Trouble with airline app…Goofy Covid-19 testing in Nevada…Inconsistencies…One day and counting…

Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, close to the strip, serves as the home stadium for the Las Vegas Raiders of the National Football League and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Rebels college football team.

The process of checking in for tomorrow’s international flight from Las Vegas (LAS) to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger (MQP) is not as easy as going online and checking in on United’s website. They insist on their site that for “our convenience,” we must use their app, which we did, carefully following all the instructions.

We successfully uploaded photos of our passports, copies of our negative Covid-19 test results from yesterday’s testing. Doing so should have produced two boarding passes for the hotel concierge to print for us or use on our phones. No such luck! We cannot avoid checking in at a kiosk or the United Airlines desk, which often results in an hour in a queue.

OK, so that’s the way it is. We can do nothing because United’s app isn’t working as efficiently as it should. That fact was even addressed on the app, mentioning they are working to improve it. Go figure. Why require that we use it? That’s enough about that. Let’s get to yesterday’s peculiar Covid-19 testing experience in Henderson, Nevada.

View of only a small portion of the Las Vegas strip as seen from the highway.

It was tricky to find a Covid-19 testing site with results provided in 24-hours. We booked both appointments at a nearby CVS Pharmacy location, ten minutes apart. Yesterday morning, the text confirmations came in for two different locations, one for Tom, with the other for me at a CVS location a few miles away. That made no sense to us. Why couldn’t they be at the same location which we’d specifically requested?

With the two appointments 10 minutes apart, we didn’t see how we’d arrive in time with traffic so bad in the area at noon. Instead, we decided to show up for Tom’s  11:50 appointment 30 minutes earlier to see if they’d do both of us. There were no other customers in line at the Covid-19 testing window (for a touchless test).

They would not allow both of us to have a test at that first location. However, the testing person allowed Tom to have his test immediately, leaving us ample time to make it for my noon appointment at the second location. Tom performed his test while in the car, carefully following the instructions as the testing person spoke through a microphone, comparable to a drive-thru window at a McDonald’s.

As soon as his test was completed, we asked the testing person if we’d have the results in 24 hours. He said most likely we would. We left, hopeful the results would arrive on time before our flight on Saturday. After all, it was only Thursday. We took off and arrived on time for my noon appointment.

Partial view of some of the grounds at Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa.

I also did my test from the car, expecting the same, if not identical touchless manner.  Oh no, that was not the case. The instructions the testing person spewed from the McDonald’s-type window were entirely different from those Tom received only minutes ago. The steps in which I was to swab my nostrils were completely different from Tom’s instructions.  Again, go figure. I won’t get into the details, but it seemed different enough to potentially end in a different result (or maybe not), especially if the results were positive, which were not in our case.

Before we drove away, again, we asked the testing person when we’d get the result. He said, “Three to five days.” I immediately responded, explaining how the previous CVS Pharmacy testing person sounded confident we’d have the results in 24 hours. I explained we had a flight to catch in 48 hours. Good grief, if the tiny lab in Komatpoort could get results in 24 hours, surely the modern, upscale town of Henderson could do the same.

He put a little slip of paper in my “envelope” that said “priority” but stated there was no guarantee.  We drove away, frustrated and uncertain if we’d have the results on time. We’d considered arranging another test, perhaps a “rapid test,” somewhere else when we went back to the hotel.

Back in our hotel room, I began a mad search for other options. There were none. If we were to try for a rapid test, we’d have to pay upwards US $150 per person. We decided we had no choice but to “wing it.” Maybe we’d get lucky, and the results would come in today.

The pool at the resort.

Much to our relief, both of our negative test results arrived by text in the middle of the night, which I noticed as soon as I awoke this morning. Whew! Safari luck continues in Las Vegas!!! We asked the concierge desk staff to print the necessary copies for the flight.

We’re still wondering why the process, supposedly fairly universal, would be different at two locations and why the results couldn’t be assured within 24 hours, especially when there were no people in the queue. We’ll never know. Fortunately, the tests here were free, whereas Komatipoort was priced at ZAR 850, US $57.26 per person.

In any case, tomorrow, we leave Las Vegas to begin the long journey back to Marloth Park. If we make the 46-minute connection tomorrow at 8:45 pm, in Newark, New Jersey, to board the 15-hour flight to Johannesburg, we’ll be thrilled. If not, it will be 24-hours later until the next flight. Just in case we have to spend the night in Newark, we’re bringing clean underwear and a few toiletries.

This morning we sat at a table outdoors, enjoying the views. It hasn’t been unbearably hot while here, averaging around 100F, 38C each day.

We won’t have time to post in Newark, so you may not hear from us until we arrive in Johannesburg, where we may have to spend the night. If we make the flight, I’ll post a notice that we made it while waiting for the plane to take off. If we don’t make the connection, we’ll have plenty of time for a new post while we wait for the 24 hours to pass.

We will not, under any circumstances, drive on the N4 Highway in the dark which may require another overnight in Nelspruit if we can’t get on an early enough flight to allow ample time for the 90-minute drive to Marloth Park.

This particular flight is rife with uncertainties, all hinging on our ability to make the flight in Newark on time.

Ah, the life of wildly determined world travelers! It’s always filled with change and challenges. But, we continue on with happiness in our hearts and hope for the future for all of us.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, July 23, 2020:

From the post on today’s date on day #122 in lockdown in Mumbai, India, we added instructions to make our low-carb, bread-free subway sandwich. It’s essential to wash the dirt off of lettuce. If it is organic, thorough rinsing removes dirt and tiny green worms, which we’ve found on the organic produce in Italy, where we were at the time of these photos. If it’s not organic, be careful, repeatedly rinsing in cold water, which may remove some pesticides. Usually, we dry it with a clean white kitchen towel or paper towels, wrapping the leftover lettuce in the white towel, and placing it in the fridge in the towel, which will keep it fresh for days. For the recipe below, wash and dry eight large romaine lettuce leaves; usually, the largest leaves closest to the outside of the bunch. For the balance of the instructions, please click here.

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

A small glimpse of the Las Vegas Strip through the car’s windshield.

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, along with 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, to breakfast, and to 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 preferring 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, which could easily result 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 items, 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 will on day #119 in lockdown in Mumbai, India. For more photos, please click here.

Las Vegas is unlike anywhere else in the world…What a city!…What a nightlife!…

The pool view from our room at Green Valley Ranch Resort & Spa in Henderson, Nevada, is only minutes from Las Vegas.

It’s such fun to be staying at the beautiful Green Valley Ranch Resort & Spa in Henderson, Nevada, located across a highway from son Richard’s gated community. The lights, the luxury, the glamour, and the food are always over-the-top in this sparkling city of lights and addictive pleasures. Thank goodness, we don’t gamble. We both gave up giving money to casinos many moons ago.

We are thrilled with our lovely, well-appointed hotel room.

But, getting here yesterday was quite a challenge. We didn’t get to our hotel room until 1:00 am this morning, which was 3:00 am to us based on Minnesota time. We were both anxious to get a good night’s sleep but awoke at our usual early time, close to 6:00 am. After less than  5 hours of sleep, we are surprised how energized we feel today.

There was ample space to open our bags and avoid unpacking which we prefer. We’ve become quite good at living out of a suitcase.

Not only will it be wonderful to see son Richard and his GF, but we’ll be able to pick up our mail with many items we’d purchased from Amazon, to refill our supplies, including two pairs of shoes and a few clothing items for me. Tomorrow, after uploading the day’s post, we’ll head to North Las Vegas to our mailing service to collect the many valuable items, including our new camera.

Unusual-looking cakes on display in the casino.

Of course, we’ll have to repack our bags to make everything fit, but Tom included one of our newer empty duffel bags in his suitcase that we’d purchased to go on the later canceled trip to Kenya months ago (due to Covid-19 lockdown) that required cloth duffel bags for the small airplane.

Taste-tempting treats for sale at the Lucky Penny Restaurant.

Yesterday’s trip from Milwaukee back to Minneapolis was a traffic nightmare. Our flight, scheduled for 9:20 pm (Minnesota time), seemed like a shoo-in when we left Sister Beth in the morning after our second visit, headed back to our hotel to pack, and we were on the road by 1:00 pm after requesting a late check-out.

Tom’s colossal ham steak, eggs, and hash browns breakfast. I gave him my fruit.

Traffic from Wisconsin to Minnesota on I-94 was at a standstill on several occasions.  We barely made it to the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport within the required two hours. Once at the airport, check-in queues and baggage processing were long and slow, when curbside SkyCap check-in was no longer available due to Covid.

My breakfast of flourless egg-white wraps containing chicken, avocado, and cheese, topped with pickled onions. Delicious!

Going through security took another 25 minutes. Since I hadn’t eaten a thing all day, we’d hoped to eat at the airport. Many of the usual restaurants were closed due to Covid with lack of support staff. The only restaurant suitable for my eating was Buffalo Wild Wings, which also had a long queue and closed 40 minutes later.

As we entered the casino…

It was rush, rush, rush. We made it to our gate on time to find the Delta flight overbooked with offers of $500 gift cards for passengers willing to forfeit their seats. That wasn’t for us. We weren’t in the mood to wait for almost four hours for the next flight.

Due to touchless gambling, machines such as this don’t accept cash instead of using only pre-purchased cards.

But, the real chaos began in Las Vegas when we waited in a line of hundreds of people to take the shuttle to the car rental facility a few miles from the airport. It took another hour to be processed at Budget Car Rental, pushing our bags around when there were no luggage trolleys nearby. We never liked Las Vegas McCarran Airport for these and more reasons. From the time we landed until we reached our nearby hotel (10 minutes from the airport),  2½ has passed. Ridiculous.

Casinos are a playground for adults with every imaginable game of chance.

This morning, we bolted out of bed with a new attitude, showered and dressed in our lovely upscale hotel room, and headed to breakfast at the hotel’s casual restaurant, the Lucky Penny. Photos shown here today are delicious breakfast meals that convinced us that we don’t need to go any further for breakfast over the next few mornings until we leave for South Africa on Saturday.

Waterfalls are built into the walls of a restaurant.

This morning, “I got a text!” (as they say on Love Island, a goofy matchmaking series we’ve watched on a few occasions) from Richard to meet them for dinner at the Claim Jumper restaurant only two miles from here. We’re both looking forward to seeing them, after 20 months since the last time we were here, arriving on Thanksgiving afternoon when we later had Thanksgiving dinner with Richard at the same restaurant where we dined this morning, formerly called the Grand Cafe. Quite nice.

Enjoy our fun Las Vegas-type photos, and we’ll be back with more as the week progresses.

Have a fantastic Monday, everyone!

Photo from one year ago today, July 18, 2020:

One year ago today, I’d posted this photo on this date, which was day #117 in lockdown in Mumbai, India. Here’s what I’d purchased from a local vegetable truck in Boveglio, Italy, in  2013, for a total of Euro $4.09, US $5.33. Prices were better at the grocery store, but the freshness and convenience made it worth paying more. For more, please click here.

The planning continues…As busy as I can be…

On this date in 2015, we were at the Arts Village in Pacific Harbour, Fiji. For more photos, please click here.

At this point, we need to get to work and decide on what we plan to do in India for 54 days beginning on February 8th after the end of the Maharajas Express train from Mumbai to Delhi.


We’re deliberating over several options and will definitely share what we’re deciding to do when we hopefully come to a decision in the next few days. There is so much to consider.


As far as booking periods of time, this period of time in India is the most challenging. We don’t want to be floundering by ourselves jumping from town to town, flight to flight and hotel to hotel without a plan in mind.


Many have asked over the years if we are “backpackers” and if we possibly stay in hostels, making our way through a country without specific bookings in mind. That’s not us. 


We have no home. We require the peace of mind of knowing where we’ll be staying during our time in any country, whether it’s in the US or anywhere else in the world. 


India is not an easy country to visit without plans in mind. We do not want to be trapped for days in a smoggy, over-populated city attempting to figure out what to do next.


A priority for us is also a tiger safari which is a must-do to be included in our almost two-month itinerary. This is not practical in many areas that are not particularly close to wildlife areas or national parks.


Having had literally no experience in India, we have had countless travelers and others making suggestions as to what would our ideal itinerary. We appreciate the input, but we feel we must pursue this considering our own interests and desires, not what may necessarily appeal to others.


Yes, we could make a mistake in the planning process, but as always, we’re willing to take the risk. After all, we had the “unthinkable” happen this past February and somehow we managed to make our way through it with careful planning, dignity, and grace.


Right now, we are working with a highly competent agent with a highly rated travel agency in India who booked the train for us. As I write here now, amid stopping every 30 minutes to get back to work on tonight’s dinner, Tom is going through all the “paperwork” on some options that may or may not work for us. We shall see.


This morning I went grocery shopping for the last time while here in Nevada. Before doing so, I stopped at a branch of our bank to get some blank checks. 
I am making tonight and tomorrow’s dinner and Sunday brunch. On Sunday afternoon, we’re going to the Vegas Gold Knight’s game at 3:00 pm at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.


After the game, we’ll go out to dinner on the strip and then on Monday morning we’ll pack and leave for Apache Junction, Arizona. Hopefully, Tom will be feeling well enough to drive for five hours. I’d be happy to drive but he doesn’t like how I drive and the stress associated with his “backseat driving” isn’t worth it.


He’s yet to turn the corner with his cough and exhaustion, but when I consider that’s where I was a few weeks ago, he still has a way to go. I looked back at the level of activity a few weeks ago in Minnesota and I don’t know how I got through it feeling as he does now.


I just finished making enough broccoli salad for all of us, including a batch for my sister Susan, which I’ll bring to her tomorrow. Soon, I’ll make the low carb hamburger buns, peel potatoes for the first time in over a year for tonight’s oven-baked fries (chips), shape the ground beef and ground turkey into patties, make the homemade ketchup, and slice the onions, tomatoes, and lettuce for toppings for the meat. It will be another busy day.


Tonight, we’ll grill the meat poolside and enjoy a quiet and restful night in. Thank goodness.


Take care, dear readers.

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Photo from one year ago today, December 6, 2018:

A praying mantis stopped by for a visit this morning.  After it walked on the veranda table, it landed on Tom and then landed on me.  Friendly little fellow. For more photos, please click here.

The 2½ hour wait at the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles…

While in Penguin, Tasmania in 2017 we took this photo on our way to the town of Ulverston. Tasmania never disappoints!  For more photos, please click here.

We each had over a year left until the expiration of our Nevada driver’s licenses. However, with uncertainty at this point as to when we’ll return to the US, we needed to take care of this task before we depart Nevada in four or five days.


We both dreaded the process when the DMV in Henderson (and other locations) usually requires appointments to avoid waiting for hours. The last time we did this, seven years ago, the line extended outside the building with no less than 100 impatient applicants pushing and shoving to secure their spots.


With Tom sick all week, we avoided going. But as time wore on, we decided we’d better take care of this regardless of how he or I was feeling. When we awoke yesterday morning, it was raining heavily.


We imagined standing in that long queue outdoors in the rain with both of us still coughing (especially Tom) and getting soaked. I’d packed our cheap plastic rain protectors in the blue bag and by 9:45 am we took off.


Imagine our elation when we drove into the parking lot and there was no line at all! Apparently, due to the inclement weather, people decided to wait and go another day, which proved to benefit us greatly.


Upon entry into the building, which was packed, within minutes we got a number from the receptionist, found two adjacent chairs and began the long wait, making sure we didn’t miss the call of our number over the PA system.


We realized the wait would be long, but we were so pleased to avoid standing outdoors in the rain, hardly a whimper crossed our lips during the over-two-hour wait.


Some may say, the facility is disorganized with so many applicants always waiting to be seen. In fact, we perceived it as being very organized and well-planned with friendly customer service and systems in place to facilitate a somewhat painless process.


I played with my new phone while Tom never took his eyes off the screen with the numbers that had been called and those numbers upcoming. The time went more quickly than expected and by noon we met with the rep who would process our renewals.


The process itself took about 30 minutes when the rep was curious as to why we were renewing early which apparently is unusual. She then continued to ask many questions. Of course, we had nothing to hide, but we didn’t want to get into our entire story.


Finally, our temporary licenses were issued and we were directed to the area where photos are taken. Amazingly, there was no queue there and we breezed through the process in a few minutes.


Once out the door, we sighed in relief. It was finally done. Next time, we can again apply online when every other renewal time, an applicant must apply in person.


We feel as if we accomplished a lot while in the US, amid both of us being sick; we applied for and received our visas for India, applied and are awaiting our “second, four-year” passports and now renewed our driver’s licenses. It’s been a huge relief to get these time consuming and cumbersome tasks out of the way.


Our next project…deciding on how we’ll spend the two unbooked months in India after we’ve completed the Maharajas Train tour on February 8th. Planning this is a big project and we just may have to wait until we get settled in Arizona next week. Plus, we still have to work on hiring an attorney to assist us in getting the visa waiver to return to South Africa.


I’m off today to visit my sister Susan once again. I’d intended to go yesterday, but when we returned from the DMV so late in the day, I realized I’d be stuck in rush hour traffic, in the rain, on the return drive. No thank you. I’ll be on my way soon.


Have a pleasant day!

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Photo from one year ago today, December 5, 2018:

Mom and piglet enjoying the cement pond on a hot day. It’s summer during this time of year in South Africa and with the drought and lack of bodies of water available to the wild animals, they may seek a refreshing dunk in the cement pond in our garden, intended as a source of drinking water. For more photos, please click here.

Turning the corner…Still lots to do…

Two years ago today in 2017, in Pisco, Peru, we spotted these children playing at the beach with views of colorful fishing vessels.  For more photos, please click here.

While we were about one week into the most recent cruise, one early evening at the beginning of the free-drink-happy-hour (two hours long), I wasn’t able to take a sip of my wine. I felt queasy and dizzy.


Tom walked me to the cabin, helped me get situated into bed while I encouraged him to go back to the event to enjoy the evening’s camaraderie and bring me a small plate of food from the buffet before he went to dinner in the main dining room. There was no point in him sitting there with me.


Before 7:00 pm, he brought me a plate of roasted chicken, grilled fish, and steamed veggies. By 9:00 pm, he’d had dinner and returned to the cabin for the night. 


I had no idea why I was dizzy but by morning it passed leaving me with a peculiar little cough that eventually blossomed into the full roar of the virus from which we’re still experiencing now. It’s been 34 days since the onset.


As I mentioned yesterday, Tom is now suffering as I did over two weeks ago in Minnesota when I went to Urgent Care twice only to ultimately discover after taking antibiotics and cortisone, it is truly a virus with little to be done other than to wait it out.


Of course, if either of us had suspected it was more serious than the virus we contracted while cruising, we would have sought more medical advice. We had no fever, no symptoms of pneumonia, no chest pain (although our stomach muscles ached from coughing, a common side effect).


Yesterday, I awoke to feel dizzy again, on top of awful coughing, and this morning that is totally gone and much to my delight, my cough has lessened dramatically. Oddly, it came in with dizziness and left with the dizziness. Go figure. I’m finally out of the woods, or so it seems.


Tom is insistent we go to the DMV today but again oddly enough, it’s going to rain today. A visit to the DMV results in a long outdoor queue often standing for hours. We weren’t able to book an appointment based on a lack of availability while we’re here before we depart for Arizona next week.


The end result? Today, rain or shine we’ll stand in line at the DMV, to renew our driver’s licenses. Yes, we have raincoats but no umbrella. Who has an umbrella in Nevada? It rarely rains here.


I’d planned to see Susan today but that’s up in the air based on how quickly we are able to get through the line at the DMV. If not today, I’ll go tomorrow. Perhaps, the lines will be shorter today with it raining.


Out of the small backpack, I just dug out the total-body-coverage cheap plastic raincoats we’d purchased in Thailand for 85 cents each which have served us well on several occasions over these past few years. We’ll see how they work for us today.


No doubt, I’m dreading this DMV thing but it has to be done. Tom offered to go on his own but I too, need my license renewed and it makes no sense for us to go separately.


We’ll continue to keep our readers informed of the infinitesimal activities of our time here in Nevada. Soon enough, a little excitement may ensue as we begin to pull ourselves out of the throes of the virus.


Happy day to all, rain or shine.

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Photo from one year ago today, December 4, 2018:

This fluffy little one captured our hearts. For more photos, please click here.

Coughing from hell…Is cruising worth it?…

On this date in 2016, we arrived in Penguin, Tasmania where we stayed for six weeks. This is the view from the living room window of the wonderful holiday home we rented. It was a delightful six weeks and remains one of Tom’s favorite places in the world. For more photos, please click here.

During our seven years of world travel, there was only one other time we were both as sick as we are now with a virus. We were on a cruise from Honolulu to Sydney. Upon our arrival, I was barely able to get myself onto the deck to take our first photos of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.


Driving the rental car to the holiday home in Trinity Beach is but a vague memory. We were disorientated, exhausted and racked with horrible bouts of coughing for no less than three weeks. 


We never mentioned it in the blog feeling we didn’t want to “bore” our readers with medical woes. However, after this past dreadful year of my heart issues, we don’t feel as if we need to “hide,” especially when so many of our readers have written to us not only wishing us well but finding comfort in some of their own issues, in the fact they are not alone.


Only a week into the most recent cruise from Southampton to Fort Lauderdale, we acquired this virus and we’re struggling with it much longer than expected. It seems the cough, exhaustion, and feeling disorientated has become worse over time. We can’t imagine others on that cruise aren’t suffering in the same manner.


It would be easy for any observer to say, “Then, why in the world would you go on cruises if you get sick?” 


We’ve been on 25 cruises since beginning our journey in 2012. Sure, I’ve had the cruise cough several times, with Tom catching it less often. Our answer is simple: we use cruising as a means of getting from one part of the world to another, avoiding considerable flights.


Then again, airplanes can be a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses and we often hear about travelers becoming sick from flying. Combine the flights many take to arrive at the point of embarkation on a cruise, and it’s become a double whammy.


The reality is, for whatever reason, our immune systems are vulnerable to the germs on cruises. No doubt, we need to focus on ways in which to be all the more cautious while cruising. We’ll begin doing more research on ways in which we can reduce the risk and also improve our immune system.


Perhaps its a by-product of long term travel. We’re often asked if we get flu shots and we do not. Each country has its own specific strain and it would mean we’d have to be immunized in several countries. This doesn’t seem to be 
healthful or sensible.


At this point, Tom is suffering in a manner similar to where I was a few weeks ago when I went to an urgent care clinic and was prescribed antibiotics and cortisone, neither of which alleviated the symptoms. I still kept coughing and feeling awful.


But during this time, both of us were very busy with our families and could hardly slow down when we were there for only three weeks. We’ve slowed down considerably since arriving in Nevada and luckily Tom has had a chance to rest for several days while I’ve gone to visit my sister, shopped and cooked meals, nothing overly strenuous.


Tom’s time to rest nor my level of activity have had any impact on helping or changing anything one way or another. Today, I’m “down for the count” right along with Tom. We’re both staying in all day, lounging on Richard‘s comfy sofa with plenty to watch on the big screen TV.


We had planned to go to the DMV to renew our driver’s licenses today but neither of us has the strength to stand in line for hours. Somehow we’ll manage to take care of this before the end of the week. We’re leaving (driving) for Arizona early next week.


While at the urgent care clinic in Minnesota two weeks ago, they explained we aren’t contagious anymore but also there is little to be done to alleviate the symptoms of a virus. 


There is no point in us seeing a doctor. Antibiotics don’t work. There’s nothing that can be done. We’re using the over-the-counter meds recommended by the doctor at the clinic. The nighttime Nyquil seems to help us sleep better. We just have to wait it out.


Be well. 

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Photo from one year ago today, December 3, 2018:

Giffafe in the garden aching for the treetops. For more photos, please click here.

In a rush today…

It was five years ago today that Tom was checking out the views from one of the two houses we rented in Pahoa, Big Island, Hawaii. Only days later our family began to arrive for the holiday. For more, please click here.

Today, I am in a bit of a rush. I have to leave the house at 10:45 am to drive to Las Vegas to see Susan and to join her for lunch in her new assisted living facility located 45 minutes from here.


I’ll stay a few hours and then stop at Smith’s Market on the way back to Richard‘s home for a few items for tonight’s dinner and then rush back to begin preparing dinner. Richard only eats chicken so as his mom, I try to be inventive and produce another good chicken recipe.


As for the coughs…Tom is in the worst of it now while I am slowly beginning to turn the corner. If it weren’t for Nyquil Cough, we wouldn’t be able to sleep at all. Both of us have fits of coughing at all hours but especially during the night. For some reason, everything seems worse at night.


We’d hoped to go to a movie with Richard while here but there’s no way we would be able to get through a two-hour period without hacking and disturbing everyone. We’ll see how it goes. We’re leaving in eight days.


Why this cough has lasted so long has baffled us. It started slowly on the cruise over a month ago. Tom had a bit of a tickle in his throat and I had a small pointless cough. I spent one night’s dinner in the cabin when I was feeling dizzy and out of sorts not knowing what was wrong.


But, the dizzyness was the beginning of this dreadful virus when only the next day the cough exacerbated. Also, one of the symptoms we have both experienced has been a feeling of utter exhaustion. 


I am past that stage right now but Tom has been going through it over the past two weeks, worsening the past three days. Please, let this be over soon so we can return to our usual enthusiastic selves, especially now that we know we can move forward with travel plans.


Speaking of which…we booked our flights to India on British Airways at a great price as follows (for both of us):

Total price: USD $1675.16
Trip Protection:      117.26

Total:                $1792.42
 
We used a flight booking company (after reading lots of reviews) we’d never used Hop2.com for the best possible pricing. The flight leaves Phoenix on January 29 and ends on January 30, 2020. 
 
There are two over nine-hour flights with an eight-hour layover in London in between. It will be a long 27 hours. This leaves us a few days in Mumbai to refresh and recover before we begin the exciting six night-train excursion on the Maharajah Express.
 
As always, we’ll manage OK on these long flights although neither of us is able to sleep on the plane. It’s funny. I can fall asleep sitting upright on a sofa while watching a show but I can’t sleep for five minutes on a plane in a similar position. Go figure.
 
Tonight’s a big sports night here at Richard’s…the Vegas Golden Knights will play on TV along with the Minnesota Vikings. I plan to get back early enough to make the dinner so we can all settle in and somehow watch the games simultaneously. 
 
Tom can bring up the football on his laptop via NFL GamePass and the Vegas Golden Knights can be playing on the TV. We’ll see how it goes.
 
Thanksgiving weekend is over in the US and life is back to normal also after “Black Friday” shopping frenzy has ended. We’d intended to go to renew our driver’s licenses today but as mentioned, this is supposedly the DMV’s busiest day of the year. Forget that!
Unfortunately, no new photos to share but check out last year’s photo below! It still makes us laugh!

Be well. Be happy.

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Photo from one year ago today, December 2, 2018:

Little decided to check out the inside of the house.  I was in the kitchen chopping vegetables when he entered and looked up to see this! We both couldn’t stop laughing. I yelled out, “Little, is that you?” (I knew it was him). He shook his head a bit like he often did when I spoke to him. He climbed up six very slippery tile steps to get to me, difficult in those “high heeled shoes.” For more photos, please click here.

A much needed restful night in…Using Google Pixel 4XL phone for photos?…

Richard is definitely a Vegas Golden Knight’s superfan when he had this mural painted on a wall in his backyard pool area. We’re looking forward to attending a game with him on December 8th.

Yesterday, I baked seven pumpkin pies. When Tom and Richard enjoyed their miniature pumpkin pies topped with whipped cream while out to dinner on Thanksgiving night, I decided I needed to bake a few pies. 


Two of the pies are low carb and the remainder are traditional. I made an extra for my sister Susan which I’ll bring when I visit her tomorrow at lunchtime. Richard often has a low carb way of eating but when he saw how different the low carb pies looked, he decided on the regular pie instead. 

I guess I’ll have to figure out how to eat two pies over the next several days. Most likely, I’ll freeze one and we’ll take it to Arizona when we make the drive on or about December 10th or 11th.


To make all these pies and dinner for the next several nights yesterday morning I grocery shopped by myself for the first time in over nine months. I was a little slow moving in Smith’s Market in Henderson due to another bad night’s sleep with both of us coughing, but I managed to get it done.


Years ago, while visiting Richard, I’d signed up for the Smith’s rewards card. Long ago I’d disposed of the card but I was able to remember my old phone number which worked in place of actually having the plastic card in my possession. 


As a result, when I was checking out after spending $300 on groceries, I saved over $34 from recalling the old phone number. Wow! That was a thrill. I purchased all the ingredients for the seven pies, two glass pie pans which we’ll take with us (Richard doesn’t bake pies), lots of Keurig coffee pods (so we don’t deplete Richard’s entire supply) and enough food for four or five dinners.


Last night we had carryout from Cheesecake Factory. I was too pooped to make dinner after making all the pies. Carryout was perfect. Today, I’m making dinner, enough to last for two nights but made fresh daily.


Today, I’m making boneless skinless chicken breasts stuffed with sauteed mushrooms, onions, garlic butter, and mozzarella and parmesan cheese and wrapped in hickory-smoked bacon. On the side; cauliflower mash, steamed asparagus, jasmine rice, and homemade coleslaw, a nice easy-to-prepare Sunday dinner.


After we devoured our Cheesecake Factory dinners, we began watching a movie that had recently been released on Netflix, “The Irishman,” which is over three hours long. Of course, I fell asleep on the comfy sofa, ultimately dozing off and on during the movie.


About an hour into the movie we took a break for pumpkin pie. Each of us could choose a pie of our own, without having to share. This is a great way to savor a pie at one’s own pace without worrying about sharing with others. We’ve often done it this way with my former passion for baking which over the years has diminished since we’ve been traveling.


By 11:00 pm, the movie ended and we were off to bed each chugging the little plastic cupful of Nyquil Cough, hoping we wouldn’t disturb each other’s sleep. It was a useless expectation. We each awakened many times from our own and each other’s coughing. Tom is where I was two weeks ago and I still have a long way to go to be free of this virus. 


In case you haven’t noticed I have been posting photos taken with my phone. This is something I’d been adamantly opposed to for a long time, preferring to use a camera. Now, with this new phone, I am amazed by the quality of the photos as seen in the above photo.


This doesn’t mean we won’t keep using a camera. One of our two cameras “died” while in my carryon bag on the flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Minneapolis, Minnesota. How? I don’t know. Now, we’re left with one camera and will use it for most sightseeing. For now, it sure is fun using my new phone.


When I take photos with the phone, within seconds they are automatically on my laptop through Google. This saves me so much time. Having these many features is astounding to us having been so far removed from the most current digital equipment for so long.


Our phones work like Amazon’s Alexa. We can ask anything at all by voice and get an instantaneous response within seconds. This is quite fun for me but Tom doesn’t seem as interested in using voice commands.


That’s it for today, folks. We hope each of you has a peaceful and restful day as well.
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Photo from one year ago today, December 1, 2018:
This is our boy Wildebeest Willie, who stops by most afternoons for pellets and several naps.  He waits for other wildlife to appear then gets up to join in on the pellet frenzy.  He isn’t interested in carrots, celery tops, apples or pears.  He responds enthusiastically to his name and most likely responds to names other residents have given him.  Smart guy, that Willie! For more, please click here.

Visited my sister for first time in over two years…The Las Vegas Strip for dinner…Food photos…

Chase, Susan’s adorable Yorkie.

Yesterday afternoon, I drove to Summerlin, Nevada to see my sister Susan, who moved into an assisted living facility on November 1st. This move was long overdue when she requires quite a bit of help in her day to day activities. I am hoping she’ll be able to manage there when she’ll no longer have as much support staff as she had in her apartment.


My sister has been bedridden for approximately 14 years from what I recall. She suffers numerous health conditions including COPD and pain syndrome which requires constant oxygen, many medications and frequent doctor visits.
Seafood salad.


Her spirits are good and always have been. She’s accepted her limitations with dignity and grace. As my older sister by four years, she’s always been an inspiration to me. How dare I ever complain when I am up and around traveling the world while she lingers in a bed around the clock?


But, as we know everything is relative. When we suffer, regardless of the cause, thinking of the suffering of others doesn’t necessarily bring us comfort. It may for a few moments when we contemplate the suffering of others but rarely does it make us become pillars of strength and resiliency. It the nature of the human spirit.

Fried chicken.


As I sat there with her for three hours, hacking and coughing, she was more concerned for me than for herself. I dismissed the annoying cough as a mere inconvenience that eventually will go away. 


And it will. This morning I noticed a slight improvement. On the other hand, Tom is in the throes of the worst of it, behind me by about two weeks. Hopefully, soon with his strong constitution, he’ll be on the mend. It’s unlike him to become ill.

Chicken Piccata.


I will return to see my sister on Monday, joining her for lunch at the facility. They allow visitors to have meals with residents for a $9 fee. I noticed they had a salad on Monday that will work for me. The food is irrelevant. It’s the interaction that bespeaks it all. I will be able to dine with her.


When I returned back to the house, we drove to New York, New York Hotel and Casino and walked through the casino to the Venetian Hotel to a restaurant Richard suggested The Grand Lux Cafe.

Guess who ordered the beef pot roast with mashed potatoes?


The offerings were primarily American fare which Tom prefers the most and we all had an excellent meal. Once again, I had salad, this time seafood salad but that is always the easy go-to for me.


Today will be low-key. Soon, I am going to Smith’s Market to buy some groceries. Today, I am making pumpkin pies, both regular and low carb which we all missed over the Thanksgiving period. It will be wonderful to be able to have a slice of low carb pie topped with real whipped cream.


Most likely tonight we’ll dine out and then tomorrow, I’ll do some cooking for a few days. Richard only eats chicken so it will surely be a “chicken fest” while attempting to make a few favorite chicken recipes. I haven’t cooked a meal in almost a month.


May you have a spectacular weekend!

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Photo from one year ago today, November 30, 2018:

Bushbuck baby, maybe dad and mom often stop at the bottom of the steps for their pellets.  For more, please click here.