A cross-country relocation RV trip

We have always wanted to take an RV ( recreational vehicle) to see if we would like to purchase one.  An opportunity came up to relocate a new RV from Iowa to Las Vegas for $1 a day plus gas in 10 days, sounded like a dream come true.  We took this trip from May 4 to May 16.   We include my sister Sandi in this trip. We flew into Minneapolis and drove to Forest City, Iowa to pick up the RV.  RV photo I will not talk about the particulars of how the trip went as David has promised to deliver one of his data packed posts to fill you in on the details and the actual costs of the trip.  What I will say is that we had a great time in the places that we stayed, but there was way too much driving for me inspite of the fact that we purchased 2 extra days at $150 per day to extend the time.

The first place we stopped at was Mount Rushmore.  It was quite inspiring.  None of us had been there before and we enjoyed the spectacular mountain carvings.mt rushmore heads 5x7We then drove to Yellowstone National Park.  This was my favorite part of the trip.  The park was still snowy in places and the animals had just had babies.  The hot springs and geysers were stunningly beautiful.  Here are some photographs.

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Moma buffalo and baby Red dog

 

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Dave on right checking into Madison Campground

 

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Yellowstone hot pool

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Sandi and David

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Old Faithful

We spent 3 days here and it was wonderful.

We then moved South through Jackson Hole.  It was so cold and rainy there we only stayed overnight and then headed south to Bryce Canyon.

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Jenny Lake, Grand Tetons

Bryce was sunny and warm.  It is hard to capture the magnificence of the rock formations in photographs, but I tried.

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Bryce Canyon

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Linda & Sandi on the Bryce Canyon Lodge porch

We drove to Las Vegas the next day , spent the night and returned the RV in the morning.  Rented a car and drove home.  I was so happy to sleep in my king size bed with my honey that night.

Doing some Pet sitting in California

We took care of two sweet kitties last month for a week near La Jolla, California. Here is a photo of Eddie. _DSC0597 It was a nice break from the house and the routine.  The sea lions, seals and cormorants were all having babies in La Jolla this February.  We drove down to see them.  Here are some sea lions who are lying on the rocks in the sun.  sea lions la jolla Feb 2018 netsea lion nursing feb 2018And here is a mom still nursing her pup.

Here is a photograph of a cormorant sitting on her just hatched babies.  I love seeing new born  animals in a natural environment. bandt cormornds nest feb 2018 netThis is an interesting adjunct to pet sitting in Europe.  There are people in the USA who want pet sitters too.  We have another pet sit lined up for Portland next month for 6 days with 2 sweet kitties.

I am lining up our summer pet sitting schedule and it is almost finished.  We have two people that we sat for last summer who we will sit for again.  Plus 4 other new people to meet and some new pets to love.  We will go on the Baltic cruise then pet sit until the beginning of Oct.  It should be another fun summer.

Good bye Paris we leave with a gift of a nasty cold

 

Well, you have not heard from me in a while. We are home in California now and I need to catch you up on our travels. The last four days in Paris, I came down with a nasty cold. Really bad words, I wasted most of four days in bed trying to get better before we had to travel to Barcelona on a 6.5 hour train ride. I did not think that our train companions would enjoy hearing me coughing, sneezing and blowing my nose for all 6 hours.
We got to Barcelona at night and had the next two days to see the Sagrada Familia basilica and Montserrat before boarding Norwegian Epic to sail home to Florida.

So let’s start with Paris; I loved this city. I went to the Louvre and saw the Mona Lisa and many other stunning works of art. louvre mona lisa 5x7 netNot to mention the architecture of the Louvre, the glass pyramid and all the other buildings that have been there for centuries (the Louvre was formerly a palace).Paris Louvre pryamids 5x7 net

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Medieval work of art at the Louvre

I also went to an exhibit of a turn of the century dress designer called Fortuny. He created dresses from tiny pleats that could be rolled up and shaken out and worn.fortuny dress 5x7 net

We visited two of my favorite, Sainte Chapelle and Notre Dame. Sainte Chapelle was built by King Louis IX to house his relics from the Holy Land. The royal chapel upstairs has an amazing set of medieval stained glass windows.sainte chapelle 5x7 net

 

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Angels holding the crown of thorns

Notre Dame is a famous and wonderful medieval church. We were able to go to Mass there on Sunday.Notre Dame outside 5x7 net

We took a river cruise on the Seine. It is a tourist thing to do, but worth it to see Paris from where the city began 1,000 years ago.Seine boats 5x7 net

The last night I pulled myself out of bed and we went to have a French dinner under the Eiffel Tower. It was so romantic to sit at the base of the tower and see it shining  in the night.Eiffel tower lights 5x7 net

 

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Linda eating dinner in Paris

 

The next day we were packed and went off to the Gare De Lyon train station to catch our TGV (very fast train) to Barcelona. I will talk about our two days in Barcelona and the ship in the next blog.

Medication Management on Long Trips in Europe

If you’re going to be away from the US for more than three months, you’ll have to give some thought to how you’re going to get your maintenance medications refilled. What doesn’t occur to you until you get sick overseas is the need to give some thought to your usual OTC remedies.
Together, Linda and I take four maintenance medications, and I managed to get them synced up so that the refills all occur at about the same time. Generally, with mail order pharmacies, you can ask for a refill two-thirds of the way through the prescribed quantities (e.g. after 60 days for a 90-day refill).
Mail order pharmacies won’t ship overseas, so you’ll need a stateside helper for this.  For some plans that permit it, it might be easier to get 90-day refills at a local pharmacy rather than the mail order one. This will reduce wait times by a few days.
Once your helper has the meds, they can be repackaged in a small box or envelope if necessary. We sent the four prescriptions to Europe (once to Ireland and twice to the UK) for $13.50 each time, and it took 5 to 9 calendar days to be delivered. On the customs declaration, we put “prescription refills” and a value of $25, and there were no problems, at least in these countries.
Because of the shipping delay, you will need to identify a place where you can receive the item, and where it might arrive before you do. I asked our pet-sitting hosts for their postal address and permission to do this, and it all worked out well.

By the way, lens.com will send contact lenses overseas for $30, and without having to check with your eye doctor. They have a UK branch so it might be quicker to get them that way, or even to pop into a local optical shop. But they might not have your brand in another country.

What about OTC items?

We were planning a trip of seven months, and that meant about 400 multivitamin tablets, 400 fish oil capsules, and 200 glucosamine tabs. I brought a full bottle of Sam’s Club vitamins (350, I think), the 200-count bottle of fish oil with almost 1000 mg of omega-whatevers, and the remainder of my big bottle of glucosamine. These are fairly big bottles. In Europe, you will not find huge bottles of any medication, and I did not find fish oil with much over 400 gm of the omega oils. I knew I could get these at Boots, though, and decided to settle for those. Sending refills of these in separate shipments would be more expensive, and because of the quantities might not be permitted. By the way, everything should be sent in its original labeled container.
But wait: what if you get sick? What do you use? Most of it is hard to find in Europe, where they customarily use different medicines. You might want to think about:
• Acetominophen (Tylenol): it’s called paracetamol in Europe, and is available only in small quantities (30-60) at a wide variety of prices.

• Ibuprofen (Advil): it’s called ibuprofen or a variation of that, and also available in 30-60 packs at more than you’d expect to pay.

• Decongestant: we use pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) which (in the US) you now have to buy from the pharmacist and give your name, etc. This is to prevent its diversion to the manufacture of meth. In Europe, they don’t sell the pure form, it’s already blended with paracetamol or ibuprofen and usually liquid.

• Antihistamine: they have generic Zyrtec, which goes by a variety of names, and is inexpensive.

• Cough suppressant: There’s no pint bottle of Robitussin like we buy at Costco. I have found tablet dextromethorphine (DM). There are syrups but the taste will not be familiar, to say the least, and the active ingredient is something else. I don’t like to experiment when I’m not feeling well. Bring some DM.

• Expectorant: In the US, this is guiafenesin, which is the main ingredient in Robitussin and Mucinex. Not generally available, although they knew what it was. They offered a tablet equivalent, called ambroxol, which we found just as effective and it’s a much smaller pill.

• Low-dose aspirin: Remarkably, aspirin is a prescription drug a lot of places. There is controversy about whether a daily aspirin is a good idea or not. Bring the 250-count bottle from Costco if your doctor has you on these.

• Melatonin: I’ve seen it, but not with the dosage varieties we have in the US. I’d bring it.

• “Advil PM” or “Tylenol PM”: these sleep aids are either acetaminophen or ibuprofen with Benadryl, whose generic name is diphenhydramine. Not available, although straight diphenhydramine is.

Pharmacies in Europe

On the continent, anything that goes into your body and isn’t food has to be bought at a pharmacy. These vary from tiny to medium, but there is nothing approaching a Walgreens. In cities, there will be at least one pharmacy open at all times, usually on a rotating schedule, and in some countries, like Italy, there will be a sign in the window of the closed pharmacy telling you where the nearest open one is.
In the UK, you will find some OTC meds in larger grocery stores, but any of the ones mentioned above will still need to be bought from a pharmacy. The biggest one is Boots, and they are even in very small villages.
We have always found the pharmacists to be very well qualified. They are permitted to give a little more medical advice than US pharmacists, and some can even prescribe. Almost all spoke enough English, whatever the country. Take the package from whatever you need more of.

Bring your pill-cutter if you have one.

 

The Burren in County Clare Ireland

We have been taking a couple of short field trips while pet and house sitting here in western County Clare in Ireland.  Lisdoonvarna is considered the gateway to the Burren.  I had never heard of the Burren before.  It is a special area on the west coast of Ireland that was left without topsoil by the ice ages.   It is a place of stones, and almost no people.burren 5x7 net  There are prehistoric artifacts and tombs throughout the Burren.  We went to a stone ring fort (Catherconnell) that has been settled from the 7th century AD  and was used up to the 15th century.  Here is a model of what it might have looked like in the past.  ring fort model 5x7 netYou can see that there are thick stone walls around the settlement.  These walls were made in the simplest way with local stones just stacked up upon themselves.  burren rock wall 5x7 net  It was fascinating to see how people lived on this land. There are tombs that have been found from the neolithic period (4000-2500 BC). Later,  we drove out to this communal tomb called the Poulnabrone dolmen tomb. Poulnabrone dolmen tomb 5x7 netIt was dark, windy and cold when we walked up the stones to see this ancient monument.  It was quite moving.  It humbled  me to see how transitory our lives and problems are in the scope of the sweep of human time. There are dozens of these tombs around, and many more still buried and waiting to be discovered.

If you get to spend some time on the Burren, you will find it fascinating.

Amsterdam a city of flowers and canals

We finished our cruise in Amsterdam and had 3 days to visit this interesting city in Holland.  The first day we went on an hour cruise of the canals.linda david Amsterdam canal cruise netAmsterdam lovers cruise net Then we went on a tour that took us to see working wind mills, a working cheese factory and a working wooden shoe manufacturer.  Amsterdam windmills netAmsterdam cheese factory net  Here is an old pair of wooden shoes made into ice skates; Amsterdam wooden shoe ice skates net  I almost forgot to add this photo of the wonderful young woman who served us a warm cherry waffle. Amsterdam waffle server net  Needless to say, it was gone very quickly.

The next day we went to the Keukenhof Tulip and flower gardens.  Every year they plant over 7 million flower bulbs and make this place into a wonderland of color and fragrance.  keukenhof landscape 5x7 netkeukenhof pink tulip 5x7 netkeukenhof 3 white tulip 5x7 netKeukenhof orange tulips net  I could have stayed taking photographs for hours; it was heaven.

The last day in Amsterdam was cold and overcast so we went indoors to see Our Lord in the Attic church.  My dear friend Alison recommended that we go see this stunning church that was built in the attics of 3 side by side houses.  Catholics could practice their faith in Amsterdam in the 18th and 19th centuries but they had to do it in a concealed church.  They were tolerated if their place of worship was not seen by people on the street.  This was true of any faith other than the official state church of Holland.

This lovely petite church was an amazing revelation when you entered this house Our lord in the attic house net  Up stairs in the attics you find this beautiful church;Our lord in the Attic church net  It was a fun and whirlwind tour of Amsterdam that we enjoyed very much.

We flew to Cork, Ireland that night and then drove up to Lisdoonvarna on the West coast of Ireland to start our 10 day pet and house sit in this lovely village.   More on that topic to follow in the next blog entry.

What we pack for six months in Europe

We are leaving in a couple of days to get on the transatlantic cruise to Amsterdam.  We have a balcony on the cruise and plan to use it a lot.  So all the packing and things to do before we leave are being done.

Our sons are moved in.  The dogs are doing well.

We are packing ( oh no).  We take one rolling suitcase and one backpack each for the six months we will be away.  That means that I take very few clothes and they all are black and can be worn together.  For color and variety I pack scarves.  I pack in packing bags; the shirts, the pants, the underwear, the jacket all can be pulled out and used as needed.  I bring 2 pairs of shoes and a pair of saddles. It is not much but it leaves some room to pick up something irresistible .

 

There are some things that we bring from home because they are difficult to get in Ireland and England.   These are the special ear plugs I use, I love my husband but I still need to sleep.  Our vitamins and medications ( luckily we take only a few meds so that is easy).  My prepared journal and my journal tools.  We take a laptop computer, our phones, an ipad and a Magic Jack phone.  It is all very lightweight.  When you are getting on trains and buses in Europe there are no porters to help.  You must lug your bags up the train stairs very quickly as they only stop for a few minutes and there are lots of other people getting on.

 

The worst part of the trip is the flight to Fort Lauder dale.  I hate flying, it is so cramped.  That is the reason we will take a cruise over and a cruise back.  If you want to follow our adventures pet and house sitting please click the “follow” button and put in your email addy.  You will then get an email only when I post ( no one wants more emails than needed).  There will be very few posts on the 14 day cruise since the internet is difficult and expensive to use in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.  Bon Voyage!

Stunning sunset and a party at Hale Kai

Hale Kai is the small , intimate group of condos from the 70’s that has been rennovated.  It is right on the ocean and is only 2 stories high.  This type of small condos are quite unique for this part of Maui.  The northwestern part of Maui is dominated by large ritzy developments by big companies like Marriot, Ritz Carlton, and Hyatt etc.  The people who come to Hale Kai come every year on the same weeks.  They book their condos a year in advance and have made friends over the years.

One of their traditions is that every night at sunset people gather around the pool and have drinks and celebrate another day in paradise.  They blow conch shells like the old Hawaiians to announce the sunset, a birthday or a new comer to the group.  It is quite charming. maui-2-26-17-hale-kai-blowers-5x7

Here is the sunset that we were celebrating tonight. maui-2-26-17-sunset-5x7-closer-net-1maui-2-26-17-cloud-sunset-5x7-net  Since it was Sunday night we all got invitations to bring pupus ( little munchies) and make it a party with food. maui-2-26-17-hale-kai-party  The pupus were excellent and everyone is crowding around the snack table to try the tempting morsels. Ladies were asking for recipes and talking about their sea adventures here on the island.

We have met several really nice people.   What I really like are the moms and daughters that come back together every year.  Here are some photos I took of two of them.

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How lucky these women are that they can spend special time with their moms, I wish my mom could have done this with me.

Well, it is off to bed as a new adventure is calling us tomorrow. Aloha!

We are in Maui to see whales and turtles

It has been easy to fall into the rhythm of everyday life at home.  Time slips away without our noticing it.  The goal of doing the senior gap year was to use as many minutes as possible while we are still physically able to climb, walk and enjoy the surprises of the earth.  So we decided to go to Maui to see the whales.  They come here every year from Alaska to have their babies from December to March.  A dear friend of ours was lamenting that she could not go this year.  Linda said to David, ” This is a bucket list item, let’s go.”  So dear David planned it all and here we are in heaven.  And on Monday before we left on Friday David tore the meniscus  in his knee.  But luckily it is not bad and we went anyway even if David has a cane.

We flew Virgin American from LAX to Maui.  Here is a logo from the side on one of their planes.  maui-2-17-virgin-air I thought it was funny.

We are staying in a small apartment in the northwest of Maui.  It is small and on the ocean with a small beach on the side.maui-2-17-little-beach-5x7-net  This is where turtles come ashore to eat and rest. maui-2-17-turtle-5x7-closer-net  They need to rest as the surf can get quite rough , like it did today.maui-2-17-splash-5x7-net   There are beautiful flowers everywhere so I thought I would share this lovely orchid with you.  maui-2-17-purple-orchid-5x7-net

I got to see a whale breach on the sea horizon ( I did have binoculars) and one whale lift his big fin up in the air and splash it down 3 times.  Unfortunately, I did not have my camera with me when I saw them.  Whale pictures will be coming as we are going to take a whale watching trip sometime this week.

Needless to say,  this has been an exciting trip already.

We are in Las Vegas

We have been at home all this time since returning from England in August.  Our son got married in December.2016-b-wedding-parents  Then we got through Christmas; with a small tree and all of our Christmas decorations still in storage.  We have made the downstairs comfortable with furniture from our office and our bed.  The upstairs is completely empty.  We find we do not need to live in much space these days after being on the road for 6 months.  All of our clothes fit into 1/2 of our closet.  It is good to have our sweet doggie Mac back with us.home-16-mac-in-box-small

The housing market seems to be depressed here at the moment so we are taking some small trips while we decide what to do.  I find that I am restless and want to be back on the road again.

So we are spending a week in Las Vegas.  There are some interesting places to take photographs here.  This is the glass ceiling at the Bellagio Hotel that is stunning.bellagio-ceiling-flowers-5x7-net  And some glass Cherry flowers from the inside of the hotel. cherry-flowers-belliago-5x7-light-net  We also went to  an abandoned mining town near here, and got photographs of lots of rusted cars and signs.old-car-grill-5x7-filtered-netdeadend-snake-5x5-poster-net  The next day we went to the stunning Valley of Fire.  This is a state park that has lots of sandstone rocks the are standing straight up from the ground due to violent up thrusts from the time of the dinosaurs.  It is pretty dramatic.vof-beehive-person-5x7-closer-netvalley-of-fire-arch-5x7-net

And today we visited the Atomic Testing Museum. We had a Groupon (2 for $26) and you should look for such a discount, as the list price is $22 each, and I don’t think it’s worth that. Those of you who are of our age will remember those duck-and-cover drills from the 60s, and this will certainly make you realize how useless that would have been, and how crazy the whole nuclear industry was.

There is a lot to do in Las Vegas besides gambling.

Well, I thought I would up date you on some of our events.  Not as exciting as the summer in England but still interesting.

If you want to purchase any of these photographs they are available in my Etsy shop.