Antarctica…Final photos, nearing the final wrapup…Our Killer Whales video…

 Killer Whales (orcas) in the Polar Circle.

It feels odd to be back in civilization after the 16 nights we spent at sea as our ship, Ponant Le Soleal scoured the territory on its way to the Polar Circle in the Antarctic to provide its 193 passengers with an exceptional experience.  And, exceptional, it was.

This is undoubtedly one of my favorite Chinstrap Penguin photos as she’s situated on the cool rocks in order to cool down on a warm day.


 
One of the Zodiac boats approaching the ship for us to board.


Now, back in Buenos Aires for the next 24 hours, we’re busily preparing to leave for Africa, I’m trying to shift gears from our previous penguin-minded adventures back to thinking in terms of giraffes, zebras, elephants, rhinos, lions and warthogs and more.


A face only a mother could love.

Transitioning from the vast amount of wildlife in Antarctica to Africa will be easier than it may have been had we’d been moving on to a less wildlife-rich country. 

Elephant seals lying in a ditch.

And yet, the memories will always linger on for this life-changing experience. Antarctica will remain in our hearts and minds forever. We could easily spend the next two to three months, sharing more of the thousands of photos we took during those 16 nights, 17 days.

A photogenic baby fur seal.

But, it’s time to move on to our next adventure and we do so with enthusiasm and joy for the opportunities of the past and for those upcoming in the future. Each and every leg of our year’s long journey leaves us with more knowledge, more understanding and more passion for this world, its people and its treasures that surround us.

A sea of penguins.
As a recap of our itinerary on the Antarctica cruise, please read below:
  • Ushuaia – New Island
  • New Island – Steeple Jason
  • Steeple Jason – Saunders the Neck
  • Saunders – Elsehul
  • Elsehul – Stromness
  • Stromness – Grytviken
  • Grytviken – Maiviken
  • Maiviken – Saint Andrews
  • Saint Andrews – Turret Point
  • Turret Point – Half Moon
  • Half Moon – Deception Island
  • Deception Island – Paradise Bay
  • Paradise Bay -Pleneau
  • Pleneau – Detaille Island
  • Detaille Island – Baie De Lallemand
  • Baie De Lallemand – Neko
  • Neko – Ushuaia
Total miles traveled:  3,695 nautical miles, 4,252 miles, 6,843 km
These types of caves are enticing.  Wouldn’t it be fun to peek inside?
We move forward to the next phase of our journey, eternally grateful for the experience, for the good fortune in weather along the way and for the wildlife who gave us more than we ever expected.
Fabulous Chef Tony made us some fabulous dishes while outdoors on the veranda.
Tomorrow morning, we’ll leave the Prodeo Hotel for the airport at 10:00 am.  It’s about a 45-minute ride to the airport getting us there in the required two-hour window for international flights.
Happy little chick!
We’ll do a short post tomorrow with a few more new Antarctica photos and another short post the following day February 11th to announce our arrival in South Africa.  From there we’ll return to our regular schedule of daily full-sized posts with Africa photos as we live among the wildlife in Marloth Park and of course, our wonderful friends.
Black-browed Albatross chick.

Penguins on an iceberg!
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Photo from one year ago today, February 9, 2017:

Sailboats moored in the bay in Dover, Tasmania.  For more details, please click here.

Equipment failure…Shopping for upcoming shipment to Bali…



A variety shop along the highway.

Tom’s smart phone died last night.  Not the battery but the phone itself.  Kaput. Today, I’ll contact Microsoft for a possible fix but the message on the screen appears to indicate it’s all over.  Its almost two years old and although he only uses it for reading, its been an important device for him.

We tried installing my good battery which didn’t help and we were unable to bring up the home screen to reset the phone.  This occurred last night, after coincidentally, we ordered a new battery for it yesterday, thinking that’s all it needed before it went belly-up. 

This is the Palm Breeze apartment rentals.  For prices and information, please click here considering that THB (Thai Baht) $1000 is equal to US $28.85.  To calculate various currency denominations, click here.

Once the error message appeared on the screen, long after placing the battery order and it had already been shipped, we decided a new phone may be on the agenda or, perhaps a Kindle Fire device which we’ll order online.

The new battery will work in my phone so it won’t be a total loss that we ordered it.  It will be good to have a backup battery we can keep charged for travel days and also so I don’t run out of juice in the middle of the night when I’m online for hours when having trouble sleeping.

Restaurants are abundant serving popular local foods.

Over these past few weeks we’ve been in the process of ordering much needed supplies which we’ll have shipped to us in Bali in the upcoming month.  We purchase most items using Amazon Prime with the link on our website receiving free shipping on most items sent to the US.

Our mailing service in Nevada receives all of the purchases, removes all the boxes and packing materials and ships everything to us in one big box.  We usually request a three day shipping option, receiving the package within a week even in even the most remote areas of the world. 

Many signs indicate rooms for rent. There are many affordable places to live in Phuket.  Many young travelers come here for water sports and adventure.

The cost of shipping is high, often hundreds of dollars but what can we do when none of the items we purchase can be found or shipped locally based on the countries we visit?

What do we buy that can’t wait until we arrive in the US in nine months?  We include such items as: Crystal Light Ice Tea; water shoes and underwear for Tom; a special travel sized neck pillow for me; sleep tee shirts and two swimsuits for me; a few vitamins (probiotics and B6 for Tom for kidney stone prevention) and so on.  Today, we’ll add the reading device for Tom to include in this upcoming shipment to Bali.

Certain days, the traffic is light on the highway and others its bumper to bumper.

Ordering supplies such as these are a reality of our lives of travel.  Beside the shipping costs, we’ll have to “negotiate” with customs in Bali over how much we’ll be required to pay in custom fees.  Generally, we’ve been able to keep these costs relatively low.

Our readers and family members occasionally send us links on how to “pack lighter.”  We appreciate their good intentions.  But, traveling with literally every physical item we own, is an entirely different scenario than a traveler packing for a trip. 

A variety of businesses line the highway with many laundry services as shown on the right.

We need the third checked bag to contain items such as the above including all of our shoes (with only four pairs each), although clothing goes into our individual suitcases with electronics packed into Tom’s laptop backpack. 

Surely, we’ll have to toss some old clothes to make room for the new items which by the time we leave Bali won’t be a problem.  Wearing the same items over and over does result in wear and tear, although we’re often surprised on the durability of some of our tee shirts and shorts.

We continue to see family, friends and readers enjoying time at the Minnesota State Fair, posting photos on Facebook.  Thanks to everyone for sharing their photos.  We’re happy to see you’re having a good time at the “Great Minnesota Get Together!”  Tom didn’t like the traffic.  I didn’t eat the food. 

Have a fabulous last weekend in August!

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Photo from one year ago today, August 28, 2015:


At the Great Barrier Reef, this semi-submersible had seats for 20.  As shown, it was packed as tight as sardines, not good for those who may be claustrophobic. For more photos, please click here.
 
 

Wrapping it up!…Four days until we leave New Zealand…Fun videos…

Video #1, of the alpacas coming down our driveway
on Friday morning. 
I started today’s post at 7:30 am.  Up at 5 am, my new automatic wakeup time, I bolted our of bed, folding and packing more items that have since dried indoors after the past few rainy days.


Today, when it started as a sunny day I started the washer as soon as I made it downstairs.  With no clothes dryer, we have to take advantage of sunny days if we prefer to leave here with entirely clean clothes. 


Video #2 as the alpacas entered the paddock in our yard.

 

This past week I’ve been washing and wearing the same two outfits over and over, knowing I’m giving the shirt the heave ho before leaving.  Having purchased some new items here in NZ, there’s no room for any questionable or worn items I seldom wear. Tom is doing the same. 

Generally, our individual clothing suitcases (one each) weigh about the same.  This time, we plan to be completely packed, able to weigh our bags by Wednesday and pay for any excess online. 

On Friday morning, Trish and Neil gathered the alpacas in the smaller mating paddock.  Some needed injections to keep them healthy and Neil, a physician, can easily handle this process without calling the vet.

We’re flying on Emirates Airline, our favorite airline to date.  Their baggage allowance for one “free” bag each is 30 kg., 66 pounds.  This helps us tremendously on the flight from Auckland to Sydney this coming Friday. Emirates provides a 10% discount if excess baggage is paid in advance online.  Many other airlines don’t offer a ‘free” checked bags.


They all look on as others got their injections.

When the upcoming cruise ends on April 30th, we’ll fly from Singapore to Bali on Jetstar Asia.  They too have a “free ” allowance for one 20 kg, 44 pounds, checked bag.  In this case, we’ll have considerable excess baggage fees and reorganizing our stuff the night before the cruise ends.

In both cases we’ll have to pay extra for the third bag (between us) that contains shoes, toiletries, powers cords, business cards and medical supplies. 
Sure, it would be great not to have a third bag but as often as I go through that bag there is nothing we can eliminate.  After all, our bags contain every physical possession we own and duh, we don’t have anywhere we call “home” to regroup and repack, unlike most other travelers.

Finally, they were done and releases the alpacas into the paddock.

We always get a kick out of seeing cruise passengers with more luggage than us.  That used to be us in our old lives on the few occasions we traveled over the years – way too many heavy bags.  As we’ve learned in our travels, at times, its a painful and expensive lesson.

Through the glass at the kitchen window…sleeping while standing.

Now, we accept the reality that what we have is what we have.  Eliminating many items isn’t practical when many countries don’t have what we’d need to purchase to replace certain items during a short term stay. 

Trish and Neil left for their three week holiday in South Africa on a 17 hour flight on Friday.  Early that morning they moved 47 of the over 100 alpacas to our yard now that the grass has regrown.  Also, they wanted us to have one more amazing week to interact with them.

Being an alpaca mom is an exhausting job and many nap on occasion during the day. The adult alpacas are tagged through their ears.  The cria (newest babies) wear collars with nag tags until they later receive their permanent tags.  Its imperative to tag them for health and mating reasons.

A local woman they employ as a farm helper stops by a few times a day to add the extra nutrients the alpacas need, lined up in colorful bowls along the inside of the fence of the paddock.  Its hysterical to watch their enthusiasm when they see her coming with the bowls as they hover in one massive group close to the fence.

Today, our two videos include one; when Trish and Neil walked them up our driveway and two; as they entered the paddock outside our back door.  Have a look!  They’re funny and so adorable.


Most afternoons many will rest at the side of our house.  On sunny days most will sit in this location with shade providing a break from the heat of the sun.

Since they arrived in the yard, we’ve spent hours outdoors watching their playful antics, treasuring every moment knowing soon we’ll say goodbye.  Last night only minutes before dark, the antics of the young ones running and leaping through the air, left us laughing again and again.

Now, its time to stop “playing” and get “down to business” with laundry, packing, scanning receipts and reorganizing the house to put everything back in its place.  We always attempt to leave the property as tidy as it was when we arrived.

May your day be productive as well!

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Photo from one year ago today, April 11, 2015:

Although Hawaii may not be the perfect climate for cactus to proliferate, many varieties of cactus seem to thrive as this has that I spotted on the tour of the Princeville Botanical Garden.  For more photos, please click here.

 

One week from today, we’re off to Sydney, then Fiji…Final preparations…A mixed bag of emotions and activities…

Walkway along the pond in Trinity Beach area.  There doesn’t appear to be as many vacation homes in this particular area as we’ve seen in other beach areas.

The final week before departing for a new location is a mixed bag of emotions and activities.  Excitement over the upcoming new environment, a bit of apprehension over the quality of our seen-online-only-accommodations and the hope and expectation that travel day will be seamless.

In the upcoming travel to the second largest island in the Fiji archipelago we decided to break up the travel into two days when we were unable to arrange flights at reasonable hours. 

As it is, we’ll have to be up at 4 am next Tuesday morning, September 8th, to board the 6:30 am flight from Sydney to Savasavu, Vanua Levu.  The alternative would have been to spend the night at the airport, simply not our style in our efforts to avoid stress and exhaustion when possible.

A manmade pond at a condo complex in the Trinity Beach.

Today, we’re off to the Trinity Beach post office to purchase a large box in order to pack necessary food supplies to ship to Fiji where they do not carry these particular items.  Once we bring the box back home to be packed and weighed, we’ll bring it back to the same post office for shipping.

We’re sending another box to ourselves to remain at our mailing service in Las Vegas, Nevada filled with tax receipts we must save, paper copies of our medical reports and my Africa boots.  When the time comes that we’ll need the boots, we’ll ask the mailing service to ship them to us wherever we may be at the time. 

We haven’t determined a “typical” style of houses in this area.  Some are gated, such as in this photos but most are not.

Sending this box to the mailing service saves us around 3.6 kilos, 8 pounds, in excess baggage weight over these upcoming many flights.  Sure, there will be an expense to ship this box but with five upcoming flights between now and January, we’d have paid over and over again for the same items.

I must admit, I failed to scan every receipt we needed to save, as I’d originally planned.  In the beginning of our travels, I was all over this.  But, as time marched on I began making a pile of receipts to be scanned never getting around to the time consuming task. 

View or Yorkey’s Knob beach and area.

Our portable scanner, which works well, requires multiple receipts be placed inside a clear double sheet of plastic scanning numerous receipts at once. This became time consuming and bothersome.  Failing to stay on top of this task occasionally nagged at me.  Normally, I’m all over this stuff.  And the receipts piled up.

Finally, I let go of it nagging me and decided in the realm of things, its no big deal.  All of the receipts, not organized by year, would only be necessary if, God forbid, we were audited. 

If not, we have all the records of purchases on our spreadsheet with copies on multiple clouds and on our external hard drive. Over these past years, I became tired of hauling around three years of receipts in our luggage.  It looks like I either have to get on the ball and start scanning new receipts or accumulating them once again.  We shall see.  I haven’t decided yet.

The view of Double Island and Scout Island are a pleasant beginning to any day in Trinity Beach. 

After accessing the food we have left for meals for the next week, one more trip to the grocery store is necessary.  We wanted to make easy meals as we always do during the last week before departing for a new location.  We always plan to prepare easy meals for which there will be leftovers for two nights for a total of three nights.

For this upcoming week, we decided on pizza with green salad for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and tuna salad, mushroom, onion, bacon burger patties with green salad on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  We often make meals to last for two or three nights.  It not only saves money but also saves considerable time in the kitchen. 

Often, when making meals for leftovers with all the chopping and dicing done in advance, we do the cooking separately each night to ensure its most fresh.  In the case of pizza and the above tuna salad, we’ll make these all at once, cooking the mushrooms, onions and bacon burgers and salads fresh each night.

Large house on the shore of the pond in Trinity Beach. 

Many vacation rentals have tiny kitchens and the less time spent in the kitchen the better as in this house which has minimal counter space in a relatively large kitchen. 

The same scenario will be the case in Fiji, a tiny galley kitchen.  It was only in  the fabulous house in Madeira, Portugal that we had a lot of counter space, making cooking enjoyable and easy.

The almost 90 days we’ve spent in Trinity Beach has been pleasant and in part task related in getting our medical and dental exams and tests completed with good results. 

A car rental shop is located in the heart of Trinity Beach which may not be busy with the car rental shops at the nearby airport in Cairns, a 25 minute drive from this location.  Should a visitor rent a car from here, they’d have to arrange transportation back to the airport.  However, is a tourist is staying in a nearby hotel on the beach, a few day rental may be perfect from this location.

We’ve found this amount of time (under 90 days) are perfect for familiarizing ourselves with an area, its people and its culture.  We’ve seen considerable sites and have literally visited every beach in the area. 

We’ve been to the closest bigger city, Cairns, many times, visiting many of its most popular tourist attractions.  We visited the popular Port Douglas and meandered many of its tourists attractions.

We’ve come to know the people at Woolie’s, the pharmacy, the farm stand and the butcher on a first name basis.  We’ve frequently seen interesting birds and learned to tune out the noisy curlews at night, now able to leave the narrow window with a screen open for fresh air while we sleep.

Red Cross Road leads to the hospital and medical facilities in Cairns with many restaurants nearby including this Flying Monkey located on Highway 1 which travels through the city.

Now, we’re on a fast path of becoming organized with careful packing to keep the baggage costs under control and packing a separate carry on bag for the overnight in Sydney to avoid opening the three larger checked bags.

Its all good.  We’re content, not anxious.  That’s not to say that Tom won’t become “overly grumpy” on travel day as I continue in my annoying “overly bubbly” state of mind.

Happy Sunday or Monday to all of you!

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Photo from one year ago today, August 31, 2014:

No photos were posted on this date one year ago as we made our way via a private car to the port in Harwich, England to the pier to board our ship to Boston, Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas for a 14 day cruise.  Instead, we posted the ship’s itinerary which is shown below.  We’d intended to post later in the day but time got away from us not posting again until the next morning.  For details from the day of departure, please click here.

DAY DATE PORT ARRIVE   DEPART
Sun Aug 31 London (Harwich), England 5:00pm
Mon Sep 1 Paris (Le Havre), France 7:00am 9:00pm
Tue Sep 2 Portland, England 7:00am 4:00pm
Wed Sep 3 Cork (Cobh), Ireland 10:00am 4:30pm
Thu Sep 4 At Sea
Fri Sep 5 Klaksvik, Faroe Islands 9:00am 6:00pm
Sat Sep 6 At Sea
Sun Sep 7 Reykjavik, Iceland Noon
Mon Sep 8 Reykjavik, Iceland 5:00pm
Tue Sep 9 At Sea
Wed Sep 10 At Sea
Thu Sep 11 At Sea
Fri Sep 12 At Sea
Sat Sep 13 At Sea
Sun Sep 14 Boston, MA 6:00am

Preparing for the next location…The remote island of Vanua Levu…



On the return drive from Clifton Beach we stopped at our favorite spot where we always find horses, kangaroos and wallabies.

Yesterday, we communicated back and forth with Mario, the property manager of the house on Vanua Levu the second largest island in the Fiji archipelago,  which we’ll move into in less than one month. 

Vanua Levu is considered by some worldwide island enthusiasts to be one of the most desirable islands on which to live in the world.  There’s considerable historical facts we’ll share once we arrive.

For now, we thinking in terms of getting ourselves there and situated including what we’ll need to live comfortably with the realization we’ll be living on an island with a population of only 130,000 and in the town of Savusavu with a population under 5000.

A little black and white bird.

Although tourists have flooded this island over the last decade it still consists of small towns with minimal amenities as compared to those available in Australia. We’re anticipating that the shopping will be comparable to that which we experienced in Diani Beach, Kenya with groceries stores containing a minimal selection of products.

Most tourists do little grocery shopping.  If they have a kitchenette with a microwave and refrigerator, they may purchase such items as yogurt, sweet rolls, celery, milk, cookies, lunchmeats, bread, chips and other snacks and beverages, none of which we purchase.

Of course, the stores in more remote locations keep products on hand that appeals to the masses.  For us, its impossible to walk into a quick shop and purchase anything that works for our way of eating.


Is this some type of pontoon used to capture crocs?

However, if all an island has available is protein sources in the way of beef, pork, chicken, fish, eggs and cheese and green leafy vegetables, that all we really need.  There is nowhere in the world that we’d live that doesn’t have these items.

Anything beyond those basic items centers around our preferences for a few special items which includes homemade baked goods (in moderation) utilizing the following list of low carb, grain free and sugar free products, organic if available:

  • Coconut flour
  • Almond flour
  • Coconut flour
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Pure lemon and vanilla extracts
  • Flaxseed meal
  • Himalayan salt (we keep a supply in our luggage)

Clifton Beach proved to be a good spot to revisit.

After sending Mario this list yesterday, he replied that although coconut oil and vanilla is readily available, the remaining items may not be.  After discussing this yesterday, we decided to purchase the remaining items while we’re still here and ship them to Savusavu. 


This appears to be a wallaby, not a kangaroo.

With the high excess baggage fees  for Fiji Air its not possible to include them with our luggage, certainly not enough to last us for a total of four months on both islands in Fiji.

You may ask, “Why do we chose to live in such remote locations?”  The answer for us is clear, “We love living in remote locations, close to the sea without the hustle and bustle of city life and yet having the option to travel to the city to enjoy the culture, all the while living a life as if we were locals.

Seven percent of the residents in Savusavu are expats obviously choosing this location due to the fact that they love it’s beauty, climate and availability of services and products that fits their needs.  If they love it, most likely we will as well.


This wallaby family was curious as we walked along the bordering trail.

With our list ready on the grocery app on my phone, we’ll begin to purchase these items over the next several weeks of grocery shopping, accumulating our inventory as we go based on availability of the items at the local grocery stores.

Tomorrow, we’ll stop at the post office to check on the cost of shipping the package based on our estimation of the weight of the items.  We saved a cardboard box from a shipment of supplies we received from the US last week (containing jeans for Tom, tee shirts, shoes and contact lenses for me) and we also have a roll of shipping tape. 


During our past visits, they ran off.  This time, they watched us for awhile and then ran off.

Mario explained that we’ll send the package to his post office box and once we arrive, we’ll be required to meet with the customs officer to go through the box to determine if we have any banned products.

In checking online for what can and can’t be imported to Fiji, we don’t expect any issues.  Ideally, we’ll arrange for the package to arrive a few days after we do allowing us time to set up the appointment with the customs officer. 

We recall the necessity of this same process on the island of Madeira, Portugal when our package arrived requiring a trip to Funchal to meet with and go through the items with a customs officer showing him our receipts for the items in the box, all of which were accepted without issue.

Even the horse by the fence made eye contact with us.  Animals are not unlike people in that they revel in interaction.

Soon we’re off for the fitness center with a plan to return shortly afterward so Tom can watch the first preseason Minnesota Vikings football game using our HDMI cable to watch if from his laptop to the HD TV.

Although not a football fan, I’ll do some baking this afternoon which will give me an opportunity begin to calculate the amounts of the above products we’ll need to purchase to send to Vanua Levu. 

Have an excellent day!  We plan to!

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Photo from one year ago today, August 10, 2014:

Although it was a rainy evening we had a fabulous time on a gourmet dinner cruise on the Seine served with multiple bottles of wine, some of which Tom enjoyed and easy adaptation to my way of eating allowing me to have most of the offered items.  It was a perfect night.  Please click here for more photos, a video and details.