Day 7…Henderson, Nevada.. Posting photos from Tromso, Norway continues today…Enjoying times in Nevada…

Trolls are famous in Norway. What Are Trolls from Norse Mythology? Norwegian trolls are believed to be mythical creatures that live in isolated rocks or caves. They are believed to live alone or in small families and are hostile towards humans. As per the troll legends, they are believed to be evil and dangerous beings that prefer the wilderness.

We’ve run out of photos of Las Vegas and may not have time to take more local pictures while we’re here. As a result, we will only post one main photo on the regular daily post from one of the two recent cruises. Once we get to Minnesota, we will try to take photos, but it’s not always possible when busy with family events. Not all family members want their photos posted online. We always respect that.

Yesterday, when Tom’s old railroad friend Mark responded that his wife could not join us for drinks or dinner, I suggested Tom go on his own for some “guy time.” It’s a rarity that he has time to commiserate with friends without me there. Instead, I stayed in the hotel room and chatted on the phone with my friend Kathy (Kathy and Don), who lives in Hawaii. It was great that the time difference worked out when, so often when we chat, we’re dealing with substantial time differences.

Tom returned shortly after 8:00 pm when we headed to the restaurant for a nice dinner. Later, back in our room, we streamed a show and got to sleep by 11:00 pm. Twelve hours later, we were back in the restaurant, having breakfast, and now, close to 11:00 am, I’m making an effort to put a dent in today’s post so soon we can drive to our mailing service to pick up our mail.

Once we get the mail, we’ll be busy for an hour going through everything. We don’t have any big plans for today but have begun to book times to get together with our kids and grandkids in Minnesota. We’re starting with a busy Sunday, hoping to see all three of our kids in one day.

From there, we will have over a month to spend plenty of time with everyone, including time with Tom’s siblings and other family members and several friends we hope to see. It will be a fun and busy time until we finally leave for South America in October. It will be tricky managing the use of the rental car when we each have separate families to visit, and sometimes we each have to go our own way. But, as always, we’ll figure it out.

At least this time, we won’t be sick and can see everyone. When we had COVID-19, we spent weeks in Minnesota and never were able to spend time with the family for fear of infecting them, even after we tested negative. We were still coughing and wondered if we could infect anyone regardless of testing negative. There were mixed reviews on this topic.

It’s hard to believe we leave Nevada in three days, but we’ve got a lot done while we are here and spent quality time with family and friends who’ve come to visit. The surprise of Rita and Gerhard flying in from the state of Washington for six hours was quite a treat.

Tomorrow, friends Marilyn and Gary arrive at our hotel at 11:00 am, and we’ll have lunch together. We’re looking forward to seeing the two of them and are grateful they are driving the long way to see us. We are lucky to have such fine friends in many places.

Otherwise, we have a quiet day today with not much going on. We just returned from the mailing service and picked up all our packages and a small stack of mail, nothing too important. I’m anxious to set up my new Fitbit, but I will do that after everything else is gone through and when I finish today’s two posts.

This afternoon, we’re heading to another movie at the Regal Theatre here in the resort. It’s such fun for us to go to a movie after not doing so for a long time while living outside the US.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 6, 2013:

The goats in the rear yard of this property in Diana Beach, Kenya, posed for us when Hans‘ two small dogs, Gucci and Jessie, chased them into their goat house. For more photos, please click here.

In reviewing the photos we hadn’t been able to post, it appears it will be very time-consuming and complicated to return to each post and add the photos we couldn’t post. As a result, we are posting some of the photos under the heading of each town over days, which can be found after each new day, listed as Part 1, Part 2 Norway, for example.

The new post with the photos is located below:

Part 5…Unpublished photos from the Azamara cruise to Tromso, Norway…

We’re on the move…Travel day#1…Flight got canceled…

This was our limo this morning to the airport from Green Valley Ranch Resort.

We are at the United gate at Las Vegas McCarren Airport, waiting to board our new flight in a few hours. Yesterday afternoon, I got a text on my phone stating that our 7:00 am flight to Newark was canceled, and the new flight would depart at 10:28 am. We got excited about the change, which meant we wouldn’t have to get up at 3:00 am to get to the airport three hours early, as required, by 4:00 am.

The message stated that we’d have to book different seats on the new flight. Immediately, we checked online, only to find two seats left, one a window and another a middle seat in different rows, both of which we don’t like. We both prefer aisle seats and had previously booked our seats across the aisle from one another. But, this leg of our journey is slightly less than five hours, and we can manage this situation.

Unbelievably, United doesn’t credit passengers for their previous seat purchases when flights change. We’d paid extra on the old flight for better seats but had to take the two lousy seats that were available without the possibility of a refund. Go figure. They get you coming and going, duh, literally.

This morning, another text arrived stating the flight would be departing until 10:55 am, a change that didn’t make a difference to us one way or another. We’d already arranged our ride to the airport, and it was too late to change it. We were scheduled to be picked up by the limo at 7:00 am, but then, at 6:25, I received a text from the driver that he had arrived and if we were ready to go.

The interior of the limo.

We figured we’d either be waiting in the hotel lobby or at the airport. That was fine. By 6:40, our bags were loaded, and we were in the limo on the short 12-minute drive to the airport. The cost for the limo with tip was US $100. But, with this big festival going on in Las Vegas, there were no Ubers, Lyfts, or taxis available. We had no choice but to take the limo at four times the cost of a taxi. We felt we were lucky to get a ride at all. We weren’t about to complain about that.

Little did we know the driver would arrive in a black stretch limo. Gosh, I can’t recall the last time I rode in one of those. Riding in a limo has never been important to either of us. But I couldn’t resist taking a few photos. At least I’d have something to add to today’s post when the photo ops were slim. It was a far cry from the small rental car we’ll be driving on the N4 from Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport when we arrive in two days. As long as we have transportation, we don’t give it much thought.

Once we arrived at the airport, we discovered curbside check-in for United. But the rep explained that due to our international connection, we’d have to go to the ticket counter for United, using the kiosk to get our bags checked, receive our boarding passes, scan our passports and show our PCR test.

The kindly reps at the kiosk who assisted passengers were unaware that South Africa doesn’t allow entry from US passengers with only a CDC white vaccination card. When we showed them the comments on entry restrictions on their screen, which clearly stated that PCR or Antigen tests were required and CDC cards alone wouldn’t do, they were shocked. They had no idea. They said many passengers scheduled for flights for South Africa were in for a big surprise.

It was Tom who found this new requirement online. The reps were surprised we found the small print about the change in this requirement. What a nightmare that could have been.

Slot machines at the airport in Las Vegas.

Then, our bags were then whisked away to the check-in counter, where they were weighed. All four of our checked bags, none of which required payment for an international flight, were weighed and none were overweight. We had weighed all of them in our hotel room on our travel scale, which miraculously has lasted for over 9½ years.

We breezed through security and made our way to the gate, where we are still sitting with my phone plugged into the charger on the seat. By the time we get on the plane, my phone and this laptop will be 100% charged. Apparently, based on the new location of our seats on this first flight, there are no plug-ins for devices. Good grief.

With only a two-hour layover in Newark, based on the flight cancellation, we are grateful for, as opposed to the previous six-plus-hour layover, I wouldn’t have had time to do today’s post. Since we arrived at the Las Vegas airport so early, I had ample time to upload a post. There are slot machines about 20 feet from us, but we don’t play.

Tom offered to get me a cup of decaf coffee, but after waiting in line at a Starbucks, he discovered they didn’t sell decaf. That’s weird. I’ll wait and have coffee on the plane in about two hours.

Ah, dear readers, this has been one long and difficult time in the US. We saw son Greg and the three grandchildren in Minneapolis for about 20 minutes while seated in the rental car with masks on while they kept back about 10 feet from the vehicle. We never saw Richard in Las Vegas/Henderson since we were still coughing. We wonder if Covid-19 will ever go away and if the visiting family will be possible.

The next time we write will be when we arrive in Johannesburg on Monday, after the 15 hour red eye where we’ll spend part of the night at the airport hotel, trying to catch up on some sleep.

See you next time.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today. May 22. 2021:

The river is beautiful at sunset. For more photos, please click here.

Resolving the Las Vegas car rental issue…Challenges continue…Two days and counting…

We are thrilled with the quality of the photos using my new Google Pixel Pro XL6 phone. They appear to be more precise than those using our camera.

This morning, a kindly Uber driver picked us up from our hotel and took us to the nearby CVS pharmacy for our Covid-19 PCR tests, which we’ll use to fly to South Africa in two days. The driver picked us up at 10:30 and returned after one more stop at Smith’s market to pick up our curbside order of Crystal Light iced tea.

We couldn’t purchase enough iced tea to last for the next year, but it was enough to get us through the next few months until we placed an order on Ubuy, an online service that ships to South Africa. Crystal Light is not sold at any of the markets in the country. We’ll pay a premium price for the product, but it still will be less than shipping it from the US.

The walkway over the main pool at the resort.

Although we’ve given up many of our favorite products since we began traveling almost ten years ago, there are some items that we haven’t been willing to stop using, and this is one of them. Finding alternatives to many grocery items has been easy overall with our limited way of eating. Still, we search for a specific item and have trouble finding it from time to time.

The past 24 hours have been somewhat wacky. We’ve been busy taking care of phone calls necessary to ensure we’ve received proper credits for multiple scenarios, including the charges still showing on a credit card for the rental car we weren’t able to obtain from ACE car rentals on Sunday when we couldn’t produce a Nevada utility bill.

A portion of the attractive grounds at the resort.

The credit card company’s service rep was accommodating. After about 40 minutes on the phone, they credited our card the US $366 and will contact us if there are any future issues in processing the credit from the company, Wise Cars, which we’ll never use again. All of their phone numbers were disconnected. Is it any wonder?

This morning, we stopped at the concierge desk to speak to kindly Douglas once again. Could he arrange for a ride for us to the airport on Sunday at 4:00 am? As it turns out, there’s this huge event going on now, EDC, Electric Daisy Carnival, which brings hundreds of thousands of visitors worldwide to participate in the 24-hour-a-day partying event.

With it around 100F, 43C, outside, we had no interest in sitting by the pool at the resort.

Subsequently, getting an Uber or a taxi at this time in the morning is impossible since many of the shows on the strip end in the middle of the night. Douglas said he’d start calling around to see what he could find. The only option was a private limo at three times the cost of a taxi at US $74.26. With a tip, the cost will be close to US $100. We authorized Douglas to book this for us.

Then, when the confirmation document arrived from the limo company, we noticed it said 4:00 pm not 4:00 am. That resulted in another phone call and email. We have the corrected confirmation and can plan to be downstairs with our luggage at 4:00 am on Sunday. We will have to get up at 3:00 am to shower and dress to get downstairs on time.

The next time it is 4:00 to us, we’ll be on the flight from Newark to Johannesburg. The next 4:00 am after that; we’ll be getting up again from the partial overnight stay in the airport hotel in Joburg to ensure we get to the gate on time for our final leg on the flight to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger airport to pick up the rental car to begin the 90-minute drive on the N4 to Marloth Park.

The cabanas are appealing, but the suffocating heat is unappealing at this time.

This crazy schedule means getting up at 3:00 or 4:00 am for three nights in a row, considering the only sleeping time we’ll have once it begins when we’re at the airport hotel in Johannesburg, where we’ll try to get some sleep for a few hours. It’s hard to get much sleep when we know we have to wake up in the middle of the night.

Still feeling weak and tired from Covid-19, this schedule won’t be easy. The key will be to get through the 6½ hour layover in Newark and be able to sleep a little on the flight. The plane will be full, but we won’t know for sure until we board. Then, if either of us can end up with two empty seats beside us, we may be able to lay down and get some rest.

This makes me exhausted just writing about it. If we weren’t recovering from Covid-19, this would be easier. And although we are making every effort to be optimistic, we aren’t foolhardy. We’ve traveled on long flight itineraries for many years, and we are well aware of the challenges.

Today, we’ll continue with more tasks we need to accomplish and hopefully get a good night’s sleep tonight; the last night we’ll have until next Tuesday when we arrive in Marloth Park and move into our new house. Since we’ll arrive before noon, we’ll have time to start unpacking, perhaps take a nap and head out to Jabula for dinner. Gee…that would be nice.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 20, 2021:

These two wildebeests visit often. The one on the left is CF, for Crooked Face, and his loyal friend is Hal. For more photos, please click here.

Tasks, done and dusted…Setting up my new laptop…

My new laptop. See the specs below.

This morning, we picked up the hotel arranged rental, a new BMW, a lovely car, much more upscale than many we rent while living in different countries. It was an easy process. We arrived at the concierge desk, and within 10 minutes, the car was delivered to the valet area, where we jumped in and were on our way.

Well, I shouldn’t say “jumped in.” I am recovering more slowly. We’re still somewhat weak and lethargic, me more so than Tom. He’s rapidly on the mend, off of all medication, and regaining daily strength and stamina. The headache over my left eye is relentless, making me wonder if I may have developed a sinus infection from having Covid.

I’m not going to a doctor here in Nevada. Once we return to Marloth Park a week from today, I will make an appointment with Dr. Theo, as will Tom, to be checked after the dreadful round of Omicron, lasting a month so far. I can’t wait to feel like my energized self, as I had when we left Marloth Park on March 23, after I’d been vigorously walking 7000 to 8000 steps a day.

We’re getting in about 5000 steps a day in this vast property, but I am exhausted after each walk through the property. This is a typical after-effect of having a more extreme case of Omicron, not significant enough to require hospitalization but dramatic enough to impact the quality of our lives over the past many weeks.

Tom’s new Samsonite suitcase.

The thought of heading out shopping for a new laptop for me and a large suitcase for Tom intimidated me. How would I feel walking around Costco feeling as weak as I do? But, somehow, once inside the giant store, with the prospect of buying a new laptop, a burst of adrenaline and enthusiasm got me through selecting a computer that would serve my heavy use needs.

I selected a Lenovo Ideapad Flex 5 with an Intel i7 processor, a lighted keyboard, and a touchscreen with Windows 11, including these specs:

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 15IIL05 81X3000VUS (Intel i7-1065G7 4-Core, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, Intel Iris Plus, 15.6″ Touch Full HD (1920×1080), Fingerprint, Win 11 Home) Graphite Grey Convertible Laptop

This same laptop is for sale on Amazon for US $999. The Costco price was US $799, but we had a shop card from Costco for US $310 plus a $80 credit from our prior use of our Costco Premium membership. We only had to pay the difference with tax. We feel comfortable that we got a good deal.

It was nice to ride in an excellent car like this BMW that we rented through the hotel for US $79 a day. We’ll turn it back in tomorrow morning.

I am still typing on my old Chromebook with the bad letter “L.” As it turned out, this cheap HP Chromebook wasn’t sophisticated enough for my heavy use. This new computer has a larger monitor, better for our regular streaming of various services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. The screen’s better resolution will be a big bonus as well.

Two of my favorite features are the built-in card reader for my camera and the lighted keyboard. Although I don’t type much in the dark, I’ve always loved a lighted keyboard and haven’t been able to get this feature on my last few laptops. I am thrilled to have this now.

I encouraged Tom to get a new one like mine, but his Chromebook still works well, and he has no interest in replacing it right now. By tomorrow morning, I will have everything set up on the new machine and be able to post using it. We will keep this old laptop for streaming news broadcasts, sports, and other background shows while working on our regular laptops.

After the trip to Costco, where Tom had no luck finding a new large suitcase, we headed to TJ Maxx and within minutes found Tom a fantastic black Samsonite bag, easy to identify with two tan stripes running down the black surface. He’s already moved his clothes into the new bag and is content with his purchase.

The car has an elaborate console.

Then, we stopped at Walgreens Pharmacy to pick up a few Covid-19 antigen test kits we’ll use the day we depart for South Africa on Sunday.

That’s it for today, folks. I am anxious to wrap this up to continue setting up my new laptop. Switching from Chromebook to Windows 11 will be time-consuming, but I am looking forward to working on it. I won’t be carrying over all the junk files from the past by doing a manual update so that I can start with a clean slate. All of my old files are on Google Drive, which I will easily be able to access on this new device.

It may take me weeks to get everything set up to my liking since I’m not feeling 100%, but I have all the time in the world.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 17, 2021:

Kudus stopped by for pellets at sundowner time. While watching wildlife, it will be fun to be back in the bush, feeling better and sipping on an adult beverage, such as my favorite Skinny (ow alcohol) red wine. We haven’t had a drink in almost a month. For more photos, please click here.

Weird news…Bad news…Good news…

Last nigh, Tom enjoyed his Rueben sandwich in Lucky Penny restaurant in the resort.

Our flight to Las Vegas from Minneapolis had a late departure, by almost an hour. The flight itself was good on a newer Delta plane with entertainment screens which helped the time pass more quickly. Tom and I each had aisle seats across from one another. We wore our masks on the plane, but less than 25% of the passengers did the same.

The flight arrived at 6:30 pm. We drank only bottled water and ate a few little packets of almonds. Tom has insisted I ride in a wheelchair since I was too slow walking after being sick for almost a month with Covid-19 and mainly lying in bed. Poor Tom had to handle the luggage but paid for a trolley to assist, the only place in the world where we’ve had to pay for a trolley.

I should mention that the fabulous helper that wheeled my chair was so conscientious that it shocked us. His name is Lee Paolo Matela. He works for a company called LAS Prospect, and they surely couldn’t hire a better candidate to work for their company. While I waited for Tom to collect the rental car, I emailed the company praising Lee Paolo for his kindness, efficiency, professionalism, and customer service. What a treasure this guy is!

I needed to wait for Tom at entrance #26 on the departure level with the trolley with our bags. He was gone no less than an hour. We knew it would take a long time when the rental car area was far from the airport, requiring transportation on both a bus and a van.

I watched out the window for every car approaching, hoping it was him. Finally, he shows up on foot without a car. What? I was shocked to see him on foot. When he explained that ACE car rental refused him the vehicle, they required a copy of a home utility bill for Nevada residents (which we are) to rent a car. We don’t have a utility bill for a home in Las Vegas. We don’t have a home. Good grief! That’s the weird news!

There we were, exhausted from the lingering effects of Covid-19. We hadn’t eaten anything in 13 hours except for those few nuts, and now we had no transportation. It turned out, a comedy of errors. We had to make our way to a distant area to get in line for the taxi stand. Tom pushed me in the wheelchair, insisting I stay in the chair while I pushed the trolley using his strength from behind me.  This would have been quite the sight to see.

Finally, we found a worker who grabbed a taxi for us, and we were on our way to the Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa in Henderson, Nevada. How we’d manage to go to Costco, replace Tom’s broken suitcase, and pick up supplies at our mailing service, a 30-minute drive from here, baffled us at that moment. We could barely think straight to come up with a plan. We both agreed to worry about this today instead of last night.

Check-in was relatively painless. A bellman delivered our bags to our lovely hotel room on the 7th floor. Since we’d booked the hotel with Expedia on our site, the best price we could find, we received priority status and received a coupon for 20% off on all of our meals. It looked like we’d be eating at the hotel without a car. Besides, we still didn’t feel well enough to go out to a restaurant or even have a beer or glass of wine.

Last night, I managed to eat every bite of this delicious Cobb salad at Lucky Penny.

This week will be one month since we tested positive for Covid-19. So far, we’ve spent 26 days in isolation; two on the ship and the remainder in hotel rooms. Tom’s cough is much better. He’s taken all of the antibiotics as of last night and the last of the cortisone this morning. He’s still using the nebulizer six times a day and will continue for a few more days. His coughing is 75% better and improving each day. That’s good news!

Walking to and from the hotel’s restaurant takes everything we’ve got. I am still getting headaches, occasional fast pulse, and minimal coughing. Of course, both of us are struggling with becoming exhausted from exerting ourselves in any way.

OK. So our big concern is getting our stuff at the mailing service, which has the Costco gift card we received for using Costco Travel for sailing on the Celebrity cruise, during which we got Covid-19, which we’ve intended to use toward the purchase of a new computer for me. The keyboard is dying from overuse. It’s over two years old, and I am ready to upgrade and return to Windows. I can’t bring myself to become a devoted user of Chromebook for the long haul. I need easy access to desktop folders with files that can be easily accessed.

We headed to dinner at 9:00 pm here, 11:00 pm to us, to the Lucky Penny in the resort. It has excellent food and service, and most likely, we’ll have breakfast and dinner there each of the remaining six days we’ll spend in this town, in this hotel. Tom had a fantastic Rueben sandwich with chips (fries), and I had a Cobb salad, both of which we’ve included photos here today.

This morning at breakfast in the same restaurant, savoring delicious meals, we came up with a plan. We’d arrange for a rental car through the hotel’s concierge for one day. After breakfast, we met with Douglas, the Concierge, who, with the greatest of ease, arranged a rental car for us for 24 hours, starting tomorrow morning, for only US $79. At 10:00 am tomorrow, the car will be driven up to the hotel’s valet station, and off we’ll go, no utility bill required. Good grief! Good news!

We’ll return the car tomorrow night and get all of our projects handled; head to our mailing service to pick up our mail which contains the gift card for Costco; then to Costco to use the gift card toward the purchase of my new laptop and Tom’s new suitcase; Walgreens for two Covid-19 tests for our upcoming flights to South Africa, using the US $15 coupons we received for Tom’s US $300 of prescriptions.

Our goal is to continue to rest and recover, which we both see as vital to our recovery. This morning, just walking in the hotel to breakfast used almost 2500 steps registered on my Fitbit. After dinnertime, I’m sure we’ll be up to over 5000 steps which equals over two miles. Based on how we’re still feeling, we’d never consider walking two miles while we’re still recovering. Once we both feel better, we’ll gradually amp up our activity levels and exercise.

We aren’t looking forward to the difficult upcoming two travel days back to Marloth Park. We have an over six-hour layover in Newark, followed by the 15-hour flight and having to spend the night in Johannesburg, to avoid the risk of the excessive number of carjackings after dark, on the N4 highway from the airport to Marloth Park.

When we leave Las Vegas on May 22, we’ll have to get up at 4:00 am to get to the airport for the international flight and then again at 4:00 am when we leave Johannesburg the following day.

We’re anxious to be in our new house in the bush to get back to some semblance of “normal life” among our human and animal friends in the bush.

As lovely as this resort is, it doesn’t feel like a “holiday” as much as it feels like another hotel room in which to recover from this dreaded virus. All we can say, at this point, is to do whatever possible to protect yourself from this virus. Perhaps we should consider ourselves lucky. It could have been worse, much worse. For that, we are grateful. The rest? An annoyance and gross and costly inconvenience. We can recover from this!

Take care, everyone!

Photo from one year ago today, May 16, 2021:

Our photo of the black sparrowhawk when it took a break from devouring its kill. For more photos, please click here.

On the move again…We’re off to Las Vegas…

The pool at the Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa where we’ll arrive later today.

The thought of the upcoming trip to Las Vegas is a bit intimidating. Neither of us is feeling as well as we’d like to be able to travel. Knowing that in one week from today, the two travel days to Marloth Park are even more intimidating, but hopefully, we’ll have recovered all the more by then.

Tom is still coughing, considerably more than me, but I have the fierce Covid headache that comes and goes along with a lesser cough and lots of congestion. We are not our usual “travel-ready” selves. We have no idea how the airplane’s cabin pressure will feel right now.

But, it was only two weeks ago that we flew the long distance from the UK to Minnesota when our symptoms were worse (we tested negative), and the journey was over 12 hours from airport to airport. I barely remember that trip except for the several movies we watched during the flight.

There are rarely entertainment screens on these shorter US domestic flights, so the 3½ hours will drag on. There’s no point in upgrading to business class for this short flight. We’ll check into upgrading when we fly back to South Africa a week from today. Gosh, that’s coming up quickly.

We would have flown back to South Africa from the UK two weeks ago in a perfect world. But, we’d already paid for all of our flights and hotels in advance and wouldn’t get refunds, only credits which we may or may not be able to use in the future with time restrictions on them. We assumed we’d feel better at some point and be able to continue with our plans to see family, but it just didn’t work out that way.

As it turned out, yesterday afternoon, we drove out to son Greg’s house and saw the three grandkids and Greg, who greeted us outside while we stayed in the car wearing masks. Miles had yet to get a negative Covid test, and we couldn’t take any chances. That’s not to say we won’t have risks flying on an airplane when the US doesn’t require Covid tests to fly on domestic flights. Ah, you can run, but you can’t hide from this pandemic. It’s everywhere.

It was wonderful to see the sweet smiling faces, all wearing braces, of the three teenagers and Greg. Camille wasn’t feeling well and was sick in bed, so we didn’t see her. It was only for a few minutes with no hugs and kisses, but we were glad we saw them.

  • It didn’t work out to see Tom’s family members. We can only look forward to the next time we visit the USA when that is up for grabs. We don’t have a clue when we will return. When we can start booking again, we’ll have a better idea.

We asked for and received a late check out from our hotel today. We’ll head out around 1:00 pm, drop off the rental car, and head to the gate to wait for the flight. Last night, Tom checked us in for the Delta flight and paid for our bags, US $140 for all of our checked bags. We had more bags this time due to the extra dressy clothes for the Cunard Queen Mary 2 cruise, on which we never sailed due to contracting Covid-19 on the last two days on the Celebrity Silhouette cruise.

Ah, this wasn’t the ideal travel experience we usually encounter. But, this could have happened to anyone, anywhere, at any time. No one is exempt from this virus regardless of how hard we’ve tried to stay safe over the past few years.

We’ll make the best of this last week in the US and then be on our way back to the safe haven we’ve found in the bush. The thought of being back in Marloth Park by May 24th is comforting.

Next time we write, we’ll be doing so from the comfort of our lovely hotel room at the Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa in Henderson, Nevada.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 15, 2021:

He ate pellets, left, walked around the house, and returned to the garden, thinking we might assume he’s someone new and offer more pellets. The warthogs and bushbucks are good at this maneuver. For more photos, please click here.

Dinner with Richard…How to play a slot machine has changed due to Covid-19…

We had such a fine evening last night with Richard and his lovely GF. They prefer not to have their photos online, which we fully respect and understand. We had a fantastic evening with the two of them, first having drinks at the Claim Jumper and later heading a short distance to one of my favorite places for salads, The Cheesecake Factory.

It was an evening with lots of enthusiastic conversation and laughter. What a joy it is to see them after 20 months away! We’ll see them a few more times this week as their schedules allow.

Alternate view of the strip from the highway.

When I saw they had a low-carb, sugar-free cheesecake on their menu, I had to control myself to keep from ordering it. Once we return to South Africa, I will make two such pies, one for me and another for Louise and Danie, who also eat the way I do, occasionally having such a low-carb treat.  At least if I make it, I am confident of the ingredients. Tom doesn’t care for it. But I can’t seem to get it out of my mind.

Also, I will make dear friend Don a cherry pie. Kathy brought the cherry pie filling with her to South Africa from the US and two cans of pumpkin pie filling. We’ll all be enjoying some sweet treats shortly after we arrive. It will be fun to make these pies for everyone and enjoy a bit of my own favorite low-carb cheese pie.

Another view of the Las Vegas Strip from the highway.

Once we are situated in our bush house, and after I make the cheese pie and make apple crisp for Tom and we’ve finished them off, we’ll both begin our strict way of eating to lose the few pounds we gained in the US, three for me and five for Tom. In a month from now, we’ll both be back to where we were.

Right now, we are walking about 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day, going back and forth to the parking garage, breakfast, and other areas of the resort to take photos. It feels great to walk long distances on even surfaces. This is precisely what we needed after being relatively stationary in Minnesota and Milwaukee.

The food court in the hotel is for those who prefer a quick meal and lower cost.

When we return to Marloth Park in less than a week, we have decided to start walking more. Based on the problems with my legs after two surgeries on each leg and the resulting nerve damage, walking isn’t as easy for me now as it used to be. We may have to drive somewhere in the park to find level surfaces for walking. The uneven, unpaved, gravel roads in Marloth Park cause walking hazards, easily resulting in a fall. As always, we’ll figure it out.

After last night’s enjoyable dinner, we returned to our hotel. But, while on the way back to our room, we had to walk through the casino. As we did so, we stopped at a slot machine with a beautiful display of African animals. I said to Tom, “Let’s try this. Maybe we’ll have “safari luck.”

Pizza is a popular item in Las Vegas.

Before Covid, it was easy to use a slot machine with bills and coins. It took a mere $3 to realize doing so was a waste of time and money. Not the case now. Sure, you can enter paper bills but no coins whatsoever. If you win a certain amount, you have to take the paper receipt to a cashier to get the actual monetary amount. That was the first thing we noticed.

If players don’t want to find a cashier station, it is easy for them to put the receipt back into the slot in the machine, which encourages them to play more and subsequently lose more. It’s a hook! No wonder gambling is addictive.

All of the slot machines had a similar payout system as described here today.

When I entered $1 into the slot, there was only an option to bet $.75. Left with a paltry $.25 made me put more money in the machine to use up the $.25. This went on and on, never giving me an option to bet the total value of the cash-out slip. Of course, I quit playing immediately, already feeling the throes of being unable to stop. No, thank you. We’d rather spend money on future travels, not on the remote possibilities of prospective winnings.

Back to our room, we both had a good night’s sleep. This morning after another fine breakfast, costing $35 with tax and tip, we headed to the distant parking ramp to drive 25 minutes to our mailing service to collect the items we’d received thus far. On Friday, we’ll return one more time since we’re awaiting a few more things, including one more replacement credit card with more travel perks suitable for our needs.

Tonight, with no big plans on the horizon, we’ll wait and see what rolls out.

Have a fabulous day and be well.

Photo from one year ago today, July 20, 2021:

Te handed off the camera in Boveglio, Italy, to a kind gentleman who took this blurry photo in the square when we were invited to a party. This photo was posted one year ago on day #119 in lockdown in Mumbai, India. For more photos, please click here.

We’re ending 67 days spent in the USA…Now back out to "The World."…

A cloudy day, water, and mountain scene.

We got some sleep last night. Maybe after almost five years of world travel, we’re finally able to get some sleep the night before we depart a location for new land. 

In years past, neither of us was able to get in more than a few hours. I tossed and turned for about an hour around 4:00 am but nodded off for a final solid hour, feeling considerably better upon awakening around 6:00 am. Tom did the same, and now as I sit at my laptop in the guest room of Richard’s home, Tom’s chomping at the bit to pack my computer and for us to be on our way. 

Common Barrel Cactus.

Saying goodbye and heartfelt thanks to Richard, we were out the door of his home by 8:30. The airport is only 15 minutes from Henderson. The traffic was light. 

We’d decided to finish today’s post at the airport while we await our 11:25 am flight on United Airlines. Ugh!  Now, as I continue the post, I’m seated in “chairs” close to the entrance to McCarren International Airport, waiting for Tom to return after dropping off the rental car. 

I zoomed in on these cactus flowers. Wow! They’re amazing!

Within about 20 minutes, Tom returned, and we headed to the tram to distant gate 55D. This is a huge airport, and everything seems so far away. After the tram ride, we walked quite a distance to our gate, and now, we’re comfortably situated at a table and chairs at a Starbucks near the entrance. 

Even Tom, who’s usually stressed on travel days, seems quite content, especially with the TSA pre-approval we had on both of our tickets. We breezed through security without having to take off our shoes. That was nice. 

Yesterday, we prepaid our three checked bags, and today, they were weighed and checked in curbside by a United skycap. There were no overweight fees this time. A few days ago, we made a trip to Goodwill in Henderson, dropping off more odds and ends clothing that was old and we didn’t expect we’d wear over these next few years.

The skycap noted on his computer screen that we’re changing planes in Houston and that we’re going on to Costa Rica. Good thing we’d booked that flight to Nicaragua that occurs 89 days after our arrival tonight in San Jose, or we wouldn’t have been allowed to take the second leg of the flight from Houston to San Jose.

Another commonly seen cactus.

Costa Rica requires an exit ticket purchased before arrival in their country to ensure we’d be leaving. They don’t allow visitors into their country with a one-way ticket or if they plan to stay longer than 90 days. Our exiting ticket was satisfactory.

There will be no suitable meals available for purchase for me on either of the two flights. With only about an hour layover in Houston, there won’t be time to dine in a restaurant at the airport. A few minutes ago, I brought along a few low-carb protein bars and purchased a small bag of mixed nuts for $7.50. 

Susan’s dog Owen always sat up like this when I visited.

In 40 minutes, we’ll board the plane and be on our way. It’s funny, but this leg of our journey feels as if it’s a crucial stretch toward our travels over the next few years. First, we’ll travel from Central America to South America, and then after that to Antarctica, we’ll be heading back to Africa. I can’t believe how quickly this all came up.

We haven’t yet decided where we’ll go after our last booked cruise on March 24, 2019, and the next shorter-this-time return visit to the US. However, after we have spent a year in Africa in 2018 and part of 2019, we’ll have a better idea of what’s on the agenda from there.

A view of the condos at The District in Green Valley Ranch.
In essence, good health providing we have all the time in the world to make those decisions. But, one thing we know for sure, again good health providing, we look forward to continuing on and on and on.
We’ll be back tomorrow morning from Atenas, Costa Rica, with photos of our amazing new villa. Please check back soon.  Have a wonderful day whatever you may decide suits you the best!
Photo from one year ago today, August 1, 2016:
Tuk-tuks come in all shapes, sizes, and colors in Thailand and are used commonly by tourists as opposed to rental cars or taxis, which are much more expensive. Please click here for more Phuket photos and a few from our previous trip to Vietnam/Cambodia.

A fabulous and fun evening on the Las Vegas Strip… Including a laugh fest…

The lights on the Strip at night are always impressive.

When Richard suggested we all head to the Las Vegas Strip to see comedian Brad Garrett from the famous and long-running TV show, Everybody Loves Raymond; we couldn’t say yes quickly enough. 

Valet parking in front of the MGM Grand was packed.

The Brad Garrett Comedy Club has been a big hit attracted to comedy club fans worldwide who find themselves in the Las Vegas playground anxious for a few hours of hilarious entertainment away from the gaming tables.

We couldn’t believe the size of the line where guests were checking in to the MGM Grand. It appeared the wait could be hours long.

We’ve both always enjoyed comedy shows but over these past years of world travel visiting and living in many non-English speaking countries, seeing comedy shows became a thing of our long-ago past, among other things we’d chosen to forfeit in this nomadic lifestyle.

The Sports Book.

After Richard quickly and easily booked our tickets on his phone, he suggested I research to find a befitting-for-my-diet restaurant at the MGM where we could dine before the show.

The Minnesota Twins game was playing.  They ended up with a win.

Immediately, I got to work online researching each of the many options located in the massive hotel (over 5000 rooms) and casino.  With over two dozen options situated in the giant resort, the possibilities were many.

Guacamole made tableside at the Hecho en Vegas Restaurant where we dined last night.

First, I narrowed it down by price, knowing we had no interest in spending $100’s on our meals at some of the more upscale dining establishments, which were listed as “$$$$.” Those listed at “$” including Subway and fast food type venues, none of which would appeal to us. 

Tom’s Margarita was the jumbo version, a total of 16 ounces.

Even the designated “$$$” restaurant’s menu options were priced over $50 per entree or more. Thus, I narrowed it down to the obvious “$$,” which appeared to fit within an acceptable price range. Richard purchased the tickets at $65 per person, and we offered to buy the meal, which worked out well.

The guacamole was outstanding.  I put some on a plate and ate it with a fork since I don’t eat tortilla chips.

Once again, I chose a Mexican restaurant, Hecho En Vegas, Mexican Grill and Cantina, which proved to have excellent food, suitable for my restrictive diet when once again, I could savor an ideal chopped-type salad with romaine lettuce, shredded beef, cheese, avocado, olives, and tomatoes. See our included photos of our respective meals.

Richard’s Chicken Fajitas with warm tortillas wrapped in foil.

After dinner, we walked to the comedy club, and much to our delight, we were seated at a comfortable booth with a clear and unobstructed view of the stage. With excellent acoustics, we didn’t miss a word, or in this case, a laugh in this adults-only production.

Tom’s taco salad is made in this giant tortilla.

This show was not suitable for those offended by less-than-politically correct innuendos and an abundance of sexually orientated humor. 

The names of the drinks on the menu in Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club made us laugh.

At the beginning of the show Brad Garrett, (who only performs on specific nights but has an ongoing flow of other skilled comedians) made it clear that the show wasn’t suitable for the faint of heart or those easily offended. In no time at all, this became exceedingly clear as to why he pointed to the door for those who’d be inclined to complain when “exposed” to such type of humor.

The High Roller Ferris Wheel at the Linq Hotel and Casino.

For us, who had the perception after being outside the US for so long, that humor had been “tempered” to comply with political correctness, we were right in there, laughing uproariously loud along with the others in attendance. It was a hilarious show with Garrett who’s performance was the best of the evening, along with two other comedians, Carl Labove and Landry, each of which left us in stitches.

When the 8:00 pm show ended around 10:00 pm, we made our way out to the self-serve parking lot when we’d left the white rental car.  Heading outdoors at this hour felt like walking into an oven. It was still close to 100F (38C), and we gasped when the hot air hit us at the late hour.  

The newer Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino on the Strip.

The self-serve parking fee was $12 instead of valet parking which would have been $20 for four or more hours (plus a tip). The savings was worth the long walk back to the car at the end of the evening.   

We’d considered stopping to see some of the newer casinos on the strip, but surely we’ll return to Las Vegas many times in the future and can see more next time we visit. Back at Richard’s by 11:00 pm, we feasted on a low-carb dessert I’d made earlier in the day and headed to bed for another good night’s sleep after a delightful evening.

Today, we’ll spend more time in Richard’s pool, sunning for our token 20-minute dose of Vitamin D. I’ll make a special dinner, and we’ll all enjoy an otherwise lazy Sunday in Henderson, Nevada.

May you have a lovely day as well!

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

Tom sits at the table in a meeting room bunker in the Cu Chi Tunnel in Vietnam with several mannequins and two other passengers standing behind him. For more photos, please click here.

The reality of a paper-free lifestyle… Check out last year’s photo of Tom at the Cu Chi Tunnel in Vietnam…

Our new Brother color scanner we purchased to replace the five-year-old Doxie model we used in the past.

When we first began traveling the world, we’d already been working toward becoming as paperless as possible in our old lives. As a result, no spot in our house had stacks of papers waiting to be handled.

In part, I suppose becoming paperless was due to my somewhat compulsive desire to avoid clutter in our surroundings. But, as it turned out, this bit of obsessiveness proved helpful when it became pertinent for us to avoid carrying papers in our luggage, adding to the weight.

Long ago, we’d chosen to receive everything we could online.  Once we decided to travel the world, we excited the process by ridding ourselves of all junk snail mail and spent weeks scanning photos, important documents, certificates, and anything else we may need along the way.

Subsequently, we don’t receive more than a dozen or so pieces of snail mail each year at our mailing service in Las Vegas and only receive packages for items we need to refill our supplies inventory.

As a result of this decision, we needed to carry a portable scanner with us. In this process, we also decided not to print cruise documents, boarding passes, and other travel-related confirmations when we so easily can present them on our phones after we’ve extracted them from our travel sites and those arriving by email.

This bag is filled with receipts we need to scan in the next few days.

When we first began our travels, we’d purchased a portable printer.  But, within a few years, it quit working. We decided we could live without a printer if we became more diligent about keeping all necessary documents on our phones to display appropriately. In addition, carrying the difficult-to-handle rolled paper was weighty and inconvenient.

Since we keep copies of all potentially tax-deductible receipts, having a scanner proved to be a must. Some may use their phones or cameras to take photos of receipts, but we’ve found the image clearer and more manageable when we can slip it through a paper feeder in a scanner. For example, if the receipt is wrinkled, we slip it inside a clear plastic sheet and then feed it into the scanner.

When our most recent Doxie portable scanner died while we were n Minnesota, we ordered a  Brother DS-620 Mobile Color Page Scanner for $85.99 with free Prime shipping.  For some odd reason, Amazon notified us that it had been lost in the mail, gave us a refund, and ordered it again.  It arrived two days later.

When I looked up the scanner this morning for the above link, I discovered the price had gone up to $10 since we purchased it about 10 days ago. I suppose it pays to keep an eye on such items for a few days to check for price changes. In our case, we needed it right away.

For those less than savvy computer folks out there, setting up a scanner to work with a computer can be tricky. It took me about 20 minutes of monkeying around to install the software and get it working. When Tom tried to do the same on his laptop, I helped. It was very tricky.

Also, an important note for iPad, Apple, Kindle, and other product users; A USB plug-in on your device is a must to use such a device.  There may be some Bluetooth scanners out there, but we never have a shortage of USB outlets as PC users. 

Box of photos we’re scanning today.

Plus, the necessary software is on a CD. We hadn’t used a CD on our laptops in so long; I’d forgotten we had the drive. Sure, the necessary software could be downloaded online, but this also may be cumbersome for less adept users.

Once I downloaded the software and got the scanner working properly, I immediately followed the instructions to “register the product” for the one-year warranty. 

Much to my shock, Brother tried to “get me” to sign up for a monthly $3.95 fee to store my scanned items on their cloud or, if I preferred, they had a one-time $9.95 fee to download a storage file on my device. Of course, I didn’t fall prey to such “trickery” in trying to get me to “buy more” since we each have our own cloud storage. 

Also, all the files are automatically stored in the “Pictures” file and can be moved to the desktop on any named file if one prefers. We each did both… I made a file in the cloud and kept a local copy for easy access at any time.

Beginning today, since I visited Susan yesterday, and we’re staying in today until our Meet & Greet tonight at 5:00 pm at The Elephant Bar in The District in Green Valley Ranch, I’ll begin scanning the massive bag of receipts, documents, and photos we found in the bins we’d left in Richard’s garage. 

Once we’ve scanned everything, we can toss it all, and when we leave Henderson in 11 days, we’ll do so with nary a personal item of ours left behind in Richard’s garage.

The scanner weighs less than one pound, and although we didn’t bother to purchase the carrying case (more weight), we’ll wrap it in clothing for safe traveling.

A scanner isn’t for everyone, based on our above comments. But, should you be in a situation similar to ours or don’t like paper clutter in your home and surroundings, you may find it valuable and worth the few minutes required to figure it all out. Again, free tech service is readily available by phone for those needing assistance.

With lower temperatures today, with a high of only 104F (40C), we plan to spend some time outdoors and in the pool. With such high heat since we arrived two weeks ago today, it will feel good to be outside today.

Have a great day, and we’ll be back with you soon!

Photo from one year ago today, July 21, 2016:

It’s hard to believe that Tom managed to climb out of the tiny opening at Cu Chi Tunnel in Vietnam. I was scared he’d be stuck after all the carbs he ate on the two-week cruise. But, instead, everyone in our group cheered when he made it out! For more photos of our visit to the Cu Chi Tunnel, please click here.