Happy Father’s Day to all the dads and granddads.. A parade and a “Parktacular Day”…

Maisie, me and Madighan while Greg went to find Miles after the parade ended.
We wish all the dads out there in cyberspace, including Tom, our sons TJ and Greg, a very happy and special Father’s day.  May your day be one of family gatherings, surprises, adventures, and activities centered around love and appreciation.


Miles, a Cub Scout member, distributed free bottled water while participating in the Parktacular Parade in St. Louis Park.

Today, as is the case during many family activities while we’re here in Minnesota, Tom and I are splitting up between our respective families.  Tom is headed to a Minnesota Twins baseball game with daughter Tammy and son TJ, while I’ll be on the popular Jonathan Padelford, a riverboat on the Mississippi River with son Greg, daughter-in-law Camille and the three grandchildren, Maisie, Miles, and Madighan.

Maisie and Madighan pose for a photo.

Now, as I’m busily preparing today’s post which must be completed well before 10:30 when we drive to Greg’s home (Tom will drop me off) with a plan to pick me up later in the day after each of our outings has come to an end.

Maisie also won a prize after sending the hitting the hammer to send the ball to the top of the gauge.

Yesterday was another action packed day.  By noon, we were seated on the damp grass under a tree near Wolfe Park in St. Louis Park to watch the annual Parktacular Parade.  Miles was actually in the parade as a Cub Scout distributing bottled water to attendees in the sidelines.

Madighan wins a Nemo water toy after hitting the sledgehammer bell.

We watched every group that passed by while we watched for Miles who finally appeared, a ‘halfhearted smile on his little face that appeared to indicate, “What am I doing here?” As he quickly scurried past I hurriedly snapped a few photos as shown here today.

Greg’s brute strength hit the adult sized bell ringer to the highest point with little effort.  

We stayed seated on the grass for most of the remainder of the parade. By 1:30, we were with Greg and the kids at the carnival located on the park’s grounds.  What a site to see!  The games, the water slides, and the typical carnival-type activities got the kid’s heads swimming with excitement.

Madighan coming down the big water slide at full speed.

Gee, it had been a long time since we’d participated in such an all encompassing comprehensive park activity barring Vincent’s fifth-grade graduation “park day” of a few weeks ago.

Miles, making his way down the giant water slide.

The kids were reeling with enthusiasm but we managed to take a few photos and spend time with them during part of the activities.  We had to be on our way by 2:30 pm to make our way back to the red SUV requiring a 20-minute walk. 

Maisie quickly sailing down the huge water slide.

With the upcoming 20 minute drive (not much traffic on Saturday) back to our hotel, we arrived just in time to shower and dress for a 4:00 pm gathering at long-time friend (and neighbor) Sue (of Chip and Sue), who was hosting an intimate gathering of our mutual old friends at her gorgeous new home.  Tomorrow, we’ll share photos and details of that fabulous evening.

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Common Canadian Geese and chicks on a leisurely swim on Wolfe Lake in St. Louis Park.

It was fun to be with Greg and the grandchildren in the playful venue.  The sun was shining on a perfectly cool and sunny day. Although the carnival area was certainly crowded, it wasn’t impossibly so and we could easily maneuver about the grounds.

Princess Leia and a Stormtrooper.

Grandpa Tom purchased all-day passes for the three grandchildren while we followed them around as they excitedly moved from one activity to another.  The time we had allotted flew by in a flash.  Before we knew it, it was time to go.

Darth Vadar and other Star Wars characters on a passing float.

Back in the car, having planned our timing to avoid stress, we couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces.  Soon, it would be time for adult chatter to begin, spending valuable time together with our old neighbors and dear friends. 


Riders on horseback from a local riding club.

The neighborhood wasn’t the glue that held our group together.  It was the companionship and love that brought us together and, held us together although some of us are no longer there.  More on that with photos tomorrow.

Many people seem to fear clowns.  What’s inspired that?

Have a happy Father’s Day with your loved ones if circumstances prevail.  If not, may you find a joyful place in your heart this day and always.

The pretty scene on Wolfe Lake in located in the park.
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Photo from one year ago today, June 18, 2016:

In Bali, motorbikes were loaded with products to be delivered to a variety of the tiny shops in neighborhoods which sell candy, soda, cigarettes, and snacks.  For more details, please click here.

Las Vegas…here we come!!!…Gambling?

Often, we see motorbikes loaded with products being delivered to a variety of the tiny shops in the neighborhood which sell candy, soda, cigarettes and snacks.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Colorful fishing boat with crew at the end of a long night.

We don’t gamble, not in casinos.  One could say we gamble with the quality of our lives every single day.  We’ll agree with that.  However, we have no interest in sitting at a slot machine or card table, giving away money we’ve carefully budgeted for many more interesting events in our lives.

Many people love gambling in casinos.  Their occasional wins interspersed with more losses keep them engaged in the concept that its a worthwhile pleasurable activity.  If one can do so without serious consequences in their lives, have at it! 

Decorative hand carved door in the neighborhood.

If we gambled and lost US $300, IDR $4,001,250 at a poker table that would be groceries for two weeks outside the US or 10 separate day trips with a driver in Bali or the cost of excess luggage fees on Qantas airlines for a flight to Sydney from wherever. 

Tom used to enjoy playing blackjack.  Years ago, he gave it up when one day it dawned on him that his losses were greater than his wins and it just wasn’t a logical way to spend hard earned money. 

Even I had my days, way back when, of playing on occasion at one of the American Indian owned casinos in Minnesota or in Las Vegas when visiting eldest son Richard, a successful real estate agent, who’s lived in Henderson, Nevada (a suburban city near Las Vegas) for almost 30 years. 

Local gathering place and temple.

For the past 20 years neither of us has played a single casino game…not in casinos, not on cruise ships and not at a single slot machine at the airport in Nevada.  Nada. None. That’s not to say we wouldn’t play a friendly game of cards or dice with family or friends.  We’re OK losing a few bucks to people to love.  That’s different.

Why are we discussing gambling?  After yesterday’s posting of our plans for visiting Minnesota for six weeks beginning next May, we’d be amiss not to mention where we’ll be spending our remaining three weeks during the 2017 trips to the US. 

Statues to be mounted in front yard temple at house construction site in the neighborhood.

Its hard to be in Las Vegas and not visit some of the new hotels we’ve yet to see while wandering through casino after casino.  We’re confident we won’t have any trouble avoiding the tables and slot machines.

By the time we arrive in Las Vegas on July 7, 2017, we won’t have been there since December, 2012 when we rented a vacation home in Henderson not far from Richard during which time three of Tom’s sisters and two brothers-in-law came to stay with us. 

Also, members of my family visited for Tom’s birthday on December 23rd and for Christmas a few days later.  It was a memorable time spent together especially when we were only days away from leaving the US to begin our world journey.

If cows can be pretty, we thought this is quite lovely.

(By the way, when we count how long we’ve actually been gone, we consider the day we left Minnesota on Halloween, October 31, 2012.  We spent two more months in both Scottsdale, Arizona and Henderson, Nevada making final preparations to leave the US. 

On January 3, 2013, (here’s the post from that date) after driving to San Diego, California we sailed on our first ever cruise which fulfilled one of Tom’s dreams of traversing the Panama Canal.  Son Richard and sister Julie said goodbye at the pier which meant so much to us).

This road we walk in the neighborhood has a fair amount of motorbike traffic.

Next July after we’ve completed the six weeks in Minnesota we’ll be visiting son Richard in Henderson, sister Susan in Las Vegas and seeing sister Julie, who’ll fly in from Los Angeles for a visit while we’re there.  During the three week  stay (until we fly to Costa Rica to our next vacation home in our itinerary on July 31, 2017), we’ll stay with Richard at his home in Henderson. 

Three weeks is a long time to stay in the home of others.  Many have offered that we stay with them during these past years but we’ve always turned them down politely, appreciating the kind offer. 

There are several factors that make staying with Richard easier for all of us:

1. He doesn’t have a cat. I’m allergic.  I can spend a few hours in a home with cats but never overnight when allergies are always worse.
2. He has room for us.  We refuse to ever allow any family member to vacate their room, their personal space for us.  Its simply not fair especially for extended periods.
3. He doesn’t cook and doesn’t expect or want us to prepare food.  We’ll either bring in something or eat out, hoping he’ll join us when it works for him.
4. He has a pool.  We love pools.
5. He has a weekly cleaning person.  There’s no expectation that we’ll be “earning our keep” by cleaning.
6. He’s gone all day working and we’ll have the house to ourselves with less time for us to annoy him with our daily routine.
7.  He has a hysterical pug, Monty, whom we adore.  It will be enjoyable taking him for walks and hanging out with him.  We wonder if he’ll remember us from almost five years ago.

Elaborate front yard temple.

For these above reasons, staying with Richard will be relatively easy.  No doubt, its never easy to stay with anyone in their home for three weeks.  I’ve heard nightmarish stories from friends when family came to stay for extended periods.  However, we’ve stayed with him in past visits and its worked out well.

So, there it is folks, our US visit wrapped up in two neat little bundles with a goal to spend most of our time with family and also to spend a some of our time with our dearest friends, many of whom we’ve stayed in close touch over this long period. 

We hope you’ll spend quality time with those you love, especially on Father’s Day in the US tomorrow.  Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!

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Photo from one year ago today, June 19, 2015:

Trinity Beach, Australia has a lot to offer; ocean, mountains and plains with gorgeous scenery.  We enjoyed our three months in the lovely, relatively serene area.  For more photos, please click here.
 

Happy Father’s Day to those where it’s Sunday, June 21st…The shortest day of the year here in Australia…The longest for others…

View from our veranda. 

It’s a weird phenomenon for us. Today is June 22nd here in Australia, June 21st in many other parts of the world. For those for which it is June 21st, it is the longest day of the year.

For us, yesterday on June 21st, it was the shortest day of the year with the least amount of daylight. It’s now winter here. The longest day of the year in Australia will be December 21st when summer begins.

Colorful plants surround the yard,

In our old lives, we never gave any of this a thought. We lived our lives with a calendar commensurate with what we saw when we looked out the window; all four seasons with June being the beginning of the short Minnesota summer months.

By late August the leaves began to fall, the temperatures quickly began to change and less than two months later, we would turn on the furnaces and prepare for the long winter months.  

On occasion it snowed on Halloween with the trick or treaters wearing coats over their costumes, the house becoming chilled each time we opened the door to hand out the candy. That was our old life. This is our new life.

The high humidity is a perfect climate for mushrooms.

It’s Monday morning here.  Sunday afternoon, we took a drive looking for the fitness club that I plan to join in a few days. I’ve put this off since we arrived 10 days ago and the time has come for me to face the music. 

It’s so easy to lose the momentum for working out. I worked out on the ship but most likely lost a certain amount of my fitness level by missing over a week. With the high-intensity interval training I do once every six days as recommended by scientific research, with lots of walking and activity, I am not as far behind as I may have been in my old style of working out five times a week, an hour and a half each time. Those days are long gone.

Wildflowers in the yard.

It was tricky finding the fitness center which was closed by the time we arrived. Like typical seniors, we like to scope out where what we’re looking for in the area. We’ve already noticed that driving directions may be off in this area when using online maps. After navigating a few roundabouts (common in Australia), we finally found it and hope to return tomorrow so I can join and do my first workout.

Now as we reflect, we don’t think we had jet lag. In reality, we were off an entire day after crossing the International Dateline plus a few hours. Not enough to cause jet lag. The entire day time difference wouldn’t result in jet lag. It’s just a different day on the calendar. In any case, we’re back to our “old” selves, cheerful, feeling great, and anxious to see more of our immediate surroundings.

We spotted these White Ibis on the front lawn of a house near the fitness center.

Australia is considered one of the most expensive areas to live and visit in the world. As we’ve investigated what we hope to do we’ve decided it makes sense to stay within a day’s drive of our current location. 

Investigating trains to other larger cities, the cost for a round trip 24 hours train ride with a modest reclining sleeper was US $1165, AUD $1500 (for two, round trip).  By adding the cost of accommodations, other transportation, dining out, and various tourist venues a three-day visit could easily cost US $2500, AUD $3216.

The beak on White Ibis is long and hooked, ideal for catching fish.

Driving the same distance would take six days round trip plus the cost of gas, accommodations, meals, and venues and result in our being gone for nine days. Paying rent for our house in Trinity Beach makes no sense for us to be gone for nine days. Our budgetary concerns must always prevail.

Instead, we’ve booked several cruises that travel around the continent allowing us to “live” on the ships with no other rents paid at that time and to see the majority of the larger Australian cities on tours. For us, this is an economical and logical alternative. 

In the interim, there’s an abundance of sights to see within a one day drive in this amazing area with beautiful weather during its winter months. Today we awoke to exquisite sunshine and ideal temperatures.

A kangaroo posing for us. They aren’t a friendly as warthogs in South Africa or birds in Kauai so I won’t go overboard with kangaroo photos. I can’t wait to see a “joey” in a pouch.

As soon as I upload today’s post, we’re off to Woolie’s and the farmer’s market. We’re literally out of any options for tonight’s dinner. The last time we shopped was six days ago and with the tiny freezer stocking up for longer periods isn’t possible. Tomorrow, we’ll post a photo of our receipts.

However, we have no concerns that this will be an issue for us. We try to make each planned meal last for no less than two nights, made fresh each day. When we enjoy our meal as much we do we actually look forward to repeats.

Again, Father’s Day to all the dads out there on the opposite side of the International Dateline including our two sons, both of whom are great dads and to whom we send our utmost love and affection.     

                                              Photo from one year ago today, June 22, 2014:

Water in the creek in Campanario, Madeira after a night’s heavy rains. For more details of our life in Madeira, one year ago, please click here.

How did we get so lucky?…A thoughtful purchase and a new friendship that means so much…Photos of last night’s dinner…

This morning we were excited to have our first cups of homemade coffee in almost a month. It was perfect! Some habits never die and why should they, when a solution such as this was generously provided by our thoughtful hosts?

Yesterday, Saturday here in Australia, was a very good day. That’s not to say that generally speaking, most days aren’t good. They are. But, some days have a special quality that leaves us with a smile on our faces for those unexpected little treasures in life. Yesterday was such a day.

In the morning, our hosts and property owners, Sylvie and Andy sent us a message saying they were coming to clean the house at 8:30. Early birds that we are, the time was no problem for us. We’d be up since 6 am.

Our landlords, neighbors, and new friends, Sylvie and Andy. Sylvie is from France and Andy is from the UK and has lived in Australia for over 20 years.

They offered to wash and dry the sheets, remake the bed, wash the towels, and clean every inch of space.  Wow! That was an amazing offer. However, we’d already done the sheets on Thursday, one week after the day we arrived, all the towels were already in the wash and, the prior day I’d swept the floors and dusted the shelves.

The bathroom and kitchen were already spotless since we clean as we go. When we arrived, we’d inquired as to a cleaning person coming once a week to do the entire place for which we’d pay the cost, if it wasn’t too much. 

With Sylvie and Andy busy working all week, we didn’t want to pester them about a cleaning person, instead, doing everything we could with the cleaning products we’d purchased; bathroom and toilet cleaner and Windex along with a broom and dustpan we found here.

Tom’s dinner last night, included one pork chop, three gluten-free cheese sausages, one gluten-free knockwurst on a bed of sautéed onions and mushrooms, a side salad, and a muffin with New Zealand grass-fed organic butter (muffin not shown).

Tidy folks that we are, on any day of the week, there are few areas that require cleaning. The only area of concern was the floors which we’d swept almost daily. 

After over a week of cooking and then eating in the dining room, even after we’d swept the floor several times, it could easily do with a good washing. Plus, the area rug was covered in bits of white lint that I’d tried to sweep to no avail. I hesitantly asked that they only do the floors and the rug. 

At 8:30 sharp they both showed at the door with vacuum and mops in hand. We felt awkward letting them do the work but, they insisted. They explained that any other guests renting the property didn’t have to clean when they stayed for shorter periods.

Tom and I moved outside to the veranda while they worked. About 30 minutes later Andy stepped outside, done with the work, to join us for a lively and animated conversation that we thoroughly enjoyed. Going forward, they’ll do the floors and we’ll do the rest, a fair and easy compromise for all of us.

My dinner last night included two lamb chops, two gluten-free cheese sausage, one gluten free knockwurst on a bed of sautéed onions and mushrooms, a salad, and a low carb muffin with grass fed New Zealand butter (muffin not shown in this photo).

A short period after Andy left, he excitedly joined us outside again, holding his tablet anxious to show us an online photo.  He’d found a coffee pot, an actual drip coffee pot! And above all, he was driving to Cairns to buy it for us to use.

Although we hesitated for a moment, not wanting them to spend the money, Tom and I looked at each other, both agreeing it would be greatly appreciated. It made no sense for us to buy a coffee pot that we’d have to leave behind. However, it could be a valuable item for them to include for future renters.

As Tom and I busied ourselves during the day with our usual this and that, the day flew by. While I was in the kitchen making my usual 4 pm mug of hot tea, Sylvie and Andy showed at the door inviting us to their home above us. 

They’d purchased the coffee pot and wanted us to bring our bottle of “thickened cream” to give it a try at their house and then we could bring it downstairs for our use during our remaining time in their lovely property.

The sunrise from our veranda yesterday morning.

We’d yet to see their exquisite modern home and couldn’t help but ooh and aah over their beautifully designed, decorated, and appointed home. The view, one story up, was all the more enchanting. 

Sitting on their veranda we thoroughly enjoyed “happy hour” together, until finally, we had to leave when the mozzies came out in full force and it was time for us to go back downstairs to make our dinner, all of which I’d set up earlier in the day for quick final cooking. I prefer to prepare as much of a meal earlier in the day so that when hunger hits us, the final prep is quick and easy.

As we were about to leave Sylvie handed me a bucket filled with cleaning supplies, a bird book, and a set of measuring spoons for baking the few low carb muffins we make from time to time. Check out the photos below.

This is the bucket of cleaning supplies Sylvie and Andy gave us for our use and also measuring spoons and a bird book.

After the excellent dinner for which we’ve included the above photos, we settled in for the night watching an episode of America’s Got Talent, a highly smile-worthy show that we’ve watched for years.   

Using the HDMI cable daughter Tammy had given us at Christmas which we plugged into the high def TV we enjoyed almost two hours of light-hearted pleasure.

We are grateful to our lovely property owners, Sylvie and Andy, for adding so much to our experience in Trinity Beach, for their kindness and friendship which surely we’ll treasure now and well into the future.

Happy Father’s Day to those dads who are in our current time zone where it’s Sunday!

                                             Photo from one year ago today, June 21, 2014:

This Bottle Brush plant and its unusual colors particularly appealed to us as we drove through the mountains of Madeira. For more details, please click here.