Twelve animals hit and killed the roads in Marloth Park in past two weeks…

This hippo was very far away from us when we took this photo. It was only after we uploaded it that we noticed how many oxpeckers were on his hide.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Yesterday, we spotted this ostrich family near this vehicle. It was over four years ago we saw our first ostrich in the wild in Marloth Park. It was on December 7, 2013, that we’d spotted an ostrich standing next to this exact vehicle at this same property, looking at himself in the window of the car. See the photo below from that date! Click here for that post.
From the December 7, 2013 post: “While on a walk in our neighborhood, Tom spotted this ostrich that had wandered into a homeowner’s yard, appearing to be fascinated by looking at himself in the window.”

It’s heartbreaking to see in a post for Marloth Park on Facebook that 12 wild animals have been killed on the roads in the park. Indeed, some of these horrible incidents have been unavoidable. But, the remainder may be attributed to visitors driving too fast on the tar road that runs from one end of the park to the other.

There are two 24-hour a day guarded gates to enter into Marloth Park, the only access points. Entering via Gate #1 requires a very long and bumpy ride on a dirt road from the N4 highway but is technically shorter (distance-wise, not time-wise) than driving the extra distance on the road to Gate #2. Rarely do any locals attempt to move to Gate #1? 

Each time we’re near the Crocodile River, we see waterbucks. They live in herds of 6 to 30 animals, with one male who defends his territory.

It’s hard to say who these careless drivers may be and how they’ve entered the park. They could be renters living in a holiday house or others entering the park to explore and see wildlife or…others with dinner reservations at any of the local restaurants or…could be troublemakers up to “no good.”

With all the traffic and noise we heard last night, loud voices, loud music, and engines revving, we can’t help but wonder if they have somehow made their way into the park with little to no regard for the quality of life here.

We’ve been lucky to see elephants along the river road. Most days, we go out for a drive. Yesterday was no exception.

In yesterday’s post, we addressed some of these issues that crop up during the busy school-holiday season and other holidays. Please see this link here.  The commotion may continue until well into August. 

Lately, we’ve heard about major criminal incidents in and around the area. We stay on constant alert to protect ourselves and our belongings. Luckily, most homes have alarm systems like ours, but we all know they can be compromised.

Whether we spot one or 30 elephants, it’s always awe-inspiring.

We can only hope and pray that those who’ve rented holiday homes will offer the utmost kindness and concern for the peaceful and pleasing way of life only found in Marloth Park.

While driving along the river yesterday afternoon, we spotted a five or 6-year-old kid steering an SUV while sitting on his dad’s lap. What was this guy thinking?  This scenario could be one of many careless cases and causes of wildlife being killed on the roads. Careless driving.

“The elephant’s trunk can sense the size, shape, and temperature of an object. An elephant uses its trunk to lift food and suck up water, then pour it into its mouth. Elephants cry, play, have incredible memories, and laugh. Elephants can swim – they use their trunk for breathing like a snorkel in deep water.”

We apologize for continually bringing up these topics for our worldwide readers, not in this area. We’re hoping that if only one person staying or visiting Marloth Park sees our posts, maybe one animal will be saved.

On a lighter note, we’re doing quite well. With a 90% improvement in my health since eliminating dairy from my diet several weeks ago, I am literally on Cloud 9. To finally not have an awful stomach ache after over two years, I’m enjoying everything we do 10-fold. 

“There are three distinct species of elephant left in the world: The Asian elephant and African elephant, which are the forest and savanna elephant species.”

As we drove through Marloth Park yesterday, I described to Tom how wonderful it feels to be free of the constant pain and discomfort while riding on the very bumpy dirt roads in the park. Also, the freedom of not constantly worrying over what the problem could be has been equally liberating. 

“The elephant’s gestation period is 22 months, longer than any other land animal in the world. A newborn human baby weighs an average of 3 kg (7 pounds), while a new born elephant baby can weigh up to 118 kg (260 pounds)! The baby can stand up shortly after being born.”

In addition, as of today, after one month, I’ve lost 3.6 kg (8 pounds) from eliminating dairy while watching portions, and my clothes have begun to fit better.  

Cape Buffaloes may be referred to as the mafia, not only because of their strong character but because they never forgive and almost always seek revenge. They have been recorded seeking revenge on someone years after being threatened by them.

I plan to continue on this path of a slow weight loss so that by the time summer begins on December 21st, with temperatures in the 40C’s (104Fs), I’ll finally fit back into all my shorts. It’s too hot in the summers here to wear Capri-length or long jeans all day while sitting outdoors on the veranda.

This appears to be a blooming aloe vera plant.  Please correct me if I’m wrong.

As for today, soon, we’ll head to the post office with our tracking number to see if they can track our missing package. It was sent on May 23, 2018, and has yet to arrive. This is not unusual as we often find ourselves waiting for a shipment for upwards of two months.

After the post office, once again, we’ll drive through the park, continuing our search for the lion (to no avail, thus far) and, of course, any other wildlife that graces us with their presence.

Have a peaceful and meaningful day!

Photo from one year ago today, June 26, 2017:

One year ago today, I joined Maisie, Madighan, and daughter-in-law, Camille, at The Stages Theater in Hopkins, Minnesota, where the four of us saw a local production of Shrek. For more photos, please click here.

Difficulties of travel for some seniors…Aging and endorphins…our bodies own miracle…Want to get high?…Could this be the answer?

A deer at Zoo Ave.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Here’s another sad loss of a bird, a Hoffman’s Woodpecker, that hit the glass wall in the veranda. Unfortunately, this one never came back to life.

Regardless of how one may strive to maintain a modicum of good health as we age, there’s only so much we can do. A healthy diet, regular movement and exercise, sufficient sleep, regular small doses of sunlight, and a positive state of mind may seem to be the panacea for long and healthy life. But it’s so much more than that.

We’re subject to heredity and the past ways in which we’ve lived our lives, which at times may not have been the most health-inducing for the long haul, having an impact on how quickly we age.

Did we spend too much time in the sun resulting in creepy hanging skin and the potential for skin cancer? Did we smoke or consume recreational drugs in our youth?  Did we drink alcohol in excess?  Were our lives filled with stress and worry impacting the quality of daily lives and the ability for good sleep? 

A deer lounging in the foliage.

Many of us abused our bodies with too much exercise, or as in many cases, not enough exercise, resulting in bad hips, knees, backs, and joints in general. So when we hear about many of our friends requiring hip and knee replacement surgeries, we wonder if there was something that may have prevented the necessity of these major surgeries. 

Is reliable information available to inspire the young to prevent the need for such surgeries in their later years? Unfortunately, many studies we’ve read seem to contradict one another. 

Thankfully, neither Tom nor I have any concerns over hip or knee surgeries in the imminent future.  However, the necessity of such could quickly stop us “dead in our tracks” for an extended period in continuing our world travels. 

An Iguana at Zoo Ave. We’ve seen them running across roads at various locations, but they dash. It’s not easy to get a photo while driving.

When we look back at our lives, is there anything we did “right” to avoid these surgeries?  There’s nothing we can recall. Is it merely a matter of chance? I can’t imagine this is so.

Simply due to the fact we’ve chosen this life of world travel doesn’t make us exempt from age-related health issues. We, too, like many of you, have signs and symptoms commensurate with aging that no matter how hard we try, we can’t seem to escape.

We can eat all the low carb, healthy organic, free-range, and grass-fed chemical-free foods we can stuff into our mouths and accomplish a daily goal of 10,000 active steps on the Fitbit, and still, we find ourselves struggling to get enough uninterrupted sleep each night and notice subtle changes in our health as the years pass.

Close up of an Iguana face.

No, we don’t spend time worrying about aging. No, we don’t frequently check the mirror looking for changes in the number of wrinkles, skin changes, and gray hair that comes with aging. 

However, it’s impossible not to notice a new ache, a new pain, or a symptom we may not have experienced in the past. Without a doctor and confused over the varying opinions of doctors and medical professionals worldwide based on fuzzy medical research and protocols, we often have no option but to try to figure out day-to-day issues on our own.

Of course, if we experienced a possibly life-threatening situation or severe injury, we’ll head to the nearest hospital. We’re not foolhardy.

Check out the complexities of this unusual creature.

Oh my gosh, while we’ve had US news here in Costa Rica, we’ve been appalled over the commercials for drugs that hardly seem worth trying, with all the risks of side effects, unless a person has a life-threatening condition and all other options have been exhausted. It’s hard to believe.

Traveling is suitable for aging. The joy, the mental stimulation, and the varied experiences surely must be beneficial for one’s health. We’ve noticed this repeatedly during the past five years of world travel (only nine days until the fifth anniversary of our trips).

The rush of endorphins continually wash over us time and again, whether it’s a result of spotting a little bird alighting on the railing, a cultural experience, or the sighting of a lion in the wild.   Endorphins are described as follows from this site:

(contracted from “endogenous morphine”) are endogenous opioid neuropeptides and peptide hormones in humans and other animals. They are produced by the central nervous system and the pituitary gland. The term “endorphins” implies a pharmacological activity (analogous to the activity of the corticosteroid category of biochemicals) instead of a specific chemical formulation. It consists of two parts: endo- and -orphin; these are short forms of the words endogenous and morphine, intended to mean “a morphine-like substance originating from within the body.”The class of endorphins includes three compounds – α-endorphinβ-endorphin, and γ-endorphin – which preferentially bind to μ-opioid receptors. The principal function of endorphins is to inhibit the transmission of pain signals; they may also produce a feeling of euphoria very similar to that produced by other opioids.”

Turtles seem to enjoy hanging out together. Hmmm…kind of like people.

Gee…want to get high? Experience life’s wonders and feel this exceptional sensation of euphoria and well-being produced by our bodies. This has got to be suitable for aging! 

Hardly a day passes where we don’t have an opportunity to experience this indescribable rush.  Perhaps, in essence, this is our choice of “drug” that spurs us on to continue our travels. Maybe this may be the “magic” required to extend our health and the quality of our lives, joy, and purpose.

May each day bring you an endorphin rush!

Photo from one year ago today, October 22, 2016:

On our last night in Bali, we shot this sunset photo from the cabana. For more final photos, please click here.

Many others “shucking it all!”…Is this life for YOU?

Pond on a farm.

During this past week, we’ve received three email messages from readers stating they are in the process of selling everything they own to travel for an extended period of time.

Also, we hear from others who’ve already been living as nomads for several years, as is the case of these readers/Cruise Critic members who wrote the following to us in the “comments” section at the end of yesterday’s post.  See comment below photo:

Expansive views of the Huon River.

Jess and Tom,
I found your blog on cruise critic and have just finished reading the whole blog. What a journey you two have been on.  It’s amazing to read your stories and about your travels. So many people are afraid to act upon their dreams. We live a life on the road in our RV.  I have been in this lifestyle for 15 years.  We will also be on the same cruise to S.America on Celebrity in November and December. We will look forward to meeting both of you.

Carolyn and Sam”

We replied to Carolyn and Sam as follows:

“Carolyn and Sam,
How wonderful to be traveling the country in an RV (caravan, here in AU) for 15 years!  We seldom hear of travelers living life on the move for such an extended period. We commend you for your passion and dedication to living your dream life.

You’ve inspired this next post’s topic by taking the time to say hello. We often hear that readers start from our first post in March 2012 and read each one to the current post. This is such a joy to hear! Thank you for your kind comments.

We hope to meet you on the South America cruise in November and December. It sounds as if you’re also doing the 30 day back-to-back. Please find us at the Meet and Mingle Party on the first sea day.

Warmest regards,
Jess & Tom”

Few RV travelers are as enthusiastic as Carolyn and Sam, many eventually discovering they’ve become tired of the small space in an RV and moving from location to location. 

Many traveling by RV have written to us (or spoken to us on cruises) explaining they find a few favorite campgrounds in choice locations and return to them frequently, often staying for extended periods while readily able to visit family at their leisure. 

It’s not as green in the Huon Valley as in Penguin, but it’s still quite beautiful.

We’ll be anxious to talk to Carolyn and Sam in November to hear about their favorite itinerary and some of the nuances and difficulties they’ve experienced maintaining and managing a “moving home.”

Others have written explaining they are in the process of selling their home and belongings (many with storage in the event they don’t find the experience to their liking), and some with small apartments or condos they can return to now and then when visiting family and friends.

Brush growing in the shallow water.

Of course, there are drawbacks, such as in our case, of not having an apartment or condo in our original home state, where most of our family is located. We’ll be in Minnesota for six weeks for a family/friends visit in less than four months. With no residence of our own, we have no choice but to stay in a hotel.

Our three grown children and significant other living in Minnesota each have lovely homes, with our grandchildren occupying all the bedrooms. In two cases, they have cats to which I’m allergic. With our visit occurring over six weeks this while the grandkids are out of school during summer break, there’s no way we’d want nor expect our grandchildren to forgo their bedrooms for this extended period.

Driving down a country road back to the main road that runs along the Huon River.

Long ago, in analyzing the costs for maintaining a “place to live” in Minnesota, there was no way it made sense. A hotel stay is a logical alternative, especially since free WiFi, free breakfast, swimming pools, and many other amenities are included. 

We’ll be fine in the lovely conveniently located hotel for the six weeks when our accommodations are less important than the opportunity to be with our family. in only 111 days, and we’ll be arriving in Minnesota.

The reason the trees had been cleared in this forest is a mystery to us.

This life is not for everyone, whether traveling by RV or living in vacation homes, cruise ships and occasionally in hotels. For many, the lack of feeling rooted is a huge obstacle, along with the distance from family and friends. Many struggle with the thought of selling all of their treasured belongings.

We certainly understand their disinterest in sacrificing so much. However, each situation is unique and predicated by a special set of circumstances that inspire people to embark upon such a nomadic life. 

Bodies of water always remain a focal point for our photos.

Please don’t hesitate to share your story with us. If you prefer to be anonymous, please send an email that we won’t publish without your permission.

We’re hoping for sun today, which has been lacking this entire week. But, instead, it’s been rainy and cool as we’ve continued to wear our flannel shirts or hoodies to stay warm. 

Have a warm sunny day wherever you may be, at your home or…on the move.

Photo from one year ago today, February 4, 2016:

Horses in New Zealand (and other parts of the world) wear blankets to regulate their body temperature and protect them from the elements. For more photos, please click here.

Medical emergency aboard the ship…Today, right back where we were in 2015…

We stood on our cabin’s veranda awaiting the arrival of this medevac helicopter to transport a heart attack patient from the ship to an appropriate hospital.

“Sighting on the Ship in Australia”

Can of tomato soup. Hmm, what’s the significance here?

Yesterday afternoon, while at sea, shortly after I’d watched another silly movie, the remake of Ghost Busters, I headed back to our cabin.  Tom was relaxing after he’d walked out of the movie only minutes after it had started. 

I knew this wasn’t his kind of movie, but I stayed in the theatre to watch it on my own when my taste in movies is slightly more tolerant than Tom’s. It was a ridiculous plot, but I always get a kick out of the special effects.

No more than a few moments after I opened my laptop to check email, I mentioned to Tom that the ship wasn’t moving. Checking to see what was going on, in no time at all we discovered there was a medical emergency onboard that required a passenger be airlifted by helicopter to hospital.

As the helicopter approached the ship to land on the ship’s helipad. 

A few hours earlier, we’d heard announcements from the bridge (in code) that something was amiss in the fitness center. As it turned out, from what we heard later, a man had a heart attack while working out.  He had to be revived. Frightening.

On a previous cruise on RC Legend of the Seas, June 10, 2015, on its way to Sydney, a similar situation had transpired requiring the patient be lifted in the basket when high seas prevented the helicopter from landing on the heli-pad on the ship’s bow. 

This is the third medical evacuation we’ve witnessed while cruising, twice by helicopter, once by the ship rerouting to Burmuda.  Please see photo below for the first helicopter evac. Here’s the link to our story.

Photo we’d posted on June 10, 2015 while we were cruising on Royal Caribbean Legend of the Seas when a passenger also had to be evacuated, but in the basket when rough seas prevented the helicopter from landing on the ship’s helipad. The patient was wrapped in an exterior covering the basket with paramedic holding on to the passenger.  Scary.

With calm seas yesterday, the helicopter was able to land safely on the heli-pad which we weren’t able to see from our veranda, although we could see the touchdown from our TV that broadcasts a steady cam from the bow of the ship, as shown in this photo below.

It was heart wrenching to consider the worry and distress for the passenger and his spouse or travel companion with the necessity of being airlifted off the cruise. From what we’d heard, he’d been revived, but it was several hours later when the helicopter whisked him away to a hospital.

Based on the location of our cabin, we weren’t able to get close enough to the bow of the ship to see the helicopter land. Instead, we took this fuzzy photo of the TV display.

This further validates the value of travel insurance (which we have) when the cost for such evacuations can be outrageously expensive.  When passengers pass away on a cruise ship, the body is not evacuated instead being stored in an appropriate facility that most ships have available. 

In yesterday’s case, we can only pray for the passenger’s survival and return to health after being treated at whatever location he’d been transported. Of course, we’ll never hear and the scuttlebutt aboard the ship is unreliable.

Fortunately, the seas were calm and the helicopter was able to land. The ship had stopped during the rescue mission until the patient was safely in transit to the hospital.

We both researched online on a mission to discover how many cruise ship passengers are actually transported off ships for medical emergencies. We weren’t able to find any information or stats in this regard.  Perhaps cruise lines are particularly lax in providing such stats to avoid scaring travelers away from cruising.

As we age, this becomes more of a concern.  Not only is there the anxiety associated with a life threatening illness or injury a passenger may incur during a cruise, but loss of time in getting treated also adds the stress. 

Yesterday’s passenger wasn’t taking off on the helicopter until over five and a half hours later. We can only hope the doctor on the ship has sufficient knowledge and skill to keep the patient stable during this extended period.

The Medevac team preparing to land with medical personnel ready to get into action.

This is a reminder for all of us to have adequate travel insurance cover and to strive for the best possible health when choosing to travel. A high risk and/or elderly patient should seek medical advice prior to embarking on a cruise to ensure cruising is a suitable form of travel based on current health conditions.

Then again, many medical emergencies and accidents occur to passengers of all ages while on cruise ships, while on tours and when traveling to and from various points of interest. ‘This should be of the utmost consideration for possible travelers.

Today, we’re staying on the ship while it’s docked in Yorkeys Knob in Queensland, Australia. We lived in Trinity Beach adjoining this location for three months beginning on June 11, 2015. During that stay, we toured all the important sights, including many located in and around Cairns.

We’ll be back tomorrow with more new photos and stories as we continue on to Day 7 of this highly enjoyable 33-night cruise. 

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, November 5, 2015:

In the one year ago post, we re-posted a few memorable photos. We took this photo of Mount Kilimanjaro from the window of our tiny plane on our way to the Maasai Mara for a photo safari, one of many great experiences in our then three years of world travel. Please click here for more details.

Time flies…Soon, we fly…Three days until we board the cruise…Regaining fitness and health…

Beautiful arrangements of fresh blossoms in the hotel lobby.

It was a quick week. Tomorrow night, we leave for the airport at 9:45 pm using the hotel’s free shuttle already booked. As the week progressed, I had less and less anxiety about the red eye and the plan to pick it up in my stride. It’s only one day of being tired and out of sorts.

This morning, we’re doing a couple of washes in the hotel laundry room. The cost to do wash and dry two loads is IDR 200,000, US 15.33, pricey for a self serve laundry, but a lot less than we’d have paid to send it out. We will come on board with clean clothes, except for the few items we will wear in the coming days. 

As it turned out, on Tuesday we only ate breakfast included at the hotel as our only meal per day. The first day we arrived, Monday, we left the villa without eating anything planning to dine in the evening in the hotel restaurant.

Hotel pool.

The dinner was mediocre with my dietary restrictions and Tom’s fish and chips were good. In both cases, we left the table still hungry after the small portions. 

Instead, we decided to load on the buffet breakfast, order omelettes, bacon and some sides, enough to get us through the next 24 hours until we eat again. If we were hungry in the evening, we’d go have dinner.

Not surprisingly, eating very low carb, neither of us has been hungry at any time during the remainder of the day and evening. We felt satisfied and comfortable never once thinking about eating or snacking. 

As we have mentioned in the past, eating a daily meal is considered an intermittent fast. If you like medical studies, there are countless studies about the benefits of fasting, at least for part of every day. 

Flowers blossom on the grounds of the hotel.

The old theory of eating every few hours will soon be discredited as a careless way to maintain health, weight and fitness. It did not work for most people with endemic type 2 diabetes and obesity prevails in virtually every part of the world.

Then again, what do I know except what seems to work for us as we continue to strive to maintain a level of health and fitness that hopefully will see us through many more years of world travel. Everybody has an opportunity to pick a health plan that works best for them.

None of this makes us exempt from illness, injuries and generally not feeling 100% every day.    Like many of you some days, we do not feel up to the challenge, energetic and ready to face the world. 

Artwork in the pool area.

After months of inactivity while recovering from the June 1 injury, I am struggling to regain my strength. Working out everyday at the hotel has been helpful, but like physical therapy, its a slow process. 

To expect outcomes overnight is not realistic. I will continue to exercise for the next two days, then every day on the upcoming cruise, adding to the time and difficulty of my routine somewhat every day. Hopefully by the end of the 33-night cruise, I’ll be back to my previous level of fitness and energy.

At that time, we will be ready to start again, to prepare meals that we have not had to make for more than three months, since we were in Phuket until September 1. In both locations in Tasmania, we will have home cleaners every two weeks, so we will not have to do more than clean, do laundry and cook. 

Balinese style abounds in the hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn Ngurah Rai Airport.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with our final post from Bali including the total expenses for our the six nights at this hotel. At 12:10 am Sunday we’ll fly overnight to Sydney, arriving in the morning. 

Later in the day we’ll post again after we’ve hopefully taken a nap after the red eye flight. As a result, the post from Sydney on the 30th (29th for those in other parts of the world) will be posted late. Please keep an eye out. We’ll be back!

Have a beautiful day filled with sunshine!

Photo from one year ago today, October 28, 2015:

These Fijian women were sitting on the floor while one gave the other a massage while working at the farmers market in Savusavu, Fiji.  For more photos, please click here.

OMG!…Eventful start to the day…Wait until you read this!…

Distant shot of oil tanker out to sea. Good zoom photo, Tom Lyman!

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

The river next door is often used for washing motorbikes.

The morning started weird. Awake at 4:00 am, I was unable to return to sleep no matter how hard I tried. With today, September 21st in the US (the 22nd here), it is our eldest grandson Nik’s 16th birthday and our youngest granddaughter Madighan’s 7th birthday. 

Why not get up early and call to wish them both happy birthday? It was late afternoon in the US and a good time to call.

We couldn’t reach Nik but had a chance to speak to daughter-in-law Camille, son Greg and the three kids, including wishing Madighan a happy birthday. 

We always send US gifts for the six grandchildren for birthdays, special occasions and Christmas, none of which are ever purchased from countries we’re visiting. Why suffer the inconvenience of an impossible international return?

Guide and one Ketut put everything in the villa back in order.

After almost two hours on Skype using our Nevada phone number which allows us to call other phones that aren’t on Skype, mission accomplished. As always, it’s wonderful talking to family.  Hopefully, soon we’ll reach Nik but, then again, most 16 year old boys don’t necessarily care to spend a lot of phone time with the old grandparents.

To start making the phone calls, I quietly wandered out the bedroom door, laptop in hand and almost, and I mean almost, slipped on the floor somehow righting myself just in time to avoid hitting the floor. That was all I needed, falling again and re-injuring the part that only recently has begun to heal a little.

In Phuket last month, the water dispenser leaked overnight, spilling all the contents of a new 5 liter bottle and I did fall smack on the marble floors, reversing my progress by many weeks. 

Some of the digital equipment that became wet during the water leakage. The yellow items are decorative pieces. Luckily, our HDMI cord survived.

Marble floors are extremely hazardous when covered with water. We don’t recommend them where the risk of injury is high regardless of one’s age or propensity for falling. It’s not that I’m particularly clumsy though stuff happens. Tom is always reminding me to watch where I’m going instead of looking for photo ops. I’m working on it.

The entire main floor and second level were covered in water. I knew I needed to awaken Tom to see how bad the situation really was. At 5:00 am, we were calling Gede to let him know we had an emergency. Tom had gone upstairs to the second story which we don’t use at all, to discover what was going on. Water covered the floors upstairs and was running down the steps in a relatively rapid flow.

Gede arrived within 10 minutes of our call. As it turned out, the hot water tank’s pipe broke (the hot water heater is on the roof) and the only way to stop the flow was to shut off the water to the entire villa. It’s now close to 11 am and it appears we won’t have water for most of the day while every effort is being made to get the repairs made as quickly as “island time” allows.

This space is where the flat screen TV was located. It’s now been removed after getting soaked as the water ran down the wall from the above stairs. Gede explained that homeowner’s insurance in Bali doesn’t cover such occurrences.

Unfortunately, the water ran down the wall over the entire flat screen TV and sound system in the living room which we use nightly, connecting our laptops with an HDMI cord in order to watch our favorite shows and Minnesota Vikings games. Gede assured us all of the equipment will be working again by the time we return from Lovina next Friday, after our four day stay upcoming on Monday.

Luckily, no one was injured in the water fiasco. At the moment, all the staff is busy cleaning up the water and putting as much of the villa back in order as possible. They had to move all of the furnishings onto the veranda to dry the floors and the bottom portions of various items.

Ribud was washing the stairs after the water flow.

Gede was very concerned over the inconvenience for us. We weren’t worried at all. If the water can’t be restored by the end of the day, we’ll shower next door at the empty owner’s villa. If necessary, the two Ketuts can cook our dinner next door and we’ll dine there. “No worries,” we assured all of them.

With the reality that none of this is really our responsibility as it would have been in our own home, nor did we have to incur any costs for repairs, it’s easy for us to sit back and patiently wait for everything to be back to normal.

Mr. Frog’s nighttime visit.

Today, newly made friends are arriving at 2:00 pm for a visit. We met them a few days ago while walking the beach. When Thomas (yep, another Tom) stopped by last night to ask when would be a good time for him and wife Pia to stop by we suggested this afternoon as opposed to morning allowing us time to complete today’s post. Thank goodness we hadn’t suggested a morning visit! It’s been kind of busy around here.

For the first time in ages, I have yet to shower and I’m still wearing my long nightshirt while sitting outdoors on a chaise lounge. Today, will be a different day from our usual routine, but we have no apprehension or concerns. It will all work out fine.

Mr. Frog contemplates taking the steps. He managed rather well.

This morning, during the water fiasco Gede helped us with some required paperwork for sponsoring us for the visa extension for  Monday’s trip to Lovina where we’ll stay in a hotel for four nights to complete the five day process. 

Also, Gede is having a new tire put on the van to prevent us from getting a flat tire on the long road trip when recently it had been repaired, but doesn’t seem quite right.

Otherwise, its a partially sunny day with outrageously high humidity, but we’re as content as we can be especially with our anticipated upcoming social event.

May your day be one of contentment and peace of mind.

Photo from one year ago today, September 22, 2015:

We never used this pool in Fiji during our three months stay. It wasn’t as clean as we’d like and there were no chaise lounges or places to sit while drying off. For more details, please click here.

Uncertainty becomes an element in this peculiar life we live…

Tom grabbed me and the camera when he noticed this cart attached to a motorbike on the beach.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Family of four on motorbike stopping for Dad’s phone break. Often, locals with cell phones attempt to log in on the Wi-Fi signal here.  Since we arrived the first time, it’s been password protected thanks to help from Gede.

Nothing in life is for certain.  Oh, we understand the boring cliché about “death and taxes.” Yea, fine. They’re true. Although many have figured out how to avoid taxes which doesn’t necessarily include most of us.

The death part? Yep, a certainty. Although I’ve been reading scientific observations about our conscientiousness living into infinity. OK. Maybe we’ll hear more about that in this lifetime.  Maybe not.

Tom heads upstairs to the second story several times a day searching for more interesting activity on the beach. Yesterday, he spotted this cart and we went into action taking photos. It seems every activity on the beach has a story to tell.

Everything in between?  Uncertain. As we can easily obsess about the dangers and risks omnipresent in life, yours and ours included, we wonder if we can free our minds sufficiently to live in the present. Less apprehension and worry has the ability to extend the quality of our health and subsequently the length of our lives when we master the art of avoiding too much stress.

I oftentimes wonder if we take a carefree attitude of what’s transpiring in the world we’re considered to be in denial or ultimately deluding ourselves into believing all is fine. I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again, “You can run but you can’t hide.”

These two locals were busy collecting coconuts on the beach and placing them into the motorbike driven cart.

We didn’t run away. We walked. The crowds, the traffic, the hurried pace of daily life, the outrageous rising prices, the escalating crime, the political climate, and in Minnesota, the frigid climate itself, all played a role in our making the decision to leave almost four years ago.

Oddly, we expect “culture shock” when we will return to the US next May, in a mere eight months where suddenly we’ll be thrown into all of the above for a total of over two months. 

They appeared to have quite a haul.

It’s funny how after all this time, we’re no longer surprised or experience culture shock by the nuances of living in countries with less certainty, often without the predictability of consistently running water, power and Wi-Fi (which is sorely lacking in this area of Bali) and personal safety.  We’ve adapted.

Throwing us back into the land of “everything in abundance,” how will we avoid seeming like old hippies who just landed after years of living in a tent on the beach with a vegetable garden and chickens? It may not be as easy as it seems.

I don’t mean to imply we’ve lived modestly as stated above. Far from it. But, we’ve encountered endless situations in most countries in which we’ve lived over these years, requiring we change and adapt our expectations, may easier than others.

Soon, they’d be able to take off with their coconut haul.

Spending days outdoors with temperatures hovering at 90F, 32C, with humidity close to 90% (even on sunny days) requires a certain amount of tolerance and adaptation. I’d never have considered attempting to adapt to such discomfort in our old lives. 

Whole house air con was the way of life. Hot when outdoors? No problem. Walk inside, pour a beverage using ice from the automatic ice maker, park oneself in front of 500 channels (or more now for all we know) big screen high def TV and chill out. Or, browse online for a continual high speed connection, with rarely a signal disruption.

Antique Balinese seat we spotted next door, made into the shape of a boat.

Insects? No problem. Call Orkin or Terminex, for a fee they’ll be there within days to eradicate every last creepy crawly. In this life, we’ve learned to live with an endless stream of poisonous and/or annoying insects in every room, even at times crawling on us during the night.

Dining out on a whim? Not possible in many locations. The unpredictability of staff understanding my food requirements where there’s a language barrier keeps us from dining in restaurants in many locations. 

Piece of driftwood resting against a tree outside our veranda.

Food at home? The fabulous cooks in Bali only have access to prawns, chicken and occasionally fresh tuna (none lately). We’ve been rotating the same meals night after night: chicken (two ways), prawns and the occasional use of the ground beef we purchased in Denpasar when we arrived. When we run out of the “mince” there’s no heading back to Denpasar for the four or five hour harrowing drive to purchase more.

Recently, with high winds at sea, there hasn’t been any fresh tuna. Hopefully, soon it will be available again, but at the moment uncertainty prevails. We continue with the repeats, surprisingly enjoying every night’s meal as if somehow it was a “first.”

The tide rolled in making the river next door larger.

No washer? No problem. We hand wash if we need something now. It will dry outdoors on the rack within 24 hours (high humidity). No English speaking TV news? No problem. No car? No worries. We’ll figure it out.

Not a single store nearby where I can purchase a tube of lipstick or a bottle of Advil? No problem. Thank goodness, I have some remaining tubes of lipstick in the third suitcase and I’m using un-coated aspirin when absolutely necessary. (Eat something first. Take with lots of water).

Uncertainty is an expectation when flying, cruising, out on tours, riding in taxis and with drivers, moving from location to location. It follows us wherever we may go and especially each time we open the door of yet another “new home” in which we may be living in for weeks or even months.

Cement walkway on the edge of the next door neighbor’s property.

When we return to the US, everything we’ve mentioned and more will be available. One need only have a thought, jump into the car and drive to the appropriate location to acquire whatever is needed or desired.

We take nothing for granted, except perhaps uncertainty itself. On that, we can rely. Hopefully, while spending over two months in the US, distracted from the pleasure of being with those we love, we’ll continue to maintain our level of adaptation that we’ve worked so hard to acquire over these past years.

Certainly, by all means, have a beautiful day!

Photo from one year ago today, September 20, 2015:

In Fiji, one year ago, an example of uncertainty as indicated above, Mario, the owner, brought over this router that plugs into an outlet, providing us with a private connection not shared with other guests. Since he’d purchased the device in Germany, his home country, he had to add an adapter to make it plug into the outlet. The weight of the device using the adapter, made it keep falling out enough to lose the connection. Tom placed this stack of books under it to hold it in place.  The signal goes to “limited” quite often. It worked for a few days, then quit. For more details, please click here.

Spending idle time…Two days and counting…Favorite Phuket photos begin today…

Boats anchored in shallower waters.    The owners are welcome to walk to the boat.

Although we rise early most of the time, the thought of setting an alarm is always done with a bit of fear. Having retired in 2011, in my old life, there had been few mornings where I had to get up and be at the door in a rush.

Since beginning our travels in October, 2012, there’s been more mornings than we can count where we’ve had to be up and “at ’em” early in the morning in order to begin a travel day. What time do we consider early? 

Appearing before 5 in the morning is considered early by our standards, especially when we need to be somewhere.  Most mornings, I’m awake that early, but not necessarily preparing to head out. There’s a big difference, isn’t there?

Chalong Beach.

Why I dread those mornings where we must leave early disconcerts me. I find it easy to get out of bed when the alarm goes off. Is this the prospect of another long day on the road? The heavy bags? The long lines? Immigration? Customs? Pay for excess luggage? The tight seats on the flight? Maybe it’s all of those things.

Once we get into the taxi for the ride to the airport, a bit of the angst begins to waft away, escalating further after we’ve checked in for our flight disposing of our three heavy bags, left with only a few carry on bags. 

With international airports requiring arrival two hours prior to a flight’s departure, we’re often left with more than 60 minutes until boarding. In most cases, we find a restaurant, purchase a beverage and get online if the airport has free Wi-Fi, which we find more and more common. Only a few airports charge for WiFi access.

Boats tied to shore at the beach. Life jackets hanging on a post.

The next issue is our laptop batteries discharging. For Thursday’s upcoming flight, we’ll have no less than an hour of waiting time at the airport in Phuket and then another three hour layover in Singapore (our third trip to Singapore in these past four months). 

Some airports have recharging stations, but we’ve seldom needed to use them. In this case, it may be necessary when it seems our laptop batteries are losing life after almost two years of use.

My laptop may indicate I have seven or eight hours on a charge when in fact it’s much less. Tom has a similar laptopm but can function unplugged a few hours less than mine.

Boats in the bay.

These were a time that reading a physical book would have been handy, but there’s no way we’re willing to carry books with us. 

Now that Tom doesn’t have a smart phone until our shipment arrives, he won’t be able to read books on his phone. The charge on my phone may last eight hours if I don’t get online. Good thing, I saved my phone with the rice after dropping it in the toilet, or neither of us would have a working cell phone.

In most cases, I read books on my phone during flights, putting the phone in “flight mode” as required. I usually save the phone for the flight as opposed to reading while waiting in airports. When a flight has individual video screens, a movie is often ideal as opposed to reading.

Entrance to the long pier at the beach.

I suppose we’re not unlike many others who use electronics to whittle away idle time.  Where are the days when we’d sit quietly in an airport reading a People magazine which now holds no interest whatsoever? Where are the days when people watching could occupy two hours of idle time?

We’ve trained ourselves in this digital world to need constant stimulation. Tom and I are no exception. Sure, in Bali again we’ll spend some idle hours staring out at the beach and its wildly interesting activities, which again we’ll continue sharing in our “Sightings on the Beach in Bali” daily feature on the posts.

But, there again, its all about mental stimulation. Neither one of us are inclined toward quiet contemplation without any form of activity for the brain. Maybe to an extent this is good for our aging brains as both of us still possess great memory and recall as we’ve aged. 

Second long pier at the beach.

We can’t believe much of which we read about these topics online when the speculations change week by week. (We’re talking about adults here, not children, which is an entirely different scenario).

What is one to believe? I guess we can leave it to our own devices, figuratively and literally. What gives us the greatest sense of engagement with our surroundings, our world and with each other?  What makes us the most fulfilled?

If spending hours online, on our tablets, computers and phones provides us with a sense of accomplishment and pleasure who’s to argue with this? Then again, perhaps the biggest concern is a lack of physical activity while we’re entertaining ourselves. 

“They” say sitting is bad which may be true. But which group of seniors (or those younger) spends eight to ten hours a day on their feet? Few. Very few.

Fisherman searching for a possible catch.

Off we go in two days, arising at 5:30 am on Thursday to be ready to head out the door by 7 am for our arriving taxi.

 We’ll arrive at our hotel in Bali around 8:30 pm that evening after a very long travel day.  In the morning, we’ll have breakfast at the hotel and begin the four or five hour harrowing drive with a few stops along the way.

I’m a little concerned over how I’ll do over these two extended periods based on my continuing recovery. But, with digital equipment in hand, hopefully, I’ll be able to distract myself well enough to maneuver through the lengthy process.

Be well and stay entertained, however that works for YOU!

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

We couldn’t resist taking photos of these Flintstone’s character statues in a nearby yard in Trinity Beach, Australia.  For more photos, please click here.

The prospect of a scary change in plans?…Five days and counting…Photos at a premium…

Chalong Bay in Phuket.

While living in most locations where we get low on photos this is not a problem. We rush into the rental car for a walk seeking interesting scenes to capture. If we don’t have a rental car and are using a driver, we get out often enough each week to get all the photos we need for the posts.

Now, down to five days until departure, with my ongoing recovery process and the less-than-stellar rental car, I’ve had little desire to get out to take photos. With the blurry film on the windows it requires I get out of the low seat in the car to avoid taking photos through the glass which in itself in my current condition feels like an athletic event.

If you’ve ever owned or gone for a ride in a Corvette, it kind of feels like the same thing, not necessarily the right vehicle for getting it and out of when suffering from a spinal condition. Under normal circumstances, this would not be so difficult.

It’s not as if I can’t get in and out of the less-than-stellar rental car. It’s that I don’t want to re-injure myself subsequently starting the healing process all over again.

Boats stored on the shore as opposed to a marina.

Only days away from a full three months of recovering, I’ve only spent half of this period over these past almost six weeks in Phuket actually “working on” getting better, I’ve finally begun to turn the corner.  

On many occasions over these past weeks, I’d mentioned improvements in our posts, although it was in such small increments it was barely noticeable. Frustration easily set in when I’d awaken each day only to find the pain was basically still the same.

A few times, as recently as in the past two weeks, we considered a visit to a hospital. After reading many negative online reviews about local medical care, we decided against it. Instead, we made a plan that if I didn’t improve close to our scheduled time to leave Phuket, we might head directly to Sydney and drop out of our airfare and booking for Bali. 

As we seriously considered such a plan we had to accept the reality that we’d lose rent for the two month booking in Bali (on such short notice) and also the non-refundable airfare. This change would ultimately cost us thousands of dollars. Tom, as worried as he’s been about me, never flinched over this prospect while I cringed over the prospect.

Yard of a house in the neighborhood with motorbikes and clothes drying on a line.

As soon as this possibility came to light, I decided I had to do something different to escalate the healing process to ensure we could continue with our future plans. 

I began reading volumes of books on the topic of healing compression fractures, speeding recovery for back, neck and spinal injuries and came to a few new conclusions:

1.  Started a light exercise program, very light and gentle following recommendations from a great book I read.
2.  Changed the pillow I was sleeping on from flat to slightly fuller, creating an indentation for my head.
3.  Changed from using mostly ice to using mostly heat on and off throughout the day and evening. (Using a microwaveable gel pack). At bedtime, I positioned an ice pack close to my spine using a rolled towel to hold it in place while lying on my side.
4.  Have Tom massage pressure points on my back twice a day.
5.  Only lie down for 10 minutes at a time instead of long periods during the day. Spend more time standing and walking around the house.
6.  No bending at all, which seems to be the most harmful at this point.
7.  Sleep with a medium sized pillow between evenly placed bent legs, again lying on my side.
8.  Focus on having perfect posture when walking and sitting.
9.  Using the speech recognition software for better ergonomics when typing.

With only five days until departure, I can definitely say I’ve improved by no less than 75% in these past weeks, no longer feeling as if we must change our plans to get me to a major accredited hospital.

Oh, maybe it was “safari luck” and the implementation of the above changes or a combination of both. That’s the thing about medical care, when one begins implementing multiple modalities, it’s difficult to determine which measures most contributed to the improvement.

The mix of the old and the new is commonly found in Phuket.

I’ll continue with all of the above even after we arrive in Bali.  With no required cooking, cleaning, laundry or tidying necessary with the daily household staff I’ll spend more time focusing on continuing to improve on this remaining 25%.

By far, these past three months have been the most challenging since we began our travels on October 31, 2012. Surely many of our readers can look back over the past four years to recall periods of time when life wasn’t exactly as you might have liked it to be.

Tom comments about how I overall maintained a good attitude through this. Each day I’ve struggled to stay optimistic.

 I was scared to death, to be honest, scared our travels were over, scared our lives would have to change to accommodate my limited range of motion, my ability to walk long distances and my overall interest in getting out.

Yesterday, I packed my single clothing suitcase which in doing so gave me hope, leaving out clothing for the next few days. I sat on the bed folding everything and then standing straight I placed them into my open bag which is situated on a tall luggage rack. The rest will be easy. 

This simple act added to my optimism removing a sense of dread I had about packing. Tom would happily have packed for me, but I needed to know I could do it.

Many homes are raised above ground in the event of flooding.

As we continue over these next few days, we apologize for the lack of interesting photos. It’s the way it is for now. And, once we arrive in Bali, we may be posting similar photos to those we’d taken during our last stay, although all photos we’ll share in future posts will be new. 

Halfway through our second round in Bali we plan to stay in a hotel in Lovina for five days to complete the every-other-day-three-step required visa extension process. During that mini vacation/holiday, we’ll explore taking many photos we’ll excitedly share in posts to come. 

Once we leave Bali at the end of October for the 33 night cruise to circumvent Australia, we’ll have many months of exciting cruises and tours, along with the stay in Tasmania at two separate locations for six weeks each and a 40 night stay in the exquisite city of Sydney.

So, loyal readers, on we go to continue in our world travels with a renewed hope for the future, as always striving for good health as we share all of our steps along the way.

Have a healthful, productive day!

Photo from one year ago today, August 27, 2015:

The colorful views around us was only a small section of the Great Barrier Reef which we visited by boat one year ago today. For more photos, please click here.

Posting today using voice activation as opposed to typing…Ergonomics, vital as we age.

There are lots of pharmacies in Phuket but none seems to sell toiletries and cosmetics  do chemists in some other parts of the world.

Based on my current condition I have no alternative, but to begin using speech recognition software to avoid ergonomic anomalies as a result of sitting in a position that is exacerbating my condition.

It’s not my choice to prepare this post using my voice. I have to look at it as a new learning curve that only enhances my online experience and expertise while possibly aiding in my recovery with improved ergonomics. 

As we age, with more and more aches and pains, and for those with repetitive use injuries and conditions from years on a computer (many kids of today are already experiencing painful repetitive use conditions), the ergonomic use of speech recognition software will become more prevalent.

Talk about a pristine sandy beach!

Most computers built in the last 10 years or more have installed voice recognition  and narrative software. By going to “my computer,” then “control panel” or a similar location on your PC, tablet or device, you’ll find speech recognition with a means of activating it. Many are already using it on their smartphones or other devices.

(My last car which I sold a month before we left Minnesota, had a voice activated “command center” which I used on occasion as a safety feature and at other times as a fun novelty).

Tom noticed this small, well maintained wood boat.

By clicking on this location you’ll be instructed as to how to activate and begin using speech recognition. It can easily be turned on and off. The app will learn to recognize your voice based on practice while you speak into a microphone, headset or directly into the computer’s speakers. 

Yesterday, while considering this option I tested speech recognition using both a standard plug-into-the-ears headset comparable to those used to listen to music on your phone. But I also tried it without the headset by speaking into my laptop’s built in microphone. You don’t need a special device, although using one enhances the recognition of certain words.

I should mention that the software on my Windows 8.1 laptop had a link to a video with explicit instructions as to how to best use the speech recognition software. Most likely, I’ll watch this video and others available online to become more adept at using the software. 

Why use this feature? For many reasons, which in my case revolves around spending half of each day in a somewhat uncomfortable position while posting the blog. As I continue in my recovery I am considering every option that may precipitate a better and faster result. 

Chalong Beach on a cloud covered day.

I’ve noticed that on days when I spend less time at my computer I’ve felt slightly better. Of course, using the software as opposed to typing is no guarantee that improvement will be found from this one additional change in my daily activities. It’s a combination of many changes and adjustments.

Sure, one may say, “Stop sitting at your computer. Wouldn’t that be a simple solution?”

But, it’s much more complex than that when a huge portion of the enjoyment of our lives lies in traveling the world while sharing our stories with our readers. Why would I deprive myself and others of that enjoyment and purpose when there are alternate solutions that can work well especially during this interim period?

It’s not as if vacation homes have workstation, including desks and chairs with ergonomically adjustable options. It’s simply not available. In today’s world in some countries workers sitting at a computer all day have the right to request an ergonomically-correct workstation. 

Scattered among many newer more modern homes is a wide variety of older properties owned by locals.

Those of us using a computer “at home” have to figure this out on our own or with the help of a physical therapist, if available. Obviously, no such therapist is available to me at this time.

Over these past years of travel I’ve spent every morning sitting in some arbitrary chair with no less than two pillows on my lap onto which I’ve placed my computer.

By raising the computer I can avoid exacerbating my painful neck and spinal condition by having the computer closer to eye level. Unfortunately, after my recent injury I found that raising my arms to type only added to the pain and discomfort. Was there a happy medium?

It reminded me, not that I needed reminding, that Tom’s 88 year old brother Jerome is totally blind and has been so since 1970. Jerome learned to use speech recognition and narration software in the 1990s in order to be able to listen to text and speak, creating text while using a computer. We’ve always been in awe of Jerome for his adept skills in learning these processes.

Pond at the resort of a few days ago post where rooms go for as low as US $20, THB 693. Click here for details.

As it’s turned out over these past years, Tom has been copying and pasting each day’s blog minus the photos and sending only the text to Jerome via and email making it easier for him to access. 

On many occasions Jerome’s mentioned how much enjoyment he’s derived from the daily sharing of our story which he listens to. No words can describe how much this has meant to both of us.

I’m not certain using this speech recognition software is going to cause a substantial improvement as I continue to recover but there’s nothing to lose to try. Perhaps over a period of time I’ll reap the benefits of utilizing this means of typing as I prepare each daily post.

Many people with a wide array of disabilities are currently using speech recognition software. We can easily imagine many others could benefit from using the software but haven’t learned to do so. 

Many locals use these small local markets to shop for food and other grocery items.

Often family members and friends assume such a software is only important for the visually impaired when so many others could learn to use it as well. Many seniors never learned to type or do so with such deliberation it deters their interest in being online. The software can alleviate this common issue with a few short days of being shown how to use it and with a bit of practice.

If you know someone who can benefit from speech recognition or narration software and can accept the reality that some of the words will be incorrect when each person’s voice is different and the software may misinterpreted the spoken word.  

In writing to loved ones, who cares if a word or two is hard to decipher? Tom says it puts a smile on his face when Jerome uses narration and few word are hard to decipher. A quick rereading of the sentence easily clarifies the intent.

For me, it’s a little different when we’re posting a medium as somewhat of a business entity. As I’ve written today’s post almost entirely by voice I’ve corrected no less than 25 errors. However, I’ve seen that as time goes on and I become more adept at pronouncing words more succinctly, it will become easier. 

Two doors down and across the street from us is this cluttered yard with a cat looking up.

Will I use this over the long haul? At this point I’m unsure. We’ll see how it goes and if I derive some relief from the avoidance of holding my hands in this less than ideal position day after day. Most certainly, we’ll report back as time goes on.

I haven’t yet determined how to add the photos by using my voice but technology nut that I am, in no time at all, I’ll have that figured out as well.

Jerome, thank you once again for being an inspiration to us and may you serve as an inspiration to others who may find great enjoyment from being able to communicate with those they love and the online world.

Have a beautiful day! We’ll be back again with you soon.

Photo from one year ago today, August 24, 2015:

Pandan leaves from the Pandan Plant are used to make these beautiful fragrant bouquets we encountered at Rusty’s Market in Cairns, Australia. As quoted from the owner’s written material:  “The leaves are used in Southeast Asian cooking as well in making the “flowers” which act a repellent to roaches. In addition, Pandan leaves are said to possess medicinal benefits containing tannin, glycosides and alkaloids. The scents emitting from the flowers last a week and may be used as a freshener in cars, homes or washrooms.” For more photos, please click here.