Tom and the guys…Astounding dining discovery…Get-together with a friend this morning…Big event later today with family….

Tom’s railroad buddies, Jerry (left) and Steve.

Tom had a great time seeing a few of his railroad buddies, all retired, spending a few hours together, sharing stories from long ago and updates on their current lives. They all had a good time, although they aren’t all smiling in these two photos. Hopefully, he’ll have an opportunity to see more of his old friends next time we visit the US.

Today, Tom is leaving at 12:45 when son TJ and daughter Tammy are picking him up for a two-night stay at TJ’s cabin in northern Minnesota. He won’t return until Friday afternoon, hopefully in time for the last family gathering at Billy’s before we depart next Wednesday. I will miss him, but I have plans for tonight and tomorrow night with my family.

Yesterday was a quiet day. We had no specific plans and wondered what we’d do for dinner. Around 5:00 pm, when I started getting hungry (Tom eats a bigger breakfast), we decided to order unwiches (bread-free subway sandwiches)  from Jimmy John’s. We’d order online and then head five minutes from here to pick them up at their driveway, an easy plan.

Once we started adding ingredients we like to our bread-free sandwiches, our order totaled $45! This was a shocker. It didn’t include drinks or a side, just two sandwiches. But they aren’t filling without bread unless we get the large sizes. Then, we looked up prices at Champps Sports Bar for what we’d order if we dined at the local location, and moments later, we were in the car on our way there.

We each had a delicious filling meal: Cobb salad for me and burger and fries for Tom. I had one glass of wine, and Tom had a beer during “Happy Hour.” Our total bill, including the drinks, tax, and tip, was $55, only $10 more than we’d have paid for fast-food Jimmy Johns. If we hadn’t ordered drinks, which we wouldn’t have done at Jimmy Johns, the prices would have been the same for everything else. Wow! That’s surprising!

On the left, Kevin and JJ on the right.

In the month and a half we’ll have spent in the US, we didn’t eat any fast food. One reason is that it seldom works for me, but the other is the ridiculous cost of it now. A dinner at McDonald’s for one person can easily cost $20; with a burger, fries, chicken tenders, and a drink, it’s over $20 with tax. Can you imagine the cost for a family of four or five for a trip to this fast food restaurant? It could easily be close to $100, if not more.

It’s no wonder how stressed parents and singles are these days trying to make a living to support themselves and their families while living in the US. It was high when we left here 11 years ago, and it’s so much more now with inflation over the years, especially over the past few years when food and housing prices have escalated so much.

This morning, Lindsey, the adult daughter of Connie and Jeff (who passed away at our holiday home in Marloth Park last year). Lindsey was in Marloth Park with us through the sorrowful event, and catching up with her at 11:00 am this morning when she comes to see me at the hotel will be fun. It will be wonderful to see her again.

This afternoon at 2:00 pm, Greg and Miles will pick me up at the hotel to go to the second playoff baseball game for the Minnesota Twins at Target Field stadium in downtown Minneapolis. I am a little apprehensive about climbing all those steps at the stadium and standing in the crowded line for long periods. Hopefully, we’ll get there early enough to get situated in our seats.

Grandchild Madighan will come to spend the evening and have dinner with me tomorrow evening. Having time to ourselves for the first time since we arrived will be wonderful. I’m looking forward to tomorrow, as well—busy times.

That’s it for today, folks. We’ll be back tomorrow with new photos and more.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 4, 2013:

Our soft-sided bags for the tiny plane for the upcoming safari in the Masaai Mara. They said no shaped hard bags. For more photos, please click here.

Booked flight and hotel for Quito, Ecuador…Spending time with our grandson today…

Here’s a map of the route of our flight from Minneapolis (MSP) to Quito (UIO), not that far away compared to many of our other flights over the years.

We waited to book our flight to Quito, Ecuador, departing on October 11, until we were here in the US, watching prices drop. With costs dropping only a small amount, we booked the flight and one night in the hotel JW Marriott in Quito, arriving one day early for our cruise/tour to begin.

Celebrity Cruise Line contacted us a few days ago for our passport numbers and expiration dates, flight information, and hotel information. Since we booked an extra night at JW Marriott, they wanted to tie it to the portion of our cruise/tour that includes two nights on each end for five nights, including our extra-booked night. They wanted to ensure we wouldn’t have to move to another room, which we appreciated.

Between the two booked nights for the hotel on either end of the cruise/tour, we’ll be flying to The Galapagos for a seven-night tour on the 16-passenger ship, basically a yacht, as opposed to a traditional huge cruise ship. It should be interesting. We’ll be flying from MSP on United Airlines. The cost of the flight for both of us is $1283.40.

As for the cost for the hotel, JW Marriott, for our one night, not included in the cruise fare, was $150.28, including taxes and fees.

The JW Marriott in Quito, Ecuador.

The next flight we’ll book in the next few weeks is the flight from Quito to our new holiday home in Manabi, Ecuador, about a one-hour flight, around $120 for the two of us, plus baggage fees. Our holiday home will be waiting for us, and we look forward to that part of our time in Ecuador as well as the cruise/tour. We’ll share more details later.

I’m a little concerned about the altitude in Quito at 9,350 feet above sea level, but hopefully, we’ll both be fine. I used to ski in the Colorado mountains in my younger years (before I met Tom) and never had a problem with elevations over 10,000 feet. I’m hoping it will be the same now. Tom has never experienced such a high altitude.

While we were at urgent care for Tom a few days ago, we got a prescription for Diamox (acetazolamide) to be used in advance for potential altitude sickness. With many possible side effects, we’ll wait and see how we do before taking the drug.

Later today, at 3:30, we’ll pick up grandson Vincent for skeet shooting and then for dinner. It will be great to spend time with him. He’s almost 18 years old, intelligent, and quite a conversationalist. No doubt, we’ll have a wonderful time with him.

Last night, we stayed in watching a few episodes of Formula One on Netflix and one episode of The Good Doctor, a delightful series we’ve watched intermittently, enjoying each episode. By 11:00 pm, we were both fast asleep and awoke feeling refreshed in the morning. Tom is taking his medications regularly and has started to see a slight improvement. Hopefully, soon, he’ll feel much better.

That’s it for today, folks. We hope you have a good Sunday.

Be well.

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

No photo was posted here ten years ago. To read the text for that post, please click here.