On the move again…Off to Arizona…Last night’s Vegas Golden Knights game…

On our way to the Vegas Golden Knights game.

In a few hours, we’ll be leaving Richard‘s home in Henderson, Nevada to begin the five-hour drive to Apache Junction, Arizona. Tom still is under the weather, but it’s time to move on. We’ve spent 11 days here, accomplishing everything we needed to and spending quality time with Richard and my sister Susan.

This morning after a decent night’s sleep, I bolted out of bed knowing it was time to pack. We hadn’t packed a thing the past few days and the entire job was ahead of us.


As I start gathering my belongings and toiletries, leaving enough out for Tom after his shower, I realized how quickly we can pack when weight is not an issue. Having purchased some new clothing while in the US, it made me realize how much more “thinning” I need to do in my clothing suitcase in order to comply with upcoming airline baggage restrictions in India.

Our seats were ideal in the center about 20 rows back from the ice.

Since we’ll be in Arizona for almost seven weeks, I’ll be able to unpack everything and redefine exactly what I want to keep. For some odd reason, I am hanging onto some old clothing I no longer wear. That mentality doesn’t work in this lifestyle.


Our last full day in Nevada was good. We watched the winning Minnesota Vikings game with utter glee. A few hours later we were on our way to T-Mobile Arena on the Strip to watch yet another sporting event, the Vegas Golden Knights hockey game. I’d say Richard is definitely a super fan with his excellent season tickets.


He’d arranged for an additional two seats for us, next to him and we couldn’t have been more pleased. Our mouths were agape as we entered the area of the arena. The music, the Christmas lights, the hoopla, and the enthusiasm were palpable.


Disappointingly, his team lost but we were totally entrenched in the “show” the team puts on during the games to keep their fans well entertained. There was never a dull moment.


After the game, we made our way to an old favorite restaurant of mine from years past when we’ve visited him. (He’s been in Las Vegas for the past 30 years). The familiar smells and the energy in the California Pizza Kitchen create a pleasing and memorable ambiance.


The service was slow when many others had the same idea after the game. But we entertained ourselves in idle chatter, with leaving the next day on my mind. Of course, it’s been hard to say goodbye to family members whom we may not see again for another two or more years.


Back at the house, we wrapped up the evening as we both took a dose of Nyquil to keep the coughing under control during the night and aid in us getting a decent night’s sleep. I did better than usual. Tom, not so much.


This morning I focused on getting all the small stuff packed, leaving Tom with only his clothing. The sheets are in the washer and once they are dried, we’ll remake the bed and be on our way.


This next phase of our travels, these weeks in Arizona should be easy. It will be a short walk to Tom’s sister’s homes and we won’t have to be driving long distances to see family. Our days and nights should be uncomplicated and easy over the Christmas season. 


This schedule will provide both of us time to recover from the coughs and prepare ourselves for the next leg of our journey. The only long drive that we have ahead of us is to return the rental car to the Phoenix Airport in two days, which should be around a two-hour turnaround. We so appreciate that Tom’s sister Margie’s kindly offered her car to us while we’re there. 


Tomorrow, we’ll be back with more, a new experience, living in a senior RV park in Apache Junction, Arizona. Of course, photos will follow!


Have a great Monday!

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Photo from one year ago today, December 9, 2018:

Traffic jam on the paved road in Marloth Park. Delightful! For more photos, please click here.

The 2½ hour wait at the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles…

While in Penguin, Tasmania in 2017 we took this photo on our way to the town of Ulverston. Tasmania never disappoints!  For more photos, please click here.

We each had over a year left until the expiration of our Nevada driver’s licenses. However, with uncertainty at this point as to when we’ll return to the US, we needed to take care of this task before we depart Nevada in four or five days.


We both dreaded the process when the DMV in Henderson (and other locations) usually requires appointments to avoid waiting for hours. The last time we did this, seven years ago, the line extended outside the building with no less than 100 impatient applicants pushing and shoving to secure their spots.


With Tom sick all week, we avoided going. But as time wore on, we decided we’d better take care of this regardless of how he or I was feeling. When we awoke yesterday morning, it was raining heavily.


We imagined standing in that long queue outdoors in the rain with both of us still coughing (especially Tom) and getting soaked. I’d packed our cheap plastic rain protectors in the blue bag and by 9:45 am we took off.


Imagine our elation when we drove into the parking lot and there was no line at all! Apparently, due to the inclement weather, people decided to wait and go another day, which proved to benefit us greatly.


Upon entry into the building, which was packed, within minutes we got a number from the receptionist, found two adjacent chairs and began the long wait, making sure we didn’t miss the call of our number over the PA system.


We realized the wait would be long, but we were so pleased to avoid standing outdoors in the rain, hardly a whimper crossed our lips during the over-two-hour wait.


Some may say, the facility is disorganized with so many applicants always waiting to be seen. In fact, we perceived it as being very organized and well-planned with friendly customer service and systems in place to facilitate a somewhat painless process.


I played with my new phone while Tom never took his eyes off the screen with the numbers that had been called and those numbers upcoming. The time went more quickly than expected and by noon we met with the rep who would process our renewals.


The process itself took about 30 minutes when the rep was curious as to why we were renewing early which apparently is unusual. She then continued to ask many questions. Of course, we had nothing to hide, but we didn’t want to get into our entire story.


Finally, our temporary licenses were issued and we were directed to the area where photos are taken. Amazingly, there was no queue there and we breezed through the process in a few minutes.


Once out the door, we sighed in relief. It was finally done. Next time, we can again apply online when every other renewal time, an applicant must apply in person.


We feel as if we accomplished a lot while in the US, amid both of us being sick; we applied for and received our visas for India, applied and are awaiting our “second, four-year” passports and now renewed our driver’s licenses. It’s been a huge relief to get these time consuming and cumbersome tasks out of the way.


Our next project…deciding on how we’ll spend the two unbooked months in India after we’ve completed the Maharajas Train tour on February 8th. Planning this is a big project and we just may have to wait until we get settled in Arizona next week. Plus, we still have to work on hiring an attorney to assist us in getting the visa waiver to return to South Africa.


I’m off today to visit my sister Susan once again. I’d intended to go yesterday, but when we returned from the DMV so late in the day, I realized I’d be stuck in rush hour traffic, in the rain, on the return drive. No thank you. I’ll be on my way soon.


Have a pleasant day!

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Photo from one year ago today, December 5, 2018:

Mom and piglet enjoying the cement pond on a hot day. It’s summer during this time of year in South Africa and with the drought and lack of bodies of water available to the wild animals, they may seek a refreshing dunk in the cement pond in our garden, intended as a source of drinking water. For more photos, please click here.

Turning the corner…Still lots to do…

Two years ago today in 2017, in Pisco, Peru, we spotted these children playing at the beach with views of colorful fishing vessels.  For more photos, please click here.

While we were about one week into the most recent cruise, one early evening at the beginning of the free-drink-happy-hour (two hours long), I wasn’t able to take a sip of my wine. I felt queasy and dizzy.


Tom walked me to the cabin, helped me get situated into bed while I encouraged him to go back to the event to enjoy the evening’s camaraderie and bring me a small plate of food from the buffet before he went to dinner in the main dining room. There was no point in him sitting there with me.


Before 7:00 pm, he brought me a plate of roasted chicken, grilled fish, and steamed veggies. By 9:00 pm, he’d had dinner and returned to the cabin for the night. 


I had no idea why I was dizzy but by morning it passed leaving me with a peculiar little cough that eventually blossomed into the full roar of the virus from which we’re still experiencing now. It’s been 34 days since the onset.


As I mentioned yesterday, Tom is now suffering as I did over two weeks ago in Minnesota when I went to Urgent Care twice only to ultimately discover after taking antibiotics and cortisone, it is truly a virus with little to be done other than to wait it out.


Of course, if either of us had suspected it was more serious than the virus we contracted while cruising, we would have sought more medical advice. We had no fever, no symptoms of pneumonia, no chest pain (although our stomach muscles ached from coughing, a common side effect).


Yesterday, I awoke to feel dizzy again, on top of awful coughing, and this morning that is totally gone and much to my delight, my cough has lessened dramatically. Oddly, it came in with dizziness and left with the dizziness. Go figure. I’m finally out of the woods, or so it seems.


Tom is insistent we go to the DMV today but again oddly enough, it’s going to rain today. A visit to the DMV results in a long outdoor queue often standing for hours. We weren’t able to book an appointment based on a lack of availability while we’re here before we depart for Arizona next week.


The end result? Today, rain or shine we’ll stand in line at the DMV, to renew our driver’s licenses. Yes, we have raincoats but no umbrella. Who has an umbrella in Nevada? It rarely rains here.


I’d planned to see Susan today but that’s up in the air based on how quickly we are able to get through the line at the DMV. If not today, I’ll go tomorrow. Perhaps, the lines will be shorter today with it raining.


Out of the small backpack, I just dug out the total-body-coverage cheap plastic raincoats we’d purchased in Thailand for 85 cents each which have served us well on several occasions over these past few years. We’ll see how they work for us today.


No doubt, I’m dreading this DMV thing but it has to be done. Tom offered to go on his own but I too, need my license renewed and it makes no sense for us to go separately.


We’ll continue to keep our readers informed of the infinitesimal activities of our time here in Nevada. Soon enough, a little excitement may ensue as we begin to pull ourselves out of the throes of the virus.


Happy day to all, rain or shine.

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

This fluffy little one captured our hearts. For more photos, please click here.

Coughing from hell…Is cruising worth it?…

On this date in 2016, we arrived in Penguin, Tasmania where we stayed for six weeks. This is the view from the living room window of the wonderful holiday home we rented. It was a delightful six weeks and remains one of Tom’s favorite places in the world. For more photos, please click here.

During our seven years of world travel, there was only one other time we were both as sick as we are now with a virus. We were on a cruise from Honolulu to Sydney. Upon our arrival, I was barely able to get myself onto the deck to take our first photos of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.


Driving the rental car to the holiday home in Trinity Beach is but a vague memory. We were disorientated, exhausted and racked with horrible bouts of coughing for no less than three weeks. 


We never mentioned it in the blog feeling we didn’t want to “bore” our readers with medical woes. However, after this past dreadful year of my heart issues, we don’t feel as if we need to “hide,” especially when so many of our readers have written to us not only wishing us well but finding comfort in some of their own issues, in the fact they are not alone.


Only a week into the most recent cruise from Southampton to Fort Lauderdale, we acquired this virus and we’re struggling with it much longer than expected. It seems the cough, exhaustion, and feeling disorientated has become worse over time. We can’t imagine others on that cruise aren’t suffering in the same manner.


It would be easy for any observer to say, “Then, why in the world would you go on cruises if you get sick?” 


We’ve been on 25 cruises since beginning our journey in 2012. Sure, I’ve had the cruise cough several times, with Tom catching it less often. Our answer is simple: we use cruising as a means of getting from one part of the world to another, avoiding considerable flights.


Then again, airplanes can be a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses and we often hear about travelers becoming sick from flying. Combine the flights many take to arrive at the point of embarkation on a cruise, and it’s become a double whammy.


The reality is, for whatever reason, our immune systems are vulnerable to the germs on cruises. No doubt, we need to focus on ways in which to be all the more cautious while cruising. We’ll begin doing more research on ways in which we can reduce the risk and also improve our immune system.


Perhaps its a by-product of long term travel. We’re often asked if we get flu shots and we do not. Each country has its own specific strain and it would mean we’d have to be immunized in several countries. This doesn’t seem to be 
healthful or sensible.


At this point, Tom is suffering in a manner similar to where I was a few weeks ago when I went to an urgent care clinic and was prescribed antibiotics and cortisone, neither of which alleviated the symptoms. I still kept coughing and feeling awful.


But during this time, both of us were very busy with our families and could hardly slow down when we were there for only three weeks. We’ve slowed down considerably since arriving in Nevada and luckily Tom has had a chance to rest for several days while I’ve gone to visit my sister, shopped and cooked meals, nothing overly strenuous.


Tom’s time to rest nor my level of activity have had any impact on helping or changing anything one way or another. Today, I’m “down for the count” right along with Tom. We’re both staying in all day, lounging on Richard‘s comfy sofa with plenty to watch on the big screen TV.


We had planned to go to the DMV to renew our driver’s licenses today but neither of us has the strength to stand in line for hours. Somehow we’ll manage to take care of this before the end of the week. We’re leaving (driving) for Arizona early next week.


While at the urgent care clinic in Minnesota two weeks ago, they explained we aren’t contagious anymore but also there is little to be done to alleviate the symptoms of a virus. 


There is no point in us seeing a doctor. Antibiotics don’t work. There’s nothing that can be done. We’re using the over-the-counter meds recommended by the doctor at the clinic. The nighttime Nyquil seems to help us sleep better. We just have to wait it out.


Be well. 

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Photo from one year ago today, December 3, 2018:

Giffafe in the garden aching for the treetops. For more photos, please click here.

A fun win with fun photos…Four days and counting…

Tom won the last game, Bingo Coverall winning $200! Fun! (He looks tired having had
 little sleep while here, mainly due to me coughing all night).

Each day when I sit down on the comfy sofa in the walkout (ground level) lower level of Karen and Rich’s gorgeous home in Eden Praire, I’ve wondered if I would have enough time to get the post completed and uploaded. Today is no different. 


There’s always something to do before the day ends; dinners out and/or activities with family members or friends; visits to various family member’s homes and a plan for dinner if we’re alone.

Rich was served a bloody Mary with a BLT (bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich)
at the end of his straw. That is so USA!

Last night’s plans were dashed last minute when Greg and Camille weren’t feeling well. Instead, we stayed in, munching on various snacks we had on hand, still full from yesterday’s big lunch event at Lucky 13 Pub where we had a great time with Karen and Rich.


They’d suggested we take a break from our busy status to join them in this popular pub where bingo is played for three hours every Saturday from noon to 3:00 pm. We jumped on board and headed out in two cars when we had some shopping to do afterward.

Tom’s Rueben sandwich with jumbo onion rings.

It’s easy to spend upwards of $40 combined with two people playing bingo with two cards (each with three games) during each of the 13 rounds. It couldn’t have been more fun! We never gamble and for me, this felt like gambling but I tossed aside my anti-gambling mentality and went with the flow.


Tom was all in, determined to win but the disappointing thing about bingo, it’s entirely a game of chance with no opportunity for strategy or clever play. Little did we know or anticipate either of us would win but in the last game, he won the $200 cash prize as shown in the main photo. What a surprise!

Karen’s huge platter of chicken tacos. Complimentary popcorn was served.

After the lunch and bingo playing ended, we each took off in our respective vehicles while we headed to TJ Maxx to purchase a carry-on bag. Our black duffle bag finally died on this last flight. 


When the old duffle bag’s wheels weren’t very functional and the bag was often heavy with its contents consisting of mostly jeans and heavy clothing, it was time to replace it with an easier to use carry-on bag with sturdy wheels. 

Rich’s burger and fries.

It took us quite a while to find just the right bag but finally after carefully inspecting several bags we found a high-quality London Fog bag that fit the bill. With sturdy wheels and handle, it definitely will be easier to use. 


In the next few days, we’ll be loading up the new bag with the former contents of the duffle bag and begin packing. We’re leaving Minnesota in a mere four days. The time passed quickly but we’re grateful for the quality time we spent with family and friends.

My fresh and delicious Cobb salad with chicken, bacon, avocado, hard-boiled egg, tomato,
onion, and bleu cheese crumbles.

This morning, we drove to Blaine (45 minutes each way) to see Tom’s sister Patty and say goodbye. We have no idea when we’ll see her again, along with everyone else. It was wonderful to spend time with her.


When we returned to Karen’s and Rich’s after visiting Patty, we dropped Tom off while I did a little local shopping: Target (first time there this trip for a few items); and Lakewind’s Food Coop. 

The rules of play for Lucky 13 Bingo in Bloomington, only available from 12:00 to 3:00 pm on Saturdays at this festive pub and restaurant, plus the dabbers which were provided at no cost. Each three-game sheet was $1. Overall, we spent about $50 to win the $200.

My friend Chere, a highly experienced nutritionist and motivational speaker introduced me to Simply Snakin’ seasoned chicken and/or beef sticks. Made with grass-fed and free-range meats, this low carb, sugar-free, chemical-free 60 calorie meat sticks are the perfect pick-me-up snack. They may be purchased at Lakewinds in this area or at Amazon online at this link.


Back at the house after shopping, I got to work on today’s post but took out 30 minutes to speak to my old friend Lisa on the phone with whom I’ve been friends for over 30 years. It was such a treat getting to hear her voice. 

The brightly lit, typical bar/restaurant was set for the bingo enthusiastic, eat and play.

There are many other friends we’d have loved to see and spoken to, but the time here has just been too short. Also, I believe my pre-occupation with recovering from this dreadful virus and cough has put a damper on many activities including spending time at my son Greg’s house. I am grossly allergic to cats and wasn’t able to spend the amount to time at their home that I’d have loved.


Tomorrow, I’ll spend the better part of the day with DIL Camille. There’s a project at the kid’s school in which I plan to participate. Then, some shopping for grandkid’s Christmas gifts. It will be another busy day. Tom will finally have a day to relax and catch up while I am away.


We’ll be back tomorrow, most likely later than usual since I’ll be leaving early in the morning and won’t be able to work on the post until later in the day.


Have a superb evening!

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Photo from one year ago today, November 24, 2018:

Mom was very easy going and loving with each of her piglets, even when they ate pellets intended for her. For more photos, please click here.

I did it again!…I forgot to take photos…

Lovely drive into the Kahili Golf Course in Maui from our post on this date in 2014, found here.

The photo-taking situation hasn’t been good while we’ve been in Minnesota. The only way I can explain this is the fact that we’ve been so distracted by the interactions with family and friends, we’ve simply forgotten to take photos. 


Once we’re on the move again and feel as if we’re “traveling” again we’ll surely kick the photo-taking back into gear. During this time in the US, it doesn’t feel as if we’re traveling even if we will be moving on to other states over the next 67 days until we leave the US once again.


Several times, we’ve been asked when we expect to return to the US. At this point, we have no idea. With my looming cardiology appointment, we’re a bit tentative to book far into the future.


Providing I get a good result from the appointment, we’ll feel more at ease in booking plans for the future. We’ll just have to see how it goes this upcoming Wednesday.


Last night, was another fabulously entertaining evening. We met with Marie and Bill (friends/readers) for dinner at Redstone Restaurant and had a delightful time catching up. Of course, they didn’t need much catching up from us. 


They’d been reading our posts from the beginning and have been totally apprised of everything that’s transpired over these past seven years. It was fun hearing how much they knew about us, our travels and of course, our trials and tribulations. It was wonderful hearing about their lives. They are a lovely couple and we hope to see them again next time we come to Minnesota.


As we mentioned in yesterday’s post here, by coincidence, Karen and Rich had plans to also meet a couple at the same Redstone location for dinner. After dinner, Marie and Bill had to head out for an early morning road trip to attend a funeral out of town. Karen had stopped by to welcome us to join their group at their table when we were available.


Well, of course, again, we had a fantastic time, chatting, laughing and sharing stories as a group of six. Tom and I each ordered another beverage and settled in for a few more hours of good times.


We didn’t get to bed until after 1:00 am. Fortunately, we both slept well, albeit with my less frequent coughing (improving a little each day) awakening at around 8:00 am.


This morning, we’re going to lunch with Karen and Rich at a pub in Bloomington where guests can play bingo while dining. We’ll be leaving here soon to get cash from an ATM and off we go to “Lucky 13.” 


They both raved about how fun this establishment is and wanted to share the experience with us. We could hardly turn down another opportunity for a good time.


After we’re done there about 3:00 PM, we do a little shopping and then meet Greg, Camille and the three kids at Pinstripes in Edina for dinner and bowling. I made reservations as is often required for any events in busy Minneapolis and it’s suburbs. We’re meeting at 5:00 pm for dinner and the bowling begins after dining. 


I doubt I’ll be able to bowl at this point but it will be fun to watch them all enjoy playfully competing with one another. Most likely, we’ll be back at the house around 10:00 pm and perhaps have an early night tonight.


It’s amazing how well we both are holding out with the constant activity. Neither of us feels exhausted or overwhelmed. We’re simply rolling with the punches and the high level of activity.


We don’t have big plans tomorrow other than to visit Tom’s sister Patty to say goodbye. She won’t be coming to Arizona this winter and this will be the last time we’ll see her until we leave on Thursday.


It’s hard to believe we are leaving for Nevada in a mere five days.


Please stay in touch for more as we wind down our time in Minnesota.


Have a fabulous weekend wherever you may be.

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Photo from one year ago today, November 23, 2018:

We call this pair of wildebeest, Dad & Son.  They aren’t frequent visitors like Wildebeest Willie but always welcome as are the zebras and warthogs. For more photos, please click here.

Busy days, busy nights…Life in the USA…

My cioppino (fish stew) at Stella’s Fish House was delicious.

Our days and nights couldn’t be busier consisting of one event after another. Today, my dear daughter-in-law Camille and I shopped at Cub Foods, Target and the dollar store in preparation for making a fabulous rocky road bar recipe (from my baking days, long past).


The goal was to make as many as we could with the ingredients we purchased for an upcoming bake sale event at the three grandchildren’s charter school in Edina which we visited on Monday for a special Veteran’s Day celebration.


Maisie, our granddaughter is on the school council and each of the council members planned to participate in the bake sale.  Maisie was excited Grandma was here to help bake something special for the event occurring on Thursday evening. I was “all-in” of course, never wanting to disappoint our precious grandchildren.


Camille and I shopped this morning and my eyes were like saucers at the abundance of “stuff” on sale in the three stores we visited, particularly Cub Foods, a massive supermarket, containing literally everything a person could dream of buying at a grocery store. I was on information overload.


It had been over two years since we’ve visited the US and as expected, walking into a spacious store of any type makes our heads spin in sheer delight over the vast options, more than we’d ever imagined.


Back at hers and Greg’s homes, we hustled to get the bar’s ingredients mixed together to get them into the oven before Tom planned to pick me up by 5:00 pm.


We told our kids and our thoughtful host not to worry about meals for us. We’d figure them out on our own. Plus, I didn’t feel up to standing in the kitchen cooking big meals for hours since in any case, it’s in my nature to help out.


But, busy all of these hours made me realize I still wasn’t quite “up to snuff” and didn’t possess the stamina and strength to perform lots of tasks to help anyone out with their day-to-day lives.


This was the first time in nine months I’ve had busy full days and I could easily feel the strain on my still recovering body. I’d overestimated what I was capable of doing and in my typical style I jumped in with both feet pushing myself as hard as I can with some consequence.


Going forward, I will take it a little easier, reducing what I expect of myself to a more manageable level. No one in our family is expecting me to push myself. It’s all on me.


Tomorrow will be a little more low key. Tom and I will hang around at Karen’s home during the day while we work on our visas, two-year passports, and logging receipts. In the afternoon, we’ll head back to Camille and Greg’s home so I can cut up the bars and arrange them in the pretty containers we purchased to use to sell the bars at the bake sale. 

Afterward, we’ll take the three kids out to dinner at their favorite local restaurant, Bunny’s, returning them home after dinner.

My sister Julie has flown back to Los Angeles. It was wonderful to see her and in the next month, I’ll see my other sister Susan in Las Vegas, Nevada along with son Richard in Henderson. Busy times. Good times. Memorable times.


Back at you soon!

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Photo from one year ago today, November 12, 2018:
The convoluted photo is difficult to decipher at first.  Note the one kudu attempting to eat the seeds in the birdfeeder which she eventually accomplished. For more photos, please click here.

Fun times dining with family…Cold, cold, cold…Veteran’s Day event…

Out to dinner at Stella’s Fish House, charming granddaughter Maisie sat next to me.

Introspective grandson Miles wasn’t interested in fish and had a burger instead.

Always-smiling Madighan was loving being with her family and eating seafood along with a taste of Grandpa’s barbeque ribs (who like Miles, didn’t eat fish). 

We knew it would be cold in Minnesota, even as early as November but we had no idea it would be as cold as it has been today. As of this moment, close to 2:00 pm, the temperature is 15F, -9.44C.  That’s cold. 


Considering today’s windchill is bitter cold -1F, -18C, walking outside downright uncomfortable. For the locals this is normal. We remember living here seven years ago.

This bitter cold weather takes our breath away with a cold grasp that sucks our lungs dry. Yesterday, a light covering of snow fell which melted a short time later. Upcoming on Wednesday, the snowfall could be substantial enough to cause congestion and accidents on the roads. I’ve yet to drive a car.


I wasn’t a good driver in the best of conditions and I doubt I’d be any good in this slippery weather. We’re doing everything we can to avoid the necessity of me driving either the rental car or the SUV offered by Greg and Camille (son and DIL). 


We’ll see how that goes since it seems we’re always on the move and often finding we need to split up on several occasions to spend time with our respective families. That’s how it goes with “blended families.” Very few situations allow for the two separate families getting together.


Our grandchildren are delightful and the parents happy to see us at long last. We feel bad about being away for so long but my health issues of this past year kept us away for an additional seven months, over and above the time we’d originally planned to be here.


The price we paid for the unavoidable delay has been being in this cold weather which will only worsen during our remaining time here, depending upon when we decide to leave Minnesota to head to Nevada to see son Richard in Henderson and sister Susan in North Las Vegas.


How’s it going here? Very well. It’s wonderful to spend time with the family and look forward to plans together over the next few weeks. Thus far, we’ve been extremely busy, more than we ever have while traveling since my surgery in February.


I’m working hard to keep up with everyone and all the planned events. Previously, we had many more hours a day to lounge and lay low.  Now, its a fairly consistent level of activity and I’m striving to stay in tune with everyone else.


At night, after a long day and evening, we wind up back at Karen’s gorgeous home to relax and spend more time catching up. Over these years, Karen and I have stayed in fairly close touch and now our conversations are similar to those wonderful chats we had together, day after day, for many years. 


Tom and Karen’s significant other, Rich, get along well. Late last night, they watched the winning Minnesota Vikings game while I wandered off to bed for much-needed rest. It’s all going quite well.


This morning at Maisie, Miles and Madighan’s charter school, Agamim Academy, a school devoted to educating eager students about US history, the Constitution, and the American way, we attended a beautiful presentation for Veteran’s Day commemorating many veterans in attendance and recognition of service provided by our armed forces.


It couldn’t have been a more inspiring presentation. Seeing the smiling faces of our three grandchildren and all the other almost 400 students, so proud of their school and country, was inspiring in itself.


At the moment, we’re back at Karen’s working on today’s post and reviewing the prep necessary to apply for our visas for India which we’ll need in a little over 60 days. 


That is quite an undertaking as we heard it would be. We’ll be using the services of a visa company to assist. Also, we’re applying for additional passports…for two years. Our current passports don’t expire until 2021. We’ll explain more about this later.


Tonight, Tom has plans with grandson Vincent and daughter Tammy while I am going back to Greg and Camille’s home to spend the evening with sister Julie (she leaves tomorrow to return to LA), Camille and the kids while Greg is out on business.


We are happy to be here with family and will muster our way through the bitter cold weather and the busy family activities.


Happy day!

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Photo from one year ago today, November 11, 2018:
“Little” came back for more pellets on the veranda.  He feels quite at home here.  Who knew pigs climb stairs? For more details, please click here.

Delta, the demon, day from hell…Finally, we’ve arrived…New phones…

This morning’s view from the backyard of Karen’s home in Eden Prairie where we’ll be staying while here in Minnesota.

With the best intentions, I’d planned to post this yesterday. But, once we arrived at son Greg’s house and the fun activity began I had no time whatsoever to wrap it up and upload the post.


Also, Tom’s new Google phone had arrived and I had to spend no less than two hours setting it up. I am usually adept at this but the process wasn’t as clear cut as it could have been and I spent at least an hour on the phone with tech support, finally getting everything resolved.
This issue centered around the fact that we’d purchased two Google phones and mine had yet to arrive (it arrived at Karen’s home last yesterday) making it difficult to set up a joint account for pay as you go phone and data with only one of the phones in our possession.

We are ridding ourselves of our Skype phone number and will use Whatsapp, Skype or Facebook Messenger for future out-of-the-country calls. Our new phones have reasonable international call rates (as a global phone) but there’s no point in paying when no cost options are available via the web.

We’ll never have to buy a SIM card again when these global phones work anywhere. Today, I’ll finish setting mine up and we’ll be good to go.  Ironically, Tom forgot to bring his with him when he left to see his family this morning. Ha! I guess now, we’ll become more phone conscientious with these new devices.

On to our trip from the pier in Fort Lauderdale to Minneapolis:


Without a doubt, we are always grateful to any airline for getting us safely to our location. I wish we were tolerant enough to feel that was enough. A certain semblance of organization and flow is also required for us to provide anything beyond a one-star rating.


Delta Airlines, masterful advertisers appealing to all of our senses which was evidenced at Fort Lauderdale, Detroit, and Minneapolis airports with the finest of graphics posters at every turn, leaves a traveler with high expectations.


We were sorely disappointed. Both flights were seriously late with few updates offering its passengers little comfort and remained in a perpetual state of confusion. Let’s face it, we’re fairly savvy travelers and yet we were constantly scratching our heads wondering what was next.


As it turned out an expected arrival time in Minneapolis was at 6:30 pm when it fact we didn’t arrive until almost 8:30 pm, not the worst delay but surely the most confusing. 


With the necessity of picking up the rental car and a horrendous walk to the car rental area, we weren’t on our way to Karen’s home until well after 9:00 pm. We’d been on the move for 14 hours since we disembarked the ship in Fort Lauderdale when we arrived at Karen’s home.


Surprisingly, to both of us, we felt relieved and energized, ending up enjoying the remainder of the evening with Karen and Rich, in their comfy living room, in their gorgeous home, sipping on wine, and catching up.

With Tom off to spend part of the day with his family and the evening with mine watching the Minnesota Vikings game, it will be another good family day for both of us.

This morning, son Greg is picking me up to attend a brunch at a restaurant with Camille, his wife, my three grandkids and other family members and friends.  She has been going through a difficult medical crisis and we are all here to love and support her.

My younger sister Julie is also here visiting from California so its all the more special to be together once again. It has been two years and three months since we were here.

We’ll continue to post each day during our two plus months in the USA. Photos may not be a prevalent during this period but we’ll do our best. I have several for tomorrow’s post. Please check back.

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

Wildebeest Willie looks into my eyes when I talk to him in a goofy high pitched voice.  In this photo, he was sharing pellets with impalas. For more photos, please click here.

Final cruise expenses including cruise bill…A few favorite photos…We’re off to Minnesota!…

The colorful video presentation of Le Petit Chef dinner in Qsine was delightful and truly memorable.

Here are the expenses for our 15-night cruise from Southampton, England to Fort Lauderdale, Florida:

Expense US Dollar
Cruise Fare  $ 3,814.30
Airfare – none – drove to
Southampton
 $    –  
Hotel 2 ngts-
Southampton-with discount
 $   187.06
Taxi   $     22.00
Cabin Credit  $ (400.00)
Wi-Fi on ship (inc in fare)  $    –  
Gratuities (inc in fare)  $    –  
Cruise bill for
purchases 
 $   664.59
Total  $ 4,287.95
Avg Daily
Cost – 15 nights
 $    285.86
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We’re currently situated in comfy chairs at Fort Lauderdale Airport awaiting our flight to Minneapolis via Detroit with includes a long layover. It appears our outbound flight is delayed on Delta Airlines (not unusual) but luckily our long layover in Detroit won’t cause any time constraints for the next leg of the flight.

Yesterday, we’d prepaid the baggage fee of $140 to avoid delays at the airport. With curbside check-in available getting boarding passes and checking our bags was seamless and we were whisked through immigration and security without incident.

When going through security I asked if I could be frisked as opposed to going through that invasive x-ray machine, explaining I have trouble (which I do) raising my arms over my head since the surgery. No problem. They complied with my request and tested my fingers for explosive materials..
The display left us totally in awe over not only the visuals but also the fine food.
We found electric plug-ins at the chairs at our gate and with the flight delayed we’ll be waiting here for over two hours to board the flight. It will be easy to entertain ourselves while we’re able to be online and plugged in. 

It will be a good time for me to enter the cruise expenses on our spreadsheet so by the time we reach Minnesota, I’ll be free to start accumulating USA related expenses as they occur.

Disembarkation from the ship was slick with no delays whatsoever. The level of organization was spot-on and the lines of over 2200 passengers flowed with ease. 


It was less than 25 minutes from the time we left the ship until we reached the taxi stand and with a wait for a taxi no more than five minutes. With our three 50 pound bags and three carry-on bags, we engaged the services of a porter from the baggage pickup area to the taxi stand. 
Tom never wiped the smile off his face, nor did I. We had a fantastic cruise.
It’s simply too much for us to haul entirely on our own especially since I’m of little help in carrying anything at this point. Then again, Tom always was the “pack mule” as he calls himself and has handled the bags since the onset of our travels.

Sure, we wish we had less stuff but we’ve whittled it down as far as we can considering the varying seasonal clothing we need from location to location throughout the world.  

Many have suggested we buy what we need as we go, leaving it behind when we leave.  Ultimately, that would require too much time shopping and looking to find what we need which is seldom avail considering many of the countries we prefer to visit.  

I couldn’t find a single pair of comfy pajamas in South Africa without driving for five hours. After I had the surgery I borrowed pj’s from our friend Lynne who so kindly provided me with exactly what I needed. 
We had a fabulous night in Murano Specialty Restaurant celebrating our seventh anniversary of world travel aboard the ship.
Thus, we have what we have and although we’ll replace a number of items in the US during this visit, we don’t need much. Moreso, we need new laptops and phones are our top priority.

Speaking of phones, this morning we accidentally left behind Tom’s old phone on the desk in the cabin. He thought I grabbed it and I thought he did. This was unusual for us. We rarely forget anything. 

His new google phone is awaiting him at friend Karen’s home now and my new phone will arrive in about three days. We’ll be fine in the interim. In the next few days, we’ll contact Celebrity and have them mail the phone to our mailing service in Nevada so we can dispose of it properly.

Once we arrive in Minneapolis, we’ll stop at a market for a few items to bring to Karen’s house, mainly food for breakfasts and beverages. It will be wonderful to see her and her significant other and stay at their lovely home.

We’ll back tomorrow with photos and more!

May your day be pleasant!
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Photo from one year ago today, November 8, 2018:
We encountered this stunning scene of zebras and wildebeest from the fence at Marloth Park. One reason zebras and wildebeest hang out together is that zebras love to eat the taller grass and wildebeest the shorter grass – it’s a type of symbiosis. There is no competition regarding food. Also, wildebeests have a better sense of hearing, while zebras can see very well. It’s always great to have an ally to warn of any impending danger. Another reason is zebras and wildebeest prefer to be in the open savannahs…the concept of safety in numbers comes into play. For more, please click here.