Dinner with Richard…How to play a slot machine has changed due to Covid-19…

A small glimpse of the Las Vegas Strip through the car’s windshield.

We had such a fine evening last night with Richard and his lovely GF. They prefer not to have their photos online, which we fully respect and understand. We had a fantastic evening with the two of them, first having drinks at the Claim Jumper and later heading a short distance to one of my favorite places for salads, The Cheesecake Factory.

It was an evening with lots of enthusiastic conversation and laughter. What a joy it is to see them after 20 months away! We’ll see them a few more times this week as their schedules allow.

Alternate view of the strip from the highway.

When I saw they had a low-carb, sugar-free cheesecake on their menu, I had to control myself to keep from ordering it. Once we return to South Africa, I will make two such pies, one for me and another for Louise and Danie, who also eat the way I do, occasionally having such a low-carb treat.  At least if I make it, I am confident of the ingredients. Tom doesn’t care for it. But I can’t seem to get it out of my mind.

Also, I will make dear friend Don a cherry pie. Kathy brought the cherry pie filling with her to South Africa from the US, along with two cans of pumpkin pie filling. We’ll all be enjoying some sweet treats shortly after we arrive. It will be fun to make these pies for everyone and enjoy a bit of my own favorite low-carb cheese pie.

Another view of the Las Vegas Strip from the highway.

Once we are situated in our bush house, and after I make the cheese pie and make apple crisp for Tom and we’ve finished them off, we’ll both begin our strict way of eating to lose the few pounds we gained in the US, three for me and five for Tom. In a month from now, we’ll both be back to where we were.

Right now, we are walking about 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day, going back and forth to the parking garage, to breakfast, and to other areas of the resort to take photos. It feels great to walk long distances on even surfaces. This is precisely what we needed after being relatively stationary in Minnesota and Milwaukee.

The food court in the hotel is for those preferring a quick meal and lower cost.

When we return to Marloth Park in less than a week, we have decided to start walking more. Based on the problems with my legs after two surgeries on each leg and the resulting nerve damage, walking isn’t as easy for me now as it used to be. We may have to drive somewhere in the park to find level surfaces for walking. The uneven, unpaved, gravel roads in Marloth Park cause walking hazards, which could easily result in a fall. As always, we’ll figure it out.

After last night’s enjoyable dinner, we returned to our hotel. But, while on the way back to our room, we had to walk through the casino. As we did so, we stopped at a slot machine with a beautiful display of African animals. I said to Tom, “Let’s try this. Maybe we’ll have “safari luck.”

Pizza is a popular item in Las Vegas.

Before Covid, it was easy to use a slot machine with bills and coins. It took a mere $3 to realize doing so was a waste of time and money. Not the case now. Sure, you can enter paper bills but no coins whatsoever. If you win a certain amount, you have to take the paper receipt to a cashier to get the actual monetary amount. That was the first thing we noticed.

If players don’t want to find a cashier station, it is easy for them to put the receipt back into the slot in the machine, which encourages them to play more and subsequently lose more. It’s a hook! No wonder gambling is addictive.

All of the slot machines had a similar payout system as described here today.

When I entered $1 into the slot, there was only an option to bet $.75. Left with a paltry $.25 made me put more money in the machine to use up the $.25. This went on and on, never giving me an option to bet the total value of the cash-out slip. Of course, I quit playing immediately, already feeling the throes of being unable to stop. No, thank you. We’d rather spend money on future travels, not on the remote possibilities of prospective winnings.

Back to our room, we both had a good night’s sleep. This morning after another fine breakfast, costing $35 with tax and tip, we headed to the distant parking ramp to drive 25 minutes to our mailing service to collect the items we’d received thus far. On Friday, we’ll return one more time since we’re awaiting a few more items, including one more replacement credit card with more travel perks suitable for our needs.

Tonight, with no big plans on the horizon, we’ll wait and see what rolls out.

Have a fabulous day and be well.

Photo from one year ago today, July 20, 2021:

Te handed off the camera in Boveglio, Italy, to a kind gentleman who took this blurry photo in the square when we were invited to a party. This photo was posted one year ago will on day #119 in lockdown in Mumbai, India. For more photos, 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 the 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 it’s 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 lives in Henderson, Nevada (a suburban city near Las Vegas) for over 30 years. 

A 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 a house construction site in the neighborhood.

It’s 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. It’s 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, it’s 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 it 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 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!

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.

Green Valley Ranch, Henderson, Nevada check in…

Yesterday afternoon we arrived in Henderson, Nevada, a suburb of Las Vegas, to our vacation rental in Green Valley Ranch, a newer community with massive amounts of stores, restaurants, gated communities, and a  mere sprinkling of casinos. 

It doesn’t feel like Las Vegas with its slot machines in every gas station or public building.  Instead, it feels welcoming, safe, and low on tourists.

Entering the single-family home for the eight days we reserved over Tom’s birthday and Christmas, we knew immediately that we were “home.” A fresh smell wafted through the air (love that word!), welcoming us as we maneuvered through the door arms laden with “stuff.”

Unloading my arms onto the living room floor, I ran about from room to room squealing with delight. Each room had its own surprise to behold. 

From the stack of perfectly folded crisp white towels and washcloths in each of three bedrooms, two baths, and an ample linen closet, to the full-size bars of new soaps atop each stack, no stone was left unturned.  

The kitchen, fully stocked with every amenity, had a “working” ice machine, ground coffee, cream, some basic ingredients along with every small appliance we could possibly use.  Three flat-screen TVs, a pool table, stereo, and old fashioned boxed games were available for our entertainment.

The pool, although not heated and an extra $100 a day to heat (it’s too cold here now in the 30s!) has a free-use hot tub (forgot my suit) in a well-equipped yard with high top table, chairs, and a huge newer grill. Too bad it’s not 90 degrees!

The rent for the eight days, although much more than we’ll pay outside the US for most houses, was fair at $1500 which included a $250 cleaning deposit which we expect to get back.  We did the math.  Most likely we would have paid $165 a night for a hotel (including taxes) during the holidays, plus tips, valet parking, plus all meals in a restaurant, and how much lost with easy access to gambling.  Surely we would have spent at least $400 a day for an estimate of $3200.

Staying in this lovely home, cooking for Tom’s party, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day including our guests, our grocery and dining out budget is $1050, leaving us with a total of $2300 saving us $900 or more depending on how much we’d have lost gambling (we don’t usually gamble but when it’s at hand, it’s hard to resist). 

This is the first Christmas in my adult life that I won’t be shopping in a frenzy, wrapping gifts with elaborate hand made bows, baking a wide array of delectable cookies, and of course, decorating every corner of the house. In an odd way, it’s liberating.  We’ll miss family back in Minnesota and we’ll revel in family and friends here in Nevada.  Life is filled with trade-offs.

Soon, we’ll head to our two dentist appointments for our final cleanings, then off to the travel clinic for Tom’s final Twinrix vaccine.  Then, to the grocery store for the ingredients for the lesser amount of baking, I’ll do this year. 

It won’t be gluten-free, low carb, sugar-free, grain-free, starch-free.  It will be delicious, fattening, gooey, filling up this lovely home with smells that remind us of “home.”  I won’t take a taste.  Tom will take off a few days for this special time, his 60th birthday, and some of his favorite treats.

Hum. There’s no rolling pin. What shall I use in its place?

P.S. After writing the above this morning, then rushing out the door to the dentist’s office, I had yet to post it. Upon returning a few minutes ago, it was imperative that I amend it.  We just had the most amazing dental appointment in our lives, a referral from son Richard at Dr.Patrick Simone’s office in Henderson, Nevada.

Walking into his plush, well-appointed office puts me, a dental phobic, instantly at ease. From the elegant, upscale furnishings to the artwork to the well-equipped beverage bar and, the service, impeccable!  Even the restroom was a sight to behold with every imaginable accouterment. 

It almost felt as if we should tip not only the receptionist, but also Terry, the knowledgeable, personable, and thoughtful hygienist.  Instead of the usual hand performed cleaning, scraping away at our gums and teeth, Terry used a laser implement as an adjunct to the traditional cleaning. She used “before and after” photos that were shocking. 

After the cleaning, she performed what she referred to as “sandblasting” the surface of our teeth with a high powered baking soda spray.  The taste was awful.  The result, mind-blowing. My teeth hadn’t been this white since I was a toddler. We couldn’t be happier. 

As we paid our reasonable bill of $226 (for both of us), they thanked us profusely handing us a giant apple pie! Who gets an apple pie from the dentist?  I was thrilled with the bag of dental supplies Terry loaded up for our travel. And then, this giant pie. Wow! 

Need I say that we were impressed?  If you live near or around Henderson or are visiting Las Vegas and a dental situation arises, Dr. Simone’s office is the place to call.

Gee, for the eight days we’re, here in Henderson over the holidays, this does feel like home, minus the grandkids, the grown kids, the friends, the beautifully decorated tree, the elegantly wrapped gifts, the oversized glass jars filled with home-baked cookies, the Santa Bears adorning every corner and on and on.

Life will be different going forward.  Good, but, different.