A memorable night out with old friends…

Sue, our dear friend who lived down the road with me, Sue’s daughter, and dear old friend Sherry. Sadly, although he was present, her husband, Michael, wasn’t in the photos. Sorry, Michael!

Our dear friend Sherry had arranged a reservation at Jimmy’s Kitchen and Bar for 5:30 pm. Five of us arrived at 5:15, anxious to get the anticipated fantastic evening started. In no time, we were seated at a big booth/banquette for seven, and only Nelleke and Dave were yet to arrive, who appeared a short time later.

Sherry had planned the get-together at this excellent restaurant close to everyone. As it turned out, it was only about seven minutes from our hotel. This restaurant has been in business for 17 years, but neither Tom nor I had ever been there. It was only about 20 minutes from our old home.

Tom, along with Dave and Nelleke, our former next-door neighbors. Gosh, we’ve missed them all.

Once we were seated, the conversation flowed easily. At times, we laughed when we were all talking at one time. It was not unlike 11 years ago when we often got together for drinks, food, and fun. In those times, I didn’t drink alcohol but never failed to have a fantastic time sipping on my iced tea.

As mentioned in prior posts, I didn’t drink alcohol/wine for 20 years for no particular reason other than thinking it was better for my health. On a cruise in 2016, when we both had the premium drink package included in our cruise fare, I decided to try drinking a glass of red wine, which I’d always preferred over white wine and found tasted good.

Sherry’s dinner looked appetizing.

Once I had that first glass, I decided I could drink red wine in moderation, enjoying every sip. Since that time, I’ve pursued finding wines with lower alcohol than the usual 13% to 14%. In South Africa, many lighter wines were available, which I like with alcohol as low as 5%, which I particularly enjoy, along with another label at 8%. I cannot find similar wines here in the US, so when dining out, I drink regular red or white if I choose to have a glass.

No photo of Michael but a nice photo of his rib dinner.

Last night, they poured very little in the fancier restaurant in the fancy glass, so I ordered a second glass. Our dinner, with tax and tip, was $132. Wow! That’s a lot. We aren’t used to paying that much for the two of us. Everything is very expensive in the US.

Sue’s perfectly cooked filet mignon and au gratin potatoes.

Thank goodness, once we get to Ecuador in less than three weeks, we’ll be able to play a little catch-up with comparable prices in South Africa. We look forward to that and other aspects we’ll enjoy in South America.

At one point during last night’s dinner, I found myself smiling from ear to ear and saw a similar smile on Tom’s face as he conversed with Michael and Dave at the end of the table. It was more wonderful than words describe being with our old friends and neighbors again.

My filet mignon deconstructed salad with three rare pieces of filet mignon, avocado, and a lettuce wedge topped with bacon and onion.

As neighbors, we were all so much more. Our lives were intertwined in many ways, especially when our dear Chip, Sue’s deceased husband and our friend whom we dearly loved, He passed, only a few months before we left Minnesota. I had the honor of speaking at his memorial service. We all miss him terribly.

Sue sold her house in our old neighborhood on the lake and now lives in a retirement community near here. Sherry and Michael live nearby in Minnetonka, the city where my kids grew up before moving to the lake, and Nelleke and Dave still live in their house, which, as mentioned, was next door to us.

Dave’s pasta dish.

Before we knew it, our meals and a few desserts were savored at the lovely restaurant, and it was time to go. We’d enjoyed every moment with our friends and felt disappointed the evening was over. Tom and I talked about it one our way back to our hotel.

Once back at the hotel, we streamed two more episodes of Formula 1 on Netflix, which we binge-watch as time allows in the evenings. Soon, we’re heading out to brunch with Greg and two of the grandkids, Madighan and Miles, since Maisie is away at school. Afterward, we’ll return to Greg’s house to watch the Minnesota Vikings game.

Tom’s short ribs dinner atop a bed of mashed potatoes.

Have a pleasant Sunday.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 24, 2013:

There were no photos posted ten years ago today. For the text for that post, please click here.

Change in plan for US visit…Questions from readers…To our new readers, please read the last few paragraphs…

Billy’s Bar & Grill, where a group of Tom’s family members meet every Friday at 3:30 for happy hour drinks and dinner.

I forgot to take photos last evening when we went to Billy’s Bar & Grill in Anoka with Tom’s family members. Included were four of Tom’s six sisters, Patty, Margie, Colleen, Mary, and her husband Eugene, and nieces Kathy and Jean, for nine of us, all of whom fit at a big round table.

I apologize for not taking the time to take photos. Once everyone arrived, I was distracted by the lively conversations, interspersed with the family’s usual good humor and laughter. They are quite a fun and chatty group of people I’ve always enjoyed since Tom and I met in 1991, 32 years ago.

I first met many of his family members at Colleen’s now-deceased husband Gene’s (also Eigene) 50th birthday party at a bowling alley in August 1991, only two months after Tom and I met. It was a little overwhelming to meet so many family members at one time, but I did my best to mingle and fit in, as I’ve done so since. They are lovely people who have lots of history together as a group, continually building new memories to add to their repertoire of fun stories.

We drank our happy hour adult beverages and, around 5:00 pm, ordered dinner off of the extensive menu. There were numerous options suitable for my way of eating, but as I often do, I ordered a salad with grilled chicken (no oil) and avocado slices. Tom had a taco salad with the shell, which he often orders when we’re in the US. These aren’t available in most countries.

As for questions from readers, we had several readers comment about why we didn’t appear on TV on the morning news on September 21. As it turned out, the producer who’d asked us to be on the show had interviewed us online and was familiar with our story was out on maternity leave earlier than she’d anticipated. Thus, she asked if we could postpone the show until the next time we visit the US. We have no idea when that will be, but we will keep her updated.

Secondly, reader Diane wrote yesterday in a comment: “I enjoy reading about your travels. Do you plan to do any more in-person events in Minnesota?”

In the past, we’ve done a few get-togethers with readers at specific locations worldwide, but we haven’t planned anything lately. Sometime in the future, we may do this again, but there are no plans now. With the rising costs of restaurant food in the US, we have to hold off on such an event when now it could easily cost over $1000 to host such an event. Thanks for your kind inquiry, Diane!

By 8:30 pm, we were back at the hotel, where we got settled in our room and streamed a few more episodes of our current binge-watching series, Formula 1, quite a good show. Having a living room in our room makes time spent here less confining than in a standard room with just a bed and desk. We have much more space here, so we don’t mind hanging out here in our free time.

To our new readers: We realize that while we’re in the US right now, our stories aren’t exciting and filled with interesting photos. Once we leave here in 18 days to head to South America, the excitement will undoubtedly ramp up as we head to Quito, Ecuador, and then to The Galapagos Islands for more exciting adventures. Please stay tuned for more.

If you’re interested in viewing photos from Africa, please check out our archives (on the right side of our home page) in October 2013 in the Maasai Mara in Kenya, the bush in Marloth Park, South Africa, beginning in December 2013 to February 2014, and again in the bush in Marloth Park in February 2018 to May 2019 and again most recently, starting in January 2021 to April until April 2023. During most of these periods, we left several times for other travels and trips to the US to visit family and on several “visa runs.” We can only stay in South Africa for 90 days at a time due to visa restrictions.

We’re heading out to dinner tonight with dear friends from our old neighborhood. I will make a point of taking photos to post here tomorrow.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 23, 2013.

No photos were posted on this date ten years ago, but there was information about a cruise we booked, including costs. For details, please click here.

Lovely evening at dear friend Connie’s home to commemorate Jeff’s passing…

Mark, Sandy, Tom, Micheal, Connie, and Nina sat around the outdoor table on the veranda of Connie’s Lake Minnetonka home.

Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of our dear friend Jeff passing away at our holiday home in Marloth Park, South Africa. Connie, his wife, was thrilled when she read in our posts that we’d be in Minnesota during the anniversary date so she could plan a special dinner for a few select friends to acknowledge Jeff on the anniversary of his death.

We hesitated when she extended the anniversary since September 21 is the same date as our grandchild, Mad, and grandson, Nik. Madighan’s birthday, which we didn’t want to miss. But we worked out another plan for the birthday without a problem, and all was good.

The blue pot contained tender, delicious beef with mushrooms in a flourless gravy.

Yesterday afternoon, we stopped at a liquor store to pick up a bottle of red wine for Connie. I brought a bottle of low-alcohol dry rose that I miraculously found a few weeks ago. Low-alcohol wine is not easily found in the US. Once we return to South Africa, we won’t have any trouble finding low-alcohol wines. I have no idea what we’ll find in Ecuador at this point.

Connie had made a fantastic dinner with several items I could eat, which was thoughtful of her. As a professional chef, she’s obviously an excellent cook and moves through the process of cooking and serving food with ease and finesse. The spread was not only pleasing to the eye but also mouth-watering and delicious.

Connie made this delicious chicken and prune dish. I tasted a bite of Tom’s but couldn’t eat it due to the sugar in the prunes.

If I hadn’t eaten so much of my favorite cheese, she served with the starters, Belton Farms Cheddar, which has a crunchy texture and amazing taste. I’d have had more room for the dinner. But, I had a little of everything I could eat and was full and content. Tom enjoyed everything as well, especially the garlic-buttered French bread and the pot-roasted meat, reminding him of one of his favorite dinners I’ve often made for him when the proper cuts of beef were available.

I was able to eat everything here except the potatoes and the bread.

The group of guests were enthusiastic sailors, and the conversation flowed on this topic as well as many questions from the group on our world travels. It was fun to share our varied interests. Michael asked if we’d ever be interested in sailing around the world. No, we are not. One, we aren’t sailors, and two, neither of us would be interested in all the work required to sail long distances.

Connie found these napkins to remind her of the time she and Lindsey spent in South Africa with us one year ago when Jeff passed away at our house.

Nor would we ever be interested in a non-sail boat, or as we’ve often been asked, traveling in a motorhome. Long ago, we considered that possibility, but after considerable research, we aren’t interested in that lifestyle either. What we’ve been doing these past almost 11 years suits us just fine.

Everyone’s tastes and desires are different. Most people cannot imagine giving up everything they own and leaving a familiar lifestyle to do what we do. Interestingly, more often, men say they could do it, but women can’t imagine living out of one suitcase and parting with their beloved belongings. We certainly understand that. Sometimes, we shake our heads, unable to believe that we did it.

Last night’s half moon in Minnesota.

Today, we’re meeting several of Tom’s family members at their usual Billy’s Bar and Grill in Anoka, where they often meet on Fridays at 3:00 pm for drinks and dinner. When we were here in the past, we’ve always enjoyed this special time together with his sisters and other family members in the fun and busy establishment.

The time before we leave at 2:15 will be spent on various projects we’ve been working on in order to be prepared to leave the US in a mere 19 days.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 22, 2013:

In Diani Beach, Kenya, our property owners, Hans and Jeri, invited us for dinner at their house next door. The table was set on the well-manicured lawn. With the balmy breeze and the fire roaring, the mosquitoes stayed away, although we were well armed, wearing our BugsAway clothing. For more photos, please click here.

Another busy day for both of us, separately this time…

Tom was checking out this 1966 Oldsmobile 442 convertible. I have no idea how he can identify many old cars.

Yesterday afternoon, my dear friend Chere stopped by the hotel while we sat in the lobby and chatted as we had earlier during this visit and other visits in the past. With Chere and I, the conversation flows as if we’ve never been apart. We have a lot of similar interests, mainly centered around health, fitness, and wellness, and it’s fun to share our thoughts and ideas on these topics.

Next week, toward the end of the week, she and I will be getting pedicures at a local beauty school, where she explained sanitation is of the utmost, as compared to some salons. This appealed to me since I’ve heard of many instances where patrons encountered infections from less-than-ideal sanitary conditions. Student standards may be more stringent at a beauty school than at an unfamiliar salon.

After our pedicures, we intend to go to lunch. Like me, Chere is into healthy food, and I’m sure we’ll go to a restaurant that caters to our mutual interests and needs. It will be fun to see her this last time since she and her husband will travel after that get-together.

As for Tom, yesterday, TJ picked him up around 3:00 pm to head to a small town, Henderson, Minnesota, for a weekly car show. TJ has a classic car and particularly enjoys going to car shows throughout the season. It was delightful for him to go with his dad.

This is a 1967 Oldsmobile Cutlass convertible.

Information about the car show in Henderson, Minnesota:


The Henderson Classic Car Roll-In is a free weekly event along Henderson’s Main Street.

Every Tuesday night from May – September, the streets will be lined with 275+ vehicles and 150+ motorcycles, with a different variety every week!

Visitors from all over the region show up and walk, enjoying vehicles, atmosphere, and food.

Many food choices are available from the food vendors and restaurants, farmers market, and food trucks.

Businesses along Main Street are typically open and welcome visitors in to see what they have available.”

I’d planned to order my dinner through Grubhub, but when I started looking online to see what was available within delivery distance, I was shocked to see how much it would be for me to order a Cobb or similar salad. I have a year-long coupon from Grubhub and don’t have to pay a delivery fee. But, with tax, service fee, and tip, a salad would cost over $30.

On principle, more than anything, I refused to pay that much for salad. Instead, I ate the one remaining hard-boiled egg in the little refrigerator, which we keep from breakfast a few times a week for snacking and two little packs of Wholly Guacamole on the side with a few of those tiny red and yellow bell peppers. Later, I ate a pack of crispy seaweed snacks we bought at Costco, a favorite treat I love while close to the warehouse store.

Soon, we’ll return to Costco to purchase more seaweed snacks since these have zero carbs and lots of nutrients, and maybe a few more items using more of our remaining gift cards.

Year unknown…a Chevy Camaro convertible.

Our grandchild, Madighan’s birthday, is tomorrow, but we’re celebrating with her tonight. Greg will drop her off at Champps at 4:15 for an early dinner and then head to a movie. We would have observed the date of her birthday, which is tomorrow, but we are attending a memorial dinner for our friend Jeff, who passed away at our holiday home in Marloth Park one year ago as of tomorrow’s date. Connie planned this special dinner, knowing we’d be here on that date.

This morning, we went to the hotel next door to do our laundry, which will soon be done. They only have one washer and dryer at the hotel across the parking lot, where this hotel has a cooperating agreement for their patrons, and it takes us a few hours to complete one load. Having this done and out of the way is a relief for another five or six days.

Tom went through all the bins with the stuff he picked up at his sister Patty’s house. He went through everything and sorted all the railroad memorabilia he’ll put online for sale on a Facebook group with railroad memorabilia enthusiasts and possibly eBay for the entire lot. It is too time-consuming to sell each piece one by one, and we don’t have enough time until we depart for South America.

Today, we’ll book a domestic flight in South America from Quito to Manta, Ecuador, where we’ll head for the new holiday home. Also, we must rent a car at the Manta Airport for our arrival.

Time is moving on quickly, and soon, we’ll be on our way.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 20, 2013:

As we pulled away from the project, Tom alerted me to grab the camera. The battery was almost dead, but I was able to get this parting shot of cows walking along the road, a common occurrence in Kenya, new to us. For more photos, please click here.

Booked flight and hotel for Quito, Ecuador…Spending time with our grandson today…

Here’s a map of the route of our flight from Minneapolis (MSP) to Quito (UIO), not that far away compared to many of our other flights over the years.

We waited to book our flight to Quito, Ecuador, departing on October 11, until we were here in the US, watching prices drop. With costs dropping only a small amount, we booked the flight and one night in the hotel JW Marriott in Quito, arriving one day early for our cruise/tour to begin.

Celebrity Cruise Line contacted us a few days ago for our passport numbers and expiration dates, flight information, and hotel information. Since we booked an extra night at JW Marriott, they wanted to tie it to the portion of our cruise/tour that includes two nights on each end for five nights, including our extra-booked night. They wanted to ensure we wouldn’t have to move to another room, which we appreciated.

Between the two booked nights for the hotel on either end of the cruise/tour, we’ll be flying to The Galapagos for a seven-night tour on the 16-passenger ship, basically a yacht, as opposed to a traditional huge cruise ship. It should be interesting. We’ll be flying from MSP on United Airlines. The cost of the flight for both of us is $1283.40.

As for the cost for the hotel, JW Marriott, for our one night, not included in the cruise fare, was $150.28, including taxes and fees.

The JW Marriott in Quito, Ecuador.

The next flight we’ll book in the next few weeks is the flight from Quito to our new holiday home in Manabi, Ecuador, about a one-hour flight, around $120 for the two of us, plus baggage fees. Our holiday home will be waiting for us, and we look forward to that part of our time in Ecuador as well as the cruise/tour. We’ll share more details later.

I’m a little concerned about the altitude in Quito at 9,350 feet above sea level, but hopefully, we’ll both be fine. I used to ski in the Colorado mountains in my younger years (before I met Tom) and never had a problem with elevations over 10,000 feet. I’m hoping it will be the same now. Tom has never experienced such a high altitude.

While we were at urgent care for Tom a few days ago, we got a prescription for Diamox (acetazolamide) to be used in advance for potential altitude sickness. With many possible side effects, we’ll wait and see how we do before taking the drug.

Later today, at 3:30, we’ll pick up grandson Vincent for skeet shooting and then for dinner. It will be great to spend time with him. He’s almost 18 years old, intelligent, and quite a conversationalist. No doubt, we’ll have a wonderful time with him.

Last night, we stayed in watching a few episodes of Formula One on Netflix and one episode of The Good Doctor, a delightful series we’ve watched intermittently, enjoying each episode. By 11:00 pm, we were both fast asleep and awoke feeling refreshed in the morning. Tom is taking his medications regularly and has started to see a slight improvement. Hopefully, soon, he’ll feel much better.

That’s it for today, folks. We hope you have a good Sunday.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 16, 2013:

No photo was posted here ten years ago. To read the text for that post, please click here.

Could a full-time resident in The Villages function with only a golf cart to save on expenses?…

This morning’s purchase of fuel for the golf cart that came with our rental. We had topped off the gas tank a week ago and drove around quite a bit this week.

We’ve been in The Villages long enough now that we have a relatively clear perspective of some of the living costs in this retirement community. No, those only receiving basic social security without having sold a home with sufficient funds to purchase another home here make The Villages a financial impossibility.

But, if one has sold a home and uses the bulk of those proceeds to purchase their home in The Villages (average sale price of $350,000), the result may avoid the necessity of a mortgage, making living here more affordable. I found this excellent website listing the estimate of some of the various expenses required to live here.

This website lists each possible additional expense over and above property taxes, amenity fees, homeowner’s insurance, utilities, and maintenance fees.

But, for today’s purposes, since the website so clearly defines potential expenses, we’re delving into transportation expenses which can be high if one has a car payment, car insurance, fuel, and maintenance costs. Then, most residents in The Villages own a golf cart that includes the purchase price, insurance, fuel, and maintenance.

As we were leaving Colony Plaza this morning after a few errands and breakfast at Bob Evans. It was a pleasant trip out and about.

The combined transportation expenses can total $1000 a month or more, which also could prevent fixed-income seniors from living here. We have fun playing around with these numbers, although we do not intend to reside here now or soon permanently.

But, we promised our readers, we’d do our best to report our perspectives on some of the features of living here, as far as we can determine, in this short period we are here, a mere three months. Of course, longer-term residents would be more qualified to report these expenses after living here for years, not months.

Our only true perspective has been over transportation after we’ve been “tooling around” in a golf cart for the past almost six weeks. We ask ourselves, “If a person/couple lived here could they get by with just a golf cart to keep expenses down and use an Uber or other service for longer trips outside The Villages?”

Driving past one of many golf courses in The Villages as described here:”There are 12 immaculately kept championship golf courses, 38 executive courses, and four practice facilities in The Villages. Lifetime country club memberships to the championship courses are included for Village residents, and walking the executive courses is free!”

Yes, it is possible, with some limitations. Already we experience the disappointment of it not making sense for us to travel, let’s say, to Spanish Springs Town Square. It’s a 40-minute golf cart ride each way which, for most people, is too far. Sure, at some point, we’ll probably attempt it. Instead, we’re reserving visits to Spanish Springs for times when we have houseguests with a car and can drive there in their car.

However, trips to Brownwood Paddock Square are quick and easy, and we can drive there in about 12 minutes in the golf cart. Tonight, we’ll be heading there again for the second time this week. Thus, residents could easily shop, dine out, play golf and participate in countless activities using only a golf cart.

The cost of a used golf cart can be as low as $2000 or as high as $20,000, depending on how they are customized to suit the purchaser’s desires. Some companies here provide yearly maintenance and service fees for golf carts, done right in one’s driveway. Of course, there are added costs for insurance and fuel for golf carts.

There are countless lakes and ponds on the golf courses in The Villages.

We took today’s main photo this morning at the Walmart fuel station in Colony Plaza, illustrating the low cost of running a golf cart. In the past week, after several trips out, we used less than a gallon of gas for $2.23. That amazed us. Imagine how much one could save only by driving a golf cart or driving it most of the time.

However, if we lived here, we’d pay cash for an older car in excellent condition and only use it for longer trips for needs outside of The Villages and for trips to such places as Spanish Springs, which can be reached by car in 22 minutes, (8½ miles). This is certainly no more time than it takes most people to go to dinner.

The website listed here is undoubtedly more detailed on possible expenses in The Villages, providing what appears to be a clear perspective based on long-term experience, as opposed to our little glimpse during these past few weeks.

Most roads accessible by golf carts have a clearly defined lane. However, there are a few main roads that allow golf carts when there isn’t a specific lane designated for golf carts.

Thank you for going along with us on this part of our journey. Time is moving quickly, and we’ll be on our way before we know it.

We’ll share a glitch we encountered in the passport renewal process tomorrow. For now, we’re signing off.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 9, 2013:

No photos were posted on this day as the ship made its way to Mykonos, Greece, one of our favorite ports of call. For the text on that date, please click here.

Part 1…Photos and info about our temporary home in The Villages, Florida….

At certain points along the golf cart path in The Villages, the scenery was lovely.

The house photos will begin tomorrow, but today we’re sharing photos from our first drive using the golf cart that came with the house to the closest shopping area in our Fernandina neighborhood of The Villages. It was pretty fun.

I am a little tentative right now after the Afib bout on the plane, but since we arrived, all is well. My heart rate and blood pressure are normal, with no issues whatsoever. Hopefully, it was a fluke. It may have been too soon to travel on a plane so close to the time I was released from the hospital, only four days earlier. The cardiologist gave me the OK to travel. My fingers are crossed that was the case. I have no interest in going to more doctors and having more pointless tests.

The golf cart paths are easy to navigate.

We had never used a golf cart except in Belize in 2013 when rental cars were outrageously priced. We rented a golf cart to get around when we discovered the first holiday home we rented was infested with insects and had running water only a few hours a day. We used the golf cart to drive to other properties until we eventually found the excellent property where we stayed for our remaining time in the country.

If you’re interested in reading that story about Belize, please see our archives for the first few days of February 2013. It was quite a strange experience when we first started out, but it ultimately resulted in a wonderful experience when we settled into the lovely Laru Beya property in Placencia, Belize.

Zoom in to see the golf cart traffic jam.

We only used the golf cart for a few days at that time. While here at The Villages, the golf cart will be our only means of transportation for almost three months. At first, before we got it going, we were hesitant that this form of transportation would be sufficient for us. But, after yesterday’s first outing, we feel okay about it and will do well getting around. It just takes a little longer than driving a car.

As it turned out, I downloaded a free app, The Villages, which provides easy directions to all locations. What was most important to us was the golf cart paths permitted for driving to any site. This app made it very easy for us to find our way to the restaurant where we had breakfast yesterday and found a Publix grocery store across the road.

The only problem with this particular Yamaha brand of golf cart which is in excellent condition is there is little room for groceries for the ride back to our place. This limits the number of groceries we can purchase at any given time. Now, we understand why so many residents use InstaCart and order groceries online. We may decide to do the same since I prefer to pick out our food. mainly meat and produce.

We inched closer to the row of golf carts and were moving along only a few minutes later.

Today, I am posting photos from our first drive with the golf cart, and tomorrow and for the next few days will add photos I took this morning of the interior and exterior of this lovely three-bedroom home. We love this property since it is in perfect condition, has central air, and is more equipped with supplies and “stuff” than any holiday home we’ve rented in the past.

Tomorrow, we’ll share photos of various storage areas in the house so you can see how thorough this owner is. Wow! It’s mind-boggling, and she told us we don’t have to replace anything we use while we’re here. Sure, we may run out of paper products and laundry soap, but we won’t have to purchase cleaning supplies and many toiletries she’s provided.

Tom had his eyes on the road while driving the golf cart.

We love sharing extraordinary holiday/vacation homes with our readers. We couldn’t be more thrilled with this property. If you are interested in renting this property in the future, you can find the listing here on VRBO.

Last night, Tom was still full from his huge breakfast at Bob Evans Farmhouse, while I had a small breakfast with an omelet. We purchased a whole-cooked chicken at the market and ate the dark meat with a salad last night. Tonight, we’re having soft-shelled tacos stuffed with leftover chicken for me and ground taco meat I’ll make for Tom. We’ll be using keto cheese taco shells we found at the market. They are only one carb each, so seeing how good they are will be interesting. I’d read about these taco shells but couldn’t find them in South Africa.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, May 2, 2013:

Sagrada Familia…Why is the Sagrada Familia so famous? Image result for Sagrada Familia La Sagrada Familia is a building that Gaudí masterfully designed. Despite not being finished, UNESCO made it a World Heritage Site in 1984 because of its unique architecture and how Gaudí created something so artistic and innovative. For more photos, please click here.

We made it to Florida, after a frightening experience on the long red-eye flight…

The lovely dining room is set in our beautiful new home in The Villages, Florida. More photos will follow tomorrow.

We are so grateful to have safely arrived in Florida after a terrifying event occurred on the 17-hour flight from Joburg to Atlanta. We’d had dinner at the airport restaurant, but the food was mediocre. I only had a grilled chicken salad and a pot of chamomile tea since I hadn’t had any wine since the heart event over a week ago.

Finally, after the five-hour layover, it was time to board the plane, and we were anxious to get to our seats and relax. We hadn’t booked our seats together. We booked a seat with two other empty seats beside us, which worked out for me but not for Tom, who was two rows directly behind me. Someone else had booked one of the three seats where Tom was situated,  and he wasn’t ever able to lie down, although I was.

The flight took off about 20 minutes late, but the huge plane finally took off smoothly without incident. I was thrilled to have two empty seats next to me so that when I was tired enough, I could lie down on the three seats with the blankets and pillows provided for all three seats.

About half an hour into the flight, I noticed my pulse suddenly increased. It started at about 100 bpm and, within a short period, it had escalated to 160. OMG, I was terrified. I was afraid to have Tom get the blood pressure cuff out of the bag in my carry-on bag in the overhead compartment. My pulse alone was high enough to convince me that my blood pressure was equally high, and seeing it would only create more anxiety, possibly making it worse.

As stressful as the concept of this long journey was only three days after getting out of ICU in hospital, I felt very calm and at ease about traveling. Sure, I’d considered that something could occur on the plane, but I wasn’t stressing about it by any means. I knew it was afib and not an anxiety attack which I don’t experience.

As the event escalated, I imagined how awful it would be if I told the flight attendant I was having a heart-related crisis and the plane had to turn back. Oh, good grief, that would not be very good. Besides, even after deep breathing and working for hours to stay calm as my heart rate soared, I knew this was no panic attack.

There was nothing I could do but wait it out. I told Tom what was happening, and he checked on me often, worrying about what we’d do if this continued through the 17-hour flight. After the sixth hour, my pulse began to drop for short periods and eventually returned to normal. What an ordeal. No words can express how relieved I was when it settled down to a steady 65 beats per minute. at that point, I was exhausted and hadn’t slept a wink.

After my pulse returned to normal, I was grateful and watched a few movies, dozing off and on. Back in normal sinus rhythm, I was able to stretch out on three seats and sleep for a few hours. Almost 17 hours after the flight began, we landed in Atlanta for the five-hour layover until the next flight.

Much to my surprise, the time passed quickly, and we boarded the last flight from Atlanta to Orlando. I slept during the entire flight, sitting straight up, sandwiched in a center seat between two burly male passengers. I awoke moments before the flight ended, and we rushed to make our way to baggage in hopes of collecting our bags in time for our 6:00 pm pre-arrange shuttle to The Villages.

Although this particular flight was over 30 minutes late, we managed to make it to the shuttle in time for our 6:00 pm ride to The Villages. By 8:30 pm, in the dark, we exited the shuttle just in time to see the SpaceX shuttle launch from Cape Kennedy in the night sky. That was exciting.

Now, we’re situated in this gorgeous place, well-equipped with everything we could possibly need. In tomorrow’s post, we’ll share details of our new temporary home in this fantastic retirement community of The Villages.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, May 1, 2012:

This was the type of knife in our bin when we went through security in Barcelona, which was not our knife. A terrifying situation ensued. For details, please read here.

Final Kruger photos…

It isn’t easy to fully appreciate the tiny size of this baby elephant in this photo. It was so sweet to see this little one.

On this date, one year ago, Covid-19 (Omicron) was detected on the cruise during the transatlantic crossing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Southampton, England. Five days later, we tested positive, along with many other passengers. We were extra careful upon hearing about the outbreak, but we still interacted with other guests during meals and at the bars at night. We weren’t careful enough.

It’s only been in the past two weeks, almost a full year later, that finally, I am free of most of the symptoms of long-haul Covid. I can confidently say that after a 10-day course of Prednisone, my headache and facial pain are gone, gone, gone. I’m still suffering from allergy symptoms, but mainly, I believe these started when I got Covid and haven’t gone away during this high allergy time in the bush.

Wildebeest family.

Dust, dust mites, pollen, and grasses are the allergens that impact me the most after being tested over 40 years ago. I was on a seven-year regime of weekly immunological injections, but I believe that after all this time, the efficacy has worn off. At this point, leaving two weeks from today, I expect the allergy symptoms to diminish in short order once we leave the bush.

Doc Theo put me on a few new allergy meds that are keeping me from being miserable after the Prednisone wore off, which I’ll continue to take once we arrive in Florida, hoping I can eventually wean myself off of them. But Florida is also a hotbed of allergens, so we’ll see how it goes. At least, I’ll be well-armed with the few meds that I know help to some degree.

This time, leaving Marloth Park isn’t as hard as it’s been in the past, except for leaving our wonderful friends and, of course, our animal friends, mainly Norman, and family. Nina and Natalie have visited daily during the school holidays, but Nomran stayed away for one whole week, only returning at least five times yesterday. I can only imagine what he’d been eating.

A lone elephant was grazing in the grass..

Norman’s belly looked full. He’d been eating well…not necessarily healthfully, but certainly in volume. We knew he wasn’t hiding away during the commotion made by holidaymakers when almost every day, we saw photos of him on Facebook posted by tourists rather than locals whose names we would recognize and who often post animal photos on Marloth Park Sighting Page.

Norman and family are the only nyalas in Marloth Park, including their son Noah, who was forced to find a new territory of his own when Natalie was born five or six months ago. When visitors see them, they often take photos and post them on Facebook. So, Norman stayed away for seven days, but at least we felt comfortable that the lions hadn’t gotten to him when we saw the photos online.

A lone zebra in the savannah.

When he showed up yesterday, I was beside myself with joy. Nina and Natalie were with him, and we fed them lots of pellets and healthy produce. I stayed busy off and on during the day, cutting up carrots and apples and tossing them to him and the girls as they patiently waited in the garden. If a nyala can look happy, Norman did, staring into my eyes, paying more attention to me than the food.

You may scoff at this assessment, but connecting with these animals here is not much different from connecting with your dog. In a short time, they learn the name we’ve given them and the sounds of our voices, even keywords that mean something special to them, such as food offerings and affection. No, we never touch him or the other animals.

The beautiful scene at Verhami Dam.

Norman’s massive horns could eviscerate a human in seconds, as could any male bushbuck, kudu, male or female wildebeest, or other horned animals in the wild. A warthog’s tusks are razor-sharp; these and other animals could easily kill a human if provoked or even startled. We proceed with caution and respect for the fact that they are truly wild.

Many criticize the animals here for having an easy life in Marloth Park, with plenty of vegetation and humans feeding them pellets. But, there are numerous leopards and currently eight lions in Marloth Park. Carcasses are often found as remnants of a meal of a big cat kill.  All the wildlife has to stay diligent in preventing being taken out. There are warning calls when such predators have been spotted, and we’ve heard those sounds from time to time.

Our last trip over the Crocodile Bridge as we exited Kruger National Park in the next 14 months.

We continue to hear from more and more residents of The Villages who’d like to get together, many of whom have been reading our site for years. One couple is from the town where we lived in Minnesota almost 11 years ago. Wow! This is exciting. Rita and Gerhard are connecting us with some old friends who live there. Please keep the messages coming from people who’ve found us through our site or other friends.

Tonight, we’re off to Jabula again for what surely will be another fun night like last night and others before that. We’re never disappointed, not in the people, not in the staff, and not in the fantastic food.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 15, 2022:

Finally, the ship’s chef got my dinner right with this delicious seafood dish. For more photos, please click here.

We’re all set to go except for packing…Posting plans for 90 days The Villages in Florida…

Mom and son, Jasmine and Johnny.

This morning, filling my 28-day pill case with my three prescription meds and vitamins, I started organizing and assessing how many tablets I’ll need to last while we’re gone for 14 months. I still have a little remaining inventory, and when Doc Theo writes me a one-year prescription for the others, I’ll be good to go until we return in mid-June 2024.

I disposed of a massive batch of useless packaging materials and reduced the amount to bring with us, which I’ll do again when I get the years’ worth next week. As for the supplements I take, I will buy those in Florida, most likely from Costco or Amazon. There’s no point in paying to haul those with us.

Each day, I plan to go through a cupboard or drawer to thin out what we’ll need to bring, what we can toss, and those items we’ll leave behind in the black plastic bins in the storage room. Again, there’s no point in paying to bring all the spices and condiments we’ve accumulated in the past 11 months in this house.

This is Jasmine, Johnny’s mom.

We’re trying to use up as much food as possible and won’t be grocery shopping again unless we need a few items for our meals, such as bacon, eggs, and salad ingredients. We’re working our way through all the meat in the freezer.

On top of that, we have lots of wine left from my birthday party, but each time we have sundowners, I have one small glass of regular wine (not light) and perhaps have a second glass of low-alcohol wine with 75% less alcohol than traditional wine. We’ll store the rest of the unopened bottles for our return, along with some items Tom drinks. All of that will stay fresh without a problem.

Also, we’re both leaving some clothing behind. When we return, it will be winter, and we’ll need some warm clothing. However, we’ll need warm clothing for the upcoming cruises to Norway, Greenland, and Iceland, where it will be cool even during the summer months. Also, it could begin to be cool when we arrive in Boston and Minnesota in September.

Johnny was on the other side of the garden while his mom was visiting. He seems to like it better on that side.

One thing I am looking forward to while living in Florida is easy-to-access products we use for cooking and general items one may pick up at a Costco or Target store. Plus, we’ll be able to place orders from Amazon and receive orders while staying at The Villages.

Speaking of The Villages, as mentioned in yesterday’s post and today’s heading, we look forward to sharing the details of what life will be like while living in one of the most popular and desired retirement communities in the United States. We’ll share photos, pricing, and information about many of the venues we’ll experience at our leisure, including dining out, shopping, and entertainment.

Perhaps our expectations are too high for meeting people. We plan to partake in as many activities as possible to improve the odds of making new friends. Plus, we expect some of our readers to live there, and we’re hoping those who do will contact us for dinner or a drink out at our location. How fun that will be! Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you are there and when we can meet.

Jasmine and Gordy seem to get along quite well. Could he be Johnny’s dad?

Even if you live outside The Villages and if it’s convenient, perhaps you could visit us for sundowners on the veranda at our new place. We also have a lot of old friends who live in central Florida, and we hope to get together with some of you while we’re there if it works out for them.

Of course, we plan to see friends Karen and Rich at some point. Karen’s mom Donna lives nearby, so surely we’ll see each other when they get together. Many of our “snow bird” friends will have left Florida for the summer months, and we won’t be able to visit with them. But we’ll see how it goes. Some may stay through May. We’ll be leaving at the end of July.

Once we arrive, we’ll be busy getting our passport applications mailed to the US State Department. We’ve already completed the forms, so all we have to do is send them to the appropriate address. Once we get one good night’s sleep, this will be on our agenda.

This morning, after an excellent breakfast and a few tasks completed, including booking transport from the Orlando International Airport to our holiday home for US $33, ZAR 600 per person, we went for our walk, which we’ll continue until we leave and pick up again, once we arrive and get a night’s sleep in Florida. It feels good to be walking again, but it may take a while to build my stamina after being relatively inactive this past year.

The weather has begun to cool considerably. No longer are we plagued with zillions of insects and courageously high humidity. This could change in a day. After all, TIA and one never knows.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 6, 2022:

Tom’s photos of this morning’s sunrise from the veranda of our bedroom at Karen and Rich’s home in Florida. For more photos, please click here.