Delta, the demon, day from hell…Finally, we’ve arrived…New phones…

This morning’s view from the backyard of Karen’s home in Eden Prairie where we’ll be staying while here in Minnesota.

With the best intentions, I’d planned to post this yesterday. But, once we arrived at son Greg’s house and the fun activity began I had no time whatsoever to wrap it up and upload the post.


Also, Tom’s new Google phone had arrived and I had to spend no less than two hours setting it up. I am usually adept at this but the process wasn’t as clear cut as it could have been and I spent at least an hour on the phone with tech support, finally getting everything resolved.
This issue centered around the fact that we’d purchased two Google phones and mine had yet to arrive (it arrived at Karen’s home last yesterday) making it difficult to set up a joint account for pay as you go phone and data with only one of the phones in our possession.

We are ridding ourselves of our Skype phone number and will use Whatsapp, Skype or Facebook Messenger for future out-of-the-country calls. Our new phones have reasonable international call rates (as a global phone) but there’s no point in paying when no cost options are available via the web.

We’ll never have to buy a SIM card again when these global phones work anywhere. Today, I’ll finish setting mine up and we’ll be good to go.  Ironically, Tom forgot to bring his with him when he left to see his family this morning. Ha! I guess now, we’ll become more phone conscientious with these new devices.

On to our trip from the pier in Fort Lauderdale to Minneapolis:


Without a doubt, we are always grateful to any airline for getting us safely to our location. I wish we were tolerant enough to feel that was enough. A certain semblance of organization and flow is also required for us to provide anything beyond a one-star rating.


Delta Airlines, masterful advertisers appealing to all of our senses which was evidenced at Fort Lauderdale, Detroit, and Minneapolis airports with the finest of graphics posters at every turn, leaves a traveler with high expectations.


We were sorely disappointed. Both flights were seriously late with few updates offering its passengers little comfort and remained in a perpetual state of confusion. Let’s face it, we’re fairly savvy travelers and yet we were constantly scratching our heads wondering what was next.


As it turned out an expected arrival time in Minneapolis was at 6:30 pm when it fact we didn’t arrive until almost 8:30 pm, not the worst delay but surely the most confusing. 


With the necessity of picking up the rental car and a horrendous walk to the car rental area, we weren’t on our way to Karen’s home until well after 9:00 pm. We’d been on the move for 14 hours since we disembarked the ship in Fort Lauderdale when we arrived at Karen’s home.


Surprisingly, to both of us, we felt relieved and energized, ending up enjoying the remainder of the evening with Karen and Rich, in their comfy living room, in their gorgeous home, sipping on wine, and catching up.

With Tom off to spend part of the day with his family and the evening with mine watching the Minnesota Vikings game, it will be another good family day for both of us.

This morning, son Greg is picking me up to attend a brunch at a restaurant with Camille, his wife, my three grandkids and other family members and friends.  She has been going through a difficult medical crisis and we are all here to love and support her.

My younger sister Julie is also here visiting from California so its all the more special to be together once again. It has been two years and three months since we were here.

We’ll continue to post each day during our two plus months in the USA. Photos may not be a prevalent during this period but we’ll do our best. I have several for tomorrow’s post. Please check back.

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Photo from one year ago today, November 10, 2018:

Wildebeest Willie looks into my eyes when I talk to him in a goofy high pitched voice.  In this photo, he was sharing pellets with impalas. For more photos, please click here.

Tom’s back in business…What a relief!…Fruitless doctor appointment…Visitors in more than one way…

When they miss the bit of meat, it doesn’t hurt at all if they peck at me instead.

Yesterday around 11 am, Bob and I headed to the Stockland Mall for my 11:15 doctor appointment.  I didn’t want another doctor visit after I’d already had two prior appointments with doctors for this gastrointestinal issue, one in Hobart and another in Geeveston, Tasmania.  Now, it would be three appointments.

Having received a diagnosis from doctor #2 in Geeveston after a blood test determined I’ve been suffering with helicobactor pylori, a bacterial infection I believe I contracted in Fiji eating squid and octopus about 15 months ago.

This particular infection may cause ulcers and attribute to the possibility of stomach cancer, nothing to mess with.  As a result, I promised myself I’d have the test after four weeks to ensure its gone. The doctor in Geeveston stressed how important it is to have the test after taking the two rounds of high dose antibiotics and PPI (proton pump inhibitors). 

Tom’s new Windows 10 Acer touchscreen laptop.  We hesitated over Windows 10 for some time but now it seems to be a good operating system which Tom is learning quickly.

I’d love to have been able to just do the test, get the results, and be done with it.  But, health care laws in Australia require patients to have an appointment with the doctor who will subsequently order the test. 

Having stopped at the mall clinic to make the appointment a week ago, I collected the test kit (test to be conducted at “home.”  Get it?) and brought it “completed” to the appointment. 

I’ll have the test results in one week.  The symptoms remain, although its better than it was four months ago.  Hopefully, evidence of the infection will be gone and I’ll continue to improve over time.

Specs on his new laptop, priced at AU $892.53, US $675.85 plus tax, plus shipping.

In a short time, after the 15 minute appointment priced at AU $125, US $94.65 plus the cost of the test, yet to be billed, Bob and I were on our way for a quick stop at the grocery store for a few items.  I was anxious to get back to see if Tom’s laptop had arrived.

Alas, it had, exactly at 11:30 am as the thoughtful and kindly rep from Fed Ex had promised, arriving at the door to our apartment on the main level.  By the time I walked in, Tom had the laptop charging waiting for me to assist him in the setup.

Sunny day view of the bay from our veranda.  Lovely!

It took no time at all and everything was working well.  His email and contacts uploaded in no time and he spent the remainder of the day becoming familiar with the minimal nuances and differences from his prior Windows 8.1 to Windows 10. 

Now, I’m looking forward to buying a new laptop when we’re in Minnesota although mine continues to work well enough with the exception of a few items for which I’ve managed a few workarounds.  But, like Tom’s, mine could crash as his did 12 days ago.  I continue to back up my data on the cloud and the external hard we carry with us. 

“Well, maybe a little more,” she says. Females are larger than the males in this species.

FYI, dear readers:  If my laptop crashes, I’ll continue to post each day using Tom’s laptop until we get to the US and purchase a replacement.

Now that I’ve become familiar with my new phone and have it set up to my liking, having learned literally everything there is to know over the past few days, we’re currently set with technology. 

“No!  I’ve had enough!”

Tonight, we have fun plans on the horizon.  Bob’s newest renters from a suburb in Melbourne are joining Bob for dinner at our “house” for homemade pizza (and salad). We’re making our usual low carb, grain, starch and sugar free recipe with the crusts made from cheese and egg. 

Tom captured these shots including this one shown with the two Magpies and a Kookaburra in flight. At one point there was 10 “visitors” swarming around me.  I was in heaven!

We’ve had Bob here for dinner but its been a long time since we’ve had a small dinner party in a holiday home.  Today, a cleaner Bob ordered for us is coming at 2 pm when we’ll head to town and the local coffee shop with Bob in order to get out of the way.  Having the cleaner makes the dinner party all the easier when we don’t have to clean.

I started chopping and dicing at 6:30 am when neither of us could fall back to sleep after awakening around 4:30 am.  It made sense to get up and take advantage of the time to get the ball rolling with so many items to chop and dice.

If we thought we had a good time with “Birdie” in Kauai, I’m going nuts with the Kookaburras and other birds here who now come when I call.

We’ll be back tomorrow with photos and story from our dinner party.  Please stop back…

Be well.

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Photo from one year ago today, April 6, 2017:

Our favorite of the day!  A face only a mother could love. Then again, we loved it!  Note the set of ears from an alpaca in the background.  For more on the blissful three months we spent with on the gorgeous alpaca farm in New Zealand, please click here.

Tom’s computer died…Short post today…Off to repair shop…

 
Tom’s photos of sunrise at Fairlight/Manly.

It appears that the power button for Tom’s laptop has died.  As a result, this morning at 9 am, Bob is dropping us off at the computer repair shop in Manly where we hope it can be repaired.  If not, we’re in big trouble.

View of the sea at sunrise.

Tom, without a laptop, is unthinkable.  Its definitely glued to his hip.  If they can’t fix it, he says he can wait until we arrive in the US in 60 days to make a new purchase which we’d both planned to do in any case. 

Its amazing how quickly the scene changes at sunrise and sunset.

In years past, we’d purchased laptops from Costco and had hoped to do the same again shortly after we arrive in Minnesota at the end of May. We’ll see how that goes.

A rare moment of a blue sky with rainy cloudy skies day after day since we arrived almost two weeks ago.

We’ve had a few challenges lately but we’re bound and determined to continue on with a positive attitude especially with our main focus being Monday’s immigration office appointment looming in our minds.

To top things off, Tom injured his back three days ago when he was helping Bob move an air con unit.  The next day the pain began and he’s been nursing it back to health.  

Soon, the red sky wafted away.

My usual “pack mule” won’t be able to do any heavy lifting for awhile.  We sure hope we aren’t flying out of here on Monday to another country.  Gee…that would be challenging.

Let’s face it…stuff happens.  None of us are exempt from unexpected incidences occurring, one on top of another.  We keep reminding ourselves that these past 53 months have been relatively seamless barring a few glitches along the way.

At the end of the day, as the sun began to set.

Once we’re done at the computer store, we’ll stop at a pharmacy for a few items, the health store, take some photos in Manly and head back via the Hop, Skip, Jump bus that makes frequent stops near the ferry station.

Sorry for today’s short post.  We’ll be back tomorrow with the result of the repair and new photos.  Later, when we return, Tom will proofread today’s post when I’ll correct any errors.

Have a fabulous day!

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Photo from one year ago today, March 25, 2016:

Paritutu Rock is located along the the shore in New Plymouth, New Zealand, one year ago.  For more photos, please click here.

Loss of a valued digital item…Heading out to sightseeing venue and shopping…Road trip photos…

We crossed the Bridgewater Lift Bridge on the drive from Penguin to the Huon Valley.

Its Monday morning in this part of the world.  Tom is watching a US NFL playoff football game.  At 10 am the cleaner arrives, a service which wasn’t included in the rent but we opted to pay on our own.  Who wants to wash floors and glass shower doors?  Not us!

Its hard to believe it was a week ago we left Penguin to begin the five hour drive to the Huon Valley.

Prices for such a service is considerably less than in the US from what I recall which is probably much higher these days.  The cleaner will stay for two hours at a cost of AU $50, US $37.82. 

Away from the ocean and close to the center of the state, the terrain changed dramatically from lush green to a dry desert-like appearance.

We’re washing and drying the sheets to avoid folding them.  Marguerite can put them back on the bed.  Oh, yes, there’s a dryer here.  That’s a first for us in the past 18 months.  The washer is located in our unit. The dryer is in the garage.  Easy.

At several points we drove through mountainous roads.

We’ll head out after she arrives as soon as the first of the two football games ends at around 10 am.  Once we return several hours later, Tom will watch the second game on his app, NFL Game Pass, since it will long be over on TV.  It surprised us that the US games are on TV in Tasmania.  Then again, Aussies love their “footie” and perhaps evens ours.

At no point did we encounter any traffic except for a construction zone and when we arrived in Hobart with 45 minutes left on the road.

After spending a hefty sum spent on groceries last week, AU $514.52, US $389.13, we have little to purchase this week.  The grocery list only contains about 15 items. 


I had to take all of our photos while the car was moving due to a lack of shoulder which is always challenging.

Speaking of grocery lists, which I always keep on an app on my phone, much to my disappointment my phone died a few days ago. For the first time in years, I’ve had to handwrite the grocery list. My handwriting is awful making it a laborious process to write the list and later decipher it while in the grocery store.


As we neared Hobart, once again we could see the ocean.

Tom’s phone also died several months ago which we replaced receiving a new unlocked Windows Blu, dual SIM, we’d ordered from Amazon several months ago to arrive in a box of supplies we’d had shipped to us in Bali.

When my phone died after I’d tried every possible fix, I too placed an order from Amazon.  The phone will arrive to our mailing service within a day and will be added to a variety of other items we’ve been accumulating to be shipped to us here in Tasmania. 


We made it to the Hobart city limits.

Without my phone its been a bit frustrating since I, like many others these days, spend idle time looking at my phone, reading news and books, playing games and checking Facebook and email.  Although we don’t have a phone contract we’re able to use the Wi-Fi in the house or our hotspot to be online. 

Speaking of Wi-Fi in the house…its much better.  Anne spent quite a bit of time working with Telstra and the new booster she’d purchased to enhance our signal.  Its not perfect but its greatly improved enabling us to do everything we need to do without using the pricey data for the SIM card. 



There must have been a “trike show” occurring in Hobart.  Australians are quite the vehicle fans.

If we download a video or file, we have to place the laptop in the bedroom where the signal is stronger.  Downloads are slow but overall its working and we’re now content.

I’m rushing today to be done with this post by 10 am or thereabouts (once the game ends) when we’ll head out the door to a local popular tourist attraction that’s on our way to Huonville.  Watch for photos tomorrow!


Ocean view as we made our way to Highway A6 which leads to Huon Valley.

Once in Huonville we’ll check out the meat market, drop off the dead phone at a recycle facility, visit the health food store and head to Woolies for the few grocery items.

The sun is peeking out, the clouds are wafting away and today looks like it will be another gorgeous day. We’ll make a point of cherishing every moment and sharing it all here with YOU!

Have a fabulous day of your own!

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

One year ago, shortly after birth, this baby alpaca is nursing. This is so sweet!  For more detail, please click here.

Trip to town…Nuances in a small village…

A mooring spot for the locals.

Each Thursday Rasnesh picks us up to take us to go to the village to shop after we’ve completed and uploaded the day’s post.  In most cases, we’re done by 11:30 am.

Timing is everything.  We can’t choose just anytime to go when Rasnesh
takes off for lunch each day around noon and Helen is gone from the her store, Fiji Meats, usually between noon and 2 pm.   Fiji meats is always our last stop after the Vodafone kiosk (data), the Farmers Market and New World Market.

If we wait to go after 2 pm, the Farmers Market had thinned out for the day and its difficult to find items on our list.  Each week, we carefully plan the meals before shopping.  Although its often subject to change when we can’t find basic ingredients such as lettuce, which is never available at New World and is hard to find at the Farmers Market later in the day.

As a result, we’ve chosen 1 pm as our pick up time.  We usually arrive at the Vodafone Kiosk at about 1:20.  The time awaiting our turn varies.  Yesterday, we waited in the queue for at least 15 minutes with only two customers ahead of us.

A fishing boat we’ve often noticed on the road to the village.

Even our turn at the kiosk takes a good 15 minutes when the lovely rep we’ve come to know works quickly to upload the data onto our SIM cards.  Yesterday, we added a total of 48 gigs between our two dongles at a cost of FJD $150, USD $69.40, enough to last another week.

We always purchase data using a promo she provides of 8 gigs for FJD $25, USD $11.57 which is available via a scratch off card.  She enters each scratched off PIN into her phone to activate it.  Yesterday, we purchased six cards.  We could easily purchase the cards, take them home and load the data ourselves.  But, she does is quickly so we wait.  By the time we walked away from the kiosk, it was pushing 2 pm.

Upon entering the Farmers Market, we noticed many vendors had already left for the day.  The pickings were slim but we managed to find everything on our list.  The good looking green beans were long gone.  We settled for what we could get, a single somewhat withered batch for FJD $2, USD $.93.

Finding cabbage and cukes was easy.  We lucked out finding six small bunches of lettuce at a total cost of FJD $9, USD $4.15.  As we headed toward the door, the egg man still had a dozen or so of the 2 1/2 dozen eggs flats. We purchased one flat at FJD $12.50, USD $5.77; fresh, free range and antibiotic free brown eggs, always perfect upon cracking.

Yesterday, this cruise ship we often see from our veranda arrived into port. Passengers were brought into the village via tenders.  Displays of handicrafts were scattered throughout the village to accommodate the ship’s passengers as they shopped for trinkets.
With our yellow insulated Costco beach bag filled to the brim, which on ccasion a few Americans have noticed along the way, we headed to New World Market.  Rasnesh informed us he’d be getting a call around 2 pm to transport another customer, another 40 minute round trip.  There was no way we could avoid waiting for him to return.  As we walked from the Farmers Market to the New World, we saw Helen walking quickly rushing to get back in time for us.  It was a long walk back to her store from the center of the village.  We’d called her earlier in the day saying we’d be there between 2 and 2:30 pm to pick up our standing order.  After the long wait at the kiosk later for Rasnesh, there was no way we’d make it in time.

Arriving at the New World Market we were excited to find they had thick fresh cream, sour cream and cheese ensuring we’d be able to make our salad dressing and various dishes planned throughout the week.  They even had fresh mushrooms but we’d recently had our fill and had decided to take a break.

This boat off the back of the ship was most likely taking passengers snorkeling.

As always, we called Rasnesh as we entered the checkout line only to discover he wouldn’t be back to the village another 40 minutes.  We could either wait outside in the heat or stay inside the market air conditioned comfort,  We found an out-of-the-way spot to wait with our trolley and our purchased and bagged items.

Rasnesh finally arrived apologizing for the wait.  Since he’s the only driver in town that can make it up the steep hill to Mario’s properties, we had no choice but to wait for him. Last week, he’d sent a friend to pick us up when he couldn’t make it back in time.  The drive up the hill was a difficult when the unfamiliar driver struggled with a front wheel drive vehicle. We didn’t complain, although deciding we’d never use a another driver again.Once we arrived at Helen’s, she casually mentioned how she’s rushed to get back by 2 for us.  We apologized profusely for being late when the delays at the kiosk and the 40 minute wait for Rasnesh left us behind schedule.  What could we do?  As regular customers spending around FJD $150, USD $69 each week, she’s always happy to see us regardless of the time.  She understood. 
Leftover fireworks from Diwali celebration were on sale at the market.

Back home by almost 4 pm, I spent the next few hours putting away the groceries and sorting and washing our produce.  In all, we spent a total of FJD $416, USD $192 for groceries plus the cost of the data.

Overall, we’ve spent no more than this amount on any given week, which for living on a island where all food products arrive by ferry, is reasonable.  We don’t purchase laundry products, most cleaning supplies (other than dish soap and toilet bowl cleaner) or toilet paper which are otherwise provided.  Based on expenditures to date we expect to be under our budgeted allowance for groceries while in Fiji by a few hundred dollars.

As compared to other shoppers throughout the world, we don’t purchase snacks, breads, baked goods, chips, ice cream, potatoes, rice or any type of packaged processed foods which cuts down on the grocery bill.

We were facing this candy display as we waited for Rasnesh.  Tom hasn’t purchased candy or junk food since he purchased fudge in Maui last year.

If we consumed those products, we could easily spend FJD $650, USD $300 per week.  Overall, prices are reasonable in Fiji but, we purchase some more expensive imported cheeses, butter and dairy products, mainly from New Zealand.

At 5:30 pm Junior stopped by to replace our only table lamp which had burned out the previous night.  We’ve used this lamp as opposed to the bright overhead lights when dining and watching our shows in the evening.

By 6:30 pm, we were at the table enjoying our meal of Helen’s roasted chicken, green beans, the last of the mushroom casserole, salad and a low carb homemade muffin slathered in that fabulous New Zealand butter.

A pretty yellow flower on the grounds.

As always, Tom did the dishes.  Unfortunate, a gecko fell into his hot dish water and died.  I scrubbed the table with hot soapy water and Tom washed the plastic placemats.  We’re still holding back on the ants.

In our old lives, I’d have jumped into the car leaving Tom behind driving a short distance to the grocery store.  I’d purchase food for the week, load the car and drive home.  In the house, the cable company provided all the data we could use and all the shows we wanted to watch on Demand or DVRs.  Our cellphone contracts provided calls and data as needed. 

There was no gecko poop in the house and ants rarely visited.  But, somehow we love this life, its nuances, its challenges and its never ending rewards and purpose.   Thanks to all of you for sharing this journey with us.

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Photo from one year ago, November 13, 2014:

There were high surf warnings in Maui.  Not our photo but a good shot of an expert surfer.  For more details, please click here.

Peace of mind…Vital to health and well being…Procrastination…

View along the highway to Hanalei.

It’s easy to forget the value of peace of mind and quickly it can be whisked away in a moment from a phone call, a disappointing email or the sudden change of plans when something we thought was “in the bag” actually is not.

The beach on the way to the town of Hanalei.

We’ve found that one of the most influential aspects of our travels is having peace of mind, providing our health and health and well being of those we love is intact, as a result of avoiding procrastination.

We don’t have the privilege of procrastinating for long. Most tasks facing us, if not attended to promptly, may result in a domino effect that could become considerably costly in both time and money. We strive to avoid putting anything off for too long.

A tiny island off the coast in Kilauea.

As we near the time of departure wherever we may be living at the time, the list begins to accumulate as if it has a mind of its own. That’s about now with about three weeks until departure. The list includes the following:

  • Arrange online for our visas for Australia, which we’ll be entering and exiting on several occasions over the next two years. 
  • Pay baggage fees online in advance of the upcoming flight (20-minute flight from Kauai to Oahu). 
  • Cleaning the property to ensure it is as spotless as it was when we arrived which includes using oven cleaner to clean the bottoms of the pots and pans we used, rearranging the cupboards once our food it out, moving the furniture back to its original place which we often move to accommodate our needs and my most dreaded, cleaning the refrigerator.
  • Tossing old worn clothing and almost-empty toiletries.
  • Pack everything one day prior to departure, making piles a few days prior.
  • Checking on upcoming accommodations to ensure they’ll have a roll of toilet paper, a bar of soap, towels and bottled water waiting for us in the event our flight arrives too late for shopping. 
  • Check on the safety of drinking the tap water where we’ll be living.
  • Check on the location of the best local grocery store.
  • Get the password for the Internet.
  • Contact Julie (our designated contact) with flight and accommodations, information, and inform her once we’ve arrived. 
  • Check on the availability of SIM cards for our phones allowing us to make calls when away from our laptops, check maps and use data as needed.
  • Ensure we have enough cash on hand for tips and taxis.

Also important when leaving the US for this extended period, we’ve had to be certain we had any necessary supplies or clothing on hand before we pack. Yesterday, we received a 20-pound package from our mailing service with supplies we’ve ordered. 

As always it was like opening a gift as Tom cut the box open for me while I stood by anxiously awaiting to go through its contents. Included in the box was such things as an electric razor for Tom (blades so expensive everywhere), a haircutter (I’m going to try to do a buzz cut for Tom which we’ll write about with photos), three pairs of Tom’s favorite cargo shorts with lots of pockets and a few cosmetic items for me.

Narrow one-way bridge on the way to Hanalei as we headed to Tunnels Beach.

The most exciting item in the box for me was the six new tee shirts. As I took off the tags, neatly folding them, I went through the drawers to determine what I was ready to toss to replace these. It wasn’t difficult. I found several shirts I hardly wear either due to wear and tear or a small stain that wouldn’t come out in the wash. I’d never wear a shirt with a stain so off in the garbage it went along with several other items.

As a result, my clothing load is back to its usual weight which won’t result in any excess baggage fees for the upcoming flights to include a flight on June 11th from Sydney to Cannes (information for which we recently posted).

A sandbar at the beach.

Another task we’ll accomplish on Monday is to arrange for the extension of the rental car which ends on May 15th when originally we’d planned to go back to Oahu for 9 days. But, after we realized how much we like it here in Kauai and how comfortable we are in this condo, we arranged an extension with the owner until May 23rd when we’ll fly to Oahu, staying over one night.

After spending 11 nights in Oahu when we first arrived in Hawaii, we’d decided spending 9 more nights wouldn’t appeal to us. There’s more commotion in Honolulu/Waikiki that we’d prefer. 

Crossing the Hanalei River on a one-way bridge. Notice the horse in the background.

Instead, we’ll spend one night at a hotel close to our favorite restaurant, Burger in Paradise where I had the best Cobb salad on the planet, and Tom, the best burger. It’s funny but we chose to stay overnight in Oahu, more to return to this restaurant than to make a stress free trip to the ship.  Well, almost.

We could easily have flown to Oahu on the same day as the cruise and taken a taxi to the pier. But, in our attempt to make travel as stress-free as possible, we decided to stay overnight. We’ll pack what we need in the duffel bag avoiding the necessity of opening our luggage, perhaps even wearing the same clothes (different underwear) two days in a row.

This tied up horse was grazing in the yard of an oceanfront property.

In my old life, I’d have been planning what to wear to board the ship; the outfit, the shoes, the purse, and the jewelry. Now, I throw on a pair of shorts or jeans, a tee-shirt, the same everyday shoes, and the same everyday earrings and I’m good to go. How I’ve changed. Tom does it as he always did. Nothing has changed there.

Also, there were credit cards in the package (when the others had expired) which we immediately activated and signed. Our snail mail is down to a minimum; most often government and pension stuff. 

With recent rains almost daily, vegetation is a lush green color.

After removing all the packaging and tags on the items in the box which, by the way, the 20-pound box cost $100 to mail, UPS from Nevada to Kauai, we put everything away feeling confident nothing upset our total baggage weight.

Today, it’s sunny and if it continues for another hour we just may head to the pool. Tonight is pot luck dinner at the home of friends Alice and Travis along with another couple, Louise and Steve’s who’s home we visited at our first Full Moon party. Without a doubt, this will be another enjoyable evening.

Ke’e Beach at the Napali Coast. We stopped by to see if there were any Hawaiian Monk Seal resting in the sand of which there were none.

We’re bringing salad and low carb muffins to share, with steak for Tom and yellowfin tuna for me for their grill.  Easy.

As we begin to knock off the items on the above list, we’ll be assured as always that we’ll have peace of mind.  Failure to procrastinate is imminent.

Happy Friday! Happy weekend!

                                               Photo from one year ago today, May 2, 2014:

These nuts and dried fruits sat in the sun day after day. For details from that date when Tom was sick, and I was being bitten by no-see-ums at night, and we couldn’t find insect repellent anywhere, please click here.

Tsunami…A serious fact of life in the Hawaiian Islands…A visit to the Pacific Tsunami Museum…

There are many of these signs in our neighborhood.

Yesterday morning, we decided to make the trip to Hilo to visit the Pacific Tsunami Museum, located in the downtown area across the street from the ocean.
Please click here for the live Hilo Bay webcam from the Pacific Tsunami Museum’s website.

Please click here for the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

Please click here for a news story on the history of tsunamis in Hawaii.

A map illustrating how the city of Hilo near the bay was wiped out from tsunamis over the years. A notice at the Lyman Museum name at the top of this page, which we also visited in December.

With construction on Highway 130, the only route to Hilo, we’ve had numerous annoying occasions of sitting in single-lane traffic waiting for the line to move along. Yesterday, was the worst yet.

It’s interesting how the Hawaiian Islands often fall prey to a natural phenomenon, including volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, tropical storms, and hurricanes.  And yet, the Hawaiian people survive with grace and dignity.

Tom who has a propensity to become “over grumpy” in traffic sat at the wheel frustrated for an entire 70 minutes while we barely moved. At several points, I encouraged him to turn around and go back to Pahoa, forgetting the museum and the quick trips to Target and Safeway.

David Lyman and family, apparently no relation to Tom’s family.

Although he was only moderately grumpy, none of which was directed at me, he decided to stick it out. Our time for sightseeing on the Big Island was coming to a quick end and we wanted to see a few more sights before departing on the 15th.

The text here is readable by zooming in regarding the impact tsunamis had before and after World War II.

Finally, we were on our way once again, determined that the bulk of the cause for the long delay was more a result of gawking than the road actually being blocked.  How annoying. I suppose this plays into our dislike of busy “city-like” environments. 

Prior to visiting Hawaii, we had little knowledge of the number of tsunamis that have impacted life in the islands.

There was little traffic when I was in Hawaii almost 30 years ago, not on any of the islands. It’s a reality of life we’ve encountered in cities; traffic, long lines, unable to find parking spots. I suppose that’s why we so love the more remote locations, even when we can’t find coconut flour at the grocery store.

Of course, we always spot information about railroads based on Tom’s 42 years of working for a railroad.

After relatively quick and painless stops at Target and Safeway, located next door to one another, we were back on the road to easily find the Pacific Tsunami Museum located across the street from Hilo Bay. After searching for a parking spot for 10 minutes we finally found a spot requiring we walk only four blocks to reach the museum.

When we think of tsunamis, we seldom think of Russia as playing a part in their history in Hawaii.

Tom and I both have a certain affinity for quaint topic related museums. They aren’t at all like the larger museums we’ve visited in various parts of the world.  We find ourselves happy to pay the fees to enter, in this case, $7 each for seniors, to supports the efforts of those who often donate their time or work for the minimum wage to support these often one or two-floor history laden environments, dedicated to educating the public.

Tsunami history in Hawaii as a result of an earthquake in Alaska in 1957.

The Pacific Tsunami Museum definitely fits the bill. Located on only one floor with mostly print displays (what paraphernalia could possibly represent a tsunami?) we wandered about, each of us reading at our own pace, as the delightful receptionist followed along for a while, chatting with us after she’d asked, “Where are you from?”

There was an interactive tsunami warning center in the museum explaining how the control center works in the event of a tsunami.

That answer is no longer simply, “Minnesota.” When someone expresses genuine interest, as did this lovely staff member, we chose to say the often expressed, “We’re traveling the world.”  Some express awe and wonder and others shrug and say, “Cool.” In either case, if the inquirer asks more questions, we happily answer. If not, we’re on our way.

The locks to the vault of the door to the “Vault Theatre” in the museum, a former bank.

She was fascinated and I couldn’t help but dig out one of our business cards from my wallet handing it to her in the event she wanted to kill some time reading our posts while quietly waiting for the next patron to arrive at the cozy museum.

The street-side view of the museum, as mentioned, a former bank across from Hilo Bay.

In any case, the museum was fascinating especially when she escorted us to the “vault,” a former bank vault (we were in a former bank, after all) which had been made into a rather adequate movie theatre where she started a tsunami history movie made in 1999 that we actually found interesting and worthwhile.

A side street view of the Pacific Tsunami Museum.

We’d intended to write all about tsunamis here today but instead are providing a few links that can tell it more efficiently than I who’s anxious to get outside to whale watch shortly. We purchased a lightweight tripod at Target yesterday for $15.99 and I can’t wait to use it. We purchased this lower-priced unit in the event we have to give it the heave-ho down the road. For now, it will do the trick.

As we stood near the shore of Hilo Bay, we captured this view of snow-covered Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain in the world at a reported 33,476 feet above the ocean floor.

Today, we’ll write a positive review on TripAdvisor on our visit to the Pacific Tsunami Museum in an effort to add to the support of these local museums dedicated to informing the public.

Jack London’s visit to the islands was highlighted at the museum.

On our return drive, the traffic was considerably quicker than the outbound trip. During the lengthy outbound trip, we made a decision to stay in a hotel in Hilo on the night of the 14th before our flight to Kauai the next day.  With a morning flight planned, we chose not to risk missing our flight or feeling stressed waiting for another hour or more in traffic on the only route out of Pahoa to Hilo.

This sweet photo at the museum caught my eye.

We booked one of the few hotels nearest the airport. We always attempt to remember our motto, “Wafting Through Our World Wide Travels with Ease, Joy and Simplicity.” An overnight in Hilo ensures a stress-free experience once again. We’ll manage the traffic the prior day, arriving at the hotel with all of that behind us, enjoying a dinner out in Hilo, and a relaxing night’s sleep.

History of tsunamis in both 1922 and 1923.

As a result, we’ll be leaving the birdhouse in six days, leaving the Big Island on the 15th. In the interim, we’ll certainly take advantage of each of our remaining days, returning to our daily philosophy of doing exactly that which appeals to us the most, whether its more sightseeing, whale watching, future planning (which Tom is thoroughly engrossed in at the moment) or lounging in a chair on a sunny day.

Life is good. 

                                              Photo from one year ago today, January 8, 2014:

Piet and Hettie, friends we made in South Africa, invited us to lunch to celebrate their birthdays, a short time apart. We so enjoyed meeting them and appreciated how quickly they included us in their lives.  That’s the nature of South Africans, warms, and friendly. For details from that date, please click here.

More amazing vegetation…What’s a Monkey Pod?.. A village visit in the rain…The magic of Life..

The massive short trunk Monkey Pod tree we found in the village of Wailuku on Saturday. 

Yesterday, we took off at 10:00 am for Costco to return the floor model laptop Tom purchased in Boston on September 15th. Costco offers a 90-day no-questions-asked return on all digital equipment enabling him to purchase a new preferred Acer model online, transfer his files, and finally be done with the problematic floor model. 

With the new laptop data transfer completed and assured he’d taken everything off the old one that he needed, we were ready to return the old one. True to their commitment, Costco handed us the cash for the return in a matter of minute, indeed with no questions asked.

With our RFID wallets (security enabled) there isn’t a lot of room for that much cash. For safekeeping, we purchased a gift card for $500 which we’ll use toward the purchase of food and supplies for our upcoming family gathering next month. The gift card (now in a secure spot) won’t put a dent in it, but we decided it’s better than carrying cash.

A pretty scene from Wailuku in the rain.

After Costco, we headed the few short blocks to the airport to sign a new contract for the rental car. The 30 days was up and renewing can’t be done over the phone for more than a few days, as we’ve learned from past experience. 

Luckily, we were able to get the same excellent online rate, prorated for the remaining 15 days. At $725 for 30 days, we were content with a total of $1100 for the six weeks in Maui. We’d expected it would be considerably higher in Hawaii. Booking cars online makes all the difference in the world on pricing (as opposed to booking from a vendor’s website).

Another tree in Wailuku that had a variety of plants growing in the “Y” of these branches.

We’d hoped to explore Maui on the return drive but, as it seems to be the case each time we attempt to explore, it was raining in buckets. Determined to get a few decent photos, we decided to follow another path and check out Wailuku, the city for the mailing address where we’re now living, although several miles from our condo.

I didn’t hesitate to get out of the car in the rain to take some shots. What’s a little rainwater? As it turned out, the most exciting find of the day was the huge Monkey Pod tree as shown in these photos with Tom getting the car in a perfect position enabling me to get out of the car with unobstructed views of the enormous tree.

Could this Bird of Paradise look more like a bird?

Tom is great when I’m trying to take photos, maneuvering the car to the most advantageous spot, driving around blocks retracing our steps in order to avoid missing a possible subject we’d passed and couldn’t stop to capture. It’s a perfect pairing, to say the least.

As the rain escalated, it only made sense to find our way home. It’s hard to get lost in Maui. It’s merely a matter of finding the sea with major highways that follow the coastline to some degree or another.

Once we were back home to find the sun shining we put on our swimsuits to head to the pool. Sun in one area and not another is not unusual in the Hawaiian Islands – raining in one area of an island and not the other; raining when the sun is shining, both frequent occurrences in Hawaii.

As we welcomed the warmth of the sun, we came to a mutual observation. We are not only drawn to wildlife but, we are almost equally mesmerized by vegetation in any form; a tree, a flower, a plant. 

Ah, we still get our “animal fix”  in Hawaii including this free-range chicken in Wailuku.

Vegetation in any form has a life cycle that is often mysterious and profound. In our travels, we’ve strived to gain knowledge and admiration of vegetation with the same passion we glean from all forms of life. 

Sure, a tree may not have a brain with an endearing personality and behavior patterns that humans find appealing. Instead, they have a unique life cycle that we are free to enjoy at varying stages, as they cross our path.

We discussed the Milo tree we’d shared in yesterday’s post and now the equally interesting Monkey Pod tree that we happened to encounter in the rain, a tree that also has its own unique story to tell as illustrated in today’s photos and links.

Link to documentation of the University of Hawaii’s report on the Monkey Pod tree.

Monkey Pod tree flower which only blooms for one day, later becoming the shown pods with a green bean-like structure. (Not our photo).

Based on this article, the Monkey Pod tree is now banned from new plantings in Honolulu due to its massive structure which can reach over 60 feet tall and 100 feet wide, obstructing and destroying everything in its path.  Luckily, many of these gorgeous trees still stand on the various islands of Hawaii. 

We expect, with the people of Hawaii’s reverence and regard for their surroundings, the Monkey Pod tree will remain as a legacy for its citizens.

We drove down a dirt road to get this rainy photo of the hills near Wailuku.

Ten minutes later, the sky clouded over and heavy rain began to fall. We hurriedly headed back inside, by no means disappointed, especially when we consider that the rain provides much-needed moisture for the exquisite vegetation surrounding us.

Hawaii is no Masai Mara or Marloth Park with wildlife all around us, although hopefully soon, the whales will arrive in the islands, a treasure for our viewing. Having seen the sea turtles now on several occasions, we’re hoping to soon see the whales. 

In the interim, we continue to find joy and fulfillment in our love and appreciation of the “Life” surrounding us, in whatever form it may be, wherever we may be.

                                           Photo from one year ago today, November 16, 2013:

A year ago we wrote about the size of Africa as compared to other continents and countries. As shown, it’s huge comparatively. For details of that story, please click here.

Another cloudy, rainy day in Vancouver…About Vancouver…Tasks of daily life continue wherever we may be…

The Vancouver Island Ranges are in the far background of this photo I took through the windows in our condo late in the day. 

We’ve had our fill of sightseeing in pouring rain. Drizzle, we can handle. Over the past few months while on the move, most days have been rainy, windy, cold and cloudy. Right now, we have no desire to get soaked through our jackets as we’ve done on several recent tours. We’re hoping for a sunny day when daylight soon breaks.

The fountain in the Sheraton Wall Centre courtyard.

The fact that we happen to find ourselves in some amazing places, certainly triggers the urge to see what each location has to offer. However, sometimes life gets in the way via rainy days and other items on the agenda, as one has when they have a fixed home and responsibilities.

Today, if it’s even partially clear, we have one thought on our minds: Tom’s computer data transfer. The screen on the old laptop is severely damaged, preventing us from manipulating the transfer of his files to our external hard drive, a zip drive, and then on to the new laptop. We need another screen from which we can operate in order to do so. We don’t have a proper cable on hand to use the TV as a monitor in our condo or to use my laptop as a monitor for the transfer. 

Club Intrawest, a members-only condo hotel is located on the upper floors of the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre. We’re on the top floor, the penthouse level, on the 30th floor.

We’ve decided to take a walk to a nearby computer repair store which is 500 meters from our hotel to have them do the transfer for US $54 rather than spend valuable time trying to find our own solutions. Plus, we’ll have them wipe out the old hard drive and dispose of the laptop.

A flower we spotted on our rainy walk to the grocery store.

With that behind us in the next few days, perhaps we’ll be able to focus on seeing some sights in Vancouver until we board the cruise on Tuesday morning. There just hasn’t been enough time with pouring rain impeding the prospect of going out and enjoying ourselves. 

Last night, we dined in, after a trip to a local grocery store. It was surprising to go on an escalator for the second half of the store’s products. I suppose the locals are used to using the hand baskets, starting upstairs before they load the regular wheeling carts.

Escalator in the grocery store in downtown Vancouver. 

We purchased roasted chicken and salad ingredients. With nuts for dessert, it felt good to stay in to watch a few shows on a rainy night, which we haven’t done in almost two months since leaving Madeira on July 31st. 

Vancouver is a beautiful destination, especially in the warmer summer months with many activities befitting tourists of any age and families with children. Our combined (for two) one-way airfare from Boston was only US $346, much less than we’ve paid for many other flights, making it affordable for travel.

As we’ve seen thus far, it is expensive in Vancouver, especially in the downtown area, where we’re staying.  We’ve heard on CruiseCritic.com that staying in hotels outside the city is much less expensive. 

Beautiful flowers lined the boulevard in Vancouver.

However, we’re definitely enjoying the views from downtown and have no regrets that we’re staying here.  Besides, we can see the cruise terminal from our condo which is a short cab ride away. Many cruisers at CruiseCritic.com have mentioned taking a bus to the cruise terminal on Tuesday. With our heavy luggage, we prefer to take a taxi. 

On departure day at the cruise terminal, our checked baggage is immediately whisked away from our taxi to our cabin, leaving us with only a few carry on items to handle until the cabin is prepared for us to move in, usually by 1:00 or 1:30 pm.

Here is an excellent link to information about Vancouver. Most likely, we’ll return here someday when we take a spring cruise to Alaska, hopefully staying for a few months. Alaska is on our “must-do” list but, doing so is far down the line. We have more countries and continents to visit after leaving Hawaii before we travel the US. 

Here are some Vancouver facts from the above website:

“Population
Based on 2006 Canadian Census reports, the population of the City of Vancouver in 2010 is estimated at 601,203.
Greater Vancouver’s estimated total population for 2010 is 2.4 million, 52.3% of BC’s population of 4.6 million.


Languages
Federal government departments provide service in English and French, but most of the population speaks English as either a first or second language.

The City of Vancouver is quite cosmopolitan and is a mix of many multicultural groups. Because the city is multicultural, it’s also multilingual on an unofficial level. Its people speak many different languages and many follow the traditions of their native lands, sometimes moderating them with Canadian culture.
After English and Chinese, the most common mother tongue languages spoken are Punjabi, German, Italian, French, Tagalog (Filipino), and Spanish. More than half of Vancouver’s school-age children have been raised speaking a language other than English.

Currency
We recommend all visitors use Canadian currency when traveling within Canada. Visitors can exchange currency at Canadian chartered banks, trust companies, credit unions, or at offices of foreign exchange brokers, but it is advised to have local currency on hand prior to arriving. Some hotels, merchants, restaurants, and suppliers accept US or other foreign currency at a pre-determined rate, which may differ from the daily rate posted by financial institutions.

    • Canadian one dollar coin (“loonie”) ($) = 100 cents
    • Canadian two dollar coin (“toonie”) ($) = 200 cents
    • Notes are in denominations of $1000, $100, $50, $20, $10, $5
    • Coins are in denominations of $2, $1, $0.50, $0.25, $0.10, $0.05, $0.01 


Taxation
Effective April 1, 2013, most purchases in British Columbia will be subject to a 7% Provincial Sales Tax (PST) and a 5% Goods and Services Tax (GST), with the exception of liquor (10% GST). For more information, visit Changes to the Sales Tax in British Columbia.



Time Zone
Vancouver is in the Pacific Time Zone. Daylight savings time is in effect from the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November. You can see Vancouver’s time in relation to most cities on the globe by visiting www.TimeAndDate.com, which also can provide a Canadian calendar.
___________________________________________________________________________________
Workdays
Greater Vancouver, like all major cities, runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The main workdays are Monday to Friday, from roughly 8:00 am to 6:00 pm – but hours vary for each organization or business. Retailers are usually open seven days a week, and most stores are open from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm each
day-except Thursday and Friday, when they are open until 9:00 pm. A number of large retail stores, nearly every hotel and motel, and several restaurants remain open around the clock.”

As we sit in the Member’s Lounge each day, preparing the next post which we’ve now scheduled to arrive for our readers by 5:00 am mountain time, we feel comfortable and at ease with no pressure to be anywhere or do anything, other than get the computer repaired, do laundry on Monday and pack once again.

Hopefully soon, we’ll pack up Tom’s two laptops into the waterproof duffel bag, grab an umbrella from the front desk and make our way to the computer repair store, hoping to achieve his objectives. Tomorrow’s forecast is for a sunny day. We’ll see if that works out.

Back tomorrow with more photos of Vancouver! Stay tuned!

                                          Photo from one year ago today, September 19, 2013:

Tom drank two bottles of this local Tusker beer. You’d have to carry me out if I drank two of these. I’m often tempted to have a drink but having anything with alcohol, as seldom as I do, results in outrageous hangovers from two of anything. Plus, one is no fun! Click here for more photos.

New road trip photos…Departure in 7 days…A year ago…Anticipating nine months in Africa…

Purple flowers, blue sea.  Lovely.

Since purchasing the HP laptop in South Africa I’ve had trouble with the keyboard. The letter “i” continues to stick although I’ve learned to press hard in order for it to work. 

There’s a substantial Catholic population on the island. It’s not unusual to spot a shrine of the Virgin Mary in public areas such as this.

A new problem started a few days ago. When I write a word with the letter “P” in it, the “P” moves to another position in the word such as this:  “hpoto” instead of “photo.” Now I have to be conscientious of every word that I type that has a “P” in it. Go figure. 

A small fishing boat anchored to a buoy.

We’ll both need new laptops when we arrive in Boston in September. At that point, my laptop will only be seven months old. It’s frustrating. 

View from a road at a high elevation to the village below showing the boat in the above photo.

I know that many think that a tablet will work for us but unless there’s a new model with a large enough monitor to satisfy us both, we’ll end up buying two more laptops. Tom’s two-year-old laptop has a broken monitor he’s been dealing with for months. There goes another US $2000, EU $1485.26.

These old stone tunnels are common throughout Madeira.

This morning I had an awful time logging on when I ended up having to use the on-screen keyboard to enter my password. I’m totally convinced that a quality laptop suitable for travel is yet to be designed. I’ve seen a few “rugged” styles but they are very heavy. Oxymoron.

Many areas neighborhoods consist of large homes, often owned by foreigners and ex-pats.

Today, when Judite arrives for the final time, we’re heading out for our last grocery shopping trip needing only a few items to get us through the next six dinners. Today, we didn’t buy produce from the truck when we heard it drive past when all we need is lettuce, cabbage, and carrots which we’ll buy at the supermarket.

As we drove through a village, this bell tower warranted a stop.

In the past several days, I’ve done some clearing and cleaning of items in my smaller of the two bags, which contains medical supplies, a few camera supplies, toiletries, and cosmetic items, lightening the load by a few pounds. Tom is down to bare bones unable to lighten his large bag. The second smaller bag holds our heavy boots and all of our shoes. 

There are a few sandy beaches on the island. Most are rocky such as this.

I’m considering getting rid of my large handbag which I only use on travel days. The bag itself is heavy. If I’m able to fit the vital items to the carry on duffel bag, we’d be down to the following carry on: one duffel, one laptop bag, and the cloth bag of prescriptions (in case our luggage is lost). We shall see if I can pull this off once we start packing.

Tom got a kick out of this sign for an Irish Sports Bar with a photo of a camel on the sign. We couldn’t quite grasp the significance of the camel and Irish.  There aren’t any camels in Ireland, are there?

Today, we’re sharing photos from another road trip. Driving around this magical island always offers us new and interesting scenery that we’re always anxious to share with our readers.

This village was decorated for the upcoming banana festival which occurred over this past weekend.

We both have a tendency to temper our enthusiasm as the time to leave nears, knowing that we have a full travel day ahead of us. We’ll be especially relieved when this upcoming travel day is over with all of the political unrest in the world.

Have a wonderful day!

                                              Photo from one year ago today, July 24, 2013:

A borrowed photo of Diani Beach, Kenya as we wrote about our fears and apprehension of living in Africa for nine months which at that point one year ago today, was only six weeks away. Now, looking back some of our fears were warranted such as cobras on the veranda, horrifying insects, and living with only an outdoor living room. In any case, worrying certainly provided little insight into that which we experienced. For details of that date, please click here.