Fantastic 4th of July in the bush…Are we wildlife spotters?…

The 4th of July invitation we received weeks ago.  These two sure know how to put on a party!
Thanks, Kathy and Don with lots of help from Linda and Ken who are staying with them this week until Sunday when they all depart.  Sadly, we won’t see them again for many months.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Last night’s sunset from Kathy and Don’s third-floor veranda overlooking the Crocodile River.

Leave it to Kathy and Don to once again host a unique evening in their lovely home in Marloth Park located on the Crocodile River.  With 12 of us in attendance, it was the perfect number for their huge table on their veranda on the third floor.

Fern and Tony, otherwise dressed as Dolly Parton and Uncle Sam.

Arriving by 17:00 hrs., (5:00 pm) we had little time to take sunset photos until soon it became dark while the evening cooled during these chilly winter nights in the bush.  We all bundled up in jackets we’d brought along giving little thought to the chill as the drinks flowed and festive began to the point of pure delight.


Tom and Andrew.

Once again Don and Ken displayed their singing and dancing talents performing as the Blue Brothers from the 1980’s.  We howled with laughter cheering them on as they danced many of the popular dances over the past five decades. 

Long time friends, Linda and Ken, originally from the UK, now living in South Africa while they also travel the world.

The dinner was great as always with plenty of items I could eat.  For dessert, Kathy and Linda presented Ken (his birthday was actually yesterday) with a lit birthday cake with those hysterical candles that won’t blow out resulting in yet another laugh fest.

Leslie won the 4th of July quiz although she isn’t American.

Before we knew it the evening came to an end and we made our way home, mindful of the possibility that the lions could be nearby. We gingerly got out of the car keeping a close eye on our surroundings until we were safely indoors.


Don had made Long Island Ice Teas for the hot dog and other starters.

Regardless of how practical we attempt to be, there’s no way there isn’t an emotional impact when we watch or hear of a predator killing and eating another animal.  It’s exciting to many of us here in Marloth Park that lions are on the loose, only adding to the mystique and wonder of this unusual place.

Kathy, as always, had set a beautiful red, white and blue, theme-appropriate table for 12.

But most people here in the park also have become very attached to these beautiful creatures and it’s never easy to see one taken by a predator.  In any case, we spent several hours driving through the park yesterday when notices came out (via Messenger) that someone had spotted the lions.

We didn’t have any costumes so we wore red, white and blue.

Who knows how long they will stay in the park?  There’s no competition here for food sources and they could easily decide to stay for the long haul. 

Kathy, priming the audience for the upcoming “Blue Brothers” show.

We’d love to spot the lions to take photos.  We’ll continue to head out each day on a mission to see if we’ll get lucky.  In the interim, we’ve had several amazing sightings in the past 24 hours which we look forward to sharing in a few posts over the next few days.

Don and Ken had practiced well for their performances which including lines to memorize and a wide array of dance steps. 

Tomorrow will be a busy day, posting and preparing a birthday dinner for Kathy, whose actual birthday is tomorrow. Our friend Linda’s birthday is in less than two weeks.  It’s cold outside.  Since we really don’t have room at a table indoors for six of us we’ll make it work staying bundled up.

As always we were quite impressed with their performance.

That’s it for today, folks.  We’ll be back with more fun photos tomorrow.  Please check back.

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Photo from one year ago today, July 5, 2017:

 Miles, Madighan (front), with me, Maisie, Camille, and Greg.  We were winding down to leave Minnesota to head to Nevada for more family visits.  For more details, please click here.

Two lions sighted on our street last night!…Zebras and kudus stampeding in the driveway!..Video…

We always attempt to zoom in efficiently enough to leave out the fence.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This happened so quickly that we only got the last few seconds of what appeared to be a stampede by zebras and kudus in our driveway.  Stunning, today on the 4th of July!

This morning our dear friend and property manager Louise, sent out this message warning of two lions sighted late last night.  Thanks, Louise for always being on the ball on these important updates.

PREDATOR WARNING:
Good morning. 2 Lions spotted late last night in the area of Swartwitpens, Hartbees, Pappegaai, Woodpecker, and Butterfly. Please take caution as they still might be in the area. Thank you.







We hadn’t heard any more details about the lioness that had entered Marloth Park a few weeks ago prompting everyone to believe she may have returned to Kruger National Park.

We spotted these elephants from Marloth Park across the Crocodile River a few days ago.

There’s no word yet on the gender of these two lions but surely in the next few days, something will be posted on the Marloth Park Sightings on Facebook.  We’ll keep an eye out for updates.

Last night, we didn’t take any photos when I was busy on Skype speaking to son Greg, daughter-in-law Camille and our three grandchildren, Maisie, Miles, and Madighan. 

This parade of elephants consisted of more than 30.

They were camping about an hour outside of Minneapolis and it was fun when Miles carried the phone around to show us photos of their new fifth wheel camper.  In return, I showed Madighan the bushbabies by turning around my computer while she squealed with delight over how cute they are.  Maisie had an opportunity to see a few warthogs in the yard including Little Wart Face. 

It’s not easy taking photos through the narrow electrified fence between Marloth Park and Kruger National Park.

Having face-time with family is especially fun although due to the big time difference we don’t always have the opportunity to do so.  Its hard to believe that in a mere nine months, in April, we’ll be back in Minnesota to see everyone. 

We got out of the car and moved as close to the fence as possible to get these shots.  In Kruger, exiting a vehicle is strictly forbidden.

This visit won’t be as long as last summer’s six-week stay with only 17 days in Minnesota but we’ll focus on spending quality time with both sides of the family as we did last year.  However, we plan to return in September 2020 which is 16 months later.

In between all of these dates, we have so much planned all the way into 2021, along with gaps we’ll fill during the next year.  To see our most recent itinerary, please click here.  The itinerary is perpetually evolving as we acquire interest and enthusiasm for new and different locations.

Such mysterious and fascinating animals.

Once we’ve upload today’s post we’ll be heading out for our usual drive in the park but this time with eyes focused on spotting two lions and the eight ostrich chicks seen with mom and dad on a nearby dirt road.  Of course, that doesn’t mean we won’t stop to take photos of other wildlife we discover along the way.

As for today, the US holiday, Independence Day, the 4th of July, as mentioned in a prior post, we’re attending a holiday celebration here in the bush at friends Kathy and Don’s home beginning at 17 hours, (5:00 pm). 

The caring these animals feel for one another is always obvious when viewing them in the wild.

Tom’s busy reading up on facts about Independence Day since Don, as always, will have a relevant quiz.  Tom won last time (at their Easter party).  We’ll see how it goes tonight.

May all of our American family and friends in the US and living in other countries have a safe and meaningful Independence Day.  Our patriotism and devotion to our country and to each other is vital to our freedom, our prosperity and to everlasting peace.

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Photo from one year ago today, July 4, 2017:

With the bright sun behind us, this photo didn’t come out too well plus our plates of food look twice as big as they actually were.  For more details, please click here.

Stars and Stripes…And, more stripes….Finding ingredients…Off to the Marloth Park Honorary Rangers Winter Fair…

This particular “dazzle” of zebras was all female except for a youngster.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A zebra attempting to climb the steps to the veranda.

In four days, we’ll be attending a US holiday 4th of July party at Kathy and Don’s home, overlooking the Crocodile River.   Twelve guests will be in attendance with only four of us actual US citizens; us and Kathy and Don.

Zebras love pellets, carrots, and apples.

The rest are native South Africans and from the UK, all of whom love a reason for a party.  Kathy and Don will do their usual “over the top” celebration often including games, prizes and unique entertainment and festivities.


As soon as Kathy mentioned this upcoming event, I chimed in offering to make my former 4th of July US flag cake which I’d make each year in our old lives.  I made the offer which Kathy accepted stating to “make it small” since most in this group aren’t into desserts as Americans may be. 

In our old lives, I used to make this US flag cake every year on the 4th of July.

 Plus, with a few of us avoiding sugar or gluten, there’d be lots of cake left even if I made the small version.  Then, Tom would end up eating the leftovers.  Not necessarily a good idea.

Of course, there’s often a warthog on the scene, in this case, one of our favorites, Little Wart Face.

The offer of the cake was more for the festivities than the eating but I was bound and determined to make it, never giving it much thought after my offer. We planned to shop the day before the party to ensure the berries as shown on the cake were fresh. I’d planned to bake the cake the morning of the party.

Three weeks ago, I saw fresh strawberries and blueberries in the market thinking “no problem.”  But over the next few weeks, there were no strawberries. One week later and there were no blueberries.  They don’t keep.  The markets in Komatipoort receive stock on Thursdays and Fridays for the weekend.  By Tuesday, there’d be no chance of buying fresh berries. 

Zebras don’t stay around too long unless there’s a constant stream of pellets, fruits, and vegetables.

It’s not like the US or many other countries here when there’s usually exactly what one needs regardless of the day of the week.  We always shop on Thursday afternoons but even then, many items haven’t been put on the shelves, and the more popular items are already gone, purchased by the morning shoppers.  We’ve learned the drill.

Often, zebras come to visit at night making us thrilled for a daytime visit.

This may sound disgusting to health enthusiasts out there, but this particular cake in order to taste exceptional requires Cool Whip, a non-dairy topping, heavily sweetened with real sugar, that tastes exceptionally good.  We’ve seen videos from the US of people eating bowls of the chemical-laden stuff as a treat.

This zebra was licking pellet dust off the veranda tiles.

I must admit that in our old lives, either of us may have at one point or another taken a taste or two with a spoon directly from a plastic container of Cool Whip in the fridge.  It was really good…then.  I used to put it on my ice cream with caramel syrup.  Oh, good grief!  My mouth is watering!  Stop!

Well, anyway, this cake requires Cool Whip which is not available in South Africa, certainly not anywhere we checked in Komatipoort.  It made no sense to drive far away hoping to find it.

This zebra started climbing up the steps to the veranda but they’re slippery and she backed off.

A few days ago, I let Kathy know I wasn’t making the cake…no berries…no Cool Whip.  Since no one in the group was particularly gung-ho for sweets, Kathy said, “No worries, don’t make a cake.”  I felt bad since it’s not my nature to offer to do something and then “backpedal.”  In this case, I had to let it go.

These two were scrounging for any stray pellets.

Two days after the 4th of July, we’re hosting a dinner party/birthday celebration for Kathy who’s birthday is on the 6th and Ken’s (of Ken and Linda) will have been on the 4th.  Lots of fun reasons to celebrate life in the bush!

As I’m sitting here now, on yet another perfect-weather-day, nine kudus stopped by, all girls, all looking for pellets, apples, and carrots.  My favorite kudu who I can identify by a “u-shaped” notch in her right ear, walks right up to the edge of the veranda and licked my bare toes, as usual.  She makes me laugh! 

A third joined them in the search.

As soon as we upload this post, we’ll be heading to Henk Van Rooyen Park for the annual Honorary Rangers Winter Fair.  This is the same location where Aamazing River View restaurant is located which we wrote about in yesterday’s post here.


Tomorrow, we’ll return with our experiences and photos from the fair.  No doubt we’ll run into some of the many wonderful people we’ve met in Marloth Park over this past almost five months.  What a ride it’s been so far!
May your day be bright and sunny!

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Photo from one year ago today, June 30, 2017:

Look at all that luggage we had back in January 2013 as we prepared to board our second cruise in Fort Lauderdale.  We posted this old photo one year ago today when we had purchased two new bags.  We no longer have any of the pieces shown here when we’d seriously unloaded “stuff” during our first year or two.  For more, please click here.

Happy 4th of July to all Americans…Dinner with more friends…Three days and counting…Saying goodbye has begun…

With bright sun behind us, this photo didn’t come out too well plus our plates of food look twice as big as they actually were.

I believe I met Lisa in 1990 and her husband Brian (her then boyfriend) a short time later.  The three of us became fast friends.  In 1991, I met Tom and he too fell into the groove of this fine friendship with this lovely couple.

At the time they lived in Minnesota but after a few years they moved to Las Vegas.  We stayed in touch.  Over the years with son Richard living in Henderson, Nevada it became a normal course of action to see them when we visited Richard and my sister Susan who moved to Las Vegas many years ago.

Maynard’s on Lake Minnetonka has remained a popular lakeside restaurant since we left.  We had a reservation, but outdoor seating wasn’t available when we arrived at 5:30 pm. Instead, the four of us dined indoors in a comfortable booth.

For those who are living outside the US, Henderson is an upscale less-hurried and less-gambling-orientated suburb of Las Vegas, although the two cities are next door to one another. We’ll include more about Henderson after we get settled upon our pending arrival in three days.

Our friends, Lisa and Brian, drove from Wisconsin to have dinner with us on Sunday night.  Thank you both for coming to hang out with us.

In 2009, a year before I retired, I went to Henderson to help son Richard with his booming real estate business.  The market had crashed the prior year, but morphed into an outrageously active marketplace for buyers and investors with the intention of purchasing everything they could get their hands on.

Tom ordered the Kung Pao Chicken which he found to be too spicy for his taste.

That wasn’t the case in Minnesota, which was barely chugging along after the economy had crashed.  I left my share of our real estate company in the trustworthy hands of my business partner Theresa, while I took off for five months to help Richard.
We piled my car with the “stuff” I’d need for such an extended stay including my beloved Australian Terrier Willie and drove from Minnesota to Nevada, staying at dog friendly hotels along the way.  Willie immediately learned that if he knocked on the car door, we’d stop the car so he could go “potty.” Loved that dog!

I ordered my usual salad that has seen me through dining out every night in Minnesota; a variation of a Cobb Salad; chicken, bacon, hard boiled egg, tomatoes, onions, olives with a side of sour cream.  The blue cheese was missing, but I didn’t squawk.

The plan was for me to live with Richard while we worked together during that extended period.  Moms and adult sons don’t necessarily make the best “roommates” but we did our best and stayed out of each other’s way. 

The interaction between Willie and Richard’s pug Monty (now in doggie heaven along with Willie) created many laugh worthy experiences we both still treasure today. 

Lisa ordered the chicken lettuce wraps. Most likely this would have worked for me but I was hungry and this wasn’t quite enough food after not eating for almost 12 hours.

After we arrived and unpacked the car, Tom flew back to Minnesota on Halloween 2009 in time to hand out candy to the trick-or-treaters who flocked to our neighborhood for the generous offerings from us and our friend/neighbors for their ambitious hike to our remote private road.

Upon my arrival, I had to apply for a Nevada real estate broker’s license, attending school and taking a test.  It took an entire month for the license to come through.

It was during this five month period I spent considerable time with Lisa and Brian, my only friends living in Las Vegas.  On a few occasions, Tom flew back and forth to see me as we stayed in close touch by phone.  It was a long five months being apart from one another.

Brian order the plain broiled chicken breasts with baked potato.

At Christmas that year, Tom flew out for his birthday (December 23rd) and the Christmas holiday.  We had dinner at Lisa and Brian’s beautiful home, helping to prepare a few dishes while thoroughly enjoying spending the holiday with them and other friends.

When the five months ended, Willie and I returned to Minnesota, happy to be back with Tom, our home and with other family and friends.  Being away for so long wasn’t easy.

Before leaving to travel the world in 2012 we spent some time in Nevada, again over the Christmas holiday while establishing our Nevada residency.  We got our Nevada driver’s licenses and spent quality time with family.  It was during this period, we had a few opportunities to be with Lisa and Brian again.

After we’d left to travel, they moved back to the Midwest, this time in Wisconsin, to be near family.  We hadn’t seen them since until they joined us at the friend/readers Meet & Greet several weeks ago and then again on Sunday night.  At the end of the evening we all hugged a warm goodbye, knowing someday in the future we’ll all be together again.

This morning son Greg, Camille and three grandchildren came for breakfast at our hotel.  We had a fabulous breakfast together with lots of delightful chatter.  Later today, at 6:00 pm, we’ll meet them for dinner at our favorite restaurant after which we’ll all say goodbye. The process has begun…

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Photo from one year ago today, July 4, 2016:

As a renowned international business center there are many high rise office buildings in Singapore.  For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…Too many photos for one post…See yesterday for Part 1…New chaise lounges…

 

Our new chaise lounges on our patio. Later in the day the sun will  be in a better position for sunning. Grazie, Lisa and Luca!

Before we continue with the story of our exploring walk in the neighborhood, I wanted to express how grateful we are to Lisa and Luca, the property owners of our home in Boveglio. They have bent over backwards to ensure our visit is everything we’d expected and more.

 A few days ago, we posted the photo of the cemetery at the church where the larger clock tower is located.  Here again, from another perspective. We had walked for quite some time on the hilly narrow roads but surprisingly we weren’t very far away as the crow flies.  For example, it took us almost 40 minutes to get to Pescia last week but in fact, its a mere 11 miles from Boveglio.

Yesterday, I asked Luca by email (which he translates to Italian) if they had two chaise lounge chairs we could us on our own patio as opposed to those at the far end of the property enclosed in a small patio that has a tremendous amount of bees and wasps. 

Many restaurants, bars and shop’s hour are different than in the US, many taking long breaks during midday.  This little pub apparently, only closes for lunch, then ending its day at 7:00 PM, perfect for the happy hour crowd, if there is a crowd.

The blooming flowers, which are lovely to see and smell attract the bees, making our hour of sunning less enjoyable, especially for me, more allergic than Tom. 

The BAR Ferrari, the local pub we stumbled across on our extensive walk in the neighborhood.  The bar was located in the “square” a miniature version of various “squares” we walked in Venice, most certainly nothing like St. Mark’s.

Inside the house, we’ve exercised caution without screens in keeping the flying stinging insects at bay as much as possible. Of course, we have multiple EpiPens with us in the event either of us is stung.

Soon, we’ll visit this bar at happy hour.  It didn’t appear that they carry Tom’s preferred beverage of choice, Courvoisier but most assuredly, he’ll find an alternative, if only a beer.

The view of our familiar church and clock tower from the veranda at the pub.  lose and yet far away.

 How exciting it is that we now have a local pub we can frequent, as long as Tom can make it back up the hills to our home, with a few cocktails under his belt.

Leaving the square, we began our climb back up, trying in vain, to find a less strenuous path for one of those nights after happy hour at the pub.

The hour of sunning a few times a week provides us with a healthy dose of Vitamin D and a bit of color with no sunburn. Plus, under normal circumstances, its fun to lay out, chatting away, reading our books on our Kindle apps on our smart phones.

Trying this path proved to be a dead end after a steep climb on irregular stone steps.  Back down we went, to try again.

This morning, while Tom slept in (an oddity), I heard the doorbell buzz at 9:00 am.  There stood Lisa’s parents at the door, each holding a brand new chaise lounge, price tags still attached.  Not only had they honored our request but they purchased new chaises.

Leave it to Tom to notice the build up of creosote in this chimney.  I’m checking out the flowers and design and he’s looking at maintenance issues. 

After many nods and numerous “grazie,” I placed the chairs inside, anxious to show Tom. Immediately, I ran to my computer to write to Lisa and Luca, thanking them for the chairs, saying “old” would have been fine but “new” was more than we could have asked. Could they be more thoughtful? Their kindness enriches our time in Boveglio.

Tom was the first to notice this pretty entrance which is actually an operating hotel.

 

These steps were more steep than they appear in this photo.  Puff! Pant! Puff! Pant!
Zooming in and looking up, we realized we had a lot more climbing ahead of us to get back. We walked up many steps to get to this inclining ramp.
We neared the ramp by climbing many steep steps.
Once again, we were on level ground for a few minutes.
More steps up and into a tunnel.

 

All of a sudden, another shrine appeared with a tub of two faucets running constantly with what appeared to be clean water, used by the residents.
What appeared to be fresh running water at the shrine, collecting in this large basin.
We came across this tall narrow house.  Can you imagine the steps inside this property? Its no wonder Italians appear so slim and fit!

 

Another tucked away shrine.
Another old carving of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus.

As we worked our way between the houses on the narrow walkways, we realized there was much more yet to discover which we’ll save for another day.With plenty of groceries to last through next week and the weather perfect at 80 degrees, the lavender beginning to bloom, we have literally no desire to go anywhere. 

This house looks free standing but it’s attached to other houses.

The $850 a month rental car sits unused in the parking lot assigned to the residents. I guess that’s all a part of “living” for periods of time in new and interesting locals. 

 The walkways although old and worn in spots are clean and well maintained.  Its evident that homeowners take pride in their neighborhood.

When we “lived” in our old lives, we didn’t go sightseeing every week (or ever for that matter), we paid for car payments, insurance, maintenance while our cars sat idly in our driveway on days off. 

This ramp was awkward to maneuver.  One must continually look down when walking to avoid falling on the uneven walkways.

We enjoyed our time at home, with or without visits from family and friends, doing what we loved to do, whatever that may have been at the moment. 

As we were nearing the far end of our yard, Tom looked for an access point without success, hoping to discover a shortcut.

One might argue, “Well, you won’t be in Italy forever. Better see it while you’re there.” That’s true and we’ve seen so much more so far than we’d have seen if we’d been on a two week vacation. And, we’ll see more soon, and we promise to share it all here.

The flag hanging on the veranda reminded us that the US holiday, the 4th of July, is tomorrow.  It will be the first time in either of our lives that we won’t be celebrating: no family and friends visiting, no flags, no flag cake, no long weekend, no barbecue, no big bowls of an array of salads, no water balloons and no fireworks.

We hope your summer day is warm, sunny and peaceful and that tomorrow, on the 4th of July (for those in the US), have a safe and enjoyable holiday!

 

Hot today!… Happy 4th!…

Here it is, our last 4th of July in Minnesota, except for perhaps a time in the future, when we’ll return to visit family and friends.  It’s a mixed bag of emotions.  

Tom set out the 200 plus flags along both sides of the peninsula on Sunday as we’ve done for over the last two decades, boaters driving by waving at us for our festive display.  Fortunately, there were no storms, these past three days that may have blown them away.

Overlooking our yard on the smaller side of Lake Minnewashta.

Yes, it hurts to leave all of this behind. It’s sad to leave our three adult children, their significant others and six grandchildren who live nearby.  We’ll miss them and we’ll miss all of our relatives, neighbors, friends and co-workers we’ve come to love after all these years.  We’ll no longer be Minnesotans.

My favorite spot where we lounge in “comfy” outdoor chairs
With our new upcoming residency in Nevada, where eldest son/stepson, Richard lives in Henderson with our funny grand dog, Monty; my eldest sister living in Boulder City (25 minute drive); and dear old friends also in Henderson, we won’t be lost making Nevada our new address. 

Nevada offers many retiree benefits of which we’ll partake. Change is not easy, especially as one ages. We worry about finances, health, available services and basic creature comforts. We long for a certain sense of familiarity to bring us comfort and peace.

Overlooking our peninsula yard and dock on the bigger side of the lake.

In a short time, we’ll take a risk with our health, exposed to disease in strange lands. Although we’ve carefully planned, some of our funds may be at risk at times, less services (dentist, doctor, vision care) will be available to us and we will forfeit the familiarity that brings us comfort and peace.

According to the app on my phone: Retirement Countdown Free, we leave Minnesota in 3 months, 29 days.

Photo of Retirement Countdown Free app on my smart phone

For today, we’re heading outside to enjoy the sunshine, the heat, the flags, the festivities, the great meal we’ve prepared, and the people we love. Have a happy day!