Shopping for Tom’s suit…Gee…I don’t like shopping…

More beautiful views of the canal.

While traveling the world, we have been unable to purchase many items we need at any given time. I’d often think of how nice it would be to shop as quickly as possible in the US. But, we were disillusioned. Yesterday, when we visited no less than five stores, I experienced a feeling I rarely experience…feeling overwhelmed.

The DSW shoe store was the worst. I needed two pairs of shoes, one for the upcoming dressy cruise and another pair of walking shoes. Walking into the store, I scoured the aisles for less than 10 minutes. Nothing appealed to me, and the prices were so high. I wasn’t about to pay over US $100 for each pair of shoes.

Gorgeous pool in Karen and Rich’s garden.

Tom had found a pair of black Cole Haan shoes, his favorite brand, at the Men’s Wearhouse, but when I looked online while in the store, I found them online for US $50 less. Once back at the house, he found the exact pair at Amazon and made the purchase. At that point, I found two pairs of shoes totaling less than US $100 and ordered them along with Tom’s.

With that part out of the way, now we can focus on the few odds and ends we need to complete our dressy attire for the Queen Mary 2 cruise while replacing some things that we could only find here in the US. We will be well-stocked with supplies by the time we return to Marloth Park on May 24.

Lovely flowers from a walk.

While at Costco, we extended our Costco membership to Executive to apply for a special rewards Visa card through them with Citibank. We’ll get tons of cashback for petrol worldwide and extras for the cruises we book through Costco Travel with this card. This will account for savings for us we hadn’t anticipated. Thanks to Gerhard for telling us about this benefit. The card will be waiting for us at our mailing service in Nevada when we arrive on May 15.

Costco gave us a fantastic cold storage bag for upgrading our membership. Since we were already paid up through July, we only had to pay the additional US $20 to upgrade the membership card. After handling all of this, we shopped for groceries to bring back to Karen and Rich’s, including some of the best deli meats and cheeses for Tom’s daily meat and cheese roll-ups that lately he likes having for breakfast.

Today, Karen and Rich had a tree cut down on their property, blocking some extraordinary views.

We continue to enjoy time spent with Karen and Rich. Soon, Karen and I will take another long walk on yet another gorgeous day with temperatures in the mid-70s and a gentle breeze. It couldn’t be more beautiful. We certainly came to Florida at the right time of year.

Yesterday, by the end of the day, we had the bulk of our shopping done, both in person for Tom’s suit and online. We were finally able to relax for the evening. Karen and I made sides and salad for dinner while Rich cooked pork tenderloins and zucchini on the braai. Once again, it was a lovely dinner and evening.

Removing the tree from the side yard opened up some excellent views.

On Wednesday next week, we will pick up his suit after completing the alterations. He was happy with everything he purchased, and the suit should fit him well.

For the next few days, we have nothing special planned on the horizon while we’re thoroughly enjoying fun and lively conversations with Karen and Rich. It’s very easy being here with them, as it’s always been on past visits.

The side yard now has a better view of the water.

Have a fabulous day while we revel in Florida’s warm and sunny days.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 29, 2021:

An oxpecker was on the back of a young male kudu, eating the bugs and debris off his body. For more photos, please click here.

Another busy day in the bush…Final Kruger photos…

A hornbill sitting atop a bush.

We are relieved the immigration application has been submitted. Now we wait to hear what transpires in the next 60 days. If we aren’t approved, we’ll have to leave in seven days. We’re optimistic that we’ll be approved. We continue to read about Celebrity Cruises canceling. So far, our April 8 cruise is staying in place.

Today is a busy day. Our eye doctor appointment is at noon, followed by vaccine boosters at the Spar Market. I don’t know how I feel about getting a booster outside a supermarket. But, it was the only nearby option for the J & J booster. We need to get this done.

A yellow-billed stork on a branch.

After both of those events, we’ll grocery shop at Spar with a comprehensive list for Friday evening’s dinner at our place. Rita, Gerhard, Petra, and Fritz are coming for dinner. Louise and Danie may join us if Danie’s feeling better by then since he’s currently under the weather. We have a good menu planned and will share details later.

Vusi and Zef are here now, cleaning the house. The mechanism for the master bath toilet has been acting up for a few days. This morning, Louise went to Komati to get the parts for the boys to replace the inner workings today. It’s been making a squealing noise with the water running constantly. We did the usual “jiggle the handle” thing and even looked inside to see if an adjustment would help.

Vultures, on the lookout, for possible prey.

Toilet parts are different here than in the US, so neither of us knew how to fix it. Plus, there was no shut-off valve under the toilet. Tom, hard of hearing, couldn’t hear the squeal all night long. It was one of those sounds out of his range of hearing. Luckily, last night I was tired enough that I was able to sleep through the noise with the aircon and the fan on.

It’s a beautiful day. The humidity is lower than usual, with the temperature now at 84F, 29C, perfect with the light breeze. It’s a welcomed relief after weeks of high heat and excessive humidity, causing us to swear constantly. Doing my fast walking the past few weeks has been a challenge in the heat. Today will be easier.

The walking is going well. I am up to 6000 steps a day, 4.8 km, 3 miles, adding more each week. After being relatively inactive compared to how I was in India, walking 8 km, 5 miles a day feels good. Within a week, I’ll be at 7500 steps which are 6 km, and I will be happy with that. The 10,000 steps a day theory is just that:

A dazzle of zebras in the bush.

I-Min Lee, a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and an expert on step counts and health, the 10,000-steps target became popular in Japan in the 1960s.”

More on this from this article, stating:

“A 2019 study by Dr. Lee and her colleagues found that women in their 70s who managed as few as 4,400 steps a day reduced their risk of premature death by about 40 percent, compared to women completing 2,700 or fewer steps a day. The risks for early death continued to drop among the women walking more than 5,000 steps a day, but benefits plateaued at about 7,500 daily steps. In other words, older women who completed fewer than half of the mythic 10,000 daily steps tended to live substantially longer than those who covered even less ground.”

If this is true, I am on track with the number of steps required to do me some good. I had read this article  (from a different source) while in India, which inspired me to strive for 8 km per day.

A lone wildebeest.

But, here, 7500 steps is more practical since it’s not easy walking so many steps while indoors. Ideally, I could walk outside, but with the lions nearby and the uneven dirt roads, it makes more sense to do it indoors to avoid tripping and potential injury.

I set my timer for 20 minutes, and I do 500 steps each time it goes off. So I must pay attention to doing this for at least five or six hours a day. Sure, I could do it all at once but breaking it up seems better for me. I like to be done by 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs. In between the walking, I do the post, visit with the animals stopping by, take photos, prepare food for dinner, and do laundry. It’s a pleasant routine.

It’s around that time for us to head to Komati. We’ll be back tomorrow with more.

May your day be pleasant and fulfilling.

Photo from one year ago today, January 19, 2021:

As I stepped out outside onto the veranda, I encountered this. Tom was sitting very close to this snake, eating a frog, and had no idea the snake was there. For more photos, please click here.

Busy morning in the bush…Last night’s new experience…

The sun began to set while the four of us were at Buckler’s Lodge, a short distance, outside the gates to Marloth Park.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 18 warthogs – inc. Tiny, Lonely Girl, Fred, and Ethel, Peter, Paul and Mary, 2 sets Mom and Babies and others
  • 10 bushbucks – inc. Chewy, Thick Neck/Bad Leg, Spikey, and others
  • 7 kudus – inc. Bossy, Big Daddy, Notches, Little Daddy, Mom and Baby, and others
  • 19 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 1 impala
  • 1 wildebeest – inc. Crooked Face
  • 2 Frank and The Misses

It was a busy morning. We had our teeth cleaned in Komatipoort at 9:00 am with Luzanne and had to leave the house by 8:30 to arrive on time. Although my recent root canal was still a little tender, the cleaning went well, and we were both happy with the results. We’ve been trying to get our teeth cleaned as often as possible to avoid dental issues in the future, if possible.

Regardless of how often we get our teeth cleaned, floss, and brush, it’s no guarantee that dental problems won’t occur, as evidenced by my need for the root canal this week and a subsequent crown when we return from the US. Typically, I floss a few times each day and brush my teeth two to three times a day. Tom does the same. But, still, from time to time, we need some dental work.

Quickly, the sun began to disappear on the horizon.

After our teeth cleaning appointments, we shopped at the Spar Centre, shopping for wine, brandy, and food. We did a careful assessment of what food we’d have left on hand and what we’ll eat during these last 12 days until we depart. We have it carefully figured out, so by the time we go, the refrigerator and freezer can be defrosted. Unfortunately, few refrigerators in the bush are self-defrosting.

Yesterday, I made a favorite ultra low-carb hamburger dish which we’ll have tonight and tomorrow. I made three extra tin foil pans, good for two more nights, and froze them. Tom will eat one each of the two nights, and I’ll split one in half for me. A few weeks ago, I made him one of his favorites, low-carb pot pie, which is too high carb for me. So I’ll have whatever is left in the freezer those two nights, leaving us with six dinners covered.

Also, we’ll be dining out at least four times between now and then, leaving us with one only one more dinner to figure out since we’re going on the morning of the 12th day. This is ideal. As for packing, we won’t be packing many of our clothes when we plan to make some purchases in Minnesota. We plan to leave room in our luggage for the new items.

Friendly visitors to the garden on a sunny day.

Yesterday, son Richard wrote that the temperature in Las Vegas was 121F, 49.4C. We don’t plan to purchase clothing suitable for such hot weather since we’ll seldom leave the Green Valley Ranch Resort, Spa, and Casino. Casinos typically keep air conditioning very low to keep “players” comfortable while gambling. So any warm clothing we’re wearing now will be suitable while there.

I’d ordered three quality sweatshirts/jackets from Takealot, similar to Amazon in the US. The items arrived yesterday, and I was delighted with all of them, all American brand names, at half the usual prices. Lately, when we’ve needed supplies, Takealot has done a great job with the availability of products and quick, free shipping. With careful planning and shopping in the US, we may not need to order any shipments from the US over the next year.

Tom is trying to take a nap right now, but I doubt he’s having any luck. I am outside on the veranda, but three hornbills keep banging on the kitchen window, making quite a commotion. Then One Wart showed up, ate all of Frank’s seed from the container on the veranda when I went inside to get some cabbage for the seven bushbucks that suddenly appeared.

Just as I was adding this photo of wildebeests, Crooked Face stuck his funny face around the edge of the house to see what was going on here. Seconds later, Little made an appearance. Busy day, wildlife friends!

Moments later, a small band of about 18 mongoose showed up, and I went inside to cut up some Paloney (a South African type of baloney in big thick rolls) in bite-sized pieces for the little characters. Unfortunately, I have been so busy with the wildlife, I’ve hardly had time to work on today’s post. A young male impala entered the garden and is being chased off by One Wart, Fred, and Ethel. It’s a busy afternoon.

Last night, we headed to a restaurant we’ve never tried, at Buckler’s Lodge, a short drive outside of Marloth Park, partway to Komatipoort. It’s a BYOB establishment with no bar. Rita and Gerhard made the reservation, and once we arrived at the scheduled 5:00 pm, 1700 hrs, we were thrilled to see the gorgeous location on the Crocodile River.

Unfortunately, we didn’t spot any wildlife on the river, but we were delighted with the beautiful location, excellent service, and good food. Mine and Tom’s total bill was US $20, ZAR 282, including tip. I had fish grilled with butter, not oil, and three fried eggs, fried in butter.

Tonight, we’ll cook our beef dish in the oven and enjoy a quiet evening in the bush. The weather has warmed up this afternoon, making the evening all the more enjoyable.

Have a fantastic day and evening!

Photo from one year ago today, June 17, 2020:

In Venice, Italy, with the hot sun, the massive crowds, the going rate of $125 to $150 a couple, and as evidenced in the gondola traffic jam, we decided to forego the 30-minute ride in the congested canals. Instead, we walked the sidewalks and were quite content. For more photos posted one year ago, please click here.

Blizzard coming…Two days and counting…

Photos from a walk on the beach at the Indian Ocean in Kenya in 2013. For more photos, please click here.

With my cardiology appointment tomorrow morning, I’m beginning to wonder if it could possibly be canceled due to the upcoming snowstorm kicking off this evening. 

If that’s the case, I will have to reschedule another appointment in Arizona, where we’ll be for almost seven weeks. We won’t have enough time in Nevada for only 12 days with so much to do while there.

Yesterday, I hadn’t fully explained what I’d done as a volunteer at my grandkid’s school. As it turned out Camille wasn’t feeling well and was unable to attend so I went on her behalf on my own. I was there for 2¼ hours serving lunches to approximately half the charter school’s students.

My “job” consisted of assisting staff in counting numbers of fruit cups, bagged vegetables, sandwiches, either peanut butter, and jelly or chicken subs and placing them into easy-access containers. 

Once the kids began to arrive to collect their lunches, I provided them with an open brown bag ready to fill with their choices, also including milk containers, plastic wear, and napkins. Often, it required my assisting them in serving the bags and encouraging them to take the little bag of veggies which many tried to avoid.

The kids appeared at the service area based at pre-set times based on their grade. The older the kids, the more time-consuming it became. The two lovely staff members who worked at my side did most of the heavy lifting, which immensely helped.

In most cases, the kids were funny and friendly. But what thrilled me the most was the fact that my three grandchildren, Maisie, Miles, and Madighan (who’d brought lunch from home) each stopped by to give their grandma a big hug. That made the experience all the more special.

Afterward, I headed back to the house to finish the day’s post, wrap a few gifts for the kids to open now (with their significant gifts yet to arrive for Christmas), choose some clothing items out of my suitcase to bring to Goodwill, and take tags off casual clothing I’d purchased at TJ Maxx.

My original plan hadn’t been to purchase clothing at TJ Maxx but as it turned out when we stopped to buy the carry-on suitcase, I found a number of items that work perfectly for me, primarily comfy tops and activewear pants and leggings.

It will be cool in Nevada. When we arrive on Thursday, it will be raining (very unusual) with a high of 52F (11C) with a low of 39F (3.9C) definitely cool weather for the wardrobe I already had in my luggage.

When we arrive at Apache Junction a few weeks from now, the weather will be comparable to Nevada. However, both areas are known for sunny days all winter with a strong possibility of warmer temperatures.

Here’s this morning’s news story about the upcoming weather in Minnesota over the next few days:

“Minnesota Weather: November Snow Storm Could Be Biggest In Decade

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A winter storm warning will go into effect for the Twin Cities area and most of southern and central Minnesota starting Tuesday night in what meteorologists say could be the biggest November snowstorm in nine years.

WCCO’s Chris Shaffer says the warning centers mainly on the southern third of the state, including the entire Twin Cities metro area — which the storm is expected to reach by 10 p.m. Snowfall totals in the metro could get between 5 and 10 inches.

The snow will not impact either the morning or evening commutes Tuesday, but Wednesday morning will be a very different story. The snow will stack up in the overnight hours, but the massive system will clear out by lunchtime.

Heavy winds will bring the possibility of blowing snow on Minnesota roads Wednesday.

The timing couldn’t be much worse, either. AAA expects the second-highest number of travelers in a decade on Wednesday, with 1.6 million more expected this year than in 2018.

Shaffer said that might not be the end of the snow this week, either. Another winter storm could develop after Thanksgiving into the weekend, but that storm could bring snow, rain, or a mix. Thanksgiving’s highs will hover just around the freezing mark.

A Minnesota Department of Transportation spokesman said the agency has more than 800 snowplows ready to go, with plenty of salt on hand as well.”

Tonight we’re going out to dinner with Greg, Camille, and the three grandchildren. Hopefully, the snow situation isn’t so awful that none of us can safely make it. We’ll have to play it by ear.

Today at 12:30 pm, I am picking up my friend Chere at her house and we’re driving to the Twin Cities Premium Outlet, located in Eagan, about a 35-minute drive. There’s a Tommy Hilfiger store there where I’ll purchase clothes for Tom. We’ve found the quality of this brand to last the longest over many other brands.

We’ll be back tomorrow, most likely after the cardiology appointment, providing the appointment isn’t canceled due to the weather conditions.

Thanks for stopping by.

Photo from one year ago today, November 26, 2018:

Suckling lion cub as seen from the fence between Marloth Park and Kruger National Park. For more photos, please click here.

Traipsing around the town…Why visit Atenas?…

This morning when I perused through our photos to see what to post, I stumbled across this funny photo showing my hands and camera in the rearview mirror while taking the photo of this rug vendor walking along the street. Vendors don’t pester passersby, asking only once if interested.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Cattle sheltered under the shade of a massive tree during a sunny morning in Atenas.

Walking through the town of Atenas is quite entertaining. The endless array of shops lining the streets, many worn and tattered on the exterior but bustling with energetic business on the interior, creating a fascinating peek into the daily lives of “Ticos,” the acceptable and unoffensive nickname for the locals.

Few tourists are to be found when walking through the town although it’s reported there are about 1500 expats in Atenas of its population of about 5000.

Although an older comment, this quote from a contributor on TripAdvisor provides a reasonable explanation about Atenas. We can’t imagine it’s changed much over the past six years. (See selection below this photo).

A sign was announcing at the Patron Saint Festivities from October 14 through 24. 
Re: Things to do around Atenas
Atenas is a quiet town, authentic Costa Rica, and it could be used as a home base.
Many “well-to-do” Ticos who work in San Jose choose to live there and commute. Kind of like folks living in CT and commuting to New York in the USA.
No crime to speak of, lots of farms, some great locally grown coffee. The area produces five different varieties, only 3 of which are exported (they save the best for local consumption)
I dig it. I used to live in a bustling tourist town here. When I left the coast, Atenas is the town I moved to for a time. I was looking for a city that had zero tourism and found it. I then bounced over to Grecia, but now live in between the 2.
IMO an interesting choice but a good one. No tourist crowds, down-to-earth pricing compared to towns more tourism-oriented. Not much in the way of local attractions, Poas mentioned by ex-beachers is probably one of the closer ones, the metal church in Grecia is something to see and not far away, also there is a great little central park full of green parrots in the town center of Atenas. 
If you are looking for an authentic Costa Rican experience, then it is a good choice.
Cheers”

This is our kind of town, quiet, attractive, friendly and filled with a variety of treasures that easily keep us entertained and engaged (including many birds) during this extended 113-night stay. 

In almost every case, when we chose an extended stay over 90 days, we encounter visa issues.  We’re inclined to avoid such extended stays when possible. But, when we opt for an extended stay, we do it for a reason, often to accommodate the next leg of our travels.

However, the time spent here has definitely been worth the hoopla of having to leave in nine days to fly to Nicaragua to get our passports stamped. Besides, with our five-year anniversary on October 31st, we’ve usually done something special to celebrate…a mini vacation…a special night out, etc. The two-night stay in Managua will fill the bill.

Don Juan Pharmacy where I purchased a bottle of contact lens solution for US $20, (CRC 11,401) usually priced at around US $7.95 (CRC 4,932).

We’ll be back at the villa on the 30th, most likely staying in and celebrating here at the estate on our actual anniversary date on October 31st. It will be easy to celebrate in this outstanding property which far exceeds any five-star hotel we’ve seen to date. 

Would other travelers be content in this small town? Yes, in many ways. Its central location makes it a good base for sightseeing and if one enjoys traveling on mountainous roads the scenery is exceptional as we’ve shared in many posts. 

Atenas is conveniently located near the airport. There are seven hotels listed in Atenas, at this link with more in surrounding areas, some modest and unassuming and others more deluxe (none are five-star rated). Most are well under US $75 (CRC 42,752) per night. 

We’ve heard parrots may be seen in the trees in the park.  We’ve visited several times to no avail.  We’ll keep trying.

There are 39 restaurants listed in Atenas which may be found at this link. These restaurants don’t work for my way of eating but for most, they’ll be ideal with fresh local ingredients and flavors commensurate with local tastes and customs.

Of course, for those interested in the privacy and convenience of a vacation/holiday villa, nothing can beat this exceptional home with three large bedrooms, each with an en-suite bath, plenty of storage space, ceiling fans, and ultra-comfortable beds and bedding. We love the “screening room” with a large flat-screen TV, surround sound, and comfortable seating.

The granite and stainless steel gourmet kitchen with a second “clean up” kitchen is over-the-top with every imaginable amenity and kitchen tool and gadget.  Well, I could go on and on but most of you have read our comments in past posts about how much we’ve loved this property and location.

Nothing is as pleasant as a blue sky during the rainy season.

The downsides are few in this area. However, if dancing until dawn is your “thing” you may be better off staying in the “big city” of San Jose which has every type of nightlife one can imagine.

Although there are a number of clothing, souvenirs and “sports” shops in town in the area, if shopping is high on your list of priorities, a trip to San Jose would satisfy even the most enthusiastic shopper. Atenas lacks in this area.

Also, for the more extended stay, one must consider that its best to arrive in Costa Rica with every possible item you’ll need during your stay. Prescriptions cannot be mailed into the country, although non-narcotic items can be purchased at several pharmacies without a prescription. Keep in mind that brand names and many ordinary doses for many things are impossible to purchase.

There are many tall trees at the central park.

Shipping supplies into the country will result in long delays due to customs with high tariffs on items that may not be worth shipping into the country with the added expense. From what we’ve been able to perceive to date, Costa Rica is very protective of what enters their land for a few primary reasons.

One, they don’t want any hazardous products entering their country possibly affecting the delicate ecological system. Two, they prefer to sell locally grown and manufactured products offered by their vendors. Three, they can collect taxes on locally sold items.

As a result, expats, used to shopping on Amazon, for instance in their former lives, may become frustrated knowing they have to return to the US or their home country to load up on supplies. 

A water fountain at the park.

We particularly understand these restrictions when we realized I’d run out of my one of my regular prescriptions (I take three) while we were here when unable to purchase an alternative in any close proximity to the original dosage. Thus, I am spreading what I have left, missing one pill every fourth day to no ill effects so far. This plan will get me to Florida where my prescriptions will be waiting in our box of supplies at the hotel.

I could go on and on about Atenas and add more information over our remaining days in Costa Rica until we depart on November 22nd. For those considering moving to Costa Rica, we’ll discuss more on this topic in future posts.

Have a lovely day! 

Photo from one year ago today, October 19, 2016:

In Bali, a large visitor came to call after high tide during the night. Check out those eyes! For more photos, please click here.

Shopping online for Antarctica…Quite a challenge…

Ulysses dropped off these tangerines. Tom will eat them when they ripen.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Tom took this beautiful photo in the early morning as the moon was setting. Nice job!

It’s been nagging at us to get to work to purchase the clothing we’ll need for the upcoming Antarctica cruise.  These days, neither of us cares to shop especially considering we’re stuck with whatever we buy. Returning items that don’t fit isn’t an option due to our lifestyle.

On Friday, we talked on Skype to a lovely couple Tom had communicated with on CruiseCritic who’d already done a similar cruise. Al and his wife Donna gave us a list of everything we’d need for the many hours we’ll spend outdoors on the Zodiak boats and standing on ice floes and ice-covered islands.

A quiet side street in the center of town in Atenas.

They suggested the following items:

1.  Waterproof pants
2.  Waterproof gloves with liners
3.  Warm hat
4.  Gator (neck wrap)
5.  Warm socks
6.  Ski goggles
7.  Sweatshirts
8.  Sweaters
9.  Trekking poles 
10. Waterproof backpack
11. Long underwear

There are numerous one-way streets in town.

The cruise line provides a waterproof parka for all guests and boots sized upon boarding the ship. We can keep the parkas but return the boots at the end of the cruise.

We’ve decided to ship all the cold weather clothing back to our mailing service while we’re in Buenos Aires.  They’ll hold these items in our large box until we embark upon some adventures to the Arctic or other cold climates in years to come.

Kids are playing at the central park.

We were grateful for Al and Donna’s suggestions. They also mentioned long underwear, but instead, I’m purchasing a tall-sized pair of yoga pants to wear under the waterproof pants. This will keep me warm and be less bulky than wearing jeans underneath the pants. 

Tom never wore long underwear when working outdoors on the railroad for over 42 years, even when temperatures were as low as forty degrees below zero. Instead, he stayed comfortable with jeans on the bottom and sweatshirts and a jacket on the top. After all, we’re from Minnesota and know how to dress appropriately for cold weather.

As we walked through the park on a cloudy day.

The coldest periods in Antarctica will be the Zodiac boat rides out to the islands and ice floes due to the added wind chill factor from the fast-moving boats. However, once we’re situated, we should be comfortable when the temperature is typically in the “freezing” range, but not much less, based on the islands we’ll be visiting. (We’ve looked up each stop along to way to confirm this fact).

Over the past few days, I finally got to work making my purchases. Unfortunately, the only pair of women’s tall waterproof pants in my size (considering the bulk of the yoga pants underneath) was at Eddie Bauer at the cost of US $179 (CRC 102,853), much more than I wanted to spend. 

Grafitti on a wall on the way to town.

For the remainder of my items, I made most of my purchases at Amazon (here on our site at this link) with a few brand-new labeled items on eBay. So, besides the cost of the pants, I spent an additional US $250 (CRC 143,650) for a total of US $429 (CRC 246,504). 

Had I made the purchases through Ponant’s online shop, I’d easily have spent over US $1,200 (CRC 689,520).  The prices for the remaining items include all of the above-listed items except the poles and backpack (Tom is buying the backpack since we only need one) and the long underwear, which I replaced with yoga pants I’ll keep on hand and wear in the future.

More graffiti on the wall.

Today, as I write this, Tom clicks away on his computer and just purchased two much-needed dress shirts for the upcoming cruises. Once I’m done here, I’ll get to work with him to help him find his remaining items.

Hopefully, by the end of today, this task will be completed.  Once we receive the package with our clothing in Miami on November 22nd, we’ll take a photo of everything and post it here.

May your day be filled with accomplishments providing you with peace of mind. That’s what we’re striving for!

 Photo from one year ago today, October 10, 2016:

In Bali, while on a walk, we encountered this cow. She said, “What are you looking at?” “Your beauty and charm,” we replied. She smiled, and we continued on our way. For more photos, please click here.

A stormy day…Power outages…Credit card frustration…

Across the Bay in Vancouver, we could see the Olympic Mountains. At first, we thought this was a view of clouds, not mountains.

Yesterday morning, after our usual complimentary breakfast at the Country Inn & Suites country kitchen, we sat in the comfy lounge/living room to work on the day’s post.

With the storm raging outside, we were content to be indoors while the rain pelted against the windows. It took a little longer than usual to upload the post due to our distraction over the weather. We were both curious to see what was transpiring on the news.

By 1:00 pm, I was out the door amid a few sprinkles with heavily overcast clouds for my first visit to a Target store for the first time in many years. Tom desperately needed a new pair of black jeans and always preferred Wrangler’s essential brand, which Target sells.

His old pair of black jeans had developed white lines where they were folded, most likely due to overwashing and years of use. I asked him to come along with me to try them on, and he agreed. But I knew how much he dislikes shopping and offered to go on my own.

When I arrived at the Ridgehaven Mall Target Store in Minnetonka, I could tell something was amiss. Upon nearing the entrance, I could tell the lights were out, undoubtedly caused by the storm. 

A tall totem pole in Victoria.

Entering the store, an employee greeted me, offered a cart, and explained the power outage would prevent the sale of any refrigerated foods. The current generator wasn’t sufficiently powerful to allow for ample lighting, especially toward the store’s back.

Well, the men’s jeans were located in the back of the store. Bound and determined to find Tom the black jeans, I headed toward the department; my little LED flashlight in hand. From a lack of recent use, the battery was dying, providing very little light.

Luckily, a helpful employee offered to assist me in finding the correct size in near-total darkness. Alas, we were in luck and found Tom’s oddball size, 36/30 (short for a guy at 6′ feet tall). I was thrilled. I had little interest in returning to the store on another day.

After rolling the cart around the dimly lit store, I managed to find a few toiletry items, two large handled insulated mugs (our two such mugs desperately needed to be replaced), and a big glass Ball jar to hold our iced tea. (I wasn’t about to drink one more glass made in that toxic plastic bottle Tom had been using in our hotel room).

When I went to check out, my Visa credit card was declined.  There was no reason why this should happen. I used a different card but felt frustrated. Immediately upon returning to the red rental SUV, I called the number on the back of the card only to be told my shopping in the USA was suspect. 

“Was the card stolen?” they asked. Ha! That’s ironic. Here I’m using a US credit card in the US, and its use is suspect. Then, they asked for a phone number to verify my identity when their “caller ID” showed my new SIM card number, which they didn’t recognize according to my record. 

Pond view from the moving vehicle.

The only number they had in their system was my old cell phone number from years ago. I guess I never bothered to update it using our Skype phone number in Nevada. 

When I tried to give the rep that number, oh, she didn’t like that.  When I reminded her to look up my account and our world travel with charges from many countries, in addition to many years of flawless payments paying it off each month, she reconsidered, especially when I asked to speak to a supervisor.

In moments, I answered her identity-verifying-questions correctly, she apologized and released the card for use. I supposed I understand they’re trying to prevent theft of the card, but it wasn’t very pleasant nonetheless.

A wild deer was grazing in a park.

Leaving the Target parking lot, I headed to the Payless Shoe Store in the same outdoor mall only to discover a handwritten sign on the door that read, “Closed due to the power outage.” I returned to the SUV and was back on the road again, this time to return to Macy’s for their huge sale.

As we take every possible moment of free time to shop to replace our old and worn clothing, a trip back to Macy’s was on the agenda for me. I’d already purchased enough for Tom and a few items for me, but now it was my turn to finish it up.

Within an hour, including time in the fitting room, I was done.  I’d purchased six items, valued at $397 for a paltry $94 considering all the discounts the store was offering. One item was $79, for which I paid $20. Wow! With a sale like that, I was actually enjoying the shopping and loved every item I’d selected.

Historic house in Victoria.

Now, minus a few other items, we’re almost done shopping. What a relief!  Starting fresh with new items feels rewarding and elicits more enthusiasm than one might experience by “adding” to a wardrobe instead of “replacing” a worn wardrobe.

Back at the hotel, I raved to Tom about my deals. He smiled, happy that I’d enjoyed the bargains but in his usual manner had little interest in seeing what I’d purchased. I suppose for some; it’s a “guy thing.” For others, gender is of little significance in determining who’s interested and who’s not, concerning their beloved partner’s wardrobe.

A short time after I returned to the hotel, it was time to meet TJ, Sarah, Jayden, and Nik for dinner next door at Grizzly’s. We had a great dinner together amid idle chatter among the six of us. We lingered at the table for quite a while, and then, they were on their way after goodbye hugs all around. Another good family get- together!

Hilltop view of Victoria, British Columbia.

Last night, I began preparing today’s post to bring our laptops down to the hotel’s living room while watching the Tony Awards on the big screen TV (larger than the TV in our suite). 

As tired as I was, it made no sense to wait to prepare a post in the morning when I’d have grandson Miles with me for most of the day, picking him up at 8:00 am this morning in time to return to the hotel for the breakfast which ends at 9:30 am.

I haven’t decided what he and I will do tomorrow, but I’m sure once we chat in the car, we’ll come up with a good plan. Whatever we do, Miles and I will have a good time. Tom will be gone part of the day to attend a railroad association meeting, returning later in the day.

That’s it for today, folks. Finally, I’m close to wrapping up the photos from Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia and, I apologize for not taking many photos so far here in Minnesota.  Soon, I’ll be out of photos and have to get the “show on the road” sharing new and interesting photos of Minnesota.  Hmm…maybe that’s what Miles and I can do tomorrow, weather permitting.

Have a good day! 

Photo from one year ago today, June 12, 2016:

Ants carrying off a dead gecko in Bali. For more photos, please click here.

A great day with a great new friend in Lahaina, Maui…A very scary event on the returning tender…

Yesterday, it was cloudy with a bit of drizzle as Helen and I wandered about Lahaina Maui, but the weather didn’t hamper the quality of the day.

While situated in the Diamond Lounge preparing yesterday’s post, new friend Helen popped in to say hello. We discussed the idea of heading to Lahaina on our own, leaving Tom behind.  

Craftspeople are often seen working with a variety of wood commonly found on the Hawaiian island.

Tom had no interest in shopping nor walking through Lahaina one more time after we’d visited the famous tourist town on five or more previous visits. I was thrilled at the prospect of leisurely strolling through the pretty village, perhaps doing a little shopping along the way.

It had been a long time since I’d gone shopping with a friend and was excited by the idea, especially when there was an “outlet mall” several blocks from the port. The ship was anchored in the bay, requiring tender boat rides to the shore.

Banyan trees in the local park in Lahaina.

Helen stopped by our cabin at 2:00 pm when I was ready to go with a shopping bag, camera, wallet and a few incidentals figuring we’d only be gone until 4:00 pm or so. The line for the tender moved quickly, and by 2:30 pm, we were ashore.

The famous tourist town was rife with cruise passengers shopping, dining, and reveling in the sights.

After browsing many shops looking for trinkets for the grandchildren, Helen and I decided to make the several block hike to the outlet mall, especially when we heard about the GAP store. I hadn’t shopped in a GAP store in almost five years. Tom and I both needed updates to our tee shirt inventory when many had become worn and tattered.

An old hotel in Lahaina.

It was a long walk to the outlet mall, which was very different from other outlet malls I’d visited years ago in Minnesota. But, many of the familiar stores were available, and after so long, it was fun to see them once again.

I purchased 12 items for a total of US $106, mainly tee shirts for each of us and three nightshirts for me. The three nightshirts I had remaining were practically threadbare after years of wear.

The last time we visited Lahaina in 2014, we also took photos of this art store.

As it started to sprinkle, we began the return walk to the port, hoping to get aboard a tender before a downpour. After we arrived at the port and a 20-minute wait, we were aboard the tender. 

Lahaina is often packed with tourists. This was our fifth visit to this Maui town since the onset of our travels four and a half years ago; twice by ship, three times by car when we lived in Maui for six weeks in 2014.

This particular ship uses its lifeboats as tenders to ferry passengers back and forth from the ship to the port of call when the port is inadequate for docking. In most cases, the ride from the ship to the land takes less than 20 minutes but boarding and disembarking can take anywhere from 10 to 20 additional minutes, at most.

It was apparent the seas were rough shortly before 5:00 pm on a cloudy, windy day. We bobbed side to side as the tender headed toward the ship at full throttle. 

An exciting piece of art in a local gallery.

At first, none of the passengers appeared worried or concerned during the rough seas until we reached the boarding and disembarking platform, a section of the ship that drops down to create a flat ramp that usually provides relatively easy access for most passengers.

Historic Hawaiian property under construction in Lahaina.

A few passengers were using canes and walkers, generally not precipitating a problem with staff available to assist. As the boat pulled up to the staging area, the driver was unable to steady the ship sufficiently to pull close enough to tie the boat’s mooring lines to the platform.

As the rough seas escalated, the boat rocked to and fro with such force; it was impossible to gain a firm enough hold with the thick lines to allow a single passenger to disembark. At that point, the conversation stopped as many passengers had worried and frightened looks on their faces.

We’d taken a photo of this tiny theater in Lahaina three years ago.

The boat banged against the metal platform with such force that some exterior lights and accouterments were smashed as we slammed harder and harder against the platform. Suddenly, a woman screamed who’d banged her head against the window, asking if she was bleeding. 

I was seated at the window and felt myself cringing and moving to the left each time the boat fiercely banged against the metal structure. As a boater for most of my adult life, I wasn’t frightened at all, nor was Helen. 

It was fun to go to a Gap outlet store for the first time in almost five years. I purchased several tee shirts for both of us.

Many passengers were terrified and anxious to get off the boat. It took no less than 30 minutes for the boat to become stabilized enough to allow one passenger at a time to disembark. One mentioned her fear of having a heart attack based on her level of sheer terror.

In all, it was about an hour from the time the tender reached the ship’s platform until we were all able to disembark. Throughout the remainder of the evening, several passengers chatted about the incident, shocked by the experience.

Of course, I’d hoped to make a video of the incident but it was impossible, based on where I was seated. I attempted to get the camera out of the shopping bag but could not hold on well enough to do a video or even take a single photo.

View of our ship from the sidewalk in Lahaina.

My paper GAP shopping bag had torn during the upheaval, and the new items began to spill to the floor. Helen and I hurried to gather the things which she placed into her backpack. 

By the time I entered the cabin, it was already close to 6:30 pm. Indeed Tom was at happy hour with our friends on the Promenade deck and waiting for me to arrive. I hurried to get myself changed and ready for the evening, able to get out the door by 6:45 pm.

Busy day in Lahaina.

The evening was pleasant as usual, with my dinner diligently attended to by Belik, the head waiter and my food restriction coordinator, who fusses over me more than any other such staff member on any of our past 17 cruises. 

We made a point of mentioning his exemplary and attentive service to Captain Rick and have already written a glowing review on a mid-cruise survey. When the cruise ends on May 15th, in six days, we’ll rave more about Belik on the online survey that follows each cruise, which Tom diligently prepares in every case.

A man caught a good-sized fish from the shore.

Today, we’re in Honolulu with no intention of getting off the ship.  After many prior visits and tours, we’re content to stay aboard and see the matinee movie in the Palace Theatre at 1:30 pm.

Tonight, we joining another lovely couple for a second “dinner date,” Leann and Chuck, for what indeed will prove to be yet another divine evening. We’re heading back out to sea at 6:00 for the final leg of our cruise to Seattle, Washington. 

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 9, 2016:

We miss the fantastic food prepared by two cooks named Ketut in Bali which included Blue Fin tuna made with a tomato, lemongrass sauce, spicy vegetables with a side of coleslaw. For more details, please click here.

Yesterday’s trip to a big shopping mall…12 days and counting… No, we’re not staying in the US after the upcoming family visit…

Sign on beach walkway called the Marine Parade from Manly Beach to Shelly Beach.

We had intended to visit the vast Westfield Warringah Mall today instead of yesterday, but we decided to go on Sunday when we heard it could storm today. As it turned out, it stormed last night with the first thunder and lightning we’d seen since our arrival. So today, it’s cool and windy.

Gorgeous beach scenes on a sunny day.

Bob was visiting a friend at a nursing home, suggesting he drop us off at the mall since it was on his way. So we left at about 11:30 am after I’d finished and uploaded the post for the day. It was a warm sunny day perfect for yet another outing.

Although we haven’t had a rental car during this period, with Bob’s generous assistance and generosity and the ease of using local transportation, it’s worked out quite well.

Shelly Beach at a distance.

Having loaded plenty of money on two Opal cards (prepaid public transportation cards which we swipe when getting on and off buses and once upon boarding the ferry), using public transportation has been a breeze.  

It was a warm sunny day.  Sunbathers and swimmers lounged on the pristine beach.

Only on a few occasions, a long walk was required to get to and from a bus stop, but we haven’t minded. We’ve seldom had to wait more than 10 or 15 minutes for the next bus or ferry. It a relatively flawless system.

The vast mall was a combination of outdoor and indoor shops, one of which was the first large Target store we had seen since Hawaii in 2014. We wandered through the aisles in awe of all the merchandise.  

Succulents grow prolifically in many parts of Australia.

Will we experience culture shock when we return to Minnesota in 46 days, where an “abundance of everything” is rampant in stores, restaurants, and other public points of interest?  By the time we arrive, we’ll have been gone 1668 days. We anticipate it will be different than we recall.

Australians waste no time taking advantage of sunny days at the beach.

Why did we go to a mall? We both needed some shirts for the upcoming 33 nights of cruising (with a two-day gap between our arrival in Seattle and boarding the cruise to Alaska when we’ll stay in a hotel in Vancouver).

We recently checked out several shops in Manly but were unable to find a single item under AU 125, US $93.79. It made no sense for us to spend that kind of money on shirts when we’ve found that more expensive items don’t seem to last any longer than the less costly items after repeated washings.

Havana, a restaurant in Manly Beach.

After wandering through many shops, I was able to find several tops while Tom only purchased three short-sleeved shirts. He’s not keen on the new style of men’s shirts with roll-up sleeves. Why? I don’t know. But, he wears what he likes, not what I want. But he looks great when we go out to dinner and on cruises.

Great people watch and stroll along the outdoor mall, the Corso in Manly, a walk we’ve enjoyed several times.  However, we’d never been able to find any clothes at reasonable prices in this popular tourist area.

While in the US, we’ll review all of our clothing and decide what we’ll need to add before leaving, shopping at our former favorite stores. (If they’re still there).

Speaking of the US visit, we’ve been asked many times if we plan to stay after the nine-week family visit. No, we do not. We’re booked well into 2019, with plans to secure well beyond that year. 

A P&O ship, a famous British cruise line, leaving Sydney.

It’s not possible to book holiday homes, flights, and cruises further than two years out.  As a result, we continue to add to our itinerary as opportunities become available, coupled with our desires regarding what countries we’d like to visit in years to come. 

Lots of activity near one of the Manly ferry boats that head back and forth to Circular Quay in Sydney many times per day.

The world’s a prominent place.  We’ll never run out of ideas. We’ll only run out of good health and the required “oomph” to continue at some point. But, in the interim, the love of this life and enthusiasm has yet to wane in any manner. Even with the health setbacks I’ve had this past year, we’re still confident and excited for the future.

Be well and take care of yourself!

Photo from one year ago today, April 10, 2016:

One year ago, while living in New Zealand, we encountered these cattle crossing the road. The farmer offered to stop the flow to let us drive by, but we insisted they carry on, enjoying the view. For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…Fabulous time out and about…Many new acquaintances…More new photos…

Upon entering the Market @ Franklin, we immediately met Natalie who’s  natural bath, skincare, and beauty line, Naturally Spellbound, is made with all organic products and essential oils. Natalie can be reached here

After yesterday’s post discussing our occasional lack of motivation to get out and the fact that it was a blissfully sunny day, we decided to “hit the road.” With our vacation/holiday home located on a long highway with few outlets to other areas and not feeling up to spending a few hours in the car, we headed back to Franklin.

The Market @ Franklin is held the last Sunday of every month in the historic Palais Theatre in Franklin, Huon Valley, Tasmania. This attractive venue may be rented for weddings, celebrations, and other events.

A few days ago, we’d spent the afternoon at the Australia Day celebrations in Franklin, Tasmania.  Grace, the alpaca products vendor, directed us to the brick building and on Main Street where, on the last Sunday of every month, a comprehensive farmers’ type market is held. She encouraged us to attend when sensing we’d certainly get a kick out of it.

As we moseyed along the rows of displays, this display caught our eye, especially after we were offered a sample.

Grace was right.  No more than moments after entering the door of the historic Palais Theatre, we encountered Natalia, who not only represents her fine products (photo shown here) but also is the organizer of the year-round event as shown here:

“The Market @ Franklin

The Market @ Franklin in the Palais Theatre on the last Sunday of the month all year round. Come along and enjoy a great market day out, and inspect the wares, crafts, and fresh produce of Huon Valley’s locals. The Huon Valley Growers and Makers Market features 30+ stalls showcasing and selling the best produce and craft of the Huon Valley, including seasonal fruit and vegetables, free-range eggs, jams, chutney, honey, cakes, pies and olive oil, plants, seedlings, and herbs, ceramic wooden and textile crafts, jewelry, and alpaca products. 
For stall enquires please contact Natalie via email: natalie@simplyspellbound.com.au

After tasting the naturally “smoked” sea salt, we couldn’t resist making a purchase from Smoked Salt Tasmania.

We chatted with Natalie for quite a while, taking photos of her beautiful display and reveling in this wonderful area of the Huon Valley. As is the case of many we’ve met in Tasmania, their roots started in one of the big cities on Australia’s mainland.

Much to our pleasure, we engaged in a lengthy conversation with Miffy and Don, the owners and creators of this unique product, Smoked Salt Tasmania. For more information on the most delicious salt on the planet, please click here. They may also be reached at Facebook: Smoked Salt Tasmania. What a delightful couple!

Many have shared that they’d longed for the less hectic lifestyle of big city life to eventually relocate to Tasmania for a simpler, easy-paced life on this remote island. Less than a two-hour flight to Sydney and more to other big cities, many locals have found the move to Tasmania fulfilling in many ways.

There were a few homegrown vegetables left, but we had all we needed.  We arrived at the market around noon after we’d uploaded the day’s post.

After we left Natalie, we headed toward the many other booths/displays offering a wide array of fine products. 

The vendors couldn’t have been more friendly. Once again, we ran into alpaca farmer and product maker Grace. Seeing her once again was comparable to running into a longtime friend.

Cute, homemade little felt booties. 

As we continued on our way, it didn’t take long to meet the delightful couple, Don and Miffy, who innovated the delicious, Smoked Salt Tasmania, a bag of which we couldn’t resist purchasing at the cost of AU 15, US $11.34. 

All the displays were set up beautifully, and overall, prices were reasonable.

Naturally aged in barrels (without the use of any of the popular toxic smoke seasoning or other chemicals), the smoked salt is made using natural sea salt harvested in Tasmania. The sample we were offered on a little slip of paper sent our taste buds on a frenzy. I couldn’t wait to get back “home” to use the salt in some way for our dinner. It was indeed a flavor-bursting treat.

More items are included in Julia’s display.

Not only did the product excite us, but after our lengthy conversation with Don and Miffy, they invited us to visit them at their home in Snug. We just may do that during our remaining month in this area of Tasmania.

After viewing all the remaining displays, drooling over a few food offerings, we headed back outdoors, where additional items were offered for sale. With too many photos for one day’s post, we’ll include the remaining photos in tomorrow’s post.

The homemade cupcakes looked delicious.

Rushing a little today with Marguerite, our cleaner, arriving shortly, we’ll wrap it up for today and see you tomorrow with more. Cloudy and rainy, we’re heading out for our weekly grocery shopping in Huonville in order to be out of her way while she cleans.

Have a peaceful and yet meaningful day!

Photo from one year ago today, January 30, 2016:

Many signs and names of towns are were based on the indigenous inhabitants of New Zealand, the Māori who’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.” For more photos, please click here.