What a morning!...Many species came to call within a two-hour time frame...Is this real?

This was our first daytime giraffe visit at this house.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Zebras, helmeted guinea fowl, and of course our boy Tusker, whose quite a regular.
This morning we heard helicopters flying overhead heading to Kruger National Park in search of poachers.  A huge effort is being made to preserve the integrity of our endangered species who are being slaughtered for their horns, tusks and even the scales of the quickly becoming extinct pangolin (an animal we've yet to see and would love to).
Within minutes a second giraffe arrived and we excitedly photographed them both.
Endless varieties of birds are singing and we even can hear the gurgling sounds of hippos a short distance away on the Crocodile River.  The sun is shining, the temperature is a comfortable 20C (68F) with a mild breeze.  It couldn't be a more perfect morning...so we thought.
Giraffes have little competition for food in the treetops other than other giraffes.
Awakening earlier than usual after a good night's sleep, while Tom was watching the Minnesota Vikings final pre-season game, I interrupted him to ask if he'd like to go to Kruger once I completed the post and he finished watching the game.
We couldn't have been more thrilled to see them in our garden at long last.
In most cases, he enthusiastically agrees but this time he hesitated to state the weekend was here and the crowds would be overwhelming in the national park during this busy holiday season.  
This smaller giraffe may have been the offspring of the visiting female.
I was slightly disappointed but shrugged and went about my day, doing some laundry, chopping and dicing for tonight's dinner and reviewing the photos we had on hand for today's post.  Next week, we'll surely head to Kruger, having been away for at least three weeks with our recent time out of the country
Zebras are quite rambunctious with one another when competing for pellets.  They don't hesitate to kick and bite one another.
Little did I know that within a matter of minutes, magic would happen and visitors came, one species after another including the very first visit to our grounds by giraffes, who we'd longed to see since our arrival over six months ago.
And then, a band of mongoose suddenly appeared, hoping for raw eggs.  Tom mixed up a bowl full and placed it on the ground.
We'd seen a few giraffes in neighboring properties and taken a few photos, mainly at night and once, several weeks ago, saw one giraffe lingering in our driveway late at night.  But, never, had any giraffes come to call during the day.

I couldn't grab the camera quickly enough especially when all at once we had the following:  giraffes, zebras, warthogs, mongoose and helmeted guinea fowl.  Throughout the morning we had visits from bushbucks, hornbills, duikers and a wide array of bird species.
They are used to Tom bringing out the bowl of raw scrambled eggs and wouldn't back off while he placed it on the ground.
Tom didn't hesitate to pause the football game to come outside to revel in the menagerie gracing us with their presence, each on their own mission for some treats. Whether it was pellets, carrots, apples, eggs or birdseeds, we joyfully shared our recently purchased inventory of things they love.

Unfortunately, giraffes don't eat any foods we may offer when their goal and physical abilities only allow them to eat from the treetops or from vegetation slightly below.  They only bend to the ground when drinking.
They pile atop one another to get a lick out of the bowl of eggs.  It's hysterical to watch the action.
The morning continued on in a magical way, reminding us of how grateful and humbled we are to be in this amazing place, unlike anywhere else in the world, for whatever time we have left to be in South Africa.

Tom finished watching the game, Minnesota won, he was happy. I stayed busy with my myriad projects, online research and managing the morning's photos.  It's been a great day so far.  Let's see what rolls out for the remainder of the day.

Be well.  Be happy.
Photo from one year ago today, August 31, 2017:
Tom captured this unusual cloud formation in Costa Rica.  For more, please click here.

A trip to Komatipoort first thing today...Out of pellets, carrots and apples!!!...A familiar drive reaps rewards...

That littlest one could not have been more than a week or two old.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
This male ostrich appeared comfortably seated in the middle of a driveway of a bush home.
Busy since we returned from Zambia and Botswana one week ago today, neither of us had any interest in grocery shopping.  We stopped for some meat and vegetables in Melalane on the return drive from the airport, hurriedly purchasing enough to last several days.
Spotting elephants and lions are the most exciting when we make our usual drive in Marloth Park.  Yesterday, we didn't see lions but were thrilled to see elephants again on our first drive in Marloth in over two weeks, after our time away in Zambia and Botswana.
After dining out on Saturday night with Kathy and Don and eating light on Sunday after the braai at Frikkees Dam on Sunday with Louise and Danie and friends, we made it with the few items we had on hand.

But, when we ran out of apples and carrots on Wednesday and the pellet supply dwindled down to only enough for this morning, we knew it was time to head to Komatipoort to shop for pellets and groceries. 
It was a perfect sunny day and the elephants graced us on our side of the Crocodile River.
This would include Tom's usual trip to Lebombo for the carrots and apples for the wildlife along with eggs for the mongoose who've also been stopping by each day.  It's been rather busy here.
It's always special to see the babies and how lovingly they are cared for by the entire parade.
With the immigration thing hanging over our heads which is yet to be resolved with only 83 days remaining until our current visas expire, we've definitely been pre-occupied.  

In the next few days, we'll share some other options we've been working on which may or may not provide a solution.  We wanted to move it along a little further before we started posting details.  We're almost at that point.
We spotted around 20 elephants in this sighting.
Restocking food for the wildlife and ourselves made us both feel a little more settled.  Lately, everything feels a little "up in the air" with so little time remaining until we have to leave.
As summer nears in the next few months, everything will be lush and green providing great food sources for the wildlife.
I must admit I've struggled to do the posts, for the first time since we began posting in March 2012 while so entrenched in the current situation.  Normally, we take things in our stride and are easily able to maintain an upbeat attitude.  

If anything, we work on solutions and resolutions that generally only take a day or two at most.  But, here we are a week later, without a sense of assuredness as to what will transpire next.
We stayed watching them for quite a while.  It's not easy to walk away.
Rather than sitting around mopping and/or worrying we decided to allocate so much time a day to finding a solution, spending the remainder of our days and evenings doing exactly what has made our past six-plus months in Marloth Park so extraordinary...time with the wildlife and our friends.  It really helps.
At a distance, we spotted a dazzle of zebras climbing back up the steep embankment by the Crocodile River.
We took off in the newest "little car" and I mean "little."  It's a Datsun Go if you know what that is.  No offense to any Datsun Go owners out there.  It's definitely an economical and fuel-efficient small car that we have no doubt owners appreciate.  
There are often a few cattle egret near elephants.
For the entire three-month rental of the little car, it was only slightly over ZAR 14,614, (US $1000) the lowest price we've paid anywhere in the world.  The tradeoff is the fact that we bounce around like crazy on these rough dirt roads in Marloth and Kruger Parks.

With the upcoming uncertainty and the expensive Kenya tour in February for which we'll be paying the second of three installments tomorrow at ZAR 78,431 (US $5360), we've had to tighten our belts over something we could control, the cost of the rental car.
They often stay close to one another for safety reasons especially when there are youngsters in the herd.
Thus, when we took off in search of even more wildlife, we knew it was going to be one bumpy ride and, indeed it was.  Thank goodness my back doesn't hurt anymore.  These rides would be unbearable for anyone suffering from any type of painful condition.

With much anticipation and enthusiasm, we bounced around Marloth Park, never to be disappointed as shown in today's photos.  No, it wasn't as exciting as a game drive in Chobe or Kruger National Parks but it certainly was special and worthwhile.
A solitary male impala by the river.  Most often impalas are found in herds.
Now back at the house with everything put away, a new 40 kg bag of pellets filling the big trash bin we keep in the corner of the living room, using the little yellow Tupperware container to scoop out and toss the pellets to the visitors, we feel somewhat back to our enjoyable routine.

Soon, I'll start cutting apples and carrots for the visitors and begin preparing our dinner for tonight, roast beef on the braai, roasted vegetables and a green salad with homemade dressing.  Simple. Predictable.  And, delicious.

Life is still good.  It's just a little complicated right now.  We'll make it right soon.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, August 30, 2017:

A winking barn owl at a rescue center in Costa Rica.  For more photos, please click here.

Dealing with "stuff."...Can't escape certain issues while traveling...More astounding visitor numbers!...

After our recent record-breaking 20 kudus in the garden, we were flabbergasted when 25 showed up all at once a few days later!
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
I believe this is a hadeda bird who makes exquisite sounds flying overhead at dusk.
There's the issue of our package.  It was sent by US Postal Service on May 28th and has yet to arrive.  The cost for insurance for the contents was over ZAR 5754 (US $400).  We didn't want to pay this added amount and decided to take the risk.  Never again.  Not doing so was a big mistake on our part.
We must have gone through 10 kg (22lbs) of pellets while they visited.
In the future, all packages we ship from the US will have to be sent via UPS, FED EX, and DHL while we succumb to paying the outrageous costs for expediency.  In the interim, we continue to track the package which last arrived in Johannesburg where it's been stuck since June 6th.
After waiting a while for more pellets which we wanted to save until Thursday when we shop, they began to wander off.
Louise, who's an absolute miracle worker in all areas, hasn't been able to pin it down to get it here.  I called Louise's contact again this morning pleading for help and offering to pay a fee to have the package brought to us.  This may work.  We shall see.
"No more food?  We're off to the next bush house!"
Apparently, there was a post office strike months ago and they still aren't caught up at the processing center.  The box could easily be in a shipping container, yet to be unpacked.  Oh, good grief.  
When wildlife, such as these wildebeests lie down in the garden like this, it may indicate they feel comfortable and safe enough to rest for a bit.
Life on the move is often a mishmash of extraordinary experiences interspersed with problematic situations and challenges, some of which can be resolved with persistence, coupled with a degree of patience.  
These could be a mating pair.
This sounds like an oxymoron but it's not.  Kindly persistence is crucial...there's no room for angry outbursts or threatening tones in one's voice.  As for being patient, once we've done all we can do, we must wait.  
A young wildebeest made himself at home in the garden resting after a pellet frenzy.
We remind ourselves...this is Africa, not the US where even there one can encounter endless cases of incompetence and lack of desire to get the job done proficiently.  Not every worker is like many of us in our fields of endeavor as we strived to "get the job done" as seamlessly and quickly as possible.

But, expecting such degrees of competence and motivation is not always easy to find and when we do, it's more glaring than those who aren't competent.  The competent become the anomaly.
Wildebeest Willie hung around for several hours, resting and eating a few pellets from time to time.  He makes good eye contact, letting us know exactly what he wants.  Do I detect a morsel of love in those looks?  Could be.
Now, as we struggle with our immigration issues we can only hope and pray that as we finalize future plans we can count on the people at the other end who will ultimately be responsible for our comfort and convenience.  That's a big bill to fill.

We often comment to one another how fortunate we've been during this past almost six years (upcoming anniversary of travels in 63 days) when each time we've paid for and arrived to rent a holiday home, its been mostly as described.  
The kudus and the wildebeests get along well.
The only exception to this was the very first house we rented in Belize which turned out to be a fiasco.  There was only running water a few hours each day and many more issues. We left in seven days and lost our money. To this day, we don't know how we didn't turn back and say we didn't want to do this after all.

However, without complaining to one another, we carried on as we do now, with the postal service issue, immigration issues and whatever transpires from here.  Whoever may think that traveling the world full-time is easy is kidding themselves.  Like everyday life, wherever you may live in the world, life isn't easy.

We can choose to embrace it all, figuring out solutions along the way, always striving for resolutions and also preparing for disappointments.

May your day be filled with happy solutions!

Photo from one year ago today, August 29, 2017:

From this website: "The owl butterflies, the genus Caligo, are known for their huge eyespots, which resemble owls' eyes. They are found in the rainforests and secondary forests of Mexico, Central, and South America. Owl butterflies are very large, 65–200 mm (2.6–7.9 in), and fly only a few meters at a time, so avian predators have little difficulty in following them to their settling place. However, the butterflies preferentially fly at dusk, when few avian predators are around. The Latin name may possibly refer to their active periods; caligo means darkness." For more photos, please click here.

The Railway Museum in Livingstone, Zambia...Challenges of tours throughout the world...

This is train deluxe coach from the 1901 era
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Although his tusks were small, this was the largest elephant we spotted in Chobe National Park.
We've been so busy figuring out what our next move will be since we returned from Zambia last Thursday evening, we've had little time to return to some of our photos from our tours in Livingstone.
At the entrance to the Livingston Railway Museum in Zambia.
One of the tours of particular interest to Tom, as a retired railroad worker for 42½ years, was visiting the Railway Museum in Livingstone, Zambia on the day we toured the city of Livingstone.  
The interior walkway of the above coach where the sleepers were located.
Admittedly, Livingstone is a small city, formerly the capital, with few points of interest to most travelers.  Most travel to the area to see one or both sides of Victoria Falls in Zambia and Zimbabwe and also to safari in Chobe National Park, on game drives and river tours on the Chobe and Zambezi River.
Steam locomotive firebox.
To reach all of the above venues including visa/immigration processing along the way, within 2½ hours.  The tours themselves can run from two to six hours depending on the packages the tourists choose based on their budget and available time.
Passenger coach from the 1930 era.
A mention for those who may have a disability...if one has a serious medical condition, the bouncing on the game drives could be prohibitive.  If you've never been on a game drive, this is a serious consideration.  
This is a crane/"hook" used in derailments, Cowans Sheldon crane #109.
Also, visiting Victoria Falls has some terrain that could be challenging whether from the Zambia or Zimbabwe sides, each of which is different.  We found the Zimbabwe side slightly easier hike. 
Small steam engine (boiler).
We also saw some visitors in wheelchairs being managed by strong individuals who could navigate the varying elevations in the walking paths.  There are no rough hills to climb other than the gradations in the fairly level paths.  
This is the balance of the above photo, the tender and the cab.
As for today's railway museum, it was easy to maneuver with level walking areas along the tracks where the trains are located.  However, getting up and onto some of those that allowed visitors to board, could be highly risky for those with any type of mobility and strength issues.
A steam engine, reminding us of "Thomas" trains, appropriately named, built in 1919.
Those railroad guys, like Tom, think nothing of the steep climb necessary to board a train after years of doing so.  Also, getting into a safari vehicle can be challenging with a steep climb up into the tall vehicle.  There are numerous occasions where a tourist will be getting on and off the truck.
This is a 15th class, 4-6-4 + 4-6-4 Garratt, circa 1950's.
I mention these for those who may be considering traveling to this part of the world for some of the most exciting venues in the world such as Victoria Falls, as a World Heritage location and one of the Seven Wonders of the World as described here.
This is a 12th class, 4-8-2 #189, circa 1926.
Of course, there are a few tourist attractions worldwide that senior may hesitate to visit due to health, age, and disability.  There are even a few that give us pause (for me particularly with my bad spine) such a Machu Picchu and the mountain trek to see the gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda.  
This is a 16A class, 2-8-2 + 2-8-2 Garratt #623, from 1952.
But, these two are still on our list of desired spots to visit as we continue in our world travels.  We'll see how it goes.  After feeling well for the first time in a few years after the resolution of my gastrointestinal issues in June, we consider such future plans gingerly.
A steam engine and tender, formerly part of the Rhodesian Railway (now Zambia).
Even driving through Marloth Park several times a week presents its own challenges which I handle easily, the outrageous bouncing on the uneven dirt roads with many potholes and often getting out of the little car to walk through the dense bush to get a better look and to take photos of sightings along the way.
A steam engine and tender.
As a matter of fact, we've been so busy since our return last Thursday, we've yet to take the time to make those wonderful drives through Marloth Park and/or return to Kruger National Park.

Perhaps, in the next few days, we'll put aside our immigration issues and search for solutions to continue to enjoy the time we do have left in the bush.  In the interim, the beautiful animals have been coming to see us!  What a treat that has been, as always!
Steam engine boiler exposed to show interior, #91, built in 1912.
Enjoy today's train photos with comments from Tom explaining a few details below each photo. 

Have a  fantastic day!
Photo from one year ago today, August 28, 2017:
When this sweet and friendly butcher at the Farmers Market spotted me with the camera, he willingly posed!  The people of Costa Rica were approachable and warm.  For more photos, please click here.