Clothes, clothes, and more clothes...

We take our clothes for granted. 

They hang in our closets patiently waiting to be selected as a means of covering our bodies for purposes of modesty or warmth while defining our personalities and our mood for the day.

Some days they fit tightly based on the size of last night's scrumptious dinner or mind blowing dessert.  Some days they fit loosely after 24-hour bout with the flu, only to become tight again after a new day's meals.  Some days they fit just fine.  

Our blue jeans are particularly vulnerable to this phenomenon which at times, require us to lay on the bed to zip them using a mighty pelvis thrust followed by a hefty hike or two while we're dancing on our toes trying to stuff in very last bit.

We all have favorite clothes.  Favorites make us look good, remind us of a sentimental occasion with their worn and comfortable feeling seemingly timeless. 

We save some of our clothes for decades, neatly tucked away in the attic, hoping they will come back in style. Ironically, when they do, there is a distinct trendy update, rendering them subject to stares from strangers and criticism from those we love, who refuse to allow us to embarrass them in public.

Some of us have no interest in their clothes, grabbing them mindlessly off the hanger with little regard for color, coordinating an outfit or the current style. Others of us are filled with angst, painstakingly trying on item after item in a futile effort to achieve that perfect combination that will magically make us look and feel good. 

Lately, I have been thinking about our clothes.  Honestly, in the past I seldom "thought" about my clothes other than their purchase (usually online), their washing (frequently after one wearing), their ironing (love to iron!), then deciding on what to wear and the occasional annoyance of a "wardrobe malfunction."

Thinking about clothes has become a necessary element of traveling about the world for the next three years or more, with two suitcases and one carry-on each.  We have read numerous websites with packing suggestions.  Na, not much help there when most suggestions are for vacations, not carrying everything owned at the time, never going "home" to repack. 

I've always rotated my clothing not only for variety but to take advantage of what fashionable items I had at the time.

Tom tends to wear the same clothes day after day. I currently do laundry everyday. Whatever he wore today will be back in his drawer within a few hours of his taking them off being "first up" to be worn again the next day, rather than rummaging through the drawers to find something different. 

This past weekend, when we started accessing his wardrobe needs, the top two or three items in each drawer were old and worn.  Everything underneath these items, was nearly new.  We found 20 short sleeve button down shirts in his closet that he had never worn, from either lack of looking through them or from them not fitting him until now with him 25 pounds lighter from his recent diet, low carb, wheat free, grain free, starch free and sugar free.  With his 20 shirts neatly folded and ready for packing, we are purchasing the following items to round out his wardrobe:
  • 16 pairs of shorts:  khaki, taupe, brown, white, jeans, navy, beige
  • 2 pairs dress pants: khaki, black
  • 1 sport coat (for dressy cruise nights)
  • 2 dress shirts + 3 ties (for dressy cruise nights)
  • 3 pairs jeans
  • 1 pair lightweight sweatpants & hoodie
  • 20 button down shirts:  solids, checks, Hawaiian print (Tommy Bahama)
  • 16 tee shirts: all solids
  • 4 swim trunks
  • 1 lightweight robe
  • 20 pair briefs (to avoid paying for laundry service on cruises)
  • 20 pairs white socks
  • 3 pair dress socks
  • 1 pair tennis shoes
  • 1 pair heavy duty sports shoes
  • 1 pair casual sandals
  • 1 pair dress shoes
  • 2 belts
  • 1 lightweight rain jacket
  • BugsAway clothing: 2 pair pants (pants to shorts via zipper), 2 long sleeve shirts, 2 tee shirts, 4 pairs socks, 1 baseball cap, 1 full coverage hat all treated with Permethrin, effective through 70 washings against, mosquitoes, ticks, ants, flies, chiggers and midges.
Yes, 127 items seem overwhelming. However, they will fit into his two suitcases. We may have to pay for additional or overweight baggage.  But, Tom will have enough clothing to accommodate our longest cruises without paying laundry service fees instead, waiting until we arrive at our next location at which time we will be able to do our own laundry for the cost of laundry soap.  

Based on Royal Caribbean's attached laundry fee schedule, we would easily spend a combined $400 on laundry fees on each cruise.  With seven cruises booked thus far while awaiting four more to post, we could be looking at about $2800 in laundry fees.

After considerable research, it appears that most international flights will accept two bags each or may charge additional fees. At this point, we will take our chances and bring plenty of clothes, hand washing a few items as necessary along the way.

Our next post on Saturday, June 2 will be the dilemma of the other half of this packing equation: the clothing of a color coordinated freak, overly picky, somewhat fashion conscientious, moderately trendy, shoe loving, variety seeking individual who refuses to ever wear the same clothing two days in a row: ME!

Whining about wine...



Built in Sub-Zero wine cooler.
Wine, the magical elixir, its delicate aroma, whether white or red, wafts through our nostrils to luxuriate our senses, our lips gently pursed to accept the first sip, creating the familiar warmth as it slithers down our throats.  

I love wine.  Wine doesn't like me.

As we contemplate our travels, many of which are havens of the finest of wine making; the perfect soil, the perfect weather, the perfect grape and the vast commitment and knowledge of its makers, I am saddened by the fact that wine doesn't like me. 

Oddly, Tom doesn't care for wine, preferring Courvoisier, in itself a form of wine, and oddly again, mixed with diet Sprite. What a concoction!  

Wine has represented a certain sense of comfort to me over the years, often saying, "Hey, let's go grab a glass of wine." or "Would you like wine with your dinner," words I have often expressed to create a sense of comfort for the potential consumer of this centuries old tradition.

When we remodeled our kitchen eight years ago, we added a Sub-zero wine cooler, integrating our cabinet design in its installation.  At that point, wine had started not liking me but somehow I thought "it" may "change its mind" if I honored "it" with this fine temperature controlled refrigeration system.  Alas, to no avail.  Wine continued disliking me.
 
Drawer opened to some of the red wine in our wine cooler
Sadly wine doesn't agree with me, a quasi wine aficionado such as myself.  I read the reviews, the books, attending classes and numerous wine tastings over the years.  I subscribed to Wine Spectator Magazine and shopped at liquor stores that posted the ratings.  
 
Over the years, I drank my fair share of wine, mostly red, mostly domestic, with many a homemade meal, never before 5 PM, seldom alone. I cooked with wine; fine sauces, soups and endless pots of roasted meats and vegetables, the aroma filling the air with delicious swirls of scent.
 
In 1996, I had surgery staying in the hospital for only 48 hours.  Upon returning home, feeling quite well, I looked forward to stopping the pain medication within a few days thus allowing me to return to my enjoyment of red wine.  
A prized bottle of Layer Cake, a fine Shiraz, hard to find at the time.
A few days later, while preparing a pot of chicken, lentil and roasted root vegetable soup, I opened a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and poured it half full into my preferred prefect wine glass; delicate crystal, slender stem, sparkling clean.  

Bringing it to my lips, I drew a breath in anticipation of the familiar liquid.  It didn't taste right!  Trying again a few minutes later, it still didn't taste right.  I attributed the peculiar flavor sensation to the fact that only days ago, I had anesthesia for surgery.  Perhaps those drugs were still in my system affecting my taste buds. 

Tossing the glass of wine, I waited to try again several days later, again to be disappointed and confused.  Over the next 16 years, I continued to have a sad relationship with wine. Oddly, that surgery had caused me to lose interest in wine.
 
Eventually, my taste buds recovered but I did not.  Drinking only one or two glasses of wine, whether white or red, resulted in horrible discomfort during the night with an awful hangover continuing well into the next day. The less often I drank, the worse the scenario.  Wine or any other form of alcohol appears to poison me, leaving me weak and shaky for no less than 24 hours.

Last night friends joined us for dinner (Yeah, I know we said no more entertaining guests!) and once again I tried drinking wine, hoping for a different outcome, finishing off a bottle of Pinot Grigio with my guests. It had been a year since my last glass of wine.

After a fitful night of tossing and turning, feeling shaky and queasy, I made a commitment to say "goodbye" to wine as one more item on my list of letting go of favorite things as we begin our journey, as mentioned in this past Sunday's post.  

It will be difficult to avoid tasting the fine wines of Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and South Africa.  The food, the wine, the ambiance, and the companionship all blend into the utmost of dining pleasure.  The exclusion of the wine, however difficult, will ultimately serve me well.  

Now tell me, how will we gluten free folks resist the bread and pasta in Italy, the croissants in France and the handmade flatbreads in Africa.

P.S.  We will be getting a new camera before departure and hopefully learn how to use it. My Android phone doesn't take good photos and sadly, we are both awful photographers.  We will learn!  Any suggestions on a camera?

Memorial weekend thoughts...

As we are lounging in the comfy chairs, Indy 500 on the TV in the background, an odd sensation washed over me.  This will be the last Memorial weekend we'll spend in this house. 

While anticipating the necessary chopping and dicing in order to prepare the shish kabob dinner we'll cook on the grill tonight, my mind is not so much on the race and chopping as it is on realities facing us moving forward.

Today is Day #7 with no coffee for me.  Our Miele coffee machine died last week requiring a $1000 repair.  We decided to quit drinking coffee rather than invest in the repairs or purchase a new coffee machine at this late a date.  

I love coffee.  Tom is ambivalent.  For me, a proper cup of coffee requires the requisite two tablespoons of real cream, two packs of Stevia and two drops of liquid Splenda (my vice) to ensure it is tasteful and also low carb.  Tom prefers powdered cream and real sugar which he forfeited nine months ago when we committed to the gluten free, low carb, sugar free, wheat, grain and starch free lifestyle.  

The question becomes: "Is it worth continuing to drink coffee when we each require specific "add-ins" that may not be readily available throughout the world." So seven days ago, I said: "Bye, bye coffee" and "Hello, tea." Tom doesn't drink tea, except when iced. Tom also gave it up. Luckily, no headaches or cravings for either of us.

Many of these situations arise, causing us to question the continuation of a particular habit by using products that may be impossible to find abroad. Do we really want to haul large quantities of certain items in our already overloaded bags?  Probably not.

So, I started making a list (how unusual of me!), of the items we have used and loved all these years.  Here are only a few of the many habits we must break:
  1. US TV:  We currently have three multi-room DVRs.  We have dozens of shows taping around the clock (many we never have an opportunity to watch) to ensure we are entertained upon deciding to lounge in these comfy chairs in the evening or on a weekend. No more watching!
  2. US Radio:  We each have our favorite radio shows we enjoy while driving. No more listening!  It uses too much data to listen on our laptops.
  3. Smart Phones: We've had unlimited service for talk, text and internet.  In the middle of any night, when I can't sleep, I listen to Dr. Joy Brown's most recent podcast to lull me back to sleep. And, what about talking freely to family and friends on the phone?  It will be Skype in the future.
  4. Ebay Shopping.  Want to buy something?  I look online at retail stores and buy it from Ebay or Amazon, or through a multitude of other discount sellers. We won't be able to receive packages along the way considering the delivery time and shipping fees to wherever we may be. No more online shopping!
  5. No Cars: It would be foolish to bear the expense of owning cars, paying for insurance, licensing and storage.  We calculated this expense at about $1500 a month. We will rent OPC (other people's cars). No more driving one's own car!
  6. King-sized Sleep Number Bed:  We have the over-sized Sleep Number California King Sleep Number bed whereby the head and foot rises upon command by a remote.  Oh, we sure will miss our bed when sleeping in OPB (other people's beds) with possible bed bugs, dust mites, uncomfortable mattresses and who know what else? Yikes!  We will be packing our own hypo-allergenic mattress and box springs covers.  No more comfy bed!
  7. Fresh Produce:  We have salad every night with dinner. Its often my favorite part of dinner with our limited diet; adding low carb veggies, nuts, grated cheeses and fresh bacon bits. Marcia, the travel nurse at Park Nicollet Travel Clinic advised against consuming any fresh produce except in the US, Canada and Europe.  The risk of disease is high. Salads, fresh fruit, raw veggies?  No more raw veggies or salad!
  8. Toiletries, Sonic Toothbrush (too heavy) and Cosmetics:  Oh, no!  This is tricky for me as a daily user of a wide array of cosmetic items, all paraben free and mostly organic products (when possible).  Many of these items will not be readily available and...many of which I usually purchase online.  I'll pack as much as possible purchasing whatever is available in other countries.
  9. Favorite Foods: Will they have sugar free items, almond meal, coconut flour (gluten free flour we can use), coconut oil, unsweetened Greek yogurt, Crystal Lite Iced Tea, Himalayan Salt, unsweetened coconut milk,   protein powder?  Grass fed meat?  Free range eggs?  No more familiar foods!
  10. English:  Will anyone understand us?  Or us them? No more English!
  11. Newspaper: Tom reads the StarTribune newspaper seven days a week from front to back, practically memorizing every word that he reads. He is my go-to person for local and world news updates.  I always joke that he reads the paper so thoroughly that he even reads the page numbers! No more paper, Tom!
  12. Working Out:  Its highly unlikely there will be a health club within the three familiar miles I have traveled several times a week for many years.  It appears there are no health clubs within a hour's drive of many of our vacation rental homes.  I guess I will start doing lunges and push-ups at home.  No more health club!
Without a doubt, we will say "goodbye" to many of the familiar items and rituals we've enjoyed over the years.  But then, we'll be saying "hello" over and over and over again!

No more entertaining guests..Our typical menu when entertaining guests...



Our made-from-scratch banana cream pie with meringue topping
(Note the watermelon in the background for size reference)
We haven't had many guests visiting lately.  Our house is upside down in varying stages of packing, organizing and rearranging in almost every room.   

Living on a lake all these years, we have frequently entertained friends either for a party of few or of many, or for a couple or small group.

Our 6" tall fresh strawberry creme, puff pastry Napoleon
As a passionate and enthusiastic cook/baker, coupled with Tom's expertise as a sous chef, bottle washer and host, it was always pure pleasure to prepare the menu, shop for the ingredients and setting a well coordinated table with fresh flowers, linen napkins, matching placemats, and fine dinnerware.  

Prior to the arrival of our guests, we'd print a colorful copy of the menu, each placed neatly at the individual place settings in an effort to enhance the experience for our guests.

Here is one of the many menus we saved, on this occasion presented on pretty holiday stationery:

Menu Holiday Gathering 
of Favorite Clients & Friends
December 16, 2006

First Course - Appetizer
Brie Cheese with Apricot in Puff Pastry
Homemade Pickled Herring Salad 
with Sesame Honey Crisps
Second Course
Shrimp Cocktail with Tangy Cocktail Sauce 
& Lemon Wedge
Third Course
Two Soups Served, Swirled in a Single Bowl Topped 
with Buttery 
Sautéed Morel Mushrooms:
  • Creamy Lobster Bisque
Vichyssoise, served warm
Fourth Course
Salad with Belgian Endive, Radicchio & Hearts 
of Palm 
with Gorgonzola, Walnuts
& Lightly Sprinkled with a Delicate 
Raspberry Vinaigrette
Fifth Course
Fillet Mignon with Portabella Burgundy Sauce
Steam Kings Crab Legs with Clarified Butter
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
French Green Beans, Drizzled 
with Lemon Tarragon Butter

Sixth Course - Dessert
Classic Homemade Vanilla Crème Brule
Goldschlager, Cinnamon Flavored Liqueur 
with Flecks of Gold
Cappuccino with Chocolate Curls

By 2:00 am, guests will have departed with full bellies, slightly tipsy from copious glasses of well chosen red or white wine while Tom and I, smiling from ear to ear, rush about the kitchen putting everything back in order to nary a dirty dish or glass in the sink or a crumb on the floor. 

Our guests appeared to have had a great time and we were content to have shared our home, our food and our wine along with a certain sense of ease we somehow acquired over the years as host and hostess.  Expensive? Yes!  Worth it? Yes!  

We've always justified the expense of entertaining due to the fact that we seldom spent money on vacations, dining out or purchasing carry out dinners (once or twice a year at the most) preferring fresh, homemade meals.

Last August, we both became ardent advocates of the low inflammation diet which includes committing to become wheat free, grain free, starch free, sugar free, totally gluten free and low carb.  

In the past, I frequently baked desserts just for the two of us finding as much enjoyment in the preparation as in the process of eating the delectable result.

So here we are, five months and six days away from our departure to a new and adventuresome life.  No longer will we entertain guests as we continue to pack, examining the threads of our lives and of our memories, leaving so much behind, taking so much with us.  

No longer will we sit in these over sized comfy chairs with an generous portion of homemade pie on a pretty plate, languishing in the simplicity of our homemade lives, requiring so little, gaining so much. 

We'll make new friends along the way.  We'll prepare homemade dinners with the simple foods of the area to share with the new friends minus the perfectly pressed and folded linen napkins, placemats and pretty plates.  

Family and old friends will visit from time to time.  We'll make their favorite dinners, reminiscent of a time past, scouring the local farms and markets for the appropriate ingredients in an effort to recreate the familiarity.  

We'll smile as we tidy up someone else's kitchen, wash someone else's plates, wipe up the crumbs from someone else's floor, all the while hoping that our guests have had a great time.  

We'll be content to have shared someone else's home with the food and the wine typical for the location with that same certain sense of ease we somehow acquired over the years as host and hostess.

Dreaming of Africa...

Diani Beach, Kenya
When I was a young girl, I dreamed of going to Africa, a dream so far removed from my reality, I considered it a fantasy.  As life moved on, time zipping past me at super sonic speed, on occason, I dreamed of Africa.

Was it the raw wild of the continent, the mystery of the mix of barren deserts and lush forests or the lure of bearing witness to the wildlife roaming free?  Yes, to all of these.

In my typical American life; 64 years long with many years of love and marriage, family and friends, work and play, I have seldom asked God for more than I have had.  Sure, I asked for answers to difficult questions, relief from an aching heart and guidance during difficult times.  But...I never asked for Africa. It was too much to ask for, selfish, unnecessary.

Now, as I count the months on my fingers every other day the time to visit Africa is near. Reflecting on how quickly my life has passed by so far, I know the time is closer than it seems.  

I'm finally going to Africa. I am going to Africa with my love, my best friend, my go-to person whom I run to when the big bird alights on the dock, when the albino squirrel leaps across the picnic table and when the bald eagle swoops into the trees.  

That which we love; the water, smooth as glass in the calm or white capped in the wind, the greenery of the short season, the fluffy blanket of snow in the long season, the blue sky on a clear day or daunting sky in looming storms. We've loved it all.

We'll spend along time in Africa, three months in Kenya, three months in South Africa in the wild.  We won't be living in a tent or sleeping in a sleeping bag. We're not your basic back packing world travelers nor are we luxury travelers lounging in hotels, dining in gourmet restaurants, waiting to be waited on. We've experienced that kind of travel.  We've loved that too.

The photos of the house in Kenya are in the post of April 23, 2012.  I can't get them out of my mind.  This morning at 4 am, after a night of fitful dreams of Africa, I awoke, jumping out of bed to put in my contacts.  I could no longer sleep.  As I do quite often lying in bed, I read the email on my phone.
This morning a message came from my cruise representative, Joaquin at Vacations to Go about Africa's seasons which read;

"Wildebeests and zebras typically spend December to April nursing newborn calves in Tanzania. The slow-moving calves lure lions, cheetahs and hyenas, and the resulting mix of predator and prey offers prime viewing opportunities in Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater.

When the rains end, usually in May, the animals head north in search of food. This is the start of the Great Migration, a steady stream of animals in columns that stretch for miles, heading toward the western and northern Serengeti. June and July are the best months for witnessing the migration in Tanzania.

By August or September, the herds begin to cross into Kenya to graze amid the lush greenery of the Masai Mara National Reserve. Some naturalists claim that the Masai Mara contains the largest concentration of predators along the migratory route. The animals will stay here until October or November. Most safaris visit the area before fall brings another rainy season to the plains and the herds turn south, back to Tanzania."


We will be in Kenya from September 1 to November 30, 2013.  We will travel to view the Great Migration based on where the wildebeest will be crossing the river and grazing during the time we are there, all dependent upon the weather at the time; either the Serengeti or the Masai Mara which is much closer to where will will be living in Diani Beach on the coast of Kenya.  


Rather than arrange a costly structured safari, the property owner who lives next door to the house in Kenya, has suggested we hire the experienced locals who will take us when the timing is right.  In a way, this adds to the adventure. We shall see what is best and decide at that time.

With our never ending aches and pains, our variety of prescription medications for age related issues, our multitude of dietary restrictions, our fears unfounded and real, our dislikes of airports, our preconceived notions, my best friend and I are going to Africa. 

A dream come true.

Tire of traveling? BugsAway clothing??

The topic of tiring of traveling may become a frequent point of discussion particularly once we are "on the road."  We've frequently been asked this question by friends and family members.

Traveling for years, as opposed to the usual one or two weeks or... for a retired few, a month or more, may become tiresome after awhile. With 949 days booked out from this upcoming Halloween, it is difficult to draw upon any prior experience to use as a reference as to how we will physically and emotionally handle moving from location to location all over the world.

Tom and I often discuss this topic, invariably easing our minds by this simple fact:  We will rarely stay in one location (except for the one week in Las Vegas next December) for less than one month, most often staying for two to three months or more.

After one month or more, we will have had the fine opportunity to become familiar with the area, made friends, forgotten about the burden of our bags (our biggest nemesis) and be excited to move on.  As we peruse our itinerary we can visualize a certain ease we will acquire as we anticipate an upcoming location with enthusiasm and childlike wonder, lessening the burden of packing up and moving on.

There are a few travel burdens that hover in my mind; the required three airplane trips to three of our locations:  Kenya (for three months), South Africa (for three months) and later, the island of Madeira, Portugal (for two and a half months).

We aren't afraid of flying.  We simply have little tolerance for the commotion at an airport; the waiting, the crowds, the security check and most of all, the baggage restrictions.  

The cruise lines have minimal restrictions on the number of bags that a passenger may bring aboard.  Thus, we can take everything we need for the 949 days and then barely enough to get by, in the above referenced locations when we have no alternative but to fly: one checked bag and one carry-on each.  We are considering some storage options for these ten months to avoid the expense of excess baggage fees which can run upwards of $1000 extra per person, per bag.

Tiring of travel, while living in vacation homes is highly unlikely.  If we do give up along the way, it would most likely be a result of illness, the painstaking process of packing and hauling our bags, or the necessity of more air travel than we'd prefer which may be the final "deal killer."   Of course, whatever happens, we will post it here.

Tom always reassures me by saying, "We won't be on vacation. We'll simply be living life, in a variety of locations.  What will we do if we tire of it?  Take a break for three months and relax??  We will be staying for three months in many locations, sometimes longer, with ample time to regroup and relax, preparing us for the next adventure.  

This morning, with little piles of mostly newly purchased clothes on my bed, I made an assessment of any additional items I may need. We had decided to bear the expense of purchasing new clothing for both of us.  Over the past several months, Tom has lost 25 pounds from our gluten free, sugar free, grain free, starch free and wheat free diet. Nothing fits him.  

There seemed little point in packing older, overly worn and overly washed items, knowing we'd be gone for this extended period. Since these may be the only items I will be wearing over the next three years, plus a few purchases along the way, puts an entirely different spin on  packing.

As an accomplished bargain hunter with little interest in shopping at large malls or strip mall stores, we make 90% of our purchases online, all brand name, quality clothing befitting our travels.  

Often, I will find items at the major retailers and then proceed to make the actual purchases at Ebay, all new with tags, at less than half the price.  Whether bidding on items or purchasing with BUY IT NOW, the process is fun and rewarding. Tom and I are both easy to fit making it a rarity to return an item.  

Most sellers are very willing to handle returns.  Reading the reviews and rankings from past purchasers is a good clue as to how the seller will handle any issues.  We tend to avoid sellers with less than a 95% satisfaction rating, clearly visible on the site.

Another website we have used for years is Amazon.com. In the past week, we purchased a replacement bulb for our LCD TV (wouldn't you know?), retailing for $125 in local stores, $85 at most websites.  It was only $40 at Amazon with free SUPERSAVER shipping.  They stand behind all purchases offering an easy return policy.  The bulb arrived in two days.

Today it took two large rubber bins to hold my clothes until we actually begin the packing.  This will translate into two large suitcases. This is frightening. Its time to get to work on Tom's wardrobe next, an easier proposition.  

While writing this post, I heard a knock at the door.  The UPS driver handed me a large box from Sierra Trading Post. I placed an order with them last Thursday for the following items shown that arrived in the box: two BugsAway baseball caps, four pair BugsAway socks, one pair men's BugsAway convertible pants (unzips to shorts) and one long (roll-up) sleeve BugsAway men's shirt, all retailing for a total of $299.  

As shown in the receipt below, I paid $130.25 for everything!  That's why it pays to search for great prices online.   Sierra Trading Post  included a 20% off coupon for my next purchase. That's some fun online shopping!  
A start on Tom's BugsAway clothing for Africa with 2 pairs of socks and a cap for me!
 
Receipt for $130.25 for all the above clothing, retailing for $299!
Next "buggie" night, Tom and I will put on our BugsAway caps, socks, pants and shirts and see if the mosquitoes will dine elsewhere.  Otherwise, back in the box with the included return shipping label!

Too much togetherness???

When describing our upcoming travel plans, we are often asked the same two questions:
  1. What happens if we tire of traveling? (I will address this in the next post)
  2. How will we comfortably exist at each other's side, day after day, night after night, week after week, month after month and ultimately, year after year?
Tom and I met 21 years ago.  On a blind date with a dud, whom I ditched when I went to the ladies room to call a girlfriend to join me at another hot spot for a night of fun. The jerk had lied about himself, was a full head shorter than me (another one of his lies) and was wearing a pair of pink and black zebra zubaz (remember those?)

With no guilt about leaving him behind, my friend and I met at a well-known, now defunct nightclub for a "girls night out" of dancing, drinking and playful banter. That's the night I met Tom.  Baring the details of our first few rocky years, four years later we decided to marry, much to our mutual surprise.  He always says I married him for his health insurance and I always say he married me for my high heels.

My two sons were adults (my eldest son was living in Las Vegas).  My younger son lived here in Minnesota as did Tom's adult son and daughter.  We were determined that somehow our families would blend with harmony. After a time, they did.

Having both failed at previous marriages and determined to make this one work, we muddled our way through the first tough few years to settle into what has proven to be an inseparable bond of love, support, compassion and trust.  We like each other.  We enjoy each other's companionship.  

Along the way, we have discovered 10 aspects of our relationship that have been vital in enhancing our adoration and love for one another and... our ability to spend long periods of time together that has worked well for us:
  1. We don't snip.  Snipping, snapping and expressing signs of annoyance are sure fire "deal killers."
  2. We don't nag.  Ask once, ask twice or ask three times.  We maintain a pleasant and genuine sound in our voices.  It seldom takes a second "ask" to encourage the other to participate in the task.
  3. Don't complain.  Whining is a pointless, childlike behavior we choose to avoid.  Although. Tom may whine or moan a little when he's sick. Its a guty thing. 
  4. Listen. Tom's obsessed with Ancestry.com.  No matter how deeply his head is buried in his computer, he looks up at me and listens when I talk. Over the years I've been obsessed with health, diet, fitness, food, technology and of course, the endless array of information on the Internet, now centered on travel.  I, too, drop whatever I am doing to listen to him although not quite as quickly as he does.  He doesn't complain when I don't immediately respond (refer to #3 above).
  5. We share our common interests and encourage one another to have separate interests.  We are different.  It is these very differences that make us interesting to one another.  We are supportive of each other's ideas and opinions, not always agreeing.. but disagreeing with interest and support for each other's passionate viewpoint .  
  6. We make an effort to stay appealing to one another.  We smell good, wear fresh clothes, attempting to look as good as our aging bodies will allow. We try to be playful, tease endlessly, laugh, laugh and then laugh some more.
  7. We kiss "hello," "goodbye," and "goodnight" and... for no reason at all, many times a day. We often touch as we walk by, lock eyes or smile for no reason at all.
  8. We are compassionate.  We comfort each other during times of sorrow, disappointment, concern, emotional or physical pain or discomfort.  
  9. We are patient.  I am a "bull in a China shop," often dropping and breaking things.  He never judges me.  He observes and smiles, glad he didn't do the breaking.  He is a determined and highly capable "fix it" guy. When frustration sets in, I try to step back and let him figure it out at his own pace.  This is hard for me. I could be very bossy. But...I'm not. 
  10. We dream together.  For us, the concept of building a dream, however realistic, creates lively, animated discussion, shared research and enthusiast speculation. Over the years, some of our dreams, as yours, have "wafted away" as unfulfilled expectations.  
But this time...together, side by side, day after day, week after week, month after month and ultimately year after year, we will do more than just "comfortably exist."  We will enjoy living this dream together

The continuing medical concerns...

When meeting with Nurse Marcia a month ago at the Park Nicollet Travel Clinic, in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, we had discussed the rabies vaccine.  The cost is outrageous at $350 per person per injection, a series of three injections spread a month apart at a total cost of $2100 for both Tom and I. 

At the time, I suggested we hold off on rabies until further down the road. With only a little over five months left to departure date, the time had arrived to investigate this further.  I called our insurance company.  Much to my surprise, they will cover the cost in full! Thus, we decided to proceed with the rabies series.  My first rabies vaccine will begin on June 5th with Tom's over the next few months.

We made this decision based on a few concerns; one; we will want to explore the bat filled caves in Belize (guano!) next February and two; while living among the animals in Kruger National Park in South Africa in December 2013 we will be exposed to a possible incident.  Surely, these two situations warrant a radical precaution such as the rabies vaccines.  

Is it likely a rabid bat will bite us while riding in an inner tube through the caves in Belize?  Highly, unlikely. Is it possible we will be bitten by a rabid wildebeest while lounging by the pool in South Africa?  Possible, yes. Likely, no.  

We have decided that any precautions we can take in the planning of our lengthy journey will be well spent both in time and in money. Unquestionably, situations will occur that we aren't able to anticipate at this point, in regard to health and well being and their resulting costs.  

The more we prepare, the less likely we will experience angst and frustration. Remember, our journey..."wafting through our worldwide travels with joy, simplicity and ease," requires as much preparation as possible.  Thank goodness, we've had the time and the determination to plan ahead to this extent.  

Yesterday, I had an appointment with our long time family practice physician, Dr. Dennis Showalter, a fine youthful doctor with a bright smile, kind and uplifting demeanor, sharp knowledge and a passion for his work.  

An advocate of main stream medicine, he and I have butt heads over the years with my penchant for alternative medicine and my obvious obsession with online research, (albeit reliable medical schools, universities and research institutes). All in all, Dr. S. always sought the best course available for any of our various ailments, real or imagined, and has provided the utmost of care.

Now, as our journey approaches, he and I discussed the challenges we may experience along he way, requiring medicine and/or medical care.  Here's are a few of our concerns and possible solutions:

  1. Prescriptions:  Our insurance company only allows refills every three months with no regard to the willingness of the physician to write the prescriptions for longer periods.  With little access to mail as we flit about the world, receiving the prescription can be tricky.  Solution:  With our mailing service in the US, they can receive the prescriptions and forward them to us at the post office closest to our current location. We must ensure that we have an ample "extra supply of meds" to account for the extended mailing time. In the interim, I have requested a "travel waiver" from the insurance company which I will receive soon and process.
  2. Illness:  How often does one become ill at home in the US in 949 days?  For us, seldom, perhaps a cold or flu once every year for one of us.  Do we normally go to the doctor or get medication in these cases?  No. Tom and I seldom visit the doctor other than the required once a year exam in order to refill our medications.  Solution: Dr. S. can accommodate this requirement by conducting an online appointment with us as offered by our medical group. Should we require emergency medical care, we'll seek out the closest, most highly recommended, medical facility within reach of our location.
  3. Emergency Illness:  Hopefully, we won't require emergency medical treatment/surgery due to illness or injury.  Solution:  Many countries we will visit have excellent medical care and we'd go to the nearest hospital for care as one would here in the US.  If we are in a country with inferior medical care, we will use our then in-force Emergency Evacuation Insurance, a plan we have investigated and yet to purchase. (Many plans will not cover our extended period out of the US.  This particular company, requires an annual renewal.  However, they will provide coverage for us at about $100 a month per person, a cost we have budgeted).
  4. Preventive Medications:  As most of us, from time to time, we use over the counter medication that may provide temporary relief from annoying minor ailments which includes: antihistamines, aspirin, ibuprofen, antibacterial cream, cortisone cream, anti-itch cream, etc.  Solution:  Dr. S. and the travel clinic will provide us with prescriptions as preventive measures: Epipen (both allergic to bees), various antibiotics, allergy meds, anti-viral, ear patches (sea sickness, highly unlikely for either of us as long time boaters) cough medicine and other non-narcotic medications in the event we are far from medical treatment.   
In September, after having completed all of our vaccines with the travel clinic, we will book our final appointment with Dr. S. to review all of our medications, conduct last minute tests, perform our annual physicals, and send us off with his medical blessings for a safe and healthy adventure.  

Changed look of WorldWideWaftage blog...

Web design is not my forte. Last night I changed the design of this blog more out of my boredom with the prior design, than anything. 

If you find this is difficult to read, please comment here.  Our readership is growing rapidly...where are all of you coming from???   We want this blog to be reader friendly so please offer any suggestions.

In time, when we move along on our travels, I will have more time to work on the design and maybe, once and for all, learn web design. Duh, while I am learning to speak Italian and Spanish?  

Thank you all so much for sharing this experience with us.  Have a happy day!

Medicine from afar? Refill our prescriptions? Annual checkup?

As a health and fitness buff most of my adult life, I have made every effort to stay healthy by eating good homemade food, exercising regularly and avoiding toxins in every way possible.  

Many of my efforts have failed me and I have been forced to succumb to traditional medicine and take a few prescriptions each day, as does Tom for a variety of conditions.  

Yes, I have tried over these past years to gradually reduce these few medications with the hope of stopping them entirely.  For example; days later, my blood pressure sneaks up to a dangerous level, prompting me to begin the tiny dose once again, fearful of the consequences. 

For me, it appears my genetics is the culprit.  Otherwise, there is nothing in my lifestyle, that I could discover from my years of research as to why I would be plagued with these few ailments.  Its frustrating. 

Don't drink, don't smoke, don't drink soda. I consume only organic produce and grass fed beef, avoiding all grains, wheat (inspired by Dr. William Davis' book, Wheat Belly) starches and sugary food.  I haven't had a sweet treat of any type in almost a year.  

Each day and night I wear a BodyMedia armband to ensure I get in 10,000 steps a day.  It tracks thousands of measurements including how much time I spend sleeping each night which 7.5 hours.  

I have exercised most of my life, regularly, faithfully and with vigor while currently obsessed with HIIT training as recommended by Jonathan Bailor, backed by 1100 medical studies, 10,000 pages of scientific research, endorsed by some of the top medical professionals in the world, many from Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic.  A great read!

We miss doughnuts.  Years ago, on occasion,Tom and I experienced what we called "MD days," meaning "multiple doughnut days" whereby we'd eat many doughnuts, watch movies and lounge all day. No more.  We haven't done this in fifteen years.  I can no more imagine, lying in bed all day and eating doughnuts than going to the moon. (Actually, space travel is on my wish list).

A fast food item hasn't crossed my lips in 25 years!  And what has it got me:
hypertension, thyroid disease, joint and bone problems and borderline diabetes, the bane of my ancestors, most of them inflicted with these conditions, many of whom suffered and died from these conditions!  

Am I sick? No!  But...I am a slave to these few prescriptions.  Am I slim, physically fit, strong and without any memory issues at my age?  Yes. So, I faithfully take those few little pills each morning, hoping for the best, hoping in time that I will discover a way to toss them all away.

Today, I called our prescription medication plan explaining that when we'll be traveling for no less than 949 days (so far) asking if they can provide us with at least one year's worth of the prescriptions to take with us when we leave in 5 months and 19 days.  (We'll figure out something for the remaining period).  The answer was "no."

They will only do what they've always done:  if the doctor writes a three month prescription, we only get three months of pills at a time!  I asked, "Are you willing to mail our prescriptions to: Kenya, Africa or maybe Marloth Park, Kruger National Park, South Africa?"  There again, the answer was "no."  No mailing outside the US.

Will our prescriptions be mailed to Africa?  No.
Tomorrow, I have an appointment with the family doctor, a great guy, who will most likely try to help us figure out a solution.  Yes, we will have a mailing a mailing service with our own address where any important mail will arrive and can be scanned and sent to us by email.  

The service will forward packages to us wherever we may be. However, some countries do not welcome prescription drugs entering the country.  We shall see what transpires and post the solution to yet another dilemma.

Everyday life prevails, for now...

Saturday, we attended one of our precious grandson's 4th birthday party at Choo Choo Bob's in St. Paul, a delightful toy train store, an ideal location for a birthday party catering to both young and old train aficionados. 

A bevy of youngsters full of boundless energy reveled in the overly stimulating environment, hungry for the delivered pizza, clawing at the freshly cut fruit, devouring the crunchy chips while thirsty for the low sugar juice sippers, while caught up in a frenzy of wonderment as they scrambled to get their hands on the next train display within reach. 

We couldn't wipe the smiles off of our faces, watching three of our total six grandchildren darting about Choo Choo Bob's. As they scurried by they'd look our way with sparkly eyes and wide smiles hankering for a moment's approval from their Grandma and Grandpa, pleased to have us there with them as witnesses to their childish frivolity, as we were pleased to be there with them. 

The two hours flew by in a blur. A few of the adults, friends of son Greg and daughter-in-law Camille were obviously aware of our upcoming adventure, asking questions and offering much welcomed tidbits of travel wisdom.  

As Tom and I sat side-by-side in our two well-placed chairs with thighs touching, we had full view of the festivities.  From time to time our eyes would meet and we'd smile at one another, the little crinkles around our eyes accentuating our advancing age. 

It was a mixed bag, this day of celebration of this little boy, full of energy and curiosity, already a unique personality of adorable quirks and mannerisms with the ability to chatter on endlessly about the simplest topics.  He could talk about "ants" for an hour, tilting his adorable little head to emphasis a point which invariably provokes a guttural laugh in the listener. It was his day.  He deserved it.  

But..all the while the aching reality looms over me.  We will miss many of these milestones in their lives over the next number of years. How long? We don't know at this point.  

Many retiring baby boomers move to warmer climates throughout the US such as, Florida, California, Arizona, North Carolina and more, often to senior communities, far away from family.  Many seniors move to tax free states to increase their spendable income in these tough economic times.  

They find a way to work it out, to spend holidays together, to show their love and to continue to be a vital influence in the lives of their grandchildren, that which we relish on yet another special day, today...Mother's Day.  

May all the mothers and grandmothers find today a memorable day filled with love, purpose and fulfillment. 


Our Las Vegas vacation home! Photos included...

After searching the various vacation home websites for several hours, we found this house in the Green Valley Ranch area in Henderson Nevada, a highly desirable location, about 20 minutes (10.5 miles) to the Las Vegas strip and about 10 minutes (5.6 miles) to the airport.  

Based on requesting a rental for this prime season dates, December 21 to December 28, 2012 (our "vacation within a vacation" since we'll still have the Scottsdale condo, soon to be posted), we didn't make any effort to negotiate the price.

Why did we choose a vacation home as opposed to a hotel room on the strip? Cost was the major motivator.  Also, its more conveniently located to our family and friends, great shopping at The District (.4 miles), restaurants and theaters, all of which we will particularly enjoy during the holiday week.   

There were few affordable homes available in this prime area during the holiday week due to the fact that many owners preferring to spend their holidays in their own vacation property. 

Although not as exciting as many of our future rentals, this house will serve our needs, provide room for our visiting family members and keep us from the necessity of dining in restaurants each day.

Here are the estimated costs for one week, house verses hotel, assuming the nightly rates are the same:
     Vacation Home____                    __________Hotel___________
Rent:            $1,330.00                   Rate:                      $1,330.00
Groceries:          600.00                   Hotel Taxes & Tips:       332.50
Dining Out:        275.00                   Valet Parking:               280.00

Total:          $2,205.00                   Dining, Tax, Tips:       1,820.00
                                                      Total:                    $3,762.50   

Total Potential Savings:      $1,557.50  

Having calculated dining out for two dinners for the two of us, we factored in the cost of groceries for five of us (or more) including the additional expense of Christmas Eve (traditionally, steak and lobster) and a special (yet to be determined) Christmas Day dinner.

Yes, there is the ease of staying in a hotel with the prospect of feeling pampered. As we plan for the future, our desire to be pampered has "wafted" away as we look forward to our world travels over the next number of years.  

Both Tom and I have thoroughly enjoyed pampering one another over these many years together and this, I assure you, we'll continue to do so wherever we'll live.

Did I mention the $1000's we'll save without easy access to the gambling tables and slot machines???

Charming House with Pool, Spa, Bbq, Wireless InternetGreen Valley, Henderson, Nevada Vacation Rental by Owner Listing 301335http://www.vrbo.com/301335