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

 
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 who may have been drinking, daytime visibility is definitely a benefit. That’s not to say daytime drivers are competent or sober.


This fact is especially relevant as we approach New Year’s Eve. It’s 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, but 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 once we returned Tom was determined to watch football for the rest of the day and evening.


I busied myself with a variety of tasks including making a light dinner at 6:30 pm. This morning prior to 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 were crediting 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 at the 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.

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 10 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 for the credit and definitely 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!

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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 when the photo was taken. Click here for the post one year ago.

Prepping for Tom’s birthday dinner…Here’s the menu…

Photo of the beautiful Crocodile River taken from Marloth Park on this date in 2013. For more, please click here.

Tomorrow’s birthday dinner for Tom is the first big meal I’ve made for guests in over 10 months. When deciding on the menu for his birthday dinner tomorrow, I found it necessary to consider several factors: one, the limited space in the kitchen; two, that the various dishes are easy to prepare; Tom’s taste preferences (along with our guests); and limited space for serving a variety of side dishes.


While at the market last weekend, we noticed good prices on New York Strip steaks. They looked meaty with little visible fat and although the portions are big, everyone can take a “doggy bag” home if they’d like.


We purchased two packages of five steaks each and separated the seven we’d need for the meal, keeping three for the two of us at some point in the future and freezing all of them. Steak on its own may not be all that exciting for some so we also purchased a bag of jumbo butterflied prawns. 


Each plate will have a steak and prawns. Thus, the menu rolled out as follows:

  • New York Strip steaks, cooked to order on the grill
  • Jumbo garlic broiled butterflied prawns
  • Baked potatoes with sour cream and fresh chives
  • Asian green beans with light spices, bacon, sauteed garlic, and onion
  • Sauteed Portabello mushrooms
  • Par 30 Salad: a delicious tossed salad from a recipe, in our old lives, from a restaurant on at a nearby golf course. Romaine lettuce, green onions, bacon, slivered almonds tossed in a slightly sweet and tangy homemade dressing
  • Garlic bread, topped with fresh garlic and Parmesan cheese
  • Tom’s favorite lemon cake, infused with vanilla pudding, crushed pineapple and topped with Cool Whip
The items on this menu that work for me is the steak, prawns, green beans, mushrooms, and salad. This is an ideal meal for me and hopefully for everyone else.

We’ll dine by 4:00 or 4:30 pm due to a Vikings game which will be on TV starting at 6:15 pm. All of us, from Minnesota, will watch the game. We have enough chairs and seating to make this work for the seven of us. 

Most likely, I’ll serve the cake at half time or sooner, when everyone’s ready for the final course. I’ve always loved this cake so I have to remind myself not to lick my fingers or take a single taste.

I decided against serving any snacks or appetizers before the meal when all it does is make everyone full before the meal is served. It’s disappointing for the cook to find guests already full before the main meal is served. And, it’s hard for the guests who wish they had “room” to eat the main meal. 

Today, we took off for the Safeway market for a few last-minute items while our laundry was drying. We were back in time by a few minutes before it was done. Returning back to the house, we put all the laundry away and I started chopping and dicing for tomorrow’s meal.

Soon, we’ll juice all the lemons for tomorrow’s Lemon Drop Martinis. We picked all the lemons from Mary and Eugene’s lemon tree in front of their property. Colleen provided a bottle of Sapphire Gin and a bottle of Absolute Vodka to use for the martinis.

After our 3:00 pm main meal today: roast chicken, salad and rice (for Tom) he’ll vacuum all the floors and I’ll wash them. This morning I did some cleaning so we’ll be all set by the end of the day as I continue to work on the above side dishes. I’ve already finished the green beans and will continue to chop and dice for the salad.

First thing in the morning, I’ll make the cake, marinated the steaks, prep the prawns, potatoes, and garlic bread. I’m doing as much as I can today to ensure tomorrow is easy.

Hopefully, the day will be as warm and sunny as it is today with a high of 72F (22C).  May you have a warm and sunny day as you plan and prepare for the holiday season.
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Photo from one year ago today, December 22, 2018:
The baby bushbuck took cover behind mom when she wasn’t sure what to do when she saw us. For more photos, please click here.

Oh, what a night!!!…Thanksgiving nirvana…See our menu at the end of the post…

From left to right around the table:  Kathy, Janet, Steve, Don, Louise, Danie, Leon, Dawn, Uchi, Evan while Tom and I shared the end of the table. Total in attendance: 12.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Good-sized turtle crossing the road at quite a pace.

It was definitely a night to remember. Marloth Park friends, all who love the bush and its wildlife, enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal for the first time, except for Americans Kathy and Don.

Thanksgiving dinner on the veranda with friends.

Tom and I worked hard in the heat for two full days to get it all pulled together. No doubt, I did the bulk of the cooking but he washes the cooking dishes; peeled two types of potatoes; helped with the pies; the veranda setup and so much more. We’re quite a team at times like this.

The wine and cocktails flowed along with the lively conversation.

I can’t recall the last time we did a dinner for 12. Surely, it was in our old lives sometime in 2012 before we left Minnesota on October 31st. I’d forgotten how much work it is but the joy of sharing food, wine and conversation with great friends made it all worth it.

On the right, Evan, Uschi, Dawn and Leon.

Fortunately, everything came out well, although, at the last minute with a few items to reheat in the new microwave, we couldn’t get it to work. With time running out to meet the 1930 hrs (7:30 pm) goal of sitting down to eat, I improvised and reheated the items on the stove and all was fine.

We were only off the dining time by 10 minutes. It was wonderful to finally sit down and enjoy the enthusiasm of our guests over the unique flavors of the foods.

Each couple got their own roast stuffed chicken.

We’d given each couple an entire stuffed chicken with the many side dishes. After dinner, with all the leftovers still on the countertop, we handed each couple two takeaway containers to fill with their leftover chicken and any sides they wanted to take home for Sunday’s lunch or dinner.

It was fun and playful to see everyone partake in filling their takeaway containers (brought to us from Jabula by Dawn and Leon). It reminded us of the many years we did the same with our family…take home leftovers and a pie.

Homemade cranberry sauce.

The full-sized pumpkin pies were lined up on the pool table ready for them to load up to take home along with their containers. We served a separate larger pie after the meal so each couple could take home a complete full-sized pie. We served whipped cream in the can with the pies.

It was hard for me not to take a taste of everything not only to ensure it all tasted good but, let’s face it, my resolve faded for the night and I actually ate a few items I’d never eat under normal circumstances. At the end of the evening, I even went as far as having a small piece of the regular pumpkin pie.

On the left, a pan of extra stuffing, in the center, sweet potatoes (they are light colored here, not orange).

Today, with no leftover chicken but plenty of all the other sides, we’ll be roasting a “flattie” chicken, chicken livers and a couple of bone-in chicken breasts. This will allow us to have full meals for the next few night’s dinners. I don’t feel like cooking for a few days.

Of course, today, I’m back to my healthy way of eating and will only have chicken, lettuce salad and steamed spinach for tonight’s dinner while Tom will tackle the stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and the homemade dinner rolls (he sure loves these!).  He’ll have pie for dessert and I’ve promised myself I will abstain.  

More stuffing.

Oh my gosh, there were so many dishes. But, leave it to Louise to have arranged for Vusi to come this morning to do the dishes, clean the house and the veranda, putting everything back to its usual tidy and clean state.  

Tom had a hard time leaving the dishes overnight. We always totally clean up after dinner. But, after the two days of 40C (102F) temps and how busy we’d been, he loaded the dishwasher twice after awakening at 5:30 am this morning, lightening the work for Vusi.

Low carb mashed cauliflower.

This morning, I washed all the linen napkins, cleaned the countertops, did two loads of laundry and organized the refrigerator.  All we have to do for the rest of today is to make a salad and vegetables, cook the new chicken and have another excellent evening on the veranda. A nap may be on the agenda since we didn’t get to bed until 1:30 am and both were awake before 5:00 am.


Last night, we had several visitors in the garden but were so preoccupied with our guests we didn’t pay as much attention to them as usual. Tusker made an appearance along with our favorite warthog pair, two males, glued at the hip, Sigfreid and Roy. We can’t tell them apart since they look identical (must be brothers) so we call each of them “Siegfreid and Roy.” They both respond and did so last night during the party. 

Traditional green bean casserole.  Kathy brought the fried onions back from the US!  Thanks, Kathy!

On Friday night when we returned from Jabula, they were both cuddled up in the garden fast asleep. They perked up when we arrived but waited patiently to see if we’d offer some pellets.  Of course, we did as we will again tonight.

As promised, here’s last night’s Thanksgiving dinner menu which we’d decorated and printed a copy of the menu for each couple to review in order to pace themselves:

Menu
 
Thanksgiving Dinner in the Bush
 
Sundowners with Light Snacks
 
Roasted chickens
Stuffing with Sausage, Mushrooms, Onions
Mashed Potatoes with Creamy Gravy
Buttery Mashed Cauliflower
Sweet Potatoes with Fresh Pineapple and Cinnamon
Broccoli Salad with Crunchy Almonds and Sultanas
Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Onion Rings
Cranberry Sauce
Homemade dinner rolls
Pumpkin Pies
Whipped Cream Topping, if desired

Have a superb day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 18, 2017:

A fluffed up version on an unknown bird Tom captured in Costa Rica. For more details details, please click here.

Yesterday’s pumpkin pie hell!….Thanksgiving celebration today…Pie photo below…

There is nothing that makes me laugh more…”Little” swimming in the cement pond!

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Bottlebrush flowers, along with others have begun to bloom in the park.

To name yesterday’s making and baking of eight pumpkin pies, “pumpkin pie hell” is putting it lightly. The temp was as high as 40C (102F) for most of the day and one thing after another went wrong in making the pies.

Egyptian goose standing in shallow water at the river.

First, I must preface, I haven’t made a pumpkin pie since 2011, for our last Thanksgiving dinner in the US (except for last week’s “test pie”). I didn’t have the proper kitchen equipment to make the beautiful-looking pies I’d always made in the past.

In our old lives, we had 14 deep dish Pyrex glass pie pans which I’d collected over a number of years. But, when sending family and friends home with their individual pie, I warned them if they didn’t return the glass pie pan, there’d be no “pie for them” in the future. This worked.

Big Daddies, sharing pellets with each other and the zebras.

Since it makes no sense for us to invest in bakeware, instead we purchased the only pie pans we could find, the tin foil disposable variety. I’d never made a pumpkin pie in one of these except for a few low-carb cheesecakes a few months ago which didn’t present a problem.

The other issue was the Spar market ran out of frozen pumpkin, the only source available. We’d purchased all they had the prior week and they promised more would arrive this past week. Didn’t happen. This is Africa, after all. We get it.  

A very muddy cape buffalo.

We tried a few other markets to no avail. Pumpkin isn’t readily available in South Africa.  Why would it be?  Pumpkin pie is a US thing and it’s not as if there are lots of Americans around here, making Thanksgiving dinner.  

As a matter of fact, the only Americans we know or even talked to in the past nine months are friends Kathy and Don and long-term US residents Rita and Gerhard.

A big male lion a few days ago.

I decided to cook all the frozen pumpkin we had, measure the number of cups, figuring .41 liters (14 oz) per pie. Fortunately, I had a one-cup measure on hand and calculated I could make a total of eight pies. We needed one for each of the other couples (four pies), two to serve after the meal, and two leftovers for Tom. Whew! That part worked out.

But, what a messy operation measuring from a big plastic container filled with mashed pumpkin. Next was the making of the pies. Having no experience with tin foil pie pans, I made all the pie crusts from scratch, eight of them, one at a time, rolled the dough with a giant rolling pin Louise loaned me, and prepared each of the crusts in the tin foil pans.

I believe this is an orange-breasted bush shrike.  Please correct me if I’m wrong.

Well, let’s get back to the weather for a moment. It was a hot 40C (102F) and the pie crust dough was tricky to handle and get into each of the pie tins. Plus, the usually easy part of neatly crimping the edges of the pie crust became nearly impossible. I did the best I could.

Cape buffalo faces.

Once the crusts were prepared I lined them all on the counter and carefully and evenly filled each of the prepared pie crusts with the typically runny pumpkin pie filling I’d made. The problem was when we attempted to lift the filled pies off the countertop to put them into the oven, the flimsy pie tins caused the liquid the spill out.

Mom and baby at the river’s edge.

With Tom helping, with his frustration level as high as the temperature, he devised a transfer system where we could add extras tins to the bottom of the pies, to increase the stability of the pan.  From there, it was a slow and laborious process, I spilled several cups of the filling as a result of my usual clumsiness.

The oven cooks unevenly and without the metal crust edge protectors I usually used, the pie crust edges are uneven and overcooked in parts. But, that’s the way it is in this life, a lack of perfection but an abundance of joyfulness. Not a bad trade-off, eh?

Here are my eight less-than-perfect pumpkin pies for tonight’s Thanksgiving dinner. The pit in the bottom right is low carb with an almond flour crust for Louise and Danie. They also loaned us the collection of serving pieces which will surely come to good use tonight.

Here is the photo of my pies, less than pretty, but hopefully will taste as good as the test pie a few days ago.  We’ll be back tomorrow with more food photos from our “Thanksgiving Dinner in the Bush.”

Here is the giant rolling pin I borrowed from Louise and Danie, previously used for rolling pizza crusts. It’s weighted and very heavy, ideal for rolling pie crusts.  Also, in this photo are the takeaway containers Dawn and Leon provided, who’ll join us tonight, from Jabula Lodge & Restaurant where we had another fantastic dinner last night.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Photo from one year ago today, November 17, 2017:

Tom Lyman, you never cease to amaze me!  What a shot of the classic “Froot Loops” cereal (per Tom) Toucan, technically known as the Rainbow-billed Toucan, aka the Keel-billed Toucan (different than the Toucan in our previous post with the Fiery-billed Aracari Toucan as shown here) taken in our yard in Atenas, Costa Rica. For more photos, please click here.

Happy Australia Day to our Australian/Tasmanian friends and readers…Saving more of $$$$…

Our friend Terry (and past landlord in Penguin) sent us this beautiful photo of another seal on Sisters Beach, Tasmania where he and his wife Fran are spending time at their cabin. Thanks, Terry!  This is quite a gem!

Today is Australia Day, a national day of celebration. This morning while researching online for information Australia Day to share with our readers, I stumbled across this interesting article as shown below at this link (edited to fit our page):

“Australia Day 2017: What does the average Aussie really look like?

Matt Wade
        
by Matt Wade                                        

Numbers can paint a vivid picture of how a nation has changed.  A century ago the average Aussie was a 24-year-old male farmer. Fifty years ago, it was a 29-year-old male office clerk. But today, it’s a 38-year-old female sales assistant.

Australia reaches population milestone

Earlier this year, statistics confirmed what we already knew, Australia’s population is rapidly growing; but you might be surprised to learn which city will be our biggest by 2050.

Let’s call our typical Aussie Rebecca – that was the most popular name for girls born in 1979 (it was Michael for boys). She is married and lives with her husband and two children, a boy and a girl aged nine and six, in a stand-alone house with three bedrooms in a suburb of one of Australia’s capital cities. They have a pet.

Rebecca completed year 12, has a Certificate in Business and Management and is employed as a sales assistant – the nation’s most common occupation for women and men these days. She does 32 hours of paid work each week (the average is 41 hours for men) and another five hours or more unpaid work around the house. The household’s annual disposable income is $88,500 (after tax). Rebecca takes five days of sick/carers leave each year and 16 days of annual leave.

Demographer Mark McCrindle estimates that Rebecca’s family has lived in the house for five years and is paying off a mortgage. They have $427,847 equity in the property, which is the bulk of the family’s wealth. They have another $65,880 worth of household possessions such as furniture and equipment.

Rebecca was born in Australia – despite our cultural diversity the average Australian was born here, as were both of their parents. But it’s a very different story in some parts of our big cities. In Sydney’s Haymarket for instance, 88 per cent of the population were born overseas.
Rebecca’s household has two cars which each travel an average of 14,000 kilometers (8699 miles) a year. Over the past 40 years the share of households with two or more motor vehicles has doubled, from 26 per cent to around 54 per cent. Like 69 percent of all commuters, Rebecca drives to work.

Despite the growing proportion of Australians with no religion, or a non-Christian religious affiliation, Rebecca is a Catholic and speaks only English at home. She has “English, Australian, Irish, or Scottish ancestry” according to the Bureau of Statistics. Rebecca is 164cm tall (5’4″) and weighs 68kg  (150 pounds). The average man is 178cm (5’8″) and weighs 85kg (187)pounds. She exercises three times a week and gets 7.2 hours of sleep per night.

Rebecca can expect to live until 85.3 years – about four years more than her male counterparts. Mr. McCrindle said demographic averages shed light on Australia’s collective “personality”.

“These statistics show we are working hard, we are saving hard and we are juggling multiple roles,” he said.

“It points to a pretty conscientious, busy nation that is just getting on with it.”

View from the highway as we head back from Huonville.

This above article defines life for the average Australian, although the lives of many may vary substantially based on income and lifestyle. In the next few days Australia’s population will reach 24,000,000.

The significance of Australia Day, is described as follows from this site:

“On Australia Day we come together as a nation to celebrate what’s great about Australia and being Australian. It’s the day to reflect on what we have achieved and what we can be proud of in our great nation. It’s the day for us to re-commit to making Australia an even better place for the future.
 
Australia Day, 26 January, is the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet of 11 convict ships from Great Britain, and the raising of the Union Jack at Sydney Cove by its commander, Captain Arthur Phillip, in 1788 (you can read a comprehensive history of the evolution of Australia Day here).

Though 26 January marks this specific event, today Australia Day celebrations reflect contemporary Australia: our diverse society and landscape, our remarkable achievements and our bright future. It also is an opportunity to reflect on our nation’s history, and to consider how we can make Australia an even better place in the future.

On Australia Day, half of the nation’s population of 24 million attend either an organized community event, or get together with family and friends with the intention of celebrating our national day. Many more, spend the public holiday relaxing with family and friends.

Yet Australia Day is much more than barbeques and fireworks. It is more than another public holiday. It is more than the pride and excitement of new citizens who call themselves Australian for the first time on 26 January after being conferred citizenship.

At its core, Australia Day is a day driven by communities, and the celebrations held in each town, suburb or city – unified by the celebration of what’s great about Australia and being Australian – are the foundation of its ongoing success.”

The Huon River is very wide in this area.

We’re honored and excited to be here in Australia on this special day in history. Today, we’re off to the celebrations in the town of Franklin, returning tomorrow with photos. 

As to the mention in today’s heading regarding our “Saving more $$$$” we’re pleased that Tom’s diligence in checking daily for price reductions on our already booked cruises have benefited us to such a degree.

Over this past month, the cruise from Santiago, Chile to Buenos Aires, Argentina we’ve saved a total of AU 2,641, US $2,000.  We’d booked the cruise while aboard ship which provides an added opportunity for perks and yet, still allows our rep at Vacations to Go to receive full credit for the transaction.

The dock on the property here in Castle Bay Forbes on the Huon River.

To reap the benefits of these price drops, which in this case was a total of three price reductions, we contact Brooklyn/Shanon, our rep at Vacations to Go who immediately gets to work to confirm the price drop with the cruise line (Celebrity in this case) and then issue new documents at the lowest price which are promptly sent to us via email. 

During this particular price drop we were able to maintain the perks we received at the time of booking which included free Wi-Fi, paid gratuities and AU 396, US $300 cabin credit. We’re thrilled to say the least.

Our vacation/holiday home on the Huon River, as shown from the river side. We live on the top floor with a second bedroom and en suite bath in our lower level while the owners, Anne and Rob, live on the lower level.

The skies are cloudy now, but we expect it to clear by the time we head out for Franklin. However, rain or shine, we won’t miss this special event.

Have a sunny day wherever you may be both in your heart and in your skies!

Photo from one year ago today, January 26, 2016:

Although a little tough to see with the long lashes, Mont Blanc had blue eyes.  (We fell in love with him, but sadly, he eventually died).He was the “cria’ that had escaped the paddock leaving us in a quandary with the owners at work. For the rest of this story as to how he was returned to his mother, please click here.

Day 24…Circumnaviagting the Australian continent…What is the meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday in the US?…More Adelaide photos…

Tom, sitting on the train. He hasn’t gained weight on this cruising forgoing cereals, bread, rolls, donuts, and buns.

“Sighting on the Ship in Australia”

Art work in the ship’s gallery.

The Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated in the US is in two days. For those outside the US who may not know the significance of Thanksgiving, it is a very special day of celebration for the following reasons as described on this site:

Meaning of Thanksgiving – The Real Celebration
For many of us, the meaning of Thanksgiving usually includes feasting, four-day weekends, football games, floats, family reunions, or a forerunner to Christmas festivities. The “first Thanksgiving,” however, was neither a feast nor a holiday, but a simple gathering. Following the Mayflower’s arrival at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620, the Pilgrims suffered the lost of 46 of their original 102 colonists. With the help of 91 Indians, the remaining Pilgrims survived the bitter winter and yielded a bountiful harvest in 1621. In celebration, a traditional English harvest festival, lasting three days brought the Pilgrims and natives to unite in a “thanksgiving” observance. 
(Continued below).

Pretty purple flowers blooming in spring.

This “thanksgiving” meal would not be celebrated again until June of 1676. On June 29 the community of Charlestown, Massachusetts proclaimed a day of thanksgiving for their good fortune. Ironically, this celebration excluded the Indians, as the colonists’ recognized their recent victory over the “heathen natives.” One hundred years later, in October of 1777, all 13 colonies participated in a one-time “thanksgiving” celebration which commemorated the patriotic victory over the British at Saratoga. It would take a span of over 150 more years to establish Thanksgiving as we celebrate it — George Washington proclaimed it a National holiday in 1789, Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November in 1863, and Congress sanctioned it as a legal holiday in 1941.”

Me, sitting on the train.

For those of us growing up in the US, most often we associated Thanksgiving with the beginning of the holiday season, a big hearty meal of turkey and dressing (a seasoned bread mixture used to stuff the bird), mashed potatoes, with gravy, sweet potatoes (yams) covered in white marshmallow topping, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce and of course, the popular pumpkin pie.

No word can describe how important it was for us, to be able to do this beautiful celebratory meal to enjoy with family and friends. I especially enjoyed making multiple pumpkin pies, all from scratch, to line them up on the kitchen counter so everyone could take home a pie to enjoy along with their bags of leftovers.

This yellow box is used for registration into the train using the purchased transport card.

After the festivities ended, the next day was the beginning of decorating our home for Christmas which required the three remaining days of the four day weekend to set all the treasured decorations in place on the tree and throughout the house. 

This is Adelaide Station.

It was a daunting, time consuming task, but when completed and the lights on the tree were twinkling, all was good with the world. Do we miss this?    We miss our family celebrations. We are not missing all the work necessary to achieve all of this.

Honestly, at this point in our lives, I can’t envision every going through all that work; not the preparation of the meal nor the decorating of the tree(s) (we had two trees), the month long baking frenzy, the endless piles of gifts to wrap and the often 200 to 300 Christmas cards we sent every year, each with it’s own handwritten message inside.

Memorial statue.

This era has passed for us.  Are we sad?  Not at all. This year marks the 5th Thanksgiving since we left Minnesota on October 31, 2012.    Most countries don’t grow turkeys and with my special way of eating the other dishes require major modifications to be suitable. 

When Thanksgiving was upon us while living in other countries, most often, we’ve dined out or made a chicken dinner with familiar and delicious sides we’ve known and love.

Statue outside the library building.

This year on the ship around Australia, we were told they were going to create a special menu for the 400 Americans on the ship.    Very likely, Tom will be taking part in the offerings while I pass.  Plain turkey doesn’t appeal to me and none of the side dishes will be suitable. That doesn’t bother me one bit. Whatever the chefs prepare for me as they do every night will be all right.

As for the upcoming Christmas season and Tom’s birthday on December 23rd, we’ll continue with the new traditions we’ve established over these past years of world travel; a homemade dinner for Tom’s birthday and on Christmas Eve and dining out on Christmas day, if there’s a local restaurant offering Christmas dinner. That works for us.

Statue commemorating Sir Henry Bragg.

As a matter of fact, I’ve already started accumulating some new recipes for the above occasions and look forward to enjoying them together. We no longer give gifts to one another (our lives are all the gifts we need) and do not set up a Christmas tree and decorations. 

Commemorative statue of Mary Lee.

We send US purchased gifts for the six grandchildren. We send gifts to the U.S. for the six grandchildren. 

Memorial structure in the center of town.

With the date differential here on this side of the International Dateline, Thanksgiving will be celebrated on the ship tomorrow, which is Thursday. In the US, it will be celebrated on Thursday, two days from today.

We have no regrets. For us, every day of our lives, of world travel deserves thanksgiving, however unusual and varied it may be.

Cactus-like plant blooming in spring.

May all of you revel in the joy of thanksgiving for life itself and in the holiday for those who celebrate.

Photo from one year ago today, November 23, 2015:

In Fiji, one year ago, a nursing pig with her piglets. For more photos, please click here.