We're being interviewed today by local newspaper...Story will follow soon...Sorry for the late posting...


Look at all that luggage we had back in January 2013 as we prepared to board our second cruise in Fort Lauderdale.  We still can't believe we had 17 pieces and are now down to three checked bags and two carry-ons.  Thank goodness, we lightened our load!  Tom still has that shirt which after all our recent purchases is headed into the pile we're accumulating for Goodwill.  That shirt and those capris wore out a few years ago and in the past few weeks, I tossed those sandals, that had finally "bit the dust."
It's hard to believe that the newspaper article about our world travels was published on January 3, 2013, four and a half years ago.  As we reread through this article we're reminded of how much we've learned and grown these past years of traveling the world. 

Please click this link for the story published in the Southwest News Media, that publishes many of the local suburban newspapers.

When the story was published on the above date we had boarded our first cruise from San Diego, California through the Panama Canal, ending in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where after two nights, we were on our way to our first vacation/holiday home awaiting us in Placencia Belize, our first home outside the US.

When we left Minnesota on October 31, 2012, we headed to Scottsdale Arizona for an off and on two-month stay in a vacation condo, fully equipped for our needs.  It was during this period that we traveled back and forth to Nevada, visiting family and taking "care of business" we'd yet to complete.

When we look back we realize it would have made more sense to stay in Nevada during the two months of final preparations.  However, at the time, we wanted to see if Scottsdale Arizona was a place we might eventually settle when our traveling ended.  

Arizona was lovely in many ways but not our cup of tea. As we've continued in our travels, we've now dismissed the concept of "living anywhere" when this nomadic lifestyle is everything we need.

Tom's sisters have second homes in Apache Junction Arizona and we relished in the idea of being nearby to visit them at our leisure during this period.  With eldest son Richard living in Henderson Nevada and my eldest sister living in Las Vegas, we found ourselves driving back and forth to Nevada on several occasions to ensure we'd see everyone before departing the USA.

As it turned out, we rented an additional vacation home in Henderson for a week during Christmas when three of Tom's sisters and two husbands stayed with us during the holiday.  It was during this period that we also had an opportunity to see my cousin from Boston and her two adult daughters who also happened to be in Las Vegas for Christmas. 

Back in Arizona, we purchased new laptops, unlocked phones and other digital equipment for our upcoming travels.  We handled financial matters, setting up appropriate accounts that would facilitate our travels.  We finalized details for international health insurance. 

We created an entirely online lifestyle that didn't include receiving much snail mail through our already established mailing service in Nevada.  By the time we wrapped up our time in Arizona and Nevada, we made our final US road trip to San Diego to board the Celebrity Century.  On January 3, 2013, we sailed away.

We'd spent 11 months preparing for our world travel adventure, at the time anticipating it would last for five or 10 years at most.  We'd done everything we could to prepare which proved to be a daunting task, one which really never ends with the ongoing planning in order to continue on for years to come

Today, we met with the same reporter, Unsie Zuege with whom we communicated for the Minnesota news article almost five years ago.  During these years, with our accumulating rich and fulfilling experiences so much has changed for us.

Today, when Unsie arrived at our hotel at 9:00 am to interview us, we were surprised to know that she, too, like many worldwide readers have followed along with us over these years.  How fortunate we are to build these special relationships with people we meet along the way and those we joyfully gather in our travels.

After an action packed three hours with Unsie, we sadly ended our time together.  She took photos and a video while gathering tons of pertinent facts from us while fast and furiously documenting our answers to her seemingly endless flow of thought-provoking questions.  We couldn't have enjoyed her more and the opportunity to reach even more readers after the story is published in a few weeks.

Once the story is online and in print, we'll post it, along with the photos and videos right for all of our readers.  Please check back.

Now, close to 1:00 pm, I'm terribly late in posting today's story.  Soon, I'm leaving for afternoon tea with friend Chere at a restaurant in nearby Edina.  No doubt, this will be the continuation of a pleasant and relaxing afternoon to supplement this already delightful day.

Tom and I can't stop smiling over the opportunity we had this morning to consolidate our years of world travel into one fell swoop, sharing it with Unsie.  It reminded us of how grateful and appreciative we both are for the range of experiences we've had so far, along with that which is yet to come.

One week from today we'll be leaving Minnesota and on to our next leg in the US visit..three weeks in Henderson/Las Vegas Nevada.  Perhaps, we'll get into a little of the touristy type stuff to share with you here!

Happy day!
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Photo from one year ago today, June 30, 2016:
Tom ate a few of these "wienie wraps" in Singapore.  These are SGD $1, US $.74.  He'd expected them to taste similar to the US version of a wienie wrap but said they weren't quite the same.  For more photos, please click here.

An anniversary night where we met 26 years ago...Post #1800 today!

 
Our waiter took this photo of us on our 26th anniversary of the day we met at this same location, now a different restaurant.
Dining out every night over the past 34 nights, with the exception of a few occasions when we've dined at the homes of friends or family, has lost its novelty.  No longer do we peruse the menu with renewed interest anticipating something new and wonderful.
When we entered Poor Richard's we were reminded of the memorable date of when we met.
With my restricted way of eating and the availability of restaurant menus online, it's been easy to determine which establishments may work for me and which do not.  Also, since I don't consume foods cooked in vegetable oils (only butter, quality olive oil or coconut oil), there are few menu items I'd consider ordering.

The easiest and least risky meals for me are salads containing hard-boiled eggs, bacon, fresh avocado, lettuce, tomato with broiled chicken or salmon.  This generally may be described as a Cobb Salad or variation thereof.
Tom was all smiles when he perused the menu.
With the exception of amazing fall-off-the-bone ribs we ordered (without sauce) at Grizzly's the other night, I've only ordered the above type salads over these past many meals. 

Tom, on the other hand, has indulged in a whatever-he-wants mentality, knowing that in a little over a month, I'll be cooking our meals again which won't include fries and other starches, burgers in a bun and other bread products, etc. 
Tom's puff pastry-topped chicken potpie and garlic mashed potatoes.
He's totally avoided all desserts and sweets during this period including the home baked chocolate chip cookies available in the hotel's lobby throughout the day and evening.

Eating only a low carb breakfast (no pancakes, waffles, cold cereals, or toast) and no lunch or snacks between breakfast and dinner (or after dinner), he hasn't gained an ounce while here consuming some of this less-than-desirable food.  I've stayed mum about what he orders (other than perhaps drooling a little when I see what's on his plate at dinner time).
My buffalo seasoned chicken chopped salad with bacon, avocado, and blue cheese.
Last night was a perfect example of my drooling.  He ordered a puff pastry-topped chicken pot pie with a side a garlic mashed potatoes (skins included). I ordered another variation of a Cobb Salad based on the menu offerings at Poor Richard's Commonhouse in Bloomington, the location of our anniversary dinner as explained in yesterday's post.  Please click here if you missed that post.
To our local readers: This is not a bad spot for a reasonably priced and delicious meal.
Tom thoroughly enjoyed his pot pie while I actually found the salad to be one step above some of the others I've tried since we arrived on May 26th.  Of course, the evening wasn't so much about the food as it was the experience, dining in the same spot where we met 26 years ago, although the former establishment had been replaced twice; from the former Stonewings to Major's, followed by the current Poor Richard's.

We'd anticipated feeling somewhat nostalgic about the location but unfortunately, it had changed so much in the past 26 yeas we didn't see any of the old Stonewings in its shape or design.  Apparently, considerable remodeling had transpired over the years making it an entirely new place.
We met in 1991 at this geographical location, not necessarily this same restaurant.
Instead, we giggled over the people we were 26 years ago, chatted about how our lives have changed so much, our time here in Minnesota and upcoming in Nevada and...the continuation of our travels in a mere 32 days when we fly to Costa Rica.

We both want to thanks our reader/friends, our Facebook friends and our family for all the well wishes, email messages and comments posted on yesterday's post (click here to see).  Tom's photo was quite a hit with the "girls" and as he's continued to mature over the years, he's still quite a hit with me. 
The sign on the outside of the unrecognizable building.
It's funny how when one is in love, they never mind the obvious aging process and changes that evolve over the years.  In our minds, we're still the 26-years-younger people we were back then with some added wisdom and "seasoning." 

Happy day to all!
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Photo from one year ago today, June 29, 2016:
Sri Mariamman Temple in Singapore with its ornate carvings.  For more, please click here

Today is our 26th anniversary of the date we met...An unusual plan to celebrate tonight...


This was Tom around the time we met in 1991.  (Photo of the old photo).
Tom and I met 26 years ago tonight at a popular nightclub and dance bar in Bloomington, Minnesota. Stonewings was known for being a place to meet the more mature types.  I was 43 years old and Tom was 38. 

I'd been on a blind date with another guy and ditched him when everything about him revolved around lies he told me to get me to go out with him.  It didn't take long for me to run as fast as I could and call a girlfriend to join me for some "fun" at Stonewings.

Walking into the busy nightclub, I took a seat while my friend went to the restaurant next door to have a bite to eat.  No more than a few minutes after I ordered a drink, I spotted him...Tom, that is. 

He was wearing a white short-sleeved shirt with a button down collar with tight black jeans.  He didn't look like my usual "corporate type" wearing a Hugo Boss suit, a 100% pinpoint cotton long sleeve dress shirt, a subtle Armani tie, a pair of Cole Haan shoes and socks with dots.  Nope, he wasn't my type.

His shock of dark hair, his bright white toothy smile, and his crystal blue eyes had me smitten in minutes. Another man approached me announcing "Hi, my name is rockin' rollin' Bob and I'm the social director here tonight.  I'd like to know who you'd like to dance with."
Jess and Tom in 1991.
I paused contemplating the peculiar announcement for only seconds.  I pointed at Tom and said, "Him!"  Bob escorted me to Tom's table, introduced me and left.  In moments, we were engaged in lively conversation.  Within 30 minutes, we were on the dance floor unable to wipe the smiles off our faces. 

By the end of the night, the sparks were flying.  At the end of the evening when the bar was closing he escorted me to my car, asked for a kiss which I declined and asked me to see him the next night.  I agreed but in an unlikely moment of pure trust, I invited him to my lake home for dinner.

We had nothing in common.  He was a "blue collar" railroad worker and I was a "white collar" business owner.  We lived in different worlds, mingled with different kinds of people and had nothing in common.  He liked rock music.  I liked disco.  He was from a large family.  I was not.

He grew up in the hood and spoke slang language.  My friends joked that I was the queen of proper diction and elocution.  He purchased his Wrangler or Levi jeans at Fleet Farm.  I wore designer jeans from Neiman Marcus. 

When I looked deep into his ocean blue eyes, I knew this would never last nor did I want it to.  I thought, "This guy will be fun for the summer."  The following night when he drove up to my house on the peninsula with its lush green manicured lawn, he thought (so he says), "We have nothing in common and soon I'll be out of here in no time and head back to Stonewings."
See...he does "clean up" nicely wearing a tuxedo. 
But, it didn't happen that way. He hated the food I'd made and the drink I served: blackened swordfish, couscous, and grilled baby asparagus with a crusty baguette and bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. He somehow managed to eat the food and drink the wine. 

The conversation flowed with ease.  We laughed, we talked, and we shared personal stories not necessarily befitting a "first date."  When he told me he'd taken his mother, who was going blind, to see the Pope in Italy and visit Ireland using his entire one month of a year's vacation, I truly believe it was a stepping stone to my falling in love.  Who does that?  This must be one special kind of guy.

This sexy bad boy was much deeper than I'd expected and I let my guard down and let him into my world.  It wasn't an easy four years until we were married in 1995.  He had to rid himself of his bad boy ways but somehow we managed to stick together and grew more and more in love over time as we both grew and changed.

We met 26 years ago tonight and here we are, living a dream we never knew either of us had ever imagined.  Here we are, more in love than ever, sharing a commonality of interests that often baffles us.  How did we get here?

But, rather than question it, we've blended our ways.  He still doesn't like blackened fish or red wine and I don't eat (and never have) Planter's cheeseballs or McDonald's burgers and fries. I've been to parties in garages and bowling alleys and he's worn black tie to social events. 

He knows what fork to use at a formal dinner table and I can snip a nightcrawler (worm) with my long fingernails and neatly place it on a hook with nary a comment or concern for the mud under my nails.  We've blended well.

In 33 days we'll be back "out into the world" continuing on our world journey with a powerful sense of joy and contentment, knowing wherever we go, whatever we do, we're truly a match "made in heaven."

Tonight, we're dining where Stonewings used to be which is now a casual bar named "Poor Richards."  It won't be quite the same, but we'll be content and we'll celebrate this amazing life we share together.
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Photo from one year ago today, June 28, 2016:
We'd expected the Vietnam Embassy to be guarded and much larger.  As often is the case, many embassies are converted larger homes.  We'd specifically gone to Singapore in order to get three much-needed visas at various embassies, visas we'd need over the two months we were spending in Southeast Asia.  For more details, please click here.

Ten days and countings...Fishing with the boys...


Tom is standing outside the Bait & Tackle store in Plymouth, near the red SUV
How the time has passed so quickly baffles us.  Is it due to our rapidly advancing age in or is it due to the fact that we've been so busy with spending quality time with family and friends?  Perhaps it's a mix of both.
A container of "wax worms" aka maggots.
As July quickly approaches in a few days with July 7th as our Minnesota departure date, we anticipate the three weeks we'll spend in Las Vegas will pass quickly as well. Each time we prepare the "photo from one year ago today" at the bottom of each post, we're astounded by how the one year period of time seems as if it's only been months, not a year.
Vincent fishing on the dock on Lake Johanna in Arden Hills.
This is true with most of our travels, especially when we're living in an area we find particularly interesting and meaningful, as has been the case of the over past month we've been in Minnesota.

Yesterday, a bit of nostalgia entered the mix of experiences, when we brought grandson Miles out to our former Lake Minnewashta in Chanhassen, a 20-minute drive from the hotel.
It was a cool, sunny day with a few bathers at the beach on Lake Johanna.
We'd planned to fish with the boys sooner, but somehow the time got away from us.  Now in these past two weeks we've had the opportunity to go fishing with both grandson Vincent (Tom's daughter, Tammy) and grandson Miles (my son, Greg).
Vincent caught his first fish, tiny but gratifying.  The hooks are carefully removed to avoid injuring the fish and the fish are tossed back into the lake.  The kids have no interest in eating the fish they catch nor do any of the adult care to fillet small sunfish or crappies (pronounced, croppies).
As shown in today's photos both fishing outings were relatively successful, at least to some degree.  Vincent caught three sunfish on Lake Johanna in Arden Hills last week and yesterday, Miles caught 13 or 14 sunfish on Lake Minnewashta in equal periods of time.  The bait used and equipment were identical. 
Another catch for Vincent, equally small but enough to elicit a partial smile.
Since it made no sense for us to get fishing licenses or to purchase equipment, we helped both grandsons with their fishing line issues and bait.  Vincent, over two years older than Miles, needed little to no assistance while Miles, only nine, needed a bit of help on a few occasions to which we happily obliged.  
Miles is ready to "toss a line."
In both cases, Tom had stopped to purchase easy-to-use bait, the popular wax worms as shown in the photo.  These are now priced at $2.28 per container of 25 "maggots."  When we lived here almost five years ago, they were priced around $1.50 per container.  Inflation, I guess. 
Yesterday's cool, (under 70 degree) weather prevented any interest in swimming at the beach on Lake Minnewashta.
Where can one get hours of enjoyment for a paltry $2.28?  They each had a good time.  Then again, so did we.  How could we not be reminded of living on the lake and fishing with the grandchildren?  As we sat on that public dock yesterday afternoon did we miss the lifestyle as we overlooked our former lake?
Miles and his well stocked tackle box.
Yesterday, we freely spoke as to the answers to these questions while we watched Miles fish.  We've missed the interactions with our kids, grandchildren and other family members and friends, but not the limitations of a structured lifestyle. 
The line's in the water.  Let's see what happens.
We're totally convinced this nomadic lifestyle we live was meant for both of us.  How odd that sounds.  Neither of us ever dreamed of or ever mentioned the prospect of "living in the world," let alone being "homeless" and traveling with no end in sight, health providing.

Family and friends have asked, "Aren't you happy to be home?"  We've smiled and answered, "We've loved spending time with the family and friends.  Nothing compares to that."

Miles' first catch of the day with another 12 fish following as we carefully kept count.
Where is "home" to us these days?  Often people refer to where they grew up as their "home."  To us, these old adages seem to apply:

"Where we love is home - home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts."-   Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.  

Also, for us, the following applies:

"I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself."-   Maya Angelou

And also, the following:

"A house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams."-   Author Unknown  
The dock to the public fishing area on Lake Minnewashta.
And, when we leave Minnesota in a mere 10 days, and then Nevada, a mere three weeks later, we carry all the love and warmth we've experienced in these nine weeks in the USA, well into the future as mentioned above, "Home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.

We continue on...

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Photo from one year ago today, June 27, 2016:

The swimming pool at the Hilton Garden Inn located in Denpasar Bali is much larger than most hotel pools.  We stayed one night while awaiting the next day's flight to Singapore.  For more details, please click here

A children's theater production...Shrek and company...Not so good dining experience...


Madighan, Camille, and Maisie at The Stages Theater in Hopkins where the four of us saw a local production of Shrek.
By the time we uploaded yesterday's post around noon, it was time for me to go back upstairs to our hotel room to change clothes and head to Greg's home in St. Louis Park for a children's theatre event.

Camille had purchased four tickets for us and Maisie and Madighan to see the new production of Shrek at the popular Stages Theatre in Hopkins, an often sought venture for kid celebrations and special events.

It was odd but the theatre didn't have a parking lot in downtown Hopkins, a sleepy town known for its annual Raspberry Festival which my sons and I attended 40 years ago when we lived in nearby Minnetonka in the 1970's.

"Hopkins Raspberry Festival

The Hopkins Raspberry Festival is an annual event in Hopkins. The Hopkins Raspberry Festival was founded in 1935 as a way to boost business during the Great Depression of the 1930s. A date of July 21 was chosen to hold the event to coincide with the peak of the raspberry-picking season. The festival now takes place the third weekend in July every year.
The Raspberry Festival is overseen by a board of directors supported by many additional volunteers and local civic organizations each year. Most of the volunteers return from year to year, with some being active for as many as 20 years. Since its inception, it has evolved into a dynamic community celebration with activities including music, sporting events, royalty coronations, craft fair, and parade."

Hopkins, only consisting of four square miles (with a population around 18,000) is also known for it's highly rated high school, low-priced movie theatre and of course, the Stages Theatre.

The Shrek production was well done with performers skillfully singing and dancing throughout the musical production.  The storyline was light, as the case for most children's productions and of course, it had a happy ending.

Madighan, Camille, and Maisie at the Stages Children's Theater.
When the production ended, we made our way back to Greg and Camille's home where I dropped them off, stopping to say hello again to Greg and Miles who were busy working on one of Greg's vehicles. 

Back at the hotel around dinner time, Tom and I jumped back into the red SUV to head out to dinner to a restaurant where we've dined for no less than four prior occasions during this past month we've been in Minnesota. 

There were few diners on a Sunday evening in the now familiar establishment.  Waiting for a table for five or six minutes at the hostess stand, we wondered when we'd be served, noting many open booths and tables.

Asking for a booth, the hostess stated they were no available booths and yet, we had a clear view of two booths that only needed to be cleared.  Tom pressed for a booth while I waited patiently curious to see how this situation would roll out. 

With an added level of insistence, Tom finally got the hostess to see we were serious about getting a booth.  Their wooden high top chairs aren't comfortable and we wanted a booth.  Had there not been any available booths, of course, he wouldn't have pressed the issue.

The small intimate theater was freezing in today's cold weather.
The hostess finally agreed to clear one of the booth's tables explaining we'd have to wait  for "several minutes."  We waited quietly and finally was escorted to the booth, handed menus while graciously thanking the annoyed hostess.  We rarely make any type of fuss in any types of venues but felt insistent in this particular case.

Each time we've dined at this restaurant, we've ordered the same items off the menu.  Perusing the menu for other options, we still ended up ordering our usual items which had been perfect on all of our past visits. We waited for 30 minutes for the food to finally arrive. 

The restaurant continued to be quiet with few tables filled.  Tom's food was cold (obviously from sitting under the lights and not being served promptly and mine had the wrong type of meat and was missing items. 

I'd ordered the shredded beef for my chop salad and they brought a chunk of badly charred steak that was grossly overcooked.  Waiting five minutes for the waitress to return to the table to explain our "issues," she finally whisked away our plates, returning 10 minutes later with a new hotter dish for Tom.
Another view of Paulette and Mark's beautifully landscaped lake property.
Again, my order was wrong.  All they'd done was cut the burnt steak into tiny cubes and delivered it with the salad on a separate plate which I'd requested.  There was no way I was going to eat those burnt little chunks of beef.  Again, she returned my plate to the kitchen while I insisted Tom eat his meal before it got cold again.

Finally, my meal arrived but the salad was missing the avocado and bacon.  I didn't bother to mention this at that point.  Since I don't eat bottled dressings, I'd asked for sour cream when ordering.  It still hadn't been served. 

Again, I waited, this time for the sour cream which arrived in the tiniest of containers, way too small for the amount of lettuce in the bowl.  It was comparable to putting one tablespoon of dressing on a huge salad.

At last, the waitress brought me a reasonable portion of sour cream.  At this point, we'd had enough and I asked to see a manager. We waited for 10 minutes for her to arrive.  When she approached us, she immediately mentioned she was aware of our "issues" and was going to"comp" our dinner while apologizing profusely for the food and the service.
Paulette and Mark's view of Ham Lake from their yard.
We appreciatively accepted her apology and the "comp" and finished our meals.  Will we go back?  We've loved this restaurant on all of the prior occasions.  We've agreed to give it another try but not on a Sunday when a lighter staff may have contributed to the problems with the food and service.

We haven't mentioned the name of the restaurant since our comments aren't intended as a bad review.  If all turns out well after our next visit to this establishment, we'll write a good review.  Why tarnish their reputation over one bad experience?

Today, Miles is with us for the day.  Soon, Tom will pick up Sister Beth in Blaine to take her to the airport for her return flight to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  It was her second visit to Minneapolis since we arrived and was a surprise for intended for Margie's birthday party on Saturday night. 
The end of the day from Paulette and Mark's yard in Ham Lake.
On Friday, while Tom attended the "Back to the 50's" event at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, I collected Sister Beth at the airport and drove her to Patty's home in Blaine.  I never mentioned it in Friday or Saturday's post for fear of spoiling the surprise element.

That contributed to mine and Madighan's driving time on Friday, including dropping Tom at the fairgrounds and picking him up later in the day during rush hour.  She was quite the trooper when we spent nearly five hours in the red SUV.

Today, after Tom returns around 1:00 pm, we're taking Miles fishing.  It will be another pleasant and busy day.  We hope you have a good day as well!
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Photo from one year ago today, June 26, 2016:
It was business as usual with Tom wearing a sarong as the required dress to enter the monkey temple. He had a hard time managing the steps.  He just didn't have the same experience as women who've worn long dresses, knowing when to hold up the hem for ease in walking.  For the final figures as we wrapped up our first two-month stint in Bali, please click here.

Tom's family sure knows how to throw an 80th party...Happy birthday, Margie!

Margie with one of her two birthday cakes.  This photo was taken by nephew Joe's wife Donna prior to our arrival around 4:30 pm.  The party had started at 2:00 pm and by the time we arrived the cake was cut.  Thanks for the good photo Donna!
The birthday party invitation read the event was starting at 2:00 pm.  Knowing how late Tom's family can stay up to have a good time, we decided to head out a little later in order to get a few things taken care of in preparation for our upcoming departure from Minnesota in a mere 12 days.

With few daylight hours together at the hotel (other than while I'm preparing the day's post), we did some laundry while I began the process of taking all the tags off Tom's new clothing, neatly folding each item into a tidy pile.  Sure, he could do this himself but there are just some things better left to me.  So, he did the laundry while I snipped and folded.

When I met Tom three days short of 26 years ago, I attended a party in a garage for the first time in my life.  I'd never heard of such a thing but now all these years later it's the expected location of his family parties in my mind.  With the huge group, many lingered inside Paulette and Mark's home and around their exquisite lakefront yard.
The shirts, tee shirts, socks and underwear, all overly tagged and wrapped in excess amounts of cardboard, plastic, and paper took longer to prepare than I'd expected.  What's the deal with all this "packaging?"  A simple price tag stuck to the item's promotional tag is all that's required.

Those little plastic tags things that once snipped, leave a "T" shaped piece often caught in an unreachable spot are quite annoying.  If it weren't for those, I'd have been done in half the time.  Leaving one of those items behind is a huge annoyance for the wearer when these little buggers hurt and scratch until they're found and removed.

After we were done, we packed our handy Celebrity Cruise Line shopping bag (I don't own a handbag) with iced tea, tea bags, and zippered sweatshirts.  It's been cool these past several days and a party in a garage could become chilly as the day wore on. At the moment, at 11:00 am, it's a chilly 57 degrees in this area.

Tom's blind brother, 24 years his senior, and his daughter Kathy who is a big help to him in his day-to-day life.  Every day Tom sends our post to Jerry after deleting the photos.  He has a computer with text-to-talk technology suited to the blind and so enjoys "hearing" our daily posts.
We'd expected hot weather while in Minnesota in late June.  I guess we'll have to wait for warmer weather until we arrive in Las Vegas soon where at 9:00 am it's already 100 degrees with an expected high of 112 today, a little cooler than last week's record-breaking 117.  Wow!

The drive to Ham Lake didn't take as long as we'd expected with light traffic on Saturday.  With the help of the navigation system in the red SUV, we easily found niece Paulette's lake home.

Kaitlin is Tom's sister Margie great granddaughter which makes her Tom's grandniece.  Oh, gosh how can I keep up?
We hadn't been to their home in years and after extensive remodeling, we hardly recognized it at all. We couldn't help but admire the attention to detail, quality design and amenities. 

But, oddly (or maybe not so oddly) we imagined (and easily recall) the commitment and cost required for the upkeep, maintenance and constant cleaning, an aspect of most people's lives we gave up long ago.  No longer do our weekends revolve around a trip to Home Depot and the time required to complete one project or another.
The party was held at Tom's niece Paulette's (husband Mark) beautiful lake home in Ham Lake, Minnesota.  The food and drinks were abundant and delicious.  I was happily able to eat some roasted meats and munch on nuts.
Recently, when we stopped in a market for a few items Tom noticed the huge bags of water softener salt.  He couldn't stop smiling over how hauling those 50-pound bags was a part of his long ago past.  

Tom recalls waiting until the salt was on sale and subsequently buying eight or 10 bags, loading them into his vehicle and bringing them into the basement.
Both white and chocolate cakes were served along with giant muffins.
Now, in this simple life we live, the only salt we haul is a little hand grinder filled with pink Himalayan salt that we use to season our food.  Ah, life is not only good...but, it's easy.  Relatively.

No, we don't have any negative feelings or perceptions of those who live a busy and fulfilling life of home ownership, of entertaining guests, or of spending time on projects they find meaningful and enjoyable.  We did that.  At the time, it was all we knew. 
Tom's two sisters seated here are Margie and Mary.   Margie is talking to son-in-law Ken, Tom's niece Ann's husband.
And, we admire those who bring meaning and significance into their world with their dedication and commitment to their homes, families, and friends.  It's in this same manner we admire those who branch out in their retirement and find a warm climate where they spend the cold Minnesota (or other states) winters in a second home or traveling the country in an RV.

Then, of course, there are those who cannot afford an RV, second home or winter escape.  And yet, we find ourselves reveling in other ways that those retirees and others find purpose in their lives.
Tom's sister Colleen hiding from the photo but showing her adorable granddaughter, Ella.
Yesterday, while I sat at Jerry's side during the party, he shared with me how he orders talking books through an organization for the blind that are read aloud on discs he inserts into his computer.  It's easier than trying to figure out and pay the outrageous fees for online text-to-speech books offered at various outlets. 
Daughter-in-law Tracy helps grandson Vincent hold Ella for the first time.
We're so proud of Jerry, almost 89 years old, for finding ways to make these later years of his life, enjoyable and with purpose.  For him, this means of reading brings him considerable pleasure.  And that's why Tom never misses a day in sending him our posts with the photos removed. 

Jerry, you're a great inspiration to us along with Tom's many other family members who celebrate life together regularly and with a gusto, we find charming and especially meaningful to us during this period we're spending in Minnesota. 
Tammy looks pleased watching son Vincent interact with Ella, her Aunt Colleen's granddaughter, making Ella, Tammy's first-cousin-once-removed.  To Vincent, Ella is his second cousin.  Go figure.
Today, I'm off to a stage presentation of Shrek at a local children's production company with daughter-in-law Camille and granddaughters Maisie and Madighan for a "girls only" afternoon.  No doubt, it will be yet another great time spent with family.
Tom sister Margie with Kaitlin, her great granddaughter and Kaitlin's baby Harper, who is Margie's great-great-granddaughter, making Kaitlin Tom's great grandniece and baby Harper, Tom's great-great grandniece. Whew!
We love all of you and are grateful for the efforts our family and friends have expressed in sharing valuable time with us during this memorable stay in Minnesota.

Thanks to Paulette and Mark for hosting the party and for all those who contributed food, drinks and support for the large group. And, happy 80th birthday, Margie!  It was a fabulous celebration so richly deserved by YOU!
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Photo from one year ago today, June 25, 2016:

On our last morning in Bali, we had the joy of seeing this final "sighting on the beach.  Wow!  Was Mother Nature's way of saying goodbye? We were happily returning in two months for another two months, after our visit to Southeast Asia. For more Bali photos, please click here.

In Tom's own words, "Great day at the "MSRA Back to the 50's" classic car show with son TJ at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds...

TJ's 1954 Buick Special next to his canopy set up at the Back to the 50's annual event at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

Everything is set up under TJ's canopy including grill, chairs, coolers with filled with food and beverages.
In Tom's words:
Yesterday morning, after Jess dropped me off at the entrance gate to the Minnesota State Fair for the annual Minnesota Street Rod Association Back to the 50's event, TJ met me to give me a participant's button so I didn't have to pay the $12 entrance fee. 
Is this a Cadillac from the 20's?
TJ's classic car registration allows a number of guests to enter under his registration fee.  He has a 1954 Buick Special and has shown it at this popular annual event over the past six or seven years.
Street rod, model unknown.
I was looking forward to spending quality time with TJ at this event.  For TJ's family, this is a weekend event with the show continuing over the weekend.  Jayden (grandson), Sarah (TJ's partner), and her parents were there as well.
1957 Ford Fairlane hardtop convertible.
Jess wanted to give TJ and I time alone together and was involved in her own busy day with granddaughter Madighan, spending the better part of the day with her.  After I've dragged her (she says "willingly" for photos) to several classic car shows throughout the world, she was content to do her own thing for the day.
Unknown model, amphibious vehicle.  Sorry about blurry photos.  I took all of them with my phone.
As soon as I entered the fairgrounds TJ and I wandered to his designated area where he had two canopies set up, a portable gas grill, lawn chairs, a table, several coolers filled with beer, beverages, hamburgers and hot dogs and a variety of snacks and desserts.



Another pickup truck.
TJ and I spent three and a half to four hours walking around the fairgrounds checking out the 12,000 registered cars, all of which were models previous to 1965.  From time to time, we stopped back at his site for a beverage of bite to eat. 
1953 Mercury.  Tom's brother-in-law Mike had one of these in the mid 50's.
In total, I spent five hours at the event.  It was a very enjoyable time, especially having quality time with my son, TJ.   Thanks, TJ for including me!  Unfortunately, I never thought about taking photos of us during the event. 
GMC delivery van, year unknown.
Although the event continues over the weekend, we're busy today attending my sister Margie's 80th birthday party, starting at 2:00 pm at niece Paulette and husband Mark's home in Ham Lake.

An old pickup truck, model and year unknown.
At this event, we'll have an opportunity to see more of the family members we've yet to see since our arrival almost one month ago.  With time flying by quickly, this party is a good chance to catch up with more relatives.  No doubt, it will be another good time.
Chrysler or De Sota with a wooden canoe tied to the roof.

Late 40's, early 50's Cadillac.
Jess had a busy day with granddaughter Madighan and transporting me back and forth to the State Fairgrounds.  With road constructions and detours everywhere getting in and out of the city takes hours to accomplish. 
Early 30's street rod.

1955 Chevy Nomad.
I'm not the most enthusiastic guy in crazy traffic.  Jess drove on the way back from the fairgrounds to the hotel during rush hour.  I couldn't help but be a "backseat driver." But, Jess expects this and stayed calm and cheerful all the way back.
1957 Chevy Nomad.

1956 Chevy Nomad.
Jess says, "Thanks, Tom for today's contribution!  We'll be back tomorrow with photos from Margie's party and...may all of our friends/readers have a fabulous weekend!"
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Photo from one year ago today, June 23, 2016:
Buffalos on the beach in Bali.  Wow, we never stopped enjoying this daily scene!  For more favorite Bali photos, please click here.