Challenges of life...Never easy...Often unexpected...

Last night, we took granddaughter Madighan to her weekly karate class. It was fun watching her and four boys in the same age group, learning the moves presented by Sensei Luiz.
Today, I spent the day at the cancer center at Park Nicollet Frauenshuh Cancer Center at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park with my daughter-in-law Camille. She has stage three colon cancer which we were apprised of a few months ago.

This heartbreaking news for the mother of three of our grandchildren and wife of son Greg had prompted us to come to Minnesota without an outgoing flight and a level of uncertainty as to how long we'd stay. 
Our original plan was to stay for two weeks but now we've extended it to three weeks based on circumstances and would have stayed longer except for the fact I am grossly allergic to cats which causes severe asthma. Greg and Camille have Morty, an adorable cat.

I am unable to spend more than a few hours at their house each day and thus, we've decided we'll be leaving Minnesota on Thanksgiving Day which is the best time to fly out to avoid the holiday rush on either end.

We feel sad to be leaving early but have no choice since I am hardly in a position to be having breathing problems at this point, or for that matter, at any point.

When we lived here seven years ago I'd only spend a few hours at their home while visiting. More often, they came to visit us or we did activities out and about. Now with winter fast approaching, snow on the ground and bitterly cold weather, outdoor activities aren't practical.

We're spending as much time as possible with the grandkids and their parents, enjoying everything we're doing together. Oftentimes, Tom and I are separated spending time with our respective families.

As for dear Camille, she is doing as well as anyone could under these dreadful circumstances. Her strength and attitude are exceptional, not surprisingly, and we have all the hope and anticipation she will recover from this frightening disease.

Her family and friends have lovingly and helpfully rallied around her and she is in good hands with lots of love, support, and prayers. I hadn't mentioned this in a prior post since I wanted to ensure she was comfortable with my doing so.

Today, while we spent several hours in the private chemo suite, we had a good chance to talk and she agreed that my writing about her condition would be fine especially since she'd posted a few comments on Facebook with periodic updates for her family and friends to see.

There are no words anyone can say to a cancer patient or their family to ease the worry and concern during this painful and difficult process. Having been faced with my own mortality this past year, made us both all the more compassionate and understanding of the emotional upheaval of dealing with a potentially life-threatening condition.  

Although we have to leave Minnesota, we'll be in close touch with Camille's progress and continue to pray for a positive outcome. She has a long way to go with her many upcoming treatments and eventual surgery but our thoughts will always be with her.

At the moment, I am sitting in a Perkins Restaurant working on today's post. At 4:45 pm, son Greg will pick me up to attend the bake sale at the kid's school for which we'd made tons of Rocky Road Bars we placed in pretty holiday tins for tonight's event. 

It was quite a job, putting together all those containers with over 200 bars but it's for a good cause for the Agamim Charter School fundraiser. We all got involved in the process and ultimately I made it through the hours of baking and standing on my feet. My only issue was the difficulty in breathing due to the cat.

Baking for hours was something I hadn't done since last Thanksgiving when I made eight pumpkin pies in the 102F (40C) heat and humidity in Marloth Park when I classified my day as a "Pumpkin Pie Hell." See the link here.

The awful heat had a huge impact on the made-from-scratch dough, almost impossible to roll in the awful weather but somehow I made it through the day. The pies didn't look as good as they tasted, so said our holiday dinner guests!

We would have loved to stay in Minnesota for Thanksgiving dinner but there were limited non-stop flights available and that particular day offered the best options. We'll arrive in Henderson, Nevada in the early evening and possibly go out for dinner thereafter.

That's it for today, folks! Tomorrow's another day.

Be well.
Photo from one year ago today, November 11, 2018:
This morning, Tom stood next to Ms. Bushbuck to prevent kudus from stealing her share of pellets. For more photos, please click here.

How does it feel being back in Minnesota?...

Today, it's snowing in Minneapolis and suburbs and the roads are slippery.
Many have asked, "How does it feel to be back home?"

The answer to this question is entangled with many emotions. We had a good life here in Minnesota. Tom was born in Minneapolis and I'd come to the state back in 1969 when my two sons were two years and an infant.

But, like all families, we each had our struggles, disappointments and tough times interspersed with the happy memories and milestones of our lives and the lives of our children, other family members, and friends.

Now, after being away for seven years, it feels very different and here. Today, I can only speak for myself. Tom can only decide for himself at this point for which he isn't quite certain.

It's not the same, for sure. Years ago when on occasion I traveled for business or pleasure, as the plane flew over the city, especially at night, I had a powerful sense of, "This is my happy place. This is my home."

When we flew over the city and suburbs on Friday night, other than joyful anticipation in seeing our family members, I didn't feel a moment of nostalgia or reminiscence. It was simply another big city we were flying over at night, some of which elicit enthusiasm and excitement and others, very little emotion at all.

When we've arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa on our way to Marloth Park, I didn't feel a speck of joy. But, when we'd flown into the small facility, Mpumulanga/Nelspruit/Kruger Airport my heart was pounding in my chest with sheer joy and excitement. It's all relative. That's the way life is. That's the way our life is.

And soon, when we fly into Mumbai, India is a mere 50 days my heart will be aflutter with hope and expectations for two months of a purely profound cultural experience with a smidgen of wildlife tossed in the mix. (We're booking several days on tiger safaris).

But, is Minnesota still our home? If not, then where is the home of these two nomads who wander the earth, now seven years in the making? It's right here. It's there. It's everywhere.

The old adage, "Home is where the heart is," however corny that may sound is with a doubt a truism. For us, wherever we may be at any given moment is "home" and in our own peculiar way, we call it so over and over again. 

When we say after a long day of sightseeing or visiting with friends, "Shall we head for "home" honey?" "Do you feel like heading home?" We know what we mean and thus, the definition for us in this unusual life we lead is "home is down the road to that place where we lay our heads, cook our meals and find comfort in the activities of our daily lives and each other."

It's cold here now, mostly in the low 20's (-6.6C) and this morning sleet and snow is falling in thin sheets, leaving frosty trees, slippery roads, and walkways. I've yet to drive the rental car and suspect I may never in our remaining weeks in Minnesota.

We've decided we'll stay through Thanksgiving, then fly to Apache Junction, Arizona to our awaiting holiday home, unpack our belongings and then proceed to Nevada for a visit returning to Arizona a week or ten days later. We'll only take a small amount of luggage to Nevada and for the first time in a while, we'll be traveling light. Of course, posts will continue along the way.

Today, we wrapped up the paperwork and got it in the mail for our required visa for India. It's a complicated process that was weighing heavily on our minds. Now we can relax knowing the paperwork is in the mail. We'll receive the visa via email in several weeks.

Next, we need to process our "second passports" which enable us to apply for visas requiring we mail in our original passports to apply for visas. This prevents us from being in a foreign country without a valid passport in our possession.

Tonight, we're taking three of the grandchildren out to dinner after watching granddaughter Madighan at her karate class. 

A special thanks to our loyal readers for continuing to read our posts during this quiet time in our world travels. We appreciate each and every one of YOU!

We'll be back tomorrow with more, however quiet, however mundane, and however uneventful it may be.

Happy day!
Photo from one year ago today, November 13, 2018:
This is my boy "Little".  He visits almost daily.  He'd just returned from eating from the bale of hay left in the neighbor's driveway when they departed after the weekend.  That's why he has grass all over his snout.  He likes to cool off in the cement pond, sleep under the shade of a tree in our garden and climb the veranda steps seeking pellets.  What a guy! For more photos, please click here.

Busy days, busy nights...Life in the USA...

My cioppino (fish stew) at Stella's Fish House was delicious.
Our days and nights couldn't be busier consisting of one event after another. Today, my dear daughter-in-law Camille and I shopped at Cub Foods, Target and the dollar store in preparation for making a fabulous rocky road bar recipe (from my baking days, long past).

The goal was to make as many as we could with the ingredients we purchased for an upcoming bake sale event at the three grandchildren's charter school in Edina which we visited on Monday for a special Veteran's Day celebration.

Maisie, our granddaughter is on the school council and each of the council members planned to participate in the bake sale.  Maisie was excited Grandma was here to help bake something special for the event occurring on Thursday evening. I was "all-in" of course, never wanting to disappoint our precious grandchildren.

Camille and I shopped this morning and my eyes were like saucers at the abundance of "stuff" on sale in the three stores we visited, particularly Cub Foods, a massive supermarket, containing literally everything a person could dream of buying at a grocery store. I was on information overload.

It had been over two years since we've visited the US and as expected, walking into a spacious store of any type makes our heads spin in sheer delight over the vast options, more than we'd ever imagined.

Back at hers and Greg's homes, we hustled to get the bar's ingredients mixed together to get them into the oven before Tom planned to pick me up by 5:00 pm.

We told our kids and our thoughtful host not to worry about meals for us. We'd figure them out on our own. Plus, I didn't feel up to standing in the kitchen cooking big meals for hours since in any case, it's in my nature to help out.

But, busy all of these hours made me realize I still wasn't quite "up to snuff" and didn't possess the stamina and strength to perform lots of tasks to help anyone out with their day-to-day lives.

This was the first time in nine months I've had busy full days and I could easily feel the strain on my still recovering body. I'd overestimated what I was capable of doing and in my typical style I jumped in with both feet pushing myself as hard as I can with some consequence.

Going forward, I will take it a little easier, reducing what I expect of myself to a more manageable level. No one in our family is expecting me to push myself. It's all on me.

Tomorrow will be a little more low key. Tom and I will hang around at Karen's home during the day while we work on our visas, two-year passports, and logging receipts. In the afternoon, we'll head back to Camille and Greg's home so I can cut up the bars and arrange them in the pretty containers we purchased to use to sell the bars at the bake sale. 

Afterward, we'll take the three kids out to dinner at their favorite local restaurant, Bunny's, returning them home after dinner.

My sister Julie has flown back to Los Angeles. It was wonderful to see her and in the next month, I'll see my other sister Susan in Las Vegas, Nevada along with son Richard in Henderson. Busy times. Good times. Memorable times.

Back at you soon!

Photo from one year ago today, November 12, 2018:
The convoluted photo is difficult to decipher at first.  Note the one kudu attempting to eat the seeds in the birdfeeder which she eventually accomplished. For more photos, please click here.

Fun times dining with family...Cold, cold, cold...Veteran's Day event...

Out to dinner at Stella's Fish House, charming granddaughter Maisie sat next to me.

Introspective grandson Miles wasn't interested in fish and had a burger instead.

Always-smiling Madighan was loving being with her family and eating seafood along with a taste of Grandpa's barbeque ribs (who like Miles, didn't eat fish). 
We knew it would be cold in Minnesota, even as early as November but we had no idea it would be as cold as it has been today. As of this moment, close to 2:00 pm, the temperature is 15F, -9.44C.  That's cold. 

Considering today's windchill is bitter cold -1F, -18C, walking outside downright uncomfortable. For the locals this is normal. We remember living here seven years ago.

This bitter cold weather takes our breath away with a cold grasp that sucks our lungs dry. Yesterday, a light covering of snow fell which melted a short time later. Upcoming on Wednesday, the snowfall could be substantial enough to cause congestion and accidents on the roads. I've yet to drive a car.

I wasn't a good driver in the best of conditions and I doubt I'd be any good in this slippery weather. We're doing everything we can to avoid the necessity of me driving either the rental car or the SUV offered by Greg and Camille (son and DIL). 

We'll see how that goes since it seems we're always on the move and often finding we need to split up on several occasions to spend time with our respective families. That's how it goes with "blended families." Very few situations allow for the two separate families getting together.

Our grandchildren are delightful and the parents happy to see us at long last. We feel bad about being away for so long but my health issues of this past year kept us away for an additional seven months, over and above the time we'd originally planned to be here.

The price we paid for the unavoidable delay has been being in this cold weather which will only worsen during our remaining time here, depending upon when we decide to leave Minnesota to head to Nevada to see son Richard in Henderson and sister Susan in North Las Vegas.

How's it going here? Very well. It's wonderful to spend time with the family and look forward to plans together over the next few weeks. Thus far, we've been extremely busy, more than we ever have while traveling since my surgery in February.

I'm working hard to keep up with everyone and all the planned events. Previously, we had many more hours a day to lounge and lay low.  Now, its a fairly consistent level of activity and I'm striving to stay in tune with everyone else.

At night, after a long day and evening, we wind up back at Karen's gorgeous home to relax and spend more time catching up. Over these years, Karen and I have stayed in fairly close touch and now our conversations are similar to those wonderful chats we had together, day after day, for many years. 

Tom and Karen's significant other, Rich, get along well. Late last night, they watched the winning Minnesota Vikings game while I wandered off to bed for much-needed rest. It's all going quite well.

This morning at Maisie, Miles and Madighan's charter school, Agamim Academy, a school devoted to educating eager students about US history, the Constitution, and the American way, we attended a beautiful presentation for Veteran's Day commemorating many veterans in attendance and recognition of service provided by our armed forces.

It couldn't have been a more inspiring presentation. Seeing the smiling faces of our three grandchildren and all the other almost 400 students, so proud of their school and country, was inspiring in itself.

At the moment, we're back at Karen's working on today's post and reviewing the prep necessary to apply for our visas for India which we'll need in a little over 60 days. 

That is quite an undertaking as we heard it would be. We'll be using the services of a visa company to assist. Also, we're applying for additional passports...for two years. Our current passports don't expire until 2021. We'll explain more about this later.

Tonight, Tom has plans with grandson Vincent and daughter Tammy while I am going back to Greg and Camille's home to spend the evening with sister Julie (she leaves tomorrow to return to LA), Camille and the kids while Greg is out on business.

We are happy to be here with family and will muster our way through the bitter cold weather and the busy family activities.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 11, 2018:
"Little" came back for more pellets on the veranda.  He feels quite at home here.  Who knew pigs climb stairs? For more details, please click here.

Delta, the demon, day from hell...Finally, we've arrived...New phones...

This morning's view from the backyard of Karen's home in Eden Prairie where we'll be staying while here in Minnesota.
With the best intentions, I'd planned to post this yesterday. But, once we arrived at son Greg's house and the fun activity began I had no time whatsoever to wrap it up and upload the post.

Also, Tom's new Google phone had arrived and I had to spend no less than two hours setting it up. I am usually adept at this but the process wasn't as clear cut as it could have been and I spent at least an hour on the phone with tech support, finally getting everything resolved.
This issue centered around the fact that we'd purchased two Google phones and mine had yet to arrive (it arrived at Karen's home last yesterday) making it difficult to set up a joint account for pay as you go phone and data with only one of the phones in our possession.

We are ridding ourselves of our Skype phone number and will use Whatsapp, Skype or Facebook Messenger for future out-of-the-country calls. Our new phones have reasonable international call rates (as a global phone) but there's no point in paying when no cost options are available via the web.

We'll never have to buy a SIM card again when these global phones work anywhere. Today, I'll finish setting mine up and we'll be good to go.  Ironically, Tom forgot to bring his with him when he left to see his family this morning. Ha! I guess now, we'll become more phone conscientious with these new devices.

On to our trip from the pier in Fort Lauderdale to Minneapolis:

Without a doubt, we are always grateful to any airline for getting us safely to our location. I wish we were tolerant enough to feel that was enough. A certain semblance of organization and flow is also required for us to provide anything beyond a one-star rating.

Delta Airlines, masterful advertisers appealing to all of our senses which was evidenced at Fort Lauderdale, Detroit, and Minneapolis airports with the finest of graphics posters at every turn, leaves a traveler with high expectations.

We were sorely disappointed. Both flights were seriously late with few updates offering its passengers little comfort and remained in a perpetual state of confusion. Let's face it, we're fairly savvy travelers and yet we were constantly scratching our heads wondering what was next.

As it turned out an expected arrival time in Minneapolis was at 6:30 pm when it fact we didn't arrive until almost 8:30 pm, not the worst delay but surely the most confusing. 

With the necessity of picking up the rental car and a horrendous walk to the car rental area, we weren't on our way to Karen's home until well after 9:00 pm. We'd been on the move for 14 hours since we disembarked the ship in Fort Lauderdale when we arrived at Karen's home.

Surprisingly, to both of us, we felt relieved and energized, ending up enjoying the remainder of the evening with Karen and Rich, in their comfy living room, in their gorgeous home, sipping on wine, and catching up.

With Tom off to spend part of the day with his family and the evening with mine watching the Minnesota Vikings game, it will be another good family day for both of us.

This morning, son Greg is picking me up to attend a brunch at a restaurant with Camille, his wife, my three grandkids and other family members and friends.  She has been going through a difficult medical crisis and we are all here to love and support her.

My younger sister Julie is also here visiting from California so its all the more special to be together once again. It has been two years and three months since we were here.

We'll continue to post each day during our two plus months in the USA. Photos may not be a prevalent during this period but we'll do our best. I have several for tomorrow's post. Please check back.
Photo from one year ago today, November 10, 2018:
Wildebeest Willie looks into my eyes when I talk to him in a goofy high pitched voice.  In this photo, he was sharing pellets with impalas. For more photos, please click here.

Final cruise expenses including cruise bill...A few favorite photos...We're off to Minnesota!...

The colorful video presentation of Le Petit Chef dinner in Qsine was delightful and truly memorable.
Here are the expenses for our 15-night cruise from Southampton, England to Fort Lauderdale, Florida:
Expense US Dollar
Cruise Fare  $ 3,814.30
Airfare - none - drove to Southampton  $    -  
Hotel 2 ngts- Southampton-with discount  $   187.06
Taxi   $     22.00
Cabin Credit  $ (400.00)
Wi-Fi on ship (inc in fare)  $    -  
Gratuities (inc in fare)  $    -  
Cruise bill for purchases   $   664.59
Total  $ 4,287.95
Avg Daily Cost - 15 nights  $    285.86

We're currently situated in comfy chairs at Fort Lauderdale Airport awaiting our flight to Minneapolis via Detroit with includes a long layover. It appears our outbound flight is delayed on Delta Airlines (not unusual) but luckily our long layover in Detroit won't cause any time constraints for the next leg of the flight.

Yesterday, we'd prepaid the baggage fee of $140 to avoid delays at the airport. With curbside check-in available getting boarding passes and checking our bags was seamless and we were whisked through immigration and security without incident.

When going through security I asked if I could be frisked as opposed to going through that invasive x-ray machine, explaining I have trouble (which I do) raising my arms over my head since the surgery. No problem. They complied with my request and tested my fingers for explosive materials..
The display left us totally in awe over not only the visuals but also the fine food.
We found electric plug-ins at the chairs at our gate and with the flight delayed we'll be waiting here for over two hours to board the flight. It will be easy to entertain ourselves while we're able to be online and plugged in. 

It will be a good time for me to enter the cruise expenses on our spreadsheet so by the time we reach Minnesota, I'll be free to start accumulating USA related expenses as they occur.

Disembarkation from the ship was slick with no delays whatsoever. The level of organization was spot-on and the lines of over 2200 passengers flowed with ease. 

It was less than 25 minutes from the time we left the ship until we reached the taxi stand and with a wait for a taxi no more than five minutes. With our three 50 pound bags and three carry-on bags, we engaged the services of a porter from the baggage pickup area to the taxi stand. 
Tom never wiped the smile off his face, nor did I. We had a fantastic cruise.
It's simply too much for us to haul entirely on our own especially since I'm of little help in carrying anything at this point. Then again, Tom always was the "pack mule" as he calls himself and has handled the bags since the onset of our travels.

Sure, we wish we had less stuff but we've whittled it down as far as we can considering the varying seasonal clothing we need from location to location throughout the world.  

Many have suggested we buy what we need as we go, leaving it behind when we leave.  Ultimately, that would require too much time shopping and looking to find what we need which is seldom avail considering many of the countries we prefer to visit.  

I couldn't find a single pair of comfy pajamas in South Africa without driving for five hours. After I had the surgery I borrowed pj's from our friend Lynne who so kindly provided me with exactly what I needed. 
We had a fabulous night in Murano Specialty Restaurant celebrating our seventh anniversary of world travel aboard the ship.
Thus, we have what we have and although we'll replace a number of items in the US during this visit, we don't need much. Moreso, we need new laptops and phones are our top priority.

Speaking of phones, this morning we accidentally left behind Tom's old phone on the desk in the cabin. He thought I grabbed it and I thought he did. This was unusual for us. We rarely forget anything. 

His new google phone is awaiting him at friend Karen's home now and my new phone will arrive in about three days. We'll be fine in the interim. In the next few days, we'll contact Celebrity and have them mail the phone to our mailing service in Nevada so we can dispose of it properly.

Once we arrive in Minneapolis, we'll stop at a market for a few items to bring to Karen's house, mainly food for breakfasts and beverages. It will be wonderful to see her and her significant other and stay at their lovely home.

We'll back tomorrow with photos and more!

May your day be pleasant!
Photo from one year ago today, November 8, 2018:
We encountered this stunning scene of zebras and wildebeest from the fence at Marloth Park. One reason zebras and wildebeest hang out together is that zebras love to eat the taller grass and wildebeest the shorter grass – it’s a type of symbiosis. There is no competition regarding food. Also, wildebeests have a better sense of hearing, while zebras can see very well. It’s always great to have an ally to warn of any impending danger. Another reason is zebras and wildebeest prefer to be in the open savannahs...the concept of safety in numbers comes into play. For more, please click here.

Nassau, Bahamas...Final day of the cruise...USA, we're almost there...

The stunning view from the ship as we approached Nassau, Bahamas.
Today, our ship is docked in Nassau, Bahamas. We've both been here many times and have little interest in getting off the ship. At this point, we're busy online making arrangements for the time we'll spend in the US, including time spent with family and friends.
View of hotels along the beach in Nassau, Bahamas.
With many family members to see in Minnesota, Nevada, and Arizona, the two months in the US will surely pass in a breeze. Plus with the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, we're trying to figure out what will work for everyone while we're there.
The world-famous Atlantis Hotel.
Today is packing day. This morning I managed to pack all of my clothing, leaving out the same outfit to wear tonight to dinner and again tomorrow on travel day. All I have left to pack are the toiletries. 

We'll leave out for what items we'll need tomorrow morning since our bags will be taken away tonight. Each cabin is given a number as to when the passengers will be called to disembark the ship.
Today, over 13,000 cruise passengers are in port in Nassau, Bahamas.
We were assigned #27 which may be a little too late for our 11:30 flight.  Tom visited the customer service desk requesting a lower number ending up with #1. The reality is that we'll either wait on the ship to disembark or we'll spend more time waiting at the airport.

At least while we're at the airport we'll have access to WiFi whereby the ship turns off their WiFi first thing in the morning on departure day. After breakfast in the buffet in the morning, we'll depart the ship, pick up our bags using a porter and head to the Fort Lauderdale airport via a taxi.
A peninsula near the port of Nassau.
The ship offers a shuttle service to the airport but their cost is higher than a taxi thus we'll go on our own as always. Most likely, we'll arrive two hours before our flight but can easily busy ourselves while we wait.
A small dock ready for the arrival of a boat.
Once we arrive in Minneapolis around 7:00 pm, we'll collect the rental car and head to a grocery store to purchase a few items before heading to our friend Karen's home in Eden Prairie where we'll stay while in Minnesota. 

We'll have an entire level of Karen's spacious home for ourselves and no doubt, we'll be comfortable and at ease, settling in within a day. We insisted that Karen does not fuss over meals for us nor will we ask our kids to worry about meals for us.
"Conveniently, there’s only one cruise ship terminal in Nassau. It’s called “Prince George Wharf” and it’s located on the northern side of the island. From there, it’s relatively easy to access every beach on the island."
We'll either pick up something for dinner at Costco or another takeaway restaurant or dine at one of the many conveniently located restaurants in the area. Actually, I can't wait to get my hands on some Mexican food which we've both really missed over the past years of world travel.

As for the remainder of today? We'll finish packing and continue working on our future plans for India where we'll stay for two months. We're currently looking into an almost two months tour of the country beginning after the upcoming Maharajas Express train expedition. It's quite exciting. We'll share more details later once we've booked the tour.
Nassau Harbour Lighthouse.
Tomorrow, while at the airport, we plan to do Friday's post which will include our final bill for this cruise and all fo it's ancillary costs.  Please check back.

Thanks, dear readers for hanging in there with us during these relatively mundane periods of mindless drivel over happily cruising along!
Photo from one year ago today, November 7, 2018:
It's a rarity for us to see impalas in the garden but several stopped by to partake of pellets. No doubt, they are hungry this time of year and put aside their apprehension of humans and came to call. This adorable girl was chewing pellets when I shot this photo.  Too cute for words! For more photos, please click here.

Two days and counting...USA, here we come...

Hot and sweaty after dancing at the silent disco.
It's hard to believe we haven't been in the US for two years and three months when we visited family in 2017 in both Minnesota and Nevada.  We've missed everyone and it will be fantastic to see them all once again.

Originally, when booking our time in Minnesota, we'd booked a hotel in a central location between our respective families. As time marched on, my dear friend Karen offered for us to stay in her gorgeous spacious house on a lake in Eden Prairie.

We stayed with Karen for our final few weeks in Minnesota in October 2012 and found it easy and comfortable. There have been only a few other occasions in the past seven years when we've stayed at friend's or family member's homes.

It's a rare occasion for us to stay with anyone when we don't want to impose. We have our own routine which may conflict with that of others and we certainly don't want to be underfoot.

The only family member with whom we've stayed has been son Richard in Henderson Nevada.  He has a roomy house leaving us with an area to ourselves where we won't be in the way. We'll be staying with him in the next month.

As for the time we spend in Apache Junction Arizona near Tom's siblings, we've rented a holiday home and will share details at that time. At this point, we haven't pinned down how long we'll stay in Minnesota. We can always book last minute flights.
The ship's casino. We do not partake.
The cruise is rapidly winding down. We had one "free" bag of laundry done and will be repacking mostly clean clothes. I didn't include many of my tops and shirts when the ship's laundry service tends to ruin some items washing them at too high a temperature.  I didn't want to take the risk.

Tomorrow we'll pack and place our bags outside our cabin doors before 10:00 pm which will then be moved to the port disembarkation area where we'll pick them up on Friday after we exit the ship.

Our flight from Fort Lauderdale to Minneapolis will be very long with almost a four-hour layover in Detroit at which time, we'll find a restaurant and have dinner. We can't ever plan to be served food on flights these days, especially suitable for my way of eating.

We're looking forward to our arrival in Minneapolis, getting settled and seeing family and friends.  No doubt, the next few days will fly by quickly. And before we know it the time in the US will pass quickly and we'll be on or way to India.

The journey continues...Please stay tuned.

Photo from one year ago today, November 6, 2018:
A mom and two offspring from different birth years.  For more photos, please click here.

Photos of Bermuda...Sailing right along...Avoiding worry and concern...

Pirate ship attracting tourists.
Fascinating Fact of the Day About Bermuda:
From this site:
"Bermuda, self-governing British overseas territory in the western North Atlantic Ocean. It is an archipelago of 7 main islands and about 170 additional (named) islets and rocks, situated about 650 miles (1,050 km) east of Cape Hatteras (North Carolina, U.S.). Bermuda is neither geologically nor spatially associated with the West Indies, which lie more than 800 miles (1,300 km) to the south and southwest.

The archipelago is about 24 miles (40 km) long and averages less than 1 mile (1.6 km) in width. The main islands are clustered together in the shape of a fishhook and are connected by bridges. The largest island is Main Island, 14 miles (22.5 km) long and 1 mile wide. The Peak, at 259 feet (79 meters) on Main Island, is the highest point. The capital is Hamilton."
When our ship docked in King's Wharf in Bermuda yesterday morning, we decided to take a walk from the pier to see what we could find. It was a Portuguese holiday and only a few shops and restaurants were open.

We rarely shop in the touristy stores or dine in the restaurants at ports of call but we often enjoy checking out the local flavor. We'd been to Bermuda several years ago on another cruise.
A government building of an unknown name due to a slow WiFi signal aboard the ship.
After taking a few photos during our hour-long walk, we wandered back to the ship to spend the remainder of the afternoon lounging in the cafe sipping coffee drinks and chatting with other passengers.

The remainder of the day and evening flew by in a flurry of conversations, meeting new people at every turn. We spent happy-hour in the Sky Lounge, with a stop at the Ice Bar and then made our way to the Cuvee Dining Room around 7:30 pm for a lovely dinner.
British red coat trying to attract passengers for professional photos.
After dinner, we headed to the Ensemble Lounge to listen to two talented musicians playing string instruments with many recognizable songs that left the passengers in the bar swaying to the music.

By 10:40 pm, we returned to the cabin but managed to stay awake until after midnight finally nodding off for a much-needed decent night's sleep.  For us, cruising is exhausting when we have so much fun!
The bright blue sea surrounding the island of Bermuda.
Has cruising been easy for me considering the past year's dreadful medical issues? Not entirely. At times, when I feel a slight flutter of my heart or a momentary pain from indigestion, it's impossible not to assume something is going on with my heart.

Having read many comments from other survivors of coronary bypass surgery, this type of concern is perfectly normal and even expected for a period of time after recovery from the surgery. 
Hotel overlooking the harbor.
Also, it's important to stay mindful of any alarming symptoms in the event of an issue that may require medical care. Being so far from land in these types of circumstances is undoubtedly a bit frightening. 

I try hard not to worry each time I feel a twinge to avoid getting myself into a constant state of stress and concern which is unhealthy in itself. I must admit I do wonder if all these late nights are good for me. 
Our ship, Celebrity Silhouette.
But, gosh, having such a good time surely must be conducive to good health as long as one is getting plenty of exercise, eating healthfully and getting adequate sleep.

Yesterday, I made an appointment with a cardiology clinic in Minneapolis for the end of this month for a check-up to ensure all is well which hopefully will provide us with peace of mind as we continue on our journey.

Today, back out to sea, we're headed to the Bahamas. We'd visited these same ports of call on previous cruises so we aren't quite certain we'll do so again.  

We'll be back with more tomorrow. Have a pleasant day and evening!

Photo from one year ago today, November 5, 2018:
This is the youngest giraffe in Marloth Park from what we've seen recently.  Check out those knobby knees that will eventually result in some very long legs.  For more photos, please click here.

Part 2...Murano, another fine dining option aboard the ship...Our anniversary cake...No boredom here...

The anniversary cake hosted by the restaurant.  Tom didn't eat any of it.  We handed over to the neighbors from Minnesota in the next cabin for them to enjoy.
The cruise is rapidly coming to an end with only four days until we disembark in Fort Lauderdale, Florida from which we'll immediately fly to Minnesota on the only flight that worked time-wise for us, requiring a lengthy layover in Detroit. We don't mind since its a relatively short travel time, compared to most international flights.

For the next few days, we'll revel in the relaxation and delightful encounters and interactions with other passengers and of course, with one another. It's funny how people often assume we cruise all the time when they first hear we are world travelers.  
The lobster was fabulous!
Neither of us would ever be interested in cruising all the time. Firstly, it would be too expensive for our budget unless we selected "inside" cabins which don't appeal to us.  

Secondly, we'd eventually become bored with cruising if it were to be our permanent status. The novelty of cruising an average of three times a year is ideal for us. We use cruising as a means of transportation whenever possible greatly reducing travel day stresses.

Besides, who wants to socialize every day? The ability to interact with others at our option is ultimately is an ideal scenario. Doing so every daily could become trite and boring.
Tom's plate with chateaubriand, potatoes and vegetables.

Neither of us ever feels bored with our lifestyle.  We've shaped it in a manner to avoid becoming bored and lackluster. This is one of the innate requirements of ensuring long term travel has purpose and meaning.

With considerable forethought and planning as we research each new location, we allow ourselves quiet time to relax, reflect and recharge.  Even during these less-than-exciting times, we seldom, if ever feel bored.

If a moment of "what-do-I-do-now?" overcomes us, we both easily switch gears to tackle a new project, conduct more interesting travel options or engage in research on our favorite topics.
Tom's dessert of chocolate bites, coconut macaroons, and sugared ginger.
In the worst case, we can always stream a movie or favorite show to watch on our laptops. In these respects, our lives are no different from anyone else who may or may not be traveling. 

Sure, in most cases others have the option to make a phone call to meet up with family and friends for social activities, lengthy phone chats or planned activities. This is rarely the case for us when everyone is so far away. But we have each other and find tremendous fulfillment in our time together.

Soon, we'll be in the US and spending some time apart with our respective families during an undetermined time in Minnesota. We have no doubt we'll figure it all out with ease. 

In any case, regardless of how much time we spend in the US, on January 30th, we're flying to Mumbai for the next leg of our journey when the adventure continues.

Happy Monday to all.

Photo from one year ago today, November 4, 2018:
Finally, the lions reached the kill perhaps left behind by another lion. For more photos, please click here.