Fun evening with grandson, Vincent…Getting organized…

Tom and grandson Vincent at the skeet shooting range.

We had a great evening with our grandson Vincent, 17, when we picked him up in Crystal and drove to a skeet shooting range in Blaine, about 30 minutes from his house. Watching him shoot and see the range was interesting when only Tom had ever participated in this activity. Without guns, we could only watch him, but that was fine with us. We’d done this to be with him.

We took some photos, as shown here today, and when the skeet shooting session ended, we headed back toward his home in Crystal, where he lives with his parents, Tammy (Tom’s daughter), and her partner Tracy. We asked Vincent where he wanted to go for dinner, and he chose a very casual bar in Crystal, Steve O’s, where they “have excellent boneless chicken wings,” which Vincent longed to have once again.

Vincent is skilled at the sport and belongs to a team at his high school.

Steve O’s was one of the most casual bars/diners we’d been to in a long time, more like those found up north where fishing and hunting are popular. As it turned out, they had decent food, and none of us were disappointed. I ordered a grilled chicken salad, Tom had a Reuben sandwich, and Vincent had the wings he loves.

After dinner, we drove back to his home to find Tracy there and Tammy shortly after she returned from the dog park. We all sat outside on their deck and chatted for a few hours, and by 8:30 pm, we were back on our way to our hotel to stream a few more episodes of Formula 1 on Netflix and head to bed for another good night’s sleep.

This morning, we had the included breakfast in the hotel restaurant: coffee, eggs, and sausage, and now we’re back in our room as I prepare today’s post and work on adding plans to our calendar while we’re here. It’s filling up fast, and we look forward to seeing more friends and family members.

There was no way we could take photos other than from this angle.

I am glad we have a living room in our hotel room. This way, it’s not so confining to be in the room working on things we must accomplish while here. It has a sectional sofa with a large ottoman, a side table, a large desk, and a tiny kitchen with a sink, teapot, and hotel refrigerator. We have plenty of plugins for our equipment. The only unusual thing is there is housekeeping only every other day, so we make the bed on alternate days. Fortunately, we get enough towels to last for the two days.

Perhaps, with staffing issues, this is how hotels manage operations, keeping services to a minimum. We still see many “help wanted” signs at shops, restaurants, and other businesses. We’ve noticed the service is slower at many restaurants and even checking out at the grocery store when we stop in for a few items. There are fewer cashiers than ever.

The pandemic significantly affected businesses in the US and other countries. Seeing so many familiar restaurants and shops closed permanently as we drive through the cities is sad.

It’s amazing to see how our grandchildren have grown as they develop interests and skills they enjoy.

Yesterday afternoon, we went through the extra suitcase we’d shipped to this hotel a few months ago. When we left South Africa, we had to pack everything we owned except some household goods we’d accumulated, spices, and miscellaneous long-lasting food products. Louise stored those items for us. But, we had started to accumulate too many clothing items when we purchased new items that arrived over the years in shipments we had sent to us.

After going through everything, we made a new pile for Goodwill and then packed and organized our luggage with what we were keeping. Once we get ready to leave here, we’ll still have three checked bags, each with clothes and the third with supplies. I carefully went through the supplies bag to see if we could consolidate, but it didn’t appear possible. I can’t imagine getting down to two checked bags at any time shortly.

Many travelers return to their homes to unpack. Without a home, we’re like turtles…we carry the equivalent of “our home” on our backs. That’s the way it is, and we’ve accepted the reality.

Today, our plans are up in the air. We’ll decide later and let you know what transpired tomorrow.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 18, 2023:

In Diani Beach, Kenya…Our glass table was set and ready for our dinner guests. With no Windex or glass cleaner in the grocery stores, I’ve had a heck of a time cleaning the glass tabletop. I asked Hesborn how he could clean it so well with no streaks. He said he uses soap and water on a rag, drying it with a dry towel. I tried this method, only to end up with streaks. I guess I’ll watch him do it today. For more photos, please click here.

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 pleased 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. 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 hammer to send the ball to the top of the gauge.

Yesterday was another action-packed day. We were seated on the damp grass under a tree near Wolfe Park in St. Louis Park to watch the annual Parktacular Parade by noon. Miles was actually in the parade as a Cub Scout distributing bottled water to attendees on 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 hurried 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 grounds. What a sight to see! The games, the water slides, and the typical carnival-type activities got the kid’s heads swimming with excitement.

Madighan was coming down the giant 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. Unfortunately, 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 was quickly sailing down the giant 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 a long-time friend (and neighbor) Sue (of Chip and Sue). She was hosting an intimate group of our old mutual friends at her gorgeous new home. Tomorrow, we’ll share photos and details of that fabulous evening.

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. Instead, it was the companionship and love that brought us together and kept 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 is located in the park.

Photo from one year ago today, June 18, 2016:

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

In anticipation of goodbye…

Tom and I have four adult children between us; his son is 37 and his daughter turns 42 tomorrow (Happy birthday, darling!).  I have two sons, one turning 43 today (Happy Birthday, honey!) and the eldest 45, living in Henderson, Nevada for the past 25 years. We will surely miss them.

Three of our four kids live here in Minnesota and between them, we have been gifted with six grandchildren, the eldest and the youngest sharing the same birthdays on September 21st, ages ranging from three to twelve.  We will surely miss them.

With their significant others, we’ll be leaving behind here in Minnesota 12 immediate family members as we venture out into the world for the next 5-10 years, moving from country to country, for as little as one month to as long as five. 
Tom has lived in Minnesota all of his life, leaving behind his family of four generations totaling well over 100 unique individuals.  Inviting his family for dinner is comparable to planning a major event!  We will surely miss them.

Living in Minnesota for the past 42 years and coming from a small family, I also leave behind my younger sister, a TV producer in Los Angeles, an older sister living in Boulder City, Nevada, two nieces and their families and a dear cousin from Boston along with her two adult daughters. We will surely miss them.

And the friends that visit more frequently now than ever with offers of help, some confused by our decision to leave, others to travel along with us in spirit, following our every destination.  Some promise to visit us along the way.  We will surely miss them.

And the neighbors… so close for the often daily interactions, the lazy walks in the neighborhood, the hilarious happy hours, the happy hour boat rides, the outdoor parties on the lawn, the helping one another when snowed in during the long winters, the playful little dogs, (many now passed on) and the recent loss of one we loved so much, as written in my post of June 1.  

As they plan a neighborhood party for us for October 13th we are reminded of the 26 years together and how hard it will be to drive away 18 days later on Halloween.  We will surely miss them, too.
No, its not all joyful anticipation of one long “vacation,” kicking back, relaxing in a hammock overlooking the sea or trekking through the plains in search of the “Big 5” while on safari in Africa.  

Its “life” with noisy disorganized airports, congestion at the buffet line on the cruises, lost luggage, bug bites, uncomfortable lumpy mattresses, bad Internet connections, no TV, no food processor, customs curious as to why we have so many bottles of vitamins, no air conditioning, bad weather with no escape to a basement, stomach distress, a burned out hair dryer, running out of contact lens solution and on and on. 

Why?  Why put ourselves through this?  Why not settle down into a “senior living” condo in a warm, humid-less climate, coming back to Minnesota twice a year to visit those we love, freely traveling by car to visit the others?  Why?

As we said before, because we can, because we want to. Because, we both feel we have one last hurrah deep within us.  Did we hunger for this adventure all of our lives? No. I’ve always dreamed of going to Africa, but the world? Not so much. As written in our prior posts, we only gave birth to this idea early in 2012.  

The timing is right. The downturn in the economy has affected the availability and phenomenal pricing of the homes we’ll be renting around the world; Tom’s pension after 42 years; the timing of the sale and ultimate unloading of our house (a painful loss); our improved health due to our diet change a year ago. The stars were aligned. 

As we travel from location to location, ensuring that Skype will work, we’ll make the online call, see their smiling faces, hear their sweet voices, jittery from afar. We’ll revel in the connection, grateful for technology all the while talking, laughing and sharing, no doubt with tears in our eyes. Yes, we will surely miss them.