Making the most of time available for family and friends…Scary news in South Africa…

We couldn’t believe our eyes on this date in 2018 in Kruger National Park when we spotted this elephant digging a hole to access water in the ground below.  For a video and more photos of this sighting, please click here.

Yesterday was a diverse day for me. At 1:00 pm, we arrived at Tom’s sister Patty’s house for eight of us to play dice and later have dinner. We all sat at the table in Patty’s kitchen that was extended with a table leaf. Patty gave each of us a little Tupperware cup for quarters for playing various dice games.

I never seem to win at games of chance but give me a strategy game, and I may have good luck. At 3:15 pm, Tom and I stopped playing while he drove to drop me off at a local pub and restaurant to meet my dear old friend, former business partner Theresa Steichen, who is still in real estate, successfully so, after almost 30 years.

With Theresa and I both on time for the 3:30 pm get-together for a late lunch or early dinner, we couldn’t have embraced each other with more love, warmth, and enthusiasm. The next few hours sailed by quickly while we engaged in lively and animated conversation, as we always had.

Not only were we great friends, but we respected and admired each other for our innate skills in dealing with clients and other professionals. I had retired and left our business shortly after the market crashed. I’d had enough after decades in the business, and we couldn’t have made the transition more easily from business partners back to friends.

The last time we were here in 2019, Theresa and I got together for lunch with our mutual friend Cathy. What a treat it was to be with her once again. It was difficult to end our time together, and again we hugged when we parted with smiles on our faces, tears in our eyes for a beautiful few hours we spent together. We plan to see each other again each time we return to Minnesota in years to come.

Theresa drove me back to Patty’s house, where the remaining seven were eating dinner and enjoying every moment together. Our time is winding down rapidly now. We leave for Milwaukee in three days and plan to pack in as much family time as possible during the remaining hours.

Elephants were forming a line to stop traffic in Kruger National Park.

The fun dice games continued after their dinner, and after a full day, we headed out around 7:00 pm, after traffic had cleared. We were about 40 minutes away, and avoiding traffic was a priority. When we reached our hotel room, we had settled in for a quiet evening, streaming a few shows and nodding off on another excellent night’s rest.

Today is daughter-in-law Camille’s birthday, and we’re all meeting for dinner to celebrate at a favorite restaurant from our old lives, Maynard’s in Excelsior on Lake Minnetonka. There will be seven of us for the celebratory dinner including, Tom and I, Greg and Camille, and grandchildren Maisie, Miles, and Madighan.

I can’t believe how quickly time has passed. We leave for Las Vegas in five days and then leave Las Vegas for South Africa in only 11 days. I don’t know if it is due to old age or simply due to the good times we’re having, but the days are flying by quickly.

My dear friend Kathy travels from Sacramento, California, to Johannesburg, South Africa, where husband Don is picking her up in a few days. She’s at the airport now awaiting her first flight for the long journey. There is civil unrest in South Africa, awful enough that President Cyril Ramaphosa has called in the military. The road we travel from Nelspruit to Marloth Park has been closed off for days due to riots, carjackings, and murders. It’s the only road providing access to the park.

Of course, all of us will proceed with caution and pay lots of attention to news reports as to the status of the highway. It’s a 90-minute drive on that highway, always packed with police. Now, it may also be filled with the military. Then again, only 20 minutes from where we are in Minnesota is equally dangerous. Nowhere in the world is entirely free of risk. We stay informed and proceed accordingly. We’d be waiting to hear from Kathy if she and Don could get through on Thursday.

If the road is closed in Nelspruit, we’d have no choice but to hunker down there for a few days until it is safe again to travel. We always have to consider backup plans.

Have a pleasant day!

Photo from one year ago today, July 13, 2020:

We found these shells on a beach in Australia. The next day, we returned all the shells to the beach where we found them. For more photos, please click here.