Another busy day with family…”What, Me Worry?”..

Tammy is on the left, with Tracy across from her. Next to Tracy is Dana. We don’t know the names of the others at the table. Tom had a great time at the sports bar!

Yesterday was a busy day. At 10:30 am, we drove to Greg’s home in Chaska, where Tom dropped me off to spend time with Greg and Heather to do laundry and watch the Minnesota Vikings Game. Then, he drove one hour to meet up with Tammy, Tracy, and a few of their friends at a sports bar in Blaine to watch the Vikings game.

When I arrived, I immediately began doing the laundry to finish it as soon as possible. The grandkids didn’t come from their mom’s home until 4:00 pm, enabling us to spend a few minutes with them before we headed out. It was fun chatting with everyone, and it was a good day.

Tom enjoyed his time with Tammy, Tracy, and friends and had lunch while he was at the sports bar. When we returned to the hotel around 5:30, he wasn’t hungry, but I was. I’d only had two hard-boiled eggs for breakfast. We had leftover meat and raw vegetables from Costco, so I munched on those, which hit the spot. Later, I ate two little packages of Costco’s delicious seaweed snacks (20 calories each with 0 carbs) while we watched more episodes of Formula 1.

In the next few nights, we’ll finish the entire series of five seasons, loving every moment. If you can watch this fantastic series, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Wow! It was a thrill ride!

Tom said there were dozens of games on the countless TV screens in the bar.

Ten years ago, we wrote a post about worrying, as shown in today’s “ten-year-ago photo,” it had been a long time since we addressed this bothersome emotion. As time has marched on over these almost 11 years (29 days until the anniversary), we’ve worried less and less about our travels. Although we make booking errors on rare occasions and may find ourselves unprepared for circumstances, at this point, the only time we find ourselves worrying is about our health.

These past years have presented more health issues as we’ve aged, although we do everything possible to stay healthy. In my case, genetics are more aggressive than any lifestyle changes I can make. I continually research to see if I am missing something in this area and if I can add any new protocols that can improve things.

Right now, I am focused on discovering why I get Afib and if I can eventually stop this troublesome event that causes a person to worry when it happens. When it’s not happening, it’s easy to get caught up anticipating another attack, mainly when they frequently occur at night. It’s terrifying when one’s heart is pounding in their chest for hours, especially when trying to get some sleep.

At the end of April, I was in the hospital in Nelspruit, South Africa, for three days, having every medical test possible to see what was triggering it. No conclusion was made. I still have arterial disease, but my heart is healthy, and the cardiac bypass surgery was holding. Nothing pointed to a cause for Afib. I was given a drug that made me deathly ill, which I continue to carry with us but will only take in an emergency, not necessarily every time I get a few hours of pounding and fluttering.

The meds prescribed for this condition make me lethargic and so tired I need to lie down all day. Those types of side effects do not fit into our lives. Nor are we willing to stop enjoying our unique lives for me to lie in bed all day. I’ll take my chances.

The girls were doing some shots, but neither of us ever did shots. Too much alcohol for us lightweights.

As for Tom, his coughing continues to be a concern, and when we get situated in South America, he’s agreed to see a pulmonologist, but then again, the drugs prescribed for such conditions also cause severe side effects comparable to those from chemotherapy. We shall see what we find out and report back here.

At 6:00 pm, we’re meeting up with Tammy, Tracy, and Vincent for dinner and trivia across the parking lot from the hotel at Pizza Luce. We’ll get there early to ensure we get a good table in the bar for the trivia game, which starts at 7:00 pm.

Tom is off today at noon to meet up with old friends/railroad guys in Roseville, a 45-minute drive from here, and will surely get back in time for our evening with family.

In a mere nine days, we’ll be leaving Minnesota for South America, looking forward to a wonderful experience in The Galapagos and four nights in a hotel in Quito included in our cruise fare. If the altitude doesn’t bother us, we go out on the planned walking tours. Otherwise, we’ll hang out at the lovely hotel for low-key days.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 2, 2013:

Please read the post for the significance of this photo of Alfred E. Newman by clicking here.

Photo of Tom’s family at Billy’s Bar & Grill…

Tom, sitting next to me. A little smile.

Sorry about the less-than-ideal photos we’re posting today. From where I was seated, locked in place by other diners and family members, I did my best using my phone. Nonetheless, we had a great time, from our chairs and when we finally could maneuver closer to chat with those at the end of the table.

Tom’s family are delightful people, each with their unique sense of humor and all with a dedication and love for one another. When I first met everyone 32 years ago, I didn’t feel as if I fit in. They told and retold countless delightful stories of their childhood experiences.

But, as the years passed and the families grew, the stories became an integral part of all of their past experiences with them. I rarely missed a family event and eventually felt a part of this big family. If they had a party and included everyone, it would be well over 100 people.

On the left is Tom’s niece, Trish’s husband Jason, Trish, and his sister Margie (standing) next to Erika, Tom’s grand-niece, Paulette, and Tom’s great-grand niece Addison. The remainder of the group can’t be seen, except for Eugene, sister Mary Ellen’s husband.

Of the newest generation, we’ve only met some, not all, and if those 100+ people were at a barbecue, even Tom wouldn’t know some of the youngsters, many of whom are now teenagers and older, how the time has flown. Thirty-two years is a long time.

And now, as we approach the 11-year mark of traveling the world, we recognize even less as they’ve grown while we’ve been away. With Tom, the youngest of his siblings, the oldest generation, including us, seems so much older than the others; it is simply a fact of life as we age.

This morning, I’m rushing through this when, at 10:30, Tom will drop me off in Chaska to watch the Vikings game at noon with my son Greg. I’m bringing a laundry bag while there, which is a significant relief when getting it done at the hotel is such a hassle. As mentioned, they have an agreement with the hotel across the way to use their one washer and dryer. Their patrons often use it, so we must walk back and forth repeatedly to get a few loads done.

It was so crowded I couldn’t get around the table for better photos—Margie, daughter Paulette, and her adorable granddaughter Addison. We were thrilled that so many came to say hello.

After Tom drops me off, he’ll drive to a sports bar in Blaine, an hour away, to meet with daughter Tammy to also watch the Vikings game. Most likely, he’ll have lunch there. We still have enough food left in the little fridge for me to eat tonight for dinner. We won’t have to go out.

Yesterday, we had a quiet day, We had no plans other than to go out to dinner at Jimmy’s but were sorely disappointed when our meat was overcooked. Neither of us felt like ordering a new serving, and we ate it. I mentioned it to the server, and she offered to replace it, but when we didn’t feel like waiting, she took the cost of my one glass of wine off the bill.

I’d rather have the better-tasting meat but didn’t make a fuss. By 7:00 pm, we were back at the hotel to relax and stream a few shows. I hadn’t slept well the prior night, and by 9:30, I needed to head off to bed. Within a half hour, I was sound asleep and slept peacefully through the night.

Tammy, sister Colleen, and Tom’s grand nephew Jacoby. It was so loud in the place I couldn’t get everyone’s attention for photos without screaming. I chose unposed photos instead of raising my voice.

This morning, we went down to breakfast at 9:00 pm. The restaurant was out of hard-boiled eggs and fresh cream for the coffee. Instead, we used those disgusting little pods of half and half. The hotel is packed every weekend. This weekend, we think it’s attendees of the Renaissance Festival, held about 15 minutes from here.

By tomorrow at noon, they all will have left, and it will be peaceful here once again as we spend our final ten days in Minnesota, spending as much time as possible with family and friends. This time we’re here has been the busiest of any time we visited in the past, as well as the longest period we’ve been here, a little over a month.

The Minnesota Vikings have lost 3 out of 3 games. Maybe today, their luck will turn around for a more exciting game.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 1, 2013:

On this date, while still in Kenya, we booked an upcoming hotel, Club Intrawest Condo Hotel in Vancouver. British Columbia for September 2014. For more photos, please click here.

What a fun day with friends and family!!!…

After our pedicures, my dear friend Chere and I went to lunch at Jimmy’s Kitchen and Bar for a lovely breakfast of ground ribeye, topped with sauteed mushrooms and onions along with a side of green beans or asparagus. Delicious!

It was a lovely day with my friend Chere, the third time we got together since Tom and I arrived in Minnesota three weeks ago. Chere and I have been friends for 25 years and have often stayed in touch in the past 11 years since we’ve been traveling.

It was the last time I’d see her in our remaining 12 days when she and her husband Gary took off on a road trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado, for a dietician convention and won’t return until we’re gone. Chere is a dietician who appeared many times on various TV news shows and conducted countless seminars for corporate clients nationwide. Also, as a Life Coach, she’s had a continuous stream of clients with varied needs that she so well fulfills, leaving them loyal to her ongoing services.

Her beliefs about food are similar to mine, that we each should eat a healthy, lower-carb diet of food in its natural state without pesticides, chemicals and additives, sugar, and starch. Of course, healthy fats are included in her suggested way of eating. As a result of this philosophy and others, she and I always had an indescribable sistership. We have so much to talk about!

This is Jada, who did an equally fine job on Chere’s pedicure at the beauty school. We had a good time together and with the two young women.

The pedicures were fun with the two girls, who will appreciate seeing their photos on our site today when particularly young women enjoy any exposure via social media. I couldn’t resist posting their photos.

After the pedicures, Chere and I headed to a nearby Goodwill store where she had to pick up a variety of hats for a display photo booth at the convention. We got a huge kick out of picking out the wild-looking hats readily available at the store with Halloween on the horizon a little over a month from now.

Halloween brings up special memories, as many of our long-term readers know, since it’s the anniversary of the date we left Minnesota to begin our journey in 2012. As a result, we’ll be celebrating our 11th anniversary in Ecuador at our new holiday home by the sea. What more could we ask for?

Chere dropped me off at the hotel before 2:30 pm, shortly before Tom and I had to drive to Anoka for his family’s usual get-together at Billy’s Bar and Grill. In the next month or so, three of his sisters will head to their winter homes in Apache Junction, Arizona, where we stayed in a holiday “park model” near them in December 2019 and January 2020. (Once the sisters leave for Arizona, the weekly get-togethers at Billy’s will end until next summer).

This is Hazyl, my nail technician at the beauty school in Hopkins. She, too, did a fine job!

We took off from Arizona for India when shortly later, Covid-19 hit. Most of our readers know that unbelievable story when we were stuck in a hotel room for ten months in Mumbai, India, only six weeks after we arrived. Was that ever a memorable experience!

We drove back to the hotel after drinks and dinner with the family (photos to be shared in tomorrow’s post). We watched a few more episodes of Formula 1, again savoring every episode. What a great show on Netflix!

Oddly, we have no plans with anyone for today or tonight, but we did make a reservation at the same restaurant Chere, and I enjoyed yesterday, Jimmy’s Kitchen and Bar, for the two of us for tonight. When we return, we’ll hunker down to watch more of our current favorite show, which is soon ending. We are on season five after watching the first of ten remaining episodes.

We’ll be back again tomorrow with the family photos from last night!

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 30, 2013:

My dinner at Le Cafe at Lantana Galu Beach, Kenya: Seasoned Grilled Red Snapper with sautéed non-starchy vegetables. For more photos, please click here.
Notice the lack of veggies on Tom’s plate? He requested they be placed on a separate plate to be handed to me. I did the same with my potatoes, handing them over to him. For more photos, please click here.

In a hurry…Busy day, ahead…Booking realities…

Yesterday’s lunch at Champps with my dear friend and former business partner, Theresa, a successful real estate agent, was delightful. We could have chatted all day long. What a treat to be with my friend! If you are in the Minneapolis/ St. Paul area and need the services of a quality agent, feel free to reach Theresa here.

Soon, we’re heading out the door. Tom is dropping me off in Hopkins to meet my friend Chere where we’ll both have pedicures. We both feel more comfortable having pedicures at the beauty school due to increased sanitation processes. We’ve heard about patrons getting infections at some nail salons, and neither of us wanted to take a chance. At the school, the standards are high. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

After our pedicures, we headed to lunch at Jimmy’s Kitchen and Bar, where Tom and I had dinner with our dear friends from our old neighborhood. The food and service was impeccable. I tried to find a restaurant near the beauty school in Hopkins but all of them were basic pub food-type establishments with lots of fried foods and bad oils. Chere is like me. She only consumes healthy foods. Jimmy’s is a perfect option.

I love how easy it is to make reservations here. It’s just a few clicks on an app. Some countries utilize such a process, but many do not and require a phone call. Of course, in South Africa, we have a standing reservation at Jabula for every Friday and Saturday night. As for other restaurants in Marloth Park, few require a reservation.

After considerable research yesterday, we decided to wait to book a cruise on the Amazon while we’re in South America. Once we started calculating the actual costs for the cruise, we found that it ended up being twice as expensive as we thought, once we added taxes, port charges ($700 each), tips, and drinks, it priced us out of the market.

With the expensive upcoming cruise in The Galapagos, with only 16 passengers on basically an eight-cabin yacht, we are watching our budget with diligence. Since the pandemic, prices have risen considerably. Keep in mind we are on a perpetual “vacation/holiday,” and costs are of major consideration for each event we book.

Each time we research a new venue or location, we try to have it fit into our annual budget, not necessarily the monthly budget. Lately, we’re finding a number of expensive, relative to any venue, that doesn’t include many required “add-ons,” making the actual cost much more. It easy to miss some of those expenses, but we learned long ago to read the fine print.

Thus, right now, we won’t be booking anything after January 8, 2024, until we’re in South America and do more research. Right now, our days and nights are too busy to focus on research.

After lunch, Chere will drop me off at the hotel, and a short time later, Tom and I will head to Billy’s Bar and Grill in Anoka to meet up with his siblings and other family members for happy hour and dinner. Gosh, I’ll try not to eat two Cobb salads in one day, perhaps ordering something else at lunch since I like the salad at Billy’s.

Although everyone meets at Billy’s at 3:30 when happy hour begins, no one orders dinner until after 5:00 pm. I will have to eat a light lunch to be able to eat another meal so soon after lunch.

This morning while sleeping in, knowing I didn’t have to get to breakfast before it ended at 9:00 am, I could hear thunder clapping in the background. It’s still happening now at almost 10:00 am. Apparently, today will be a rainy day which I don’t mind a bit as long as we don’t get soaked going in and out of restaurants, etc.

That’s it for today, folks. It’s time to move on. Have a great weekend.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 29, 2013:

Last night, in Kenya, our waiter at Le Café at Lantana Galu Beach offered to take a photo of us. Gosh, we looked younger! We were younger! For more photos, please click here.

Out to lunch with dear old friend and business partner…Where will we go next?…

Remembering Norman and his young son Noah from two years ago before Noah started to change to look like Norman. Now, he is full-grown and looks like his dad.

Before too long, Tom will drop me off for lunch at Champps Restaurant in Eden Prairie. My dear friend and former business partner (2004 to 2008), Theresa, will meet me there at 11:45. She will drop me back at the hotel when we’re done. I can’t wait to see her.

I don’t have any new photos for today, but once I return from lunch, I’ll have some photos to add to tomorrow’s post. Tomorrow afternoon, we’ll be heading to BIlly’s Bar and Grill in Anoka to meet Tom’s family for happy hour and dinner, and we will also take photos then.

In the interim, we’re thinking about what we’ll do once we’re done with the house in Ecuador. For a long time, Tom has wanted to sail through the upper Amazon River, and thus, we’ve been looking into some options after January 8, 2024. At this point, we aren’t interested in sailing on big ships due to the risk of COVID-19 and other viruses, which recently impacted Tom for many weeks. He tested negative for Covid-19 when he first got the virus on the second cruise to Greenland.

Only now that he’s coughing less after a visit to urgent care a few weeks ago when he was prescribed antibiotics, prednisone, inhalers, and cough medicine in pill form, he says he’s feeling much better but coughs in the evenings more than during the day.

I got that same virus but only had it for a few days while on the ship and was left with a slight cough from time to time. As a result, we are rethinking sailing on cruises other than on small ships with fewer passengers. This makes a lot of sense to us. We never got sick on the 586-passenger Azamara cruise to Norway.

But, on the Celebrity cruise with 2000 passengers, we heard people coughing and sneezing days before we got sick. The worst was when we arrived in Minnesota after nine nights in Nevada, where it seemed to be gone. Once in Minnesota, where the pollen is terrible, we assumed it was allergy-related.  I was even feeling a little pressure in that bad spot on my head and face where I suffered with long Covid-19 for so long.

Once we arrived in Scotland on July 29, my symptoms totally disappeared and hadn’t returned until we arrived in Minnesota, again allergy-related. However, as it cools down, the pollen count goes down. Today, weed pollen is high, but grass and trees are low.

Back to upcoming plans, we’re looking into a cruise with 31 passengers that sails on the upper Amazon. We’re checking into details and will report back here when and if we book that cruise that sails out of Peru. That would mean that once we leave Ecuador on January 8, 2024, we’ll fly to Lima, Peru, where we’ll spend five nights in a hotel and sail away on the small houseboat On January 13.

That cruise also ends in Lima, and we’re considering a few holiday home options of holiday homes in the suburbs where we might stay until it’s time to fly back to South Africa on June 15, 2024. Peru allows US citizens to remain with an upon-entry visa, suitable for 183 days. That works for us.

Today, we’ll do further investigation into this potential plan and report back with details in the next few days. We are enthused about this option.

I’m off to lunch with Theresa. We’ll be back with more tomorrow.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 28, 2013:

These pods in the garden in Kenya are fascinating. They look like pea pods, but no one knows if they’re edible. We won’t be using them in a stir fry anytime soon. For more photos, please click here.

Tom’s outrageous meal at the stadium!…Fun times with son TJ at the Minnesota Twins baseball game…My lunch with son Greg…

TJ got tickets to the Minnesota Twins game for him and Tom. The tickets included all the food you can eat. Tom ate two hotdogs, one hamburger, fried chicken, popcorn, salted-in-the-shell peanuts, a Pepsi, and later two ice cream sandwiches. What a little piglet! This morning, he was still too full to eat breakfast.

Last night, Tom and TJ rode an Uber to the Minnesota Twins baseball game. With the cost of parking and traffic, this was an excellent option for them, especially if they drank beer during the game. But, as it turned out, Tom was too busy eating to drink beer when he was enjoying the food instead.

Once it started raining, they moved to different seats that were undercover.

TJ had special tickets that included “all-you-can-eat” stadium foods and drinks (except beer), and Tom, who particularly loves “free” food and beverages, had a field day (no pun intended). He was like a kid-in-a-candy-store. It was a good thing I hadn’t joined them. There wouldn’t have been anything I could have eaten.

Instead, I stayed at the hotel, dining on meat, cheese, and vegetables in the tiny refrigerator in the hotel room, which I “mono” ate over a few hours while watching a few shows on Hulu. I got into my pajamas early, hunkered down with a blanket on the sofa, and entertained myself for the entire evening.

Check out all the empty seats. The Twins had already won the division/pennant, so fewer fans attended this game as they finished the season.

By about 10:30, I headed off to bed, and Tom arrived a short time later, telling me how much fun he, TJ, and a friend of TJ’s had at the game, especially when the Twins won the game 11-3. It was a great way for father and son to spend another special evening together.

It had been a long time since I’d spent an entire evening alone, but I didn’t mind a bit, especially knowing Tom was having such a good time. After the prior night’s inadequate sleep, I made up for it last night, sleeping for eight hours.

The Twins won the game 11-3.

As for my day yesterday, my son Greg picked me up at noon, and we headed to People’s Organic restaurant in Eden Prairie, known for “healthy organic food,” when Greg asked if we could try a healthy location. What shocked me was that some of the menu items, including bad fats for preparations, were unhealthy. I asked for my grilled chicken (for my Cobb salad) to be cooked with butter in a separate pan since it is often cooked in harmful oils, which they did.

This children’s band played the National Anthem at the Twins game last night.

The restaurant’s food appeared fresh and well-prepared, but my way of eating (food in its natural state) wasn’t easy to accomplish with many sauces and toppings I always avoid. I didn’t make a fuss. Greg had a sandwich and salad.

However, I wasn’t thrilled that we had to order food at the counter instead of being served at the table. When dining out, I prefer to plop myself down in a comfy booth (if available) and not have to get up other than a quick trip to the loo if needed. This self-service concept usually doesn’t result in better pricing or reduced tips. Once our food was ready, the staff brought it to our table, which helped.

Target Field sign inside the park.

It was a delight to have Greg to myself for the 90 minutes we spent chatting. It was the first time in quite a few years we’d done this, and we’re both hoping to go to lunch by ourselves one more time before we depart two weeks from today. Gosh, that’s coming up quickly.

Have a lovely Wednesday!

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 27, 2013:

This is where we’ll lounge in the chaises at Madafoo’s in Diani Beach, Kenya, in a guarded area overlooking the Indian Ocean each Wednesday. If it rains, we’ll either wait until it stops or go the next day. For more photos, please click here.

Fantastic dinner with Kristi, Kevin and Austin at Pizza Luce…Buying everything we need while in the US…

It was great to see Kevin and Kristi again in Minnesota. We saw them about four months ago in Florida. They are here for the summer, returning to Florida before winter.

I was so busy taking photos of everyone else’s food that I forgot to take a photo of my dinner. As it turned out, I had a summer-only dish that ended on the menu last night. It was a unique salad and was excellent.

Kevin and Kristi’s adult son Austin joined us shortly after they arrived. We also enjoyed seeing him since we hadn’t seen him in years. He’d grown into an outgoing and delightful young man in his late 20s. How the time flies. With Tom’s huge family, we don’t often have the opportunity to see many of the younger generation.

Kristi ordered the lasagna with white sauce.

The conversation with the five of us flowed easily, and the time passed quickly. Before we knew it, it was time to go. Tom and I had walked across the hotel parking lot to the restaurant, Pizza Luce, and in a minute or two, we were back at the hotel for more binge-watching Formula 1 on Netflix and, later, off to bed.

I had a fitful night, tossing and turning from 1:30 am until 3:30 am. I tried several times to get back to sleep, putting down my phone for extended periods, but had no luck. There was nothing I could do. The only thing I could attribute it to was the two small glasses of wine I had at the restaurant. Red wine can do that to me sometimes. Fortunately, I had no Afib episodes (more on that in a future post).

Kevin ordered the hamburger pizza.

After drifting off, I got six hours of sleep, according to my Fitbit, but I feel fine today and am ready to leave within the hour to have lunch with my son Greg. It will be the first time we will have an opportunity to chat independently.

Years ago, he and I often went to lunch once a week to catch up and mainly discuss business. I imagine the conversation will be similar today. Although I no longer own a business other than, I still enjoy commiserating over business thoughts and ideas. Me and my two sons have an entrepreneurial spirit deeply embedded into our personalities.

Austin’s pizza. I’m not sure what toppings he ordered, but he enjoyed part of it and took the remainder home.

Sorry about the issues of the past few weeks, consisting of photos not appearing on the posts and the fact that our site was down for part of the day yesterday. Hopefully, these issues are resolved. But that’s the nature of having a website. Sometimes, it doesn’t work as it should, and often, it is no fault of the contributor.

However, the owner of each site must stay on top of issues and take the steps necessary to get problems resolved as quickly as possible. Yesterday, I contacted our hosting company, Hostinger, to ask for their assistance in solving the issues, and they responded promptly with immediate solutions.

Here is Tom’s spaghetti and meatballs with garlic toast.

Our web people are located in India, and it was the middle of the night there while it was daytime here. I didn’t expect them to respond when I inquired and took charge of contacting the hosting company for assistance. It appears to me, on this end, that all is resolved.

But if you continue to have trouble viewing the site, please email me. I often have too many email messages to respond to each one individually. As a result, I’ll often address the resolution of the issues in a post. Please look here if you’d like to see the outcome of a problem.

That’s it for today, dear readers. We hope each of you is having a good week so far.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 26, 2013:

The sea and the mystery of ominous clouds over the Indian Ocean in Kenya rolled in, leaving us in awe with our mouths agape. For more photos, please click here.

A memorable night out with old friends…

Sue, our dear friend who lived down the road with me, Sue’s daughter, and dear old friend Sherry. Sadly, although he was present, her husband, Michael, wasn’t in the photos. Sorry, Michael!

Our dear friend Sherry had arranged a reservation at Jimmy’s Kitchen and Bar for 5:30 pm. Five of us arrived at 5:15, anxious to get the anticipated fantastic evening started. In no time, we were seated at a big booth/banquette for seven, and only Nelleke and Dave were yet to arrive, who appeared a short time later.

Sherry had planned the get-together at this excellent restaurant close to everyone. As it turned out, it was only about seven minutes from our hotel. This restaurant has been in business for 17 years, but neither Tom nor I had ever been there. It was only about 20 minutes from our old home.

Tom, along with Dave and Nelleke, our former next-door neighbors. Gosh, we’ve missed them all.

Once we were seated, the conversation flowed easily. At times, we laughed when we were all talking at one time. It was not unlike 11 years ago when we often got together for drinks, food, and fun. In those times, I didn’t drink alcohol but never failed to have a fantastic time sipping on my iced tea.

As mentioned in prior posts, I didn’t drink alcohol/wine for 20 years for no particular reason other than thinking it was better for my health. On a cruise in 2016, when we both had the premium drink package included in our cruise fare, I decided to try drinking a glass of red wine, which I’d always preferred over white wine and found tasted good.

Sherry’s dinner looked appetizing.

Once I had that first glass, I decided I could drink red wine in moderation, enjoying every sip. Since that time, I’ve pursued finding wines with lower alcohol than the usual 13% to 14%. In South Africa, many lighter wines were available, which I like with alcohol as low as 5%, which I particularly enjoy, along with another label at 8%. I cannot find similar wines here in the US, so when dining out, I drink regular red or white if I choose to have a glass.

No photo of Michael but a nice photo of his rib dinner.

Last night, they poured very little in the fancier restaurant in the fancy glass, so I ordered a second glass. Our dinner, with tax and tip, was $132. Wow! That’s a lot. We aren’t used to paying that much for the two of us. Everything is very expensive in the US.

Sue’s perfectly cooked filet mignon and au gratin potatoes.

Thank goodness, once we get to Ecuador in less than three weeks, we’ll be able to play a little catch-up with comparable prices in South Africa. We look forward to that and other aspects we’ll enjoy in South America.

At one point during last night’s dinner, I found myself smiling from ear to ear and saw a similar smile on Tom’s face as he conversed with Michael and Dave at the end of the table. It was more wonderful than words describe being with our old friends and neighbors again.

My filet mignon deconstructed salad with three rare pieces of filet mignon, avocado, and a lettuce wedge topped with bacon and onion.

As neighbors, we were all so much more. Our lives were intertwined in many ways, especially when our dear Chip, Sue’s deceased husband and our friend whom we dearly loved, He passed, only a few months before we left Minnesota. I had the honor of speaking at his memorial service. We all miss him terribly.

Sue sold her house in our old neighborhood on the lake and now lives in a retirement community near here. Sherry and Michael live nearby in Minnetonka, the city where my kids grew up before moving to the lake, and Nelleke and Dave still live in their house, which, as mentioned, was next door to us.

Dave’s pasta dish.

Before we knew it, our meals and a few desserts were savored at the lovely restaurant, and it was time to go. We’d enjoyed every moment with our friends and felt disappointed the evening was over. Tom and I talked about it one our way back to our hotel.

Once back at the hotel, we streamed two more episodes of Formula 1 on Netflix, which we binge-watch as time allows in the evenings. Soon, we’re heading out to brunch with Greg and two of the grandkids, Madighan and Miles, since Maisie is away at school. Afterward, we’ll return to Greg’s house to watch the Minnesota Vikings game.

Tom’s short ribs dinner atop a bed of mashed potatoes.

Have a pleasant Sunday.

Be well.

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

There were no photos posted ten years ago today. For the text for that post, please click here.

Lovely evening at dear friend Connie’s home to commemorate Jeff’s passing…

Mark, Sandy, Tom, Micheal, Connie, and Nina sat around the outdoor table on the veranda of Connie’s Lake Minnetonka home.

Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of our dear friend Jeff passing away at our holiday home in Marloth Park, South Africa. Connie, his wife, was thrilled when she read in our posts that we’d be in Minnesota during the anniversary date so she could plan a special dinner for a few select friends to acknowledge Jeff on the anniversary of his death.

We hesitated when she extended the anniversary since September 21 is the same date as our grandchild, Mad, and grandson, Nik. Madighan’s birthday, which we didn’t want to miss. But we worked out another plan for the birthday without a problem, and all was good.

The blue pot contained tender, delicious beef with mushrooms in a flourless gravy.

Yesterday afternoon, we stopped at a liquor store to pick up a bottle of red wine for Connie. I brought a bottle of low-alcohol dry rose that I miraculously found a few weeks ago. Low-alcohol wine is not easily found in the US. Once we return to South Africa, we won’t have any trouble finding low-alcohol wines. I have no idea what we’ll find in Ecuador at this point.

Connie had made a fantastic dinner with several items I could eat, which was thoughtful of her. As a professional chef, she’s obviously an excellent cook and moves through the process of cooking and serving food with ease and finesse. The spread was not only pleasing to the eye but also mouth-watering and delicious.

Connie made this delicious chicken and prune dish. I tasted a bite of Tom’s but couldn’t eat it due to the sugar in the prunes.

If I hadn’t eaten so much of my favorite cheese, she served with the starters, Belton Farms Cheddar, which has a crunchy texture and amazing taste. I’d have had more room for the dinner. But, I had a little of everything I could eat and was full and content. Tom enjoyed everything as well, especially the garlic-buttered French bread and the pot-roasted meat, reminding him of one of his favorite dinners I’ve often made for him when the proper cuts of beef were available.

I was able to eat everything here except the potatoes and the bread.

The group of guests were enthusiastic sailors, and the conversation flowed on this topic as well as many questions from the group on our world travels. It was fun to share our varied interests. Michael asked if we’d ever be interested in sailing around the world. No, we are not. One, we aren’t sailors, and two, neither of us would be interested in all the work required to sail long distances.

Connie found these napkins to remind her of the time she and Lindsey spent in South Africa with us one year ago when Jeff passed away at our house.

Nor would we ever be interested in a non-sail boat, or as we’ve often been asked, traveling in a motorhome. Long ago, we considered that possibility, but after considerable research, we aren’t interested in that lifestyle either. What we’ve been doing these past almost 11 years suits us just fine.

Everyone’s tastes and desires are different. Most people cannot imagine giving up everything they own and leaving a familiar lifestyle to do what we do. Interestingly, more often, men say they could do it, but women can’t imagine living out of one suitcase and parting with their beloved belongings. We certainly understand that. Sometimes, we shake our heads, unable to believe that we did it.

Last night’s half moon in Minnesota.

Today, we’re meeting several of Tom’s family members at their usual Billy’s Bar and Grill in Anoka, where they often meet on Fridays at 3:00 pm for drinks and dinner. When we were here in the past, we’ve always enjoyed this special time together with his sisters and other family members in the fun and busy establishment.

The time before we leave at 2:15 will be spent on various projects we’ve been working on in order to be prepared to leave the US in a mere 19 days.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 22, 2013:

In Diani Beach, Kenya, our property owners, Hans and Jeri, invited us for dinner at their house next door. The table was set on the well-manicured lawn. With the balmy breeze and the fire roaring, the mosquitoes stayed away, although we were well armed, wearing our BugsAway clothing. For more photos, please click here.

Another busy day on the horizon…Memorial dinner party tonight…Booking, booking and more booking…

Tomorrow, we’ll be busy listing Tom’s railroad memorabilia online for sale, including about 12 of these commemorative plates.

Last night, our plans with Madighan were dashed due to potential strep throat and flu. Neither of us could afford to get sick with plans to leave here in 20 days. Also, Tom is still on antibiotics and Prednisone, and getting sick on top of his awful cough would only worsen matters.

Instead, we’ll pick a date next week to get together and celebrate. Today, at 4:00 pm, we are heading to our friend Connie’s home for dinner at her home on Lake Minnetonka to commemorate her husband Jeff’s passing at our holiday home in Marloth Park one year ago today. It’s hard to believe that was a year ago. It seems so much longer.

After a while, we’ll go to the nearby liquor store and buy a bottle of wine to bring to Connie’s. We always feel it is essential to bring something when invited for dinner at a friend’s home. In South Africa, we only needed to bring our drinks, mix, ice, and possibly meat to cook on the braai. That tradition is not common in the US.

This morning, we spent almost two hours researching flights from Quito to Manta, a hotel for one night in Manta since we didn’t want to drive to the holiday home in the dark, and a rental car for three separate months. Tom will have to return to the airport twice while we’re at the house to get another vehicle.

As it turned out, each of the three rental car periods had much better pricing using three different companies rather than trying to book a car for the entire time at the house from October 24 to January 8. Plus, the rates had almost doubled over the Christmas holiday season.

As a result, Tom will have to make the one-hour drive from the holiday home to Manta twice during our stay; most likely, I will go with him each time to shop at the bigger grocery stores. I anticipate the remote location where we’ll stay won’t have any major grocery stores nearby.

Since our flight from Quito to Manta doesn’t arrive until after 8:00 pm, we planned to stay one night in Manta so that we can more easily find our way to the property in the morning. Also, it will allow us to do some food shopping in Manta before we head to the house.

No doubt, the small car won’t have a lot of room for lots of groceries, but at least we’ll be able to squeeze enough for a few days while we figure everything out from the house. Moving into a new remote location requires extensive research to see what’s available in the area.

In the worst case, we can buy coffee, cream, and staples for the first week. A few restaurants are near the house in case we have to eat out for several days. This part of our travels is fun for us when we find the best solutions for our needs while we’re there.

There weren’t a lot of options for flights from Quito to Manta. There were prices listed for half of what we ended up paying for the one-way flight, but those prices didn’t include any carry-on bags or checked bags. At the higher prices of $99 each, instead of $59, we saved over $200 for baggage fees. It made a lot of sense to go that way.

We found a highly-rated, inexpensive hotel near the airport so we wouldn’t have to drive far in the dark in unknown territory, which included breakfast. We’ll get up early, have coffee and breakfast at the hotel, and be on our way, as we mentioned, looking for a supermarket on the way.

It’s all becoming a reality now as we pin down our plans. Once settled in Ecuador, we researched where we wanted to go. Do we go to Brazil and Bolivia to the Pantanal or plan a cruise on the upper Amazon? Or both? Time will tell. Of course, this is all based on how we’re feeling at the time due to a few recent health concerns.

At 3:30 today, we’ll head out to the memorial dinner party at Connie’s for surely what will be a good experience.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 21, 2013:

Moonbeams over the Indian Ocean last night at the Blue Marlin Restaurant in Kenya, reflecting off the ocean and lighting the sand. Tiny sand crabs were scurrying about at our feet as we stood in the sand. For more photos, please click here.