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.

Humidity and rain continue…Kudu pulling down branches…Why???…Animal behavior…

Right now, at 11:00 am, the weather is as follows:

  • Temperature: 77F, 25C,
  • Humidity: 100%
  • Dew Point: 78

Although the temperature is low, the humidity is unbearable. Wearing jeans and a long sleeve Bugs-Away shirt to keep from getting bites, I am drenched in sweat. It continues to rain a few times every 24 hours. I’d much rather have dry, hot days over this uncomfortable humid weather.

Even Little Johnny, with his tiny budding horns, digs in the dirt to get mud on his horns. What constitutes this behavior?

As shown in the above photo of Little Johnny, a young male bushbuck, many of the horned animals, even with tiny budding horns, are digging in the dirt to make themselves look bigger and more intimidating. Some animals dig in the ground with their tusks or horns, searching for edible roots.

With the dirt easily accessible after it’s been raining for weeks, we’ve seen many muddy horns. Even Norman stopped by a few evenings ago with his long horns covered in mud. Later we saw him digging in an anthill to add more dirt, the same anthill we’ve seen kudus, bushbucks, and warthogs attacking from time to time.

Animal behavior is quite interesting, and we look up information online about a particular animal’s behavior almost daily. Oddly, many wildlife species haven’t been studied extensively, and there may be little information about specific behaviors we observe while watching them day after day.

Little Johnny quickly learned how to stare us in the eyes, looking for pellets.

Many casual observers, such as us, speculate about animals’ behavior, but those observations may be incomplete and inaccurate. We often guess why a specific animal is acting a certain way, thus prompting us to conduct research. Of course, we’re always looking for information from reliable sources.

This morning, we watched a male kudu working very hard to take down a branch from a tree. We posted the above video about this behavior in 2018 and are excited to post it again today based on today’s topic. When looking online for “why do kudus knock down branches,” the answers are few and vague.

When we watch this behavior, we think it is for the kudu to eat the inaccessible leaves from higher up on the tree, as shown in our above video. But, often, as today, we watched a kudu pull down a large branch and never eat a single leaf once he’d knocked it down. Is there another reason he may have worked so hard to accomplish this feat?

There were other males and females nearby. Was he showing off his brute strength to intimidate the males and attract the females? It’s hard to find such information to substantiate this type of behavior.

Do these female kudus lie together in the bush for any reason other than to rest? The answers are hard to find.

When we’ve gone on a game drive with guides, their comments vary on animal behaviors. After watching wildlife daily for over three years, we keep our mouths shut about what we’ve observed when in a group. We’re no experts. Jane Goodall spent over 60 years studying and interacting with chimpanzees in the wild, yet she has said there is still much to learn.

As casual observers of animal behavior, our experience is uneducated, limited, and, at times, biased by our love and interest in certain animals. Not a day goes by that I’m not trying to discover the reason for the behaviors exhibited by nyala Norman. How did he and Nina kick Noah out of the family group to ensure he’d stop grazing with them and the new baby? We haven’t seen Noah since then. Others have reported they’ve seen him at least two kilometers from here. Will he ever return?

We’ll never know. Many observers claim to know and understand these various behaviors, but even with them, there is uncertainty. If only animals could talk and tell us the answers to these and other questions. But, like the mystery of life and the afterlife, we can only speculate. We, as humans, just aren’t meant to know some things.

We continue in our relentless pursuit of answers, which makes the search all the more fascinating. That uncertainty inspires us to be continually enthralled by wildlife and the world around us. From that source of motivation, we continue on in our world travels, hungry for more knowledge, connection, and fascination with Mother Nature’s bounty.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 17, 2022:

Last night we took this blurry photo of our visiting porcupine through the glass and the screen doors to the veranda. If we’d opened either door, it would have run away. For more photos, please click here.

Day #179 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Hope on the horizon???…

Last night as we greeted Jeri and Hans in the yard, Tom took this shot.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013, while we were living on the island of Diani Beach, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

Yesterday, after preparing and uploading the daily post, I spent the entire afternoon, writing, and editing the first of five special 2000 word posts required for our web developers to set up with keywords to increase our web traffic. Doing so will increase our position in Google and other search engines for us to be found more readily by the user searching using specific keywords.

Only moments later he took this shot, but oddly, the sky appeared brighter.

Since our site’s main focus hasn’t been to generate income in the past, we never went through this procedure in the past. Generally, this is a very expensive process since the site must be observed by the developers on a regular basis.  Based on the wonderful relationship we’ve built with Kate, we have been able to secure a reasonable cost of this ongoing process. She can be reached at the following:

Name: Kate Miller
Phone No: +91 8431344070
A baboon shot on our return cab ride from the grocery store. They approach the car when we stop, curious to see what food we may have for them. We had none but a lot of tourists buy bananas to give to them.
Several weeks ago we wrote a detailed post, at this link, about this fine company who has diligently and professionally handled my frequent questions and changes with the utmost patience and ease. I couldn’t recommend them more. The fact they are also in India was merely a fluke, but somehow it provided us with an added level of comfort knowing they were working with us from India.
However, they will work with clients from all over the world. No longer is a face to face meeting needed for web development for small to mid-size sites and businesses. Writing a post with 2000 words was challenging. Our usual posts are 1000 words or less. By the way, recently, we watched a fantastic Australian TV series, entitled “800 Words” about a blog writer, his daily 800 word posts, and his interesting life after his beloved wife passed away.
Our glass table was set and ready for our dinner guests, the landlord, and his wife. With no Windex or glass cleaner in the grocery stores, I’ve had a heck of a time cleaning the glass table top. I asked Hesborn how he is able to clean it so well with no streaks. He said he uses soap and water on a rag, drying it with a dry towel. I tried this method, only to end up with streaks.
If you’re into “binge-watching,” “800 Words” is an easy and entertaining series to keep you engaged for days, if not weeks, with its many episodes. We found it on Amazon Acorn for US $5.99, INR 439, a month. Acorn has many fantastic British, Irish, and Australian series. Please feel free to ask us for suggestions if you decide to give it a try.
On another note, there’s a lot of commotion in the corridors lately, making it difficult for me to walk every 30 minutes. I recently changed my walking schedule from every hour to every half hour still reaching my 10,000 step goal each day. Breaking it up this way has made it less boring, I’ll do anything within reason to break up the boredom.
This is Jessie, who disappeared for 24 hours to later be returned by a kind local man after he’d heard that a small long-haired dog was on the loose. She and I became very close during the three months. She wasn’t allowed indoors but she waited outside our front door all night, excited to see me in the morning.
Lately, busy with the new site and all the changes requiring most of my day, along with the walking, I’ve had little time to watch shows in the late afternoon, instead, saving dinner time and the evenings when we can finally relax. I have never been one to enjoy “working” in the evenings.
But, most recently, the web developers who work well into the night, have asked me questions which couldn’t wait until the next day.
In an attempt to avoid stress and cut into our relaxation times, today, I asked them to save their questions for me for the following day, if possible. It’s a true balancing act for us to maintain a positive attitude in this peculiar situation.
We’ve found that maintaining our comfortable routine helps us avoid “over-thinking” and worrying. Escaping into our shows each evening is an excellent opportunity to escape.
Jeri and Hans, our landlords, neighbors, and new friends joined us for dinner.

Subsequently, we are both holding our own, staying upbeat, and hopeful for the future. News coming out of South Africa states (true or not) they are opening their borders soon, but are restricting travelers from certain countries from entering.

This could easily exclude India and the US. Both have to be allowable for us to be allowed to enter. The wait continues.

Right now, we can’t plan a thing until our FedEx package arrives. It’s still stuck in Delhi, after two full months. We shall see how this goes.
Stay safe.


Photo from one year ago today, September 18, 2019:

An adorable pygora goat on the farm in St. Teath, Cornwall, England, posing for a photo atop the picnic table.  “The pygora goat is a cross between the pygmy goat and the angora goat that produces three distinct kinds of fleece and has the smaller size of the pygmy.” For more photos, please click here.

Safari adventures continue…The rigors of game drives…

A female sambar deer.

It wasn’t entirely about the Bengal Tiger. Safari in Bandhavgarh National Park also included many other forms of wildlife and, as shown, some stunning scenery along the way.

This baby elephant was being prepped for humans to ride him in search of tigers. Riding an elephant is a custom in India, but we wouldn’t ride one, as most of our readers know. 

The morning drive beginning at 6:00 am each day was cold, and we were covered with the blankets provided by the resort. The roads are as bumpy as can be, and thus, those with back or spine problems would be miserable during either the morning or afternoon game drives.

The baby’s mother was chained nearby. I supposed the chains are the saddest part affecting us animal lovers. We have to respect the customs in other countries as we travel the world. After all, we don’t cringe when horses are ridden.

Bathroom breaks are at a premium, and often the toilet is but a hole in the ground, not conducive for us women wearing pants. What a challenge that is! I choose not to drink any fluids in the morning to avoid the necessity. Of course, for men, behind a tree works well.

A white gum tree, the bark of which is used by locals for medicinal purposes.

Between the morning and afternoon game drives, one can expect to be out for no less than 8½ to 9½, making for a very long day. There’s a 3½ hour break between the morning and afternoon game drives, allowing time for lunch in the dining room. All Indian food is spicy and flavorful (not necessarily delectable to Tom. He ordered separately on most occasions).

When we stopped during the safari for our packed breakfast, consisting of boiled eggs, toast, and muffins for Tom and vegetables for me, a few cows entered the picnic area in the park.

Climbing in and out of the safari vehicles is not easy. It was challenging. But I managed well. My legs did not fully recover, but I kept a stiff upper lip and did so with nary a whimper. Tom stood close by, spotting me in the event of a fall.

Not easy to see in this photo taken at quite a distance, a tiger is dining on her catch.

In other words, safari is not necessarily for everyone. But, for us, after years of experience in Africa, we didn’t complain a bit and bounced our way through hour after hour of game drives through the rough terrain.

We saw many of these vine trees in the park.

Our fantastic safari driver was with us throughout the three days, and in each session, a different naturalist joined us. But, our driver Babalu was most knowledgeable after 27 years as a safari driver. 

“Apart from being a rich wildlife reserve, Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh has other ways to beguile travel aficionados. One can be interested in noticing an age-old fort called the Hill Fort or Bandhavgarh Fort standing right in the middle of the national park. This majestic fort allows visitors to peep inside the rich history and shows the prominent influence of religion in the state. So, what exactly are we talking about here? Well, we are focusing on the priceless heritage that includes the cave dwellings, shrines, and several sculptures that indicate the strong faith in the power of Lord Vishnu here.”

We wouldn’t have needed the naturalist when many barely spoke English (our problem, not theirs. We are in “their” country, after all) but seemed to provide good service as spotters whose hearing is acute and eyesight keen for sightings.

A Common Kingfisher.

When a tiger is nearby, the spotted deer make a barking warning sound. The driver and naturalist quickly picked up these sounds, and then the watch for the elusive tiger would begin. We’d often sit quietly in the vehicle at the side of the road for 20 or 30 minutes, watching and waiting for the animal to appear.

A gorgeous sunset over Bandvargarh National Park in India.

There’s tremendous with no sightings of any animals and others when they were in abundance. On a few occasions, they did appear. On many more other occasions, they did not. An impatient person would not do well under these circumstances.

Another photo of the tiger we spotted.

Since my camera card doesn’t work with my new Chromebook (no slot), I couldn’t use my camera until I purchased an adapter or cord. Subsequently, all of our photos were taken with our Google phones, not the best for zooming in, as we all know. There was a bit of frustration over this on my part.

Male spotted deer.

Plus, the photos from our phone, which generally would appear on my laptop within a few hours of taking them, didn’t appear for at least 24 hours with the slow WiFi signal using my phone as a hot spot or when sitting in the reception area of the resort. Yesterday, photos appeared on my laptop in a more timely fashion, and I was able to do yesterday’s and today’s posts in a little more timely manner.

Rare wild buffalo is referred to as a gaur. We were excited to spot this elusive animal.

We apologize for the lack of a post on Monday. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get photos to load. There was no point in writing a story about a fine artist without uploading the images I took in the shop, especially when I was thrilled with their clarity.

Mom and baby wild boar. I love all types of pigs. This was no exception.

If you didn’t have an opportunity to see yesterday’s post, please click here.

Today, we are moving again on another over five-hour drive to the next safari lodge in our itinerary. We’ll be back with more on that soon.

Photo from one year ago today, February 26, 2019:

This is our Basket, the Bully, who was thrilled to see we’d returned to the bush.  Many weeks ago, he appeared with a bloody right ear, which now is but a stubble of an ear that seems to have healed nicely. For more photos, please click here.

A perspective from the inside…Aging gracefully…

This photo was posted in 2014 when our family visited Mount Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawaii. This was my favorite shot of the evening with the backdrop of the glow of the lava.

After a great night’s sleep last night, both of us are feeling well. What a relief! At this point, with the recent virus gone and my ongoing recovery from last February’s dreadful experience, I am feeling better than I have in over ten months.

I prefer not to be overly optimistic and proceed with caution, realizing that some days may not be as good as others. Then again, most of us have good and bad days about how we feel, especially as we age.

Living in this senior community for 18 nights thus far with a total of 51 nights for the duration has allowed us to see how other seniors live; their health concerns; their worries; their relationship issues; and the affordability (or not) of living in this pleasant, modern RV park.

Surprisingly, most people we’ve met have been very candid about their personal lives. Many have discussed their memory issues and health challenges in some detail. 

However, from what we can ascertain, a substantial number of residents are healthy, active, and full of vitality. In either case, no one we’ve met to date appears to judge those with health or emotional issues. Overall, the residents appear happy to be here, many of whom have lived here for as many as 20 years. Sure, some express concerns over the Park’s management, but this is to be expected. 

It’s easy to get caught in the loop of observing management’s handling of the facility and subsequently making comments or observations of how various situations could improve. However, few seem to express these concerns to the corporate office.

The park appears to be well run. It’s clean, well maintained, and has a robust variety of services and activities in which residents may participate or not. Most events result in an easy social experience suitable for singles and married couples. 

Some individuals lost their spouses and remained in the park during the winter months or throughout the year. Tom’s sister, Margie, lived here during the winter months with her husband Charlie, who sadly passed away in 2008, and yet she still spends her winters here to avoid the cold weather in Minnesota.

For her, the benefit of having two of her sisters living here is a big draw as well. Most residents make an effort to make friends in the park with whom they develop close relationships. Fortunately, we’ve had an opportunity to meet many of Tom’s sister’s friends, all of whom are lovely people.

Many residents have homes they return to in the spring, not returning until October, November, or later and leaving as soon as the weather warms in their home states.

The Arizona summer weather can be daunting, for example:
“In Phoenix and the surrounding suburbs, the summers are sweltering and dry, the winters are cool, and it is mostly clear year-round. Over the year, the temperature typically varies from 44°F (6.7C) to 106°F (41C) and is rarely below 36°F (2.2C) or above 111°F (44C). The record high-temperature is 122°F (50C).”

It’s not surprising that few seniors prefer to stay here in the summer months, but many no longer have second homes out of state and, due to affordability and convenience, will stay through the hot summer months.

No doubt, we’re enjoying our time here meeting new people and spending quality time with Tom’s three sisters and two brothers-in-law. During our quiet time, we busy ourselves with household tasks, research for future travels, and of course, preparing each day’s post.

In only four days, the New Year will be upon us. May you enjoy the planning and preparations for what may be most suitable for you to ring in the New Year.

Photo from one year ago today, December 27, 2018:

Elephants were coming down the hill to the Crocodile River. It’s hot and dry, and water is sparse for them. For more photos, please click here.

Tom’s excellent veranda photos…Purchasing a new laptop…A must before the next adventures…

An iguana is basking in the sun.

Sightings on the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Tom’s photo from the veranda of this Flame-colored Tanager.

Over the next several days, we’ll be posting Tom’s photos (at quite a distance)from where he was seated on the veranda while I was indoors ironing clothes. He considered coming to get me but feared if he moved, his gorgeous subjects would fly away.

Entrance sign to Zoo Ave (In this case, “ave” refers to “aviary” in Spanish.

I was impressed by his photos. Although a bit blurry from the long-distance, many clearly defined various feathered species landing in the vast amount of greenery surrounding this lovely Atenas property.

We’re looking forward to sharing the photos in our “Sightings on the Veranda in Costa Rica” section over the next several days. As we wind down these remaining 12 days in Costa Rica, we’ll finish posting photos we’d yet to share from various sightseeing venues we visited during our over three-month stay in Atenas.

Map of all of the animal rescue areas at Zoo Ave in Alajuela.

With time rapidly wafting away, I knew the time had come for me to order a new laptop. My current Acer laptop is definitely on its last leg after purchasing it while we were on the Big Island, Hawaii, around Christmas-time in 2014, making it almost three years old.

With Africa on the horizon, I’m reminded of my difficulty when I dropped my computer in 2014, breaking the screen, making it entirely unusable. It’s the longest I’ve had a laptop survive since the onset of our travels in 2012. Click on this link here for details.

Giant turtle on a rock.

It was frustrating trying to find a replacement in Nelspruit, South Africa, resulting in my purchasing a low-quality HP with difficulty with the letter “t.” I kept that awful piece of equipment until January 2015, after the family visit on the Big Island in Hawaii when I replaced it, making a new purchase at the Costco store in Hilo.

She was sunning and funning.

Many have asked why we don’t switch to Apple products and why we don’t use iPad or other tablets instead of clunky laptops often weighing more than 5 pounds (2.27 kg.). With Tom’s sturdy backpack, he has no trouble lugging around both of our laptops.

It’s funny how most of us get stuck on name brands and features we’re not willing to forgo. For both of us, they include a 15.6 touchscreen, HDMI outlet, one terabyte of storage, and a lighted keyboard. Such specs aren’t always easy to find.

Turtles are stretching their necks toward the warmth of the sun.

Now that all new PC products have Windows 10 operating systems, which neither of us favors than Windows 8, we found we have no choice but to adapt to this more unique and often painstaking system. 

But, like Tom, who purchased his laptop from Amazon on our site in April 2017, which we had sent to us in Fairlight, Australia, arriving on April 5th, 19 days before our departure on a cruise to the US, at an outrageous expense of US $400 (227,862) for the shipping costs alone.

Pelican is lounging with turtles on a log in a pond.

To avoid a similar shipping expense and being reminded of the difficulty we had making a replacement purchase in South Africa, we decided to purchase a new laptop for me from Amazon now, having it shipped to our mailing service (free shipping with Prime).

Once it arrives on Monday, our mailing service will ship the laptop and our other supplies and clothing purchases for the Antarctica cruise and the lengthy period we’ll spend in Africa. This way, the entire contents can be insured and shipped to the hotel in Florida (where we’ll be for one night on November 22nd). Since it won’t be international shipping (Nevada to Florida), we’re hoping it will arrive on time and intact.

It’s so much more meaningful to see birds in the wild than in cages such as this, although they were rescued.

Since my current Acer product still works, we plan to keep it and bring it to Africa. Once it arrives in Florida, I’ll have time during the 30-nights on the ship to transfer all my data and get everything set up. If the old laptop holds up until February, we’ll keep it and use it as a small TV screen if we don’t have a TV in the vacation property, which is often the case in Africa.

May your day be filled with sunshine and light.

Photo from one year today, November 10, 2016:

View of the bridge from our veranda where the ship’s navigation is conducted by the captain and his crew. For more photos, please click here.

A Hindu holiday season in Bali has begun…Indonesian facts…Holiday photos…

The homes and shrines of most locals are adorned with a variety of decorations during the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi, a 10 day Hindu festival.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Tom shot this scene this morning before the sun arose.  Good job, Honey!

When we first arrived Gede explained he’d be leaving Sumbersari for Lovina, a two hour drive, for several days to celebrate a religious holiday with his family. With everything under control here at the villa, we wished him well for a meaningful holiday with his loved ones.

He suggested we call or email if we needed anything but with the staff of three still hovering over our potential needs, we hoped there would be no reason to interrupt him during his holiday. So far so good.

This elderly local woman was clearing sticks in front of her home.

Isolated on this strip of beach, it’s unlikely we can determine what’s transpiring all around us. The only curious indication of a holiday in progress is the fact we haven’t heard or seen the hundreds of fishing boats visible most nights close to the shore of Java, the most populated island on the earth with over 141 million people crowded together, part of the Indonesian chain of islands. As to the location of Java:

“Java lies between Sumatra to the west and Bali to the east. Borneo lies to the north and Christmas Island is to the south. It is the world’s 13th largest island.”

Many holiday decorations are hung on long bamboo poles.

Regarding  the country of Indonesia:
“Indonesia comprises 17,508 – 18,306 islands and 8,844 that have been named according to estimates made by the Government of Indonesia, with 922 of those permanently inhabited.”

A few readers wrote and suggested we visit Java, which is across the Bali Strait, where Jakarta is located. However, traveling in a boat across the rough waters  is out of the question for me at this time.

Some shrines were decorated elaborately.

Instead, we stay comfortably situated in the villa, with little required of us other than our twice daily walks, posting each day, taking photos, and continue to work on future travels, financials while improving my strength and stability.

This morning, once the two Katuks and Ribud arrived, we commenced the walk in the area.  Unexpectedly, we found many locals busy decorating homes for the 10 day Hindu holiday, as described below the photo:

Umbrellas or parasols are a symbol of royalty and protection of the Hindu faith. Many statues are adorned with umbrellas with added decorations for this month’s holiday.

“Ganesh Chaturthi is a ten-day Hindu festival celebrated to honor the elephant-headed God Ganesha’s birthday. He is the younger son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Ganesha is known by 108 different names and is the Lord of arts and sciences and the Deva of wisdom.”

Once we stepped onto the newly paved road where the locals live, we realized we were in for a wonderful experience with dozens of homeowners, busy preparing their homes, yards, and driveways with traditional decorations as they commence the celebration of one of many holidays they observe throughout the year.

Almost every home was displaying a decoration.
We were warmly greeted as we passed each home. No one seemed to mind our photo taking  which we’d done with the utmost of respect, taking photos of the decorations, animals and not people’s faces.

Today, we walked beyond the end of the road, testing how far I could actually go. Each day, we’ve added a little more distance as I strive to achieve my goal of 10,000 steps a day, which is still short, hovering at 7,500 steps, including the walking around the house and grounds every 30 minutes. To date, it hasn’t improved my condition, but, over these past five days it certainly hasn’t made it any worse.

More decorations will follow in tomorrow’s post.

We hope everyone in the US is enjoying today’s holiday, Labor Day, as the long weekend winds down, school has started and back to work tomorrow for many.
Be safe.

Photo from one year ago today, September 5, 2015:

Preparing to leave Trinity Beach, Australia, we posted a few favorite photos including this mom and her joey. For more photos, please click here.

An extraordinary evening with friends…

Spotting these yellow tipped stamen on these Anthurium was a first for us.

Last night we made our way to Cathi and Rick’s beautiful home for dinner arriving at 5:45, smack dab in the middle of the suggested 5:30 to 6:00 pm. It’s funny when one is invited within a range of time how we contemplate whether to show up at the earliest point in the range or the latest or, in our case, the middle in order to play it safe. 

I only recall too well when we often invited dinner guests, how difficult it was when they showed at our door a little too early while we were still getting dressed or washing the kitchen floor after a messy day of cooking.

This is a view easily found in many backyards of homes in Princeville.

Having been out to dinner with Cathi and Rick in the past with another friend in attendance, and together at a few parties, the prospect of spending an evening at their home became much more intimate. 

As we all know, a four person dinner party can go one way or another with people you don’t know so well. In our old lives, we usually entertained longtime friends always able to count on having a fabulous evening. 

With the history of times spent together combined with mutual interests, humorous stories and lively banter, a good time was always expected and achieved. But, with new friends, it’s easy to experience a bit of trepidation as to how the evening will go.

The St. Regis Hotel down the road from us doesn’t seem to mind when tourists stop by for photos as we’ve done here.

Last night was no exception. Our inability to reciprocate by an invitation to our tiny condo leaves us feeling a little frustrated. Throw in the reality of my restrictive diet, inviting us could easily become a nightmare for a host.

To lighten the risk of any extra work for our hosts over what to cook we’ve always brought along a few items to add to any meat, fish or poultry dish they may be preparing. By doing so, the hosts can prepare any main dish and sides, they choose, leaving me a four or five ounce portion of the protein included in the dish.

Last night, we brought six of our homemade Low Carb Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins which they loved, (I’ve already sent Cathi the recipe this morning) and a low carb salad, hoping these additions would defray the concern. 

African Tulip trees are seen throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

I can easily recall how difficult it was over the years entertaining guests that were vegetarians or with certain food allergies, worrying there wouldn’t be enough food they could eat, resulting in my spending considerable time researching and preparing appropriate additions to the meal. This extra effort was never expected but was always appreciated.

With their plan to cook filet mignon and mahi mahi on their grill, we were thrilled. With no grills allowed at our condo, having grilled meat was appealing to both of us. It was delicious, cooked perfectly, seasoned with finesse. In addition, Cathi steamed a huge batch of al dente asparagus topped with butter, which added to our wonderful meal. 

Tropical plants and trees are blooming now that it’s spring. Hawaii’s year round warm climate experiences seasons, although they’re less pronounced than in other parts of the world.

The entire meal was comparable to one of those delicious meals we make for ourselves almost every single night; a protein, a vegetable, a salad and a low carb grain, starch and sugar free muffin. 

With our hosts at ease over the meal and us, especially at ease knowing I wasn’t having to refuse one item after another, the dining portion of our evening couldn’t have gone better. They set a Martha Stewart worthy table with linen napkins, woven placemats and Hawaii appropriate dinnerware. Add the candlelight on the lanai, a drink for Tom, drinks for themselves and the best iced tea I’d had in years.

At the end of the road at Anini Beach.

Many moons ago, when we lived in Minnesota, I’d often go to lunch at a chain restaurant with friends or client that has long since wafted away, the Good Earth. What I always remember about that “healthy” restaurant which eventually went out of business was their flavorful iced tea.

Last night, when Cathi poured me a glass of iced tea, my taste buds went into a frenzy over the spicy yet sweet (no sugar added of any kind) flavored tea. “This tea is amazing,” I told Cathi.

This may be a Fishtail Palm Tree.

“Its the same tea they served at the Good Earth restaurant many years ago,” she told me with a wide smile on her pretty face. We both broke into laughter. Indeed it was the Good Earth’s tea a remnant of years long ago, the exact same recipe.

Much to my surprise and delight, she insisted I accept an entire box of tea bags so I could make my own, at least while we’re still here in Kauai. I’ll savor each and every tea bag either hot or cold. She buys it online by the case. I wish I could do the same but, with baggage restrictions and space limitations doing so would be a frivolity.

From the dinner or the lanai, to standing at the granite topped island in their gorgeous kitchen in their equally gorgeous home, to Rick sharing some of his professional music skills with us, to sitting on the comfy sofa in their living room as the evening waned, every moment was memorable.

More interest buds on a scrub. 

The laughter, the freaky commonality that Cathi and I share in many details of our lives, the hysterical banter with Tom and Rick at times poking fun at us girls for our “overly detailed” organizational skills, every moment was filled with warmth and a blooming friendship one doesn’t easily find in this world.

This is in no manner is intended to diminish the quality of all the fabulous friends we’ve made both here in Kauai, Marloth Park and other parts of the world. 

Memories easily flood our minds of many friendships we’ve made in these past  months in Kauai, going back as far as our first few days on the island when we met Vicki and Jerry at Hanalei Beach or, the fabulous time we had last Friday night with Alice and Travis and of course, our friend Richard…and everyone in between.

New macro photo of tiny wild flowers, as small as a bean.

Perhaps, these friendships mean all the more to us with our vagabond lifestyle. Perhaps, the fact that we’ve simplified our lives to a degree that “less is more” we’ve come to appreciate friendships in an entirely new light.  That’s not to say we didn’t love and appreciate the friends in our old lives. We did more than we can say and will always love and miss them. But, everything is different now.

Oh, and I should mention that Cathi and Rick have also been to Kruger National Park on safari (soon to return) and fully grasp the power and depth of feeling such an experience embeds into one’s heart for a lifetime. 

We even went as far as to discuss the possibility of meeting up in Africa in the year of my 70th birthday (Tom’s pacifies me with this possibility when I say I miss Africa) to see what we all had missed; the gorillas in Rwanda, Victoria Falls, the Rovos Rail and more. One never knows what lies ahead.

Exquisite colorful plants and shrubs are found everywhere in the Hawaiian Islands.

For now, they’ve invited us to two more events, both beach parties, both coming up this weekend, both of which we’ll excitedly attend. We thank them for including us in their lives, for opening up their home and their hearts to us, for the laughter and for an evening we’ll always remember.

To respect their privacy, we haven’t included any photos of them or their home. However, snapshots of our evening together will always have a place in our hearts and minds.

                                             Photo from one year ago today, April 16, 2014:

My dinner plate, a mixed grill, one year ago in Marrakech at a local restaurant in the souk was excellent. Our story described the nuances of living with a household staff of our, two of whom were in attendance almost daily from 9 am until 7:00 pm. Please click here for details.

Jemaa el Fna, the vibrant square of Marrakesh draws us in..Dining out…A trip to a spice shop…

Tom and Hamoudi, the owner of the spice shop.
Me and Hamoudi, the friendly owner of the spice shop in the Medina. I was all bunched up with so many layers of clothing to keep me warm.

The Medina or square, the Jemaa el Fna, contains historic buildings, restaurants, residences, and the world-famous souk, the marketplace for both locals and tourists.

These bars are actually scented with perfumes from around the world to be scraped onto the skin for a lasting scent. Unable to decide which we liked better we purchased two. I can’t recall the last time I purchased anything that wasn’t functional or absolutely necessary. 
For a moment, I recalled my former days of cooking using a wide array of fresh spices. The feeling quickly passed when the fact that I won’t cook a single item over the next two and a half months.  
Cinnamon is a popular spice used in Moroccan cooking and medicinally worldwide.

The bottles of the vast array of spices in Hamoudi’s store was appealing.

Hamoudi has me guess the names spices and from my past passion for cooking, I was able to recall most of them.

When exiting our home, Dar Aicha, we are in the souk in less than 30 seconds. In other words, it’s almost outside our door. If we could shop for food and spice, this would be a veritable paradise with colorful shops and stands all begging for negotiation for the vast array of merchandise.
The smells of these scented rocks mixed with the spices were intoxicating.

Locally handcrafted items, clothing, shoes, handbags, leather goods, fresh produce, baked goods, pottery, silver goods, and costume jewelry seem to predominate the offerings in both the souk and the Medina.

One must have thick skin to walk through the souk with tourists pushing their way through the crowds, locals carrying or wheeling over-sized bundles and motorized bikes suddenly appearing out of nowhere zooming through the narrow streets where no cars are allowed.

Spice balls to be tossed into an open fire.

Yesterday, we decided to make our first foray into the Medina to find a restaurant for an early dinner. After traversing through the souk, we made our way into the Medina, a 10-minute walk through the crowds, where restaurants were lined up, one after another. 

Turmeric, a commonly used spice in Moroccan cooking. For many centuries turmeric has been extolled for its many medicinal uses.

In an effort to experience many of the local restaurants, we’ve decided to work our way around the Medina, trying one after another. I’m certain, that at one point, we’ll find favorites that we may visit more frequently.  The excitement of the Jemaa el Fna changes by the minute, illustrating a unique and interesting perspective of life in Marrakesh.

By the way, the spelling of many of the words and names of people, places, and things varies. Arabic is written in characters rather than letters resulting in a variety of translations, all of which are acceptable. For example, as mentioned in another post Marrakesh is also spelled Marrakech, always pronouncing the “esh” in the same manner. I will make every effort to be consistent in words used here to avoid appearing to be errors in my spelling.

Shoppers are attracted to colorful displays.
Also, the likelihood of us learning any words in Arabic with the unique dialect of Marrakesh is remote in our short time here. Even the basic words are difficult to master. Luckily, I know enough French to be able to read signs, menus, and ask general questions. The predominant languages of Marrakesh, in addition to Arabic, is French.  Waiters and shop owners may speak some English as we’ve experienced thus far.
Colorfulness overload!

Late yesterday afternoon, we headed out in search of a restaurant. Tom was inclined toward a hamburger and fries which we’d seen on a menu a few days earlier. 

Once we made our way through the souk to the open-air Medina (pronounced “me deen a”), it didn’t take long to locate a casual outdoor dining spot set among many other restaurants with burgers and fries on the menu plus a few good options for me.

Some of our photos, such as this, were taken while walking to avoid possible pressure from the hard-working salespeople.

Tom’s hamburger and fries and my delicious Moroccan spiced seafood salad were especially enjoyed while chatting and viewing the varied activities in the square. The food was great along with the service. Many have told us not to purchase food from the carts in the square. 

Unfortunately, I am unable to take a risk in eating street vendor foods and, in any case, neither of us likes to be eating while standing or walking. For us, dining is an experience to be savored while relaxing at a comfortable table and chairs with plenty of napkins on hand.

Exiting the souk, we entered the square looking for a restaurant.

Plus, the cost was rather reasonable at US $13.27, MAD (Moroccan dirham, different than the dirham in other African countries) 110 including tax and tip.

Not all the prices on items in the souk were bargains. One must negotiate which is expected.

After lunch, we wandered into a spice shop, after the smells drew us inside. The friendly owner spoke English and we explained that we are unable to cook while here making spice purchases unlikely. Instead, he brought out what looked like little bars of soap scraping a gentle swipe across our hands for us to smell. They were infused with designer fragrances in such a subtle manner that it was intoxicating. One was a musk, the other a flowery scent. 

Often, the shop vendors are keeping busy using their smartphones and tablets while waiting for customers. Perhaps, this is why there isn’t as much in-your-face solicitation as one might expect.

Having not worn any fragrances since leaving the US, I was hooked, unable to resist buying the two little bars at a fair price after a lively negotiation with the animated shop owner, Hamoudi. His shop is located at 144, Bab Ftouh Place Jamaa el Fna, Marrakesh. He insisted we take photos with him which are shown here today. After our visit, I was giddy from the pleasant experience and we were on our way. 

We’ve seen several peanuts-in-the-shell vendors wheeling these large carts in the Medina.

Returning to Dar Aicha, after spending the better part of the afternoon in the Medina, we were stuffed and content to spend the remainder of the evening reading, writing and of course, reviewing our photos from the day.

Huge slabs of a variety of meats are hanging outside the butcher shops. We were uncertain if this was lamb or goat or otherwise. I asked but no one spoke English. Comments?

Tonight, Madame Zahra will prepare our dinner for yet another fine evening in Dar Aicha, our home for this leg of our many year’s long journey to see the world.

Thanks to all of our worldwide readers for sharing our ongoing travels which means the world to us.

Three weeks from today…Off we go again!…We’ve only just begun…A typical Saturday morning in Kenya with animals in the yard…

Look at those “bedroom eyes!” This was shot without zoom when I visited the goats in the backyard this morning. I was afraid to move in order to get a better shot. Sudden movements cause them to skitter off.

This morning this song was running through my head. When I mentioned it to Tom, he immediately found the YouTube video while I researched the lyrics. Tom, with his cup of hot coffee (yes, we have power) and me with my hot tea, sitting at the big glass table in our outdoor living room, are loving the sunny day after another night of pouring rain.

Each day as I write the post for the day, Tom is only a few feet from me. We share the process, me, writing,him, researching, us…talking, during the entire process. Never am I alone in a corner, typing away. It’s a tremendously enjoyable shared experience.

The babies were more curious about me. Most of the others, not so much.

Once completed and posted, Tom proofreads from the perspective of a reader looking for possible errors. He usually finds several which I promptly correct. We easily miss other errors as well, mostly those that spellcheck interprets as acceptable, some a result of our simply missing it. We don’t worry about it. We have a story to tell, photos to share, and writing every day means we’re going to miss some.

So, today, our story reminds us of this song, released in the summer of 1970, 43 years ago, a busy year for Tom, the year he graduated high school, the year he started working on the railroad, the year daughter Tammy was born.

Dad or utter? I say Dad. Tom says utter. Any input?

We didn’t meet until 21 years later, in 1991, each divorced with grown kids, ready to embark on a new life together.This song rang true for us in 1991 and is befitting again in our lives today. We’re sure many of our readers will remember and relate to this song as well.

We’ve Only Just Begun (video link)

by the Carpenters

We’ve Only Just Begun Lyrics

We’ve only just begun to liveWhite lace and promises

A kiss for luck and we’re on our way

We’ve only begun

Before the rising sun we fly

So many roads to choose

We start out walking

And learn to run

And yes! We’ve just begun

Sharin’ horizons that are new to us

Watchin’ the signs along the way

Talkin’ it over just the two of us

Workin’ together day to day, together

And when the evening comes we smile

So much of life ahead

We’ll find a place where there’s room to grow

And yes! We’ve just begun

Sharin’ horizons that are new to us

Watchin’ the signs along the way

Talkin’ it over just the two of us

Workin’ together day to day, together, together

And when the evening comes we smile

So much of life ahead

We’ll find a place where there’s room to grow

And yes! We’ve just begun

In a perfect world, a few days before departing we’d start packing. Although the world is quite amazing, it’s not perfect. This is about the time we start thinking “packing.” 

One might think it’s no big deal. Fold the clothes, throw in the shoes, and miscellaneous items, and be done. Not so fast! Virtually, every physical item we own is in our possession!

Determined not to pay excess baggage fees this time, we’ve made a plan. When grocery shopping at the local Nakumatt the customer’s items are packed into cardboard boxes which we’ve been saving these past several trips.

When we grocery shopped yesterday, Alfred pointed out the local post office, which we’ll use to ship the packed cardboard boxes to our new home in South Africa, which will be a huge portion of our stuff, to ensure we don’t get slapped with excess baggage fees this time. 

This goat was definitely not camera-shy, practically stepping on my foot as she approached.

The risk of our belongings being confiscated or stolen is high. We’ll insure it, and let the chips fall where they may. By primarily packing clothing and shoes, if it is “lost” it won’t be anything we can’t live without. The cost of shipping within Africa will be considerably less than excess baggage fees between continents. Of course, we’ll send it the slowest possible way which we speculate we’ll receive the boxes within a month of our arrival.

All of our safari clothing, hats, and boots, everyday clothing, shoes, electronics, prescriptions, everyday toiletries will be in our possession. Our goal is to ship everything else to South Africa a week before we leave Kenya, in the event, it arrives quicker than anticipated. We’re able to receive packages at our new home much to our delight.

Mother and kid.

In the past, I’ve started sorting and packing at about this point. But, I’ve changed my mind, preferring to continue to enjoy our time here, to begin the process a few days prior to the trip to the post office. 

This is one more example in my own mind of “letting go,” of always working hard to be done with tasks way before it is necessary. Chill. The new me. It’s this same “freedom” mentality that allows us to not necessarily have everything booked more than a year in advance.

Many laughed at our pre-planning two-plus years in advance, imagining we were limiting ourselves by committing out that far. But, leaving our home, our family, our friends, and everything we knew and loved behind was a monumental undertaking. 

After days of rain, the flowers are blooming.

Many embarking on years of world travel have a storage facility or condo somewhere for peace of mind. Not us. 

Planning the first few years gave us a sense of comfort and peace of mind. Now, with a number of holes in our itinerary over the next 18 months (as far out as we’re booked so far) we no longer need the reassurance that we have a “home” in place for every single day of our travels. 

At this point, our motivation to book travel arrangements well in advance is predicated by how fast properties, flights, and cruises are booking up. At that point, we don’t hesitate in locking in locations and times.

Beyond, May 2015 when we leave Kauai, Hawaii, after having spent time visiting many of the Hawaiian Islands with hopefully lots of whale watching, our upcoming time is free. 

We’re considering many options that appeal to us in order to take us on our chosen path for our love of nature and wildlife. With continued good health, we have no desire or plans to stop. After all, we have only just begun.