Tom’s fantastic time with his kids at the cabin…Last evening with Tom’s family at Billy’s Bar & Grill…

Tom, Tammy, and TJ had a great time at the cabin for two days, enjoying evening bonfires.

I didn’t go up north with Tom, Tammy, and TJ, knowing it was important for Tom to spend quality time with his two adult children at TJ’s cabin in northern Minnesota. They had an excellent two days and nights together in the rustic cabin on a lake, dining at local pubs and restaurants and enjoying the special time together.

They were there to catch up and relax. With cold weather rolling in, they didn’t spend much time on TJ’s pontoon, instead hunkering down by the bonfire during the evening hours and laughing and chatting throughout the day. All had a good time.

With our planned final attendance at Billy’s Bar and Grill in Anoka at 3:30 pm yesterday, I had to find a way to get there since TJ was dropping Tom off at Billy’s on their way back, all of which is in the northern suburbs, there was nothing I could do to get Tom than to drive the 45 minutes to Billy’s in Anoka from our hotel in Eden Prairie. I hadn’t driven a car in about two years.

Tom’s son TJ’s lake cabin in northern Minnesota.

My reflexes aren’t as good as they were years ago, so I questioned my ability to drive safely for such a distance, especially on a busy Friday afternoon with lots of traffic. We couldn’t expect any family members to drive Tom back to the hotel, resulting in a 90-minute or more round trip when everyone lives in the northern suburbs.

There were no other options than for me to make the drive. As suggested by Greg, it was better to leave early and wait for Tom and everyone else to arrive at Billy’s than for me to be stuck in slow-moving traffic. It was a great plan to leave the hotel at 2:15, even if I had to wait for awhile at the restaurant.

As it turned out, when I arrived around 3:00 pm, Tom was waiting for me in front of the restaurant. He didn’t call to tell me he’d arrived early to avoid me being distracted by a phone call during the drive. Well, driving is like “riding a bike”. You don’t forget how to do it. I was on extra alert.

Most of the drive was on the freeway, which I preferred over busy city streets. I did fine, mostly driving in the fast lane and staying up with traffic. It wasn’t nearly as intimidating as I thought it would be. Does this mean I will drive more in the future? Not necessarily. When we are in countries where driving is on the opposite side of the road from what we’re used to, and having to use a stick shift with my left hand, which is entirely useless, I will continue to let Tom do the driving.

Lake cabins are highly desired in Minnesota, with over 14,000 lakes. Often, they are this size on varying-sized lots. TJ has over two acres of land.

Also, in many countries, it’s an extra daily rate, up to $10 a day, for a spouse to drive a rental vehicle. That’s not worth it to us. Generally, a couple can each drive the car in the US without additional fees, but prices on rental cars are much higher in the US than in many other countries.

Again, we had a great time at Billy’s with the family. It was wonderful to see Tom’s adult niece, Kari. Also, next to me on the other side was another of Tom’s nieces, Jerri Lee, whom we hadn’t seen in years, along with several other nieces at the table. It was wonderful chatting with them and the others.

By about 6:30, we were back on the road to the hotel and had a quiet evening streaming a few shows. We’d finished binge-watching Formula 1 and had to search for something new. By 10:30, I was off to bed, but Tom, as usual, stayed up later.

Today is a quiet day. We have no plans other than deciding what to do for dinner tonight. I checked out GrubHub, for which I have a few coupons, but I found nothing we like. Also, we cringe at paying more for delivery food than if we went out to dinner. We shall see what the day brings.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 7, 2013:

This is one of our favorite photos with the lion with the remnants of his zebra lunch in the background, taken in the Maasaii Mara in Kenya on our first safari experience. Up close and personal! We were in a Toyota Land Cruiser with open sides, 25 feet from this lion. To our surprise, we never felt frightened or at risk at close range to any of these big animals, including this massive male lion who gave us a great show. For more photos, please click here.

Daytime get together with Tom and a few guys from work…Another evening with family…

Last night, grandson Vincent, daughter Tammy, and daughter-in-law Tracy joined us for dinner and trivia at Pizza Luce, walking distance from our hotel.

Tom didn’t order dinner last night when we met Tammy, Tracy, and Vincent at Pizza Luce for dinner and trivia. He could have ordered dinner since he ate the entire plate of garlic bread that accompanied my dinner, as shown below. My guy sure loved bread.

He’s loading up now, knowing eating bread will come to a quick end by the end of the month when we arrive at our holiday home in Ecuador, and I start cooking again. No bread is served with our homemade meals unless we have guests for dinner, and bread is an appropriate accompaniment.

My meatball meal was topped with sugar-free sauce and mozzarella cheese. No pasta. It was delicious.

However, bread and doughy things are popular with meals in Ecuador, so dining out will allow him to enjoy the local flour-laden flavors. We may dine out on Fridays and Saturdays as we’ve done in the past, but that will depend on the foods offered at the local restaurants. We shall see.

At this point, we are leaving the US in eight days on October 11. We are getting everything we can ready for our departure next Wednesday. We both ordered hiking boots this morning after the cruise line reminded us we’d need them for the Galapagos. They will arrive from Amazon by Thursday.

The plate of bread that came with my meal, which I handed over to Tom, knowing he’d love it even though he was still full from lunch with the guys.

Also, this morning, I ordered a swimsuit since a few years ago, we accidentally left all of our swimwear at the top of a closet on a cruise. There were three or four swimsuits I liked, and I had to order one today for the pool at the upcoming house in Ecuador.

At this point, we have everything we need. We’ve ordered quite a bit, replacing worn-out adapters, plugs, earbuds, and miscellaneous items we use. I was thrilled to be able to replace a worn-out pair of white leather Keds slip-on shoes, which are hard to find online.

Also, we took many old clothing items to Goodwill, and if they were worn, we tossed them in the trash, including my suitcase, which was now cracked and unusable. Tom hasn’t found a taker for his railroad memorabilia and is taking it to the Minnesota Transportation Museum, Jackson Street Roundhouse, to donate the entire lot. We’ll receive a tax-deductible receipt for the items.

Vincent’s large pizza.

Yesterday, at 1:00 pm, Tom met up with a few of his railroad buddies at a restaurant in Roseville and enjoyed the time with the guys. Tomorrow, we’ll post those photos.

Besides Tom dropping off the railroad stuff at the museum, we don’t have big plans today. Tonight, we’ll dine out at Champps, where we can always depend on fresh and consistent food. This morning, we had a light breakfast in the hotel restaurant, but my choices are limited. The only things I can eat are scrambled or hard-boiled eggs. I prefer the hard-boiled eggs since I know what I’m getting.

Tammy’s lasagne.

Soon, when I’m done uploading today’s post, I’ll be heading to a lounge area in the hotel to call my dear old friend Cathy, whom I didn’t get to see this time. I usually speak to my girlfriends from that room so Tom can continue to watch football games and listen to podcasts on his laptop.

I will post the photos from Tom’s afternoon with the guys tomorrow. But that’s it for today, dear readers. Enjoy your day!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, October 3, 2013:

There were no photos posted on this date ten years ago. Instead, we posted about what we needed to bring on our first safari in Africa. For details, please click here.

Photo of Tom’s family at Billy’s Bar & Grill…

Tom, sitting next to me. A little smile.

Sorry about the less-than-ideal photos we’re posting today. From where I was seated, locked in place by other diners and family members, I did my best using my phone. Nonetheless, we had a great time, from our chairs and when we finally could maneuver closer to chat with those at the end of the table.

Tom’s family are delightful people, each with their unique sense of humor and all with a dedication and love for one another. When I first met everyone 32 years ago, I didn’t feel as if I fit in. They told and retold countless delightful stories of their childhood experiences.

But, as the years passed and the families grew, the stories became an integral part of all of their past experiences with them. I rarely missed a family event and eventually felt a part of this big family. If they had a party and included everyone, it would be well over 100 people.

On the left is Tom’s niece, Trish’s husband Jason, Trish, and his sister Margie (standing) next to Erika, Tom’s grand-niece, Paulette, and Tom’s great-grand niece Addison. The remainder of the group can’t be seen, except for Eugene, sister Mary Ellen’s husband.

Of the newest generation, we’ve only met some, not all, and if those 100+ people were at a barbecue, even Tom wouldn’t know some of the youngsters, many of whom are now teenagers and older, how the time has flown. Thirty-two years is a long time.

And now, as we approach the 11-year mark of traveling the world, we recognize even less as they’ve grown while we’ve been away. With Tom, the youngest of his siblings, the oldest generation, including us, seems so much older than the others; it is simply a fact of life as we age.

This morning, I’m rushing through this when, at 10:30, Tom will drop me off in Chaska to watch the Vikings game at noon with my son Greg. I’m bringing a laundry bag while there, which is a significant relief when getting it done at the hotel is such a hassle. As mentioned, they have an agreement with the hotel across the way to use their one washer and dryer. Their patrons often use it, so we must walk back and forth repeatedly to get a few loads done.

It was so crowded I couldn’t get around the table for better photos—Margie, daughter Paulette, and her adorable granddaughter Addison. We were thrilled that so many came to say hello.

After Tom drops me off, he’ll drive to a sports bar in Blaine, an hour away, to meet with daughter Tammy to also watch the Vikings game. Most likely, he’ll have lunch there. We still have enough food left in the little fridge for me to eat tonight for dinner. We won’t have to go out.

Yesterday, we had a quiet day, We had no plans other than to go out to dinner at Jimmy’s but were sorely disappointed when our meat was overcooked. Neither of us felt like ordering a new serving, and we ate it. I mentioned it to the server, and she offered to replace it, but when we didn’t feel like waiting, she took the cost of my one glass of wine off the bill.

I’d rather have the better-tasting meat but didn’t make a fuss. By 7:00 pm, we were back at the hotel to relax and stream a few shows. I hadn’t slept well the prior night, and by 9:30, I needed to head off to bed. Within a half hour, I was sound asleep and slept peacefully through the night.

Tammy, sister Colleen, and Tom’s grand nephew Jacoby. It was so loud in the place I couldn’t get everyone’s attention for photos without screaming. I chose unposed photos instead of raising my voice.

This morning, we went down to breakfast at 9:00 pm. The restaurant was out of hard-boiled eggs and fresh cream for the coffee. Instead, we used those disgusting little pods of half and half. The hotel is packed every weekend. This weekend, we think it’s attendees of the Renaissance Festival, held about 15 minutes from here.

By tomorrow at noon, they all will have left, and it will be peaceful here once again as we spend our final ten days in Minnesota, spending as much time as possible with family and friends. This time we’re here has been the busiest of any time we visited in the past, as well as the longest period we’ve been here, a little over a month.

The Minnesota Vikings have lost 3 out of 3 games. Maybe today, their luck will turn around for a more exciting game.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 1, 2013:

On this date, while still in Kenya, we booked an upcoming hotel, Club Intrawest Condo Hotel in Vancouver. British Columbia for September 2014. For more photos, please click here.

What a fun day with friends and family!!!…

After our pedicures, my dear friend Chere and I went to lunch at Jimmy’s Kitchen and Bar for a lovely breakfast of ground ribeye, topped with sauteed mushrooms and onions along with a side of green beans or asparagus. Delicious!

It was a lovely day with my friend Chere, the third time we got together since Tom and I arrived in Minnesota three weeks ago. Chere and I have been friends for 25 years and have often stayed in touch in the past 11 years since we’ve been traveling.

It was the last time I’d see her in our remaining 12 days when she and her husband Gary took off on a road trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado, for a dietician convention and won’t return until we’re gone. Chere is a dietician who appeared many times on various TV news shows and conducted countless seminars for corporate clients nationwide. Also, as a Life Coach, she’s had a continuous stream of clients with varied needs that she so well fulfills, leaving them loyal to her ongoing services.

Her beliefs about food are similar to mine, that we each should eat a healthy, lower-carb diet of food in its natural state without pesticides, chemicals and additives, sugar, and starch. Of course, healthy fats are included in her suggested way of eating. As a result of this philosophy and others, she and I always had an indescribable sistership. We have so much to talk about!

This is Jada, who did an equally fine job on Chere’s pedicure at the beauty school. We had a good time together and with the two young women.

The pedicures were fun with the two girls, who will appreciate seeing their photos on our site today when particularly young women enjoy any exposure via social media. I couldn’t resist posting their photos.

After the pedicures, Chere and I headed to a nearby Goodwill store where she had to pick up a variety of hats for a display photo booth at the convention. We got a huge kick out of picking out the wild-looking hats readily available at the store with Halloween on the horizon a little over a month from now.

Halloween brings up special memories, as many of our long-term readers know, since it’s the anniversary of the date we left Minnesota to begin our journey in 2012. As a result, we’ll be celebrating our 11th anniversary in Ecuador at our new holiday home by the sea. What more could we ask for?

Chere dropped me off at the hotel before 2:30 pm, shortly before Tom and I had to drive to Anoka for his family’s usual get-together at Billy’s Bar and Grill. In the next month or so, three of his sisters will head to their winter homes in Apache Junction, Arizona, where we stayed in a holiday “park model” near them in December 2019 and January 2020. (Once the sisters leave for Arizona, the weekly get-togethers at Billy’s will end until next summer).

This is Hazyl, my nail technician at the beauty school in Hopkins. She, too, did a fine job!

We took off from Arizona for India when shortly later, Covid-19 hit. Most of our readers know that unbelievable story when we were stuck in a hotel room for ten months in Mumbai, India, only six weeks after we arrived. Was that ever a memorable experience!

We drove back to the hotel after drinks and dinner with the family (photos to be shared in tomorrow’s post). We watched a few more episodes of Formula 1, again savoring every episode. What a great show on Netflix!

Oddly, we have no plans with anyone for today or tonight, but we did make a reservation at the same restaurant Chere, and I enjoyed yesterday, Jimmy’s Kitchen and Bar, for the two of us for tonight. When we return, we’ll hunker down to watch more of our current favorite show, which is soon ending. We are on season five after watching the first of ten remaining episodes.

We’ll be back again tomorrow with the family photos from last night!

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 30, 2013:

My dinner at Le Cafe at Lantana Galu Beach, Kenya: Seasoned Grilled Red Snapper with sautéed non-starchy vegetables. For more photos, please click here.
Notice the lack of veggies on Tom’s plate? He requested they be placed on a separate plate to be handed to me. I did the same with my potatoes, handing them over to him. For more photos, please click here.

Updating website issues…We are having problems with connecting to our site…Short post today…

The leaves are beginning to change in Minnesota during the impendng fall season.

For some odd reason, it seems every time we come to the US, we have problems with our site. There is no reason this should happen since our site is hosted out of the US, and nothing is blocking it. Thus, this morning, we couldn’t get into our site to begin the post, and now we’re having problems off and on.

Instead, we headed out on a few errands, including our bank and Target. I didn’t want to walk around Target, but I needed a few items unavailable on Amazon and grossly overpriced at the pharmacy. At Target, I was shocked when some essential items were out of stock or unavailable. I guess I’ll have to pay the higher prices at a pharmacy for the odd things.

It’s raining today, and we don’t have anything on the agenda today other than going out to dinner with Tom’s nephew Kevin, his wife Kristi, and their adult son, Austin, whom we haven’t seen in years. Kristi and Kevin visited us in Florida, staying at The Villages. As it turned out, they were our first visitors, and it was pretty fun to go to dinner with them then.

We cannot complete today’s post due to whatever problems are preventing us from using the regular features necessary to complete a post. Hopefully, this issue will be resolved by tomorrow.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 25, 2013:

“Oh, please. I’m sick of tourists taking pictures of me!” He actually did look annoyed when we shot this. To his left is another larger monkey lying on his back, stretched out. For more photos, please click here.

Change in plan for US visit…Questions from readers…To our new readers, please read the last few paragraphs…

Billy’s Bar & Grill, where a group of Tom’s family members meet every Friday at 3:30 for happy hour drinks and dinner.

I forgot to take photos last evening when we went to Billy’s Bar & Grill in Anoka with Tom’s family members. Included were four of Tom’s six sisters, Patty, Margie, Colleen, Mary, and her husband Eugene, and nieces Kathy and Jean, for nine of us, all of whom fit at a big round table.

I apologize for not taking the time to take photos. Once everyone arrived, I was distracted by the lively conversations, interspersed with the family’s usual good humor and laughter. They are quite a fun and chatty group of people I’ve always enjoyed since Tom and I met in 1991, 32 years ago.

I first met many of his family members at Colleen’s now-deceased husband Gene’s (also Eigene) 50th birthday party at a bowling alley in August 1991, only two months after Tom and I met. It was a little overwhelming to meet so many family members at one time, but I did my best to mingle and fit in, as I’ve done so since. They are lovely people who have lots of history together as a group, continually building new memories to add to their repertoire of fun stories.

We drank our happy hour adult beverages and, around 5:00 pm, ordered dinner off of the extensive menu. There were numerous options suitable for my way of eating, but as I often do, I ordered a salad with grilled chicken (no oil) and avocado slices. Tom had a taco salad with the shell, which he often orders when we’re in the US. These aren’t available in most countries.

As for questions from readers, we had several readers comment about why we didn’t appear on TV on the morning news on September 21. As it turned out, the producer who’d asked us to be on the show had interviewed us online and was familiar with our story was out on maternity leave earlier than she’d anticipated. Thus, she asked if we could postpone the show until the next time we visit the US. We have no idea when that will be, but we will keep her updated.

Secondly, reader Diane wrote yesterday in a comment: “I enjoy reading about your travels. Do you plan to do any more in-person events in Minnesota?”

In the past, we’ve done a few get-togethers with readers at specific locations worldwide, but we haven’t planned anything lately. Sometime in the future, we may do this again, but there are no plans now. With the rising costs of restaurant food in the US, we have to hold off on such an event when now it could easily cost over $1000 to host such an event. Thanks for your kind inquiry, Diane!

By 8:30 pm, we were back at the hotel, where we got settled in our room and streamed a few more episodes of our current binge-watching series, Formula 1, quite a good show. Having a living room in our room makes time spent here less confining than in a standard room with just a bed and desk. We have much more space here, so we don’t mind hanging out here in our free time.

To our new readers: We realize that while we’re in the US right now, our stories aren’t exciting and filled with interesting photos. Once we leave here in 18 days to head to South America, the excitement will undoubtedly ramp up as we head to Quito, Ecuador, and then to The Galapagos Islands for more exciting adventures. Please stay tuned for more.

If you’re interested in viewing photos from Africa, please check out our archives (on the right side of our home page) in October 2013 in the Maasai Mara in Kenya, the bush in Marloth Park, South Africa, beginning in December 2013 to February 2014, and again in the bush in Marloth Park in February 2018 to May 2019 and again most recently, starting in January 2021 to April until April 2023. During most of these periods, we left several times for other travels and trips to the US to visit family and on several “visa runs.” We can only stay in South Africa for 90 days at a time due to visa restrictions.

We’re heading out to dinner tonight with dear friends from our old neighborhood. I will make a point of taking photos to post here tomorrow.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 23, 2013.

No photos were posted on this date ten years ago, but there was information about a cruise we booked, including costs. For details, please click here.

Lovely evening at dear friend Connie’s home to commemorate Jeff’s passing…

Mark, Sandy, Tom, Micheal, Connie, and Nina sat around the outdoor table on the veranda of Connie’s Lake Minnetonka home.

Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of our dear friend Jeff passing away at our holiday home in Marloth Park, South Africa. Connie, his wife, was thrilled when she read in our posts that we’d be in Minnesota during the anniversary date so she could plan a special dinner for a few select friends to acknowledge Jeff on the anniversary of his death.

We hesitated when she extended the anniversary since September 21 is the same date as our grandchild, Mad, and grandson, Nik. Madighan’s birthday, which we didn’t want to miss. But we worked out another plan for the birthday without a problem, and all was good.

The blue pot contained tender, delicious beef with mushrooms in a flourless gravy.

Yesterday afternoon, we stopped at a liquor store to pick up a bottle of red wine for Connie. I brought a bottle of low-alcohol dry rose that I miraculously found a few weeks ago. Low-alcohol wine is not easily found in the US. Once we return to South Africa, we won’t have any trouble finding low-alcohol wines. I have no idea what we’ll find in Ecuador at this point.

Connie had made a fantastic dinner with several items I could eat, which was thoughtful of her. As a professional chef, she’s obviously an excellent cook and moves through the process of cooking and serving food with ease and finesse. The spread was not only pleasing to the eye but also mouth-watering and delicious.

Connie made this delicious chicken and prune dish. I tasted a bite of Tom’s but couldn’t eat it due to the sugar in the prunes.

If I hadn’t eaten so much of my favorite cheese, she served with the starters, Belton Farms Cheddar, which has a crunchy texture and amazing taste. I’d have had more room for the dinner. But, I had a little of everything I could eat and was full and content. Tom enjoyed everything as well, especially the garlic-buttered French bread and the pot-roasted meat, reminding him of one of his favorite dinners I’ve often made for him when the proper cuts of beef were available.

I was able to eat everything here except the potatoes and the bread.

The group of guests were enthusiastic sailors, and the conversation flowed on this topic as well as many questions from the group on our world travels. It was fun to share our varied interests. Michael asked if we’d ever be interested in sailing around the world. No, we are not. One, we aren’t sailors, and two, neither of us would be interested in all the work required to sail long distances.

Connie found these napkins to remind her of the time she and Lindsey spent in South Africa with us one year ago when Jeff passed away at our house.

Nor would we ever be interested in a non-sail boat, or as we’ve often been asked, traveling in a motorhome. Long ago, we considered that possibility, but after considerable research, we aren’t interested in that lifestyle either. What we’ve been doing these past almost 11 years suits us just fine.

Everyone’s tastes and desires are different. Most people cannot imagine giving up everything they own and leaving a familiar lifestyle to do what we do. Interestingly, more often, men say they could do it, but women can’t imagine living out of one suitcase and parting with their beloved belongings. We certainly understand that. Sometimes, we shake our heads, unable to believe that we did it.

Last night’s half moon in Minnesota.

Today, we’re meeting several of Tom’s family members at their usual Billy’s Bar and Grill in Anoka, where they often meet on Fridays at 3:00 pm for drinks and dinner. When we were here in the past, we’ve always enjoyed this special time together with his sisters and other family members in the fun and busy establishment.

The time before we leave at 2:15 will be spent on various projects we’ve been working on in order to be prepared to leave the US in a mere 19 days.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 22, 2013:

In Diani Beach, Kenya, our property owners, Hans and Jeri, invited us for dinner at their house next door. The table was set on the well-manicured lawn. With the balmy breeze and the fire roaring, the mosquitoes stayed away, although we were well armed, wearing our BugsAway clothing. For more photos, please click here.

Visit with some of Tom’s siblings and daughter Tammy…

I was sandwiched in and wasn’t able to get a good angle for a photo of everyone, nor was anyone prepared for a photo. I left out sister Margi and brother-in-law Eugene. But more will follow when we spend more time with his family in the coming weeks. On the left are sister Patty, niece Trish, and sister Mary. Of course, Tom always has a smile on his face.

Yesterday proved to be a busy day, after all. First, we decided to head to Tom’s sister Patty’s house in Blaine to see her and pick up several bins of railroad memorabilia he’d stored at her house over these past years. She had plenty of room in her basement; we’d practically forgotten about it. We’ve often said we had no storage, but Tom had saved these few bins at Patty’s, certainly not like having a storage facility with household goods which we don’t have.

Before we left, he gave the grandchildren all the railroad watches and clocks, but he didn’t have time to unload the balance. Now, the challenge will be to put the entire collection on eBay and Facebook and try to sell it. Many people are very interested in railroad memorabilia, as are collectors of other historical artifacts and memorabilia.

I will leave the intensive work on this to him to decide what to do with it and how much he wants for the lot of five bins of items. Surely, he’ll want my help setting it up for sale on eBay and Facebook, and I will gladly help. We’d better get the show on the road on this big project since time is whittling away with only three weeks until we depart.

We have so much to do With many family and friends visits on the horizon. Also, I am still ensuring we have ample supplies for our time in South America since many items we use may not be available for sale there. I am checking out various websites to see if they have some things we may need while there.

If we run out of something, we don’t want to have to order a shipment from the US when international shipping costs are so high and take so long to arrive. We’ll have to play it by ear while I try to anticipate what we’ll need by reviewing everything we currently have.

After Tom loaded the five bins into the back of the rental car, we sat at Patty’s big table in her kitchen, chatting and having a great time. Before we knew it, three of his sisters, Colleen, Margie, Mary, and Mary’s husband Eugene, arrived along with his niece Trish, Colleen’s adult daughter. We all sat around the table and talked and laughed for several hours.

Finally, it was time to meet daughter Tammy for dinner at Wagner’s, an old-fashioned drive-in restaurant, and eat dinner outside on picnic benches. After checking the menu and not finding a single item I could eat when everything was fried or laden with gluten, I suggested we stop at Chipotle to get me a “bowl” to bring for my dinner.

It all worked out well, but I was shocked when my “bowl” was almost $20 when I ordered it with a little extra meat and a dollop of guacamole. Wow! Prices are high here. I remember buying a bowl here 11 or 12 years ago for under $10 how prices have changed!

We made it in plenty of time to meet Tammy, and she and Tom ordered their food for another $36. It’s hard to believe how much it costs to eat out here. We are easily spending an average of $80 a day for dining out and for a few less expensive meals we buy at the local market, Cub. We still have plenty of money left on our shop card for Costco and hope to use it for meals over the next three weeks. We’ll see how it goes. If we don’t use it all, we certainly can use it at some time in the future since it doesn’t expire.

This afternoon, Tom is heading out with son TJ to go to a car show in the small town of Henderson, Minnesota, about 40 minutes from here. He won’t return until 8:00 or 9:00 pm, so I will plan something for my dinner. I still have my Grubhub account with free delivery so I may order something from there later.

Hopefully, my friend Chere will visit around 2:00 this afternoon and spend a few hours with me. She’ll come to the hotel, and we’ll hang out in the comfy seating area in the lobby.

That’s all I have for today. More will follow tomorrow.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 19, 2013:

While visiting the site of our landlord, Hans, in Diani Beach, Kenya, a multi-unit building under construction, we were amazed by all of the handmade ladders made from materials on the site. For more photos, please click here.

Fun evening with grandson, Vincent…Getting organized…

Tom and grandson Vincent at the skeet shooting range.

We had a great evening with our grandson Vincent, 17, when we picked him up in Crystal and drove to a skeet shooting range in Blaine, about 30 minutes from his house. Watching him shoot and see the range was interesting when only Tom had ever participated in this activity. Without guns, we could only watch him, but that was fine with us. We’d done this to be with him.

We took some photos, as shown here today, and when the skeet shooting session ended, we headed back toward his home in Crystal, where he lives with his parents, Tammy (Tom’s daughter), and her partner Tracy. We asked Vincent where he wanted to go for dinner, and he chose a very casual bar in Crystal, Steve O’s, where they “have excellent boneless chicken wings,” which Vincent longed to have once again.

Vincent is skilled at the sport and belongs to a team at his high school.

Steve O’s was one of the most casual bars/diners we’d been to in a long time, more like those found up north where fishing and hunting are popular. As it turned out, they had decent food, and none of us were disappointed. I ordered a grilled chicken salad, Tom had a Reuben sandwich, and Vincent had the wings he loves.

After dinner, we drove back to his home to find Tracy there and Tammy shortly after she returned from the dog park. We all sat outside on their deck and chatted for a few hours, and by 8:30 pm, we were back on our way to our hotel to stream a few more episodes of Formula 1 on Netflix and head to bed for another good night’s sleep.

This morning, we had the included breakfast in the hotel restaurant: coffee, eggs, and sausage, and now we’re back in our room as I prepare today’s post and work on adding plans to our calendar while we’re here. It’s filling up fast, and we look forward to seeing more friends and family members.

There was no way we could take photos other than from this angle.

I am glad we have a living room in our hotel room. This way, it’s not so confining to be in the room working on things we must accomplish while here. It has a sectional sofa with a large ottoman, a side table, a large desk, and a tiny kitchen with a sink, teapot, and hotel refrigerator. We have plenty of plugins for our equipment. The only unusual thing is there is housekeeping only every other day, so we make the bed on alternate days. Fortunately, we get enough towels to last for the two days.

Perhaps, with staffing issues, this is how hotels manage operations, keeping services to a minimum. We still see many “help wanted” signs at shops, restaurants, and other businesses. We’ve noticed the service is slower at many restaurants and even checking out at the grocery store when we stop in for a few items. There are fewer cashiers than ever.

The pandemic significantly affected businesses in the US and other countries. Seeing so many familiar restaurants and shops closed permanently as we drive through the cities is sad.

It’s amazing to see how our grandchildren have grown as they develop interests and skills they enjoy.

Yesterday afternoon, we went through the extra suitcase we’d shipped to this hotel a few months ago. When we left South Africa, we had to pack everything we owned except some household goods we’d accumulated, spices, and miscellaneous long-lasting food products. Louise stored those items for us. But, we had started to accumulate too many clothing items when we purchased new items that arrived over the years in shipments we had sent to us.

After going through everything, we made a new pile for Goodwill and then packed and organized our luggage with what we were keeping. Once we get ready to leave here, we’ll still have three checked bags, each with clothes and the third with supplies. I carefully went through the supplies bag to see if we could consolidate, but it didn’t appear possible. I can’t imagine getting down to two checked bags at any time shortly.

Many travelers return to their homes to unpack. Without a home, we’re like turtles…we carry the equivalent of “our home” on our backs. That’s the way it is, and we’ve accepted the reality.

Today, our plans are up in the air. We’ll decide later and let you know what transpired tomorrow.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 18, 2023:

In Diani Beach, Kenya…Our glass table was set and ready for our dinner guests. With no Windex or glass cleaner in the grocery stores, I’ve had a heck of a time cleaning the glass tabletop. I asked Hesborn how he could clean it so well with no streaks. He said he uses soap and water on a rag, drying it with a dry towel. I tried this method, only to end up with streaks. I guess I’ll watch him do it today. For more photos, please click here.

Did you see our new booking in yesterday’s post?…Few more new cruise photos…

It was interesting to see the glaciers in Greenland.

If you didn’t have a chance to view our upcoming booking beginning on October 24, 2023, through January 8, 2024, please click the link here:

We’re excited about this booking. Once we arrive, we’ll take photos and share the cost and the details of what we’re anticipating is a lovely oceanfront property. We aren’t sure yet about where we’re going after our time in Ecuador and may not decide until we arrive in the country.

Bartenders on the ships worked hard to keep up with the passenger’s drink requests.

At this point, we are basing our plans on how I am feeling. I had only one short episode of Afib in the past two weeks, hoping to figure out what causes it. So far, it appears to be caused by a lack of sleep and stressful situations. The Afib started the day I got Covid-19 in April 2022. From what I am reading, it can be a symptom of long-haul Covid.

Drugs used to prevent Afib, which I’ve tried, cause extreme tiredness and other awful side effects. With our lifestyle and our striving for joy and fulfillment in our world travels, there is no way I’m willing to feel sedated day and night. Quality of life is a choice I had to make about taking drugs and feeling disabled from side effects to which I am susceptible.

Fortunately, the long-haul COVID-19 headache and facial pain have been nonexistent since we arrived in Minnesota. No words can express how thankful I am for this. If I can eliminate the Afib, I will feel confident about traveling to more remote locations. This, by no means, is going to prevent us from continuing with our travels. I refuse to let this slow me down.

On both cruises, there was live entertainment, day and night.

Also, I have peace of mind when we’re in South Africa with Doc Theo to look after me and the excellent heart health care available there. We’ll be back in South Africa in nine months, which we’re looking forward to for this and many other reasons our regular readers know.

Of course, doctors feel they must prescribe drugs, but I am more committed to figuring out more natural means of caring for my health. These kinds of choices may not be appropriate for everyone. Please check with your medical professionals for your own situation and subsequent care.

Thank goodness, Tom is so healthy, and yet he is still coughing from his recent bout of the flu, contracted on the second cruise. Whenever he gets a cough, it seems to linger for a while.

In Greenland, an unusual iceberg was floating by the ship.

As we age, we realize, more than ever, how important good health is to make the best of our retirement years. I recall my mother, a heart and diabetes patient, spending most of her later years going to doctors and constantly taking new drugs and new treatments. The highlight of her week was her upcoming doctor’s appointment. I never could see this fate in my later years.

Today, we’re out and about on a few errands. For dinner tonight, I am having a “girls only” dinner with my granddaughter Maisie before she goes off to school in Wisconsin. Most likely, I won’t see her again while we’re here. We’re busy trying to book get-togethers with family members and friends, trying to coordinate it working out for everyone’s schedule.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 13, 2013:

Hesborn, at the holiday home in Diani Beach, Kenya, offered to open a coconut that had just fallen from a tree. They seem to fall throughout the day. We have to be careful when we walk under the coconut trees; they cover the entire yard, leaving only a few safe spots for sunning without the risk of being clobbered on the head. For more photos, please click here.