vegas is a bit intimidating. Neither of us is feeling as well as we’d like to be able to travel. Knowing that in one week from today, the two travel days to Marloth Park are even more intimidating, but hopefully, we’ll have recovered all the more by then.

Tom is still coughing, considerably more than me, but I have the fierce Covid headache that comes and goes along with a lesser cough and lots of congestion. We are not our usual “travel-ready” selves. We have no idea how the airplane’s cabin pressure will feel right now.

But, it was only two weeks ago that we flew the long distance from the UK to Minnesota when our symptoms were worse (we tested negative), and the journey was over 12 hours from airport to airport. I barely remember that trip except for the several movies we watched during the flight.

There are rarely entertainment screens on these shorter US domestic flights, so the 3½ hours will drag on. There’s no point in upgrading to business class for this short flight. We’ll check into upgrading when we fly back to South Africa a week from today. Gosh, that’s coming up quickly.

We would have flown back to South Africa from the UK two weeks ago in a perfect world. But, we’d already paid for all of our flights and hotels in advance and wouldn’t get refunds, only credits which we may or may not be able to use in the future with time restrictions on them. We assumed we’d feel better at some point and be able to continue with our plans to see family, but it just didn’t work out that way.

As it turned out, yesterday afternoon, we drove out to son Greg’s house and saw the three grandkids and Greg, who greeted us outside while we stayed in the car wearing masks. Miles had yet to get a negative Covid test, and we couldn’t take any chances. That’s not to say we won’t have risks flying on an airplane when the US doesn’t require Covid tests to fly on domestic flights. Ah, you can run, but you can’t hide from this pandemic. It’s everywhere.

It was wonderful to see the sweet smiling faces, all wearing braces, of the three teenagers and Greg. Camille wasn’t feeling well and was sick in bed, so we didn’t see her. It was only for a few minutes with no hugs and kisses, but we were glad we saw them.

  • It didn’t work out to see Tom’s family members. We can only look forward to the next time we visit the USA when that is up for grabs. We don’t have a clue when we will return. When we can start booking again, we’ll have a better idea.

We asked for and received a late check out from our hotel today. We’ll head out around 1:00 pm, drop off the rental car, and head to the gate to wait for the flight. Last night, Tom checked us in for the Delta flight and paid for our bags, US $140 for all of our checked bags. We had more bags this time due to the extra dressy clothes for the Cunard Queen Mary 2 cruise, on which we never sailed due to contracting Covid-19 on the last two days on the Celebrity Silhouette cruise.

Ah, this wasn’t the ideal travel experience we usually encounter. But, this could have happened to anyone, anywhere, at any time. No one is exempt from this virus regardless of how hard we’ve tried to stay safe over the past few years.

We’ll make the best of this last week in the US and then be on our way back to the safe haven we’ve found in the bush. The thought of being back in Marloth Park by May 24th is comforting.

Next time we write, we’ll be doing so from the comfort of our lovely hotel room at the Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa in Henderson, Nevada.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 15, 2021:

He ate pellets, left, walked around the house, and returned to the garden, thinking we might assume he’s someone new and offer more pellets. The warthogs and bushbucks are good at this maneuver. For more photos, please click here.

One day and counting…Tom is on the mend…Maybe seeing family today…

Last July out to dinner on Camille’s birthday with my son Greg, wife Camille, and three grandchildren, Madighan, Miles, and Maisie. I wish we could have done something like this while we were here this time.

Tomorrow afternoon at 3:45, our flight from Minneapolis to Las Vegas takes off. Hauling all of our bags at the confusing and overly busy airport in Las Vegas is daunting. It’s not as simple as deboarding the plane and making our way to baggage claim.

We have to take a train with our bags to a waiting area to take a shuttle to the car rental area. The last time we arrived in Las Vegas, we had to stand in line for almost an hour to board the shuttle to get to the rental car area and then wait another 30 minutes to get the car.

At this point in our Covid-19 recovery, I can’t imagine either of us standing for so long, especially while handing the bags without a trolley which isn’t allowed in the queue. Yesterday, we discussed the possibility of leaving me at the pickup level with all of the bags while Tom does this part on his own.

I wish I could do this for him, but the rental car is in his name as the only driver, and they’d never turn the car over to me. It’s the nature of the beast. But, it will be a whole lot easier for him without the bags in tow. Once he gets the car, he’ll drive to the area where I’ll be waiting for him. He’ll call me when he arrives. I’ll have the bags with me on the trolley.

Once we load the bags, we’ll be on our way to the Green Valley Ranch Resort in Henderson, about a 20-minute drive from the airport. Then, we’ll begin to focus on our recovery. We haven’t made plans with Richard yet, but we probably won’t see him and his girlfriend until Monday night for dinner.

There are numerous restaurants in the resort. We are never happy with room service food, preferring to have more control over what we’ll have for dinner. On Monday morning, for the first time in almost four weeks, we’ll have breakfast in a restaurant, the lovely Lucky Penny restaurant in the casino. It will be easy for us to do another night of takeaway, which we’ll have in our room.

Tom is feeling well enough he doesn’t see any benefit to returning to Urgent Care. Once we return to Marloth Park in 10 days, we’ll book appointments with Dr. Theo to be checked for any residual symptoms we may be experiencing at that time. We’re hoping by that time, we’ll be fully recovered but based on how slow improvement has been,

I’m not entirely sure we’ll be free of symptoms. We will be very grateful if we are free of the annoying and uncomfortable symptoms that have lingered for 3½ weeks since we initially tested positive on April 20 while still on the ship.

This morning, I am doing our final loads of laundry. It’s taking everything I have in me to manage these two loads of laundry. This may be the last time we’ll do laundry until we arrive in South Africa on May 24. Everything we do is in slow motion right now.

This afternoon, we plan to drive over to Greg and Camille’s house and see everyone from the car. No kissing. No hugging. Just quick hellos and goodbyes from the vehicle with our masks on. With us still coughing, it’s too risky for them to be too close to us, and with Miles’ recent positive tests, any of them could be asymptomatic, carrying a variant different from our recent infection.

Too much is still unknown about Covid. With conflicting opinions online on the length of contagion while still experiencing active symptoms, it’s vague about the potential of us infecting anyone else. We are most likely safe, but we are also concerned about getting reinfected by others.

So there it is folks. We are very grateful that getting Covid wasn’t worse than it was, requiring hospitalization. Our two weeks in Minnesota were spent in isolation in a hotel room once again.  We are anxious to get on with our lives, hopefully soon.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 14, 2021:

Three wildebeests were lying in the driveway shortly before Dawn and Leon arrived for sundowners. For more photos, please click here.