Memories come to mind…Readers, thank you for the inspiration!

We often encounter unknown flower varieties when we walk in the neighborhood.

When we recall our first foray outside the US on January 3, 2013, when we embarked on the classic old-style Celebrity Century, the first cruise for both of us, the level of anticipation and excitement was indescribable.

At the time I was a little fearful of heading out to sea on such a big ship. The first few nights I lay awake from the creaking and rolling, wondering if something was wrong with the ship. 

By the time the Century made its way through the Panama Canal with the new locks being built beside it, I felt like an old ship’s hand, comfortable and at ease.

The pebbly road we walk in the neighborhood.

After 11 cruises all fear had long since dissipated as I embraced the wild seas, the rocking and rolling and what became familiar ship sounds both during the day and at night. 

When we sailed on our first Atlantic crossing in April 2013 to experience our roughest seas ever, 50 foot (15 meters) waves on the Norwegian Epic, we both wandered about the ship excited and amazed by the rough seas with nary a hint of seasickness while most passengers were tucked away in their cabins on medications and patches for seasickness.

The infirmary was packed with ill passengers while we visited with others like us, who enjoyed the excitement and for whatever reasons, don’t suffer from seasickness. 

Many homes are tucked away in the neighborhood, down long driveways, difficult to see beyond the dense vegetation.

For three days, the same few of us wandered about the ship thoroughly relishing in the unique experience while the remaining staff members who hadn’t become ill helped carry our coffee and beverages to a table. The pools were closed, as were many of the activity areas and some restaurants. 

We all managed to stay busy for the three rough days and nights at sea, watching movies in the rolling theatre, playing cards slipping and sliding on the outdoor tables, and dining in the main dining room as our plates and drinks slid across the table if we didn’t hang onto them. 

When it was finally over, the passengers began to quietly exit their cabins, all a little pale from being unable to eat and drink for three days. Within a day of smooth sailing the flurry of activities including drinking, eating, and socializing was once again in full force.

A wide array of plants and flowers are found in the neighborhood.

We treasure these memories, especially when we can look back at our over 1000 archives not only to refresh our memories in our telling of the stories but in seeing those memories in our photos. What a treasure to have this journey documented to this degree! 

We never stop appreciating our readers for being the catalyst and the inspiration to continue posting day after day. Had it just been a personal travel journal with a collection of photos, we may have made excuses day after day not to write the experiences, both big and small. 

In our old lives, I seldom wrote anything on the back of a photo describing who, what and where the photos were taken. Now, an entire story and multiple photos accompany every memorable experience.

The river winds through the area.

Knowing 1000’s of our readers throughout the world has spurred us on, day after day is life-changing. Those bringing up our site day after day to see what’s happening, at times finding only our mindless drivel or gentle ramblings over a sometimes simple life and at other times, finding an exciting memorable experience. 

No excuses are needed here to avoid posting. The only potential reasons we don’t post are due to a total lack of available WiFi service or during long travel days. Even on those days, we attempt to get something uploaded.  We’ve continued to post on sick days even if only to whine about being under the weather.

Last night, as we watched Episode 3 of Season 6, the final season of Downton Abbey, tears came to my eyes, not over a sad episode but due to the fact that we’d visited Highclere Castle in August 2014, home of the filming of this fine BBC series and its series end upcoming at Episode 9. 

Our photo. We held our breath as we approached Highclare Castle, home of the famed BBC Downton Abbey TV series. No interior photos were allowed.  Please click here for interior photos of the house

With only six more episodes to watch, for us, it’s the end of an era. Having walked the grounds and the familiar rooms of the castle, we became entrenched in its rich history and exceptional design and the very way it fit into the exceptional series.

Please click here for the first of two days of photos and stories from our visit to Highclere Castle, the filming site for Downton Abbey.

Please click here for the second of two day’s photos and story of the village of Bampton.

Last night’s episode showed several scenes in the village. The sleepy town of Bampton, England was used in the filming of the series including the interior of the church and a few other buildings. Having been inside that church, in that village, the memories brought huge smiles across our faces and for me, tears to my eyes, tears of joy for having had the experience.

This is the altar inside the church where the Mary and Matthew of Downton Abbey were married. To be able to visit this village, take this and other photos inside of this church and village, shown many times on the series, including last night’s episode (spoiler alert), was a memory we’ll always treasure, among others in our journey.

The long time span between series seasons was due to the show’s producers wanting to give the owners of the castle and the villagers time to recover from the last disruption of filming which sends their lives into total upheaval. 

The notoriety of this series has brought new revenue streams to both the villagers and castle owners along with the commotion which they seem to have appreciated and enjoyed.

Now, as we countdown to departing Fiji in five days with more upcoming memorable treasures behind us and more awaiting us, we’ve kept the TV tuned to a combination of BBC news and Fiji’s own channel 18 for Nat Geo Wild with one episode after another of places we’ve been, the wildlife we’ve seen up close and personal and of course, places we’ve yet to visit.

The river is lined with houses many with docks and boats, able to head out to sea from this waterway.

All we have is the moment in which to live.  In another moment, it becomes but a memory. It’s those moments and memories we treasure whether it’s a face-to-face encounter with a crocodile, a visit to a world-renowned castle, or a warm and unspoken wide grin to one another… it’s all worthy of a memory!

We carry on, hopefully with humility, grace, and ease…May you continue to do so along with us.

Photo from one year ago today, December 30, 2014:

From left to right; Sarah, TJ, me, Tom, (front) Vincent, Jayden, Nik, Tracy, and Tammy, a photo we took yesterday of our remaining family members.  Tammy, Tracy, and Vincent remained in Pahoa for four more days while the others had headed home. For more details, please click here.

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