We’re off!!!…Sail day has arrived…The road trip to Fort Lauderdale begins…

Celebrity Silhouette Itinerary, Current Position, Ship Review | CruiseMapper
Our ship, Celebrity Silhouette, which we’ll be boarding later today.

The two weeks in Florida passed in a blur of good times, good food, great weather, and gorgeous scenery with our thoughtful hosts, Karen and Rich, who were married in February. We were sad to miss their wedding due to Omicron, but they shared many details and photos, almost making us feel like we’d attended.

Their lovely home on the waterway, known as Flamingo Canal, was the perfect soothing and pleasant experience we were seeking before all the commotion begins for our next several weeks of cruising, visiting family, and then returning on the long and exhausting flight back to South Africa starting on May 22, arriving on May 23.

This trip is not like a typical vacation/holiday for us. It’s simply another leg in our continuing world travels, this time, once again, returning us to our favorite place in the world. But, don’t get me wrong…we’ll be on the move several times during our one-year booking of the new house we’re moving into upon our arrival.

One never knows what the future holds. At one point, we’ll be gone for about 45 days, and another time, for a few one-week trips for visa reasons. Also, we may add even more cruises to our itinerary as more cruise options are posted online.

We’re excited to board the ship this afternoon and then the next cruise on the Queen Mary 2. But we are also excited to see family members and then return to live in our newly remodeled house in Marloth Park.

Surely. Louise will have everything perfect awaiting us. We will give her a short grocery list so we won’t have to leave to grocery shop for a few days. (This morning I got a message from Louise that the lions were seen near our upcoming new house. How exciting!)

Once we unpack our bags and the boxes we left behind, we will settle in for a few months until we need to get a new 90-day visa stamp. We may travel or apply for an extension. We can decide on that in the months to come.

Funny thing. While I was preparing today’s post while still in Florida, the power went out during an electrical storm. They hadn’t lost power here for a long time, and it was only for 30 minutes. It was out for about two hours, and we were all happy to see it restored by 3:15 pm. Ironic, eh? Ironic, eh?

We stayed in for dinner, deciding against going out on a rainy day when most restaurants are outdoors. The remainder of the day and evening was lovely with Karen and Rich. We are sad to say goodbye, but we’ll see them again soon. They are planning to visit us in Marloth Park in August this year. How wonderful it will be to return the hospitality to our dear friends.

The next time you hear from us, it will be on Saturday, long after the ship set sail on Friday evening. We’ll have plenty of photos and stories to share about how the embarkation and check-in process worked during times of Covid with an outrageous number of precautions. It could prove to be very chaotic.

Thanks for staying with us, dear readers, through this waiting period. Your continued interest and support mean the world to both of us. We will be back with you soon.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 8, 2021:

Zebra traffic on the main road in Kruger National Park. For more photos, please click here.

One day and counting…Packing day…Exciting windfall described at the end of today’s post!…

    The new watch face on my Fitbit Sense. How appropriate is that? I didn’t walk much yesterday when I took this photo, and we were too busy with other tasks.

Yesterday, after we returned from picking up Tom’s suit and a few items for me at Target, I began to pack. Much to my delight, the four fancy dresses I’d purchased on Amazon, sight unseen, fit me well. The wrinkle-proof dresses fit into my small carry-on Samsonite bag and my camera and costume jewelry.

Although I purchased quite a few new items, including four pairs of jeans, I managed to fit everything else into my one large bag. The only issue will be the weight, which we’ll figure out at the end of the second cruise when we fly from New York to Minneapolis on May 1. As always, it will all work out.

At least I’ll be returning to Marloth Park with enough clothes, underwear, and shoes to get me through the following year in South Africa and for any side trips that we’ll need to make in the process for visa stamps. Mostly, I purchased comfy easy-wash-and-wear tee shirts, a few pairs of versatile black pants, and a few dressier tops for special nights out, such as for my 75th birthday party at Jabula, a mere ten months from now.

I purchased one pair of Skechers walking shoes and will buy one more pair when we get to Minneapolis, where there’s no tax on clothes and shoes, which will save 7.5% plus a 20% coupon I got online. I didn’t need to bring another pair of shoes on the two cruises when right now I have one black sandal, one tan sandal, one silvery flat shoe, one pair of walking shoes, and two pairs of Keds leather slip-on for a total of six pairs of shoes, the most I’ve had in over eight years. How exciting!

I still don’t have an official handbag, but Tom will carry my lipstick in his pockets on the cruises. Instead of handbags, I usually travel with one large South African cloth bag, which holds more than any handbag. I purchased these at the shop at the Mugg and Bean at Lower Sabie in Kruger National Park. I am now using my second bag. Before we left, I machine washed my first of the two fully lined bags, which came out brand new after air drying. I left it behind and am currently using the newer second bag.

However, carrying a big cloth bag from South Africa is unsuitable for nights out on a cruise, especially when wearing dressy clothes. Tom always says he’s my “pack mule.”  As for Tom, other than the suit, shirts, two ties, a pocket scarf, and a pair of black Cole Haan shoes, he didn’t need a thing. His casual button-down shirts for dinners on the cruise and dining out in Marloth Park are in perfect condition. He rotates about a dozen of the quality wash-and-wear shirts and an equal number of tee shirts.

Today is about getting organized and wrapping up our packing. Last night we had delicious homemade pizza left from the prior night’s dinner. The past three nights, I wore a long-sleeved shirt and compression stockings when we sat outside on the veranda by the edge of the pool having sundowners, and I only got one bite. That was excellent, resulting in a good night’s sleep.

Yesterday, I was also working on getting my Fitbit Sense to pair with the Bluetooth on my new phone. It wouldn’t pair after numerous attempts and workarounds. Finally, I had to do a factory reset on the Fitbit, and now I’m waiting to see if it worked as the software was reinstalled. There are always a few issues with a new phone, aren’t there?

OK, the Fitbit is now working and paired with my new phone’s Bluetooth with my new watch face. Check out the above main photo!

As for the windfall, as mentioned earlier…wait until you hear this! On Tuesday, when Tom was re-checking current cruise pricing on our remaining booked cruises, he discovered a huge price drop on our 42 night three back-to-back cruises from Athens to Cape Town.

There was a price drop on the final leg of over US $3100!!! Immediately, he contacted Costco Travel, and we were given the new price drop, saving us this considerable sum of money. We couldn’t be more thrilled and surprised. What an exciting discovery that wouldn’t have been possible without Tom’s diligence!

We’ll be back tomorrow with a short post before we embark on the four-hour drive to the port in Fort Lauderdale to the ship after Tom drops off the rental car at the nearby airport.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 7, 2021:

This lovely giraffe on the side of the road stood at attention. For more photos, please click here.

Two days and counting…A busy day preparing for departure…A great new recipe!…

Tom’s photos of this morning’s sunrise from the veranda of our bedroom at Karen and Rich’s home in Florida.

Note: The issue with the automatic email posts arriving in your inbox continues. It began once we arrived in the U.S., almost two weeks ago. That should not have caused the problem. Our web people in India are still trying to figure it out. Until they do, I will send the posts manually with a few clicks in the back admin area. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Good morning, everyone! In only two days, we’re off to Fort Lauderdale to board our cruise, Celebrity Silhouette, for the transatlantic crossing. Of course, we are very excited to be out to sea once again after a 29-month hiatus, all due to the pandemic.

What a lovely way to start the day!

I am in a bit of a rush this morning since we need to be out the door this morning in a little over an hour. Tom took today’s sunrise photos from the veranda off our bedroom this morning, making the photo portion of today’s post easy. I should mention that yesterday’s sunset photos were all taken by Karen. We’ve all been so busy yakking at sunset we’ve hardly noticed to take photos. It’s been quite fun being here with Karen and Rich.

Last night we all had homemade pizza using a new crust recipe Karen found made with ground chicken, although the recipe below suggests shredded chicken. It seems ground chicken is easier to use. It was delicious. We used our favorite toppings, not those listed in the recipe. See here for details.

We made enough pizza to last two nights, so tonight we can have it again after Tom, and I have been out most of the day wrapping up items we need for the cruises and getting our Covid tests this morning at CVS Pharmacy. My appointment is coming up in 40 minutes, so we need to be on the move shortly.

Another photo of the beautiful sunrise.

Also, today, we’re picking up Tom’s suit, making a trip to Target and Skechers for another pair of their comfy walking shoes. I purchased one pair so far but will need another to last me through the year we’ll spend in Africa. I am purchasing many items I can’t find there. It all adds to our luggage weight which will only be an issue when we fly from New York to Minneapolis and then to Las Vegas beginning on May 1st.

We will have to pay for additional bags since those two flights are domestic. But once we head back to South Africa, we won’t have to pay for added bags since we are each allowed two -23 kg (50-pound bags) due to international flights.

Tom just came downstairs after showering. We need to hurry at this point. Back at you soon! Have a great day!

Photo from one year ago today, April 6, 2021:

I.B. (Itchy Butt) is lying in the wet, muddy cement pond, attempting to ease the itching on his butt. For more photos, please click here.

Three days and counting…Wrapping it up here…Busy days…Sunsets to savor…

Not a lot has to be said about a beautiful sunset. It speaks for itself.

There have been more tasks for the upcoming two cruises than we listed earlier. They include:

  1. Applying for a visa for both of us for Bermuda, the first port of call in our itinerary which is required to board the ship, which we weren’t aware of until a few days ago: DONE
  2. Get Covid tests – scheduled for tomorrow morning
  3. Enter negative Covid test results into the Bermuda website to complete the visa process
  4. Applying for an additional $100 cabin credit for the Queen Mary 2 since we own stock in the parent cruise company, Carnival, which offers this credit for stockholders: DONE
  5. Complete health questionnaires for both cruises a few days before sailing
  6. Pick up Tom’s suit, stop at Target and Skechers store in Brandon, Florida
  7. Contact Costco about a considerable price reduction on Azamara’s website for our upcoming cruise in November. Tom is on hold now to see if the credit will be applied.

Our friend Karen made quite an observation over the past several days. She said, “Traveling the world is a lot of work! You two are busy all the time!”

This observation has dawned on us repeatedly throughout the past 9½ years. We are always busy planning, booking, filing documents, scanning, and preparing forms, applications, documents, and more to stay on top of our tasks. No doubt, it’s a daunting task. Whoever thought that traveling the world was one big holiday was kidding themselves. This is work.

Couple those tasks with the blog each day. Is it any wonder we need downtime to get through it all? On Friday, we’ll see passengers at the port cruise check-in, figuring out how to do all the paperwork and prep work they failed to do in advance. Surely, this will slow the check-in process to a snail’s pace. Hopefully, they will allow those of us who were well-prepared to move on through and board the ship.

The process will be slowed down even further with all the new Covid restrictions and protocol. It will be interesting to see what transpires at check-in for both upcoming cruises. Before the pandemic, the process was often cumbersome and time-consuming. I can only imagine what it will be like now. Of course, we’ll be sharing these details as they occur for our interested readers.

We’ll do our last load of laundry on Thursday, pack our bags and do my nails, and touch up my polish from my last pedicure. I’ll fill my pill case with my three little prescription pills and various vitamin supplements today. Tonight, Karen and I are making homemade pizza, two different types for each couple.

This morning, Tom and I headed to the grocery store for ingredients to make the pizzas. It’s so enjoyable to shop in the grocery stores in the US. There is every possible ingredient you can imagine, many of which we cannot buy in South Africa. Of course, I wish I could bring back some items with us, but with our new clothes and shoes, we won’t have any room to spare or weight allowance.

A few nights ago, the four of us sat outside poolside until after dark. I noticed I was itchy when we went indoors to eat dinner. It turned out, typical close to the sea, I was attacked by no-see-ums, resulting in hundreds of bites through my clothes. I had used repellent, but it has little effect on these pesky creatures as described here:

“Ceratopogonidae is a family of flies commonly known as no-see-ums or biting midges, generally 1–3 mm long. The family includes more than 5,000 species, distributed worldwide, apart from the Antarctic and the Arctic.”

We’ve lived in many seaside or desert locations during our world travels. Only in Belize, Morocco, and now, here in Florida, have they bothered me. And bother me, they did. I was awake all night long, itching, trying various creams I had on hand, and basically, being miserable and unable to sleep.

I am allergic to dust mites and no-see-ums, which is quite common for those with allergies. In an attempt not to be a “party pooper,” last night, I put on my compression socks, jeans, and a long-sleeve, tightly fitting tee shirt. I generously applied repellent on any exposed skin, my hands, face, and neck. Fortunately, that worked, and I never was bitten again. The old bites are still itching, but that should improve in a few days.

Well, at least we know now that if we ever thought of eventually settling down in Florida, that won’t work for me. No, we’re not thinking of “settling down.” We’re just getting ramped up again after this darned pandemic.

Tomorrow, I will prepare a short post in the early morning since we plan to be out most of the day wrapping up some of these last-minute details and completing the above as indicated by no later than Friday.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 5, 2021:

Notice the puffed-up cheek on this giraffe. They eat vegetation and store it in their cheeks for short periods. 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.

Part 2…The manatee story…Safari luck in Florida!…We’re off to Arcadia…

There may have been a small buoy attached to the tail of the frequent manatee visitors, making it easier for the tourists to spot.

This morning, we are off to Arcadia, Florida, to meet our friends, Tom and Lois, who visited us in Marloth Park, South Africa, in October 2018. It’s a 90-minute drive for us and a little more for them, and we appreciate them driving to meet us for lunch at a popular inland restaurant.

We’d hoped to see many more friends and family members while in Florida but after we changed our trip to come to Karen and Rich’s wedding due to Omicron, our timing changed considerably and there just hasn’t been enough time. We apologize to all those special people we won’t have an opportunity to see this time around but with our passion for cruising, surely we’ll be back in Florida at some point in the future. Also, after the pandemic, car rental prices are outrageous in Florida with limitations on mileage, something we haven’t experienced in the past. Driving all over the state would have cost thousands extra.

Thus, today, for time’s sake, we’ve included Part 2 of the manatee story, which I mostly prepared yesterday, to ensure we are on the road promptly at 10:15 am to meet them by noon, leaving a little extra time for traffic. We plan to return to Karen and Rich’s by 5:00 pm for a barbecue rib dinner Rich is making. It will undoubtedly be a busy and fun day with friends.

A manatee is lifting hers/his nose from the water for a dose of air. They do this about every five minutes or so.

We found this excellent information about manatees from the Smithsonian’s website here:

14 Fun Facts About Manatees

These roly-poly herbivores, just maybe the teddy bears of the sea. But keep an eye out when boating; they don’t move so fast. Emily Frost

Despite their size and stubbly snout, manatees seem cute and cuddly to many ocean visitors. These large, slow-moving marine mammals hang out in coastal areas and rivers where Florida spring-breakers can easily see them and think it is good to hop on for a ride. Not only is this and other forms of harassment such as hugging the sea creatures illegal (the West Indian manatee is listed as endangered in the United States), but it can also impact manatees’ natural behavior, changing the way they interact with humans.

Stingrays at the Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach, Florida

All three species of manatee—the Amazonian manatee, West Indian manatee, and West African manatee—and the related dugong are considered vulnerable (defined as facing a high risk of extinction in the wild) by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This is due to a variety of threats, including boat collisions, hunting, habitat destruction, and toxic red tides.

Expansive views of Tampa Bay from the center.
This one decided to lay down in the shade. For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…The manatee story…Safari luck in Florida!…

This was the first shot we got of one of the manatees that appeared in the warm waters by the Tampa Electric Company.

Note: Some of our readers are not receiving the daily email updates of our post. Some readers have reported that the post has gone to their spam folder which we suggest you check and unmark the post as spam. Our web people are working on this issue today. It should be resolved in the next 24 hours. In the interim, please continue to find us at www.worldwidewaftage.com.

When Karen and Rich told us about the nearby Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach, Florida, we were interested. But, when they explained that it might be difficult to actually spot any manatees near the Tampa Electric Company, where the warm waters from the plant attract manatees, we hesitated to check it out.

When we took off for the grocery store, we decided to visit the center and see if we’d have safari luck. Since the manatees are not confined and may come and go at their leisure, we felt comfortable giving it a try. We avoid visiting caged and confined animals that should be in the wild. Although, on occasion, we visit rehabilitation centers, which is an entirely different scenario. especially when the intent is to return the wildlife to the wild, where they belong.

It would have been nice to get better photos but we were happy to see them.

Not to be negative, but we anticipated a pricey entrance fee and the possibility of never seeing a manatee. Much to our surprise, entrance into the oceanfront setting was free to the public. As shown in our photos, the tourist-like location across the bay from the Tampa Electric Company, somewhat offset the eyesore of the massive power plant (not nuclear).

Many homes in the area have extensive views of the power plant. Perhaps those homeowners feel less intruded upon by this haven for manatees that has been generated (no pun intended) by such an intrusive structural complex so close to their homes.

The entrance to the Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach, Florida.

On the Manatee Viewing Center’s website, they write:

“Manatees love warm water. And by a stroke of POWERful luck, Tampa Electric can provide it to them! Our Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach circulates water from Tampa Bay for cooling, then sends the water flowing clean and warm back into the bay. The manatees leave colder waters to return to this warm and welcoming refuge in the winter months.

Because of this uniquely unusual migration, we’ve built the Manatee Viewing Center so everyone could have a chance to see manatees gather. Our discharge canal is a state and federally designated manatee sanctuary that provides critical protection from the cold for these unique, gentle animals.

Location: 6990 Dickman Rd., Apollo Beach, FL 33572
Hours: Open daily from November 1 – April 15, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Trails close at 4 p.m. We are closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and Easter. Have questions? Call us at 813-228-4289.

Tampa Electric is proud to offer free parking and admission to all who visit!”

Manatees are such unusual-looking animals.

Tom, impatient fellow that he is, seemed ready to leave when we didn’t see anything. When we arrived at the center to find the parking lot full, we persisted and found a good spot. After a short walk up a ramp, we made our way to the major viewing area, wondering if we’d get lucky.

But, knowing me, riddled with persistence and determination, I wanted to wait it out. Within five minutes, we saw manatees. I was almost squealing with delight. My high-pitched talking-to-animals-voice kicked in while my camera clicked feverishly to get a good photo.

Manatees don’t rise above the waterline. Only their noses protrude for a quick moment to collect a good dose of air every five minutes or so. As long as we could see their blubbery bodies under the water, we knew at some point they’d come up for air. And they did.

Tampa Electric Company processing plant in Apollo Beach Florida.

In reality, it would take a scuba diver or snorkeler’s underwater camera to get good shots of these peculiar massive creatures. We did the best we could under the circumstances and were thrilled to get the shots we did. Of course, I was thrilled, as always, to add yet another wonder of nature to our repertoire of online photos on our posts, and we’re delighted to share them with our readers today.

We’re sharing the photos we took between today and tomorrow’s Part 2, a continuation of this story. We decided to break this up into two stories since we have to hurry to get out the door tomorrow to meet with friends Tom and Lois for lunch in Arcadia, Florida.

Ancillary structures at the Tampa Electric Company.

Have a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today, April 1, 2021:

This leaf-like insect stopped by for another visit. For more photos, please click here.

A new plan for the next year…

A marina in Apollo Beach.

As it turned out, we’re booking the new house in Marloth Park for one full year, during which we’ll leave from time to time for new visa stamps. We plan to do one more visa extension through the law firm, and we’ll be going for cruises at other times. Subsequently, we’ll only have to leave once for a visa run during the 12 months. This works out well for us.

Are we settling down in Marloth Park? No. We’re using it as a base until after we return from the Lisbon to Cape Town cruise in December, leaving us six more months of the one-year rental contract from which we’ll embark on more cruises. After that year ends, we will leave South Africa for new and different horizons. But, for this particular period, it works for us.

Are we done with staying in holiday homes for two or three months in various countries? Not necessarily. In the interim, we can live well below our budget to offset the cost of the cruises. But with the cost of holiday homes skyrocketing worldwide due to the pandemic, we’ve had no choice but to reconsider what works best for us.

We have seen an increase in holiday rents, not only in the UK and Europe but also worldwide. We are not wealthy people who can spend thousands of dollars a month on rentals. Nor are we willing to forgo our criteria of living in nice properties in safe neighborhoods, in excellent condition, with utilities included and unlimited WiFi. We can’t justify forfeiting any of these critical requirements.

For those of our readers who have grown weary of wildlife photos, we apologize when we say there will be plenty more to come once we return to Marloth Park on May 24. The difference will be an entirely new batch of animals, with new names, new behavior, and the plethora of peculiarities we find in the bush.

If we named our site Worldwide Wildlife Adventures, a steady stream of animal photos would be expected. So, from that point forward during the upcoming year, you may ask yourself, would I read such a daily blog? Would I become bored with one wild animal after another?

If your answer is that you would be bored, then please check back from time to time to see what adventures are upcoming or perhaps wait until we are on the move again. On November 8, 2022, we’re sailing through the Middle East, including visiting Israel and many other countries.

On August 1, 2023, we will finally be sailing to Norway, a new experience for us. Thus, during this one year, we won’t be sitting on the veranda the entire time, tossing pellets to our newly named animal friends and heading to Jabula every Friday night. There definitely will be some adventures along the way.

Our lives are not long-term vacation/holiday. It is a compilation of experiences in many cultures, focused on nature, building relationships we make along the way, and learning about the world’s ways. Our goal is to remain intrigued while continuing to grow and flourish in many environments. Staying stimulated by our surroundings is a fantastic means of maintaining a youthful outlook and demeanor.

As long as our health remains good, we will continue on this path. When that changes, which it ultimately will, we will make another plan. Also, based on great medical care, we feel incredibly at ease in Marloth Park.

So, there it is, dear readers, our plan for the upcoming year. It begins when we return to South Africa on May 24; after our two upcoming cruises, a two-week visit to Minnesota with another one-week visit to Nevada. From there, we’ll embark on the long journey to return to South Africa.

We are content with our plans and hope most of our readers will continue to share this peculiar life with us. We’ll be back tomorrow with some exciting photos of “safari luck” in Florida after sightseeing.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 31, 2021:

Frank was standing on the veranda railing. For more photos, please click here.

Night out for dinner at popular Apollo Beach oceanfront restaurant…

We made a toast to our friendship and to being two happy couples.

Shortly, we are heading out to Brandon, a nearby town about 30 minutes from here, where a mall and many other stores are located. First, we’ll head to Men’s Wearhouse to purchase Tom a suit for the upcoming dressy Cunard Queen Mary 2 cruise, only weeks away.

Tom hasn’t had a suit since we began our travels in 2012, but with baggage weight restrictions, we had no choice but to donate it along the way. With several Azamara cruises upcoming and some dressy nights on those cruises, having the suit and my dressy dresses will come in handy. The trick for both of us will be getting rid of some items in our bags to make room for all of our new clothes.

Karen and Rich were married on February 11, when Omicron hit, and we stayed behind to avoid infecting the bride and groom.

We brought along an extra piece of luggage, and in the worst case, we will load it up and pay any extra charge for the additional bag when we fly. The cruise lines don’t charge for the number of bags or the weight of the bags. Thank goodness for that.

So, for today, we start at Men’s Wearhouse, DSW shoes, TJ Maxx (for odds and ends), and Costco, where we’ll upgrade our membership card to get petrol saving when using a Costco credit card to fuel up throughout the world. All the little details of our lives keep us jumping, especially when we spend time in the US between our world travels.

We enjoyed dining outdoors with Karen and Rich at Circle’s Restaurant in Apollo Beach.

Last night, as shown in today’s few photos, we went out to dinner, having a fantastic time. The food was good but not great, but we were shocked by the bill in a casual restaurant such as Circles. For the four of us with drink, tax, and tip, the total bill was US $290, ZAR 4257. Sure, we each had two drinks, but that amount surprised us when, of course, Tom picked up the bill.

When we returned to the house, we watched the end of the Academy Awards. All were shocked over the events of the night when Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock for tastelessly using his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s medical issue as the brunt of the joke. The controversy is all over the internet.

I’d planned to walk out to the beach to take photos, but time got away from me.

Tonight, we’ll dine in after Tom, and I pick up some groceries at Costco for our taco salad dinner. It works out well being here with Karen and Rich since mostly they eat like us. I can easily maintain my low-carb way of eating, and Tom is doing the same, now that we found out we can’t get his favorite plain old-fashioned cake donut. These days, customers aren’t interested in eating simple cake donuts when so many more appealing types are available.

It’s time to head out, so I am cutting it short today. We hope you have a fantastic Monday and everything goes your way.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 28, 2021:

The seed solution for Frank and The Misses. Now they both eat out of the little container. Once they’re done, we take away the container, so the pigs and bushbucks don’t eat the seeds. For more, please click here.