New phones and plans….

Beautiful flowers with a busy bee in Madeira, Portugal.

The next few days will be hectic. At 11:00 am today, we’re returning to the T. Mobile store to set up the two new Google Pixel 8 Pro phones, both of which are included with our new 55+ plan with unlimited talk, text, and data in the US for $110 a month (24-month commitment) and special pricing on international service for the future.

We’d considered replacing the phones, both of which are now having problems after three years, but without a plan, those phones cost over $1000 each. We’re getting the two Google Pixel 8 Pro phones for free, which are included in the two-year contract for both of us. The two-year contract with the phones and unlimited data, text, and calling, while in the US, will cost a total of $2640 over the two years.

It’s a no-brainer for us, especially since we’ll be in the US for about 12 months. Why do we speculate we’ll be here so long? I won’t have the medical tests at the Cleveland Clinic until the end of August. At the latest, there may be a two-month lag from the test results until the surgery and a many months-long recovery period.

Plus, we don’t want to arrive in Marloth Park, South Africa, during the heat of the summer months. In June, winter begins, and it cools down considerably. That would be a perfect time for us to arrive. Of course, all of this depends on how well I’m recovering. If I recover much sooner, we may go to another country(s) while we wait for June. It’s all up in the air and will be so for quite some time.

No, getting phone plans doesn’t mean we’ll quit our world travel journey. We still have the Samsung phone, which we can use with online Global SIM cards wherever we may be at any given time. The T-Mobile plan won’t limit us in any manner. There’s no way a phone plan will restrict our future travels.

Yesterday, we visited Verizon and a T-Mobile store to see their plans. The T-Mobile plan was, without a doubt, the better option for both of us. When they didn’t have the two Google phones in stock, we made an appointment to return this morning at 11:00 am to start the plan.

To transfer our phone numbers from Google Fi, our current carrier, to T-Mobile, I had to acquire an account number and unique pin that we’ll give to T-Mobile this morning so they can make the transfer. It may take a few hours to complete the process. But, hopefully, by early afternoon, we’ll walk out the door with our two new phones and plan.

We are moving to another nearby hotel tomorrow to see which we’d prefer for the next three months. As mentioned, we tried to find a vacation/holiday home for rent in a good neighborhood, but nothing was even slightly affordable for such an extended period.

We’ll ask for a late checkout here and hopefully get situated in the new hotel by 2:00 pm. Since we’re staying three weeks, most likely, they’ll allow a one-hour early check-in.

Last night, we went to dinner with Tammy, Tracy, and Vincent and had a good time. It’s always enjoyable to hang out with our family members, and we hope to see them all as often as possible during the next three months. This is the longest period we’ll be in the US since we began traveling almost 12 years ago.

Without a doubt, we’re enjoying our time here, catching up with family and friends. The upcoming week is Memorial Day (next Monday), which is a long weekend. We don’t have any plans now, but we’ll see what comes up with our kids and grandkids.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, May 22, 2014:

Tom, standing outside the Pharmacia in Madeira, where I’d purchased a few OTC items. I listed all the items in Portuguese on my phone. Several patrons were in the store, a few of whom spoke a little English while I  fumbled with Portuguese and who welcomed us to Campanario. Wow, friendly! For more photos, please click here.

We need new phones and a possible new plan…Delightful dinner out with my granddaughter, at a favorite old location on Lake Minnetonka…

This is the Catholic Church of São Brás do Campanário, from which many traditions in this quaint area are instituted.

Today, I am rushing to get the post done and uploaded. Soon, we’ll be heading out to Verizon and T-Mobile phone stores to investigate possible phone plans and acquire new phones when both of our phones are over three years old and have started to have problems.

My phone camera is shot, and Tom has trouble keeping Google Fi connected when out and about. We have tried every possible fix and based on the fact that cell phones don’t last for very long with heavy use, it may be time to upgrade. Before we head out, I will put together all of our expenses for Google Fi for the past few years to compare our current cost and the cost for a plan with new unlocked Google phones.

It may make sense to change based on how much we determine we’re paying with Google Fi for data while we’re in the US over the next many months. Otherwise, we may purchase two new Google Pixel phones, the latest 8a models, and keep Google Fi as our provider with its current pay-as-you-go plan.

While outside the US, we use data and rarely make phone calls unless we’re using WhatsApp, which requires an internet connection. We’ll carefully investigate the options from both stores and then decide. I’ve been limited in taking photos lately and haven’t been using our stand-alone camera when the photo quality is lower than that of a phone.

I may feel differently about only using a phone for photos down the road when we return to Africa, but that is a while from now, based on my upcoming open heart surgery in the next several months. I haven’t missed using our camera, which is on its last leg anyway, due to damage from constant humidity in countries we’ve visited in the past several years.

Last evening, I went to dinner with my eldest granddaughter, Maisie, at a favorite restaurant near our old home, Maynards, on Lake Minnetonka. In July 1977, as a single mom, I purchased my first boat, which I kept docked at St. Albans Bay for the summer.

On the 4th of July 1977, I took my two sons, then ten and eight years old, out on Lake Minnetonka when I’d never driven a boat. When we first took off, I drove the boat over to Maynard’s, then called T. Butcherblock, docking the boat in their slips, and the boys and I fed the ducks bread we got from the restaurant.

Later, when we continued to my friend Lynda’s home on Black Lake, I hit bottom and tore up the prop. I managed to make it to Lynda’s many hours later with the bad prop and her then-husband Jim helped me out. He removed the prop, took it to a repair place and then I was good to go the following day.

Many years followed when I had bigger and bigger boats on Lake Minnetonka, and I never hitt bottom again, destroying a prop. My sons still remember that day.

Thus, last evening, my dinner with Maisie, which was delightful, reminded me of that 4th of July 47 years ago, which is as fresh in my mind as if it was only a few summers ago. Wow!

Maisie, 17, and I chatted enthusiastically while seated in a booth at Maynard’s, sharing stories of our past and current lives. It was such fun! The food was good, the ambiance was perfect, and the conversation flowed with ease. After dinner, she drove me back to the hotel. It was the first time I had ridden with her since she got her driver’s license. She’s a good driver, and I am very proud of her in many ways.

Soon, I’ll head down to the fitness center to work out on the bike while Increasing the time a little each day. It feels great to be doing this. We’ll move to the next hotel in two days, and I’m hoping they will have an equally good fitness center. They have laundry facilities, which is a big plus for us. Neither of us is interested in sitting in a laundromat again.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, May 21, 2014:

This little house on a cliff created a picturesque scene in Ribeira Brava, Madeira. For more photos, please click here.

I made a mistake…What are the consequences?…

Historic town in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco.

We planned to purchase a new laptop for Tom once we arrived in Arizona. Once unpacked and situated in Apache Junction, we researched online to find Tom a new laptop, either from Costco or Amazon, locations we’ve found to have the best selection and overall pricing.

His 14″ Chromebook, purchased in India in 2020, has lost several features and wasn’t worth repairing when laptops are reasonably priced. I suggested he return to using a Windows device, which he preferred over a Chromebook. Like me, he likes the convenience of having folders on his desktop, which isn’t possible with a Chromebook with a lot of hassle.

I ordered a new Acer laptop, almost identical to the one I have, knowing it would be delivered the next day. For some odd reason, several hours later, I checked the order I’d placed only to discover I had mistyped the address to the RV park, Robert’s Resort. The street address is 1403 W Broadway Ave, and I typed 1405 West Broadway.

Immediately upon discovering this, I called Amazon to explain my error. They explained the provider had already shipped it, and it was too late to change the address. Looking on Maps to see if there was such an address at 1405 W Broadway existed, and there was none. UPS, not Amazon, was delivering the package.

I called UPS, hoping to fix this situation, but my request was impossible. They said to wait until the package was noted as undeliverable three times, and then they’d send it back to the provider, a computer company in another state.

The first delivery was attempted on Wednesday, to which I received a notification. No other attempts were made. Oddly, the same day I ordered the laptop, I ordered a separate item, which was delivered to us even with the wrong address. The driver figured it out. Good grief, my phone number was on the UPS order. Wouldn’t you think the driver would call?

During this time, I talked to an Amazon driver who happened to be in the neighborhood, and he said, “It’s not rocket science to figure out how to call the receiver if the address is wrong.” I agreed, but the UPS driver with the laptop didn’t bother to contact me. I must have spent two hours on the phone, much of which was on hold, trying to talk to someone at UPS only to find the driver couldn’t be notified. Go figure!

Back on the phone with Amazon, when there was no second attempt to deliver the package, they agreed to give me a full refund. However, it was apparent to me, after being on the phone with Amazon for about 40 minutes, that getting a refund wasn’t a “given.” In many cases, if the purchaser frequently returned items, the money might have been lost. It was $511, an amount we’d have been shocked to “lose” due to my error.

After reviewing my long history with Amazon since 1995, I rarely returned anything when I was determined to research times before making purchases. When I purchased clothing that could conceivably not fit, I usually purchased brands I knew would fit, such as two pairs of identical jeans I bought a few weeks ago that were sized precisely as I knew they would.

Finally, Amazon approved the full credit yesterday, and shortly after that, I ordered the laptop again with the corrected address, which will be delivered today. As a result of today’s delivery arriving after 4:00 pm, we invited the sisters, Mary, Margie, and Colleen, and brother-in-law Eugene, to come here to play cards and have a bite to eat to ensure we would be here for the delivery, which requires a signature due to the cost of the item.

Of course, I am grateful to Amazon for the credit already appearing on my credit card. Whew! What a relief! I asked myself how I made the error when I had a Robert’s Resort business card beside me on the little table beside the sofa, clearly marked with the address. Who knows? I am not exempt from making errors.

Ultimately, today will be a fun day with the family, with peace of mind to resolve this issue and hopefully win at Buck euchre!

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, April 6, 2014:

We were shocked to see this horse’s bloodied neck, obviously from wearing the usual bulky harnesses as shown in the above photo. Thank goodness the owner had put on a lighter-weight harness. But it still looked like it must continue irritating the poor horse. This was heartbreaking to see. For more photos, please click here.

We’re back online!…An unreal experience on the road in Ecuador

The condo has special lighting to create a mood, all operated digitally with the option of changing colors. We’re thrilled with the large refrigerator, dishwasher, range, and many amenities, except for a microwave. We are the first renters to occupy this holiday home.

Note: We’ll post a few photos of our condo and its grounds daily. Stay tuned for more. Thank you, reader/friends, for all your well wishes, love, and support during some challenging times.

We’re sitting on the comfy sectional in the beautiful great room of our new holiday home in Lake Las Vegas, Nevada. We love this place and couldn’t be more pleased with it and to finally be here. The lovely condo is fully equipped with almost everything we need to make this feel like “home” for the next 105 days.

Deciding not to post for two days wasn’t an easy decision. After the long day of travel before we departed Ecuador and our expected late arrival in Las Vegas, I didn’t feel like preparing a post while we waited for boarding. We were seated at the gate, and I couldn’t motivate myself to take out my rickety laptop and try to type when the screen would flop down with no way to support it.

We flew on Copa Airlines. The first short flight had entertainment screens, but the longer seven-hour flight did not. It was a long seven hours with nothing to keep us occupied. A baby behind me cried hysterically for over an hour, and the kid kept banging on my seat while on the dad’s lap. I only cared about getting to the US safely and ending the flight. The baby was a mere annoyance.

Then, on Friday, with only two hours of sleep, preparing a post was out of the question after we’d arrived at the condo at 3:00 am, which was 6:00 am to us. I never fell asleep until 4:00 am and awoke two hours later.

Yesterday, I was dragging more than ever. It wasn’t jet lag since the time difference wasn’t a big deal. Lack of sleep was the biggest problem. Tom was tired but slept a little longer and handled it better than me. We had a busy day ahead of us, and I knew it would be another long day with lots of walking.

The big TV monitor has DISH TV and lots of amenities. Our digital equipment is charging on the floor.

We started with breakfast at Denny’s, which was close to Costco, where we had to pick up my new laptop (which I am using now that is set up with all my files-very nice) and at Walmart, where we’d buy paper products, soaps, and some staples. We had sticker shock when the bill came for our breakfast. It was $46 with tax and tip. Wow! I guess we’re in the US now!

Before I get further into yesterday’s events, I’m anxious to share details of the harrowing event during that 3½ hour drive from Mirador San Jose to the Guayaquil airport. We started on reasonably good roads at 8:15 am as planned, and all was going well. Our flight wasn’t scheduled until 2:53 pm, so we had plenty of time and didn’t need to rush on the two-lane roads with many trucks and slow-moving vehicles. Tom didn’t speed.

When we were about halfway to Guayaquil, Tom mentioned there was a cop with flashing lights pulling him over. My heart sank. Oh no. He hadn’t done anything wrong, wasn’t speeding, and was following all the lines on the road, allowing passing at specific points.

Tom calmly rolled down the window. He was not asked to provide his driver’s license or his name. The cop used a translation app on his phone, which stated he’d passed two vehicles where it wasn’t allowed. This was not true. He didn’t hesitate to say the fine was US $190 (they use US currency in Ecuador).

Of course, we objected that he hadn’t done anything wrong, but the cop (with two others with him) held steady on the amount of cash we had to pay. We asked for a ticket. He said, “No ticket.” Pay the $190, or “they” will come to get you.” Oh, good grief. He was threatening jail.

There was no negotiating with him. Of course, this was a scam. They saw our vehicle loaded with luggage, knowing we were tourists heading to the airport and most likely would have cash on us. Thank goodness we did. We handed him $100 at one point, suggesting that was enough! This didn’t satisfy him. Those three cops would be splitting our $190.

We had no choice but to pay. There was no alternative. After we handed over the cash, I asked for a receipt to make the point that we knew it was a scam. No go. He wasn’t about to give us a receipt!

We spent about a half hour dealing with this. Tom carefully drove away, checking periodically to see if they were behind us. They weren’t. We both looked at each other as we took off and said, “Get me out of here!” Neither of us could wait to leave Ecuador.

The comfy velour sectional sofa is perfect for us. The owner, Zoltan, and his wife Agnes brought us a fluffy blanket for lounging.

We arrived at the airport in plenty of time for our flight. There was a 22-minute delay when the plane didn’t arrive at the gate. But about 15 minutes into it, we were able to board. Weird food served. Tom ate nothing for 36 hours until yesterday morning’s breakfast at Denny’s. I ate a few bites of chicken.

After breakfast, we headed to Walmart, where we spent over $300. Tom was desperate for a haircut, and we found a nearby Great Clips with a 20-minute wait. I was happy to wait in the car to rest my weary body. While waiting, I searched online to buy a clothes drying rack. There isn’t one here. When I found one, I got out my wallet for the credit card company and noticed my wallet wasn’t in the bag.

While we were having breakfast, my bag fell off the booth’s bench and ended upside down on the floor. I carefully scoured the floor to see if anything fell out. Nothing had. Then, while waiting for Tom, ready to make the purchase, I suspected my wallet had fallen out of the bag when it fell on the floor at Denny’s.

When Tom returned after his haircut 30 minutes later, we had no choice but to return to Denny’s to see if they found my wallet. It wasn’t there. Oh, no, I thought, what if someone found it and kept it? Worrying about this only increased my exhaustion when we went to Costco to pick up my new laptop and buy groceries. We didn’t buy any perishables at Walmart and needed meat and produce from Costco.

We are content with the fact there isn’t a dining room and prefer sitting at the counter for our meals.

As it turned out, my Fitbit showed we’d walked over three miles by the time we returned to the condo. Our unit is a long walk from the parking area to the condo. Shortly after we arrived, the owner of the condo, Zoltan, and his wife came with a few odds and ends for us to use. They are both so kind and thoughtful. The only item the unit is missing for our needs is a microwave. We’ll try to figure out how to live without a microwave, which we often use.

Much to our delight, my wallet was on the nightstand when we returned to the condo. In my tired state, I hadn’t realized I left it behind. Whew! That was a relief.

Tom had quite an ordeal getting all the groceries from the car to our distant unit. But he used a luggage cart that made the task considerably more manageable.

We didn’t prepare dinner last night. Tom bought an apple pie at Costco and was happy with a piece of that, and I ate a bowl of Greek yogurt and raspberries, which hit the spot. I spent most of the evening setting up my new laptop, and I’m completely done. I wanted to ensure I could use it this morning to prepare the post.

By 9:00 pm, I headed to bed, falling asleep shortly after that. Unfortunately, I awoke at 4:00 am and never went back to sleep. I feel fine today, and after uploading the post, I will finish unpacking after we watch the Minnesota Vikings game at 10:00 am this morning.

We are both content in this amazing location and living in this lovely area and good-sized, well-appointed condo. Ah, what a relief!

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 16, 2013:

At first glance, these could be a fashion-forward pair of women’s black boots. Nope. They’re the hind legs of a warthog. Actually, all four legs have these spiky heels. This made us laugh. For more photos, please click here.

Automatic email isn’t sending…WiFi issues continue…Hot, humid and uncomfortable day…TIA…

Zebras stopped by looking for pellets.

Dearest readers who have chosen to receive automatic emails with our posts each day, we sincerely apologize that this feature has only worked on and off over the past few years since we changed our site while we were in lockdown in India. We realize the inconvenience this has been for our readers. Again, for time #25, I have contracted our hosting company Hostinger to resolve this issue.

I’ve kept each request in an ongoing email message. They know how chronic this issue has been. My only solution is to move to another hosting company, which requires lots of work and the potential loss of money since I paid several years in advance for a discount. They don’t give refunds.

They usually fix it, but it only lasts for a short period. In the interim, please let me suggest an easy alternative to receiving the latest post with no more clicks required than when you received the email. Do this once each day anytime after 24 hours of when you would have received the email:

Go to your address bar. Type in:

That’s all you have to do. Each day our web address brings up the latest post anytime after you would have received the email.  You can do this on your phone as well.  Alternatively, you can create an icon on your desktop or home screen for: and click it once a day, anytime within 24 hours of receiving the previous auto email.

Today, I plan to send the post manually as a group. Tom is included in that group, and I will know if it works if he receives it. I will let you know tomorrow, and if that’s the case, you can ignore the above instructions. I will manually send the email posts in a group each day. Sorry for the inconvenience!

This isn’t Lollie and her three piglets. It’s another mom. One of the piglets hops since she has a bad front leg. We call her “Hoppy.” She seems to be thriving, although the way she runs is both heartbreaking and funny.

Besides that, we still have WiFi issues in the house (this isn’t the cause of posts not going out). Over the past week, we have yet to be able to stream an entire episode of a show on my laptop when we hunker down for the night. It starts and stops every few minutes. As a result, we’ve been stuck playing with our phones before we go to sleep, playing games that don’t require a strong internet signal.

To avoid continually pestering Louise at all hours of the night, I have been communicating directly with our service provider. After installing a more powerful router, we’ve had some improvements but needed more to make streaming seamless. Today, the company’s owner is coming out to see what is wrong and discover how he can fix it.

Of course, this is frustrating. After eating and sitting on the veranda, we want to go inside our bedroom, away from insects, get comfy and watch a few hours of our favorite TV series. We want to be able to stream until 10:00 pm, 2200 hrs., after which we’re happy to “play” with our phones, answer email messages and text, and generally wind down for the night.

Today is an uncomfortable day here in the bush. The temperature is only 80F, 27C, but the humidity is currently at 76%, making the dew point 72, which at 65 is considered tropical. This is sweating weather. The temperature will continue to rise throughout the day, but usually when it does, the humidity may go down along with the dew point. If the sun were out, it would “burn off” some humidity.

Zebras are on a mission to get fed!

We can only imagine how uncomfortable this is for the animals, with many having furry coats. We see the warthogs visiting with mud all over them. They cool off in mudholes they find in the park. But, the zebras, antelopes, wildebeests, and others can only hide in the shade to stay cool and drink water from pools, water holes, and in our case, the birdbath, which we keep filled with fresh water each day.

Gee…I don’t want to sound like we are miserable today. We are not. My biggest disappointment is that we don’t have many visitors this morning. The weekend tourists have left, and hopefully, the animals will stop by soon. I hadn’t seen Norman for two days, a rarity, until yesterday afternoon. I gave him, Nina, and Noah, a big bowl of “Norman’s Lunch,” which they all enjoyed while hanging around for hours. This morning, we’ve only seen duikers Derek and his friend Dion, but not Delilah.

Once they all start coming around, we are both so happy to see them that we forget about annoying issues and revel in the wonders of the bush. For the past two days, my head is feeling a little better. I am hopeful.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, November 7, 2021:

Spikey has been playing in the mud! Too cute for words! For more photos, please click here.

Frustrating nights without WiFi…

Look at the number of kudus visiting us!

Recently, we’ve been having serious WiFi issues. We’ve been able to get through the day with only a few outages. But, after dinner, when the insects are too awful to sit on the veranda, we head to the bedroom to prop ourselves up with pillows on the bed and stream a few hours of various TV series.

We tend to prefer series to movies and are constantly checking for new series that may appeal to us. Tom doesn’t care for science fiction or fantasy-type series, and I don’t care for war documentaries. As a result, we don’t watch either. If something pops up that one of us wants to see in these categories, we can watch it on our own. During the day, Tom often streams parts of recent football games from teams other than the Minnesota Vikings, which he watches entirely, usually in bed on Sunday nights.

Busy lucerne morning.

Over the past ten days or so, we have yet to be able to stream a single show on Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon Prime without the WiFi going out every 30 seconds or so. This has prevented us from watching anything, although we’ve continued to try each night. Louise reported this to Tech Connect, the provider in Komatipoort, which generally has provided good service.

I’ve spent hours texting back and forth with the provider, trying to figure out a solution. From the start, I insisted it was a router problem. Routers go bad, and the same router has been in this house for years. But they insisted it wasn’t the router after trying many other fixes. I persisted, and finally, the company ordered us a high-grade enhanced power router which has yet to arrive, and they’ve reported to us each day. They’ve been very responsive except on this one point.

Another visit by Louise and Danie’s francolin family. Are they scoping a new location for their fast growing chick, maybe here with us? We’d love that!!!

We’re hesitating to go anywhere because we fear the router will come in, and they’ll want to install it immediately. I’m sure they want me to get off their back, although I’ve always been gracious and appreciative of their help, and they, in return, have always been very nice.

Years ago, in our old lives, we had constant problems over a few years with cable TV from Mediacom, the provider in our area at that time. From what I hear, in the US, cable TV isn’t used much anymore with the availability of many streaming services. Upstairs in this house is a flat-screen TV with Netflix, but we prefer not to go upstairs at night since it’s hotter up there, and we’d have to use the aircon. Also, I prefer not to go up and down those steep steps, especially in the dark during load shedding.

Zebras quickly devour the lucerne.

We never watch TV in a holiday home unless we visit the US or if they have Nat Geo, which we may keep on in the background from time to time if there’s a TV in the living room/lounge. But that has not happened since we were in Fiji in 2015, a long time ago. We have never watched TV while in Africa, instead streaming a few favorite shows when we head to bed.

Last night, in desperation, we watched a movie we had on the hard drive Rita and Gerhard gave me for my last birthday, “A Dog’s Purpose.”  I loved the movie, but Tom thought it was “hokey.” I even cried a few times, which I do more in dog movies than others.

A mom and youngster kudu enjoying the lucerne in the garden with Nina and a bushbuck.

We’ve seen most of the movies on the hard drive, or they are science fiction, fantasy types, or action heroes, another theme which Tom doesn’t care to watch. I will watch any movies, but I am not fond of films about the 50s and 60s, the years I was growing up. Go figure.

It’s a miracle that we’ve been able to upload the posts and photos each day, although from time to time, I have been unable to upload photos or save the post as I am working on it.  At that point, I copy and paste everything I’ve typed and move it to a Word document to save on the hard drive for when the WiFi returns, so I don’t have to re-write the entire thing. Nothing is more frustrating than losing everything I’ve done.

That’s it for today, folks. Have a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 2, 2021:

Farmers burn sugarcane crops before harvest to remove the leaves and tops of the sugarcane plant leaving only the sugar-bearing stalk to be harvested. For more photos, please click here.

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 repurchase a SIM card 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 to provide anything beyond a one-star rating.

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

We were sorely disappointed. Both flights were seriously late with few updates offering their 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 in fact, we didn’t arrive until almost 8:30 pm, not the worst delay but indeed 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 complex medical crisis, and we are all here to love and support her.

My younger sister Julie is also visiting from California, so it’s all 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 prevalent during this period, but we’ll do our best. I have several for tomorrow’s post. Please check back.

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 11:00 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. So now, it would be three appointments.

Having received a diagnosis from doctor #2 in Geeveston after a blood test determined I’ve been suffering from Helicobacter 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 may contribute to 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 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. Unfortunately, these symptoms remain, although it’s 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. So, 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. This is because 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 a 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 were 10 “visitors” swarming around me. I was in heaven!

We’ve had Bob here for dinner, but it’s been a long time since we’ve had a small dinner party in a holiday home. Today, a housecleaner Bob ordered for us is coming at 2:00 pm when we’ll head to town and the local coffee shop with Bob to get out of the way. Having the housecleaner 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. So 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 a story from our dinner party. Please stop back…

Be well.

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

Our favorite of the day! A face only a mother could love. We love it! Note the set of ears from an alpaca in the background. For more on the blissful three months we spent 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 the 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. It’s glued to his hip. But, 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. 

It’s incredible 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. So 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 with a positive attitude, especially with our main focus being Monday’s immigration office appointment looming in our minds.

Tom injured his back three days ago when he was helping Bob move an air con unit to top things off.  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 a while. 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. Yet, 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!

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

Paritutu Rock is located along 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 10:00 am the cleaner arrives, a service which wasn’t included in the rent but we opted to pay on our own. Who wants to clear the floor and glass doors? Not us!

It’s hard to believe this was a week ago, we left Penguin to start 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 two hours for the price of AU 50, US$37.82. 

Far from the ocean and near the center of the state, the terrain has changed drastically from lush green to a dry desert appearance.

We clean and dry the sheets in order to avoid folding.  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 end at around 10:00 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 “footy” 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 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 WiFi in the house… It’s much better. Anne spent quite a bit of time working with Telstra and the new booster she’d purchased to enhance our signal. It’s 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 10:00 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!

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

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