We made it to Arizona…

Leaving Las Vegas.

We were out the door in Lake Las Vegas by 9:00 am. Tom got The Ford Expedition rental from Budget as a free upgrade. We had food and lots of miscellaneous items that we’ll haul to Cleveland in the next 90 days.

The drive was pleasant and uneventful, although it rained intermittently. We stopped for a restroom break at the only rest stop in the last hour of the five hours, but they had no restroom. Weird. Nor did we stop to eat when the only restaurants we passed were fast food.

By 2:00 pm, we pulled into Robert’s Resort in Apache Junction and checked in at the office. There was a long queue, resulting in about 45 minutes to check in, and finally, we made our way to our unit, a short distance from the three homes of Tom’s three sisters. Tom unloaded the vehicle while I got to work putting everything away.

We had more “stuff” this time than we’d had in years, but it wasn’t an issue when we’ll be on road trips. When the time comes for us to fly again, whenever that is, we’ll have lightened our load considerably, back to a maximum of one bag of clothes for each of us and one bag with supplies.

As we unloaded the vehicle, Tom’s three sisters, Margi, Colleen, and Mary (and husband Eugene), stopped by to say hello. I had already started unpacking, but I chatted with them in between. We planned to come to one of their three homes once we were done and had something to eat. We hadn’t eaten all day.

It was a pleasant drive through the Lake Mead area.

With only eggs and cheese on hand, which neither of us felt like eating, we decided to forgo having dinner. We munched on snacks at Mary and Eugene’s place. When we returned to our place around 8:30 pm, I ate a protein bar from the batch I’d purchased at Walgreens. Tom didn’t have a thing but felt it wouldn’t hurt him to fast for a day.

The TV here is so small that we won’t be able to broadcast our streamed shows. We’ll use my laptop to stream anything when we have time. In the next week or so, we’ll buy Tom a new laptop with an outlet for our HDMI cord. His computer is three years old. and is due to be replaced. He’s happy with the Chromebook concept and a small 14′ monitor. When we can’t use a TV monitor for streaming, we will always use my larger laptop.

The bed was comfortable, more than the memory foam bed we slept on in the condo in Lake Las Vegas. It is very soft but enabled us each to get a good night’s sleep. I never awoke during the night, but I awoke early and bolted out of bed, ready to start the day.

While at Mary Ellen’s house last night, I prepared an online grocery order. It arrived at 7:00 am when I’d scheduled it from 10:00 to 11:00 am. Go figure. I have decided to use a different grocery store for future orders since I was disappointed with the small sizes of many items. I may not have better luck with a different market. With all the retirees leaving this area for spring and summer, they only offer petite sizes of most products.

As an example, Tom suggested that this may be because most seniors don’t purchase one-pound blocks of aged sharp cheddar cheese or large packages of romaine lettuce. While we still had the Expedition this morning, we headed to the market to fill in some items and purchase bottled water. The tap water here is not safe to drink.

In total, we spent over $250 on groceries, which is about $100 more than we’d been spending in Las Vegas. We have enough food to last for one week. Prices are very high here.

At this point, we are entirely settled. We unpacked the items we’ll use while here, and somehow, we managed to make space for everything in this small place.

We’ll be fine. It’s not my ideal vacation home scenario, but it’s fun to visit with Tom’s sisters and Eugene. As always, we’ll make the best of it while always enjoying being together, regardless of where we are.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, April 2, 2014:

I tried to get a photo of all of the Seven Pillars that represent the original builders of the city of Marrakech. In the fast-moving traffic, this was all I could capture. For more photos, please click here.

A very weird thing happened last night…It was a first for us…

We’d never seen soap bubbles overflowing in a toilet. The toilet has an attached bidet, but we don’t use it since the water is cold.

Last night, while streaming an engaging series on Amazon Prime, “The Chosen,” we were both startled when we heard loud gurgling sounds coming from all the condo’s plumbing pipes. We both jumped up simultaneously, looking for an issue, and we were shocked when we entered the ensuite bathroom in our bedroom.

The bathroom toilet was just about ready to overflow with soap bubbles! What! We’d never seen such a thing! Why were there soap bubbles in the toilet? We ran back into the kitchen, and Tom turned off the dishwasher. Apparently, the soap was coming from the dishwasher! Go figure.

Now, the dishwasher and bathroom are not close to one another. This is a good-sized condo. We checked the bathroom at the other end of the condo, and that toilet was fine. After the bubbles went down a little, we tried plunging, but the toilet wasn’t plugged. It was just filled with bubbles.

Immediately, I texted the owner to let him know we’d need a plumber in the morning, but not immediately. We were fine for the night and would use the other bathroom’s toilet in the interim. With my UTI not completely resolved after less than three days on a ten-day course of antibiotics, I knew I’d lose sleep when walking back and forth to the more distant bathroom during the night.

Before I started taking the antibiotics, I had to get up four times during the night. I am down to once per night, which is a good sign. Before this UTI, I never had to get up during the night. Fortunately, last night, I fell back to sleep quickly.

As I write this, the plumber is due to arrive before noon, and it’s 11:45 now. We’ve heard that these days, various workers don’t necessarily arrive on time in Las Vegas. Whether this is true or not, we shall see. We aren’t going anywhere today, so it won’t be a problem if he’s late. However, I’d like to get in the kitchen to prep for tonight’s dinner.

This morning, I headed up one flight to the lobby level and then outdoors to the mailboxes. A few packages arrived from Amazon sellers that send their products via the US Postal Service instead of through Amazon, which we prefer since they come directly to our door.

Once I arrived at the mailbox with the key the owner had left, I opened the box to find dozens of pieces of mail for the owner and a few small packages for me. Inside the mailbox was a key to a larger mailbox in the same area that I had to open. For the life of me, I couldn’t open that larger mailbox.

I had to ask one of the staff members at the reception desk if he could help. He explained that many tenants also struggle to open larger boxes. He fiddled with it for a few minutes and finally got it open. I left the key in the larger box’s lock so the mailperson could use it again.

Moments later, I was back on the elevator, my hands full of my few packages and tons of the owner’s mail, and continued to our floor. Once I exited, I couldn’t get into the corridor on which our condo was located. The two doors to the corridor were locked. I was stranded in the elevator access area. I headed back to the lobby, one floor up, and asked them to help.

The cleaning person was vacuuming and accidentally locked the two doors. When I returned to our floor, the doors were unlocked, and I could proceed to our unit.

The plumber has arrived and is working on the issue. Hopefully, he can get it resolved today. These situations remind us of how happy we are that we don’t own a house and have regular everyday maintenance issues most homeowners encounter. We love that it’s not our problem.

That’s my news for today. I hope we’re not boring you with our little daily snippets!

Be well.

After looking up our photos from the Maasai Mara, I couldn’t resist posting another previously shown hippo photo. This was one of the first wildlife sightings we experienced only minutes after arriving at the Masai Mara airport in 2013. Love it! For more photos, please click here.

What???…No rental car???…How are we managing that?…

Beautiful scenery on the Big Island, Hawaii, in January 2015.

When Tom returned from Chicago, Illinois, on January 10, he didn’t pick up another rental car. Instead, he took an Uber back to the condo in Lake Las Vegas. Before he left, we did some cost comparisons, considering traveling to Henderson for dinner with Richard, shopping, and any other trips we may need to make using Uber instead of renting a vehicle at the airport.

At an average total cost for 28 days of $800. The daily cost, including taxes and fees, plus fuel, is $29 per day. For the sake of ease, let’s say a rental car’s total daily cost is $30. The average round trip cost using Uber (including tax and tip) for anywhere we’d go is $60.

Most likely, with all the shops and restaurants down one flight of stairs from the corridor on our floor, it’s unlikely we’d go anywhere more than once a week, thus incurring a cost of $60 each time. Using Uber once a week for four weeks is $240 instead of the $800 rental fee, saving us $560 every four weeks.

With almost 12 weeks remaining since he dropped off the car on January 9, considering three four-week periods, we’ll save $1680 when we leave here on March 31, 2024. When we had a car for the first few weeks, it sat in the parking ramp, mostly unused.

Buying all of our groceries online from Smith’s Marketplace (using Instacart Boost shipping) and any other items we need online, and with the availability of the wonderful Season’s Market down those steps with a three-minute walk, we certainly don’t need a car for shopping.

Plus, the many restaurants within walking distance, one of which we’ll visit this weekend, located at the bottom of the steps, the only times we’ll need to go out is to join Richard and his significant other for dinner at another location. In those cases, if the restaurant is further away from his home, we’ll Uber to his home and ride with them. We don’t expect them to pick us up at this location; it’s about 20 minutes each way.

When we choose not to rent a car, we don’t do so, expecting others to “cart us around.” We always prefer to be as independent as possible, wherever we may be.

Yesterday, while working out in the fitness center down the corridor, I noticed my Sketchers shoes weren’t providing as much support as needed, as I’ve quickly increased my time on the treadmill. Once back at the condo, I ordered a brand of workout shoes from Amazon; I know from experience that they work for me. I ordered them using a no-cost feature they offer, allowing me to try them on and return them if they don’t work for me.

The shoes will work for me when I try them today when they arrive in a few hours. We are Amazon Prime members and get free overnight shipping. Between Smith’s and Amazon, we can receive anything we need. The only time we visited a pharmacy was when Tom needed a few medications when he went to Urgent Care with bronchitis. There’s an example of when we’d now use Uber, both for a visit to the clinic and then to Target Pharmacy for the prescriptions. We had a car at that time.

But still, if we’d used Uber for all of that, the most we’d have paid for the trip to the clinic, Target, and back to the condo would have been a total of $60 since they are only five miles from here, only the cost of two days of a rental car.

In any case, being frugal like this probably saves us thousands of dollars each year, allowing us to spend more on those things that mean more to us: nice hotels, holiday homes, and good food. Also, we can choose quality products and brand names when buying something, if preferred. At this point, we don’t feel trapped at all in this ideal location. If we change our minds, we can rent a car.

Last night, the low-carb enchiladas were excellent. I forgot to take a photo when we both were hungry and preoccupied with eating our lovely dinner. We’ll eat it again tonight and I wrapped the remainder for the freezer for two more nights. It’s always good to have pre-made meals in the freezer for those unexpected occasions when we prefer not to cook.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, January 16, 2014:

The Guineafowl parent gathered all their chicks together as we slowly drove by while in Kruger National Park. For more photos, please click here.

Slowly but surely…We’re getting better….

Octomom and seven of her eight piglets, one of which was off to the side. We hope to see them when we return in June.

Today, I am rushing through the post so we can use my laptop to broadcast the last Minnesota Vikings game of the season on the TV monitor using the HDMI cord. After another night of coughing, I notice that my cough is finally breaking up, meaning it’s on its way to being over. Today, Tom said he feels the best since this all started about 12 days ago. I was about three days behind him when I didn’t get it immediately.

This time, I didn’t take any over-the-counter medications I’d used in the past other than Hall’s sugar-free cough drops and the saline nasal rinse. I didn’t even take Tylenol and noticed no difference in getting better. Those products may temporarily relieve symptoms but have no impact on shortening the duration of the virus.

Tom took Vitamin C, zinc, Zyrtec, Tylenol, antibiotics, and a prescription cough pill. We’ll both have had symptoms for the exact number of days. It was an experiment on my part to see what helps and what doesn’t. With Tom’s asbestos-caused lung problem, he needed to take antibiotics so the cough didn’t turn into pneumonia.

We don’t advocate one method of treatment over another to our readers. If you become sick, please see your medical professional to determine what’s best for you. I wasn’t ill enough to see a doctor, but Tom was, and thus, our visit to Urgent Care six days ago. We’re both grateful to be on the mend.

Last night’s Low Carb Chicken Pot Pie dinner was delicious, and we’re looking forward to repeating it tonight and tomorrow. This week, I’ll make another favorite low-carb dish, a copycat recipe for a low-carb version of Costco’s famous chicken loaves. This dish is another favorite of ours.

I make smaller portions of these special dishes for me so I can stay on my diet. I am stuck right now, but I continue to work on losing the last six pounds. I never have a cheat day, and I stick to the macros I’ve chosen for losing weight, which consist of fat, carbs, and calories, all of which matter. Over the years, I have found that there is no such diet as “all you can eat.” But, based on my macros, I am seldom overly hungry. I use a free app, Cronometer, to track every morsel I put in my mouth.

Yesterday afternoon, I decided to go to the fitness center to spend a little time on the exercise bike. I had been doing well when I stopped after I got sick, but now, after many days, it’s time to start getting back into it. I did 60% of what I’d reached before I stopped, and between today and tomorrow, I should be back to 100%. Soon, as my legs strengthen, I’ll start doing resistance training.

Last night, based on a suggestion from our dear friends Marylin and Gary (long-time readers we met in Marloth Park and will see again when we return), we started watching The Gilded Age on Max (formerly HBO). We signed up for a one-month free trial and will have it watched long before the month’s end, at which point we’ll cancel the service.

Today, I have to do laundry, make a salad, and work out when Tom takes his 2:00 pm nap. Dinner will be easy when I pop two more mini pot pies in the oven about 30 minutes before we dine. It’s an easy day, which I appreciate at this point.

That’s it for today, folks. We will listen to a podcast about the economy and start watching the Minnesota Vikings game on DZN (formerly NFL Game Pass). We don’t have much hope for them winning or even having a chance at the play offs, but we can hope, can’t we?

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today,  January 7, 2014:

This batch has four packages of lean grass-fed ground beef, referred to as “mince” in Africa. The total cost of these huge packages was US $17.23 and ZAR 183.50. The forward huge T-bone steak is US $3.43, ZAR 36.47. In the rear of this photo are pork chops and lamb chops. Due to inflation, these prices have doubled since we posted this, but even so, the prices are much lower than in the US and many other countries. This meat will feed us for eight dinners, considering our two nights of dining out per week. For more, please click here.

A pleasant weekend at Lake Las Vegas…

The entrance to the building where our condo is located is in Lake Las Vegas, Henderson, Nevada. There’s a parking garage we’re using on the lower levels.

Note: Today’s photos were from a few websites promoting the property. After today’s delivery of our final batch of groceries from Smith’s Marketplace to get us through Christmas, we’ll be done shopping for a while. It’s always quite an ordeal to settle into a new place when we must buy many staples and ingredients we regularly use in cooking, along with meats, cheeses, eggs, cream, sour cream, Greek yogurt, butter, and tons of vegetables.

Adding soaps, cleaning supplies, laundry, and paper products, we had quite a lengthy grocery list. It took shopping at Walmart and Costco, eventually finishing with an online order from Smith’s. As for today’s arriving order, we’ll be in great shape for the next few weeks.

With that project almost entirely tackled, we can relax and enjoy our time in this lovely location. I have unpacked all the clothes and miscellaneous items I will use here, but Tom is unpacking now and will be done soon. Right now, the condo is looking neat, clean, and orderly.

The pool is for the exclusive use of residents. It’s cold now, and I doubt we’ll use this unless it warms up.

Speaking of the clean condo, I hoped to find a house cleaner for every week or every other week. Yesterday, I contacted the cleaner the owner uses, but we were shocked when we heard the prices. The cost is $125 a week for weekly cleaning and $150 for biweekly cleaning. We are not willing to spend $500 monthly for weekly house cleaning or even $300 monthly for biweekly cleaning.

Tom assured me that we could do this ourselves. He’ll do all the floors, and I’ll dust, clean, and do the bathrooms. We are very good at cleaning the kitchen daily, so there’s nothing to do there other than wipe the glass shelves in the fridge every few weeks.

Of course, we didn’t expect the rates to be comparable to what we paid in Ecuador, $20 plus a tip for three hours, cleaning an entire two-story house. But, here, we were expected to pay $65 to $80 for cleaning this two-bedroom, two-bath, one-story condo. Thus, we’re on our own. It’s good exercise for both of us!

The second-floor lobby. A lobby on the ground level is staffed during business hours.

Today, around 1:00 or 2:00 pm, the owner will stop by to change the kitchen’s reverse osmosis water dispenser filter and bring us a microwave. We are appreciative of him doing this. He and his wife don’t use a microwave due to their choice for health reasons.

I told Tom that I’ve never been without a microwave since the day Elvis Presley passed away in August 1977. It was presented to me as a gift from a guy I was dating then, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled amid my tears about Elvis. Since that time, I’ve never been without a microwave. Every holiday home we’ve rented in the past 11-plus years has had a microwave; some were old and worn, but many were newer models.

There are multiple meeting rooms in the building, but also comfortable seating in public areas.

Most recently, our first microwave in Ecuador bit the dust, and Sylvie brought us another used model. That second replacement model, which was also old, had the wrong glass turntable that didn’t sit properly. Whenever we turned it on, with whatever we had inside, it caused the glass turntable and the food container to bang on the sides. I do not doubt that Zoltan, our landlord, will bring us a lovely new microwave.

After all, since we’re the first tenants to occupy this lovely unit since it became a holiday home, everything is new and of high quality. We’d highly recommend this place if you ever decide to come to Las Vegas for a short or long stay. The information regarding the rental may be found here at this link.

It is only a 33-minute drive to the strip and 28 minutes to the airport. There are many restaurants here in Lake Las Vegas, many of which we can access right outside the building. We can see a  vehicle-free boulevard from our veranda with shops and restaurants, which we’ll soon explore. That will be fun, especially after the holidays are over.

The building’s fitness center is where I will work out.

Last night, after dinner, I walked down the long hallway to the fitness center to find an excellent facility, as shown in the photo above. I will start slow since I’m not in the best shape right now, and I look forward to improving my gait and stamina for longer walks.

That’s it for today, folks. Thanks for your patience while we didn’t post for a few days. It’s terrific to see many of our readers with us again.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 17, 2013:

This photo was taken a few years ago by Louise and Danie. But the house’s condition has remained constant, and this photo is exactly as we expected. For more photos, please click here.

We’re back online!…An unreal experience on the road in Ecuador

The condo has special lighting to create a mood, all operated digitally with the option of changing colors. We’re thrilled with the large refrigerator, dishwasher, range, and many amenities, except for a microwave. We are the first renters to occupy this holiday home.

Note: We’ll post a few photos of our condo and its grounds daily. Stay tuned for more. Thank you, reader/friends, for all your well wishes, love, and support during some challenging times.

We’re sitting on the comfy sectional in the beautiful great room of our new holiday home in Lake Las Vegas, Nevada. We love this place and couldn’t be more pleased with it and to finally be here. The lovely condo is fully equipped with almost everything we need to make this feel like “home” for the next 105 days.

Deciding not to post for two days wasn’t an easy decision. After the long day of travel before we departed Ecuador and our expected late arrival in Las Vegas, I didn’t feel like preparing a post while we waited for boarding. We were seated at the gate, and I couldn’t motivate myself to take out my rickety laptop and try to type when the screen would flop down with no way to support it.

We flew on Copa Airlines. The first short flight had entertainment screens, but the longer seven-hour flight did not. It was a long seven hours with nothing to keep us occupied. A baby behind me cried hysterically for over an hour, and the kid kept banging on my seat while on the dad’s lap. I only cared about getting to the US safely and ending the flight. The baby was a mere annoyance.

Then, on Friday, with only two hours of sleep, preparing a post was out of the question after we’d arrived at the condo at 3:00 am, which was 6:00 am to us. I never fell asleep until 4:00 am and awoke two hours later.

Yesterday, I was dragging more than ever. It wasn’t jet lag since the time difference wasn’t a big deal. Lack of sleep was the biggest problem. Tom was tired but slept a little longer and handled it better than me. We had a busy day ahead of us, and I knew it would be another long day with lots of walking.

The big TV monitor has DISH TV and lots of amenities. Our digital equipment is charging on the floor.

We started with breakfast at Denny’s, which was close to Costco, where we had to pick up my new laptop (which I am using now that is set up with all my files-very nice) and at Walmart, where we’d buy paper products, soaps, and some staples. We had sticker shock when the bill came for our breakfast. It was $46 with tax and tip. Wow! I guess we’re in the US now!

Before I get further into yesterday’s events, I’m anxious to share details of the harrowing event during that 3½ hour drive from Mirador San Jose to the Guayaquil airport. We started on reasonably good roads at 8:15 am as planned, and all was going well. Our flight wasn’t scheduled until 2:53 pm, so we had plenty of time and didn’t need to rush on the two-lane roads with many trucks and slow-moving vehicles. Tom didn’t speed.

When we were about halfway to Guayaquil, Tom mentioned there was a cop with flashing lights pulling him over. My heart sank. Oh no. He hadn’t done anything wrong, wasn’t speeding, and was following all the lines on the road, allowing passing at specific points.

Tom calmly rolled down the window. He was not asked to provide his driver’s license or his name. The cop used a translation app on his phone, which stated he’d passed two vehicles where it wasn’t allowed. This was not true. He didn’t hesitate to say the fine was US $190 (they use US currency in Ecuador).

Of course, we objected that he hadn’t done anything wrong, but the cop (with two others with him) held steady on the amount of cash we had to pay. We asked for a ticket. He said, “No ticket.” Pay the $190, or “they” will come to get you.” Oh, good grief. He was threatening jail.

There was no negotiating with him. Of course, this was a scam. They saw our vehicle loaded with luggage, knowing we were tourists heading to the airport and most likely would have cash on us. Thank goodness we did. We handed him $100 at one point, suggesting that was enough! This didn’t satisfy him. Those three cops would be splitting our $190.

We had no choice but to pay. There was no alternative. After we handed over the cash, I asked for a receipt to make the point that we knew it was a scam. No go. He wasn’t about to give us a receipt!

We spent about a half hour dealing with this. Tom carefully drove away, checking periodically to see if they were behind us. They weren’t. We both looked at each other as we took off and said, “Get me out of here!” Neither of us could wait to leave Ecuador.

The comfy velour sectional sofa is perfect for us. The owner, Zoltan, and his wife Agnes brought us a fluffy blanket for lounging.

We arrived at the airport in plenty of time for our flight. There was a 22-minute delay when the plane didn’t arrive at the gate. But about 15 minutes into it, we were able to board. Weird food served. Tom ate nothing for 36 hours until yesterday morning’s breakfast at Denny’s. I ate a few bites of chicken.

After breakfast, we headed to Walmart, where we spent over $300. Tom was desperate for a haircut, and we found a nearby Great Clips with a 20-minute wait. I was happy to wait in the car to rest my weary body. While waiting, I searched online to buy a clothes drying rack. There isn’t one here. When I found one, I got out my wallet for the credit card company and noticed my wallet wasn’t in the bag.

While we were having breakfast, my bag fell off the booth’s bench and ended upside down on the floor. I carefully scoured the floor to see if anything fell out. Nothing had. Then, while waiting for Tom, ready to make the purchase, I suspected my wallet had fallen out of the bag when it fell on the floor at Denny’s.

When Tom returned after his haircut 30 minutes later, we had no choice but to return to Denny’s to see if they found my wallet. It wasn’t there. Oh, no, I thought, what if someone found it and kept it? Worrying about this only increased my exhaustion when we went to Costco to pick up my new laptop and buy groceries. We didn’t buy any perishables at Walmart and needed meat and produce from Costco.

We are content with the fact there isn’t a dining room and prefer sitting at the counter for our meals.

As it turned out, my Fitbit showed we’d walked over three miles by the time we returned to the condo. Our unit is a long walk from the parking area to the condo. Shortly after we arrived, the owner of the condo, Zoltan, and his wife came with a few odds and ends for us to use. They are both so kind and thoughtful. The only item the unit is missing for our needs is a microwave. We’ll try to figure out how to live without a microwave, which we often use.

Much to our delight, my wallet was on the nightstand when we returned to the condo. In my tired state, I hadn’t realized I left it behind. Whew! That was a relief.

Tom had quite an ordeal getting all the groceries from the car to our distant unit. But he used a luggage cart that made the task considerably more manageable.

We didn’t prepare dinner last night. Tom bought an apple pie at Costco and was happy with a piece of that, and I ate a bowl of Greek yogurt and raspberries, which hit the spot. I spent most of the evening setting up my new laptop, and I’m completely done. I wanted to ensure I could use it this morning to prepare the post.

By 9:00 pm, I headed to bed, falling asleep shortly after that. Unfortunately, I awoke at 4:00 am and never went back to sleep. I feel fine today, and after uploading the post, I will finish unpacking after we watch the Minnesota Vikings game at 10:00 am this morning.

We are both content in this amazing location and living in this lovely area and good-sized, well-appointed condo. Ah, what a relief!

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 16, 2013:

At first glance, these could be a fashion-forward pair of women’s black boots. Nope. They’re the hind legs of a warthog. Actually, all four legs have these spiky heels. This made us laugh. For more photos, please click here.

One week and counting…

Male tree frogs fertilize a foam nest that a female frog made overnight. Nature is amazing! The photo was taken in December 2013.

A week from today, we’ll be on the road to Guayaquil Airport, 3 hours and 22 minutes from our location. We’ll likely head out the door around 8:30 am for our 2:53 pm flight to Panama City, with a 1-hour 33-minute layover, and then on to Las Vegas. Our flight arrives at 10:40 pm, and after going through immigration, getting our bags, and picking up the rental car, we most likely won’t arrive at the condo until around 1:00 am or later.

Of course, we won’t unpack that night, only taking out toiletries and clothes for the following day. I hope we get at least six hours of sleep since we’ll wake up to a busy day. First on the agenda is the trip to Costco to purchase my much-needed computer and pick up a few groceries, enough to last a few days.

Once we’re settled, most likely, we will do an online grocery order from Smith’s, where we’ve shopped in the past and been pleased with their products and service. Initially, I’d planned to buy a lot of food at Costco, but I have found some of their prices on groceries are not necessarily better than prices at a grocery store. Plus, Smith’s will have a better selection of miscellaneous items we use. Large sizes of many products don’t work if they end up spoiling.

Then again, how much we buy at cost depends on how we feel if we don’t sleep enough. Costco is not fun when one is exhausted. It may be challenging to recall prices on items that may or may not be a good deal, especially since we haven’t grocery shopped in the US since we were in Florida last summer.

With inflation, prices have crept up over the past several months. We are in for a rude awakening of increased costs since we left Florida at the end of July. And most likely, prices will be as high in Las Vegas as at The Villages.

If my medication arrives, we’ll head to our mailing service the next day to pick it up. This morning, when I checked the tracking number, apparently, the package had arrived in the US from Singapore, where many prescription drugs are manufactured. Often, Americans assume their medications are manufactured in the US, and many are not.

Here is an interesting article about where prescription drugs are manufactured worldwide. It’s a fascinating article that may surprise you. As for the world’s manufacturing countries, here is the list and percentages:

The USP Medicine Supply Map analysis (Chart I) counts the number of active API DMFs by location.

  • India accounts for 48%
  • China accounts for 13%
  • U.S. accounts for 10%

We are deluding ourselves by assuming that most drugs are manufactured in the US. Surprisingly, buying them from a US pharmacy costs so much. The cost for the blood thinner I must take, Eliquis, buying from Singapore through ProgressiveRX is $95.49 for 56 pills (almost enough for one month), compared to buying it at a pharmacy (without a pharmacy plan) is $599.97. Who can afford this?

I realize I’d mentioned this in a past post, maybe more than once, but if one of our readers sees this after missing that post and is paying these high prices, it would have been worth posting it one more time.

We’re bracing ourselves for higher prices on most things in the US. But, while we’re in the US, we look forward to a broader selection than most other countries.

One reader wrote and asked how long we’ll be in the US. If all goes well, we’ll likely return to Marloth Park in June as planned. However, we won’t stay more than 90 days this time. According to many reliable sources, South Africa’s immigration department still cannot process extensions due to a lack of staff. We won’t be applying for an extension again.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow. Be well.

Photo from years ago today, December 7, 2013:

While walking in our neighborhood, Tom spotted this ostrich that had wandered into a homeowner’s driveway and appeared fascinated by looking at himself in the window. For more photos, please click here.

My broken laptop…Here’s what we’ll do…

Warthog family. I miss them all.

My laptop is getting worse each day. I’m hoping it will last until we arrive in Nevada on December 15, departing on the 14th, and we can get to the Costco store in Henderson, Nevada, to purchase a new one. Based on the condition of the hinge that closes the lid, I think that once we try to close it, it won’t ever open again.

Before we leave here on December 14, I will load all my saved files on my desktop to a zip drive or our external hard drive. Thus, once I get a new Windows 11 laptop, I can simply load the files on the new device and be ready to go. It’s funny how, based on our travels and heavy use, something happens to my laptop every two years, and I have to replace it.

I can only imagine how bored our readers are, reading about yet another device going bad for one reason or another. This one broke when we had it on the floor in our cabin during the Galapagos cruise when the seas were so rough that we stayed at the dinner table as long as possible when the nausea was so unbearable that we both needed to lie down.

That was the only night Tom had a problem and puked into the trash can. That was the only time he suffered from seasickness, but I continued to suffer for nights to come. It was always worse at night since they didn’t move the boat during the day while he and the other passengers went on expeditions.

During the days when I stayed behind, there was much rocking and rolling while anchored. But I never felt sick while we weren’t out to sea. I stayed behind working on our daily posts and the endless flow of photos Tom had taken on the tours. That seems like such a long time ago, and yet it was only six weeks ago.

Nonetheless, when I tried to open my laptop after the first night of rough seas while we were on the move, I encountered this hinge problem. That morning, three or four of the staff members worked on it and managed to get it maneuvered back in place, allowing me to open and close it until it all fell apart about a week ago.

I’m holding it together long enough to order a new laptop from Costco using a $250 gift card, and we’ll pick it up at the Henderson location. Within 24 hours of our arrival in Nevada, I’ll have my new laptop, and a short time later, I’ll have it fully set up. While at Costco, we’ll buy enough groceries to get us through the first week or so. That’s a great plan, which I am actually looking forward to. Shopping at Costco is fun.

Since we’ll be in Nevada for 3½ months, we can easily stock up on oversized packages of toilet paper, paper towels, ziplock bags, food, and more. It will feel great to stock up on familiar items after our time in Educador, with limited products available for our way of eating.

Tom is having the low-carb mushroom burger scramble dish for dinner with rice, while I will have fish with cooked cabbage, broccoli, and green beans for both of us. Tom won’t eat cooked cabbage and broccoli. With Raphael coming by twice a week, we sure eat lots of veggies, which helps fill me up. Plus, Tom has been enjoying having watermelon with ham and cheese rollups at lunchtime.

That’s it for today, dear readers. Again, thank you for the ongoing email messages and comments on the post. You all mean the world to us.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, November 28, 2013:

Upon arrival in Mombasa, Kenya, we took this photo from the ferry as another ferry took off. Notice the crowds. Shortly, we’ll be on this ferry again in Alfred’s vehicle. For more photos, please click here.

Problems with a popular streaming service…Oils we use…Remembering Tuscany ten years ago…A video…

We’re like many others worldwide. Sure, we’re world travelers, soon to be on the move again, but when we aren’t busy at night, going out or with friends, we hunker down and stream series on our preferred streaming services, which include Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.

After hearing so much about the popular series, Ted Lasso, we signed up for the AppleTV streaming service. My sister Julie recommended another series, The Morning Show, both fantastic shows on the streaming service, so we signed up for a free trial to see if we liked the two series. We did.

When the seven-day free trial ended, we signed up to pay $6.99 a month, figuring that within a month or so, we’ll have binge-watched both series in their entirety. While we had the streaming service, we stumbled upon another show, Severence, that Tom likes more than I do.

Once we got into the first series, we noticed the screen froze about every 15 to 20 minutes, requiring us to log out of the show to restart it. Somehow, we got through the Morning Show and a few seasons of Ted Lasso, but I was fed up with getting up three or four times per hour to fix it.

The HDMI cord doesn’t reach the sofas, so we keep my laptop on a dining room chair we pull up each night, close to the TV, to stream shows. We’ve had no problems with any other streaming services.

Of course, I looked online only to find that Apple TV is not geared to working on a Windows computer, which I have. It prefers Apple products and only supports Apple products that we do not use. We still hadn’t gotten through all the Ted Lasso and Severance episodes, but I finally told Tom I gave up. I canceled the app, not willing to pay another $6.99.

The app will continue to work until our contract ends on July 19, and since we paid, we’ll try it one more time, but I doubt it will be any different. If any of our readers have encountered a similar scenario with Apple TV using a Windows device and have a workaround, please let me know.

Today, we didn’t have any new photos to share. We haven’t been out in several days due to inclement weather, but tonight, the forecast looks good, and we’ll head out for the evening. We’ll most likely go to the City Fire bar for a drink and then head to Cody’s Original Roadhouse again for another fun atmosphere and a good meal.

The food at restaurants in The Villages isn’t exceptional for us. Many of the restaurants cater to some seniors’ tastes, including burgers, pizza, sushi, and a variety of ethnic restaurants that either I can’t eat, or Tom doesn’t like. We never order burgers, pizza, and sushi. I’ve only found that dinner-type salads work for me when most of the meals have sauces, carb-laden toppings, and sides, which would be good on a regular diet.

Often the only option was salmon and salad, and every other night while in lockdown for ten months in a hotel in Mumbai, India, I ate salmon and veg. Since then, I have had no desire to eat salmon in a restaurant, although I have made it for myself a few times and don’t enjoy it anymore.

Plus, I don’t eat toxic vegetable oils, which many restaurants use to make most dishes. Salads are a safer option without added dressing. Instead, I order sour cream for salad dressing. Sadly, most salad dressings are made with vegetable oils of one type or another. It’s not the fat I’m worried about; it’s the chemicals used in making oils.

Often, olive oil may not be pure and made with other oils, so I avoid that too. Generally, I use pure virgin, unrefined, organic coconut oil or pure avocado oil. These aren’t used in restaurants due to the cost. But they are affordable for home use, especially since we don’t fry anything.

That’s it for today, folks,

Photo from ten years ago today, June 30, 2013:

No photos were posted on this date other than the above video. For the text, please click here.

More stormy weather…Ten years ago…Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy…

This Bed and Breakfast is a few hundred feet from our door. See the post here.

With storms moving through each day and the golf cart being our only means of transportation, we haven’t been out yet this week. The last time we were out was dinner on Sunday night with Lea Ann and Chuck when we returned to the Blue Fin in Brownwood Paddock Square.

I am getting a touch of cabin fever, although we’ve thoroughly enjoyed the past days staying in. We always do. A few days ago, Tom asked me if I was bored. I assured him I am not bored at all. He isn’t bored, either. We always seem to be busy when we stay in, totally entertained.

Here it’s 10:00 am now. Tom has been talking to daughter, Tammy, in Minnesota for the past hour, and I’ve got laundry going. As soon as he’s off the phone, we’ll walk since it’s not raining right now. Yesterday, we missed the walk due to the weather. It was windy and rained all morning.

Initially researching Boveglio, we were excited that this bar and restaurant was within walking distance. Unfortunately, we never asked the owners of our house, Lisa and Luca, if it still was in operation. It has closed down as a public facility, now occupied by its owners. The economy has spared no small businesses in Italy, as we discover as we travel the world.

If the rain stays away for a few hours, we may head out to go to the post office. I have been ordering a few things from Amazon to take on the upcoming cruises. Usually, Amazon delivers directly to us at the house. But, the items I ordered were from an outside vendor, and they only shipped for free using the United States Postal Service, which doesn’t deliver to the houses in The Villages, which is weird.

Instead, there are mailing stations at each of the various villages, and snail mail for us comes to the Fernandina postal station, which is about a ten-minute golf cart ride. We’ll head out once our Kroger grocery order arrives today between 11:00 and 12:00 am.

We love getting our groceries delivered. When I go to the big supermarkets in the US, I buy too much since I am in awe of all the products I haven’t been able to buy for the past several years. By shopping online, I am less tempted to buy products I may not be able to use in time before we depart.

The houses across the street from us.

It’s been fun shopping online at Kroger. When I notice I am low on a particular item, I add it to my Kroger shopping cart on my phone or laptop. We can use coupons online by simply clicking on the coupon. The credit card we use to purchase groceries has a program whereby they offer discounts on grocery items as they are purchased. We’ve saved hundreds of dollars since we’ve been shopping online while here.

On July 14, dear friend Karen is picking us up to return to their new home we haven’t seen. We’ll spend the weekend with her and Rich, and she’ll bring us back on Monday. We appreciate her willingness to transport us both ways when it’s a two-hour drive each way. We’re excited to see their new home on a river and enjoy what surely will be a fun weekend with them.

Tomorrow, our dear friend Lisa (we’ve been friends since the 1980s) and her friend Vicki will arrive at 1:30. We’ll hang around here for a while and then head out to dinner. We’re also looking forward to seeing Lisa again. We hadn’t seen her since 2017 when we all went to dinner in Minnesota.

Flowers were blooming near our exterior door.

We loved seeing our friends here more than we ever expected when we booked the house in The Villages. We’ve had a great time with our old and new friends.

Tonight, we’ll finish our Chinese food left from yesterday’s takeaway and have another pleasant evening. Life is good.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 22, 2013:

In this area, a diagonal line crosses the village’s name as one leaves a village. Notice the hairpin sign, one of many on our ride down the mountains to Collodi, the town large enough to find groceries, a pharmacy, supplies, and sundries, roughly a 30-minute drive from Boveglio. For more photos, please click here.