Turning a corner?…Perhaps the time has come…I made a pie!…

Tom called me outside to see the tiniest baby kudu we’ve seen to date.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This adorable young kudu, most likely born in the past 24 hours, was waiting for an excellent opportunity to suckle, noticing mom was preoccupied with the pellets.

Ironically, the first thing I did for myself during this long recovery period was to bake a pie, my favorite low-carb cheese pie, to be exact. Losing so much weight since we returned from the hospital nine days ago, from surgery 20 days ago, I knew I needed something sweet to help me stop losing weight.

Statistically, coronary bypass patients do better when they don’t lose much weight after this major surgery. I can’t get the photo out of my mind when seeing former president Bill Clinton a few months after his surgery looking 25 years older than his actual age at the time, 58 years old. Here’s his story at this link.

I will make every effort to be fit and healthy during the recovery period and for years to come after that. Vanity aside, I don’t want to look worn and haggard as he did months after the surgery.
With the umbilical cord still evident, they most likely were born in the past day or so.

On top of that, he suffered from severe cognitive dysfunction, as specified in this article. I may not feel great yet and still experiencing a fair amount of pain and discomfort, but my mind is as sharp as ever, if not more so, from increased blood flow to my brain.

From the article mentioned above posted by one of the world’s top cardiologists, John McDougall, the following is stated:

“In 2001, an article in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that 5-years after bypass surgery, 42% of patients showed a decline in mental function of approximately 20 percent or more. A study published this year (2008) in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery using MRI testing after bypass surgery found brain damage in 51% of patients. Three years after their time on the bypass pump, a significant permanent reduction in mental capacity was identified in 31% of patients. I am not talking major stroke here, but these patients can’t remember names or numbers as they once did, experience sleep disturbances (including nightmares), suffer mood swings and lose intellectual acuity. Approximately 30 percent of people suffer persistent depression, and some even contemplate suicide.”

This was quite a sighting for both of us.

Wow! It’s a good thing I didn’t see this article before I agreed to the surgery! Not only do I remember almost everything that transpired in the ICU unit and later the hospital ward, but I also remember the most minute details of trips we’d planned well into the future and trips we relished in the past.

I am so grateful for this, and if I have to continue to experience some pain and unease over the next many months, so be it…a small price to pay for one’s retained mental acuity.

Thus, this morning with the scale showing another loss of a kilo (2.2 pounds), I knew I had to up the ante on my caloric consumption while remaining my regular way of eating. Both cardiac physicians explained I didn’t develop three 100% blocked arteries from my diet, instead clearly stating it resulted from my heredity—no need for a dietary change.

After all, my typical meal includes a reasonable portion of lean protein, two types of colorful vegetables, and a salad. What way of eating could dispute the quality of this way of eating?

By making this favorite pie (since my childhood), I can afford myself an extra 350 calories with each slice with less than five grams of carbohydrates. Plus, it’s a feel-good pie making me smile at every delectable bite.

Too cute for words.

As much as the value (to me) of enjoying a piece of this pie over the next several nights, I wanted to see if I could make the pie in my weakened condition.  Everything I read about recovery from this surgery mentions getting back into a routine of performing tasks I’d done in the past without any strain on my body.

Right now, I’m walking 30 minutes a day, sitting up for the better part of the day, able to shower and take care of personal needs, and do my breathing exercises with relative ease. Surely, making one pie wouldn’t be more strenuous than any of these other tasks.

It wasn’t. Yes, I had to ask Tom to take the mixer down from a high cabinet, but once that was accomplished. The delicious pie crust was baked with almond flour, butter, cinnamon, and sweetener and allowed to cool. I easily made the filling, poured it into the baked pie crust, and gingerly placed it into the oven setting a timer as I always do.

Once cooled again, I’ll add the topping and place it in the fridge, looking forward to the first bite and the second, third and fourth. I take tiny bites to savor each morsel. I’ll gather my innate sense of self-control to avoid taking a second piece, remembering that prolonging the availability of this pie makes it all the more delightful.

This may be a segue into performing more tasks shortly, of course always keeping in mind my clear thinking mind that the baby steps is the name of this game.

Have a safe and healthy day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 4, 2018:

This female bushbuck flipped into the air after something bit her! For more photos, please click here.

Our last post for a week or more…

Ironically, we arrived in South Africa one year ago today. It’s been a fantastic year, and we’re both grateful for the incredible experiences we’ve had in the bush. Now, let’s see if South Africa can deliver me good health!

This will be the first time since March 2012 that we’ll have been incommunicado on this blog for a week or longer. However, we’re so looking forward to sharing the good news that my recovery process is in place and all is well after tomorrow’s triple coronary bypass surgery.

Tom will be posting notices on Facebook that are open to the public, so feel free to check there if you’d like. It’s easy to find my name with a few clicks. 

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, we decided to leave Marloth Park to come to Nelspruit one day earlier than planned. The water and power outages weren’t something either of us felt like dealing with, especially in the hot weather.

As it turned out, the power was out all last night. That would have been one harrowing night. We are glad we left. We spent the night at the lovely Leaves Lodge and Spa, a few minutes from the hospital, giving us peace of mind for being so conveniently located.

Today, at noon, I’ll check into the hospital for the prep required for this type of surgery which includes x-rays (for placement of the heart), blood tests (as a baseline), and a litany of other pre-op procedures you can well imagine.

This morning we headed to a Vodacom store to purchase a SIM card for Tom’s phone. During this past year in South Africa, we never needed to call one another since we were always together, making the SIM in my phone sufficient. 

But, now, with him living at the hotel and me in the hospital, we’ll need to be able to phone and text one another, although he’ll be with me most of the time. Once I’m out of ICU, he’ll bring dinner some nights since I’m confident the hospital food won’t fit my way of eating. 

When I stayed overnight in the hospital last week after the angiogram, after not having a morsel of food all day, they brought me one chicken leg and a cup of plain spinach, not quite enough nourishment for this patient. We’ll see how that goes.

Now, the waiting game is on regarding the insurance company coming up with the money on time. With a two-hour time difference between here and the UK, they may only be getting into their offices now and, it takes a few hours to process the funds. I won’t be admitted in time for the noon pre-op until after the insurance provides the funds. We wait.

And so, dear readers, I wrap this up now again, thanking all of you wonderful people for your thoughtful and kind well wishes and prayers. Please keep an eye out for a post in about seven days or, if I’m healing quickly, perhaps even sooner.

Photo from one year ago today, February 11, 2018:
Due to a poor wifi signal, I’m unable to add the year ago photo. Take care…

No water in Marloth Park…Electricity teetering…The insurance challenges…

Due to problems with the electricity supply from the provider, Eskom, the water processing plant in Marloth Park cannot function. They are working on a solution, but it could be days. Also, we may lose electricity as well over the next few hours.

Today is a scorcher, well into the 37C (99F) range, with high humidity, and tonight could be another one of those impossible-to-sleep nights without any relief by taking a shower without the water supply. TIA (this is Africa). It’s the way it goes.

I won’t say, “thank goodness,” we’re leaving here tomorrow at 9:00 am for the hospital for triple bypass surgery. That’s not exactly how we feel. Fortunately, we were able to take quick showers this morning using some of the remaining water in the tank. Thank goodness that yesterday, I’d done all the laundry for items to bring to the hospital along with clothes for Tom for the week or more ahead.

As I was writing the above few paragraphs the power went out and came back on. About an hour later. Subsequently, with no water and most likely no power, we decided to spend the night in Nelspruit instead of heading out tomorrow morning.

Now, back at the lovely Leaves Lodge and Spa, who kindly provided us with a discount for the long-term stay, we have power, water, and good aircon. We’re set for the night. Tomorrow, we have to check into the hospital by noon to begin the prep for Tuesday’s surgery.

Somehow, I feel better being in Nelspruit three minutes from the hospital. Now that I know that three of the four main arteries to my heart are 100% blocked, there’s a smidgen more peace of mind until tomorrow. Plus, I’m on medication to prevent a heart attack and, I have an ample supply of nitroglycerin in case of an emergency. Wow! Who knew?

Now aware of my situation, it makes all the sense in the world to me. In the mornings, when I’d shower and dress for the day, I found myself feeling tired from these simple tasks. At times, merely walking to the laundry room with an armful of dirty laundry made every step feel as if it were a chore. 

When we had dinner parties, I found myself wondering how my energy would hold up with all the cooking, prep, and serving required for such an event. Now I know, and yes, I am grateful but a little terrified. This is a big surgery, and I’m not any stronger, braver, or tougher than the rest of us.

As for the insurance…on the day of the angiogram, at the cost of ZAR 80,000 (US $5871), the insurance company turned us down, claiming I had an undisclosed pre-existing condition which was not the case. 

At the time we applied for the insurance over six years ago, I provided our 20-year family physician’s contact information and copies of our medical records as requested, including the three prescription medications I was taking (Tom takes no medication), one of which is a low dose hypertensive mediation.

The rep at the Nelspruit Mediclinic worked very hard with the insurance company and the doctor to no avail. They wouldn’t approve the claim before the procedure. As per the hospital requirement, payment must be made in advance of treatment with or without insurance company approval. 

We paid out of pocket using our debit card since we wanted to avoid using regular credit cards.  We use credit cards to pay for all living expenses and future travel costs. We didn’t want to put such a hefty charge onto any of our cards.

Once we paid, we began the six-hour wait for our turn for the angiogram. When the doctor discovered the magnitude of the blockages, he knew he couldn’t do any stents. The only option was triple bypass surgery. 

I stayed in the hospital overnight, and in the morning before we left the hospital, we met with the wonderful billing rep Trudy to see how much the bypass surgery would cost and, ultimately, how much money we’d have to come up with.

The estimated cost for the surgery was ZAR 700,000 (US $51,370), including some but not all of the doctor’s fees. (We see how that rolls out).  With the rejection of the angiogram, we certainly didn’t think they considered this added cost, and again, we were declined.

Our only option was to liquidate assets immediately to ensure we’d have the funds in place by Tuesday morning. The financial institution has a three business day turnaround in releasing funds. 

We called and spoke to the rep and, for the first time in our lives, stated, “This is a life-threatening emergency. We need the funds to be available immediately.” By midnight Friday, the money was in our account. Meanwhile, Friday night, Kathy and Don had invited us to dinner at their lovely river view home in Marloth Park with friends Linda and Ken also in attendance. 

Before we left the house, I decided to call the insurance company one more time and write a letter I’d consider one of my better uses of the English language.

At this point, we were on pins and needles waiting for the money to come through in time, but we had a good evening together with our dear friends while they all fussed over me, more than I’d ever imagined possible. 

Toward the end of the evening, I checked my phone as I had several times, and there it was…the insurance company instructed me to log into our account to find a letter waiting for us…they approved the bypass surgery! They included a claim form for which we could file for reimbursement for the angiogram.

Sharing this news with our friends as we sat around a bonfire in their garden only added to our sense of relief. Last night, the six of us went to Jabula Lodge and Restaurant for dinner, and once again, it was a celebratory occasion in support of my upcoming surgery on Tuesday. 

They presented me with gifts, hugs, and kisses, as did Dawn and Leon, owners of our favorite restaurant, who provided a bottle of champagne and Amarula shots. I enjoyed a glass of champagne while the others tossed down the sweet shot.

Again, this morning before we headed to Nelspruit, Kathy, Don, Linda, and Ken stopped by to offer more support and love. How did I ever get so lucky? Coupled with Tom’s love and attention and zillions of comments and email messages from our readers, family members, and friends, I couldn’t feel more loved.

May these warm wishes and prayers result in a positive outcome, and I will be the happiest and most grateful person on the planet. The pain and discomfort afterward will pale in comparison to my joy.

Thank you, everyone… thank you with all of my heart!

Photo from one year ago today, February 10, 2018:

After all the whale watching trips we’d done on tours these past years, to see plenty in Antarctica was a dream come true finally. For more photos, please click here.

The medical saga continues…The news isn’t so good…

Ms. Kudu, Willie and Mike, and Joe.
Willie and warthogs, all getting along.
Wildebeest Willie, he’s quite a guy!
Willie, six kudus, and a few pigs stopped by last night.
Basket stopped by last night.  His right ear has healed but is mostly gone. 

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”


It’s almost 2130 hours, 9:30 pm, Wednesday night, and we’re back in Nelspruit at the Leaves Lodge & Spa. The conversation with the doctor this morning was short. To the point, “You have a 100% blockage in the artery in front of the heart (the left anterior), and you need angioplasty immediately, or possibly open heart surgery.”

My mouth dropped open. I can’t believe this. Nor can Tom. How did this happen? Of course, we’re both wrecks. Now, we are waiting in Nelspruit for approval from our insurance company. If they decline, we must pay the entire bill out of pocket, a huge unexpected expense. 

If we miss the window of opportunity for tomorrow’s procedure, the angioplasty, we’ll have to wait until next Tuesday. The doctor only goes to surgery on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We won’t make our Thursday flight to Kenya or make our one-week hotel stay (prepaid) in Kenya.

If open-heart surgery is necessary, oh dear, that will be at least six weeks during which we’ll have to stay in South Africa. We’ll lose tens of thousands of dollars in prepaid future travels, flights, and a cruise back to the US.  

But it’s the way it is, and we have no choice but to figure this out. In reality, we knew a day like this would come. We didn’t think it would be now. My laptop died tonight. I am writing this on my phone.   

I couldn’t move photos around.  I will fix it at a later date.  We’ll be back as soon as possible with updates.

Thanks for all the love.  Too many to respond to, but I will; l keep trying. You people are wonderful! Thanks so much.

Photo from one year ago today, February 6, 2018:

The seas were wild through the Drake Passage in Antarctica as we headed back to Ushuaia, Argentina. It wasn’t as wild as it could have been. But, as usual, Tom and I felt fine, free of any seasickness. For more, please click here.

“Overstaying our welcome?”…When is too long?…

An old weathered elephant wandering the dry bush on his own. Soon, the rains will come and the vegetation will be lush and green again. It can’t come too soon.

“Sighting of the day in the Bush”

This is Tusker’s girlfriend. It was a very hot day when we took this photo and she showed up covered in mud.  He didn’t seem to mind a bit. After all…pigs…mud…they kind of go together.

Yesterday afternoon when Danie stopped by, as usual, the three of us had a good chat. As often is the case, we couldn’t help but discuss some of the local politics in South Africa and especially in Marloth Park.

Lately, it has become commonplace for us to see lions across the Crocodile River. However, we never will take these sightings for granted.

If it appears this “little piece of paradise” is free from strife, politics, and a variety of outspoken opinions, we’re kidding ourselves. Like anywhere in the world, whether a town, a city, or a tiny village, there are issues and concerns that impact its residents in one way or another.

In most of our world travels, we’ve had little exposure to the political atmosphere other than what we’ve heard from locals as we learn about their culture.  

 It’s not easy to take good photos from such a distance but we continue to try.

However, staying in a country for an entire year (visa extension providing) we haven’t been able to escape frequently hearing and reading about the opinions, ideas, and frustrations of the local people living in this unique environment.  Without a doubt, it had an impact on us.

And, like other municipalities throughout the world, it is not always pleasant.  Having joined several Marloth Park Facebook groups, in order to stay in touch regarding local events, unusual sightings, and concerns, it has been impossible to avoid hearing negative comments. Sadly, isn’t that what people do on social media? Express their good and bad opinions??? 

Busy day to the river.

To tell the truth, hateful comments on any social platform make us cringe. If it weren’t for our need and desire to stay in touch with family and friends, I’d most certainly not have a presence on Facebook. The hatefulness is rampant. Plus, we prefer to avoid attaching any political opinions and ideas to our posts. 

Most days, I post a photo or two on Facebook of recent sightings along with the link to that day’s post so our family and friends can see what we’ve been discovering in our travels. Some of them read our posts and others do not.  That’s up to them.

These types of scenes are so satisfying to encounter.

After reading negative comments regarding many topics regarding Marloth Park, we’ve made an attempt to stay neutral in keeping our opinions to ourselves.  We’ve written a few posts suggesting concerns over the wildlife in the park and how tourists must follow the guidelines for behavior while in the park to preserve and protect the wildlife.

Speeding on the paved and dirt roads has been a serious problem, resulting in the senseless slaughter of wildlife in the park and yes, it makes sense to address this and other safety issues on social media.  

Two friends of Wildebeest Willie stop by now and then when they’ve heard we are generous with the pellets.  Notice the helmeted guineafowl and warthog in the background. They also love pellets. The only animal we’ve seen refuse to go near the pellets are the mongooses. The 30 species of mongoose are mainly carnivores and have no interest in pellets or vegetables we toss.

But many non-wildlife and safety issues have been addressed causing us to step back and realize we cannot get involved. As long as our year here is concerned, we still have no right to get involved. But it’s not always easy to ignore hostile comments and criticism.

The bashing of local businesses has been a sore spot for us. Why not address the issues with the owner of the business directly or the property owner who may not be complying with local ordinances?

A pair of unattached female zebras stopped by in the early evening.

I suppose it’s a part of the worldwide culture that’s evolved today. If you have an opinion, express it whether it hurts someone or not. Yes, we do believe in having conversations face to face on a wide array of issues which we do freely with our close friends.  

Perhaps, even come up with some solutions that may be implemented if taken to the right resources in a professional and organized manner? Ah, but in a perfect world…

Shortly later, another female entered the garden looking for food.

Overall staying in Marloth Park for this extended period has been blissful.  Spending time with our human and animals friends has been indescribable, an experience we’ll never forget and surely miss once we’re gone. 

But, as we discussed with Danie yesterday, staying this long in any country is way too long. After he left, Tom and I discussed this topic further and have decided we will not, unless a medical necessity, stay any longer than three months in any country we visit in the future.

We welcome every visitor except monkeys and baboons who are horribly destructive.

For us, this has been a magical number, long enough to really come to know the area, its people, its culture, and natural beauty but any longer results in us feeling too engaged, too responsible, and too affected by what’s going on.

We decided almost six years ago to embrace the nuances of each country we visit but not to get caught up in the negativity. As much as we’d love to say we “could change the world,” we cannot.  

Zebras usually “eat and run.”

But surely, we can share the beauty, the dignity, and the uniqueness of every special place we chose to visit, sharing it with our worldwide readers each and every day. Thank you for traveling with us!

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 1, 2017:

Low-lying morning clouds as seen from the veranda in Atenas, Costa Rica. For more photos, please click here.

Twelve animals hit and killed the roads in Marloth Park in past two weeks…

This hippo was very far away from us when we took this photo. It was only after we uploaded it that we noticed how many oxpeckers were on his hide.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Yesterday, we spotted this ostrich family near this vehicle. It was over four years ago we saw our first ostrich in the wild in Marloth Park. It was on December 7, 2013, that we’d spotted an ostrich standing next to this exact vehicle at this same property, looking at himself in the window of the car. See the photo below from that date! Click here for that post.
From the December 7, 2013 post: “While on a walk in our neighborhood, Tom spotted this ostrich that had wandered into a homeowner’s yard, appearing to be fascinated by looking at himself in the window.”

It’s heartbreaking to see in a post for Marloth Park on Facebook that 12 wild animals have been killed on the roads in the park. Indeed, some of these horrible incidents have been unavoidable. But, the remainder may be attributed to visitors driving too fast on the tar road that runs from one end of the park to the other.

There are two 24-hour a day guarded gates to enter into Marloth Park, the only access points. Entering via Gate #1 requires a very long and bumpy ride on a dirt road from the N4 highway but is technically shorter (distance-wise, not time-wise) than driving the extra distance on the road to Gate #2. Rarely do any locals attempt to move to Gate #1? 

Each time we’re near the Crocodile River, we see waterbucks. They live in herds of 6 to 30 animals, with one male who defends his territory.

It’s hard to say who these careless drivers may be and how they’ve entered the park. They could be renters living in a holiday house or others entering the park to explore and see wildlife or…others with dinner reservations at any of the local restaurants or…could be troublemakers up to “no good.”

With all the traffic and noise we heard last night, loud voices, loud music, and engines revving, we can’t help but wonder if they have somehow made their way into the park with little to no regard for the quality of life here.

We’ve been lucky to see elephants along the river road. Most days, we go out for a drive. Yesterday was no exception.

In yesterday’s post, we addressed some of these issues that crop up during the busy school-holiday season and other holidays. Please see this link here.  The commotion may continue until well into August. 

Lately, we’ve heard about major criminal incidents in and around the area. We stay on constant alert to protect ourselves and our belongings. Luckily, most homes have alarm systems like ours, but we all know they can be compromised.

Whether we spot one or 30 elephants, it’s always awe-inspiring.

We can only hope and pray that those who’ve rented holiday homes will offer the utmost kindness and concern for the peaceful and pleasing way of life only found in Marloth Park.

While driving along the river yesterday afternoon, we spotted a five or 6-year-old kid steering an SUV while sitting on his dad’s lap. What was this guy thinking?  This scenario could be one of many careless cases and causes of wildlife being killed on the roads. Careless driving.

“The elephant’s trunk can sense the size, shape, and temperature of an object. An elephant uses its trunk to lift food and suck up water, then pour it into its mouth. Elephants cry, play, have incredible memories, and laugh. Elephants can swim – they use their trunk for breathing like a snorkel in deep water.”

We apologize for continually bringing up these topics for our worldwide readers, not in this area. We’re hoping that if only one person staying or visiting Marloth Park sees our posts, maybe one animal will be saved.

On a lighter note, we’re doing quite well. With a 90% improvement in my health since eliminating dairy from my diet several weeks ago, I am literally on Cloud 9. To finally not have an awful stomach ache after over two years, I’m enjoying everything we do 10-fold. 

“There are three distinct species of elephant left in the world: The Asian elephant and African elephant, which are the forest and savanna elephant species.”

As we drove through Marloth Park yesterday, I described to Tom how wonderful it feels to be free of the constant pain and discomfort while riding on the very bumpy dirt roads in the park. Also, the freedom of not constantly worrying over what the problem could be has been equally liberating. 

“The elephant’s gestation period is 22 months, longer than any other land animal in the world. A newborn human baby weighs an average of 3 kg (7 pounds), while a new born elephant baby can weigh up to 118 kg (260 pounds)! The baby can stand up shortly after being born.”

In addition, as of today, after one month, I’ve lost 3.6 kg (8 pounds) from eliminating dairy while watching portions, and my clothes have begun to fit better.  

Cape Buffaloes may be referred to as the mafia, not only because of their strong character but because they never forgive and almost always seek revenge. They have been recorded seeking revenge on someone years after being threatened by them.

I plan to continue on this path of a slow weight loss so that by the time summer begins on December 21st, with temperatures in the 40C’s (104Fs), I’ll finally fit back into all my shorts. It’s too hot in the summers here to wear Capri-length or long jeans all day while sitting outdoors on the veranda.

This appears to be a blooming aloe vera plant.  Please correct me if I’m wrong.

As for today, soon, we’ll head to the post office with our tracking number to see if they can track our missing package. It was sent on May 23, 2018, and has yet to arrive. This is not unusual as we often find ourselves waiting for a shipment for upwards of two months.

After the post office, once again, we’ll drive through the park, continuing our search for the lion (to no avail, thus far) and, of course, any other wildlife that graces us with their presence.

Have a peaceful and meaningful day!

Photo from one year ago today, June 26, 2017:

One year ago today, I joined Maisie, Madighan, and daughter-in-law, Camille, at The Stages Theater in Hopkins, Minnesota, where the four of us saw a local production of Shrek. For more photos, please click here.

Many others “shucking it all!”…Is this life for YOU?

Pond on a farm.

During this past week, we’ve received three email messages from readers stating they are in the process of selling everything they own to travel for an extended period of time.

Also, we hear from others who’ve already been living as nomads for several years, as is the case of these readers/Cruise Critic members who wrote the following to us in the “comments” section at the end of yesterday’s post.  See comment below photo:

Expansive views of the Huon River.

Jess and Tom,
I found your blog on cruise critic and have just finished reading the whole blog. What a journey you two have been on.  It’s amazing to read your stories and about your travels. So many people are afraid to act upon their dreams. We live a life on the road in our RV.  I have been in this lifestyle for 15 years.  We will also be on the same cruise to S.America on Celebrity in November and December. We will look forward to meeting both of you.

Carolyn and Sam”

We replied to Carolyn and Sam as follows:

“Carolyn and Sam,
How wonderful to be traveling the country in an RV (caravan, here in AU) for 15 years!  We seldom hear of travelers living life on the move for such an extended period. We commend you for your passion and dedication to living your dream life.

You’ve inspired this next post’s topic by taking the time to say hello. We often hear that readers start from our first post in March 2012 and read each one to the current post. This is such a joy to hear! Thank you for your kind comments.

We hope to meet you on the South America cruise in November and December. It sounds as if you’re also doing the 30 day back-to-back. Please find us at the Meet and Mingle Party on the first sea day.

Warmest regards,
Jess & Tom”

Few RV travelers are as enthusiastic as Carolyn and Sam, many eventually discovering they’ve become tired of the small space in an RV and moving from location to location. 

Many traveling by RV have written to us (or spoken to us on cruises) explaining they find a few favorite campgrounds in choice locations and return to them frequently, often staying for extended periods while readily able to visit family at their leisure. 

It’s not as green in the Huon Valley as in Penguin, but it’s still quite beautiful.

We’ll be anxious to talk to Carolyn and Sam in November to hear about their favorite itinerary and some of the nuances and difficulties they’ve experienced maintaining and managing a “moving home.”

Others have written explaining they are in the process of selling their home and belongings (many with storage in the event they don’t find the experience to their liking), and some with small apartments or condos they can return to now and then when visiting family and friends.

Brush growing in the shallow water.

Of course, there are drawbacks, such as in our case, of not having an apartment or condo in our original home state, where most of our family is located. We’ll be in Minnesota for six weeks for a family/friends visit in less than four months. With no residence of our own, we have no choice but to stay in a hotel.

Our three grown children and significant other living in Minnesota each have lovely homes, with our grandchildren occupying all the bedrooms. In two cases, they have cats to which I’m allergic. With our visit occurring over six weeks this while the grandkids are out of school during summer break, there’s no way we’d want nor expect our grandchildren to forgo their bedrooms for this extended period.

Driving down a country road back to the main road that runs along the Huon River.

Long ago, in analyzing the costs for maintaining a “place to live” in Minnesota, there was no way it made sense. A hotel stay is a logical alternative, especially since free WiFi, free breakfast, swimming pools, and many other amenities are included. 

We’ll be fine in the lovely conveniently located hotel for the six weeks when our accommodations are less important than the opportunity to be with our family. in only 111 days, and we’ll be arriving in Minnesota.

The reason the trees had been cleared in this forest is a mystery to us.

This life is not for everyone, whether traveling by RV or living in vacation homes, cruise ships and occasionally in hotels. For many, the lack of feeling rooted is a huge obstacle, along with the distance from family and friends. Many struggle with the thought of selling all of their treasured belongings.

We certainly understand their disinterest in sacrificing so much. However, each situation is unique and predicated by a special set of circumstances that inspire people to embark upon such a nomadic life. 

Bodies of water always remain a focal point for our photos.

Please don’t hesitate to share your story with us. If you prefer to be anonymous, please send an email that we won’t publish without your permission.

We’re hoping for sun today, which has been lacking this entire week. But, instead, it’s been rainy and cool as we’ve continued to wear our flannel shirts or hoodies to stay warm. 

Have a warm sunny day wherever you may be, at your home or…on the move.

Photo from one year ago today, February 4, 2016:

Horses in New Zealand (and other parts of the world) wear blankets to regulate their body temperature and protect them from the elements. For more photos, 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.

Zika Virus…A bearing on our future travels? Photos from a trip to the beach…

Many signs and names of towns are based on the indigenous inhabitants of New Zealand, the Māori whose’s language has had official language status, with the right to use it in legal settings such as in court, since the Maori Language Act 1987. There are around 70,000 native speakers of Maori out of a population of over 500,000 Māori people, with 161,000 of the country’s 4 million residents claiming conversational ability in Māori.”

The Zika virus is rapidly spreading throughout the world with the majority of cases in South America, particularly in Brazil with over one million cases and growing out of control. 

Here’s more information on the Zika virus from the US’s Center for Disease Control (CDC).

It’s easy to expect beaches throughout the world to be sandy, and pristine with blue waters.  Many beaches such as in New Zealand and Australia aren’t blue due to the interaction of light and particles present in the water. When there are mineral sediments lights from the blue spectrum are absorbed by the particles, thus the water appears to be brown.  Also, not all beaches have the soft, fine sand, we found in Belize and Hawaii.

No doubt this virus will spread to other countries in South America and throughout the world unless drastic measures are taken to control it. What those measures may be at this point are unknown and under research in many laboratories worldwide. 

Low tide is more evident on many beaches, but not all.

Will a vaccine, cure or remedy be available by 2017 when we head to South America? At this point, we have no idea, but continue to watch the news for updates. Will we change our plans to spend as much as two years in South America from 2017 to 2019?

As we’ve traveled continents, island nations, and many countries we’ve heard of a variety of viruses that may infect locals and travelers alike. We don’t take any of these illnesses lightly. That’s what precipitated our having as many as 18 vaccinations before we left the US which we’ll update as needed over time.

With many surfers attracted to this area, a lifeguard is on duty, well equipped for rescue.

However, new viruses continue to develop throughout the world and our exposure is no doubt enhanced as we traveled to potentially infected countries. We’ve already visited several of the countries on the currently “infected” list. 

Surfers awaiting an opportunity.

Now, as we’ve begun to book travel to South America, there’s no doubt we’ve given the Vika virus consideration as to the impact it may have on us visiting such countries as Brazil. 

How else might we travel the Amazon River in Brazil and eventually, the top priority on our list…the Pantanal, the most wildlife diverse wetlands areas in the world (talk about mosquitoes!). 

Pretty cloud formation on a very cloudy day.  Note distant airplane and boat in left of photo.

At this point, after considerable discussion and information gathering, we’ve decided to continue with our plans.  It’s not as if we can say, “Oh, let’s wait and go in 10 years?” In twelve years I’ll be 80 years old and Tom will be 75.  Will we have the health and stamina we now have to continue? There’s no way of knowing.

Campgrounds are located at the end of the road at Oakura Beach with an onsite office for booking space.

If we were young, putting off South America would be practical. We’re not. The clock is ticking, whether we like it or not, as it is for everyone. It just so happens we’re closer to the final hour along with all the others our age throughout the world, many of us who have “things to do” and “places to see” before it’s too late.

There are permanent and temporary sites for caravans (motorhomes) and travel trailer type homes.

Continuing with our desire of visiting each continent before it is too late, doesn’t dissipate with news of a virus that based on information to date, is not life threatening for adults who aren’t pregnant. 

If this virus was comparable to the deadly Ebola virus, we’d definitely change our plans. If at any point the virus is considered life threatening to older adults, we’ll certainly reassess our views, changing plans if necessary.

Small sleeping tent sites are available for a fee which includes multiple facilities.

For now, we trek on, with hope in our hearts for a resolution for those living in infected countries and for our ongoing safety as we continue our journey.

Have a lovely weekend.

Photos from one year ago today, January 30, 2015:

The colors in the tunnels at Tunnels Beach were varied when we visited the Napali Coast in Kauai. For more details, please click here.

Aging while living a life on the move…Check out these final Green Island photos…

There were many seagulls in the area surrounding Green Island especially when the fish were fed by the staff.

Providing we take care to avoid injuries and happen to be fortunate enough to avoid natural disasters and risks in public or at our home at the time, our biggest enemy is aging. Of course, we’re all aging from the moment we’re born and in reality, aging appears to progress at a regular and consistent pace once we become adults. 

The green cast from the coral below created the water’s pretty color.

Recalling our own differences between ages 30 and 40, 50 and 60 and now that we’re both in the ’60s to ’70s decade, it all seems to have progressed similarly, unfortunately, all downhill.

All the exercise, healthy diets, and lifestyle changes can’t stop the progression, although it may slow it to a degree. Although, if one is lucky, the progression may not be as evident on them as on others for the sake of appearances. However, what’s going inside the body is another matter.

Although there were a number of boats conducting tourist activities around the island, it wasn’t as crowded as we’d expected.

For most of us, as we age, our appearance becomes less and less important. Being alive and well becomes of the ultimate significance. We do our best to show the world a pleasant appearance, through whatever means suits us whether its’ a mustache, haircut, or close shave for men or makeup (or not) and certain hairstyles for women.

To a degree, most of us make some sort of effort whether it’s wearing a clean tee-shirt and pair of jeans or an entire put-together outfit that makes one appear to have stepped out of a magazine advertisement. 

The seagulls went wild when the fish were fed by the staff in order to give the visitors a show.  They explained they monitored the amounts they fed the fish to avoid them becoming complacent in their search for food. However, with these multiple daily feedings, complacency may have been unavoidable.

It’s all a matter of personal choice and who has a right to comment or complain about the decisions of others in this area? As we live in a world desperately attempting to love and accept each person, regardless of their appearance, we find we still have a long way to go.

Will the future bring “designer babies” with perfect features or will we all meld into a level of total acceptance finding beauty in all of our differences? When we lived amid wildlife in Africa, we observed even the most peculiar of animals with admiration regardless of their snarly looking faces, unwieldy tusks, and unkempt sprouts of coarse and wild hair. 

Few tourists spent time at the beaches at Green Island from what we observed during our half-day visit.

I speak of the ungainly warthog, which some may consider as one of the ugliest creatures in the wild.  And yet, when we saw those unruly faces, we felt admiration and warmth in our hearts, not over their looks but over their playful demeanor. Would that we could feel such admiration and attraction for one another regardless of our appearance.

As it relates to aging, the inevitability of it all becomes more evident to me as I approach 70 years old.  It was only yesterday I was in my 30’s and yet, here I am, happier than I’ve ever been wondering how long this amazing life will be able to continue with aging knocking at my door, the same aging knocking at your door.

A few of the beaches had lifeguards on duty and yet few visitors hung out at the beach.

This all came to my mind on Thursday as I completed three loads of laundry, spent hours in the kitchen making various foods for our way of eating, cleaning and dusting the house, never asking Tom for help while he sat outside on the veranda. 

He was happily content researching his family tree, never aware as to what was going on inside, other than when I asked him to put the freshly washed tight bottom sheet back on the mattress and walk the garbage down the steep hill to the bins. He’d have easily helped me with anything else on the agenda, had I asked.

Tom walking on the pier checking the sea for signs of life, carrying our huge unnecessary bag loaded with towels, ice tea, extra camera batteries, etc. We could easily have gotten by without the bag and its contents, putting everything we needed in our pockets. Since I no longer own a handbag, Tom usually carries my few items in his roomy pockets.

But, like him, I was happily content busying myself inside doing household tasks I’ve always seemed to find rewarding for some odd reason. 

As I did the work, periodically I checked my Fitbit device hooked to my shorts, wondering how many steps I was taking in my frenzy of activity. It was less than I’d anticipated in this relatively small house at a total of 5800 steps for the day, a far cry from my goal of 10,000 steps hardly reached most days in this life unless we’re out for a long walk.

There were hundreds of these birds in the visitor’s shopping area where there are scraps of food offered by tourists, not a good idea when “people food” can be harmful to birds.

For the first time, as I whizzed through my day, I began to wonder if I will be able to keep up this pace in 10 years. Will I still have the energy and ability to move relatively freely from one task after another? Will the bit of exercise I get and walks we take be enough to see me through these upcoming years to allow me to continue to perform these tasks.

Seagull amid flight in the breeze.

One could say since I’m five years older than Tom, that eventually he can do it all. As much as I’d like to think he could and would, it’s not likely he’ll be motivated to make the low carb, grain, starch, and sugar-free muffins or the delicious mushroom casserole we’ve been enjoying as a side dish recently.

Yesterday, with the house clean and laundry done (except for the daily one load of bath and kitchen towels), I found myself on a new reign of activity while I prepared two free-range chickens with vegetables (great leftovers for tonight) to begin to roast at 4:00 pm, baked a batch of our favorite macaroons, made a salad, cleaned fresh green beans and folded the one load of wash.

As we waited for the Rocket Reef (boat) to arrive at the pier to return us to Cairns, the seagulls gathered around us.

(We can’t purchase “take away” meals when none of the options are suitable for my way of eating. Dining out is challenging at best. Instead, we cook all of our meals, many simple meals prepared in short periods and others requiring more time and effort).

All of this type of activity is commenced after typically spending my entire morning preparing the daily post, often not finishing until close to noon. Don’t get me wrong…I love doing posts. 

This scene reminded us of the many ports we’ve visited over these past years.

To date, our daily post never feels as if it’s a chore. Then again, neither do the household tasks as long as good health continues and I’m able to continue to perform these daily tasks. Is it inevitable that one slows down in their 80s or even 90s?

We left friends behind 10 years older than I, still able to keep a pace comparable to mine. They remain an inspiration. Aging is not an illness or condition. It is a fact of life that faces every single one of us. How we choose to live through that process whether we have limitations or not, is truly our choice.

We couldn’t imagine what an eskie is when we read this sign.  Once home, we looked online to discover it’s a cooler or “chill box.”

Putting negative thoughts behind me after allowing them to fester for two days, today I awoke with a fresh perspective. No more worrying about my ability to be as active in 10 years as I am today. Instead, I choose to embrace the moment and the imminent future. 

Good grief, we’re on our way to Fiji in nine days! 

                                            Photo from one year ago today, August 29, 2014:

It was one year ago today that we posted this taxidermy kangaroo photo from our visit to the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, UK. Now, we can drive down the road to see live kangaroos. How ironic. For more museum photos as we wound down the time in the UK, please click here.