Part 2…Exciting birthday plans revealed…Please watch our video!!!..This is the fifth time my birthday was spent in the bush!…

Let me start with this. I’d planned on doing a comprehensive post on our elephant interaction yesterday morning at Kwa Madwala, with photos and stories from earlier days when it was open to the public. Today is a brutally hot and humid day with around 90F, 32C, but the dew point is 73. The air is so thick it’s almost hard to breathe, and I’m struggling to get motivated, a rarity for me.

Based on hard times over the past few years and the financial ravages of Covid-19, the formerly famous game reserve has been closed for almost two years. It has become rundown, requiring a massive renovation and restoration. Plans are in the works to bring this magical place back to life next year.

Tom touched the soft velvet-like skin on the back of the elephant’s ear while Louise waited to do the same.

Online is it described as follows:

“This unique hilltop camp is without a doubt the true pride of the Kruger Park south area. In 2000 the neighboring farms abandoned hunting which was very much in vogue and joined the vision in terms of eco-tourism, and the name was changed to Kwa Madwala, meaning ‘the place of the rock’ in Swazi.”

I’d hoped to find a website for the reserve, but unfortunately, their site is no longer active, and there was very little information online to aid in the preparation of today’s post. The guide at the property, one of two that introduced us to the two wild elephants, told a story about the property while I was engrossed in taking photos and watching the magnificent beasts.

Tom filled me in on the details today to help me share the remarkable story of the elephants and how they came to become such an integral part of the property.

Rita was sitting on his leg after he lay down.

There are seven elephants in the herd. Yesterday, we met two of them, a female and a larger male, brother and sister. Two calves were born in the past few years, a few years apart. Years ago, the plan in the area was to cull the elephants due to some economic reasons.

The elephants were rescued and moved to the bush near the reserve and placed in a boma while they were cared for and fed in an attempt to get them used to be around humans. It took over 18 months of loving and gentle care to watch the elephants change from hostile wild animals to gentle giant beasts, suitable to being around visitors and guests of the reserve.

Danie and Louise were hanging onto our elephant’s tusks.

No ropes, chains, or disciplinary instruments were used on the animals at any point. A thoughtful food reward program was instituted from the start, and in time, they associated humans with kindness and tasty fruits, vegetables, and pellets.

The female elephant, the first one shown, is 34 years old, and the male, her brother, is 30 years old. We couldn’t have enjoyed the experience more. When the elephants had enough of us, they wandered off after the handler jumped off and returned to grazing in the bush. They are not fenced or chained. What a fantastic experience!

Gerhard and Rita interact with the friendly and gentle elephant.

After the elephants left, Louise and Danie set up a fabulous brunch for us and Rita and Gerhard. There, at the picnic table on the resort’s veranda, the enjoyment of the special day continued with great food, drinks, and conversation. A special thanks to Louise and Danie for managing a way for us to get into this now-closed venue and be a part of this extraordinary experience. The elephants were happy to interact with humans and show off their skills once again. Such amazing animals. Such a fantastic day.

Louise and Danie served a delicious platter of low-carb treats. Even the crackers were low carb!

Wow! It was a fabulous birthday! Tomorrow, we’ll share Part 3 of my birthday celebrations when our group dined at Jabula and had one heck of a good time.

Thanks to our readers, family, and friends who sent me countless birthday wishes. It meant the world to me!

Photo from one year ago today, February 21, 2021:

My birthday last year was also at Jabule with our dear friends Louise and Danie. They have a magical way of making every get-together special. For more, please click here.

Part 1…Exciting birthday plans yet to be revealed…This is the fifth time my birthday was spent in the bush!…

We couldn’t believe we could be so close and interact with the two elephants who freely roam in the wild.

As I write this at 8:30 am, soon at 9;15, Louise and Danie are picking us up in their vehicle to take us to a surprise for my birthday. I have no clue what it is, nor does Tom. When we return in the early afternoon, I will finish this post and share with you what we did.

Tonight is my birthday dinner at Jabula, which undoubtedly will be another great time spent with friends. We decided to host the dinner and tell guests, “no gifts” since I don’t have room in my luggage for anything new. When we arrive at Karen and Rich’s house on March 24, a box from our mailing service will be waiting with some new clothes for me, suitable for the upcoming cruise.

The elephant was managed by the handler sitting on top of her. But, these are wild animals, not ridden by guests or managed with any ropes or chains. Once we were gone, the handler got off her, and she wandered back into the bush, returning only when she wanted treats and attention.

I’d ordered jeans, bras, and tops but still have to purchase a few items while we are in Florida. I need a good pair of walking shoes and dressy shoes for the cruise. The shoes I am walking in now don’t provide the necessary support. Tom needs several items as well.

Well, we’re off for the surprise adventure. Of course, I am taking the camera and hope to be posting interesting photos of what we’ve seen and done.

We’re back. It’s 1:45 pm, 1345 hrs, and we had a most extraordinary time. Louise and Danie outdid themselves, and much to our delight, Rita and Gerhard surprised us and met us at the game reserve. We drove for about 45 minutes in their four-wheel-drive vehicle on a pot-hole-ridden road to Jeppe’s Reef to the currently closed game reserve, KWA Madwala.

On my 74th birthday, I was gifted with an opportunity to interact with elephants in the wild. What an extraordinary gift! Thank you, Louise and Danie.

Several reasons resulted in this game reserve being closed. Still, mainly Covid-19 seemed to have the most significant impact when foreigners weren’t flying into South Africa for such an extended period. It’s only now that the possibility of a grand re-opening has presented itself, as more and more flights are coming into the country packed with holidaymakers looking for safari adventures.

The reserve appeared quiet and like a ghost town. But according to the managers who took the time to come and meet us, they will be re-opening sometime in the next three to six months when it will again become a thriving establishment.

The magic of this exceptional property is that a herd of seven elephants, who roam free in the wild, come into the grounds of the reserve and greet visitors after years of doing so, accepting apples and pellets as treats, allowing the guests to interact with them.

The path we walked in hopes that the elephants would be coming to see us. They enjoy playing with visitors!

Getting the elephants accustomed to humans under these circumstances took years of loving and gentle persuasion, all accomplished with food rewards. There are no ropes, chains, or sharp objects needed to entice the elephants to interact with visiting guests.

Based on the fact that Louise and Danie know the managers well, they were able to gain access to the property and see if the elephants would willingly come to an open area to meet us, accepting apples and pellets while allowing us to be close to them, to touch them and be up close and personal. No doubt, it was a remarkable experience, especially knowing they did so of their own volition.

Based on the festivities of my birthday continuing today in a few hours and my need to get my walking done, I will be writing more about this adventure in tomorrow’s post with many more photos. Tonight, we’ll take more photos of my small dinner gathering at Jabula and look forward to sharing more.

Thank you to many of our readers/family/friends who have sent me heartfelt birthday wishes. I wish there were time to write back personally to everyone for the messages I’ve received in my inbox. But, I assure you, I will be reading each message with appreciation.

Have a fabulous day!

Photo from one year ago today, February 20, 2021:

We wrote in the caption of this photo, on my 70th birthday in 2018, at my party at Jabula with friends: “We’ll always remember this birthday as a special event for both of us; celebrating life, health, our experiences, and the fine friends we’ve made along the way.” For more from that date, please click here.

A 44-year ago memory…Great food and ambiance…

Our waiter took the family photo.

We had a fantastic time at Maynard’s in Excelsior on Lake Minnetonka last night with our son Greg’s family as we celebrated Camille’s birthday. The three grandchildren were there, and we all sat at a big round table for seven which allowed for easy conversation and laughter.

As was always typical for Maynard’s, the food was great, and the conversations all around were delightful. A few days earlier, Greg and I recalled July 4, 1977, when he and my other son Richard and I took out our first boat on Lake Minnetonka for the holiday experience.

It was fun to be here to celebrate Camille’s birthday with her complimentary ice cream sundae.

It was the first time I’d driven a boat, and the three of us took off from our boat slip in St. Alban’s Bay early in the morning with a plan to make our way across the vast lake, in and out of many bays, to end up at my friend Lynda’s lake house for a 4th of July party.

Our first foray with the boat on the lake that day was to make it the short distance from our slip at the marina to Maynard’s, then called T. Butcherblock’s, so the kids could feed the ducks. It was no later than 9:00 am. Once we arrived at T. Butcherblock’s docks, I somehow managed to dock the boat without banging into the wooden posts and then securely tied it down.

Tom, Miles, and Madighan are at the table.

We went inside the restaurant to ask for some stale bread for the ducks that typically swam around the dock, hoping that boaters and diners would toss some food their way. The restaurant staff gave us a bag of old bread, and we meandered back out to the dock to feed the ducks.

My boys, Richard and Greg, then ten and almost eight years old, were thrilled to feed the ducks but not too confident about going back out on the huge lake with their mother, an inexperienced boat driver at the time. I was 29 years old.

Maisie’s Asian salad.

Although I dinged the prop in shallow water, shortly after leaving T. Butcherblock’s, we somehow made it to Lynda’s house hours later, albeit slowly with the damaged support. Once at her house, I arranged to have the prop repaired, and we were soon able to get back out on the lake a few days later. It all worked out, and in those first few days, I learned a lot about boating.

Over the years, I became an experienced boater, upgrading to larger boats as the years passed. My kids spent many summers on the lake with me driving and gained confidence with my skills in time. It was an enjoyable time in our lives.

Tom’s walleye fish and chips. The walleye is a popular fish in the midwest.

Yesterday, being at Maynard’s brought back many memories, especially when Greg recalled that date, 44 years ago, and brought along a bag of stale bread for his kids and us to feed the ducks. After our enjoyable dinner indoors, we headed outside on the pier, packed with partygoers, boaters, and diners to make our way to the water, where numerous ducks and giant carp were awaiting our offerings.

At this point in my life, I wouldn’t normally condone feeding bread to fish and fowl. But, the family tradition was being relived not only for our grandchildren but also for Greg and me. Later, I sent Richard a text to tell him what we’d done, but “tongue in cheek,” he commented, “That wasn’t me.” I reminded him that, indeed, it was him as well. My sons are now 54 and almost 52 years old.

My Cobb salad.

Oh, my gosh…44 years ago. It seems like yesterday. I found myself saying this over and again, “I can’t believe it was 44 years ago!” After we were all done at the dock, we headed back through the restaurant and out the door to the parking lot, where we all hugged goodbye until we saw them again on Thursday evening, our last time together before we departed for Milwaukee and then on to Las Vegas.

Greg, Camille, the kids, and I will all go to the movies together on Thursday evening to see Black Widow. We will have to split up again to say our goodbyes. Tom will return to his sister’s Mary’s home for the usual Thursday night barbecue and catch up with me later in the evening.

Maisie sat next to me as we chatted endlessly.

Today, we made arrangements to see Sister Beth at the nursing home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Saturday and Sunday, after which we’ll head back to Minneapolis, directly to the airport for our flight to Las Vegas, Nevada, to see Richard. We’ll spend five days in Henderson, Nevada, and then on July 24th, we’ll begin the long trek back to South Africa.

As we fed the ducks, huge carp joined in on the action.

May your day be filled with pleasant experiences.

Photo from one year ago today, July 14, 2020:

Gina, our property manager in Madeira, Portugal, explained that the number of cloudy days we’d experienced while there in 2014 was unusual. For more photos, please click here.

Today is the fourth of my past nine travel birthdays to be spent in Marloth Park…It’s truly a gift to be here…

We wrote in the caption of this photo, on my 70th birthday in 2018, at my party at Jabula with friends: “We’ll always remember this birthday as a special event for both of us; celebrating life, health, our experiences, and the fine friends we’ve made along the way.” For more from that date, please click here.

Today’s photos are from this post on February 21, 2018, the day after my birthday.

This morning, it dawned on us that today is the fourth of nine birthdays since we began traveling that we’ve spent in Marloth Park. We were here on this date in 2014, 2018, 2019, and now 2021. Of course, 2019 wasn’t so pleasant when I spent it in ICU in Nelspruit after open-heart surgery. But I leave that memory behind and think of the joy of the other three birthdays, among friends, my dear husband Tom, and the beautiful wildlife surrounding us.

Dawn had decorated the table beautifully for the party. Thanks, Dawn! By the time we were all seated, it was dark, cozy, and romantic.

In 2018, Tom decided we’d return to Marloth Park for my 70th birthday as a surprise to me. I couldn’t have been more excited! Tonight will be no different than the fun we had on three of those birthdays, spending this evening with Louise and Danie at Jabula Restaurant at a socially distanced outdoor table.

Our friends filled a big table on that date at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant. At the same time, we drank wine and cocktails, dined on fabulous food, and enjoyed the companionship of everyone at the table, along with many others who stopped by. Dawn and Leon, dear friends and owners of Jabula, made it very special as well.

Linda, Mick, and Louise, with Ken and Don standing. Linda and Ken will be here in Marloth Park next Friday, and others will follow in the months to come!

But, with Covid-19, every celebration must be different. There will be no large groups, no hugging, and no proximity to others. We’ll especially load up on repellent when, after weeks of rain, the mozzies are on a rampage with risks of malaria higher than ever.

At the moment, we’re outdoors on the veranda waiting for visitors to come to say hello. So far, only Ms. Dove and Helmeted Guinea-fowls and the Chicks have stopped by. But the day is young, and a lot more could happen between now and 4:45 pm when we head to Louise and Danie‘s for sundowners before we all head out to dinner. No doubt, it will be a good day.

Wow! We were thrilled with the “cake of the world!”  Local baker Janine even made the two representations of Tom and me totally by hand.

I’d thought about sharing past birthday posts but chose only to highlight the “big one,” my 70th, in 2018, although the others were special and memorable. In the realm of things, especially during these difficult times of Covid-19, and considering our current ages, birthdays aren’t as important as they once may have been.

However, few of us mind the love and attention we receive on our special day, once a year. That’s not to say that other days aren’t unique. At this stage in life, every day is truly a gift.

After the dinner plates were cleared, the cake was delivered to the table. Thanks, Kathy, for bringing the candles!

It’s hard for me to grasp how old I am. For some reason can’t wrap my brain around it. Gosh, it was only yesterday that Tom and I met when I was 43 years old, and he was 38. This June we’ll celebrate 30 years together. The time has flown.

Although, like everyone’s life, at times there were challenges, Together, we have stuck like glue, appreciating and embracing our loving and close union, which certainly was tested in those 1tenmonths in the hotel room in Mumbai, India. We stayed strong and determined together, and surprisingly, we came out on the other side unscathed. If anything, we are closer than ever. That, dear readers, is the best gift of all.

Kathy, me, Tom, Lynne and Danie at the end of the table.

No, there won’t be a cake or candles to blow out (a gross thought in times of Covid, anyway), no gifts to open (i don’t need or want a thing, no cards in the mail (although I’ve received some very thoughtful online cards), Before the day’s end, I’ll have more birthday wishes from family and friends, greetings from many Facebook friends and all the love and attention a person can imagine.

I am truly blessed and grateful. Thank you for all the warm wishes. Thank you for sharing this journey with us!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 20, 2020:

The celebration on the Ganges River at night in Khajuraho. The nine umbrellas represent the nine planets. Hindus value every aspect of the planet and the universe. For more, please click here.

Another birthday celebration…This time at the bar entitled, “What the Hell”…Finally, rental car issue resolved…

I was painting on the wall outside a sushi restaurant in Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina, on this date in 2017. For more photos, please click here.

Seniors seem to prefer going out during the day as opposed to at night in the dark. I suppose we are no exception. With crazy drivers on the roads at night, many of whom may have been drinking, daytime visibility is beneficial. That’s not to say daytime drivers are competent or sober.

This fact is especially relevant as we approach New Year’s Eve. For this very reason, we were prompted to spend New Year’s Eve at the party here at the resort rather than venture out to any other locations.

Over the years, our interest in New Year’s Eve has diminished considerably. Still, when the opportunity to attend the party came up a few nights ago at a great price, we negotiated for two tickets, it was hard to turn it down. See yesterday’s post for details.

Yesterday, we brought the egg dish and blueberry muffins to Colleen and Gene’s home for brunch. Afterward, we watched the disappointing Minnesota Vikings Game, returning to our house around 3:30 pm with little to do but relax and unwind.

We should have started to tackle prospects for future bookings, but Tom was determined to watch football for the rest of the day and evening once we returned.

I busied myself with a variety of tasks, including making a light dinner at 6:30 pm. This morning before beginning the post, my time has been spent online checking credit card balances for the first-of-the-month payments. 

Since we’re leaving at 1:30 pm to pick up Colleen and Gena (it’s her birthday today) to head to “What the Hell Bar and Grill” to celebrate her birthday, we have little time to get wrapped up in any research for future travels.

This morning, Tom received an email from rentalcars.com, a site we’ve used since the onset of our travels and will continue to use for the best pricing on cars worldwide. They finally credited us for the issue we ran into when we arrived in Las Vegas on November 28, 2019.

When we approached the rental desk at the Alamo airport, we were informed we couldn’t receive the car we’d rented online due to some technical error between them and rentalcars.com.

However, Alamo booked another car for us at an even better price, which we accepted. But, the issue remained to apply for a credit for the car we didn’t get, and Alamo stated we’d have to do so through rentalcars.com.

We were receiving the credit turned into a convoluted mess of endless email messages and instructions to apply for the credit online (which didn’t work), with a high degree of frustration on our end. We didn’t give up. We kept pressing.

Finally, today, they wrote to us stating the credit will be processed and appear on our credit card within ten business days. Plus, they offered us a complimentary three-day rental next time we use the service by using a code they included in the message. 

We’ll keep checking the credit card and use the code next time we rent a car which should be once we arrive in London in May, after the cruise from Mumbai in April.

Now that we have all of the annoying issues resolved hanging over our heads, we can freely move forward in our planning for the future.

Have a fabulous day!

Photo from one year ago today, December 30, 2018:

Puff adders are commonly seen in Marloth Park. This photo was taken while we were at snake school in March.  Click here for the link to when the photo was taken. Click here for the post one year ago.

A lunch for 10 in a Mexican restaurant…What a fabulous time we all had!…

We’ve had such a fantastic weekend celebrating Don’s birthday while staying at their gorgeous home in Pretoria.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Kudus came to call on Friday morning before we left for Pretoria.

As soon as we upload today’s post around 10:00 am, we’re on our way back to Marloth Park, planning to arrive around 1500 hours (3:00 pm). We’ll unpack, start a load of laundry and decide what to do for dinner.

How sweet!  Tom and Don were sharing a sip of a Margarita!

Most likely, we’ll dine at home if our food in the freezer survived the 17-hour power outage. The food in the chest freezer will be fine, but we’ll see how the items in the refrigerator survived. Luckily, we didn’t leave much in the fridge or its side-by-side freezer.

Don’s weekend birthday celebration continued through Sunday at Salsa Mexican Grill.

We considered dining out tonight, but Jabula is closed for three days, and, not surprisingly, I’d like to stay home to see our animal friends, should they be returning to see us.  

Our party of 10 consisted of (from left to right) Kathy, Linda, Tom,  Don, Keith, Ken, Cynthia, Robin and Karen with me taking the photo.

The holiday season isn’t officially over until a few more weeks, but many will have already left with school starting again today. Colleges don’t reconvene for the new school year (after summer holidays) until around February 1st here in South Africa, and some college students may still be vacationing here in Marloth Park. We’ll see how it goes.

Kathy had a chicken burrito. My mouth was watering when I saw this (former) favorite.

We’ve had a wonderful three days at Kathy and Don’s gorgeous home with the two of them and their friends and family. It was a pleasure to see Linda and Ken, who’ll come to Marloth Park following Monday to spend a week with us. There again, more good times are on the horizon.

Linda and Ken shared this tasty-looking plate of nachos with cheese and guacamole.

Plus, following Monday is Rita’s birthday party at our house. On the return drive to Marloth Park, I’ll be planning the menu and grocery list for the items we’ll purchase this upcoming week for the special day. 

Tom, who doesn’t like beans and spicy sauces, opted for these three mini burritos with cheese, chicken, beef, and pork. Don shared a piece of his quesadilla with him.

As for yesterday, we had another great day when 10 of us dined at an authentic Mexican Restaurant, Salsa Mexican Grill, located in Kyalami Corner Mall. There are 11 locations of this superb restaurant with information on their website.  

Keith’s seafood tostadas with a side of stuffed avocado.

Not only was the food hot, fresh and thoughtfully prepared, and delicious, the presentations, service, and ambiance were as authentic as any Mexican restaurant we’ve experienced anywhere in the world. The food was “designed” with the California “flavor” so well known in the USA.

Don’s giant quesadilla looked delicious.

This was especially appealing for us, having always enjoyed dining on Mexican dishes. Tom’s taste buds are picky, but he could find something great that fit his desires. Everyone else at our table thoroughly enjoyed their chosen meals.

My over-the-top chicken salad was with roasted fajita vegetables, cucumbers, grilled onions, lettuce, guacamole, sour cream, and seasoned chicken. I’m going to try to duplicate this salad one day soon.

The menu is exceptional. We’re handed pens to tick off the boxes of the items and ingredients we’d preferred and place our names at the top of the page. The food arrived perfectly prepared for our choices, and even the bill came with a breakdown of the names showing who ordered which dishes and the cost.  

Tom was having a great time with “the boys” at one end of the table.

The service was exceptional, including the servers’ fuss over Don’s birthday, which only added to the festivities. Once again, this lovely group of people engaged in uproarious laughter and exciting conversation.  

We all were served shooters, hosted by owner Tony.  Tom drank mine. I’ve never done a “shot” in my life.

The drinks flowed as the participants savored the attractive drink menu options. I stuck with plain sugar-free tonic water since I prefer not to drink wine during the day.

We didn’t get back to Kathy and Don’s home until around 1630 (4:30 pm), and at that point, none of us could imagine eating dinner. But, around 1900 hours (7:00 pm), we all pitched in and made an excellent dinner of pork chops on the braai, potato salad, green beans, cooked spinach, and salad with avocado and dined at their formal dining room.

Dining at this fantastic restaurant is well worth a drive if you’re anywhere near the Johannesburg’/Pretoria area or passing through on the highway. We chatted with the owner Tony, who ensured we had an extraordinary time. Here’s their link.

We’re grateful to Kathy and Don for hosting us so graciously. It was straightforward for the four of us to be together, and the addition of friends and family only added to our excellent weekend.

Next time you’ll hear from us, we’ll be back in Marloth Park with only 38 days remaining until we leave Marloth Park. We’ll treasure every remaining moment we spend in the park, savoring the beauty of the bush, our wildlife friends, and of course, our human friends as well.

Be well. Be happy.

Photo from one year ago today, January 7, 2018:

A decorative pond with a statue at a botanical garden, Jardin Botanico. in Buenos Aires. For more photos, please click here.

Fantastic days and nights in Pretoria…

Tom and I hid in the bedroom, and once the others arrived, we suddenly appeared, surprising everyone. In the background are Keith (Don’s brother) and Ken, with Don and Linda in the center and Robin and Karen in the foreground. It was a fun surprise.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Two hippos we spotted when visiting Rita and Gerhard’s temporary condo at Ngwenya on Thursday evening.

The past few days have been a whirlwind of activity and socializing. It couldn’t have been more fun. Kathy and Don are perfect easy-going hosts, and every moment with them and friends has been an over-the-top experience.

For the first time since we can remember, we’ve slept in comfortable twin beds with exceptional bedding. We got some much-needed sleep last night after a fun-filled day for Don’s birthday.

In attendance were Karen, Keith’s daughter and his adult granddaughter Robin (Don’s niece and grandniece, respectfully), friends Linda and Ken, who’ll be staying with us in Marloth Park for a week beginning on the 14th, and Don’s brother Keith and the four of us for a total of nine. 

The lovely table setting on Kathy and Don’s veranda.

The birthday party began at noon for a birthday lunch and continued well into the evening. By 2100 hours (9:00 pm), the others left, and we stayed up chatting with Kathy and Don in their comfortable living room until we all drifted off to bed.

Kathy had prepared a delicious lunch of prawns on the braai, chicken wings and chicken pieces, potato salad, and an excellent avocado lettuce salad. With plenty of leftovers, in the evening, we finished off the remaining food.

The champagne and drinks flowed with ease, and the conversations around that table on the veranda were a mix of somewhat controversial subjects and world travel experiences. It was fun watching and hearing Tom and Robin’s hands flying as animated voices expressed their views on many topics.

The beautiful pool in Kathy and Don’s garden.

Linda and I chatted enthusiastically, anticipating their upcoming visit. Later, after she and Ken left to tend to their dog at their home about 40 minutes away,  Keith and I got in a huddle and chatted for hours. 

This morning, I was up, showered, and dressed for the day by 7:00 am, and Tom slept in a little longer, which is unusual for him. Kathy and I took off for Click’s Pharmacy this morning when I needed a few cosmetic items I hadn’t been able to find in Komatipoort.

Soon, we’re taking off for a bit of sightseeing, and then at 1300 hours (1:00 pm), we’re heading to a Mexican restaurant a 30-minute drive from here. The entire group, the nine of us, are meeting for lunch. 

View from their top floor veranda.

We haven’t been to a Mexican restaurant since we were in the US in 2017. We’re both looking forward to savoring Mexican food, much of which I can eat, such as the meat, veggies, and guacamole.

Tonight, we’ll dine at the house again, and tomorrow morning, we’ll be returning to Marloth Park. It’s been a fast and fun several days, and yet, we look forward to returning to Marloth Park. We’ve seen on Facebook; there were some fires in the park and power outages.  

May your Sunday be filled with good friends and good food!


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

One year ago, there were no photos when we described the upcoming cruise on which we sail on March 24, 2019, from Santiago, Chile. Instead, we posted the itinerary as shown below:

San Antonio, Chile to San Diego, California
15 nights departing March 24, 2019, on Celebrity’s Celebrity Eclipse
Our price:  ZAR 
54252.98 ($3,885.68 tips included) 
(Prices listed here are for both of us included taxes and port fees)

Date Port Arrive Depart
Sunday, March 24 Santiago (San Antonio), Chile 9:00pm

Monday, March 25 La Serena, Chile 10:00am 6:00pm

Tuesday, March 26 At Sea

Wednesday, March 27 At Sea

Thursday, March 28 Lima (Callao), Peru 7:00 am 5:00pm

Friday, March 29 At Sea

Saturday, March 30 Manta, Ecuador 10:00am 6:00pm

Sunday, March 31 At Sea

Monday, April 1 Puntarenas, Costa Rica 7:00 am 4:00pm

Tuesday, April 2 At Sea

Wednesday, April 3 Huatulco, Mexico 10:00am 8:00pm

Thursday, April 4 At Sea

Friday, April 5 Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 9:00 am 5:00pm

Saturday, April 6 Cabo San Lucas, Mexico 9:00 am 5:00pm

Sunday, April 7 At Sea

Monday, April 8 San Diego, CA 7:00am

What???…We’re where? …Five hour road trip?…

Don, on his birthday, knocking lemons off the tree in their yard for us to take back to Marloth Park.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Zebra butts on the side of the road when we left Marloth Park yesterday morning.

It’s odd that, as world travelers, we don’t care for long road trips. What can we say? Tom despises traffic which causes him considerable angst and stress.

For us, driving long distances, even for a day, doesn’t hold much appeal. Sure, we often embark on shorter trips to investigate various points of interest, but all-day trips inspire us to fly as an alternative.

Tom, at dinner at MooMoo Restaurant at the Brooklyn Mall.

Last Saturday night, with the nine of us at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant, Don suggested we drive from Marloth Park to Kathy’s home, Pretoria, for his 66th birthday party. I looked across the big table. I said to Tom, ‘Want to go to Don’s birthday party in Pretoria next weekend.”

I looked to Kathy, hoping she was OK with Don extending the invitation before discussing it with her. She was smiling from ear to ear, making us feel at ease, knowing this was a good idea for her as well.

My already-tasted fabulous filet mignon, cooked rare, with roasted vegetables and a small side salad.

Tom, engaged in lively conversation with his talking hands flailing about, stopped chattering long enough to look at me and state an emphatic “Yes!” without hesitation. 

That night on the way back to our bush house, I asked him if it was OK about the long drive. Our friendship with Kathy and Don was motivation enough for him to make the long drive.

Interior of MooMoo Restaurant.

We left the house at 10:20 am and arrived at the security gate to their home at 1640 hours (4:40 pm), and they warmly greeted us as they opened the large metal gate.

Their home is stunning, exactly as they expected. The grounds, the décor, and the ambiance is warm and inviting. Tomorrow, we’ll be posting photos of their house here in Pretoria, which happens to be listed for sale currently. Of course, we’ll include the link for the price and the listing information. 

The name of this shooter is a “Soweto Toilet.”  Tom gulped it down in one fell swoop.

Kathy and Don own a gorgeous bush home in Marloth Park, overlooking the Crocodile  River and several homes in Oahu, Hawaii. By selling this house, it allows them to spend more time in Marloth Park and Hawaii.

Being here at their modern, gorgeously decorated home in a lovely suburban area reminds us of being in the USA. There are few insects, no dust covering every surface, the temperature is less humid and considerably cooler, and the availability of shopping and services is overwhelming.

Tom was reaching to grab lemons off of the tree.

Last night, we headed to the Brooklyn Mall for dinner at the famous restaurant MooMoo for a fantastic meal. We all ordered delectable steaks cooked to perfection with attractive and deliciousness. After dinner, we assembled in their beautiful bar area for more lively chatter and nightcaps after returning to their home.  It couldn’t have been a perfect afternoon an

We’d intended to drive back to Marloth Park on Sunday morning, but Kathy and Don asked us to stay until Monday. So tomorrow, Sunday, they will show us some of their favorite sites in the big city.  

Kathy’s birdhouses. Without the wildlife in Marloth Park, Kathy spends time feeding many birds that visit the garden.

We enthusiastically agreed to stay, and Monday morning, we’ll head back to Marloth Park, thrilled for the time we’ll have had with Kathy and Don and excited to return to see our wildlife and human friends who’ll hopefully be returning to our garden. 

Today is Don’s birthday party, and friends Linda, Ken, and Don’s brother Keith have no idea we’re here. We saw them constitute a fun surprise for the birthday party when we all enjoyed


their friendship.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back, as mentioned above, with photos of Kathy and Don’s beautiful home and details. Please stop by once again.

Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, January 5, 2018:

Tom ordered a barbecue pork sandwich at La Panera Rosa in Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina, with three onion rings. It was as dry as it looked. For more photos, please click here.

Fabulous goodbye-for-awhile birthday party in the bush…An appreciated addition to the veranda…

This space heater will keep up warm as we spend each night outdoors during the cool winter nights. See the details in the story. 

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A hornbill sitting in the top section of the bird feeder. From this site: “Most are arboreal birds, but the large ground hornbills (Bucorvus), as their name implies, are terrestrial birds of open savanna. Of the 24 species found in Africa, 13 are birds of the more open woodlands and savanna, and some occur even in highly arid environments; the remaining species are found in dense forests.”

I had promised food photos from last night, but I fail to live up to my promise. Sorry about that! We just had too much fun and, other than the few we’ve included here today, I was just too busy and engaged in the festivities to think about taking many photos.

Aloe Vera is known to be one of the most healing plants on the planet. They grow wild here in the bush. We took this photo yesterday at the brick overlook in Marloth Park on the Crocodile River when we drove around the park looking for the lions.

Nonetheless, here’s the menu from the birthday dinner, overall, an all-American feast:

  • Cheese sticks
  • Moist less-fat biltong (amazing jerky found in South Africa)
  • Marinated grilled pork chops on the braai
  • Marinated grilled pork tenderloin on the braai
  • Roasted vegetables
  • Sweet corn cooked on the braai
  • Garlic mashed potatoes
  • “Par 30 Salad” (a recipe from our old lives given to me by a chef at a golf club)
  • Ciabatta garlic bread, dusted with Parmesan cheese and broiled to a light brown
  • Homemade gluten-free apple crisp served warm and topped with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.
Our guests, Kathy and Don and Linda and Ken, arrived with heavy coats, not knowing we had the heater.  It kept all of us comfortable all evening.

Actually, this was an easy dinner to make. The only time-consuming items were peeling the apples for the apple crisp and then peeling the potatoes. I hadn’t made either of these items in seven years since I began my way of eating. 

Instead of birthday cake for Kathy’s birthday, I made gluten-free apple crisp, served warm and topped with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. I didn’t eat it due to the sugar content, but everyone said it was delicious. 

My potato peeler that travels with us finally bit the dust, and the one in the kitchen was equally dull. Thus, I had to use a paring knife which was slow and cumbersome. In my old life, I had an electric peeler that worked fabulously.  But, this isn’t my old life, and the trade-offs are worth it. 

On the 4th of July, this past week was Ken’s birthday, yesterday was Kathy’s, and on the 16th was Linda’s. We celebrated all the birthdays with champagne, gifts, and merriment.

Last night, Ken walked out to the pond and took this photo of the noisy frog we’ve heard each night.  It’s actually tiny, as shown while it’s leaning on a leaf, next to a Helmeted Guinea Fowl feather.

It was a fantastic evening for all. All the food came out as we’d hoped, and the drinks flowed, starting with Pina Colada’s, then to champagne (sparking brut), and then to each of our own preferred wine and cocktails. I drank my usual low-alcohol red wine, and Tom had his usual brandy and Sprite Zero.

Tom backing away from the band of mongoose after he sets down the bowl of eggs.

In Marloth Park, it’s a tradition that dinner guests bring their own preferred beverages such as wine, beer, or liquor. It’s a great tradition since it keeps the cost and convenience of entertaining within reach for everyone. In some cases, hosts will start the evening with a special celebratory beverage, such as the Long Island Ice Teas, at Kathy and Don’s home on the 4th of July.

At times, we have dozens in the yard.  Yesterday, only about 25 mongooses were clamoring around the bowl of raw eggs.

I don’t consume any mixed beverages of any type (due to sugar), nor was I able to eat anything on the above menu except for the pork and roasted vegetables. The remainder had too many carbs or included dairy, not befitting my diet. I didn’t mind a bit. As the proverbial hostess, I always love seeing our guests enjoy our offerings.

Let’s backtrack a bit. Earlier in the day, while on our daily drive searching for the lions currently in the park, I had an idea about the cold nights we’ve been experiencing on the veranda. There’s no way we want to have to be indoors in the evenings.  What if we could find some space heater or outdoor heater? After all, winter has only just begun, and it’s very cool at night.

Even after the bowl is empty, they lick the bowl, trying to get the very last drop of the eggs.

We stopped at a few places while we were out yesterday but couldn’t find a thing that would work for us last night and, in the future, certainly not in Marloth Park shops. There wasn’t enough time to drive to Komatipoort or Malelane with the busy day to see what we could find.

We resigned ourselves that our dinner party would require warm jackets once the sun was set around 17:30 (5:30 pm). As we often do when we have questions, I sent Louise a message asking where she’d recommend we go on Monday to purchase some outdoor heater.

We were busy inside the house preparing for last night’s dinner party.  But, we knew the mongooses had arrived by the high-pitched cackling and squeals.  Tom always drops a few uncracked raw eggs on the ground to keep them around while we make up the bowl of six to eight eggs (depending on the size of the “band”).

Within seconds, she replied, “Hahaha, I’ve got one for you.  Just wait and see.” “What???” I asked in a state of total shock.

Zef and Vusi showed up in the “bakkie” (truck) within ten minutes, with one of those fabulous gas heaters seen in some outdoor restaurants on a chilly night, as shown in today’s main photo. We had a bottle of gas on hand, and in a manner of minutes, it was all set up and ready to use. 

How did we get so lucky to have Louise and Danie as our friends and our “landlords?” Their kindness, attention-to-detail, and generosity are like none we’ve seen anywhere in the world. 

Oh, don’t get me wrong, we’ve had nothing but wonderful landlords over these past years of world travel, many of whom we still stay in touch with. But, these two? Over-the-top, all the way around. If you’re looking for a property to rent or build in Marloth Park, these are the people to see. The friendship and socializing with them is such a bonus. We’ll always treasure it.

The heater kept us all warm and comfortable, and tonight while we dine on leftovers, we’ll be right here on the veranda as we are now, lapping up every moment of life in the bush.

Have a spectacular weekend wherever you may be!

Photo from one year ago today, July 7, 2017:
There was no post on July 7th, the date we flew from Minnesota to Nevada, where we spent three weeks with son Richard at his home in Henderson.  More will follow.

Birthday party photos…Oh, what a night!…

We’ll never forget this birthday as a special event for both of us; celebrated life, health, our experiences, and the acceptable friends we’ve made along the way.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush

Colorful face shot of a helmeted guinea fowl, many of whom are frequent visitors to our bush house.

It’s after noon, and I’m just getting started on today’s post. There were a few diversions this morning, keeping me from getting a timely start. One delay was due to my sleeping in until 8:00 am after a long stretch of wakefulness during the night. I guess it was the two glasses of red wine I drank during my birthday party. 

Secondly, I had complicated computer problems this morning (I won’t bore you with the details) when I sat down at the big outdoor table to begin the post. After a few hours of working on it and staying calm, I created somewhat of a workaround, hopefully lasting until I fire up my new yet unused laptop. 

I‘ve been trying to use this three-plus-year-old Acer laptop until it’s on its last leg, and it appears that day may be imminent. Based on all the jousting around in our travels and excessive use, I’m surprised it’s lasted as long as it has.

Dawn had decorated the table beautifully for the party.  Thanks, Dawn!  By the time we were all seated, it was dark, cozy, and romantic.

The second distraction was when our housekeeper Martha, who lives in a tiny house on the property, asked to help fix her TV. We walked to her little place and played with the remote, attempting to get a signal.  Finally, we got it working, and the dear woman hugged us with gratitude. 

We could only imagine how hard it would be for her to be without TV during her free time. Although she works for us and a few other properties for Louise and Danie, she has idle time that could be lonely and difficult without the ability to watch her favorite shows.

The third distraction was to run to the little market in Marloth to see if we could find mushrooms for a dish I’m making tonight. The mushrooms are an integral ingredient in the recipe, and it just wouldn’t be the same without them. 

Wow! We were thrilled with the “cake of the world!”  Janine even made the two representations of Tom and me totally by hand.

We didn’t feel like driving to Komatipoort for mushrooms since we didn’t need to do any other grocery shopping right now.  The round trip drive is over an hour and certainly not worth it for only one item.

There are two superette-type markets in Marloth Park, one with about 30% more inventory than the other. Alas, we headed to the larger of the two and found fresh mushrooms. That was surprising!

Back at the house, I settled into my usual spot on the veranda to finally get started on today’s post about last night’s birthday party. A few visitors stopped, and again I was distracted from the task at hand. Oh, well, here we are now, pushing 3:00 pm and anxious to share last night’s event.

Closeup of Tom and I in fondant standing atop the world!  So fun!

Tom and I arrived at Jabula shortly before 6:00 pm, where we met with Jannine, the cake lady, her husband Vincent, and their two kids while they waited for us in the rain tucked under an overhang. They’d arrived earlier than planned, and fortunately, we’d done the same.

Although it was pouring rain when we arrived, they’d already carried the cake up the steep stairs to the restaurant. As soon as we stepped into the bar and spotted the cake, we both smiled from ear to ear. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

As shown in our photos, the cake was made round into the shape of the world, with each of the continents added utilizing fondant. The two minor characters she’d made to represent us couldn’t have been more adorable and befitting. 

Kathy, me, Tom, Lynne and Danie at the end of the table.

What a talent! Known as the “cake lady” in these parts, Jannine can be reached through Vincent’s email here should you live in Marloth Park or nearby and would like a unique and delicious cake.

Shortly after Jannine and Vincent left, our guests began to arrive. We mingled around the bar until it was time to be seated. We paid for our cake, reasonably priced at US $56.54 (ZAR 650), and hugged them both for their attention to detail and for delivering the cake to Jabula.

Dawn, the co-owner of Jabula with her husband Leon, set an exquisite table for our group and had the plastic-encased menus printed with the selections as well as the photo of us sipping champagne on the Zodiac boat only weeks ago in Antarctica. It couldn’t have been more perfect. (See image below).

Linda, Mick, and Louise, with Ken and Don standing.

The evening flowed with lively upbeat conversation, not only about the commonality we all share in our love for Marloth Park but also many other exciting topics. The time flew so quickly, when it was time to go, we felt as if we hadn’t had quite enough of this beautiful group of people.

The specially printed menu added a nice touch.

The food was exceptional.  We hosted the meal, and both red and white wine was served during the dinner. Afterward, I cut the cake, which tempted me to lick my fingers, but I didn’t taste a drop.  

I’d thought about making an appropriate cake for me, but I didn’t feel a need for it.  I try to avoid getting back into a taste for sweet foods, which I’ve all but conquered over these past few years.

I’d asked our guests not to bring gifts, but they couldn’t seem to avoid doing so. When doesn’t a girl love a 50 pound (23 kg) bag of pellets, a bag of almond flour, bars of scented soaps, and a bottle of fine South African wine in a lovely African cloth holder beside all the beautiful cards and messages? 

A few of the guys had “espetada,” which is well-seasoned meat of a hanging skewer.  Gee, I might try this sometime, but I always have the same meal at Jabula; peri-peri chicken livers with a Greek salad.

A heartfelt thanks to all of our friends for knowing exactly what I’d love, none of which I’ll have to add to my luggage next time we fly away after blissfully using up all of the items.

Back at our inviting holiday home, referred to as “Orange…More than Just a Color” I checked my computer to find more birthday wishes than I’d ever seen in the past; from our readers, our Facebook friends, our family, and friends. I must say I was reeling from the love I felt from all over the world. 

After the dinner plates were cleared, the cake was delivered to the table. Thanks, Kathy, for bringing the candles!

Thank you with all of my heart for making the 70th birthday one I’ll never forget, not for the celebration of the “number” but for the people who made it so special. 

Photo from one year ago today, February 21, 2017:

Views of the Huon River in Tasmania. For more photos, please click here.