Our year in review...Photos of us...Happy New Year to all!


We were on the Mekong River Cruise and tour in July, stopping at a the Kampong Cham temple in Cambodia.
It was a very good year.  Five months during the year, from June 1st to November, I was recovering from an injury to my spine which undoubtedly put a damper on many of our activities. 

In February for my birthday, me and Miss Jessica, an alpaca cria born under our watch while the farm owners were on holiday.

Out to dinner in February in New Plymouth, New Zealand.

We enjoyed an excellent dinner at this restaurant in February.
Healed and pain free, that's all behind us now as we move into the New Year anticipating many more adventures and amazing experiences including the upcoming trip to the US in a mere five months.

Out to lunch at a winery in New Zealand in March.
Beside that difficult period, during which we still had many memorable experiences, we've had many exciting times in the following places and on the following cruises:

In July, Tom squeezing his way out of a narrow opening after crawling through a tunnel at the site of the Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam.  He was very brave to do this and the crowd cheered when we made his way out.
2016 in review...

January:  left Fiji for cruise from Sydney to Auckland, New Zealand - 2 weeks
January - April: Alpaca farm vacation home in New Plymouth, New Zealand - 3 months
April - Cruise from Sydney to Singapore - 2 weeks
May - June:  Vacation villa in Bali, Indonesia - 2 months
June - July:  Boutique hotel in Singapore - 1 week
July:  Hotel in Vietnam and then on to Mekong River Cruise and Tour - 3 weeks
July - August:  Vacation home in Phuket, Thailand - 6 weeks
September - October: Returned to villa in Bali - 2 months
October (end) to December (3rd):  Cruise circumventing the Australian continent - 33 nights
December to present - Vacation home in Penguin, Tasmania where we'll remain until heading to Huon Valley, Tasmania in mid January - 6 weeks

In Bali, lounging in the infinity pool.
In between all of the above, we spent 32 nights in hotels and took 10 airline flights (not counting layovers).  Whew!  Writing this here makes us realize how much we've moved about during this past year, especially when so much of it occurred during that difficult five month period.

We swam in the pool every sunny day in Bali.
Now, with only 16 days remaining until we depart Penguin, we realize how quickly time flies.  We could easily have enjoyed spending three months in Penguin. 

A visit to the Monkey Temple in Bali in May wearing the required sarongs.
No doubt, once we arrive in the Huon Valley after another long and interesting drive on an alternate route from our original drive through Tasmania, surely we'll be thrilled to experience another part of this amazing state in Australia. 

On a port day in November during our 33 night cruise, we spent the day in Perth with friends
Michelle and Carlo whom we'd met on a prior cruise.  How sweet of them to
spend the time with us!
The world is huge.  We've only touched the "tip of the iceberg," speaking of which, in one year and three weeks, we'll be boarding the cruise to Antarctica.  Wow!  Its even hard for us to imagine how much we've seen thus far and how much we've yet to see in the future.

Tom talking during one of the two seminars we conducted on the 33 night cruise in November. Check out that hand moving with his words!
As the New Year rolls in tonight at midnight, we hope to be awake to share a kiss and to welcome in this new year of our world travels, of our lives and of this journey which for now, has no end.

Me, checking my notes, during one of the two seminars we conducted aboard ship in November.
Happy New Year to all!  May this New Year bring you the fulfillment of your dreams, an abundance of love and affection and enough laughter to rock your world wherever you may be!

Photo from one year ago today, December 31, 2015:
In last year's post we included photos from other New Year's Eve, including this photo of us on New Year's Eve including this photo from 2013 in Marloth Park, South Africa at Jabula Lodge where we'll celebrate my birthday in a little over a year in February in 2018.  For more past New Year's Eve photos, please click here.

New Year's Eve is tomorrow...Where did the time go?..How do we celebrate now?

Yesterday while on a walk, we spotted this White Faced Heron.
Early this morning it dawned on me that tomorrow is New Year's Eve.  With no big plans to celebrate, except for an event on New Year's night (more on that later), we'll spend the usual celebratory night at "home." 

Perhaps, we'll celebrate with a glass of wine on the veranda, (if the skies clear) and do as many do throughout the world, have a quiet evening at home often heading to bed before the strike of midnight. 

Leftover from Halloween?
Its not very exciting but Penguin only has a few bars with most locals celebrating at private gatherings or, as the case for many, not celebrating at all.  Rolling into the new calendar year is not necessarily an event of significance to many throughout the world when many nationalities have their own particular calendar:

"New Year's Eve:
In both the Gregorian calendar, currently used in the United States, and the Julian calendar, which was used until 1752 in the British colonies, the last day of the year is December 31st."

Masses of yellow daisies grow along the road.
Here is an interesting link as to when and how each country throughout the world celebrates their interpretation of the beginning of the New Year. Many  countries celebrate both their own spiritually based acknowledgement of the New Year and also the New Year those of us in Australia, the US, parts of Europe and other countries have adopted over the centuries as indicated in the above quote.

In our old lives, each year we enthusiastically celebrated New Year's Eve with a theme based party at our home.  For days, I'd prepare a wide array of foods for the party and decorate our home befitting the theme based occasion. 

Fluffy yellow blooms.
One year we did a "tacky 70's" theme party.  Along with our guests we dressed in bellbottoms, flower printed silky shirts and chunky heeled shoes while disco music blared in the background.  For the food, I made 70's type of appetizers while we encouraged guests to bring their favorite 70's type foods.

From cookie cutout baloney sandwiches to pickled eggs to homemade White Castle burgers to gruyere cheese fondue with chunks of baguettes for dipping, we had every imaginable dish as a result of a huge turnout.  For a list of 70's type foods, please click here at this great site.

These flowers are so dark they're almost black.  We'd seen these in new Zealand as well.
Our last such New Year's Eve party occurred in 1999 with the fears of something awful occurring as the New Year rolled over to the year 2000.  For the first time, we had a poor turnout especially with the icy and snowy weather.  It was that year we decided we'd most likely discontinue the huge New Year's Eve house parties. 

From there, on several occasions, we got together with friends and neighbors or stayed at home keeping the festivities low key.  This time of year in Minnesota was often bitter cold.  The idea of heading out on the icy roads with the potential of drunk drivers spinning out on the highway didn't hold much appeal.

Wishing well planter in side yard of neighboring home.
I suppose in part for many, aging in itself is reason enough to lose interest in celebrating New Year's Eve, whether we acknowledge it or not.  No longer is the idea of drinking copious amounts of liquor well into the night as appealing as it was in our younger days.

With few friends in this area, its unlikely we'll do anything more than enjoy one more pleasant evening together, feeling blessed and grateful for the quality of our lives, for those we love and for each other.

Rocky beach on a cloudy day walk.
Moments ago, Tom mentioned it was two months ago today that we left Bali on a "red eye" flight arriving in Sydney spending one night in a hotel.  The following day we boarded the 33 night cruise circumventing the Australian continent.  Wow!  How the time flies! 

As for where we were one year ago please check below for our "Photo from one year ago today, December 30, 2015."  Please have a safe and happy end of the year.

Photo from one year ago today, December 30, 2015:

When we walked through the Pacific Harbour, Fiji neighborhood, one year ago, we crossed this river.  For more photos please click here.

Four days, no sun...Cabin fever setting in?...Dogs, flowers and beaches...A little bit of "this and that"...

Simple, yet lovely.
We're anxious to get out to explore but with rain over the past four days, most likely we won't be doing so today.  Neither of us sees any reason why we should get soaked on a walk in the rain (not our thing).

On a walk across the street which is lined with a wide variety of blooming flowers, we spotted this unusual plant.  Any comments from locals or flower enthusiasts?
Nor do we see any purpose in driving through the countryside with limited visibility, making photo taking annoying to say the least.  There's strong storm conditions in the Australian continent and we suspect we're getting some of that inclement weather as well.

Instead, like many of you, on bad weather days, we choose to stay close to "home."  In our old lives, when we had to work, we never hesitated to go out when it was below zero or on rainy or snowy days. 

Note the purple/mauve borders and veins on the leaves. 
Now, in this life, we don't have to go out in bad weather unless we have a definitive reason such as a travel day; to catch a flight or when boarding a cruise.  We love the flexibility we maintain in this life!

Two dogs swimming in the ocean on Christmas Day, the last sunny day in Penguin.
Do we get cabin fever on days like this?  Tom, who can easily busy himself online for days at a time, has no problem avoiding cabin fever.  For me, spending little time online after posting the day's blog, conducting research or logging future travel plans and financial matters,  I have little interest in using my laptop. 

Aside from vast expanses of white sand beaches in Tasmania there are rocky areas.
Somehow I find myself with plenty of tasks that easily consume part of each day, whether its preparing a meal, doing laundry or organizing and rearranging our "stuff"  to make the next packing session all the more seamless.

Little bells.
Today, I'll be rearranging our pill bag.  I take three prescriptions while Tom takes none.  Recently, we received a shipment of a one year's supply of my three meds each of which is wrapped in blister packs.  

Having used all the loose pills I had on hand, I decided today would be a good day to open all the blister packs putting the individual pills in the appropriately labeled plastic pill bottles from past purchases in Australia. 

Walkway along Penguin Beach on Christmas Day.
Yep, I must admit, as an old timer myself, I use a monthly pill container case since I take the three meds together once each morning.  It contains space for 28 days.  Thus, like many of who are taking multiple medications, it makes sense to use a pill case to ensure errors aren't made. 

Looks like this possible Great Dane was looking for her/his owner to return from the shop. We took this photo on a very cool day.
Pressing the pills through the blister packs for an entire year's meds could take a few hours. For three different meds for 12 months, that 1095 "presses" in the blister pack. 

Dogs allowed.
I realize that keeping the pills in the blister pack may extend their freshness but in an effort to eliminate excess weight, getting rid of the superfluous paper and plastic makes more sense due to our circumstances.

Also, today, I have to use a needle and thread to sew a few items.  I don't mind doing this but have trouble threading the needle unless I use that silly little tin thing that is often included in a package of various sized needles.  Its this thing:
Ever use this thingee when trying to thread a needle?  I'm lost without it.  Must be old age.
Yesterday, I made enough low carb, grain free, starch free pizza for several meals leaving only a salad to chop for today's meal. We left out enough pizza for two days freezing three packages we can later reheat for additional meals. 
Specifically, Penguin Beach.
Sure, I have a touch of cabin fever but with plenty to do plus a few favorite downloaded/streaming TV shows we've been binge watching in the evenings I'll be fine.  We've been watching these shows: "This is Us," "Victoria" and "The Crown."  We seldom watch TV during the day although we may have local news or talk shows on in the background.

More of Penguin Beach.
We hope you have a great day today filled with a little "this and that" to keep you occupied and entertained.

Photo from one year ago today, December 29, 2015:
We'd been warned against purchasing locally caught fish in Fiji when its often caught close to the shore where bacteria is heavy in the waters from sewage disposal.  As a result, we never purchased any fish for four months.  For more photos, please click here.

Eyes drawn to beach after beach...Is Tasmania as amazing as Hawaii?

We took this photo from downtown Penguin.  Wow!
Two years ago, at this time we were on the Big Island of Hawaii while 12 family members had visited us at the two vacation homes we 'd rented next door to one another.  It seems like a lifetime ago. 

We were watching from our front veranda as a massive flock of birds (most likely seagulls) were on a frenzy over a school of fish.
To view some of our photos from that period please begin searching through the archives beginning here.  Below is a photo of Tom in our "backyard" in the Big Island, taken the day after we arrived, awaiting out kids and grandchildren soon arriving.  What a view!
Two years ago Tom stood in the backyard of one of two of the vacation homes we rented awaiting our family's arrival for Christmas.  Here is the link for this particular post , the same as indicated above.
Having spent a total of eight months in four of the Hawaiian Islands; Oahu, Maui, Big Island (aka Hawai'i) and Kauai we left the exquisite US state with fond memories of amazing scenery and experiences.

Scene of Penguin from a distance.
Now, after only three weeks in Tasmania we're finding ourselves entrenched in the beauty of this island not only for its amazingly friendly people and ease of living but also for its simplicity.  Nothing feels rushed here.

Farmland view of the sea.
Is it possible to compare the islands of Hawaii with Tasmania with their expansive ocean views, white sand beaches, mountains, hills and lush vegetation? 

From of the ocean from a country road.
Tasmania offers the exact same features that makes visiting this island state of Australia comparable in many ways to visiting some of the Hawaiian islands in the US.

This is a view from an elevated road in Penguin.
A few differences we've observed during this short period in Tasmania:
  • Considerably less tourists in Tasmania due to it distance location to many countries. Hawaii is easier to get to from many countries in the northern hemisphere.  Most of the popular islands of Hawaii are packed with tourists creating traffic and commotion typical of life in many island communities, not necessarily bumper-to-bumper traffic, but  it may be difficult to find parking spots at popular beaches and venues.
  • Its generally more expensive in Hawaii, perhaps a trade-off for the added time and transportation costs to travel to Australia from many other countries.  Rental cars were more expensive here.  Groceries are less expensive.  Dining out is comparable. (Continued below).

Many homes and farms in Penguin have beautiful ocean views.

  • The weather?  Its sunny and warm in Hawaii year round although it may rain off and on, with most rain storms quickly moving through to returning sunny skies.  In Tasmania, we're experiencing three cloudy and rainy days in a row (which may be unusual during these summer months) with considerably cooler temperatures during the spring and summer based on its distant proximity to the Equator.  Winter temperatures are cooler.  Not all travelers care for warm climates. 
  • Friendliness factors in both locations?  Comparable.  We found the people of Hawaii to be outrageously friendly.  Here in Penguin...in Tasmania in general?  The locals are equally friendly if not more.
  • Recreational activities:  Scuba diving, deep sea fishing, diving, whale watching, shopping and the availability of tourists spots are readily available in both locations.

Tasmania has many roadside viewing areas on the highway.
In reality, for most travelers, it all boils down to cost, weather, proximity and crowds.  If a traveler prefers a quiet laid back experience with temperate weather and can travel the long distance, Tasmania may be preferred.  If one is looking for a more active location with nightlife, warm sunny days on the beach, Hawaii (on some islands) may be preferred.

Walkers exploring the beach.
As for the scenery, they're equally exquisite in their own way and we treasure the opportunities we've had in visiting both lstates.  The ocean and mountain views, the green grassy hills, the abundant variety of vegetation and wildlife and the cooler climate has made us feel we've come to the right place at this point in our travels. 

An early evening guitar playing session while sitting on a rock.  Photo taken from our veranda.
Have a beautiful day as we work our way toward the end of 2016.  Its been a good year for us.  We hope its been so for YOU as well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 28, 2015:
  • One year ago in Pacific Harbour, Fiji Tom was engrossed in watching a ski movie on the projection screen in Baka Blues bar/restaurant in the Arts Village.  For more dining out photos, please click here.

A sunny day drive through the country...Nature at its finest...For the less experienced reader, how to use our archives...

This was our favorite photo of the day, a huge Billy Goat with quite the beard and defined facial markings.
Again today, its cloudy and overcast but we don't mind a bit.  We've been fortunate to have many gorgeous sunny days since we arrived in Tasmania over three weeks ago.
On a drive through the countryside, the ocean can be seen in the distance.
Each sunny day, we head out to take photos as shown in today's post, photos from the countryside, the quaint towns, the ocean and the points of interest we've found to be most appealing.

Cattle are curious when humans pass by.
In many locations throughout the world, living in more remote areas often leaves us scrambling for photo ops.  We'd assumed this would prove to be a dilemma in the total four months we spent in Bali (with a two month break in between), beginning on April 30, 2016. 

Cute countryside sign.
But, the photo opportunities in Bali kept coming and coming as evidenced in our posts, easily reviewed if you missed them, by researching our archives located on the right side of this page below our advertisers.

Cattle on a hill.
As a matter of fact, here are the step by step instructions for using our archives.  For our more experienced readers, please bear with us as we review these instructions:
  • Scroll down the day's home page, below our advertisers, to PREVIOUS POSTS 
  • Note the list of years since we began posting beginning in 2012
  • Click on the little black triangle of the year you'd like to research, that looks like this:  ► 
  • Once you click on this ► the entire year's posts, month by month, will be displayed.
  • Select the month and search for headings you like to see.  If you're looking for something in particular and are unable to find it, please don't hesitate to send me or Tom an email and we'll send you the link by email.

Highland Breed cattle.  See this link for details on this breed.
Many of our new readers find they are more easily able to grasp the nature of our continuing story by reading the posts from the beginning.  Our story is a a continuing day to day journal of the lives of two retirees with no home, no storage and only a few bags in our possession, traveling the world for years to come.  Its less of a "travel and sightseeing" log one may find elsewhere and more of a personal account about living all over the world.

This annoyed male approached the fence when we stopped for photos.
Many have written to us explaining how they began reading our posts from the beginning to grasp the full intent and meaning of why we do what we do and how it impacts our daily lives.  Could YOU do this?  Some could, some actually do what we do, although many would never chose this odd life.

Although this one mooed at us, she/he didn't bother to get up.
Yesterday, we loved speaking to our family members on Christmas Day (in the US) and were reminded of how much we left behind.  Any yet, after hanging up, we giggled with delight over the prospect of seeing them in a mere five months, spending six weeks in Minnesota and three weeks in Nevada.

The countryside in Tasmania certainly reminds us of New Zealand.
Will we run out of photo ops while in these two locations in the US?  Hardly. We'll be busy in our "home town" looking at it through new eyes and a new perspective.  We'll share nuances of living in the US for our readers in other countries (and in the US) and perhaps a different perspective after having been away for almost five years at that point.

Old log house seen along the country road.
And, for now?  We have hundreds of photos we've yet to share and the stories surrounding them.  There's no doubt we'll leave Penguin having many photos we'll never have had the opportunity to post.  In the interim, we'll share our favorites which we hope our readers find interesting.
The hills, the trees, the vegetation and the sea create a breathtaking scene.
Today, while the house is being cleaned, we'll head to Ulverstone to shop for groceries.  After discovering pesticides are used on most of the produce at Woolie's we no longer buy their produce.  Instead, we now purchase organic produce at the local Fruit & Veg market, a delightful five minute walk down the road. 
The views of farm fields, bodies of water and the sea is always stunning.
There's nothing quite like a walk down the road to the veggie mart.  Then again, there's nothing quite like Penguin.  Leaving in three weeks leaves us with a twinge of disappointment.  It won't be easy to say goodbye.

We hope all of you who celebrate had a fulfilling Christmas as we anticipate the New Year rolling in...

Photo from one year ago today, December 27, 2015:

During a period of many cloudy and rainy days in Fiji, we visited the capital city of Suva.  This photo is the top of the President's house located in Suva.  For more Suva photos, please click here.