An enjoyable and accomplished 24 hours…

Tom and I and Jerry and Vicki. It was amazing to see them so many years later.

On January 20, 2015, we met Vicki and Jerry on Hanalei Beach in Kauai when we stopped to lounge in the sun by the sea a few days after we’d arrived in Kauai. 

They had the same idea, and a conversation ensued moments after we settled into our portable lawn chairs. Much to our disappointment, they were getting ready to leave Kauai. We wished we’d met them sooner, enabling the four of us to spend more time together.
And, yesterday, seeing them once again, five years later, we felt the same way. We only had an afternoon together, but hopefully, someday, we’ll meet up again and be able to languish into quality time together.

Yesterday’s plan was to meet at the Tonto Verde Golf Club’s restaurant for a 12:30 leisurely lunch. We left Apache Junction earlier than necessary as we often do in case there were delays on the freeway.

Tom and Jerry (ha!) both had the burger and fries at the outdoor golf club restaurant.

As it turned out the hour-long drive sailed by and we were able to stop for some photos along the way which we’ll share in tomorrow’s posts. One aspect of the drive we particularly enjoyed was the time we spent driving through the exquisite town of Fountain Hills, where my ex-husband lives. (No, we didn’t stop to see him).

The modern desert town centered around golf and stunning scenery were fascinating to see. The average townhouse price began at $700,000. Pricey but quite lovely to see. But, our drive to meet up with Vicki and Jerry was another 15 minutes further away so we continued on with an eye on the time.
We pulled into the golf club at 12:15 but in moments after getting out of the car and heading toward the restaurant, we were told by employees the restaurant was closed on Mondays. There was another nearby golf club so we jumped back into the car and headed there, only to discover dining was available to members only.
We headed back to Tonto Verde and decided to wait outdoors for Vicki and Jerry. Once we walked toward the door, we spotted them waiting for us. They too discovered the dilemma. Who knew a popular restaurant at a busy golf club would be closed on Mondays?
Vicki had the fish tacos. I had a tasty chicken caesar salad (minus croutons).

The next closest restaurant was only a 10-minute drive to a golf course that only offered outdoor dining. Hmmm…that was challenging. It was cold here, and none of us was dressed for outdoor dining. Jerry loaned me a warm vest and we selected a table.

The self-service food was good but the wind and cold weather were a distraction. As soon as we ate our meals, we left to go back toward Fountain Hills to a restaurant with indoor dining. 

We ordered beverages and engaged in lively conversation until finally, it was time for both couples to head back to our respective vacation homes before rush hour traffic hit. It was beautiful to be with Vicki and Jerry and no doubt, we’ll continue to stay in touch.

Back on the road with the traffic light for us while driving in the HOV lane, we decided to pass our exit back to our RV park and continue on the highway to pick up my pre-ordered case of organic wine awaiting us at Total Wine in Gilbert, Arizona.

Vicki, Jerry and me in January 2015. Click here for details from that date.

As we pulled into the parking lot we noticed a Best Buy store across the lot. We parked and walked to the store. Might we be so lucky as to buy a suitable laptop? 

Our plan has been to purchase one laptop to use for either of us who’s computer dies first. Our goals were simple…a quality machine with touchscreen, a high- end processing system and a Chrome operating system. Tom’s had his fill of Windows 10 convincing me I wouldn’t like it either. There was no way we’d go for that again.

We spent no less than an hour in the store. A knowledgeable rep helped us but had trouble locating our chosen unit until finally, we paid and checked out, locked the laptop and convertor for our HDMI cord in the car’s trunk, and walked again, in the cold weather to the Total Wine store.

By the time we returned to the RV park, it was 6:30 pm. We were still full from lunch and decided against dinner, instead snacking on some odds and ends we had on hand. The remainder of the evening was quiet and uneventful.

Tom and Jerry (ha!) hit it off!  We’d wished they’d been staying longer! Click here for details from that date.

Yesterday morning, before we left, the “cable guy” stopped by and replaced the poorly working router, leaving us with a significantly improved WiFi signal. Now we can stream shows, download videos, and perform our usual tasks. 

By 11:00 pm we went off to bed and both slept pretty well. This morning at 8:00 am we did three loads of laundry and grocery shopped for a few items. Now, I’m busy doing some light cooking and prep since the sisters and spouses are coming over at 4:00 pm for happy hour. 

Including food during these festive get-togethers isn’t necessary or expected but it’s fun for us to put a few things together when everyone arrives. They all have done the same when we’ve joined them.

Tomorrow, as mentioned more photos will follow. 

We hope you have a fabulous day filled with the wonders of the upcoming holiday season.

Photo from one year ago today, December 17, 2018:

six years ago, this was our first photo of a male and female dung beetle in action.  The female often sits atop the ball of dung while the male moves it along using his back feet while his front feet grasp the ground for stability. The female lays eggs in the ball so she tags along as he rolls and they search for an adequate hole in which to bury the ball. The ball is used as sustenance for both of them as well as the larvae. See this post here. For more details, please click here.

Cold in Arizona this morning…Off to see old friends…Tom’s birthday…Wine shopping…

Even those residents with RVs may have fruit trees such as this orange tree in their front yard.

This morning we awoke to 39F (3.9C). The Phoenix and surrounding suburbs are known for warm and sunny winter weather, but it’s not unusual to occasionally see temps as low as this. It only takes a few minutes to heat the entire unit in this tiny house, which we did immediately upon awakening.

After the chill in Minnesota only weeks ago, this is undaunting to us. When we arrived in Minneapolis on November 8th, the temps were well below zero for several days. That was tough to handle, especially when we were still coughing and feeling unwell.
This morning we’ll get on the road by 11:00 am to drive to the Tonto Verde Golf Club in Rio Verde, about an hour’s drive from Apache Junction to meet old friends Vicki and Jerry for lunch at 12:30 pm.

We only met them once in 2015, on the beach in Kauai, Hawaii, while the four of us hit it off so well. We’ve stayed in touch all these years via our posts and email messages sent back and forth. We are looking forward to seeing the two of them.

We are fortunate to have met so many fine people over the past seven years of world travel. Now, it seems everywhere we travel. We have new friends we’ve made on cruises and via our website that we’d like to see face to face. Having the opportunity to visit with these fine people makes our lives all the more meaningful.

I’ve made a grocery list for Tom’s upcoming birthday on December 23rd, one week from today. With the family members attending his party, there will be a total of seven of us. On his birthday, I will post the menu.

Tom’s sisters have lemon and orange trees in their yards. Maybe I’ll make lemon drop martinis for Tom’s birthday!

With this small kitchen, we’ve decided to cook on the grill. He’s asked for one of his favorite cakes, a lemon concoction, an old recipe from my mother’s many moons ago.

As mentioned in the past, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying drinking red wine after a 20-year hiatus during which I didn’t drink at all. There was no particular reason I quit drinking in the ’90s, but somehow I lost the taste for it. Instead, I always drank iced tea on most social occasions.

While on the cruise for 33-nights that circumvented the entire Australian continent, we finally qualified for complimentary drinks during “happy hour” from 4:30 pm to 8:00 pm.

During this period, while socializing with extraordinary Australians and Americans we met aboard the ship, I experimented and had a few glasses of red wine. My tolerance was minimal, and I could barely get through one glass. 

Of course, as time passed, I could pace myself to have two glasses spread over the 3½ hours eventually. After the happy hour ended, I’d switched to mineral water and be perfectly content.

After the open heart surgery, both the cardiologist and the surgeon suggested that drinking red wine in moderation may benefit the cardiovascular system. 

Now, I monitor how much I drink and strive to stay within the criteria. In the process, my taste buds have re-ignited, and I’m on a mission to find the wine I most enjoy.

In this process, organic wine seems to suit me best with little or no sulfites in organic wine, and the fact that no pesticides or chemicals are used in growing the grapes organic wine is particularly appealing.

While in Minnesota, I discovered Total Wine, a national wine superstore, the only location to purchase a variety of organic wines. Although wine is now available in grocery stores in most states, I’ve yet to find more than one or two options for organic wine in any grocery stores we’ve visited in Minnesota, Nevada, or Arizona.

Oranges, ready for the picking, in the RV park.

Last night, I placed an order online for a case of organic wines, and later today or tomorrow, we’ll pick it up in Gilbert, Arizona (only about 20 minutes from here) since it’s ready for pickup. The convenience of placing the order online as opposed to searching through the hundreds of types of bottles of wine in a store is something we appreciate.

This is all new to us. In most countries where we’ve traveled in the remote areas we prefer, such convenience is unavailable. I must admit that amenities such as this, which we’ve only found in the US, are pretty unusual to us. 

A lot has changed in the past seven years. Funnily, it’s almost as if we’re the ones experiencing “culture shock” when we find so many conveniences while in the USA. As we’d done years ago, everyone takes such ease-of-use situations for granted. For us, we’re like “kids in a candy store,” eyes wide in awe of what is now available in the US.

But soon, that will all change again as we head to India, where we’ll adapt to the differences which will be profound in that country. We’re ready for this high level of adaptation over the two months.

That’s it for today, folks. It’s time for us to leave to see Vicki and Jerry. Tomorrow, we’ll share photos of our day with old friends.

Have a fantastic Monday!

Photo from one year ago today, December 16, 2018:

A peculiar-looking bird, isn’t it?  Ostriches are remnants of the prehistoric era. For more photos, please click here.

Omelet in a bag party…Minnesota Vikings Football party today…

Tom’s three-egg omelet after it came out of the bag.

It was a lovely gathering of 18 residents, including Tom’s three sisters, spouses, and us. We can’t believe how welcome we feel with this fine group of people and their social activities, often occurring several times a week.

Jane, our hostess, showed me how the omelets were made. Tom wears his name tag when we go to social functions. Go figure.

With our somewhat isolated lifestyle as we travel the world, this time in Apache Junction, Arizona, has become notable for us. Also, the opportunity to spend time with Tom’s family with their endless humor and story-telling has only added to our experience.

The items to include with the eggs in the bag per each guest’s preferences.

We needed time to unwind before we headed out into the world again. The busy few months, including time in Amsterdam, the Baltic cruise, three properties in England, one in Wales, and then the voyage from Southampton to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, required an enormous amount of travel.

There were 18 attendees to the “omelet in a bag” party.

Finally, after over six weeks, we’re recovering with only infrequent bouts of coughing. Tom’s appetite has returned. His back is recovering from his twisting incident, and we’re feeling relieved to be our “old” selves once again. It’s no wonder we were vulnerable to the virus we caught aboard the last cruise.

Yesterday’s party was fun. As usual, the women gathered in one area and the men in another. This phenomenon seems more prevalent in the older generation, which doesn’t both either of us. 

Our sister/sister-law Margie showed me how to mix the eggs in the bag.
It’s never that either gender is attempting conversation less suitable for the opposite sex. Overall, I think it’s just a habit developed over generations. Younger people today seem less likely to separate in this manner.
Len, our host, wore a fun apron and handled the cooking of the omelets.
I politely passed on the omelet in a bag since I’d eaten ahead of time, knowing there would be little I could have based on my way of eating and with my hesitancy about eating something cooked in a plastic bag. 
Host Jane and Len had plenty of eggs. Guests brought along a variety of fillings and breakfast side dishes.

I don’t use plastic wrap or bags to heat foods in the microwave and quietly stick to my beliefs. However, I never mentioned anything about the bags. Nothing is more annoying than discussing the avoidance of foods or smells at a party due to fear of toxicity. 

Giant pots were used for cooking the omelets in the bags. They cook for 15 minutes after each guest has written their name on the bag.

However, I had no choice but to discretely admit to my way of eating when offered cheesy potatoes, yummy-looking brownies, Christmas cookies, and the other Margi’s cinnamon rolls and other such treats. The most challenging item for me to resist was those sticky, gooey, nut-topped cinnamon rolls. 

It was another pleasant gathering, and we were both back at our little house by 4:00 pm. We had a quiet evening, watching a few shows we’d previously downloaded some time ago. The WiFi isn’t good here, so we doubt we’ll be able to stream any new shows.

The other Margie made these yummy-looking sticky buns.

Today at 2:00 pm, we’re off to Colleen and Gene’s home, where Tom will set up his NFL GamePass connecting his computer to their TV using our new HDMI cord, enabling all of us to watch the live Minnesota Vikings game, which isn’t on TV here.

Tomorrow by 11:00 am we’re driving to Rio Verde to meet old friends for lunch. We met in Vicki and Jerry in Kauai, Hawaii, in January 2015. We’re so looking forward to seeing them!

Enjoy your Sunday!

Photo from one year ago today, December 15, 2018:

After Louise saw our photos of Little coming up the steps to the veranda, we laughed aloud when he did it again while she and her son Jandre were visiting. For more photos, please click here

Settled into the cool and comfort indoors…Easy living, although outrageously hot hot hot weather!….

The white lattice pergola provides shelter from the scorching sun.

We prefer not to stay at anyone’s home. We have our unique routine, which may be annoying and frustrating for those who might invite us along the way in our world travels.

With the utmost of kindness and generosity, many people we’ve met have invited us to stay with them when we travel to their country, but, in each case, we’ve graciously declined.

Chaise lounges we hope to use if the temperature cools down a bit.  Right now, it’s too hot to sit in the sun for our usual short stint.

Whether it’s our constant need for reliable WiFi and the necessity of being online, my restrictive way of eating, or our mutual inability to avoid feeling “in the way,” we continue to decline such invitations.

In the recent case in Minnesota, our three adult children didn’t have room in their homes for us to occupy a bedroom and bath, nor did we feel it would have been prudent to spend six weeks in anyone’s home, regardless of the availability of space.

Comfortable seating with fire pit for cool winter nights in the desert.

The single exception to that is staying with son Richard in Green Valley Ranch in Henderson, Nevada, a bachelor with a charming newly remodeled home with a private guest area, pool, and the latest and greatest home technology is doable for us.

When we arrived on Friday, after unpacking and getting settled, we headed to Smith’s Market for some groceries. The idea of cooking was appealing when I hadn’t cooked a meal since April when we were still living in Fairlight, near Sydney, Australia.

Most lots in gated communities in Las Vegas/Henderson are small.  Landscapers and pool designers are creative in making the most of the limited space.

I was shocked by the reasonable prices, which were much lower than in Minnesota based on the few trips I’d made for a few items while we spent the six weeks in Plymouth at the hotel. It was exceptionally reasonable for organic produce, eggs, and dairy.

Here again, in upscale Henderson, we continue in a state of culture shock considering the abundance of literally everything; products in stores, numbers of restaurants, shopping centers, specialty shops, movie theaters, freeways, and gated neighborhoods. 

Outdoor kitchen by the pool.

One need only to conceive of an item they’d like to purchase and can readily look online to find it.  How easily we recall being unable to find shredded cheese, lettuce, celery, mushrooms, parchment paper, coconut oil, and an endless array of non-food items. 

We’ll continue to purchase some necessary items that we’ll collect from our mailing service before we leave in 23 days. Also, while there, I’ll be picking up my “Africa” boots which I’ve kept stored in an oversized mailbox at the mailing service. I’d shipped the boots there a few years ago, hoping we’d return to Africa someday. 

Hot! Hot! Hot!  This photo was taken yesterday of a TV monitor during the weather report.

Now, with only seven months until we return to Africa, I’ll be thrilled to wear once again my ideal-for-the-bush boots I had specially altered before we left the US to ensure a tight fit on the calves and thus avoid insects slipping down into the boot. I still can’t believe how our South African friends walk about in the bush wearing flip flops!

That’s it for today, folks! We’ll be back at you soon!

Photo from one year ago today, July 9, 2016:

The bright red color of this Hoa or ethnic Chinese wedding dress is intended to bring happiness, good luck, and a prosperous future. The Hoa in Vietnam continues to maintain customs from their provinces of origin, mainly in Southern Chine. Many Hoa is involved in trade in urban areas, primarily in Ho Chi Minh City, where we were headed the next day. For more details, please click here.