Gorgeous scenery all over the world…Fountain Park in Fountain Hills, Arizona…

From this site: “The famous fountain in Fountain Hills, Arizona: Built-in 1970 by Robert McCulloch the fountain is one of the largest fountains in the world! The fountain sprays water for 15 minutes every hour at the top of the hour. The fountain uses 7,000 gallons per minute and at its full height, it can reach 560 feet in the air. The plume rises from a concrete water-lily sculpture in the center of a man-made lake. At its full height of 560 feet, the fountain in the center of Fountain Hills is higher than the Washington Monument. It is 10 feet taller than Notre Dame Cathedral, 110 feet higher than the Great Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt and three times as high as Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park. The white plume of the world-famous fountain is visible far beyond Fountain Hills. It can be seen from as far away as the Superstition Mountains, Carefree and even from aircraft. The fountain is the focal point for community celebrations and the pride of its residents. If you happen to visit during the St. Patrick’s Day celebration, you’ll see the fountain transform to emerald green. The Fountain is extended to its full height on special occasions, for every day viewing the Fountain reaches a height of 330 feet! The World Famous Fountain runs every hour on the hour for 15 minutes from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. every day of the week! This fountain is a celebration of life and water where it is most appreciated – in the middle of the desert.”

Although we haven’t been out sightseeing while here in the US, with little time to do so, it was delightful to drive through Fountain Hills, Arizona, a veritable paradise-like town amid saguaro cactus, desert sands, surrounded by earth-tone colored mountains and man-made bodies of water which soften the harshness which is typical in the desert.


We stopped for photos along the way, in awe of the beauty prevalent in this upscale community of newer homes, gated neighborhoods, fashionable shops, and southwest themed restaurants.


It’s odd driving through the barren desert to stumble across a built-up area such as this. We couldn’t help but gasp over its pristine beauty. However, never for a moment did we wish we lived there. One can admire the beauty without feeling a burning desire to be a part of it.

We had little time to stop before meeting up with Vicki and Jerry and took most of
today’s photos from the car.

We moved along on the highway, leaving Fountain Hills making our way toward Tonto Verde Golf Club where we met up with Vicki and Jerry as described in yesterday’s post here. As stated, we had a wonderful day with the fine couple.


After yesterday’s busy morning with laundry and grocery shopping, I put together a few easy items for last night’s happy hour gathering at our place. I made a chicken salad (with buns on the side), cut up raw veggies for dipping, chips with salsa, a plate of cheese, crackers, and olives along with store-bought chocolate covered eclairs for dessert. 

There are many statues at Fountain Park of famous Americans.

It was a quick and easy collection of items of light snack type foods not requiring a lot of fuss. For tonight’s gathering at the firepit at 4:00 pm, I am making the popular artichoke dip served with Club crackers.


Last night when Mary said she was making deviled eggs, which I’d planned to make, this morning I decided to make something different and headed to the nearby Safeway market, much smaller than the giant Costco-sized Fry’s to buy what I’d need. 


After no more than two minutes in the market, I sensed a frenzy among the shoppers. When a woman approached me with a spiral-sliced ham on sale for $10 as opposed to $25, my ear perked up. 

Could this be Thomas Jefferson?

She explained that by signing up for their online app which I did while I was in the produce department, anxious to pay $1 for a 10-pound bag of potatoes, I downloaded the app and all the specials of the day were available to me, many at ridiculously low prices.


I found myself entrenched in the frenzy. For example; I purchased two pounds of quality butter at $.99 a pound, four pounds of bacon also at $.99 a pound and so much more. Of course, I couldn’t resist the ham which most likely we’ll have on New Year’s Day. It was fun. I’d hadn’t seen a sale like this in years.

Abraham Lincoln with Ben Franklin in the background.

So now, after we’ve finished lunch, our current main meal of the day, I’ll make tonight’s appetizer which we’ll bring hot to the fireside mulled wine party beginning at 4:00 pm this afternoon.


It has warmed up considerably today. Tom is busy opening the blinds and windows as we speak. With the sun shining on our unit, it can get very warm indoors. Right now, the outdoor temperature is 63F (17C) and sunny, perfect for us!

What a fascinating horse statue!

Tomorrow, we’ll return with more new photos from tonight’s event. May your day be sunny and bright!

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Photo from one year ago today, December 18, 2018:

Two males impalas stop by for food and a rare visit. For more photos, please click here.

Lions on the loose in Marloth Park…We’re missing the adventure!…Photos…

Two female lions spotted in Marloth Park! (Not our photo).

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“Ireland
runs under a democratic nation, and established their present constitution in
1937.”

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There’s no doubt about it…we’re missing the excitement over this past month when several lions were sighted in Marloth Park, walking about the streets in search of food.  Surely, they’ve found plenty in the bountiful wildlife reserve.


It would have been quite an experience to be one of these drivers on the paved Olifant road, when these two females, as shown above, sat leisurely on the side of the road oblivious of the cars stopping to take photos.


There were several occasions in the 15 months we lived in the bush, that lions found a way to get into Marloth Park via an opening in the fence, often dug up by warthogs.  Unfortunately, we never had a chance to see them, although we went out looking for them slowly driving from on dirt road to another.


During those periods we could often hear their roaring at night.  Many of our friends in the park are equally excited now, as they see and hear them.  Of course, we could always hear Daisy and Fluffy the two neutered lions who live in Lionspruit, the reserve within a reserve in Marloth Park.


Lionspruit was the location for many fantastic braais and parties we attended at Frikkee’s Dam with Louise, Danie, and many others.  We were aware of Daisy and Fluffy (male) presence in the area but hardly worried about it.


Now the workers, homeowners, and holidays renters are being warned to exercise the utmost of caution when walking anywhere in the park or even in one’s own garden. As always,  there is an after-dark curfew in place which is difficult to enforce when there are no police in the park.  


Through the hard work of local volunteers, the park is “policed” but they aren’t able to arrest anyone.  The three security companies in the park join in the “policing” but here again have little ability to arrest anyone.


Many may dismiss the fear of lions in the park as being overly cautious.  But, while we were in the park, we did a story with photos of Jonas, a local worker, now 20 years later, a popular builder and friend to the park, who was attacked by a lion in Marloth Park receiving horrific injuries.  


Somehow, Jonas survived to share the story and go on to live a productive life.  If you’d like to read the story of Jonas and see photos of his scars from the attack, please click here.


Here’s our photo of Jonas when he and Danie came to visit us so we could share his story along with photos:

Jonas has scars all over his body from the attack from 20 years ago when he was a young man, riding his bike at night in the dark.

Jonas speaks little English but speaks Afrikaans and Danie translated to English for our benefit on that memorable day.  He was so kind to have taken the time to meet with us and retell his shocking story of living to survive a lion attack.  We posted the story on March 11, 2018.


We’re hoping no one will be foolhardy and ignore the curfew and stay away from the lions who aren’t hesitant to be present during daytime hours.  When such warnings were out during our lengthy 15 months stay it wasn’t unusual to see children riding bikes and walking alone on the roads.  Who are these people who would be so careless?

We’ll continue to check out what will transpire until the lions are darted and returned to Kruger.  But, at this point, all efforts have been futile.  We miss the park, always will and hope to return someday soon.

Have a safe and fulfilling weekend!
                        ______________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, July 6, 2018:

Mom and Dad were obviously very proud of their family.  Ostriches mate for life.  For more photos, please click here.

Contemplating continuing a life of world travel….

In the past almost five months we’ve only seen one wildebeest run through the garden.  Last nights two visitors were quite a thrill.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

What a pose!  What was she thinking?  Females feathers are brown and males are black.

In the past several days after celebrating our 27 years together, we’ve found ourselves reviewing the time we’ve spent together.  As most couples some of it was easy and other times were challenging.  But, the one constant has been our love for one another.

Elephant viewing from the fence between Marloth Park and Kruger National Park.

Yesterday, while driving through Marloth Park we raised a number of questions regarding “what ifs,” and how we handled them at this point in our lives.  Most likely this is a conversation some couples dare to discuss from time to time, especially as we age.

While in Kruger it would be impossible to see these elephants by the Crocodile River based on the terrain.  But, from Marloth Park, we often spot these magnificent beasts.
One may ask, “What if I became ill and couldn’t take care of the day-to-day tasks I’ve so easily handled in the past? Would we expect that I’d go to a nursing home or assisted living facility?  Would you go with me if that was possible?”

Almost every time we’re out driving through Marloth Park we spot elephants beyond the fence.

These are tough questions none of us likes to contemplate.  The answers don’t come easily if one is being honest with their partner.  And sure, it’s important to have a plan in mind as we age, as to what our best options may be in these difficult situations.

There may be one elephant or 40.  However many there may be, we’re always thrilled to see them.

Since we have no home, answers to these types of questions become all the more difficult to answer.  Of course, we’ve discussed many possible scenarios and like you, have ideas in mind what we may do in such a situation, or in the case of an unforeseen emergency; injury, surgery or debilitating illness.

An ostrich on a leisurely walk in the park.
But, yesterday Tom brought up a point we’ve never discussed to the degree we did in the car which we continued once back at the house:  What would we “really” do if one of us wanted to stop traveling, not as a result of a medical situation but instead, simply due to being tired of living this peculiar life on the move?
When we originally decided to travel the world in January 2012, we made a pact: That if one of us grew tired or bored with this life, the other would agree to stop.  Plain and simple.

This flock of ostriches is often found in a particular area near the river we often visit when on daily drives.  Note the chick on the far left.

Tom’s question, posed with the utmost of love and concern, was, “What if one of us wanted to stop and the other absolutely did not want to?”  Wow!  That would be a challenge, wouldn’t it?  We recalled our pact. 

Tom feeding kudu girls and boys from the veranda. 

However, a lot has transpired in the past number of years and we both are so committed and dedicated to this blissful life, we can’t imagine ever changing our lifestyle unless we physically could carry on no more (which in the realm of things, most likely will eventually happen).

So let’s assume for clarity, what if I wanted to stop, get a permanent home, stock it with stuff, to live out our remaining years in a warm climate somewhere in the US or elsewhere?

A group of kudus is a “forkl” and often females and males are together in a family unit referred to as a “harem.”

At this point, we were situated on the veranda setting up for the evening’s wildlife watching, a glass of wine or cocktail, and eventually the great dinner I’d spent the better part of the day preparing before we embarked on the late afternoon drive.

We were both perplexed as to how we’d answer this difficult question, now with so much experience behind us and our acquired passion for world travel.  We never dreamed this would be us, now or ever, for that matter.

He ate a few pellets, looked at us and was on his way, the other following close behind.

We agreed that the next possible question would be, “Could we talk the “disenchanted” into changing their mind?”  At that point, we both agreed that we’d be open to discussion as the next logical step.

Tom always says, “It’s a good thing we found each other otherwise we’d be screwing up two other innocent people.” 

In other words, neither of us can imagine, now or at any time in future ever become bored or disenchanted with our lives together as it is now.  We even laughed at the preposterous nature of this concept.

And so…we carry on, fulfilled, content and hopeful for the future, together as a determined team to see the world, on our terms, in our own time for however long we’ll be blessed to do so.

May your dreams be fulfilled as well. 

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Photo from one year ago today, July 2, 2017:

Tom and I dined here in our old lives.  Dining here while we were in Minnesota last year didn’t fit into the budget in this life.  For more details, please click here.

Yikes!!!…Monkey in the house!!!…Quite a sighting on the river…A meaty mishap…

Water spouted out of his mouth after he took a big gulp of water.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

An appropriately named Fish Eagle, stood watch over his “catch of the day.”

Each day brings new excitement.  Whether its the sighting of a new bird, beast or blooming flower, not a single day passes without one form of adventure or another.  It becomes a matter of paying attention more than being lucky.  There’s never a shortage of opportunities.


We’re always hoping to have the camera on hand for such occurrences but sometimes something happens so quickly a photo isn’t possible.  This morning was exactly that case.

Last night, while viewing the Crocodile River in Kruger National Park from Serena Oasis, aka Amazing River View, we noticed this solitary giraffe approaching the water.

Tom was outdoors and had noticed a number of Vervet monkeys trying to get seeds out of the bird feeder.  When this occurs, he often takes the bird feeder down from the tree which requires the use of a long pole we keep close to the front door.  He did exactly that while alerting me to the monkey’s presence.


I was busy indoors, chopping vegetables for wildlife and to roast for tonight’s dinner. While he was busy in the yard, in a literal second in time, a monkey ran into the house, onto the kitchen bar stools, perused what was available and counter top and snatched an apple.  There wasn’t enough time with my wild response to grab anything more.

And respond I did!  I literally screamed at the monkey to “Get out!” while yelling at Tom, “Monkey in the house!”  There was nothing he could have done that I wasn’t doing, chase the darn thing back outdoors.

Several times, he bent down preparing to take a drink but hesitated, standing and looking around.

This all transpired in literally 20 seconds or less.  Of course, my first thought, once the monkey was back outside, was, “Darn, I wish I could have taken a photo!” 


Generally, while I’m preparing food I don’t plan for photo ops and didn’t have the camera beside me on the wet granite counter top.  But, when I’m not in the kitchen or bedroom it’s always within a second’s reach.  Oh, well, this time we can only tell, not show, what happened.


We prefer to keep the door to the house open and while we’re on the veranda, generally, the monkey won’t approach the house.  This was a unique and isolated case of circumstances being just right for the monkey, not so right for us.

Giraffes are vulnerable when they slowly bend to drink when predators such as lions, cheetahs, leopards, and crocodiles may attack.

Many people are fascinated with Vervet monkeys and baboons.  However, as we’ve mentioned in the past, they are highly destructive and can tear a house apart in a matter of minutes.  That’s why, most of the houses in Marloth Park has some type of protection over their windows, not necessary screens (which are seldom seen on windows in Africa) but bars and other protective materials.


With my heart pounding, I retold the incident to Tom and we both chuckled, grateful nothing was damaged and kind of intrigued by this first experience.  Luckily, we were out only one apple for the “other” wildlife.  We’d never had a monkey in the house.  Have you?  Such an oddity.


As for last night, we had a farewell dinner with Kathy and Don.  They’re on their way to Pretoria on Sunday but fortunately are returning in about three weeks.  We have such fun with these two fine people and last night couldn’t have been more perfect.

He didn’t stay down for more than a few seconds, fearful of his vulnerability.

We met shortly before five at Serene Oasis, a bar/restaurant located in a local park with outstanding river views from their veranda.  They don’t allow visitors to sit and watch unless they purchase a beverage and/or food.  We’d decided to have “sundowners” there and once the sun was set, head to Jabula for the best food in Marloth Park.


It proved to be a perfect plan, after all.  Not only did we capture many of today’s photos but we had a fabulous time sitting outdoors yakking up a storm while enjoying nature at its finest.

Carefully bending his knees, he gracefully dipped for the first drink.

When darkness fell we drove to Jabula for a delightful evening with great food and again conversation.  Dawn, the owner (with husband Leon) her assistant, Lyn always make us feel so welcomed with hugs and kisses and the finest service and food in the land. 

Now, on to the “meaty mishap.”  It goes like this…on Thursday we grocery shopped ending up at the butcher when we were done at Spar.  We purchased ZAR 798, (US $60.40) in meats, from chicken breasts, beef mince, pork tenderloins to bacon.

Another quick sip…

Twenty five minutes after leaving the butchery on Thursday we were back home putting everything away.  We hadn’t used the little car for 26 hours  since purchasing the meat, when we left yesterday at 4:30 pm to meet up with Kathy and Don.


Upon getting our seatbelts on, I asked Tom, “What’s that bag in the back seat?”  He turned around and touched the bag.

This morning I was cutting vegetables for roasting when the Vervet monkey entered the house.  There were two apples near this pan.  He took one of them.

“Oh, no!” he exclaimed, “That’s the bag of meat!”  He had a pained look on his face. “Yesterday, I put it in the back seat, not the trunk, which was already full.  Then, when I brought everything inside the house I forgot about the bag in the back seat.”

Since we both avoid “blaming” in such situations, my thoughts revolved on trying to make him feel better and not beat himself up.  It could have been a lot worse.  It the realm of things, its no big deal.  Sure, no one wants to be out the money and its only a small “hit” and not worth stress or frustration.

The monkey didn’t have time to grab any of these grape tomatoes I’d washed with me shooing him outside while yelling all the while.

Soon, when we’re done here, we’ll head to the butcher store, another branch of the store in Komatipoort and re-purchase the items we lost.  We found a dumpster and unloaded them before we entered the restaurant for fear the smell might attract wild animals while we were at dinner. 

Tomorrow morning, we’ll be posting but doing so earlier than usual. (We’ve booked another trip and will share details). We have a very exciting day planned.  We’re meeting up with friends, Cathi and Rick in Kruger National Park, whom we met in Kauai, Hawaii in 2015. 

This big bowl of vegetables, for the wildlife, also caught the monkey’s eye but he opted for the big apple as I shooed him outside. 

Avid photo safari enthusiasts having been to South Africa in the past, we thought it would be fun to meet up in Kruger rather than some other location.  They have other friends with them, otherwise, they’d have stayed with us for a few days.  But, seeing them for lunch tomorrow in Kruger will be such fun.

If we leave by 10 am, take our time driving in Kruger, we’ll easily make contact at our prearranged destination in Lower Sabie where there’s a popular restaurant.  It will be wonderful for all of us to be driving through the park seeing wildlife on our way to our get-together.

On Monday, we’ll report back with photos and details!

Have a fabulous weekend!

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Photo from one year ago today, June 9, 2017:

Perfect pink orchids at Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia.  For more photos, please click here.

My boys…What can I say?…It’s a glorious day in the bush!”…A few more Kruger photos…

We waited patiently as the giraffe made her way across the dirt road in Kruger.

 “Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

There he is…Scar Face has returned after a three-week hiatus. 

 With Louise, Danie and her parents coming for dinner tomorrow night, I decided to work on a bit of food prep this morning.  I had a late start after actually sleeping until 7:30 am, a rarity for me.  Tom was up at 5:30, as usual, unable to sleep any longer.

Greeting the balmy day couldn’t have been more perfect.  The sun was shining, the temperature was ideal and a slight breeze wafted through the air every so often.  Now, at noon, the perfect weather continues.

It’s looking better but it may take awhile longer for his injury to completely heal.

Of course, our day has been brightened further by the arrival of one group of visitors after another; Miss Kudu and baby; Mrs. Warthog, auntie and two babies; a couple of dozen helmeted guinea fowl; and then…pure delight.
 
At around 9:30 am, Tom called out to me while I was busy in the kitchen, to immediately come outside.  I was anxious to get out any way to begin working on today’s overdue post which I always do sitting at the big table on the veranda enjoying the sights and sounds of nature along with whatever visitors come to grace us with their presence.  Mornings are particularly busy.

Often, when animals in the wild are injured, they seem to know how to take care of themselves without intervention from humans.
I wiped my wet hands on the legs of my jeans, as I rushed outdoors, unsure of what to expect, anticipating that Tom was summoning me to see birds at the old bushbaby stand which we’re now using as a bird feeder, since we purchased a new bushbaby stand a few days ago from Daisy’s Den.

My heart stopped in my chest when there stood Scar Face, as Tom said, “Your boy is back!”  I literally squealed like a pig myself when I saw him.  He and I made our usual penetrating eye contact.  Oh, how I’d love to know what he’s thinking.

Its always a joy to see zebras whether here in Marloth Park or in Kruger.

Most likely he was hungry and was looking for apples, pellets and perhaps a few carrots.  (Warthogs are finicky about carrots.  Some like them, others do not).  Scar Face will eat a few. 


Luckily, yesterday after a shopping trip to Komatipoort and Lebombo (where there’s a market with the best carrots anywhere) we purchased plenty of carrots and apples some of which I’d already cut up. (Thanks, Louise for your help in the carrot matter). I grabbed the bowl from the refrigerator anxious to get back out to him.

A face only a mother could love!

Tom and I stood on the veranda tossing handfuls of apples and pellets to Scar Face while he voraciously devoured them as quickly as we could toss them out.  With the holiday season over for now and many homeowners off to other lands, it could have been days since he’d had much food other than his usual foraging.

With winter approaching and little rain, the pickings are slim for many of the animals and they surely appreciate a hand out of pellets, fruits, and veggies from whoever happens to be around.

Each time we enter Kruger we see at least one elephant, oftentimes many more.  We never tire of seeing the magnificent beasts or another other wildlife for that matter.


Why we hadn’t seen him since a week before we left for Zambia (we were gone one week) and now back a full week as of today, we’ll never know.  Maybe he came by while we were gone and gave up when we weren’t here.

Its impossible to read the minds of wildlife and although they’re “creatures of habit” like us humans, their patterns may be inconsistent as they wander through the 3000 hectares (11.58 square miles) that consist of this unique and magical conservancy where animals roam free.

Cape buffalo resting in the vegetation in Kruger.

He looked better although it will take many more months for his injury to fully heal.  He seemed otherwise healthy and when he was done eating and heard a noise in the bush, he took off an amazing pace. (Warthogs can run at a pace of 55 km, 35 miles per hour when chased by a lion).

Hopefully, now that he sees we’re here, he’ll return as regularly as he had the first months we were here.  Gosh, it’s so easy to become attached to these animals even when we don’t touch them or interact with them as we would a pet in our home. 

This is a female giraffe based on the hair on her ossicones which males do not have.

These are not pets.  They’re wild animals and although some have become used to humans in “their” territory, they still behave as wild animals.  It would be unwise and unfair to them to attempt to “domestic them.”  Doing so could ultimately result in their eventual demise.

Some disagree with feeding the wildlife.  We understand this concept.  However, many residents of Marloth Park have been providing pellets and/or vegetables and fruit to them for decades and they’re continued to thrive.  We’ve followed suit especially when we see the vegetation drying up as winter rolls in.

Tom’s hair had become unruly prompting him to get another haircut sooner than usual.

On Wednesday, Tom had his hair cut and is thrilled with the result.  Yesterday, as mentioned above, we headed to Lebombo and Komatipoort to shop for groceries, buy pellets at Obaro, stop at the pharmacy for a few items and see Dr. Theo for our appointment for more vaccinations.  More on this in tomorrow’s post.

He had it cut right here in Marloth Park at a busy salon near Daisy’s Den where we buy birdseed and other items.

Today, we’ll stay put while we continue to prep for tomorrow evening’s dinner party.  It will be fun to meet Louise’s parents and to share great conversation and good food and wine!

May your day be filled with happy surprises!

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Photo from one year ago today, May 25, 2017:

Sun filtering through the tall trees at Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia.  For more photos, please click here.

The Crocodile River rarely disappoints spectators but, may disappoint wildlife…

Four waterbucks sunning on sandbars.

 “Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Big Daddy Kudu resting in the shade on a hot day.

Every few days, we jump into the little car to drive to the Crocodile River.  Along Seekoei Street ( I dare you to try to pronounce that street name) there are several stopping points offering views of the Crocodile River which separates Marloth Park from Kruger National Park.

The river is a lifeline for wildlife that needs to drink and cool off in the often low water river during the less rainy periods.  Now, still in the rainy season, it isn’t nearly as prolific as we’d seen when we were here for years ago.

Here’s a photo we took yesterday of the Crocodile River (below).  It’s been very dry these past few weeks:

In a good rainy season, these sandbars may be covered and the river may be flowing.  Now it stands almost completely still awaiting the next rains.  We took this photo yesterday from a sheltered brick overlook on Seekeoi Street.

Here’s a photo we took four years ago of the Crocodile River  from a similar location shown on our link here:

 We took this photo on December 28, 2012.  Note how much more water there was in the Crocodile River than in yesterday’s photo above.
From this site“The Crocodile river is 1000km long and it spans over 4 provinces and through Botswana & Mozambique. It originates north of Dullstroom, Mpumalanga, in the Steenkampsberg Mountains Downstream of Kwena Dam, the Crocodile River winds through the Schoemanskloof and down the Montrose Falls. It then flows eastwards past Nelspruit and joins the Komati River at Komatipoort.

The Crocodile River in Mpumalanga has a catchment area of 10,446 km2. Upstream it is a popular trout fishing place. It flows through the Nelspruit industrial area, the Lowveld agricultural area and borders the Kruger National Park. The decrease in the flow of the river is probably due to water abstractions for irrigated fruit farming.”

One male and two female waterbucks resting on a sandbar.
Before we know it we’ll be rolling into fall and winter here when it rains even less than in the current-soon-to-be-ending summer months.  We can only pray for rain to keep the wildlife thriving and in good health.  That’s why, here in Marloth Park and Kruger National Park (and other parts of Africa) locals rejoice when it rains.
Of course, tourists may be disappointed when they come here in the summer months for a mere three or four days to discover it raining almost every day.  Fortunately, for us, we jump for joy along with the locals during a fruitful soaking rain.
Several oxpeckers are nearby as she lounges on the sandbar.

With the rains, comes the most valuable benefit of all…the growth and proliferation of green grasses, plants, and trees that many animals in this environment require for the sustenance of life itself.

For the first time, we’ll be in Marloth Park during the dry season which we hear can be devastating for the wildlife.  Many homeowners in the area make a point of trying to feed the wildlife as much as possible during this period.  This is both good and bad.

A lone elephant at quite a distance.

Many homeowners in Marloth Park have homes in other parts of South Africa or other parts of the world.  If they come for a few week holiday, feed the animals and then are gone for many months to come, the wildlife who’ve become accustomed to their generosity while they’re here, are left confused and deprived when their “supply” is no longer available.

With the best of intentions, we’ll be gone a year from now and hope there will have been plenty of rain for those dear creatures we also favored with food while we were here.  There’s no perfect solution.

The elephant is eating the lush green vegetation on the sandbar.

Most animals here in the park are omnivores thriving on the vegetation of one sort or another.  It’s with this knowledge that all of us provide some nourishment when we can.  But, sadly its never enough and culling becomes a disheartening reality when there isn’t enough to go around.

Yesterday, as mentioned above, we made our usual every other day jaunt to the Crocodile River, always hopeful we’ll get a glimpse of the magnificent visitors to this scenic environment.

We always feel fortunate to see one of these stunning animals.

We stopped along the Seekeoi Street many times ending up at the brick lookout and for the first time since our return to Marloth, there were tourists there enjoying the scenery.  It isn’t long before most visitors hear of this special spot and we’ve been surprised not to see others there before us, most recently.

A group of perhaps a total of 12 people, with iPads, tablets, phones, and binoculars in hand, busily took photos of the scenic surroundings which included a lone elephant and several waterbucks, who seem to frequent the river more regularly than many other species.

A female waterbuck stands to check her surroundings.

We stayed for awhile, chatting with the others people while taking several photos of our own.  No doubt, we were at quite a distance from the wildlife but made every effort to keep a steady hand while shooting the photos.

Back on the road, we spotted more wildlife, surprisingly out from under-cover on the extremely hot and humid day.  Overall, as usual, it was a good outing in Marloth Park. 

A type of goose we spotted, too far to identify.  Any comments from our bird enthusiast friends?

Soon, we’ll be heading to Kruger again but we’re hoping to do so after this extreme heat passes.  The AC in the little car isn’t that good and we’re more likely to see more wildlife on a day with more moderate temperatures.

Soon, we’re off to Komatipoort to shop which will require five stops at various shops; the Spar Market, the pharmacy, the biltong shop, the meat market and the liquor store. 

May YOU have a stupendous day!

_______________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, March 15, 2017:

It was one year ago today that we got together with dear friends Linda and Ken, who are from the UK and whom we met four years ago in Marloth Park.  We’ve since seen them here again, much to our delight and will see them again when they return from a cruise and other travel.  For more details, please click here.

Collecting seashells…Returning them to nature…Is it legal to collected coral in Australia?

 

Here are the laws regarding collecting any pieces of coral in Australia.

Over these past few years, we’ve walked the sands of numerous beaches throughout the world looking forward to many more beach walks in years to come. As we’ve walked our eyes have wandered from dreamily looking out to the sea to watching our step when an occasional branch or stick obstructed the path.

The Aztec type lines in this shell are amazing.

As we’ve walked we often looked down for seashells, often disappointed in never finding a single shell of any particular interest. Most were broken and already picked over from decades of tourists and locals walking those same beaches.

We found this coral in the bowl in the house. 

 

This shell has a rough exterior.

Here in Australia, after visiting many beaches so far we’ve been amazed by the number of shells we’ve collected. Are the beaches here all that less populated and visited by tourists? Also, we discovered some exquisite shells in a bowl here in our home. 

This shell appears to have an eye looking at us.

When we think of collecting seashells we often think of children sifting through the sand for that special find.  But, with our passionate relationship with nature, we’ve found ourselves picking through the sand with the enthusiasm of a child as we slipped one shell after another into our pockets to share here with our readers today.

This, found in the bowl in the house is quite unusual.

Few of the shells we encountered were broken and as we’ve continued on we realized we could easily have gathered hundreds, if not thousands of beautiful shells during this short period of time on our frequent visits to the half dozen or so beaches in the immediate area.

This shell is an exciting find.

Growing up in California I spent many sunny days at the beach. Then, it was easy to take the shells on the beach for granted when often stepping one could result in a tiny yet painful cut. 

This shell stood alone for its unique texture and color.

However, on occasion, a special shell would be kept as a memento of a good day at the beach often wishing I had a way to make a little hole in the shell to fashion it into a necklace with a thin gold chain.  n those days children were to “be seen but not heard” and asking my overworked father or angst-ridden mother for assistance was unthinkable. 

The smallest in this group is most intriguing.

 

The variance in color makes the shells, particularly interesting to find.

It remained a frivolous interest in the 1950s compared to my desire for a Barbie Doll which I never owned until girlfriends gave me one as a gift for my 40th birthday. I was thrilled as much then as I would have been at 10 years old. 

This is one of the larger shells we discovered.

Now, as we inspect the seashells we wonder what little creature dwelled therein, how long it survived, and why it left its shell behind. Below is the information, although simple, as to how seashells are created.

These three are definitely similar.
“Where do seashells come from? Seashells are the external skeletons of a class of marine animals called Mollusks. Where people have our skeletons on the inside of our bodies, mollusks have theirs on the outside of theirs. This way they help protect the creatures from predators, strong currents, and storms, help camouflage the animal and do many other things. Seashells are primarily made of calcium, a hard mineral, as our own bones are.
Speckled shell in varying shades of browns and gray.

“Marine” means having to do with the ocean — in this case, it means the animals live in seawater, in one of the world’s oceans.

When a mollusk dies, its shell is left behind, just as land animals leave their skeletons behind. Sometimes the shell is taken and used as a home by other sea creatures, such as hermit crabs. When a hermit crab outgrows the shell it has borrowed, it abandons it and finds a larger one to use.

Smoother exteriors on these shells.

Mollusks are divided into many types, but the two major ones are bivalves and univalves. These names are derived from Latin words, where “Bi” means “two” — which we see in words like “bicycles” (two wheels) and “bipeds” (animals that walk on two legs). “Uni” means “one” — for example the word “unicycle” which means it has just one wheel.

This shell appears to have a small round bead attached.

So bivalves are mollusks that have two shell halves that form a whole shell. Examples would be clams and oysters. Most mollusks are bivalves.

It’s colorful on the edges.

Univalves just have a one-piece shell, usually a spiral-type shell, often looking something like a larger, stronger, and more elaborate snail’s shell. Examples of univalves would be conch, whelks, nautilus, and similar shells.

Two of these shells had openings on the opposite side.

After the animal that created the seashell dies, the shell often washes up onto the shore or remains in the tide pool where the creature lived. Sometimes other creatures such as small hermit crabs then take the empty shell and use it as their home.”

This shell has a pearl or abalone type exterior.

 

These shells all had a  similar grayish tone.

Identifying all of the shells we collected and are showing today and their technical species names would take time sorting through hundreds of possibilities. We share them for their beauty and the possible story held therein that we can only imagine. For those of you interested in more technical details, please click here.

Most of the shells were smaller than a ping pong ball.

Today, we’ll return our shells to the beach where they belong, perhaps leaving them for someone else to find and treasure.

Plain white shells.

 

We grouped these together for their similar coloration.

Have a day filled with wonders!  We’re taking off for Cairns today and will be back with many new photos tomorrow.

                                             Photo from one year ago today, July 15, 2014:

One year ago today we were on our way for a boat ride in Funchal hoping to see whales up close and personal. Although we’ve been on several such boat rides, we’ve yet to see a whale up close. We’ll keep trying. These beautiful Alstroemeria were growing in our yard in Madeira. For details from that post, please click here.

 

 

Part 2…Sightseeing in Marrakech outside the Medina..A baby…

This camel calf is one month old.  Mom looked proud of her offspring, not seeming to mind when we moved around her to take photos.

As we drove through the beautiful Palmeraie area, it was obvious we were in an upscale area, although all the residences had high walls preventing us from seeing anything but the second floors and rooftops.

Tom and I, near the baby and her mom with the herd owner in blue in the background.

 

The herd owner couldn’t have been more pleased to share his camels with us. He suggested this photo for which we’d had no intention of asking. Most followers of the Muslim faith refuse to be photographed.

As I’d mentioned yesterday, there were areas along the side of the side of the road, with several herds of camel, every few blocks. With herd owners in attendance patiently waiting for customers seeking a camel ride or an opportunity to take photos.

These appear to be of a different breed as opposed to those we’d seen in Kenya. These single-humped camels are referred to as Dromedary Camels. For more information, please click here.

In a way, it was sad to see, the diligent camel owners waiting day after day for customers in a relatively quiet area while having the responsibility of feeding, caring for, and housing their camels at night. Surely, there is a considerable expense in caring for the camels, leaving these owners at the mercy of the inconsistent tourist trade.

The camels are used to being near humans and are known to be gentle and non-aggressive.

As we drove through the area, I kept pointing to the camels along the road, desperately wanting to stop and see them.  Samir reminded me to be patient. Shortly down the road, he’d arranged for an owner, friend to accommodate us who was awaiting our arrival.

Much to our delight, we got more than we’d expected, a one-month-old calf that warmed our hearts, bringing memories back to all the babies in Marloth Park.

We noticed the “pads” camels are born with to protect their knees and body when laying or kneeling. We’d noticed this same amazing feature in zebras with the dark spots on the inside of each leg, to protect their body when lying down.

I felt that same calm wash over me that I’d left behind when we said our goodbyes to Marloth Park, that same calming effect that a love of animals can bring when in their presence. Even Tom, a less obvious enthusiastic than I, became engaged in the baby camel, as well as the mature camels as we wandered around their designated area.

They all seemed content as they lounged in the warm sun. Camels of this variety rarely live in the wild in Morocco, as they tend to live well in herds owned by humans.

The kindly herd owner guided us to the best vantage points for our photos as shown here today. It was evident that he took great pride in his herd. We let him know how much it meant to us that he willingly shared them with us. The token tip we gave him was nothing compared to the obvious pleasure he derived from our appreciation of his herd.

A short time later, we were back on the road for our final stop in our sightseeing day concluding at the Menara Gardens and Pavilion.

Tom called me to come to see the baby nursing when I was busily taking photos of the other camels. It was delightful to see this.

For those seeking a quiet long stroll around a manmade pool and a walk through the orchards (not in bloom at this time), this site would be ideal. The quiet contemplative location held little interest for us during the hour and a half period we had until we were to meet up with Mohamed and Samir.

Even the one-month-old baby had a rope around him/her to keep from wandering off. With the attention paid by the mother, it appeared unlikely the baby would take off.

Many tourists seeking a quiet spot to walk, unwind, meditate, and reflect would find this site somewhat appealing. With both of us as Type A personalities, it fell short of our expectations and we took no photos during this period.

Nursing, up close. 

With one more stop at the pharmacy before heading to the restaurant, we paid Mohamed for driving and they dropped us off at our chosen restaurant for dinner. By 5:00 pm, we entered the quaint restaurant, Amaia, a cozy, highly rated French restaurant in Marrakech, a #8 in TripAdvisor.com where we search for reviews of restaurants, hotels, and attractions.

The baby was nuzzling another adult female. As we’ve often seen in nature, the dads have little to no presence in the upbringing of the offspring, although this baby’s dad was in this herd. This may have been an aunt, a grown cousin, or a grandmother.

The reviews wouldn’t have been more on target. We enjoyed a leisurely quiet delicious meal, easily adapted to my dietary restrictions, and befitting Tom’s picky taste buds. The service was impeccable with a lovely French woman speaking perfect English. 

The mom was to the right of the baby while the playful kissing occurred.

To be safe, we didn’t order ice for our drinks or eat any raw vegetables. We’ll definitely put Amaia on our favorites list as we work our way around Marrakech in search of French or other international restaurants. We grabbed a taxi after dinner, getting a ride back to the entrance to the Medina, to begin the long trek back home through the Big Square and the souk.

Mom is on the right, as the baby plays with the other female adult.

Reading online at TripAdvisor.com we saw that many tourists also, after a few weeks in Morocco, had difficulty continuing to eat the spicy, although tasty, Moroccan food, especially when they originated from a culture of less seasoned foods, such as us.

The baby, a Dromedary Camel, was stretching after playing.  he single hump seems to be growing more quickly than the remainder of the body.

Overall, we had a very good day. The sun was shining, the temperature was moderate, we took many photos and we had an opportunity to experience Marrakech outside the wall.  It is an amazing city; modern, progressive, clean, and filled with culture. The locals take much pride in their city, its diversity, and its history.  And, so far, this has been the best smelling place in the world!

Camel’s teeth appear to be more pronounced on the lower jaw.

Last night, Madame Zahra made us another spice-free meal that makes my mouth water mentioning it. Today, we’ll dine out mid-day, and tomorrow we’ll dine in, as we seem to have adopted every other day, dining out and dining in pattern. In either case, we look forward to another great meal, now that we’ve worked out the kinks.

Tom’s dinner on Monday night at Amaia, a pork chop (first pork we’ve seen in Marrakesh, other than on a bacon cheeseburger Tom ordered a few weeks ago) and a serving of “chips” as French fries are called in Africa.

 

Fresh flowers at our table at Amaia.

 

My dinner at Amaia, a chicken, and vegetable stir fry, without soy sauce which contains wheat, unless its the special gluten-free variety. The meal was wonderful.

Tomorrow, we’ll share our story of the “trials and tribulations” of taking prescription medication while traveling the world. 

The first beer Tom drank since arriving in Morocco almost four weeks ago. He said the brand, Casablanca, was good enough to order a second. Cocktails and beer are expensive in Morocco. This local beer was priced at US $5.55, MAD $45. 

 

I don’t drink alcohol due to my way of eating. Instead, I savored these pretty flowers.

Thanks to all of our readers worldwide for sharing our ongoing tales and photos of two seniors traveling the world, doing it “our way,” learning as we go.
                                              ______________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, March 26, 2013:

There’s my guy, on the beach outside of our previous home n Belize, one year ago to the date. We had a glorious time in Belize once we moved out of the less than desirable first house after one week to this fabulous location. For the post from that date, please click here.

 

Sunset game drive in Kruger Park…Dining in the bush…The Big 5 hovering…First loves…

 

With mating season essentially ended, our guide said these 2 males were “practicing” dominance for next season.

A phenomenon has occurred in our world travels, first loves, a syndrome hard to avoid when on a path of many new experiences.

Sitting back several rows in the huge open game drive vehicle, it was difficult to take photos of this Kudu as he crossed the road so I took this one through the blue tinted windshield.

On January 3, 2013, Tom and I embarked on our first cruise on the Celebrity Century, an older renovated ship, reminiscent of the “old Hollywood days,” a style we both found appealing. The maximum number of passengers was 1770 with a crew of 858, a fact we especially enjoyed as a smaller ship than most. 

These warthogs appeared to be of a different species than those that have previously visited.

The ship was headed through the Panama Canal, a dream of Tom’s on which I gladly ‘tagged along” knowing he’d be “tagging along” with me in my dreams of Africa. Little did we know at the time, that we’d end up loving each other’s  dreams as well as our own, as we sit on the veranda again this morning after two batches of visitors have already come and gone, leaving us smiling and grateful.

Impala families hanging out in Kruger National Park.

That cruise on the Celebrity Century was extraordinary, although neither of us had a frame of reference, until, as we moved into the New Year, we sailed on seven more cruises. In the end, our first experience was the best, perhaps never to be outdone.

Bird watching enthusiasts went wild with the many sightings in Kruger Park at sunset including viewing this eagle at quite a distance.

This isn’t saying that the cruises that followed were inferior in any way. They were just different. Maybe it is tied to some romantic notion of that first feeling of excitement and adventure. Maybe is comparable to our own memories of our first loves. 

This vulture was high atop a distant tree, one of several we sighted along the drive in
Kruger Park.

Appropriately, we have now named this phenomenon, “The Celebrity Century Syndrome.” As we find ourselves enthralled each day living in Marloth Park, we imagine we’ll never again, find an experience such as this.  Where, I ask you, in the world would one have wildlife, to this degree, to this frequency, wandering around their house?

Another Vulture sighting, again far from the road.

Last night, once again, we fell prey to our “syndrome” in the game drive into Kruger Park, one of the largest game reserves in the world. The ‘first love” in this case, was our safari in the Masai Mara in Kenya, beginning on October 5, 2013, a mere 60 days ago, a tough act to follow.

More impalas.

Kruger Park is huge at over 2 million hectares, 7722 square miles, literally filled with wildlife. It has a rich ancient history and a geological history shared with us by our knowledgeable guide on the over-sized open game vehicle in which we traveled for approximately four hours with sixteen other guests.

Yes, there were power lines running through Kruger Park, a necessary reality due to its enormous size and requirement for safety, security and maintenance.

As explained to us during the sunset drive, Kruger Park doesn’t allow off-road, travel into the bush. Thus, we were subject to seeing only the wildlife that appeared within view along the road. For us, this was a limitation we’d hadn’t experienced in the Masai Mara.

As we entered the bush brill site, Danie is on the left with a raised arm and Louise is on the right. They worked so hard to host this event, cooking, setup, and cleanup in their hands. Everything was to perfections. To top if off, they appeared in our driveway this morning to inquire as to anything we may need.  Their hard work and dedication are evidenced in every activity they host and property they manage. This photo and the next were taken before I realized I needed to clean the camera lens.

When Anderson, our guide in the Masai Mara, saw a point of interest with his eagle eye and powerful binoculars, he took off expertly maneuvering the sturdy open sided Land Cruiser across the rough terrain of the bush, while the maximum of six of us, held on squealing in joyful anticipation of what was yet to come.

The candlelight place settings were befitting an elegant dinner. No paper plates here! All prepared for our group of 17 to perfection. The camera lens was humid resulting in these blotchy photos.

Last night, with the sun setting on a cloudy evening, the requirement that we couldn’t use a flash, with the limitations of the camera I am able to manage with the bad shoulder and the limitation of staying on the road, we were disappointed in our photos. For those having never been on safari, this may have been enough to fulfill their expectations. For us, the Celebrity Century Syndrome kicked in.

In any case, we did have a wonderful time last night, the guide was over-the-top expert on not only the wildlife but the history and geological aspects of the park, the group of guests were lively and animated and we enjoyed it all.

Not quite the jumbo sized beer in Kenya, Tom had a few of these during dinner.

Louise and Danie, our “hosts extraordinaire” were busy setting up the phenomenal meal, beautifully presented, truly in the bush and not at a campground. The linen napkins, lovely dinnerware and the beautifully set tables created a venue befitting an elegant dinner.

Unfortunately, our new friends from the UK, Lynne and Mick, are returning home on Tuesday. Had they stayed longer we certainly would have shared many more evenings with them.

Much to my delight, there was plenty of items I could eat. They’d made a special point of ensuring that there were several items befitting my way of eating. I so appreciated their delicious efforts.

More new friends from the UK at our table, also seasoned world travelers with considerable experience in many countries in Africa.

But, what they had made that worked for me was flavorful, well seasoned, and cooked to perfection. My plate was piled high with wonderful meats and veggies, some of the likes I’d never seen but hope to see again.I’d expected that the food had been catered by a local restaurant only to discover that Louise and Danie have made everything themselves.

Arriving at the bush dinner, we were surprised and grateful to find a restroom facility roughly put together. This particular site is frequently used as a “bush braai” location. The gate around the toilet area was smashed.  Louise explained that the rhinos were responsible. We laughed.

The entire bush braai dinner was unlike anything we’d ever experienced before, surely putting “bush braai” into the first love category. Seated with the lovely couple we’d met at Jabula Lodge on Wednesday night and good friends of theirs, all of whom were from Jersey, UK, our table of six had an excellent dinner, laughing, talking and educating us on the numerous insects wandering about on our drinks and plates. 

Seasoned travelers to many countries in Africa and as homeowners in Marloth Park, they gave nary a thought to the multitude of walking and flying insects, making every effort to educate us on their purpose and benefit. This did put help us by reframing some of our thoughts about certain insects, putting us more at ease.

Appetizers of grilled prawns (they don’t call them shrimp outside the US) and Boerewors, a frequently served sausage of South Africa. Notice the dinner plates are upside down to keep the bugs off of them. I failed to take more food photos.  We were too busy having fun!

However, during dinner, we notice a crowd gathered around one of the other tables for six to discover they were looking down at the ground at a scorpion. One of the diners had open toe shoes and Louise and Danie gave her two empty wine boxes to cover her feet. Oh, dear.

Several times during dinner, I used my LED flashlight to check the ground beneath me. Of course, the others chuckled over my frequent inspections. I suppose in time, I will become as fearless as they seem to be.

As we dined there were several armed guards with spotlights perusing the area around us. They had used torch lights to set up a perimeter in which we were required to stay. Oddly, busy chatting with everyone, we didn’t give the prospect of any intrusions by wildlife a thought.

The only wildlife we’d seen thus far, nearby the braai area, was a hippo. Hippos have proven to be the most dangerous animal to humans with the highest incidence of fatalities worldwide. He seemed disinterested in us and took off.

To all of our delight, coupled with a bit of trepidation, and with rifles aimed and readied by the guards, a herd of elephants walked past our braai, as many as a dozen. We all held our breath in the excitement of seeing them within 30 meters of our table, never turning our way or looking at us.

It appeared the largest female, the matriarch, held up the rear of the line while the moms and babies stayed cocooned in the middle. Unable to take photos with the flash restrictions (rightfully so), it was impossible to get a photo. But, the sight and sounds of the graceful steps of the Elephants in the bush will be emblazoned in our minds forever.

The crescent moon in South Africa is positioned differently than we’d seem in Kenya.  How interesting!

It was an amazing evening, in itself responsible for several “Celebrity Century Syndrome” first love moments that we’ll add to our repertoire of memories of adventures that we’ll carry with us wherever we may be.

Tonight, we’re going out on yet another sunset drive, right here in Marloth Park, as guests of Vic, Executive Director of Royal Kruger Lodge followed up by their popular Boma Dinner.

Of course, we’ll be back tomorrow with more photos and stories to tell.

Plus, we’ve had seven sets of visitors so far this morning. Can’t wait to share