Two days and counting and stuff to do…Final evening with Greg, Heather, Madighan and Miles at a fantastic Mexican restaurant…Two game day…

Heather and Greg at the Mexican restaurant last night in Chanhassen. We are so happy they are together and enjoying their loving relationship.

Yep, in two days, we are leaving the US after many collective months since last April when we left South Africa, traveled to Florida, then to Norway and Greenland via cruises, and ended up in Nevada and Minnesota to visit family and friends. Now, we head to Ecuador, South America, to the second-highest city in the world, Quito.

Yesterday, we called Alamo car rental to extend the rental by two days. When we talked to one rep, he said he’d handle it with an email confirmation for the extra charges. The email never arrived. Several hours later, we called again, and another rep stated we couldn’t extend it without coming to the airport to sign a new two-day contract. Hogwash!

We decided to return the car today when we checked prices and discovered it would be $295 for the two more days. Instead, this morning, Tom is running a few last-minute errands and will return the car, taking an Uber back to the hotel. When we leave on Wednesday, it will be easier and quicker at the airport when we’ll be dropped off by another Uber and avoid returning the car at that time.

Miles, 15, and Mad,14, two of Greg’s children, and our grandchildren.

Tonight, we’ll walk over to Pizza Luce, across the parking lot from the hotel, to meet Tammy, Tracy, and Vincent for one final get-together for dinner and trivia before we leave. This afternoon, TJ will stop by to get help from Tom on setting up his trail cam and to say goodbye. From that point on, we will have seen everyone we wanted to see to say goodbye and will be on our way on Wednesday morning.

Without a doubt, this was the best visit we’ve had since we began our travels. No one was sick or unavailable, and we could easily set up times together, making sure each family got our undivided attention. Between Tom’s siblings, our kids and grandkids, and friends, we had a wonderful time on every occasion.

Tom and Heather.

We spent a lot of money dining out and for other activities, but it was worth every last cent. Now, we can leave with peace of mind that we spent quality time with those we love. When will we return to the US? At this point, we have no idea. We will post the plan here when we do know, which may not be for some time.

Yesterday afternoon, we arrived at Greg’s home in Chaska to spend time with him, Heather, and the kids while watching the Minnesota Vikings football game. Again, they lost, which was disappointing but not surprising. We did our laundry during the game while Madighan and I worked on crocheting. I completed a winter scarf using every last bit of yarn.

A taco salad is the only entree Tom ever orders in Mexican restaurants. He scooped up the guacamole, which he doesn’t like, and gave it to me.

Mad said, “Grandma, I will think of you whenever I wear this!” I smiled from ear to ear, happy that it meant so much. I crocheted as fast as I could, recalling stitches from 50 years ago, the last time I crocheted when it was popular in the 1970s. During that era, crocheted clothing, purses, afghans, and pillows kept many of us busy with patterns and yarns.

Without a pattern, I used a simple stitch that my fingers remembered more than my brain. Actually, it was pretty fun, especially when it meant so much to Mad.

After the game ended, we all drove to a Mexican restaurant we’d visited in the past, Rey Azteca in Chanhassen, in our neighborhood. As we recall, the food was fresh and delicious. Every one of the six of us enjoyed the food, the ambiance, and the lively conversation. After dinner, we all said our goodbyes and Tom and I left to return to the hotel to watch the next Minnesota Twins game, already in the 5th inning. They won. We were thrilled.

After their entrees, Mad and Miles shared a Tres Leche cake drizzled with chocolate syrup. They gobbled it up.

I just received a notification from Alamo with the bill for the rental car, so Tom must already be on his way back from the airport in the Uber. I texted him on WhatsApp, and he said he’ll be here soon. We always miss one another, even when apart for short periods. How fortunate we are.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow and, most likely, even a post in the morning on our travel day since I think I can get something done before we depart.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 9, 2013:

This is a different angle from the photo already shown in an earlier post, but one that we saw in our first 90-minute drive, along with Anderson, our guide, as we waited for others to arrive. This giant 15-foot croc had captured an impala. With Anderson’s walkie-talkie, he was alerted when their plane landed, and we flew off in the little plane to the Maasai Mara. For more photos, please click here.

Another busy day with family…”What, Me Worry?”..

Tammy is on the left, with Tracy across from her. Next to Tracy is Dana. We don’t know the names of the others at the table. Tom had a great time at the sports bar!

Yesterday was a busy day. At 10:30 am, we drove to Greg’s home in Chaska, where Tom dropped me off to spend time with Greg and Heather to do laundry and watch the Minnesota Vikings Game. Then, he drove one hour to meet up with Tammy, Tracy, and a few of their friends at a sports bar in Blaine to watch the Vikings game.

When I arrived, I immediately began doing the laundry to finish it as soon as possible. The grandkids didn’t come from their mom’s home until 4:00 pm, enabling us to spend a few minutes with them before we headed out. It was fun chatting with everyone, and it was a good day.

Tom enjoyed his time with Tammy, Tracy, and friends and had lunch while he was at the sports bar. When we returned to the hotel around 5:30, he wasn’t hungry, but I was. I’d only had two hard-boiled eggs for breakfast. We had leftover meat and raw vegetables from Costco, so I munched on those, which hit the spot. Later, I ate two little packages of Costco’s delicious seaweed snacks (20 calories each with 0 carbs) while we watched more episodes of Formula 1.

In the next few nights, we’ll finish the entire series of five seasons, loving every moment. If you can watch this fantastic series, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Wow! It was a thrill ride!

Tom said there were dozens of games on the countless TV screens in the bar.

Ten years ago, we wrote a post about worrying, as shown in today’s “ten-year-ago photo,” it had been a long time since we addressed this bothersome emotion. As time has marched on over these almost 11 years (29 days until the anniversary), we’ve worried less and less about our travels. Although we make booking errors on rare occasions and may find ourselves unprepared for circumstances, at this point, the only time we find ourselves worrying is about our health.

These past years have presented more health issues as we’ve aged, although we do everything possible to stay healthy. In my case, genetics are more aggressive than any lifestyle changes I can make. I continually research to see if I am missing something in this area and if I can add any new protocols that can improve things.

Right now, I am focused on discovering why I get Afib and if I can eventually stop this troublesome event that causes a person to worry when it happens. When it’s not happening, it’s easy to get caught up anticipating another attack, mainly when they frequently occur at night. It’s terrifying when one’s heart is pounding in their chest for hours, especially when trying to get some sleep.

At the end of April, I was in the hospital in Nelspruit, South Africa, for three days, having every medical test possible to see what was triggering it. No conclusion was made. I still have arterial disease, but my heart is healthy, and the cardiac bypass surgery was holding. Nothing pointed to a cause for Afib. I was given a drug that made me deathly ill, which I continue to carry with us but will only take in an emergency, not necessarily every time I get a few hours of pounding and fluttering.

The meds prescribed for this condition make me lethargic and so tired I need to lie down all day. Those types of side effects do not fit into our lives. Nor are we willing to stop enjoying our unique lives for me to lie in bed all day. I’ll take my chances.

The girls were doing some shots, but neither of us ever did shots. Too much alcohol for us lightweights.

As for Tom, his coughing continues to be a concern, and when we get situated in South America, he’s agreed to see a pulmonologist, but then again, the drugs prescribed for such conditions also cause severe side effects comparable to those from chemotherapy. We shall see what we find out and report back here.

At 6:00 pm, we’re meeting up with Tammy, Tracy, and Vincent for dinner and trivia across the parking lot from the hotel at Pizza Luce. We’ll get there early to ensure we get a good table in the bar for the trivia game, which starts at 7:00 pm.

Tom is off today at noon to meet up with old friends/railroad guys in Roseville, a 45-minute drive from here, and will surely get back in time for our evening with family.

In a mere nine days, we’ll be leaving Minnesota for South America, looking forward to a wonderful experience in The Galapagos and four nights in a hotel in Quito included in our cruise fare. If the altitude doesn’t bother us, we go out on the planned walking tours. Otherwise, we’ll hang out at the lovely hotel for low-key days.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 2, 2013:

Please read the post for the significance of this photo of Alfred E. Newman by clicking here.

Sorrowful family news…Tom is heading to the USA…

Jerry and his lovely wife Lee, his favorite Norwegian.

We knew that eventually, we’d lose a loved one, which would require an imminent trip to the US, mainly because Tom is the youngest of his remaining eight siblings. Sadly, last night Tom’s eldest sibling Jerome, 94, passed away after a short illness resulting in him being in hospice care at the VA hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota, over the past few days.

This morning, Tom awoke to a message from his daughter Tammy and Jerome’s daughter Jerri that Jerome passed during the night. Tom hasn’t been able to talk to anyone in his family yet since he found out it was the middle of the night in the US with the eight-hour time difference. As soon as the family starts waking up today at around 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs. when he will talk to the family to find out when the services will be held to ensure he gets to the US  in plenty of time for the funeral.

Jerome has been an integral part of the lives of Tom’s family members and our lives. In the first several years of our world travels, we sent him our posts daily so he could listen to them on his talking computer. Jerome was totally blind and had been so since 1970 but had adapted amazingly well to this limitation. (We always admired Jerry’s strength and ability to fend for himself, and he has lived in his own home until this recent illness).

When we decided to leave to travel the world, Jerome encouraged us to do so with gusto. We even wrote a story about his enthusiasm for our travels in this post dated December 18, 2012, only a few months after we left. Please refer to that post which so well shares Jerry’s powerful and supportive message that “we’d be his eyes as we traveled the world.”

Jerome was a twin, born on a farm in Winsted, Minnesota. His twin, a boy named James, passed away several days later. The family always honored the loss of his twin and, of course, Jerome, as the eldest of 11 children in the family. The family includes well over one hundred multigenerational members, many of whom we’ve yet to meet with many recent births.

Jerome was a great-great-grandfather. His beloved wife, Lee, whom he referred to as “his favorite Norwegian,” passed away in December 2013. They’d been married for 61 years. He and Lee had three children, Jerri, Steve, and Kathy, with many young ones following from his eight grandchildren and now great and great-great-grandchildren. Jerome always said his only regret was being unable to see the faces of his grandchildren and eventual great and great-great-grandchildren.

Jerome’s attitude and demeanor left all of us reeling with wonder. His blindness was but a blip in his daily life and was often a source of well-intended good humor by his family, teasing him about driving a car and giving great driving directions. He was masterful at playing cards using special Braille-marked cards. Family members often played cards with him, including us, when we lived in Minnesota and when we visited in the past 10-plus years.

When I first met Jerome in 1991 at my then house in Minnesota, long before Tom and I were married, I told Tom after everyone left after a fun day by the lake, “Your brother Jerome “felt me up” (non offensively, of course). He felt the sides of my body and the features on my face. I stood there patiently, not saying a word, nor did Lee, his wife, sitting beside him. Tom laughed and responded, “That’s how Jerry can tell what you look like.” We often told this story accompanied by a heartfelt chuckle.

Jerome loved that we were living a dream life by traveling the world. When we called him, he often asked many questions and was fascinated by our stories and adventures. And we could spend hours listening to his stories of the decades of family life and his experiences before and after he went blind. Like their dear mother, Mary, Jerome was a fine storyteller up until the end of their lives. never forgetting even the most minute details, including dates and events.

Jerome will be sorely missed by all the lives of those who knew and loved him or anyone who may have been fortunate enough to cross his path.

We send our love and prayers to all the family members whose hearts are broken and saddened by this loss of their dear man. We grieve along with you and pray for his restful eternity with his beloved wife, Lee, “his favorite Norwegian.”

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 2, 2022:

We looked forward to sitting here and watching the visitors stop by. But now, there are so many worms I won’t sit outdoors. They fall on my head and face. Yuck! For more photos, please click here.

One last shopping trip…Why can’t we find this item?…Received all of our items from Amazon but one…

Penguin statue on the beach made of a penguin dressed in Christmas clothes and various locally inspired pins and decorations. From our post here on December 6, 2016, while living in Penguin, Tasmania, one of Tom’s favorite places in the world.

With Christmas shopping evident in every store we visited, we thought we’d better hurry and buy the one piece of luggage we needed to pack the clothing we purchased while here in Minnesota after having our bags lost from the fiasco we experienced on November 24, explained in detail in Part 1 this post and Part 2 in this post.

There was no way we’d get a big enough bag for under $100, so we headed to TJ Maxx in Bloomington, where they have quality brand-name luggage at reasonable prices. We also needed to buy a luggage tag when they are rarely included with the purchase of a bag.

We lucked out and found the perfect large suitcase in an obvious color and design that may prevent thieves from taking off with it. As I packed it, I wondered if we’d ever get this bag when we’ll arrive at Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger airport on Saturday, let alone our two missing bags from the fiasco on November 24.

This morning we packed the bag, and my carry-on bag, only leaving out clothes and shoes for tomorrow’s departure and toiletries in travel-approved sizes. This time, I packed pajamas and clean underwear in the same carry-on bag since we knew we would spend one night in the City Lodge airport hotel in Joburg to avoid driving in the dark to Marloth Park from Nelspruit on the dangerous N4 highway.

Everything we’d purchased easily fit into the suitcase and I have no doubt we’ll be within the weight limits. This time, we don’t have the portable scale to ensure that fact but based on the contents, I feel confident it will be fine.

The following day, on Saturday, we’ll fly to Nelspruit, collect the rental car at the airport and commence the 90-minute drive to Marloth Park, arriving around 2:00 or 3:00 pm. We’ll stop at Louise’s Marloth Park Info Centre to pick up the house key we left with her and then drive down the dirt road to our holiday house.

If we’re up to it, we’ll go to Jabula for dinner since we won’t have anything defrosted to make for dinner. Of course, with all the Stage 6 load shedding over the past several days, all of our meat in the freezer could have gone bad. Stage 6 is as follows:

  • 5:00 am to 9:30 am (4.5 hours)
  • 1:00 pm to 5:30 pm (4.5 hours)
  • 9:00 pm to 11:30 pm (2.5 hours)

This is a total of 11.5 hours without electricity in 24 hours. Also, there are severe issues with the reservoir based on chronic power outages. We may not have any water when arriving since our JoJo tank doesn’t pump water when the power is out for extended periods.

Oh well, TIA, “This is Africa,” and that is what we expect upon returning after two weeks away. The temperature will be tolerable at a high of 94F, 34C, and increasing in days to come. At least we have the inverter to run to the bedroom’s fan and lamp and the WiFi router. When we cook by Sunday, we can use the gas burners on the stove, lighting it with a lighter, and also use of the braai on the veranda.

We likely won’t grocery shop until next week after we access the power situation to determine what perishables will survive these long load-shedding periods.

Although two male lions were darted in Marloth Park a few weeks ago and moved to Kruger National Park, two females and cubs have been sighted in the park in the past few days. Warnings continue for diligence and caution when outdoors, walking to and from vehicles, and walking and biking only in daylight hours with added attention to one’s surroundings.

Juan, the snake handler we use, has issued warnings that many snakes have come out of hiding over the cooler winter months and to exercise extreme caution outdoors and indoors. Snakes often enter houses during the warm spring and summer months through open doors and thatch roofs, both of which we have.

Nonetheless, we are excited to return to the bush to see our animal and human friends and return to the lifestyle we so much cherish living in the bush.

On another note, we have been searching for thick neoprene Koozies to hold cold canned beverages and glasses. With the heat and humidity in MP. Koozies are an ideal solution to avoid cans and glasses sweating and drinks getting warm on hot and humid days and nights. The mistake we made was not ordering them from Amazon in time for delivery to our hotel.

We searched far and wide to find these neoprene thick-walled Koozies. Most likely, winter-time in Minnesota is not the best time to find these for sale.

We stopped at several stores in the past few days, hoping to find them. We couldn’t find them anywhere, and finally, we gave up trying. They do not sell thick-walled models in South Africa. We’ve searched everywhere online to no avail. And Amazon can’t send us items to South Africa due to high shipping costs and customs issues. It would take months for us to receive them. We’ll be returning to Minnesota next September and buying them at that time.

So that’s it, folks. We’ll do a short post tomorrow, and then we may not post again until Sunday since Saturday will be a hectic day. But, as always, we shall see how it goes, and if we can post sooner, we will. Often, I write the post on my phone on the plane and can complete it on the long drive back to Marloth Park. Thus, Saturday is a possibility.

We hope all of our readers/friends are enjoying preparations for the holiday season. Have a fantastic day!

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

Zoom in to note the difference in size between this massive elephant and the nearby male impala. For more photos, please click here.

Exciting news from the bush with short video…Trying to find our missing bags…

Louise sent us this short video of Nina’s new baby, born only a few days ago. Once we return to Marloth Park, we’ll be excited to see dad Norman, son Noah, Nina, and the yet-to-be unnamed baby, whom we’ll name once we know the sex. Of course, her or his name will begin with the letter “N.”

It will be interesting to see how Norman and his son Noah react to the little one. We’ll post videos, and photos and write about the exciting new life in the bush. What a magical experience! It will certainly be fun to see the now family of four when we return in about ten days.

We’re still experiencing a bit of angst over our lost baggage. Tom wasn’t able to get the required claim form during the three hours he spent at the Johannesburg Tambo Airport on Friday. The actual claim numbers on the two tickets were illegible. The printer must have been running out of ink. No one was able to read the numbers. Now we’re trying to call Airlink but keep getting disconnected or the call doesn’t go through.

It’s frustrating, to say the least. I think we need to wait to deal with this until we return to Joburg airport next Friday, conduct another search for our bags and get the proper claim form completed and processed. We have zero confidence that the claim Tom made while he spent three hours at the airport will be attended to without the numbers being legible. What a mess! We are trying to reach Airlink where the tags were issued but they don’t answer their phone or the line is busy.

In the meanwhile, we need to apply for a new ten-year passport. Our ten-year passport expired which we replaced with a four-year passport a few years ago. Since Covid, the handling of passport renewals is tricky and cumbersome especially when we are living outside the US. It appears, our only option will be to fly or drive to the US embassy in Joburg, Pretoria, or Cape Town once we get back to South Africa to handle this.

As for today, we are picking up Tammy and grandson Vincent at their home at 1:15 pm to drive to Tom’s brother Jerome’s home where we’ll meet up with Tom’s sisters Patty and Colleen. We’ll all stay for a long visit and later head out to dinner. It will be wonderful to spend time with them, as it has been with other family members.

On another note, Tom has been unable to use his laptop or set up his new Google Pixel 6a phone since he was cut off from his Google account the day after we arrived, for no known reason. It’s been frustrating for him to be without the use of his laptop since Sunday. Hopefully, when we have our appointment tomorrow morning at the Geek Squad at Best Buy we will get this resolved.

At the moment, I am on hold with Ethiopian Air’s lost baggage department. They are trying to locate our bags. Hopefully, we will get some good news. The important thing is to get the bags back to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport so we don’t have to pay for excess baggage fees when we return. We had to book and pay for another flight from Joburg to Nelspruit which is a domestic flight and has strict weight restrictions. If the bags are returned to Nelspruit we can pick them up there when we arrive on December 10.

Ah, I got disconnected. It’s all a series of errors that is almost laughable. I’ll be glad to get out today and away from all of this confusion and disharmony. It’s always a welcomed relief and pleasure to be with our loved ones and escape from all this paperwork and forms.

I just got off the phone with the Ethiopian Air baggage claim department. Our bags are in Addis Ababa. Hopefully, they will forward them to Joburg and then on to Nelspruit. We can only wait and see what transpires.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, November 30, 2021:

Such pretty animals. The waterbuck is a large antelope found widely in sub-Saharan Africa. It is placed in the genus Kobus of the family Bovidae. Irish naturalist William Ogilby first described it in 1833. Its 13 subspecies are grouped under two varieties: the common or ellipsiprymnus waterbuck and the defassa waterbuck. For more photos, please click here.

On the move again…We’re off to Las Vegas…

The pool at the Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa where we’ll arrive later today.

The thought of the upcoming trip to Las Vegas is a bit intimidating. Neither of us is feeling as well as we’d like to be able to travel. Knowing that in one week from today, the two travel days to Marloth Park are even more intimidating, but hopefully, we’ll have recovered all the more by then.

Tom is still coughing, considerably more than me, but I have the fierce Covid headache that comes and goes along with a lesser cough and lots of congestion. We are not our usual “travel-ready” selves. We have no idea how the airplane’s cabin pressure will feel right now.

But, it was only two weeks ago that we flew the long distance from the UK to Minnesota when our symptoms were worse (we tested negative), and the journey was over 12 hours from airport to airport. I barely remember that trip except for the several movies we watched during the flight.

There are rarely entertainment screens on these shorter US domestic flights, so the 3½ hours will drag on. There’s no point in upgrading to business class for this short flight. We’ll check into upgrading when we fly back to South Africa a week from today. Gosh, that’s coming up quickly.

We would have flown back to South Africa from the UK two weeks ago in a perfect world. But, we’d already paid for all of our flights and hotels in advance and wouldn’t get refunds, only credits which we may or may not be able to use in the future with time restrictions on them. We assumed we’d feel better at some point and be able to continue with our plans to see family, but it just didn’t work out that way.

As it turned out, yesterday afternoon, we drove out to son Greg’s house and saw the three grandkids and Greg, who greeted us outside while we stayed in the car wearing masks. Miles had yet to get a negative Covid test, and we couldn’t take any chances. That’s not to say we won’t have risks flying on an airplane when the US doesn’t require Covid tests to fly on domestic flights. Ah, you can run, but you can’t hide from this pandemic. It’s everywhere.

It was wonderful to see the sweet smiling faces, all wearing braces, of the three teenagers and Greg. Camille wasn’t feeling well and was sick in bed, so we didn’t see her. It was only for a few minutes with no hugs and kisses, but we were glad we saw them.

  • It didn’t work out to see Tom’s family members. We can only look forward to the next time we visit the USA when that is up for grabs. We don’t have a clue when we will return. When we can start booking again, we’ll have a better idea.

We asked for and received a late check out from our hotel today. We’ll head out around 1:00 pm, drop off the rental car, and head to the gate to wait for the flight. Last night, Tom checked us in for the Delta flight and paid for our bags, US $140 for all of our checked bags. We had more bags this time due to the extra dressy clothes for the Cunard Queen Mary 2 cruise, on which we never sailed due to contracting Covid-19 on the last two days on the Celebrity Silhouette cruise.

Ah, this wasn’t the ideal travel experience we usually encounter. But, this could have happened to anyone, anywhere, at any time. No one is exempt from this virus regardless of how hard we’ve tried to stay safe over the past few years.

We’ll make the best of this last week in the US and then be on our way back to the safe haven we’ve found in the bush. The thought of being back in Marloth Park by May 24th is comforting.

Next time we write, we’ll be doing so from the comfort of our lovely hotel room at the Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa in Henderson, Nevada.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 15, 2021:

He ate pellets, left, walked around the house, and returned to the garden, thinking we might assume he’s someone new and offer more pellets. The warthogs and bushbucks are good at this maneuver. For more photos, please click here.

Fantastic interview at Garage Logic’s studio…

Please click on the above video for a shortened version of our Garage Logic interview. See below for the full interview.

5/6 We finally get to meet the traveling Lymans, Tom and Jessica, who were so spellbinding that they became today's episode

Please click on the above bold type to access the audio version of our interview with Joe Soucheray of Garage Logic.

After a difficult night for both of us, coughing and sneezing, we wondered how we got ready to head to St. Paul to the KSTP studio for our interview with Joe Soucheray and his co-hosts Chris Reuvers and Kenny Olson.

The idea of the 30-minute drive in traffic was daunting in itself, let alone being able to sit in the studio and tell our story as questions were posed to us. Once, we were greeted in the lobby by co-host Chris, who walked us down a long hallway to the Garage Logic studio.

Once we entered the studio, we forgot about our lingering coughs, and magic happened. Joe is an exceptional interviewer, and his two co-hosts frequently jumped in with thouhgt provoking comments and questions. Our interview was planned for 15 minutes, and it ended up taking up the entire show. We had so much fun it could easily have gone longer.

We’d both taken 12-hour doses of cough medicine a few hours before the event, hoping we’d make it through. Tom did well, although listening to the podcast later, it was easy to determine he was very stuffed up. I had to hold back a coughing jag on one instance. Also, the sound of my voice was unfamiliar when later listening to the podcast.

Our answers flowed with ease, along with Tom interspersing tidbits of humor, which he often does in general conversation. We all laughed with gusto on many occasions.

Over the past 9½ years of traveling the world, we’ve easily developed a way of sharing morsels of our experiences where we each take turns adding highlights of our experiences. Joe, Chris, and Kenny easily made this familiar banter flow with all the more fluidity than ever.

We couldn’t stop smiling throughout the entire interview. Telling our story only reminds us of how fortunate we are to live this unique lifestyle, be together as this well-matched couple during these experiences, and have developed a financial plan that allows us to continue traveling indefinitely.

Sometimes, it takes a scenario like this to remind us how grateful we are, especially after suffering from Covid-19 since April 20, when we first tested positive aboard the transatlantic cruise from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Southampton, England. Due to our positive diagnosis, we had to cancel our scheduled Queen Mary 2 cruise, sailing on April 24, arriving in New York on May 1, when we’d planned to fly to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to see family.

Not only were we too sick to go on the return cruise, but we continued to test positive until April 28, 29, and 30th, when we felt safe booking the flight from Gatwick Airport in London to Minneapolis for May 1, our original date of arrival after the Queen Mary 2 cruise.

Unfortunately, we purchased dressy clothes for the upscale cruise, which we won’t be able to wear when until we can use the full-fare credit for a future cruise on Cunard. We’ve had to haul those clothes with us this past month.

We couldn’t get a refund based on canceling last minute due to Covid. Hopefully, by the end of 2024, when the future cruise credit expires, we can book another cruise with this cruise line and use the credit. If not, it becomes another loss we’ve incurred due to the worldwide pandemic. Our losses over the past two years are in the $1000s.

Once we said our goodbyes to our hosts and thanked them for inviting us to the show, we headed back to our hotel. In the interim, we had a fantastic break from our current situation to revel in being guests of the Garage Logic show/podcast. We felt temporarily rejuvenated, but the reality remained that we had a way to go to recover from this dreadful virus.

With their over 2,000,000 listeners, we’ve received countless email messages, warm greetings, and hits on our website after the podcast aired yesterday afternoon. Thank you, everyone!  What a boost for us!

Thanks to Joe, Chris, and Kenny for inviting us to this special experience, one we’ll never forget.

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

We later named this young male bushbuck, Spikey. For more photos, please click here.

Did we come to Minnesota only to be disappointed?…

MINNEAPOLIS – JUNE 14: The Spoonbridge and Cherry at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden on June 14, 2014, in Minneapolis, MN. It is one of the largest urban sculpture gardens in the country. Not our photo.

We were hoping to see family tonight. But when, yesterday morning, DIL Camille wrote that grandson Miles tested positive for Covid-19, we knew that wasn’t possible. Sure, we may not be contagious anymore. But, there is too much unknown data about contracting one variant after another.

Miles was infected here in Minnesota. We were infected on the cruise. Is there a chance we could become infected with a different variant? After doing considerable research, it’s unlikely but…it is possible. Also, are we contagious after testing negative three days in a row, over a week ago? Probably not.

My cough is considerably better, and I no longer need cough medicine. But, our big concern is the residual coughing from which both of us are suffering after most of the other Omicron symptoms have dissipated. Could it be contagious and only provide added risk for our family members? But not Tom. He is still sick.

We had a plan to meet up with Tom’s siblings on Friday, but now we won’t. Since Omicron variants are causing many infections in Minnesota.  We’d feel terrible if one of his siblings became ill after being around us. Is it best to stay away? We aren’t sure.

Yes, we’ve stayed in enough hotel rooms in the past few years. Besides, Tom isn’t up to going out right now and the long drive to Anoka, 40 minutes from our hotel. Instead, we stay hunkered down in ongoing isolation, reminiscent of bygone days in India in 2020.

Last night, we ordered enough dinner for two nights, so we won’t have to head out this evening during rush hour. We ordered online from Jimmy John’s, where they make the delicious “unwich,” the large subway-type sandwiches we love using large romaine lettuce leaves instead of bread. As previously mentioned in past posts, we often make these tasty sandwiches when we have access to quality gluten-free meats.

You may ask, why don’t we use a delivery service? We recently used England’s Deliveroo food delivery service when we didn’t have a car. But the hassle of waiting for the delivery outside the hotel in the cold was annoying, and each time the food and delivery were different.

When you’re sick and have an appetite as we have, the big highlight of the day is the next meal. Here, with a rental car, it’s easier to order our food online, inspect it when it’s ready, and then be on our way. Tonight will be a breeze.

This morning, we went to Walgreen’s pharmacy to get Tom more cough medicine and mentholated cough drops. We’d purchased several bags of sugar-free cough drops, but none were mentholated, which seems to be more helpful. Also, we bought daytime cough medicine, which is supposed to last for 12 hours. We’ll see how that goes.

It’s interesting to observe how pharmacists are less helpful in the US than in South Africa. In the US, liability is a huge concern for pharmacists (and other medical professionals), so they are less inclined to be aggressive with their suggestions. Mostly, their answers to questions are vague.

We’ve purchased many medications in other countries not requiring a doctor’s prescription. That’s not the case here. The pharmacists we use in Komatipoort are incredibly straightforward with their suggestions and don’t hesitate to “prescribe” what they think is safe and suitable for the patient.

Our current dilemma is: Will we be able to see family while we’re here? The answer is uncertain. Ultimately, our visit to the US may prove pointless if we cannot see those we love.

We apologize for the lack of photos. We’re hardly in a position to be taking photos right now.

Be well.

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

Wildebeest Willie, whom we later renamed Broken Horn, became a regular visitor, stopping by a few times each day. For more photos, please click here.

On the mend?…Recovery is slow…

Aerial View of Minneapolis and the Mississippi River in summer

Yesterday was a restful day. The only tasks we tackled were two loads of laundry and heading out to the nearby Chipotle to get takeaway dinner. I’ve always been a big Chipotle fan since the bowls with lettuce, meat, cheese, sour cream, and guacamole work great for my way of eating.

On the other hand, Tom is less interested in Chipotle, but for convenience’s sake, he ordered four soft tacos and a bag of tortilla chips. He doesn’t care for guacamole. We will see what transpires tonight for dinner and if we’ll be getting together with family, which we hope to do.

Tom is recovering from Covid-19 slowly. At this point, his cough is much worse than mine, which is improving each day. Last night, he coughed off and on with only a few hours of relief from Nyquil. I was so tired I slept through most of his coughing, which as a light sleeper, is unusual for me. For the first time in two weeks, I awoke today feeling pretty good,

My Fitbit logged almost eight hours of sleep, and after not needing a nap yesterday, I am confident I am on the mend. But Tom, on the other hand, is coughing a lot, although otherwise is feeling better. The heavy feeling of exhaustion is finally leaving both of us.

The media is ranting about new variants coming out of South Africa. However, when researching statistics on Worldometer here, it is clear it’s not the case. Yesterday, in the US, there were 40,784 new cases of the virus, but in South Africa, yesterday, there were a total of 2,650 new cases.

Sure, the population in the US versus South Africa’s population is seven times greater. But doing the math doesn’t indicate that the virus is more prevalent in South Africa than in the US. The US continues to be in the top position in the number of cases over anywhere else in the world.

There is no doubt that accuracy in the number of cases is still questionable since the onset of the pandemic. Accurately recording cases can vary substantially based on poor systems in place to document testing results.

Nonetheless, we will proceed with caution while here in the US, as we do in any country we visit in our world travels. After having Covid-19, we don’t take for granted that we have added immunity that will protect us in the future. In reality, the protection we’ve gleaned from having the virus may be very short-lived based on our research thus far.

We were safe for the 14 months we spent in Marloth Park, and we hope to maintain that same level of safety when we return in 19 days. However, we are concerned about the several future cruises we have booked. We can only wait and see how things roll out.

Fortunately, all of our future cruises are on the small ships of the Azamara Cruise Line, which typically hold about 600 passengers. With most cruises running at about 60% occupancy since the onset of the pandemic, most likely, there will be less than 400 passengers onboard as opposed to the 1288 passengers there were on the Celebrity Silhouette, where we tested positive the last few days.

We are waiting to hear from family as to plans to get together. We understand if there is hesitancy in seeing us based on our recent infection. We will see how it all rolls out.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 3, 2021:

There were nine zebras in the garden, staying for over an hour. For more photos, please click here.

Photo facts we must face while in the midwest…Happy 4th of July to our family and friends in the USA!

Little, please be there when we return at the end of the month!

After signing up for a membership for $60 yesterday at Costco, I was a bit frustrated. Once again, Tom dropped me off to shop, with a plan to pick me up when I was done and called him. I was surprised to discover a new policy after being a Costco member for many years, except for the past nine years since we’ve been gone.

The customer’s credit card to sign up for the membership will automatically be set for future renewals. In concept, this doesn’t sound so bad. But, the only way I can cancel the automatic renewal is to call and talk to a manager after we are no longer using the Costco membership when we leave the US. Why can’t I go online and do this?

Having to call, be on hold, and explain our circumstances to a manager is a big waste of time. Sure, they want to make it difficult for customers to cancel to maintain their vast customer base. I get that, but such policies when it comes to us are archaic and out of date in today’s technological world.

Now, I’ve had to mark my calendar to remember to call Costco when we leave Minnesota on July 16th to head to Milwaukee. The main reason we signed up was to purchase a camera. Once in the store, I discovered Costco no longer sells cameras in their store or online. Maybe they found it wasn’t worthwhile during the pandemic. Who knows?

I have a mental block about learning new camera techniques. It’s just one of those things I am not fascinated to learn. I know how beneficial it would be for me to become more adept at taking photos. But when it comes to wildlife, there isn’t much time to change settings and lenses when the magic happens quickly in the garden or a national park. So, now I begin searching for the best camera for our use, which hopefully won’t require a lot of my time to learn to use.

In the interim, when photo ops present themselves, I will have no choice but to use my phone to take the photos. With Chromebook, getting the images from the phone to the computer is time-consuming and tricky. By the time we leave the US, three weeks from today, we’ll have a new camera and can begin retaking photos.

As for today, Independence Day, aka the 4th of July, we changed our plans from visiting an old friend and neighbor since fireworks on the lake were canceled this year due to Covid. Go figure. What does a virus have to do with fireworks? In any case, I sent Nelleke a message, thanking her for thinking of us, and explained we’d be celebrating the 4th with Greg’s family at their home.

I will be preparing most of the meal but wanted to keep it easy. Since we aren’t planning to arrive at their home until 2:00 pm, I will be busy once we first arrive at their home, getting the cake baked, cooled, and decorated, the ribs in the oven, and later on, the grill preparing the garlic bread and sweet corn. Camille will make potatoes.

We purchased several Costco rotisserie chickens, which we’ll reheat 30 minutes before dining. This makes for an easy meal, leaving more time together instead of being stuck in the kitchen. In my old life, I’d be cooking for hours on the 4th of July, but nowadays, my interest in cooking is marginal at best.

While back at the hotel, we washed, dried, and folded clothes, especially after Tom’s lost bag was delivered from United Airlines, with everything intact. The only issue was my container of Himalayan salt spilled all over his clothes. We had to wash everything to get the salt out.

Last night, we stayed at the hotel after several shopping trips. We were both still exhausted after failing to catch up on sleep. We dined on one of those enormous Costco chickens in our hotel room, streamed a few shows, and fell asleep early, hoping for an 8 hour night. It just didn’t happen. We’re still on South Africa time, 7 hours later than Minnesota. I suppose we’ll adapt in the next few days.

Be well, everyone. Continue to follow safety protocols wherever you may be. We’ve had no ill effects from taking the Covid-19, J & J vaccine, other than Tom’s sore arm. Be safe.

Photo from one year ago today, July 4, 2020:

In Trinity Beach, Australia, vegetation growing in the lake at the Cattana Wetlands created this view. For more photos, please click here.