A different lifestyle for the next seven weeks…We try it all!…

The compact living room has everything we need.

Well, folks, we’ve lived in a lot of houses throughout the world, but this experience here in Apache Junction will be totally different from anywhere we’ve lived in the past.


We will be living in an RV park in a permanently affixed house trailer that basically, although small, has everything we need. Sure, it’s small, although much bigger than a ship’s balcony cabin.

The kitchen is small but without a dishwasher and has minimal cooking supplies.
Subsequently, we will keep meals simple, using the outdoor grill for most of our meals.

Our longest cruise was for 33-nights when we circumvented Australia which began on Halloween, October 31, 2017. We had no problem with living in that small space, nor will we here.

Three of Tom’s sisters and spouses; Mary Ellen and Eugene, Margie and Colleen and Gene live in this same 55+ complex of trailer homes and RVs, only a stone’s throw from our unit. It appears that most afternoons around 4:00 or 5:00 pm, we’ll all get together for happy hour drinks and snacks. 

Convenient table-for-two.

Most days, we usually dine around 6:30 or 7:00 pm but it makes sense if we now redo our thinking as to when we’ll have our big meal of the day. Most likely, we’ll start having our big meal midday and not worry about dining in the evenings.


This morning, we headed to Fry’s Market, one of the largest supermarkets we’ve seen (not counting Costco or Sam’s Club) and were surprised at its size. It had 59 rows. By the time I finished shopping, I’d put over 5000 steps on my fitness device.


We spent over $300 on groceries and managed to find ample space for all the items we purchased. The storage in this unit is excellent with more space than we’ve had in many holiday homes in the past.

This is the most comfortable bed we’ve had in our travels. It appears to be a memory foam bed.

The five-hour drive from Las Vegas to Apache Junction was uneventful. Tom has seen some improvement with his back injury and cough and he managed the long drive easily without asking me to drive. We chatted about our experiences in the US thus far and our plans for the future. The time went quickly.


Tonight there will be Christmas parade in the neighborhood. We’ll all get together to watch the parade and to celebrate Mary and Eugene’s daughter Laurie’s birthday. She and her husband Craig will be arriving at 5:30 for the festivities.

The WiFi signal and flat-screen TV are good.

We’re good. The time we spent with family, although tempered by both of us being sick with this dreadful cough, was precious and meaningful. Now, over these next weeks, we’ll spend time with Tom’s sisters. He’s the youngest in the family and it’s important we spend this time with all of them.


We’ll make every effort to continue to take photos to share here as we continue to post during our remaining time in the USA!

Have a fantastic day and thanks for hanging in there with us!

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

For the first time ever, this lizard approached the veranda, looking at us.  He didn’t seem to like pellets so we tried to figure out what we could feed him. For more photos, please click here.

Is running out of new photos an issue?…What do we do in the event this occurs?…A trip to the local dump proved to be interesting…

 

At the Marloth Park dump, we found these Marabou Storks everywhere.  If photo ops don’t come to us, we’ll go to them.

Writing every day is challenging at times, especially when we’re kicking back and relaxing. Would one have photos and stories to share in their everyday lives? Hardly.

In our old lives, weeks could go by without a single thought of taking a photo. Also, we’d never learned to take photos. Life was too busy to take on another hobby. As a result, we only used a camera on special occasions, neither of us showing a propensity toward any skill. 

For me, no skill? No interest. That’s how perfectionist-types operate. That’s why I don’t play golf. For that matter, Tom, good at most sports, hasn’t played much golf either, getting easily frustrated when he doesn’t play well enough by his own standards.

From afar, these birds look pretty. Up close, not so cute in the face. These birds are carnivorous eating other birds, carrion scraps, small rodents and have a propensity for human garbage and can digest rotten animal matter.

Now, back to posting daily and it’s challenging…

Yesterday morning, after posting, today’s post was fast approaching as being one of those days that writing this blog left me stymied. I had no new photos to post. I could run around the yard to look for small things or interesting vegetation or even, if necessary, stand in the road waiting for a photo-worthy event.

The height of a Marabou Stork is approximately 152 cm, 60 inches; weight is 9 kg, 20 pounds; the wingspan is 3.7 m, 12 feet. They have the largest wingspan of any bird. The Marloth Park dump is thoroughly cleaned out every few weeks. It is where many of the locals bring their garbage with only a small percentage having pickup service. We haven’t observed any recycling in Kenya or South Africa.

To prepare for our upcoming dinner party on Monday, Okee Dokee picked me up at 11:00 am Saturday morning to go to Komatipoort for groceries. Having created a menu and a grocery list I was ready to tackle the weekend crowds at the strip mall. 

While waiting in line at the grocery store, I mentioned to Okee Dokee that in the past 16 months since leaving Minnesota I’d yet to purchase any underwear. Add the fact that we’d unloaded so many clothing items along the way, my inventory was sparse and worn to the point of ridiculousness. I’d never gone so long without purchasing undergarments or clothing for that matter. 

The Marabou Stork will eat anything it can swallow, including shoes, clothing, and tin cans. They can become aggressive if fed by humans when they are refused food. Although not vultures, their behavior exceeds the traits of vultures whose diet consists of animal remains.

Having whipped through the grocery store quickly, she led me to a local clothing shop. I was pleasantly surprised when we entered the store. Although a small shop, there was clothing for women, men, and children of all ages. We promptly headed to the women’s underwear department where, upon approaching, I squealed with delight. They had rather modern items and styles, all reasonably priced and of decent quality. I’d have to toss the old stuff, avoiding increasing our luggage weight.

Ten minutes later, a bra and eight pairs of panties were being rung up for a grand total of US $23.16, ZAR $259. What? In the US, I would easily have spent US $75, ZAR $838.67 for this type of quality. What’s wrong with this picture?

After making the purchase we headed to the ATM area with two machines, neither of which was working, prompting us to head back to the ATM at the Marloth Park Bush Center which once again worked with ease. 

This injured zebra was near the road when we drove by. It wasn’t enclosed in a fenced area. This fence happened to be on the edge of a property. This injury could easily have been a result of a kick from another zebra. The distended belly of a zebra is common. Their intestinal tract is such that they become bloated with gas from eating massive amounts of vegetation each day. They are prolific at passing gas, as we’ve heard fro time to time. Hopefully, this injury heals on its own.

Afterward, we drove down one of the two only paved roads in the park. Okee Dokee, aware of my photo dilemma quickly made a sharp left turn into the local dump. (As yet, we hadn’t seen any wildlife). Wouldn’t you know, the dump was not only littered with garbage (which is entirely removed every few weeks), but was also littered with what I’d originally thought were beautiful Marabou Storks. 

Thus, the photos we’re showing today are the storks we found at the dump. Leave it to Okee Dokee! As we slowly meandered down the road toward African Reunion House I chuckled. I don’t recall ever taking a camera to the grocery store in my old life.

This morning at 6:30 am while contemplating getting up I heard animal sounds outside. Quietly and slowly I exited to the bedroom to look out the full wall of glass to the garden. Scattered among the bush were no less than 50 impalas, 25 Helmeted Guinea-Fowls with chicks, and one large lone male warthog.

Male impalas along the side of the main road in Marloth Park on our return drive from grocery shopping.

Quickly I awoke Tom, and together as quietly as possible, we opened the door to the veranda, camera in hand.  Alas, the impalas scattered, but the warthog and the “guinea hens,” as Tom calls them, stayed behind. 

Mr.Warthog was very shy, as we’ve noticed in the lone males. He meandered about the garden for a half-hour finally checking out the pellets, deciding to partake. The guinea hens and chicks had a blast picking away at the large pellets, easily knocking them into smaller pieces. Even they are fun to watch.

The baby warthogs are getting huge. When the mom is ready to mate again, she’ll leave the babies to fen for themselves as their own maturing life cycle begins. This particular mom has been a favorite of mine.  She has no fear of me, makes eye contact that is endearing, and is such a good mom, holding back while the babies eat the pellets first. I always make a point of tossing several in front of her and only then does she eat them. Warthogs eat on their front knees which have tough pads from the day they’re born.

As for the rest of today, this morning after posting, we’re heading to the little house to pack all of our stuff to bring it here for packing. Originally, we’d planned to do it on Tuesday, the morning after the dinner party. But, we decided to get it done and off of our minds. 

We’ll put everything in the main floor guest room, shutting the door until Tuesday when we’re ready to begin the dreadful task of sorting and packing everything we own into two large suitcases, two overnight bags, one duffel bag, and two computer bags. Everything we own. More dwindling down. Letting go of more stuff due to increased weight restrictions over prior flights.

 

Izmir, Turkey excursion today…Off to see Ephesus…Rioting in the area…

For news on Izmir, Turkey, please click here.

 

Last evening, as our ship the Norwegian Spirit, pulled away from the pier in Istanbul, Turkey.
Turkey’s interesting architecture.

At 11:30 am this morning, Turkey time,  which is eight hours later than the US Midwest, ten hours later than the West Coast, our ship will dock in Izmir.

Feeling a bit concerned about visiting Istanbul, Turkey we stayed behind yesterday planning to visit Izmir, Turkey today on a prepaid excursion, feeling an organized excursion would be safer than wandering around on our own.
We took these photos facing the sun as it set yesterday in Istanbul.
Our new friends, Nicole and Gerry had called yesterday, asking if Nicole could join Tom and I since Gerry sprained his ankle and won’t be able to go on the tour to Ephesus after all. Of course, we’d love for Nicole to join us. We planned to meet at the designated meeting area at 11:45 this morning. 
The excursion is scheduled to depart around 12:15 pm, returning to the ship at 5:30 pm. 
A haze obstructed the view as the sun was setting, a combination of heat and pollution, a result of the big city along the sea.

Last night, after attending yet another Latitudes members cocktail party in the Galaxy of the Stars venue at 7:00 pm, later dining in Windows Dining Room, another wonderful evening was behind us. Dining alone for a change we chattered on about our experiences thus far and our dreams for the future, albeit some of which is uncertain which much to our surprise, is fine with us.

The spires of the many mosques dotted the skyline in Istanbul.
Returning to our cabin around 10:00 pm, typical for us since we awaken quite early, we found these two items on the bed:
This adorable frog was sitting on our bed last night when we returned from dinner, made from one of our beach towels and a few washcloths!
This letter was on our bed last night when we returned from dinner.

Feeling committed to our non-refundable tickets and our plan to meet up with Nicole for the excursion, we decided to forge ahead. When in the future with so much “world” left to see when would we ever return to Turkey?

Most likely we’ll be safe. Wouldn’t it be great if our Uzi welding, security guard, Mohammad from Egypt, was riding on our bus and following us around! 
Ironically, there I was writing yesterday, providing all the reasons to avoid risk and here we are today, walking right into it.  So off we go today, camera in hand, ready to shoot what we hope will be better photos of our expedition as we explore the ancient city of Ephesus.

It’s a one hour drive each way to Ephesus, where we’ll spend approximately three hours.  I’m hoping it’s as exciting as Petra minus the difficult three-hour walk uphill half of the way.  In any case, if we prove to be safe, I’ll crawl through mud to return without incident (and take photos of that as well).

We’ll be back tomorrow with our story, hopefully safe and sound and grateful for yet another enriching experience as we continue on in our worldwide adventures.

Ancient buildings at every juncture.

 

Goodbye Istanbul.  May your citizens (and visitors) be safe from harm.

 

 

Boots, illness updates and…figuring out our insurance needs…

Oh, the Clark’s boots!  I wanted to keep them so badly that I took them to a long established boot and shoe repair company in Wayzata, Minnesota, Bob’s Shoe Repair.  

Brian, a young, although highly skilled leather craftsmen at Bob’s was confident he could cut out three inches out of the calf of the boot, put them back together leaving me satisfied with the comfort, look and fit.  He succeeded.  Thanks Brian!

I picked them up yesterday and couldn’t be happier. The cost for the repairs: $100.  Total investment in the boots including repairs: $249.   With the promise of a great rating online, I offered the seller of the boots a five star rating, if he’d credit me the $14.95 I paid for shipping.  He immediately posted the credit to my PayPal account.

Why did I deserve a credit for the shipping? The online description of the boots indicated a 14″ calf circumference when in fact, it was 16″ resulting in the necessity of the repair. I would have been satisfied with 14″ circumference. (My outrageously skinny calves measures 12.5″).  Now, I’m beautifully repaired, I’m content.

The sinus infection I reported on two days ago is improving without seeing the doctor or taking antibiotics. The pulsating headache would have driven me to seek help had it not begun to dissipate later in the day yesterday. Today, I awakened with only a slight headache for the first time in eight days. It’s on its way out.  
Thanks, Neti Pot, Aleve, Tylenol PM at night (with acetaminophen and Benedryl), lots of water, less dairy and light activity, coupled with periods of rest, good food and the loving support and comfort from my hubby.  Now, I know I will most likely survive a sinus infection without antibiotics.

In the beginning stages of figuring out our insurance needs, I spent a few hours yesterday with our long time highly competent broker/owner of our local State Farm Insurance office, Chad Babcock.  Having worked with  State Farm for the past 40 years, we have never had a problem.  

Before we begin traveling we must address these three major insurance concerns:
1.  How will we insure our luggage, computers and equipment without the security of homeowners insurance or a permanent home?
2.  Will we be able to buy a policy to avoid the high cost of insurance when renting a car abroad, which may be as high as $30 a day in certain locations?
3.  Medicare doesn’t cover seniors traveling out of the US and its territories. What type of policy will cover me, turning 65 in six months, while out of the country?  

With Chad’s help and a few phone calls later at home, we came up with the following scenarios:
1.  Baggage Insurance:  Once we acquire our Nevada residency and address, we will be able to purchase “renter’s insurance” covering the value of our belongings traveling with us, attaching a “rider” for our computers and digital equipment.  
2. Car Rental Insurance:  Many have the perception that one’s own auto insurance will cover a vehicle and liability while traveling in a foreign country. Not the case!  Plus…we won’t be owning a car here in the US, if it did.  We’ll bite the bullet on this one  We’ll pay the insurance at the time of renting the vehicles throughout the world.
3.  Health Insurance:  Without Medicare, a senior cannot purchase a supplemental policy which usually covers most of the costs Medicare doesn’t pay. Thus, I will be required to apply for Medicare (Tom will have five years until he is 65), pay the monthly fees out of my monthly Social Security in order to receive the supplement.  
Plan A:  The cost of the supplement is $185 a  month at this time along with the required Medicare payment for a monthly total of approximately $285.  The hitch:  traveling out of the country allows a total lifetime benefit of $50,000, rather skimpy.  Our insurance guy gave us a quote for me for $432 a month for full coverage, with no limits but add the approximate $99 a month for Medicare, we’d be paying $531 a month, a huge chunk. Tom, obviously younger than me by five years, will be covered up to 94% with the policy offered to him by his employer plus the necessary supplement until he turns 65.  His total cost (for the next five years), $207 a month.   GRAND TOTAL FOR BOTH:  $738  (Yikes! I hadn’t budgeted for this amount)!

As of this writing, I had a light bulb moment!  Duh??? This is not rocket science!
Let’s look at the realities. Tom with better health than I (as hard as I have fought to win over my genes), rarely visits the doctor.  Would the 80/20 (OK out of the country) company provided policy be sufficient for him, saving us $207 a month on the supplement?  

Plan B:  The only difference is 14% (based on the 80/20 coverage without the supplement, as opposed to 94% coverage with the supplement). Then, we purchase the “big guns” policy for me with a $1000 max-a-year out-of-pocket policy with no limits?  GRAND TOTAL FOR BOTH: $531 a month!! 

The financial risk for me?? None! The financial risk for Tom? We’d have to pay a maximum of 20%. Sure, I did the math, the savings of $207 a month over let’s imagine five years, is $12,420.  If he had a $60,000 medical bill, we’d be even.

For now, until we get our feet wet on this adventure, its worth the risk.  In the meantime, this pays for the insurance on the rental cars.  (If a traveler has an accident in certain foreign countries and doesn’t have insurance, they can be detained until the bill is paid in full.

Tom just returned home.  We discussed the above options A and B and we choose B, freeing up the $207 a month to cover the insurance on the rental vehicles.  (We don’t plan to have a rental car more than half of each month to keep costs down, vital all month in some locations and seldom needed at all in others). 
Of course, all of this could be a moot point when Obamacare kicks in. Not intending to get into politics on this site, this uncertainty faces all of us income earning citizens.  Where will Medicare be in the next few years?  None of us know at this time and, probably won’t be able to figure it out in the future.

Hum….