Setting up new laptop today…More tasks before departure…

Two years ago today, this scene at La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires particularly caught our eye. For more photos, please click here.

Today is another busy day. This morning we started transferring files from Tom’s current laptop to a flash drive which, once I am done here, I’ll begin loading his new Chromebook with his files.

We’re going to do it a little differently this time. He’s placed most of his essential files into online Dropbox. He’s had some issues with some of his files, creating problems when they’re transferred over. This time, we’ll go for simplicity and only transfer the bare minimum.

If we both like the new Samsung 12″ Chromebook, much smaller than our 15.6″ Acer’s with Windows, we’ll head back to Best Buy to purchase another identical or similar model for me. The weight differential is substantial enough that this transition to smaller, lighter laptops is a big plus for us.

Today we’ll spend the bulk of the day at Colleen and Gene’s house playing the card game Buck Euchre. This morning, Tom got out a deck of cards and re-introduced to me how to play the game. In only a few minutes, it all came back to me.

Years ago, he and I played this fun card game with my sister Susan while she lived with me when Tom and I were dating. It will be fun to play once again.

We’ll rotate playing the four-person game. In between my playing, I’ll work on Tom’s new laptop, getting everything set up and transferred to his liking. He’ll play the game while I’m working on the laptop. Then, I’ll step in and play for a while. 

Over the next several days, we’ll continue to work on other projects we have in the works as we prepare to leave the US in 13 days. We’d hoped to be able to spend time while we’re still in the US, booking properties to rent while in the UK and Europe this upcoming summer. 

But, as it turns out, we’ve decided to see if we’ll have some downtime while in India during our two months in the country. If not, we’ll book everything while we’re on the 29-night cruise before we arrive in the UK and Europe. 

We aren’t worried at all about getting this task completed on time. We have flexibility on dates, and in the worst case, we can always find a bed and breakfast or several hotels within the budget.

Tom just left to walk down to Colleen’s while I wrap this up. I need to stop at the rental office to print a return label for a belt we purchased at Amazon that didn’t fit Tom. Tomorrow, I’ll run it to the post office to return. This morning I ordered the replacement in his size. So many little things to do.

When we’re outside the US, we can’t do any returns, and generally, we’re meticulous in ordering the correct sizes and items that won’t require a return. We erred in this case and have to handle a return.

Off I go, folks. I’ll pack up the laptop and cord, my bottle of Crystal Light lemonade, and a few more items to take with me for card-playing day. 

Gee…I’m looking forward to sharing “BIGGER,” “BETTER,” and “MORE INTERESTING” events in our daily lives.

Stay tuned. We’re only a few weeks away from that transpiring!

May your day be pleasantly eventful and exciting!

Photo from one year ago today, January 16, 2019:

One year ago today, Little was lounging in the water in the cement pond. For more photos, please click here.

An enjoyable and accomplished 24 hours…

Tom and I and Jerry and Vicki. It was amazing to see them so many years later.

On January 20, 2015, we met Vicki and Jerry on Hanalei Beach in Kauai when we stopped to lounge in the sun by the sea a few days after we’d arrived in Kauai. 

They had the same idea, and a conversation ensued moments after we settled into our portable lawn chairs. Much to our disappointment, they were getting ready to leave Kauai. We wished we’d met them sooner, enabling the four of us to spend more time together.
And, yesterday, seeing them once again, five years later, we felt the same way. We only had an afternoon together, but hopefully, someday, we’ll meet up again and be able to languish into quality time together.

Yesterday’s plan was to meet at the Tonto Verde Golf Club’s restaurant for a 12:30 leisurely lunch. We left Apache Junction earlier than necessary as we often do in case there were delays on the freeway.

Tom and Jerry (ha!) both had the burger and fries at the outdoor golf club restaurant.

As it turned out the hour-long drive sailed by and we were able to stop for some photos along the way which we’ll share in tomorrow’s posts. One aspect of the drive we particularly enjoyed was the time we spent driving through the exquisite town of Fountain Hills, where my ex-husband lives. (No, we didn’t stop to see him).

The modern desert town centered around golf and stunning scenery were fascinating to see. The average townhouse price began at $700,000. Pricey but quite lovely to see. But, our drive to meet up with Vicki and Jerry was another 15 minutes further away so we continued on with an eye on the time.
We pulled into the golf club at 12:15 but in moments after getting out of the car and heading toward the restaurant, we were told by employees the restaurant was closed on Mondays. There was another nearby golf club so we jumped back into the car and headed there, only to discover dining was available to members only.
We headed back to Tonto Verde and decided to wait outdoors for Vicki and Jerry. Once we walked toward the door, we spotted them waiting for us. They too discovered the dilemma. Who knew a popular restaurant at a busy golf club would be closed on Mondays?
Vicki had the fish tacos. I had a tasty chicken caesar salad (minus croutons).

The next closest restaurant was only a 10-minute drive to a golf course that only offered outdoor dining. Hmmm…that was challenging. It was cold here, and none of us was dressed for outdoor dining. Jerry loaned me a warm vest and we selected a table.

The self-service food was good but the wind and cold weather were a distraction. As soon as we ate our meals, we left to go back toward Fountain Hills to a restaurant with indoor dining. 

We ordered beverages and engaged in lively conversation until finally, it was time for both couples to head back to our respective vacation homes before rush hour traffic hit. It was beautiful to be with Vicki and Jerry and no doubt, we’ll continue to stay in touch.

Back on the road with the traffic light for us while driving in the HOV lane, we decided to pass our exit back to our RV park and continue on the highway to pick up my pre-ordered case of organic wine awaiting us at Total Wine in Gilbert, Arizona.

Vicki, Jerry and me in January 2015. Click here for details from that date.

As we pulled into the parking lot we noticed a Best Buy store across the lot. We parked and walked to the store. Might we be so lucky as to buy a suitable laptop? 

Our plan has been to purchase one laptop to use for either of us who’s computer dies first. Our goals were simple…a quality machine with touchscreen, a high- end processing system and a Chrome operating system. Tom’s had his fill of Windows 10 convincing me I wouldn’t like it either. There was no way we’d go for that again.

We spent no less than an hour in the store. A knowledgeable rep helped us but had trouble locating our chosen unit until finally, we paid and checked out, locked the laptop and convertor for our HDMI cord in the car’s trunk, and walked again, in the cold weather to the Total Wine store.

By the time we returned to the RV park, it was 6:30 pm. We were still full from lunch and decided against dinner, instead snacking on some odds and ends we had on hand. The remainder of the evening was quiet and uneventful.

Tom and Jerry (ha!) hit it off!  We’d wished they’d been staying longer! Click here for details from that date.

Yesterday morning, before we left, the “cable guy” stopped by and replaced the poorly working router, leaving us with a significantly improved WiFi signal. Now we can stream shows, download videos, and perform our usual tasks. 

By 11:00 pm we went off to bed and both slept pretty well. This morning at 8:00 am we did three loads of laundry and grocery shopped for a few items. Now, I’m busy doing some light cooking and prep since the sisters and spouses are coming over at 4:00 pm for happy hour. 

Including food during these festive get-togethers isn’t necessary or expected but it’s fun for us to put a few things together when everyone arrives. They all have done the same when we’ve joined them.

Tomorrow, as mentioned more photos will follow. 

We hope you have a fabulous day filled with the wonders of the upcoming holiday season.

Photo from one year ago today, December 17, 2018:

six years ago, this was our first photo of a male and female dung beetle in action.  The female often sits atop the ball of dung while the male moves it along using his back feet while his front feet grasp the ground for stability. The female lays eggs in the ball so she tags along as he rolls and they search for an adequate hole in which to bury the ball. The ball is used as sustenance for both of them as well as the larvae. See this post here. For more details, please click here.

Tom’s excellent veranda photos…Purchasing a new laptop…A must before the next adventures…

An iguana is basking in the sun.

Sightings on the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Tom’s photo from the veranda of this Flame-colored Tanager.

Over the next several days, we’ll be posting Tom’s photos (at quite a distance)from where he was seated on the veranda while I was indoors ironing clothes. He considered coming to get me but feared if he moved, his gorgeous subjects would fly away.

Entrance sign to Zoo Ave (In this case, “ave” refers to “aviary” in Spanish.

I was impressed by his photos. Although a bit blurry from the long-distance, many clearly defined various feathered species landing in the vast amount of greenery surrounding this lovely Atenas property.

We’re looking forward to sharing the photos in our “Sightings on the Veranda in Costa Rica” section over the next several days. As we wind down these remaining 12 days in Costa Rica, we’ll finish posting photos we’d yet to share from various sightseeing venues we visited during our over three-month stay in Atenas.

Map of all of the animal rescue areas at Zoo Ave in Alajuela.

With time rapidly wafting away, I knew the time had come for me to order a new laptop. My current Acer laptop is definitely on its last leg after purchasing it while we were on the Big Island, Hawaii, around Christmas-time in 2014, making it almost three years old.

With Africa on the horizon, I’m reminded of my difficulty when I dropped my computer in 2014, breaking the screen, making it entirely unusable. It’s the longest I’ve had a laptop survive since the onset of our travels in 2012. Click on this link here for details.

Giant turtle on a rock.

It was frustrating trying to find a replacement in Nelspruit, South Africa, resulting in my purchasing a low-quality HP with difficulty with the letter “t.” I kept that awful piece of equipment until January 2015, after the family visit on the Big Island in Hawaii when I replaced it, making a new purchase at the Costco store in Hilo.

She was sunning and funning.

Many have asked why we don’t switch to Apple products and why we don’t use iPad or other tablets instead of clunky laptops often weighing more than 5 pounds (2.27 kg.). With Tom’s sturdy backpack, he has no trouble lugging around both of our laptops.

It’s funny how most of us get stuck on name brands and features we’re not willing to forgo. For both of us, they include a 15.6 touchscreen, HDMI outlet, one terabyte of storage, and a lighted keyboard. Such specs aren’t always easy to find.

Turtles are stretching their necks toward the warmth of the sun.

Now that all new PC products have Windows 10 operating systems, which neither of us favors than Windows 8, we found we have no choice but to adapt to this more unique and often painstaking system. 

But, like Tom, who purchased his laptop from Amazon on our site in April 2017, which we had sent to us in Fairlight, Australia, arriving on April 5th, 19 days before our departure on a cruise to the US, at an outrageous expense of US $400 (227,862) for the shipping costs alone.

Pelican is lounging with turtles on a log in a pond.

To avoid a similar shipping expense and being reminded of the difficulty we had making a replacement purchase in South Africa, we decided to purchase a new laptop for me from Amazon now, having it shipped to our mailing service (free shipping with Prime).

Once it arrives on Monday, our mailing service will ship the laptop and our other supplies and clothing purchases for the Antarctica cruise and the lengthy period we’ll spend in Africa. This way, the entire contents can be insured and shipped to the hotel in Florida (where we’ll be for one night on November 22nd). Since it won’t be international shipping (Nevada to Florida), we’re hoping it will arrive on time and intact.

It’s so much more meaningful to see birds in the wild than in cages such as this, although they were rescued.

Since my current Acer product still works, we plan to keep it and bring it to Africa. Once it arrives in Florida, I’ll have time during the 30-nights on the ship to transfer all my data and get everything set up. If the old laptop holds up until February, we’ll keep it and use it as a small TV screen if we don’t have a TV in the vacation property, which is often the case in Africa.

May your day be filled with sunshine and light.

Photo from one year today, November 10, 2016:

View of the bridge from our veranda where the ship’s navigation is conducted by the captain and his crew. For more photos, please click here.

Tom’s new laptop order in process…News on lost package…

Surfboard shop in Manly Beach.

Whew! We’re on a roll! “Safari luck” has kicked in! Immigration issues are solved, we found Tom a new computer which will be shipped today and much to our surprise, our package missing after a February 11th shipping date from Nevada, has arrived at the post office in Geeveston, Tasmania as of this morning. 

Anne, our former landlord in the Huon Valley, Tasmania will forward it to us tomorrow. It should arrive within five days. We couldn’t be more thrilled and relieved.

We walked through the uncrowded outdoor Corco in Manly, a pleasant area to visit.

This past Sunday, if you’d have asked us how we’re doing, we’d have said we were a little worried over all of the above. Then when we had a awful experience trying to purchase a new laptop online for Tom, an unfamiliar feeling of stress escalated. 

It wasn’t as simple as finding the right product and having it shipped to Australia. We contacted most of the major digital equipment suppliers in Australia and were unable to find the make, model and specs for the laptop he preferred; an Acer 15.6″ touch screen with backlit keyboard and one terabyte of storage, hopefully with Windows 10. As for other specs, he had some flexibility. 

On Saturday, numerous booths lined the walkway through the Corso mall.

Adding to the difficulty in searching online was the fact that we only had one computer to use for the search, taking twice as long as usual. Considering the fact that certain aspects of Australian products have variances from our more familiar US-made products, buying locally wasn’t all that appealing. No offence intended for Australia. This is true in every country.

When I dropped my laptop in Marloth Park, South Africa, in 2013, breaking the screen, I had no choice but to purchase an HP, the only touch screen we could find locally only to discover the “new” model was missing many familiar aspects vital to my use and had trouble with a letter on the keyboard which drove me nuts. I only kept it until we got to Hawaii in 2014 when I replaced it for an Acer model with similar specs as indicated above for Tom.

Rather than shopping, many spent time at the beach for the volleyball competitions, which we’d visited earlier in the day. That day, walking 10,000 steps came easily.

Let’s face it…we all like what we know and find familiar. It will be tough enough for Tom, not an especially savvy user, to adjust to the newer Windows 10 operating system. 

But, it made no sense to purchase an aged new-in-the-box model with Windows 8.1, now an outdated operating system which I still have until we get to the US when I, too, will make a new purchase. My laptop’s functionality is rapidly declining.  Hopefully, it will last for another 60 days.

Many types of handmade crafts are on display each Saturday.

Since the onset of our travels we replaced our laptops about every 18 months. The constant traveling has taken its toll and no doubt, the constant use has a bearing on the life of these products. Plus, with the reasonable cost of laptops over the years, its makes no sense to adopt workarounds from issues that develop over time.

In Tom’s recent situation when only a few days ago on Saturday morning, his laptop died. As mentioned in a prior post, we took it to a repair shop only to discover there was literally nothing that could be done to repair it.

Monument in Manly.

After we exhausted the prospect of making a purchase in Australia (plus, prices in Australia were about twice as much as in the US, even considering shipping costs), we decided to make a purchase in the US and have it shipped to us here in Fairlight/Manly.

We strolled through an outdoor market in the Corso shopping area in Manly.

This wasn’t as easy as one would think. Most suppliers in the US don’t ship internationally and if they do, they only offer the economy rate which would be unlikely to arrive in time before we leave on April 22nd. Also, we wanted Tom to have a laptop in hand within a week or two, if at all possible.

Right now, he’s using his phone with the house’s Wi-Fi connection and is able to access his email, Facebook and his usual favorite sites. When I’m not posting or doing some work for our travels, he uses my laptop. Not ideal; it’s our only option at the moment.

This display caught Tom’s eye, and we stopped to check it out.

Finally, late Monday afternoon, after deciding we’d use Amazon for the purchase from the link on our site, we found what we were looking for, spec-wise, not shipping-wise. But, unfortunately, even Amazon, a global shipper, couldn’t get it quickly enough.

Tom insisted on buying me this silver necklace (in the event he becomes forgetful in his old age). I thought it would be perfect to wear on cruises when its hard to remember names when meeting so many people. I’m often called “Jennifer” instead of “Jessica.” This cute necklace should help.

Subsequently, we ordered the laptop with our Prime membership’s free shipping feature to be sent to our mailing service in Nevada, expected to arrive tomorrow. Eric, our mailing service rep will turn it around and ship it to us using insured express 3 to 5 day international shipping. That cost will be high but at this point, we feel this is our best option.

Sure, we could have waited until we arrived in the US in 60 days, but Tom without a laptop with the upcoming 24 night cruise and the nine-night Alaskan cruise, this would not have been appealing to him, especially since we’d have to purchase VOOM Wi-Fi for the 24 night cruise for my use anyway.

Casino and bar in the Corso.

Yesterday, when Royal Caribbean was offering a 30% discount on VOOM Wi-Fi, we purchased the high speed service for two devices at the cost of AU 691, US $527.76. If we waited to get on the ship to make the purchase we’d have paid 30% more.

Tom before yesterday’s haircut in Manly.

This particular sailing from Sydney to Seattle is a “repositioning” cruise which offers numerous discounts when the cruise line has to move a ship from one location of the world to another. However, all services and events remain the same.  \The cruise fare is considerably less than the usual fare but such extras as free WiFi, free gratuities, free beverage packages and large cabin credits may not be included. 

Yesterday, Bob took us grocery shopping and for Tom to get what proved to be a great haircut. Ironically, as indicated below in the one-year-ago-photo, he had a haircut at the same chain salon, Just Cuts, on exactly the same date in New Plymouth, New Zealand. Go figure. Coincidences do happen.

Tom, this morning, after yesterday’s haircut.

But, safari luck…hmm…we’re grateful and flying high with how so much can change in a few short days. 

Be well. Be happy.

Photo from one year ago today, March 29, 2016:

Tom’s hair had grown unruly since his last haircut in Savusavu, Fiji in early November, almost five months earlier. This haircut took place at Just Cuts in New Plymouth, New Zealand on March 29, 2016. Coincidentally, Tom had a haircut on March 29, 2017, at Just Cuts Salon in Manly  which we’re posting today. Ha! For more details, please click here.

Technology dwindling…Tomorrow’s trip to Australian Immigration…

Volleyball competitors warming up for tournaments.

Hurricane/Cyclone Debbie is building strength expected to hit Queensland’s coast on Tuesday morning (48 hours from now). Unfortunately, for our thoughtful and concerned readers, this is nowhere close to our location.

In the US, it’s comparable to a hurricane coming ashore in New England, with us being in Georgia at the time resulting in no risk for us in this area. However, we pray for the safety and well-being of all Australian residents as they “batten down the hatches” in preparation for this building cyclone.

There were many lifeguards on the beach ready for action if necessary.

On to yesterday’s activities, including a trip to the computer repair store in Manly…Bob dropped us at the computer repair shop in Manly shortly after they opened at 9:00 am. He wanted to stay and wait while we went inside to drive us to our next stop.

Lots of bathers and surfers enjoying the morning surf.

We appreciated his kind offer, but we knew we’d manage fine on our own. We were quite a distance from the outdoor mall, the Corso, in Manly, where we planned to stop at a pharmacy for a few items if we had to leave the country tomorrow after our morning appointment at the Australia Immigration Office. 

There was a heavy cloud cover with occasional peeks of the sun through the clouds.

At least we’d have enough products with us if we’re unable to return to Australia before the cruise on April 22nd. As the time approaches, it’s a daunting thought, now only 24 hours away. I wonder how much sleep we’ll get tonight. 

As much as we’d like to let such thoughts escape us today and tonight, it’s difficult to ignore.  Having had these two weeks to imagine the possibilities, we’ve had ample time to digest and contemplate what may transpire.

Families at the beach playground reveling in fact it wasn’t raining for the first time in weeks.

As to yesterday’s trip to the computer store…we paid an AU 55, US $42 diagnostic fee when we left the laptop, told to call at noon to see what could or could not be done to repair it. 

Many luxury condos and apartments line the beach road with small units beginning well over a million dollars.

We left the shop hopeful the problem was repairable with the major concern of repairing it. Would we get it back by Monday, in case we’re required to leave the country?

We reframed our thinking, hoping to gear up for a positive day, and began the long walk along Manly Beach’s esplanade to be thrilled to see the level of activity and excitement in the popular beach area. A popular annual volleyball tournament was in full swing, along with the biggest rash of surfers and swimmers we’d seen anywhere in the world at any given time.

Volleyball on Manly Beach.

As we made our way to the Corso outdoor mall, we enjoyed the walk. Lately, we’d hardly walked much with all the rain keeping us indoors. Checking my FitBit several times a day, I’ve been disappointed with how few steps my device has logged over these past few weeks.

Man and child making sandcastles on the beach.

Yesterday, we logged nearly 10,000 steps when later in the day, Bob insisted on taking us out for some sightseeing, during which we took many great photos along with those from the morning walk.

After a stop at the pharmacy in the Corso, we continued to walk toward the wharf where we hoped to catch the free Hop, Skip, Jump bus that would take us back to our Fairlight neighborhood, requiring more walking to reach our holiday rental.

More surfers in the water.

Upon our return, it was almost noon. We called Ben at the computer store, only to be told Tom’s laptop was deader than a doornail. There was no way to repair it without incurring more cost than a new laptop. This was not good news.

Schedule of tournaments for the annual Volley Fest event in Manly Beach.

With our missing shipment from the US, which included my new smartphone, and now, with Tom no longer having a laptop, we’re down to only two significant devices. Between us, we between only one laptop and one phone. Ouch.

Entrance to Volley Fest activities.

After we discover our fate tomorrow at the immigration office and if we’re allowed to stay in Australia, we’ll order a new laptop to be shipped here to us, insured with guaranteed three-day delivery, entirely possible from the USA to Australia. 

Lone surfer on Manly Beach while sun peeking through the clouds.

Of course, we’ll pay a premium for expedited and insured shipping, which we’re willing to bear when the alternative is buying locally at considerably higher prices along with modifications suitable for Australia, not the USA. 

Tomorrow, our post will be live later in the day after we return from immigration, especially if “safari luck” kicks in. On the other hand, if we have to leave promptly, we’ll post a short notice and will do a complete post once we arrive at the new out-of-the-country destination. Either way, no more than five hours later than usual, some posts will be uploaded on our current status.

Bleachers where spectators can watch the competition.

Please keep your fingers crossed for us! Back at you soon!

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

Our favorite cria, Mont Blanc, wasn’t gaining weight, although occasionally, he’d munch on a bit of vegetation. We watched his progress daily, only to a sorrowful end some weeks later. For more details, please click here.