In our world, two years is not a long time, New cruise booking...A year ago birthday party...A birthday party today...

Ken set up the camera on a timer to take this photo of all 10 of us! Fantastic! For more photos, please click here.
Two years may seem like a long time away, but in our lives, two years fly by in a blur. The past seven years have passed so quickly, we can hardly believe it. When we now recall two years ago, we were in Argentina six days away from flying to Ushuaia, Argentina to board Ponant's Le'boreal to sail to Antarctica.

So now, as we book cruises well into the future we realize how quickly that time will come up and we'll be on our way from Singapore to Japan. Recently we booked three cruises around Japan in 2022 that ultimately will provide us with excellent experiences in this part of the world.

Today, we're sharing details of the first of those three cruises that sails on February 27, 2022, 25 months from now. This particular cruise has four ports of call in Vietnam, with three ports we hadn't visited in the past. The only city we've seen in the past is Hanoi and we loved it so much, we won't mind returning.

The other three locations in Vietnam, as well as those in the balance of the itinerary listed below, are new to us and we're excited to be able to see these locations.

After today's posted cruise ends, we'll have a total of 28 days to spend in Japan. In the future, we'll search for a holiday home that we can book for this period of time, hopefully in the countryside away from the crowds, smog, and traffic. What a wonderful opportunity to experience this interesting country!

From there we'll board a back-to-back cruise around Japan and Korea ending in Vancouver at which point, we'll visit the family in the US once again. By then, it will be April and we may be able to avoid too much bad weather in Minnesota. We have no idea how long we'll be in the USA at that time. We'll figure it out in the future.

Here is the information on the first of the three cruises. Please excuse the formatting. For ease, I copied and pasted it which often causes issues.

      14 nights departing February 27, 2022 on
Celebrity's Celebrity Solstice

Brochure Inside$3,698
Our Inside$1,619
You Save 56%

Brochure Oceanview$4,298
Our Oceanview$1,919
You Save 55%

Brochure Balcony$4,898
Our Balcony$2,079
You Save 58%

Brochure Suite$10,598
Our Suite$5,149
You Save 51%

Sunday, February 27 Singapore6:00pm

Monday, February 28 At Sea

Tuesday, March 1 Ho Chi Minh City (Phu My), Vietnam7:00am 6:00pm

Wednesday, March 2 At Sea

Thursday, March 3 Chan May, Vietnam7:00am 5:00pm

Friday, March 4 Hanoi (Halong Bay), Vietnam10:00am

Saturday, March 5 Hanoi (Halong Bay), Vietnam1:00pm

Sunday, March 6 At Sea

Monday, March 7 At Sea

Tuesday, March 8 Taipei (Keelung), Taiwan6:00am 6:00pm

Wednesday, March 9 At Sea

Thursday, March 10 At Sea

Friday, March 11 Kyoto, Japan7:00am 5:00pm

Saturday, March 12 Shimizu, JapanNoon 8:00pm

Sunday, March 13 Tokyo (Yokohama), Japan7:00am 

As for today's birthday party, its brother-in-law Eugene's 82nd birthday. At 3:00 pm, we'll all be getting together at his and Mary's home along with several neighbors to partake in the celebration of this special man.

Yesterday afternoon, and well into the evening, we all met at Colleen and Gene's home to play the card game Buck Euchre. I hadn't played in years and fumbled through the first game, but by the second, I was thoroughly enjoying it and even won, much to my delight.

Most likely with all the guests at today's party, the celebration won't include card playing until much later in the evening when its back to the eight of us. It will be another fun social time.

Ironically, it was one year ago today, that we hosted and celebrated our friend Rita's birthday at our house in the bush. Great memories were made that day too.

Thus, the socialization continues as we've begun preparing for our upcoming departure. Yesterday, I set up Tom's new Samsung Chromebook and it appears all is going well for him. He loves not dealing with Windows 10.

May each and every one of our readers enjoy a festive weekend!
Photo from one year ago today, January 17, 2019:
One year ago today, we celebrated our friends Rita's birthday at our bush home in Marloth Park. Here are the boys from left to right, Danie, Leon, Tom, Gerhard and Ken, toasting to a good evening. For more photos, please click here.

Setting up new laptop today...More tasks before departure...

Two years ago today, this scene at La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires particularly caught our eye. For more photos, please click here.
Today is another busy day. This morning we started transferring files from Tom's current laptop to a flash drive which, once I am done here, I'll begin loading his new Chromebook with his files.

We're going to do it a little differently this time. He's placed most of his important files into online Dropbox. He's had some issues with some of his files, creating problems when they're transferred over. This time, we'll go for simplicity and only transfer the bare minimum.

If we both like the new Samsung 12" Chromebook, much smaller than our 15.6" Acer's with Windows, we'll head back to Best Buy to purchase another identical or similar model for me.  The weight differential is substantial enough that this transition to smaller, lighter laptops is a big plus for us.

Today we'll spend the bulk of the day at Colleen and Gene's house playing the card game, Buck Euchre. This morning, Tom got out a deck of cards and re-introduced me as to how to play the game. In only a few minutes, it all came back to me.

Years ago, he and I played this fun card game with my sister Susan while she lived with me when Tom and I were dating. It will be fun to play once again.

We'll rotate playing the four-person game. In between my playing, I'll work on Tom's new laptop, getting everything set-up and transferred to his liking. He'll play the game while I'm working on the laptop. Then, I'll step in and play for a while. 

Over the next several days, we'll continue to work on other projects we have in the works as we prepare to leave the US in 13 days. We'd hoped to be able to spend time while we're still in the US, booking properties to rent while in the UK and Europe this upcoming summer. 

But, as it turns out, we've decided to see if we'll have some downtime while in India during our two months in the country. If not, we'll book everything while we're on the 29-night cruise prior to our arrival in the UK and Europe. 

We aren't worried at all in getting this task completed on time. We have flexibility on dates and in the worst case, we can always find a bed and breakfast or a number of hotels within the budget.

Tom just left to walk down to Colleen's while I wrap this up. I need to stop at the rental office to print a return label for a belt, we purchased at Amazon that didn't fit Tom. Tomorrow, I'll run it to the post office to return. This morning I ordered the replacement in his size. So many little things to do.

When we're outside the US we can't do any returns and generally, we're meticulous in ordering the correct sizes and items that won't require a return. We erred in this case and have to handle a return.

Off I go folks. I'll pack up the laptop and cord, my bottle of Crystal Light lemonade and a few more items to take with me for card-playing day. 

Gee...I'm looking forward to sharing "BIGGER," "BETTER," and "MORE INTERESTING" events in our daily lives.

Stay tuned, we're only a few weeks away from that transpiring!

May your day be pleasantly eventful and interesting!
Photo from one year ago today, January 16, 2019:
One year ago today, Little was lounging in the water in the cement pond. For more photos, please click here.

Two weeks from today and we're off...Fun night last night with new arrival, another family member...


Two years ago, Tom and I sat in the hotel bar in Palermo, Buenos Aires watched the Minnesota Vikings playoff game. We were the only patrons in the bar, but had a wonderful evening together. For more, please click here.
Last night, Tom and Eugene picked up Kevin (Mary and Eugene's son and Tom's nephew) at the airport. Kevin retired a few years ago from a lifetime career as a police officer and wanted to spend some time with his parents for 11 days.

While they were gone, I finished the final details of the meal we were bringing over to their home to share with everyone. Tom dropped Kevin and Eugene off and then he returned here to load up the hot food into Margie's car, which we continue to use.

By 8:00 pm, we were having dinner amid non-stop talking and laughter. By 10:30 I pooped out and drove myself back to our place, falling into bed. It was a busy cooking day and a good night's sleep was on the menu at that point.

In minutes I dozed off and awoke at 1:30 am when Tom came in. In no time at all, we both dozed off. Today won't be as busy a day. All I have to do it go to OfficeMax to have the India 26-page itinerary printed and stop at a local outlet store to buy a few more items.

At 4:00 pm today, we'll walk to the pool area where there will be the usual Wednesday evening fire pit get-together. Most likely, we'll spend the remainder of the evening in, dining on leftovers and relaxing.

There are several social events over the next several days and most likely, we'll attend most, if not all of them.

Our long-time reader/friends Pat and Dan referred their adult daughter Christina to us to discuss suggestions for a single woman traveling to South Africa alone to spend a few weeks in Marloth Park.

Christina called yesterday afternoon and we chatted for quite some time. She is a ranger in Yellowstone Park and the thought of Marloth Park is a dream come true for her. It was delightful talking to her. Plus, she spent two years in India as a missionary and it was fantastic to hear her enthusiasm for India.

Many people have stated concern over us staying in India for so long, all of whom have never been there. Yes, we're well aware of the pollution (and other issues) in the country. A few days ago our two high tech filtered face masks arrived. We don't care how we look wearing them, which we'll do in the big cities when appropriate.

On Monday afternoon Tom will drive me to Mesa (and pick me up later) to meet up with another dear reader/friend, Staci with whom we've been conversing for several years. She'll be in Scottsdale for a business trip and carved out time to meet up with me so we could get together for dinner and "girl talk." 

I am so excited to finally meet Staci after chatting back and forth online for these past years. Hopefully, I'll take photos and post them here the following day.

That's it for today, folks. May you all have a fabulous day.
Photo from one year ago today, January 15, 2019:
Tom was sitting at the end of the big table on the veranda. It was such a happy time for both of us. For more from that date, please click here.

A year ago memories...That never happened...

She decided to look at her reflection in the glass of the little red car assuming it was another hornbill, perhaps a possible mate. For more, please click here.
As I read the year ago post I felt a little melancholy. It was a post about how we assumed we were leaving in one month on February 15, 2019. See the post here.

We were getting ready for an upcoming birthday dinner party for our friend Rita (husband Gerhard) whom we'd met from our site who ended up living in the same house in Marloth Park where we'd lived for three months in 2013/2014. 

They rented the house when our site directed them to Louise, our dear friend and property manager who'd rented the Hornbill House to us and them, and then four year's later rented the Orange House to us. 

Rita and Gerhard became friends fast enough that they hosted Tom's birthday party on December 23, 2018 and to joyfully reciprocate, we decided to host Rita's birthday party a several weeks later. 

The same wonderful group of friends were coming to the party. Linda and Ken from Pretoria were coming to stay with us for a week which only added to the excitement and fun.

In the interim we were all headed to Tambarina Restaurant for dinner that night for the first celebration of Rita's birthday. We all loved a reason to celebrate and then again, we didn't always need a motive other than the pleasure of sharing time together.

Kathy had arranged a going away "girl's day" for me on the upcoming February 5th to include pedicures and lunch. That never happened.

Kathy and Don were hosting a going away party for us on Friday, February 8th. That never happened.

The next night on February 9th, our last Saturday night in the bush, we were all getting together for dinner at Jabula. That never happened.

Leaving for Kenya for a fantastic tour and numerous safaris was on the schedule with our intended departure date on February 15th, the day our visas ended. That never happened.

Eighty four days later, we were supposed to be in Minnesota. That never happened.

On Friday night February 8th, after the heart disease diagnosis with the subsequent emergency open heart surgery scheduled for February 12th, Kathy and Don invited all of us for dinner at their house. I'll always remember that night when we all sat around the fire in their garden sharing stories and our deepest feelings.

The next night, February 9th, we all met again for my pre-surgery dinner party. It was a bittersweet evening with loving friends. I'll always remember these times with heartfelt gratitude and devotion.

So, reading yesterday's post reminded me of all of these events which will always be emblazoned in our hearts and minds, grateful for our friends and for Dr. Theo who discovered my condition on a hunch.

Yes, as we look forward to heading to India in 15 days, we'll never forget what we've left behind and pray for the days we'll all be together again.

May you enjoy good health and loving friends.
Photo from one year ago today, January 14, 2019:
"Pig in a pond." Mom opted for a sitz bath on the steamy hot day while the youngsters played nearby in the bush. For more, please click here.

Recipe request from many readers...More fraud on one of our credit cards...

One of several giraffes we spotted last night when dropping Rita and Gerhard back at the Hornbill house.  The partial moon is shown in the photo. For more, please click here.
After yesterday's post and mention of our dinner last night, we had many requests for the recipe. I must mention this high fat recipe is only recommended for those on a keto or low carb diet, having converted their bodies from burning sugar for fuel as opposed to consuming sugar inducing foods such as sugar, fruit, wheat and other grains, and starches. (More on this way of eating here).

We both decided to also resume intermittent fasting several days a week to aid in our health as described here which may be highly effective in maintaining health and losing weight. These two means are effective for many health conditions including heart disease as described here in a Harvard study.

(Please keep in mind, we are not providing medical advise nor recommending you eat this way. Please check with your physician before starting any new health regime or diet).

Many, who have been following us all along, may wonder, "If these ways of eating were so effective, how did I end up with cardiovascular disease and the subsequent bypass surgery?"

The doctors in both South Africa and the US explained that I'd had hereditary CVD for 30 or 40 years, long before I started this way of eating. Also, I exercised all of my life. They stated that my low carb diet and exercise most likely prevented me from having a fatal heart attack. 

Also, this way of eating and exercise prevented me from having type 2 diabetes, another hereditary condition. Before I started eating this way my blood sugar was construed as pre-diabetic. Surely, by now I would have been on medication.

Everyone has to make decisions that work best for them, based on many factors including heredity, lifestyle, sleep patterns and stress. When my children were young and I was a single parent with two young sons, owning a stressful business with no child support being paid, my life was exceedingly stressful. 

At that time, I drank caffeinated beverages all day in an attempt to maintain a certain level of energy. This, coupled with my bad genes was highly instrumental in my developing severe cardiovascular disease, although I exercised all of my life and at that time consumed a low calorie, low fat diet.

I began this way of eating in 2011 and there is considerable information here on our site. If you type in '"low carb" into the search box on the right side of our home page under the word "Search" located below the advertisers, you find many posts on this topic.

Thus, here the link to the above mentioned recipe which we found at this site many years ago. If you decide to make this, let me know if you love this dish as much as we do.

Today is a busy day, taking care of financial matters. We had another credit card number used fraudulently. That's two card numbers stolen since we arrived in Arizona. Go figure. This is more fraud than we've experienced in any other country. We're awaiting the new card in the next few days.

May your day be pleasant and fulfilling!
Photo from one year ago today, January 13, 2019:
I'll feed gentle Ms. Bushbuck from my hand, one of few instances in which we do so. For more please click here.

The Minnesota Vikings continue to disappoint...Social evening softens the blow...Prescription drug error...

In Kauai, Hawaii on this date in 2015, here is another of Tom's exquisite sunrise photos. For more photos from this date, please click here.
Yes, we were sorely disappointed by the Minnesota Vikings loss yesterday afternoon. The playoffs and the season is now all over for them until next season when preseason games begin in August and the regular season, in September.

Tom watched the game with the boys at Colleen's home while I stayed behind at our place continuing to work on more of the contents of our package that arrived on Friday night. A year's supply of my three prescription drugs had to be popped out the plastic packs and placed into bottles with my name and prescription in the label. 

Carrying loose pills in those plastic containers asking for trouble. If stopped at  security, the pills could cause a real issue as we discovered early on in our travels.

Also, I'd ordered quite a number of bottles of supplements, suitable for cardiovascular disease as opposed to taking statins, a decision I made many months ago. As mentioned, Tom and I went through the vitamin bottles consolidating as much as we could while leaving them in the original bottle.

In the process of going through the newly arrived prescription drugs, I noticed that the bottle of thyroid medication I'd been prescribed while in the hospital (when I was running out before the surgery) was for the wrong dose, .25 mcg as opposed to .75 mcg. 

My new prescription was for the correct amount of .75 mcg. Subsequently, I'd been taking ⅓ of my previously required prescription. After all we'd been through I never looked at the tiny print on the bottle but I did notice the pills were round, not oval. 

Since many drugs look different from country to country due to a variety of generic drugs, I didn't give it another thought...not until yesterday and then I understood why after all this effort to feel 100% failed in part by not taking the appropriate dose of this important drug.

Subsequently, I've had typical symptoms of hypothyrodism which may be found here. I wondered why I gained weight over the past year (15 pounds) and been unable to lose it as I've always been able to do easily. Also, it explains why I've had a hard time getting up in the morning, staying in bed until 8:00 am or later.

I was always the early bird, along with Tom, bolting out of bed at 6:00 am ready to tackle the day. This all makes sense. Today, I took the first correct dose but it takes about a month to see an improvement.

In India, I'll continue to eat a healthy diet of mostly fish, chicken and vegetables and of course, we'll be walking a lot while on tours over the next several months.

When, a few days ago, we received our final itinerary for our almost two month tour in India, we were able to check the menus at the various hotels. Neither of us will have a problem based on these menus. 

The hotels are four and five star and appear to have excellent highly rated restaurants. No beef of course, but plenty of other meat options that will work for both of us. Tom doesn't eat lamb which is a popular item on their menus but he will eat fish on occasion and chicken at any time. We breathed a sigh of relief.

Last night, after the game Tom returned. I sliced our remaining roast beef we'd cooked the prior night, reheated the huge pan of mashed potatoes, cooked green beans and made a salad, all of which we loaded into the car and brought back to Colleen and Gene's home.

The seven of us gathered around the big kitchen, eating our reheated leftovers that everyone seemed to enjoy. The conversation was lively as always with many funny stories flying around the room. We had a great time!

This morning I made a favorite low carb hamburger casserole with a big salad for tonight's dinner. We'll stay in, while Tom watches more football today and tonight, we'll stream a few shows we've been watching.

May you and yours enjoy a fantastic Sunday!
Photo from one year ago, January 12, 2019:
Frank and The Mrs and friends stopped by for a visit. Frank is on the far right, the Mrs is found on the left. They never had a chick the entire time we were there. Maybe next time. For more photos, please click here.

Laundry and football day...

Saturnalia, a Sculptural group by Italian artist Ernesto Biondi at the botanical garden Buenos Aires in 2018. For more photos, please click here.
This morning while it was still dark, Tom bolted out of bed at 6:30, gathered up most of the laundry and headed to the laundry room. With many RV patrons here, most without laundry facilities in their units, lately we've had a hard time finding available washers and dryers.

I got up shortly after he left, stripped the bed and gathered more dirty items and between the two of us, we had it all done by 9:00 am. Upon returning, re-making the bed and putting everything away, we made breakfast of eggs, bacon, and sausages. 
With the Viking game not starting until 2:30 pm, we may not have dinner until close to 7:00 pm by the time we get back to our place from watching the game with Eugene at Colleen and Gene's house. 

It appears the sisters will be getting together with neighbors in Margie's home to play the popular Dominos game, Mexican Train. I'd prefer to watch the game with the boys since I am very interested in what transpires today.

Yesterday, I spent considerable time reorganizing my suitcase and the supplies bag including new items we'd recently purchased. I decided against shipping any warm clothing to be stored in our large mailbox at the mailing service. 

I'd purchased all the warm clothing I've been wearing at excellent prices at TJ Maxx (average $12.99 per item) and it's not worth incurring additional baggage fees when flying or bearing the cost of shipping the items back and forth. 

I can always purchase additional items along the way which won't be too difficult once we arrive in Europe in the spring. Also, it might be fun to purchase a few cotton items while in India.

Today, Tom was reading the suggestions made by the Maharajas Express train as to what clothing we'll need for the six-day journey. Apparently, the weather is very cool in the mornings and evenings this time of year and they suggest warm items for these periods.

It's hard to believe we'll be on our way to India in only 18 days. We still have a lot to do to be ready to leave. But, overall, my packing is almost complete barring the addition of some of the warm clothing I've been wearing lately and a few more items I need to purchase. The same goes for Tom.

We've been in the US for over two months. We've accomplished our objectives and spent quality time with family (and some of our friends), our primary objective in returning to the US. We may not return for another two years, hoping to stay in close touch with those we love while we're traveling.

Are we excited about heading out on the next leg of our journey? Of course, we are, very much so. And although there may be a little trepidation due to the events of the past year, we're emotionally and physically ready to continue on. 

Let's face it, regardless of how we live our lives there are always challenges. This nomadic life is no different and, although it may seem ideal to always be traveling with a sense of abandonment and freedom, there are always responsibilities, tasks and, unexpected events that may impede the quality of our experiences from time to time.

None the less, we are in awe of the world around us and perpetually grateful to be able to live this life, with its ups and downs, with its peculiar nuances, all combined with our passion and commitment to continue to live "outside the box."

Happy day to all!
Photo from two years ago on this date: (We hadn't posted one year ago today due to illness):

Cactus garden at a botanical garden in Buenos Aires. For more photos, please click here.

Latest package arrived...Finding errors...

These Hornbill mates are often very noisy around us, asking for seeds.  They sure have us trained, says Tom. For more photos, please click here.
Over the past several months, we have been accumulating supplies to travel with us that have been waiting to be shipped to us in Arizona. While doing so we don't have the opportunity to inspect each item, each piece of mail or each item of clothing we purchase when it arrives at the mailing service. Returns are an unlikely possibility.

As a result, we're very meticulous in what we choose to buy online ensuring the quality of products, proper sizing, and receipt of the items. In the process, it may be difficult to determine what has arrived and what hasn't.

Our mailing service enters receipt of items as they arrived by such comments in their online app, such as "Amazon, small gray bag." Opening the item itself and taking a photo would be a time-consuming process they do not offer. They have 100's of customers receiving packages.
However, they will open mail, scan it and place it in the system for us to see at a cost of $2.00 per page. We request this service on occasion. We can tell, based on who the sender is if we need to have it scanned.

We had a good idea of what should have been in the 40-pound box, but weren't sure about some items. It's the nature of our lifestyle and we comfortably live with it as we continue on our travels.

Last night when the package finally arrived at 7:00 pm by UPS, we couldn't open it fast enough, especially when I suspected a few items wouldn't be there.

One was the Cardiac Watch, which I'd ordered a few months ago. It wasn't in the box. Immediately, I contacted the company and they apologized that the order got "screwed up" and it was never sent. They promised it will go out in today's mail. Hmm, I'm leery of this one. We'll see if it arrives.

I noted it on my calendar and if it doesn't arrive within a week, I will ask for a refund and, if that's a problem, I'll contact the credit card company to resolve the issue. They are very good at handling such issues.

Also, missing from the box was the two sets of earpieces we'd ordered from Google for our phones. The wireless versions were "out of stock" for months to come and with the $100 credit we had at Google, we went ahead and ordered the wired versions which also weren't in the box. I'll check on this today.

Then, the most annoying news of all was from the state department. They didn't like the photos we'd included with our four-year passport applications which we'd processed in Minnesota in December.

This morning we headed to Walgreens and started over, having new photos done, heeding their comments in the included letters, hoping the new photos will be satisfactory.

After grocery shopping at Safeway, we drove to the closest post office in Apache Junction and mailed the photos in the provided envelopes with the letters. Whether the passports arrive at our mailing service before we leave the US, remains to be seen. 

If they don't arrive on time, we'll have them mailed to us once we arrive in the UK in a few months. Sending them to India would be impossible for a number of reasons.

Then, there was a bill for $157.50 from the Urgent Care facility, we visited in Minnesota shortly after we arrived when the cough and virus I had was becoming unmanageable. We'd paid in full for the services at the time.

Since we had no US insurance that covered such care, they required we pay the entire bill in advance of $189 in order to be seen. This morning I called their billing department and they acknowledged the bill was an error. They removed it from their system.

Speaking of medical bills, today I after receiving the bill, I paid for my visit to the Minneapolis Heart Institute. We suspected it would be as high as $800 but much to our surprise, the hour-long appointment with a highly competent cardiologist was $449. 

After doing considerable research from equally competent cardiologists and medical centers worldwide, I discovered that those patients not taking statins, do well with a litany of supplements that have been found to aid in cardiovascular disease.

I ordered the supplements online from Puritan's Pride when they were having a sale, "buy two, get four free." Oh my goodness, there were dozens of bottles of supplements in the box.

Last night Tom and I consolidated the bottles when often the bottles were only filled one-quarter full. We narrowed it down considerably and this morning we loaded them into the third supply suitcase and they fit well. 

You would not believe the trash generated as we opened the box of items. It practically refilled the entire box the items were shipped in. Whew!  All I have left to do today is to go through the many packages containing the three prescribed medications I take and reduce that to a minimum as well.

We're staying at the same hotel in Mumbai on both ends of our two months in India. Most likely, we'll have them hold some of our luggage until we return to board the cruise in April.

Today, we'll work on a few remaining projects and financial matters and stay in tonight for a great dinner of roast beef, mashed potatoes (for Tom), veggies and salad. There are no big plans for the weekend other than watching the Minnesota Vikings game tomorrow. We're rather excited about that!

Happy day!
Photo from one year ago today, January 10, 2019:
This is Basket, the Bully, who scares off all the other warthogs including Little and Little's Friend. For more photos, please click here.

The cost of our upcoming 55 day private tour in India...

A dazzle of zebras in an open field, from one year ago post. For more, please click here.
Yesterday, we paid the balance of the upcoming 55-night private tour of India, which begins in Delhi immediately after the six-night tour on the Maharajas Express, a luxury train that travels from Mumbai to Dehli.

Of course, the cost of this tour is daunting, along with the cost of the train excursion. We thought long and hard deciding if these decisions made sense considering our budget.

But, one thing we knew for sure. We had 55 days to spend in India until the cruise from Mumbai to London on April 3, 2020. There was no way it made sense to attempt to book this extended period when we knew nothing about the country.

Having a professional, highly experienced company making arrangements for all the hotel reservations, flights and tour guide, made all the sense in the world. 

We specified what we wanted to see and do and the tour was arranged including all those requests, such a staying in the beautiful lake town of Udaipur and embarking on a few tiger safaris in different national parks. 

We realize the possibility of actually seeing a tiger is relatively slim when there are only 3000 tigers in the entire country. But, we were willing to take that chance. Perhaps safari luck will prevail. Besides, there is other wildlife we'll see in the national parks such as:

"Indian safaris are anything but tame. Elephants, rhinos, reptiles, bears, and wild dogs roam the lush rainforests, while snow leopards make lonely footprints in the Himalayan snow. Of course, the holy grail of any safari is in seeing the big cats, and in India, that means the elusive wild tiger."

No doubt, we'll be posting many photos along the way, not only of wildlife, but also the sites we tour; the culture; the architecture; historic and significant buildings; exquisite scenery; local food and of course, its people.

The magnitude of this tour is daunting. We never imagined being on a private tour for so many days and nights, staying in many hotels, flying on many flights to get from place to place. We'll certainly be busy and hopefully treasuring every moment.

Subsequently, the cost of the 55-nights tour is as follows:
US Dollars $9,765 Per Person US Dollars $19,530
Total US Dollars $19,530
Amount Paid US Dollars $9,765
Balance due 10 January 2020 US Dollars $9,765 (we paid this balance yesterday)

When all is said and done the average daily cost $355.09, which is $121.75 more per day than what we usually spend to travel each month, not including cruises. Keep in mind, this also included being picked up at the Mumbai Airport, when we arrive, a hotel for two nights before the train and all transportation.

Most dinners, cocktails, and tips are not included. Breakfasts are included at all of the hotels. At this point, we don't know what the cost of dinners will be and the tips will be paid based on performance.

In all, these expenses could result in an additional $4,000 to $5,000 for the entire period, which we'll pay as we go. We have already paid in full for the train

and will only incur additional charges for tips and drinks.

We realize this is expensive but, in essence, it's no more costly than a typical cruise and in many cases less. It's all relative. After the trials of this past year, we decided to take advantage of as many opportunities that appeal to us that we can possibly afford. This is a once in a lifetime experience.

Yes, we've said this before, the "once in a lifetime" thing. But, then again, our entire lives, is a "once in a lifetime experience." We are grateful, more than words can express and humbled by the world and its people, places, and wildlife.

In a mere 20 days, the journey continues. Stay with us as you have during this quiet time. The adventure is soon to begin again.

May your day be purposeful and fulfilling!
Photo from one year ago today, January 9, 2019:
A hippo on a little island in the Crocodile River. For more photos, please click here.

The challenges of dining out in Arizona...Ultimately, weather-related reasons...

When we visited friends Kathy and Don in Pretoria, South Africa, one year ago, we visited this monument, the Voortrekker Monument, which is an unusual-looking structure located in Pretoria, South Africa. At the time I walked up all these steps (not all steps we tackled are shown in the photo) without getting out of breath or having any health issues. It was a little over a month later, I had open-heart surgery with three main arteries 100% blocked. Who knew? For more photos from this date, please click here.
Let's face it, many of the patrons of restaurants in the area are seniors, based on varying stats online from a number of sites, none of which I will quote based on this variable.

But, overall, it appears approximately 25% or more of the population of Arizona consists of "snowbirds," those who migrate to the state during the colder winter months from other parts of the US and other countries.

Some have moved here to live year-round, even with the outrageously hot summers in the Arizona desert. Some have chosen to live in cooler summer temperatures, such as stated here from this news article at this site:

"When the temperatures heat up in the Valley many head north to escape the heat, but where is the coolest place to go?

Let’s start with a popular destination, Flagstaff. On average, in July, the afternoon high temperatures are 25 degrees cooler compared to Phoenix. To put it in perspective, the average high temperature in Phoenix during July is 106 degrees, while Flagstaff comes in at a cool 81 degrees. 

While Sedona is also a popular place to go to escape the heat in the Valley of the Sun, it is on average only about 10 degrees cooler compared to Phoenix.
So where is one of the coolest places in Arizona to go to escape the heat? That would be Greer, coming in with an average high temperature for July of only 76 degrees! 

That is on average 30 degrees cooler than Phoenix.
Here are a few other northern Arizona locations, along with their average high temperatures during the month of July:

Grand Canyon: 86°
Holbrook: 93°
Payson: 91°
Prescott: 89°
Show Low: 86°
Williams: 83°
Winslow: 95°"

Here are the average temperatures in Apache Junction during the summer months:

"Apache Junction, AZ
Month High / Low
Photo from one year ago today, January 8, 2019:
Exquisite paintings and tapestries lined a number of walls at The Voortrekker Museum. For more photos, please click here.