Destination: Mission Ranch, Carmel

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.

Photo: d. king

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.

The truck was driven by Clint Eastwood for his role in Bridges of Madison County.  d. king

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.

Can’t wait to go back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Feel-good Friday: California Coasting

Monterey + Carmel

When the desert got too hot to handle I decided to stay a few nights with friends who live along the coast.

Top L (product logo from my friends company Reforestation Technologies International – RTi. They did the logo then by chance came across the same vintage truck shown on the logo which was for sale and bought it.  Top R (view from Sakura Japanese Restaurant in Monterey) Bottom L (their beautiful dogs Beau & Chase).  We want to live Carefree; at least that’s the intent. 

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?

Top L, middle, R and bottom L taken at historic Mission Ranch (currently owned by Clint Eastwood). I will blog about this separately because it’s so deserving.  I’m standing by the truck Clint Eastwood drove in the movie Bridges of Madison County. Bottom middle taken at Cypress Inn (garden restaurant) owned by Doris Day.  Bottom R – Carmel’s never ending white sandy beach.  Ahhhh…

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 Sea Urchin. 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).

 

 

Destination: L’Hermitage Hotel

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.

Salt Water Pool

The large corner room was very clean with a huge bathroom and really comfortable beds.

Room with a view (sort of)

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.

We think it’s worth spreading the word.

788 Richards Street, 778-327-4100

http://www.lhermitagevancouver.com/

 

 

 

 

Destination: Osoyoos, B.C.

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.

Osoyoos from a distance

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!

www.walnutbeachresort.com

Tell them I sent you.

Photos: d. king

 

Self Care Sunday: the Getaway

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.

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On Route

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.

Destination: Prestige Lakeside Resort, Nelson, B.C.

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.

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Our location

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.nelson6

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.

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Happiness can be a change of scenery

Where will you plan your next getaway?nelson4Photos: d. king

Life Palm Springs Style

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.

Throw Pillow from Shag
Throw Pillow from Shag

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.

The Tuna Tower at Lulu's California Bistro is a favourite
The Tuna Tower at Lulu’s California Bistro is a favourite
Love Bill's Pizza. The caesar salad is the best.
Love Bill’s Pizza. The caesar salad is the best.

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 Beyoncé will 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.

Art Glass - Trina Turk
Art Glass – Trina Turk
The shops at thirteen forty five
The shops at thirteen forty five
Daydreamer
Daydreamer from the shops at 1345

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.

The Shops at thirteen forty five
The Shops at thirteen forty five

20170114_120151So 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.

Mimosa at Spencer's before brunch
Mimosa at Spencer’s at brunch

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.

A modern kleenex box
A modern kleenex box

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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 Drive20170114_125031Home Sweet Away from Home!                       Have you been?

Travel: Sedona, Arizona

Have you ever been to Sedona?
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The setting is pretty unreal.  It’s a perfect location for mountain biking (our crew covered some ground and some dirt) and of course hiking.  Or you can just….be.

If you’re looking for a quiet spiritual experience to usher in the changing of the seasons, tranquil Sedona provides the perfect setting. Many people believe that the Sedona area is sacred, and that it’s “the center of vortexes that radiate the Earth’s power.”

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.

Temperatures (October): High, 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Low, 52.sedona1

 Ahhhhhh   Have you been?  

Fly by Night

Do something that scares you!

 You’ve heard that saying before right?flying5

Up in the Air
Up in the Air

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.

Ready for Take-Off
On a Wing & a Prayer

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.

Photos: d. king

Flying in between the Lions, Vancouver
Flying between the Lions, Vancouver

flying3flying

Destination: RIO

Rio has one of the most spectacular settings of any city I’ve ever been to.rio1No 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.

 Pão de Açúcar
Pão de Açúcar

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.

Christ the Redeemer
Christ the Redeemer

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.

One of my photos taken from a helicopter ride
One of my photos taken from a helicopter ride
 Ipanema Beach
Ipanema Beach

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.

Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden
Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden

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.

 Mirante Dona Marta
Mirante Dona Marta

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.

my photo
my photo looking towards Ipanema

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.

Leave you wanting more?

Source: Julie Cid for Allure.com

Travel: Tourist in my own Town

Have you ever been a tourist in your own city?

  Like take a tour bus or be the tour guide?  It can be lots of fun.  I had the pleasure of re-discovering some fabulous places when a friend visited who I have not seen in over 20 years.

Masako
Masako
Kits Beach
Kits Beach
Wild Ones
Wild Ones

I first met Masako in the early 80’s when we both lived and worked in Tokyo. We became fast friends.  I knew she was someone I wanted to keep track of because she’s really smart, funny, hard working (international investments), well traveled, a nature lover, caring and curious.  In other words, the perfect friend.

The tourist photo
The tourist photo on Canada Day (July 1st, 2016)
With Took (from Thailand) and Masako
With Took (from Thailand) and Masako

When I moved to Vancouver and Masako moved to London, England  we continued to stay in touch.  Since that time she came to Vancouver once to visit me and I visited her once while I went to take in London theatre with a girlfriend from New York.  I was in London more recently but unfortunately we were not able to meet up.  She’s a single mom of a very bright 14 year old boy who speaks fluent French and is also an avid tennis and golf player. She dropped him off at Stanford University in S.F. for a 3 week math tutorial and spent time there before visiting me.  She never stops.  But we managed to pick up where we last left off as if no time had passed.  That’s when you discover time is a moving and so much has happened but you’re still the same person.  Almost as if time has stood still. When we first met I was calling my mom in Montreal every day to check in and get her advice on everything from cooking to the men I was dating.

Sunrise on Piers Island
Sunrise on Piers from the house

So during her stay I too felt like I was on holiday.  Vancouver and its environs has an abundance of picturesque places to see but we had to narrow it down.  Two nights we visited Whistler with a stay at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler.  Masako went peak to peak on the lookout for wildlife (specifically bears) while I took in the Audain Art Museum and wildlife at the Scandinave SpaAll amazing by the way.  There was a cute Canada Day parade in the village and the VSO gave a free outdoor concert in the evening. We ate well too.

View from our room
View from our hotel room
Lunch at the hotel
Lunch at Fairmont Chateau Whistler

 The day after we got back we took the ferry to Victoria.  The first time she was here we went directly to Butchart Gardens.  This time from Victoria we were picked up and boated to one of the charming little gulf islands. A car-free little gem of an island called Piers where a friend has a stunning ocean front home where little Jack (the J.R. terrier) resides when I’m not looking after him. We met several interesting locals in the evening at a barbeque.  What I’ve noticed is that island people are artists, musicians, writers, photographers, actors and zoologists.  I was talking to a man who takes people on treks to Rwanda to see the mountain gorillas (a guest had just come back and said they were so close that one gorilla brushed right by him) and also to Churchill, Manitoba to see the Polar Bears (who are now starting to mate with grizzlies should you want to know this fascinating piece of information).  He met Jane Goodall, the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees – a person I’m in awe of and would love to meet.  Future trips to consider.  Sidenote: Lowland gorillas and polar bears are sadly on the endangered list.

Jack & Jia Jia with Took
Jack & Jia Jia with Took
Selfie with bronze dog statue
Selfie with bronze dog statue
Jack eyes the homegrown strawberries after he ate a cherry (he spit out the pit)
Jack eyes freshly picked homegrown strawberries after eating a cherry (he spit out the pit)

The next day we boated to Saltspring island (separate post to come) while seeing many seals (not bears, but still...)

In Vancouver we stayed mostly local biking around a couple of times, eating out and also cooking at home.  Next

Scandinave Spa
Scandinave Spa

time the Okanagan and Tofino is high on the list of places to take Masako.

His spot waiting, waiting
Jacks waiting location
Too much excitement for one day
Off to bed – too much excitement for one day
Overview of the Spa. No photos allowed inside.
View of the Scandinave Spa, Whistler from the inside. No photos allowed outside.

I’m not sure when the polar bear trip will fit into schedule; certainly not in the summertime.

By the way, you are guaranteed to see these gorgeous giants in close proximity.

And my friend just left but I already miss her

Photos: (moments in time) d. king    Photos: (airport, kits beach, boat) kind stranger