Final expenses for six weeks in the Huon Valley…Final favorite photos…This morning we’re on our way to Sydney for a cruise…

This is one of our favorite photos in Tasmania, taken through the living room window glass as the sun began to set. 

By the time you see this post, we’ll be on our way to Sydney, flying from Hobart International Airport. Upon arrival and after a 25-minute cab ride to the pier, we’ll immediately board the ship, Celebrity Solstice, a boat on which we’ve sailed on two prior occasions over these past years of world travel.

Boats in the river channel on a cloudy day.

We’ve loved this particular ship on the past sailings, especially the Cafe Al Bacio, where we’d sit each morning while I prepared the day’s photos and post while we sipped on the most delicious coffee we’d had on a ship.

Church located outside of Geeveston, Tasmania.

Now that I’ve given up caffeine, coffee, and tea (due to the acidity), for the time being, it’s going to be tough to resist, but I have no choice. So instead, I’ll focus on having fabulous conversations with guests while they walk by as we lounge in the cafe.

After a significant rain, helicopter blades dry the cherry orchard across the road.

We plan to get off the ship at several ports of call in countries we’ve yet to visit. We’ll be staying aboard the boat when we arrive in two different ports in Fiji. Right now, I’m associating Fiji, which we enjoyed at the time, with having contracted this awful digestive issue while there for four months on two different islands.

A calf is nursing an almost same-sized mom.

Yesterday, by noon, we were almost wholly packed less the items we were wearing, with fresh clothing set out for today’s travel day. We weighed our bags, and each of the three bags weighed slightly less than 23 kg (about 50 pounds), the maximum allowance for the two free checked bags with Virgin Australia. So the charge for the third checked bag is AU 70, US $54.  That’s fine with us!

Also, we were able to eliminate one of our carry-on bags, the duffel bag, which we’ve hauled with us since the onset of our travels. It’s been loaded with jeans, shorts, and cargo-type pants too heavy to place in our checked bags. 

Calla lily in the garden.

On the last cruise, we purchased a new carry-on wheeling bag easier to manage than the duffel bag, which had impossible wheels to drive. Instead, Tom ended up carrying it by the strap. My new black carry-on bag can fit our “pill bag” (includes prescriptions, emergency medical supplies, Epipens, and a few over-the-counter products) plus all the jeans and pants. 

A decorative item they’d purchased in Africa, at the entrance to Anne and Rob’s garden.

I’d always carried the pill bag while Tom insisted we carry the heavier Costco bag, the duffel bag, and the computer bag. Now, we’re down to two carry-on bags, one each, since I don’t own or carry a handbag. This will make a massive difference for us making our way through airports. No longer do we need or use the metal cart we had in the beginning.   

View of the Huon River from the front lawn.

We were able to fit the Costco bag into one of the checked bags and the cloth Africa bag, and one small insulated bag, all of which we use in every country for grocery shopping. They add less than one-half kg (1.1 lbs) to the checked bags. So in all, we have five pieces; three checked and two carry-on bags. This is the lightest we’ve been since day one.

As mentioned, below is our chart of total expenses for the six weeks we spent in the Huon Valley of Tasmania. To see the final costs for Penguin, Australia, please click here.

Expense US Dollar Australian
Vacation Rental  $                  3,490.99  $                        4,550.30
Airfare   $                     241.68  $                            315.02
Taxi   $                                   
Rental Car/Fuel  $                  1,979.2  $                        2,579.86
Wifi   $                        48.00  $                              62.57
Groceries  $                  1,174.96  $                        1,531.49
Dining Ou  $                                 $                                     
Cleaning  $                     191.50  $                            250.00
Medical & Pharmacy  $                     709.51  $                            924.80
Total  $                  7,835.91  $                      10,214.04
Monthly Cost
 $                  5,554.21  $                        6,964.12
Avg Daily
Cost – 44 days
 $                     185.14  $                            232.14
Wood carvings with historical themes are found throughout Tasmania.

These costs fall into the mid-range for our vacation/holiday home living, comparing them to all of our past expenditures. We stayed within our budget of AU 7,807, US $6,000 per month, and thus are pleased with the result. But, of course, adding cruises to holiday home living has quite an impact on annual total costs.

Next time you “hear” from us, we’ll be posting from the ship at the usual time other daily posts are uploaded.  See you soon!

Be safe. Be happy!

Photo from one year ago today, March 1, 2016:

One year ago today, we lost our dear friend Richard, who made our four-month stay in Kauai a glorious social stay on the gorgeous island. We’ll always miss him and his lovely wife, Elaine. Please click here for details.

Tomorrow we’re off!…Have I recovered yet?…Favorite Huon Valley photos…

Could it be more beautiful in Tasmania?

Taking my time to pack, suddenly it’s time to wrap it up. Tomorrow morning, we’ll leave the house for the airport at 7:30 am for a 10:10 am flight. Unfortunately, there’s road construction on the highway to Hobart that we heard will make the otherwise 45-minute ride take as long as 90 minutes.

With Tom’s usual worrying about arriving on time, we’ll most likely be out the door even earlier. So I’d better make sure all odds and ends are packed today with only the bags to zip at the last minute before heading out the door.

Farmland, mountains, and forest in the Huon Valley.

We have great leftovers for today’s main meal. Since I’ve had a terrible time with digestion with this current condition, we’ve been eating at 1:00 pm, allowing plenty of time to digest the meal long before bedtime.

What a view!

I’ve been splitting the meal into two portions the past few days and having the second half when I feel I need to eat again. This way, I understand how eating two half portions meals will leave me feeling an hour later. So far, so good, although I seem to be hungrier than ever before.

Yesterday was the last day of the seven-day course of the huge doses of two antibiotics with a PPI (proton pump inhibitor). Unfortunately, the symptoms remain, although I’ve seen about a 40% improvement. 

Alpaca enjoying the sunshine with chubby cheeks filled with grass.

We talked it over, deciding another trip to the doctor before taking the last meds last night would be necessary. Based on the literature on these three combo drugs, many patients with this particular bacterial infection often require 14 days of dosing.

Old farm truck at the Geeveston car show.

Sure, I’m concerned over “gut bacteria” after taking antibiotics for this extended period. In any other case, I’d tough it out without them. But, this condition can contribute to developing bleeding ulcers and stomach cancer, leaving us to weigh the risks carefully. 

I opted for the second round of meds, for this reason, hoping to feel 100% better by the end of the cruise. I’m eating unsweetened yogurt and taking high-quality refrigerated probiotics. Hopefully, they’ll have the proper yogurt on the ship, but it’s improbable.  Most people only consume sweetened yogurt with fruit added.

The Huon River’s bright blue waters.

We headed to Geeveston, where I met with the doctor who agreed to prescribe another seven-day pack. I can’t imagine having this condition on a ship and hardly eating much at any given meal. However, even with my restricted eating habits, I’ve enjoyed the food on cruises when the chefs have been great at being creative.

Gorgeous white sand beaches.

But, now only able to consume about a cup of food at a time to avoid distress shortly after the meal and for several hours thereafter, we’ve decided we may actually attend meals three times per day. 

I’ll have the protein smoothie for breakfast. I purchased small ziplock bags filling 12 bags (for a 12-night cruise) with all of the powders required to make the drink. Also, I found a special mug with a spiral whisk-like gadget to place inside the mug when shaking it up. Wow! This works! No blender required! No lumps!

Tom’s first ocean fishing experience.

We’ll dine in the dining room each evening and switch between the buffet and main dining room for lunch. I’ll have tiny portions during each meal. The buffets usually have a gluten-free section, but many items contain sugar and gluten-free grains, and high carb items that I don’t consume. There’s always a cook at the gluten-free table, making it easy to determine the ingredients in the offered dishes.

Adding my restrictive way of eating to yet another list of foods to avoid with the H Pylori, my meals are limited; no beef, no pork, no cruciferous or hard-to-digest vegetables, and no raw veg. Instead, I’ll have a small portion of plain chicken or salmon with a small plate of cooked veggies for most meals. 

Oceanview in Southport, Tasmania.

I revised my printed food list for the head chef, which we’ll deliver as soon as we board the ship to ensure my first meal will be prepared appropriately. Anne, our property owner, printed off several copies, placing them in a plastic sleeve. 

Thank you,  Anne and Rob, for all you’ve done to make our stay at the Anchorage Apartment so pleasant and easy. It’s been a pleasure staying in your beautiful property and meeting the two of you and your two sweet dogs.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with a short post with the final expenses for the six weeks in the Huon Valley. Please check back then!

Photo from one year ago today, February 28, 2016:

Lillies blooming in the lily pad in the huge stone pot in the yard of the second home in Fiji. It seems so long ago we were there. For more photos, please click here.

Review on Huon Valley holiday home with many photos…Two days and counting.

View a small portion of the Huon River from the lawn of the rental in Castle Forbes Bay.

None of today’s photos of the property we rented for six weeks in the Huon Valley are ours.  We “borrowed” them from Anne and Rob’s listing on Airbnb, found here.  We’d have taken photos, but with packing in full force, the house is somewhat cluttered.

In 48 hours, we’ll have arrived at the Hobart International Airport for the less than two-hour flight at 10:10 am to Sydney. Shortly after 12:00 pm, we’ll arrive in Sydney and take a taxi to head to the Overseas Passenger Terminal in the Sydney Harbour. Once again, we’ll embark on another cruise in the South Pacific.

View of the property from the river.

So far, including Wednesday’s cruise, we’ll have sailed on six cruises in the South Pacific in this past almost two years. With one more cruise remaining at the end of April, in 54 days, we’ll sail from Sydney to Seattle as we make our way back to the US. 

We’ll have 40 days between both cruises during which we’ll stay in a property in Manly, very similar to this house in the Huon Valley where one area is occupied by the owner and another full apartment with all facilities constitutes the rental portion.

I’ve sat on the sofa while Tom lounges in this red chair, both very comfortable. See the dining table and chairs in the background.

Oddly, when we lived in Trinity Beach, Australia, beginning on June 11, 2015, we stayed in another similar property where we lived on the fully equipped main floor while the owners occupied the second level.

Overall, we prefer to live in a single-family home for the added privacy, but with costs so high for rents in Australia, these types of situations have been our only sensible option.

That’s not to say that any of the owners intrude upon our privacy in any manner. They have not. They’ve been kind, helpful, and available when needed. Anne and Rob, our landlords for this property, have been exceptional, making many efforts to ensure we had a pleasant stay, and undoubtedly, we have.

Plenty of amenities and gadgets are available in this kitchen, making cooking a breeze. When I needed an item, Anne quickly provided it, such as a big mixing bowl, baking pans, hand blender.

The property is in perfect condition, with no obvious repairs, painting, or replacement needed. Everything works. The furniture in the living room has been comfortable, especially when we’ve spent more time staying in due to my recent illness during these past six weeks than we may have spent in other areas. 

Previously in Penguin, Tasmania, when I wasn’t as ill, we were often out and about, walking, exploring, and seeing the local sites and points of interest. However, here in the Huon Valley, we’ve only done as much exploring as our 100’s of photos indicate, not every day but at least once or twice a week.

The table by the sofa in the living room includes lots of games, books, and decor items. 

The house is well equipped with suitable dishes, flatware, pots and pans, kitchen utensils, and gadgets. Even the cupboards contained various teas, spices, oils, and other products, similar to those in Penguin.

The bed is comfortable, along with the bedding. Poor quality or flimsy sheet pillows and blankets situation can totally ruin an otherwise comfortable bed. But, here, the bedding was of the utmost quality, the pillows comfortable, the covers suitable for various weather conditions.

We’ve kept our luggage in the second bedroom, which is located on a lower level.

Anne and Rob invited Tom for his first fishing-on-the-ocean experience, which he thoroughly enjoyed leaving us with enough fish filets for a few meals. We coated the filets in beaten eggs and coconut flour, pan-frying them in coconut oil, our favorite way to eat fish.

The availability of fresh produce plucked from the abundant garden was a huge perk we’d never expected. I was particularly thrilled when I made salads using celery, cabbage, and greens from the garden. Tom, whose favorite vegetable is green beans, enjoyed them with many meals.

Seating on the veranda.

With the 400 gig allotment every 30 days at night, we could easily stream HBO’s Game of Thrones entire six seasons. On only a few rare occasions did we have to await the return of the signal when it slipped away momentarily.

Although we watch a little TV, we’ve been able to check out local and some world news from time to time. During the day when we’re in, we may have news on in the background, but neither of us pays much attention. 

It has been delightful to have fluffy robes to use while here, as shown in the second en suite bathroom. Both bathrooms have heated towel racks, but we’ve never used them.

Right now, snippets from the Academy Awards Red Carpet event is on. The awards show will be broadcast live from 12:30 pm to 4:00 pm. Unfortunately, since we’ve seen none of the movies, we have little interest in the awards show itself.

The grounds and the pool are beautifully maintained by Anne and Rob, who is also retired, spending considerable time working and maintaining the property. The views of the Huon River are breathtaking, as shown in a few of today’s photos and many photos over the past weeks.

This is the master bedroom which now has a sofa by the windows. 

We’d highly recommend this property to any travelers. For information, click here, and they’ll respond quickly. Also, feel free to contact us with any specific questions that perhaps only a renter would experience. 

Thanks to Anne and Rob for an extraordinary stay at your lovely property. We’ve already written positive statements in your “guest book” and posted reviews online reviews over the next few days.

My single suitcase is already packed, except for the items I’ve been wearing the past few days. Tomorrow, Tom will pack his clothing while I pack the third bag with miscellaneous items we’ll collect from around the house.

Tomorrow, I’ll briefly report on my condition after today’s final contact with Dr. Angela Retchford in Geeveston. Then, on departure day in two days, we’ll include the total expenses for the six weeks we spent in the Huon Valley.

Have a pleasant day!

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

Tom was excited to see this Minnesota State Trooper vehicle when we toured AmeriCarna in New Zealand last year on this date. How ironic! For more photos from the car show, please click here.

Which did we prefer in Tasmania, Penguin or Huon Valley?…Three days and counting…

Young woman riding a horse in the country in the Huon Valley.

As far as scenic beauty is concerned, both Penguin and the Huon Valley are stunningly beautiful. Although a common theme of the exquisite countryside is prevalent in both areas, the towns and local communities vary greatly.

If a traveler asked us which of the two would be most appealing for a holiday/vacation of one or two weeks, their personal tastes and preferred activities and expectations would be of first consideration.

Beyond that, there’s an obvious difference of scenery; Penguin has breathtaking ocean views and nearby beaches; in the Huon Valley, one only needs to drive about 40 minutes to arrive in beach towns with some of the whitest sand we’ve seen anywhere. 

The dirt road we traveled in the countryside.

Penguin has the opportunity for sea fishing and boating while in the Huon Valley fishing may be experienced on both the Huon River and out to sea as Tom experienced a week ago. It was his first time fishing on the ocean.

Regarding day-to-day easy activities such as walking, shopping, and perusing local business on a boulevard, Penguin has a lot more to offer. The center of Penguin is enchanting with its quaint shops, cafes, and beach town feel. 

However, there are a number of charming towns within a half hour drive from here in Castle Forbes Bay, such as Huonville, Franklin and Geeveston, all of which we’ve often visited for shopping, events and photo taking. 

There are many horses in Tasmania.

Huonville is the largest of the three towns where we’ve shopped during this past six wee, although there are some shopping options in Franklin and Geeveston.

If a tourist is interested in purchasing souvenirs in the area, the best spot would be at the Visitor’s Centre as we described in this post on February 5th when we stopped to check it out. We weren’t disappointed with their wide array of interesting items and of course, their Honey Pot which was over-the-top. This is a must-see spot when in the area.

In the Huon Valley, based on where we’re living in Castle Forbes Bay, it’s not as easy as heading out for a walk when our house is located close to main Highway A6. Walking on the winding narrow road is risky with many blind spotsHills and mountains to surround this part of Tasmania

ns with a massive river at its core, thus the Huon River and the Huon Valley.

There are many country roads and paths one may choose to walk, but since this is a “valley,” most of the walking  requires up and down steep hills that may not be suitable for all travelers.

We won’t get into all the various tourist attractions in either area. However, it’s easy to check out TripAdvisor for information on activities in Huonville and surrounding areas here. For options for Penguin, please click here.

Had we arrived a month or two earlier, the hilly countryside would have been a lush velvety green.

Many other tourist websites have endless options for exploring and experiencing scenery and indoor and outdoor activities in either of these two lovely areas.

As for friendliness, they both are some of the most friendly areas we’ve visited in our travels, comparable to Kauai, Hawaii, and Marloth Park, South Africa, our previously two favorites “friendly people” places.

Clear blue sky days are at a premium in the Huon Valley during the summer months making locals are giddy with enthusiasm on warm sunny days.

Tomorrow, we’ll share details of this lovely property with photos, links and the comfortable experience we’ve had staying in this well equipped and maintained property.

Have a lovely day!

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

The pair of alpacas were placed in a smaller paddock for the purpose of mating. Notice the others looking on with considerable curiosity. For more about photos and a video of mating alpacas, please click here.

Piecing it all together…Four days and counting…

A boat anchored on the Huon River with a hazy mountain backdrop.

We’ve begun to think about packing, particularly me. Yesterday, for the first time in many moons, I ironed two of my shirts and one of Tom’s. Why did we ever buy anything requiring ironing? We thought they were “wash and wear” based on the washing instructions at the time of purchase.

I’m getting low on clothing, with many items having worn out, so I’ve resorted to ironing my two items to add to my limited wardrobe for the upcoming cruise in four days.

Vineyard in Tasmania.

Tom is down to six shirts, plus the one white dress shirt I ironed yesterday, suitable to wear to dinner in the ship’s main dining room. During the day, he wears tee shirts. His wardrobe is also shrinking along with mine.

In three months, we’ll be back in the US with a plan to purchase a few new clothing items to replace those we’re ready to toss. But, unfortunately, there are no clothing stores in Huonville other than two second-hand shops, and it makes no sense to replace our old clothing with someone else’s old clothing.

Over these past six weeks, I haven’t felt well enough to go shopping in Hobart, which has a few malls and many shops. For me, it’s been tricky buying clothing in Australia when sizing is entirely different, pants are too short, and styles suitable for travel aren’t necessarily available. 

A typical country road.

We prefer solid colors since they may be worn with any of our pants, dressy or casual. In most of the stores here, shirts are more colorfully patterned or flowery, which has never been quite my style. Nor does Tom care to wear brightly colored or patterned shirts.

I’ve begun packing a little earlier than usual with this illness and during the heavy antibiotic dosing period, which has made me feel a bit lethargic. So a little packing each day seems to make more sense right now.

Haze and humidity in the hills of the Huon Valley.

I’ve had some improvement (day four of seven on the medication), but I’m definitely not 100%. However, much to our enthusiasm, yesterday I was able to eat a normal-sized portion of our entree and a small salad which I hadn’t been able to do since early December. So maybe it is improving.

Tom never packs until the day before we depart when it becomes necessary to weigh our luggage to ensure we don’t exceed the 23 kg (51lbs) the airlines allow on the first checked bag (each) with a premium paid for our third bag containing necessary supplies. 

We’re flying to Sydney on Virgin Australia, which only charges AU 35, US $26.85 for the third bag, an amount we’re thrilled to pay instead of considerably more on other airlines.

The wild vegetation is growing along the river bank.

Tonight, we’ll watch the final episode of season 6, Game of Thrones, having loved every single episode. It’s been a nice respite from thinking about my condition when we’ve watched a few episodes each evening. We can now cancel our month-to-month HBO subscription (ending on the 26th) and re-join to watch season 7 once we get to Costa Rica next August.

While in the US, with six weeks spent in Minnesota and three weeks in Henderson, Nevada, we won’t have time or interest in watching any shows or movies other than perhaps a movie or two with the grandchildren in MN.

Single lane bridge in the countryside.

It’s hard to believe we’ll arrive in the US mainland on May 15th, less than three months from now. Two days later, on May 17th, we’ll board the Alaskan cruise, which ends on May 26th in Seattle. From there, we’ll fly to Minneapolis. We’ll be arriving in MN on Friday evening of Memorial weekend, a busy travel period.

Once I upload this post, Tom will do the proofreading while I get ready to go out. This will be the first time we’ve been out since Monday, very unusual for us. We’re heading to Huonville for a few grocery items and a new batch of probiotics to avoid running out on the cruise. 

Pasture on a sunny day.

But for now, we’re anticipating the less than two-hour flight from Hobart to Syndey in a mere four days. So my prepping and packing will continue at a snail’s pace over the next few days, which this time, I don’t mind a bit.

Have a lovely weekend, wherever you may be!

Photo from one year ago today, February 25, 2016:

This “piece of art” in New Plymouth is playfully typical of Kiwi’s great sense of humor. For more interesting New Plymouth, New Zealand photos, please click here.

Interesting and appreciated comment from a reader…Worries of risks when traveling…

Hillside scenery.

Over these past several years, we’ve received many excellent comments on various of our past posts. As a result, some readers may read our posts out of chronological order or start from the beginning on March 15, 2012, when we first began to write about our lives of world travel.

Now, 1674 daily posts later, we’re often amazed by how readers from all over the world continue to read our old posts, often commenting on any given post or sending us a thoughtful email.

Many of our readers write into the easy-to-use “comments” section at the bottom of each post and may stay anonymous if chosen.  However, we find many readers don’t hesitate to leave a first name (and occasionally their full name) when they post a comment.

If you’ve never commented, please feel free to do so. We reply within 24 hours (at the latest). And, your comment remains on that post for all of our readers to see for years to come.

Caravans parking in Franklin for Australia Day festivities which we attended last month.

For many, with more personal comments in mind, they prefer to email us at the links provided on our home page, on the right, above the photo of us in Petra, Jordan. Clicking either of these links takes you directly to the email app on your device, and you can write as you would in writing any email message. But, of course, we won’t post your email message without your specific approval.

Most often, your email will reach us promptly, providing we have a good Internet connection. We check our email throughout each day, but a response may be delayed, if it arrives while we’re sleeping.

Before posting each day, I take a peek at my email but seldom respond until after completing the day’s post. I awake on a mission to get the “ball rolling” as soon as I’m showered and dressed for the day.

During this past almost three months since we arrived in Penguin, Tasmania, on December 3, 2016, I’ve maintained my usual posting schedule regardless of how I may have been feeling during this period. 

Houses are scattered throughout the countryside in the Huon Valley.

Of course, as mentioned in a post a few days ago, the exception to our posting and/or replying to comments and email may occur on specific travel days, especially when we don’t have access to Wi-Fi while awaiting a particular means of transportation.

Yesterday, we received this lovely comment from one of our readers who’s apparently begun reading our posts from the beginning. 

Laura wrote:

“Ah, Jess…I know I am reading them years after the fact, but your posts and photos are breathtaking!! I love them! I’ve been trying for years to convince Ernie to agree to an African safari – he’s too concerned with our safety to try it, but I’m still working on him!!”

Upon reading this short comment at the end of this post, I could hardly wait to write back to Laura to thank her for her kindness in complimenting our posts and photos. 
But, the comment Laura expressed over her husband’s hesitation to go on an African safari reminded us of five years ago when Tom was equally concerned over the safety of a safari and, even more so, living in Africa for almost nine months.
Our family was even more worried that we were getting in over our heads when they’d read and heard of countless stories about horrific events occurring in many parts of Africa, some as a result of animal encounters and other incidents. But, they were more concerned as to our vulnerability of becoming victims of crime.
A neighborhood in the Huon Valley.

We’ve never taken these facts lightly, but, as has been the case for most travelers, there are always precautions and concerns over traveling beyond the comfort zone of their home environment. 

Nowadays, there is no place in the entirely safe world;  from the elements, terrorism, crime, accidents, illness, and wildlife. Back then, before we began traveling, we’d discussed these concerns in depth. 

Mainly, I was trying to assure Tom that although the risks were higher in some parts of the world, such as Africa and the Middle East, we’d exercise the utmost caution. For example, in Kenya, where carjackings are common, we used a local driver to take us wherever we desired, thus reducing the risks.
Kayaker on Huon River near a moored sailboat.

As we look back at our old posts, we can’t help but experience the most profound emotions over the fact that we took those risks to see parts of the world previously only in our dreams.

When a year from now when we’ll return to South Africa (with more other African countries on the horizon during our extended stay), our hearts thump with enthusiasm.
This will be the first time we’ve returned to a country for an extended stay hiatus to explore Southeast Asia. As it turned out, we really enjoyed the second two months in Bali at the fabulous villa on the ocean.
Franks, a small cider restaurant and shop.

We had returned to Bali due to its proximity and easy flights to Sydney, Australia, where we’d booked several cruises. However, our return to Africa next February is for an entirely different reason…we wanted to return while we’re still able, young enough, and hopefully healthy enough to embrace the many exciting opportunities awaiting us. 

So, today, I thank Laura for writing and inspiring today’s post, which included our own past concerns, which ultimately ending with the gift of great memories that we gleaned from the extraordinary experiences.

Have a memorable day and be safe.

Photo from one year ago today, February 24, 2016:

Tom standing outside the shopping mall in New Plymouth, New Zealand, last year. For more photos, please click here.

Six days and counting…Posting during departure periods…Delicious low carb smoothie recipe…

Throughout Tasmania and Australian states, there are many wood carvings
in honor of Australians throughout history.

Today, it’s Thursday in this part of the world. Early next Wednesday morning, we’ll depart for the airport in Hobart, an approximate 45-minute drive depending on the morning traffic.

This is one of two plaques posted on the above memorial wood carving.

We’ll be flying domestically from Hobart to Sydney, which requires less advance arrival time at the airport than for international flights. However, Tom always feels more comfortable leaving early to ensure we arrive with plenty of time to spare.

Recognition for the soldier of the Boer War.

An arrival one hour before the flight is plenty of time to check our bags, get our boarding passes, and head to the appropriate gate. Yet, invariably, we end up sitting in chairs for two hours before the flight.

Over the past almost 26 years, our goal is to compromise when we disagree. If one of us compromises to put the other at ease, the other doesn’t argue or complain. Ultimately, ensuring each of us is comfortable is of our utmost concern.

In the town of Franklin we walked along the riverbank enjoying the beautiful scenery.

We can sit at the airport as easily as at our home-of-the-moment while awaiting the upcoming flight. In addition, many airports offer free WiFi and relatively comfortable seating in various cafes where we can order bottled water and entertain ourselves online while waiting.

At times, when departing on an early morning flight, I’ll post a short message that the day’s post may be a little late, which I’ll upload from the airport while we wait. Likewise, on some occasions, I’ll prepare and upload the day’s post once we get settled upon boarding a cruise.

There are houses across a narrow road along the Huon River in Franklin, many of which have lovely flower gardens.

At other times, I’ll prepare the post the prior day and that day’s post. Preparing two posts in one day is time-consuming when it’s completed, in addition to wrapping up the packing. Also, we always include our total expenses separately for each location. These figures must be prepared well in advance since this process is also time consuming.

I continue to strive to take care of myself as I make my way through the one-week antibiotic regime prescribed by the local doctor. Although the drug’s side effects prevent me from feeling up to going out or doing anything of significance, I’m making every effort to get well.

When we left the house, the sun was shining, but it was cloudy again by the time we reached Franklin.

It’s a combination of rest with some mobility, avoiding spending time lying down or in bed, and eating healthfully while attempting each day to consume sufficient nutrients. I’ve continued to prepare most of our meals during this period of time, more with the intent of moving about, although Tom happily helps when I ask. 

During this illness I’ve been using a free app to calculate the day’s nutritional components. Here’s the link to the free app. (Make sure to download the free edition, which is easy to determine).

I’ve been feeling ravenous lately, eating such small amounts.  But, over these past months, I’ve only been able to eat small amounts in any six-hour period. So today, at the beginning of day three on meds, I’ll try adding a small salad to my midday meal. 

Flowers in a tree with the cloud sky backdrop.

We’ve been eating our main meal around 1:00 pm, giving me ample time to digest the meal eventually. I concocted a healthy and delicious low-carb smoothie that’s easily digestible for both mornings and evenings, preventing me from having to eat again to deal with the consequence.

If any of our readers have digestive problems, a smoothie may be a good adjunct to light meals while recovering. Here’s my smoothie recipe that seems to abate my hunger for a few hours:

Jess’s Low Carb Digestive Smoothie

1 ½  cups water or  unsweetened coconut milk or water
2 scoops unsweetened vanilla low carb protein powder (or appropriate servings size based listed serving size)
½ cup unsweetened, unflavored organic Greek yogurt
1 T. organic unsweetened cocoa powder
1 T. organic ground flaxseed (Don’t use if diarrhea is an issue.  his natural product may be helpful for constipation and is non-habit forming)
½ tsp. powdered unsweetened Vitamin C with sodium ascorbic (See here for benefits of Vitamin C)
½ tsp. organic powdered cinnamon
Low carb sweetener to taste (a must in some form that works for you)

Blend all of these ingredients into a blender until lump-free. Pour over a large glass of ice and serve. This makes more than one serving, but it tastes so good, I usually add the balance to my mug. If you have a powerful blender, add ice to the blender after thoroughly blending ingredients.  Urgent: Please check with your doctor should any of these ingredients be an issue for you.

Many varieties of roses are found in Tasmania with suitable climates.

With six days remaining until we depart, I continue with optimism and enthusiasm for what is yet to come over these next months.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, February 23, 2016:

The unique, architecturally interesting Te Kewa Kewa Bridge in New Plymouth, New Zealand, was quite a sight to see. For more photos, please click here.

Are birthdays for the birds?…Celebrating life, not age…A year ago birthday gift like none other…

Roses in the garden.

Today, in this part of the world, it’s February 20th, my 69th birthday. Ouch!  Big number. Then again, I have no complaints. I’m grateful to be celebrating a birthday and, of course, living this amazing life with my loving husband and travel companion.

Although we have no big plans for today (my choice), we’ll head out for a short drive to Geeveston to pick up a prescription from the doctor I recently visited for my intestinal issue. 

Flower blooming on a zucchini plant.

We’d canceled the dinner reservation we’d made for the 17th when eating has just not been enjoyable for me recently. So instead, Tom went fishing with our landlords that day, and we enjoyed the flathead for a few meals.

I’m trying a new low-carb recipe, Low Carb Cordon Blue Casserole, that I found at this site for tonight. We’ll report back tomorrow if it’s worthy of mention. Lately, to shake things up a bit, I’ve been trying one new recipe a week, making enough to last for at least two meals. 

Not a perfect view of a sunrise, but some color is peeking through.

If the recipe is great, I’ll save it in the recipe file on my desktop and in the cloud. If not, I give it the “heave-ho.” There is no point in taking up space on my computer for anything less than what we consider to be outrageously delicious.

Last year, when we spent my birthday living on the alpaca farm in New Zealand, I was so excited when Trish and Neil named the baby girl “Miss Jessica” after me. Unfortunately, they were gone for a few days, during which we enthusiastically agreed to observe any births in the event of any problems. 

Huon River from the highway.

All went well, and Miss Jessica was born while they were away. Naming her after me was such a joy. Please see the one year ago photo below and the included link for that post.

Am I disappointed we aren’t doing anything special today? Not at all. We both feel that every day of our lives is a cause for celebration; traveling the world; being together; living in the moment, and reveling in the future.

And being 69? Ah, who cares? Perhaps, living life on the move has made me more accepting of aging. There’s no room in my luggage for anti-aging creams and time-consuming face masks and treatments I may have used had we not traveled the world.

White sand beaches are common in Tasmania.

Who knows? Maybe in my old life, I may have opted for a spot of Botox now and then to plump up my increasing lines and wrinkles. However, back in the US, I’d been invited to a Botox party but didn’t attend.

But now? How and where would a person go for “touch-ups?” In South America? Africa? No, thanks. Besides, I’ve let go of the concerns over aging, except regarding good health, the number one priority in our minds. 

Age gracefully? Well, one can age “gracefully” (whatever that means), or they can age while complaining/whinging over the unavoidable ravages of time or, like some, spend thousands of dollars on cosmetic procedures to stall the inevitable. 

The scene on a hazy morning.

No doubt, I still fuss over a few “girlie” things in an attempt to look presentable, for me, by my standards.  They’re easy, not costly, or time-consuming. I can purchase most products I use at any pharmacy throughout the world. But that’s just me and not necessarily for everyone. 

Today, without any specific plans for the day, we’re celebrating every single moment. My sister Julie sent me an online birthday card in which she wrote, “Who gets to spend their birthday in Tasmania?”

So true. So grateful. So filled with a passion for life!

Happy day to all of YOU!

Photo from one year ago today, February 20, 2016:

There I was, one year ago on my birthday with my namesake, Miss Jessica, when she’s only a week old. For more photos of this birth we monitored while the farm owners were on holiday, please click here.

Part 2…Time to come clean…A medical issue over the past almost three months…

Pointy mountain top view from Southport, Tasmania.

As shown in this link in yesterday’s post, three factors contributed to my current medical issue, which included the following, beginning last June. Quoted from that post, the following was included:
“That was my mistake #1…long term use of NSAIDS (For back injury last June).
That was my mistake #2…consuming high-risk seafood from an unknown source (in Bali months ago).
That was my mistake #3…drinking two glasses of white wine every night during the 33-night cruise beginning on October 31, 2016.”

Why I feel slightly embarrassed to share these details baffles me. But, unfortunately, we all make mistakes that can wrongfully affect our health.  None of us are exempt from this reality regardless of how hard we strive for health and wellness.

Then again, I may have higher standards for myself of striving for healthfulness coming from a family on my mother’s side with a plethora of hereditary health issues, many of which have plagued me in one way or another over the years; hypertension; diabetes (pre-diabetic in my case); heart disease (I had already had heart surgery in 2005); painful spinal conditions (requiring my current way of eating to reduce inflammation); thyroid issues (my eldest sister had her thyroid removed. I take medication); cancer (my youngest sister had two horrific rounds of cancer).

On top of it all, obesity has been prevalent in many of the lives of my family members, which inspired me as a young person to watch every morsel I put into my mouth in hopes of avoiding poor health. As a result, I’ve exercised and maintained a healthy diet in one form or another for most of my life.

Boats in the bay.

Regardless of how hard we may try, many of us cannot avoid falling prey to heredity conditions. As a result, I question myself while taking full responsibility for my recent painful and distressing gastrointestinal situation presented during the first week upon our arrival in Penguin, Tasmania, after the end of the 33-night cruise.

In reviewing each of my above mistakes, I believe they contributed to my becoming vulnerable to the raging gastrointestinal issue, particularly the wine drinking on the 33-night cruise. In all of my life, I’d never drunk wine or any other form of alcohol so many nights in a row. 

Add the fact that overall over the past 20 years, I’d been a non-drinker before the cruise. But, unfortunately, I’d built no tolerance to alcohol and basically burned my intestinal tract pouring the two glasses of wine down my throat for 33-nights in a row which ultimately proved to be toxic.

During the cruise, I suffered no ill effects at the time. Overall, I stuck to the two glasses a night, spreading them out over an extended period, although on a few occasions where we stayed up late, dancing and carrying on, I may have consumed a third. However, I found that staying at around the two glasses of wine would prevent me from feeling hungover.

Mountains at a distance.

As we settled in Penguin, after about five days, I started noticing a burning sensation down the entire length of my intestinal tract. I had no specific heartburn near my esophagus or a sensation of GERD. Instead, it occurred from the chest down.

On a mission to self-diagnosis, I read copious reports and documents on what was plaguing me and how to treat it. I literally tried everything available from the local pharmacy, and still, the symptoms and discomfort continued. Each time I ate or drank anything at all, I could feel it going down, burning all the way.

When I attempted to eat my one main meal a day, I became bloated and outrageously uncomfortable, unable to go out or do anything until the food slowly digested. After a few days of this, I cut my meal into two small portions to no avail. Even the smallest amount of food hurt.

Bright white sand beach in a cove, off the beaten path while on a dirt road.

There was no way I wanted to go to a doctor only to have to experience endless tests. In our old lives (around 2007), we easily recall when Tom had awful IBS and suffered through one invasive test after another while we spent five miserable days and nights (he couldn’t eat anything during this period) at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He was sent home with prescriptions that ultimately didn’t help and had the potential for long-term side effects. 

It was only after we devised a severe diet change that his symptoms were gone six months later, and he stopped the seven pills a day. But I’m already eating that same way, and still, the burning and bloating persisted. So certainly, diet alone is not the cure-all for that which ails us.

Continuing to try everything I could, once we arrived in the Huon Valley, where better medical care was available in the capital city of Hobart, I made a doctor appointment at a well-known and reviewed integrative medicine clinic in hopes of a solution.

The doctor diagnosed me with gastritis and/or IBS and prescribed an herb to soothe the intestinal tract while it healed, slippery elm, and the vitamin zinc. He said to return in three weeks if it hadn’t improved. I must say the slippery elm helped, an herb that, when added to water, thickens, providing a coating along the intestinal tract. I was to drink this off and on all day and did so diligently.

Low tide at the beach.

Within a week, the burning was gone. I was ecstatic. But, the pain and awful bloating continued after eating, to a point making me fearful of eating, going out, or riding in the car when impossible bowel issues accompanied the condition. I struggled to eat enough to avoid losing weight which would only exacerbate the problem.

At three weeks, I realized the slippery elm was no longer necessary, but something had to be done. So, as much as I’ve resisted traditional medicine, I bit the bullet and made an appointment with our landlord’s recommended traditional medicine physician located down the road in Geeveston.

I couldn’t get an appointment for several days but went ahead and booked it for Tuesday this week. There were a few nights I was so miserable. We might have to go to the hospital in Hobart. I persisted in avoiding this option.

The only time I felt relief was immediately upon awakening before eating or drinking anything. After that, even organic, caffeine-free herbal tea would cause problems. So instead, I sipped small amounts of tepid water throughout the day to avoid becoming dehydrated.

As soon as I met with the traditional medicine doctor, she was convinced I had gastritis or possible IBS, depending on how soon it would resolve. She gave me a prescription for a PPI (proton-pump-inhibitor), a drug to which I’ve been strongly opposed due to its potential for long-term side effects. 

The doctor suggested a two-month course of the drug. Also, I had several blood tests for numerous possible conditions, all of which were normal.  Thank goodness.

Oceanview from Dover, Tasmania.

At this point, I had to let go of my soapbox stance on drug side effects. I needed relief, and I needed it fast. Although the drug doesn’t promise immediate results when it may take weeks to become effective, I noticed an improvement in the first 24 hours. After that, I could actually eat a medium-sized meal with slightly less discomfort.

Although I’m still suffering from the bloating sensation after drinking and eating, it’s not as painful and debilitating as it was. I can only hope and pray for continued improvement. In only 13 days, we’re boarding a 12-night cruise.

Guess I won’t be drinking the “free” wine on this upcoming cruise.  Actually, after this experience, I’ve decided to return to my former “no alcohol at all policy.” I never minded not drinking and could be just as content with iced or hot tea.

If it’s not fully resolved by the time the cruise ends in Sydney, I may decide to see a gastroenterologist for some of those unpleasant tests.  Time will tell.

Huon River view from Highway A6.

As for experiences in Tasmania, I’m grateful for those I pushed myself to do.  In each case, it’s been a struggle, but there was no way we’d stay in the entire time. As you’ve seen, some of our photos may not have been as interesting and exciting as during other periods of time in our travels. We did our best.

Adding the five months of severe back pain and now over two months of this current issue, I’ve had a painful and difficult past many months.  However, through it all, we remained hopeful, embracing our surroundings as much as possible and always feeling grateful to be experiencing the world and happy to be together.

Thank you for “listening” to my story. I share it only in an attempt to be “real” in our daily ramblings of living life on the move. It’s not always easy. It’s not always joyful. But, we continue with love and hope in our hearts and minds for the future yet to come.

Enough about that!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 16, 2016:

Our favorite photo of the day when we visited Puketi Gardens in New Zealand. Zoom in to see this bee’s facial features. Amazing! For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…Time to come clean…A medical issue over the past almost three months…

There are patches of green grass in the Huon Valley which aren’t quite as green as they were in Penguin which may be due to weather and soil conditions.

Its not always easy living one’s life on display for literally the world to see.  Our mistakes, our foibles and our vulnerabilities come into play on a daily basis. At times, to avoid appearing redundant or as a complainer/whinger we may not mention every single ailment that filters our way. 

After all, this is a “travel blog” isn’t it?  Or, as we often say, “Its a real life story of two senior citizens traveling the world with the nuances of living a life on the move, without a home, without storage or stuff to call their own other than that which is contained in three suitcases and a few carry on bags.

At times, we struggle with the definition. However, based on the fact we’ve had so many worldwide readers, perhaps the definition has been irrelevant to our readers who’ve followed along with us all this time, now fast approaching 52 months since we left Minnesota on October 31, 2012.

Pool and river view from our veranda on the second level.

Based on our intent to tell it like it is, today, I’m sharing something I’ve contemplated sharing over these past months shortly after we arrived in Tasmania on December 3rd after a 33 night cruise.

Several things transpired to result in this illness, most of which was entirely my own fault. In part I became ill as a result of a lack of caution when I knew caution should have been forefront in my mind and also, a series of events that transpired contributing to this condition.

I supposed when we think about it many of our ailments can be prevented with knowledge and self-care. But, I like so many of us, throw caution to the wind when somehow we think “that won’t happen to me” or in many cases, we aren’t even aware of the potential risks.

Pretty farm in the country.

I have to go back a way to fill in some of the blanks here. Please bear with me. It’s not a pretty story. Somewhere around June 1, 2016, while living at the fabulous villa in Sumbersari, Bali, I injured my back while in the pool. 

I’d backed up with walking and exercising and hit my spine, from neck to tailbone of a sharp stone corner at the bottom of the steps. At first, it felt like the same pain one would experience banging one’s elbow.  Ouch, ouch, ouch. 

Thinking the cool water would do good, I languished in the pool for a while, moving gingerly, when eventually the pain subsided. During the remainder of the day and evening after which I iced it off and on, the pain was somewhat under control. But, at bedtime, I couldn’t find a comfortable position to sleep.

Huge daisies!

Having previously had a diagnosis with a horrible spinal condition due to a heredity condition eventually in 2011 I found tremendous pain relief from a change of diet due to a massive reduction in inflammation. However, no way of eating could reduce the pain of an injury to this degree.

I didn’t see any reason to go to a doctor in the remote area of Bali, a four-hour harrowing drive to get to a good hospital. At that point, I couldn’t conceive of that drive bumpy long ride. It was hard enough when we went back and forth from the airport to the villa, a total of four times.

I’d have to treat it myself. Besides, what would “they” do? Pain killers?  A back brace? (Not good to use over the long haul). Surgery? Not possible or desired in Indonesia (or any other country for that matter).  I hoped in time it would heal.

Flowers blooming mid-summer in Tasmania in Tasmania.

During the following five months, I used ice and heat packs, walked daily to maintain strength, didn’t lay in bed during the day, and took over-the-counter NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as Aleve with breaks every few weeks. That was my mistake #1…long term use of NSAIDS.

From there, a few short days later, I asked the two cooks to make us a seafood dish with prawns and for me, added grilled calamari. Let’s face it, sometimes favorite foods are comforting. My back was hurting but not my appetite. 

Twelve hours after eating the calamari, I had the worse case of diarrhea, known as “diare” in Balinese, a common traveler’s illness in many parts of the world. Here again, I should have known better than to eat this type of seafood in this part of the world. That was my mistake #2…consuming high-risk seafood from an unknown source.

We’ve so enjoyed the fresh-picked organic vegetables from Anne and Rob’s garden.

After suffering for a few days, Gede, our wonderful houseman took us to the Apotek (pharmacy) where we purchased an over-the-counter drug that got it under control within a few days. 

At that point between the diare and the back pain, I was a mess although, not a complainer, I didn’t burden Tom with hearing about it all the time.  He even berated me at times to encourage me to tell him how I was feeling throughout the difficult days and again most recently.

By the time we left Bali on June 27th, my back was so bad, I didn’t know how I’d get through the necessary week in Singapore while we applied for necessary visas plus spending several days in Hanoi awaiting the upcoming Viking Mekong River Cruise beginning July 8th. 

Yellow and white orchids.

How in the world was I going to get through the activities and walking on uneven ground on many tours and several flights through Vietnam and Cambodia? Somehow I managed to participate in many of the tours as shown in our photos beginning here at this link and continuing for many days.

In our posts, I made every effort to avoid complaining which I knew would bore our readers with frequent mention of my painful condition.  We did absolutely everything I could manage to ultimately have an excellent experience albeit the few tours we had to forego. Our many photos and stories at the following link clearly illustrate how much we were actually able to participate. 

From there, we went to Phuket, Thailand from July 22nd to September 1st.  Looking back, that six-week period was almost a blur. I was in terrible pain resulting in our doing very little while there. Other than a little exploring, photo-taking, grocery shopping, and visit to several beaches we stayed in while I attempted to recuperate.

From there, we returned to Bali for two more months to fill a gap in our schedule while awaiting the 33-night cruise circumventing the continent of Australia. Once we boarded the ship the back pain was finally gone after a full five months of pain.

It was during that 33-night cruise I decided to start drinking a few glasses of white wine when our drinks were “free” due to our recent inclusion into Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Diamond Club which provides complimentary cocktails from 4:30 to 8 pm each night. Why not? I had no specific reason when I could easily enjoy a few glasses of dry white wine and still maintain my diet. However, I’d had no more than a few glasses of wine each year over the past 20 years. That was my mistake #3…

Today’s story is simply too long to continue today. Tomorrow, we’ll present the balance of this story including my current medical issue, medical diagnosis, and subsequent treatment by a highly competent and recommended local doctor.

Be well

Photo from one year ago today, February 16, 2016:

Our favorite photo of the day. Zoom in to see this bee’s facial features.  Amazing! For more photos, please click here.