Yesterday’s fantastic visit with a dear old friend…Quiet afternoon and early evening in the hotel while Tom was out…

This photo was taken on December 6, 2013, from Marloth Park. See the link here. The bright glare of the setting sun impeded our photo-taking of these elephants across the river. But, we were thrilled to get these. Soon, we’ll see elephants up close when we enter Kruger Park.

When Tom was meeting with his son TJ at a restaurant about 15 minutes away, I decided to see if I could change my planned visit to my dear friend Chere’s home in Eden Prairie. As much as we treasure time with friends, we have prioritized time with our children and grandchildren over all else.

Based on the time he and TJ were getting together, it didn’t leave time for him to pick me up when he’d be done. Nor did I want him to have to rush his time with his son to come to get me at Chere’s home. When I called and explained the situation to Chere, her husband Gary agreed to drop her off at our hotel. Chere recently had knee replacement surgery and hasn’t been cleared to drive.

By 1:30, she walked in the door, albeit a little shaky on her new knee, and we hugged as close girlfriends do. Instead of coming to our messy room with all of our recent purchases piled up, we sat in the lovely hotel lobby at a table with comfortable chairs and sipped on hot tea, and caught up.

It wasn’t as if we had much catching up to do when we’d last got together during our US visit in 2019 (but not when we were here, sick with Omicron last May). We’ve stayed in close touch over the years via text and email and knew what was going on with one another. Plus, Chere regularly reads our posts which easily fills in the blanks of what we’ve been up to.

Chere is a highly educated nutritionist and holistic dietician who has appeared on many local and national TV news stations over the years, as well as speaking as a keynote speaker at countless conventions on health, nutrition, and wellness, often sponsored by large corporations. It was as if we’d never been apart. I wanted more details about her life over the past few years.

There’s something magical about the skies over Africa from what we’ve seen so far in Kenya and now in South Africa, also from this date, nine years ago.

This passion we share for health, fitness, diet, and food brought us together years ago and remained a favorite topic as we share more intimate details of our lives, as girlfriends often do. It was delightful catching up with her. The almost three hours we spent together passed way too quickly.

Her husband Gary arrived to pick her up a few hours later but only after sitting with us for a while for more lively conversation. By the time they walked out the door after warm hugs and goodbyes, it was 4:30, and Tom had yet to return. But my delightful afternoon wasn’t over yet.

The lovely guest services representative, Kelly, at the hotel front desk, poured me a glass of Pinot Grigio, and another great conversation ensued, only occasionally interrupted when a hotel guest needed attention. Again, the discussion was lively and entertaining, and time flew by. Suddenly, it was close to 6:00 pm, and I headed back to our room. I was getting hungry and opened the meat and cheese tray in the little refrigerator for such an occasion.

A short time later, Tom returned, smiling over his enjoyable time with his son, and we decided to forego dinner. I’d eaten enough meat, cheese, and olives to hold me, and Tom said he had two generous portions of popcorn at the bar and wasn’t hungry. Also, we knew we could head to the included breakfast at this excellent hotel at 6:30 am, and we could easily wait for that.

Speaking of this hotel, Hyatt Place in Eden Prairie, we’ve decided to stay here each time we return to Minnesota. The only inconvenience is the lack of washers and dryers at the property. But everything else is superior to the other hotels where we’ve stayed in this central location. Their breakfast is good, the coffee is excellent, and the service is over-the-top.

The hotel had recently been remodeled and is attractive and modern, whereby the other hotels where we’ve stayed in this area in the past are somewhat dated. This seems to be a popular hotel for business people, with efficiency and competitive pricing the norm, typically at $118 a night, a real bargain for this suburban area. When we return in September, we will certainly stay here again.

Today is a quiet day. No family members were available to get together, so we will head to TJ Maxx to buy a suitcase for everything we purchased. We will also stop at the local CVS pharmacy for more of the sinus treatment product I’ve been using that I’d purchased at the pharmacy in Komatipoort. I hope they have something similar here since I’ll be running out by the time we depart. I don’t want to worry about heading to Komatipoort the day we return.

Otherwise, all is well. We’ll be dining out with Greg’s family tomorrow night on our final evening in Minnesota. We’ll head out for dinner since the cost of takeaway is as costly as dining in at some restaurants we like. We begin the long trek back to South Africa and Marloth Park on Thursday.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago, December 6, 2021:

A male impala is on the lookout in Kruger National Park. For more photos, please click here.

Enjoyable Sunday…Family and football..


From our post on December 5, 2013…Down the road another block, several giraffes were hanging outside one of the houses in Marloth Park. This giraffe was eating, which accounts for the chubby cheeks. The food slides down her throat in a big lump, as shown. See the post here.

Yesterday, we spent most of the day at Greg’s home in Chaska, about a 20-minute drive from here. We stopped at Target to get some football-watching snacks. It was fun to watch the game with Greg and the kids, who wandered in and out of the family room during the three-hour game, chatting with us on each occasion.

When Camille returned from Christmas shopping, it was great to catch up with her. By about 4:00 pm, we were going back to the hotel to make a plan for dinner and put away all the laundry we’d washed and dried at their house. With the clothes we purchased at Target when we arrived last Saturday, we only had two loads of laundry.

It was great to use a clothes dryer. It had been a long time since we had access to a clothes dryer. Everything came out unwrinkled, and nothing shrank. We’d each bought a few flannel shirts to stay warm, and I was concerned they’d all shrink, but this morning I am wearing one of those shirts, and there was no shrinkage whatsoever. Even my flannel pajamas came out perfectly.

We begin thinking about any items we may need before leaving the US, knowing we won’t return for nine months. Saying goodbye this time will be a lot easier, knowing we’ll return next September at the end of two cruises. We’ll also head to Nevada to see Richard and renew our driver’s licenses in our state of residence.

While here, we’ve made several phone calls to see if we qualify for any refunds or credits due to our recent travel fiasco. But we’ll need to wait until we return to South Africa to get the wheels in motion. Ethiopian Air doesn’t consider our bags “lost” until 25 days have passed, so we can’t file a claim until then. Our credit card lost baggage benefit will also require documentation from the airline showing our bags are considered lost. We have no choice but to wait.

Now, my centipede fear has some competition. After a massive storm last night, our pool was filled with dead insects. This morning, Tom fished out this scorpion. Carefully, we tread.

It appears we won’t be able to recover any part of the loss of the cruise fare. This is frustrating, but they consider the obstacle we encountered “our fault.” We take full responsibility for the fiasco but are disappointed with the cruise company, and Intrepid Travel didn’t give us a heads-up when we inquired about any governmental documents we may have needed to enter Seychelles. There’s nothing more we can do. It’s frustrating.

But, as always, we must pick ourselves up and carry on and focus on the positives in our lives for which we feel grateful and fulfilled. Slowly, I am beginning to feel better, but the headache pops up every few days and the facial pain remains. I don’t know if I am going to seek further treatment. At this point, I feel like I have tried everything possible.

Perhaps, I have to resign myself to these lingering Omicron symptoms, and in time, they will improve. It is not debilitating in a manner that impacts our lives, but I am aware of it each day. I make a concerted effort to stay cheerful and take extra good care of myself. I am still using the various nasal treatments which, luckily, I had in my carry-on bag. When we fly on the 16-hour flight from Newark to Joburg, I won’t be able to use the products since it’s not sanitary in the plane’s restrooms.

In only three days, we’ll be on our way. Our first flight from Minneapolis to Newark is at 2:00 pm on Thursday. We have a long layover in Newark, 3 hours and 20 minutes, and then we’re off to Joburg on the 16-hour flight. Once we arrive in Joburg we’ll stay overnight at the City Lodge airport hotel to catch our flight on Airlink the following day. This way, we avoid driving to Marloth Park in the dark on the dangerous N4 Highway.

Soon, we head out to make one more stop at Target for a few items, and then Tom will drop me off at my friend Chere’s home in Eden Prairie for a few-hour visit with a dear old friend.

That’s it for today, friends. Have a great day!

Photo from one year ago today, December 5, 2021:

It’s only on the hottest days that Little sits in the cement pond. For more photos, please click here.

Whew!..Time in Minnesota moving quickly…

This morning view from the living room of our holiday home on this date in 2016 in Penguin, Tasmania. It’s a fantastic, sunny day.

Note: Today’s photos are from 2016, when we first arrived in Penguin, Tasmania. For more photos and the story, please click here.

In only four days, we’ll be on the move once again. Our flight to Newark on Thursday departs Minneapolis at 1:59 pm. We’ll be ready to go. The items we ordered from Amazon.com are arriving as planned, and the contact lenses I ordered from Vision Direct in the UK have also arrived earlier than expected.

Once everything arrives, we’ll know how big of a suitcase we need to purchase to fit all the replacement clothing. According to Ethiopian Air, we can’t consider our bags lost until 25 days after they’ve disappeared. We’ll have to deal with that claim when we return to Marloth Park.

Once we know the space we’ll need after all the packages arrive by Wednesday, we’ll head to TJ Maxx, where we’ve often purchased brand-name bags at great prices and bought a new bag for the new items. We keep everything folded in their original plastic bags for easy packing. We feel confident all of the things will fit and meet our needs.

We had to purchase items to replace some of the things that were in our missing baggage. Why not wait until we see if the bags are truly lost for good? We can’t find items like these in South Africa that we know will fit and work for us. If we ordered everything from the US and had it shipped to our mailing service in Nevada, we’d have to pay no less than US $500 in shipping fees plus customs fees, all of which is more than what we’ve spent on the items, buying them while here in the US from Amazon.

White sand beaches with rarely a human in sight.

It made more sense to assume the bags were gone and shop accordingly. So far, we’ve received about half of the items, with the remainder arriving. In any case, we have not purchased replacement items, for nearly half of which were in each of our bags. We’ll be well-equipped if we get the bags back after all. But we aren’t hopeful.

Yesterday, after a great breakfast with Greg, Maisie, and her boyfriend Nick, we returned to our hotel and hung out for the rest of the day. At dinner time, Tom went to Chipotle to pick up our dinner. I had a salad bowl, and he had tacos. It was hard to believe the cost of the takeaway meal was $48.

When we were here in May, the identical items would have been less than $30. It would have been in the $25 range a few years earlier. We recall making these same purchases when we lived in Minnesota over ten years ago, being no more than $18 to feed the two of us. Wow! Times have changed.

This morning, we had a nice breakfast included in our hotel booking, of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and a wide array of accompaniments. This breakfast holds us until dinner each evening, although Tom saved a few donut holes to enjoy in our room each day and evening. Tom has particularly enjoyed the donut holes but passed on the pancakes, toast, juice, and other breakfast side dishes. The coffee has been delicious.

From one area to the next, the scenery changed. With almost half of Tasmania’s entire population living in Hobart, most terrains were untouched areas of pure beauty.

Soon, we’ll be heading to Greg’s house to watch the Minnesota Vikings game with Greg and the family. We’ll do our two loads of laundry, washing the clothes we purchased at Target a week ago at their house. Doing so will avoid spending two hours sitting in a laundromat. (There are few laundromats in this suburban area). We’ll stay for the game and idle chatter afterward, then head back to our hotel for the evening. Most likely tonight, we’ll dine out.

As the time winds down until we depart, we’re making a point of seeing as many of our family members as we can before we leave. The time has gone quickly. We’ve made the very best of our time here and enjoyed every moment with family. But, we look forward to returning to Marloth Park to our animal and human friends. By Saturday afternoon, we’ll be back and settled into our house, hoping all of our favorites have been waiting for us!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 4, 2021:

Look to the right of this tree in the center, and you’ll see our occasional visitor, a porcupine. For more photos, please click here.

Change in plans, nothin’ to it…We’re flexible…Photos from nine years ago today!…


We posted today’s photos from nine years ago when we arrived in Marloth Park for the first time. For the story, please click here.

Note: Due to the reposting of old photos, there are spacing issues in today’s post.

The more time passes, the more we’ve adapted to the recent reality of our change of plans. A kind reader wrote and called our unexpected time with loved ones as bonus time with family”. Indeed it has been. We’re enjoying every moment. But life continues for everyone and last night’s plans changed at the last minute.

Our plans to go to Champs for dinner changed. Greg and Madighan were both sick and didn’t want to infect us. Instead, we took Miles, Maisie, and her boyfriend Nick to dinner at a restaurant in their area. We had a lovely time with the kids. Tonight at 5:15, we’re meeting Tammy, Tracy, Vincent, and Tracy’s mom Lena (who’s visiting from Pennsylvania), at Benihana, a popular teppanyaki restaurant, to celebrate Vincent’s 17th birthday, which is on December 15.

We’re busy, but not so busy we don’t have time to take care of some things while we’re here and prepare a new post each day. It’s nice not to feel rushed. We’ve been getting up by 6:00 each morning, having the included breakfast in the hotel by 7:00, and back in our room by 8:00 to work on tasks at hand and the day’s post.

Love the baby! We didn’t need to see many wildebeest during the Great Migration. They are here in our neighborhood, hopefully making a personal visit soon.

Tom’s enjoying watching football on NFL GamePass requires him to use our VPN, showing we are outside the US since the app won’t work while we’re in the US.

Soon, when the housekeeper comes to clean our room (they only clean every other day at this hotel), we’ll head out for a few items we need at Walgreen and quickly stop at our bank for some cash. Then, we won’t have anything to do other than begin calling the credit card company to see if they can help with any of our losses based on the benefits offered by the cards.

We aren’t expecting to recover anything. If we do, it will be a pleasant surprise and a perk we hadn’t anticipated. I’ve spent considerable time shopping on Amazon in the event our bags are lost for good. My bag contained every warm-weather clothing item I owned that was hanging in the closet in Marloth Park. Sure I have some tee shirts, but all my nice tops and pants were in that bag, along with 80% of my underwear and pajamas.

We didn’t know that baby zebras have fluffy hair and short bodies until seeing one up close and personal. Too cute!

!

The clothing we purchased at Target when we arrived without any baggage is all cold-weather items, all of which we’ll be able to wear during the upcoming cruise to Norway and again in the cool winters in Africa. For Tom, it’s not much different. We ordered him several short-sleeve button-up shirts he wears when we go to dinner or meet with friends. Also, he desperately needed some new tee shirts.

Nothing we purchased will have been in vain. I desperately needed some new items when I’d come to the point of tossing out old and worn items. I don’t think I will ever wear the shirt I wore on the trip here for 56 hours. I can’t even look at it. I had to toss the black pants I wore during that period when they were full of holes when we arrived here. I don’t know why that happened.

Several of our readers wrote inquiring about my headache during all this commotion. My headache improved after the last round of antibiotics, which I ffinished almost a week ago, but I am left with frequent sneezing and nose-blowing. Maybe once and for all, this is clearing out. The headache and facial pain are not entirely gone, but it’s much improved. I believe all the sneezing and blowing is allergy and sinusitis based, not a cold or virus, since otherwise, I feel fine.

Nine years ago today…she was wonderful then and she’s wonderful now! Louise stocked the cupboard with nuts, seasoning, and other foodstuffs that we use. Gosh, I haven’t had the use of a plastic container with a lid in almost a year. I’ll be spoiled!

There’s still quite a bit of Covid in the US with over 39,000 new cases recorded two days ago. We still see several shoppers wearing masks. But also, several other viruses, many as serious as Covid/Omicron, are rampant in the US and other countries.

We can’t help but remember how sick we were when we were here seven months ago. Hopefully, this residual sinusitis problem I developed with Omicron will soon be resolved with time and continuing treatments which I’ve diligently followed since we arrived last Saturday. It’s hard to believe that we’ll be heading back to Marloth Park in a mere six days. We’ve enjoyed being here but look forward to our return, as always.

That’s it for today, folks. Thank you for all the support and encouragement from many of our readers/friends. We appreciate every one of you!

Be well

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

This may be a Southern Masked Weaver, who’s about to enter her nest. For more photos, please click here.

Generous support and kindness from our readers….Getting Tom’s google account restored today…

Seated over the wing on our way to South Africa on this date in 2013, some of our views were obstructed. But the Heavens offered up this cloudy view. For more photos, please click here.

We have received many messages from readers, not only as comments on particular posts but also by email. We’ve made a point to respond to each one as promptly as possible and hope we haven’t missed responding to you. The outpouring of love and concern fills us with such joy that it surely makes the daily efforts to post new stories with photos meaningful and purposeful. Thank you!

This morning, at 10:40, we have an appointment with the Geek Squad at the Best Buy store in this neighborhood. Louise went to our house, picked up Tom’s two old phones, and charged them, but only one worked. The Geek Squad tech will submit a request to Google for a code that will come to that phone. Once Louise sees that code, she will tell us, and the technician can proceed from there. There will be no more for Louise to do.

Fortunately, she could get into the house, find the phones and do this for us. We are very grateful. We’ll undoubtedly figure out some unique way to show our appreciation once we return to Marloth Park, although she’ll dismiss her efforts as “nothing at all.” But having her and Danie always providing us with so much help means more to us than we can say.

Hopefully, this process works, and by this afternoon, Tom will have his laptop functioning and his new Google Pixel 6a phone. We are holding our breath that this process works. If not, Tom will have to create a new email address which will cause so much work for him to go into every app, file, and website he uses and change the email, which is time-consuming and cumbersome. It could take him weeks to accomplish this task.

Yesterday afternoon, as mentioned, we visited Tom’s brother Jerome at his house in Coon Rapids. As it turned out, seven of us had stopped by, including daughter Tammy, grandson Vincent, sisters Colleen and Patty, and niece Jeanne. After a three-hour visit, we all took off for dinner at Texas Roadhouse. We all shared a large booth, ordered drinks, and enjoyed fresh, delicious meals.

I ordered salmon and salad, and Tom ordered steak, mashed potatoes, and green beans. The rest of the group ordered steaks and ribs, which were huge portions, and all said everything was delicious. The service was exemplary, and Tom added a generous tip to the bill. Later, Jerome’s daughter Kathy stopped by for a drink. It was a lovely afternoon and evening.

Tonight at 7:00 pm, we’re meeting Greg and his family at Champps for dinner. It’s not as if we can go on a picnic or do outdoor activities in this cold weather. It’s often cold after a snowstorm for several days. This morning it was 6F, -14.4C, but fortunately, it is warming up during the day. Today’s high will be 31F, -.55C. According to the weather report, there doesn’t appear to be much snow on the horizon until we leave a week from today.

We’re heading off to the Geek Squad at Best Buy now. We’ll report the results when we return.

We just returned from the Geek Squad. After about an hour, we got Tom’s Gmail account restored, and now his laptop and new phone are working. We called Louise, who had his old broken phone in her hand, and she gave us the code that popped up that made it possible to restore his Google account. What a relief! Thank you, Louise!!!

Best Buy only charged $40 for the help. While we were there, we purchased a portable phone charger. When Connie visited us (when Jeff passed away), we saw her use a separate phone charger which should be helpful for us when we travel. We’ve been on several planes lately that don’t have USB plugins, and we were cautious about freely using our phones. With this external charger, we can use our phones as we like.

The Anker, Slim and Powerful +46 hours will be perfect for us on many occasions. I will keep it in my bag when we head out and perhaps forget to recharge our phones or run them down from use.

Tom’s happy with his new phone, and I’m so glad not to have to think about this anymore. One problem was solved and is now out of the way. Now, we have bigger “fish to fry” contacting our credit card company to discuss the coverage included for lost bags. We will report back the results.

Not much here in the way of photos. I haven’t wanted to pressure family members to have their photos taken for publication. Not everyone is comfortable with this, and we surely understand.

Have a wonderful day!!!

Photo from one year ago today, December 1, 2021:

A yellow-billed stork with a reflection in the water at the Sunset Dam near Lower Sabie in Kruger National Park. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…A shocking and totally unexpected situation…We aren’t in Seychelles on the cruise…What???…

This morning, there was ice on the windows of the little car. Tom had to use the provided scraper to scrape off the ice.

The first question we asked when we discovered we weren’t getting on the flight was, “What about our luggage?” At that point, it was already on the plane to Seychelles.  The rep assured us our luggage would be removed from the aircraft since luggage is never sent without the passengers on the flight due to security risks. We were assured we could pick up our bags the next day.

After hearing the bad news as we stood at the Ethiopian Air check-in counter, Tom and I looked at one another for a minute, each lost in our thoughts of what we’d do next. As Tom called it, we both had the same idea, “Plan B.” There can always be a Plan B.

He spoke first, “Let’s go to Plan B.”

“And, what is Plan B?” I asked, knowing full well what his answer would be.

He replied, “We have no choice but to go to the US, which will ensure reentry into South Africa with a new 90-day visa stamp.” I nodded in agreement. We had to get out of the country and do so quickly. There was no time, only 26 hours until we became “undesirables” in South Africa.

There were no immediately available flights to the US. Our only option was to get a hotel room and search for the next flight to Minneapolis. We hadn’t seen our family members when we were in Minnesota only six months ago due to being sick with Omicron. Now, not infectious by any means, we could at least see the family in Minnesota, although it didn’t make sense to also visit Richard in Nevada on this trip with the holiday season in full bloom.

We’d stay a few weeks and head back to Marloth Park less than two weeks later. Immediately we tried booking a room at the Johannesburg airport hotel, City Lodge, where we’d stayed on previous occasions, but the reservation wouldn’t go through. We thought it was due to the weak WiFi signal. We were SOL. We decided to trek the long distance inside the airport in hopes of getting a room. The hotel was indeed totally booked. They arranged a taxi to take us to their sister hotel, about a 15-minute drive (at our expense), and within minutes after arrival, we could check into a room.

This morning the temperature was 32F, 0C, with snow expected tomorrow. Photos will follow as we try to get back into the groove of taking photos.

We were situated in the room by 1:00 am on November 25, with 23 hours to go until our visas expired. Under the circumstances, neither of us was hungry but had we been; no food was available that late at night. Neither of us had eaten anything since early that morning in Marloth Park.

When I walked into the room, the first thing I said to Tom…and I may add, the first whining I did, was to say, “I don’t have any pajamas.” I always wear pj’s of one sort or another to bed. I’d have to sleep in my day-old underwear, an unpleasant thought. Tom gave me an overly grumpy look and growled. I hadn’t even packed toothpaste, deodorant, or other toiletries, using most of the space in my carry-on bag for all the medications I’d been taking for sinus problems. I didn’t complain further.

Oddly, when I packed the carry-on bag, I included enough medication to last a month, assuming anything could happen, and I’d hate to have to get to a doctor for my handful of regular medicines.

So, we got undressed and under the covers, cold from being tired, and began searching online for flights. We spent no less than two hours trying to book flights, a hotel, and a rental car. We ended up speaking to a rep at CheapOAir, and wow…did we run into problems, one after another. Finally, by 3:00 am, we had it all booked, and Tom turned over to get some sleep.

At 3:10 am, I received an email from CheapOAir, stating that all three of our reservations for air, hotel, and car had been canceled for no apparent reason. I looked up the credit card we’d used, and the charges were listed under “pending.” I was wide awake but played with my phone to lull me off to sleep, which usually works.

I was able to get in contact via chat with another rep from CheapOAir, and she resolved the issue by confirming by email that the cancelation email had been an error on their end and that all of our reservations arrived once again with confirmation numbers. I didn’t wake Tom up to tell him about this recent event. Why bother him? When we awoke a few hours later, I told him what had happened.

With reservations in place and our 16-hour flights from Joburg to Newark, we were scheduled to depart at 10:30 pm, only 90 minutes before “undesirables” status. That was cutting it close. What if the plane arrived late at the gate? We decided not to even think about this. We’d had enough stress for one day.

When we went to breakfast in the hotel, we asked if we could pay for a late checkout until 6:30 pm, 1830 hrs,  to which they agreed to charge us Zar 840, US $49, which was well worth it, rather than spending more hours waiting in the airport. After breakfast, we returned to the room to handle some of the issues we’d yet to face, such as canceling the cruise, getting our bags, and miscellaneous odds and ends.

When we hadn’t heard anything about the bags, Tom decided to head back to the airport to see if they’d brought the two large duffle bags to the missing baggage department. Our bags were nowhere to be found. They proved to be on their way to Seychelles. He left the hotel at 12:20 pm, 1220 hrs, and didn’t return until three hours later.

He filed a claim, only to discover there was no way they’d send the bags to the US. They’d only forward them to Nelspruit, South Africa, sometime around December 10. We’d have to arrange to pick them up in Nelspruit if the bags were found. They agreed to contact us when the bags were on their way to us.

This happened to us the last time we came to the US, and we had to pay a delivery service to collect the bags in Nelspruit and bring them to us in Marloth Park. Fine. If the bags are found, we’ll be thrilled to arrange that.

So, we were boarding the flight to Newark, New Jersey, with no bags on board other than a few carry-on bags with our digital equipment and the medications. We were heading to the US with nothing but clothes on our backs, shoes on our feet, and wearing dirty underwear. We’d figure this out when we arrived in MSP.

The 16-hour flight was one of the hardest for me ever. I couldn’t get comfortable in my tiny seat and spent the entire time watching fewer than eight movies. My favorite was the new Tom Cruise Top Gun movie; I barely remember the rest. I nodded off several times for only a few minutes each time. Tom and I couldn’t sit together, but he often came back to check on him. We were both wearing compression stockings. I made of point of getting up and going to the bathroom every few hours.

We had a three-hour layover in Newark, but the time passed quickly. Before we knew it, we were on our way to MSP, arriving at about 12:30 pm. We took a shuttle to the car rental facility distant from the airport, but the service and car we booked were excellent at Ace. Shortly later, we were on the road, heading to Target to buy some emergency clothes and toiletries. It was Saturday afternoon, about 53 hours since we’d left Marloth Park.

I barely remember the time we spent in Target. We were exhausted and had trouble thinking, but nary a complaint crossed our lips during the shopping expedition. It would have been fun if we hadn’t been so tired. Everything we purchased fit us and would suffice for the days until we left to return to South Africa on December 8.

Once at our lovely hotel in Eden Prairie, we unloaded our new clothes, removed the tags, and showered. What a relief that was. I purchased two pairs of warm pajamas and couldn’t wait to get into them quickly enough, adding a pair of new socks to the equation. By 6:30 pm, I was in bed, falling asleep in only minutes. Tom wasn’t far behind. We slept for over eight hours and felt much better in the morning.

The story continues with a few new challenges, which we’ll share as we go along. We have no delusions about our responsibility in not investigating further to discover the requirement of this form. However, we’d checked the US State Department’s website for requirements for US citizens to enter Seychelles and read, “visa provided upon entry.”

Also, we had asked the tour company for any documents needed, and they said none other than what we’d provided. It’s hard to believe that after ten years, we still have lessons to learn, but, like life itself, regardless of how long we live, we still learn more and more each day.

After Covid, so much has changed in how documentation enters many countries. We may have become lazy in “assuming” we had everything we needed. We realize we need to be more proactive and mindful than ever and will do so in the future as we make new travel plans.

And so the story continues with more positive updates from these first few days we’ve spent with family. Delightful! Perhaps it was meant to be.

Photo from one year ago today, November 28, 2021:

Mom and three piglets often stop by. Is this the same mom we’ve seen this year with new babies? It certainly looks like her. with those perfectly formed tusks. Be well. For more, please click here.

WoW! WoW! WoW! The response has been terrific!!!. Thanks, Everyone!!!…Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms!!!…

Not only was the excitement of the interview at KSTP studios on Friday with the cast of Garage Logic fulfilling and energizing, but the response from current readers and new readers sent us swooning with delight. The endless stream of email messages and texts made the experience more meaningful and profound.

We have no doubt that our readership catapulted after Friday’s airing of the podcast with Joe Soucheray, Chris Reevers, and Kenny Olson. With their following of over 2,000,000 listeners, it’s not surprising we’d hear from a few of them. But, along with our reader’s wonderful comments, the comments from those who have never seen our site were an added joy to the experience.

We spent the better part of the afternoon replying to messages and again this morning. I didn’t even get a chance to start the post until 11:00 am.

This morning, I started another two loads of laundry. Since we haven’t been out to see family, dine out and socialize, we’ve only worn the most basic clothes; tee shirts, leggings, pants, and sweatshirts. Thank goodness we brought along very casual items as well as all those dressy clothes we never got to wear when we had to cancel the Queen Mary 2 cruise, due to Covid. We didn’t know we’d be sick, lying around in casual attire for the past 18 days and nights.

It feels as if I am “out-of-the woods” from Covid. My cough doesn’t warrant cough medicine, except at night. The sore throat and tired feeling are gone, although I am a bit weak, have a headache off and on, and need to move around more. Last night, I slept almost nine hours without waking up during the night. Sleep has such amazing healing powers.

On the other hand, Tom is as sick as he was initially. If he isn’t better by tomorrow morning, we are going to Urgent Care again to which he had finally agreed. We went this morning but their x-ray tech didn’t show up for work so we have to return tomorrow morning. There’s no point in him seeing a doctor without an x-ray at this point.

I can’t tell you how relieved I am that he’s agreed to return tomorrow. I’m assuming having Covid has resulted in bronchitis or pneumonia. He may need antibiotics and stronger cough medicine, perhaps with codeine, which seems to have worked well for him in the past. We’ll have to pay out-of-pocket since we have no US health insurance. But, that is a non-issue when it comes to our health.

I can’t believe how well he did on Friday during the interview. Other than the sound of his voice, there was no way to tell he was feeling so awful. He didn’t cough once during the interview, but we had each loaded up on cough medicine and cough drops before leaving the hotel.

But, now we are having another sick day in this hotel room. It is 2:30 pm on Mother’s Day, and my ill hubby is sound asleep under the covers, trying to find some relief. My heart goes out to him, and of course, I am very worried.

Speaking of Mother’s Day, we send the warmest wishes to all moms worldwide who celebrate this notable day of recognition. We hope your loved ones make it extra special in many ways.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 8, 2021:

Our friend Patty Pan in Marloth Park had a python under her car’s hood. Not our photo. For more photos, please click here.

Last night’s worst Covid symptoms yet!…It going in the wrong direction!…For both of us!..

Today, we’re being interviewed by Garage Logic at their studio in St. Paul. How fun this would be if we were feeling better!

We can’t believe what’s happened. Just when we thought we were beginning to improve from having Omicron, I joined Tom in excessive coughing yesterday. He spent the day in bed sleeping and coughing off and on while I was feeling so well in the morning that I considered restarting my daily walking routine.

But, by 1:00 pm, I started coughing. I’d still had a tickle kind of cough that had diminished over this past week. Then, just like that, I started hacking and hacking and hacking. Immediately, I took a dose of the 12-hour daytime cough medicine we bought in the morning at the pharmacy.

It didn’t seem to help much. I kept coughing, and so did Tom, every time he awoke from his day-long nap. He needed sleep. He’d been awake, coughing all night for the past several days. On top of it, we both were sneezing and suffering from awful congestion. This virus is worse than any cold we ever had!

We tested positive on the ship on April 20. Today it’s been 16 days since that test. Of course, we tested three more times before we left England on May 1, all of which tests were negative. We used the most recent test on April 30 for flying from Gatwick to Minneapolis. At that point, we felt like we were on the mend. We handled the two long flights very well.

No, we don’t have a fever, don’t have body aches, and I am not experiencing exhaustion like Tom. Last night, after Tom turned over to sleep at about 11:00 pm, I thought I’d try to do the same. But the coughing was so bad I could not lay down. I propped up three pillows on the bed and sat up. I’d already taken the cough medicine at 7:00 pm and couldn’t take another dose until morning.

I sucked on sugar-free cough drops, one after another, finding a few minutes of relief in my throat. Finally, at around 2:30 am, I dozed off, awakening several times from coughing. This morning my Fitbit indicated I’d slept for 4 hours and 28 minutes, more than I’d expected to get.

This morning, Tom brought me two decaf coffees and two hard-boiled eggs from the breakfast buffet (mainly a continental breakfast). I chopped up the peeled eggs and added some salt and guacamole I had left over in the fridge. This will hold me until dinner.

Of all things, today is the day we’re scheduled to head to St. Paul at noon for our on-the-air interview for Garage Logic, Tom’s favorite Minnesota-based daily (weekday) podcast. The”boys” have been talking about our arrival in the studio for days. We feel we cannot cancel.

The interview will only last for 15 minutes. We can do this as long as we don’t start coughing while talking. We plan to cover for each other. The drive to the studio will be the most challenging part, but it’s only 25 minutes from our current location. After a quick stop to pick up something for dinner, we will be back at the hotel by 1:30 or 2:00 pm, so we won’t have to go back out again.

We’d hoped to spend Mother’s Day with our kids, but that’s not happening. We have canceled all plans we had made previously, telling everyone that we must play it by ear. We can’t imagine it makes sense to be around family when we’re coughing so much.

It’s hard to believe we came to the US to see family, have been here for five days, and haven’t seen anyone yet. This darned virus continues to impact our lives, one way or another. Tomorrow, we’ll share details of today’s interview and post the video once it’s available online.

Again, thank you for all the well-wishes we’ve received from many of our readers worldwide. It means so much to us!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 6, 2021:

Egyptian geese on the bank of the Crocodile River. For more photos, please click here.

We haven’t seen family yet…Waiting for our coughing to improve…

During Minneapois’s Winter Carnival, ice sculptures are made and on display by talented artists. It’s quite a sight to see.

It’s still cool here. Since we arrived on Sunday, it hasn’t topped 60F, 15.6C, but today may be the exception. We didn’t bring cold-weather clothing, other than lightweight jackets and hoodie sweatshirts for each of us. Usually, in May, the weather warms up in Minnesota. But the summers are short here, mainly from June to August when it starts cooling down.

The summer can be sweltering, and in case you haven’t heard, the joke is the mosquito is Minnesota’s state bird. They are worse here than they ever were in Africa. Fortunately, malaria and other mosquito-borne illnesses are not as prevalent as they are in Africa.

Once it warms up, in our old lives, we always turned on our whole house, central air conditioning, generally keeping it on day and night until mid-August when it would cool down. The aircon kept the mozzies at bay since they don’t thrive in air conditioning. Also, the inflammation from the bites doesn’t last as long as they do in Africa.

When we return to South Africa in 18 days, the mozzies will be considerably less bothersome with winter starting on June 21. The temperature and humidity drop and the mozzies disappear, at least for a few months anyway. We particularly love winter in the bush with milder temps, fewer insects, and less of a presence of snakes. Snakes tend to stay undercover in cool weather.

But, like Minnesota’s short summers, South Africa has short winters, and only a few months later, all of the above-mentioned return with a fury…heat, humidity, insects, and snakes. Then again, these very aspects of life in the bush make it all the more unusual and interesting.

Am I sounding as if I’m missing it? Without being able to see family yet due to our ongoing symptoms, it’s easy for my mind to wander back to where we feel most at “home.” No, we never plan to live there permanently, but for now, with all the Covid-19 restrictions still impacting word travel for nomads like us, it’s the place where we can enjoy ourselves the most with our human and animal friends.

Since we don’t yet feel comfortable dining in a restaurant with all of our coughing, last night we headed to the Cub Foods market for a few items, such as laundry soap, bar soap, cough drops, and of course, Tom’s favorite plain old-fashioned cake doughnuts which he loves with his coffee in the morning.

I purchased a pint container of guacamole to add atop my chopped hard-boiled eggs from the hotel’s included breakfast, which is basically a continental breakfast. The hard-boiled eggs are the only item I can eat based on my diet. Tom goes to  breakfast early and brings the eggs back to me in our room, along with a very good cup of decaf coffee. It works for us.

After the stop at Cub Foods, we headed to Wendy’s, which Tom wanted, and again to Chipotle for me. Back at the hotel, we sat on the bed with our food on our laps with towels protecting the bed and watched an episode of Shark Tank. After eating, we watched, This is Us, and finally, another episode of the new miniseries on Amazon Prime, The Offer, which is about the making of the movie, The Godfather. Very entertaining.

At about 10:00 pm, I started watching “Out of Africa” on the TV, staying awake until after 11:30 when it ended. I’ve seen the movie no less than ten times but enjoy it on each occasion. No, it’s not authentic in many ways but still provides some thrills about Africa.

Years ago, I wrote a story about this movie in a post when we’d seen the movie again and discovered very little of the movie was filmed in Africa. Instead, it was made in a studio in Hollywood. We watched it, again at that particular time as a “movie in the bush” outdoors, amid the wildlife in Maroth Park in 2013. Here’s our story about that here.

That’s all for today, dear readers. It’s crazy being here and unable to see them. Hopefully, we’ll be improved enough to start seeing family members by tomorrow.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 4, 2021:

Check out Torn Ear’s horns covered in mud. He may have been showing off his digging skills for the females during the rutting season. For more photos, please click here.

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.