We’re on the move in less than 15 hours…Happy to be heading back to our “happy place.” after all of the challenges…

On Tuesday, we will arrive back in Marloth Park. We’re excited to see some new and old animal friends and human friends at our new location.

We are so done with this trip; we can’t wait to be on the move. However, the two-day journey will be exhausting. A sense of enthusiasm and excitement will surely guide us through the two long days and nights until, once again, we are driving up to Louise and Danie’s Info Centre to pick up the keys to our new house. Then, a two-minute drive to the house, around the corner from where they live.

If all goes as planned, we should be seeing their warm, smiling faces by 10:30 Tuesday morning. South Africa is nine hours later than here in Nevada. It will feel like 1:30 am Tuesday to us, but immediately, we adapt to the local time zones. We may have lost two nights of sleep at that point, but we’ll stay awake until bedtime on Tuesday night, desperately trying to avoid taking a nap.

Hopefully, on Wednesday morning, we’ll wake up to a sunny day with mild temperatures since it’s almost winter in the Southern Hemisphere. Our favorite time in the bush was with the cooler temps, fewer mosquitos and other insects, and fewer snakes slithering around the garden. The nights will be very cool, and the days will be comparable to winter weather in Florida and Arizona in the US. Lovely.

I’ll still wear repellent on exposed skin since we don’t take any malaria prophylactics. But Tom, who never gets bit, doesn’t have to give it a thought.

We’d packed our dry goods in plastic bins before we left on March 23, and they will be waiting in the house for us to unpack. Most likely, by Wednesday afternoon, we’ll be entirely unpacked and can then settle into the beautiful routine of “life in the bush” we so much love; animals, friends, drives in the park to look for more wildlife, trips to nearby Kruger National Park to see the bigger game and weekly trips to the town of Komatipoort to grocery shop.

Once settled, we’ll book appointments with Doc Theo to have him check us out as we continue to recover from Covid-19, which we contracted, as you know, on the last few days on Celebrity Silhouette, spending those two-day quarantined in a different balcony cabin on a specific deck where others who’d tested positive were also in isolation. It was a tough few days.

Not only were we served less than ideal room service meals, but when it was time to disembark, we were shuttled like cattle to the “Covid bus” to be dropped off at our respective hotels in Southampton, UK. We saw many other passengers with whom we’d conversed on that bus where we were all well masked (moot point). Did we give it to them or them to us? It didn’t matter. No blaming is allowed in this scenario.

Since we arrived at the Leonardo Grand Harbour Hotel, where we stayed for seven nights, the time seems to have passed in a blur. I barely remember our trip to Marriott Hotel in Gatwick (close to London), where we stayed for another three days waiting for negative PCR tests so we could fly to Minnesota.

We had to cancel the cruise back across the Atlantic Ocean on the Queen Mary 2 and the flight from the disembarkation point in New York. We received a partial credit from Cunard for the cruise (which we’ll deal with once back in SA) and credit with American Airlines for the missed flight from New York to Minnesota. We doubt we’ll ever use the American Airlines credit since we seldom fly their routes, and there is a time limit on using the credit.

Gosh, we purchased all those dressy clothes for the Queen Mary 2 cruise, and now they hang in the closet, wondering when we’ll ever wear them.

Amid all this madness, numerous situations occurred, all of which we posted here, which created more stress and frustration. Many resulted from “human error,” mostly “theirs” and a little of ours. After all, one of the significant symptoms we both experienced was brain fog, which is finally beginning to recede a month later.

Fortunately, last night, the two Covid-19 PCR tests we had taken at CVS Pharmacy were negative. But, last night, before the results arrived, their website was down, and I was worried we wouldn’t get the test results on time. I lost a few hours of sleep thinking about this. I needed the night’s sleep since it was the last full night’s sleep before Tuesday.

Now, I’m a bit tired, but I don’t dare nap when we have to get up at 3:00 am, in a mere 15 hours. since it’s around noon here now. We plan to have dinner early and try to sleep early, but we’ll see how that goes. We rarely fall asleep before 11:00 pm.

We’ve already printed our negative Covid-19 test results and a copy of our 90-day rental agreement with Louise, which we may have to produce if asked why we want to stay for 90 days in South Africa. All we have left is to pack the toiletries we’ll use tonight and tomorrow morning and our laptops with various cables and adapters into Tom’s backpack.

Tonight, we’ll eat in our room after picking up dinner in the resort’s food court, where we both found items to our liking and suitable for my way of eating.

Hopefully, we are looking forward to the next few days being as stress-free as possible. Tomorrow, we’ll prepare a new post during the six-plus hour layover in Newark before boarding the 15-hour flight to Johannesburg. We’ll be back with you then! Thanks to everyone for all the well wishes!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 21, 2021:

A playful pair of elephants across the Crocodile River. For more photos, please click here.

Resolving the Las Vegas car rental issue…Challenges continue…Two days and counting…

We are thrilled with the quality of the photos using my new Google Pixel Pro XL6 phone. They appear to be more precise than those using our camera.

This morning, a kindly Uber driver picked us up from our hotel and took us to the nearby CVS pharmacy for our Covid-19 PCR tests, which we’ll use to fly to South Africa in two days. The driver picked us up at 10:30 and returned after one more stop at Smith’s market to pick up our curbside order of Crystal Light iced tea.

We couldn’t purchase enough iced tea to last for the next year, but it was enough to get us through the next few months until we placed an order on Ubuy, an online service that ships to South Africa. Crystal Light is not sold at any of the markets in the country. We’ll pay a premium price for the product, but it still will be less than shipping it from the US.

The walkway over the main pool at the resort.

Although we’ve given up many of our favorite products since we began traveling almost ten years ago, there are some items that we haven’t been willing to stop using, and this is one of them. Finding alternatives to many grocery items has been easy overall with our limited way of eating. Still, we search for a specific item and have trouble finding it from time to time.

The past 24 hours have been somewhat wacky. We’ve been busy taking care of phone calls necessary to ensure we’ve received proper credits for multiple scenarios, including the charges still showing on a credit card for the rental car we weren’t able to obtain from ACE car rentals on Sunday when we couldn’t produce a Nevada utility bill.

A portion of the attractive grounds at the resort.

The credit card company’s service rep was accommodating. After about 40 minutes on the phone, they credited our card the US $366 and will contact us if there are any future issues in processing the credit from the company, Wise Cars, which we’ll never use again. All of their phone numbers were disconnected. Is it any wonder?

This morning, we stopped at the concierge desk to speak to kindly Douglas once again. Could he arrange for a ride for us to the airport on Sunday at 4:00 am? As it turns out, there’s this huge event going on now, EDC, Electric Daisy Carnival, which brings hundreds of thousands of visitors worldwide to participate in the 24-hour-a-day partying event.

With it around 100F, 43C, outside, we had no interest in sitting by the pool at the resort.

Subsequently, getting an Uber or a taxi at this time in the morning is impossible since many of the shows on the strip end in the middle of the night. Douglas said he’d start calling around to see what he could find. The only option was a private limo at three times the cost of a taxi at US $74.26. With a tip, the cost will be close to US $100. We authorized Douglas to book this for us.

Then, when the confirmation document arrived from the limo company, we noticed it said 4:00 pm not 4:00 am. That resulted in another phone call and email. We have the corrected confirmation and can plan to be downstairs with our luggage at 4:00 am on Sunday. We will have to get up at 3:00 am to shower and dress to get downstairs on time.

The next time it is 4:00 to us, we’ll be on the flight from Newark to Johannesburg. The next 4:00 am after that; we’ll be getting up again from the partial overnight stay in the airport hotel in Joburg to ensure we get to the gate on time for our final leg on the flight to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger airport to pick up the rental car to begin the 90-minute drive on the N4 to Marloth Park.

The cabanas are appealing, but the suffocating heat is unappealing at this time.

This crazy schedule means getting up at 3:00 or 4:00 am for three nights in a row, considering the only sleeping time we’ll have once it begins when we’re at the airport hotel in Johannesburg, where we’ll try to get some sleep for a few hours. It’s hard to get much sleep when we know we have to wake up in the middle of the night.

Still feeling weak and tired from Covid-19, this schedule won’t be easy. The key will be to get through the 6½ hour layover in Newark and be able to sleep a little on the flight. The plane will be full, but we won’t know for sure until we board. Then, if either of us can end up with two empty seats beside us, we may be able to lay down and get some rest.

This makes me exhausted just writing about it. If we weren’t recovering from Covid-19, this would be easier. And although we are making every effort to be optimistic, we aren’t foolhardy. We’ve traveled on long flight itineraries for many years, and we are well aware of the challenges.

Today, we’ll continue with more tasks we need to accomplish and hopefully get a good night’s sleep tonight; the last night we’ll have until next Tuesday when we arrive in Marloth Park and move into our new house. Since we’ll arrive before noon, we’ll have time to start unpacking, perhaps take a nap and head out to Jabula for dinner. Gee…that would be nice.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 20, 2021:

These two wildebeests visit often. The one on the left is CF, for Crooked Face, and his loyal friend is Hal. For more photos, please click here.

One day and counting…Tom is on the mend…Maybe seeing family today…

Last July out to dinner on Camille’s birthday with my son Greg, wife Camille, and three grandchildren, Madighan, Miles, and Maisie. I wish we could have done something like this while we were here this time.

Tomorrow afternoon at 3:45, our flight from Minneapolis to Las Vegas takes off. Hauling all of our bags at the confusing and overly busy airport in Las Vegas is daunting. It’s not as simple as deboarding the plane and making our way to baggage claim.

We have to take a train with our bags to a waiting area to take a shuttle to the car rental area. The last time we arrived in Las Vegas, we had to stand in line for almost an hour to board the shuttle to get to the rental car area and then wait another 30 minutes to get the car.

At this point in our Covid-19 recovery, I can’t imagine either of us standing for so long, especially while handing the bags without a trolley which isn’t allowed in the queue. Yesterday, we discussed the possibility of leaving me at the pickup level with all of the bags while Tom does this part on his own.

I wish I could do this for him, but the rental car is in his name as the only driver, and they’d never turn the car over to me. It’s the nature of the beast. But, it will be a whole lot easier for him without the bags in tow. Once he gets the car, he’ll drive to the area where I’ll be waiting for him. He’ll call me when he arrives. I’ll have the bags with me on the trolley.

Once we load the bags, we’ll be on our way to the Green Valley Ranch Resort in Henderson, about a 20-minute drive from the airport. Then, we’ll begin to focus on our recovery. We haven’t made plans with Richard yet, but we probably won’t see him and his girlfriend until Monday night for dinner.

There are numerous restaurants in the resort. We are never happy with room service food, preferring to have more control over what we’ll have for dinner. On Monday morning, for the first time in almost four weeks, we’ll have breakfast in a restaurant, the lovely Lucky Penny restaurant in the casino. It will be easy for us to do another night of takeaway, which we’ll have in our room.

Tom is feeling well enough he doesn’t see any benefit to returning to Urgent Care. Once we return to Marloth Park in 10 days, we’ll book appointments with Dr. Theo to be checked for any residual symptoms we may be experiencing at that time. We’re hoping by that time, we’ll be fully recovered but based on how slow improvement has been,

I’m not entirely sure we’ll be free of symptoms. We will be very grateful if we are free of the annoying and uncomfortable symptoms that have lingered for 3½ weeks since we initially tested positive on April 20 while still on the ship.

This morning, I am doing our final loads of laundry. It’s taking everything I have in me to manage these two loads of laundry. This may be the last time we’ll do laundry until we arrive in South Africa on May 24. Everything we do is in slow motion right now.

This afternoon, we plan to drive over to Greg and Camille’s house and see everyone from the car. No kissing. No hugging. Just quick hellos and goodbyes from the vehicle with our masks on. With us still coughing, it’s too risky for them to be too close to us, and with Miles’ recent positive tests, any of them could be asymptomatic, carrying a variant different from our recent infection.

Too much is still unknown about Covid. With conflicting opinions online on the length of contagion while still experiencing active symptoms, it’s vague about the potential of us infecting anyone else. We are most likely safe, but we are also concerned about getting reinfected by others.

So there it is folks. We are very grateful that getting Covid wasn’t worse than it was, requiring hospitalization. Our two weeks in Minnesota were spent in isolation in a hotel room once again.  We are anxious to get on with our lives, hopefully soon.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 14, 2021:

Three wildebeests were lying in the driveway shortly before Dawn and Leon arrived for sundowners. For more photos, please click here.

Hiding in the bathroom during tornado warnings!…A delightful surprise from a local reader/friend!!!…Three days and counting…

What a fantastic surprise and treat. I couldn’t be more grateful to friend/reader Joanette for her thoughtfulness.

We were watching another episode of Outlander. With Tom’s bad hearing and now stuffy head, we had the streaming show on the TV loud. Surprisingly, these rooms in the hotel are fairly sound-proof. But I heard some strange noises outside,  sounding like a train.

Immediately, I jumped up from the bed, and then we heard the sirens. Tornadoes had been sighted in Eden Prairie, exactly where we are located. Indeed, we were in the midst of a severe weather warning, requiring everyone to take shelter. We turned off the streaming show to get to the news.

This container is filled with delicious low-carb chocolate muffins. Note the recipe on top by zooming in.

Opening the door when I heard noises in the hallway, I saw no less than 20 people sitting on the corridor floor, their backs to the wall, waiting out the storm. We decided to stay in the room but moved all the “important” stuff into the windowless bathroom where we’d be safe from flying glass or worse if this hotel complex were to be hit directly.

We couldn’t get a good stream on our phones or laptops with weather reports. When the sirens ended, we returned to the room and checked the TV for weather reports which continued for hours. Winds in the range of 80 to 90 mph (128 km to 145 kph) came through along with some “touching down,” but fortunately not enough to do much damage other than to roofs and trees).

We sighed with relief. It had been a while since we encountered such a tornado-producing storm. It had been almost ten years ago when we still lived in Minnesota. Severe spring and summer storms are common in Minnesota and the midwest. Entire towns are wiped out due to significant tornadoes.

The bag of sugar-free chocolate chips will come in handy when we return to Marloth Park.

In any case, last night’s storm died down, and we could finish watching our show until we were ready to go to sleep. More of the same caliber storms are predicted for today, so we’ll keep an eye out and take shelter again if necessary.

Yesterday, Joanette, a long-time reader/friend who lives in the Minneapolis area, sent me an email stating she was stopping by with a container of low-carb chocolate muffins she’d made. I was blown away by her generosity and thoughtfulness. We’ve been sitting in this hotel room for the past 11 days, and a treat like this means the world to me.

Joanette had included this lovely card with a special message on the inside and the back. See below.

I explained we wouldn’t see her when she and her hubby came to the hotel. We didn’t want to take any chances whatsoever, for them, for us. But, when the front desk called at noon, saying a package had been delivered for me, I swooned with delight.  Joanette included a good-sized container of the most delicious low carb (2 grams each) chocolate muffin, but she included a thoughtful card, a bag of sugar-free chocolate chips, and a beautiful card, photos of which I’ve included here today.

It was hard for me not to try the muffins all day, but I resisted and waited until after dinner, when I made a dessert-like ritual of putting two muffins on the glass plate and savoring every bite. Tom doesn’t do well eating dark chocolate, so he won’t eat any of the muffins, which is a plus for me.

In 2017, we met Joanette for the first time when we had a get-together here in Minneapolis for our local readers. She brought me one of those muffins on that occasion, knowing I followed a low carb/keto way of eating. Since I can’t get all of the ingredients in most countries, I never made them, although I often thought about that muffin when craving something chocolate. I devoured that single muffin that night, and she remembered how much I loved it.

This message, on the back of the card, reminded us of our lives, always on a mission to adapt to circumstances, regardless of how hard they may be. We’ve used pool water on many occasions to flush the toilet!

Now in the tiny kitchen is a container stocked with the chocolate muffins (minus the two I ate last night), and it’s such a treat for me. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Thank you, Joanette!!! You are a kind and generous soul!!!

Now, Thursday, we are only three days from departing for Las Vegas. Tom started the Cortisone today, as prescribed, in addition to day three of two antibiotics, along with the other medications. Hopefully, this medication will escalate his recovery to another level, making it possible for us to fly to Las Vegas on Sunday afternoon. He says if we were leaving today, he could do it. But, I am happy it’s not for another three days, giving him more time to recover. He’s got a long way to go to recover.

When the housekeeper cleans our room today, we’ll head back to Cub Foods for a few more items to get us through the next three days so we won’t have to go out to eat or do takeaway. We haven’t had a single meal in a restaurant since we got off the ship infected with Covid-19, on April 21, over three weeks ago.

Since we can’t see family, I can’t wait to return to Marloth Park to make a tasty, healthy dinner with a big side salad to savor while seated on the veranda overlooking the garden, watching an entirely new batch of wildlife stopping by to check us out. New wildlife friends will be made, new names will be introduced, and if “safari luck” prevails, we may see a few familiar wildlife friends from our last house in the bush.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 12, 2021:

What an interesting bird! It’s a spooned-billed stork we spotted at Sunset Dam in Kruger National Park. For more, please click here.

So much to do…So little time…

Another beautiful sunny day in Florida!

We didn’t realize until we arrived back in the US how much work we had to do when we got here. Perhaps, we were trying to keep our time in Florida easy and uncomplicated. But, once we arrived, we realized all the tasks facing us had to be completed before we will leave on April 8. They include:

  1. Purchase travel insurance for upcoming cruises – DONE
  2. Upgrading Costco membership to Executive and applying for the Costco Visa card. (As it turns out, we ended up having to provide extra proof of our identity due to “South Africa” popping up on our credit reports) – DONE
  3. Get a fraud flag off one of our best credit cards since we used it for multiple purchases worldwide, and it was flagged as “possible fraud.” Tom has provided all the documents except for an original social security card he doesn’t have. All social security offices are temporarily closed due to Covid, and applying online is a mess. We are still working on this.
  4. Purchase clothing and shoes for Tom for the upcoming Cunard Queen Mary 2 cruise – DONE (picking everything up next Wednesday, April 6, for our April 8 departure).
  5. Purchasing odds and ends and shoes for me to complete my clothing for the Queen Mary 2 cruise – DONE.
  6. Purchase various cosmetic items and costume jewelry for upcoming cruises – Almost done.
  7. Apply for renewal of our passports that expire in 20 months. (Most likely, we’ll save this task for Minnesota when we arrive on May 1)
  8. Cancel the changed cruise to Russia and Ukraine to ensure the credits go to our future booked cruises. Tom was on the phone for at least 90 minutes. Once the credits show up in our email in 30 to 45 days, we can go back in and transfer the credits to the future cruise. Azamara refused to make the funds transfer from one cruise to another. We have to call again when the credits appear to have this done.
  9. Order a new phone for me. DONE (More on that in tomorrow’s post with the solution to our Google Fi dilemma)
  10. Arrange for Covid PCR test at nearby CVS pharmacy – DONE

Of course, other situations might arise in the next several days, but we’re ready to tackle them as they occur. Karen commented on how much work it is for us to travel. She is so right. The mountains of documents and processes never cease to amaze us.

Whoever thinks traveling the world is a constant vacation/holiday is kidding themselves. The work required to book venues, stay on top of pricing, and take advantage of price drops, plus book flights, hotels, holiday homes, can be daunting.

Imagine how much time you spend planning one vacation, let alone where we’ll be for a year at a time or more. Record keeping is vital during these processes to ensure we don’t forget a thing. We keep detailed notes online on our travel calendar we can easily refer to at any time.

Staying calm and friendly when speaking to representatives is an integral part of all of these transactions, whether they’ve made an error or if we missed something. It’s not unusual for us to sit side by side, planning and handling obstacles for an entire day. Keeping an upbeat attitude is vital to this process, and after over nine years of doing this, we’ve learned the true meaning of “patience is a virtue.”

No, we haven’t had time to drive around and take photos of this lovely area. By the time we have completed our tasks for the day, helped Karen make dinner, do our laundry, shopped for groceries and other things, including preparing the post, and responded to countless email messages we get each day, we feel it’s important to spend valuable time with our generous hosts.

This leaves us little time to run around taking photos. Once we get on the cruises when all of our needs are included, we’ll have time to take photos since all we’ll have to do the daily post (WiFI signal permitting), take photos throughout the ships, and enjoy ourselves.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 30, 2021:

The previous night, we had a visit from a thick-tailed bushbaby. They are a threat to the smaller bushbabies. For more photos, please click here.