A memorable night out with old friends…

Sue, our dear friend who lived down the road with me, Sue’s daughter, and dear old friend Sherry. Sadly, although he was present, her husband, Michael, wasn’t in the photos. Sorry, Michael!

Our dear friend Sherry had arranged a reservation at Jimmy’s Kitchen and Bar for 5:30 pm. Five of us arrived at 5:15, anxious to get the anticipated fantastic evening started. In no time, we were seated at a big booth/banquette for seven, and only Nelleke and Dave were yet to arrive, who appeared a short time later.

Sherry had planned the get-together at this excellent restaurant close to everyone. As it turned out, it was only about seven minutes from our hotel. This restaurant has been in business for 17 years, but neither Tom nor I had ever been there. It was only about 20 minutes from our old home.

Tom, along with Dave and Nelleke, our former next-door neighbors. Gosh, we’ve missed them all.

Once we were seated, the conversation flowed easily. At times, we laughed when we were all talking at one time. It was not unlike 11 years ago when we often got together for drinks, food, and fun. In those times, I didn’t drink alcohol but never failed to have a fantastic time sipping on my iced tea.

As mentioned in prior posts, I didn’t drink alcohol/wine for 20 years for no particular reason other than thinking it was better for my health. On a cruise in 2016, when we both had the premium drink package included in our cruise fare, I decided to try drinking a glass of red wine, which I’d always preferred over white wine and found tasted good.

Sherry’s dinner looked appetizing.

Once I had that first glass, I decided I could drink red wine in moderation, enjoying every sip. Since that time, I’ve pursued finding wines with lower alcohol than the usual 13% to 14%. In South Africa, many lighter wines were available, which I like with alcohol as low as 5%, which I particularly enjoy, along with another label at 8%. I cannot find similar wines here in the US, so when dining out, I drink regular red or white if I choose to have a glass.

No photo of Michael but a nice photo of his rib dinner.

Last night, they poured very little in the fancier restaurant in the fancy glass, so I ordered a second glass. Our dinner, with tax and tip, was $132. Wow! That’s a lot. We aren’t used to paying that much for the two of us. Everything is very expensive in the US.

Sue’s perfectly cooked filet mignon and au gratin potatoes.

Thank goodness, once we get to Ecuador in less than three weeks, we’ll be able to play a little catch-up with comparable prices in South Africa. We look forward to that and other aspects we’ll enjoy in South America.

At one point during last night’s dinner, I found myself smiling from ear to ear and saw a similar smile on Tom’s face as he conversed with Michael and Dave at the end of the table. It was more wonderful than words describe being with our old friends and neighbors again.

My filet mignon deconstructed salad with three rare pieces of filet mignon, avocado, and a lettuce wedge topped with bacon and onion.

As neighbors, we were all so much more. Our lives were intertwined in many ways, especially when our dear Chip, Sue’s deceased husband and our friend whom we dearly loved, He passed, only a few months before we left Minnesota. I had the honor of speaking at his memorial service. We all miss him terribly.

Sue sold her house in our old neighborhood on the lake and now lives in a retirement community near here. Sherry and Michael live nearby in Minnetonka, the city where my kids grew up before moving to the lake, and Nelleke and Dave still live in their house, which, as mentioned, was next door to us.

Dave’s pasta dish.

Before we knew it, our meals and a few desserts were savored at the lovely restaurant, and it was time to go. We’d enjoyed every moment with our friends and felt disappointed the evening was over. Tom and I talked about it one our way back to our hotel.

Once back at the hotel, we streamed two more episodes of Formula 1 on Netflix, which we binge-watch as time allows in the evenings. Soon, we’re heading out to brunch with Greg and two of the grandkids, Madighan and Miles, since Maisie is away at school. Afterward, we’ll return to Greg’s house to watch the Minnesota Vikings game.

Tom’s short ribs dinner atop a bed of mashed potatoes.

Have a pleasant Sunday.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 24, 2013:

There were no photos posted ten years ago today. For the text for that post, please click here.

Fun evening with grandson, Vincent…Getting organized…

Tom and grandson Vincent at the skeet shooting range.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be well.

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

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

Another enjoyable lunch with dear old friends…

You know me and food photos! Tom’s taco salad yesterday at lunch with Pat and Charlie. I had the taco salad without the shell.

OK. I screwed up again. I forgot to take a photo of our friends Pat and Charlie, whom we met for lunch in Albertville, Minnesota, yesterday afternoon. But I didn’t forget to take food photos. Shame on me! Tom and Charlie, old friends from the railroad, had seen one another a few times when we’d come to visit in the past. But I hadn’t seen him, and neither of us had seen Pat since Tom’s retirement party just before we left 11 years ago.

I’d intended to take a photo of the two or have our server take a photo of the four of us, but the lively conversation distracted me, and the time flew by so quickly. We’ve been grateful to see so many friends while traveling lately and look forward to more opportunities.

Finally, after a delicious lunch at the restaurant, it was 3:00 pm and time to head out. We hugged Pat and Charlie, saying we hoped to see them again on another visit sometime in the future. It had been way too long since we saw them.

I don’t know what Charlie ordered, but it had lots of gravy. He didn’t eat all of it.

We’d planned to drive to the nearby outlet mall and see if we could find water shoes for our upcoming tour and cruise to the Galapagos Islands in a little over a month. We checked out a few stores in the outlet mall to no avail. All the water shoes were gone, with Minnesota winter looming, and styles were geared toward winter activities rather than being in the water.

Our next best option is ordering them on Amazon since neither of us likes to drive all over town to various stores. We don’t like shopping. Even when we walked into the Payless Shoe Store, we cringed over all of the options but could not find anything that worked for either of us.

When we didn’t find shoes at the outlet mall, we headed to the Gap store to purchase some tee shirts for Tom. All he had left were worn and tattered tee shirts, which could easily be tossed into the garbage when they weren’t worth donating to Goodwill.

Pat’s lettuce wraps.

Next, we need to find him several short-sleeve button-up shirts. Since we began traveling, the Bass button shirts he’s been wearing have become threadbare and are ready to be tossed into the trash. It appears that the particular style that he likes is no longer available. We often find that to be the case when we return to the US to make new purchases of items we want.

At the Gap store, we could buy him seven nice tee shirts at half price that appeared to be of high quality. Now he can toss the old ones. We were thrilled to get all the shirts under $70 without sales tax. Minnesota has no sales tax on clothes, saving us 7% or 8% when purchasing items here.

I found Tom two new Bass shirts on eBay this morning and ordered them for him. I hadn’t shopped on eBay for a very long time, but in the past, I often found some fantastic deals on various items. I’ve seen some shirts that may work on Amazon and will place the order soon, along with water shoes for both of us.

On the way back from the restaurant, we returned to the pharmacy to pick up Tom’s prescriptions for his cough. Finally, everything was in stock. We were anxious to get him on the medications that hopefully will help him. He started everything last night, but I don’t expect to see any improvement for several days.

Today, we’re heading out on a few errands and will pick up food for dinner, which we’ll have at the hotel tonight since we made no plans for tonight. Soon, Tom’s family members will return from out of town, and we look forward to seeing them soon.

Have a great weekend!

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 16, 2013:

Hans, the owner of the house in Diani Beach, Kenya, and our next-door neighbor, made Tom one of his special local concoctions while I sipped on my usual iced tea while chatting with Hans’ lovely wife, Jerie. For more photos, please click here.

Did you see our new booking in yesterday’s post?…Few more new cruise photos…

It was interesting to see the glaciers in Greenland.

If you didn’t have a chance to view our upcoming booking beginning on October 24, 2023, through January 8, 2024, please click the link here: https://www.vrbo.com/3502330?adultsCount=2&unitId=4075476

We’re excited about this booking. Once we arrive, we’ll take photos and share the cost and the details of what we’re anticipating is a lovely oceanfront property. We aren’t sure yet about where we’re going after our time in Ecuador and may not decide until we arrive in the country.

Bartenders on the ships worked hard to keep up with the passenger’s drink requests.

At this point, we are basing our plans on how I am feeling. I had only one short episode of Afib in the past two weeks, hoping to figure out what causes it. So far, it appears to be caused by a lack of sleep and stressful situations. The Afib started the day I got Covid-19 in April 2022. From what I am reading, it can be a symptom of long-haul Covid.

Drugs used to prevent Afib, which I’ve tried, cause extreme tiredness and other awful side effects. With our lifestyle and our striving for joy and fulfillment in our world travels, there is no way I’m willing to feel sedated day and night. Quality of life is a choice I had to make about taking drugs and feeling disabled from side effects to which I am susceptible.

Fortunately, the long-haul COVID-19 headache and facial pain have been nonexistent since we arrived in Minnesota. No words can express how thankful I am for this. If I can eliminate the Afib, I will feel confident about traveling to more remote locations. This, by no means, is going to prevent us from continuing with our travels. I refuse to let this slow me down.

On both cruises, there was live entertainment, day and night.

Also, I have peace of mind when we’re in South Africa with Doc Theo to look after me and the excellent heart health care available there. We’ll be back in South Africa in nine months, which we’re looking forward to for this and many other reasons our regular readers know.

Of course, doctors feel they must prescribe drugs, but I am more committed to figuring out more natural means of caring for my health. These kinds of choices may not be appropriate for everyone. Please check with your medical professionals for your own situation and subsequent care.

Thank goodness, Tom is so healthy, and yet he is still coughing from his recent bout of the flu, contracted on the second cruise. Whenever he gets a cough, it seems to linger for a while.

In Greenland, an unusual iceberg was floating by the ship.

As we age, we realize, more than ever, how important good health is to make the best of our retirement years. I recall my mother, a heart and diabetes patient, spending most of her later years going to doctors and constantly taking new drugs and new treatments. The highlight of her week was her upcoming doctor’s appointment. I never could see this fate in my later years.

Today, we’re out and about on a few errands. For dinner tonight, I am having a “girls only” dinner with my granddaughter Maisie before she goes off to school in Wisconsin. Most likely, I won’t see her again while we’re here. We’re busy trying to book get-togethers with family members and friends, trying to coordinate it working out for everyone’s schedule.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 13, 2013:

Hesborn, at the holiday home in Diani Beach, Kenya, offered to open a coconut that had just fallen from a tree. They seem to fall throughout the day. We have to be careful when we walk under the coconut trees; they cover the entire yard, leaving only a few safe spots for sunning without the risk of being clobbered on the head. For more photos, please click here.