I can now cross Galiano Island off my places to go to list. It was the only remaining one of all the gulf islands in British Columbia left for me to visit, and luckily the dogs and I were recently and happily invited to spend three nights at a beautiful ocean front home belonging to friends Joanne & Geoff who also happen to be our neighbours. They’ve been going for a number of years and now I understand why. Their location is unrivaled but Galiano in general has such natural rocky beauty and there’s even a white sandy beach. It is referred to as the untamed Gulf Island and the wildest due to its mountainous geography, rare plant population and generous forest reserves. Plenty of wildlife too. It’s the closest to Vancouver of the southern group of Gulf Islands. Much of it is protected from development thanks to community initiatives from a tight knit group of concerned property owners.
Galiano is also the driest in the gulf, getting more sunshine than the mainland and most of coastal B.C. It comes with peaceful beaches, wooded trails, a nine-hole golf course, artists’ studios & galleries, marina and a world class restaurant in the forest. Oh the restaurant by the way deserves a separate mention. It was that good. But unfortunately I cannot give you the secret recipe for Geoff’s special gin martinis on the rocks…..literally. We were sipping them on the rocks.
And I will soon tell you about an upcoming workshop offered by Joanne, a life coach and our hostess with the mostest who makes a mean everything salad with goddess dressing. With a background in the arts, Joanne is a founder of The Gulf Islands Film and Television School. Her upcoming workshop along with co-facilitator Wendy Sidwell is not only very interesting but will prove to be very helpful to most individuals so stay tuned…
The brochure perfectly describes it. Ocean sunsets, sheep filled pastures, rocking chairs and award winning grounds. Piles of pillows and a cozy fire. Serenity and Relaxation.
On my side trip to Carmel I was taken to the charmingly historic Mission Ranch, one of the most spectacular spots on the Monterey Peninsula. It is a sight to behold with meadows stretching to the south which join the wetlands and Carmel River Beach. The exquisite views are unrivaled. Point Lobos, a scenic coastal natural reserve featuring a variety of sea life, wildlife, hiking trails and a whaling museum can be seen in the distance across the bay. Mission ranch is a place unto itself but close enough to the town of Carmel-by-the sea. You might just want to stay put because there’s also a great restaurant with a view and nightly live piano bar. On Sundays their live jazz brunch was voted “best brunch” by local newspapers.
A little history:
In the 1850’s, the property became one of the first of the early California dairies. The creamery, which supplied the county with cheese and butter, now houses the restaurant. The barns were used for hay and milking. The ranch has had some 17 owners.
The Ranch now encompasses 22 acres. Originally it consisted of 160 acres and was owned by Juan Romero, a Native American who is believed to have lived in the village next to the Carmel Mission. In 1852 he deeded the property to William Curtis, a Monterey storekeeper, for $300. The Martin family, who owned the Ranch for 60 years, also farmed potatoes for the Sierra gold miners.
The Ranch operated as a private club, an officers’ club for the Army and Navy during World War II. At that time the windows were occasionally blackened against a possible Japanese landing. It had a rollicking reputation, with dance bands and a lively bar scene.
In 1986 Clint Eastwood bought the Ranch, rescuing the property from an impending fate as a condominium development. Once again, Dirty Harry to the rescue! He sought out the best craftsmen for renovation, who have replicated moldings, door frames and hardware to match the style of the original buildings. Each structure reflects a different architectural period: from the 1950’s feel of the restaurant and dance barn, to the century old Martin farmhouse.
The one time Bunkhouse is the oldest structure on the Ranch. It’s nestled among historic cypress and eucalyptus trees, as well as newly planted gardens, which adorn the entire Ranch.
Sure beats the old bar he used to own in Carmel “Hog’s Breath Inn” although I’m told the artichoke soup is to die for.
When the desert got too hot to handle I decided to stay a few nights with friends who live along the coast.
It had been several years since I’d been to Monterey and Carmel but I remember liking it a lot. There’s not much not to like about it. For starters it’s pretty picturesque especially if you take the famous 17-Mile Drive to Pebble Beach, one of the most scenic drives in the world. You twine through the impressive Del Monte Forest and take in the hypnotic coastline and golf’s greatest landmarks. Which leads me (and everyone else who does the windy drive) to the beach town called Carmel-by-the-Sea. The name has a nice ring to it don’t you think?
Carmel is a fairytale. It’s known for museums, art galleries, a library and little cottages strewn along cobblestone streets. Unique local shops and restaurants complete this charming village built on the Monterey Peninsula. A great plus is it’s also dog friendly, even on the beach. Thank you Doris Day. She was responsible for making Carmel doggy heaven here on earth. One more reason to want to move there.
Five Fun Facts about Carmel
Clint Eastwood was once the mayor but it has been more than 30 years and visitors continue to ask Is Clint Eastwood still the mayor?
No chain restaurants.
Whaaat? With no fast food restaurants the city’s enchanting eateries and tasting rooms offer a full range of cuisine and wine tasting all within walking distance from the over 40 hotels and inns.
I love this one: No street addresses. Unwilling to see their village become citified, Carmel’s founding fathers rejected the practice house- to-house mail delivery in favor of a central post office. To this day, there are still no addresses, parking meters or street lights, and no sidewalks outside of Carmel’s downtown commercial area. Those seeking directions receive hints such as fifth house on the east side of Torres Street, green trim, driftwood fence or by the legendary names adorning most houses, such as Hansel or SeaUrchin. It is, by the way, bad luck to change the name on a Carmel cottage. And why would you? Afterall I want to be Carefree .
There used to be an unusual law of prohibiting selling and eating ice cream on public streets. In 1986 Clint Eastwood and the new council elected along with him, overturned the ordinance and other similar laws that they considered to be too restrictive to businesses and visitors. Dirty Harry to the rescue!
This is the best:
You need a permit to wear high heels?
Though often mistakenly thought of as an urban myth, the municipal code of Carmel bans wearing shoes having heels more than 2 inches in height or with a base of less than one square inch unless the wearer has obtained a permit for them. While the local police do not cite those in violation of the ordinance, this seemingly peculiar law was authored by the city attorney in 1963 to defend the city from lawsuits resulting from wearers of high-heeled shoes tripping over irregular pavement distorted by tree roots. Permits are available without charge at City Hall.
Whew! I was worried for a sec. But for safety purposes I’ll definitely carry a measuring tape in my bag.
Images: d. king (except for the one I’m in – someone else took that).
Being a tourist in the town where you reside can be a dream if you make the right connections.This charming boutique hotel is conveniently located in downtown Vancouver amid excellent shopping and dining. It’s luxurious with a relaxing ambiance.
The large corner room was very clean with a huge bathroom and really comfortable beds.
The efficient staff was very helpful in making recommendations on where to eat and places to see (even though we were already quite familiar). They have several bikes on site which you can reserve for four hours at a time so cruising through Stanley Park with a pitstop at English Bay Cactus Club was a breeze.
En Route, Air Canada magazine has this to say:
With kitchens equipped with Bosch appliances and staff that greet you by name in the hallways, L’Hermitage feels more like a chic European pied-à-terre than a hotel in downtown Vancouver. What we loved The hotel welcomes four-legged friends with Torre & Tagus ceramic bowls, cozy cushions and a walking service. If you only have one night Enjoy the sun while sipping a Nespresso in a velvet armchair in your suite’s private solarium overlooking the saltwater pool.
I just had the pleasure of being a guest at the luxurious Walnut Beach Resort.Walnut Beach Resort is a waterfront haven overlooking Lake Osoyoos in sunny South Okanagan, which is located in Canada’s desert wine country, about a five hour scenic drive from Vancouver.
It was originally built to be private condos before deciding to turn the three-storey building into a resort which is run like a stylish boutique hotel.The lakeside rooms are all one or two bedroom designer suites with kitchenette and balcony. And a most comfortable bed. Our suite was pristine, the service was excellent, the poolside restaurant had a variety of mouth watering dishes or if guests prefer to do their own thing, there are several barbecues set up alongside the pool area for them to use.
Normally there is a private sandy beach but at this time the water was high so most of the sand was covered.
Local things to do include wine tours, championship golf, water sports or just lying by the pool guilty or a swim in the lake.
It’s a chic, comfortable place.
My only complaint is that I wish we stayed there longer. Which only means I’ll have to go back!
We all need to recharge. Sometimes all it takes is just a change of scenery. A couple days spent away is good for the soul.
And you don’t have to travel very far to do so. It could be an adventurous road trip within a day’s drive. Here in British Columbia we’re very lucky to have an abundance of places to visit; all unique and super natural.
For this little vacay we chose Nelson Kootenay Lake and spent a few nights at the super relaxing Prestige Lakeside Resort with a room on the boardwalk overlooking the lake. With two restaurants; West Coast Grill, sushi, a great little coffee shop called Junipers & an in-house spa, we didn’t have to leave the property at all. Even a long off-leash dog walking area closeby.
Although Nelson is a quaint town known for friendly people, good eats, cute little shops, hiking trails and a story. It’s a calming part of British Columbia famous for its mix of culture, adventure, history and spectacular scenery. A rare metropolitan mixed with mountain lifestyle. It has been dubbed the number one small arts community in Canada.
A brief history about Nelson: Kootenay is a native word meaning “water people“. Carbon dating provides evidence of a race of men and women who lived, hunted and fished along the shores of Kooteney Lake as long back as when the pyramids of Egypt were being built. These earliest inhabitants, drawn here for the abundance of fish, wildlife, berries and fruits, were later called the Kootenay Indians.
The town of Nelson is renowned for its impressive scenery, lively events, vibrant and inviting downtown, big city dining, and collection of restored heritage buildings and has been voted best ski destination with award winning powder snow and top lake. It boasts a tiny city with a big personality.
Where will you plan your next getaway?Photos: d. king
It’s all about the simple things; sunshine and resort style living. A mimosa here and everywhere there. A nice pool. A mimosa by the pool.
A place to escape to when the weather starts to turn for the worst. A playground for those who like to golf, hike or swim. Or just take it easy or go listen to live music. There’s a lot of happy people here. A lot of folks from Vancouver and other parts of Canada. Happy hour is a biggie and there’s plenty of good dining everywhere.
There’s the Palm Springs International Film Festival which is just ending and attracts Hollywood’s biggest stars to flog their films or just show up and party.
There’s Modernism Week in February. An annual signature event and celebration of midcentury modern design, architecture, art, fashion and culture. With more than 250 events including the Modernism Show & Sale, Signature Home Tours, films, lectures, Premier Double Decker Architectural Bus Tours, nightly parties and live music, walking and bike tours, tours of Sunnylands (to some extent regarded as the “Camp David of the West”), classic cars, modern garden tours, a vintage travel trailer exhibition, and more…like Martinis on the mountain.
Then there’s Coachella (my sister is excited about going for the first time), the annual Valley Music & Arts Festival. As of this spring Beyoncéwill make history yet again as she will be the first woman of color to headline Coachella. EVER. She is also the first woman in ten years to headline the festival (the last woman to headline was Bjork in 2007).
There was “Oldchella” which was the fitting nickname for the festival’s official title “Desert Trip.” It appears the nickname came about because headliners such as Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Roger Waters, The Rolling Stones and The Who average about 72 years in age. But can these guys still rock or what? Nobody seems sure how annual this festival might be. There is talk of it dying off.
But you can count on “Opera in the Park” a premier cultural event in April held at Sunrise Park. The concert of arias draws thousands of people from all over Southern California (& beyond) in a celebration of great opera music with a professional orchestra. You can take a picnic lunch – how great is that?
There’s the usual art markets, *antique markets, **vintage markets & the Thursday night street fair. Free street parking is a bonus. There’s even a free bus or “buzz” Thursday through Sunday that’s also dog friendly as is the rest of P.S.
There’s other places of interest you can drive or bus to within a few hours driving distance like: Los Angeles & San Diego if you miss the ocean or more traffic. A little longer than that and you can find yourself in Las Vegas or Arizona. So there’s plenty of variety and no excuse to be bored.
So I went ahead and bought myself an early birthday gift. A little pied-à-terre right smack in the middle of exactly where I want to be. A perfect location. Something so unexpected and unplanned…yet ideal. As I’m writing this I’m spending my first night in the new place after having rented in the area for two weeks prior to this with a short hotel stay prior to that. I’ve been coming here for several years and what’s funny is that this time the trip was going to be a short one. I just wanted to take in the film festival and be back before the end of January. There were reasons why it had to be cut shorter than usual….however you never know what life will throw your way. Now I’ll stay a bit longer than planned. And have a set place to come back to.
In another sense…I fully expected this to happen! My horoscope said that it’s my year to charge ahead, make bold changes for progress & success. The Sun-Pluto conjunction in January empowers and emboldens my sign all year long.
2016 was such a downer year for multiple reasons. We lost so many amazing people and of course the election craziness. Here’s to new growth and positive change.Not just for me, but for everyone. We have to take our sunshine where we can get it. And orange juice doesn’t quite cut it.
*an antique is “a work of art, piece of furniture, or decorative object made at least 100 years ago.
**The term “vintage,” when used in a way similar to the term “antique,” refers to items that are over 50 years old, but less than 100.
Photos: d. king
The shops at thirteen forty five is a collective of luxurious shops in an iconic E. Stewart Williams designed building. 1345 N. Palm Canyon DriveHome Sweet Away from Home! Have you been?
I’ve been there on a few occasions. I loved the red rock canyons so much that I tried to replicate the desert colours for the interior of my home. I believe I succeeded.
What To Do: Stay at the Enchantment Resort, try Diamondback Rattlesnake cakes and Cactus Fries at The Cowboy Club, take a UFO Night Tour (for something different…c’mon where else can you find something like this?) and drink biodynamic organic wine at Chocola Tree. Depending on your interests, you can also sign up for a weekend of healing, like this one offered by Hope Yoga.
When I saw it scribbled on a Lululemon bag I questioned why on earth is this advisable (like why would anyone want to scare themselves?) but in any case I actually did something that scares me last Sunday.
Considering I’m claustrophobic, don’t like small planes, have a fear of heights and am always up in the air about flying in general……I conquered my fears(temporarily perhaps) and embraced my private flight from Vancouver over to dinner in one of Vancouver Island’s best kept little secrets. It’s not the first time I’ve been on a small plane but like anything else what you tend to fear is fear itself. It helps to have an experienced pilot who is also a friend who previously ran a chartered airline business with a bigger plane to fly movie stars around. When he decided to downsize to a four seater he made sure the seats and headsets were very comfy. Luckily the flight was very smooth both ways.
The flight began at 5:00 p.m., lasted about one hour on the way over (as the pilot decided to take us a different route and fly between two huge rocks we refer to as “the lions.” Four of us enjoyed spectacular scenery along the way, a great dinner and another enjoyable flight at dusk which took less flying time to get back.
Rio has one of the most spectacular settings of any city I’ve ever been to.No matter which direction you turn it has the most magnificent scenery. Dramatic and breath taking. It’s a city famous for its beaches but there is also plenty of culture, great food and of course year round mild temperatures. The people are vibrant.
I was lucky to have had the opportunity to visit on several occasions while living in São Paulo. The flight is less than an hour and it made a perfect getaway.
At the time I didn’t have Instagram on my phone so when I saw these photos published in Allure Magazine (a popular womens beauty magazine to do mostly with makeup & skincare) I found them well…alluring to say the least.
With the Olympics starting this Friday in Rio and a friend who has just left to volunteer I thought it would be perfect timing to share Instagram photos and a couple of my own of this fabulous city.
1. Pão de Açúcar
Sugarloaf Mountain, as it’s known in English, gets its name from its shape and is one of the most iconic stops in Rio. You can start your day by taking the cable car up to the top of the rounded peak. But don’t wait until you get to the top to take out your camera—the panoramic views from the car are just as impressive (and Insta-worthy!). People have been enjoying this breathtaking ride since the bubble-shaped cable car opened in 1912—it was even featured in the 1979 James Bond film Moonraker.
2. Christ the Redeemer
This landmark is one of the most recognizable symbols of Rio. Standing 125 feet tall, it’s practically impossible to miss. The sculpture is located atop Corcovado Mountain, and it’s listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. This is definitely a place where playing with a camera drone pays off, allowing you to capture both the sculpture and the city at its feet. A view like this can definitely leave you feeling #blessed.
3. Ipanema Beach
Spend the afternoon sunbathing on the steamy shore of Ipanema Beach. This world-famous beach is located in one of the most affluent neighborhoods of Rio. Pack a big sun hat and a teeny bikini and get ready to sip coconut water while the hustle and bustle of the city melts into sea foam. All you have to do is wait for sunset’s magical light to capture the shadows of sunbathers and the mountains in the back.
4. Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden
The Rio Botanical Garden is a tropical jungle you can get lost in and still easily find your way back to the city. The beautiful greenhouse, many gazebos, and flowing fountains are complemented by the lush nature that surrounds them. Find your way to the Avenue of Royal Palms located within the garden. This long road flanked by enormous palm trees makes it easy to spend hours taking amazing photos.
5. Mirante Dona Marta
Who doesn’t love a good panoramic view? Located inside the Tijuca Forest, this lookout offers one of the most all-encompassing views of Rio de Janeiro, covering everything from Christ the Redeemer to Sugarloaf Mountain and the city in between. If sunset photos of this amazing skyline leave you wanting more, the observation deck also functions as a helipad, from which you can take thrilling helicopter tours of the city. Be sure to carry an extra set of memory cards for your camera just in case.
Of course the city has its well documented down side with poverty and corruption which should not be forgotten amid the natural beauty and the thrill of the games.