Halfway through our time in Arizona…Original plans changed…Tax Day in the US!…

A view from a second story in the souk in The Medina, The Big Square in Marrakesh, Morocco.

When we realized today is April 15, tax filing day in the US, Tom commented on how we are halfway through our time in Apache Junction, Arizona. Initially, we planned to stay two weeks longer, although we only paid for April in advance. We figured we could easily add two weeks to our rental agreement if necessary, with the weather heating up resulting in fewer renters staying in the RV park.

Knowing we were waiting to hear from Cleveland Clinic for my soon-to-be-arranged appointment, we decided to move along more quickly. With Tom’s sister Rita here now for the next two weeks, we wouldn’t go to South Dakota, which we intended to do to visit her on our way to Minnesota.

Thus, once we leave California to see my sister Julie for three nights, we’ll head to Utah to see Marylin and Gary for lunch or dinner and then get back on the road to Milwaukee to see Tom’s sister Betty in Milwaukee, in a medically assisted retirement home for nuns, staying only one night and then make our way to Minnesota the following day. Most likely, we’ll arrive in Minnesota around May 10.

Our hotel reservation in Minnesota begins on May 23, based on our original plan to arrive later, but we won’t worry about that. We can easily book the added days we’ll need. at either end, depending on my Cleveland Clinic appointment date.

This morning, we’re busy making chicken salad with leftover chicken I’d frozen a few days ago when making the dish to share with the family for Saturday night. Since we have no idea when we’ll get together with everyone, chicken salad is an easy meal to have on hand, with no additional preparation necessary other than to add a lettuce salad, if desired.

There’s a fabulous microwave here with excellent settings for defrosting frozen meats. In no time at all, the chicken cubes were defrosted. Meanwhile, Tom is busy peeling the hard-boiled eggs for the chicken salad. Once he’s out of the way in the kitchen, I will chop the onions and celery to go into the chicken with the diced hard-boiled eggs and also make a green salad to go with it.

With our Boost grocery delivery service contract (from Las Vegas, also used here) ending on April 19, I am putting together our last online grocery order. We’ll head to Fry’s Market to shop when we need more groceries. All we have left in the freezer is ground beef, for which we’ll make taco salads, enough for three dinners, and a small turkey breast roast, enough for two dinners.

With all the upcoming planned meals, we have enough to get us to April 23, with only one more week to prepare meals. It will be easy going forward to plan simple meals using the ingredients we have on hand.

We’ll have lightened our load when we leave here in 16 days. Soon, we’ll drop off the two old laptops at a recycling center in Apache Junction, and we will eliminate one of our suitcases, which has broken wheels and won’t be necessary going forward. Traveling on the road for the next several months by car makes traveling much more accessible.

Since we stay in holiday homes or hotels anyway, those we book on the road trip won’t be an extra expense, nor will dining out at the end of each day. The only additional charge we’ll incur on the road trip is the fuel for the rental car and the rental car, although, in most locations, we’ll have a rental car anyway. Even with the high fuel cost, we’ll still be ahead when we won’t incur expenses for flights and baggage.

That’s it for today, folks.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, April 15, 2014:

Dining on the rooftop, we spotted this familiar Minaret Tower. For more photos, please click here.

Our friends, Lea Ann and Chuck, are enjoying their nine month world cruise…Would we do that?…

May be an image of map and text

When our friends, Lea Ann and Chuck, whom we met on a cruise in 2017 sailing from Sydney to Seattle, came to visit us while we were staying in The Villages in Florida, they were excited to share their enthusiasm about booking Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas Ultimate World Cruise.

While we were in Florida last summer, Lea Ann and Chuck visited us. It was wonderful to see them and hear about their upcoming world cruise.

Our mouths were agape when we heard they’d decided to embark on the nine-month cruise. We asked them endless questions while wondering if we’d ever want to commit to such an extended period on a cruise ship.

Although we revel in their enthusiasm, after they left, we talked, and both agreed we’d never be interested in such a long cruise. Nine months is a huge commitment, and for the following reasons, we wouldn’t be interested now or in the future:

  1. Cruising for so long could easily diminish our enthusiasm for cruising in the future. We love the anticipation of booking a cruise and the days and months before sailing when the excitement is at the forefront of our minds. For us, it would take away the mystery and magic of cruising.
  2. Living in such tight quarters for so long would not be easy for us. No, we don’t always use all the space available in a holiday home, usually only spending time in the bedroom, kitchen, and living room. But, being able to move around with ease and enjoying spaciousness is a huge part of our enjoyment. Cruise cabin space, even the balcony we always book, is limited and confining.
  3. Many of the ports world cruises visit are ports we’ve visited in the past. After all, we’ve been on 33 cruises, most with new and unfamiliar ports of call, many of which we wouldn’t be interested in visiting again.
  4. The food can become tedious and repetitious, besides often being fattening and unhealthy.
  5. The risk of getting sick when a captive audience for such an extended period is an issue for us. On at least half of our cruises, at least one of us, if not both, picked up a cold or virus, many lingering for weeks. Now, with COVID-19 and all its variants, we’d hesitate to embark on such a large ship for so many months. Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas, with a passenger capacity of 2476 plus 832 crew, is a breeding ground for many illnesses, especially when new passengers embark for the next leg of the journey at some ports, disembarking at the end of that leg. Plus, passengers can pick up an illness when they get off the ship for activities at various ports of call. When we were on the small boat in August 2023, Azamara Journey, with only a capacity of 702 passengers and a crew of 408, neither of us became ill.
  6. Cost: One would pay well over $117,599 (per person) for a balcony cabin. We wouldn’t be interested in an interior cabin with no windows, and those prices start at $59,900 (per person). Based on the above five points, it wouldn’t be worth paying such a sum for a long-term cruise.

Here’s an article from the New York Post about the cruise Lea Ann and Chuck are on right now, focusing on how many Gen Z passengers are participating:

“It’s been three years, and Royal Caribbean’s Ultimate World Cruise has finally set sail.

The epic nine-month-long holiday is a first-of-its-kind for the cruise liner, and they’re not surprised it’s gone viral on TikTok despite having hit the shores just over a week ago. (RelatedBest cruise lines review).

“Many guests booked their tickets over two to three years ago during the pandemic, and we are thrilled to be hosting a range of guests from young solo travelers to couples and families,” Dave Humphreys, director of sales at Royal Caribbean International AUNZ, told news.com.au.

“We have an impressive number of Gen Z and millennial cruisers, with a significant number of guests between the ages of 18-30 joining us on various legs of this cruise.”

As the name suggests, it’s a pretty ‘ultimate’ experience, with the cruise traveling to more than 60 countries and 11 world wonders in 274 days.

The cruise is broken into four segments — Ultimate Americas Cruise, Ultimate Asia Pacific Cruise, Ultimate Middle East & Med Cruise, and Ultimate Europe & Beyond Cruise.

Depending on the destination and room you choose, prices can vary from $19,895 to $37,268 (per person)

But, if you want to do nine months, the price tag is much heftier. The cheapest is $88,000 for an interior stateroom and up to $1.2 million per person for a Royal Suite.

“Each guest who has booked the Ultimate World Cruise Package received business class airfare, premium transportation, and a pre-cruise hotel in their package up to $5892 per person,” Mr Humphreys said.

“The business class airfare applies to specific getaway cities. The package includes a beverage package, laundry services, inclusive gratuities, and a VOOM Surf and Stream package.”

TikTok has become inundated with passengers sharing their experiences, from the meals they’re eating, restaurants they’re visiting, and gym classes to glimpses of what their rooms look like and the entertainment and performances they’re attending.

“I am LIVING for your videos. Please, pretty, please don’t stop. Greedily. I will beg you to post more,” one viewer commented on a passenger’s ‘sea day in my life’ clip.

Mr. Humpreys said they also can’t wait to join some of these guests virtually along with the wider TikTok community.

“There will be 27,000 passengers on the various legs, of which over 600 are sailing for the full nine months,” he told news.com.au.

“We have almost 2,000 Australians joining us along the way, including 30 Aussies doing the full nine-month world cruise.”

He said guests were offered the flexibility to book one or more of the four expedition packages.

Mr. Humphreys described it as a “once-in-a-lifetime experience where guests can traverse the globe in one incredible journey.”It’s going to be epic.”

It’s fascinating to read about this and see Lea Ann and Chuck’s blog, which may be found here. We continue to see their updates and the sheer joy they are experiencing on this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, February 3, 2014:

Louise suggested we put out some yogurt at night for the nocturnal bush babies. We placed a small bowl in a hanging wood birdhouse near a tree. Unfortunately, we were distracted yesterday morning and forgot to remove the little plastic bowl of yogurt. Going inside to get beverages, we returned to find these Vervet Monkeys lapping up the yogurt with the little bowl in hand. Tom scared them off (they can be destructive), and they dropped the bowl and ran off. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…Here it is…My Medicare Part B late enrollment, a supplement and possible drug plan…Important information for long term world travelers…

This is what’s called a “Bottlebrush Plant.” Greyia flanaganii, commonly known as the Kei bottlebrush, is a species of plant in the Francoaceae family. Greyia flanaganii is one of the related species of the taxonomically isolated and endemic southern African family, the Greyiaceae. Greyia flanaganii is endemic to the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.”

Four years ago today, we arrived in Marloth Park, South Africa, after 59 hours of travel from Mumbai, India, after ten months in lockdown in a hotel room near the Mumbai Airport. We were masked, gloved, wearing face shields, and flying tentatively, with Covid 19 still prevalent worldwide. We were so happy to finally be free.

Here’s what we wrote in a short post on January 13, 2021 from this link here:

“It’s after 7:15 pm on Wednesday, and we are exhausted. I’d hope to do a post tonight, but I don’t have the energy to put it together. We’ve already taken several amazing photos, and tomorrow morning, coffee in hand, we’ll look forward to sharing details about our new home and new life at Lovebird’s Nest in Marloth Park and some memorable wildlife photos from our garden. It’s heavenly.

Please check back tomorrow while we get back into our usual rhythm of posting daily,

Thanks for your patience, kind words, and encouragement. We are so grateful!”

It’s hard to believe it was four years ago when it seems like yesterday. We made a point of quarantining to protect our friends in the bush, and in no time, we could socialize with all the wonderful friends we’ve made in the bush over the years. It was an extraordinary time, although we continued to exercise caution to avoid contracting Covid-19.

It wasn’t until we left South Africa for a few cruises in 2022 that we were infected on a cruise, leaving us both with lingering, long-term COVID-19 symptoms. Tom coughed for months, and I had a sinus-related face and head pain for 18 months that only resolved a few months ago. Enough on that, but sharing this memory with all our readers was meaningful.

I will continue to share what we mentioned in yesterday’s post on the supplement plan I chose as an adjunct to enrolling in Part B Medica on January 2, 2024. I’ve yet to hear from the Railroad Retirement Board if my enrollment has been processed, but it should be in the next few weeks by February 1, when the supplement kicks in, and I will finally be insured.

Here is the link to yesterday’s Part 1, explaining in detail the penalty imposed upon me for late enrollment of Part B, for which I  opted out when I turned 65 in 2013 since there was no coverage outside the US. The supplement I’ve chosen covers me outside the US for a maximum of $50,000 annually for emergency medical treatment and services, not standard medical care such as doctor’s office visits and tests.

With doctor appointments under $50 in South Africa and tests even less, we will continue to see Doc Theo as needed while we’re in Marloth Park in five months.

My US Medicare insurance rep, Janet Meuller, mentioned in yesterday’s post, has been a fantastic resource of valuable information, answering many questions I threw at her over several phone conversations in the past several weeks. If you are in a position to consider supplements and drug plans, once again, you can reach her at jmueller@teameip.com. (Note: we are not involved in any compensation for recommending Janet. We only do so based on the quality of service I received, as we often do when encountering exceptional professionals). She can work with you on plans for any state in the US.

So here’s what we chose for me. (Tom wasn’t ready to sign up at this point).

There are several plans available from which to choose. I won’t list them all here since there are too many to list, which are based on your state of residence, your age, and other factors.

With Janet’s help, I chose Plan G with Aflac, priced at $157 a month (could change annually as any supplement can and most likely will) but enables me to implement the following.”

  • Maximum annual copay: $240. No other copays for any other Medicare-approved services.
  • After the $240 copay is met, there is 100% coverage for all Medicare-accepted services, doctor appointments, hospital stays, surgeries, tests, and more. Always check when making an appointment to see if the medical doctor or facility accepts Medicare and your plan, in my case, Plan G.
  • Maximum annual $50,000, with $250 deductible, which pays 80%, on emergency medical services for foreign travel outside the US. Air and ground ambulance is covered. Here is a link with information on ambulance and air ambulance services for Plan G.
  • No network constraints: I can choose any doctor or medical facility I’d prefer anywhere in the US, unlike many plans that restrict the patient to specific local networks, doctors, and facilities.
  • No doctor referrals are required for hospital care, and specialists
  • Chiropractic services are covered under these stipulations:” Medicare Plan. G covers chiropractic services, but only for medically necessary spinal manipulation, as Original Medicare covers. This means that additional chiropractic services or treatments, such as preventive visits or chiropractor-ordered tests, are not covered under Plan G.
  • No dental, vision, or drug coverage is included in Plan G. They must be purchased separately. We opted out of those coverages, which we can change during any open enrollment period. Penalties may be assessed due to late enrollment, as in our case.

Why didn’t we choose a dental, vision, and pharmacy plan? We have dental work done in South Africa, which is less than 20% of the cost in the US. We both had (and don’t have now) dental problems when our teeth were thoroughly examined before we left South Africa nine months ago. Also, we both see an optometrist in South Africa. Tom’s eyeglass prescription is current, as is my contact lens prescription. We will have exams again when we return in June.

As for a pharmacy plan, Janet reviewed all my medications with me. Based on plans available for a pharmacy plan, I am paying less than copays would be with a US plan. I continue to buy medicines from ProgressiveRX or many Canadian companies that ship drugs from countries where the manufacturing of worldwide generic medication is around 80%. See this article here for details. Also, I often get refills of my medications while in South Africa, with drugs costing less than copays would be on any of the available plans.

The costs I incur for my few medicines are less than buying drugs in the US with copays that I’d pay with a pharmacy plan. Please do your own research to decide what is best for you.

I can’t stress enough how most of these plans are based on your individual needs, not necessarily the same as mine. As world travelers, we needed to find what works best for our circumstances.

That’s it for today, folks. Hope you’re having a fantastic weekend. We are! We are heading down to the Village for dinner tonight at what appears to be an excellent Mexican restaurant. We will take photos and report back tomorrow.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, January 13, 2014:

Beautiful sunset over the Crocodile River. For more, please click here.

Part 1…Here it is…My Medicare Part B late enrollment, a supplement and possible drug plan…Important information for long term world travelers…

An adorable lion cub is resting with the pride. We took this photo while very close.

In 2012, when we began our travels, we decided we wouldn’t sign up for Part B Medicare when we turned 65. In 2013, I turned 65 (I am 5 years older than Tom). Qualified Individuals over 65 years old receive Medicare Part A as follows:

“*Generally, you’re eligible for Part A if you are 65 or older, meet the citizenship and residency requirements, and get disability benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board for at least 25 months.”

What does Part A cover?

Part A (Hospital Insurance): Helps cover inpatient care in hospitals, skilled nursing facility care, hospice care, and home health care. Part B (Medical Insurance): Part A covers Inpatient surgeries, lab tests, and drugs related to the inpatient stay. Medicare Part A doesn’t cover doctors’ services even for Medicare-approved stays. There’s no cost for Part A for qualified individuals.

What does Part B cover, and what is the monthly premium deducted from Social Security, or in our case, Railroad Retirement?

Part B Medicare or other medical insurance may provide coverage for Medicare. Part B helps cover medically necessary services like doctors’ services and tests, outpatient care, home health services, durable medical equipment, and other medical services. Part B also covers some preventive services. Look at your Medicare card to find out if you have Part B. The government charges a monthly fee for Part B, which is now:

$174.70 in 2024 or higher, depending on your income. The amount can change each year. You’ll pay a monthly premium, even if you don’t get any Part B-covered services. “Higher income” is construed as follows:

If you file your taxes as “married, filing jointly,  and your MAGI, adjusted gross income exceeds $206,000, you’ll pay higher premiums for your Part B and Medicare prescription drug coverage. If you file your taxes using a different status and your MAG exceeds $103,000, you’ll pay higher premiums.

When we didn’t sign up for Part B Medicare since we were traveling outside the US and accepted the future penalty, and had no use for it, when Medicare doesn’t pay for care outside the US, the following penalty was assessed per year when I finally decided to send in my enrollment for Part B as follows on January 2, 2024:

“Medicare Part B has a 10% penalty on your monthly premium for each 12-month period you delay enrollment. This penalty is lifelong. In 2024, the penalty is based on a monthly premium of $174.70.”

As a result, after ten years without enrolling in Part B, my cost for Part B will be $349.40 monthly. Had I known in 2013, when I chose not` to sign up for Part B, that I’d have heart problems, I would have enrolled when I turned 65. It wasn’t until 2019 that my heart issues were discovered. At that point, we would be out of the US for years to come, and we decided to continue to wait until we returned to the US for extended periods.

Now that we’re spending more time in the US and with the discovery of future potential heart surgery, it was time for me to sign up. If I eventually need additional surgery after having tests in the US while we’re here, I will be covered.

Since Medicare Part A and Part B don’t cover everything, resulting in huge co-pays that can be life-changing and stressful, a “supplement” is necessary to cover the costs of potential co-pays, which could run into tens of thousands of dollars if not covered by Part A and Part B.

I looked online but became frustrated when I understood how supplements work. Every site I searched required me to fill out a form with my personal information to receive a call back to review the possibilities of a supplement. I started getting dozens of phone calls each day, and I didn’t want to return all those calls. However, in the process, I answered many of the calls and became more frustrated in the process.

I had run out of patience with agents whose primary goal was to sell me a plan that earned them the most commissions (the government pays).

During this period, I stumbled across a no-pressure, knowledgeable Medicare insurance agent, Janet Mueller, who gently walked me through the process, answering my seemingly endless stream of questions. I couldn’t have been more thrilled with her service and attention to detail. I’d highly recommend her services if you need help with a supplement and/or pharmacy plan. She can be reached at jmueller@teameip.com. Janet’s concern was only for those plans that would serve my needs with the best possible price and terms.

This post is getting long, so we will continue tomorrow with the plan Janet helped me decide is suitable for my circumstances. We’ll be back tomorrow with Part 2 regarding the supplement I chose and decisions regarding a prescription plan. See you then!

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, January 12, 2014:

Hundreds of grasshoppers in our garden traveled from one tree to another over hours. We spent the better part of a day filming and watching them. For videos and the unique story, please click here.

Thanks for all the good wishes for Tom and for our early exit from Ecuador, three weeks ago…

There’s nothing more exciting in Kruer National Park than seeing an apex predator crossing the one paved road.

It was a busy morning for me. I had scheduled a call with my dear friend Karen in Florida at 8:30, which we’ll finish later today. I did a load of laundry, hanging it on the drying rack, and emptied the dishwasher, which Tom always does each morning. Yesterday, he vacuumed the entire condo.

The plan was for me to do the remainder of the cleaning today while he was at the pulmonology appointment in Chicago, Illinois, after a more than three-hour red-eye flight. I had to dust all surfaces, clean the bathrooms and kitchen, and wash the floors using the Swiffer wet mop.

After coughing most of the night, I slept very little, aware of where Tom may be at any given moment. Early this morning, we texted back and forth. We talked on the phone after his 11:15 appointment in Arlington Heights. I could tell by his voice he was exhausted.

He wasn’t able to tell me much about his appointment. The doctor and staff were all wearing face masks, and with Tom’s lousy hearing, he was used to reading lips and didn’t know what they were saying. Hopefully, we’ll get a written report soon. If not, we will call and ask for one.

We only chatted for a few minutes. He was back at the airport waiting for his return flight, which wasn’t until tonight, and was going to find a quiet spot for a short nap. It’s not easy sleeping in a chair, but he’s not one of those travelers (neither of us are) who will sleep on the floor. He won’t return to our condo until around 10:00 or 10:30 pm. I bet he’ll need to go right to bed.

After I finished the bulk of the cleaning and talked to Karen, I got back to work on the rest, and now, I’m sitting here content that everything is spotless, and I can relax and focus on today’s post.

Sure, I wish we had a housecleaner here in Nevada, But when we heard the cost for a few hours is $150 per week, we couldn’t justify that expense. It didn’t make sense for every other week or even once a month since we’d still have to clean and do the bedding once a week since we like to be in a clean and tidy environment. We could hardly wait for a cleaner once every other week or monthly.

Since we’re both beginning to return to feeling well again, cleaning once a week will be fine. It’s hard to think of Tom sitting at the airport feeling so awful from his cough and not having slept in over a day. So often, in our travels, we’ve spent a day or two traveling, failing to sleep on the plane. If we have three seats in a row without any other passengers, it’s possible to lie down and sleep for a few hours. That wasn’t the case for Tom last night, and it probably won’t happen again tonight.

Las Vegas is a popular destination, and most flights, including red-eyes, are often totally booked. The crowd is often boisterous and excited to reach their destination in fun-filled Las Vegas. But, for some, like us, Las Vegas is another pleasant city in the desert where we have plans other than gambling and the lights of the Las Vegas Strip.

I’m counting the hours until Tom returns. Tomorrow, we will share his experience here and anything we’ve heard from the doctor in more detail. Thanks for all the love and support. Hmmm…maybe a short nap is on the horizon for me, too.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, January 10, 2014:

When it comes to Mozambique Spitting Cobras, their size is insignificant compared to the dangerous, life-threatening venom they inflict upon their victims. This snake was approximately 1.5 to 2 feet long, 45 to 60 cm, and came within inches of Tom’s bare feet. What an exciting scare! For more photos, please click here.

Request for our Low Carb Pot Pie recipe…Busy booking for the future…

As it gets closer to our return to Marloth Park, we are more and more excited.

I received many requests for our Low Carb Pot Pie recipe in the past few days. Please feel free to copy and paste it for your recipe files. This recipe is delicious. You won’t be disappointed. I make the dough the day before the filling, wrapping it tightly in parchment paper and placing it in the refrigerator until the next day, taking it out of the fridge about an hour before making the recipe balance.

You can buy frozen cubed carrots and pre-chopped garlic to lessen the chopping time. At that point, I chop the onions and celery and place them in a Ziplock bag for the next day. I buy diced frozen chicken and defrost it in the refrigerator the prior night, reducing prep time. Once these few prep things are done the prior day, putting it together can be accomplished in about 20 minutes is a breeze. Keep an eye on the pies to get a lightly browned top while they bake.

Chicken Pot Pie – Low Carb, Gluten Free

Yield: 4 Pot Pies
Serving Size: 1 Pot Pie
Ingredients *(I usually double this recipe)

*Note: I usually buy foil loaf pans and toss them after using or use small individual pie pans. Then, each person gets their own pie.
For the pot pie filling
● 3 tbsp butter
● 1/2 cup onion, diced (about 2.5 oz)
● 1/2 cup celery, sliced (2 medium ribs)
● 1/2 cup carrots, slices (about 2.5 oz)
● 3 cloves garlic, minced
● salt and pepper, to taste
● 12 oz chicken, cubed small
● 3/4 cup coconut cream in the can (unsweetened)
● 1/2 cup chicken stock
● 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
● 3/4 cup sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
● 1/2 cup frozen peas

For the dough
● 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
● 3 tbsp cream cheese
● 3/4 cup almond flour
● 1 large egg
● 1 tsp garlic powder
● 1 tsp onion powder
● 1 tsp Italian seasoning
● 1 tsp sea salt
● 1/2 tsp black pepper

For the pot pie filling

1. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the butter is
melted, add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic and a little salt and pepper
to the pan. Sauté until the vegetables are soft.
2. Add the chicken to the pan and sauté until cooked.
3. Add the heavy cream, chicken stock, and Dijon mustard to the pan.
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce heat to low and
let simmer for 5-7 minutes.
4. Mix in the cheese until melted.
5. Stir in peas.
For the dough
6. Preheat oven to 375°
7. Combine mozzarella cheese and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl.
Microwave for 1 minute. Stir to combine and microwave 1 additional
8. Mix in almond flour, egg, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning,
sea salt and black pepper. Mix until all ingredients are well combined. If
it gets stringy or is not quite melted enough, put it back in for another
30 seconds.
9. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Spread the dough pieces out
into large flat circles on parchment paper or a silpat. If it starts to get
sticky, wet your hands a little bit to prevent it from sticking to you.
10. Divide the pot pie filling between four mini pin pans or large oven
safe ramekins.
11. Top each one with a piece of dough, folding it down around the edges or form the dough into little balls, placing several balls them on top of each pie.
12. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on top.
Per Serving – Calories – 661 Fat – 57g Protein – 43g Total Carbs – 15g Fiber
– 4g Net Carbs – 11g

We were both practically moaning while eating this delicious dish. Tonight, we’ll have it for the last of three nights and are disappointed we don’t have more. I bet we’ll make this again in a month. I promised myself I’d make a special dish such as this once a week, making the dining experience much more enjoyable. It’s a bit extra work, but it’s worth it when we enjoy the dish so much.

This morning, we booked a park model near Tom’s sisters in Apache Junction, Arizona, from April 1 to April 30. Tom’s sister Colleen offered us to stay at her place after she leaves to return to Minnesota in mid-May. So, we may stay there until around May 15. From there, we’ll head to Los Angeles to see my sister, Julie, staying about three nights.

From there, we’ll drive to Milwaukee to spend two nights near Tom’s sister, a nun staying in a lovely assisted living facility for retired nuns. From there, we’ll drive to Minnesota, where we’ll stay in a hotel until it’s time for us to leave for South Africa in the middle of June. We plan to drive a rental car to all of these locations, allowing us to see some of the US and saving us dealing with flights for these family visits.

Soon, we’ll start researching car rentals that allow us to drop off the car in a different state. It will be great if we can keep the same vehicle for all of these locations but if we can’t, we’ll figure it out. We realize the drop-off in a different location from the pick-up is more costly, but that would be many flights and baggage costs. As for staying in hotels on the long drives, we’d have to pay for somewhere to live anyway at that time and wouldn’t have a base requiring us to pay for two places at once.

This plan will save us money, stress, and time, and a few road trips will be fun. We love not having dates determining what we do and the above plan gives us lots of flexibility, which we’ve come to appreciate. Tomorrow night, Tom leaves for the airport for his flight to Chicago to see the pulmonologist for the asbestos assessment. He’ll be returning 26 hours later. We are glad he’s feeling better and can make this trip.

That’s it for today, dear readers.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, January 8, 2014

At lunch last Friday with our new friends, Piet and Hettie, we celebrated their birthdays over a fabulous lunch at the Tambarina Restaurant in Komatipoort. Since then, sadly, Piet passed away. Hettie still lives in South Africa but not in Marloth Park. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2 (of three parts)…Month by month, emotional and memorable events from our world travels in 2023…Happy New Year!…

In May, when staying at The Villages, we spent a day on Lake Harris, boating with reader/friends Linda and Burt. We stopped at a campsite for lunch. It was a fun day!
It was a delightful day on Lake Harris and the Dora Canal.

May, June, and part of July 2023 – The Villages, Florida, USA

Tom’s cold isn’t going away. He doesn’t feel awful and has no new symptoms, but he’s not himself. We thought that after a week, it would be gone by today since we’d made plans for tomorrow that we’ve since canceled. Fortunately, I feel fine.

Our dear friends Rich and Karen came to visit us twice while we were in The Villages Florida.
Kristi and Kevin, Tom’s nephew, thoughtfully drove the eight-hour round-trip to see us. We had a fantastic day!

We had planned to clean the condo on Friday. When he awoke this morning, he was still not feeling well. For the first time in a very long time, I cleaned by myself. We’d purchased a Swiffer from Amazon with dry and wet pads, and I ran around doing one project after another, washing, wiping, dusting, and floors. It took me about an hour.

Our friends from Boca Raton, Mark and Carol. They are visiting us for three nights. We’re having an excellent time with them. See the post here.

After struggling for almost a year, I surprised myself with how energetic I am. Today, I will be up to 20 minutes on the exercise bike, adding one minute daily. I can’t believe how quickly I was able to increase the duration. Now, I will stop increasing time and instead increase the difficulty. Doing this has changed everything for me.

When they visited, we had a great time with friends Lea Ann and Chuck. Right now, they are on a nine-month world cruise. How fun!

Note: we’re waiting for one more photo from our dear friends in Florida, Karen and Rich, who visited us twice while staying at The Villages. We were so busy yakking we forgot to take photos!!!

Our dear friend Lisa is on the left, and her friend Vicki is on the right. We had a fantastic day and evening!

Soon, I will begin doing resistance exercises using light weights using the equipment in the Fitness Center in this condo complex. I know how to pace myself since I worked out six days a week before traveling the world 11 years ago for most of my adult life. I was always fit and ate healthy. But even so, I fell prey to heart disease due to heredity. There is little one can do to override our genes.

Fortunately, I don’t need to make any New Year’s resolutions this year. I’ve lost 21 pounds, am working out again, eating as healthfully as possible, and have reduced my occasional red wine consumption from two glasses to one. I considered giving up wine, but I love a glass of red, and it doesn’t seem to affect my heart or pulse rate; I decided to reduce the amount.

A few days ago, we stopped at Liquor World near the petrol station when Tom needed to refill the fuel in the rental car before returning it to the airport for another car. At that store, I found the brand Black Box, Cabernet Sauvignon, with only 5% alcohol, as opposed to the usual 12% to 14%. With this wine low in carbs, calories, and alcohol, I could drink a second glass, which still would be less alcohol than one glass of regular wine.

I realize low-alcohol wines don’t taste as good as regular wine, but it’s a tradeoff I am willing to make for my health, like the tradeoffs I’ve made with food. I haven’t opened it yet, but I think I will tonight, it’s New Year’s Eve. Tom won’t be celebrating with me but will once he’s feeling better.

Last night, we did a Grubhub order with a Henderson Asian restaurant. We purchased enough to last us for two nights. Tom had his usual sweet and sour pork with pork fried rice, and I had steamed shrimp and vegetables. It was delicious. We get Grubhub with no one-year delivery fees through our Amazon Prime membership. But still, the two-night order was $105, including Grubhub’s service fee, taxes, and tip. We rationalized the cost, realizing we’d spend more than this to go out to dinner one night. Once in a while, this is fun to do.

On another note, today’s post is to share what transpired in our world travels in 2023. There wasn’t much traveling in today’s second segment since we spent May, June, and part of July at The Villages in Florida while we waited to go on a few cruises, which we’ll share in tomorrow’s final segment. Although, we had a wonderful time when friends came to visit us.

However, in August, included in the second segment, we went on two cruises, and thus, the cruise-related photos continue in today’s “year in review” post.

July (end of the month) and August 2023 – Edinburgh, Scotland, and two cruises, one to Norway, the second to Greenland

We couldn’t post photos while we spent three days in Edinburgh. The WiFi connection at the hotel was too slow to add pictures. Then, when the three days ended, we immediately boarded the first of two cruises: the first on the Azamara Journey, with horrible WiFi preventing us from posting more than a few photos to Norway, and the second on Celebrity. Summit to Greenland, 17 days later. For detailed photos from these two cruises, please check our archives for August 2023. But here are a few. Please scroll down to see.

A few nights into the Norway cruise, we got off the ship to a theatre with local dancers and musicians performing. See the post here.
Tom’s photo today of the town of Isafjordur, Iceland, while on the Greenland cruise. See the post here.
Tom was squinting his eyes after he took off his glasses for a selfie. We had so much fun at the” Silent Disco.” From the post here.
Deep-sea sediment cores from northeast Greenland, the Fram Strait, and the south of Greenland suggest that the Greenland Ice Sheet has continuously existed since 18 million years ago. See the post here.
Cape Spear Lighthouse in Newfoundland. See the post here.

Running out of space with all of these photos, we will continue tomorrow with September through to the end of the year here in Lake Las Vegas, Nevada. Thanks for sharing this year with us. It wasn’t as exciting as some years ago, but we visited nine countries in 2023!

Happy New Year everyone. Have a safe and enjoyable segue into 2024!

Photo from ten years ago today, December 31, 2013:

On New Year’s Eve, after returning to the house in Marloth Park, this centipede on the wall by the bathroom door made us cringe. Tom, as always, disposed of it. Sleep didn’t come easy the remainder of the night, fearful that the rains of the past few days may have brought more of these inside the house. For more, please click here.

Happy birthday to my dear husband, lover, and travel companion…

This photo was taken on “White Night” while on Azamara Journey as we sailed through the Norway fiords in August, only four months ago.

Today is Tom’s birthday. Being so close to Christmas has always been tricky, but I’ve always tried to make it a special day for him. Today will be no different when we celebrate with Richard and head to Lindo Michoacan, Tom’s favorite Mexican restaurant in Henderson, Nevada.

We’ve tried other Mexican restaurants when we’ve been in the US, but Tom only likes frothy blended Margaritas, and this particular restaurant makes a great Margarite to his liking. Plus, he enjoys their taco salads, the only item he orders in a Mexican restaurant. Who am I to say this when I also love taco salads, minus the corn tortilla shell or chips on the side?

It will be our first dinner out since we arrived eight days ago since we’ve been enjoying the vast array of groceries we’ve been able to buy here, a far cry from what was available in Ecuador. We hadn’t cooked our meals (other than in Ecuador) since the end of July when we left Florida for our two cruises.

In a while, we’ll head downstairs to the Village, which I recently discovered is called the MonteLago Village, to get a few items from the Seasons Grocery, only a few steps from the stairway. We are staying in for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, making special meals each occasion.

Tomorrow night, we’ll have bacon-wrapped filet mignon and lobster tails. On Thursday, we returned to Costco for a few items we needed. While there, we spotted a huge pack of 6 oz lobster tails and didn’t hesitate to buy them. We’ll each have one or two of the tails with our steaks for a fun dinner on Christmas Eve, leaving plenty for future meals.

Tom is not a massive fan of some seafood, but he likes lobster and crab but not shrimp. For many years, we enjoyed steak and lobster on Christmas Eve when, in our old lives, the kids and grandkids did their own thing that night. Instead, we’d see them on Christmas Day. Since we’ve been traveling, we haven’t spent Christmas in Minnesota since we’ve often been too far away.

Plus, we’ve avoided traveling during the holidays when flights are often canceled or delayed, and the commotion at the airport is intolerable. We’ve traveled close to the 4th of July, Memorial Day, and Labor Day, which aren’t as chaotic as Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I have a dumb gift for Tom for his birthday. Since we have no room for anything of additional weight in our bags, I purchased four “Space Bags’ for his luggage. Since we’ve been traveling, he’s liked using those oversized bags that he can squeeze out the air to condense the size of his clothes in the suitcase. Then, when we don’t unpack at some locations, he reaches into the bags to get out his sorted clothes.

Doing this never appealed to me, but he prefers the bags to my neatly stacked clothes. Buying him this gift is like a husband buying his wife an iron for her birthday. Tom, the practical guy he is, will appreciate this impersonal gift, which I will give him shortly. There is no wrapping paper or bow, nor is there a card. So he’ll open the Amazon package, including a bottle of Tylenol I purchased simultaneously.

We gave up giving each other gifts at Christmas, anniversaries, and birthdays when we began traveling. It made no sense to add to the weight of our luggage. Honestly, I haven’t missed receiving gifts. In a way, it has caused us both to focus more on the meaning of the occasion than the significance of giving and receiving gifts from one another.

We even stopped giving gifts to our adult children and asked them to stop buying for us. We send gifts to the grandkids, but that’s it. That has worked well for us. I suppose it would be different if we had a home, a Christmas tree, and all that goes with celebrating the holiday season. I doubt we’ll ever go back to that means of celebrating.

That’s it for today, folks. I will wrap this up (no pun intended) and give Tom his Amazon gift, and then we’ll head out to the Village.

P.S. When I handed Tom the Amazon box, explaining it was his birthday gift, he said, “I hope it isn’t something that has to fit in my suitcase.” I chuckled to myself. He loves it.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 23, 2013:

In our travels, we’ve found that two heads are better than one. These rhinos were so close to us that we didn’t require Zoom to take this photo. For more, please click here.

One day and counting…Yeah!..Almost on our way!…

A giant tortoise in the Galapagos Islands was heading back out to sea. Check out the pattern on the sand.

I’m done packing except for a few items we’ll use between now and tomorrow morning when we depart at 8:30 am. I feel organized and accomplished. It was relatively easy packing this time. Besides Tom needing to pack, which he’ll surely get started soon, we are in good shape.

I’ve gathered most of the things all over the house. A few minutes ago, Tom weighed my bag and the supplies bag, and it looks like the weight on those is within the 23 kg (50 pounds) maximum allowed by Copa Airlines. The laundry is done. Tonight’s light lunch and dinner are ready to go.

My new computer will be ready for pickup at Costco by Friday. I am looking forward to getting everything set up on the laptop. It should be ready to use after a few hours of work loading my files on the Windows 11 desktop. I’d used a Chromebook when my Windows laptop died in India, and I ordered a Chromebook for the first time. It was shipped to our hotel while we were in Udaipur, India.

When we left Marloth Park last April, I gave that laptop to Vusi, one of our excellent housekeepers in the bush. The only thing wrong was that the letter “t” wasn’t working. Vusi didn’t care about the “t.” He and his family would use it to stream Netflix shows.

Using Chrome, it took a long time for me to get used to not being able to place folders on the desktop and constantly subject to keeping folders on Google Drive. It was more work for me, and I was continually mindful of how I named and where I placed folders. It was cumbersome and time-consuming.

This current broken computer has served me well over the past two years. Our laptops generally last two years based on how much we’ve traveled and the subsequent wear and tear. Another hindrance to the life of our laptops has been determined by the humidity in any given location. Over the years, we’ve lived in many locations with extremely high humidity.

Yesterday afternoon, I spent a few hours assembling an online grocery order with Albertsons Market in Henderson, Nevada. We intend to pick up the order at the market on Friday afternoon after we pick up the laptop at Costco. However, after carefully going through their system and placing almost 100 items in the cart, I couldn’t process the order. (We needed many food products to start at a new location. Their system wouldn’t allow me to use our VPN, nor would they allow me to process the order without using the VPN.

Their system picked up that we were out of the country, and they assumed it was a fraud. Why would someone in Ecuador order 100 items from their market? This makes a lot of sense. Their staff could spend considerable time gathering almost 100 items, and no one shows up to pick up the order. Their system could have assumed we’d be using a stolen credit card.

One of my credit card numbers was stolen only a week ago, and now, a new card awaits me at the mail service in Nevada. A replacement card arrived in a few days. I was notified by the credit card company that they suspected fraud, and they were right. It was for a purchase I hadn’t made, and then the card was declined without using a proper PIN on the back.

This has happened to us almost a half dozen times over the years. I’m grateful we aren’t responsible for unauthorized charges and that the credit card companies are on top of detecting such issues and not making us accountable for those charges. However, they state that it’s also up to the customer to check their purchases to ensure there hasn’t been any fraud.

Due to this condition, I have it set up to get notified for most purchases on our cards. We only have to click “yes” when a text arrives asking if we made the purchase. This is not an inconvenience unless the card is declined if we don’t acknowledge the request for a “yes.” This has happened only a few times.

That’s why I have all of our credit cards, Tom’s and mine, set up for notifications to go to my phone since he doesn’t pay much attention to texts, let alone phone calls. Nor does he use his phone for email, shopping, or anything other than playing games. He explained that after 42½ years working on the railroad and having to be near a phone or getting beeped on a pager, he has little interest in using a phone other than for calls to and from family.

My phone dings when I get a text, so if we’re shopping, I can quickly say “yes” and proceed with the transaction. It may sound time-consuming, but given the difficulty of receiving a new card via snail mail, it is the best way to keep our cards secure. Nonetheless, fraud still happens every so often.

Tom just meandered upstairs to pack while I stayed on the main floor working on this post. He doesn’t need me to help him other than occasionally neatly folding his shirts in a closet. I’m not good at folding button-up shirts, but I am better at it than he is. He helps me by weighing and carrying the bags up and down. It is a joint effort in some ways.

As mentioned, I will write the post on my phone in the car tomorrow. When we get a signal, I will upload it. I may not get a signal until we reach the airport in Guayaquil sometime around noon, drop off the car, check our bags, go through immigration, and get settled at our gate with working WiFi.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 13, 2013:

This was our first photo of the dung beetle in action. The female often sits atop the ball of dung while the male moves it along using his back feet while his front feet grasp the ground for stability. The female lays eggs in the ball, so she tags along as he rolls. They search for an adequate hole to bury the ball. The ball is used as sustenance for both of them and the maturing larvae. Nature is amazing! For more photos, please click here.

Four days and counting…Disappointing error on my part…

We went to dinner in a town square at The Villages, Florida, every Friday and Saturday night. This was in June, 2023.

Today, I had almost finished the post, and somehow, most likely due to my hitting a delete key in error, the entire post was gone, and I had to rewrite the whole thing. I’m frustrated with myself. Here I am, starting again, trying to remember everything I wrote. I can’t recall the last time I did this, but this was not the first time.

Since writing posts is so spontaneous, which I often start without a topic in mind, it’s not easy to piece it together once again. I tried everything to find my trash in WordPress. It is nowhere to be found.

This morning, I continued packing, taking everything out of the cupboards in two of the three bedrooms. There are no drawers in the bedrooms of this house, and cupboards are often the only option in many holiday homes for storing clothes and other items. Using cupboards makes it challenging to find specific items and often makes a mess when digging through everything.

Few holiday homes have a chest or drawers or a dresser. That was something we loved about the well-equipped house in The Villages, in Florida, where we stayed last summer. That was the most well-equipped holiday home we’d rented in the past 11 years, and I think of it often for its ease of living.

We don’t expect owners of other holiday homes to go to the lengths that the Florida owner did to ensure we had every possible accouterment we could imagine. The only item I had to buy was a large stainless steel bowl, as mentioned in a prior post a few days ago. I left that bowl behind since it was too large to fit into a suitcase and carry on our travels.

I’m curious about what amenities we’ll find at the new location. Each time we enter a new holiday home, it’s of great interest to both of us to see what they have on hand. Most often, there’s almost everything we need. Since we stay for more extended periods than most travelers, there may be a few items we need to purchase.

Here in Mirador San Jose, we managed with everything on hand. However, there were no mixing bowls (other than one medium serving bowl), no grater, no can opener, no large stainer for washing vegetables, or an electric mixer, which comes in handy occasionally. Nonetheless, we managed quite well.

The bed pillows have black mold spots on their covers and were misshapen and uncomfortable. Luckily, I have my Tempur-Pedic memory foam pillow with two satin pillowcases. Tom slept well on the lumpy pillows. Enough about this place! We’re moving on in only four days.

Five days from now, I will sit in the living room in our new place, working on that day’s post for December 15 and getting ready to head to Costco to buy my new laptop and groceries. We’ll most likely be a little tired from the prior day’s long road trip and nine-hour flight, but we’ll be elated to be in our new home for the next 107 days.

Tom is cutting up the last watermelon in big chunks that he eats daily at lunch with ham and cheese rollups. We’ll finish most of the food and leave any extra unopened items for Maria when she cleans the house again after we leave on Thursday. Now, I’ll head to the kitchen to cut the large watermelon chunks into bite-sized pieces and be done prepping food for today.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 10, 2013:

We wrote a story about Vic’s Royal Kruger Lodge, and he invited us to dinner in his boma. The place settings for dinner were pleasing to the eye, and the food was excellent. For more, please click here.