Budget Update

So for those of you who have been following along for awhile, you know Mike and I have tried to be pretty frugal (despite what some of you perceive) and have kept an eye on our ongoing spending by using a great budget app called “Expenses OK” each day we spend. I also did a spreadsheet prior to us stopping wor….ahem, retiring to try to quesstimate how long our savings/investments will last.

During our first year, I updated the spreadsheet every month with our actual costs and we ended up being well under our annual budget for 2018. Given that we had pre-paid for many of our expenses, we remained worried that perhaps we were fooling ourselves and that we might have issue staying within our budget for 2019.

I just finished updating the actual expenditures through the end of July(I’ve been doing it every two or three months this year) and even with the budget busting unexpected Viking cruise we are currently almost $10,000 under budget to date. Phew!

Most of this is due to the three months spent relatively free of rent courtesy of Lois at her house at Smith Mountain Lake and our stays in some lousy motels on the roadtrip (Dr. Barrett take note! We attempted to pay our way at Smith Mountain but Lois wouldn’t take rent and one can only pay the fuel bill when there is an amount due.

Anyway the other good news is that we currently have about $20,000 more in savings and investments than we did on the day we stopped work, almost a year and a half ago. So despite the wild rides of the stock market, the dividends have covered some of our losses and even though we are now having to sell stocks instead of purchasing, we aren’t deleting our moneyroll as fast as feared. The end result, presuming that the markets don’t crash, and we continue to spend within our budget is that we now won’t run out of money until I’m 108 and Mike is 103, rather than the original 105 and 100.

So Jane, you can quit worrying, it looks like we will be fine!

On a related subject, my Cobra insurance which has been covering us since March 2018 ends on August 31st. We applied for and qualified for a subsidy from the Affordable Care Act so our insurance premium is actually falling by about $700 a month starting September 1. We do have to only visit doctors in Houston unless it’s a “life threatening emergency” (and no one could define what was life threatening, “heart attack?” “I would think so”, ” how about a ruptured appendix?”….”hmm, that would be up to our review committee”) but since we figure we will likely drive through there heading back east we think that will work for our annual physicals.

Of course we do now need to figure out whether we are going to create a “nest” somewhere in the USA in 2020 and have ACA insurance (with a $15,000 deductible) or officially move overseas and have insurance at about the same monthly cost that will be good in Europe (with no deductible) and in the USA (with a high one.). As Mike says, the USA doesn’t really have healthcare insurance anymore (well maybe for some folks under a union contract), instead we have asset protection insurance.

Anyway, we have a few months to figure out where to live in 2020….as Scarlett would say, “I’ll think about that tomorrow, after all tomorrow is another day”

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Lemington

After our easy drive from Hamilton to Leamington, we checked into our Airbnb there (https://abnb.me/eKicEXVEKY) located over a restaurant specializing in fied fish. While some reviews of the apartment had mentioned the smell of fried fish was a major negative , we found the perfum to be enjoyable! The picture below was taken from the balcony which overlooks the outdoor seating area where they had live music on weekend afternoons. I enjoyed sitting on the balcony with a glass of wine! In the background you can see Lake Erie. Unfortunately, it’s level is also up (like Lake Ontario) and when the wind blew from the south, the road was flooded in a few spots. We saw a number of houses with piers where their piers were under water.

The apartment is located about a five minute drive from Pointe Pelee which is the southern most point in continental Canada. The title picture above and those below were taken when we visited the National Park (the first in Canada) one day.

That’s the pointe in the picture below. The park was nice but the point was inundated with stable flies (what my grandfather used to call biting flies). You can see how many there were attacking Mike’s jeans. Away from the point much of the park is a wetlands and we saw many birds and beautiful lily pads and no flies thank goodness!One other day we took the ferry to Pelee Island which is the southernmost inhabited land in Canada. It is located very close to the imaginary border with the USA which runs through the middle of Lake Erie.

After a tasty lunch at the oldest house (above) we walked to the Vineyard (below) and took a winetasting tour. The island is at the same latitude as Napa and Tuscany so they claim that their wine is just as “tasty. “. I am not sure that I agree, but we enjoyed ourselves.

It was great to relax on the lake and have a comfortable apartment in which to do so. Leamington used to be famous for its Heinz Ketchup but that was closed a while back though there appears to be a smaller company still making ketchup there. We did enjoy good fresh vegetables from a local farmers market. And we had fish one day for lunch at our host’s courtyard. They serve perch and pickerel (like Pike). Both were tasty but I especially liked Canadian Cole slaw. It’s vinegar based and for those that know me, the marinade tasted like it was made like the refrigerator pickles I make.

After a week here we headed to what be our final stop in Canada (at least on in this leg of our adventure), Sarnia located beside Lake Huron.

Hamilton

Sorry for the long delay in posting. I have intended to do a single combined post covering each of the places we stayed in Canada but after we left the last one we have pretty much been traveling each day and there I never got around to it. And now it’s too much to do in one sitting so will do short separate posts instead.

As you may recall we had initially planned on spending a month or more in Chicago to visit family and friends but due to high airbnb taxes imposed by the City we ended up spending just over a month in Canada staying beside Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and Lake Huron.

After leaving Lockport (May 31) we headed north through the Canadian border to Hamilton. The Canadian border agent gave us s funny look when I responded to his question of where we were staying with my answer of Hamilton, Leamington and Sarnia. None of these are known as vacation hotspots!But they were affordable and we enjoyed our time in all three.

Our Airbnb ( https://abnb.me/JadSvzNVFY) in Hamilton was the upstairs unit of a house across the street from the beach shown above. Unfortunately when on the beach if one looked left and right all you saw were the lovely power lines. But we did appreciate the nicely paved walkway that ran the entire length of the beach (5 miles?).

Hamilton is an industrial city about an hour south of Toronto and has it’s own harbor off of Lake Ontario. The spit of land where we were staying is directly on the lake and apparently used to have a very nice beach.

However, climate change and rising sea levels have also caused the lake levels to rise and resulted in the narrowing of the beach. Flooded basements are also an issue around the lakes and directly across from our apartment there was a sump pump running 24/7 to remove water from the underground storm water system. Unfortunately we experienced these high lake levels for the remainder of our time in Canada.

After the weeks of eating out it was great to have a kitchen and be able to cook again. We found a great grocery store nearby that had an Incredible selection of meats, cheeses and desserts. It also appeared to have a eastern European clientele so we were able to purchase pierogies and other unusual foods.

One of the benefits of traveling is meeting people and later being able to stay in touch. In 2010 we cruised on the Norwegian Sun and met Ilene and Ump. Since then Ump and I have exchanged cruise related emails occasionally. When we were headed to Hamilton I emailed and we decided a lunch meeting was in order. They live just north of Toronto and so we met halfway (actually they drove further than we did) for a great visit. It was fun to catch up and hear about each other’s travels and future plans.

While we spent most days at or near the Airbnb we did go into Hamilton proper one afternoon to meet three of the people who will be on our cruise to Japan later in September for an afternoon cocktail. This was fun and should make the 16 days on the transpacific cruise more enjoyable.

Hamilton’s downtown has some pretty parts as well as some sections that could do with a fluff. But we were very impressed with some of the historic buildings particularly the electric company.

Before we left Hamilton after our week at the beach we had a nice lunch on a sunny day at the Greek restaurant located directly on the beach.

On our way out of town we stopped at the farmers market in downtown Hamilton. In addition to beautiful fruits and vegetables there are butchers and flower vendors and of course baristas. We however elected to have Sam make what the sign described as the best muffuletta in town for us to have as a picnic later. It was tasty but not as good as those in New Orleans. We stopped at one of the many small waterfalls outside of Hamilton for our picnic.

After a couple of hours driving through fields along the north side of Lakes Ontario and Erie we arrived at our next home-over a seafood restaurant!

Sorry

For some reason while trying to post about Canada, draft posts have been published. I apologize for any confusion.

I’m going to try to upload posts later today about our time in Canada earlier the summer but as always, the innerwebs May have another idea! LOL

We are currently back in Canada-Calgary enjoying seeing the Canadian Rockies. We have had a great summer so far and have our plans set from here until we return from China on Oct 18. Most of August will be spent in Portland Oregon after stops in British Columbia and Washington State on the way there.

Again apologies for the recent confusing posts.

Happy Independence Day!

Sorry my post about our three weeks in Canada isn’t written yet nor about our four days in Chicago for Mike’s Birthday but will try to get them done soon. But we have been going pretty hard so no time to stop and write.

We are currently in Mundelein Illinois, a chicago burb almost in Wisconsin at our friend’s Larry & Doug’s. They are hosting a bbq for the fourth later this afternoon so we have all just finishing prepping so we can all relax! Mike and I made insalada caprese on a stick (yes I know it’s Italian but…) and broccoli salad. Larry has made guacamole and Doug just finished a red, white and blue trifle. He also has made a fruit salad (Mike and I pitted the cherries) and roasted veggies and potatoes. The brats and burgers are all that are left to do….oh yeah and the signature cocktail. He is getting that ready now.

Yesterday we left Mundelein and had breakfast at Frank’s Diner in Kenosha. Their specialty is a garbage plate- potatoes, eggs, meat and cheese all griddled together. It was yummy! We each ordered a half size but I also ordered a cinnamon roll so I brought half home and had for breakfast this morning.

After breakfast we drive another 30 minutes to Milwaukee and spent some time at the Art Museum designed by Calatrava the Spanish architect who designed the City of Arts & Sciences in Valencia. It was hazy but that only added to the mystique of the sculpture like museum. We were there at noon when the wings flapped. The time lapse video compressed in 12 seconds what took 3-5 minutes. The sunscreen helps shade the large pavilion that serves as the main entry for the museum.

After a stop at the historic Pfister Hotel for a cooling beverage, we headed to The Domes-a botanical garden built in the late 50s/early 60s. One dome is tropical, one the desert and the third is season. We all loved the tropical one except for the humidity!

After the domes, our hosts took us to a speakeasy that opened during prohibition. There is no cocktail menu, if you don’t have something already in mind you tell them what you like and they make a cocktail from their Rolodex of over 450 recipes. Both of mine were gin based and very tasty!

Aviation cocktail

The Last Word cocktail

We leave here tomorrow headed for Racine, Wisconsin to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s SC Johnson office complex and then on towards Talesin, his homestead. After that we head to Mount Rushmore and will visit Yellowstone before we get to our friend Gail’s in Montana on July 12th where we will stay a while.

Hope everyone has a great Holiday and remember my new motto: