Taking advantage of every moment we can spend with family…Snowstorm in the area…

It was hard to believe we were experiencing winter weather.

Today, we’re staying at the hotel when it’s a very snowy day and dangerous on the roads. This unexpected visit somehow ended up being better timing for our kids to spend time with us, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. We are delighted to be spending such quality time with our family members.

The clothing situation continues to be of concern. We went for a quick trip to the pharmacy for a few odds and ends to replace items we needed to use here that were in our lost duffle bags. Here’s the dilemma…if our bags are truly lost, and we never get them back, we need to replace the lost items.

The bags contained almost every one of our hot weather items. Also included were swimwear, shoes, underwear, casual and dressy tops for me, and every pair of pants we currently wear while in South Africa. I’d recently had a couple of old jeans cut off and hemmed by seamstress Tracy at Daisy’s Den into a pair of shorts I was looking forward to wearing in hot weather.

After considerable discussion, we decided to purchase new clothing with the idea that we won’t be getting back our bags. Why not wait and see? Simple reason by our standards…neither can find any clothing we like while in South Africa. Most women aren’t as tall as me, so buying pants is nearly impossible outside the US. Tom has similar issues buying clothes and prefers certain brands he knows they fit him well and last for a long time.

This morning, I started searching through Amazon.com and putting items into our cart that I knew Amazon could deliver to this hotel in time for our December 8th departure. I actually enjoyed online shopping, especially when I knew the prices are excellent on Amazon and I could predict the quality of anything I bought based on experience.

We hadn’t purchased jackets, only sweatshirts, and hoodies, so it was cold when Tom brushed the snow off the car.

It felt good to get this task accomplished on this snowy day. Meanwhile, we contacted our travel insurance company about the missing luggage. We can file a claim for missing baggage. The claim is to cover some of the cost of the replacement clothing and miscellaneous items we needed to replace for almost two weeks in Minnesota. We don’t have to wait for the bags to be found.

Then we got to work calling about how we could renew our passports. Our ten-year passport ran out a year ago, which we replaced with a four-year passport when we were here a few years ago. Now that passport will run out in January 2024. That seems like it’s long enough away not to worry.

However, our upcoming cruises require that we have no less than six months remaining on our passports to sail. This is becoming a common requirement for many travel venues. As it turns out, we cannot apply for a passport renewal while we’re here in the US since doing so requires we mail our existing passports during the application process. We can’t take the risk that the passports won’t get to us in time for travel in nine days.

Our only alternative is to go to a US Embassy while we are in South Africa in either Johannesburg or Cape Town. That’s what we’ll have to do sometime in the next five months…one more trip on our agenda. However, this will allow us to visit Cape Town, which we’ve wanted to do for quite a while. But we’ve been so content in Marloth Park, we haven’t traveled much to other parts of the country.

The rest of this week is busy. Yesterday afternoon, Tom spent time with his son TJ which we’ll do again before we leave next week. Tomorrow, we’ll head out with daughter Tammy and grandson Vincent to visit Tom’s sister Patty and elder brother Jerome who recently turned 94 along with Tom’s sister Colleen who will join all of us. Thursday evening we’re going to dinner with Greg’s family.

We’re pretty much planning to spend most days or evenings with our kids and grandkids. We are excited about every event with our family members. We would love to have time to see our friends here but time is short and since we didn’t have an opportunity to see anyone due to our being sick with Omicron in May. We’re certainly making up for lost time now.

Tonight, we have leftover food we purchased at the grocery store for last night’s dinner and we will stay in, rather than venture out for dinner in the snowy weather. All is good here.

Be well.

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

Two elephants flapped their ears as we passed. For more photos, please click here.

How does it feel being back in Minnesota?…

Today, it’s snowing in Minneapolis and the suburbs, and the roads are slippery.

Many have asked, “How does it feel to be back home?”

The answer to this question is entangled with many emotions. We had a good life here in Minnesota. Tom was born in Minneapolis, and I’d come to the state back in 1969 when my two sons were two years and an infant.

But, like all families, we each had our struggles, disappointments and tough times interspersed with the happy memories and milestones of our lives and the lives of our children, other family members, and friends.

Now, after being away for seven years, it feels very different and here. Today, I can only speak for myself. Tom can only decide for himself at this point, for which he isn’t entirely sure.

It’s not the same, for sure. Years ago, when on occasion I traveled for business or pleasure, as the plane flew over the city, especially at night, I had a powerful sense of, “This is my happy place. This is my home.”

I didn’t feel a moment of nostalgia or reminiscence when we flew over the city and suburbs on Friday night, other than the joyful anticipation of seeing our family members. It was simply another big city we were flying over at night, some of which elicit enthusiasm and excitement and others, very little emotion at all.

When we’ve arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa, on our way to Marloth Park, I didn’t feel a speck of joy. But, when we’d flown into the small facility, Mpumulanga/Nelspruit/Kruger Airport, my heart was pounding in my chest with sheer fun and excitement. It’s all relative. That’s the way life is. That’s the way our life is.

And soon, when we fly into Mumbai, India is a mere 50 days, my heart will be aflutter with hope and expectations for two months of a purely profound cultural experience with a smidgen of wildlife tossed in the mix. (We’re booking several days on tiger safaris).

But is Minnesota still our home? If not, then where is the home of these two nomads who wander the earth, now seven years in the making? It’s right here. It’s there. It’s everywhere.

The adage, “Home is where the heart is,” however corny that may sound, is with a doubt a truism. For us, wherever we may be at any given moment is “home,” and in our peculiar way, we call it so over and over again. 

When we say after a long day of sightseeing or visiting with friends, “Shall we head for “home,” honey?” “Do you feel like heading home?” We know what we mean, and thus, the definition for us in this extraordinary life we lead is “home is down the road to that place where we lay our heads, cook our meals and find comfort in the activities of our daily lives and each other.”

It’s cold here now, mainly in the low 20’s (-6.6C), and this morning sleet and snow are falling in thin sheets, leaving frosty trees, slippery roads, and walkways. I’ve yet to drive the rental car and suspect I may never in our remaining weeks in Minnesota.

We’ve decided we’ll stay through Thanksgiving, then fly to Apache Junction, Arizona, to our awaiting holiday home, unpack our belongings and then proceed to Nevada for a visit returning to Arizona a week or ten days later. We’ll only take a small amount of luggage to Nevada, and for the first time in a while, we’ll be traveling light. Of course, posts will continue along the way.

Today, we wrapped up the paperwork and got it in the mail for our required visa for India. It’s a complicated process that weighs heavily on our minds. Now we can relax knowing the paperwork is in the mail. We’ll receive the visa via email in several weeks.

Next, we need to process our “second passports,” which enable us to apply for visas requiring we mail in our original passports to apply for tickets. This prevents us from being in a foreign country without a valid passport in our possession.

Tonight, we’re taking three grandchildren out to dinner after watching granddaughter Madighan at her karate class. 

A special thanks to our loyal readers for reading our posts during this quiet time in our world travels. We appreciate every one of YOU!

We’ll be back tomorrow with more, however quiet, however mundane, and however uneventful it may be.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 13, 2018:
This is my boy “Little.”  He visits almost daily.  He’d just returned from eating from the bale of hay left in the neighbor’s driveway when they departed after the weekend. That’s why he has grass all over his snout. He likes to cool off in the cement pond, sleep under the shade of a tree in our garden and climb the veranda steps seeking pellets. What a guy! For more photos, please click here.