Another busy day on the horizon…Memorial dinner party tonight…Booking, booking and more booking…

Tomorrow, we’ll be busy listing Tom’s railroad memorabilia online for sale, including about 12 of these commemorative plates.

Last night, our plans with Madighan were dashed due to potential strep throat and flu. Neither of us could afford to get sick with plans to leave here in 20 days. Also, Tom is still on antibiotics and Prednisone, and getting sick on top of his awful cough would only worsen matters.

Instead, we’ll pick a date next week to get together and celebrate. Today, at 4:00 pm, we are heading to our friend Connie’s home for dinner at her home on Lake Minnetonka to commemorate her husband Jeff’s passing at our holiday home in Marloth Park one year ago today. It’s hard to believe that was a year ago. It seems so much longer.

After a while, we’ll go to the nearby liquor store and buy a bottle of wine to bring to Connie’s. We always feel it is essential to bring something when invited for dinner at a friend’s home. In South Africa, we only needed to bring our drinks, mix, ice, and possibly meat to cook on the braai. That tradition is not common in the US.

This morning, we spent almost two hours researching flights from Quito to Manta, a hotel for one night in Manta since we didn’t want to drive to the holiday home in the dark, and a rental car for three separate months. Tom will have to return to the airport twice while we’re at the house to get another vehicle.

As it turned out, each of the three rental car periods had much better pricing using three different companies rather than trying to book a car for the entire time at the house from October 24 to January 8. Plus, the rates had almost doubled over the Christmas holiday season.

As a result, Tom will have to make the one-hour drive from the holiday home to Manta twice during our stay; most likely, I will go with him each time to shop at the bigger grocery stores. I anticipate the remote location where we’ll stay won’t have any major grocery stores nearby.

Since our flight from Quito to Manta doesn’t arrive until after 8:00 pm, we planned to stay one night in Manta so that we can more easily find our way to the property in the morning. Also, it will allow us to do some food shopping in Manta before we head to the house.

No doubt, the small car won’t have a lot of room for lots of groceries, but at least we’ll be able to squeeze enough for a few days while we figure everything out from the house. Moving into a new remote location requires extensive research to see what’s available in the area.

In the worst case, we can buy coffee, cream, and staples for the first week. A few restaurants are near the house in case we have to eat out for several days. This part of our travels is fun for us when we find the best solutions for our needs while we’re there.

There weren’t a lot of options for flights from Quito to Manta. There were prices listed for half of what we ended up paying for the one-way flight, but those prices didn’t include any carry-on bags or checked bags. At the higher prices of $99 each, instead of $59, we saved over $200 for baggage fees. It made a lot of sense to go that way.

We found a highly-rated, inexpensive hotel near the airport so we wouldn’t have to drive far in the dark in unknown territory, which included breakfast. We’ll get up early, have coffee and breakfast at the hotel, and be on our way, as we mentioned, looking for a supermarket on the way.

It’s all becoming a reality now as we pin down our plans. Once settled in Ecuador, we researched where we wanted to go. Do we go to Brazil and Bolivia to the Pantanal or plan a cruise on the upper Amazon? Or both? Time will tell. Of course, this is all based on how we’re feeling at the time due to a few recent health concerns.

At 3:30 today, we’ll head out to the memorial dinner party at Connie’s for surely what will be a good experience.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 21, 2013:

Moonbeams over the Indian Ocean last night at the Blue Marlin Restaurant in Kenya, reflecting off the ocean and lighting the sand. Tiny sand crabs were scurrying about at our feet as we stood in the sand. For more photos, please click here.

Using perks and points from Expedia…Interesting photos from a very old house in 2013…Head banging?…

In Tuscany, this yet-to-be-baked homemade low-carb, gluten-free, grain-free, starch-free, and sugar-free pizza was made with “real” mozzarella (often referred to as buffalo mozzarella in the US) and locally grown ingredients. The stringiness factor was tripled from the pizza we’d made in the past using “manufactured” bagged shredded mozzarella, which we hope never to use again. It was our best pizza ever! I’d cut double the ingredients to make another freshly made pizza for tonight with no microwave for reheating. Nothing like two nights of freshly made pizza!

Today’s photos are from the date in 2013, in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy, which we posted here.   

How quickly we forgot the nuances of the 300-year-old stone house in Italy. From today’s re-shared photos, you can easily see how much we had to adapt to living in this very old house. It was sometimes challenging, especially when the WiFi signal was so poor.

The electrical wiring throughout the house is exposed, using cloth instead of the conduit most of us are familiar with as a code requirement in the US and other countries. We doubt that building/code compliance inspectors travel around inspecting these centuries-old properties. As shown above, the primary lighting source in the kitchen is these two fixtures over the kitchen table, encased in glass globes. Energy-efficient as the “curly” energy-efficient bulbs we’d used in the US, this particular style takes approximately five minutes to light up the area, which can be a little tricky at night.

Ten years ago, we rented a device from a company in the US called MiFi. This company still exists but can’t do much business these days when good WiFi signals are available worldwide, even in some remote locations. Even in the bush in South Africa, we had no problem getting a good signal.

Sure, some parts of the world are so remote that a signal isn’t possible, but over the years, we haven’t continued to experience issues being online. When renting a hotel or holiday home, we always check to ensure they have free unlimited internet access.

Cloth-covered wiring over the sink in the kitchen.

Today, we rented a car for one day from the Expedia link on our site, found here. When our ship arrives in Boston on August 30, we needed a means of transportation from our hotel to Stoughton, where my cousin Phyllis lives, so we could all go out to dinner near her home.

Again, cloth-covered wiring near the shower in the main bathroom.

When researching transportation from our hotel to Stoughton, a 40-minute drive, we found the cost of taxis, Uber, or transportation companies to be as much as $400 for the round trip plus tips. Instead, with points we’ve accumulated and hadn’t used lately at Expedia, we could rent a car for a good price and drive ourselves to meet with Phyllis.

We both had to duck to go down the long hallway to the bedroom. We got used to saying, “Don’t bang your head.”

As it turned out, we had enough points left to use on Expedia to offset the cost of a car. This morning we booked the car, and all we had to pay after using our points was $9.88 for the one-day car rental. We couldn’t get this done quickly enough! once the details were paid and booked, we added the information to our free Cozi Calendar, as we do with all of our bookings.

Tom also had to duck his head when heading out to the tiny veranda from the guest bedroom.

We now have peace of mind knowing we completed one of the few remaining tasks necessary for our upcoming trip, as listed in a post two days ago here.

Also, we’d like to ask our readers to kindly consider using the links on our page to compare travel costs and perks. We make a small commission that helps cover a portion of the expenses for the maintenance of our site, and you’ll pay no more using the links than if you went to them on your own. Also, you may find you can save a lot of money using these links and accumulating perks and points.

This doorway to the main bathroom was cut to fit the low frame, requiring that we also duck when entering or leaving.

We figured out an easy plan to get the rental car when we’ll be coming from the port on August 30, not the airport, where we’ll have to go to pick up the car. We’ll get an Uber or taxi from the port to drive us to the airport.

Tom will jump out and leave me with the driver, who will drive me to the hotel with our bags. That way, we won’t have to take the bags to the airport. Then, Tom will pick up the car and drive to the hotel. Later in the day, we’ll make the drive to Stoughton to meet my cousin Phyllis for dinner.

This hole was cut on the outside of the house to allow for the water meter.

I asked Phyllis if she’d like us to pick her up. She’s about ten years older than me and may prefer to have us pick her up so she won’t have to drive home in the dark. If so, we won’t mind at all. It will be wonderful to see her. It’s been several years since we’ve seen Phyllis, and she and her two daughters are my only living relatives on the father’s side. As it turns out, I am the oldest living relative on my mother’s side of the family. How did that ever happen? Where did the time go?

Tonight, we’re heading to Brownwood Paddock Square for the evening. It’s been raining off and on all morning, but it looks like it will be clearing by the time we leave at 5:00 pm.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, July 7, 2013:

The heating elements in the 300-year-old stone house in Tuscany. The radiators are behind these hanging curtains in the long hallway. Hmmm…For more, please click here.

Hysterical feedback from Garage Logic about our “Adults Only” post a few days ago…

At last! The Treasury! This sight made us gasp with our hearts pounding wildly, less from the walk, more from sheer joy! See below for the progression of this long walk to arrive at this magnificent event.

Note: Today’s photos are from the posts of May 15 and May 16, 2013, ten years ago, when we visited Petra, Jordan.  Here is the post from May 16, 2013.

The raw beauty of nature, coupled with artistic skills, made the walk exciting, moment by moment.

On May 12, we wrote about the myth about perceptions of The Villages as being a “swingers” retirement community. Please click here to read that post. We heard from the hosts at the Garage Logic podcast mentioned this perception when they realized where we are staying.

In response to that, in a light-hearted manner, I wrote the post entitled “Adults Only,” which may be found at the above link we rebutted the perception that The Villages is a “swingers community.” It is not. It’s a myth.

We thought we couldn’t make it through each time we encountered these narrow crevices, but we managed at each turn.

When Joe Soucheray, host of Garage Logic, read parts of our post on their show, we couldn’t stop laughing over their comments. If you’d like to hear what they had to say, please click here and have a chuckle with us. If you don’t want to listen to the entire podcast, scroll forward to 1 hour, 13 minutes, and 27 seconds, and their comments will begin. But listen all the way to the end of the podcast since they add more as they go. It’s very funny.

We love the connection we have with Garage Logic every day. If you enjoy their banter, click here for the full archives of their podcasts. We listen five days a week while Tom continues to submit daily, “On this date in Minnesota history.” It provides us with a fun connection to our original home state of Minnesota, along with our friends and family members who still live there.

Can you imagine the excitement of the Swiss adventurer that discovered this find in 1812?

As mentioned at 12:30 pm, Karen and Rich will arrive, and we’ll drop them off at the Orlando Airport for their trip to Minnesota for son Jack’s wedding, leaving their SUV with us to use for the next few weeks. In a few weeks, we’ll pick up Rich at the airport after Karen flew off to support an ailing friend and return the car at that time.

We don’t have a lot of plans for using the car other than to visit Karen’s mom, Donna, next week, a short drive from here, and to drive around The Villages, exploring and taking photos. That will be fun to do, and it will be nice to get out in a car as opposed to the golf cart.

Check out the intriguing details of theTreasury performed by craftsmen over 2000 years ago. The twelve pillars represent the twelve months of the year.

The golf cart is great, but it takes much longer to get from place to place. If we were to have been here any longer, we’d have needed to rent a car. When we checked on prices for rental cars in Florida, it was outrageous. We’d have spent over $3000 for the time we were staying here and felt it was an expense we didn’t want to bear with our expensive upcoming cruises.

It was a small sacrifice for the time we’re spending here since we can use the included golf cart to go anywhere in The Villages. With the handy app for approved golf cart paths, it’s relatively easy to get around, albeit slowly. Although, in the next few weeks, having a car to use will be great.

Actually, Tom was much happier than he looks in this photo!

After the long walk, sitting down for this not-so-smiley photo was a huge relief. The grates behind me at the front of the Treasury are protecting the more intricate design.

Today, I uploaded the Kroger online grocery order, which will arrive tomorrow morning. With company coming for dinner tomorrow evening and more houseguests again for three nights starting Saturday, we have plenty of meals to plan and prepare. Feeling so much better, I won’t have any trouble managing the upcoming visitors.

After the long walk, sitting down for this not-so-smiley photo was a huge relief. The grates behind me at the front of the Treasury are protecting the intricate design.

This morning we headed out on our walk and returned to make a lovely breakfast, and both get to work on our laptops. My hope was to upload this post before we leave at 12:30. Most likely, we’ll return by 3:30 or 4:00 pm and then get busy preparing tonight’s dinner of Italian meatballs, topped with sauce and shredded mozzarella and rice and salad on the side. I’m having grilled salmon and scallops with baked spaghetti squash and salad on the side for me.

Last night, we began watching “Dancing with the Stars” on Disney+, which we signed up long enough to binge-watch the show. Once we’re done, we’ll cancel the service. We often sign up for a streaming service long enough to watch a certain series and then cancel it thereafter. However, we keep Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime all the time. We thoroughly enjoy streaming shows in the evening when we don’t have other plans.

Be well.

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

In Jordan, the camel owners proudly let us take photos. In Egypt, at the Great Pyramids, either they’d grab your camera and smash it or demand $50 to get it back. For the post, please click here.

Load shedding shortly…Trying to hurry and get post uploaded…Rental car challenge…

This wildebeest came up onto the veranda to let us know he was looking for some pellets.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 12 warthogs – inc. Little, Lonely Boy, Lonely Girl, Fred and Ethel, and others
  • 8 bushbucks – inc. Thick Neck, Bad Leg, Spikey, and others
  • 11 kudus – inc. Bossy, Baby Daddy, Medium Daddy, two youngsters, and others
  • 5 wildebeest – inc Crooked Face, Hal, and others
  • 32 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 2 Frank and The Misses

Tom was chasing Little this morning, spraying him with water from an orange spray bottle to keep him away from Frank and The Misses’ birdseed in the little container on the veranda. He comes right up onto the veranda and eats from the container making an awful mess. Besides, he’s well-fed by us; pellets, carrots, and apples.


I can’t help but laugh when this happens, although I say, “Little, don’t eat the seeds each time.” Pigs are intelligent and can quickly learn commands, not unlike a dog. Pigs are listed as smarter than dogs, as the 6th most intelligent land animals on the planet.

I suppose it’s one of the reasons I like warthogs so much. They make eye contact and respond to being spoken to, tilting their heads, stomping their feet, and moving about in animated ways, easily indicating they are paying attention. Of course, we laugh at every instance! I know it’s hard to believe but, if my favorite warthogs are anywhere in the area, they come when responding to my voice.


Now, of course, we’re wondering what happens when we are gone for almost a month, leaving Marloth Park in a mere 18 days on June 29th. Even the wildebeests who frequently visit have begun responding to my voice. Surely, all of these animals will return not long after we do, at the end of July.

Now that my cough is finally improving, I feel more at ease about traveling to the US and, a day or two later, getting a Covid vaccine. It appears we’ll be able to make an appointment for the jab before we even leave Marloth Park, which will give us peace of mind.

Today’s photos include a few shots of the porcupine from last night’s trail cam that we were thrilled to see once again. Unfortunately, there was only one, not two, as the last time, but the one is fine for us. Any chance we have for photos of the more unusual visitors is always extraordinary.

They didn’t take their eyes off us until we offered them the pellets.

We’ve been trying to get Thrifty Car Rental located in Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport to return the rental car on the day we leave rather than today on June 11th. This is because Tom had driven back to Nelspruit a month ago for the mandatory car inspection, and we didn’t want him to have to make that half-day round trip once again.

Speaking to the manager of Thrifty a few weeks ago, we got him to agree to us sending him dated photos and a video of the car to avoid the long trip. He hesitantly agreed. First thing this morning, we headed outdoors with the camera in hand to take the photos.

But, it’s not as easy as you’d think. Taking photos on a camera and then loading them on Google Drive to attach and send via WhatsApp wasn’t as easy as you’d think. The images didn’t roll over to Google Drive as quickly as we needed, and I spent no less than 90 minutes figuring out a workaround. Load shedding was around the corner.

Tom stayed busy for quite a while tossing pellets to these five wildebeests.

Finally, I called the manager and asked if we could email the photos, make a video of the car, and send him the link. He agreed. Finally, we got it all done and sent everything to him only 30 minutes before load shedding started when WiFi would also be out.

We anticipated we wouldn’t hear back from him that he approved the photos and video until the power returned a few hours later. But, much to our relief, he sent a message stating he agreed to the photos and video and could keep the car until June 29th. Of course, we’d already paid through June 30th, but Thrifty required the vehicle be returned for an inspection every 30 days, something we’d never experienced in the past.

Whew! What a relief! Tom didn’t have to drive to Nelspruit today, and we could relax about the car, one less thing on our minds with so little time remaining until we leave South Africa.

They scattered throughout the garden to get every last pellet.

The load shedding period ended by 1:08 pm, 1308 hrs., 22 minutes earlier than expected. Finally, I was able to get back to work finishing today’s post and getting it uploaded by 2:30 pm, 1430 hrs, another relief!

Today, we’re staying in, cooking on the braai, and enjoying a quiet evening with the animals, for as long as we can stay outdoors in the chilly air.

We changed our usual reservation for Jabula Lodge and Restaurant on Friday evenings with Rita and Gerhard to tomorrow, since today they were busy with the new vehicle they purchased and dropping off their rental car in Nelspruit. So instead, we’ll all meet at Jabula on Saturday for another enjoyable evening.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 11, 2020:

The contrast between old and new is breathtaking in Istanbul. For more photos, please click here.

Reasonable prices in South Africa…What are we spending here?…All new photos from yesterday’s drive…

The ostrich on the left, who may be the dad, says to the ostrich on the right, which may be his son, “Dad, I appreciate the good advice.”

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Baby elephant walking with mom, holding onto her tail for emotional security.

When we’d made a mistake in the date, we needed to leave South Africa for another visa stamp. This had an impact on our car rental by one day. Yesterday, we called the rental car company using the phone number on the documents to ask for a one-day extension.  

Although not visible in this photo, once again, we spotted the mom, dad, and seven chicks who were scattered in this home’s garden, close to the dad at a distance. Dad watched the chicks while mom stayed on the lookout for predators.
We were quoted only ZAR 225 (US $15.97) for the extra day, and we were pleasantly surprised. When we’d previously inquired about a one or two-day extension on a rental car contract in other countries, in most cases, the daily rate was an additional ZAR 705 (US $50) with little regard to the daily rate we were paying in the contract.  
Once again, we spotted ostriches on Vostruis Road (volstruis means ostrich in Afrikaans) next to this same vehicle where we’d seen them almost five years ago. Click this link here to see the post from December 7, 2013.  Funny, eh?

Although we’d never actually used an extension in this past almost six years, we didn’t hesitate to accept the above rate offered by Hertz (via their booking service Firefly).  

A casual stroll down Volstruis Road on a Saturday afternoon.

We’ve found many costs to be reasonable in South Africa, lower-priced than in many other countries, which were one of the many reasons we decided to spend a year in Marloth Park. We’ve been here six months with six months to go when we’re leaving as of yesterday.

The only area we found to be a little higher than in some countries is the cost of groceries, based on the types of foods we eat, high-quality meats and vegetables. Tom continues to eat some dairy while I gave it up a few months ago. Quality imported cheeses are expensive here.

Recently, we’ve seen elephants at the river every time we’ve gone for a drive as we carefully peruse the long span of the river from Marloth Park.

We’ve been shocked at the low prices on Tom’s brandy at ZAR 120 (US $8.52) per liter and my low-alcohol red wine priced at the grocery store at ZAR 49.99 (US $3.55) per bottle, the going rate for most bottles of wine. A similar wine in the US would easily be ZAR 169 (the US $12).  

This male elephant looks skinny and somewhat unhealthy.  Life is not easy for these majestic beasts when they are off their own, ostracized from the family structure. Male elephants spend their formative years with the herd leaving at around age 13 to 14 when puberty sets in. The male elephant will roam the savanna alone or team up with other males in a loose bachelor herd.

Dining out is inexpensive. We’ve paid the most at any local restaurant, ordering any main dish, drinks, and tips, ZAR 500 (US $35.49). Our dinner bill at Jabula is often around ZAR 450 (US $31.94), with drinks, tips, and taxes included.

This female was surrounded by her parade of perhaps 50 others.

So far, during these first six months, including holiday home rental, car rental, groceries, dining out, trips to Kruger, and miscellaneous shopping, our monthly living expenses are slightly under ZAR 56,340 (US $4,000), considerably less than in other countries.

Even with the requirement of us leaving every three months for visa purposes and the cost of flights, activities, tours, hotel, taxi, food, and tips, it adds an average additional monthly cost of ZAR 14,090 (US $1,000), still leaving us at an average of ZAR 70,450 (US $5,000) per month.

I am at a loss as to the black band around this elephant.  Any ideas out there?

We’ll be posting the actual expenses at the end of our 12-month stay in South Africa.  Daily, we keep track of every expense, making it relatively easy to compile the data to post here.

As I write today’s post, Tom is watching the Minnesota Vikings’ first pre-season football game using NFL Game Pass, which he signed up for yet another year.  

Another lone elephant.

After last year’s excitement when the Vikings made it to the playoffs, finally, after all these years, I’ve developed an interest in watching football. So I’m looking forward to the new season along with Tom.

Currently, he plugged the HDMI cord into the hi-def flat-screen TV, and we’re watching with the clearest picture possible. See, even living halfway around the world we can enjoy some familiar activities enjoyed by others in many parts of the world.

We always swoon when we see the youngsters.

Still, animal visits are at a minimum with construction next door and the added tourist traffic during this holiday weekend. We didn’t have one visitor all day yesterday until last night when Little Wart Face showed up with Mr. Duiker. We were thrilled to see them and promptly tossed large handfuls of pellets.

Today, a tasty Sunday dinner is on the menu and dining outdoors on the veranda, a must. Hopefully, as some tourists head back to their homes today, the traffic will thin out, and more wildlife visitors will arrive.

Yesterday, we heard that the Crocodile Gate to Kruger was closed to anyone that didn’t have a reservation. Only so many cars are allowed into the park at any time if that’s any indication of how busy it is here.

May your day be rich in experience and fulfilling in love.

Photo from one year ago today, August 12, 2017:

Sunset from the veranda in Costa Rica was always stunning. For more photos, please click here.

Life in Costa Rica…What’s the rainy season really like?…Keeping it simple…

This Giant Tortoise is located at the Zoo Ave location, although not indigenous to Costa Rica. We suspect the facility imported some of its wildlife to attract more visitors to its rehab facility.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Tom took this photo this morning at 6:00 am.  It may not clear this morning as it does most mornings.

It’s no exaggeration to state it rains every day right now in the central valley of Costa Rica. Nevertheless, most mornings start bright and sunny with a few rare exceptions, like today, when there’s a heavy cloud cover, as there was early when Tom took the above photo from the veranda.

But now, at 10:30 am, the sun is shining through a fine layer of a white and gray overcast sky. Here’s a chart with the average rainfall for Atenas throughout the year:

Blue Parrot is checking out her surroundings.

As shown in this graph, we are approaching the rainiest month of October, with rain declining in November during our last few weeks in the country. Of course, we knew our stay in Atenas, Costa Rica, would transpire during the rainy season. But, unlike typical tourists, it’s not as if we can plan our “vacations” avoiding inclement weather.

For us, as world travelers without a home, for the majority of the time, we move along to the following location regardless of the seasons and the potential for the kind of weather we may not enjoy, except for avoiding freezing and snowy winter weather.

Of course, there are exceptions to that as well. For example, we’ll be in Antarctica in January (it’s summer season) when ships can’t enter the massive continent and its seas during the colder, more frozen winter months.  Although the weather may be more tolerable during the summer months, it will still be out and frozen. More on that later.

A Peacock on a stroll through the park.

A few of our readers have asked how we manage to live in the Central Valley during the rainy season. As odd as this may seem, it’s not bothering us a bit. On the contrary, we love the fact that this lush green valley is nourished by the frequent rains, keeping its rainforest abundant with vegetation for its wildlife.

Since we didn’t have a car (although we’re doing another five-day rental starting tomorrow) after the rental car fiasco in San Jose last Monday, we’ve had to re-do our thinking about how we’ll spend our remaining days in this country.

We’ve decided to arrange the five-day rental a few times each month since it too is pricey at the US $34.95 (CRC 20,111) per day (including all fees and insurance), thanks to the arrangements made Aad and Marian, the property managers. 

The identity of every bird wasn’t always posted at the various habitats.

Even at the above prices, we still don’t want to spend the monthly rates this high daily rate would dictate. It would ultimately prove to be more than we’ve paid for a rental or taxis anywhere in the world. 

When travelers mention how “cheap” it is to visit Costa Rica, they may be misled by such statements.  As with any country, the resorts, the hotels, the tours, the restaurants, and such expenditures like rental cars, maybe much more expensive than one might anticipate.

Another unknown species.

Also, when considering some of the expenses for a week or two, it may not seem to be high compared to our many months spent in one location. For example, a one-month rental through Aad’s contact would be US $1,049 (CRC 603,630), which is a lot to us for one month.  

A typical tourist renting a car for one week may not even flinch over US $245 (CRC 140,981) for the seven days. But, here again, it’s all relative. The thought of us spending US $3,949 (CRC 2,272,387) for our entire 113 days in Costa Rica leaves us reeling. It’s just not worth that much expenditure, especially with the expenses we’re facing in the next few months. 

I believe this is a Lollipop flower, commonly found in Hawaii and other tropical climates.

One could practically purchase a used car in Costa Rica for US $4,000 (CRC 2,301,734), which one of our friends/readers suggested. But, we have no interest in finding a car, buying it, paying for insurance (very pricey here), and eventually selling it, let alone any maintenance required in the interim.

We always remember our motto, “Wafting Through Our Worldwide Travels with Ease, Joy, and Simplicity,” which we’d defy if we decided to purchase a vehicle for this short 113-day stay or even a stay of a year or more if that was the case.

In other words, “keeping it simple” easily fits into our realm of existence as we continue to travel the world. Of course, at times, it’s more complicated with circumstances we can’t avoid. Still, for the times we can control our environment, the less extra work we create in our lives, the better opportunity we have for happiness and fulfillment.

We hope your day brings you happiness and fulfillment.

Photo from one year ago today, September 3, 2016:

There’s nothing like spotting an adorable calf on a walk in the neighborhood in Sumbersari, Bali. For more photos, please click here.

Trip to the dentist in Curribatat…Good toll roads…GPS issues…

Tom, walking toward the dental clinic. It didn’t seem to be in a great neighborhood with bars on windows and doors, but we felt comfortable.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

We couldn’t see the eclipse of the sun here in Costa Rica, but we sure had a lovely sunset.

We’re never thrilled with the necessity of visiting a dentist. Who is? I suppose, in a way, we use our world travels as an excuse to postpone dental appointments based on the inconvenience of finding an English-speaking dentist and finding a clinic we find suitable. No doubt, it’s undoubtedly a case of avoidance in one way or another.

When we made plans to stay in Costa Rica for over three months, we knew we’d have a hard time coming up with an excellent excuse to avoid going to a dentist when this country is known for its good dental care at reasonable prices. So what reason would we have now?  None.

Shortly after we arrived three weeks ago today, we made our appointments with a dental clinic with nine highly trained and qualified dentists, most of whom were trained in the US and recommended by our property manager, Marian.

Two of the dentists contemplating a patient’s treatment.

Many foreigners travel from the US and other countries to have their dental work done at prices as low as one-third the cost in the US. This makes sense for seniors on fixed incomes, especially when flights are reasonable from the US to Costa Rica, along with affordable hotel rates and costs for meals.

No more than a minute after we arrived (early, of course) at the Costa Rica Dental Clinic Lab found at this site, we felt comfortable and at ease that we had come to the right place. 

We met an American from Texas who was completing an entire mouth restoration, priced at US $50,000 (CRC 28,823,500) for which he was paying only US $15,000 (CRC 8,647,050) at the Costa Rica Dental Clinic Lab. He’d been flying back and forth over the past many months to have the massive amount of work done and was thrilled with the quality work and competent dentists.

This is the dentist who did a fine job on my filling and cleaning.  I’ve always dreaded dental appointments but did fine without numbing injections.

A short while later, we met a woman from Maryland, US, who’d also been flying back and forth to have considerable work done at reasonable prices. In each case, the “tourists” enjoyed their time in Costa Rica whenever they returned for more dental work. This made sense to us.

The last time we had our teeth cleaned was on July 30, 2015, as shown in this post, for which we were content with the results. The pricing and details are described at the above link.

While in Maui for six weeks, we’d booked cleaning appointments for November 4, 2014, for both of us. Once we arrived at the facility, Tom felt surprisingly uncomfortable. Something just wasn’t right.  They’d moved our appointments around, requiring a long wait.  We canceled, unwilling to wait for the extended period, especially when Tom was so hesitant. See here for details.

This is the lovely Geovanna, who works with patients in the office, appointments, and billing and makes arrangements for hotels and transportation.

Later Tom had the abscessed tooth situation in Fiji in November 2015, requiring treatment on two separate occasions which resulted in the necessity of the tooth eventually being pulled in New Zealand in early 2016.  As a result of all of the above, we hadn’t had our teeth cleaned in 25 months, and it was long overdue. 

Yesterday morning after picking up the rental car at the outdoor cafe at the grocery store, Supermercado Coopeatenas, promptly at 10:00 am as Aad had arranged for us for a total of five days. Although we were a little surprised by the US $1250 (CRC 720,588) deposit required, the paperwork went quickly and smoothly. 

It seemed like a huge deposit for a five-day rental. However, with our appointments set in Curribadat for 1:00 pm, we accepted the terms and paid the US $167.50 (CRC 96,559) plus the deposit.

The dental office has a pleasant modern decor.

In no time at all, we were on our way, paper copies of directions in hand plus GPS directions on my phone using the SIM card. I don’t know if this has ever happened to any of our readers, but once we were within a few miles of our destination, the GPS kept changing, telling us to go another way, after another, and then another.

Poor Tom was driving and trying to stay calm. I’d say, “Turn left here! No, turn right in two kilometers at Calle 42!  No, turn right in 400 meters! No, make a u-turn now!” Later we discovered that google maps had an error regarding the clinic, showing it has two locations when it only has one. Most likely, that contributed to the crazy directions.

Oh, good grief, I don’t know how he maintained his cool while I went helter-skelter with the directions. The paper map was useless.  Finally, 30 minutes later than we expected to arrive, we found the dental clinic. Good thing we’d left as early as we did for the 1:00 pm appointments.

Geovanna stays busy ensuring each patient’s dental experience is top-notch.

In any case, the dentists were great, speaking excellent English.  The receptionist and dental assistant, Geovanna, was fabulous; warm, friendly, and inviting. The clinic was impeccably clean and organized, and from the two patients we spoke to, we were totally at ease.

I had one filling repaired, and both of us had our teeth cleaned with better results than either of us had ever experienced, even in the US. The total bill for both was US $250 (CRC 144,118), certainly much less than it would have been in the US or many other countries.

The drive back to Atenas was easy, and once we returned to our gated community, we drove up the mountains to see the many areas we’d been curious to see which were too steep to walk. This area is lovely, more than we’d expected from our comfy world in the exquisite villa overlooking the valley.

We ran into lots of traffic on the return drive.  Curridabat is close to the capital city of San Jose.

Today, as soon as we’re done uploading today’s post, we’re off to the market to get the remaining ingredients needed for tonight’s meal, Low Carb Chicken Pot Pie (please email me if you’d like the recipe), a favorite of ours and, to purchase groceries we’ll need for the balance of the week.

Tomorrow, after posting and weather permitting, we’ll be heading to an exciting and popular tourist venue. We’ll be back with more new photos.

Have a fabulous day!

Photo from one year ago today, August 22, 2016:

We took this photo at a local resort in Phuket. The placement of hands, Mudras, 
as gestures in Buddhism is explained here. For more details from that day’s post,
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:

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.

Memorable dinner with a loyal reader in Vancouver…

Tom and I with our friend Sheila, a Vancouver reader and resident.

Several weeks ago, we received an email from a loyal reader and Vancouver resident, Sheila, who’d found us long ago due to Tom’s frequent posts on On many occasions, including the 24-night cruise we just completed, we’ve met many members/passengers who’ve seen Tom’s posts.

We invited Sheila to join us for dinner at our hotel in Vancouver, the Marriott Pinnacle Downtown. She was able to arrive at the Showcase Restaurant by 6:15, arriving by public transportation from work.

We became fast friends with Sheila and hoped to see her again someday.

Seeing her warm, friendly smile and hearty welcome warmed our hearts. Seated at a comfortable booth in the pleasant surroundings was conducive to our spending almost three hours engaged in animated travel chatter.

Sheila, an experienced cruiser/traveler, was rife with her own experiences we found varied and exciting. We giggled when she explained she felt she’d known us for a very long time, having read almost all of our posts over these past years.

This bed and bedding were outrageously comfortable. For the first time in weeks, we had a good night’s sleep.

Over these five years of posting, I’d hadn’t given much thought to how readers may come to know us from reading our posts; our quirks, our views, our foibles, along with the nuances of our nomadic lifestyle. 

She reveled in our openness and vulnerability in sharing such finite details of our daily lives. Still, She insisted she’s much more private about her personal life and would never be able to “spill the beans” as we do daily.  Although, Sheila didn’t hesitate to express how she enjoys our revealing candor.

Functional and comfortable lounge area in our hotel room.

It interested us to hear this perspective, and we paused for a moment that perhaps we may “overshare” at times. But, as we’ve watched our worldwide readership grow, we’ve come to realize that part of which may most appeal to readers throughout the world is that very vulnerability. 

We’re all human and seldom have an original thought, expression, or emotional response. For the same reason, many can’t stop watching reality TV (which is often scripted in parts); they may be curious to follow our posts.  The difference, though, is that nothing  about our lives is “scripted.”

View from our hotel room at the Marriott Pinnacle Downtown.

Every day, we tell it like it is; no exaggerations, no embellishments, and no fluff. As lived by these two senior citizens traveling the world, it’s simply real life because we can because we love it…a story told in a world of words and photos.

By 9:30 pm, we’d taken today’s photos, said goodbye to Sheila with hearty hugs and promises that, if and when we ever return to Vancouver, we’ll surely get together again. It was a memorable evening. Dinner wasn’t too bad either!

Thank you, Sheila, for taking the time and effort to come to see us, to share your thoughts, your vast travel stories, your warm demeanor, and your kindness. You’ll always hold a special place in our hearts.

May all of our readers find themselves in the company of someone as delightful as Sheila!

Photo from one year ago today, May 16, 2016:

This appeared to be a Balinese boat, called Madurai, one of many designs that we spotted in the fishing harbor in Negara, which is quite a sight to see. For more beautifully decorated boats in the harbor, please click here.

Trains, planes and automobiles…A holiday train brings back memories…

We run outside each time we see the Tas Rail train coming, hoping it is the one with the Christmas light.

The frequent research, we regularly conduct, required for various forms of transportation from location to location, has made us keenly aware and curious when we spot a train clanking along the tracks, a ship at a distance out to sea or an airplane overhead taking off from a nearby airport.

Transportation of many types includes car rental (often for a three-month contract), cruises, flights, taxi fares, a casual ferry or a bus trip. Researching and utilizing these means of travel adds considerable time and effort as we arrange, coordinate and expense as part of our overall world travel plan.

Tom counted the cars for up to 17 doubles/ two packs or 34 car lengths.        All he has seen to date are containers/boxes but no box cars.

Shortly after we arrived in Penguin, Tasmania nine days ago, one of the first things we noticed was the fact that our vacation rental located across the street from the beach also included a passing train several times each day.

After more than 42 years of “working on the railway” Tom’s curiosity was piqued while I watched him pass into a state of wonder and awe. Who doesn’t enjoy seeing a train pass, especially when not tied up in traffic at a crossing?

The Tas Rail track is a narrow gauge, 3′ feet, 6 inches (1,067 mm) which is smaller than many tracks throughout the world.

Carefully observing its comings and goings, it appears it passes three times a day and once during the night. None of us is disturbed overnight by the proximity and only heard it when we were already awake.

On a few occasions over the past nine days, we noticed a train locomotive passing by adorned with sparkling Christmas lights. We keep trying to get a photo of this. By the time we hear the whistle, get the camera and go outside, it’s over. I must add, we are more than a little determined to capture the photo. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it just a Christmas thing.

We’ve enjoyed watching the train “heading round the bend.”

Long ago, when we decided to travel the world, there were many changes we had to make to accommodate this unusual lifestyle, a life without a home. That included no more Christmas trees, giving each other presents and sending Christmas cards.

Based on our way of eating for both health and weight maintenance (we can’t head to the guest room closet to pull out clothing one size larger nor can we risk not fitting into our current minimal wardrobe), we no longer bake holiday treats, sharing them with family and friends while we snack on a fair share of our own. 

Tom says that most trains no longer have a traditional caboose, instead using what is called a FRED (freight rear end device).

For years, I made dog treats as gifts in the shapes of dog bones and terriers including batches for our own furry beasts. No longer do we/can we have a dog to call our own. We left that option behind long ago.

Although we left all of these and more holiday traditions in the past, we still feel the holiday spirit in our hearts. It doesn’t take a lighted tree with a plethora of beautifully wrapped gifts beneath, a stack of receiving cards or the smell of Christmas cookies baking in the oven to instill the holiday spirit within us.

The Penguin depot is no longer used for the trains instead its utilized as an event venue.

Perhaps the appearance of the lighted train for us, is like a visit from Santa or a reminder of times past which we’ll always treasure; the times we spent with our loved ones, celebrations we had with our friends. 

Do we have any regrets during this time of the year?  None, none at all. We haven’t lost our connection with the meaning of Christmas nor other holidays throughout the year. 

The day we picked up the Tasmanian rental car that silly floppy storage piece was broken. We took a dated photo in the event the car rental company blames us for this. These things always seem to fall apart. What’s the deal? All of our luggage is shown in this photo except for two medium sized (carry on) wheeling duffel bags.

For us, every day is a celebration, a holiday in this life we’ve chosen, a gift we never fail to appreciate, a gift which remains in our hearts and minds in childlike wonder. Who we are, whom we love and who we’ll become in the years to come travels well. 

As for the lighted train, we’ll be watching and joyfully sharing the photo. 

Happy holidays to those who celebrate this season and happy life to all!

Photo from one year ago today, December 13, 2015:

The sun was already behind this hill when we arrived at the Uprising Restaurant in Pacific Harbour, Fiji but the colors remained long enough for a few shots. For more details, please click here.