The advantages of early bookings…Upcoming US football season…Is Tom going to watch the Vikings games?

 

This view could be a tropical island anywhere in the world.

Since booking our last three cruises over these past few months, Tom has noticed those cruise fares have increased substantially: one for US $1100, AUD $1484; the second for US $900, AUD $1213; the third for US $800, AUD $1078, for a grand total of US $2800, AUD $3774. 

Throughout our travels, we’ve often been asked why we book future travels so far in advance. This is the main reason. If booking a venue at a great price, we’ve never been contacted requesting we pay a new higher price.  In other words, when booking travels the lowest price at which we can “lock-in” the price, will hold until the booking occurs.

Deadman’s Gully is an ideal habitat for crocs.

However, booking airline tickets, car rentals, or vacation homes at a higher price will seldom allow us the benefit of a price reduction which may eventually be posted online. With penalties for canceling and re-booking these types of travel accommodations, we have to face the reality that price changes will occur from time to time. 

We could hear the birds hovering over this area which also is considered a natural habitat for birds.

In booking cruises, it’s different. On several occasions, it’s been to our benefit to request a price reduction on a previously booked cruise as long as it’s before the 90-day-before-sailing window or when the final payment is due. The cruise lines and booking agencies allow one to take advantage of fare reductions. It’s up to the customer to continually check for fare reductions. The agency or cruise line will not do this for the customer.

With seven upcoming cruises booked, Tom has gotten into the habit of checking daily for price reductions. This has served us well over these past 11 cruises and hopefully will continue to benefit us going forward. Ironically, he also notices fare increases as noted above, confirming that early bookings make sense.  

The beach in this area was desolate.

The only disadvantage of booking early for any travel-related event is the usual requirement to pay well in advance, as often as two years before the event occurs. 

Often, when booking certain hotels using the links on our site we get booking perks. Each hotel night we book accumulates points toward future hotel bookings. To date, we’ve received three free nights with more pending, keeping in mind that we seldom stay in hotels for more than one night, except for a year ago when we spent two weeks each in Paris and London.

A safe walkway into the rainforest in Clifton Beach.

Once we’re situated in Fiji next month we’ll begin to work on filling the holes in our schedule when doing so requires the expenditure of more upfront cash and a better wifi connection which we’ve been assured is the case. In the past few years, Fiji has updated their wifi country-wide with a supposed good signal for all residents.

With little heavy rain in these past few weeks, this area contained little water as compared to when we visited a few months ago.

On to another timely topic…Tom’s planning to watch the Minnesota Vikings football games, beginning with the first preseason game when it’s broadcast Sunday night at 8 pm central time. 

He won’t be able to watch the game here until Monday based on the time zone in Australia. If he waits to watch it, he can avoid the commercials but bears the risk of seeing the results online. He can actually watch it live on Monday morning at 11:00 am which most likely he’ll do. Tom is one of those that really don’t like to hear the results before watching the game. 

We’d hoped to see a kangaroo pop out of these woods but no such luck.

While we’re still in Australia he can plug in the HDMI cord into the HD TV to watch the games.  n Fiji, without a TV, he’ll have to watch the games on his laptop as will be the case for all shows we chose to watch while living in Fiji. 

These grill areas are available to any who’d like to use them at no cost. It’s pleasing to see how those who’ve used them, have left them in spotless condition. One wouldn’t find this to be the case in every country.

As many viewers chose, adapting to watching movies and other media on tablets and other small screens is easy. During most of our travels, we haven’t had access to an HD TV (or any TV for that matter) and have easily adapted to watching the small screen.

As for another matter, this morning, when I prepared to shower grabbing a towel off the stack of fresh towels on the floor in the bathroom (we’d filled the intended towel drawer with toilet paper and other toiletries leaving no room for the stack of towels) there sat the largest spider I’d seen since we were in Africa. 

Clifton Beach is a beautiful sandy beach with few visitors.

Sure, I could have gone to grab the camera for a photo, but I feared that it would get away before we got back.  Although I didn’t scream, squeal, or otherwise, I did ask Tom to put on his shoes and help dispose of them.  From reading online it could easily have been the relatively harmless large Huntsman Spider is known to eat household insects. 

The mailman stopped his bike to chat with us!

However, we couldn’t be certain as to the type with literally hundreds of species in Queensland. Tom grabbed the towel with the spider still on it outdoors to the wild area in the yard, shaking the towel to release it. 

We both been surprised by how few insects we’ve spotted indoors in Australia. The biggest annoyance has been  the flies that somehow find their way indoors even though the doors and windows without screens are always kept closed. 

We weren’t sure why these boulders had been placed at this spot on the beach.

This morning, we were awakened once again at 4:51 am from the screaming birds, the Curlews, living in the bush in the yard. It’s like no noise we’ve ever heard in the past.  One would think their legs are being torn off when in fact they’re happily living their lives, most active at night.

Life is unique wherever we may be. Adapting to the differences has become easy and familiar to us. Once we arrive in Fiji, we’ll experience an entirely new range of differences to which we’ll hopefully adapt in no time at all.  We’ll keep our readers apprised of these differences.

Happy weekend to all!

                                               Photo from one year ago today, August 9, 2014:

We didn’t post any other photos than the above on this date one year ago. We were out the door early to head to the Louvre. With such a busy day, we didn’t post until the next day. See the post here.

 

Happy Easter and Happy Passover to those who celebrate…Happy Sunday to all others…

 

With spring in the air, the Plumeria trees have begun to bloom.

In years passed, Easter was a highly anticipated and celebrated holiday for our family, filled with laughter, games, traditional events and familiar foods all prepared with the utmost of love, added to the spiritual meaning of the Easter season as well.

Each year, we made no less than 18 Easter baskets, filled with goodies befitting each family member, 14 for us humans, and more for our kids’ pets and our dogs. I spent days making the name tags, bows, and careful placement of the goodies in each of the baskets, smiling all the while.

An Angel Trumpet flower wilted due to a lack of rain these past two weeks.

Tom and I would conjure up a playful game for all of the grown-ups to play in an effort to find the colorful plastic eggs filled with money that we’d strategically hid in the most surprising spots in our home along with easier games for the six grandchildren to find more eggs filled with candy, toys, and money.

The frenzy that ensued created a level of laughter that rings clear in my ears, even today, three years later. The sounds of the kids laughing and squealing as they ran through the house are sounds we’ll never forget. 

You may ask, “How could we leave all of that?” We answer, “It wasn’t easy.”

Not an Easter lily, but an orchid will do.

After over 20 years of illness, always in pain, always pretending to be fine while living a full and busy life and then, in 2011, becoming well again due to a strict adherence to a restrictive way of eating, one day in January 2012, 10 months before his retirement, Tom said, “Do you want to travel the world while your health is good?”

I was shocked by his question. After a week of careful research, spreadsheets, and calculations as to the feasibility, I answered, “Yes, I do,” with the same excitement and fervor I expressed on the day we were married saying, “Yes, I do.”

We’d spent our lives thinking and living for others, our kids, our other family members, and our friends, all of whom we dearly love. We never felt we could do enough. But, it was our time and for however long my good health would remain intact, we would carry on.

This flower baffles me with nothing online similar making it possible to identify. How unusual.

Now, 2½ years later, we have no regrets and much to our surprise on holidays such as today, we don’t feel lost or sad. We’re grateful for a lifetime of memorable holidays and celebrations with our kids, who now are all in their 40’s, knowing they’d do just fine without us, having become strong and independent many years ago.  Over the years, they developed many of their own holiday traditions which at times, didn’t include us. That’s how life is. 

Perhaps, in a way it’s not unlike the Laysan Albatross, the chick sits atop the nest day after day while the two parents fly back and forth to sea for their food to return to feed the chicks who hungrily grasp at their beaks for the regurgitated meal. And then one day, when the chicks are four to five months old, the parents don’t return from the sea.

The chicks lie in wait, wondering where the next meal will come from as days pass, as they also miss the preening and loving care of the parents. Finally, one day they realize that the parents won’t return, that it’s time to go out to sea on their own to begin their lives, able to care for themselves. In many ways, this outcome made us sad, the thought of the chicks waiting and waiting and the parents never returning.

Pets deserve acknowledgment on special days.

The chick picks up his pudgy body from the safety of the nest, walks to the cliff’s edge and fledges, wings spread and flies out to sea, maybe to return to the same spot in years to come to have offspring of their own, as the life cycle continues on.

This is not unlike our lives. They grew up. They built lives for themselves and it was time for us to go. They are fine. They are independent and self-sufficient for which we are proud and pleased. And, it was us who walked to the cliff and fledged, out to sea to care for ourselves and in essence, to be free.

No longer do we work for days preparing Easter Baskets, cooking, devising games and activities, each year new and different, in order to build a tradition that in time, we’ve passed along to them to recreate in their own ways with their children. It’s the cycle of life.

A Koala bird trots along the grass.

From time to time we meet some people who are shocked that we left our family to travel the world. “How selfish,” we read from the look in their eyes. At times, they even ask, “How could you leave your family?” 

We answer, “Our journey isn’t about leaving them. It’s about freeing us…to experience life as we’ve never done before…to share our story with readers from all over the world and to leave, however, small a footprint in the sand wherever we may go. 

We love and cherish this amazing earth that God, or whatever higher power one believes, has left for us to explore, to love, and to care for.

The common Hibiscus is blooming in varying colors throughout the island.

Today, not unlike every day, we thank God as we remain in awe of the world around us, the freedom we’ve been given for the experience, and the ability to make it happen. 

For however long the good health remains, we feel blissfully committed to carrying on, with so much of the world yet to explore and a passion to see as much as we are able.

Last night, at the Full Moon party, I became engaged in a conversation with a lovely couple. As we stood beneath the palm fronds of a tree as the rain began to fall, the wife, slightly younger than I said, “You’ve inspired us to make some changes in our lives.”

Please help us identify this flower which we can’t seem to find online.  They’re growing prolifically outside our door.

The husband with a few health issues of his own will read yesterday’s post about health and resources that I’ve utilized in my life-changing way of eating. 

If we’ve been given this opportunity, it becomes our responsibility to share whatever morsels we can with others along the way, as so many have shared with us. 

Whether its a positive review we’ve posted online for the owner of a small business or a tiny bit of inspiration to a reader or person we’ve met along the way, its all worthwhile, as we too glean so much from our readers and new friends, offering us morsels of wisdom and insight into places we’ll visit along the way. 

We’re grateful, we’re humbled and we’re happy, today on Easter and every other day in our ongoing journey to see the world.

                                              Photo from one year ago today, April 5, 2014:

Out to dinner in Marrakech, the sunset was beautiful.  For details on that date, please click here.