On the mend?…Recovery is slow…

Aerial View of Minneapolis and the Mississippi River in summer

Yesterday was a restful day. The only tasks we tackled were two loads of laundry and heading out to the nearby Chipotle to get takeaway dinner. I’ve always been a big Chipotle fan since the bowls with lettuce, meat, cheese, sour cream, and guacamole work great for my way of eating.

On the other hand, Tom is less interested in Chipotle, but for convenience’s sake, he ordered four soft tacos and a bag of tortilla chips. He doesn’t care for guacamole. We will see what transpires tonight for dinner and if we’ll be getting together with family, which we hope to do.

Tom is recovering from Covid-19 slowly. At this point, his cough is much worse than mine, which is improving each day. Last night, he coughed off and on with only a few hours of relief from Nyquil. I was so tired I slept through most of his coughing, which as a light sleeper, is unusual for me. For the first time in two weeks, I awoke today feeling pretty good,

My Fitbit logged almost eight hours of sleep, and after not needing a nap yesterday, I am confident I am on the mend. But Tom, on the other hand, is coughing a lot, although otherwise is feeling better. The heavy feeling of exhaustion is finally leaving both of us.

The media is ranting about new variants coming out of South Africa. However, when researching statistics on Worldometer here, it is clear it’s not the case. Yesterday, in the US, there were 40,784 new cases of the virus, but in South Africa, yesterday, there were a total of 2,650 new cases.

Sure, the population in the US versus South Africa’s population is seven times greater. But doing the math doesn’t indicate that the virus is more prevalent in South Africa than in the US. The US continues to be in the top position in the number of cases over anywhere else in the world.

There is no doubt that accuracy in the number of cases is still questionable since the onset of the pandemic. Accurately recording cases can vary substantially based on poor systems in place to document testing results.

Nonetheless, we will proceed with caution while here in the US, as we do in any country we visit in our world travels. After having Covid-19, we don’t take for granted that we have added immunity that will protect us in the future. In reality, the protection we’ve gleaned from having the virus may be very short-lived based on our research thus far.

We were safe for the 14 months we spent in Marloth Park, and we hope to maintain that same level of safety when we return in 19 days. However, we are concerned about the several future cruises we have booked. We can only wait and see how things roll out.

Fortunately, all of our future cruises are on the small ships of the Azamara Cruise Line, which typically hold about 600 passengers. With most cruises running at about 60% occupancy since the onset of the pandemic, most likely, there will be less than 400 passengers onboard as opposed to the 1288 passengers there were on the Celebrity Silhouette, where we tested positive the last few days.

We are waiting to hear from family as to plans to get together. We understand if there is hesitancy in seeing us based on our recent infection. We will see how it all rolls out.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 3, 2021:

There were nine zebras in the garden, staying for over an hour. For more photos, please click here.

Four days and counting…The solution to our phone situation…Fabulous food!…

Rich was outside in the rain in the sideyard, preparing the chicken and ribs on the charcoal grill. He needed the umbrella.

The time has flown by. In only four days, we’re leaving for Fort Lauderdale early Friday morning and will arrive by noon, at which time we’ll check our bags, drop off the rental car at the airport, take a shuttle back to the cruise terminal and be on our way.

It’s been 29 months since we were last on a cruise when we sailed from Southampton, England, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on the same ship, the reverse transatlantic crossing we’re beginning on Friday. We had a great time then and hoped to do the same this time. We never mind a repeat of ocean crossings. They have many sea days with few ports of call, but we always have fun on sea days and when getting off the ship.

Tom hadn’t eaten baked beans in years. Along with the chicken and ribs, green beans, and salad, it was a perfect meal.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of shopping on Amazon for odds and ends since once we return to Marloth Park, we’ll be staying there for a year, leaving from time to time for visa stamps but won’t have access to Amazon.com. For the first time in a few years, I can restock some of my favorite products which aren’t available in South Africa at the shops or on their version of Amazon, Takealot.

After considerable research and consideration, we decided to replace my almost three-year-old Google Pixel 4XL with the newer Google Pixel 6 Pro. The old phone couldn’t hold a charge for very long, and like many other smartphones, the batteries cannot easily be replaced. This, of course, motivates users to purchase a newer model. They get you coming and going, don’t they?

The new phone arrived yesterday, and in less than an hour, I had everything transferred over to the new phone, including the Google Fi phone service with my existing phone number. This was important to us since many of our financial accounts and others are set up with my phone number.

Rich didn’t put sauce on the ribs or chicken, which allowed me to enjoy them as well.

As for the temporary suspension through Google about us using too much roaming data, we solved that issue as well. We will insert a South Africa SIM card, which we already purchased for the old phone that we’ll use for data when we are out and about. When at a holiday house, hotel, restaurant, and many other locations, we can use the free WiFi on the new phone.

Having three phones between us is cumbersome, but this was our best and most cost-effective solution. We’ll seldom carry the third phone with us. For example, if we go into Kruger, we need WiFi in the event of an emergency or when using MAPS when on the road, and satellite is not effective enough for updates on road conditions, stoppages, and potential dangers.

Most South Africans use SIM cards for calling, texting, and data on their phones. Also, the third phone will be highly effective during travel days. On a day-to-day basis, we won’t need to bring it with us when out and about in Marloth Park when most local establishments have free WiFi we’ll be able to use. It was an easy solution to avoid signing up for a spendy contact from the US.

These chicken legs were the best we’d ever had, meaty and cooked to perfection. Tom, who usually only eats chicken breasts, enjoyed the legs as well. I guess I’ll be making these for once we get settled again. I won’t be cooking again until the end of May when we return to South Africa.

We will always be able to use the new phone for texts and phone calls. Texts are free inside and outside the US. Calling outside the US is typically 20 cents a minute but free inside the US for country-wide calls.

I was able to transfer all of my apps over to the new phone. The old phone will still be able to use WiFi at any accessible location but won’t receive texts and phone calls unless someone knows the phone number associated with the SIM card we’ll install. It all may sound confusing, but it’s clear to us. Few of our readers will ever need to implement such a plan, but if you do, feel free to ask for assistance if required.

Today’s photos are those we took when Rich was making his fantastic barbecue chicken and ribs. What a fine dinner we had on Saturday, followed by a delicious pot roast Karen made on Sunday. No shortage of good food around here!

Have a super day enjoying good health and peace of mind!

Photo from one year ago today, April 4, 2021:

Our boy Tiny, lounging in the garden after eating lots of pellets. As big as he is, he can consume lots of pellets. Note the cute pose. That’s our boy! We never saw him again after returning from the US at the end of July. For more photos, please click here.

Reconnecting with old friends…Lois and Tom who visited us in Marloth Park in 2018…

Tom and Lois and the two of us at the biker bar, Nav-A-Gator Bar and Grill in Arcadia, Florida.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, our original plan was to come to Florida in February and travel through the state to visit many friends and some of Tom’s family members who are here over the winter months. When Omicron hit South Africa, and the world freaked out about South Africans showing up at their doorstep, we changed our plans.

The other Tom!

We didn’t want to risk infecting our friends, the bride, and the groom, nor did we want to spend two weeks in quarantine in a hotel room before attending the wedding. Thus, we changed our plans and are spending two weeks here now after Omicron has mostly passed and cases are at a minimum here in Florida.

We couldn’t stop smiling!

As it turned out, we didn’t have the time to drive to the various cities in Florida where our friends live with the shopping and tasks we had to accomplish before embarking on our upcoming two transatlantic cruises beginning on April 8.

My Tom and Lois.

However, our friends Lois and Tom, whom we met on a 33-night cruise circumnavigation of the Australian continent, with whom we spent almost every evening together during the cruise. Two years later, they flew to South Africa from New Jersey to spend three weeks with us in Marloth Park, during which we had a fantastic time. It was non-stop safari luck while they were with us, and we all had an amazing experience day after day.

Lois and I both had the Cobb Salad topped with sliced Ahi tuna. It was delicious.

Lois and Tom were with us when we experienced the “Ridiculous Nine,” an odd phenomenon of seeing the Big Five plus four more elusive animals while on a safari. For details on that experience, see our post here, which is followed by many posts with photos of this outstanding event. Please visit the archives for additional photos of this special time.

When we touched base with Lois and Tom, we decided we could each drive halfway from our current locations and meet in the middle. As ardent motorcyclists and owners of one of those big fancy Harley Davidsons, they suggested we meet at a “bikers’ restaurant. What a fun and unique idea for us!

Tom hadn’t had a Rueben sandwich in years, most likely since we began traveling the world. He was thrilled to finally have his favorite sandwich.

Shortly before noon, we all arrived at Nav-A-Gator Bar & Grill in Arcadia, Florida, hugging with enthusiasm, love, and warmth over finally seeing each other again. Lois said, “I never thought we’d ever see each other again!” It was so sweet, but somehow I knew we would, and there we were.

Tom had the fried shrimp sandwich with onion rings.

We hardly noticed our food and drinks as we chatted endlessly, reminiscing our past experiences together and hoping to get together again sometime in the future.

It was hard to say goodbye. We texted after we left, saying how fun it was to see each other as we drove back to Karen and Rich’s house in time for the fantastic chicken and ribs dinner Rich had been preparing on their second grill, which is charcoal fired. The dinner was fabulous, and once again, we had a lovely evening with the two of them.

The place was packed with bikers and non-bikers.

While here and when we are alone, Tom does the dishes. I make the salad and Tom’s usual breakfast of meat and cheese roll-ups using the delicious natural gluten-free, chemical-free sliced deli meats and delicious cheddar cheese, aged three years, that we’d purchased at Costco.

There was live music and a lively ambiance at the restaurant.

Today, Karen is making pot roast while we’re doing laundry and having a relatively low-key day. In a mere five days, we’ll be driving to Fort Lauderdale to board Celebrity Silhouette to begin the first of our two cruises across the Atlantic Ocean.

Life is good.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 3, 2021:

Most of the animals like to eat Frank’s seed. In this case, a zebra is awaiting his turn. For more photos, please click here.

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.

MacDill Air Force Base Air Show, as seen from the veranda in Apollo Beach, Florida…

It’s hard to believe we arrived here three days ago. The time has flown and before we know it, we’ll be on our way once again. We’ve been busy here, posting, researching, and doing some online shopping from Amazon, having the items sent to Karen and Rich’s home.

The air show was held at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

The days have been filled with lively conversations as the evenings rolled in a combination of good drinks, great food, and more engaging conversations. For the past three nights, we’ve both had excellent sleep, better than we’ve had in a long time. What the difference is, we’ve yet to figure it out.

The bravery of these pilots is astounding.

Karen and I walked in the neighborhood yesterday. It had been a long time since I’d walked on a level street and it felt great to be outdoors in the ideal cool weather. Recently, when I’ve been doing all the walking in the house in Marloth Park, it’s been doing frequent short spurts throughout the day, not a single extended walk.

We were thrilled to capture these photos. Karen took the above excellent video.

I was wondering how I’d do on one long walk with the problems with my legs not working well since the surgeries in 2019. I wasn’t able to go as far or as long as I’d hoped but we managed to cover a decent area and I felt fine when we returned.

It was fun to see the show from our excellent vantage point.

When we returned, we noticed Tom helping Rich with some yard work while Karen and I sat on the veranda, catching up and reveling in the beautiful day and scenery. Countless boats wafted by on the canal and since it was a Saturday, there were parties in the area with loud music filling the air. It reminded me of my days spent as a single mom and boat owner, having fun on Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota.

More stunning scenes.

I was one of few women boat drivers on that lake in those days, especially when I had a Chris Craft Boat with dual engines/twin screws, and could easily maneuver into a good docking spot in front of the popular restaurants on the lake. I was always a lousy car driver but somehow managed a boat with ease. Gosh, that was 45 years ago and I recall it like it was yesterday! Talk about time flying by quickly!

They almost looked like birds in formation.

But, now, we have this fabulous life and we’re cherishing every moment with our friends and during our continuing travels. The experiences have been varied and fascinating. Yes, at times, it’s quiet and mundane and we don’t necessarily have exciting days and nights with details to share here.

A sailboat mast is shown in this photo.

Even now, here in Florida with our friends, we aren’t necessarily out and about each day nor did we have any interest in sightseeing in Florida. Both of us have been here many times over the years and going to crowded venues is still not appealing at this time.

Then it ended as the four of us stood on the veranda enjoying the views.

Today, Karen and I will head to the market for more groceries and together will make another lovely dinner for the four of us, to share at their big dining room table. We love how easy it is to be with the two of them. But we knew this and didn’t hesitate to accept their generous offer to stay with them at this wonderful home and seaside location.

We hope each of you are enjoying your days and nights.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 27, 2021:

Such a handsome male bushbuck, we named Gordon Ramsey, later called Gordy! For more photos, please click here.

Easy life by the sea…Time flies when you’re having fun!…

The gorgeous sky at sunset.

It couldn’t be easier or more pleasing…life at Karen and Rich’s lovely home on a gorgeous bay in Apollo Beach, a sleepy seaside community, is exactly what we needed right now. The WiFi is high-speed, the temperature is a perfect 80F, 27C. There are no insects that we’ve seen and no load shedding. Life is easy here.

Yesterday was fantastic. Rich kept saying how time flies so quickly each day in Florida. At first, I didn’t think it was going any faster than usual, but before we knew it, the day whizzed by. We didn’t have dinner until almost 9:00 pm, 2100 hrs. By 10:30 pm 2230 hrs, I was ready to head for bed while Karen, Rich, and Tom stayed up for a few more hours.

Not smiling for a change, Tom was very content sitting on the sandy beach at Karen and Rich’s home while we had sundowners.

We’ve bypassed any possibility of jet lag after sleeping well the past two nights. But I usually start fading by 10:30 anyway, so last night wasn’t all that unusual. Once again this morning, we awoke feeling fantastic after another good night’s sleep.

As for yesterday, Karen and I went grocery shopping after making a quick trip to a CVS pharmacy for a few cosmetic items I could not purchase in South Africa. I was like a kid in a candy store while browsing through the countless brands and things in the store. I spent over US $80 on only a few things which would have been half as much as in South Africa.

My dear friend Karen, adorable as ever!

Again, walking through the Publix grocery store, my eyes were darting in every direction, almost overwhelmed by the unbelievable number of options from which to choose. I could have spent hours grocery shopping, but I didn’t want to keep Karen waiting for me. Of course, prices were much higher than I was used to in South Africa.

Back at the house, we unloaded everything, spending the balance of the afternoon relaxing. I took a break from the easy conversation and headed upstairs to our room to empty the box we received here from our mailing service, sent here a few days ago. Also, I had to try on the four dresses I purchased from Amazon for the upcoming Queen Mary 2 cruise at the end of April.

It took me a few hours to go through everything. The dresses all fit me, much to my surprise. All I need to buy while here is a pair of dressy sandals to go with all dresses. I thought about buying a small handbag to go to dinner on the cruises at night, but Tom has agreed to carry my lipstick in his pocket. I’d prefer not to add anything more to my luggage that would add to the weight of the bags.

The sun was setting over the water as we enjoyed our drinks and companionship.

On Monday, Tom and I will head to the town of Brandon, where there is a big shopping mall and a Men’s Wearhouse where we’ll buy him the suit, shirts, and ties for the upcoming dressy cruise. After that, we’ll head to a few shoe stores to find what we’ll need for the cruises and a pair of walking shoes for me. We’ll be relieved to have that done and out of the way.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with updates of our Google Fi phone service after our data plan had been suspended due to overuse outside the USA.

Wow! Time is flying by so fast this morning as we’re all sitting here chatting. Karen and I need to get out and do our walk before the day is gone!

Have a fantastic weekend and be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 26, 2021:

The mongooses quickly gathered around the pan of whole eggs. Tom placed it on the ground. Also, we give them scraps of meat and fat since they are omnivores. For more photos, please click here.

We made it!!!…A longer than expected flight from Joburg…Now rested and feeling great!…

The view of Karen and Rich’s pool and bay from our bedroom’s veranda! Amazing!

Wow! What a long day and night. Our connecting flights worked out, but the most challenging flight was from Joburg to Newark. The plane was having mechanical issues, and we sat in our seats for two hours until it finally took off. It took us over 30 hours from door to door.

The remaining 16-hour flight was painstaking. My Fitbit showed I never slept since it only registers one hour or more. Once I laid down on the two seats between Tom and me, I couldn’t fall asleep when my legs hung into the aisle, and people walked by, bumping into them. A few times, I dozed off but woke myself up when my head dropped down to my chest.

We have two comfy chairs on our veranda at their lovely oceanfront home.

Instead, I watched parts of or the entirety of eight movies, none of which were any good. Most of the movies were old, and we’d watched them at some point, and many were genres I didn’t like. Tom watched a few as well but didn’t care for any of them either. The battery on my phone was dying, and the USB plug-in on the seat didn’t work, so I couldn’t play games on my phone. It was a long 16 hours.

We both wore compression stockings and got up to walk around every few hours. They served food three times, but I ate very little when there was no option for low-carb meals. Most of the food was awful, sugary, and carb-laden. It didn’t matter to me since I knew Karen and Rich would have some fantastic foods awaiting us, and they did.

Another view of the bay.

By the time we were in the air, we were concerned about making our connecting flight in Newark with only a 2 ½ hour layover ahead of us. We had to rush through immigration, collect our bags to go through customs and security, recheck our bags and make it to the gate a few minutes before boarding. Miraculously, it all worked out well.

On the last flight from Newark to Tampa, a lovely man in his 30s sat between Tom and me, and we chatted during the entire three-hour flight, which was also late taking off. We didn’t arrive in Tampa until almost 3:00 pm, 1500 hrs, picked up our bags and rental car, and made our way through rush-hour traffic to Karen’s and Rich’s beautiful home in Apollo Beach, Florida.

Their dock and beautiful new boat.

It was such a joy to see them both. It had been over two years since we stayed with them in November 2019. It was exciting to see our dear newlywed friends, their gorgeous home, and finally eat some fantastic food, including smoked salmon, deviled eggs, artichoke dip, baby tomatoes, and roasted chicken wings and legs. They’d planned a filet mignon dinner, but after eating the great starters, we were all full and will have the steaks on the braai tonight.

We decided to stay awake as late as possible, but I was done by 9:00 pm, 2100 hrs. Tom stayed up a little longer chatting with Karen and Rich and joined me an hour later. Much to our amazement, we slept like logs, only each getting up once to hit the bathroom but each going right back to sleep.

This morning we awoke alert and energized, feeling as good as ever. We have no remnants of jet lag whatsoever, but following the new time zone we’d entered yesterday afternoon, we bypassed any chance of jet lag.

Another gorgeous view. It couldn’t be more perfect than to be here with them both.

Once we upload today’s post and a few photos (more will follow in days to come), Karen and I will head to her favorite grocery store soon, and we’ll get a few things to last for a few days. When we return and put everything away, Karen and I will take a  walk in the neighborhood.

While we’re here, our posts will continue daily, and we’ll add photos of our surroundings, our friends, and anything we decide to do. A lot of sightseeing isn’t our intent while here in Florida, but we have plenty of sightseeing ahead of us over the next few nights.

Thank you, dear readers, for all the well wishes and encouragement. Well back with more tomorrow.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 25, 2021:

Tiny, who’s quite the loner, has a new friend, we called Narrow, due to his narrow face. Narrow used to hang out with The Imposter  (who imitates Tiny), but now Narrow has gravitated to Tiny. We’ll see how this works out when The Imposter returns tonight when these two are most likely cuddled up. For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…We’re back to booking future travels!!!…Building a new itinerary…

Yesterday, we not only booked the cruise on the Black Sea but also booked the “back-to-back” (the next cruise, on the day of arrival), which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post. Tomorrow is a travel day for us as we make our way to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to see Tom’s sister, Sister Beth, where we’ll spend two days in a hotel.

I will undoubtedly use the workout facility.

As for the itinerary for this ship, see below:

Azamara

11 Nights – Azamara (Istanbul – Round Trip)

Cruise Line: Azamara

Ship Name: Azamara Onward Not Yet Rated

Cruise Length: 11 Nights

Departure Date: 06/29/2022

Embarkation Port: Istanbul, Turkey

Return Date: 07/10/2022

Disembarkation Port: Istanbul, Turkey

Sailing Itinerary

Date Port of Call Arrival Departure

06/29/2022 Istanbul 06:00 PM

06/30/2022 Varna/Bulgaria 08:00 AM 08:00 PM

07/01/2022 Burgas 08:00 AM 08:00 PM

07/02/2022 Constanta 07:00 AM 08:00 PM

07/03/2022 Odesa/Ukraine 09:30 AM

07/04/2022 Odesa/Ukraine 08:00 PM

07/05/2022 Cruising

07/06/2022 Sochi 08:00 AM 09:00 PM

07/07/2022 Batumi 08:00 AM 05:00 PM

07/08/2022 Cruising

07/09/2022 Istanbul 08:00 AM

07/10/2022 Istanbul

Once we arrive back in Istanbul, Turkey, we’ll move to another cabin on the same deck but on the opposite side of the ship for better viewing for the upcoming itinerary on this ship’s next leg for another ten days, July 10 to July 20, 2022, ending in Athens, Greece. We’ll include our costs for the balcony cabins for both cruises and the second leg’s itinerary in tomorrow’s post.

The theatre for nightly shows.

As for today, our last family day in Minnesota, Tom will be joining his family for the Thursday barbecue at his sister Mary’s home, while tonight, I’m going to a movie with Greg’s family. At 11:00 am this morning, we’re heading to visit our dear friend Sue, former neighbor and widow of our beloved, since deceased friend Chip, who passed away five months before we left in 2012. We hadn’t seen Sue since we were here in 2017 since she spent the winters in Florida. It will be wonderful to see her again.

This morning, Tom took our vaccination certificates to Office Max and had them make copies to be laminated and kept the originals to be amended for boosters in the future if required. Oddly, Office Max didn’t charge to do this. Go figure.

That’s it for today, folks. We’ll be back with more tomorrow, perhaps later in the day, completed after arriving at our hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, July 15, 2020:

Some flowers continue to bloom through the summer season, as is the case in this Alstroemeria. For more photos, please click here.

A 44-year ago memory…Great food and ambiance…

Our waiter took the family photo.

We had a fantastic time at Maynard’s in Excelsior on Lake Minnetonka last night with our son Greg’s family as we celebrated Camille’s birthday. The three grandchildren were there, and we all sat at a big round table for seven which allowed for easy conversation and laughter.

As was always typical for Maynard’s, the food was great, and the conversations all around were delightful. A few days earlier, Greg and I recalled July 4, 1977, when he and my other son Richard and I took out our first boat on Lake Minnetonka for the holiday experience.

It was fun to be here to celebrate Camille’s birthday with her complimentary ice cream sundae.

It was the first time I’d driven a boat, and the three of us took off from our boat slip in St. Alban’s Bay early in the morning with a plan to make our way across the vast lake, in and out of many bays, to end up at my friend Lynda’s lake house for a 4th of July party.

Our first foray with the boat on the lake that day was to make it the short distance from our slip at the marina to Maynard’s, then called T. Butcherblock’s, so the kids could feed the ducks. It was no later than 9:00 am. Once we arrived at T. Butcherblock’s docks, I somehow managed to dock the boat without banging into the wooden posts and then securely tied it down.

Tom, Miles, and Madighan are at the table.

We went inside the restaurant to ask for some stale bread for the ducks that typically swam around the dock, hoping that boaters and diners would toss some food their way. The restaurant staff gave us a bag of old bread, and we meandered back out to the dock to feed the ducks.

My boys, Richard and Greg, then ten and almost eight years old, were thrilled to feed the ducks but not too confident about going back out on the huge lake with their mother, an inexperienced boat driver at the time. I was 29 years old.

Maisie’s Asian salad.

Although I dinged the prop in shallow water, shortly after leaving T. Butcherblock’s, we somehow made it to Lynda’s house hours later, albeit slowly with the damaged support. Once at her house, I arranged to have the prop repaired, and we were soon able to get back out on the lake a few days later. It all worked out, and in those first few days, I learned a lot about boating.

Over the years, I became an experienced boater, upgrading to larger boats as the years passed. My kids spent many summers on the lake with me driving and gained confidence with my skills in time. It was an enjoyable time in our lives.

Tom’s walleye fish and chips. The walleye is a popular fish in the midwest.

Yesterday, being at Maynard’s brought back many memories, especially when Greg recalled that date, 44 years ago, and brought along a bag of stale bread for his kids and us to feed the ducks. After our enjoyable dinner indoors, we headed outside on the pier, packed with partygoers, boaters, and diners to make our way to the water, where numerous ducks and giant carp were awaiting our offerings.

At this point in my life, I wouldn’t normally condone feeding bread to fish and fowl. But, the family tradition was being relived not only for our grandchildren but also for Greg and me. Later, I sent Richard a text to tell him what we’d done, but “tongue in cheek,” he commented, “That wasn’t me.” I reminded him that, indeed, it was him as well. My sons are now 54 and almost 52 years old.

My Cobb salad.

Oh, my gosh…44 years ago. It seems like yesterday. I found myself saying this over and again, “I can’t believe it was 44 years ago!” After we were all done at the dock, we headed back through the restaurant and out the door to the parking lot, where we all hugged goodbye until we saw them again on Thursday evening, our last time together before we departed for Milwaukee and then on to Las Vegas.

Greg, Camille, the kids, and I will all go to the movies together on Thursday evening to see Black Widow. We will have to split up again to say our goodbyes. Tom will return to his sister’s Mary’s home for the usual Thursday night barbecue and catch up with me later in the evening.

Maisie sat next to me as we chatted endlessly.

Today, we made arrangements to see Sister Beth at the nursing home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Saturday and Sunday, after which we’ll head back to Minneapolis, directly to the airport for our flight to Las Vegas, Nevada, to see Richard. We’ll spend five days in Henderson, Nevada, and then on July 24th, we’ll begin the long trek back to South Africa.

As we fed the ducks, huge carp joined in on the action.

May your day be filled with pleasant experiences.

Photo from one year ago today, July 14, 2020:

Gina, our property manager in Madeira, Portugal, explained that the number of cloudy days we’d experienced while there in 2014 was unusual. For more photos, please click here.

Memories from long ago…Boat ride on Lake Minnetonka…

It was wonderful to spend time with my son Greg and daughter-in-law Camille on the dinner cruise on Lake Minnetonka.

However, we decided it would be best to split up, and Tom would go with Tammy, and I’d go with Camille and Greg. It’s the way it is when we visit family in the US. At times, we have to split up to be with our respective family members. Of course, it would have been fantastic for both of us to attend both events. But, with their schedules, doing so doesn’t always work out that way.

Tom dropped me off at 5:15 pm at the Port of Excelsior at the Excelsior Commons, a beautiful park in the town of Excelsior on Lake Minnetonka, our former downtown area when we lived in the area nine years ago. So many memories flooded my mind as we drove down Water Street in the sleepy, charming lake town. So much had changed and yet, so much was still the same.

Having lived in the area for 26 years and close by, in the city of Minnetonka for the prior 14 years, it was all so familiar. Years spent boating on the lake as a boat owner left me reeling at the thought that it was in 1977 when I purchased my first boat as a single mom and business owner, later upgrading to larger boats.

Camille’s sister, Penny, joined us on the dinner cruise.

I remember being one of very few women in those days that drove a “twin-screw” (twin engine) boat on huge Lake Minnetonka, able to easily maneuver in and out of tight docks without a problem. In those days, that was unusual. With numerous restaurants located on the lake, my sons and I and often friends spent many weekends over the years on that lake, having the time of our lives.

Later, in 1991, when I met Tom, he, too, was a boater. As of 1986, I owned a house and lived on another nearby lake, Lake Minnewashta, where he and I enjoyed many years boating on the smaller lake, again enjoying every moment. Those days are long behind us.

There are countless estates on Lake Minnetonka, often valued in the tens of millions.

When we “boat” now, it’s on massive cruise ships. We’ve been on 27 cruises since the onset of our world travels in 2012 and have dearly missed being on the water during the past 18 months or so due to Covid-19. Hopefully, we’ll get our “sea-legs” once again soon when we can cruise again.

On a newer-looking, well-maintained houseboat, yesterday’s boat ride brought back memories from that life long ago. But, as we always say, we have no regrets. We chose to implement our lives on an entirely different path over the past almost nine years, and we’ve never looked back and regretted our choices or wondered “why” we did such a crazy thing.

During the two-hour dinner cruise, it was fun chatting with Greg, Camille, and Penny, Camille’s sister (who took Tom’s place). As expected, the food was mediocre, but the experience was pleasant and worthwhile and filled with memories as we sailed past houses I’d sold on the lake many moons ago and houses that had been re-built into massive mansions.

We were busy chatting, and I failed to make an effort to take many photos through the boat’s windows.

Close to 8:00 pm, I called Tom to see if he could pick me up at Greg and Camille’s house when he was done with dinner with Tammy and Tracy. As it turned out, they were wrapping up their get-together. We visited with Camille, Greg, and the kids for a little while, and then we were on our way back to our hotel for what proved to be a good night’s sleep.

Today, we’re heading to Tom’s sister Patty’s home to play “dice” and stay for dinner. However, Tom will drive me to a local pub and drop me off to see my dear old friend and business partner, Theresa. I’ll spend a few hours with her, and Tom will pick me up later when I call him at Patty’s. We have to double up on a few events to see some of our friends and the family with our busy schedule.

There are many stunning properties on lakes in Minnesota.

We’ll then head back to Patty’s and finish the evening with his siblings, spouses, and other family members. No doubt, it will be another good day, filled with fun interactions with people we love and have missed over the years we’ve been gone.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with more when we have another action-packed day as we celebrate Camille’s birthday at a favorite restaurant from our past.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, July 12, 2020:

In Queensland, Australia, Double Island made us curious about what it would be like to visit. Here are the details of visiting Double Island. We posted this photo on Day #111 in lockdown in Mumbai, India. For more photos, please click here.