Trouble with airline app…Goofy Covid-19 testing in Nevada…Inconsistencies…One day and counting…

Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, close to the strip, serves as the home stadium for the Las Vegas Raiders of the National Football League and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Rebels college football team.

The process of checking in for tomorrow’s international flight from Las Vegas (LAS) to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger (MQP) is not as easy as going online and checking in on United’s website. They insist on their site that for “our convenience,” we must use their app, which we did, carefully following all the instructions.

We successfully uploaded photos of our passports, copies of our negative Covid-19 test results from yesterday’s testing. Doing so should have produced two boarding passes for the hotel concierge to print or use on our phones. No such luck! We cannot avoid checking in at a kiosk or the United Airlines desk, resulting in an hour in a queue.

OK, so that’s the way it is. We can do nothing because United’s app isn’t working as efficiently as it should. That fact was even addressed on the app, mentioning they are working to improve it. Go figure. Why require that we use it? That’s enough about that. Let’s get to yesterday’s peculiar Covid-19 testing experience in Henderson, Nevada.

View of only a tiny portion of the Las Vegas strip as seen from the highway.

It was tricky to find a Covid-19 testing site with results provided in 24-hours. We booked both appointments at a nearby CVS Pharmacy location, ten minutes apart. Yesterday morning, the text confirmations came in for two different locations, one for Tom and me at a CVS location a few miles away. That made no sense to us. Why couldn’t they be at the exact location which we’d specifically requested?

With the two appointments 10 minutes apart, we didn’t see how we’d arrive in time with traffic so bad in the area at noon. Instead, we decided to show up for Tom’s  11:50 appointment 30 minutes earlier to see if they’d do both of us. There were no other customers in line at the Covid-19 testing window (for a touchless test).

They would not allow both of us to have a test at that first location. However, the testing permitted Tom to have his difficulty immediately, leaving us ample time to make it for my noon appointment at the second location. Tom performed his test while in the car, carefully following the instructions as the testing person spoke through a microphone, comparable to a drive-thru window at a McDonald’s.

As soon as his test was completed, we asked the testing person if we’d have the results in 24 hours. He said most likely we would. We left, hopeful the results would arrive on time before our flight on Saturday. After all, it was only Thursday. We took off and arrived on time for my noon appointment.

Partial view of some of the grounds at Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa.

I also did my test from the car, expecting the same, if not identical touchless manner.  Oh no, that was not the case. The instructions the testing person spewed from the McDonald’s-type window were entirely different from those Tom received only minutes ago. The steps in which I was to swab my nostrils were utterly other from Tom’s instructions.  Again, go figure. I won’t get into the details, but it seemed different enough to potentially end in a different result (or maybe not), especially if the results were positive, which were not in our case.

Before we drove away, again, we asked the testing person when we’d get the result. He said, “Three to five days.” I immediately responded, explaining how the previous CVS Pharmacy testing person sounded confident we’d have the results in 24 hours. I explained we had a flight to catch in 48 hours. Good grief, if the tiny lab in Komatpoort could get results in 24 hours, surely Henderson’s modern, upscale town could do the same.

He put a little slip of paper in my “envelope” that said “priority” but stated there was no guarantee.  We drove away, frustrated and uncertain if we’d have the results on time. We’d considered arranging another test, perhaps a “rapid test,” somewhere else when we went back to the hotel.

Back in our hotel room, I began a mad search for other options. There were none. If we were to try for a rapid test, we’d have to pay upwards US $150 per person. We decided we had no choice but to “wing it.” Maybe we’d get lucky, and the results would come in today.

The pool at the resort.

Much to our relief, both of our negative test results arrived by text in the middle of the night, which I noticed as soon as I awoke this morning. Whew! Safari luck continues in Las Vegas!!! We asked the concierge desk staff to print the necessary copies for the flight.

We’re still wondering why the process, supposedly fairly universal, would be different at two locations and why the results couldn’t be assured within 24 hours, especially when there were no people in the queue. We’ll never know. Fortunately, the tests here were free, whereas Komatipoort was priced at ZAR 850, US $57.26 per person.

In any case, tomorrow, we leave Las Vegas to begin the long journey back to Marloth Park. We’ll be thrilled if we make the 46-minute connection tomorrow at 8:45 pm in Newark, New Jersey, to board the 15-hour flight to Johannesburg. If not, it will be 24-hours later until the next flight. In case we have to spend the night in Newark, we’re bringing clean underwear and a few toiletries.

This morning we sat at a table outdoors, enjoying the views. It hasn’t been unbearably hot while here, averaging around 100F, 38C each day.

We won’t have time to post in Newark, so you may not hear from us until we arrive in Johannesburg, where we may have to spend the night. If we make the flight, I’ll post a notice that we made it while waiting for the plane to take off. If we don’t make the connection, we’ll have plenty of time for a new post while we wait for the 24 hours to pass.

We will not, under any circumstances, drive on the N4 Highway in the dark, which may require another overnight in Nelspruit if we can’t get on an early enough flight to allow ample time for the 90-minute drive Marloth Park.

This particular flight is rife with uncertainties, all hinging on our ability to make the flight in Newark on time.

Ah, the life of wildly determined world travelers! It’s always filled with change and challenges. But, we continue with happiness in our hearts and hope for the future for all of us.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, July 23, 2020:

From the post on today’s date on day #122 in lockdown in Mumbai, India, we added instructions to make our low-carb, bread-free subway sandwich. It’s essential to wash the dirt off of lettuce. If it is organic, thorough rinsing removes dirt and tiny green worms, which we’ve found on the organic produce in Italy, where we were at the time of these photos. If it’s not organic, be careful, repeatedly rinsing in cold water, which may remove some pesticides. Usually, we dry it with a clean white kitchen towel or paper towels, wrap the leftover lettuce in the white towel, and place it in the fridge in the towel, which will keep it fresh for days. For the recipe below, wash and dry eight large romaine lettuce leaves; usually, the largest leaves are closest to the bunch’s outside. For the balance of the instructions, please click here.

Las Vegas is unlike anywhere else in the world…What a city!…What a nightlife!…

It’s such fun to be staying at the beautiful Green Valley Ranch Resort & Spa in Henderson, Nevada, located across a highway from son Richard’s gated community. The lights, the luxury, the glamour, and the food are always over-the-top in this sparkling city of lights and addictive pleasures. Thank goodness, we don’t gamble. We both gave up giving money to casinos many moons ago.

We are thrilled with our lovely, well-appointed hotel room.

But, getting here yesterday was quite a challenge. We didn’t get to our hotel room until 1:00 am this morning, which was 3:00 am, based on Minnesota time. We were both anxious to get a good night’s sleep but awoke at our usual early time, close to 6:00 am. After less than  5 hours of sleep, we are surprised how energized we feel today.

There was ample space to open our bags and avoid unpacking which we preferred. We’ve become quite good at living out of a suitcase.

Not only will it be wonderful to see son Richard and his GF, but we’ll be able to pick up our mail with many items we’d purchased from Amazon, to refill our supplies, including two pairs of shoes and a few clothing items for me. Tomorrow, after uploading the day’s post, we’ll head to North Las Vegas to our mailing service to collect the many valuable items, including our new camera.

Unusual-looking cakes on display in the casino.

Of course, we’ll have to repack our bags to make everything fit, but Tom included one of our newer empty duffel bags in his suitcase that we’d purchased to go on the later canceled trip to Kenya months ago (due to Covid-19 lockdown) that required cloth duffel bags for the small airplane.

Taste-tempting treats for sale at the Lucky Penny Restaurant.

Yesterday’s trip from Milwaukee back to Minneapolis was a traffic nightmare. Our flight, scheduled for 9:20 pm (Minnesota time), seemed like a shoo-in when we left Sister Beth in the morning after our second visit, headed back to our hotel to pack, and we were on the road by 1:00 pm after requesting a late check-out.

Tom’s colossal ham steak, eggs, and hash browns breakfast. I gave him my fruit.

Traffic from Wisconsin to Minnesota on I-94 was at a standstill on several occasions.  We barely made it to the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport within the required two hours. Once at the airport, check-in queues and baggage processing were long and slow, when curbside SkyCap check-in was no longer available due to Covid.

My breakfast of flourless egg-white wraps containing chicken, avocado, and cheese, topped with pickled onions. Delicious!

Going through security took another 25 minutes. Since I hadn’t eaten a thing all day, we’d hoped to eat at the airport. Many of the usual restaurants were closed due to Covid with lack of support staff. Buffalo Wild Wings was the only restaurant suitable for my eating, which had a long queue and was completed 40 minutes later.

As we entered the casino…

It was rush, rush, rush. We made it to our gate on time to find the Delta flight overbooked with offers of $500 gift cards for passengers willing to forfeit their seats. That wasn’t for us. We weren’t in the mood to wait for almost four hours for the next flight.

Due to touchless gambling, machines such as this don’t accept cash instead of using only pre-purchased cards.

But, the absolute chaos began in Las Vegas when we waited in a line of hundreds of people to take the shuttle to the car rental facility a few miles from the airport. It took another hour to be processed at Budget Car Rental, pushing our bags around when there were no luggage trolleys nearby. We never liked Las Vegas McCarran Airport for these and more reasons. From the time we landed until we reached our nearby hotel (10 minutes from the airport),  2½ had passed. Ridiculous.

Casinos are a playground for adults with every imaginable game of chance.

This morning, we bolted out of bed with a new attitude, showered and dressed in our lovely upscale hotel room, and headed to breakfast at the hotel’s casual restaurant, the Lucky Penny. Photos shown here today are delicious breakfast meals that convinced us that we don’t need to go any further for breakfast over the next few mornings until we leave for South Africa on Saturday.

Waterfalls are built into the walls of a restaurant.

This morning, “I got a text!” (as they say on Love Island, a goofy matchmaking series we’ve watched on a few occasions) from Richard to meet them for dinner at the Claim Jumper restaurant only two miles from here. We’re both looking forward to seeing them, after 20 months since the last time we were here, arriving on Thanksgiving afternoon when we later had Thanksgiving dinner with Richard at the same restaurant where we dined this morning, formerly called the Grand Cafe. Quite nice.

Enjoy our fun Las Vegas-type photos, and we’ll be back with more as the week progresses.

Have a fantastic Monday, everyone!

Photo from one year ago today, July 18, 2020:

One year ago today, I’d posted this photo on this date, which was day #117 in lockdown in Mumbai, India. Here’s what I’d purchased from a local vegetable truck in Boveglio, Italy, in  2013, for a total of Euro $4.09, US $5.33. Prices were better at the grocery store, but the freshness and convenience made it worth paying more. For more, please click here.

The planning continues…As busy as I can be…

On this date in 2015, we were at the Arts Village in Pacific Harbour, Fiji. For more photos, please click here.

At this point, we need to get to work and decide on what we plan to do in India for 54 days beginning on February 8th after the end of the Maharajas Express train from Mumbai to Delhi.

We’re deliberating over several options and will share what we’re deciding to do when we hopefully decide in the next few days. There is so much to consider.

As far as booking periods, this period in India is the most challenging. We don’t want to be floundering by ourselves, jumping from town to town, flight to flight, and hotel to hotel without a plan in mind.

Many have asked over the years if we are “backpackers” and possibly stay in hostels, making our way through a country without specific bookings in mind. That’s not us. 

We have no home. We require the peace of mind of knowing where we’ll be staying during our time in any country, whether in the US or anywhere else in the world. 

India is not an easy country to visit without plans in mind. We do not want to be trapped for days in a smoggy, over-populated city attempting to figure out what to do next.

A priority for us is also a tiger safari, a must-do to be included in our almost two-month itinerary. This is not practical in many areas that are not particularly close to wildlife areas or national parks.

Having had no experience in India, we have had countless travelers and others making suggestions as to our ideal itinerary. We appreciate the input, but we must pursue this considering our interests and desires, not what may necessarily appeal to others.

Yes, we could make a mistake in the planning process, but we’re always willing to take the risk. After all, we had the “unthinkable” happen this past February, and somehow we managed to make our way through it with careful planning, dignity, and grace.

Right now, we are working with a highly competent agent with a highly rated travel agency in India who booked the train for us. As I write here now, amid stopping every 30 minutes to get back to work on tonight’s dinner, Tom goes through all the “paperwork” on some options that may or may not work for us. We shall see.

This morning I went grocery shopping for the last time while here in Nevada. Before doing so, I stopped at a branch of our bank to get some blank checks. 

I am making tonight and tomorrow’s dinner and Sunday brunch. On Sunday afternoon, we’re going to the Vegas Gold Knight’s game at 3:00 pm at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

After the game, we’ll go out to dinner on the strip, and then on Monday morning, we’ll pack and leave for Apache Junction, Arizona. Hopefully, Tom will be feeling well enough to drive for five hours. I’d be happy to drive, but he doesn’t like how I drive, and the stress associated with his “backseat driving” isn’t worth it.

He’s yet to turn the corner with his cough and exhaustion, but when I consider that’s where I was a few weeks ago, he still has a way to go. I looked back at the activity level a few weeks ago in Minnesota, and I don’t know how I got through it feeling as he does now.

I just finished making enough broccoli salad for all of us, including a batch for my sister Susan, which I’ll bring to her tomorrow. Soon, I’ll make the low carb hamburger buns, peel potatoes for the first time in over a year for tonight’s oven-baked fries (chips), shape the ground beef and ground turkey into patties, make the homemade ketchup, and slice the onions, tomatoes, and lettuce for toppings for the meat. It will be another busy day.

Tonight, we’ll grill the meat poolside and enjoy a quiet and restful night in. Thank goodness.

Take care, dear readers.

Photo from one year ago today, December 6, 2018:

A praying mantis stopped by for a visit this morning.  After it walked on the veranda table, it landed on Tom and then landed on me. Friendly little fellow. For more photos, please click here.

In a rush today…

It was five years ago today that Tom was checking out the views from one of the two houses we rented in Pahoa, Big Island, Hawaii. Only days later our family began to arrive for the holiday. For more, please click here.

Today, I am in a bit of a rush. I have to leave the house at 10:45 am to drive to Las Vegas to see Susan and to join her for lunch in her new assisted living facility located 45 minutes from here.


I’ll stay a few hours and then stop at Smith’s Market on the way back to Richard‘s home for a few items for tonight’s dinner and then rush back to begin preparing dinner. Richard only eats chicken so as his mom, I try to be inventive and produce another good chicken recipe.


As for the coughs…Tom is in the worst of it now while I am slowly beginning to turn the corner. If it weren’t for Nyquil Cough, we wouldn’t be able to sleep at all. Both of us have fits of coughing at all hours but especially during the night. For some reason, everything seems worse at night.


We’d hoped to go to a movie with Richard while here but there’s no way we would be able to get through a two-hour period without hacking and disturbing everyone. We’ll see how it goes. We’re leaving in eight days.


Why this cough has lasted so long has baffled us. It started slowly on the cruise over a month ago. Tom had a bit of a tickle in his throat and I had a small pointless cough. I spent one night’s dinner in the cabin when I was feeling dizzy and out of sorts not knowing what was wrong.


But, the dizzyness was the beginning of this dreadful virus when only the next day the cough exacerbated. Also, one of the symptoms we have both experienced has been a feeling of utter exhaustion. 


I am past that stage right now but Tom has been going through it over the past two weeks, worsening the past three days. Please, let this be over soon so we can return to our usual enthusiastic selves, especially now that we know we can move forward with travel plans.


Speaking of which…we booked our flights to India on British Airways at a great price as follows (for both of us):

Total price: USD $1675.16
Trip Protection:      117.26

Total:                $1792.42
 
We used a flight booking company (after reading lots of reviews) we’d never used Hop2.com for the best possible pricing. The flight leaves Phoenix on January 29 and ends on January 30, 2020. 
 
There are two over nine-hour flights with an eight-hour layover in London in between. It will be a long 27 hours. This leaves us a few days in Mumbai to refresh and recover before we begin the exciting six night-train excursion on the Maharajah Express.
 
As always, we’ll manage OK on these long flights although neither of us is able to sleep on the plane. It’s funny. I can fall asleep sitting upright on a sofa while watching a show but I can’t sleep for five minutes on a plane in a similar position. Go figure.
 
Tonight’s a big sports night here at Richard’s…the Vegas Golden Knights will play on TV along with the Minnesota Vikings. I plan to get back early enough to make the dinner so we can all settle in and somehow watch the games simultaneously. 
 
Tom can bring up the football on his laptop via NFL GamePass and the Vegas Golden Knights can be playing on the TV. We’ll see how it goes.
 
Thanksgiving weekend is over in the US and life is back to normal also after “Black Friday” shopping frenzy has ended. We’d intended to go to renew our driver’s licenses today but as mentioned, this is supposedly the DMV’s busiest day of the year. Forget that!
Unfortunately, no new photos to share but check out last year’s photo below! It still makes us laugh!

Be well. Be happy.

_________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, December 2, 2018:

Little decided to check out the inside of the house.  I was in the kitchen chopping vegetables when he entered and looked up to see this! We both couldn’t stop laughing. I yelled out, “Little, is that you?” (I knew it was him). He shook his head a bit like he often did when I spoke to him. He climbed up six very slippery tile steps to get to me, difficult in those “high heeled shoes.” For more photos, please click here.

A much needed restful night in…Using Google Pixel 4XL phone for photos?…

Richard was a Vegas Golden Knight’s superfan when he painted this mural on a wall in his backyard pool area. We’re looking forward to attending a game with him on December 8th.

Yesterday, I baked seven pumpkin pies. When Tom and Richard enjoyed their miniature pumpkin pies topped with whipped cream while out to dinner on Thanksgiving night, I decided I needed to bake a few pies. 

Two of the pies are low carb, and the remainder is traditional. I made an extra for my sister Susan which I’ll bring when I visit her tomorrow at lunchtime. Richard often has a low-carb way of eating, but when he saw how different the low-carb pies looked, he decided on the regular pie instead. 

I guess I’ll have to figure out how to eat two pies over the next several days. I’ll likely freeze one, and we’ll take it to Arizona when we make the drive on or about December 10th or 11th.To make all these pies and dinner for the next several nights yesterday morning, I grocery shop by myself for the first time in over nine months. I was a bit slow-moving in Smith’s Market in Henderson due to another bad night’s sleep with both of us coughing, but I managed to get it done.

Years ago, while visiting Richard, I’d signed up for the Smith’s rewards card. I’d disposed of the card long ago, but I was able to remember my old phone number, which worked in place of actually having the plastic card in my possession. 

As a result, when I was checking out after spending $300 on groceries, I saved over $34 from recalling the old phone number. Wow! That was a thrill. I purchased all the ingredients for the seven pies, two glass pie pans which we’ll take with us (Richard doesn’t bake pies), lots of Keurig coffee pods (so we don’t deplete Richard’s entire supply), and enough food for four or five dinners.

Last night we had carry-out from Cheesecake Factory. I was too pooped to make dinner after making all the pies. Carryout was perfect. Today, I’m making dinner, enough to last for two nights but made fresh daily.

Today, I’m making boneless skinless chicken breasts stuffed with sauteed mushrooms, onions, garlic butter, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese wrapped in hickory-smoked bacon. On the side; cauliflower mash, steamed asparagus, jasmine rice, and homemade coleslaw.

After we devoured our Cheesecake Factory dinners, we began watching a movie that had recently been released on Netflix, “The Irishman,” which is over three hours long. Of course, I fell asleep on the comfy sofa, ultimately dozing off and on during the movie.

About an hour into the movie, we took a break for pumpkin pie. Each of us could choose a pie of our own without having to share. This is a great way to savor a pie at one’s own pace without worrying about sharing it with others. We’ve often done it this way with my former passion for baking, which has diminished since we’ve been traveling over the years.

By 11:00 pm, the movie ended, and we were off to bed, each chugging the little plastic cupful of Nyquil Cough, hoping we wouldn’t disturb each other’s sleep. It was a useless expectation. We each awakened many times from our own and each other’s coughing. Tom is where I was two weeks ago, and I still have a long way to go to be free of this virus. 

In case you haven’t noticed, I have been posting photos taken with my phone. This is something I’d been adamantly opposed to for a long time, preferring to use a camera. Now, with this new phone, I am amazed by the quality of the photos, as seen in the above photo.

This doesn’t mean we won’t keep using a camera. One of our two cameras “died” while in my carry-on bag on Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Minneapolis, Minnesota. How? I don’t know. Now, we’re left with one camera and will use it for most sightseeing. For now, it sure is fun using my new phone.

When I take photos with the phone, they are automatically on my laptop through Google within seconds. This saves me so much time. Having these many features is astounding to us, having been so far removed from the most current digital equipment for so long.

Our phones work like Amazon’s Alexa. We can ask anything at all by voice and get an instantaneous response within seconds. This is quite fun for me, but Tom doesn’t seem as interested in using voice commands.

That’s it for today, folks. We hope each of you has a peaceful and restful day as well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 1, 2018:

This is our boy Wildebeest Willie, who stops by most afternoons for pellets and several naps.  He waits for other wildlife to appear then gets up to join in on the pellet frenzy. He isn’t interested in carrots, celery tops, apples, or pears.  He responds enthusiastically to his name and most likely responds to terms other residents have given him. Smart guy, that Willie! For more, please click here.

Visited my sister for first time in over two years…The Las Vegas Strip for dinner…Food photos…

Chase, Susan’s adorable Yorkie.

Yesterday afternoon, I drove to Summerlin, Nevada, to see my sister Susan, who moved into an assisted living facility on November 1st. This move was long overdue when she required quite a bit of help in her day-to-day activities. I hope she’ll be able to manage there when she no longer has as much support staff as she had in her apartment.

My sister has been bedridden for approximately 14 years, from what I recall. She suffers from numerous health conditions, including COPD and pain syndrome, which requires constant oxygen, many medications, and frequent doctor visits.
Seafood salad.

Her spirits are good and always have been. She’s accepted her limitations with dignity and grace. As my older sister by four years, she’s always been an inspiration to me. How dare I ever complain when I am up and around traveling the world while she lingers in a bed around the clock?

But, as we know, everything is relative. When we suffer, regardless of the cause, thinking of the suffering of others doesn’t necessarily bring us comfort. It may for a few moments when we contemplate the suffering of others but rarely does it make us become pillars of strength and resiliency. It’s the nature of the human spirit.

Fried chicken.

As I sat there with her for three hours, hacking and coughing, she was more concerned for me than for herself. I dismissed the annoying cough as a mere inconvenience that eventually would go away. 

And it will. This morning I noticed a slight improvement. On the other hand, Tom is in the throes of the worst of it, behind me by about two weeks. Hopefully, soon with his robust constitution, he’ll be on the mend. It’s unlike him to become ill.

Chicken Piccata.

I will return to see my sister on Monday, joining her for lunch at the facility. They allow visitors to have meals with residents for a $9 fee. I noticed they had a salad on Monday that will work for me. The food is irrelevant. It’s the interaction that bespeaks it all. I will be able to dine with her.

When I returned to the house, we drove to New York, New York Hotel and Casino and walked through the casino to the Venetian Hotel to a restaurant Richard suggested, The Grand Lux Cafe.

Guess who ordered the beef pot roast with mashed potatoes?

The offerings were primarily American fare which Tom prefers the most, and we all had an excellent meal. Once again, I had salad, seafood salad, but that is always the easy go-to for me.
Today will be low-key. Soon, I am going to Smith’s Market to buy some groceries. Today, I am making pumpkin pies, both regular and low carb, which we all missed over the Thanksgiving period. It will be wonderful to have a slice of low-carb pie topped with natural whipped cream.

Most likely tonight, we’ll dine out, and then tomorrow, I’ll do some cooking for a few days. Richard only eats chicken, so it will surely be a “chicken fest” while attempting to make a few favorite chicken recipes. I haven’t cooked a meal in almost a month.

May you have a spectacular weekend!

Photo from one year ago today, November 30, 2018:

Bushbuck baby, maybe dad and mom often stop at the bottom of the steps for their pellets.  For more, please click here.

Another difficult travel day in the US…

Five years ago, we’d seen photos of this car, a 1959 Cadillac convertible (woody) hanging from the ceiling at Hard Rock Café in Lahaina. On our return drive from Kaanapali Beach, we stopped to take a few photos of our own, as shown. For more photos, please click here.

This may sound awful to say as proud American citizens, but we’re are disappointed with the service at airports in the US. Questions go unanswered, the staff appears disinterested in traveler’s needs, and we discovered somewhat of a blase attitude of many airport employees.

Of course, there are many exceptions but these past two flights, one from Fort Lauderdale to Minnesota and yesterday’s flight from Minnesota to Nevada, left us wondering if the average worker is dissatisfied with their job.

No, I won’t get into all the potential reasons why we may have experienced these inconsistencies. Nonetheless, we were grateful to arrive safely on somewhat of an uneventful flight, barring some turbulence as we approached Las Vegas, where it was raining.

It is cool here, but we don’t mind. It’s certainly not as cold as it was in Minnesota. Today’s high is expected to be 45F (7.2C), cool enough to require we dress warmly. The sun is shining today after a few days of rain.

It was wonderful to see my son Richard after two years and four months. Once we arrived at his home, we dropped off our luggage, piled into his Escalade, and headed right back out the door to go to Thanksgiving dinner. 

The restaurant he selected located across the road at Green Valley Ranch was perfect. Tom and Richard ordered the traditional Thanksgiving dinner while I had a Cobb salad. The turkey dinner had too many items I couldn’t eat, and the salad was filling and satisfying. 

As I’d mentioned, Tom’s cough has exacerbated, and last night after returning after dinner, he went directly to bed. I am still coughing but am now convinced it’s a virus, not a bacterial infection, and there is nothing we can do to make it go away. Not antibiotics, not steroids…just time.

This gives me pause when considering upcoming cruises. What can we do to prevent catching the dreaded cruise cough? I can only surmise that avoiding the buffet, restrooms, and elevators when we can maybe the only way to ramp up our avoidance of catching these awful bugs.

We’d hoped that today we would go to the DMV to renew our driver’s licenses. We’ve heard stories of people waiting all day to be called for their renewal. We have no interest in waiting in a queue for hours. Richard suggested we wait until next Tuesday when it won’t be as busy. 

Soon, I’ll take off to visit my sister Susan at her new home in Las Vegas, a beautiful assisted living facility, about 30 minutes from here. I can hardly wait to see her.

Tonight, we’ll all head out for dinner at a favorite spot of Richard‘s on the strip. Many new hotels and restaurants have been built in the past few years. We’ll enjoy having an opportunity to see the new properties and dine at one of the restaurants.

At the moment, I’m seated in his comfy living room with a great cup of Dunkin’ Donuts Decaf Keurig coffee. At some point today or tomorrow, I’ll grocery shop to make a meal in the next few days. We’ve been eating out almost every day (except for a few fabulous dinners Karen made) since we arrived in the US on November 8th.

A home-cooked meal may be just what the doctor ordered. Settling in here in this low-key environment is also on the list of healing properties, a little more leisurely pace than we had in Minnesota.

We wish our friends in the US a fruitful “Black Friday.” the big sale after Thanksgiving each year. We prefer not to partake in the festivities! We hope everyone who celebrated Thanksgiving had a fabulous meal with quality time spent with family and friends.

Photo from one year ago today, November 29, 2018:
Many species visited our garden in the early mornings;  kudus, bushbucks, warthogs, helmeted guineafowl, and duikers. What a great start to the day! For more photos, please click here.

Final expenses for 25 days in Nevada…Back out “to the world tomorrow!”….A new normal…

Mountain view on a rare cloudy day.

This morning I packed my one suitcase of clothing and collected items for our supplies bag. My bag weighs well under the 50 lb maximum (23 kg). Indeed today, I’ll find odds and ends to get me up to the 23 kg maximum allowed by the airlines.

In a way, it’s bittersweet, packing and leaving the US once again for the next two years when once again we’ll return to visit family. Next time, we won’t stay quite as long, most likely for a total of one month between Minnesota and Nevada, giving us plenty of time to be with family and friends.

Here are our total expenses for the 25 nights in Henderson, Nevada:

 Expense   US Dollar 
Housing (Richard’s home)   $                         
 Gifts & Misc.   $                  299.00
 Airfare    $               1,137.00
 Rental Car & Fuel  $                  926.00
 Groceries   $               1,245.30
 Dining Out   $                  402.52
 Supplies & Pharmacy   $                  609.32
 Entertainment   $                  310.25
 Total   $               4,929.39
 Avg Daily Cost 25 days   $                  197.18

Now, as we pack and make the necessary preparations to continue our world journey, we’ve further discovered that this nomadic life we live is our “new normal.” 

There’s no way we can envision living in one place, renting a condo somewhere, and returning to a life of owning “stuff,” shopping among the crowds, waiting in traffic, and considering times to go out based on when “rush hour” ends. That’s no longer who we are.

We ask ourselves, “Was that ever us anyway?”

Two Mallards are sharing a rock in the pond at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve.

As we’ve melded into life in the convenient Henderson, Nevada location, over these past 25 days, we’ve realized how far removed this easy life is from our reality. Living in constant temperature-controlled comfort, with nary an insect in sight, little wildlife, and nature surrounding us, we’re starving to be living in a challenging environment.

To be surrounded by nature, including the good and not so good, and the occasional discomforts that remind us of our humanness and vulnerability, is where we long to be.

One of eight ponds in the preserve.

That’s not to say that living in a luxury villa in Costa Rica will be tough. It will be easy in most ways. But, we’ll be surrounded by expansive views, varying temperatures and climate, and some of the finest wildlife in the world. 

Costa Rica is a country rich in unique and colorful inhabitants, both human and animal. Yes, modern conveniences will be enjoyed and appreciated but never taken for granted. Our goals will still be to focus on that which always appeals to us the most.

Is this a weather ball I shot from a distance?

We have a plethora of tasks to complete while in Costa Rica, including tax stuff, visa extensions, trips to a dentist (we’ve both lost a few fillings), other financial “paperwork,” and beginning the process of preparing for the Antarctica cruise which requires medical certifications and tons of forms to complete.

We hope to get as much of this “work” completed shortly after we arrive to leave us ample time to focus on our interests in culture and take photos of the extraordinary scenery and wildlife that Costa Rica offers in abundance.

Today, we’ll complete the packing, make a quick trip to the market to replace any paper products and supplies we used while living in Richard’s home (he doesn’t expect this but, that’s just us), and fill the little white car with fuel. 

Mountains surround the Las Vegas valley.

Tonight, we’ll all dine on the leftover pizza which I made yesterday with a new salad I’ll make today.  Overall, with as much as we’ve already completed, the day won’t be much busier than most. Thanks, Richard, for an excellent stay in your beautiful home!

Tomorrow, we’ll post from the airport while we await our flight. We’re leaving for the airport at 8:30 am, although our flight isn’t until 11:25 am. Returning the rental car is far from the airport and requires a 10 minute or more ride in a shuttle to return to the airport where I’ll be waiting for Tom.

Tom feels more comfortable leaving for the airport earlier rather than later. I’m OK with that since it is an international flight after all, and I’ll have more time to upload a new post while we’re waiting.

We’ll be back tomorrow with some favorite Nevada photos and our goodbyes once again to the USA as we continue on our “new normal.” We can’t stop smiling.

May your day bring many smiles!

Photo from one year ago today, July 31, 2016:

One of two long piers in Chalong Bay. At that time, I was still recovering from the spine injury in Bali occurring on June 1, 2016, and I couldn’t make the long walk on the pier. Now, I wouldn’t have thought about it twice.  For more photos, please click here.

An unexpected oasis in the desert with wildlife…Five days and counting…

Impressive clouds over the mountains while I toured the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve.

With both of us having visited Nevada many times in our old lives, we had already been to many popular sightseeing venues throughout the state. With many tasks to accomplish before leaving the US until our next family visit in a few years, we had much to do with little interest in traveling around the state in the excessive heat.

The Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve entrance is secure to avoid trespassers entering during hours the facility is closed.

At this point, we’ve almost completed everything we needed to do. Today, we’ll make the final visit to our mailing service to pick up the last of our mail and drop off a few items we’ll store in our oversized mailbox for future shipment.

Also, we’ll make a quick stop at the pharmacy and Smith’s Market, which will see us through until we leave for the airport on Tuesday morning to fly to Costa Rica for the upcoming three and a half month stay.

Too distant for close-up photos, we spotted these two Cormorants sitting on a rock in a pond.

Two days ago, when I decided to head out on my own, leaving Tom behind to have some time to himself, I headed to the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve with few expectations, hoping to see a few birds.

There is a total of eight distinct ponds within the facility.

On many occasions, we’d attempted to take photos of the few birds we’d seen here and there, including some in the yard by the pool.  In most cases, they’ve flown away before I could grab the camera.  While out and about, we’ve seen a few birds and virtually no wildlife.

Each pond had a distinct look with a variety of birds and vegetation.

As our long-time readers know, wildlife is the single most exciting aspect of our travels. Without the opportunity to see Mother Nature’s treasures, we try to focus on culture, scenery, and vegetation. 

Unfortunately, where we’ve been located in Henderson with a population slightly under 300,000 (bordering Las Vegas, which has a population of over 632,000), there have been few opportunities to see desert wildlife in the metropolitan area. 

There are fewer birds at the facility in the summer, but I was surprised to see as many as I had.

Even if we’d ventured deep into the desert (as we’ve done in the past), it would be unlikely we’d see much in the way of wildlife. The heat and the sun keep most animals under cover during daylight hours.

Arriving at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve at 11:10 am, I had no idea the facility closes at noon during the summer months. A kindly staff member explained they’d be closing soon, and the gates would be locked. 

Duck on a rock.

When I explained about our website and the fact I’d hoped to prepare a story on the facility, I was not only welcomed with open arms but was offered a private tour through the entire facility on their utility vehicle; I couldn’t have been more appreciative. 

Oddly, the typically sunny sky this time of year was overcast and not ideal for taking photos, but the unseasonable cool temperature at 75F (24C) was perfect weather for the tour. I was determined to do my best and take as many photos as possible to share here with our worldwide readers. It proved to be a perfect tour.

This bird is a vulture.

As for the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve, here are a few facts from their site:

“Description
The Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve (HBVP) is one of the best places in southern Nevada to watch birds and dragonflies. Marsh and stream-side habitat in the nearby Las Vegas Wash, combined with open ponds and trees in the HBVP ponds, attracts birds of all kinds to water in this otherwise parched land. Desert species, waterbirds, wading birds, migrant songbirds, and shorebirds can be abundant here. Paved (fully accessible) and dirt (mostly accessible) walkways run on dikes that divide the area into nine brush-lined ponds and provide many vantage points. An elevated platform gives good views over much of the site. Access to the area is free, but it closes early, especially during summer.

The HBVP began as part of the Henderson city sewage treatment system, but with changes in the treatment process, the HBVP now uses reclaimed water, and the odor is gone. Even so, the staff still ask people to remain on the trails and stay out of the mud and water.”

More information may be found on their site, including year-round hours of operation and the remarkable fact that there are no fees required to visit this particular spot. 

Please keep in mind a liability waiver must be signed upon entrance into the facility via the visitors center. However, staying on the trails is safe for people of all ages, although the roads are rough in spots and may not suit those with disabilities.  

In the usual heat of the desert, certain plants bloom pretty and colorful flowers.

The walk through the facility may take several hours, and it’s imperative to dress for the weather and bring plenty of water.  Cooler days definitely would be more suitable for those interested in walking the entire distance. Binoculars and/or a camera are a must. 

Shortly after Barbara, who’d volunteered to give me the tour, we were joined on the utility vehicle by Anthony, a biologist. He plays a significant role in overseeing the wildlife in the preserve. 

During and after the tour, I had an opportunity to speak to Anthony at length as we shared beautiful stories of nature and wildlife. He, too, was originally from the Midwest with an innate passion for nature, so much so that it had become his dedicated lifelong career.

Las Vegas/Henderson is located in a valley surrounded by mountains.
Over the next several days, we’ll continue sharing more photos from my visit to the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve, although the stories included may not necessarily be relevant to the images.

So, folks, we’re winding down our visit to the USA. On August 1st, “travel day,” we’ll include all of our expenses and a recap of our favorite photos from the 24 days we’ll have spent in Nevada.

Have a pleasant day filled with beautiful surprises!

Photo from one year ago today, July 27, 2016:

One year ago, the second bedroom in the Phuket house, which we never used, included an en suite bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub. For more photos, please click here.

Safari luck prevails once again…A visit to the unique Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve….

Ducks and other varieties of birds in one of the many ponds in Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve. I visited the preserve on a cool, cloudy day, but the scenery was still beautiful.

Over the next several days, we’ll be posting many photos from the awe-inspiring Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve located about 15 minutes from our current location in Green Valley Ranch.

In the interim, I had to share what turned out to be a solution for my unfortunate fender bender, which occurred on Monday while I was visiting a possible assisted living facility for my sister located in North Las Vegas, beyond the Summerlin area.

Visiting this venue provided me with an entirely different perspective of the Henderson area.

As shared in Monday’s post (click here for details), I bumped into a square pillar in the parking lot of the facility, leaving a dreadful situation in the left front of the white rental car that could easily have cost us hundreds of dollars in expenses with Avis handling the repairs, after returning the vehicle on August 1st.

With considerable angst, I showed Tom what had transpired in the parking lot. With only a week remaining until we leave Nevada, we decided to wait and see how it would roll out when we return the vehicle next Tuesday before our flight to Costa Rica.

Two Mallards are sitting on rocks in one of the eight ponds in the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve.

Yesterday morning after visiting the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve, which I’d done on a whim when on my way to the grocery store (more on that shortly), the most peculiar thing happened.

After buying the groceries to make last night’s dinner, loading the groceries into the trunk in the insulated bags I had with me, I was approached by two men who commented about the situation on the left front bumper. They explained they could fix it right there in the parking lot for $100 if I had 10 to 15 minutes to spare while they worked. 

Car before we wiped off the residue this morning.
Here’s the white rental car after repairs were made in Smith’s Market parking lot. A tiny spot remains but is barely visible. We’re satisfied with the work.  Below is the before photo.

At first, I hesitated. Was this some scam? The two men in their 30’s seemed OK. They had a nice pickup truck, were dressed in clean white tee shirts and jeans, and didn’t appear to be anything other than two guys trying to make some extra cash doing small bodywork jobs from Smith’s parking lot.

They assured me I didn’t have to pay until they completed the work to my satisfaction. They explained I’d need to let the paint dry overnight and could wipe off the residue in the morning with a damp towel. Another car owner was standing nearby, listening to the conversation. He, too, was considering that they work on his car also.

The little white rental car before the repairs were done in Smith’s parking lot.

What did I have to lose? The only risk would be if they exacerbated the damage by working on it. For $100, it seemed worth taking the risk. I told them I’d walk over to Wells Fargo ATM across the parking lot to get the rest of the cash when I didn’t have $100 in cash on me. 

I locked the car and walked to the ATM while they worked on the vehicle. The bystander watched with intense curiosity and decided that he, too, would go for their “deal” and could work on his car as soon as they were done with mine. 

In no time at all, I was satisfied with the work they were doing and told them I’d give them a mention in today’s post for a reasonably priced job well done. How handy could this be?

As described here, this bird is a Grebe: “Grebes are a widely distributed order of freshwater diving birds, some of which visit the sea when migrating and in winter. This order contains only a single family, the Podicipedidae, containing 22 species in 6 extant genera.”

This morning Tom and I  wiped off the car to find it in considerably improved condition, most likely not detectable by the rental car company. The 2016 model with 30,000 miles on the odometer had several similar small spots when we took the car, typical for rental vehicles over a year old.

If you live in the Las Vegas/Henderson area, they’ll come to your home or place of business or any other designated location to repair dings such as mine. Of course, the price is subject to the extensive nature of your “dings” or dents. You can reach Sean at 702-972-2495.

Today, I’m off to see Susan. With today and Friday’s upcoming visit, this may be the last of the two times I see my dear sister. These past weeks I visited her every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. With this next upcoming Monday designated as packing day, I may not make the long drive that day and say goodbye on Friday.

In tomorrow’s post, I’ll share the details of my excellent visit to the breathtaking Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve with many more stunning and surprising photos.

Please check back then!

Photo from one year ago today, July 26, 2016:

The pouring rain in Phuket continued for many days during our six-week stay. For more photos, please click here.