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

Monday Mood Board #1

Worthy places to see, travel, eat, play, love.  Things to do, wear, enjoy, laugh at + inspire.  IDEAS of the moment…things to cheer you up on a MOODY MONDAY!

Scent of a Woman:

NEW Perfume Museum in Paris

As if Paris isn’t magical enough….

If Willy Wonka made perfume instead of chocolates, his factory would look just like the Grand Musée du Parfum, the new museum of perfume in Paris. Because of course there’s a perfume museum in Paris…and it’s absolutely dreamy. You will step into an unforgettable experience of sense, emotion, pleasure, and understanding.

Located in a stunning Parisian mansion previously owned by Christian Lacroix, the scent-driven exhibits encourage visitors to sniff their way through a far more fragrant culture and history lesson than you probably would have ever imagined—did you know Cleopatra and Louis XIV used scent to woo their lovers?  Now you do.

ITHAA UNDERSEA RESTAURANT AT CONRAD MALDIVES RANGALI ISLAND: MALDIVES

Just in case you need yet another reason to add the Maldives to your list of swoon-worthy vacation destinations, check out this totally unique dining experience. Guests are taken 16 feet below the ocean’s surface to a glass-domed restaurant where they sample fresh Maldivian-Western fusion dishes—all while enjoying panoramic views of marine life. Just don’t look in Flounder’s eye before you take a bite.  And hope the ceiling doesn’t cave in!

Chic Peek – Street Style

I like what she’s wearing.  Classic white blouse with a dash of glitter & panache.  Very pulled together in an elegant, effortless (so it appears) way.  She looks interesting. And those shoes!

Inspiration: Pure Wow

 

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

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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?