Day 32…Circumventing the Australian continent…Seminar Part 2 was a success!! Thoughtful email from attendees!

We were surprised by the number of attendees at our second presentation.

“Sighting on the Ship in Australia”

Zebra painting located in the art gallery.

Those of our readers who’ve followed along with us over these past years know how humbled and in awe we are of our lives.  We never fail to remind ourselves to be grateful for each and every day of this unusual life and…for life itself.

Awakening each morning to the joy of yet another day of life is a gift in itself.  Good health, being together, living within our means and the love of our family, friends and new people we meet along the way only adds to the exquisite pleasure of traveling the world.

The huge Colony Club was also packed for our second presentation.

We ask ourselves, is it luck?  The perception may be that we “landed on something.”  As we look back over our lives, we realize that getting to this point wasn’t a stroke of luck.  We gave up a lot and, over the long haul, we worked hard to make it possible.

Many find our lifestyle foolhardy and impractical.  Others revel in a sense of wonder over our “bravery.”  We aren’t foolhardy and we aren’t brave.  Is it foolhardy to fulfill a dream one is capable of turning into a reality?  Is it brave to jump into the cool water of a pool on a hot day?  No bravery required here.

Tom was enjoying himself during our presentation.

Then, what is it, if not luck?  Many years ago I taught sales/motivational classes centered around the Dale Carnegie concept of the fact that there are five steps to making a sale;  Attention, Interest, Desire, Conviction and Close. 

In essence, subconsciously we maneuvered our way through these five steps as we made the decision to travel the world as follows:

1.  Attention: That day in January, 2012 when I asked Tom what he wanted to do when he’d be retiring on October 31, 2012.  He got my ATTENTION but could we make it work?
2.  Interest:  Once we started investigating the possibilities both financial and logistically, we developed a strong INTEREST in pursuing it further.
3.  Desire:  Once we realized it was feasible a powerful sense of DESIRE kicked in and we began to embrace the concept.
4.  Conviction:  The more we researched, the more committed we became and during the first 30 days, a powerful feeling of CONVICTION to make it happen captured us both.
5.  Close:  Like the finale of an actual sales transaction, we truly CLOSED when we began to pay deposits on future bookings and planned for the sale and disposal of all of our worldly goods.

The ship is beautifully decorated for Christmas.

These thoughts came to mind from so many year ago, as my brain was spinning with the enthusiasm we both are feeling from the second of two seminars we conducted for passengers aboard Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas. 

The positive feedback we’ve received from attendees both in person throughout these past days and by email has truly been overwhelming and appreciated.  Who knew?  Not us.  We expected a handful of attendees when in fact there were in excess of 100 at each presentation.  Go figure. 

Even staff at the customer service desk is prepared for Christmas.

If we’d had more lead time to prepare and announce the two part series, surely we’d been able to garner more attendees. We can’t stop smiling.  This happy and fulfilling experience will stay with us for a long time. 

Will there be more in the future?  In the next two days, we’ll be talking to Kevin and Steve, activities director and cruise director respectively, to see if this can lead to something that appeals to us in the future. 

With bookings well into 2018, we’ll have to see if it a possibility for us since its unlikely we’d want to change our itinerary going forward.  We’ll see how and if it rolls out.

The ship is decorated for Christmas.

Last night, before bed we checked our email to find this message:
On Wed, Nov 30, 2016 at 1:51 PM, Mary wrote:

Dear Jess & Tom,
     We have attended both of your presentations and have enjoyed them thoroughly.  Jess, you are a better speaker than MANY of the presenters we have had on many cruises.  Good amount of both information, humor, pictures, and you have no repetitive phrases or awkward pauses – brilliant!  I was a high school science teacher for over 20 years and have some familiarity with quality speaking.

     The other day we introduced ourselves to you in the Windjammer.  We are the 2 gals who have lived full time in an RV for 22 years, while also doing international land trips, and many cruises.  I’m sure we have been in more countries than you have, yet that doesn’t matter – we still learned a few things from you.  Thank you for that. 

     Since we often travel spontaneously, with hardly any plans, and no reservations, and hardly ever stay anywhere longer than 3 weeks, we found it very interesting to learn of your travel style.  You are right;  people have to discover what works for them, no matter what anybody else does.  But you gave some excellent tips which everyone should know, just to be safe.

Hoping to cruise with you again some time.
Warmest regards,  Mary & Elaine

We are so appreciative of this message from these lovely people. It means the world to us to hear from those we meet in our travels especially when they take a few minutes to say hello or share their story.  Thanks to Mary and Elaine for sharing your thoughts with us!

In the interim, we’re down to our last few days aboard the ship, cherishing every single moment of this extraordinary adventure, made all the more exciting by the serendipity of our lectures and making so many new friends aboard the ship.

Luck?  Maybe a touch.  Happiness?  In abundance.


Photo from one year ago today, December 1, 2015:

In Fiji, one year ago, we drove under canopy of trees in a nearby neighborhood.  For more details, please click here.

A playful “night on the town” aboard the ship…Cumberland Islands…

This is one of the main reasons we prefer a balcony cabin. View of one of the 70 islands in the Cumberland group.

“Sightings on the Ship in Australia”

Interesting sculpture on display on the stairway.

As a couple its easy to slip into a life of routine and predictability.  We laugh at our humorous quips and jokes.  We tolerate the whining/whinging and negative chatter.  We empathize when things aren’t quite right.  We celebrate  our efforts, successes and accomplishments.

Stepping out of this routine isn’t always easy. The true essence of feeling “in love” has the potential to envelope us in an entirely unique sense of joy as opposed to the solid sense of simply loving one other. 

Many times, this requires a change of scenery or circumstances such as a holiday or vacation, dining at a romantic restaurant, walking along a beach or  picnicking in the park.

It wasn’t easy taking photos on the misty, cloudy morning, especially when the camera fogged up going from the air conditioned cabin to the humidity outdoors.

This doesn’t mean that the consistent feelings of loving our partners is less significant.  Over the long haul, it holds more weight, purpose and value in ensuring a meaningful and lasting relationship.

That magical feeling of being “in love” while immensely attracted to one another is often lost in the stresses of everyday life.  While on this years long journey to see the world, we can easily become immersed in that “I love you” state of familiarity and comfort, one that without a doubt, we’re blessed to possess.

More Cumberland islands.

Then, when that wave of feeling “in love” washes over us it can be euphoric, putting a smile on our faces and a twinkle in our eyes that is hard to erase.  Its an impossible feeling to constantly maintain, although many new or young lovers somehow believe it can be carried well into the future. More often we hear that those types of relationships ultimately fail in a plethora of unfulfilled expectations.

Last night, we both experienced an “in love” evening, certainly nothing new for us but memorable nonetheless.  In part, in may have been us finally loosening up a little with a few cocktails, the “oldies” piano music played by a talented performer in the Schooner Bar and our close proximity to each other as we blissfully swayed to the music. 

Need I say, we had an extraordinary evening, never returning to our cabin until almost midnight, not falling asleep until 1 am and awakening way too early this morning at 5 am, anxious to get up and begin another glorious day at sea 

The captain explained that some of the islands are inhabited while a few have resorts and facilities for tourists.

Tom says my eyes look sleepy today and I agree.  Maybe a 15 minute nap should be on the agenda this afternoon after we watched the movie, “Ghostbusters” in the tiny theatre.  (Our taste in movies has changed for this cruise when yesterday we watched the silly movie, “Boss.”  Tom dozed while I chuckled my way through it).

This morning at 6:25 am, the captain announced we were entering the Cumberland Islands.  Having showered and dressed for the day, we took a few photos we’ve posted today. 

Photos of islands taken from a ship at sea aren’t usually within my skill range so I apologize if they aren’t very clear and defined.  I do better on land.  Here’s some information about the Cumberland Islands:

“There are about 70 islands in the Cumberland group, sometimes referred to as the southern Whitsundays. Almost all the islands are designated national parks. Apart from Keswick Island – home to the sophisticated and secluded Keswick Island Guest House – there’s no formal accommodation in the Cumberlands.
Brampton Island is well-known for its nature walks, and was until recently the home of a posh resort. Carlisle Island is connected to Brampton by a narrow sandbar, and during low tide, it may be possible to walk between the two. Scawfell Island is the largest in the group; on its northern side, Refuge Bay has a safe anchorage and a camping ground.
Camp-site availability, bookings and permits for the Cumberland Islands and the nearby Sir James Smith Island group can be found online at or at the Mackay visitor centre.
Facilities on all islands are limited and access can be difficult unless you have your own boat or can afford to charter one (or a seaplane); ask for more info at the Mackay visitor centre.”
A few tour companies provide partial day tours to the islands.
Last night, at dinner at a sharing table, I had the opportunity to engage in conversation with a most delightful 86 year old man also named Tom.  His wife had recently passed away and he is now cruising with his new “girlfriend,” as he described the kindly woman sitting at his other side. 
He and I chatted through dinner and it couldn’t have been more enjoyable.  My Tom was thoroughly entertained chatting with the couple to his right.  Again, one more memorable evening spent in the dining room and, as explained above, the evening thereafter.  Is it evident why we love cruising?
Tonight, we’re playing it by ear.  At this point, all we know for sure is we’ll be in the dining room sharing another large table for 8 to 10 passengers for more wonderful conversation and reasonably good food. 
No whinging here!
Photo from one year ago today, November 4, 2015:
One year ago today, we posted photos of the gorgeous upcoming vacation home rental in Costa Rica beginning in nine month on August 1, 2017.  For more photos, please click here.

This is why we left Minnesota…Please watch today’s included video to see why…

Wow! This bloom in the yard is multifaceted!

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

While walking on the beach we encountered this run down house that apparently is occupied.

Frequently, we’re asked why we left Minnesota and also why we left the US when there’s so much we’ve yet to see in our home country. As mentioned in yesterday’s post there are many reasons.

Many Minnesotan retire to live in a second home in a much warmer climate. Minnesota’s weather is not friendly to senior citizens when falls on ice and snow are common in the wintertime as well as auto accidents, spinning out on ice and snow as shown in this video Tom stumbled upon yesterday.

Carts are commonly used in Bali since most are able to be attached to motorbikes.

It’s easy to laugh over people falling down as shown in the video, but often these falls result in a broken hip, back or leg or even worse, a serious head injury.  These types of injuries can be permanently debilitating for seniors, if not life threatening.  We seen it happen over and over again over the years.

Sure, there were times we fell and laughed hysterically.  But, it wasn’t so funny when I fell down a flight of icy steps at the neighbor’s house when I was babysitting their dog while the husband was in hospital having a heart transplant.  I tore my right shoulder which was problematic for years which eventually healed without surgery.

When we drove down this road it proved to be a dead end with an outdoor market. 

This fact alone is enough for most seniors to look for a warmer climate where they can spend their time living back and forth between two homes.  This idea didn’t appeal to us; the upkeep and maintenance of two homes in two distant cities, worrying about a power outage while away for the winter and of course, the cost of having two homes, cars and lots of “stuff.”  We have no stuff now other than what is contained in three suitcases and two carry on bags. 

We spent hours researching options for having two homes and it just didn’t work for our budget, not if we wanted to live comfortably with an water/ocean view or oceanfront properties (when possible).  Nor could we wrap our brains around living in a condo, not at this time in our lives.

There wasn’t any possibility of parking at the outdoor market.  There was only space for motorbikes.

Freedom…that’s what we desired.  Freedom to see the world, freedom to explore, freedom to expand our personal knowledge and appreciation for the world around us.  It all made sense to us but not always to others.

Let’s face it, most of us work almost for a lifetime trying to achieve our goals, grow our families and live a life commensurate with what is “expected” of seniors when they retire. 

This guy on a motorbike had a attached basket carrying live chickens.

Tom spent over 42 years working outdoors in cold and snow while working on the railroad.  I spent 45 years working hard often driving, getting in and out of the car subject to awful weather conditions both hazardous and annoying.  Tom didn’t enjoy having to snow blow and shovel for two or three hours after each snow storm.  Nor would he have enjoyed this at 65 or 70 years old.

We both felt a need and passionate desire to step outside that box of expectations and to live life on our terms.  We didn’t make the decision without careful consideration and planning.  Of course, we cried when we left leaving all of our loved ones behind.

Most Balinese people use propane for fuel for cooking.  We’ve seen these green tanks on backs of motorbikes as well as on trucks.

Was it selfish?  Undoubtedly.  But, don’t each of us have the privilege and the right to find our own happiness?  Long ago, we decided if we weren’t happy after a year or two, we’d move back to the US to a warm climate and begin again to live a more structured life. 

To our surprise as these four years have flown by, we’ve became more and more enthralled with the quality of our lives and the experiences we’ve blissfully embarked upon as we continue to explore this vast planet.

Finally, we were able to turn around to head back down the narrow street.

If, for some unforeseen reason, we had to stop now, we’d be heartbroken to end this quest.  We know the time will eventually come when we physically find this life to be too challenging based on age related conditions that tend to befall most elderly people regardless of how hard they’ve work to maintain good health.

For now, even with my recent injury, we have every intention along with our  passionate desire to continue on, especially evident as we continue to book locations well into the future.  Our next new bookings for which we’re currently engaged in research, will easily stretch all the way into 2019 and 2020 and health providing, well beyond.  Lofty ideas?  Sure.

Back on the highway again, we mentioned that it would be great if we knew the language enough that we could decipher they types of businesses.

Once we pin down the future bookings, we’ll excitedly share them here. In the interim, we’re happily engaged in our lives here in Bali…the sun is shining, the sky is a clear blue and we’re as happy and content as we can be.

We hope you’ll find contentment in this day and always.


Photo from one year ago today, September 21, 2015:

I talked Tom into posing in front of this beautiful palm frond in Fiji, one year ago.  We hadn’t seen this type of frond since we’d been in Belize in early 2013, taking a similar photo of me at that time.  For more photos, please click here.

Bye, bye, perfectionism…Is low stress living possible?…

Balinese food truck.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

We wondered who’s claws, these could be.

I used to be a perfectionist, a people pleaser and outrageously organized. Over these past four years I’ve come to grips with the fact that being a perfectionist is only useful when it comes to booking vacation homes, cruises and flights, to ensure we have the dates, times, pricing and circumstances done correctly. 

Tom, who’s become more detail orientated than me, is my backup, as I am his when we make plans for the future: checking and rechecking to ensure we don’t encounter any trying situations at the airport, cruise check in or when arriving at a vacation home.

A grocery shop along the highway.
As for the rest, I’ve lost interest in attempting to be perfect. It’s an unattainable goal. Anyway, who cares? After these four years, my goals are wrapped around the things I “want to do” as opposed to the things I “have to do” or “should be doing.”

Whew! That makes a huge difference in life. Living in the states fed into my need to do everything …the Martha Stewart syndrome …not the insider trader part (we trade on the outside), but the constant attempt to have everything perfect in our personal lives. No one can live up to that.  Certainly, I didn’t.

Hand made decorative exterior wall hangings.

Living this life with few expectations placed upon myself (it was always my own expectations, not anyone else’s) I feel free, unencumbered and ultimately content. The only alarms we have to set in our lives is for travel days; traveling by car, traveling by plane, cruising, etc. We both appreciate the sense of ease and freedom during the remaining days.

Tom spent his life in the US working for 42 years on the railroad, being ruled by the clock. Railroad timelines are unforgiving. My life’s work was equally demanding in meeting certain time limits and constraints. 

Exterior of neighborhood home.

Even as children, we had to catch the bus, get to school and make it to activities requiring that the clock ruled most of our day. That’s a lot of pressure for kids when growing up in itself is a huge responsibility, but, it best be learned in youth to prepare for the inevitable responsibilities of adulthood.

Sure, the two Katuks come here every morning around 8:00 am and clean our bedroom most days before 9:00 am. But, we’re up early anyway. There’s no stress associated with that. Even the walks each day don’t feel stressful when they’re so enjoyable with our encounters along the way.

Restaurant seating.

Hmm… some may ask, “Does preparing this post every single morning 365 days a year cause stress?” None at all. When and if it does, I’d stop. This is post #1503. I’m still not tired of doing it, nor have I ever experienced “writer’s block” although on occasion I may stare at the ocean to think for a moment or two before I begin.

Recently, my injury has created an amount of stress. But that stress has motivated me to walk, maintain good posture, exercise in the pool and to sit and lay ergonomically. As the benefits of my efforts continue to become evident, the stress wafts away, leaving hope and optimism in its path.

Police department in small town outside of Denpasar.

Life is complicated.  No doubt there are people we love and desire to please. No doubt there are obligations and tasks we perform to illustrate that love. And without question, we have responsibilities including filing and paying taxes, preparing a plethora of documents from time to time, renewals of this and that, applying for visas, paying off credit card and overseeing and managing financial matters.

There’s no “free lunch.” Some people assume that “living off the grid” would be an ideal escape from the trials and tribulations of life, that growing and managing their food, livestock, water sources and power supply would be easy. It wouldn’t be. Therein lies an entire litany of new responsibilities and subsequent stresses that wouldn’t be as easy as one would think.

Exterior of a nearby home.

This is evident in the lives of the locals we see with water wells in their yards as shown in yesterday’s main photo; chickens, pigs, cows and buffalo living in their yards as shown in many of our photos.  Its not easy. Then again, what about making a living? How’s that done without some amount of stress?

Perfectionism is a stress inducer, but reducing that element of behavior doesn’t guarantee a life free from stress. Accepting stress as a normal part of life in itself reduces stress. Balancing the degrees of stress we experience in life to ensure we maintain good health, happiness and a quality of life in our longevity, is a little trickier.

Special building along the highway from Denpasar.

I truly believe each and every one of us was placed upon this earth to find something meaningful to accomplish, a true stress reliever, whether it’s as simple as sharing a little piece of who we are as individuals, or as complicated as pursuing and executing a lifelong dream.

Two holiday dressed young women walking on the road.

We’ve opted for a more complicated fulfillment of a dream neither of us ever knew we possessed until it happened. With that comes a certain amount of stress which we attempt to balance each day within our blissful surroundings and the companionship we share. 

Perfectionism has no place in this life since moments ago, a giant flying thing landed on my mug and I brushed it off and kept drinking and, I trade off wearing the same two swimsuits day after day.

It’s all good. We hope you’re finding your life fulfilling as well.

Photo from one year ago today, September 10, 2015:

The captain made a safety speech before we took off for Savusavu, Fiji in this little plane. See here for more details.

The wonders of paradise…

Nothing better than a beautiful calf to spot on a walk in the area.

“Sightings on the Beach In Bali”

When we first glanced at these peculiar marking in the sand, for a moment we were baffled, only to realize these are “crab markings” made when tiny crabs go in and out of their specific holes. The patterns are each unique and interesting. As we stood quietly, we could see the tiny crabs. More of these to share at a later time.

It’s Sunday today. The staff is off for the day both at this villa and the villa next door, both owned by Egon.  We’re totally on our own.

Tom made coffee, one cup at a time in the small French press as we lounged in the still cool bedroom, each of us savoring two mugs topped with fine imported  Australian heavy whipping cream. 

Tom set up an outdoor work station for me, that’s ergonomically suitable making posting easy and comfortable. Why stay indoors when the outdoors is heavenly? Sitting in the otherwise comfortable chaise lounges with my feet up causes an undue stress on my spine. 

I can only sit on a chaise for about 20 minutes at a time, which I do when sunning while I read aloud to Tom. The 20 minutes flies by quickly. The remainder of the day, I walk around the house and grounds every 30 minutes for at least 250 steps each time. 

A sharp seashell edge mortared into on a stone wall to keep intruders out.  In Kenya, they used broken glass.

This “house, walking” adds up quickly when yesterday I managed over 7500 steps on the Fitbit including two other walks, one early in the morning in the neighborhood and again around 4:00 pm on the soft sand of the beach. We’ve adopted these habits to not only improve my condition, but also for good health in general. The goal is 10,000 steps a day. I’m confident I’ll be able to achieve it.

Sitting all day is easy to do with all the household help, but we must stay active. In no time at all we’ll be on a 33-night cruise with many ports of call to tour requiring lots of walking. Being prepared is vital to making the experience all the more meaningful.

The four to five hour harrowing drive set me back after sitting for such an extended period. Yesterday, I paid the price, forcing myself to walk as much as possible. This morning I awoke feeling much better, more hopeful, after the exercise and another good night’s sleep. 

There’s something magical about the sound of the surf, the familiar sounds of the motors of the fishing boats across the bay near Java and the roosters crowing beginning at 3:00 am. 

Motorbikes, the most common form of transportation in Bali is found everywhere. So are curious chickens, roosters and baby chicks.

We easily recall how we had trouble sleeping when the roosters began to crow. That was a long time ago. Now, they don’t awaken us. During daylight hours it makes us smile. In one way or another we get our “nature fix” especially here in Bali.

Coffee consumed, showered and then dressed in our swimsuits we headed out the door for the morning walk after dabbing on DEET in a few choice spots. The mozzies are fierce in Bali so a few times a day I use a roll-on DEET stick, the only product that seems to work. It’s not worth getting the bite, which results in three or four days of itching along with the risk of a variety of mosquito borne illnesses.

This morning’s walk was glorious with chickens and roosters dashing across the newly paved-with-pavers, road Gede had overseen shortly before we left over two months ago. Each six inch square was perfectly laid by hand without a single raised edge tripping hazard to be found. 

The locals living in the houses along the road wave to us.  Few speak English, but everyone says “hallo” in Bali. From the woman weaving prayer baskets while seated on a raised platform in her front yard, to the children playing with rocks in the road, perhaps their only toys, to the Hindu shrines adorning each simple house, to the cows and calves staring at us as we walk by …it all feels familiar and significant.

Landscaping in the yard of a house that was being built last time we were here which appears to be completed.

So far, we have 100’s of new photos. I’d forgotten how easy it is to find photos ops in Bali. They’ve all been taken in the past almost three days since we arrived in Kuta and then made our way to Sumbersari the next day.
In essence, it’s why we travel; the warm smiles; the genuine bow of the head with the clasped hands; the warm hugs offered in greeting and departing; and the simple surroundings; the sights and sounds of nature; people living their lives. 

Perhaps it’s all of these simple aspects of life in Bali that makes us so happy to be back as opposed to the isolation we felt in Phuket, spending days and nights in the bedroom with the air-con running when the immediate area didn’t quite offer what we find here; the ocean…right there, access to the people…right there and of course, an endless stream of “Sightings on the Beach in Bali.”

Roof ornament on another newer house in the neighborhood.

The future looks bright. We’re excited about our upcoming travels awaiting us; the long cruise, three months in Tasmania, 40 nights in Sydney, more cruises and our eventual visit to family and friends in the US, a mere eight months away.

For now Bali is our “home” and as they say “home is where the heart is.” At this moment in time, our hearts are right here together in this island paradise.

Photo from one year ago today, September 4, 2015:

An overgrown sheep found by the RSPCA outside of Canberra on September 2 2015
This is a photo (not ours) of previously long lost sheep, now named Chris, who was lost for years to be found in this dreadful condition.  With the help of professional shearers, Chris has been relieved of his mass of wool and is doing well.  Stories such as this are news,-worthy in Australia. For more details, please click here.

How to post a blog every single day of the year without angst, writer’s block or dread….How does this happen?

Beautiful statues, mostly of Buddhist influence are found in many locations.

Many readers have asked over these years how we, (and I mean “we” when it requires the diligent attention of both of us each morning) feel motivated, interested and committed to posting 365 days a year, give or take a day here and there. Flippantly, I always respond with a genuine, “Oh, we love doing it! It’s easy to do something you love.”
Although, it’s much more complex than that, albeit true, lighthearted response. It truly goes to the core of who we are as people, aside from who we are as world travelers, as we become more and more “seasoned” as time marches on.

In part, we’re not the typical world travelers. As our long term readers are well aware, we aren’t always about visiting the popular tourist locations, although at times we do so with considerable pleasure and the gratefulness for the experiences. 

The placement of the hands, Madras, as gestures in Buddhism is explained here.

More so, our world travel centers around living in various locations, blending into society, as best as we can. We strive to mingle among the locals learning how they live, as best as we can while living within the realm of our financial means, within the constraints of aging and certain age related precautions and limitations. 

Above all, our personal interests are a driving force, as opposed to what may be expected from us as world travelers. Fortunately, our personal interests not necessarily totally aligned, are superseded by our innate desires to please one another to ensure we are not only happy as a couple but also individually happy living life to the fullest considering our hopes, dreams and expectations.

As a couple, it’s relatively easy, even though we are so different from one another in many ways. Tom’s head strong fuel driven personality with my more laid back conflict-avoidance-at-all-costs persona has proven to be somewhat of a complementary element.

In a way it’s almost a fluke. Did we know this going in, when we left Minnesota on October 31, 2012, driving to Scottsdale, Arizona to prepare for living outside the US for years? We had an inkling when in the rigors of the fast paced life we lived in Minnesota, kept us close and connected with a few rare exceptions.

Beautiful embrace.

And even now, on a rare occasion we butt heads, only when I don’t have the stamina to leave the room and let him fight with himself. No one ever continues fighting when there’s no one in the room to fight with. 

I’m always willing to talk it out, when Tom can diffuse in minutes with a few choice swear words to become cheerful and loving moments later. Go figure. I’ve learned to tune it out, although I’m not exempt from reminding him later what a jerk he was for the 30 seconds. He’s not beyond apologizing.

It’s this foundation, this relationship with each other and…traveling the world, that is the primary reason we’re able to post each day. If it was always about tourist destinations and sightseeing, we’d easily run our of stories. 

Do any of you go sightseeing everyday with a story you could share each morning, 365 days a year?  After awhile, you’d feel stressed and pressured to get out to see one more thing.

The talent of artists in Thailand in creating such detailed artwork is breathtaking.

If you were to search for days you’ll find few bloggers posting daily stories with photos. Only through our willingness and perhaps craziness, are we able to share the mundane and sometimes boring events of daily life along with the exciting stuff. 

Its just so happens we do share the mundane news as we move from country to country, sightseeing on occasion, observing nuances of living in lands different from our home country, different from the lives we each lived for over 60 years.

Apparently, even our mundane periods of time still keeps our readers in touch, which often surprises us and for which we’re always grateful. How did that ever happen?

Do we keep a running log of future stories? Only when we’re involved in a multi day venue where stories and photos continue to back up. Otherwise, most mornings, as soon as I’m showered and dressed for the day, cup of coffee at my side do I open up the Blogger app without a single thought in mind.

A pine tree with branches pointing upwards.

On occasion, Tom and I discuss possible topics. I check the local and international news which may inspire a topic when often there’s nary a blurb I’d care to share. 

An event may have occurred that precipitates a topic such as dropping my phone in the toilet a few days ago. Or, like today, nothing and I mean nothing occurred in the past 24 hours worthy of mention.

Instead, I let my mind wander to comments and email messages from our loyal readers of these past years that inspired today’s mention of the how and why we do what we do. 

And, it all of YOU that continue to inspire us, since without you, comparable to my leaving the room when Tom wants to carry on, without an audience, its pointless.

Photo from one year ago today, August 23, 2015:
Not the most flattering photo of us on a very hot day without AC.  But, we couldn’t resist including a photo of us tasting the Mimolette cheese we’ve written about on this date one year ago, know for its “mites’ that live on the outside of the cheese as it ferments. For more details on this story, please click here.

No haircut for Tom …Favorite Bali photos begin today…Two days until leaving the villa…Three days until departing Bali…

Our wonderful staff at the villa, the two Kataks and Ribud holding a treasured Blue Fin Tuna which they filleted and cooked to perfection with spicy Balinese sauce, lasting us for a few meals.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

The river is used by many locals for a wide array of reasons including washing motorbikes.

A few weeks ago Gede drove us to a local barber shop for Tom’s usual international haircut. In most cases, we find the experience quite interesting and photo-worthy based on the usual good quality of service and often surprisingly low cost.

Colorful custom made fishing boats at the harbor in Negara.

As we sat on the rustic wooden bench outside the barber shop awaiting his turn with two customers ahead of him, Tom reconsidered, nudging me, “Let’s go. I don’t want a haircut today.”

What can we say about this, other than its simply adorable?

Long ago, we made a pact. If one of us doesn’t want to do something, whatever it may be, we don’t do it. For example, when we were in Maui in 2014 and Tom changed his mind about getting our teeth cleaned after we arrived at the dentist’s office and were told we’d have to wait for over an hour beyond our scheduled time. We canceled and left. None of it felt right to him; not the hour long wait or the appearance of the facility. Here’s the link to that story.

Buffaloes on the beach?  Wow, we never stopped enjoying this daily scene!

“Trust the gut,” Tom says and there’s so much truth in this concept. On bigger issues such as where we’ll travel, how we’ll get there and how long we’ll stay, its all up for discussion. In most cases, we readily agree. 

Many nights we wandered outdoors to the cabana to watch the sun going down and to revel in our exquisite surroundings in this exceptional villa.  Click here if you’d like to see more about the villa.

We explained to Gede that we decided against the haircut without a further explanation, preferring not to offend him. After a  quick stop at the apotek (pharmacy) and little market for a few items, once we returned to the villa Tom explained his reasoning. It was exactly what I’d suspected.

We’re always in awe when we see how resourceful Balinese people are using their motorbikes for transporting a wide variety of supplies.
While we sat on the wooden bench our eyes perused the tiny lean-to type shop, certainly which in itself had no bearing on Tom’s decision to leave. He explained it was a lack of sanitation on the combs and cutting utensils.  How easily he could have ended up with lice. I’d been thinking the same thing.
Each day, this neighbor, who lives on the road currently under construction, sits under this shelter and weave small baskets used for Hindu offerings. She always smiles and says hello although she doesn’t speak English. Many Balinese people do not speak English although many speak both Balinese and Indonesian.

In a three days we’ll be in Singapore where he’ll surely be able to get the much needed haircut in between our three embassy visits and sightseeing.

Rambut Siwi Hindu Temple (Pura Rambut Siwi) in Negara, the largest of three traditional temples located in each town in Indonesia.

Yesterday, we packed our bags. With only a few items remaining including the toiletries we’re still using, it won’t take us more than a total of 10 minutes to wrap it up. 

Also, we both got busy washing our shoes. Over these past years of travel we’ve discovered that many types of shoes can be washed by hand or in some cases, in the washing machine. 

Rambut Siwi Hindu Temple (Pura Rambut Siwi) in Negara is breathtaking in its design and long history.

With no washer available for our use and preferring not to burden the two Ketuts with such a task, we hand washed three pairs of shoes with antibacterial soap, which included a pair of my leather sandals. We left all three pairs drying in the sun with excellent results. They almost look new.

The glass-like surface of the rice paddies inspired many photos.

We each only have five pairs of shoes. Keeping them in good shape is vital over the next year until we return to the US, when we plan to restock clothing and shoes. Hopefully, they’ll last until then. 

Gee…in my old life, I’d have never considered hand washing leather sandals other than an occasional wipe with a damp rag. If they looked worn and dirty, I’d toss them out. Yesterday, when I placed them in hot soapy water, I giggled over the irony. How life has changed.

Gede and his parents whom we visited on one of a few trips to Lovina. It meant so much to us to meet them, especially as Gede has become so dear to both of us.

Here’s the rundown for the next few day’s posts:

  • Tomorrow: Villa review and more favorite photos
  • Monday (Sunday in Northern Hemisphere): Final expenses for Bali and finalizing favorite photos
  • Tuesday: We’ll share comments on the harrowing four hour drive to Denpasar. We’ll also include photos  and review of our overnight stay in Denpasar at a four star Hilton for only US $61, IDR $818,010 a night.  Later in the day, we’ll fly to Singapore.
This truly is Indonesian art.

From there, we’ll be posting daily from Singapore for one week while staying in a boutique hotel walking distance to Chinatown and the beach. It should be interesting and enriching between embassy visits.

May your day be interesting and enriching.

Photo from one year ago today, June 25, 2015:

This beautiful cove was at the end of the boulevard in Trinity Beach, Australia. For more photos, please click here.

Amazing “Sighting on the Beach in Bali”…Harmony required for this life!…

On November 13, 2012, while we lived in Scottsdale, Arizona preparing “paperwork” for our travels, we saw this stone sign in Old Town in Scottsdale while on a walk.  It read: “I have found that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them” by Mark Twain. Fortunately, we continue to like one another after 44 months on the move.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

What a sight this was late yesterday afternoon! What a resourceful biker!

One would think we could easily run out of conversation after
being together non-stop for the past 44 months. We don’t.  Somehow, day after day, we engage in endless conversations, entertaining quips, and surprisingly new stories about our lives before we knew one another which in a week will be 25
years ago. 

New construction in the neighborhood.

We laugh when we say that we’ll be able to retell old stories if and when our memories fail us as we age. As yet, this hasn’t happened. Although, at times, I’ll recall telling Tom a story long ago that he’s since forgotten. 

It’s not that his memory is bad. It’s excellent. Instead, it’s as a result of him not paying attention when I originally told him the story. He calls it selective hearing, some kind of “guy” thing. With his bad hearing after 42 years on the railroad, I may have told him the story, speaking too softly and he ignored the entire thing. I’ve since learned to speak loudly enough.

Temple behind the wall. Tom’s head is to the right in the photo.

At this point, I don’t mind him not recalling some of the stories of my life BT (before Tom). Its makes for a great new conversation. And, not to reveal a secret, but when he retells a story he told me 20 years ago, not recalling he’d already told me, I listen with the same enthusiasm as back then. I’m certain he does the same for me.

Yesterday afternoon as we “played” in the pool and Jacuzzi (no hot water, just bubbling air temperature water) we found ourselves laughing and telling stories we may or may not have told one another in the past. We never seem to run out of good fodder.

Makeshift wall supports.

We even go as far as sharing stories of past loves and dalliances, neither of us the jealous types. Some couples never go there. We do so with aplomb.

When a couple spends as much time together as we do, it seems it can go only one of two ways; one, it can be fun, playful, loving, and substantive, or two,…miserably. We opt for the first.

Elaborate entrance to community temple.

Today’s main photo of the stone inscription we encountered in Scottsdale almost four years ago, as we prepared to travel the world, didn’t scare us at the time. We had a feeling we’d have a great experience together. We’ve never been disappointed.

As for Tom’s occasional “overly grumpy” persona, it really doesn’t have an effect on me.  I’ve learned to ignore him during his short bursts of frustration which I’ve discovered seldom have anything to do with me. 

Noisy roosters kept in basket cages.

Usually, he’s feeling frustrated due to a situation over which he has little control, especially on travel days.  Not to excuse grumpiness but hey, we all have our weird moments, and mine, although not centered around grumpiness can be equally annoying.

With each other, we’re tolerant and compassionate, making a concerted effort to avoid unnecessary arguing and conflict. Those who say arguing is necessary for a good relationship perhaps have never experienced the
the joy of near-constant harmony with only a rare “ripple on the pond.”

Most rooftops have a similar design.

Harmony opens opportunities for good decisions, clear thinking, and practical solutions. Disharmony is a breeding ground for impulsive decision making often with devastating consequences. 

This traveling-the-world business requires an enormous amount of self-control, planning, adaptation, tolerance, and quick thinking. In a state of disharmony, all of these can waft away while the parties are wrapped up in
angst, anger, and frustration.

Decorative gates.

To sum it up, we had yet another good day poolside while living in the moment, reveling in the past and looking forward to the future.

May all of you, poolside or not, look forward to the future while embracing your today.

Photo from one year ago today, June 17, 2015:

While on the ship, several Australians mentioned the light color of the ship’s egg yolks. Back on land, Aussie eggs come from free-range chickens and when not fed grains the yolks are dark and dense.  For more food info from Trinity Beach, Australia, please click here.

Part 3…Final technology story…Tom’s Mother and technology…

Many side streets have offices and building for sale or permanently closed due to poor economic conditions.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

A fisherman on a tiny homemade raft most likely fishing for squid which is caught close to the shore.

Tom’s dear Mother Mary Lyman,  born in 1909, gave birth to 11 children and lived almost until her 99th birthday. If great health, excellent memory, and instant recall are indeed heredity, we may have many good years ahead of us for Tom to continually answer all my endless questions about dates. 

As mentioned earlier, he remembers every date, both past and upcoming while my head is filled with statistics, a fact perhaps due to my heredity with my father, a mathematical whiz, educated at MIT. 

In approximately 1997, Tom’s mother became ill and was placed temporarily in a nursing home for convalescence for a lengthy period of time. Eventually, she was able to return to her home. Totally blind for many years Mary had a keen sense of the world around her.

A highly decorative statue in the village.

While Mary was recuperating in the nursing home for a few months, family members rotated a schedule to be at the facility with her most of the daylight hours Self-employed, I chose the 6:00 am shift when Tom took over before lunch.   

Tom’s siblings covered the remainder of the day after he left for his afternoon shift at work. Out of her home and in unfamiliar surroundings as a blind person, it meant so much to her that her beloved family members were at her side when nursing staff had little time to assist her. 

It meant so much to all of us to be there with her. Mary was one of those special people who never complained and seldom asked for help. In many ways, these special hours I spent alone with her, left me with precious memories I’ll always treasure.

The concept of a Hindu area of worship adorns almost every location whether it’s a private home or a business.

Mary was not only blind but had poor hearing only adding to the difficulty of communication, the one source of pleasure in her life. For some odd reason, she could hear my voice if I sat close to her better ear and spoke in a normal tone.  

Mary and I spent all those mornings chatting and telling each other stories of our lives. When does a daughter-in-law have an opportunity to be alone with her mother-in-law for so many hours and really get to know her? Often those relationships can be complicated and challenging based on what one gleans when everyone is together as a group.

There was nothing complicated or challenging about my or other family member’s relationship with Mary Lyman. She was straightforward, kind, nonjudgmental, generous, and emotionally strong. Would that we all could be so blissfully predictable and dependable in our relationships.

It often surprises us to see current models of cars and trucks, when the cost to import them is so high.

One morning, after breakfast as we sat together in her room, she in a wheelchair, me in a chair at her “good ear” side, our idle banter flowing with ease as always, she asked me, “Jessica, what is email?”

I giggled to myself. Of course, she’d heard snippets from discussions when the word “email” entered into conversation.  After all, by 1997, email was as common as apple pie.

“Ma,” I replied, “Do you want me to explain what the Internet is and tell you about email?” 

We crossed this bridge on the way to and from Negara.

She replied an enthusiastic “Yes!”  Nerd that I was (and still am) I had learned quite a bit about the Internet by this period in time and the prospect of putting into terms a blind person could “visualize” I could hardly wait to begin.

For hours, I told her the “story” of the Internet while she listened attentively, occasionally asking questions and frequently expressing considerable surprise and wonder.

Who would ever think that an 88-year-old blind person would be interested in the technological details I shared with her that day? She grasped it all and was in awe of how the technology worked and communication had changed over her lifetime. She was even more enthusiastic than Tom, her youngest, had ever been.

Small roadside stands sell foodstuffs for the locals. There are many laundry facilities along the highway.

Over the next many days, our conversations continued. When there was no more to tell on this topic, she thanked me profusely. But, I thanked her for the honor of sharing this topic with her leaving me with a memory I’ll always treasure.

We returned to our usual wide array of topics as engaged and interested as we’d been long before our technology talk. But, interspersed on occasion, she’d ask, “How does that work on the Internet?”

More Hindu decorations.

I’d smile from ear to ear, feeling lucky and blessed to know this fine woman and to have shared this special time with her. Ma quietly passed away during the night on May 31, 2008, a few months shy of her 99th birthday. 

Often when an older person passes away well-wishers say, “She/he lived a long life.”  And that’s true. May we all live a long and fulfilling life. But, however old a person may be when their time comes, it doesn’t lessen the sorrow of those of us left behind feel from the absence of them in our daily lives.

The clothing and trinkets for sale at roadside shops contain similar products, many to appeal to tourists.

Instead, we embrace the memories, reliving them over and over in our minds and in conversations with others who also loved them. Life… every day is a gift, one that we keep opening over and over again to revel in its treasured contents contained therein. 

May your gift of life and the gift of life of those you love to be filled with treasured contents.

Photo from one year ago today, June 12, 2015:

One year ago today, the early morning lights of Luna Park, Sydney. Soon, we’d be disembarking the ship to fly to Cairns, Australia where we rented a car for the short drive to Trinity Beach to our new home for three months.  For more photos and the final tally on the cost for the cruise from Honolulu, Hawaii to Sydney, Australia, please click here.

We’re “off to the races” with exciting photos tomorrow…Routines we all love…Final photos of the Pulaki Temple…

Butu, our driver and guide, is in the left of this photo, looking out to the ocean across the road.

Yesterday, Gede stopped by with our passports. Our visa extensions have been accomplished with appropriate stamps inside each of our two passports. Of course, we’re relieved this is accomplished and thank Gede for making Trip 3 on our behalf. We’d written a letter on my laptop authorizing Gede to pick up our passports, printing it on the villa’s printer. The immigration officer had explained this letter would be acceptable for Trip 3 only.

The hard part has been the concept of going through this same scenario all over again when we return to Bali in September. With this in mind, I contacted the Indonesian Embassy in Singapore by email asking if we could apply for the 60-day visa while we’re there in a month. They sent back a long list of requirements but it looks like we can get this done while we’re there between June 28th and July 5th. In addition, while in Singapore, we’ll apply for visas for Vietnam and for Thailand, each of which is required in advance. We’ll be in Singapore for only one week with five business days necessary to accomplish all three of these visas. 

It appears the nature of our week in Singapore has now been determined, although we’ll make every effort to go sightseeing and enjoy the city as much as possible.  Surely, we’ll have some time in between waiting in line and applying for visas.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

This funny-looking creature was scurrying across the sand.

This morning at 7:00 am, we took “off for the races,” not expecting to return until long after our usual posting time. As a result, I prepared this final Pulaki Temple post, hoping we don’t bore our readers with this three-day story.

The sign posted at the entrance to the temple.  f you’d like to read it, please zoom in.

If we’ve bored you with this lengthy representation, please check back tomorrow. Our morning outing will surely be of interest to many of our worldwide readers as we embark on an unusual experience so early in the day. 

There are few activities that inspire us to be out the door so early in the day, although we are both early risers.  You know. We each have our little morning routine that brings us a certain sense of familiarity and contentment. Deviating from that routine can be unsettling.

Monkey hanging onto a pole watching the action below.

Oh sure, we attempt to be flexible and varied in our activities as we travel the world. But, without having a home to call our own, we find ourselves especially appreciating some of the routines we embraced in our “old lives” including the showering and getting dressed for the day, the two cups each of perfectly brewed coffee with “real” full fat cream and the settling into comfy seating to begin the day with idle conversation, coffee mugs in hand.

One of several enclosed areas for monks to work to avoid being pestered by the monkeys.

It’s an easy routine, one requiring little planning. That’s the whole idea about routines, not much forethought required to put them into action. As we sit here most days watching the activity on the beach in Bali, we easily see the routine the dozens of stray and owned dogs implemented in their daily lives.  We’re not a lot different as humans.

As we easily recall living in Marloth Park, South Africa for three months with wild animals roaming about the house each and every day, we reveled in observing the routines of wild animals. No, they don’t shower, dress, and make coffee but they do fall into a routine of investigating their surroundings for the most likely sources of nourishment and pleasure. No, it wasn’t always about food.

Tangled family…mom, dad, and babies?

Isn’t that what we do? Check out our surroundings upon awakening for some sort of oral gratification (via coffee or breakfast) and settle into our surroundings for that which provides us with the most comfort, whether it be taking responsibility in getting to work on time or for retired folks, determining the tone of our day.

It’s not always exciting and rarely mind-blowing. Most often, it’s simple activities gleaned from our personal choices and desires that find us with a smile on our faces, ready to tackle the day’s challenges, tasks, and accomplishments.

This cat, who didn’t seem to mind, was getting a lot of personalized attention from these three monkeys if you see what I mean.

Even for those less goal orientated, we all begin the day anew with hope and expectation of finding purpose and meaning to what’s ahead whether it be a favorite TV show at noon, the continuation of a book we’ve been reading, or a visit with a friend over a cup of tea. It all matters.

At the entrance gate to the temple.

I suppose for all of us, it’s about embracing whatever we chose to do to spend our time which has the ability to bring us some degree of pleasure, familiarity, and contentment. 

Monkey statue at the entrance to the temple.

Who’s to judge what others do?  How easily one can fall into a trap of giving well-intentioned advice to others on what they should do: get out more, make new friends, stop eating cake for breakfast, or whatever one may find to be less than ideal per their own standards.

Unless an individual is suffering from a severe emotional or physical illness, how they choose to spend their time is up to them. Many write to us suggesting we get out more, see more sights, go scuba diving, snorkeling, and to stop living in remote isolated locations. 

View of the beach across the road.

Why? Why would we change what we love when we’re happy? If we don’t share enough experiences and photos each day, please tell us. We’d love to hear from you. But, in doing so, most likely we won’t change a thing. How does an idea from others inspire one to divert from contentment and happiness? 

It’s this very concept that became the crux of why we’re traveling the world as we are…doing exactly what we feel like doing with the intent of fulfilling our personal dreams of experiences and gaining knowledge. In that realm is the pure pleasure of the routines we’ve established in our lives that only add to the joy.

Another scene of the beach across the street from the Pulaki Temple.

So today, we’re off at 7:00 am. Why? Because we can. Because we chose to and most of all, because we can’t wait to share it with all of you!

Photo from one year ago today, May 29, 2015:

While on RC Legend of the Seas, there was a ceremony to celebrate crossing the Equator with King Neptune as the star of the event. Actually, it was quite hilarious. It’s hard to believe that was a year ago! For more photos and details, please click here.