Stars and Stripes...And, more stripes....Finding ingredients...Off to the Marloth Park Honorary Rangers Winter Fair...

This particular "dazzle" of zebras was all female except for a youngster.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
A zebra attempting to climb the steps to the veranda.
In four days, we'll be attending a US holiday 4th of July party at Kathy and Don's home, overlooking the Crocodile River.   Twelve guests will be in attendance with only four of us actual US citizens; us and Kathy and Don.
Zebras love pellets, carrots, and apples.
The rest are native South Africans and from the UK, all of whom love a reason for a party.  Kathy and Don will do their usual "over the top" celebration often including games, prizes and unique entertainment and festivities.

As soon as Kathy mentioned this upcoming event, I chimed in offering to make my former 4th of July US flag cake which I'd make each year in our old lives.  I made the offer which Kathy accepted stating to "make it small" since most in this group aren't into desserts as Americans may be. 
In our old lives, I used to make this US flag cake every year on the 4th of July.
 Plus, with a few of us avoiding sugar or gluten, there'd be lots of cake left even if I made the small version.  Then, Tom would end up eating the leftovers.  Not necessarily a good idea.
Of course, there's often a warthog on the scene, in this case, one of our favorites, Little Wart Face.
The offer of the cake was more for the festivities than the eating but I was bound and determined to make it, never giving it much thought after my offer. We planned to shop the day before the party to ensure the berries as shown on the cake were fresh. I'd planned to bake the cake the morning of the party.

Three weeks ago, I saw fresh strawberries and blueberries in the market thinking "no problem."  But over the next few weeks, there were no strawberries. One week later and there were no blueberries.  They don't keep.  The markets in Komatipoort receive stock on Thursdays and Fridays for the weekend.  By Tuesday, there'd be no chance of buying fresh berries. 
Zebras don't stay around too long unless there's a constant stream of pellets, fruits, and vegetables.
It's not like the US or many other countries here when there's usually exactly what one needs regardless of the day of the week.  We always shop on Thursday afternoons but even then, many items haven't been put on the shelves, and the more popular items are already gone, purchased by the morning shoppers.  We've learned the drill.

Often, zebras come to visit at night making us thrilled for a daytime visit.
This may sound disgusting to health enthusiasts out there, but this particular cake in order to taste exceptional requires Cool Whip, a non-dairy topping, heavily sweetened with real sugar, that tastes exceptionally good.  We've seen videos from the US of people eating bowls of the chemical-laden stuff as a treat.

This zebra was licking pellet dust off the veranda tiles.
I must admit that in our old lives, either of us may have at one point or another taken a taste or two with a spoon directly from a plastic container of Cool Whip in the fridge.  It was really good...then.  I used to put it on my ice cream with caramel syrup.  Oh, good grief!  My mouth is watering!  Stop!

Well, anyway, this cake requires Cool Whip which is not available in South Africa, certainly not anywhere we checked in Komatipoort.  It made no sense to drive far away hoping to find it.

This zebra started climbing up the steps to the veranda but they're slippery and she backed off.
A few days ago, I let Kathy know I wasn't making the Cool Whip.  Since no one in the group was particularly gung-ho for sweets, Kathy said, "No worries, don't make a cake."  I felt bad since it's not my nature to offer to do something and then "backpedal."  In this case, I had to let it go.

These two were scrounging for any stray pellets.
Two days after the 4th of July, we're hosting a dinner party/birthday celebration for Kathy who's birthday is on the 6th and Ken's (of Ken and Linda) will have been on the 4th.  Lots of fun reasons to celebrate life in the bush!

As I'm sitting here now, on yet another perfect-weather-day, nine kudus stopped by, all girls, all looking for pellets, apples, and carrots.  My favorite kudu who I can identify by a "u-shaped" notch in her right ear, walks right up to the edge of the veranda and licked my bare toes, as usual.  She makes me laugh! 

A third joined them in the search.
As soon as we upload this post, we'll be heading to Henk Van Rooyen Park for the annual Honorary Rangers Winter Fair.  This is the same location where Aamazing River View restaurant is located which we wrote about in yesterday's post here.

Tomorrow, we'll return with our experiences and photos from the fair.  No doubt we'll run into some of the many wonderful people we've met in Marloth Park over this past almost five months.  What a ride it's been so far!
May your day be bright and sunny!

Photo from one year ago today, June 30, 2017:
Look at all that luggage we had back in January 2013 as we prepared to board our second cruise in Fort Lauderdale.  We posted this old photo one year ago today when we had purchased two new bags.  We no longer have any of the pieces shown here when we'd seriously unloaded "stuff" during our first year or two.  For more, please click here.

Restaurant review...Aamazing River View in Marloth Park...

The sunset changed second by second, each scene more beautiful than the last while at Aamazing River View Restaurant last night.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Ms. Bushbuck and her baby stop by every day, sometimes on several occasions.  The baby certainly has grown over these past months.
Before we begin our review of Aamazing River View Restaurant overlooking the Crocodile River and Kruger National Park, it's important to mention the word "amazing" is spelled with two "a's".  Secondly, we must mention we were not "comped" or provided with any special pricing for this review and story.

We'd been to this restaurant a few times since we returned to Marloth Park on February 11th but had only stayed for drinks, later heading home after the sunset to make our own dinner. 
The reserved table was beautifully set.
Aamazing River View has the best views of the Crocodile River and the tall banks along the river in Kruger National Park to be found anywhere in Marloth Park.  Plus, after last's night dining experience we will undoubtedly return on many more occasions during our remaining months in the park.
Comfortable indoor and outdoor dining is available on two levels.
With a guaranteed stunning sunset on clear or partially clear evenings and the potential to see big game or even the Big 5 if patient and diligent, there's nothing quite like this special location.
Tom's pork ribs and chips which he thoroughly enjoyed.
Over these past few months, we've noticed some negative comments about this dining establishment posted on Facebook, some actually "hateful" and disarming.  This always shocks us.  If one doesn't care for a restaurant why not address the issues with the owner and/or management, sharing one's concerns.

Why bash a restaurant even if you've had a few less than desirable experiences?  It's our responsibility as consumers to let a purveyor know we aren't satisfied with the quality of their products and services, rather than spewing hateful comments online for everyone to see.
My plate of succulent grilled calamari steak with a vinaigrette dipping sauce was delicious.  I'd definitely order this again.
Doing so ultimately has the tendency to reduce the number of customers and in the process makes it more difficult and costly for management to make necessary changes to improve the quality of their food and services, if...that's the case.
We were thrilled to be seated at a comfortable booth with excellent views of the Crocodile River.  When staying to dine, guests can reserve a table with views.
But, at Aamazing River View, last night, without a doubt we had an excellent meal; hot and delicious with the freshest ingredients with exemplary service comparable to any we've experienced in Marloth Park or in any dining establishments we've experienced throughout the world.  Literally, nothing was wrong nor could we even suggest a change or two.
The restaurants in Marloth Park are all casual.  No fancy attire required!
However, in speaking with management (Elaine) and the owner (Andre), they expressed genuine and heartfelt appreciation of their customers and are open to suggestions if a situation occurs that requires attention.  This should be the case with all restaurants and often is.

However, there's a faction of people out there in cyberspace that prefer to spew their negative comments online rather than deal with their concerns face-to-face to the appropriate management.  This may damage the future success of a business with the potential to steer other customers away. 
A sunset is always more stunning with a few clouds on the horizon.
Last night's experience at Aamazing River View only spurred us on to get the word out that local Marlothians need to band together to support local businesses. 

Holiday rentals, restaurants and shops are vital to the financial success of this special community.  In essence, property values are enhanced by the success of every aspect of Marloth Park; the success and harmony of restaurants and shops; the management of holiday rental; the health and well being of wildlife; the removal of alien invasive plants; the control of speeding on paved Oliphant Street and all dirt roads for the safety of the wildlife and humans; the ability to maintain a peaceful and quiet environment to enrich the quality of life for the animals and the humans who reside herein.
What a sight to see while looking toward Kruger National Park across the Crocodile River.
We encourage all of our local readers to give Aamazing River View another try or visit them for the first time. You'll be pleasantly surprised by the view, the food, and the service. And then, if something isn't quite as you'd expected, quietly and respectfully express your concerns to management.

We're disappointed to see Facebook become such a place for vitriol and hatred by some individuals. We use it to stay in touch with family and friends while we're so far away. But, over these past few years, we've seen it become a resource for bashing, hating and hurting others.  Why?
What a sunset.  This looked like a bird to me.  Do you see that?
I'd love to see more cute and outrageous animal videos, along with photos of family and friends, and recommendations for the good, the great and the excellent.

Today, we'll post excellent comments about Aamazing River View on Facebook and TripAdvisor.  Give it a try and you may also do the same.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, June 29, 2017:
Our waiter took this photo of us on our 26th anniversary of the day we met at this same location, now a different restaurant.  For more photos, please click here.

How did we get so lucky?...Today is special...Everyday is special...

Although this stance seems awkward and cumbersome they actually perform it with grace and ease with careful foot placement and strength.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
"The foot of the giraffe reaches a diameter of 30 cm (12 in), and the hoof is 15 cm (5.9 in) high in males and 10 cm (3.9 in) in females. The rear of each hoof is low and the fetlock is close to the ground, allowing the foot to provide additional support to the animal's weight."
I'd expected this 70th year of my life to be very different than what it is today. With a long-term chronic medical condition (since resolved) I'd expected to be living a life of pain, discomfort, and disability. 

They wandered across the road to get to the watering hole.
Always ambitious, I supposed I'd have found a way to be fulfilled within the framework of these limitations but never, in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine this life...this magnificent life.

There were eight giraffes in the "tower."
Twenty-seven years ago today, I met Tom Lyman.  How that transpired is shared in last year's post on this date which may be found here which is also indicated below in the "Photo from one year ago today."

Giraffes can run at paces of 60 kmph (37 mph) but their motions appear slow and deliberate when grazing and drinking.
I highly doubt that I'd have shared this morning's contemplative comments with my husband, partner, lover, and travel companion that easily crossed my lips while sitting at the big table on the veranda.

"Look at us.  We have eight zebras, two bushbucks and a warthog in our garden this morning. Yesterday, we encountered eight giraffes as shown in today's photos. We're living in the bush in Africa. How did we get so lucky to have one be here at this point in our lives?"

Contemplating taking a drink from the waterhole.
We looked at each other and smiled, simultaneously saying, "Who would have thunk it?"  Neither of us ever dreamed of, nor imagined this type of life in our senior years or, at any time in our lives.
Perhaps, one more drink?
And today, 27 years after we first met in a most serendipitous manner, polar opposites, headstrong, and non-committal, that here we'd be, glued at the hip, as they say, traveling the world exactly as we choose.

Standing in the queue at the water fountain.  The other giraffes in the tower lumbered across the road to share in the drinking from the pond.
We don't travel to lands where others "think" we should travel.  We don't necessarily visit tourist locations on most traveler's "bucket list" and oddly, we don't even have a "bucket list." 

We plan and experience whatever falls into our hearts and minds as the "next place," (as Tom calls it, as his "favorite place" when asked).  And essentially every place we visit is our favorite at the time when we strive to "live in the moment" wherever we may be
Each giraffe has her/his own manner of bending to drink, also subject to the surrounding terrain for foot placement.
But this?  It's something special, not only for the "living in the moment" aspect but for the promise that we'll carry these memories with us until our last breath...the memories of these endless experiences we've shared together, here in Africa and...all over the world.
What could this huge bump be?
In a way, the memories we capture in our minds and in photos become almost half of the experience in itself. We know that soon, this Africa chapter will end and a new chapter will begin.  A year from now we'll be in Ireland for three months.  How different could that be?
There's nothing like a handsome face!
But for now, we celebrate this life, this time, this place with one, we celebrate 27 years ago today when we first met, an unlikely couple who somehow found their way together in this unparalleled existence of pure and unmitigated joy in the world's endless offerings.

Thank you, dear readers,, for being on this journey with us and your inspiration for our unstoppable commitment to continue documenting each and every day.


Photo from one year ago today, June 28, 2017:
This was Tom around the time we met in 1991.  For more details, please click here.

Our wonderful helpers in the park...A stroke of good luck saving us lots of moolah!...

A tattered ear on an old elephant.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Three little pigs...
Update:  There's a good possibility the "lioness on the loose" has returned to Kruger National Park via the same means (or other means) by which she entered a week or two ago.  She hasn't been sighted in the past few days.
A few wildebeests with a zebra in the background.
Currently, in South Africa, kids are off school until July 17th for the "school holiday." The reason we knew this particular date is that Marta, our housekeeper, who lives in a tiny house on the property has a few of her kids staying here with her until the holiday ends when they'll return to school to stay with other family members in a nearby town. 
A large bull at the side of the road.
This scenario is typical for the local workers in Marloth Park.  Many of them come here to work and walk to catch buses that pick them up to return them to various towns surrounding the area.  Many others stay in Marloth during the week living in small houses such as Marta's here on the grounds and return to their families on their days off.
Elephants crossing the road.
It's not an easy life and we appreciate them all including Marta and Josiah who cleans the pool, the grounds and the veranda on most weekdays.  Then, there's Vusi and Zef who attend to replenishing our bottled water and bottled gas.  Many areas of the house use bottled gas such as the water heater, oven, range, and gas braai. 
Wildebeests, zebras and an impala sharing their food sources in Kruger.
Typically, they all cover for one another if one is ill or unable to work.  Of course, Louise and Danie oversee the efficient running in all of these areas, ensuring the work is getting done proficiently and in a timely manner.
Giraffe preparing to cross the road.
As for our "stroke of good luck," well, Tom couldn't have done a better job at saving us over ZAR 14,893 (US $1100) on an upcoming cruise we'd already booked.  The cruise sails on October 24, 2019, beginning in Southampton, England and ending in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on November 8, 2019, at which time we'll fly to Nevada (and later drive to Arizona) to see family for a few weeks.
As we zoomed in on the above giraffe, we noticed this round patch which must be a result of some type of injury.
As we've mentioned on many past occasions, by watching cruise fares almost daily, when there's a price drop, all we must do is notify Vacations-to-Go, a company we use exclusively for booking cruises.

They'll verify the price drop with the cruise line and issue us a new "cruise confirmation" document showing the new pricing. Tom had been able to get a ZAR 4062 (US $300) price reduction on this same cruise about a month ago. 
Cape buffalo grazing along the edge of a waterhole.
Yesterday, he contacted Vacations-to-Go again when he noticed another price reduction at Celebrity's website for another ZAR 10,831 (US $800).  With these combined price reductions we saved ZAR 14,893 (US $1100).  This is more than a 25% reduction from the original cost of the cruise.

It's this type of diligence we maintain, individually and collectively to ensure we're always getting the best possible pricing for everything we do.  In doing so, it allows us to spend a little more on quality properties wherever we may travel in the world.

We'd hoped to go to Kruger today but have heard there's a long wait to enter.  They only allow so many visitors inside the park at one time.  We've heard it is a maximum of 600 visitors per day at each of the nine entrance gates to the vast national park.  We'll wait until the holiday season winds down.

Have an excellent day and evening!

Photo from one year ago today, June 26, 2017:
Vincent caught his first fish of the day, 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 adults care to fillet small sunfish or crappies (pronounced, croppies).  For more photos, please click here.

Twelve animals hit and killed the roads in Marloth Park in past two weeks...

This hippo was very far away from us when we took this photo.  It was only after we uploaded it that we noticed how many oxpeckers were on his hide.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Yesterday, we spotted this ostrich family near this vehicle.  It was over four years ago we saw our first ostrich in the wild in Marloth Park.  It was on December 7, 2013, that we'd spotted an ostrich standing next to this exact same vehicle at this exact same property, looking at himself in the window of the vehicle.  Click here for that post.  See photo below from that date!

From the December 7, 2013 post:  "While on a walk in our neighborhood Tom spotted this ostrich that had wandered into a homeowner's yard appearing to be fascinated by looking at himself in the window."
Its heartbreaking to see in a post for Marloth Park in Facebook that 12 wild animals have been killed on the roads in the park.  Certainly, some of these horrible incidents have been unavoidable.  But, the remainder may be attributed to visitors driving too fast on the tar road that runs from one end of the park to the other.

There are two 24-hour a day guarded gates to enter into Marloth Park, the only access points.  Entering via Gate #1 requires a very long and bumpy ride on a dirt road from the N4 highway but is technically shorter (distance wise, not time-wise) than driving the extra distance on the highway to Gate #2.  Rarely do any locals attempt to drive to Gate #1. 
Each time we're near the Crocodile River we see waterbucks. They live in herds of 6 to 30 animals, with one male who defends his territory.
It's hard to say who these careless drivers may be and how they've entered the park.  They could be renters living in a holiday house or others entering the park to explore and see wildlife or...others with dinner reservations at any of the local restaurants or...could be troublemakers up to "no good."

With all the traffic and noise we heard last night, loud voices, loud music, and engines revving we can't help but wonder if they have somehow made their way into the park with little to no regard for the quality of life here.
We've been lucky to see elephants along the river road most days we go out for a drive. Yesterday was no exception.
In yesterday's post, we addressed some of these issues that crop up during the busy school-holiday season and other holidays times.  Please see this link here.  It's possible the commotion will continue until well into August. 

Lately, we've heard about major criminal incidents in and around the area.  We stay on constant alert to protect ourselves and our belongings.  Luckily, most of the homes here have alarm systems, like ours but we all know they can be compromised.
Whether we spot one or 30 elephants, it's always awe-inspiring.
We can only hope and pray that those who've rented holiday homes will offer the utmost of kindness and concern for the peaceful and pleasing way of life only found in Marloth Park.

Yesterday afternoon, while driving along the river, we spotted a 5 or 6-year-old kid steering an SUV while sitting on his dad's lap. What was this guy thinking?  This scenario could be one of many careless cases and causes of wildlife being killed on the roads.  Careless driving.
"The elephant's trunk is able to sense the size, shape, and temperature of an object. An elephant uses its trunk to lift food and suck up water then pour it into its mouth. elephants cry, play, have incredible memories, and laugh. Elephants can swim – they use their trunk to breathe like a snorkel in deep water."
For our worldwide readers who are not located in this area, we apologize for continually bringing up these topics.  We're hoping that if only one person staying or visiting Marloth Park sees our posts, maybe one animal will be saved.

On a lighter note, we're doing quite well.  With a 90% improvement in my health since eliminating dairy from my diet, several weeks ago, I am literally on Cloud 9.  To finally not have an awful stomach ache after over two years, I'm enjoying everything we do 10-fold. 
"There are three distinct species of elephant left in the world: The Asian elephant and African elephant which are the forest and savanna elephant species."
As we drove through Marloth Park yesterday, I described to Tom how wonderful it feels to be free of the constant pain and discomfort while riding on the very bumpy dirt roads in the park.  Also, the freedom of not constantly worrying over what the problem could be has been equally liberating. 
"The elephant’s gestation period is 22 months, longer than any other land animal in the world. A newborn human baby weighs an average of 3 kg (7 pounds) while a newborn elephant baby can weigh up to 118 kg (260 pounds)! The baby can stand up shortly after being born."
In addition, as of today, after one month, I've lost 3.6 kg (8 pounds) from eliminating dairy while watching portions and my clothes have begun to fit better.  
Cape Buffaloes may be referred to as the mafia, not only because of their strong character but because they never forgive and almost always seek revenge. They have been recorded seeking revenge on someone years after being threatened by them.
I plan to continue on this path of a slow weight loss so that by the time summer begins on December 21st, with temperatures in the 40C's (104Fs), I'll finally fit back into all my shorts. It's too hot in the summers here to wear Capri-length or long jeans all day while sitting outdoors on the veranda.
This appears to be a blooming aloe vera plant.  Please correct me if I'm wrong.
As for today, soon, we'll head to the post office with our tracking number to see if they can track our missing package.  It was sent on May 23, 2018, and has yet to arrive.  This is not unusual as we often find ourselves waiting for a shipment for upwards of two months.

After the post office, once again, we'll drive through the park, continuing our search for the lion (to no avail, thus far) and of course, any other wildlife that graces us with their presence.

Have a peaceful and meaningful day!

Photo from one year ago today, June 26,2017:
One year ago today, I joined Maisie, Madighan, and daughter-in-law Camille at The Stages Theater in Hopkins , Minnesota where the four of us saw a local production of Shrek.  For more photos, please click here.