Tom talked me into going out to dinner on my birthday…Sunday Morning…

A precious little albatross chick hatched only a few days earlier while we were in Kauai, Hawaii 2015.

The only reason I didn’t want to go out to dinner on Tuesday, the actual day of my birthday, was because we were going out to celebrate with Richard and his girlfriend the following night. We’ll share the details later. Thus, I didn’t care if we dined in on my birthday.

But, after some prodding yesterday, I agreed since he was adamant that I don’t cook on my birthday. Thus, I relented, and we’ll head out for dinner on Tuesday night. Although we didn’t have a perfect experience on Valentine’s Day at Luna Rossa, since Tom’s pasta wasn’t to his liking, we didn’t hold it against the waiter since the place was packed with couples celebrating. We decided to give it another try.

We loved it the previous three times we dined there, and the service was always excellent. The fact I couldn’t get a teaspoon instead of a tablespoon for my seafood broth after asking twice didn’t deter us either. The restaurant was so busy; we understand how that slipped away.

We aren’t too critical when dining out. Tom’s picky taste buds and my food restrictions often impact our experience. But good service, a pleasing ambiance, and good food and service are all we need to give a restaurant another try. We love the ambiance at Luna Rossa, the upscale decor, and the friendly servers. Also, the short walk from our condo is appealing on the cool nights in Nevada this time of year.

I’m rushing through today’s post since we’re anxious to use my laptop to watch CBS Sunday Morning. In our old lives, we watched the show every week, often recording it on the cable service DVR. Recording shows isn’t so popular anymore since streaming has become the most frequently used medium.

Sunday Morning Show isn’t available to stream early in the day since it doesn’t appear on Paramount Plus or CBS’s website until a few hours after the show ends, which is typical for many streaming series. Once I am done with today’s post and working out, we’ll load the episode and watch it.

It feels funny that there’s no football today now that the Super Bowl has ended. However, now that we’ve signed up for the Las Vegas Golden Knights streaming service, we’ll watch last night’s game later today. We were careful not to discover the game’s score so we could enjoy the anticipation of watching sports.

Today is an otherwise easy day. All I have to do is make a salad to go with dinner. Today, instead of walking the corridor, I am heading to the fitness center to lift weights and do the treadmill all in one fell swoop, rather than walking every 15 minutes, which seems to take up most of the day to accomplish the three miles.

Since I am about five pounds away from my goal weight, I am still working on eating a little less to continue on my path. I’ve reduced my carb consumption a little, which seems to work, especially when weight loss has hit a stall. It’s tricky to figure out what I can do differently, but I keep tweaking it, hoping for more results. We’ll see how it goes.

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

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, February 18, 2014:

The zebra on the right is a youngster, born earlier this season. The one on the left was most likely born in the last four weeks. Seeing these in Marloth Park while going to Komatipoort for grocery shopping is a joy. For more photos, please click here.

Four days and counting…Packing has begun…

We took this photo on Volstruis Street. The word volstruis means ostrich in Afrikaans. Sadly, in the past year, the lions killed all the ostriches in Marloth Park. For this post, please click here.

Note; Today’s photos are from a post on this date in 2018. For the story, please click here.

It’s been a long and enjoyable three months living in The Villages in Florida, but we are ready to move on. We never had a chance to look at any real estate for sale when neither of the agents we contacted returned our calls. They must be so busy they didn’t have time to deal with our curiosity.

Not only do they gravitate toward the river for food but also for water, where they drink, play, and swim.

We would have liked to peruse a few houses, but we had to let that option waft away with only the golf cart and the new construction very far from here. Besides, after three months here, we’ve decided we have no interest in ever living here permanently when and if this time comes that we must settle somewhere.

The summer weather is unbearable, and with the small backyards and gardens, there’s little chance or desire to be outdoors, which we’ve missed. It’s just not for us with the lack of wildlife and nature, although the scenery is quite lovely driving through the vast retirement community.

I am not a photographer by nature, but hopefully, over time, I will improve. Photo from 2018.

We loved seeing so many of our friends here, but we can and most likely will return to Florida for a visit sometime in the future and see them all again if it works out. We like that it’s an income-tax-free state, like Nevada, our state of residency, but that would never inspire us to live here.

We weren’t here during the busy winter season when many residents told us they couldn’t get a place to park when visiting any of the town squares for dinner, let alone getting a reservation for a meal. They said the traffic on the roads and golf cart paths is indescribable during winter when tourists and property owners return from colder climates for the excellent weather.

The green grasses along the river are pleasing to the elephants.

That’s not for us. We’re happier living in remote areas, away from crowds, long queues and traffic. Looking back at our almost 11 years of world travel, most of it was spent in remote locations.

You may ask, “Why would we enjoy cruising with the crowds on the various ships?”

The answer is simple. Sailing on a large ship with 500 to 2000 passengers doesn’t feel crowded to us. We can freely wander about the ship, find places to relax and socialize in the various areas and venues and really feel like we are in a small town. Plus, socialization on a cruise ship is ten times easier than it’s been while out and about here in The Villages.

Wildebeest Willie and a friend, along with some warthogs, at night.

We thought it would be more social, but we found many residents have their own little “cliqies” and don’t easily include “newbies” in the conversation. However, I must add we did meet several wonderfully friendly and interesting people while out and about in the town squares on several occasions.

I suppose my problem is comparing everywhere we go to Marloth Park, where strangers smile and stop to chat while at the market, the pharmacy, and then again…our favorite place, Jabula, “where everyone knows your name.” (Remember that line from the TV series, “Cheers?”

Trying out a few of the camera techniques I learned from our friend Ken, I still see that I have a long way to go.

Now, I must wrap this up and get to packing my stuff for the bag we’re shipping to the hotel in Minnesota, where we’ll arrive in less than seven weeks after the two cruises, one day in Boston with my cousin and the nine-day visit to Henderson, Nevada, to see Richard and renew our driver’s license. We’re looking forward to it all.

Be well.

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

This was one of the many photos we took on the beach in Belize. As we’ve traveled, we’ve found that each beach has its breathtaking beauty, memorable in its way. For more, please click here.

Finally, we booked 32 nights in Buenos Aires…The details for making this cost effective booking transpire…

Pool view at the Prodeo Hotel.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Cows resting in the pasture as seen from the veranda.

Note: Today, many of our photos are of a smaller size in an attempt to avoid blurring when I borrowed them from various sites.

Whenever we need to book a hotel, we use the link here on our site for We receive a tiny commission using our own links (and we hope you will too). 

The commissions we earn are never enough to cover the cost of managing our site, but every little bit helps. If you can, please use our links which have identical pricing and features as if you went directly to the same sites from your choice of browser. We so much appreciate it!

Lounge at Prodeo Hotel in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Whenever a traveler desires a 30-night or more booking, the inquiry from the link on our site will take you directly to “corporate rates.” If you choose, a representative will contact you by email after you’ve decided on the criteria for such an extended stay.

Within a day or so, you’ll start receiving lists of possible hotels that will accommodate your criteria including pricing, location, and amenities. We’ve used this feature only on two occasions since, in most cases, we stay in vacation/holiday homes. 

Staying in hotels for 30 nights or more isn’t our first choice of accommodation. However, most recently we stayed in the Minnesota at a hotel for 42-nights and will need to do so upcoming from December 23, 2017, to January 23, 2018, and again one more night after the Antarctica cruise on February 8, 2018.

We were overlooking the tub area in bath.

Finding a hotel that would accommodate both dates, 31-nights in December/January plus the one night in February with one reasonable price, would be the ideal scenario. In doing so, most importantly, we’re able to store our luggage for no additional cost while we’re off on the Antarctica cruise, the entire reason we chose a hotel as opposed to a vacation home.

Sure, we would have preferred a vacation home, able to cook our meals, having more space to maneuver, along with a greater sense of freedom and mobility. But, this particular instance, not unlike in Minnesota, provided us with features and amenities that make it all worthwhile.

Once we received the list of hotels, all of which included offers for better-than-average-pricing (and there were dozens), we narrowed it down to our top two based on price, location, and amenities, finally deciding on the Prodeo Hotel and Lounge after contacting both hotel managers.

Complimentary breakfast is included in the nightly rate, which, after inquiring, it was explained contains eggs, cheese, and meats which works for us when pastries and bread products don’t.

The staff at suggested that once we find hotels, we find it suitable to contact them directly via a listing link to make inquiries for any additional questions we may have. In our case, we asked the following questions:

Our few questions prior to booking this 31-plus-one-night stay:
  1. Does the complimentary breakfast include any eggs or meats?  I am gluten-free and cannot eat pastries or fruit.
  1. Can you store our luggage for 17 nights while we travel to Ushuaia for an Antarctica cruise? We’ll return on February 8th and stay one additional night.
  1. Do you have free Wi-Fi in the rooms? We are world travel writers and need to upload a story each day with photos using my husband’s laptops. This is very important. We will be providing free press during our stay during the 32-night period.
  1. Do you have self-service laundry on-site, or is there a laundromat nearby?
  1. What is the total rate with taxes? How much is the deposit to hold it? When is the balance due?
Dining room located in Prodeo Hotel.
Within an hour I received the following answers to my questions:
“Dear Jess,

Thank you very much for your interest in Prodeo Hotel + Lounge.

To address your concerns:
1. Our complimentary breakfast includes ham, cheese, and hard-boiled eggs. We can also provide you with gluten-free bread.
2. We can store your luggage in our deposit for free for the time required
3. We offer property-wide free wi-fi, thus you will be able to work from your room and from every common space of the hotel
4. Prodeo offers a laundry service for 10 USD per bag. There are also several laundries just a few blocks from the hotel
5. The final rate is US $80, (CRC 46,121) per night. The final price for 32 nights will be US $2,560, (CRC 1,475,878).  Since you are not Argentinian citizens no any other tax or fee will be charged. The deposit is 20% of the total price, while the total balance will be due at the check-in
If you have any other question or concern, please, do not hesitate to contact me.
Best regards
Operations Manager
Pool area located in the hotel including an outdoor bar.
Firstly, I was impressed with Alessandro’s mastery of the English language, especially in writing. Secondly, we were thrilled with his answers, all of which made this particular hotel work for us in every way. Also, in a later email, he included a free shuttle to the airport. based on our long term stay
During our multiple email messages over the next few hours, we finalized the 20% deposit. Doing so required that Alessandro and I speak on the phone. (We used our Skype account with a clear connection at around two cents a minute). We never send credit card information via an email (not secure).
We paid the US $512, (CRC 295,176) and received an online receipt and booking confirmation. We couldn’t have been more thrilled to not only have this task accomplished but to have done so with this great pricing and terms.
Sure, in Buenos Aires there are hotels priced slightly lower. However, we were searching for a relatively well-rated property (4 stars), a good location and the above-stated amenities.  It couldn’t be more ideal for us.
A typical room in the hotel.
We don’t consider such an extended stay in this and other hotels as a “vacation/holiday.” For us, this is a stopping point along the way in our continuing world travels. The fact that we’ll have an opportunity to explore Buenos Aires, its sights, sound, smells, and tastes, is purely a bonus.During the 42-night stay in Minneapolis, our goal was to spend time with family, as was the case during the 25-night visit at son Richard’s home in Henderson, Nevada. Sightseeing wasn’t on our radar.

Now, here in Atenas, Costa Rica, I’m chomping at the bit to get out, but we’ve found the taxi service cost higher than in some other parts of the world. For instance, when we stopped at the health food store and MaxiPali for groceries for a total turnaround time of 75 minutes for taxi fare of US $15, (CRC 8648) and discovered the cost to go to Walmart in San Jose (35-minutes each way) at US $35, (CRC 20,178) plus tip, we decided we’ll rent a car every so often.

This way, when we have the rental car, we can make longer sightseeing trips, go to the dentist and explore on our own. We’ve scheduled a car for five days for the week of August 21st, Monday through Friday, which will be delivered to our door.

In the interim, we’ll continue to work on our taxes, financial, and business stuff and, hopefully, have that out of the way by the time we receive the car.  We’re just like you…at times we have business-related tasks that take priority over pleasure.

Instead, we spend our days working on the veranda, reveling in the sights and sounds of Atenas with the roosters crowing, the cows mooing, the birds singing and myriad other sounds we can’t reasonably determine as yet. A stop for a bit of sun and pool time is usually on the agenda as well.

The evenings? Purely delightful! We enjoy a fabulous meal with a few choice shows to watch on the giant HD TV in the comfortable and spacious screening room, all the while chatting, laughing, and treasuring this life we live.

May you treasure your today and always!

Photo from one year ago today, August 10, 2016:

This style of Buddhist statue is commonly seen in Thailand which was located in the vacation home we’d rented in Rawai, Phuket Thailand one year ago. For more photos, please click here.

Kilauea lava flow heading toward the vacation homes we booked for our family vacation…Cause for concern…A year ago…A meal in the bush with wild animals surrounding us…

October 8, 2014 - small scale lava flow map
By drawing a straight line to the ocean from the current northeast flow of the lava to the darkened rectangular area on the coastline, this is the area where the two houses, next door to one another are located. This is a current map from the National Park Service.

When the lava from the Kilauea volcano on Big Island changed directions on June 27th and lava began to flow toward the village where the two houses are located that we rented for the holidays with our family, of course, we were very concerned.

When the varying daily lava flows slowly worked its way to the ocean near the two houses, we started following updates on a variety of websites including the National Park Service and United States Geological Service. 

The current narrow lava flows from Kilauea heading to the northeast. (Not our photo.)

Maps on both of these sites indicate that the lava is flowing to the neighborhood where the houses we’ve rented are located.
With poor WiFi signals on the past two ships, we were frustrated and worried over the almost month at sea. It wasn’t until we arrived in Honolulu on October 5th, that we had a strong signal and more than anything, have been able to get daily updates on the activity of the flow on the local news.

The two vacation rental houses are in the village of Pahoa as shown in the upper right of this map.  (Not our photo).  Please click here for notes from a meeting held in Pahoa in the Puna District on Friday evening with professionals on hand to discuss the status of the lava flow.

Why didn’t we post our concern? We didn’t want to alarm our family, many of whom read our daily posts until we had more information. 

Our biggest concerns have been as follows:
1.  The lava flow could wipe out the houses or we’d have to evacuate while in the houses.  (The lava flow is 100’s of feet per day at most providing ample time if evacuation is necessary).
2.  The road to the houses would be inaccessible when we arrive or are ready to depart
3.  We’d have to find another house large enough for our family that is still available for the Christmas holiday, a difficult proposition or, hotel rooms if necessary.

Thermal image of the lava flow.  (Not our photo).

As of this point with $1000’s paid in deposits and airline tickets, the owners of the two houses aren’t prepared to return our deposits until more is known over the next few weeks. The lava flow is difficult to predict. 

Last night an announcement was made on the local news that an emergency access road is in the works and will be completed in 45 to 60 days. This fact provided us with considerable relief. But, until we know the final course as the lava flows to the sea, we will stay on alert, prepared to make alternate plans as quickly as possible.

A view into one of the skylights of the lava tube supplying lava to the June 27th lava flow.” (Not our photo).

Everything we’ve heard and read is that the flow will make it to the main road two weeks from now, giving us time to make backup plans. It won’t be an easy task although we have no doubt that we’ll figure it out.

Obviously, our first concern is the safety of our family and secondly, to provide a worry-free environment in which we all can enjoy our precious time together.

Hawaii in general is a geological hot spot. The islands were created millions of years ago as a result of volcanic eruptions beneath the sea. Earthquakes are common on all of the islands. Please see this article for detailed information on the formation of the islands. Each of the islands in the Hawaiian Archipelago maintains active and currently inactive volcanoes as indicated in this article.

We’ve had “safari luck” in our travels, safety being the number one priority. We can only hope and pray that “safari luck” continues and soon, we can put the worries behind us to enjoy an amazing experience with our family.

                                            Photo from one year ago today, October 12, 2013:

A specially made breakfast was prepared for our safari group of six, with our guide Anderson happily preparing our table. We were excited to experience our first meal in the bush, the wild animals all around us in the Maasai Mara. What a glorious experience!  For details, please click here.