We’re being interviewed today by local newspaper…Story will follow soon…Sorry for the late posting…

Look at all that luggage we had back in January 2013 as we prepared to board our second cruise in Fort Lauderdale. We still can’t believe we had 17 pieces and are now down to three checked bags and two carry-ons. Thank goodness we lightened our load!  Tom still has that shirt which after all our recent purchases is headed into the pile we’re accumulating for Goodwill. That shirt and those capris wore out a few years ago and in the past few weeks, I tossed those sandals, that had finally “bit the dust.”

It’s hard to believe that the newspaper article about our world travels was published on January 3, 2013, four and a half years ago. As we re-read through this article, we’re reminded of how much we’ve learned and grown these past years of traveling the world. 

Please click this link for the story published in the Southwest News Media, which publishes many local suburban newspapers.

When the story was published on the above date, we had boarded our first cruise from San Diego, California, through the Panama Canal, ending in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where after two nights, we were on our way to our first vacation/holiday home awaiting us in Placencia Belize, our first home outside the US.

When we left Minnesota on October 31, 2012, we headed to Scottsdale, Arizona, for an off-and-on two-month stay in a vacation condo, thoroughly equipped for our needs. During this period, we traveled back and forth to Nevada, visiting family and taking “care of business” we’d yet to complete.

When we look back, we realize it would have made more sense to stay in Nevada during the two months of final preparations. However, at the time, we wanted to see if Scottsdale Arizona was a place we might eventually settle when our traveling ended.  

Arizona was lovely in many ways but not our cup of tea. As we’ve continued in our travels, we’ve now dismissed the concept of “living anywhere” when this nomadic lifestyle is everything we need.

Tom’s sisters have second homes in Apache Junction Arizona and we relished in the idea of being nearby to visit them at our leisure during this period. With eldest son Richard living in Henderson Nevada and my eldest sister residing in Las Vegas, we found ourselves driving back and forth to Nevada on several occasions to ensure we’d see everyone before departing the USA.

As it turned out, we rented an additional vacation home in Henderson for a week during Christmas when three of Tom’s sisters and two husbands stayed with us during the holiday. During this period, we also had an opportunity to see my cousin from Boston and her two adult daughters who also happened to be in Las Vegas for Christmas. 

We purchased new laptops, unlocked phones, and other digital equipment for our upcoming travels back in Arizona. We handled financial matters, setting up appropriate accounts that would facilitate our travels. We finalized details for international health insurance. 

We created an entirely online lifestyle that didn’t include receiving much snail mail through our already established mailing service in Nevada. By the time we wrapped up our time in Arizona and Nevada, we made our final US road trip to San Diego to board the Celebrity Century. On January 3, 2013, we sailed away.

We’d spent 11 months preparing for our world travel adventure, at the time anticipating it would last for five or 10 years at most. We’d done everything we could to prepare, which proved to be a daunting task, one that never ends with the ongoing planning to continue for years to come.

Today, we met with the same reporter, Unsie Zuege with whom we communicated for the Minnesota news article almost five years ago. During these years, with our accumulating rich and fulfilling experiences, so much has changed for us.

Today, when Unsie arrived at our hotel at 9:00 am to interview us, we were surprised to know that she, too, like many worldwide readers have followed along with us over these years. How fortunate we are to build these unique relationships with people we meet along the way and those we joyfully gather in our travels.

After an action-packed three hours with Unsie, we sadly ended our time together. She took photos and a video while gathering tons of pertinent facts from us while fast and furiously documenting our answers to her seemingly endless flow of thought-provoking questions. We couldn’t have enjoyed her more and the opportunity to reach even more readers after the story is published in a few weeks.

Once the story is online and in print, we’ll post it, along with the photos and videos suitable for all of our readers.  Please check back.

Now, close to 1:00 pm, I’m late posting today’s story. Soon, I’m leaving for afternoon tea with friend Chere at a restaurant in nearby Edina. No doubt, this will be the continuation of a pleasant and relaxing afternoon to supplement this already delightful day.

Tom and I can’t stop smiling over the opportunity we had this morning to consolidate our years of world travel into one fell swoop, sharing it with Unsie. It reminded us of how grateful and appreciative we both are for the range of experiences we’ve had so far, along with that which is yet to come.

One week from today we’ll be leaving Minnesota and on to our next leg in the US visit..three weeks in Henderson/Las Vegas Nevada. Perhaps, we’ll get into a little of the touristy type stuff to share with you here!

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, June 30, 2016:

Tom ate a few of these “wienie wraps” in Singapore. These are SGD $1, US $.74. He’d expected them to taste similar to the US version of a wienie wrap but said they weren’t quite the same. For more photos, please click here.

One of the busiest days ever!…Photos ops kind of sketchy!…

After the boat ride, we drove past the new Minnesota Vikings US Bank Stadium (football) for this shot.

I suspected that at some point during the six weeks we’re spending in Minnesota, we’d eventually run out of photos. As much as we’ve continually searched for decent photo ops, we’ve fallen short and today’s photos may be lacking in originality.

It’s not as if we’re surrounded by wildlife and “sightings on the beach” such as our daily entries on each post during the four months we spent in the villa in Sumbersari Bali which I was reminded of when I posted the “year ago” photo of the scary bull below.

It was hard not to laugh out loud when I reread last year’s post of Tom’s second most frightening animal encounter since the onset of our travels with the Mozambique Spitting Cobra next to his feet on the veranda in Marloth Park South Africa as his first, definitely his biggest scare ever.

That’s not to say I haven’t been rattled a few times myself especially when encountering frightening-looking venomous insects throughout the world. But, now with my preoccupation with taking photos of nasty creatures, I’ve been able to allay my fear into a more productive mode of, “Hm…this will make a nice shot for the blog.”

Speaking of the word “blog” I find myself referring to ours as more of a website than a “blog.” When I notice other blogs I find most authors only post now and then, as opposed to our current number at 1,793 over these past five-plus years. 

The entrance to the Minnesota Vikings US Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis.

Where has the time gone and how the heck did we ever get to this high of a number? We often shrug our shoulders when we make note of the number of stories/chapters/posts. 

When people often say, “You should write a book!”  We laugh.  We’ve already written a book with 1,793 chapters that are already online for the “free” taking of any enthusiastic reader who attempts to tackle it in its entirety. Brave you! Have at it!

Are we gluttons for punishment, hell-bent on continuing this relentless documentation of our daily lives, even when such lives are quiet, uninteresting, and mundane? Sure, we are. 

Why wouldn’t we be when it rarely feels like a task or obligation? Although, I must admit it’s been tricky on the days when we’re picking up a grandchild at 8:00 am who’ll hang out with us for the day which has been no less than three times per week.

Never wanting the “grandchild of the day” to be bored and antsy while waiting for me to upload the post, at least three times a week, I’ve completed two posts in one day in preparation for their arrival. 

Only once, this week, did I find myself in a quandary with no choice but to prepare the post while one of the kids was here. We’d been out late the prior night and I had no steam left to do it.

Vikings design on the exterior of the stadium.

Even then, I hurried through it and was done in half my usual time continually stopping to pay attention to how Miles was doing to ensure he wasn’t impatient or bored. It worked out fine. We had a great day.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. On the days I’ve done two posts, I’ve done one in the morning and the second at night after we’ve been out for dinner and I’m sitting in bed in my nightshirt.  On a few such occasions, I fell asleep in the process, startling myself awake. On a few other occasions, Tom did his usual “waving a hand over my eyes” to see if I’m dosing or awake. Irritating? Yes. Effective? Yes. It wakes me every time.

With today’s outrageously packed day which will require no less than four hours of driving time after picking up Madighan at 8:00 am, last night at 8:00 pm, Tom and I were situated in the hotel lobby (where we usually work online), yet to have dinner.

We’d picked up Vincent again at Cardboard Camp and taken him to see the movie, The Mummy. He loved it!  I liked it! Tom hated it. Tom and Vincent shared a giant popcorn while I snacked on a bag of nuts which sat in my gut like a rock. Tom’s appetite was iffy after eating at least of third of the giant bucket of popcorn. We never went to dinner.

Multiple bridges view from the riverboat on the Mississippi.

I scheduled this post for an automatic 11:00 am upload at which point our outrageously busy day will be in full swing.

We’ll be back with more details over the weekend, which is also packed from morning till night including an 80th birthday party for Tom’s sister Margie starting at 2:00 pm on Saturday and a full day on Sunday with Camille and the two girls for a “Shrek” production downtown, followed by a visit to the Sculpture Garden.

You’d think amid all these activities, I’d be taking tons of photos. But, I’m so distracted with the precious time we’re all spending together, I keep forgetting to look for photo ops. I suppose, in the realm of things, that’s a good thing. We promise to make up for it later.

Enjoy the day and we’ll be back for more.

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

In Bali, this buffalo snorted and stomped his feet ready to charge at Tom when he went for a walk while I stayed busy at the villa. For more on this frightening story, please click here.

Boating on the Mississippi River on Father’s Day…Minnesota historical sites….

Greg, Camille, Miles, Madighan, and Maisie on the Jonathan Padelford on the Mississippi River on Father’s Day.

On Father’s Day, Tom and I separately joined our respective families for the day’s activities. He went with Tammy and TJ to a Minnesota Twins game at Target Field in Minneapolis while I joined Greg, Camille, and the three children for a paddle-wheel boat ride on the Mississippi River.

A solitary duck was standing on the dock while our boat took off from the pier.

With only one camera and Tom off to the Minnesota Twins game, I was the only one of us in possession of a camera. He took some photos at the game using his phone, which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post.

We wished there was enough time in everyone’s schedule for us to be together with our families as events arise. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to work well, and we find ourselves in different directions several times a week.

The closest bridge is the 10th Avenue Bridge.  The bridge behind it is the I-35W St. Anthony Falls bridge, the replacement for the I-35W Mississippi River bridge, which collapsed on August 1, 2007, killing 13, injuring 145.  See details below. From this website:
The I-35W Mississippi River bridge (officially known as Bridge 9340) was an eight-lane, steel truss arch bridge that carried Interstate 35W across the Saint Anthony Falls of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States. On August 1, 2007, it suddenly collapsed during the evening rush hour, killing 13 people and injuring 145. The bridge was Minnesota’s third busiest, carrying 140,000 vehicles daily.[ The NTSB cited a design flaw as the likely cause of the collapse, noting that a too-thin gusset plate ripped along a line of rivets and asserted that additional weight on the bridge at the time of the spill contributed to the catastrophic failure.
Immediately after the collapse, help came from mutual aid in the seven-county Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area and emergency response personnel, charities, and volunteers.  Within a few days of the collapse, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) planned a replacement bridge, the I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge. Construction was completed rapidly, and it opened on September 18, 2008.”

It not that so much that we mind being apart for a portion of the day. It’s more about trying to experience both of us together with each other’s respective families when possible. Luckily, we’ve been able to have it work out on a few occasions, with hopefully more in our remaining 17 days in Minnesota.

As we entered the first lock on the river cruise. These locks are the most northerly locks on the Mississippi River.

When my two sons were young (now ages 47 and 50) and we were a one-parent family (I was divorced at a young age), on a few occasions, I took them on the Jonathan Padelford riverboat for cruises on the Mississippi River. I wish I could remember the last time we did this. 

The massive gates behind us closed after we entered the central area of the lock.  The water began to rise.

Most likely, it was before 1977 when I purchased our boat, which we kept docked at a marina on Lake Minnetonka during the short summer months. In the cold winter months, we stored the boat (we progressed in the size of the boats over the years) in an indoor storage facility in the country.

As the water was rising in the lock.

Once we had our boat, I doubt we went back on the river other than on a few group activities planned with friends, co-workers, or through school activities. With the cost and required upkeep of owning a boat, it was impractical to pay fees for other boating expeditions as a single parent.

Although I haven’t felt nostalgic since arriving in Minnesota (other than seeing and spending time with the people we love) and when driving over the Gray’s Bay Bridge last week when we visited friends Connie and Jeff, I felt a wave of nostalgia wash over me as we made our way along the Mississippi River on Father’s Day.

The Stone Arch bridge, from this site, was “built by railroad baron James J. Hill in 1883. The bridge allowed for increased movement of people and goods across the river. It served as a working railroad bridge until 1985 but is still seen as a symbol of the railroad age. Rehabilitation of this National Historic Engineering Landmark began in 1980. Traffic on the bridge is now characterized by a much slower pace. Mostly used by walkers and bicyclists, the bridge is one of the best ways to enjoy the view of St. Anthony Falls.”

The familiar buildings comingled with the new buildings reminded me of the love I’d felt for Minnesota for over 40 years.  For Tom, this was over a lifetime since he was born in Minneapolis many moons ago. Minnesota is the only home our children knew, with Tom’s two children, Tammy and TJ (now ages 46, 42), having been born here.

Minneapolis is a world-renowned cultural center.  The Guthrie Theatre is recognized for its quality productions and thought-provoking artistic displays and renditions. Click here for more details.

My eldest Richard was born in California, and my son Greg was born in Bay City, Michigan. But, I moved to Minnesota when Richard was a toddler and Greg was an infant. It was the only home they’ve known. 

As shown, Greg still lives in Minnesota as a family of five, and Richard has lived in Nevada since he was 21 years old. Soon, in 17 days, we’ll be staying with him in Henderson for a three-week visit.

The famous Gold Medal Flour building has been vacated, and the flour production has been moved to another location. The building was sold to a developer to be built as future condominiums.

The kids enjoyed the boat ride with that precious child-like wonder we all find adorable with eyes wide open.  This wasn’t their first time on a riverboat on the Mississippi, but it quickly could have been based on the smiles on their faces and their diligent observation of everything around them. 

Later in the day, Tom and I reconnected at the hotel, after which, once again, we headed out for dinner at Champ’s, a local favorite at the moment. We’ve only found a few restaurants befitting my eating habits that stay within our daily budget during this period. Fine dining is not on the agenda during this period.
Tomorrow, we’ll be back with photos from Tom’s Father’s Day, Minnesota Twin’s game with Tammy and TJ. The remaining river photos will be posted shortly.  See you soon!
Have a great day!

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

In Bali, one of our two cooks went outside to greet the peanut vendor to make a purchase. For more photos, please click here.

The social events continue with friends and family…Nature abounds, including in last year’s photo…

This pretty flower attracts flying insects, as shown in the upper left.

A week has already passed since we arrived in Minnesota last Friday. Each day and most evenings have been filled with a flurry of activities with family and friends. Today is no exception with grandson’s Vincent 5th grade graduation at 1:30 pm followed by a dinner at his favorite teppanyaki restaurant, Benihana, scheduled at 4:00 pm.

We don’t ever recall graduation ceremonies being observed between grade school and middle school, but times have changed, and we’re happy to partake in the celebrations. We’re content to be with our family members, and schedules permitting, we’ve yet to turn down a suggestion for an activity.

Tall evergreen.

With the use of the free Cozi shared online calendar and family planner, found at this link that we’re all sharing, it’s easy to keep track of our action-packed schedule. Without it, this visit could be very confusing. 

Bronze dragon statue in a garden pond.

Any of our three adult children and their significant others can easily access the calendar on their phones, tablets, or computers to see what time slots we have available and freely enter an activity with us. 

When a new activity is entered into the calendar, I immediately receive an email with the particulars; date, time, event, and location.  Providing the activities don’t include participating in bungee jumping, scuba diving, or skydiving; we’re accepting all entries. Time spent with our kids and grandchildren is our top priority.

Moss representation of an owl in a tree.

Of course, our favorite activity is spent chatting and interacting with everyone in a casual arena where we can provide our undivided attention. Often, this is around mealtimes, watching the kids participate in activities and hanging out at their home, or spending time at our temporary home at the Country Inn & Suites in Plymouth, Minnesota.

Rabbit in the bushes.

With the two swimming pools, jacuzzi, complimentary breakfast, fire pit, and accessible atmosphere, it is a fun place for the grandchildren to visit and fun for us to share with them. 

Although our hotel room is of ample size for our daily needs, it isn’t quite large enough for the kids to stay overnight. We’re happy to drive them back and forth from their homes when they come to visit on their own. 

Massive redwood tree.

Now that the school season is ending today, we’ve scheduled dates to have grandchildren spend specific days with us, one child per day, for more of our undivided attention. We’re planning fun activities suitable for each of their ages. 

Yesterday at lunch, Tom dropped me off in Maple Grove at Biaggi Restaurant in Arbor Lakes Mall to meet two of my girlfriends I hadn’t seen since we left Minnesota on October 31, 2012. 

Blue flowers line a walkway.

Theresa, my former real estate business partner, and Cathy, our mutual dear friend, were seated when I entered the restaurant’s outdoor dining area to greet them. The warmest of hugs and greetings made me realize how much I’ve missed my girlfriends all of these years.

The two hours we spent talking filled my heart with warm memories of times past and how these relationships with friends had been such a vital part of my old life. Now, I can only glean snippets of such pleasant emotions knowing how fleeting these interactions are now in this short period. 

Orchids are blooming.

We’ve decided to meet one more time amid our busy calendar and theirs. Each of our lives is full, although in many different ways. How amazing it was to share the time, and I’m hoping for one more time together before we go.

Later in the day, we bucked the unbelievable traffic to drive to Coon Rapids for a 5:00 pm barbecue at Tom’s sister Mary’s (and husband Eugene) home, a weekly come-when-you-can Thursday evening event.

This type of orchid is such a deep purple it almost appears black.

Fearing my diet would be hard to accommodate, we stopped at Jimmy John’s sandwich restaurant and purchased each of us a low carb, bread-less sandwich to-go, called the “un-wich.”  From this same restaurant, we copied their idea and often made our un-wiches wherever we may be living at any given time.

I ordered the un-wich with chicken, bacon, vegetables, mayo, and guacamole, and Tom ordered the un-wich club sandwich. It was funny how they tasted like our homemade versions, although we tend to make ours considerably larger.

Information about the lands on which the Butchart Gardens was planted.

By bringing our food to Mary and Eugene’s, there was no need for our hosts to worry about what I’d eat. Instead, we all focused on the fabulous time we had with the many family members who’d arrived for the weekly event.

It couldn’t have been more fun when we hugged and later chatted with three of Tom’s sisters, two brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews, and even two grandnieces and two grandnephews and their partners. Indeed, we’ll be together with all of them and more of the family in more weeks to come.

Back at the hotel shortly after 10:00 pm, we both were pooped but pleased for another great day with family and friends. This period is flying by much more quickly than we anticipated, but we’re planning to make the best of every moment.

May your days be filled with memorable moments and love.

Photo from one year ago today, June 2, 2016:

This praying mantis looked at Tom while he took this photo in Bali on the edge of the infinity pool.  He was as big as the palm of my hand.  For more details, please click here.

We’re in Minnesota after a 12-hour travel day! …All is good!…Our hotel and rental car…

As a former owner of this model, Tom is thrilled with this new Ford Explorer. We couldn’t believe all the technology in this rental car, more than any we’ve seen throughout the world. As it turned out, we rented this car for the full six weeks for only $50 more than a tiny economy car from this site:  www.rentalcars.com.

It was 8:30 pm by the time we checked into the hotel. We were renting the SUV for an extended period required two separate contracts; one for one month and another for the additional two weeks. So, of course, this took twice as long as usual.

The lounge area is in the entry to the hotel.

Between the airport in Seattle and again in Minneapolis, my FitBit easily hit 10,000 steps from walking through the lengthy terminals. The easy three-hour flight landed by 6:30 pm. 

Another lounge area in the hotel.

It took a while to make our way to the rental car area at the Minneapolis airport. Everything had changed since the last time we were there five years ago. It had changed so much; we hardly recognized any area. 

There’s a small shop in the hotel where guests can purchase beverages and snacks.

Once we arrived at the Country Inn & Suites hotel, we were pleasantly surprised. Our discounted corporate rate at $107 a night was a far cry from the average rates of over $200 a night for most hotels. 

TV and fake fireplace in the lounge where most days I’ll prepare the daily post.

With breakfast, free WiFi, and taxes included, it was the best possible price we could expect for a six-week stay. But, of course, the convenient location was also a factor in choosing this facility.

Complimentary breakfast is available from 7:00 am to 10:00 am daily.  This morning we had eggs and sausage.

By the time we brought in our bags, it was fast approaching 9:00 pm, and we decided to walk next door to Grizzly’s Wood-Fired Grill for dinner. Unfortunately, with the two-hour time difference, we weren’t as hungry as we could have been. 

We continue to avoid fruit, bread, and baked goods.

Also, Grizzly’s is the location for the upcoming Meet & Greet on June 9th for our Minnesota readers, for which we continue to receive RSVPs (please send us a message if you’d like to attend), and we wanted to check it out firsthand. So, after a good dinner and service, we were content with the decision to have our event at that location.

There are two workstations in the business center.

At the moment, we are visiting Tom’s sister Patty at a local nursing home where she’s recuperating from recent surgery. Soon, we’ll leave and head to Tom’s brother Jerome’s home in Coon Rapids. 

Jerome is Tom’s older brother with whom we’ve stayed in close touch over these past years. He’s blind with a talking computer and has enjoyed “listening” to our posts over these past years. Each day, Tom removes all the photos from the day’s post and sends them to Jerry by email. We’re so looking forward to seeing him as well.

Prices for hotels in Minneapolis are very high, comparable to many other larger US cities. Therefore, we opted for a corporate rate on this fairly modest hotel conveniently located for visiting family and friends.  Its clean, friendly, and fulfills our needs during the six weeks in Minnesota.

Today at 5:00 pm, we’re heading to dinner at my son Greg’s home (wife Camille), where we’ll see three of our darling grandchildren. The excitement of seeing those we love with more yet to see is indescribable. 

Over these next weeks, we’ll spend most of our free time with family and friends, filling our hearts with love and more wonderful memories. But, as we mentioned in an earlier post, we won’t turn each day’s post into a family album. Instead, we’ll continue to seek lovely scenery, wildlife, and many of the highlights in the Minneapolis area.

Complimentary coffee and tea are available throughout the day and night.

Tomorrow, we’ll return with more photos from the Butchart Garden in Victoria. Have a safe and meaningful Memorial Day weekend.

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

Here we were wearing saris standing at the foot of the steps at the Pulaki Temple in Singaraja in Bali.  For more photos, please click here.