Tom’s computer died…Short post today…Off to repair shop…

Tom’s photos of the sunrise at Fairlight/Manly.

It appears that the power button for Tom’s laptop has died. As a result, this morning at 9 am, Bob is dropping us off at the computer repair shop in Manly where we hope it can be repaired. If not, we’re in big trouble.

View of the sea at sunrise.

Tom, without a laptop, is unthinkable. It’s glued to his hip. But, if they can’t fix it, he says he can wait until we arrive in the US in 60 days to make a new purchase which we’d both planned to do in any case. 

It’s incredible how quickly the scene changes at sunrise and sunset.

In years past, we’d purchased laptops from Costco and had hoped to do the same again shortly after we arrive in Minnesota at the end of May. So we’ll see how that goes.

A rare moment of a blue sky with rainy, cloudy skies day after day since we arrived almost two weeks ago.

We’ve had a few challenges lately, but we’re bound and determined to continue with a positive attitude, especially with our main focus being Monday’s immigration office appointment looming in our minds.

Tom injured his back three days ago when he was helping Bob move an air con unit to top things off.  The next day the pain began, and he’s been nursing it back to health.  

Soon, the red sky wafted away.

My usual “pack mule” won’t be able to do any heavy lifting for a while. We sure hope we aren’t flying out of here on Monday to another country. Gee…that would be challenging.

Let’s face it…stuff happens. None of us are exempt from unexpected incidences occurring, one on top of another. Yet, we keep reminding ourselves that these past 53 months have been relatively seamless, barring a few glitches along the way.

At the end of the day, as the sun began to set.

Once we’re done at the computer store, we’ll stop at a pharmacy for a few items, the health store, take some photos in Manly, and head back via the Hop, Skip, Jump bus that makes frequent stops near the ferry station.

Sorry for today’s short post. We’ll be back tomorrow with the result of the repair and new photos.  Later, when we return, Tom will proofread today’s post when I’ll correct any errors.

Have a fabulous day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 25, 2016:

Paritutu Rock is located along the shore in New Plymouth, New Zealand, one year ago. For more photos, please click here.

Another cloudy, rainy day in Vancouver…About Vancouver…Tasks of daily life continue wherever we may be…

The Vancouver Island Ranges are in the far background of this photo I took through the windows in our condo late in the day. 

We’ve had our fill of sightseeing in pouring rain. Drizzle, we can handle. Over the past few months while on the move, most days have been rainy, windy, cold and cloudy. Right now, we have no desire to get soaked through our jackets as we’ve done on several recent tours. We’re hoping for a sunny day when daylight soon breaks.

The fountain in the Sheraton Wall Centre courtyard.

The fact that we happen to find ourselves in some amazing places, certainly triggers the urge to see what each location has to offer. However, sometimes life gets in the way via rainy days and other items on the agenda, as one has when they have a fixed home and responsibilities.

Today, if it’s even partially clear, we have one thought on our minds: Tom’s computer data transfer. The screen on the old laptop is severely damaged, preventing us from manipulating the transfer of his files to our external hard drive, a zip drive, and then on to the new laptop. We need another screen from which we can operate in order to do so. We don’t have a proper cable on hand to use the TV as a monitor in our condo or to use my laptop as a monitor for the transfer. 

Club Intrawest, a members-only condo hotel is located on the upper floors of the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre. We’re on the top floor, the penthouse level, on the 30th floor.

We’ve decided to take a walk to a nearby computer repair store which is 500 meters from our hotel to have them do the transfer for US $54 rather than spend valuable time trying to find our own solutions. Plus, we’ll have them wipe out the old hard drive and dispose of the laptop.

A flower we spotted on our rainy walk to the grocery store.

With that behind us in the next few days, perhaps we’ll be able to focus on seeing some sights in Vancouver until we board the cruise on Tuesday morning. There just hasn’t been enough time with pouring rain impeding the prospect of going out and enjoying ourselves. 

Last night, we dined in, after a trip to a local grocery store. It was surprising to go on an escalator for the second half of the store’s products. I suppose the locals are used to using the hand baskets, starting upstairs before they load the regular wheeling carts.

Escalator in the grocery store in downtown Vancouver. 

We purchased roasted chicken and salad ingredients. With nuts for dessert, it felt good to stay in to watch a few shows on a rainy night, which we haven’t done in almost two months since leaving Madeira on July 31st. 

Vancouver is a beautiful destination, especially in the warmer summer months with many activities befitting tourists of any age and families with children. Our combined (for two) one-way airfare from Boston was only US $346, much less than we’ve paid for many other flights, making it affordable for travel.

As we’ve seen thus far, it is expensive in Vancouver, especially in the downtown area, where we’re staying.  We’ve heard on that staying in hotels outside the city is much less expensive. 

Beautiful flowers lined the boulevard in Vancouver.

However, we’re definitely enjoying the views from downtown and have no regrets that we’re staying here.  Besides, we can see the cruise terminal from our condo which is a short cab ride away. Many cruisers at have mentioned taking a bus to the cruise terminal on Tuesday. With our heavy luggage, we prefer to take a taxi. 

On departure day at the cruise terminal, our checked baggage is immediately whisked away from our taxi to our cabin, leaving us with only a few carry on items to handle until the cabin is prepared for us to move in, usually by 1:00 or 1:30 pm.

Here is an excellent link to information about Vancouver. Most likely, we’ll return here someday when we take a spring cruise to Alaska, hopefully staying for a few months. Alaska is on our “must-do” list but, doing so is far down the line. We have more countries and continents to visit after leaving Hawaii before we travel the US. 

Here are some Vancouver facts from the above website:

Based on 2006 Canadian Census reports, the population of the City of Vancouver in 2010 is estimated at 601,203.
Greater Vancouver’s estimated total population for 2010 is 2.4 million, 52.3% of BC’s population of 4.6 million.

Federal government departments provide service in English and French, but most of the population speaks English as either a first or second language.

The City of Vancouver is quite cosmopolitan and is a mix of many multicultural groups. Because the city is multicultural, it’s also multilingual on an unofficial level. Its people speak many different languages and many follow the traditions of their native lands, sometimes moderating them with Canadian culture.
After English and Chinese, the most common mother tongue languages spoken are Punjabi, German, Italian, French, Tagalog (Filipino), and Spanish. More than half of Vancouver’s school-age children have been raised speaking a language other than English.

We recommend all visitors use Canadian currency when traveling within Canada. Visitors can exchange currency at Canadian chartered banks, trust companies, credit unions, or at offices of foreign exchange brokers, but it is advised to have local currency on hand prior to arriving. Some hotels, merchants, restaurants, and suppliers accept US or other foreign currency at a pre-determined rate, which may differ from the daily rate posted by financial institutions.

    • Canadian one dollar coin (“loonie”) ($) = 100 cents
    • Canadian two dollar coin (“toonie”) ($) = 200 cents
    • Notes are in denominations of $1000, $100, $50, $20, $10, $5
    • Coins are in denominations of $2, $1, $0.50, $0.25, $0.10, $0.05, $0.01 

Effective April 1, 2013, most purchases in British Columbia will be subject to a 7% Provincial Sales Tax (PST) and a 5% Goods and Services Tax (GST), with the exception of liquor (10% GST). For more information, visit Changes to the Sales Tax in British Columbia.

Time Zone
Vancouver is in the Pacific Time Zone. Daylight savings time is in effect from the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November. You can see Vancouver’s time in relation to most cities on the globe by visiting, which also can provide a Canadian calendar.
Greater Vancouver, like all major cities, runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The main workdays are Monday to Friday, from roughly 8:00 am to 6:00 pm – but hours vary for each organization or business. Retailers are usually open seven days a week, and most stores are open from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm each
day-except Thursday and Friday, when they are open until 9:00 pm. A number of large retail stores, nearly every hotel and motel, and several restaurants remain open around the clock.”

As we sit in the Member’s Lounge each day, preparing the next post which we’ve now scheduled to arrive for our readers by 5:00 am mountain time, we feel comfortable and at ease with no pressure to be anywhere or do anything, other than get the computer repaired, do laundry on Monday and pack once again.

Hopefully soon, we’ll pack up Tom’s two laptops into the waterproof duffel bag, grab an umbrella from the front desk and make our way to the computer repair store, hoping to achieve his objectives. Tomorrow’s forecast is for a sunny day. We’ll see if that works out.

Back tomorrow with more photos of Vancouver! Stay tuned!

                                          Photo from one year ago today, September 19, 2013:

Tom drank two bottles of this local Tusker beer. You’d have to carry me out if I drank two of these. I’m often tempted to have a drink but having anything with alcohol, as seldom as I do, results in outrageous hangovers from two of anything. Plus, one is no fun! Click here for more photos.

Critters…some scary…some not. Plus, photos all the way to the end of the post…

Hesborn, our houseman, stopped by Wednesday morning, after a full night of rain,  to
show us this carnivorous, stinging, dangerous creature which actually has less than 100 legs, and yet is still referred to as a centipede.  He warned us not to walkin the grass after a rain.  A sting from this ugly creature will require a trip to an emergency room.  These not only walk but also climb up bedposts.  Oh.

The past few days have been interesting. On Tuesday morning our XCom Global MiFi wasn’t working, leaving us unable to post. Normally posting in the morning, the planned 10 am cab ride to grocery shop gave me no choice but to write in the early afternoon when we returned only at that point to have no connection.

Frustrated, we decided to stop at the Safari Com cellphone store, conveniently located above the grocery store, to see what options were available to purchase a global GSM unlocked HotSpot, comparable to that which Hans loaned to us.  Although less powerful than the MiFi, a portable hotspot requiring SIM cards, can at least provide us with connectivity.
Once past the armed guards (as mentioned in Wednesday’s post), the response to our question,  “Do you have a Global GSM Hotspot that will work for us after we leave Africa?”
This good-sized lizard came to call as we lounged in our outdoor living room.  Thanks for the nice pose, Ms. or Mr. Lizard.

The emphatic answer from the representative was a resounding “Yes!” as he pointed to a device, similar to that which we’d borrowed from Hans which we’d brought along with us in the event of a language barrier. He turned us over to a sales woman, who spoke very softly with a thick accent, difficult to hear and understand. Attentive and determined to be helpful we appreciated her efforts, continually thanking her for her efforts.

An hour later, Hans’ Hotspot no longer worked after the rep had removed the SIM card, disabling the device until Hans could late re-enter his PIN # which we didn’t have with us. Oh, good grief.

Hesborn referred to this as a millipede.  We didn’t bother to count the number of legs. Apparently, these are harmless, although if walking on a person, they leave a trail of “itchy liquid.”
Then, as we’re ready to pay after “being approved” by their system, once again I asked, “Are you sure this is a worldwide device?”
A millipede in relation to the tip of my shoe.  One wouldn’t want to snuff this out with their foot if discovered in the bathroom in the middle of the night“Wait

“Let me ask,” the rep helping us stated, moments later to return with an emphatic, “No, it works only in Kenya.”

As Alfred drove us to the stores, we passed many similar buildings.
That does us no good whatsoever. We’ll use Hans’ device while in Kenya which he so kindly offered to us, for which we ended up purchasing additional gigabytes, most likely to last for a month.
We left the store with only the extra “scratch offs,” used to reload the gigs on a phone or hotspot. We purchased US $72 of SIM cards, hoping they’d last long enough for us to continue recording our favorite shows on Graboid and, for Tom watching the Minnesota Vikings game.  
Wednesday, we ordered a new device online as we’re gathering supplies for a box to be shipped to us via DHL hopefully within a month. (We’ll share details of our inclusions once the box arrives).
Its these run down lean-to type shacks that depict the aspect of a third world country, many without running water and electricity.  And here we are,in the upscale resort community of Diani Beach.
Next, we attempted to visit the recommended travel agency in the same two story mall as the grocery store to determine which safari options were available during our three month stay.  They’d gone out of business. 
Next, we grocery shopped, spending yet another US $300, after shopping only a week ago, spending slightly more at that time. 
However, included in our grocery bill was a case of beer for Tom; US $4.85 for the 24 empty bottles, US $34.33 for the liquid in the bottles and US $3.83 for the crate holding the bottles with the liquid in it, for a grand total for the beer of $43.03.  Of course, we’ll eventually return the empties for a refund of US $8.68.
Few of us can relate to the hardships of daily life in these sparse habitat.

Next, we purchased two 18.9 liters of bottled water, the liquid at US $8.24, the empty returnable bottles at a total of US $23.79. All is all, we spent US $75.06 for beer and water out of the total bill US $301.12.

In a prior post I mistakenly stated that the VAT tax on groceries was 21% when in fact its 16%, the 21% applying to dining in a restaurant. Please excuse the misquote. Thus, the tax for our groceries according to the receipt was Kenya Shillings $3062 for US $35.04.

The Nakumatt grocery store is guarded with armed security who, for security reasons refused to be photographed.
Individually, no single food item was outrageously priced except for my medium sized bags of unshelled pistachio nuts for US $16.25. Add the tax for a total of US $18.85, not worth the price.  There are other less expensive nuts I’m happy to munch on such as Macadamia nuts at US $3.94 for a large bag. Many items in the grocery store weren’t clearly marked, making buying decisions difficult.
A good sized container  of “natural” insect repellent lotion was US $1.66. You get the drift.  Most products are inexpensive. Taxes and “extras” are high. Going forward, our goal is to be more mindful of the cost of items as we become more aware of the pricing while finding a comfort level with the exchange rate as we shop.
The parking lot as we waited the few minutes for Alfred to return to pick us up with our groceries.

In almost every grocery aisle is an employee, friendly and anxious to assist with purchases and, as mentioned last week, good little salespeople, pushing certain products. With their warmth and attentiveness, it’s difficult although at times necessary, to turn down their often pricier suggestions.

Our cab driver, was on the spot when we called to say we were ready to leave.  He insisted on loading and later unloading all of our heavy groceries. Once they were inside on the garage floor, Hesborn jumped in to help bring the boxes and bottles inside (no grocery bags here, only used cardboard boxes). Tom, with nary a lazy bone in his body, insisted on helping.
This mother baboon was carefully watching us with her babies in the background as we stopped for a photo. Tom quickly shut the window when she approached the car to peer inside.

Putting away the groceries was once again challenging in the small galley kitchen. I threw Tom out to tackle this on my own, having found a place for everything a short time later.

The kitchen door must be shut in order to open the refrigerator door. In essence, this is probably a good thing since monkeys have been known to race into a kitchen to begin grabbing food out of an open refrigerator door. Having a habit of leaving the door wide open while unloading perishable groceries, this reality is especially motivating for me to remember to shut the door.
Baby baboon searching for morsels of food in the grass.

With our shopping completed and put away, we had to begin figuring out why the MiFi wasn’t working and to find Hans to help us with his hotspot. A few hours later, now close to dinnertime, Hans arrived, easily getting the hotspot up and running. 

As for the MiFi,  I sent XCom Global a request to give the device a “hit” after listing multiple codes, serial numbers and device information into a lengthy email. With the time difference, we never heard back.  
The second baby baboon we excitedly observed as we stopped along the road on the return drive from shopping on Tuesday.
Wednesday morning, it was working again.  Apparently, the hit worked enabling us to switch back and forth between the two devices based on the amount of data we’ll be using for larger downloads. 
Technology issues in a primarily third world country can be frustrating, as we’ve so well experienced. The more we’re able to figure out solutions for our technology, the more time we’ll have to experience the reasons we choose to visit countries such as Kenya, as illustrated in these and other photos we’ve included here.
Mama baboon as she lost interest in us and returned to her children.  Oh.
We chose to experience Africa to witness its people, its wildlife and its vegetation, all of which we’ve already richly enjoyed with a modicum of effort while staying relatively close to home.  Soon, we’ll expand our horizons for the life changing thrills of a safari. If we get excited over seeing an unfamiliar insect, can you imagine our reaction to an elephant? A zebra? A lion?
Gucci, one of Hans’ two small dogs, came by for a few scratches this morning which we’re delighted to provide.  We love dogs.

Part 1…Internet solutions…Photos of our neighborhood…


Here we are in Africa, hot and sweaty as we embark on our first walk outside the gated complex, onto the main road, definitely a daytime event only.

I know. We’re always discussing Internet issues.  For those of you with little interest in Internet issues, I apologize. We realize that many users pay little to no attention to the means by which they are connected. They send and read email, Facebook, a few blogs and occasionally search for information. This constitutes the “average” user.

The dirt road in our gated community.
As we began our walk within the gated complex, we saw and heard many local workers working on the house that had been destroyed by a fire in 2009. Hans told us that the insurance companies didn’t want to pay fair claims for the losses so many homeowners haverebuilt, piece by piece over this extended period.

Then, there are Internet devotees such as us, who use the Internet as their connection to the world, not only to family and friends, but for resources to enhance their everyday lives. In a typical day, when staying “home,” we may each easily spend five or six hours online, downloading, reading, watching shows, managing banking and financial, searching for our future travels.

This wall was on our right as we walked along the dirt road within the gated community.  Most houses were tucked away behind large stone walls making it difficult to see the homes in the neighborhood.

Suddenly, a few days ago we’re cut off at the knees by XCOM Global warning us that we’re using too much data based on regulations over which they have no control. With restricted data use, we were faced with a tough decision.

An entrance to a neighboring home.

Do we find a local provider? Nice idea. But there are no home wireless providers in Kenya.  ToDo we rent another MiFi for another $395 a month?  Too costly.Or, worst of all, do we change our habits? You may say, “Get a grip! Find something else to do!” 

This statue was in the entryway of the neighboring home.

Yes, we get that.  But consider this…we have no car, no stuff of our own other than our now meager amount of clothing and supplies. We have no house to fix or maintain, no trips to Home Depot, no health club and no family and friends to visit. We have no TV, no radio, no sports news, no recipe books to peruse for making dinner. With Hesborn’s daily help, the only housework we do is wash our dishes (Tom does this) after a meal and to pick up after ourselves.

This massive home was burned out, sold and yet to be repaired, now almost 4 years later.

Take all those aspects of daily life away for a moment, what would one do? We can’t go sightseeing everyday. We didn’t do that in our old lives. Do you sightsee every week? Hardly. If one has young children, they may embark on sightseeing type adventures each weekend. But, we don’t have young children. We don’t have a dog to take for a walk.

Another angle of the above burned out home, yet to be rebuilt. Eighteen homes were destroyed in the fire that swept through the community in minutes.  The thatched roof and high winds caused the almost instantaneous burn.

In Kenya, one doesn’t just walk on the streets, along the beach, to and from their favorite activities especially at night. There are safety concerns in the numbers. We’re not foolish.

The water tower belonging to the above  burned out private residence.

Thus, the Internet is not only our mode of entertainment but our source of information.  (Soon, we’ll get out to visit a local travel agency recommended by Hans with the hope of booking a safari since we can’t currently do it online with the limited use of the MiFi).

The dense thatched rooftops, typical in Africa, can easily be seen as a fire hazard.
These would never be allowed in the US or many other countries.

Soon, we’ll start dining out once or twice a week to the local restaurants, of which there are many for a short cab ride. Soon, we’ll visit a shopping mall to get the flavor of products sold in the area.

Yesterday, with Hans’ help we solved our Internet issues. He went to the Safaricom store in town and purchased an 8 gigabyte SIM card for us, loaning us his portable Hot Spot. It takes 1/2 of 1 gig to download an hour long TV show. We’ll be able to get approximately 16 shows on one SIM card at the cost of US $45 for the entire card. Each show we download and watch will cost us approximately US $2.81. 

Our two devices, a Hot Spot, loaned to us by Hans and our XCOM Global MiFi. Most likely we’ll be purchasing one of these Hot Spots (under $100) plus SIM cards while we’re in Africa, as an adjunct to our XCOM Global device.  Both of these provide us with  an ample  amount of data to be able to conduct our days and download shows for evening.

SIM cards such as these, may be reloaded by purchasing a “scratch off” card for the desired amount with the PIN code beneath the scratch off. Loading it is a little tricky. Hans will help us the first time as he did yesterday. We’ll be fine from there. Another US $180 per month added to our already US $395 a month for XCOM Global for a grand total of US $575 a month. 

With spring yet to arrive, the flowers will only increase, especially with some much desired rains.  Based on reviewing online weather sites ,it appears the heat won’t increase each day as the spring season is upon us.  Today at a high of 84F, the humidity is high at 62%, creating a sweaty but not unbearable environment.

In our old lives we paid US $235 a month for all channel Hi Def cable TV and wireless Internet plus another US $200 a month for our two cell phones.  Now, with the US $575 we’ll be paying, it is necessary to adjust our budget accordingly, a task I’ll soon accomplish as we fine tune our usage over the next several days.

At first glance, this water tower appeared to be a lookout.

With the combined use of the Hot Spot and  the MiFi, we now have access to enough data to do almost as much aswe please online. With an app we downloaded on each of our laptops, for each of the devices, we can freely monitor our usage, checking frequently. First we’ll use the MiFi’s 150 megs, then we’ll roll over to the Hot Spot. It makes sense to us. If there are any other suggestions out there, please comment.

Oh, this looks refreshing.  We’ll have our own pool in the next house in South Africa, where we’ll be in 3 months.

Oh, we live and learn. Unexpected expenses, conditions and challenges. But so far, there nothing that we can’t handle. As long as we are healthy and safe and have Internet access, we’re content. In this case, we’re back to our smiley selves again after a 24 -hour period of wondering what to do to solve the issue.

A wall hanging in the shape of the continent of Africa.

This morning, I refilled our vitamin and pill cases (mostly used by us seniors), a time consuming task.But, once done, it need not be repeated until 2 more weeks. Previously, we had ample cases to fill to last us each a month but we tossed the extras when attempting to reduce our load.

Interesting views of the thatched rooftops of various homes in the area.
When we left Tuscany, I left my newer Easy Spirit workout shoes behind, hoping Lisa would find someone who wanted them if she didn’t. Now I have none. Even so, we ended up paying an extra Euros $1000, US $1350 (approx.) for our overweight bags. 
This is the security gate from the street side. Tomorrow, we’ll share photos of our walk along the road.
This hanging plants produces these long burgundy stringy things.  I’ll research these and other unusual plants while we’re here.
These plants flourish in the hot humid weather requiring little water.  Hans explained that some of the vegetation such as this have their own “bladders” in which to store water.

This morning as I gathered all the vitamin pill bottles and bags, I placed them in the duffle bag for use over the next three months, noticing the heaviness of the bag. We’ll be leaving them behind this time. We’re finally accepting the reality. 

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with Part 2 of our first outing onto the road beyond the gates where we found a wonderful surprise.

Today we met Nancy, one of the daytime support staff at our guarded gate.  She was so sweet, holding my hand the entire time we chatted with her.  She kindly took the photo of Tom and I.  We’re loving being able to talk to the locals.

No seat assignment available for us on Turkish air…A letter from…

With the midsummer heat, few flowers remain in the gardens.
With our upcoming flight from Venice, Italy to Mombasa, Kenya on September 2nd, arriving 17 hours later on September 3rd, we’d expected to be able to sit together.

When booking the flight several weeks ago, trying to choose our seats for the three legs of the flight, a message popped up stating that seat assignment will be available at a later date, unknown at this point.

As I walked through the gardens, the bees swarmed around me.

The thought of the possibility of that long flight without being able to sit next to one another was frustrating for us both.  Playing Gin and dining together (yes, they serve meals) makes the time pass quickly, an excellent diversion.

Knowing little about Turkish Air other than reviews we read online, we have no idea what to expect.  The reviews varied from “hate them” to “loved the flight” more on the favorable side.  There were few flight options to Kenya.

The honey bees love the lavender, still in its full glory.

Yesterday, concerned about the lack of seat assignments, I contacted from whom we purchased our tickets.  With the usual good customer service, I expected a response within 24 hours.  Within hours, they responded to our request with the following:

"Dear Expedia Customer,  
Thank you for contacting us about your seat requests for your flight reservation. The airline has not made seats available for a pre-assigned seat request at  this time. The airline will assign seats for you when you check in.
Meanwhile, your seat assignment requests have been sent to the airline. Please be advised, that the airline ultimately controls, seat assignments and we cannot guarantee every request will be honored. Confirm your specific requests with the airline before departure.   If this does not answer your question or solve your problem, feel free to reply to this message or  call us at 1-800-EXPEDIA (1-800-397-3342) or 1-404-728-8787 (for callers outside United States and Canada) and reference case ID: ????? Thank you for choosing Expedia.  Dennise Expedia Customer Service Team"

All we can determine from this message is that when checking in at the airport, we’ll have to stand in line, hopefully, early enough to get seats together, which may or may not be possible. Why? Why do it this way?

The shade of the overhanging vines creates a pleasant patio area in our yard.

If their online system is not sophisticated enough to allow seat selection? If that’s the case, are their planes updated and maintained to meet modern standards?

Each time we encounter a possible stress-inducing situation, we develop a back-up plan to ease us through the scenario. In this case, very early arrival at the gate in Venice is our best option. 

However, when we were departing on our last ship, the Norwegian Spirit in Venice, we were warned not to arrive at the airport over three hours before a flight’s departure.  One would not be allowed into the terminal if earlier.

We’ve noted our calendar:  arrive at Marco Polo airport in Venice at 7:30 am on September 2nd, considering our 10:30 am flight. 

A good soaking rain would bring all of the vegetation back to life.  It rains a little a few times a week but not enough during the summer heat in the 90’s each of the past several days.

Also, checking online for information about that airport, we discovered that they have a technology kiosk where we’ll be able to recharge our laptops and smartphones prior to departure.  At this point, we’re unable to determine if any of the three planes we’ll be flying have “plugins” at our seats (what seats?) for recharging digital equipment. 

Having our equipment charged will enable us to read Kindle app books, play games, and of course, write about our travel experience as it transpires, posting it on the blog in real-time.  If the plane doesn’t have plug-ins, we’ll recharge our equipment at kiosks at the two other airports along the way, Istanbul, Turkey, and Nairobi, Kenya, at each of which we’ll have layovers and plane changes.

Plan in place.  Stress reduced. 

The next flight stress inducer is overweight luggage, especially since we don’t want to pay the extra $700 in fees when we flew from Dubai, UAE to Barcelona, Spain. The process of reducing our load has already begun as we’ve disposed of more and more items each week, including making a pile of items we may ship to Kenya, after all. 

In checking with the owner of the house in Diani Beach, he’s agreed to accept a box of items for us.  It will be insured. If it’s stolen, we’ll be covered. We shall see how this rolls out.

More evidence of a need for rain.  This grass was lush green only a few weeks ago.

Tom has expressed his desire to drop off whatever rental car we have at the Venice airport the day before our departure. With the two hours it took to originally pick up the car, he feels more at ease doing it this way. 

At first, I disagreed with him.  Why bear the expense of transportation back to the hotel the previous day? With the hotel offering a complimentary shuttle to the airport, we’d have to pay the one way.  As these other concerns have materialized, I agree with him.  

In any case, we would have done it “his way” whether I agreed or not. To avoid arguing over any such item, we always acquiesce when one of us is adamant about a particular issue. Thus, we don’t argue, making the assumption that either of us is smart enough to make reasonable decisions.

The ongoing process of planning to reduce stress and surprises well in advance takes time and careful thought.  With that in mind, surprise, often occurs, forcing us to ditch our best-laid plans to begin again. I guess that is the way life is in general for all of us:  “Expect the unexpected.”

Road trip tomorrow!  To heck with waiting for the rental car agency to let us know where and when to swap out the rental car. Not a word from them. Off we go, back later in the day with photos and the story of our expedition.

Technology updates…new items, photos, prices…

Note:  Please keep scrolling down to the end of the post as you read.  Copying photos and descriptions from other web sites prevents easy editing.   

Without a normal mailing address, other than our mailing service in Las Vegas Nevada, fulfilling our needs for specific equipment not generally found at local computer stores presented us in a quandary.

The best solution was to order our equipment now, head to Las Vegas next week as planned to visit family, and get to our mailing service’s office to pick up our awaiting equipment.  If, a few items don’t arrive by the time we return to Scottsdale, we can pick it up when we return to Las Vegas a month later for the holidays.

Before we arrived in Scottsdale, we contemplated a few options for receiving the items we wanted, not sure as to the situation until we actually arrived. There was a waiting list for a PO box at the Scottsdale post offices and we didn’t want to incur the cost of yet another mailing service for the short period in Arizona.

As a result, it was necessary to hustle to do the research in the past few days to determine which newer products have hit the market since researching months ago.  A few new item had in fact be released, much to our delight. (Ah, my delight.  Tom doesn’t seem to get so enthused over this stuff).

With the learning curve for Windows 8, transferring over all of our files we hadn’t placed in Dropbox (now to be transferred to Windows Sky Drive) and the difficulty I encountered getting all of my Outlook folders containing all of our travel information, confirmations and contracts, I was concerned. 

To facilitate the process, I made an appointment and brought my old and new laptops to the Microsoft Store in the Fashion Square Mall in Scottsdale for a 15 minute $49 session.  Arriving on time, hauling both laptops through Nordstrom’s, I made it right at 10 am, when they opened. Tom had offered to go along and carry but, I insisted I could go alone. 

Waiting for my turn for over 20 minutes, the tech seemed annoyed when I told him my plight with Outlook.  He said if he couldn’t fix it in 15 minutes, I’d have to leave both laptops resulting in the price going up substantially.  

OK.  In a situation like this, after calculating the prospect of $196 hourly rate increasing “substantially,” I decided to recall the value of Minnesota nice with a dash of warmth and charm that I’ve called upon in the past to have a good end result in a win-win for everyone.

Fifty minutes later, after considerable chatter and chuckles the tech sent me on my way, both laptops in their respective bags, one on each shoulder ouch) and…he waived the bill!  No charge!  No bill!  No $49 fee! Thanks, tech! 

By the way, on my way out of the mall, I stopped in that Nordstrom’s store when a table of sale handbags caught my eye.  All of my bags were sold at the sale, except for a few smaller bags and the awful bag I had been using since leaving Minnesota.  I needed a huge fully zippered leather bag and had yet to have time to look for one suitable for travel. 

My new roomy, fully zippered leather handbag ideal for travel.

Ah, success!  Minutes later I walked out the door, a laptop bag on each shoulder and a Nordstrom’s shopping bag in my hand containing my new purse, on sale for $99, as opposed to its regular price of $249.  Designer name, I didn’t notice.  Quality and function, I did. 

Hurrying back to our “home,” Tom still sitting in the same spot as when I left him, he picked up his head from his new laptop long enough to say “Hi, Sweetie” with a big grin on his face when I told him about the $49…and the new purse.  He didn’t ask about the price of the new purse.  He never does. I never offer it. (Its a girl thing).

Immediately getting to work online to continue the search for a few more digital items for our world travels, most of which I have mentioned in the past in this blog, knowing precisely where and what to purchase:

1. Mini portable projector, purchased for $269 (no tax, no shipping) at B & H Photo, that we will plug into our laptops, find the external hard drive and project the TV show or movie on to a wall for up to an 80″ viewing area.

The manufacturer claims the resolution is so good that one can project a movie on the back of the seat in front of you while flying in an airplane.  We shall see about that.

(Please bear with the inconsistent editing on the photos and information from the three items below.  Copying and pasting from other websites is discouraged and thus, doing so is cumbersome).

Price: $248.00

Product Highlights

  • 50 Lumens
  • 1024 x 600 Resolution
  • 15,000 Hour LEDs
  • 60+ Minute Battery Charge
  • Full Function MP4 Player
  • Full Size HDMI Port
  • 1W Audio
  • USB Host Reader
  • Smaller than Two Stacked Smart Phones
  • Headphone Jack x 1

For the purpose of watching the  many movies and TV shows we’re downloading now from Graboid, a web site that, for $19.95 a month, allows downloads of unlimited movies, TVs, and Audiobooks.

We’ve begun the process of downloading videos onto our new “My Passport,” the two terabyte external hard drive we purchased a few days ago at Costco for $159.95 with tax at 9.5% totaled (as mentioned in a previous post), $175.19.

Our new external hard drive, My Passport.

If we download videos, as opposed to streaming, we can watch them without an Internet connection at our own pace.

2.  Mini Portable Scanner, purchased from for $196.27, no tax, free shipping.  We’ll be keeping records of all of our travel expenses.  Traveling with hundreds of receipts for every expense is bulky and ridiculous.  Every few days, we’ll wirelessly scan (Bluetooth) all of our receipts directly into the app Evernote on my computer where we’ll keep all of our travel records going forward. 

This app is also available on mobile phones.  Once we get our new phones, I will download Evernote and be able to scan receipts while sitting in restaurant, right to my smart phone while we’re sitting in the restaurant.  Cool, eh? (The printer and scanner will fit into my new purse!)

Doxie Go - Cordless / Mobile Paper Scanner

Doxie Go – Cordless / Mobile
Paper Scanner

by Doxie

List Price: $199.00
Price: $196.27 & this item ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping.



Product Features

  • Doxie Go delivers smart and simple scanning you can take anywhere – no
    computer required
  • Doxie’s tiny size makes it easy to scan at your desk or on the go – just
    insert your paper. Scan full color pages in just 8 seconds
  • Scan up to 600 pages (2400 photos) with built-in memory, or insert an SD
    card or USB flash drive for additional storage
  • Award-winning ABBYY® OCR technology recognizes the text in your document and
    creates searchable PDFs
  • Doxie 2.0 included: Amazing scanners deserve amazing software. Doxie 2.0
    syncs scans, creates multi-page stacks, and sends directly to your favorite apps

3.  Portable mini printer, purchased at, for $176.51, with no tax and free shipping:  Since we won’t be staying in hotels very often (in between cruises for a night) we won’t have access to the hotels printer to print boarding passes, itinerary and copies of our legal documents that some countries require in order to gain entry at the time of arrival.  The thought of finding our way to a printer is outrageous both in cost and time.  We found a tiny paper storing mini printer that is amazing. 


by Planon

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Planon Printstik PS900 Portable Thermal Printer
  • Battery Powered
  • USB Interface & Charging
  • Compact & Durable Design
  • No Ink or Toner

List Price: $199.00
Price: $176.51
You Save: $22.49 (11%)

We’ll share our own photos once we receive the scanner and printer.  Now I am wondering if we’ll need some type of mini sound system since the external hard drive doesn’t have external speakers.  But then, maybe the sound will come out of the laptop while it plays.  Of course, we’ll test it all before we leave the US in 54 days. Any suggestions would be appreciated.   

Hummm…more on the “to do” list.