What Happened to Steve?

Dear Subscribers to Expat Journal,

This is Stephen’s brother, Joel.

Today, I gained administrative rights to this site and want you to know why you haven’t heard from Steve since June of 2019.

You might recall, at that time Steve and I had been traveling the world for over 7 years and were currently in Macedonia. We had come from Greece. In Thessalonika, Steve experienced something strange while sleeping, awaking to find his vision slightly impaired. He thought a virus caused it. But we continued traveling.

In Macedonia, his vision deteriorated, as did his endurance.

In Prilep, he had a severe episode of dizziness, headaches, and fatigue. So much so, we had him hospitalized. But it was a tiny town with few facilities. A very kindly doctor had him transported to Skopje by ambulance. Upon examination, including a CT Scan and MRI, they confirmed Steve had suffered a rather serious stroke, one located in the vision center of his brain. Upon release, with his vision still obstructed, we still considered traveling on. Steve is extremely stubborn. His son decided to join us in Skopje, and we all moved on to Kosovo. Almost immediately, Steve had several more episodes and we had him hospitalized again. Very primitive. Doctors told us we had to get him back to the U.S. for proper treatment. We needed one week to get Steve capable of traveling, and then we managed to sneak him on a plane to Istanbul, then to the U.S.

At the hospital here in Temecula, he promptly had another episode. After several days, the doctors assigned him to hospice. We rented a small apartment. Steve was rarely conscious and had no appetite. His son and I figured he had weeks to live.

But Steve is stubborn.

After awhile, he began to show signs of improvement. After a couple of months, we took him off hospice, and I have been caregiving for him ever since. Sometimes, we would go out using the wheelchair and even eat lunches at Rodrigo’s Mexican restaurant. At some point, however, Steve had another episode and he has been bedridden ever since. His stamina is poor and his strength is worse. He retains most of his mental acuity, and his vision has improved enough for him to watch movies on our big screen TV, which we purchased at the beginning of this year. Before that, we listened to audio books all day.

So, here we are. I figured out how to get admin rights to his site. Steve could not see well enough to use his computer, so his blog posts ended rather abruptly, and I wanted to let you know why.

If you are interested, my monthly Newsletter recounts our travels from the beginning, using Steve’s magnificent photos to illustrate each story. As of this month, we’ve gotten to Honduras (3 years into our travels.) If you want to see these short pieces, please subscribe at: http://bit.ly/2qIixCo

Most of Steve’s best photos from our 7-1/2 year journey are available to view and purchase as prints at: https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/stephen-dennstedt

You should know that Steve absolutely loved writing his blog, and he misses it terribly. I know he would love to hear from you if you are so inclined. Housebound, it is all too easy for him to feel forgotten and unneeded. Sad, but that’s how it is.

I do hope you’ll “transfer” your subscription over to my Newsletter and continue to share our wonderful adventures while traveling the world.


Joel R. Dennstedt


21 responses to “What Happened to Steve?

  1. Deal Joel, thak you for the information! Indeed, it made me worry that there was such a long silence on Steve’s behalf. Please, send him my greetings & blessings. (I’m Maria, Russian with Polish roots, he should remember). Keep in touch. Please, join my blog as well to keep the contact.
    I wish Steve the full recovering! He mustn’t give up! There is so much interesting around to live for!
    Best wishes,

  2. I was wondering what had happened to Steve. I Google both your names a few times but didn’t see anything. I’m not on FB so if there was an update there, I didn’t see it. I’m glad you provided an update here – much appreciated. I enjoy his blog and still revisit this for tips and advice. I like his common sense and practical approach. I hope he’ll continue to recover and stay positive.

    • Thank you so much for your comments. Indeed, Steve was always filled with common sense and practical advice. I relied on these traits a great deal while growing up. I’m afraid I was the distracted dreamer in the family, so he really helped to keep me grounded. Also a great skill to have when traveling. 🙂

  3. Dear Joel,
    Thank you so much for this update and for all you are doing for Steve. It must be very hard on both of you. I just revisited Steve’s FAA site (such wonderful photographs!) and sent him an email through the site. I will repeat the message here in case the email does not go through.

    “Dear Steve,

    I hope you remember me as it has been a long time since we were in touch. I’m so very sorry to hear the news from Joel. I just revisited your beautiful photographs here on FAA and they are a lasting tribute to your talent and your travels. I’m very honored that you mentioned me in a couple of your blog posts and you were always there for me if I needed advice on photography. I wish your condition will improve and please know that you are in my thoughts.


    Thank you again Joel and I wish the best to you, Steve and Steve’s son.

    • What a truly lovely response, Doris. Thank you. And yes, I also got access to Steve’s email and can log in from my computer. Obviously, he has not used the email in so long, he rarely receives messages. But at least I can see if someone tries to get in touch. Again, thank you so much for your very kind words. I can’t tell you how much it means to Steve to hear from “old friends,” even if he knew them only online.

  4. As a fellow former Chu Lai resident I enjoyed the blog and wish Steve well.


    SGT Bill Uffelman
    VMFA 115
    Chu Lai May 68 – June 69

    • Thank you so much for responding. As you can imagine, I have been privy to many conversations about Chu Lai, Vietnam from 1967 to February 1968 … especially about the Tet offensive … Steve trying to insert his contact lenses before running to the bunker. Can you believe he actually got me laughing about that terrible moment! Like most veterans, he does not tell all. And returning home may have been worse in some ways. Anyway … we appreciate the response.

  5. Hello Joel
    As a matter of fact, I have wondered, more than a few times, why you two suddenly disappeared from my internet life??? Gone without a goodbye. Please tell Steve that I have missed him and his photos, particularly his bird pictures, as I am an avid birder. His bird photos are marvelous. Very glad that you have cleared up this mystery. But I am very sorry to hear of his health problems. I am 88 years old, and a retired nursing professor, so I can readily understand the impact this has had on both your lives. He is so very fortunate that you are able to care for him. My 2 younger brothers are both in poor health, so they would not be of any help to me.

    I have been very fortunate in that I did travel to many places in Mexico, Europe & Africa, birdwatching in 26 countries, but never had a companion in my travels, like the 2 of you. So I often envied you and your travels. While I did travel inexpensively, the 2 of you had me beat. Up until COVID took over our lives, I was still traveling alone in Mexico, but that’s been on hold since March, 2020. Who knows when it will be safe to do so again? I have hopes of a short stay in my favorite Mexico City hotel in October – maybe, maybe not.

    I am interested in subscribing to your monthly newsletter, but clicking on the link you provided was ineffective. Perhaps you can sign me up? Tell Steve that I will keep him in my thoughts, and wish him the best in this trying situation. I would enjoy emailing with him occasionally, if that would work for the 2 of you. Or, I could text using WhatsApp.

    Sincerely yours, Barbara Ann Ross, PhD, MSN (retired)

    Sent from my Galaxy Tab® A

  6. Hi Barbara, 88 and still traveling solo in Mexico? Steve and I were both impressed by that! Sorry the link did not work for you, but I did go ahead and sign you up for the Newsletter. It comes out on the 4th of each month, and it does have a place where you can review past newsletters if you have the interest. Thank you so very much for responding and with so much information. It’s fascinating. I was able to let many people know about Steve’s status by posting on Facebook, but yesterday I figured out how to get administrator access to the blog. I wish I could have let his followers know much sooner. I know Steve felt really bad about leaving everybody hanging like that. He really enjoyed blogging and interacting with his followers. If you want to message Steve, I have set up daily access to his e-mail, which is stephen.dennstedt@ymail.com I will see any messages and I can share them with Steve. Again, thank you so much for your comments.

  7. Joel,
    Thank you for the update. I have been following your travels since you two went to Merida. I lived there while in college years ago and have made regular trips there each year since with the plan of retiring there one day. Steve’s stories re-ignited my desire to make Merida my home base for more travel and it’s finally happening in a few months. I always hoped I’d run into the guy with the absolute best travel stories but never did. Sending positive energy and abrazos grandes to you both!

  8. Pamela,

    It was so very nice to get this message from you. Merida captured us so quickly and so hard, we almost did not venture forth on the rest of our travels. We had meant to stay for a few months only, and ended up staying for 2-1/2 years. We made really good friends, worked for the local newspaper, volunteered at a nearby bio-reserve and jaguar preserve, and settled into our own rental house. And so, after 6 years and making it all the way to Tierra del Fuego, when we were returning to the States for an interim visit before moving on, we returned first to Merida. That felt like coming home much more than being back in the U.S.

    I can’t tell you how much Steve is loving hearing from some of his loyal blog followers. He hangs on every word and is quite moved by all the expressions of good will toward him. I’m a little surprised we didn’t hook up on one of your annual pilgrimages to Merida. 🙂 Our very best wishes for your new travel plans.

  9. Thank you Joel so much for the update on Steve. What a scary adventure you both were on! Happy you have settled in and I pray he continues to recover and hopefully gain back some strength! He is definitely not forgotten or unneeded as his journeys will continue to live on in his blog and yours and will continue to inspire others!
    Best wishes to you both and your family!

  10. Dear Joel,
    really good to get your update and very sorry to hear about Steve’s health and the odyssey before getting back to the US. I pray for him wishing him all the best for his health and hope he further improves his strength and vision!
    I still remember fondly how we met in this rather unusual hostel with attached microbrewery in the middle of nowhere in Honduras but near the amazing Lake Yojoa especially for bird-lovers and tasted some local but unfortunately crappy cigars from that nearby village shop 🙂
    I have been following your travels and also really enjoyed Steve’s amazing photos thereafter and you inspired me a great deal to continue travelling and with my plan to visit every country until I stopped at 145 – temporarily, and also because of your stories coming back to Latin America especially Granada, Nicaragua (with better cigars..) a couple of times along the way!
    Warm regards to you both & best wishes from Germany

    • Hi Mike,
      Of course we remember you very well. Even see your posts now and then on Facebook. Our time at the brewery was one of our best memories! Thank you for taking the time to comment and follow our adventures. We always say it was the people we met on our journey that stick with us the most. I read your comments to Steve, who was very pleased to hear from you. We both wish you the very best as you move along!

  11. Hi Joel –

    I’m so sorry to hear about your brother. I really enjoyed reading his blog. How do I subscribe to your blog? I’d like to get back on the list! Thank you; I appreciate it.

    Begin forwarded message:

    From: “Expat Journal: Postcards from the Edge” <comment-reply@wordpress.com>
    Subject: [New post] What Happened to Steve?
    Date: August 15, 2021 at 10:43:28 AM PDT
    To: 2long2@cox.net
    Reply-To: “Expat Journal: Postcards from the Edge” <comment+ri4bcnr0r3s9pd80-pymrnq3@comment.wordpress.com>

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