Thursday, September 29, 2022

Five Things Thursday

I don't know where this is, but I would sure love to see it in person!
How clever for Halloween! It amazes me--what people come up with.

An oldie but a goodie! This is from several years ago when I scooped a dead spider from the floor--we have the exterminators come every 3 months, so the only bugs we see are dead ones. I had no idea that the babies were riding on the mama! They were all alive! Eeek! Now as I think about it, I don't really understand that. I thought spiders laid eggs! Can anyone explain this?

Love the Halloween hand soaps from Bath and Bodyworks. These will last a lifetime.
This is a fun idea for fall. It would be so easy to do with the Cricut. I'm not really planning on doing it. Well, maybe. We'll see...

Monday, September 26, 2022

The Things I Learned Part 2

26. I learned that "hotels" are really restaurants--a place to rest and have a meal. There was one that could only have been about 10 ft. by 5 ft. yet had a rather sloppily, "hotel" painted on the side. We were driving so I didn't get a picture. 

27. I learned that "fitness" is just as important in a third-world country as it is to us. We have a workout facility on just about every other block. Here, I saw a crudely painted sign that said: "Fitness Gym"---without a door and you could see that it was the hard dirt floor inside. I couldn't see any equipment. Now that's dedication--if you ask me!

28. I learned that banana trees only have one harvest. Then the tree is cut down. Others crop up in its place. Huge bunches--at least a hundred or more bananas on each stalk--are sold along the road too. They are green because if they let them ripen to yellow, the baboons will get them. That's okay by me. They ripen too fast for my taste. I always try to get the greenest ones.

29. I learned that even though there are thousands of animals--and we were taught the names, I was the one that barely remembered a single one. Okay, I knew zebras and giraffes. And lions.

30. I learned that a rock python (I only know that because Butch reminded me)--the 2nd largest in the world--21 ft. long--can hold two adult humans at a time! Needless to say, we weren't about to leave the safari car. We were lucky to see one on the side of the road--digesting something very large--like it could have been a human. I have never seen anything like that. We were told that it was very rare to witness this as they usually slither off into the underbrush. It was under some bushes, but still visible to us. Unbelievable.

31. I learned that watching lions eat a fresh kill is kind of cool. It was a large wildebeest (I only know that because Butch reminded me). The females do the hunting, but the males eat first. The jackals were gathering around--but not too close, waiting their turn. The circle of life--up close and personal.

32. I learned that Jordan knows so much about animals. She wowed us with her knowledge. In fact, she could have been the guide!! She knew so many details about habitats, habits, numbers, etc. It was amazing. She's always loved animals. Unlike me, she retains what she learns. I only retain something for about a day. Maybe even only and hour. Or make that a half hour. Okay, let's be real, maybe 5 minutes.

33. I learned that Morgan has an "eagle eye!" Picture saying things like: "there's a lion about a mile out!" Or "see those babies under that tree on the left side, 3 branches to the right?" Or "there's a giraffe hidden among those trees!" Really? Of course, I never saw any of it! That girl.

34. I learned that I love a hot water bottle in the bed, fresh flowers and I still love a linen tablecloth. 

35. I learned that linen clothing is the way to go. That was recommended for our safari. I don't necessarily like how baggy the clothing is--making me appear chubbier than I think I am, it is cool clothing. Plus, the slightly rumpled look is expected. Perfect for traveling.

35. I re-learned that I loved being with my family on this contradictory trip. We were out in the wild in the bush and then enveloped in luxury when we got "home!"
Best kind of trip--in my opinion!

Sunday, September 25, 2022

The Things I Learned on Our Safari--Part 1

1. I learned that when traveling internationally, there are so many security checks and lines to go through--and not just at the airport--at the hotels and museums too. But the airports are the worst. I would say there are about 4 or 5 lines at each one between security--twice, passport control, customs, etc. And you have to take off your shoes! Hate that. Coming home, Jordan and I counted--we had 13 security checks just to get out of Kenya!! Crazy!

2. I learned that there are animals everywhere in Africa. It's sort of unbelievable to see them at any moment--everywhere! Really! 

3. I learned that Kenya is beautiful as far as the scenery and animals go. But...

4... I learned that they do not have trash pick up--outside of Nairobi, so there's trash everywhere which is unsettling. They supposedly prohibit plastic. We were told that we could not have any ziplock bags. That posed a bit of a problem for me as I had to leave the snacks behind and was not able to protect my suitcase from exploding shampoos, lotions, etc. I only had to learn that lesson one time. Ziplocks baby!

5. I learned that Tanzania is brown and so dusty. I know that I would not have survived the "dustbowl!" I've already told Butch that I'm "done" with the brown states. Now I'm "done" with brown countries! Oh wait, we're going to Egypt in January. After that, I'm done! 
It seems odd to me that the animals thrive in this desolate place. Our guide kept talking about how plentiful the food is for the animals. That's when it occurred to me that I guess it's exactly like eating hay.
Oh, the birds! Beautiful birds. Every size and color you can imagine from ostriches to tiny little--
okay, I've already forgotten what these are called.

6. I learned that people walk everywhere--seemingly in the middle of nowhere. I kept asking myself, where did they come from and where are they going? There is nothing as far as the eye can see. It's not even like they are in a group. It's just singular people walking about.

7. I learned that what we think as beautiful weather--70's--is cold for the native Africans. They all have on coats and even wool stocking caps! And here we are in shirtsleeves. We couldn't have asked for nicer weather.

8. I learned that the wares they sell to the tourists are things they actually use. The colorful blankets are really nice. They wear them constantly in this heat of 70 degrees. Steph wanted to learn a few of their "draping" techniques. I wish she had.

9. I learned that people just sit. Again, what are all these people randomly sitting alone in the middle of the day along the roadside--out in the middle of nowhere? No one else around, just sitting.

10. I learned that Nicky is not a good person to send on a recognizance mission. He comes back with absolutely no information whatsoever. Don't know about Olly--we didn't test him! But he did do a great job with the camera!
Morgan and I are the best at getting all the facts!

11. I learned that people here LOVE their roasted corn--no butter or anything--just hot corn. They roast it street side all along the road. At the airport I went up to a little place to get a bottle of water and the attendant was munching on an ear of roasted corn. They don't even sell it there. It must just be a staple for their diet. Speaking of food..

12...I learned that they eat a lot of rice! Every meal--plain white. There's usually something to put on top of it.

13. I learned that their fresh juice combinations are delicious--for the most part. I did not like the tomato, beet, raspberry that I had for breakfast one day.

14. I learned that you can take your beer in the safari car. Whenever we had a "comfort stop" AKA bathroom, snack and souvenir break--the guys could get a bottle of Kilimanjaro beer. 
15. I learned that I like mosquito netting around my bed. It's all billowy-and full. After getting tangled up in it the first couple of times, I came to like the romanticism of it. We didn't really have any problems with mosquitos except one night when we were sitting outside at our last "camp" (they are really resorts). I did get a couple bites.

16. I learned that I cannot take malaria medicine. It caused me to develop thrush (I know, I only thought babies got that too, but considering this is my third time--take it from me, adults can get it--mostly women. It's a yeast infection--but in the mouth. This is the only type of yeast infection I've ever gotten.) I quit the malaria pills, so hope the two mosquito bites I got won't turn in to malaria. The thrush hasn't caused any real problems. It's more of an irritating type thing, a bit uncomfortable. Actually painful--especially when eating. Everything hurts.

17. I learned that I enjoy being greeted with a glass of fresh juice and a warm, moist towel when I get "home!"

18. I learned that there are so many motorcycles. Looks like it's the most popular form of transportation. I wonder if they have a lot of accidents--they do drive crazy around here.

19. I learned that I might be suffering from "shaken senior syndrome." It's when your brain rattles around as you navigate huge ruts and potholes. Honestly, it's a good thing that Butch and I are active and healthy. This trip was strenuous in terms of all that bouncing and jostling. You really had to hold on to keep from going airborne! There were some older folks--actually, they were mostly our age--that did not fare so well. They had lots of aches and pains.

20. I learned that I love my packing cubes. Especially when you have to move around so much, they certainly are handy. I have three of them. I put my outfits together in the largest one, underwear, socks, nightgown, swimwear and coverup in the next and finally accessories (safari hat, pashminas, swim hat, jewelry) in the smallest one. Love them. I see Christmas presents in the future for some family members.

21. I'm really good at bargaining. You bargain for everything here. We were told that you should only pay about half of what you are quoted. It sure came in handy when I took the girls shopping for tanzanite! 
I couldn't resist these sterling silver elephant earrings with the tanzanite stone.

22. I learned that people sell everything on the roadside---on the plain hard dirt. So many displays of bed frames (seriously, bed frames?? I saw at least three displays), couches and pots and pans. Even a whole display of shovels. Do they really sell enough shovels everyday to make it worthwhile? Even the potted flowers and plants are covered in dust. I don't think tourists are buying them. I just wonder who is buying all that stuff. I didn't see any tourists. There are just small villages all along the way--no electricity or running water--or (gasp) internet!!

23. I learned the real meaning of third world country firsthand. Do the people who live here know they are living in poverty? Or, I suppose that's all they know. That part of the trip was sad.

24. I learned that people play billiards outside on the hard dirt. The table was bigger than most of the dirt floor "shops". Maybe they just throw plastic over the top to protect it from the rain.

25. I can't use binoculars. I guess you could say I'm "binocular challenged." I'm sure the family was sick of me saying "Where? I can't see it!" Luckily, I only missed the far away things. I learned to just wait a second and then whatever animal you saw far away will be roadside at the next turn.

Stay tuned for part 2--tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

This Trip is NOT for the Faint of Heart!

Now, don't get me wrong--it's amazing--no doubt! But, it's not for the faint of heart--that's for sure. Let me explain. 

This might sum in up:

Yep, almost 47,000 steps--nearly 20 miles on our first day! But, surprise, that's not walking! It's bouncing around in our safari vehicle! There's so much to see and they want to make sure you see it all. But, the roads are not very good and the drives are long--Africa is a big country and so are the national parks! The drivers fly along the bumpy roads--often we would go airborne--no lie! 

Although we traveled many more miles than 20, my Fitbit registered that I walked this many due to the bumping and bouncing around. If you have any body aches and pains, this definitely exacerbates them. Butch and I are doing fine, but some of the other "seniors" in the group are complaining about their backs and necks. I feel for them. For me, it's my "rear end" that's a little tender--nothing that would hold me back! I don't have the padding there that I used to! Still, it doesn't bother me. They have an extra cushion on the seats that you can also stand on when we come to a stop. The sights are just unbelievable--so hard to describe. The animals are not afraid--or at least most of them aren't. 

I stopped taking pictures because the whole family is. So, I don't have a picture yet of the "rock python" we saw yesterday. Our driver said it is rare to see one--it's the second largest snake in the world. The only reason we saw it was because it had just eaten something huge and was digesting. Apparently they can't or don't move during this process. We don't know what it was he ate, but the bulge was as big around as a human! Our driver said he could eat two!

We lucked out--again--with such a small group. There were only 13 on the tour and 7 of them were US! One gal left on Sunday, so we're down to 12. We convinced our driver to let us have our own car rather than one person having to go in the other car. It's a little tight, but so fun. The other people are really nice, but I'm sure they are loving having their car to themselves too.

The accommodations are first rate--rustic, but very nice. I'm out of time right now but will come back to this post later and add to it.

Every camp greeted us with fresh juice and warm, moist towels to wash our hands. That was a nice touch. 
This was the first place we stayed--where they put the hot water bottles in our bed at night. None of these places have heat or air conditioning. The water bottles was all we needed.
This was the second camp. It was a luxury tent on stilts! This is the place where the monkeys almost overwhelmed me.
Camp #3--I'm only showing you our rooms. All of the places were so nice. I took plenty of pictures of the scenery and buildings, but it would be too much for this post. 
This was our last place and the nicest of them all. You walked in to a large living area with a tv--the first place to have that. Of course, Butch got excited too quickly. There were only 2 channels. He was watching what he thought was a soccer (football) game (couldn't find any golf) only to discover that it was some soccer highlights channel.

I have to share just a couple of floral pictures--there weren't that many flowers on our game drives. The ones I took were mostly in the camps which were lush and beautiful. But, I just had to share this one. 
This one greeted us at the entrance to our final camp. If you look close you can see it in the picture above.
It's a "bottle brush" tree--I cannot even begin to pronounce--much less spell--what they called it. I know I've seen it in the US too, it's stunning!
Every room along the way had mosquito netting. We didn't really have problems with mosquitos. All of the views are spectacular. This "resort" is in the midst of a coffee plantation. They grow 75% of everything they serve here. All camps had pools, but this is the only place where we had time to enjoy that. They keep you pretty busy--starting after breakfast at 7:30 a.m. and going untll 5-ish.

This camp greeted us with an outdoor lunch--which is what I think of when I think of Africa. Fancy!
They serve family style--with bowl after bowl of food on the table to pass. Before you can even ask for more, they replenish them. The first round was enough for us. Meals took quite awhile. We Americans are used to eating quickly and on to the next thing. We felt like we spent a lot of time eating!
You know how much I love a cloth tablecloth!!!


Sunday, September 18, 2022

No Time and .....

...lousy internet in "the bush!" I really don't like being "unplugged!" 

Just a few pictures as we are heading to Tanzania this morning. I have no idea when I'll get to post next!

In no particular order because, well, I just don't have the time!
This mama and baby were just walking alongside a busy road. They weren't the only ones, but I loved this picture because of the baby riding! We've become enthralled with all the babies we've seen. Morgan is in love with the baby wart hogs! They are cute--and so fast. We found out that they are stupid animals and lose their thought every 45 seconds.
So many animals---up close and personal! They are everywhere. I guess that's why people want to come to Africa. We even saw a leopard which is pretty rare. Our guides said it's been three months since they've seen one. I'll have to find some pictures. Needless to say, without good internet, I am unable to keep my photos organized. That's one of the things I do while traveling--edit and organize photos every night!
We thought it was going to be hot and planned for that. Although it's very pleasant for us, everyone here is wearing winter coats---seriously---winter coats. Mostly we're just in our shirt sleeves. In the morning we're using pashminas or light jackets and that's enough. We had a tour guide yesterday at the Karin Blixen House (she wrote Out of Africa)--who had on jeans, boots and a leather jacket--all zipped up! We were roasting in the sun but she seemed as cool as a cucumber!
I posted a picture like this on Facebook with Butch holding the snake. I had no desire. No. Desire!
Grandpa with Jordan and Morgan. It's hard to tell, but that pink line in the background is all flamingos. Watching them take off was amazing!
First thing at our orientation meeting they gave us "stuff"--as I like to call it. The girls called it "swag!" Those African blankets are so nice---and sold everywhere. They are compact, but so warm--in fact all the people here wear them--just another hot item of clothing. Had we known they were giving us safari hats, we wouldn't have bought our own! They fill our water bottles with fresh water whenever we need it. We aren't supposed to drink the water or--as my travel doctor said--get a single drop in our mouths. Have you ever tried brushing your teeth using a water bottle? Kind of tricky and a waste of water! The packet contains masks--which we haven't had to wear at all--sanitation wipes and hand sanitizer. The flat envelope is a really nice document folder. Hmmm. I just might put it on my scrapbook page!

OMGosh y'all! This happened! I was sitting on our porch doing a little stitching---we only have about an hour of free time after lunch before the next "thing." I saw this "guy" creeping along the ground. I was so excited and grabbed my phone to take a picture, hoping not to scare him off. Instead, he jumped up here right in front of me! Then I saw another one--who jumped up. Then there were two more. Now I jumped up! I thought they might overtake me! I was saying "shoo, shoo!" About that time more than a dozen--including tiny babies--jumped from the tree and skittered off. It was amazing! I was trying to text the rest of the gang, but, of course, no internet, nor would the texts go through. Luckily, everyone got to see them as some were at the pool, some were walking here or there. Such a fun thing to have happened. Jordan came across a little gazelle on the path to her "camp." The girls are in heaven!

I'm sad to be missing the Queen's funeral today. I've missed all the coverage for the past 5 days. Last night, since we were back in Nairobi, I was able to watch--at least until 10:30! Plus I tuned in this morning while I was getting ready. I'm hoping that when I get home I'll be able to pull it up. We'll see.

Forgive any mistakes. No time to edit! More adventures to come...

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

What I Buy Wednesday!

So, I'm writing this post on Wednesday. I have no idea what day it will be when you are reading it!

Today Butch arranged for a private tour. We went to a couple museums and a live snake exhibit.
He's quite the charmer--isn't he? Butch, not the snake.
This girl is in her element! She's holding a chameleon and a snake. No way did I want that thing in my hair! 

Jordan has always loved every type of animal. I cannot believe how much she knows. The first part of the museum was stuffed animals, and bones of extinct ones. I was blown away about her knowledge of bones--animal and human. I guess I shouldn't be. After all, she does have a degree in Anthropology! I remember her telling me that one of her most interesting classes was about teeth! I'm pretty sure our tour guide was impressed too. I don't think he sees too many people that know what they are looking at!

Next, we went to a railroad museum. I thought of our friend, Jack who loves trains. He would have loved it. Us, well, all I could think of was Mindy. She said she taps out of tours at about the one hour mark. The problem here for me was that the guide was so soft spoken, that I couldn't hear her--plus with the accent, I had a hard time understanding her. They did have many rail cars on display outside--all open to the elements and deteriorating badly. One of them was the one they used in the "Out of Africa" movie. I love that movie---the score is so soothing and haunting. I play it in my scrapbook room fairly frequently. Besides, it's Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. Add the music and there's nothing better. 

Then we went to the top of some really tall building--The Kenya International Conference Center. It used to be the tallest building, but there are now two others that are taller. We took the elevator to the 27th floor and then walked the other 3 to the top. Along with us there were dozens of school kids. I got quite a few stares. Then--I guess it was a teacher--the kids wanted to take a picture with me. At first it was one, then a couple and then this!
Apparently, they liked my blonde hair! Several said so! They asked me so many questions, but I didn't always understand what they were asking. They started calling me "grandma" and then Butch, "grandpa!" It made my day! It reminded me of the time I was in the Tokyo airport. It was such an unusual experience. I felt so tall! And all the little kids stared at me! Hey, if I can make little kids happy, I'll keep my blonde hair! I value this picture as "priceless!" 

Okay, on to my "buy" for this week--or I should say, so far this week! After the top of the KICC, our guide took us to the market---and of course to his favorite shop. It was all hard sell from there.
I try not to buy much as I don't need anything and I'm trying to get rid of stuff. But I couldn't resist these. I'm going to use the hand woven mat on my coffee table. The Africa keychain is made out of camel bone--carved and shined. I'm thinking I might put that in my scrapbook--or actually on my keychain. The pink earrings are hand-beaded. I don't necessarily need another pair of earrings, but I do need a pink pair! I did the expected bargaining and got a good one. But I'm over the hard sell!

Tomorrow our tour actually begins. Can't wait to see lots of animals! We specifically came at this time of year because it's the "great migration." I'm excited!


A Post NOT About Me!

We got to our hotel in Nairobi at midnight last night. I slept like a baby! Butch--not so much. I usually do not have much trouble adapting. We have a 4 hour private tour today. Our tour with Gate 1 doesn't start until tomorrow (Thursday) morning. 

This has been a difficult trip to plan. There were so many requirements--between filling out paperwork, required vaccinations, applying for visas, etc. it's been a bit of a nightmare--with so many of us. I cannot tell you how much sleep Butch has lost over all of it. And because he was doing that worrying, I didn't! 

One of those issues was when we found out that Mindy and Justin would not be able to go with us after all. Mindy's doctor would not allow her to take the required Yellow Fever vaccine. Soooo, after a few tears and sleepless nights, we "pivoted" (you know the 2020 Covid buzzword). Instead, we sent Mindy and Justin to France on the "Seine River Cruise" that we did last summer. We warned them in advance that they would be the youngest--by far--on the cruise. 

They left on Sunday for Paris. We got a call at 1 a.m. Monday morning--our time--with Mindy acting quite frazzled. They could not find the person who was to meet them at the airport and take them to the boat. I tried to get her to calm down. Worse case they would have to get a taxi and get dropped off at the boat. As we were talking, they saw "the guy." Whew! 

I had no trouble getting back to sleep, but Butch was up the rest of the night.

On Monday afternoon, I got this text from Mindy:
"We are officially the most popular people on board. We all had to introduce ourselves (I of course made some kind of joke), and the old folks are literally tracking us down to hang out with us. Ted and Anita (80 and 70, respectively) literally got up from the table they were sitting at for dinner to come sit with us. Sparky and Penni (celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary) asked us if we wanted to hang out in Paris since they’re staying at the Pullman too. Sally (unspecified age) came up to tell us about her husbands rheumatoid arthritis, and everyone already knows us by name and has Nicknames for us. I could actually get used to this level of attention! I don’t know why you guys have been holding out on Gate 1 trips for this long! 😆" Sent from my iPhone

I guess that "all's well that ends well" applies here. At least I hope so.

Butch and I both agreed that had we known about all the requirements, paperwork and hoops we've had to jump through, we probably wouldn't have tried to do this trip--at least not with so many people. We started with 10 with 7 actually making the trip. All I've got to say is, I sure hope it lives up to the hype! 

More to come...

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

A Quick One

Arrived Heathrow this morning. It took an hour and a half to get through security! I have exactly a half hour before we board our next flight.

Thought I'd take a minute to tell you about some new technology that we encountered at the Nashville airport. It's an Amazon store.
You walk in the store with your credit card in hand. You don't have to scan it or present it. Stephanie and I tested it out. We walked in together using her credit card and then separated.
See all of those little things hanging down? They are some sort of monitors. It tracks you as you move around. 
When you walk out, it knows what you bought. You don't have to present your credit card. You do have an option to get a receipt if you want one. 

There are only 4 of these in the United States and we have one! I'm telling you, Nashville is "big time!"

So, we left the house at 9:30 a.m. on Monday. I say that because I have no idea what day it is in the US. We just arrived in London at 7:15 a.m. on Tuesday. We'll get on our next plane at 10:00 a.m. and head to Nairobi. We arrive there some time tonight--I think around 9 p.m. I think we should be at the hotel by 11-ish! 

This is way too much math for my little brain to figure out. I have no idea how long we'll have been traveling. All I know is that we left Monday morning and arrive Tuesday night. That's a long way! It better be worth it!!

Oh, and there's this:

The queen arrives back in London today. I have half a notion to just stay here and file through to pay my respects. I'm still sad! 

Until the next time...

Monday, September 12, 2022

Where do I begin??

It was a whirlwind week. So much to discuss with so little time to do it. I just got home from scrapbooking yesterday and leave today for our family vacation to Africa! I guess I'm just going to have to do this fast.

1. Scrapbooking:
We've been going on scrapbook retreats for over 10 years now. Jeanne found this place for us last February and it has quickly become our new favorite--despite the iron in the water!
The place is in the country--deep in the country.
It's huge with plenty of room to spread out. We don't even use this bar except to put stuff on top of. 
You can't see it, but there is a HUGE table between the sofas and that massive island. On one side of the island, we put all of our tools and shareables. We each have about 5 feet of table space. There is a big fireplace with a hearth that goes around the room. That where we set up the Cricuts and printer. 

2. The Queen! OMGosh! I was so sad--even cried while I was on the phone with Butch. He's so patient with me--and consoling. The place we stay has no local news--only streaming services. I was dying that I was missing the coverage. Butch dvr'd much of it for me. That made me happy. I spent most of the day watching.

3. My friend, Diane from Nottingham, "What's App"ed me to let me know how she was feeling and offering condolences to me! She knows how much I love the royal family! The passing felt personal to me! She went to her church to light a candle and sent me these photos:

4. My response to her pictures was one of my own.

I had completed this layout just prior to hearing the news. 

5. Then when I got home yesterday, there was a surprise for me. I thought it was something I ordered from Amazon.

Instead, it was a thank you gift from a friend. She has replenished my tea from Fortnum and Mason in London. I was running so low that I wouldn't let Butch use it. Of course, I'll be properly re-stocking my supply when we go in 2023. 

Okay, that's it. Off to Africa. I'm making no guarantees, but hope to get a post or two out. My pictures don't always cooperate in my posts when I'm traveling internationally. We'll see.