One of the busiest days ever!…Photos ops kind of sketchy!…

After the boat ride, we drove past the new Minnesota Vikings US Bank Stadium (football) for this shot.

I suspected that at some point during the six weeks we’re spending in Minnesota, we’d eventually run out of photos. As much as we’ve continually searched for decent photo ops, we’ve fallen short and today’s photos may be lacking in originality.

It’s not as if we’re surrounded by wildlife and “sightings on the beach” such as our daily entries on each post during the four months we spent in the villa in Sumbersari Bali which I was reminded of when I posted the “year ago” photo of the scary bull below.

It was hard not to laugh out loud when I reread last year’s post of Tom’s second most frightening animal encounter since the onset of our travels with the Mozambique Spitting Cobra next to his feet on the veranda in Marloth Park South Africa as his first, definitely his biggest scare ever.

That’s not to say I haven’t been rattled a few times myself especially when encountering frightening-looking venomous insects throughout the world. But, now with my preoccupation with taking photos of nasty creatures, I’ve been able to allay my fear into a more productive mode of, “Hm…this will make a nice shot for the blog.”

Speaking of the word “blog” I find myself referring to ours as more of a website than a “blog.” When I notice other blogs I find most authors only post now and then, as opposed to our current number at 1,793 over these past five-plus years. 

The entrance to the Minnesota Vikings US Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis.

Where has the time gone and how the heck did we ever get to this high of a number? We often shrug our shoulders when we make note of the number of stories/chapters/posts. 

When people often say, “You should write a book!”  We laugh.  We’ve already written a book with 1,793 chapters that are already online for the “free” taking of any enthusiastic reader who attempts to tackle it in its entirety. Brave you! Have at it!

Are we gluttons for punishment, hell-bent on continuing this relentless documentation of our daily lives, even when such lives are quiet, uninteresting, and mundane? Sure, we are. 

Why wouldn’t we be when it rarely feels like a task or obligation? Although, I must admit it’s been tricky on the days when we’re picking up a grandchild at 8:00 am who’ll hang out with us for the day which has been no less than three times per week.

Never wanting the “grandchild of the day” to be bored and antsy while waiting for me to upload the post, at least three times a week, I’ve completed two posts in one day in preparation for their arrival. 

Only once, this week, did I find myself in a quandary with no choice but to prepare the post while one of the kids was here. We’d been out late the prior night and I had no steam left to do it.

Vikings design on the exterior of the stadium.

Even then, I hurried through it and was done in half my usual time continually stopping to pay attention to how Miles was doing to ensure he wasn’t impatient or bored. It worked out fine. We had a great day.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. On the days I’ve done two posts, I’ve done one in the morning and the second at night after we’ve been out for dinner and I’m sitting in bed in my nightshirt.  On a few such occasions, I fell asleep in the process, startling myself awake. On a few other occasions, Tom did his usual “waving a hand over my eyes” to see if I’m dosing or awake. Irritating? Yes. Effective? Yes. It wakes me every time.

With today’s outrageously packed day which will require no less than four hours of driving time after picking up Madighan at 8:00 am, last night at 8:00 pm, Tom and I were situated in the hotel lobby (where we usually work online), yet to have dinner.

We’d picked up Vincent again at Cardboard Camp and taken him to see the movie, The Mummy. He loved it!  I liked it! Tom hated it. Tom and Vincent shared a giant popcorn while I snacked on a bag of nuts which sat in my gut like a rock. Tom’s appetite was iffy after eating at least of third of the giant bucket of popcorn. We never went to dinner.

Multiple bridges view from the riverboat on the Mississippi.

I scheduled this post for an automatic 11:00 am upload at which point our outrageously busy day will be in full swing.

We’ll be back with more details over the weekend, which is also packed from morning till night including an 80th birthday party for Tom’s sister Margie starting at 2:00 pm on Saturday and a full day on Sunday with Camille and the two girls for a “Shrek” production downtown, followed by a visit to the Sculpture Garden.

You’d think amid all these activities, I’d be taking tons of photos. But, I’m so distracted with the precious time we’re all spending together, I keep forgetting to look for photo ops. I suppose, in the realm of things, that’s a good thing. We promise to make up for it later.

Enjoy the day and we’ll be back for more.

Photo from one year ago today, June 23, 2016:

In Bali, this buffalo snorted and stomped his feet ready to charge at Tom when he went for a walk while I stayed busy at the villa. For more on this frightening story, please click here.

Scary repeat experience…Alarming reminder for Tom…

Big Buffalo was not happy to see Tom once again, coming out of the water to show his displeasure.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Note this little kid in a narrow part of the river as this motorbike with a family of four. We’ve seen six on one motorbike but have yet been quick enough to capture it.

It was about three months ago that Tom had the scary buffalo-ready-to-charge experience when he went for a walk to explore a dirt road he was curious to see. At the time, he said it was the “second biggest scare of his life.” See the link here.

Of course, the biggest scare of his life was while we were living in Marloth Park, South Africa when a Mozambique Spitting Cobra dropped from the ceiling and landed (alive) close to his bare feet as we lounged on the veranda waiting for “visitors” to arrive. Some visitor, eh?  See the link here.

The boys were walking the buffalos along the beach.

In the late afternoon, a few days ago, we were both standing at the edge of the veranda watching a wide array of activities on the beach; people swimming in the ocean and river; motorbikes zooming by, some popping wheelies; fishermen pulling in their nets and a variety of walkers with an end of day purpose in mind.

As soon as they entered the water facing our direction, the big buffalo Tom had previously encountered spotted him standing on the edge of our veranda.  We could hear him snorting, the buffalo, not Tom.

Camera in hand, we were at the ready for any interesting or unusual sightings we’d like to share with our loyal readers some of whom may have wondered if we’d have anything worthy of posting on a second two-month visit to Bali.

Now, with 25% of our time on the island behind us, we’re piling up photos and stories we’ve yet to share with the hope that our readers will enjoy, along with that which we’ve posted to date. 

Tom stepped back several meters.  Big Buffalo did the same. Smaller buffalo was oblivious.

In actuality, personally, I’m having almost as much fun this time in Bali with our photos as I’ve had when we were living in some of my favorite places. Our long term readers know exactly which locations are forefront in my mind. Hmm..

Tom stepped up on the short stone wall of the veranda. Big Buffalo comes out of the river, moving toward us.

As we stood on the veranda observing the beach, two familiar buffaloes were being led to the river by boys, who most likely are sons of the buffalo owners. Noting the red wooden bells they were wearing Tom was immediately startled. No other buffaloes in the area wear those red wooden bells. 

Tom was certain the larger of the two bulls was the one who’d just about broken loose of his rope only three months ago with the intent of charging Tom. It was a frightening experience as Tom slowly backed off, hightailing out of the area, returning to the villa sweating and out of breath, anxious to tell me what had transpired.

Big Buffalo inched forward as Tom did the same.

The buffaloes didn’t see us as they walked along the beach in front of the villa. Heads down, they were busy sniffing the sand and most likely anticipating cooling off in the river. 

Tom backed off less than a meter.  Big Buffalo did the same.

Although Tom was a little guarded, we held our ground and continued to watch them entering the river while I was hoping to get a few good shots. Only moments after they entered the river, everything changed.

The larger of the two, Big Buffalo, spotted Tom. Keep in mind, there were other humans on the beach and at least of dozen motorbikes driving on the sand close to the river. It wasn’t as if we were the only people in the vicinity.

Testing further if this was really happening Tom again inched forward no more than a meter toward Big Buffalo as he stepped right out of the water.

Apparently with great vision, Big Buffalo never took his eyes off Tom. Oddly, from a distance we could easily tell his serious gaze was directed at Tom, not me. He must have had a good memory, still angry from their last encounter three months ago. That’s not surprising. We often underestimate the ability of animals to recall past encounters.

Tom, feisty sort that he is, and curious to determine if the bull did in fact recognize him, only moved a few feet (less than a meter) toward the river and boom!…the Big Buffalo snorted, coming straight up and out of the water toward us. 

“I’ve had enough of you,” said Big Buffalo as he totally emerged from the river.

The interaction and test of wills continued. This time, on the safety of the veranda (supposedly), Tom was a bit more daring. However, this didn’t diminish his caution in us staying safely out of range of being charged if Big Buffalo became angry enough. 

This all transpired in only a matter of minutes consisting of Tom never moving more than three feet, one meter, from our original position. I didn’t know if I should have tried to stop Tom in his somewhat subtle buffalo game or if I was so excited taking photos that I kept my mouth shut.

Of course, this doesn’t mean Tom is going for another walk where Big Buffalo lives!

Finally, we had to go indoors for dinner and Big Buffalo returned to the river for his swim as we began to walk away.

Soon enough, the two Ketuts alerted us that dinner was ready and we went indoors for yet another wonderful dinner and evening. Ah, we anticipate the adventures in Bali will surely continue as time marches on during our remaining 45 days.

Yesterday, prepared to leave for Negara, we noticed the van had a flat tire. As a result, the trip was postponed until today. Ribut removed the tire and took it to a repair shop, returning it later in the day. 

With an early start today, (we were both awake before 5:00 am) we’ll have this post uploaded a few hours earlier than most days and be on our way by 10:00 am, back tomorrow with more photos we’ll enthusiastically share.

Have a lovely day!

Photo from one year ago today, September 15, 2015:

While living in Savusavu, Fiji we visited the hot springs located in the village where locals who don’t have a stove cook their vegetables in heat proof bags.  For our video, please visit the year ago post, here.

A wild and fascinating cultural experience in Bali…Buffalo races!…Video and photos!

Our video from yesterday morning’s buffalo race.  Two carts took off at a time while the others awaited their turns.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

This morning we spotted this large fishing boat close to the beach.  It was surprising to see how many people were on board.
Moments later they were hauling this little blue boat on board. 

Buffalo racing is a popular sport in Bali. Two highly decorated buffaloes are hitched to plowing type carts, modified and also elaborately decorated for racing, the “jockey” sits in the cart, reins in hand, knees bent, holding a leather whip, not unlike one would find with horse racing.

After our first steps out of the car, we could tell the path ahead would be congested.

Yes, there are many animal cruelty activists that are adamantly opposed to buffalo racing and we understand their intentions. But, we’re not here to judge a centuries-old tradition. 

As all of our readers well know, we love animals and are also vehemently opposed to animal cruelty.  ut, we aren’t here to espouse our personal beliefs over worldwide racing of a variety of animals,  nor are we taking a stance on such a position in this post.

We arrived well before the start of the race with many of the buffaloes still in the trucks.

We’re here to describe this unusual experience we’d yet to see in our world travels as a way of life for many Balinese and others throughout the world. Their passion, enthusiasm, and dedication to the sport arenot unlike the dedication one finds for football and soccer worldwide where humans are the target of considerably rough encounters centered around much hoopla and wild celebration.

Buffaloes aren’t intended as “runners.” Their bulky physiques and ungainly gate make them poor candidates for such a sport. But, boy or boy, can they run and it didn’t appear it take much encouragement to get them on the move.

The buffaloes were being dressed in their elaborate costumes.

Yesterday morning at 7 am, Butu, our alternate driver for the villas, picked us up for the 20 minutes drive through unbelievable traffic early on a Sunday morning.  It wasn’t as if everyone was heading to church and brunch in Bali. 

Most of the population adheres to Hinduism, with approximately 14% Muslim, 3.5% Christian, and .5% Buddhism who don’t necessarily worship on Sundays. 

It appeared that the bulk of the traffic resulted from trucks hauling buffaloes to the races and other trucks hauling various goods to the island. 

Many hands were involved in prepping the buffalo.

Weaving in and out of traffic while constantly passing other vehicles on the narrow two-lane roads is a harrowing event in itself, not intended for the squeamish. 

If such traffic scenarios are an issue for you, Bali wouldn’t be a good vacation/holiday spot for you, unless you parked yourself at a resort for a few weeks to enjoy the balmy weather and beautiful beaches. In reality, driving in Bali is not unlike the buffalo races, one wild ride, for sure!

It was equally interesting watching the prep required as the buffaloes were “dressed” for the event.

Once we arrived at the race track, we discovered a somewhat unusual aspect to racing on this particular course in Malaya.  Wherever we stood near the track, there wasn’t a good vantage point in which to see the race other than for the first 100 yards. Once the buffaloes were on their way, the vegetation and distant areas of the track only allowed us to see the bobbing flags on the carts at a distance. 

From what Butu explained as best as he could with our language differences, the race of each buffalo cart is timed, determining the winner(s) who’d go on to the bigger races for the finals in several months. 

It was the look on the mouth of the buffalo on the right that inspired me to get a close-up of his teeth. Please see the photo below for details.

Here’s more information from this site further describing these events:

“Makepung is the name of a major grand prix in Jembrana, West Bali, which features racing buffalo races. Hundreds of pairs of buffaloes are teamed up together with their jockeys riding the traditional wooden ploughs that are slightly modified for the competition.

The racer buffaloes, called kerbau pepadu, compete in various open race circuits in assorted heats around the district of Melaya, leading up to the finals, or what has come to be known as the Jembrana Regent’s Cup, and the Governor’s Cup, held annually.

Makepung is derived from the base word of kepung, meaning ‘chase’, similar to the expression ‘steeplechase’. Makepung is one of the unique traditions stemmed from the agrarian life scene of the island, and is a widely enjoyed event in the regency of Jembrana, west Bali.

The grand-scale events inspired by such a simple, traditional pastime preserve the unique traditions of this part of the island, as well as to promote tourism to this far-flung western location. The competitions also provide a positive impact on other local sectors such as agriculture and farming.

The tradition has partly prevented the shift of land for farming use, and it has also encouraged the people to improve the quality of animal husbandry, raising winning buffaloes for the yearly events.”

Once we entered the grounds for the race we walked along with a narrow path weaving in and out of the rows of buffaloes. I could tell Tom was a bit concerned we’d be kicked or stepped on by the huge beasts, but I was so busy taking photos I never gave it a thought. 

This is how close we were to the buffaloes when we were able to get this close-up of his teeth. Even munching on all that vegetation causes tarter of the teeth. 

Being up close and personal was “right up my alley” and I couldn’t have been more thrilled to look in the eyes of these amazing animals, admiring their individual expressions and elaborate decorations that the Balinese people design with considerable care and attention to detail.

At no point did we see any of the buffaloes handled with any rough treatment other than the first moments “out of the gate” when their tough hides were swatted to get the show on the road. Often, while they waited for their turns, we noticed the owners and handlers petting them in a revered and appreciative manner.

Many of the costumes worn by the buffaloes were elaborate.

Now, we get it…the buffalo on the beach every day being walked to the river for a cooling soak.  For all we know, they too participate in the races. Apparently, the buffalo races have contributed to tourism in this more remote part of the island, four hours from the capital city of Denpasar.

We had to walk quite a way to get to a spot on the sidelines in order to see the beginning of each racing cart, most often starting two at a time. The walk was somewhat tedious over rough, slippery terrain with room for only one person at a time. Gingerly, we made our way to a good place to stand on the sidelines only a few feet (meters) from the track with no fence or guardrail to protect the spectators in the event of a mishap.

We ended up walking down this uneven grassy area on the right finally staying put close to the official’s tower on the left. 

We positioned ourselves a reasonable distance from the starting line when we noticed the helter-skelter nature as the buffaloes and carts took off. An official yelled something in Balinese in a loud and intimidating voice that immediately triggered the buffaloes into action. You can hear this in our above video.

After quite a while and with all the photos we wanted, we decided to head out before the end of the race since we couldn’t tell who was winning anyway. With the lines of vehicles, participants, spectators, buffaloes and carts it was evident it could have taken two to three hours to get back out to the highway.

The buffaloes were adorned and ready for the races to begin.  In a perfect world animals (including humans) wouldn’t be subject to these types of sporting events and customs.

We’d hoped to make a stop at the grocery store on the way back to the villa but Butu misunderstood taking us to a farmers market with mostly fruit, some veg, clothing, and trinkets, none of which we needed to purchase.  The two Ketuts purchase all of the vegetables, eggs, chicken, and fish each morning for the day’s meal. Next time we go out with Gede we’ll make the stop.

At the moment, we’re outdoors on the chaise lounges on a dark and somewhat dreary day. We can’t see across the ocean to Java, the Indonesian mainland, as on most sunny days. We’ve already had our coffee and are showered and in our swimsuits as always. 

The buffaloes are being led to the starting gate.  More photos will follow tomorrow.

Regardless of the weather, we’ll stay outdoors all day and swim in the pool even if it rains. The cabana provides good cover from the rain and will have slightly fewer flies than inside the house. There’s no way we can describe how bad the flies are, especially after it rains, especially during dinner. But, like everything else, we’ll manage just fine, flies and all.

One month from today, we’ll already be in Singapore. It’s hard to believe we’ve been in Bali for over a month.  How the time flies when you’re having fun!

May your weekend be enjoyable and meaningful.

Photo from one year ago today, May 30, 2015:

Rough seas aboard the ship one year ago had resulted in the closing of the swimming pool. Walking about the ship had been tricky for 24 hours as the rough seas increased.  Luckily, neither of us suffers from seasickness. For more photos and details, please click here.