Feel-good Friday: Road Trip

Have Van, Will

This had to be one of the more pleasurable road trips I can remember ever having taken from Palm Springs to Vancouver.   

Normally once the decision is made to drive back, we’re anxious to get going and get home as quickly as possible.  Even though you can make the trip in two days we never have.  The norm is a three night hotel stay.  But this time we took a few extra days to take it easy (vacation from vacation?) and explore uncharted territory (read wineries & hotels).

The Dancing Fox in Lodi

Delicato Winery in Lodi with Cher & Jack.  He didn’t like the wine.  And here we look like lumberjacks.

After the first night in Fresno we drove to the cute little town of Lodi for wine tasting and lunch with friends who were also making the trek back to Vancouver in their own truck with their own dog. We stayed close and on their excellent recommendation we stayed at the Gaia Hotel & Spa just outside Redding Ca. by the Sacramento River.  It was very relaxing with great service, a good restaurant and waterfalls. 

The next day we went to the picture perfect artistic little city of Ashland, Oregon for lunch.

Lunch at Louie’s sitting outside by the Ashland Creek.

After spending the evening at a hotel in Salem, Oregon we decided to part ways with our friends because we wanted to check out a rescue dog in the area – a 7 yr. old female sheltie.  Though we never ended up meeting the dog as the lady who had her decided to keep her. I thought it would be a nice idea to get a female to mix with the males but since it never happened – maybe it’s better for both parties.  In the end I only want what’s best for the dog.

So we ended up having lunch at the Willamette Valley Vineyard instead which was amazing. Our charming server Robert looked after us very well.

Willamette Valley  on an overcast day

I had a few good flights to make the road trip easier (happier?)

Lastly, when we were only a few hours away from our destination we decided to spend two nights in a downtown hotel in Seattle and visit with old friends who used to live next door to us in Toronto.  There we used to have dinner parties, always kept in touch and luckily they moved closer to us, to Seattle, Wa. Yay! We have stayed in a guest bedroom before but they have two cats and we have two dogs.

With Miranda who cooked us a delicious dinner while her husband Dave went to get a 2003 Tuscan red from his wine cellar

King Arthur or Merlyn (I can never tell which is which)

They love their hotel sleeps

Why even bother making the bed??

You know the road trip back will ultimately lead you home, but you never know where the road in between will take you.  Writer Henry Miller once said “one’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”

 

 

Somewhere under the Rainbow, way below…there are cows.

And it’s always an adventure to see new things as well as check in with old friends and find out that everything and nothing has changed since you last saw them.

Le Panier at Pike Place Market is a must for pastries, or bread, or sandwiches, or…pretty much anything

Sweet!

Photos: d. king

Lifestyle: Living Little

minimalism.  What is it you really need in life to feel comfortable?

I’ve come to appreciate that what you really need to enjoy a comfy home environment is something very simple. Other than a solid roof over your head it comes down to a few basics…a comfortable bed, hot running water and elements that work. You can fill up your living space with all the extras you like, but if you don’t have the necessary comforts (if you’re not camping in a tent, that is) you won’t feel protected and secure. After that you can add in life’s little luxuries…smart TV, laptop, blow dryer, throw pillows, designer bags, etc.

I know this because it has become my living situation in Palm Springs for the past three months. I’ve downgraded but am happier for it.  And it’s like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders – only a small weight mind you.  And a weight I put there myself.  Because I wasn’t completely happy with staying in hotels (subject always to availability not to mention prices that go waaay up depending on what’s going on around town & on  weekends) and renting places (which by the way have become harder and harder to find not to mention the astronomical damage deposit fee you must leave although if you don’t wreck the place you’ll get back).  At first my husband and I ended up renting a townhouse with a lot more space but a lot less soul than what we now call part/time home.

view from the front at dusk

at sunrise

Last year when visiting Palm Springs and by an extremely pleasant turn of events (bumping into someone I know from Vancouver at a music venue who told me about this place) I discovered a small RV park very centrally located within a short walking distance to town center. With a clubhouse/pool/sauna/games room, etc. and a hiking mountain right behind the park and shops/restaurants closeby.  Bonus: tons of hummingbirds. Out of curiosity I phoned to see if any spots were available for a short stay to camp in the Eurovan this time around (in between vacating the condo rental & hotel).  They did not have anything available, however a park model RV came up for sale in a location I liked within the park so let’s just jump ahead here…I bought it.  It’s super comfy, everything works and the dogs especially love it.  You make the space your own. Each is different, some are very nice, others not.  I found that people customize to their personal liking .

patio

My husband had to fly back to Vancouver for appointments.  On a Westjet flight back to PS he sat next to an interesting woman with a female dog sitting on her lap.  It was the woman’s first visit to Palm Springs staying at her cousin’s gorgeous condo.  We ended up going for a dog walk and she came back to our pad.  She loved it and said if another came up for sale she wanted to buy it as a more affordable and perfect alternative to renting or buying a condo.  (Bonus: no property tax issues and withholding tax at time of sale.)

instead of a white picket fence, a white lattice fence which I put together myself

Apparently nothing had come up for sale in a long time and the park is usually booked up a year in advance. But to her good luck karma, a couple only two spots away from us decided they wanted to sell their lovely upgraded park model and travel elsewhere for a change.  All to say…we have a new neighbour! And Jack has a nice new little girlfriend.  Funny how things work out.

The outer surroundings where we’re located are something else – anything but minimal to counterbalance the lack of….more space.  The space is situated with a pleasant mountain view and privacy hedges (in between neighbours) and palm trees.  It has all the comforts of home.  I call it my pad-à-terre. I’ve found a very good nail place, hairdresser, tailor, dog groomer, fix-it phone guy, coffee shop and convenience store within short walking distance. You know, the other necessities of life!

outer surroundings

our daily River Walk – only a few short blocks away

The trailer itself is 350 sq. ft. of uncluttered liveable indoor space perfect for two (and a guest on occasion – there’s a pull-out sofabed) and another 400 sq. ft. of outdoor living space which is what I love the most. There are people who live here year round and others (travelers/snowbirds) who keep an RV here full time (because they like their assigned spot and want to secure the space) but only come a few months a year and the others rent space when available for days/weeks/months at a time. Park fees include garbage pick-up, electricity, cable, internet but not gas so we pay for propane. Otherwise, it is fully serviced.

another little outdoor lounge area

This one is going to be kept here year round, whether we come for one month or six.  It’s pretty simple living at it’s best. I have a bike to get around and the river walk a few blocks away to run & walk the dogs.  But I must say that if the weather wasn’t cooperative I’m not sure I could do this full-time.  Let’s just say that sunshine is a requirement for happiness!  All that Vitamin D is healthy for a person!

As it turns out I’ve discovered more about myself.  I like the simplicity of living light and having less stuff.  So maybe as the saying goes “less is more” hence the tiny houses movement right now. This is living large by comparison. Call it country chic, shabby chic or whatever…I find it to be  an excellent alternative to buying an expensive condo in the sun. It’s hassle free and in the worst case scenario if something happens I can…walk away.

It’s a bonus when the dogs match the outdoor carpet

Photos: 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

20170114_132908

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?
sedona2

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

LifeStyle: Little Island Living

I decided I like island life for a change of pace.

Kayakers near Salt Spring

Kayakers near Salt Spring – taken from the boat 

Not that my life is so hectic here in Vancouver but it’s just more laid back on a little island where it’s not so easy to escape.  You have to entertain yourself in other ways and learn to just relax.  The views are to blame.  You immediately feel chill when you have a view of the ocean.  You also have to plan better because where I stayed on Piers they have no stores, not even one grocery store, nada.  Which means if you run out of anything it’s a boat trip over to Victoria or Sydney or….any of the other multitude of tiny surrounding gulf islands that have provisions.  You have to be super organized. Once you have all that you need it’s amazing.fulford6fulford7

What I love most is there are no cars on Piers. The only way to reach it is by boat.  Which means the dogs can run free (except for the time Jack ran after a deer and was lost for a few hours when the sun went down) and the air is much fresher. It feels so much healthier. And you get to know your neighbours who are actually very interesting.  Infact it’s a good idea to get to know them anyway should you need anything.  And they’re so willing to help. Island people are friendlier and they make pies and jam and they can sing. The phone book for the tiny island of Piers is only two pages – a printout.  Quite funny actually.  You can walk around the whole island in one hour but there’s also great trails for hiking and amazing sunsets and sunrises.  Or you can just be.

Even Jack has started to kayak.

Even Jack has started to kayak.  He’s on the lookout for other canine kayakers.

Wonder why I thought Jamaica?

Wonder why I thought Jamaica? This is why – Fulford Village, Salt Spring Island

Helps if you have a hobby, are writing a book and can play an instrument, especially guitar.  Singing optional; but appreciated if good.  My friends friend played guitar after dinner then unexpectedly broke into song with another person and they were both amazingly talented.  He said “that’s nothing, sometimes there’s 12 people with mandolin and other instruments”.  A total musical experience.

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If you’re a writer you have the quiet.  If you’re a photographer there are many options. If you’re a nature lover you can kayak, walk through the trails or explore other islands.  Go from island to island as many do by kayak or boat.  Some have row boats.  So there we were.fulford13fulford3

At the south end of Salt Spring Island lies the little ferry dock at Fulford Harbour. It’s where we docked when a friend of mine took me and my out of town visitor for a boat ride.  We didn’t plan for it but ended up there.  I was only in Ganges before.  It was several years ago with another friend who had a place on Gabriola.  We ended up staying at a great B+B.  The proprietor served us homemade quince jam with baked goods for breakfast and I had never had that before.  We ended up going back to Gabriola with a bag of quince berries from her tree, bought some jars and made quince jam.  Lots of it.  Getting back to Fulford…fulford14

Selection of handmade cheeses

Selection of handmade cheeses and fresh art – all locally made

Walking around the village reminded me somewhat of Jamaica.  The slower pace to be specific but also the variety of quaint little shops that are Caribbean-like and the surprising number of amenities.  Sooo cute. Among other things they make really good cheeses and coffee which they now sell in many establishments all over British Columbia.

Photo: Masako

Photo: Masako  (Jack, watch out or you’ll get crabbed!).  On Piers Island

I love books (especially meaningful non-fiction) such as:

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fulford8fulford9

About Fulford:

fulford12Fulford is the first stop for the majority of visitors to Salt Spring. The village is located at the south of the island on the edge of Fulford Harbour. The ferry terminal for the Swartz Bay-Fulford Harbour (Victoria) run is located here. Although the Village of Ganges is bigger, Fulford has its own distinct charms. Make a point of exploring the area, which has a variety of shops, restaurants and accommodations. The Rock Salt Cafe on the water’s edge has recently been honoured by a listing in the prestigious guide “Where to Eat in Canada“. Organic coffee and baked goods are available from the fascinating Morning Side Bakery just up the street. The Fulford Pub is just a short distance from the village. A little past the pub you will find two of Salt Spring’s fine wineries. If you’re looking for some interesting shops stop in to Stuff & Nonsense and Jambala, where you find a wide variety of unique items. There are several Bed and Breakfast establishments here as well, should you decide to spend a few days.

Yes; I’m already feeling so stressed – I need to go back!

Sidenote: I came home with the best homemade strawberry jam from my friends strawberry bushes.  I think they should do a side business.  Seriously!.

Are you an island person?

Photos of Salt Spring at Fulford: d. king

Source (for About): out-there.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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food for Thought – Best Beaches

It’s officially barbeque season and even though I’m no authority on how to barbeque, I can manage a pretty mean homemade rub and barbeque sauce. But my thoughts are elsewhere right now.  It’s on cobalt water and wearing a white bikini while walking barefoot on white sand (in a perfect world). Long days and margaritas are part of the picture. Yes, I love culture and nature….

 borabora TAHITI.COM BEST FOR STRAIGHT-UP RELAXING: MATIRA BEACH (BORA BORA) Photo: Tahiti.com

BEST FOR STRAIGHT-UP RELAXING: MATIRA BEACH (BORA BORA) Photo: Tahiti.com

Museums are nice. Nature hikes have their place, But when it comes to vacation, I also want a beach, dammit. It’s not only for the pure beauty and relaxation,  there is so much to discover beneath the sea.

BEST FOR FUN AND GAMES: IPANEMA BEACH (RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL) Photo: AMRA/FLICK

BEST FOR FUN AND GAMES: IPANEMA BEACH (RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL)  There’s too much activity, beauty and *teensy bikinis at this photo-worthy stretch of sand. photo: amre/flickr

*Talk-show host Ellen said she flosses her teeth with more string than the bikinis.

Over time I snorkeled in the Philippines, Hawaii, French West Indies, Cayman Islands and the Red Sea; scuba dived in the Bahamas, Mexico and all over Jamaica. It was all I wanted to do for a long period of time.  I met lion fish, parrot fish, nurse sharks, sea turtles and almost everything in between and it was my favourite finding Nemo world. But I also got to appreciate that we need to protect – our vast eco system.

BEST FOR PEOPLE WATCHING: BAIE DE ST. JEAN (ST. BARTS, FRENCH WEST INDIES) photo: John M/flickr

BEST FOR PEOPLE WATCHING: BAIE DE ST. JEAN (ST. BARTS, FRENCH WEST INDIES).  See sunbathers plucked straight out of Vogue.  No, really! photo: John M/flickr

So on this post, nine vacation places in the world every sand-worshipper needs to take once in her lifetime.

 hawaii2 BRIAN HANCOCK/ FLICKR BEST FOR SWIMMING: LANIKAI BEACH (OAHU, HAWAII)

BEST FOR SWIMMING: LANIKAI BEACH (OAHU, HAWAII).  The name translates to “heavenly sea” – you’ll sea why!  Photo: Brian Hancock/flickr

 bondi IMPRESSIONS/GETTY IMAGES BEST FOR SURFING: BONDI BEACH (SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA) photo: Impressions/Getty Images

BEST FOR SURFING: BONDI BEACH (SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA) photo: Impressions/Getty Images

BEST FOR SUNSETS: CAPTIVA BEACH (CAPTIVA ISLAND, FLORIDA)

BEST FOR SUNSETS: CAPTIVA BEACH (CAPTIVA ISLAND, FLORIDA) photo: Ray Terril/flickr

Set just off Florida’s Fort Myers beach, Captiva is known for its jaw-dropping sunsets, due to its westward-facing direction and unobstructed horizon toward the Gulf of Mexico. When visiting my uncle I ran here with my dog Jia Jia at sunset. Ahhh those days….

PARAISO BEACH (TULUM, MEXICO)

BEST FOR EXPLORING, FOR KIDS AND IGUANA SPOTTING: PARAISO BEACH (TULUM, MEXICO) photo: Christopher Gonzales/flickr

This hippy-bohemian beach enclave on the Mayan Riviera is a family-friendly town that offers hotels and all-inclusives at every budget. The beach, less crowded than those of nearby Cancun, has soft, white sand and water so clear and calm, you can see tiny fish swimming by. (It’s also pretty close to the Mayan ruins of Tulum, if that interests any budding historians in your brood.) I’ve been here twice – this beach ruined me!

BEST FOR SNORKELING: HONDA BAY (PALAWAN, PHILIPPINES)

BEST FOR SNORKELING: HONDA BAY (PALAWAN, PHILIPPINES) photo: Caryl Joan Estrosas/flickr

If you love snorkeling in the Caribbean, you owe yourself a trip to this hidden paradise, nicknamed the Philippines’ last frontier. Arguably the best site for swimming and diving in the world, the aquamarine waters of Palawan are home to over 1,600 species of fish. You’ll see everything from starfish and seahorses to sea turtles and sea cows (that don’t say “Moo”).

BEST FOR INSTAGRAMING: PRAIA DONA ANA (LAGOS, PORTUGAL) Thanks to yellow cliffs and jutting rock formations, this place is pretty much impossible t

BEST FOR INSTAGRAMMING: PRAIA DONA ANA (LAGOS, PORTUGAL) photo: Benito Sevilleja/flickr

Notes:

OK, a Bora Bora trip probably doesn’t come cheap, but I’m told there is seriously no better spot for romantic relaxing than secluded Matira Beach. The only public beach on the island, Matira stretches from the Hotel Bora Bora to Matira Point. Think: palm trees, thatched-roof huts and translucent water. At low tide, you can even wade right out to the coral reefs.

I’m thinking, I’m thinking…..

 

 

 

 

An Inspiring morning of  Fun, Fitness, Flowers & Friends.

You can’t ask for much more than raising awareness for a good cause while getting exercise in fresh air in an unbelievably elegant, artful environment.

L-R Kasseda, Cher, Wendy, Me (with candy in both pockets), Hannah, Colleen, Stacy

L-R Casseda, Cher, Wendy, Debbie (both pockets full of candy), Hannah, Colleen, Stacey

That’s what happened yesterday morning when I met up with friends at Vancouver’s magnificent VanDusen Botanical Gardens to support our mutual good friend Colleen Kohse. Colleen is the oldest living person (with the youngest spirit) with CF in all of Canada to have received a transplant.

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

Colleen is a miracle and a true inspiration to everyone because she doesn’t take life for granted.  She’s lost too many friends and two young siblings to this fatal genetic disease which primarily affects the lungs and digestive system in mostly young adults and children of which there is no cure.

Come this October it will be 28 years that I first met Colleen, just before she left for London, England to receive a heart/lung transplant.  But we didn’t get to really know each other until after that.  We’ve been friends for years and have travelled together to places like Jamaica, Havana, Florida, Savannah, Ga, Charleston, S.C., New Orleans, California and even a short Caribbean cruise out of Miami.  Always fun. Colleen is lucky to have the most wonderful, supportive family.

The morning started with a breakfast of pancakes & sausages, then dancing to warm up the crowd followed by a very pleasant walk through the most exquisite park to raise money to help find a cure for CF.  There were also fun great silent auction items.  I ended up with 2 out of the 3 items that I placed bids on.

 VanDusen Botanical Gardenvanduesen1

You will be inspired by 22 hectares of well-designed landscapes with plant species representing ecosystems ranging from the Himalayas to the Mediterranean, from Louisiana swamps to the Pacific Northwest.

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

Vancouver’s mild climate makes it possible for plants to bloom year-round – so there is always something wonderful to see. Our climate creates a unique environment where plants from varying climates thrive. At VanDusen you will see plants from the southern hemisphere, tropical areas and the high Arctic tundra alongside native species. Seasonal highlights include: Spring — bulbs, cherry trees, azaleas and rhododendrons; Late Spring — Laburnum Walk and roses; Summer — annuals, perennials and water lilies; Late Summer – wild flower meadow and the Heirloom Vegetable Garden; Autumn – brilliant autumn colour, heathers, perennials; Winter — witchhazels, viburnums and hellebores. The Elizabethan Maze is one of only six in North America. In addition to the plant collections, VanDusen’s eco-sphere is home to numerous fauna – small mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles and insects. During the course of the year 65 species of birds make the Garden their home, either permanently or as a respite on their annual migrations.

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

It’s a must-see if you plan to visit Vancouver.

To find out more about CF please visit: www.cysticfibrosis.ca

VanDusen website: http://vandusen.org/

Plant Info: Tourism Vancouver