Shopping in the USA…An unfamiliar experience… Driving a car…Is it akin to riding a bicycle?

I was standing under a vine trellis when Tom took this photo.

It almost incomprehensible that we’ve been in Minnesota for 10 of our 42-night visit.  The time couldn’t be passing more quickly.  Each day bring us to another level of discovery with our grandchildren through conversations, playing and spending precious time together.

Of course, we also love spending time with our grown children and their significant others after being away for so long.  Now that we’ve spent time with the immediate family with much more to come, we’ll have an opportunity to visit with more of our friends.

In the process, we’ve spent time with some of Tom’s dozens of family members, all of whom are warm, friendly and delightful to be with.  Tomorrow, we’re picking up Tom’s sister at the airport.  Betty, “Sister Beth” to be exact, is a nun who lives in Milwaukee and is flying to Minneapolis for a week.

Buildings on the grounds of the Butcharts Gardens.

During the upcoming week, we’ll spend time with Sister Beth and another sister Patty, (where Betty will stay during her one-week visit).  Shortly before we pick up Betty we’ll head to a market to buy chickens, veggies, and salad to share dinner with Sister Beth and Patty at Patty’s home.

I prepared most of today’s post last night while flipping through channels on the TV in our hotel room after a very busy day.  In the morning, Tom’s son TJ, his partner Sarah and grandson Jayden came for breakfast at our hotel, Country Inn & Suites.

As we entered the Japanese gardens…

After a fun time chatting in the breakfast room, we all headed to one of the two swimming pools where Jayden and TJ played ball in the pool while the three of us cheered them on while watching.  Later in the day, they left in order to attend a graduation party while Tom and I headed back to our hotel room.

After these past days in a flurry of activity, I felt a little antsy.  But, I knew the remainder of the day required I head out to the local shopping center, Ridgedale Mall for a little much overdue shopping.  It was time to replace my old, worn bras the three of which made it through three years of world travel.  I couldn’t eek out one more wearing and washing.

Plants and structures in the Japanese gardens.
Before I could shop, I had to face the reality that I needed to drive myself.  Tom offered to drive me the short distance since I’d yet to drive the Ford Explorer SUV since we rented it 10 days ago.

Actually, I’ve haven’t driven a car since we were in Kauai, Hawaii, 27 months ago.  Over these past two years in the South Pacific, I’d never once driven a rental car with the steering wheel on the opposite side of that which we were familiar with in the US and on top of it…driving on the opposite side of the road.  I’m not a good enough driver to tackle both of these scenarios.
A brass dragon in the Japanese garden.

Oddly, as adventurous as I may be at times, I hesitated to drive again.  But, the mall was calling me and I turned down Tom’s sweet offer to drive me.  Kissing him goodbye, I headed out the door, shopping bag in hand (I don’t own a handbag), ready to reacquaint myself with driving a vehicle.

By the time I exited the hotel’s parking lot I was comfortable behind the wheel of the new, bright-red SUV.  It’s akin to riding a bike…you just don’t forget.  Plus, it helped that I knew my way around having no difficulty whatever in finding my way to the mall.

We weren’t able to identify these large red berries.

As I entered the huge mall, I caught my breath in my throat.  OMG, I was on sensory overload…the abundance…the prices…the selections…left me in a state of sheer wonder.  Nothing we’ve seen in these past 55 months can compare to my shock of seeing the stores, the displays, and the confusing options.

I walked out of the mall a few hours later after purchasing my three bras at Victoria’s Secret and, 10 shirts for Tom in Macy’s including five fine-quality tee shirts on sale from $34.50 to $11.99 each and; five Bass short sleeve solid color Explorer shirts (no wrinkles) made specifically for the traveling outdoorsman, regularly priced at $68.50, on sale for $19.99 each.  

Yellow flowers line this small creek.

Tom doesn’t necessarily get excited about clothing but he certainly expressed a touch of enthusiasm over finally having some new solid color shirts.  He doesn’t like plaids, patterns, flowers, prints or stripes.  These were impossible to find in Australia especially if they were “wash and wear.”

Finally, I headed back to our hotel where we had leftovers from dinner at Greg’s on Saturday night, heating it up in the microwave in our suite.  It’s handy having the small fridge and microwave which allows us to avoid eating in restaurants every night.

Decorative lawn ornament.

With both of us wanting salad to accompany the re-heated main dish, we headed next door to Grizzly’s ordering two dinner salads with two sides of sour cream from which I made our usual dressing. We don’t have a salad bowl or utensils to toss a salad with our dressing.  Buying the salads from the restaurant made it easy to toss the dressing in each of the two disposable containers.

We walked under this tree limb structure to gain further access to more gardens.

Early this morning, we’re picking up grandson Miles to spend the day with us.  It looks like Miles and I are going to see “Captain Underpants” at 2:20 pm while  TJ picks Tom up at the hotel to join him in his Monday night horseshoe games. 

After the movie with Miles, we’ll return to his home and shortly later, I’ll take Maisie to her Girl Scouts meeting at 6:00 pm, after which we’ll all find our way to the various soccer fields for the three kids for their practice and games.  Whew!  Busy.  Fun.

Happy day to all!


Photo from one year ago today, June 5, 2016:

Last June, in Sumbersari Bali, we made good use the our cabana as shown here in the afternoon sun.  For more details, please click here.

We split up for an evening with family…Garden photos continue…

Pretty flowers in a deep pink.

We knew at some point it would make sense for Tom and me to split up to spend time with our respective families; Tom’s two children, Tammy and TJ, their significant others and three of our six grandchildren. 

Pretty in pink.

My son Greg and his wife Camille and three of my grandchildren live about 30 minutes away from Tom’s two kid’s homes.  We knew at times we’d each spend days and/or evenings with our own children and grandchildren, apart from one another.

Unusual pine tree.

It had been a long time since Tom and I had been apart for more than an hour.  Many have classified us as “glued at the hip.”  But, it’s during this period of time in the US that it makes a lot more sense to split up for specific activities.

Bronze carousel horse in the garden.

Last night, Greg’s three kids each had soccer games at three different fields; two adjoining and the third at another field four miles away.  Greg and I watched Maisie and Miles’ game while Camille was at the distant field watching Madighan’s game.

Butchart Gardens has many wide open spaces on the sprawling property.

It reminded me of when my two sons, Greg and Richard, both played ball at the same time in two different fields.  As a single (divorced) mom, I’d run back and forth between the two fields in order to watch both of them play t-ball, softball, and baseball. 

Fluffy looking small flowers.

That was a long time ago.  Richard recently turned 50 and Greg is fast approaching 48.  How the time has flown.  Being back in Minnesota where all of our four children grew up is definitely a reminder of how the decades, not just the years, have brought us to today, living this nomadic lifestyle, visiting our family for but a glimpse of time. 

The nine weeks in the US will surely fly by in a flash.  By tomorrow, the first week will have passed with five weeks remaining in Minnesota and three weeks upcoming in Nevada beginning on July 7th. 

Totem poles are commonly seen in Victoria, such as this in Butchart Garden.

Tom visited son TJ’s home with Sarah and two grandsons, Jayden and Nik.  They ate burgers and chicken, played some “hoops” and yakked the night away.  Tammy visited for a period of time and they all had a great evening.

More tulips.

Greg picked me up at the hotel after Tom dropped me off after we’d spent the afternoon with Tammy and son Vincent at his fifth grade “fun day” at a local park.  The weather was cool, windy and sunny, perfect for the kid’s activities including a lengthy “shower” from a fire truck while the kids got soaked while squealing with delight in a grassy field.

In the evening after the soccer games, we headed back to Greg’s home with a plan for Tom to pick me up whenever he was done at TJ’s.  I’d eaten a very late lunch, another Chipotle salad we picked up on the way back to the hotel so dinner wasn’t necessary for me.  For anyone to prepare a meal for me is often inconvenient and not worth the effort.

Garden keepers preparing a pond for the upcoming celebration of Canada’s 150th year.

They all had dinner after which we headed outdoors for a bonfire and idle chatter. The “Minnesota State Bird, the lowly mosquito made their usual appearance and we swatted them of while huddling close to the fire and citronella candles.

Commemorating Canada’s 150-year celebration.

It was a very pleasant spending time with our respective families.  Of course, going forward, we’ll enjoy plenty of activities with both Tom and me in attendance simultaneously.

I know I’d promised we wouldn’t spend a lot of time writing about family and friend activities.  I apologize for not being able to resist sharing our daily events.  Now, that we’re here, I see how impossible it would have been to write about other topics when we’re so entrenched with the people we love and have missed for the past four years and seven months.

More plantings commemorating Canada’s 150 years.

Many of you will skip over these posts and we fully understand.  Some of you will read them with the same interest you’ve expressed over reading about many of our less exciting and more mundane days and nights of this life we lead.

A few varieties of spring tulips remain in bloom in the late season at Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia.

But, the time will fly quickly for all of us and in a mere 60 days, we’ll be on our way to Costa Rica settling into the fabulous villa and beginning the search for those colorful frogs, birds and other wildlife that populate that magical country.  From there…it’s excitement all the way!

Carpe diem!


Photo from one year ago today, June 1, 2016:

An interesting looking restaurant on the beach in Lovina, Bali where we traveled to work on our visa extensions for Indonesia.  For more details, please click here.