The Charm of Old Town La Quinta, Ca.

It’s like Night and Day. photo: d. king

We spent the better part of the day/evening in this amiable little town which is only about a 35 minute drive from Palm Springs and had dinner at a chic Mexican restaurant called…

La Quinta is a small resort city in Coachella Valley, known as one of the leading golf destinations in the States. Known for incredible year-round warm and dry climate and superb shopping, world-class golf at more than 20 golf courses, biking through the valley among the orchards and vineyards, and dining at a number of first-class restaurants.

Summing it up: elegant boutiques, gourmet dining, wine and olive oil tasting bars, art galleries, and charming cafes. Upstairs are offices and businesses, creating a fine balance between work and pleasure. There is always something going on in Old Town La Quinta, such as music on weekends, the Art Under the Umbrellas art show, Taste of La Quinta, and very popular Sunday Certified Farmers’ Market.

Summing it up: vacationidea.com sums it up best with the best of the best:

11 Best Things to Do in La Quinta, California

All photos: d. king

PioneerTown, CA.

True Grit!

Sometimes you’re in the mood for glamour and sometimes you’re in the mood for something a bit more gritty, or something you didn’t even know you were in the mood for…something like the wild, wild West…which has its very own style of glamour.
Way out in the desert, on our drive back from Joshua Tree, we came across an enchanting Old West Town that was built in the 1940’s and used as a film set throughout the 40’s and 50’s.

a few of the movie posters from what was shot on location here

from the little museum – a rotating display of many movies that were shot in this area.

In 1946, Pioneertown was founded by a group of Hollywood investors, including actors Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. They dreamed of creating an Old West set that was actually a town worth visiting, with 1880s-style false-front façades but interiors that had stuff for visitors to see and do too. Up went (from the outside) frontier stables, saloons, and jails; inside, they housed ice cream parlours, bowling alleys and motels. More than 50 films and television shows were filmed here in the 1940s and ‘50s.

 

 

 

 

 

These days Pioneer Town is no longer used to make Old West movies. Instead, it’s a real town with a few houses, restaurants and all the remains of the movie set that you actually walk around.  If you’re an old John Wayne and Western movie buff you’ll probably find it quite worthwhile and exciting.  At the very least you feel what it was like to live that lifestyle.

While location shooting and businesses here have dwindled, you can still see mock gunfights on Mane Street (pun intended). But the most happening place by far is Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, with surprisingly good live music (Robert Plant and Leon Russell have played here) in a seemingly unlikely setting. This must-see desert find also serves up awesome ribs, plus classic Santa Maria barbecue, burgers, sandwiches and salads.

Day Trippin’ Joshua Tree

We enjoyed the newly expanded outdoor market/fair and shops in downtown Joshua Tree.  I’ve narrowed down from the plethora of pictures taken.  

Starting with “THE END” – that’s the name of the boutique.  Art by owner Kime Buzzelli.
Beauty Bubble” – an operating beauty salon and museum.

This unique vendor-run weekly outdoor artisan market is located in downtown Joshua Tree right off Highway 62 at the Hi-Desert Cultural Center. Started Labor Day weekend and runs every Saturday and Sunday from 10am-4pm.  We had so much fun perusing the showcase of locally handmade goods, arts, clothing, and many more awesome desert creations as only Joshua Tree can bring you!

Reminds me a little bit of Nelson, B.C.

I bought a hand painted linen blouse & soft hoodie from this vendor.

My neighbor Mindy here in Palm Springs owns this unique boutique – “Kama Clothing.”

Joshua Tree Coffee is the best in the West.

Feel-good Friday: the Comeback Kid

Proof of Life in Palm Springs with the Diva herself; acutely misplaced for so long…and the Marilyn sculpture above.  

Sunny Days are here again.  Photo: Paul LeMay

Some consider her a “Work of Art“; others “a Piece of Work.”  Maybe she’s a bit of both.

It’s so nice to be back.  I took a break from blogging in order to get organized before leaving Vancouver and setting up house here in Palm Springs.  First time in years having missed a season however I’m not the only snowbird who was unable to make it until now.  So….making up for lost time for what was completely out of our control takes being a little out of control patient.

El Jefe with a Chai Latte, Palm Springs.

There were a lot of firsts this time around.  First time flying with my dog instead of driving.  My boyfriend and I tried to make it as smooth a transition as possible for Layla who had never been on a plane before.  We couldn’t get a non-stop from Vancouver to Palm Springs for dates we wanted so we took Air Canada to Los Angeles and rented a car from there – a two hour drive with little traffic. Emphasis on “little.”  No one told us that Layla would be in another terminal on arrival and it would take us for what seemed like forever to find her.  When we finally located Layla she was all by herself in her crate alongside a homeless person who set up house inside the terminal.  Remember the movie “The Terminal” with Tom Hanks? – exactly! It’s sadly become a reality.

Anyway we got her and let’s just say her crate was a mess.  Guess she doesn’t like flying.

These photos are after grooming.  No; I don’t mean that she looked like this right after grooming.  I had her groomed…then she ran through sprinklers in a park (completely out of control) and before I knew what to do she rolled in the dirt – her attempt to dry off.  Didn’t work!

Look at that smug face!  Can’t get upset. 

Ordered a pet trailer to attach to my cruiser so she could ride behind me and now she’s as happy as ever and also oblivious to whatever distress she’s caused.

Another first was coming back to a broken kitchen window and realizing that someone had crawled through and took personal belongings – yes; it was a break in!  Not only that; it must have been a skinny woman on top of it.

I’ve known other people who’ve had their homes broken into before and it always sounds invasive and awful but before it happens to you, you really have no idea how horrible it feels.  The window is being repaired and I’m dealing with insurance.  Stupidly I left a few valuables here not knowing how long it would be before being able to come back.  Whoever broke in knew what they were looking for. That’s why I know it was a woman.

Giant art Installation by Salinas artist John Cerney.

Then I was sending a text when all of a sudden a little robot showed up out of nowhere on my screen going around and around with a message that kept saying “erasing“….so I shut off my phone.  But then when I turned it on again it was blank.  I had to borrow someone’s phone to call Samsung support to walk me through a total “reboot” which included changing passwords, etc….I ended up losing more than half my contact list and photos from the past six weeks.  Of course it could’ve been worse – it always can.

That took oh; about 3 hours in total.  I owe that guy a case of beer and dinner.

There was one really good first though…

Halloween here was a blast!  It’s obviously over now and I had absolutely no idea on what large a scale people (Hollywood industry and the gay crowd inparticular) would go to all lengths to dress up and I mean dress up!  There was excellent live music, tons of people in the streets with the most amazing costumes.  Okay; I’ll post one photo out of many, many just to give you an idea.

Pee-wee with wee-wee     You bad, bad boy!

Okay, okay; a few more but Halloween is over.  I’ll spare you all the Marilyn look-a-likes and the contest from which all the Marilyn’s got up on stage.  There were many.  All dressed alike and wearing wigs as in the photo of sculpture.

My friend Tammy with a faux police officer. Maybe he was real – so hard to tell!

Dame Edna

Nice looking couple

So I will leave you for now with a wink and a smile…until next time.  Promise it won’t be for too long.

 

 

 

 

Have a fantastic weekend!

Summerhill Estate House

There are plenty of good reasons to go wine tasting in the Okanagan in October.  For starters:

The wine is always good no matter what month you decide to visit, but come October and over the Fall/Winter in general it’s much easier to book accommodation as the wineries are less busy with everyone back to work and back to school.  So may I suggest a not so little gem of a place to stay…Summerhill Pyramid Winery Guest House (shown in photos on this page).  Not only is it amazingly spacious with a view to die for, but the winery + bistro is adjacent to the guest house.  A hop, skip and a roll home away.

That’s what I’m talking about!

For booking availability please contact:

estatehouse@summerhill.bc.ca

In the meantime…

Thanksgiving Wine-Care Pack

Five wines to pair with your feast plus an extra-special bottle for dessert!
Thanksgiving Wine-Care Pack

 

 

 

 

Uncorked B+B in Oliver

What can be better than spending a weekend over wine, food, fun and friendship? Not much!

This way to a good stay. Photo: d. king

That’s exactly how I spent last weekend – with my dear long time girlfriend Margeaux. We go back to working together over thirty years ago first selling advertising at an established Canadian film publication. Wanting to branch out, we convinced our boss to fly us to Toronto once we didn’t think there’d be a twice to cover the Genie Awards  (recognizing the best of Canadian cinema – now merged with the Gemini Awards to include Canadian television…but to my non-Canadian friends, you’ve probably never heard of either).  By some sheer godsend in between partying with celebrities like Donald Sutherland & Kim Cattrall at the event, our commentary and photos ended up getting published in the magazine.  Later we worked on a Canadian Mad Max style film together But I digress…

Margeaux met me halfway (well almost) in Oliver, British Columbia – Canada’s wine capital

I see a sign, there must be wine

She drove from Castlegar, BC and I had spent the night before in Lake Country, Kelowna with my boyfriend so I was not too far away.  The drive from Vancouver to Oliver takes about 4 ½ hours and we were lucky to stay with a friend on Thursday night and watch the sunset while drinking champagne on a sailboat.  I had to set the scene.  Sundown was also the end of a holy Jewish holiday; Yom Kippur.  Breaking a fast with champagne?  Wine not?

Photo: d. king
Photo: d. king

Margeaux had booked a perfect B+B in Oliver that appropriately goes by the name Uncorked run by Ian & Judy Born, a couple originally from small farming communities. Uncorked is located within a 15 minute (if that) drive of 40+ wineries in either direction and a lakeview location with a saltwater pool you can use from May – October.  

It’s quiet here and all 3 private entrance rooms have en-suite bathroom and flat-screen TV.  The beds are king-size, super comfy with new mattress and deluxe bamboo bedding. After all, you need a good night’s sleep for next day wine tasting. There’s a BBQ, shared lounge with efficiency kitchen and a coffee tray was left outside the room in the morning with the little extras (milk, cream, sugar) and full homemade breakfast included.

Frittata with extras – Photo: d. king
Avocado Toast – Photo: d. king

I was not expecting a menu from which to choose what we’d prefer for breakfast.  That was a pleasant surprise.  Dietary restrictions noted.  Judy’s homemade farm fresh breakfasts are beyond. Coffee, juice, fresh fruit salad, free range local eggs, home grown tomatoes, homemade jams, etc….It was exceptional.  As was her advice on which wineries were her favourites (she works at one twice a week which we visited – to be blogged about separately). 

As a local, Judy provided plenty of relevant information about small lot wineries (producing less than 5,000 cases) that are excellent that I would probably have passed by had she not mentioned them…including tipping us off to some wineries that are now run by big corps and foreign investors.  A few other well known ones that are overblown and such.  After our weekend we really appreciated her guidance.

we stopped in here
Garden Room Bed – Photo: d. king
Outside private entrance to room – Photo: d. king

Aside from our drop in to District Wine Village and a vintage shop on Saturday, we managed to visit 7 wineries in total.  Two well known wineries where we had dinner and 5 distinctive small lot fabulous wineries we’d never know about had Judy not circled them on our wine map.  And as usual, the wine and conversation flowed and the time went way too fast.  We decided to do this same time next year. We’ll stay here again if the rooms are available.

Y is that?

For booking and general information:

https://www.uncorkedbnb.com/

Have you stayed in Oliver?  If so; where?

Feel-good Friday: Have Dog; Will Travel

Because travelling with dogs can sometimes be a pain for finding overnight accommodation.

La Quinta Inn & Suites – now owned by Wyndham  are reliably dog friendly, clean, comfortable, cost-effective, all no-smoking rooms, free Wi-Fi, continental breakfast (sometimes full depending where you stay) and friendly service.

OK let’s be honest, while The Four Seasons it is not; your dogs probably won’t notice the difference well Layla might and if you’re looking just to overnight on your way to let’s say Palm Springs when the border finally opens and you want a very comfortable bed and a no-charge fee for your pooches – this is the place.  If you’re a member you can receive regular room upgrades to larger suites which is what I usually take advantage of. I’ve also stayed at Best Western Plus and the only difference is that they charge for your pets and have a bit more on the menu in the morning.  I don’t know about you but none of these breakfasts at either place are my cup of tea.  A coffee and yogurt to get me going is usually sufficient and a stop somewhere along the drive for something more substantial is the norm.

Here are a few properties that I can vouch for: La Quinta in Eugene, Oregon is completely revamped with indoor pool, gym and you’ll find the Willamette River right outside the door with a great green space for walking your furry friends.  Or if you have time you can run or bike along the many miles of trails.  It’s very pretty and peaceful here.

La Quinta in Redding, Ca, off the Cypress exit on I-5 in Shasta County. Located near the Sacramento River where you can explore National Recreation Areas within a five minute drive to Whiskeytown or the scenic world-renowned Sundial Bridge.  They have a fitness center, outdoor pool and breakfast. Plus a little courtyard to walk pets and enjoy a coffee before taking off.

If you absolutely must overnight in Bakersfield, all I can tell you is to make sure you stay at the La Quinta at the North end of the city (not the South end god help you).

For booking:

https://www.wyndhamhotels.com/en-ca/laquinta

Am I being too optimistic?  Perhaps! 

Have a great weekend anyway

Ambleside Ambling

Last Lazy Days of Summer

Sometimes being a tourist in your own city can be very rewarding. Of course it helps if you live in a beautiful city to begin with.

Ambleside Beach with Lions Gate Bridge in background. Photo: d. king

Remember; people travel or used to from all over the world just to be exactly in a place that we tend to take for granted.

Photo: d. king

On Sunday I was on my way to Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver but remembered along the drive that there is a Farmers’ Market in Ambleside Park, at the foot of 13th Street.

It’s on every Sunday from 10am to 3pm, May through October.  Since it was a gorgeous day we stopped there first. I love this market.  They have such a wide assortment of organic foods and a nice varied selection of B.C. crafts including jewelry, clothing, wrought iron, garden sculptures, soaps, pottery and much, much more.

Faces of the Farmers Market

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king   Keeping up good spirits is very important especially right now.

Stock at the Market

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. King

Ambleside Ambience

I must say the market and the whole Ambleside area in general is very dog friendly.  I ended up playing ball with Layla off-leash in a sprawling huge park area across from the beach and we hung out on a blanket for quite some time.  That was after having lunch at The Boat Shed.  And before we listened to live music on the beach and then walked all along the boardwalk.

Chilliwack Corn is the best.  Photo: d. king

They sold out early. Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

Fresh Poke Bowl for lunch. Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

The Boat Shed at Ambleside Beach.  Local fresh cuisine for everyone.

Pavel, our waiter was excellent.  He recommended an awesome homemade Mexican cilantro hot sauce to compliment my meal.  I took it home.

The Boat Shed. Photo: d. king

Gelato. Photo: d. king

Layla on Pier. Photo: d. king

Lions Gate Bridge from the park we played at. Photo: d. king

Oh; we never did make it to the Lighthouse.

Boat Shed Website:

https://www.theboatshedgroup.com/

Have a wonderful weekend

Vista D’Oro

A day trip to Vista D’Oro Farms & Winery in Langley, B.C., is like taking a step back in time.

I met with Patrick, a winemaker with old-world techniques, who introduced us to the farm overlooking the vineyard and an amazing view of the Golden Ears Mountains. Hence, the golden view or, for those with an Italian influence, Vista D’oro.  Now there’s a name!

Patrick in the tasting room

We toured the barnyard complete with resident owl and elegant chandeliers.

Then over to the antiquated boutiquey tasting room where we got to try a flight of five varietals from heritage orchard fruits and vinifera grapes all grown on the property. All available for purchase in the Farmgate shop in the form of either wine or preserves.

Speaking of preserves…do you know that there’s 101 uses for their preservatory preserves?  I cannot describe them all in this post but I’ll give you a few samples.

I was already familiar with the ones sold at our local wine + cheese shop and used as a staple either on their own, or added to a cheese platter (2 uses right here, you’re welcome!).  The fig + walnut wine was my go-to for a long time but I hadn’t had it for a while.  I left with another jar and one peach with jalapeño  + tequila which was excellent and for the first time I tried the small batch mango-lime salsa. I added it to a burger last night and let’s just say the burger was much better for it.  They’re all excellent. Tamara left with the Driveway. No; not the actual driveway…It’s a bottle of red wine called “Driveway” (one of 3) but that’s another story.

Vista D’Oro is also famous for making delicious fortified wines such as the 2015 Walnut Wine and 2007 D’Oro Vin de Garde (with notes of current and butterscotch). We always learn something new.  Patrick referred to the apple cider as apple wine.  In the style of Normandy to Brittany, France – that is the correct name.

Ciders with names like “smoked tea” and plum brandy are seasonal and will be available soon. 

 

 

Which means we’ll have to come back.  I Look forward to that.

 
Charlie + Layla gave the place two paws up!

Photos: d. king

Header: taken from website      Owl: taken from Vista D’Oro Instagram Account

 

Chemainus: small town; big charm

It’s easy to see why this open-air art gallery draws visitors from all over the world. 

This is only a splattering of photos taken with my Samsung phone camera a few days ago.  See story below.

Like many others right now during this pandemic craze, I’m tending to stick closer to home.  Well maybe not always too too close; but close enough.  At the very least I’ve been discovering places in the province where I live that I have either never been to and wanted to visit, or haven’t visited in such a long time, that I can’t even remember when I was there last.

Such was the case a few days ago when I took the ferry from Vancouver to Vancouver Island with my boyfriend Paul and Layla, my sheltie.  The reason I decided to go in the first place was to look at the possibility of getting a companion dog for Layla.  I was very interested in getting another male sheltie who lives on the island. However, without going into detail it sadly was not meant to be, at least for now…so we decided to make a little holiday out of the situation.

We took the ferry boat one way going there and another way coming back with stopovers in some quaint little towns…Ladysmith, Chemainus, Duncan and finally ending up in Victoria to take the ferry back to Vancouver.  The weather for November was excellent and the scenery very picturesque.

And speaking of picturesque…I was aware of an abundance of story-telling murals in Chemainus as I had been there once before, but I had no idea that it is known as Canada’s Mural Capital. And I don’t remember seeing nearly as many as I did this time around.

I was blown away by how this proud seaside community shares its heritage and celebrates its history through art on the sides of stores, restaurants and private homes. The creation of one mural and sculpture after another which began in 1982, has turned this tiny town into Canada’s largest permanent outdoor art gallery.  And might I add… when was the last time you stood in front of a “Subway” sandwich shop or “Canada Post Office” in admiration?.

You can follow the yellow footsteps (like the yellow brick road) on the sidewalks to locate all the murals.  Although we did it by chance and decided to spend the night in a hotel there so we could enjoy the town the next day.

Town History:

When Chemainus was established in 1858, forestry was the principal industry, and it is still central to its life.  The townspeople were concerned about the future of their one-industry town so looked to economic diversification as a way to thrive.  As it has a natural beauty setting to begin with, it made sense to expand as a tourist spot so The Chemainus Murals Program was born. 

The subject from the beginning has been the community’s heritage, reflecting the history of the First Nations people and their life here, and the unfolding story of settlement by the families and individuals who built the community. 

World renowned Vancouver Island artist Emily Carr’s legacy is depicted in a special Emily Carr Mural Series.  It’s really beautiful.

The name Chemainus is believed to have come from a legendary First Nations shaman and prophet who survived a massive wound in his chest to become a powerful chief.  Tsa-meeun-is (Broken Chest).

If you’re looking for The Mural of the Story…

Going by the official mural guide I can look through and tell you by number what each mural means, however I think it best you go there and discover for yourself… if only because it really is worthwhile.