Final expenses for 82 days in the USA!…We’re off for India today!…

At lunch, that day, two years ago, one of the chefs on our Antarctica cruise, on Ponant Le’Boreal, was preparing a beef and vegetable stir-fry outdoors. We all partook of the delicious offering but decided to dine indoors. It was a little too cold to eat outside for our liking. For more photos, please click here.

Last night, we played our final round of buck euchre with Gene and Eugene. As always, it was pretty enjoyable. Tom and I speculated over how fun it would be to find players in our future travels.

However, that’s highly unlikely. That particular card game is popular in the Midwest and is seldom played in other parts of the world. When we return to the US in about two years, we’ll play cards again with his family.

Tom’s sisters and brothers-in-law only spend their winters in Apache Junction, Arizona, and Minnesota’s balance of the year. Most likely, next time we visit Minnesota, it won’t be during the cold winter months, and we’ll see his family and our kids and grandchildren in Minnesota, once again.

This morning, as I sit here preparing today’s post, I’m feeling at ease. Most of our packing is complete, and all I have left to do is restock my 28-day pill case and empty the food in the refrigerator. 

We’re bringing all the remaining non-perishables and perishables over to the sisters to see if they can use anything. If not, their friend Margie (another Margie) will bring everything to the local Food Shelf where she volunteers. 

We’ve weighed all of our bags except for the supplies bag, which is always questionable in meeting the weight restrictions, in this case, 50 pounds (23 kg) per bag.

Assuming we won’t have easy access to a pharmacy for toiletries, I’ve had to pack enough to last for three months; two months in India and 29-days on the following cruise from Mumbai to London. Once we arrive in the UK, and then Europe, we’ll easily find the products we use.

Last night’s six hours of sleep was filled with crazy dreams and frequent periods of wakefulness. Tom experienced the same. But this morning, upon awakening, I felt fine and ready to tackle the remaining tasks for the day.

Our new friend, Jodi, kindly volunteered to take us to the airport. This is so appreciated, especially since we must leave during rush hour at 5:30 pm. With the traffic, we should arrive by 6:15 pm with our first flight departing at 8:40 PM.

We’ll fly all night for 10 hours, and as mentioned, we’ll spend 8 of the daytime hours at busy Heathrow Airport. We’ll attempt to find a place to plug in our equipment and busy ourselves online.

Here are our combined final expenses for our 82 days in the USA, beginning on November 8, 2019 and ending today:

Final Expenses USA  US Dollar 
Vacation Home  AZ   $ 3,626.00
Gifts & Misc.   $    325.00
Airfare    $    872.00
Rental Car  $    996.78
Groceries  $ 4,100.32
Dining Out   $ 2,082.00
Supplies & Pharmacy   $ 1,674.05
Total Cost (82 days)   $13,675.83
Average Daily Cost (82 days)   $    166.78

We did not include the cost of new digital equipment and clothing, but we did have the cost of supplies we purchased for the next three months.

Also, we paid no rent while staying with friends Karen and Rich for three weeks in Minnesota, nor did we pay rent during the 11 nights we spent with son Richard in Nevada. Of course, we hosted several dinners out in sincere thanks for their hospitality.

Here in Arizona, we paid the rent as mentioned above from 12/09/2019 to 1/31/2020. The property manager gave us a discount to compensate for our early departure, today on January 29th.

Most likely, we’ll upload a post tomorrow during our 8-hour layover, providing we have access to wifi and a place to plug in our equipment. If not, sit tight. As soon as we get settled in the hotel in a few days, we’ll prepare a new post.

Thanks for all the warm wishes from many of our loyal readers/friends. We so appreciate your kindness and words of encouragement.

We’ll be back at you soon! Take care and be well!

Photos from one year ago today, January 29, 2019:

We could only guess why this particular lioness hadn’t been hunting and eating. For more photos, please click here.

The flurry of activity has begun…2 days and counting…Not freaking out about Coronavirus…

Two years ago today, we wrote: “This is unreal…the Black Browed Albatross on Steeple Jason Island, remove tall grass from these massive “pod-like” structures, adding mud and vegetation to make it a freestanding pod on which they can nest. Here’s a young chick making a little noise while atop their elevated nest.  That’s amazing!” See the post here.

This morning I headed out to Safeway one last time for a few grocery items to fill in the blanks over the next few days. I received a $10 credit on the things I purchased from using up my rewards points. Tonight, we’ll eat breakfast again for dinner to use the remaining bacon and eggs we have on hand.

Tomorrow morning, we’ll do the laundry and finish packing our clothing bags and weigh them. We’re allowed two checked bags each, weighing a maximum of 50 pounds (23 kg) each. This should work fine for both of us.

We removed the duffel bag in Minnesota and replaced it with a good quality wheeling carry-on-sized bag. We’ll pack our heavy jeans and coats in this bag. Here’s what we currently have for luggage, including carry-on bags:

1. Tom’s clothing: 50 pounds
2. Jess clothing: 50 pounds
3. Small carry-on bag: 40 pounds (we’ll check this)
4. Carry-on backpack computer bag: 20
5. Carry-on bag (doubles as a handbag): 15 pounds
6. Carry-on yellow Costco bag which holds medications and prescriptions, my small pillow and blanket: 15 pounds 

We’ve tried to reduce this load, but after these seven-plus years of world travel, we don’t see how we can narrow this down any further as hard as we’ve tried. Thus, we’ll continue as always.

As mentioned in an earlier post, while in the hotel in Mumbai for two nights, we’ll reduce our load to eliminate some weight and leave a bag behind at the hotel for two months.

Then, besides packing, we’re thinking a little about the Coronavirus but not as much as some may. There have been only a few cases so far in India, and they’ve been testing all arriving passenger’s temperatures at all major airports. So far, they’ve sent 12 passengers back to China, refusing them entry. Hopefully, this diligence continues.

This morning I purchased more wipes, not only for our hands but also for surfaces that we’ll wipe down wherever we go, including the armrests and tray tables on both planes and all characters in our hotel room, including phone, remote, door handles, etc.

Today, our 100 disposable face masks will arrive from Amazon. I had a hard time finding these online, including at the Amazon site. We’d seen a news report in China where people were lined, hundreds deep, at a pharmacy hoping to be able to purchase face masks when they were almost sold out.

We’re taking every precaution we can, and we are striving to be sensible and practical. However, if we’d had plans to visit China at this time, I am certain we would have felt it necessary to change our plans.

Last night, we hosted a happy hour for our neighbors and Tom’s family. We gathered around the outdoor table and enjoyed a few hours of lively conversation, snacks and drinks.

Worrying is pointless; precautions make sense. We continue with hope in our hearts that all will be well. 

Have a meaningful Monday!

Photo from one year ago today, January 27, 2019:

This was one of the youngest kudus we’ve seen this season. For more photos, please click here.

Moving right along…3 days and counting…

In Kauai, Hawaii, on this date in 2015, our friend Richard, who sadly has since passed away, sat behind the impressive magistrate’s desk, gave us a feeling as to how it would have been to visit his office in St. Louis, Missouri might have been, before he and wife Elaine moved to Kauai. For more, please click here.
It was another enjoyable day spent with family and friends. Friend Jodi had made dinner at her home hauling everything over to Colleen and Margie’s home (whose backyards are adjacent), leaving only the pork chops for Kevin to cook on the gas grill.

The weather was ideal at a high of 74F (23C) inspiring all of us to spend the majority of the day outdoors in the much-appreciated warmth and brilliant sunshine.

We didn’t play cards since visiting sister, Rita doesn’t play and we wanted to spend time with her, not distracted by our card games. We arrived at 2:30 pm and by 9:30 pm I wandered back to our place, leaving Tom time to chat with his sisters.

With us leaving in a mere three days, each moment spent is worthwhile. Upon his return to our place at midnight, Tom knocked on the door for me to let him in. With only one set of keys, I’ve had to let him in each time he’s returned late at night after visiting with the family and playing cards.

The dinner was fantastic with marinated pork chops (we brought our own, our last package of meat to ensure I wouldn’t be eating any sugary marinade). Jodi made green beans, roasted potatoes, salad, and garlic bread.

Everyone dined outside except Tom and I. There’s a huge bush in the yard that is filled with bees. Since Tom and I are both allergic to bees and bees are attracted to food, he and I chose to eat dinner in Colleen’s dining room. 

Once everyone ate, we headed back outdoors and all of us stayed outside until well after dark bundled up in jackets, hoodies, and blankets. At around 5:30, Tom, Eugene, and Kevin headed to the Phoenix airport to drop Kevin off for his upcoming flight, returning 90 minutes later.

We are officially out of meat in the freezer. Tonight, we’ll have omelets with mushrooms, onions, and grated cheese with sausage and bacon on the side possibly repeated a similar meal tomorrow. 

Today, we’ll load the supplies suitcase onto the dining table while I decide what items we’ll pack and ship back to the mailing service to hold for us for our next shipment, along with some warm weather clothing we won’t need over the next several months.

Later this afternoon, we’re planning on happy hour with our friendly neighbors, Linda and Fred, and then, will have a quiet evening at “home” having dinner and perhaps streaming a few shows.

We’re excited about commencing the next leg of our journey, looking forward to two months in India. Of course, we’re not looking forward to the almost 30-hour journey to Mumbai, but now, we’re looking into booking a priority lounge for the 8-hour layover hoping there will be a place we can nap for a few hours.

Have a lovely Sunday!
Photo from one year ago today, January 26, 2019:
“Hot tub by candlelight” with Little lounging in the cement pond on a hot evening in the bush. For more photos, please click here.

Fantastic visit to Goodyear Arizona…5 days and counting…

Tom and his four sisters (two weren’t able to travel to Arizona). From left to right (back row);
Colleen, Tom, Mary Ellen with Rita, and Margie (front row).
The hour-long drive passed in no time at all, with five of us riding in Margie’s car while Tom drove. He drank only iced tea all day to ensure he could be the “designated driver” on the return drive after dark.
Laurie and Craig’s stunning house was a delight to see. Every room is exquisitely designed and decorated, and we oohed and aahed as we took the tour. 
Gorgeous lounge area on the veranda.
Afterward, I asked Tom if this gorgeous home reminded him of the beautiful home we’d left behind over seven years ago and if seeing this home caused him to wish we had never left our old life.
He laughed and said, mimicking my feelings, that it’s a pleasure to see Laurie and Craig’s home and admire every nook and cranny, but in no way did it make him wish we had a home and a different life. We both concurred that we were thrilled for them and their apparent success but didn’t feel an iota of longing.
Laurie and Craig’s home and veranda overlook the golf course.
Not only was the house exquisite, but the hosts had gone over the top to prepare a delicious meal consisting of many pre-dinner snacks, most of which I could eat, and smoked baby back ribs and chicken prepared on their outdoor smoker.
Craig kept aside a portion of ribs and chicken for me without the sweet sauce he added at the end of the roasting period. The rich smells of smoking hardwoods wafting through the air, leaving all of us looking forward to partaking in the delightful offerings.
Fifteen attended the barbecue, including some friends.
The beer, wine, and drinks flowed along with the conversation among the 15 of us, four of which included friends of the family while Tom faithfully sipped on his iced tea. 
The weather couldn’t have been more perfect at a sunny 74F (23C). We dined at both the indoor and outdoor tables. Once darkness fell when it continually cools off considerably in the desert, we all wandered indoors to continue our lively conversations.
The smoker in Laurie and Craig’s backyard with meats ready for the final cooking.
We’d arrived a little after 1:00 pm, and by 8:00 pm, those of us heading back to Apache Junction piled into the two vehicles and were on our way back to Apache Junction, arriving a little after 9:00 pm.
We didn’t continue the party as late as it was, and each headed back to our respective “park models” to spend a quiet remainder of the evening. Later today, we’ll all get together to play cards at Colleen’s home.
Soon, I’ll head out to the bank to get cash and a quick trip to the grocery store for a few items to hold us until we depart in a mere five days. 
Have a fabulous Friday! We’ll be back soon.
Photo from one year ago today, January 24, 2019:
It was hard to believe how quickly these ostrich chicks have grown from the tiny little things they were six months ago. For more photos, please click here.

Coronavirus…How does this risk impact us as we head to India?..6 days and counting…

This photo taken in 2014 when we toured the Panorama Route was posted last year on this date. This handsome cheetah we met at Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre was recovering from poisoning due to an attempt to kill him for his hide. He won’t return to the wild due to the risk of being killed by his species. He’s been made an “ambassador” to represent the rehab center in saving his and other species from becoming endangered.  Watching him through the electrified fencing, we were anxious to get inside for “hands-on.Here‘s the link from that post.

Of course, we’re concerned about the outbreak of Coronavirus in countries throughout the world. As of today’s stats, here is a breakdown of the countries impacted by this deadly virus: “The disease has also spread to at least seven other countries: Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, and the US. 

At first, authorities suspected that the coronavirus — which most likely originated at a seafood market — could be spread to humans only from animals.”
Now, it’s been discovered that the virus spreads easily from human to human. This is a big concern for us. This morning we ordered more face masks certified to protect against viruses circulating from human to human.
We’ve decided to wear them non-stop for the almost 30-hour upcoming travel day and while at any public, crowded areas and, at all times, at airports. We don’t care how it looks. We’ll be diligent.

No doubt in no time will the virus reach India, which is adjacent to China. However, in the article below, it appears India is proactive in screening passengers entering the country, although this one step is no guaranty the virus won’t enter the country. See this article below:

“India screens over 9,150 passengers for Coronavirus (from this site)

Updated: 22 Jan 2020, 06:25 PM IST

  • The health and civil aviation ministries have issued a travel advisory and shared it on their Twitter handle for broader circulation.
  • The death toll from the coronavirus has risen to nine in Wuhan, China, with several cases reported across the country.
NEW DELHI: The health ministry has screened over 9,150 passengers of 43 flights for the Coronavirus disease at seven airports. After the outbreak of the virus in China, India has stepped up its preparedness to prevent the entry of the virus into the country.
“Till now, no case has been detected through these screening efforts. We are on alert … Passengers traveling from China are being requested to report to the nearest public health facility in case they feel any symptoms,” said Preeti Sudan, secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The health and civil aviation ministries have issued a travel advisory and shared it on their Twitter handle for broader circulation.
The health ministry has instructed airport health organizations at Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Cochin to screen passengers coming from mainland China at these seven international airports.
“Signages have been put up at prominent locations in these airports for encouraging the public about self-reporting of illness. Immigration officers manning the counters have been sensitized at these airports. Close coordination is being maintained with the Ministry of Civil Aviation to coordinate the screening effort and dissemination of information to inbound passengers through in-flight announcements,” a health ministry statement said. “The Health Ministry is constantly reviewing the evolving scenario working closely with the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Ministry of External Affairs, Department of Health Research, and the Indian Embassy in China.”
The ministry has consulted the World Health Organisation (WHO) for updates on technical inputs. “Series of meetings have been held to review the evolving scenario, preparedness in terms of disease surveillance, laboratory support infection prevention, and control, logistics, risk communication and, in particular, hospital preparedness and need for coordination and collaboration with other Ministries” said a senior health ministry official.
The health ministry has also written to all states and union territories to review their preparedness, identify gaps and strengthen core capacities needed to prepare for, detect and respond to possible outbreaks.
National Institute of Virology, Pune, and ten laboratories under the Indian Council of Medical Research’s Viral Research and Diagnostics Laboratories network has geared up to test virus samples. Medical stores have maintained adequate stock of equipment for personal protection, the health ministry said.
The death toll from the coronavirus has risen to nine in Wuhan, China, with several cases reported across the country. The US has also written a case of the virus, raising concerns across the world.
The World Health Organization convened an emergency meeting in Geneva on Wednesday to decide whether the fast-spreading outbreak is a “public health emergency of international concern” and what recommendations should be made to tackle it.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. The outbreak is that of a new, unknown form of pneumonia, which has infected at least 400 patients across central China, spreading from the city of Wuhan, where the first case was identified on 31 December and killing six. As per the latest reports, the deadly virus has also traveled to South Korea, and a case was reported in Thailand and Japan each.”

This puts a bit of a damper on our travels, especially after we suffered from the outrageous virus we contracted on our last cruise in October, which lasted for over six weeks, resulting in the worst cough either of us ever suffered. 

But, we continue with hope and prayers for a safe departure and for time spent in the next leg of our journey and the cruise from Mumbai on which we’ll embark on April 3, 2020. Will we need to wear face masks on the cruise? At this point, we don’t know.
From there, we’ll be in England, Scotland, Spain, and Portugal. Hopefully, strict precautions are being implemented in these and other countries. Some may say we’re foolish to continue traveling, but the virus has arrived in the US now. Nowhere in the world is exempt from the risks.
Today, we’re off to Goodyear, Arizona, to Laurie and Craig’s house. We’ll be back with photos for tomorrow’s post.
Have a safe and healthy day!
Photo from one year ago today, January 23, 2019:
We’d posted photos from 2014 on this date in 2019. Tom volunteered to feed the vultures raw meat.  He wore a leather sleeve on his right arm from fingertips to shoulder.  As soon as our guide put the raw meat into his hand, several vultures flew at him to grab it, leaving two to fight over it.  Exciting, to say the least. See the year-ago post here.

Finally, a new fitness watch and a bag…7 days and counting…

One year ago, we posted this photo we’d taken in 2013 while on a road trip. Bourke’s Luck Potholes was our favorite photo of the day on our three-day tour of the Panorama Route and Blyde River Canyon. See the original post here.

Yesterday, after completing the post, I headed out shopping. I don’t care to shop for anything other than groceries which I find quite enjoyable. Browsing through any department store makes me cringe. 

I wasn’t this way in my old life, but with my limited wardrobe over the past seven-plus years, knowing I have to toss something from my one suitcase of clothing to maintain the consistent flight approved weight if I purchase something new. This fact makes shopping less than fun.

Over the past three years, I have been using a blue cloth grocery bag as a means of carrying the necessary items with me when we’re going out for an extended period.

On shorter outings, I only bring lipstick to be stuffed into my or Tom’s pockets. (Many women’s pants don’t have pockets). Now that my flip-open RFID phone case has space for ID, cash, and credit cards, I no longer need a wallet.

Over the past three years, I’ve become tired of using the navy blue grocery bag. With the long and arduous upcoming flight to India, I reconsidered if I wanted to carry that blue bag one more time. I do not.

What I wanted to find was a cloth-type bag that can be squished enough to fit under the seat on an airplane and yet large enough to hold what I usually carry with me onto the plane: phone, camera, cosmetic bag, hairbrush, earpieces, and charging cords and a wide array of odds and ends.

(With this upcoming flight, we’ll need to bring along a few toiletries based on traveling for almost 30 hours, including an eight-hour layover. In checking information on British Airways, it appears they provide toothbrushes and toothpaste, our biggest concern).

As it turned out, I found the perfect item at TJ Maxx, a black Steve Madden padded, parachute material bag that zips with several pockets, all secure, leaving the contents relatively theft-proof. Sure, a thief could steal the entire bag off my arm, the reason I haven’t carried a prominent handbag all these years. This new bag is more of a carry-on type bag.

The next item I wanted was a fitness watch. I’d ordered one online in December, and it never arrived. I am now awaiting a refund. If I don’t see it come through in the next few days, I will contact the credit card company to remove the charge, especially since I have an email apologizing for their error in not sending out their product.

After the trip to TJ Maxx in Mesa (a 20-minute drive), I followed the road circled the mall to the Best Buy store. They had several models, but many included music and Amazon’s Alexa. 

Since Alexa doesn’t work in most countries, I saw no need to purchase the more expensive Fitbit Fitness watch. I selected the FitBit Charge 3 that suited my needs at a fixed price of $149. I’d shopped quite a bit online over the past week researching models and settled on this particular watch.

Yesterday, while wrapping up the completion of setting up Tom’s old laptop for my use, I also set up the watch itself and the app for the device on my phone and the computer. 

By dinner time, I had everything set up and was thrilled with the results. I love my new FitBit. Overnight, last night I downloaded all the photos from my old laptop onto our external hard drive, My Passport. 

Now, I can reformat the drive on my old laptop and offer it to Tom’s sisters if they’re interested. If not, we will recycle it at a proper facility, as mentioned.

Tom just left for the Mesa airport to pick up his sister Rita from South Dakota, staying with Margie for a week. It looks like some fun card playing is on the agenda! There will be nine of us, including Mary and Eugene’s son, Kevin, who’ll be leaving in three or four days.

Once Tom brings Rita to Margie’s home, we’ll pack up food for me and beverages for both of us. This morning Tom purchased a roasted chicken for me to bring today since they’ll all be having sandwiches and chips.

That’s all for today, folks. We’ll be back again tomorrow with more. 

Have a fantastic Wednesday!

Photo from one year ago today, January 22, 2019:

Basket, the Bully, was feeling sad after his right ear was nearly torn off in what must have been as a result of a fight he most likely provoked. We comforted him with pellets, apples, and carrots before he took his nap in the hay. For more photos, please click here.

Great time with Staci from Texas…Paperwork and haircut for Tom…8 days and counting…

Staci and I by the entrance to the Red, White & Brew restaurant. The wine and food were excellent, and the companionship was spectacular. Hopefully, we’ll meet up somewhere in the future.

Yesterday, Tom decided to drop me off and pick me up after dinner with friend/reader Staci from Texas. She and I had been communicating back and forth over the years, and it was such a delight to meet her face-to-face.

Tom drove me to the restaurant and picked me up when I called later. The packed restaurant (we arrived at 4:00 pm) had excellent food, wine, and service. As a result, I was able to enjoy some fantastic red wine with Staci. 

The conversation was delightfully varied as we each reveled in the opportunity to talk to one another in person. Also, it was remarkable to share in some “girl talk” often missing from conversations when Tom and I are gabbing with other couples.

We feel so grateful for all the beautiful people we’ve met due to our daily posts. Meeting them in person is a bonus. Now, as we’re about to carry on in our world travels, many readers are writing to us, wishing us well. 

We try to respond to each message, but please bear with us if we fail to do so due to the volume of email messages. Please know that we read every message we receive and, in most cases, respond within 24 hours.

Once we leave Arizona next Wednesday, heading to India, we’ll be traveling for almost two days to reach Mumbai (formerly Bombay). Then, on the train, a few days later, most likely, WiFi will be sketchy. 

By February 8th, after the Maharajas Express (train) ends, our 55-day tour begins, again with unpredictable WiFi. Please bear with us if we’re unable to post or reply to messages as we usually would.

However, we’re hoping to upload posts and photos, which, based on information online, looks like a good possibility. We’ll have to hurry to get it done when our days and nights will be so full. But, as always, we somehow find the time to stay in touch with all of you.

This morning we ventured out in the rain to OfficeMax to print, sign and scan a few documents to send back to the immigration attorney. Once completed, we found the closest Great Clips, where Tom had hoped to get a haircut. 

The place was so packed. The wait would have been at least one hour. Neither of us cared to wait that long. Tom looked online for other facilities only to be told the wait would be one or two hours.

Instead, he decided to show up early tomorrow morning, hoping to be their first appointment. I’ll stay behind and work on other projects, which are many at this point, with departure day looming.

Today will be low-key. I’ll run out for a few last-minute items. Tonight, we’ll dine in. I have completed the transfer of my data to Tom’s old laptop, and all is working well.

In rearranging the items on the start menu and the desktop, I have made Windows 10 work for me which I am using now as I prepare today’s post. I have a lighted keyboard, touchscreen, and one terabyte of storage, and all the features work. It feels good to use a faster machine after dealing with my slow, fast-fading laptop. 

We hope you have a meaningful and productive day and that all is well your way!

Photo from one year ago today, January 21, 2019:

On many occasions, we’ve seen several bushbabies on the stand. For more photos, please click here.

Defining our digital needs going forward…9 days and counting…

An Egyptian Goose on the far shore of the Sunset Dam in Kruger National Park. For more photos, please click here.

Tom purchased a Google Chromebook with an entirely new operating system. He was sick of Windows 10 on the Acer 15.6 laptop he’s been using for over a year. I understood his concerns.

Although I tried to help him figure out “workarounds” for the features he didn’t like, (as opposed to Windows 8.1, which he did like), unless a person is using the system day by day, it’s challenging to determine exactly what changes need to be made. Also, a part of this is about personal preferences.

His laptop was running very slow but otherwise seemed to be in good shape. My Acer 15.6 laptop (5 years old) has been showing signs of a possible crash at any time. (I’ve backed up everything, of course).

Our current plan was to purchase two new smaller (11.6) Chromebooks since neither of us cared for Windows 10, nor are we Apple people, and we appreciated the smaller, lighter size of Chromebooks.

Recently, we purchased one Chromebook with the plan to get it up and running before leaving Arizona. If we both liked it, we’d buy another for me this week. 

After setting up Tom’s compact-sized unit, I noticed several features (or lack thereof) that would make it difficult for me to keep records and to do the daily posts. It simply isn’t the most sophisticated device for my needs but works great for email, Facebook, Ancestry, web browsing, managing financial apps, and syncing with his Google phone.

After considerable discussion and the fact that I thought by “restoring” Tom’s laptop to basically “clean it up,” I could start using his with a clean slate. 

Of course, this was subject to its functioning as a new computer. Otherwise, we’d have no choice but to purchase a new Windows 10 laptop for me, which with all the features I need and want, could run $700 or $800.

After the all-day-long process of restoring his laptop and bringing it back to the original Windows 10 operating system, I started entering my information to determine if the restore brought it back to out-of-the-box condition. It did! I was thrilled.

Over the next several days, I will continue to set up my apps and transfer my files. Then, I will restore my old laptop to wipe everything out to see if one of Tom’s sisters can use it. If not, before we leave, we’ll take it to a computer recycling facility.

It will be a significant relief to have this behind us, adding to our peace of mind in leaving the US in a mere nine days. There’s yet much to do to be ready by a week from Wednesday on January 29th, but as always, we’ll get there.

I am looking forward to today’s 4:00 pm get-together with friend/reader Staci in Mesa.

Have a fantastic week!

Photo from one year ago today, January 20, 2019:

The hippo’s skin is gray to brownish-red with pink areas around their ears and under their chin. They have very few hairs on their body but do have stiff whiskers on their broad lips that feel like a broom and a small amount of fuzziness around the edges of their ears and on their tail. For more photos, please click here.

Third cruise in and around Japan…10 days and counting…

On our way to the alpaca farm in New Plymouth, New Zealand, on this date in 2016, we stopped at a few scenic overlooks in the rain. For more photos, please click here.

Saturday was yet another fun day and evening. Around 4:00 pm, we grilled New York steaks on the grill at Colleen’s home. I’d brought a salad and broiled the butterflied garlic shrimp under the broiler in her oven.

Colleen made potatoes, gravy, and garlic bread, and a fantastic dinner, sitting inside at two tables for the eight of us, away from bees on the patio.

After dinner and cleanup, we started yet another round of Buck Euchre, but we set up two tables this time, and most of us played for hours. There was endless laughter, teasing, and banter among all of us. 

This morning was relatively uneventful. I prepped everything for tonight’s dinner, which we’ll have some time during the football games. By 9:30, I was fading and headed back to our place to unwind and relax. Tom joined me around 11:00 pm, and by midnight we were fast asleep.

By 1:00 pm, Tom was settled in front of the TV to begin watching the NFL football playoffs. With little interest in teams other than the Minnesota Vikings, who now are out of the running, I kept busy doing laundry and other household chores.

Today is a good day for me to research our future travels. As we’ve lined up these three cruises in Japan, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific, it gives us a point from which to backtrack for locations that appeal to us before the cruises in 2022.

This week will be busy. Tomorrow evening I meet with friend/reader Staci in Mesa for dinner. On Thursday, all the family is driving an hour to Tom’s niece (Mary and Eugene’s daughter) Laurie and her husband Craig’s home in Goodyear, Arizona, where we’ll all spend the day.

No doubt, in between, there will be more “happy hours” celebrations in the neighborhood as we wind down our time in Apache Junction. And, before we know it, we’ll be completing our packing to be on our way to India.

Here is the information on this third and final cruise in and around Japan. We’ll be back with more later.

12 nights departing April 24, 2022, on
Celebrity’s Celebrity Solstice

Brochure Inside $1,988
Our Inside $784
You Save 61%
Brochure Oceanview $2,248
Our Oceanview $914
You Save 59%

Brochure Balcony $2,548
Our Balcony $1,064
You Save 58%
Brochure Suite $6,848
Our Suite $3,274
You Save 52%
Date Port Arrive Depart
Sunday, April 24 Tokyo (Yokohama), Japan 7:00 pm

Monday, April 25 At Sea

Tuesday, April 26 Hakodate, Japan 7:00 am 4:00 pm

Wednesday, April 27 At Sea

Thursday, April 28 At Sea

Friday, April 29 Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka, Russia 8:00 am 7:00 pm

Saturday, April 30 Cross International Dateline (Cruising)

Sunday, May 1 At Sea

Monday, May 2 At Sea

Tuesday, May 3 At Sea

Wednesday, May 4 At Sea

Thursday, May 5 At Sea

Friday, May 6 Vancouver, BC, Canada 7:00 am 

It’s blissfully warm here today, in the 70s! It’s about time it warmed up!

Carpe diem!

Photo from one year ago today, January 19, 2019:

A rhino beetle we found on the veranda on Thursday. They are harmless to humans and don’t bite. They have a horn in the center of their foreheads comparable to a rhino. Thus the name “rhino” beetle. For more, please click here.

Another cruise booked in and around Japan…Great times at birthday party yesterday afternoon and evening!…More today!…

One year ago today, we visited Kruger National Park to see this elephant family crossing the road with a few babies protected by the parade. For more photos, please click here.

As we’ve decided on future cruises, we’ve decided that three cruises in and around Japan make sense. The prices are good for these highly coveted ports of call, and after spending 28 days living in the country plus three cruises, we feel we’ll have scoured Japan as well as possible.

Subsequently, we’ll be in the area of Southeast Asia from February 27, 2022, until May 6, 2022, for a total of 68 nights. We love that we will have time to explore Japan and gain a more expansive perspective of the country and its culture.

Tomorrow, we’ll share the details of the third and final cruise in and around Japan. At this point, we don’t have plans as to where we’ll go when the cruises end other than to visit family in the US, (as mentioned in yesterday’s post) when the third cruise ends in Vancouver, British Columbia.

As for yesterday’s events, we headed to Mary and Eugene’s house at around 3:15 pm to find no less than 20 local residents in attendance. As the day progressed, more and more people arrived.

The decibel level was ear-splitting but festive and fun. Eugene appreciated the attendance be so many of their friends. Word got out through the neighborhood and by evening’s end, there was well over 25 well-wishers. 

“Any cause for a party” is the motto around here and we jumped right into it shortly after arriving in Apache Junction over a month ago. I’ve been carefully monitoring my wine intake, and after a few glasses, I switch to sparkling water which takes me into the late evening.

After most of the guests departed, we wandered across the street to Margie’s house to play more Buck Euchre. It was Tom and me, Kevin and Margie who lasted well after midnight playing the fun game. 

We didn’t get to sleep until after 1:30 am but managed to get in a total of six hours leaving us both feeling okay. Today, the festivities begin again around 3:00 pm, when we dine at Colleen and Gene’s for steak and shrimp. 

I never got around to making the butterflied garlic butter broiled shrimp last night and decided to save it for today’s big meal for the eight of us. I have no doubt, at some point, we’ll play cards again today rotating players so those of us interested are able to have a turn.

Most of the group of us have been up past 1:30 am for the past four nights. I bowed out a few nights, knowing I needed to get some sleep. But the rest are a little raggedy from staying up so many late nights in a row.

At our place, we continue to work on setting up items and sorting and organizing supplies we’ve received in the past few weeks. This morning Tom installed a glass screen protector onto my phone. 

When we recently purchased the two Google world phones, Tom had installed a similar screen protector on his phone. But, since I’d bought a phone case that closes, I didn’t think I’d need one. As time has gone on and yet to scratch the screen, I decided it would be best to add the extra protection.

As mentioned above, here is the information on the above-mentioned second cruise in Japan. Our costs are slightly different based on our cabin selections, but we’ll post those costs after we sail on each of the cruises:

14 nights departing April 10, 2022, on
Celebrity’s Celebrity Solstice

Brochure Inside $4,998
Our Inside $2,269
You Save 55%
Brochure Oceanview $5,698
Our Oceanview $2,609
You Save 54%

Brochure Balcony $6,798
Our Balcony $2,999
You Save 56%
Brochure Suite $13,698
Our Suite $6,799
You Save 50%
Date Port Arrive Depart
Sunday, April 10 Tokyo (Yokohama), Japan 6:00 pm

Monday, April 11 Shimizu, Japan 7:00 am 5:00 pm

Tuesday, April 12 At Sea

Wednesday, April 13 Kobe, Japan 7:00 am 9:00 pm

Thursday, April 14 Kochi, Japan 8:00 am 6:00 pm

Friday, April 15 Hiroshima, Japan 9:00 am 6:00 pm

Saturday, April 16 At Sea

Sunday, April 17 Nagasaki, Japan 7:00 am 5:00 pm

Monday, April 18 Busan, South Korea 7:00 am 5:00 pm

Tuesday, April 19 At Sea

Wednesday, April 20 Hakodate, Japan 8:00 am 7:00 pm

Thursday, April 21 Aomori, Japan 7:00 am 6:00 pm

Friday, April 22 At Sea

Saturday, April 23 Tokyo (Yokohama), Japan 8:30am

Sunday, April 24 Tokyo (Yokohama), Japan Disembark

That’s it for today, folks! Gee…we are only 11 days from departure, looking forward to the next leg of our journey.

Have a fantastic weekend!

Photo from one year ago today, January 18, 2019:

The baby elephant is at play with family members. For more photos from Kruger, please click here.