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.

T75

I can’t help but laugh when this happens, although I say, “Little, don’t eat the seeds each time.” Pigs are smart 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.

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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.

Included in today’s photos are 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 previous 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 came back a few hours later. But, much to our relief, he sent a message stating he approved the photos and video and we 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.

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. Whew! What a relief!

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 who 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 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 as to 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.  As of yesterday, we’ve been here six months with six months to go when we’re leaving.


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 (US $12).  

This male elephant looks skinny and somewhat unhealthy.  Life is not easy for these majestic beasts when they are off on 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 either roam the savanna alone or team up with other males in a loose bachelor herd.

Dining out is inexpensive.  The most we’ve paid at any of the local restaurants, ordering any main dish, drinks and with tips was ZAR 500 (US $35.49).  Most often our dinner bill at Jabula is around ZAR 450 (US $31.94) with drinks, tip and tax 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 each and every expense, making it relatively easy when we compile the data to post here.


At the moment, 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 of the 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 given 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.  Most mornings start out 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:


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.  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.

Blue Parrot checking out her surroundings.

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

Of course, there are exceptions to that as well.  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 very cold and frozen.  More on that later.

A Peacock on a stroll through the park.

A few of our readers have asked how we’re managing to live in the Central Valley during the rainy season.  As odd as this may seem, it’s not bothering us a bit. 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 don’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 as to 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 US $34.95 (CRC 20,111) per day (including all fees and insurance) thanks to the arrangements made by 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 in 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, may be 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 as 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 a one month period.  

A typical tourist renting a car for one week may not even flinch over US $245 (CRC 140,981) for the seven days.  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 of an expenditure to us, 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 definitely 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.  At times, it’s more complicated with circumstances we can’t avoid but 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:  www.rentalcars.com.

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

The lounge area is in the entry to the hotel.

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

Another lounge area in the hotel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are two workstations in the business center.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 Cruisecritic.com. 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.

Yikes!…Crazy trip to Negara…So many cars, trucks, motorbikes and people…

In Hanoi, a few months ago, we witnessed the craziness of over 5 million motorcycles. In Bali, we expect there are as many although we can’t find any stats.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

In Bali, we expect there to be so many, although we did not find any statistics.What?    A duck entered the pool!
Where do we begin? It’s not easy to describe our first foray on our own with Tom driving as we made our way to Negara, the biggest city closest to Sumbersari. We discover that the traffic and crazy roadways during the 30 to 40 minute drive was comparable in its complexity as the four to five hour harrowing drive to and from Denpasar.

Holding on for dear life, good driver that Tom is, I remained on constant alert, watching the road for possible hazards while Tom kept a watchful eye on the endless stream of fast weaving motorbikes. The local drivers are used to all of this, not us.

She seemed perfectly content until realizing  it could be tough getting out so she swam to the steps as shown and walked out. Animals are amazing!

It was not unlike Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, a favorite of mine as a kid when we’d go to Disneyland once or twice a year.While driving in Bali one must anticipate a log or other large obstacle that may have fallen off a vehicle, a motorbike or car darting out from a side road or an entire grouping of motorbikes coming at you when trying to pass a slow moving vehicle.

I supposed a considerable aspect of the stress of driving in Bali is the constant need to pass on the narrow two lane roads with little or no shoulder. If I was driving I’d stay behind the slow moving vehicle all the way to my destination. But Tom, like most aggressive and determined drivers, simply won’t tolerate moving at a snail’s pace.

It was nearly impossible to maneuver the trolley in the produce department.

Only a few times, I spewed, “Honey, we have all the time in the world.” He agreed but its not the time of day he’s focusing on.  Its his innate desire to keep moving at a reasonable pace. Of course, I’d have really been anxious if he wasn’t such a good driver. 

But, Tom is capable enough that I was able to rely upon his good judgment and skills while I watched for other road hazards. We only encountered one log on the road during the round trip drive.

Our intent had been doing some sightseeing in Niagara before heading to the market. Although, last time we were there, a few months ago, we saw the major highlights. Repeats weren’t necessary. Instead, we’d planned to drive around the busy town to explore. That proved to be a pointless objective.

Customer service lines were jammed with shoppers.

With the heavy traffic, horns honking, blocked roads, people walking while texting and motorbikes everywhere it only took a while for us to change our minds about sightseeing.   

After ending up at a few crowded dead end roads with barely a means of turning around, waiting in long lines of cars that were barely moving, knowing Tom’s ‘traffic distress” I blurted out, “Let’s just find the market and ATM, do what we need to do and head back to the villa.” We didn’t need the stress. It’s not our thing.

Motorbikes are everywhere!

Luckily, Tom’s sense of direction always serves us well. Within 30 minutes after we’d arrived in Negara, he pulled into a surprisingly open parking spot near Hardy’s Market and the ATM. Little did we know what we’d encounter inside the store.

Never in our lives, even on the day before a holiday weekend, did we ever see so many people grocery shopping, anywhere in the world. Once we were entangled in the crowd attempting to push our small, lightweight trolley, we wished we’d grabbed a smaller handcart when it was nearly impossible to get around the people.

Incense is used frequently by the Balinese people not only during religious celebrations, but often in daily life.  The market carried numerous options at low prices.

Since the two Ketuts (I’ve been spelling their names wrong in past posts) don’t have access to purchasing regular lettuce at the open markets early in the morning, we were happy to find it in the packed produce department where each item must be weighed at a specific weighing station. 

Luckily, that line moved quickly. Without any other produce on our list we were thrilled to wrangle our way out of the busy produce section. Then we were off to find other items on the list; cheese, mayo, olives, coffee, paper towels and a few other items that can’t be purchased in the local markets here in Malaya Beach.

None of the store employees spoke English, nor did we find any other English speaking shoppers, we could ask to help us find the items on our list. Instead, we accepted the fact we’d have to scour every single row in every single narrow aisle to find the items on the list. Checking off the items on the grocery app on my phone, we were finally done and searched for the shortest cashier line. All registers were open with huge queues.

Beer, soda, alcoholic beverages and cigarettes at less than US $2, IDR 26,230 a pack are sold in the market.

With only 8 to 10 shoppers in front of us in our chosen row, none with a cart full like ours, we waited for no less than 30 minutes.  There are no moving belts, no scanning machines, no swipe-your-credit-card-machines since they only accept cash. There’s only a tiny space to load the groceries, contributing to the slow pace of the process.

Finally, we made it through the line, paying for our groceries and quickly headed out the door to escape from the dense crowds.  While I shopped, Tom left to go the nearby ATM. Once he loaded the cool box we’d brought along in the back of the van, we were on our way back to the villa. 

Whew!  We were both sweating from the lack of air con in the market and anxious to blast the cold air in the van for the return ride. But, getting cool was the least of it with yet another harrowing 30 to 40 minutes on the road.

 We graciously apologized when bumping into other shoppers as we waited in line to pay.

Happy to be back at the villa, we quickly put our groceries away, threw on our swimsuits and jumped into the pool as we do every sunny afternoon. In no time at all, the hectic scenario wafted from our minds as we languished in our peaceful villa overlooking the sea, thrilled to be back in paradise.

How do we travel the world, avoiding traffic and crowds? We don’t. We continue to be stuck in traffic or at a venue bumping elbows with strangers wherever we may go. It’s the nature of the beast. When traffic and crowds are avoidable without sacrificing too much, we’re all over it.

We’ll encounter lots more traffic and people elbow rubbing in 10 days when we head to Lovina for four nights in a hotel while we work on acquiring our visa extensions for our last 30 days in Indonesia. In the interim, we have no motivation to repeat yesterday’s experience any sooner than we have to.

We hope you have a stress free day! We plan on it!

Photo from one year ago today, September 16, 2015:

We couldn’t believe the beauty of Savusavu Bay as we overlooked Nawi Island. For more photos of Savusavu, Fiji, please click here.

Yikes!…Crazy trip to Negara…Soooooooo many cars, trucks, motorbikes and people…

In Hanoi, a few months ago, we witnessed the craziness of over 5 million motorcycles. In Bali, we expect that there will be so many, although we have found no statistics.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

What?  A duck flew into the pool!
Where do we begin? It’s not easy to describe our first incursion into our own with Tom driving, as we made our way to Negara, the nearest largest city to Sumbersari. We discover that the traffic and crazy roadways during the 30 to 40 minute drive was comparable in its complexity as the four to five hour harrowing drive to and from Denpasar.


Holding on for dear life, good driver that Tom is, I remained on constant alert, watching the road for possible hazards while Tom kept a watchful eye on the endless stream of fast weaving motorbikes. The local drivers are used to all of this, not us.

She seemed perfectly content until realizing  it could be tough getting out so she swam to the steps as shown and walked out. Animals are amazing!

It was not unlike Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, a favorite of mine as a kid when we’d go to Disneyland once or twice a year. While driving in Bali one must anticipate a log or other large obstacle that may have fallen off a vehicle, a motorbike or car darting out from a side road or an entire grouping of motorbikes coming at you when trying to pass a slow moving vehicle.

I supposed a considerable aspect of the stress of driving in Bali is the constant need to pass on the narrow two lane roads with little or no shoulder. If I was driving I’d stay behind the slow moving vehicle all the way to my destination. But Tom, like most aggressive and determined drivers, simply won’t tolerate moving at a snail’s pace.

It was nearly impossible to maneuver the trolley in the produce department.

Only a few times, I spewed, “Honey, we have all the time in the world.” He agreed but its not the time of day he’s focusing on. Its his innate desire to keep moving at a reasonable pace. Of course, I’d have really been anxious if he wasn’t such a good driver. 

But, Tom is capable enough that I was able to rely upon his good judgment and skills while I watched for other road hazards. We only encountered one log on the road during the round trip drive.

Our intent had been doing some sightseeing in Niagara before heading to the market. Although, last time we were there, a few months ago, we saw the major highlights. Repeats weren’t necessary. Instead, we’d planned to drive around the busy town to explore Willy nilly. That proved to be a pointless objective.

Customer service lines were jammed with shoppers.

With the heavy traffic, horns honking, blocked roads, people walking while texting and motorbikes everywhere it only took a while for us to change our minds about sightseeing.   

After ending up at a few crowded dead end roads with barely a means of turning around, waiting in long lines of cars that were barely moving, knowing Tom’s ‘traffic distress” I blurted out, “Let’s just find the market and ATM, do what we need to do and head back to the villa.” We didn’t need the stress. It’s not our thing.

Motorbikes are everywhere!

Tom’s sense of direction always serves us well. Within 30 minutes after we’d arrived in Negara he pulled into a surprisingly open parking spot near Hardy’s Market and the ATM. Little did we know what we’d encounter inside the store.

Never in our lives, even on the day before a holiday weekend, did we ever see so many people grocery shopping, anywhere in the world. Once we were entangled in the crowd attempting to push our small, lightweight trolley, we wished we’d grabbed a smaller handcart when it was nearly impossible to get around the people.

Incense is used frequently by the Balinese people not only during the religious celebration, s but often in daily life. The market carried numerous options at low prices.

Since the two Ketuts (I’ve been spelling their names wrong in past posts) don’t have access to purchasing regular lettuce at the open markets early in the morning, we were happy to find it in the packed produce department where each item must be weighed at a specific weighing station. 

Luckily, that line moved quickly. Without any other produce on our list we were thrilled to wrangle our way out of the busy produce section. Then we were off to find other items on the list; cheese, mayo, olives, coffee, paper towels and a few other items that can’t be purchased in the local markets here in Malaya Beach.

None of the store employees spoke English, nor did we find any other English speaking shoppers, we could ask to help us find the items on our list. Instead, we accepted the fact we’d have to scour every single row in every single narrow aisle to find the items on the list. Checking off the items on the grocery app on my phone, we were finally done and searched for the shortest cashier line. All registers were open with huge queues.

Beer, soda, alcoholic beverages and cigarettes at less than US $2, IDR 426,230 a pack are sold in the market.

With only 8 to 10 shoppers in front of us in our chosen row, none with a cart full like ours, we waited for no less than 30 minutes. There are no moving belts, no scanning machines, no swipe-your-credit-card-machines since they only accept cash. There’s only a tiny space to load the groceries, contributing to the slow pace of the process.

Finally, we made it through the line, paying for our groceries and quickly headed out the door to escape from the dense crowds. While I shopped, Tom left to go the nearby ATM. Once he loaded the cool box we’d brought along in the back of the van, we were on our way back to the villa. 

Whew!  We were both sweating from the lack of air con in the market and anxious to blast the cold air in the van for the return ride. But, getting cool was the least of it with yet another harrowing 30 to 40 minutes on the road.

 We graciously apologized when bumping into other shoppers as we waited in line to pay.

Happy to be back at the villa, we quickly put our groceries away, threw on our swimsuits and jumped into the pool as we do every sunny afternoon. In no time at all, the hectic scenario wafted from our minds as we languished in our peaceful villa overlooking the sea, thrilled to be back in paradise.

How do we travel the world, avoiding traffic and crowds? We don’t. We continue to be stuck in traffic or at a venue bumping elbows with strangers wherever we may go. It’s the nature of the beast. When traffic and crowds are avoidable without sacrificing too much, we’re all over it.

We’ll encounter lots more traffic and people elbow rubbing in 10 days when we head to Lovina for four nights in a hotel while we work on acquiring our visa extensions for our last 30 days in Indonesia. In the interim, we have no motivation to repeat yesterday’s experience any sooner than we have to.

We hope you have a stress free day! We plan on it!

Photo from one year ago today, September 16, 2015:

We couldn’t believe the beauty of the Savusavu bay as we overlooked Nawi Island. For more photos of Savusavu, Fiji, please click here.

Yikes!…Crazy trip to Negara…Soooooooo many cars, trucks, motorbikes and people…

In Hanoi a few months ago, we saw the folly of more than five million motorcycles. In Bali, there are expected to be as many, but no statistics were found.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

What?  A duck flew into the pool!
Where do we begin? It’s not easy to describe our first foray on our own with Tom driving as we made our way to Negara, the biggest city closest to Sumbersari. We discover that the traffic and crazy roadways during the 30 to 40 minute drive was comparable in its complexity as the four to five hour harrowing drive to and from Denpasar.


Holding on for dear life, good driver that Tom is, I remained on constant alert, watching the road for possible hazards while Tom kept a watchful eye on the endless stream of fast weaving motorbikes. The local drivers are used to all of this, not us.

She seemed perfectly content until realizing  it could be tough getting out so she swam to the steps as shown and walked out.  Animals are amazing!

It was not unlike Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, a favorite of mine as a kid when we’d go to Disneyland once or twice a year. While driving in Bali one must anticipate a log or other large obstacle that may have fallen off a vehicle, a motorbike or car darting out from a side road or an entire grouping of motorbikes coming at you when trying to pass a slow moving vehicle.

I supposed a considerable aspect of the stress of driving in Bali is the constant need to pass on the narrow two lane roads with little or no shoulder. If I was driving I’d stay behind the slow moving vehicle all the way to my destination. But Tom, like most aggressive and determined drivers, simply won’t tolerate moving at a snail’s pace.

It was nearly impossible to maneuver the trolley in the produce department.

Only a few times, I spewed, “Honey, we have all the time in the world.” He agreed, but its not the time of day he’s focusing on. It’s his innate desire to keep moving at a reasonable pace.  Of course, I’d have really been anxious if he wasn’t such a good driver. 

But, Tom is capable enough that I was able to rely upon his good judgment and skills while I watched for other road hazards.  We only encountered one log on the road during the round trip drive.

Our intent had been doing some sightseeing in Niagara before heading to the market. Although, last time we were there, a few months ago, we saw the major highlights.  Repeats weren’t necessary. Instead, we’d planned to drive around the busy town to explore Willy nilly. That proved to be a pointless objective.

Customer service lines were jammed with shoppers.

With the heavy traffic, horns honking, blocked roads, people walking while texting and motorbikes everywhere it only took a while for us to change our minds about sightseeing.   

After ending up at a few crowded dead end roads with barely a means of turning around, waiting in long lines of cars that were barely moving, knowing Tom’s ‘traffic distress” I blurted out, “Let’s just find the market and ATM, do what we need to do and head back to the villa.” We didn’t need the stress. It’s not our thing.

Motorbikes are everywhere!

Luckily,, Tom’s sense of direction always serves us well. Within 30 minutes after we’d arrived in Negara, he pulled into a surprisingly open parking spot near Hardy’s Market and the ATM.  Little did we know what we’d encounter inside the store.

Never in our lives, even on the day before a holiday weekend, did we ever see so many people grocery shopping, anywhere in the world. Once we were entangled in the crowd attempting to push our small, lightweight trolley, we wished we’d grabbed a smaller handcart when it was nearly impossible to get around the people.

Incense is used frequently by the Balinese people not only during religious celebrations, but often in daily life.  The market carried numerous options at low prices.

Since the two Ketuts (I’ve been spelling their names wrong in past posts) don’t have access to purchasing regular lettuce at the open markets early in the morning, we were happy to find it in the packed produce department where each item must be weighed at a specific weighing station. 

Luckily, that line moved quickly. Without any other produce on our list we were thrilled to wrangle our way out of the busy produce section. Then we were off to find other items on the list; cheese, mayo, olives, coffee, paper towels and a few other items that can’t be purchased in the local markets here in Malaya Beach.

None of the store employees spoke English, nor did we find any other English speaking shoppers, we could ask to help us find the items on our list. Instead, we accepted the fact we’d have to scour every single row in every single narrow aisle to find the items on the list. Checking off the items on the grocery app on my phone, we were finally done and searched for the shortest cashier line.  All registers were open with huge queues.

Beer, soda, alcoholic beverages and cigarettes at less than US $2, IDR 426,230 a pack are sold in the market.

With only 8 to 10 shoppers in front of us in our chosen row, none with a cart full like ours, we waited for no less than 30 minutes. There are no moving belts, no scanning machines, no swipe-your-credit-card-machines since they only accept cash. There’s only a tiny space to load the groceries, contributing to the slow pace of the process.

Finally, we made it through the line, paying for our groceries and quickly headed out the door to escape from the dense crowds. While I shopped, Tom left to go the nearby ATM.  Once he loaded the cool box we’d brought along in the back of the van, we were on our way back to the villa. 

Whew! We were both sweating from the lack of air con in the market and anxious to blast the cold air in the van for the return ride. But, getting cool was the least of it with yet another harrowing 30 to 40 minutes on the road.

 We graciously apologized when bumping into other shoppers as we waited in line to pay.

Happy to be back at the villa, we quickly put our groceries away, threw on our swimsuits and jumped into the pool as we do every sunny afternoon. In no time at all, the hectic scenario wafted from our minds as we languished in our peaceful villa overlooking the sea, thrilled to be back in paradise.

How do we travel the world, avoiding traffic and crowds? We don’t.  We continue to be stuck in traffic or at a venue bumping elbows with strangers wherever we may go. It’s the nature of the beast. When traffic and crowds are avoidable without sacrificing too much, we’re all over it.

We’ll encounter lots more traffic and people rubbing elbows in 10 days when we head to Lovina for four nights in a hotel while we work on acquiring our visa extensions for our last 30 days in Indonesia. In the interim, we have no motivation to repeat yesterday’s experience any sooner than we have to.

We hope you have a stress free day! We plan on it!

Photo from one year ago today, September 16, 2015:

We couldn’t believe the beauty of the Savusavu bay as we overlooked Nawi Island. For more photos of Savusavu, Fiji, please click here.