Laundry and football day…

Saturnalia, a Sculptural group by Italian artist Ernesto Biondi at the botanical garden Buenos Aires in 2018. For more photos, please click here.

This morning while it was still dark, Tom bolted out of bed at 6:30, gathered up most of the laundry, and headed to the laundry room. With many RV patrons here, most without laundry facilities in their units, lately, we’ve had a hard time finding available washers and dryers.

I got up shortly after he left, stripped the bed, and gathered more dirty items, and between the two of us, we had it all done by 9:00 am. We made breakfast of eggs, bacon, and sausages upon returning, re-making the bed, and putting everything away. 

With the Viking game not starting until 2:30 pm, we may not have dinner until close to 7:00 pm when we get back to our place from watching the game with Eugene at Colleen and Gene’s house. It appears the sisters will be getting together with neighbors in Margie’s home to play the popular Dominos game, Mexican Train. I prefer to watch the game with the boys since I am very interested in what transpires today.

Yesterday, I spent considerable time reorganizing my suitcase and the supplies bag, including new items we’d recently purchased. I decided against shipping any warm clothing to be stored in our large mailbox at the mailing service. 

I’d purchased all the warm clothing I’ve been wearing at excellent prices at TJ Maxx (average $12.99 per item), and it’s not worth incurring additional baggage fees when flying or bearing the cost of shipping the items back and forth. 

I can always purchase additional items along the way, which won’t be too difficult once we arrive in Europe in the spring. Also, it might be fun to buy a few cotton items while in India.

Today, Tom was reading the suggestions made by the Maharajas Express train as to what clothing we’ll need for the six-day journey. The weather is very cool in the mornings and evenings this time of year, and they suggest warm items for these periods.

It’s hard to believe we’ll be on our way to India in only 18 days. We still have a lot to do to be ready to leave. But, overall, my packing is almost complete, barring the addition of some of the warm clothing I’ve been wearing lately and a few more items I need to purchase. The same goes for Tom.

We’ve been in the US for over two months. We’ve accomplished our objectives and spent quality time with family (and some of our friends), our primary aim in returning to the US. We may not return for another two years, hoping to stay in close touch with those we love while we’re traveling.

Are we excited about heading out on the next leg of our journey? Of course, we are, very much so. And although there may be a little trepidation due to the events of the past year, we’re emotionally and physically ready to continue. 

Let’s face it, regardless of how we live our lives. There are always challenges. This nomadic life is no different. Although it may seem ideal always to be traveling with a sense of abandonment and freedom, there are always responsibilities, tasks, and unexpected events that may impede the quality of our experiences from time to time.

Nonetheless, we are in awe of the world around us and perpetually grateful to be able to live this life, with its ups and downs, with its peculiar nuances, all combined with our passion and commitment to continue to live “outside the box.”

Happy day to all!

Photo from two years ago on this date: (We hadn’t posted one year ago today due to illness):

Cactus garden at a botanical garden in Buenos Aires. For more photos, please click here.

Trying to avoid mundane posts…Exterior photos of our little temporary home…

We’ve already sat out outside several times and used the gas grill. The weather is warm and sunny most days.

It’s not easy to write fascinating posts right now, and until the end of January, our lives are uncomplicated and straightforward, mostly settled around socializing and daily living.

Are we having a good time? Absolutely! Time spent with the sisters, their spouses, and many neighbors are purely delightful. Last night, 16 of us gathered in and around Margie’s patio, hauling folding chairs from their own homes. There was room for all of us.

As usual, the conversation was lively and animated. Yes, they are all seniors of varying ages ranging from their 60s to their late 80s. We fit right in as we do on cruise ships when most passengers are seniors.
The exterior of our mobile home. It’s a single-wide without the often added “Arizona room.”

No, our lifestyle may be vastly different from theirs, but this is often the case, and we’re used to it. Regardless, we all possess a commonality of past experiences coupled with current events, often humorous and entertaining.

These get-togethers aren’t about food. Often the party-goers return to their homes around 7:00 pm to make their dinner after an early 4:00 pm starts to the festivities. 

With most seniors here having little interest in cooking, fewer people would show if food were involved. Instead, if one of the participants has a bag of chips, nuts, or some other crunchy, salty item, they may bring it along to share.
Down the road from us.

This morning at 11:00 am, as mentioned, we’ll be attending the “omelet in a bag event” at the home of a lovely couple who joined all of us yesterday afternoon and whom we met at the firepit a few nights ago.

There was a list of “items to bring” from which participants could choose. We’re bringing a bottle of peach schnapps. Others are bringing different breakfast sides, including cinnamon rolls, bacon, sausage, etc.

This time we’ll take photos to share in tomorrow’s post. We apologize for the lack of excitement in our posts over the past 36 days and regarding the remaining 46 days until we’re on the move again, this time to India for two months, where we’ll be sightseeing almost every day.

The “backyard” is where another mobile home is located.

We’ll have plenty to share at that time. But now, the “simple life” continues with casual gatherings, endless chatter, and quiet time spent in our tiny temporary home. We’re enjoying every moment.

As for our lingering coughs…mine is almost completely gone, and Tom still has a way to go to get to where I am now. He still has outrageous fits of coughing, often during the night. But, overall, he’s improving a little each day.

May you find the prep and planning for the holiday season (if you celebrate) enjoyable. Happy Saturday!

Photo from one year ago today, December 14, 2018:

Little told his friend that the “pickins” were good at this house, so they both climbed the six steps up to the veranda to the front door. For more photos, please click here.

A different lifestyle for the next seven weeks…We try it all!…

The compact living room has everything we need.

Well, folks, we’ve lived in many houses throughout the world, but this experience here in Apache Junction will be different from anywhere we’ve lived in the past.

We will be living in an RV park in a permanently affixed house trailer that has everything we need, although small. Sure, it’s small, although much bigger than a ship’s balcony cabin.

The kitchen is small but without a dishwasher and has minimal cooking supplies.
Subsequently, we will keep meals simple, using the outdoor grill for most of our meals.

Our most extended cruise was for 33-nights when we circumvented Australia, which began on Halloween, October 31, 2017. We had no problem with living in that small space, nor will we here.

Three of Tom’s sisters and spouses, Mary Ellen and Eugene, Margie and Colleen and Gene, live in this same 55+ complex of trailer homes and RVs, only a stone’s throw from our unit. It appears that most afternoons around 4:00 or 5:00 pm, we’ll all get together for happy hour drinks and snacks. 
Convenient table-for-two.

Most days, we usually dine around 6:30 or 7:00 pm, but it makes sense if we now redo our thinking about when we’ll have our big meal of the day. Most likely, we’ll start having our big meal midday and not worry about dining in the evenings.

This morning, we headed to Fry’s Market, one of the largest supermarkets we’ve seen (not counting Costco or Sam’s Club), and were surprised at its size. It had 59 rows. By the time I finished shopping, I’d put over 5000 steps on my fitness device.

We spent over $300 on groceries and managed to find ample space for all the items we purchased. The storage in this unit is excellent, with more space than we’ve had in many holiday homes in the past.

This is the most comfortable bed we’ve had in our travels. It appears to be a memory foam bed.

The time went quickly. The five-hour drive from Las Vegas to Apache Junction was uneventful. Tom has seen some improvement with his back injury and cough, and he managed the long campaign easily without asking me to drive. We chatted about our experiences in the US thus far and our plans for the future.

Tonight there will be a Christmas parade in the neighborhood. We’ll all get together to watch the parade and celebrate Mary and Eugene’s daughter Laurie’s birthday. She and her husband Craig will be arriving at 5:30 for the festivities.

The WiFi signal and flat-screen TV are good.

We’re good. Although tempered by both of us being sick with this dreadful cough, the time we spent with family was precious and meaningful. Now, over these next weeks, we’ll spend time with Tom’s sisters. He’s the youngest in the family, and it’s essential we spend this time with all of them.

We’ll make every effort to continue to take photos to share here as we continue to post during our remaining time in the USA!
Have a fantastic day, and thanks for hanging in there with us!

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

For the first time, this lizard approached the veranda, looking at us.  He didn’t seem to like pellets, so we tried to figure out what we could feed him. For more photos, please click here.

The planning continues…As busy as I can be…

On this date in 2015, we were at the Arts Village in Pacific Harbour, Fiji. For more photos, please click here.

At this point, we need to get to work and decide on what we plan to do in India for 54 days beginning on February 8th after the end of the Maharajas Express train from Mumbai to Delhi.

We’re deliberating over several options and will share what we’re deciding to do when we hopefully decide in the next few days. There is so much to consider.

As far as booking periods, this period in India is the most challenging. We don’t want to be floundering by ourselves, jumping from town to town, flight to flight, and hotel to hotel without a plan in mind.

Many have asked over the years if we are “backpackers” and possibly stay in hostels, making our way through a country without specific bookings in mind. That’s not us. 

We have no home. We require the peace of mind of knowing where we’ll be staying during our time in any country, whether in the US or anywhere else in the world. 

India is not an easy country to visit without plans in mind. We do not want to be trapped for days in a smoggy, over-populated city attempting to figure out what to do next.

A priority for us is also a tiger safari, a must-do to be included in our almost two-month itinerary. This is not practical in many areas that are not particularly close to wildlife areas or national parks.

Having had no experience in India, we have had countless travelers and others making suggestions as to our ideal itinerary. We appreciate the input, but we must pursue this considering our interests and desires, not what may necessarily appeal to others.

Yes, we could make a mistake in the planning process, but we’re always willing to take the risk. After all, we had the “unthinkable” happen this past February, and somehow we managed to make our way through it with careful planning, dignity, and grace.

Right now, we are working with a highly competent agent with a highly rated travel agency in India who booked the train for us. As I write here now, amid stopping every 30 minutes to get back to work on tonight’s dinner, Tom goes through all the “paperwork” on some options that may or may not work for us. We shall see.

This morning I went grocery shopping for the last time while here in Nevada. Before doing so, I stopped at a branch of our bank to get some blank checks. 

I am making tonight and tomorrow’s dinner and Sunday brunch. On Sunday afternoon, we’re going to the Vegas Gold Knight’s game at 3:00 pm at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

After the game, we’ll go out to dinner on the strip, and then on Monday morning, we’ll pack and leave for Apache Junction, Arizona. Hopefully, Tom will be feeling well enough to drive for five hours. I’d be happy to drive, but he doesn’t like how I drive, and the stress associated with his “backseat driving” isn’t worth it.

He’s yet to turn the corner with his cough and exhaustion, but when I consider that’s where I was a few weeks ago, he still has a way to go. I looked back at the activity level a few weeks ago in Minnesota, and I don’t know how I got through it feeling as he does now.

I just finished making enough broccoli salad for all of us, including a batch for my sister Susan, which I’ll bring to her tomorrow. Soon, I’ll make the low carb hamburger buns, peel potatoes for the first time in over a year for tonight’s oven-baked fries (chips), shape the ground beef and ground turkey into patties, make the homemade ketchup, and slice the onions, tomatoes, and lettuce for toppings for the meat. It will be another busy day.

Tonight, we’ll grill the meat poolside and enjoy a quiet and restful night in. Thank goodness.

Take care, dear readers.

Photo from one year ago today, December 6, 2018:

A praying mantis stopped by for a visit this morning.  After it walked on the veranda table, it landed on Tom and then landed on me. Friendly little fellow. For more photos, please click here.

The 2½ hour wait at the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles…

While in Penguin, Tasmania, in 2017, we took this photo on our way to the town of Ulverston. Tasmania never disappoints!  For more photos, please click here.

We each had over a year left until the expiration of our Nevada driver’s licenses. However, with uncertainty at this point as to when we’ll return to the US, we needed to take care of this task before we depart Nevada in four or five days.

We both dreaded the process when the DMV in Henderson (and other locations) usually requires appointments to avoid waiting for hours. The last time we did this, seven years ago, the line extended outside the building with no less than 100 impatient applicants pushing and shoving to secure their spots.

With Tom sick all week, we avoided going. But as time wore on, we decided we’d better take care of this regardless of how he or I was feeling. When we awoke yesterday morning, it was raining heavily.

We imagined standing in that long queue outdoors in the rain with both of us still coughing (especially Tom) and getting soaked. I’d packed our cheap plastic rain protectors in the blue bag and by 9:45 am we took off.

Imagine our elation when we drove into the parking lot and there was no line at all! Apparently, due to the inclement weather, people decided to wait and go another day, which proved to benefit us greatly.

Upon entry into the building, which was packed, within minutes we got a number from the receptionist, found two adjacent chairs and began the long wait, making sure we didn’t miss the call of our number over the PA system.

We realized the wait would be long, but we were so pleased to avoid standing outdoors in the rain, hardly a whimper crossed our lips during the over-two-hour wait.

Some may say, the facility is disorganized with so many applicants always waiting to be seen. In fact, we perceived it as being very organized and well-planned with friendly customer service and systems in place to facilitate a somewhat painless process.

I played with my new phone while Tom never took his eyes off the screen with the numbers that had been called and those numbers upcoming. The time went more quickly than expected and by noon we met with the rep who would process our renewals.

The process took about 30 minutes when the rep was curious about why we were renewing early, which is unusual. She then continued to ask many questions. Of course, we had nothing to hide, but we didn’t want to get into our entire story.

Finally, our temporary licenses were issued and we were directed to the area where photos are taken. Amazingly, there was no queue there and we breezed through the process in a few minutes.

Once out the door, we sighed in relief. It was finally done. Next time, we can again apply online when an applicant must apply in person. every other renewal time

We feel as if we accomplished a lot while in the US, amid both of us being sick; we applied for and received our visas for India, applied and are awaiting our “second, four-year” passports and now renewed our driver’s licenses. It’s been an enormous relief to get these time consuming and cumbersome tasks out of the way.

Our next project. Is deciding on how we’ll spend the two unbooked months in India after completing the Maharajas Train tour on February 8th. Planning this is a big project and we just may have to wait until we get settled in Arizona next week. Plus, we still have to work on hiring an attorney to assist us in getting the visa waiver to return to South Africa.

I’m off today to visit my sister Susan once again. I’d intended to go yesterday, but when we returned from the DMV so late in the day, I realized I’d be stuck in rush hour traffic, in the rain, on the return drive. No thank you. I’ll be on my way soon.

Have a pleasant day!

Photo from one year ago today, December 5, 2018:

Mom and piglet enjoying the cement pond on a hot day. It’s summer during this time of year in South Africa and with the drought and lack of bodies of water available to the wild animals, they may seek a refreshing dunk in the cement pond in our garden, intended as a source of drinking water. For more photos, please click here.

Turning the corner…Still lots to do…

Two years ago today, in 2017, in Pisco, Peru, we spotted these children playing at the beach with views of colorful fishing vessels.  For more photos, please click here.

While we were about one week into the most recent cruise, one early evening at the beginning of the free-drink-happy-hour (two hours long), I wasn’t able to take a sip of my wine. I felt queasy and dizzy.

Tom walked me to the cabin, helped me get situated into bed while I encouraged him to go back to the event to enjoy the evening’s camaraderie and bring me a small plate of food from the buffet before he went to dinner in the main dining room. There was no point in him sitting there with me.

Before 7:00 pm, he brought me a plate of roasted chicken, grilled fish, and steamed veggies. By 9:00 pm, he’d had dinner and returned to the cabin for the night. 

I had no idea why I was dizzy, but by morning it passed, leaving me with a peculiar slight cough that eventually blossomed into the full roar of the virus from which we’re still experiencing now. It’s been 34 days since the onset.

As I mentioned yesterday, Tom is now suffering as I did over two weeks ago in Minnesota when I went to Urgent Care twice only to discover after taking antibiotics and cortisone. Ultimately, it is truly a virus with little to be done other than to wait it out.

Of course, if either of us had suspected it was more serious than the virus we contracted while cruising, we would have sought more medical advice. We had no fever, no symptoms of pneumonia, no chest pain (although our stomach muscles ached from coughing, a common side effect).

Yesterday, I awoke to feel dizzy again, on top of awful coughing, and this morning that is gone, and much to my delight, my cough has lessened dramatically. Oddly, it came in with dizziness and left with the dizziness. Go figure. I’m finally out of the woods, or so it seems.

Tom is insistent we go to the DMV today, but again oddly enough, it’s going to rain today. A visit to the DMV results in an extended outdoor queue often standing for hours. We couldn’t book an appointment based on a lack of availability while we’re here before we depart for Arizona next week.

The result? Today, rain or shine, we’ll stand in line at the DMV to renew our driver’s licenses. Yes, we have raincoats but no umbrella. Who has an umbrella in Nevada? It rarely rains here.

I’d planned to see Susan today, but that’s up in the air based on how quickly we can get through the line at the DMV. If not today, I’ll go tomorrow. Perhaps, the lines will be shorter today with it raining.

Out of the small backpack, I just dug out the total-body-coverage cheap plastic raincoats we’d purchased in Thailand for 85 cents each which have served us well on several occasions over these past few years. We’ll see how they work for us today.

No doubt, I’m dreading this DMV thing, but it has to be done. Tom offered to go on his own, but I, too, need my license renewed, and it makes no sense for us to go separately.

We’ll continue to keep our readers informed of the infinitesimal activities of our time here in Nevada. Soon enough, a little excitement may ensue as we begin to pull ourselves out of the throes of the virus.

Happy day to all, rain or shine.

Photo from one year ago today, December 4, 2018:

This fluffy little one captured our hearts. For more photos, please click here.

Coughing from hell…Is cruising worth it?…

In 2016, we arrived in Penguin, Tasmania, where we stayed for six weeks. This is the view from the living room window of the beautiful holiday home we rented. It was a delightful six weeks and remained one of Tom’s favorite places in the world. For more photos, please click here.

During our seven years of world travel, there was only one other time we were both as sick as we are now with a virus. We were on a cruise from Honolulu to Sydney. Upon our arrival, I could barely get myself onto the deck to take our first photos of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

Driving the rental car to the holiday home in Trinity Beach is but a vague memory. We were disorientated, exhausted, and racked with horrible bouts of coughing for no less than three weeks. 

We never mentioned it in the blog, feeling we didn’t want to “bore” our readers with medical woes. However, after this past dreadful year of my heart issues, we don’t feel as if we need to “hide,” primarily when so many of our readers have written to us not only wishing us well but finding comfort in some of their issues, in the fact they are not alone.

Only a week into the most recent cruise from Southampton to Fort Lauderdale, we acquired this virus, and we’re struggling with it much longer than expected. It seems the cough, exhaustion, and feeling disorientated have become worse over time. We can’t imagine others on that cruise aren’t suffering in the same manner.

It would be easy for any observer to say, “Then, why in the world would you go on cruises if you get sick?” 

We’ve been on 25 cruises since beginning our journey in 2012. Sure, I’ve had the cruise cough several times, with Tom catching it less often. Our answer is simple: we use cruising to get from one part of the world to another, avoiding many flights.

Then again, airplanes can be a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses, and we often hear about travelers becoming sick from flying. Combine the flights many take to arrive at the point of embarkation on a cruise, and it’s become a double whammy.

The reality is, for whatever reason, our immune systems are vulnerable to the germs on cruises. No doubt, we need to focus on ways to be all the more cautious while cruising. We’ll begin doing more research on ways to reduce the risk and improve our immune system.

We’re often asked if we get flu shots, and we do not. Each country has its specific strain, which means we’d have to be immunized in several countries. This doesn’t seem to be healthful or sensible. Perhaps it’s a by-product of long-term travel.

At this point, Tom is suffering like where I was a few weeks ago when I went to an urgent care clinic and was prescribed antibiotics and cortisone, neither of which alleviated the symptoms. I still kept coughing and feeling awful.

But during this time, both of us were very busy with our families and could hardly slow down when we were there for only three weeks. We’ve slowed down considerably since arriving in Nevada, and luckily Tom has had a chance to rest for several days while I’ve gone to visit my sister, shopped, and cooked meals, nothing overly strenuous.

Today, I’m “down for the count” right along with Tom. We’re both staying in all day, lounging on Richard‘s comfy sofa with plenty to watch on the big screen TV. Tom’s time to rest nor my level of activity have had no impact on helping or changing anything one way or another.

We had planned to go to the DMV to renew our driver’s licenses today, but neither of us has the strength to stand in line for hours. Somehow we’ll manage to take care of this before the end of the week. We’re leaving (driving) for Arizona early next week.

While at the urgent care clinic in Minnesota two weeks ago, they explained we aren’t contagious anymore, but also there is little to be done to alleviate the symptoms of a virus. 

There is no point in us seeing a doctor. Antibiotics don’t work. There’s nothing that can be done. We’re using the over-the-counter meds recommended by the doctor at the clinic. The nighttime Nyquil seems to help us sleep better. We have to wait it out.

Be well. 

Photo from one year ago today, December 3, 2018:

Giffafe in the garden aching for the treetops. For more photos, please click here.

How does it feel being back in Minnesota?…

Today, it’s snowing in Minneapolis and the suburbs, and the roads are slippery.

Many have asked, “How does it feel to be back home?”

The answer to this question is entangled with many emotions. We had a good life here in Minnesota. Tom was born in Minneapolis, and I’d come to the state back in 1969 when my two sons were two years and an infant.

But, like all families, we each had our struggles, disappointments and tough times interspersed with the happy memories and milestones of our lives and the lives of our children, other family members, and friends.

Now, after being away for seven years, it feels very different and here. Today, I can only speak for myself. Tom can only decide for himself at this point, for which he isn’t entirely sure.

It’s not the same, for sure. Years ago, when on occasion I traveled for business or pleasure, as the plane flew over the city, especially at night, I had a powerful sense of, “This is my happy place. This is my home.”

I didn’t feel a moment of nostalgia or reminiscence when we flew over the city and suburbs on Friday night, other than the joyful anticipation of seeing our family members. It was simply another big city we were flying over at night, some of which elicit enthusiasm and excitement and others, very little emotion at all.

When we’ve arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa, on our way to Marloth Park, I didn’t feel a speck of joy. But, when we’d flown into the small facility, Mpumulanga/Nelspruit/Kruger Airport, my heart was pounding in my chest with sheer fun and excitement. It’s all relative. That’s the way life is. That’s the way our life is.

And soon, when we fly into Mumbai, India is a mere 50 days, my heart will be aflutter with hope and expectations for two months of a purely profound cultural experience with a smidgen of wildlife tossed in the mix. (We’re booking several days on tiger safaris).

But is Minnesota still our home? If not, then where is the home of these two nomads who wander the earth, now seven years in the making? It’s right here. It’s there. It’s everywhere.

The adage, “Home is where the heart is,” however corny that may sound, is with a doubt a truism. For us, wherever we may be at any given moment is “home,” and in our peculiar way, we call it so over and over again. 

When we say after a long day of sightseeing or visiting with friends, “Shall we head for “home,” honey?” “Do you feel like heading home?” We know what we mean, and thus, the definition for us in this extraordinary life we lead is “home is down the road to that place where we lay our heads, cook our meals and find comfort in the activities of our daily lives and each other.”

It’s cold here now, mainly in the low 20’s (-6.6C), and this morning sleet and snow are falling in thin sheets, leaving frosty trees, slippery roads, and walkways. I’ve yet to drive the rental car and suspect I may never in our remaining weeks in Minnesota.

We’ve decided we’ll stay through Thanksgiving, then fly to Apache Junction, Arizona, to our awaiting holiday home, unpack our belongings and then proceed to Nevada for a visit returning to Arizona a week or ten days later. We’ll only take a small amount of luggage to Nevada, and for the first time in a while, we’ll be traveling light. Of course, posts will continue along the way.

Today, we wrapped up the paperwork and got it in the mail for our required visa for India. It’s a complicated process that weighs heavily on our minds. Now we can relax knowing the paperwork is in the mail. We’ll receive the visa via email in several weeks.

Next, we need to process our “second passports,” which enable us to apply for visas requiring we mail in our original passports to apply for tickets. This prevents us from being in a foreign country without a valid passport in our possession.

Tonight, we’re taking three grandchildren out to dinner after watching granddaughter Madighan at her karate class. 

A special thanks to our loyal readers for reading our posts during this quiet time in our world travels. We appreciate every one of YOU!

We’ll be back tomorrow with more, however quiet, however mundane, and however uneventful it may be.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 13, 2018:
This is my boy “Little.”  He visits almost daily.  He’d just returned from eating from the bale of hay left in the neighbor’s driveway when they departed after the weekend. That’s why he has grass all over his snout. He likes to cool off in the cement pond, sleep under the shade of a tree in our garden and climb the veranda steps seeking pellets. What a guy! For more photos, please click here.

Coffee, tea and me, please…The action continues…Busy day with Miles…Out late last night…

Daphne Islet is breathtaking.

Two mornings ago, I had the first cup of coffee I’ve been able to consume since last December when I experienced the worsening of Helicobacter pylori symptoms that had been populating my system for 16 months.

Now that the infection is gone, residual effects are often left behind after the infection heals for up to a year or longer. However, the symptoms of the aftereffects have waned considerably since I began taking mega-dose probiotics, VSL #3 with 450 billion bacteria based on a recommendation by Dr. Peter Dingle, whom I met aboard the 24-night cruise from Sydney to Seattle.

It wasn’t easy finding this high-potency non-prescription product in the US since it’s rarely prescribed by doctors who prefer to prescribe pharmaceuticals. However, I’ve since seen it online after purchasing the first batch in Vancouver on May 16th. So it may be found here.

A second pricey box of 30 sachets (one of which is dissolved in ice-cold water, stirred vigorously, and chugged down) arrive at our hotel in Minnesota, which arrived in cold packs. Luckily, we have a small refrigerator in our hotel room where I’ve been able to keep the product cold which is vital for the bacteria to survive.

Please see your doctor if you’re suffering from a gastrointestinal illness that may be helped with this product by improving the microbiome (gut) bacteria. For me, it’s worked wonders. I can actually go an entire day without the pain and uncomfortable feeling after eating and drinking reasonable amounts of food and liquids.

Stunning views on a sunny day.

After purchasing a pint of heavy cream last weekend, I could hardly wait to try it with a cup of decaf. Since I haven’t had any caffeine for six months, I decided to start with a ratio of 3/4 decaf and 1/4 caffeinated. So far, so good. No negative aftereffects.

One may ask, “If you’ve gone six months without coffee and caffeine, why start it up again?” For me, based on my restrictive diet, there are few “guilty pleasures.” A good cup of coffee can satisfy me as much as a raspberry jelly-filled donut (which I never consume) did in my old life. 

As I continue to increase the decaf to caffeine ratios, by the time we leave Minnesota, I expect to be able to savor a mug full of the “real deal,” caffeinated coffee. Also, in the past week, I’ve been able to drink a few cups of herbal tea each day as well, another good treat.  After drinking only water (not a fan), this is a massive milestone for me.

Speaking of “milestone,” I’m anxious to share the details of an enjoyable day we had yesterday with my son Greg’s middle child, grandson Miles, who is nine years old.

From Daphne Islet, a boat can access Brentwood Bay to the Straits of Georgia to the Salish Sea.

We started this “one child a day” concept now that school is out for the summer. One-on-one interactions with each of our grandchildren give us a much better opportunity to build closer relationships.

Yesterday was our first day alone with Miles. This week, we’ll have had Miles with us on Monday, Maisie on Wednesday, Madighan on Thursday, and Vincent on Friday. We’re busy deciding which activities best suits each child.

Yesterday at 8:00 am, we picked up Miles (a 30-minute drive in traffic) to get back in time for the “free breakfast” at our hotel, Country Inn & Suites, Carlson Parkway, Plymouth, MN.

As mentioned in an earlier post, when we acquired the long-term corporate rate, we included three children occupying the room. This way, at any given time, we could have five for breakfast and a swim in the pool at no additional charges. 

This has worked out well so far, even though there have been one or two additional family members for breakfast on a few occasions. I discussed this with the hotel’s general manager. Based on the fact that there’s never more than three of us (Tom and I and one grandchild) during weekdays, a few more on Saturday or Sunday certainly doesn’t increase our overall allotment.

As we walked along the less developed area of the gardens, we approached the sea via Daphne Islet.

This hotel couldn’t have been a better place to stay. When we returned to the hotel with Miles by 8:45 am, he was excited to have the self-serve breakfast in the hotel’s dining area, including an entire waffle, tater tots, bacon, and a bowl of Lucky Charms cereal with milk.

Miles is a slim little guy, and we were surprised by how well he ate. After breakfast, he and I went out for a few quick errands at Ridgedale Mall, a visit to an ATM, and of course, a stop at a Target store for a toy. How can a good grandparent resist purchasing a toy for their sweet grandchild? 

After our shopping expedition, we returned to the hotel, where I taught him to play Blackjack on my phone. He surprised us how quickly he figured out when and when not to take a “hit.” He’s his “father’s son.’

In a matter of minutes, he beat my record of $150,000 with $990,000 in earnings. I teased him that now I’ll never be able to break my prior record. We laughed heartily together. Kids are amazing with digital stuff these days!

After a while, it was time to head out to the movie theater for a movie he’s was anxious to see, Captain Underpants. After buying him a blue Icee, we found great seats and watched the movie.  I dozed a few times, but unlike Tom, he didn’t nudge me for dozing off. He was having a great time.

Small, neatly trimmed logs create a pleasing border.

It was 4:00 pm when the movie ended, and we headed back to his home, where I hung out with Camille for a bit, then Greg and Maisie, and Madighan. At 6:00 pm, Maisie and I went to her final Girl Scout meeting for the season. 

I waited patiently for 90 minutes during the meeting, carefully listening to their joyful and playful interactions at the home of the troop leader while the group of giggling 10-year-old girls had fun with crafts and making plans for next year. It brought back memories of when my sons were in Cub Scouts many moons ago when I was a den mother.

By 7:45 pm, we were back at Greg and Camille’s home. Then, back on the road, a few minutes later, I was headed to the northern suburbs to pick up Tom at son TJ’s home after they’d gone to his Monday night horseshoe games. 

When I arrived around 8:15 pm, they’d yet to return from the games, so I waited on a nearby side street. Unfortunately, the road to TJ’s house was closed due to road construction, and Tom suggested I stay at the nearest intersection until they returned. So TJ dropped Tom off, where I waited around 8:50 pm.

I didn’t mind waiting. It gave me time to reflect on these many busy and fun days, those that have passed so far, and the many busy days and nights yet to come. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.

A creek at Butchart Gardens in Victoria.

By 9:00 pm, we were on our way back toward the hotel with a plan to stop for a bite to eat. I suggested the “Big Bowl” at Ridgedale Centre, hoping Tom could find something he’d like. Instead, he ordered “sesame chicken” with white rice while I had a dressing-free Asian Chicken salad (minus noodles or crispy things).

By the time we returned to the hotel, it was close to 11:00 pm. Neither of us had trouble falling asleep when we turned off the lights close to midnight.  It was a good day.

Today, at 12:05 pm, Tom’s sister, Betty, known as Sister Beth (a nun), arrives at the airport. We’ll be picking her up and taking her to his sister Patty’s home, where she’ll stay for the upcoming week. We’ll stop and pick up dinner to bring to Patty’s and spend the afternoon and early evening with both of them.

Busy days, busy nights, happy times. Life is good.

May life be good for you as well!

Photo from one year ago today, June 6, 2016:
One year ago today, the Wi-Fi signal was inferior, and we could not upload any photos.  For the post comparing living expenses for Bali instead of other countries (without photos), please click here.

Fabulous first day in Minnesota…More continues today in the country…Photos of Victoria, British Columbia…

Historical government building in Victoria.

Today’s photos are some of the many remaining photos we’d yet to share from the memorable day we spent in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, on May 25th. 

With time constraints today, as we head out to drive to the town of Asking, Minnesota, to see Tom’s daughter Tammy and family who are camping for the holiday weekend, we’ll have to breeze through a quick post.

Market Square, a shopper’s haven.

Many of our days and nights are planned for the six weeks we’ll be in Minnesota, with several events scheduled for mornings when we usually prepare and upload the day’s posts.

On those days, we’ll quickly post photos and, at times, a shorter story so we can get on our way as opposed to posting later in the day or the evening. We apologize for any missed typos and errors during this period. 

New buildings have sprouted up throughout the city.

We use a comprehensive spell checker, but as texting enthusiasts are aware, errors can easily be missed or turned into other words representing different types of errors. 

The old and the new mingle well in Victoria.

Even with both Tom and I proofreading for errors, it’s still easy to misspell a few words or bypass grammar corrections we may have noted in a less hurried state.

Entrance to Chinatown.

We’d purchased and had shipped SIM cards to which we could add data, text, and phone features.  Unfortunately, the cards didn’t work on our phones after many attempts. Once we’re done here, we’ll be heading to nearby Ridgedale Mall, where we’ll purchase SIM cards for both of our phones. 

Chinatown is a popular tourist attraction in Victoria.

The SIM cards were only $1 each, a famous top brand with many positive reviews on Amazon to which users add money for data and phone. Once activated, we could have added a monthly payment plan for each phone, requiring no contract. Alas, they didn’t work, and we don’t have time or interest in messing with them further.

Cafe/restaurant in a historical building in Victoria.

As a result, this morning, we’re off to the Best Buy phone store in nearby Ridgedale Mall, where hopefully, they’ll get service working for both of our cell phones. Once this task is accomplished, we’ll be on our way to family in Asking, a two-hour drive from our location. 

The five-star Empress Hotel, where high tea is served at 3:00 pm at $75 per person.

We won’t be staying overnight. Instead, we’ll be heading back in the dark after the day spent with family. It should be another great family day yesterday, which we spent with my son Greg and three grandchildren, Maisie, Miles, and Madighan, at their home in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.

Also, yesterday, we visited Tom’s sister Patty who’s currently in a nursing home after recent major surgery; Tom’s brother Jerry, an avid reader of our site and Tom’s son TJ and grandson Nik at their home, ending the day with my son Greg and family.

Restaurant in Victoria.

The hotel is working out well for us. It has everything we need including laundry facilities, where we completed two loads of wash this morning. The WiFi is excellent, the breakfast food is fine, and the staff is friendly. The location is proving to be ideal for our purposes.

Hotel in Victoria.

There’s no doubt, this six-week period will fly by in a flash, and before we know it, we’ll be off to Nevada on July 7th. We’ll cherish every moment we spend with family and friends, taking photos while continuing to write to each of YOU every day.

Be well and be safe!

Photo from one year today, May 28, 2016:

A mom and adorable baby at the Monkey Temple in Singaraja, Bali. For more photos, please click here.