Yesterday’s fantastic visit with a dear old friend…Quiet afternoon and early evening in the hotel while Tom was out…

This photo was taken on December 6, 2013, from Marloth Park. See the link here. The bright glare of the setting sun impeded our photo-taking of these elephants across the river. But, we were thrilled to get these. Soon, we’ll see elephants up close when we enter Kruger Park.

When Tom was meeting with his son TJ at a restaurant about 15 minutes away, I decided to see if I could change my planned visit to my dear friend Chere’s home in Eden Prairie. As much as we treasure time with friends, we have prioritized time with our children and grandchildren over all else.

Based on the time he and TJ were getting together, it didn’t leave time for him to pick me up when he’d be done. Nor did I want him to have to rush his time with his son to come to get me at Chere’s home. When I called and explained the situation to Chere, her husband Gary agreed to drop her off at our hotel. Chere recently had knee replacement surgery and hasn’t been cleared to drive.

By 1:30, she walked in the door, albeit a little shaky on her new knee, and we hugged as close girlfriends do. Instead of coming to our messy room with all of our recent purchases piled up, we sat in the lovely hotel lobby at a table with comfortable chairs and sipped on hot tea, and caught up.

It wasn’t as if we had much catching up to do when we’d last got together during our US visit in 2019 (but not when we were here, sick with Omicron last May). We’ve stayed in close touch over the years via text and email and knew what was going on with one another. Plus, Chere regularly reads our posts which easily fills in the blanks of what we’ve been up to.

Chere is a highly educated nutritionist and holistic dietician who has appeared on many local and national TV news stations over the years, as well as speaking as a keynote speaker at countless conventions on health, nutrition, and wellness, often sponsored by large corporations. It was as if we’d never been apart. I wanted more details about her life over the past few years.

There’s something magical about the skies over Africa from what we’ve seen so far in Kenya and now in South Africa, also from this date, nine years ago.

This passion we share for health, fitness, diet, and food brought us together years ago and remained a favorite topic as we share more intimate details of our lives, as girlfriends often do. It was delightful catching up with her. The almost three hours we spent together passed way too quickly.

Her husband Gary arrived to pick her up a few hours later but only after sitting with us for a while for more lively conversation. By the time they walked out the door after warm hugs and goodbyes, it was 4:30, and Tom had yet to return. But my delightful afternoon wasn’t over yet.

The lovely guest services representative, Kelly, at the hotel front desk, poured me a glass of Pinot Grigio, and another great conversation ensued, only occasionally interrupted when a hotel guest needed attention. Again, the discussion was lively and entertaining, and time flew by. Suddenly, it was close to 6:00 pm, and I headed back to our room. I was getting hungry and opened the meat and cheese tray in the little refrigerator for such an occasion.

A short time later, Tom returned, smiling over his enjoyable time with his son, and we decided to forego dinner. I’d eaten enough meat, cheese, and olives to hold me, and Tom said he had two generous portions of popcorn at the bar and wasn’t hungry. Also, we knew we could head to the included breakfast at this excellent hotel at 6:30 am, and we could easily wait for that.

Speaking of this hotel, Hyatt Place in Eden Prairie, we’ve decided to stay here each time we return to Minnesota. The only inconvenience is the lack of washers and dryers at the property. But everything else is superior to the other hotels where we’ve stayed in this central location. Their breakfast is good, the coffee is excellent, and the service is over-the-top.

The hotel had recently been remodeled and is attractive and modern, whereby the other hotels where we’ve stayed in this area in the past are somewhat dated. This seems to be a popular hotel for business people, with efficiency and competitive pricing the norm, typically at $118 a night, a real bargain for this suburban area. When we return in September, we will certainly stay here again.

Today is a quiet day. No family members were available to get together, so we will head to TJ Maxx to buy a suitcase for everything we purchased. We will also stop at the local CVS pharmacy for more of the sinus treatment product I’ve been using that I’d purchased at the pharmacy in Komatipoort. I hope they have something similar here since I’ll be running out by the time we depart. I don’t want to worry about heading to Komatipoort the day we return.

Otherwise, all is well. We’ll be dining out with Greg’s family tomorrow night on our final evening in Minnesota. We’ll head out for dinner since the cost of takeaway is as costly as dining in at some restaurants we like. We begin the long trek back to South Africa and Marloth Park on Thursday.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago, December 6, 2021:

A male impala is on the lookout in Kruger National Park. For more photos, please click here.

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