Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Cruise with a View….part one
October 20, 2017

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Although I’d sailed in 1966 on an older ship from Canada to England, I’d never been on a cruise. This ocean cruise was a whole different cup of tea. It was a seven-day cruise leaving from Long Beach, CA with two stops in Mexico: Cabos San Lucas (two days) and a stop in Puerto Vallarta for a day with two sea days back to Long Beach port.

We were lucky to have been asked to join a family of a friend, and together we travelled with a composition of  slightly over two thousand guests and close to nine hundred crew members. All from many walks of life, countries, backgrounds and mind sets. The goal of Carnival Cruise Lines was to arrange and create something from this mix, and forge a unified whole from the hearth using the sun and fun. Our purpose was to enjoy ourselves.

To me, more than the surface aspect of cruising, this trip was a snapshot into humanity as it surrounds us. It became a metaphor for learning and my view of that metaphor.

Upon arriving to embark, I was totally impressed with the boarding agents and their efficiency. Adding to this, was the beauty of the ship, how clean everything was and the friendliness of the crew we encountered.

Our cabin was roomy, (photo of Joe included) with an efficient bathroom, super comfortable beds  and this towel art, which changed daily:

 

Every time there was a new towel art figure in our room, it conjured up childhood memories to me. Remembering the warmth I felt when mom would wrap a towel around me when I got out of the bath. Memories of long gone pets. Memories from when my parents took me to the zoo. Feelings of softness, warmth and love during my up bringing. Such a simple gesture with the power to make me appreciate how fortunate I am.

There was a mailbox outside the cabin door for events and notices, and inside on the wall were cards for room service, non disturbance and our service team for the cabin. About this time, there was an announcement that lunch would be served on the Lido Deck until 3:30pm, so we headed in that direction. Our suitcases and bags would arrive later.

We took the stairs up eight fights so we could see some of the ship. Art pieces hung on each landing and there were art glass pieces encased behind protection in the corners.

When we reached the Lido deck, and the multiple eating areas and restaurants, it seemed we had joined all of the other two thousand guests. We had to wait a bit to get a table before we could look around and choose something to eat. I found out by the end of the cruise, that the first and last eating sessions on a ship are completely full and bring out the best and worst in people. This was my introduction to some of the unpleasant traits of human nature: excess and greed.

We secured a table, and as we waited for the rest of our group to join us, I watched as plates piled high with food passed us. Endless food of all descriptions: pot roast, chicken and fish (fried, roasted or grilled), vegetarian, vegetable and starch selections, fresh fruit, regular and gluten-free breads and meals, deli sandwiches, smoked salmon plates, pizzas, wraps, burgers, hot dogs, roast pork, pastas, multiple ethnic including Chinese food, salad bar selections, dessert plates, beverages and more. Too many to list.

After everyone arrived at our table we took turns getting food so as not to lose the table. As I passed other tables I couldn’t help but notice all of the half eaten food plates left behind, as the same people were digging into another plate piled high. Waiters were busy picking up plates with left-overs, that never seemed to end. And, as soon as the waiters had cleared these, replacement plates were piled up faster than they could pick-up. It was organized insanity.

I didn’t know if the factor that drove this phenomena was (a) it was free, (b) guests felt they paid for the food, therefore everything was game on, (c) guests who might not have had an opportunity in the past to try some of these choices had the opportunity now, and they tried some new things, didn’t like what they tried and left the rest, or (d) didn’t care. Judging by the amount of waste I saw, I grouped it under the former heading of excess and greed. I added waste.

(After having been in the food and hospitality business for over forty-five years, I didn’t have any food on the ship that wasn’t good, great or exceptional, in taste, quality and eye appeal. As a matter of fact it left me feeling spoiled and appreciative).

 

After lunch, we went back to the cabin to see if our luggage had arrived. It hadn’t, so we took time out to explore the ship.

I didn’t take photos of everything that was available to guests on our ship. There was a full gym (I used the stairs instead….which turned out to be not enough exercise for the weight I gained) on two levels with a full spa, steam and sauna. Water slide, exclusive over 21 areas, multiple pools for children and adults with their own food and drink bars, basketball court, ping-pong, miniature golf, whirlpools, private decks, library, art gallery, games room, many cocktail lounges, extra pay dining rooms, the four-story theatre and arts center, 24/7 fresh sushi bar, coffee bars, the comedy club, piano bar, the disco/nightclub, casino and on and on. Along with the numerous function areas, there were daily activities, directed by an excellent cruise director.

 

For the guests, this vessel seemed on the outside, to be a self-contained floating city of fun and excitement. An escape from reality that could possibly solve some of their problems in life, even be it for a week. I found the Carnival crew went out of their way to try to fulfil the needs of every guest and make them feel like each and everyone of them was the most important person on earth. That in itself was an insurmountable task. People end up bringing their individual worlds with them. Worlds of inner pain that keep surfacing outwardly through action, deed or expression of self. Overhearing conversations as we participated in activities on board made this apparent. I’ve always felt, that inner pain, is just a lack of love on some level. This vessel and it’s amenities were the temporary compensation being used to fill this ache that never seems to disappear.

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Our first stop was Cabos San Lucas. Carnival brought in ‘tenders’ to take us to shore. We didn’t sign up for the excursions that were available on board. We wanted to take our chances on shore to see what we could experience.

We were surrounded with options when we reached the shore for scuba diving, glass bottom boats, deep-sea fishing and private boat tours to El Arco and End Rock. The on board Carnival tour was $35/person, but we ended up accepting a private tour for $11/person.

 

There is a photo here of ‘Last Rock’ with a sea-lion perched on top of the rock. At first we thought it was a statue, but as we got closer and we circled the area, the sea lion would change its pose. We were all laughing because the sea loin did it for all the boats that approached.. Major ham and great entertainment. He should be paid for all the photos that were taken of him.

Afterwards we walked the main boardwalk and stopped in at a couple of places, one being Senor Frogs. Lot’s of fun and the hot chips and salsa made the beers go down easier.

We had to be back on the ship by 4:00pm because it would cruise the coast during the night and come back in the morning for the second day where we’d have from 7:00am till 3:00pm on shore again if we wanted. We went back to the ship, got cleaned up and waited in a lounge for everyone to arrive before we went into the dining room for our dinner.

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I found the dinner meals exceptional. As Trump would say, ‘tremendous’ selection, and it was different every night. Always six or seven appetizers to choose from, a ‘unique item’ like veal tongue, or frog legs or rabbit, etc., plus a selection from the grill with assorted sauces, or two vegetarian meals and a selection of six or seven desserts. Hence, the added pounds when I stepped on the scales at home.

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Road Trip……..day 6, final day
October 6, 2017

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Just north of Barstow on I-15 we pulled off the road to see Calico Ghost Town. It was an old silver mine from the 1800s. There is a few tours you can take that lead you underground (reminds me of Echo Bay Mines at Port Radium, Canada where I worked for five years), and through different mining operations from that time.

From here we headed through the Morongo and Yucca Valleys home. Our total mileage 1554 miles or about 300 miles a  day. We wanted to see as much as we could in the time allotted. Some areas I would definitely return to and spend the whole time in that place. It’s always nice to be home when you get there. Just recognizing another sign of appreciation when you open the door to home.

Road Trip……..day five
October 6, 2017

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After the continental breakfast included by the hotel, and frost on the car windows, we were on the road by 7:00am. Even though it was only 42 degrees when we left Mammoth, we wore shorts and a T-shirt because we knew the day would be much warmer in the valley below. Overall  the day temperature was a comfortable mid nineties. We passed Mammoth Lakes, Bishop, Big Pine, Independence, Lone Pine and entered Death Valley. Most of the roads we’ve travelled on this trip were either in great shape or newly paved this year. I really enjoyed the topography, ups and downs, ascending and descending from all the different elevations. Our first stop was Father Crowley Point. The view from here was vast and endless with an empty simplicity. Most noticeably, there was an incredible quiet.

Next stop was Stovepipe Wells Village, where we stopped for lunch. Two bread sandwiches (oh, forgot there was a paper-thin slice of meat in it), and a coke came to $18.00. Sitting on the rocking chairs on the porch, outside the general store and eating the sandwiches though, made the experience……actually fun.

After lunch, we headed for Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes (reminded me of the sand dunes on Gran Canaria, Canary Islands where we’d go and slide down on the dunes on our backs or stomach….I was 17, and much younger then) and the Harmony Borax Works.

After this, we headed for Furnace Creek Visitor Center, but being a Sunday it was closed. Next destination the Devil’s Golf Course. The landscape looks like a golfer had left thousands of divots strewn over a few thousand acres. These divots are mostly composed of salt deposits. I took a close-up photo of one below.

Badwater Basin was next on our list.

Artist’s Drive is a one-way road through the mountains that looks like it has been painted with hues of red, green, blue, rust and purples. There are steep dips and turns on the road and Disneyland modelled their car ride in California Adventure after this Drive. This Artist’s Drive is much longer and four times the fun. The scenery of the mountains and colors are outstanding and even breath-taking at some points. Our photos don’t do it justice. A real must do if you get out this way.

Just after this drive we headed back to the main road. Shortly after the junction on the main road, there is the historic Oasis Hotel. It is undergoing a major renovation at this time. It is in the middle of no-where and looks like a mirage oasis brought down from heaven. Exotic palms and trees were being planted around the site and it’s a stark contrast to the landscape. It is going to be the place to stay when it is finished. The photo below is the way it looked before the renovation.

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Moving on, our next destination was Zabriskie Point.

After this we were going to go to 20 Mule Team Canyon, but the road in was long and not in good shape (very rough gravel). Not worth the damage it might do to the car. So, we headed to our last Death Valley site; Dante’s View. It’s a long way to the top with hair-pin curves and a steep incline. When you get to the top, all you can smell is the burnt rubber and hot oil from vehicles engines.

This ended our stay in Death Valley. We were heading east now to Death Valley Junction and the Amargosa Opera House. It has a long history and I’ve borrowed the link from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amargosa_Opera_House_and_Hotel

Our final destination for the trip is Pahrump, Arizona. We headed east and arrived around 5:00pm. We figured we’d stay at one of the casino hotels, have a good meal and head back to Palm Springs tomorrow. Below is a chuck wagon outside our room in the courtyard and a photo of inside the casino.

 

 

 

 

 

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Road Trip…….day three
October 3, 2017

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Coffee was all we needed on our third day start. We left the hotel and hopped on the 101 North. We wanted to make it to the Bixby Creek Bridge, Big Sur, Monterey and Carmel. From there we’d head east to Merced and stay the night there, so we’d be able to have an early start to Yosemite on the following morning.

 

 

The Central Valley is just amazing. Our route took us through Atascadero, Paso Robles, King City, Greenfield and to Salinas. There were endless fields of every vegetable, nut-tree, fruit tree and vineyard. Just knowing that it supplies over half of all the nuts, vegetables and fruits for the United States is reason enough to be in awe. And we just take it for granted. It gave me great respect and appreciation for such a fragile commodity, just driving through this area. The fields and orchards are an endless sea of beauty. And although, there are plenty of opportunities to take in wine tastings at the many numerous vineyards, we’re saving that for another trip when that will be the main focus.

At Salinas, we headed west towards the ocean. By passing Carmel and Monterey for now, until we returned. We headed to our furthest North destination, the Bixby Creek bridge and Big Sur. Big Sur is as far as we could go on the coastal road because of the landside that removed the road further up, earlier this year.

 

With a short stop in Big Sur we headed back to Carmel, the Seventeen Mile Drive through Pebble Beach and the Del Monte Forest.

 

Pebble Beach and its famous homes and golf courses are everything you can imagine wealth can bring. Partial views of private mansions hugging the ocean, equestrians on horseback, golfers on the pristine links and beautiful hotels and people make this area all that is written about it real, but distant, at the same time. Got money? We stopped at the Point Pinos Lighthouse for thirty minutes, and listened to volunteers tell us its very interesting history and current use.

 

Ending up close to Monterey, we travelled into the beach area for a bite to eat. We found Lalla Grill, a contemporary waterfront restaurant in Cannery Row. There were breathtaking views of the ocean and surroundings, including a cruise ship moored just off the coast, from the front windows where we were seated.  We treated ourselves to lobster and shrimp rolls. Sounds better than it tasted. The Mornay sauce on the seafood masked the delicate taste and overpowered the lobster and shrimp. A simple lemon butter sauce would have been better. But it was a much-needed break from the long drive so far. By 3:30pm, we were on our way west towards Merced.

Not very good photos, but wanted to remember the unbelievable prices of fruits and vegetables from stands along the roads. We saw large Haas avocados, 6/$1.00, a whole flat of giant strawberries for $10.00 , corn, 6/$1.00, and on and on.

With traffic and only a two lane highway, we ended up at our destination of Merced, four hours later at 7:45pm. This began our one night stay at the Motel (6) From Hell.

Bordered by a one way street in front (next to the freeway) and the loading docks of Costco in the rear of the building, we finally found the entrance to the motel, hidden behind a Carl’s Jr. parking lot. Not yet dismayed, we checked in and asked for a room as far away from the freeway as possible. The manager accommodated us by putting us in the inner courtyard, next to the pool. We weren’t hungry so we settled in and watched a little local TV before bedding down.

It wasn’t long before we were woken by the sounds of someone in the room above us making loud sex, accompanied by the freeway traffic noise. This went on for a while, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, until there was a sudden stop in the noise. And then, a huge THUD on the ceiling above us. One or both had fallen out of bed. It was a Friday night and people have to have fun. Things seemed to quiet down upstairs after this and we heard them discussing getting some ice.  Their door opened and closed loudly, and one person left to get ice.

Now there was a new noise….a train going 90 miles an hour with its whistle blowing. Who knew there were train tracks next to the freeway. It sounded like it was coming right through our room. The trains continued into the night about one every half hour, mixed with the arrival of eighteen wheelers at the loading dock of Costco. Every hour there were the soft sounds of the beep, beep, beep, beep as they backed their trucks into position.

The gentleman returned to the room above us (let’s call him Sam) with ice, but the door was locked. He knocked, but there was no answer. He knocked again, and still no answer. Then we heard “Ruth open the door”. Still no answer. Continued knocking with phrases like, “Ruth please open the door”, and “Ruth, open the door”. Then Sam began to bang on the door, “Come on Ruth, open the f**king door”, and shortly afterwards saying, “Ruth, sweetie, please open the door”. “Ruth, don’t be an a**hole”. “Open this f**king door”. Their next door neighbor upstairs, then came out, a lady with the sweetest voice and she tried to get Ruth to open the door. No luck. Then Sam threatens to get the manager to open the door. Still no luck. Along with the above phrases and some worse ones, accompanied with pounding and kicking on the door, an hour and a half passed. Finally, Sam got the manager (3:30am) to open the door and there was no Ruth.

We managed to get a couple hours of sleep. The trains and eighteen wheelers had subsided and the freeway now sounded life a soft muffle. The saving grace? We found a GREAT Denny’s (who knew?) a block away where we had a breakfast special, great service and coffee and was just a block from the freeway entrance to Yosemite.

Road Trip…..day two
September 29, 2017

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We woke up early and had the continental breakfast that came with the room. This was the Ramada and I’d stay here again. Very quiet structure (cement floors), close enough to the freeway without the noise, comfortable room and only about a mile and a half walk to the downtown area. We booked all of our hotels ahead of time and also our tours of Hearst Castle, which would take up most of today. We booked three tours. Two in the morning with a break for lunch and then an afternoon tour of the cottages, kitchen and wine cellar. The tours are not cheap ($200.00 total) and when we were checking in at the Visitor Center, a person next to me said “I don’t have a reservation, could I get a tour?’ The response was “We’re sorry, but we’re fully booked for the day.” That’s what happened to me in 1984 when I first arrived in California, and I tried to see the castle. Still a busy place.

We drove straight to the castle (the scenery and ocean views along the way were stunning), by passing Cambria, Morrow Bay and Morrow Rock. We will do those on the way back from the castle. We didn’t want to lose our reservation. After checking in, we were guided to the bus loading area, and we boarded for the twelve-minute ride to the castle. Our first tour was the Grand Room, Dining , main rooms adjacent and the Theatre.

The guide we had made the whole tour. About 50 people were on this first tour, and he waited until all of us were together before he would start talking about the history and details of each room, who the guests were (all the famous people from the 20’s, 30’s & 40’s), and savory stories that accompanied them. He allowed us to ask questions, he made us laugh and overall we learned so much about Mr. Hearst and his life and how the castle came to be. The tour ended with a movie taken from clips at the castle and made the whole experience truly memorable. After the tour, our guide extended an invitation to explore the rest of the grounds before we took our bus ride back down the hill. However, we had to make our way back to the bus drop off location to start our next tour.

Our second tour was for the second and part of the third floors of the castle. This included Hearst’s private study/office, the library and numerous guest rooms with all of their art and antiques. Our guide for this tour was not as exceptional as our first guide. As she led us through the maze, she would begin talking before all of us were in the room. She was less than enthusiastic about telling us any details and the ones she did mention on a piece of artwork (“this is a fleur de lys and is French, or this is an olive leaf and it’s Italian”) I’m sure were told to us to make us think she knew what she was talking about. She mumbled, didn’t ask if we had questions and her memories of events that had happened in the castle amounted to her meeting Elizabeth Taylor and Mel Gibson. Near the end of our tour she looked at her watch and said; “We have just enough time for me to show you one more thing”. She pointed to some stairs and said “Go down this stairway and I’ll meet you”. It was the last we ever saw of her. We all went down the stairs and waited while she never showed up. Basically she showed us ‘the door’. I think it’s time some one did it to her.

By the end of this tour, we had just one hour to go back down the hill, have a bite to eat and then head back to the castle for our final tour of the kitchen, guest cottages and wine vault. At the visitor center we went to their cafeteria where they serve Hearst grass fed beef and other items from the ranch. The food we ordered was great, but they had only one cashier on and the line-up to pay was so long, all of our food went cold before we could eat it. It took so long for people to cash out it left us with only 7-10 minutes to gobble everything down and head back to the bus loading.

Our third tour guide was efficient, but she had a sense about her that made us feel…. “When will this end?”. And so we began our tour of the first construction on the site, which were the cottages. Each cottage was named for the view it entertained: House of the Sea, House of the Sun and House of the Mountains. They were the main residences of the Hearst’s and guests like Winston Churchill during the early years, while the main castle was being built. None had kitchens as everyone was required to eat together (a Hearst rule). One of the most surprising aspects to these cottages and the main castle were the bathrooms, which for the 20’s were as modern as we have them today. Hearst even experimented in these cottages with ideas like seven shower heads and ideas he used later on in the castle.

The last part of this tour were the kitchen(s) and the wine vault. Being in the cooking field for over 45 years I would have given almost anything to work in or even have a kitchen like this. For when it was built it is absolutely amazing and modern.

After the kitchen, we were taken to the basement to view the wine vaults. The photos say it all. It held over 7000 bottles of fine and rare wines.

The photos below were of a sarcophagus (Roman above ground tomb), the Neptune Pool (under construction…it was leaking 5000 gallons of water a day…now sealed and ready for the marble replacement), the indoor Roman Pool, tennis courts above the Roman Pool and the view of the hillside coming down to the Visitor Center.

 

This ended our tours for Hearst Castle and we headed back towards Cambria and our home base San Luis Obispo.

Cambria is a quaint seaside city hugging the coastline with numerous accommodations available and some wonderful restaurants and shops. We stopped for a few photos, but had to move on for timing purposes to Morrow bay and Morrow Rock.

After Morrow Bay, we headed back to the outskirts of San Luis Obispo. To finish our daylight hours, we passed our freeway exit and the Ramada and stopped at the famous Madonna Inn. It’s filled with surrealist items and construction. We sat at the bar and ordered ourselves a glass of wine each and took in the uniqueness before heading back to our hotel.

It was about 7:00pm when we got back to the hotel. We took a small break and freshened up. Then we walked over the freeway bridge to downtown and the Mission. We lucked out again. As we approached downtown, we could hear all of this music filling the air. It was Thursday and we found out, like Palm Springs, they have a street fair Thursday evenings. The street fair here has a vibrancy that we are missing in Palm Springs, but I think it is because of the youth factor. The streets and shops here, which remind me of Old Town Pasadena are filled with boutique shops and a population of young and old….heavier on the young side. GREAT Energy! They have a creek that runs parallel to the main street (which was closed for the fair) where you can dine Creek Side. Very charming and romantic with the night lighting. Lots of people milling about and all seemed carefree and happy. We searched out another attraction called ‘Bubble Gum Alley’ and found it. You can see from the photos why it has its name. After that we walked up and down the fair and enjoyed all of the excitement. Lots of musicians…guitar players, violinists, a group of about 12 students all doing percussion only, and many others too numerous to mention. One food kiosk stretched almost a half block and the servers for it made you feel like you were part of a movie with their antics, acting and fun-loving attitude. Great job! By this time, I wanted something small to eat to tie me over till morning. And I wanted to sit down away from all the commotion. We found a place called NOVO. A wonderful restaurant which I can honestly say gave me the best Lamb Salad I’ve ever eaten in my life. The flavors took me back to the Mediterranean. Every spice and flavor was balanced to perfection. Amazing: www.novorestaurant.com.

After this we headed back to the Ramada for some shut-eye and the start for our third day tomorrow.

Road Trip…..day one
September 28, 2017

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As long as I’ve lived here in California, I really haven’t seen too much of its landscape or it’s ‘being’. Last week Eberhard and I took time out ( six days) and travelled around Southern California. Each day began around 6:00am and we travelled or ‘experienced’ until 8 or 9:00pm. Instead of trying to find radio stations to listen to along the way, we took some of our favorite CD’s from the 70’s and 80’s for memory flashbacks. As it happened, Ventura Freeway by the Eagles began to play just as we hit the sign over the freeway. Looks like a trip with synchronicity.

 

Our first stop was Ojai. I’d never been to Ojai and I’d always wanted to go. I heard it was a spiritual center and artist community. It’s a small town nestled in-between  mountains with a Spanish-style arcade and bell tower with a pergola across the street. We walked the downtown area and stopped for a bite to eat. Noticeably there were lots of organic choices from fruits, vegetables and olive oils, all locally supplied. Interesting artwork in the stores and a soft humbleness to the people we encountered. All were very warm, friendly and helpful.

After lunch we travelled out-of-town to an olive oil ranch. Ojai Olive Oil Company is a family owned ( Asquith family ) extra virgin olive oil producer in the east valley of Ojai. They offer tours, sampling and a really informative history of the valley and it’s products. We were greeted quite warmly by Mimi and she spent a few hours enlightening us to the olive trees, olives, growing techniques, right up to the final production of their olive oil. It’s the best I’ve ever tasted, with an extra fine light body, mellowness and smooth silkiness missing in pseudo brands and blends. Their whole story can be read online at http://www.ojaioliveoil.com. Worth the experience and a shopping trip.

From Ojai, we headed back to the freeway and our next stop, Santa Barbara. I had been here three times previously, as had Eberhard, so we mostly wanted to see things we’d missed on our previous trips: The Old Mission Santa Barbara with its history, and a return to the main peer. We were given the background of the Mission and its connections to all of the other Spanish Missions established in California. This one which is in current use by the Franciscan Friars. The video, museum rooms, cemetery and Sacred Garden kept us busy for a few hours.

Solvang was our next stop after Santa Barbara. Another city I had heard so much about and wanted to see. We arrived in the picturesque town and it was like stepping into Scandinavia. All of the buildings were Danish in style with bakeries, restaurants and merchants offering you a taste of Denmark. Replicas from Denmark dotted the city and as we approached our first bakery, we stepped in to have a Danish (of course) and coffee. We only ate two Danish (buy 2 get one free) and the last one we saved for the following morning. We lucked out because they had a farmers market going on while we were there and spent time looking at all the great food and products.

Since it was getting late, we made for the freeway again and to our final destination for the night; San Luis Obispo. We’re staying here for two nights and using it as a base for tomorrow’s excursions. Santa Maria and Pismo Beach were just short stays on our way to San Luis Obispo.

Bringing The Ocean To The Desert
July 13, 2017

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Artwork I just finished.

Lost
March 7, 2016

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It’s difficult to feel ‘up’ all the time. Everyday life keeps us so mind ridden, we forget who we really are. It’s important to ‘let go’ sometimes. The easiest way to do this is to change your thoughts. Afterall, it’s your thoughts that took you to where you are now.

A friend told me during his exercise routine, he forgets the exercise and mentally goes to the Bahamas.

In mundane tasks, a mental trip can be all you need to ‘escape’.

It’s like you’re in a whole new world.

Still lost, but free.

Conditions
March 22, 2014

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Criteria for acceptance.

Like we need it.

We surround ourselves with life and it’s incumbrances and then someone comes along and places conditions upon us.

I begin to dance and I feel a presence around me. I look to see where it is coming from and there is only one person.

She appears nonchalant, but she is aware. I embrace the connection and my heart chakra comes ‘on”. It intensifies. She pretends not to notice, but she is aware. We’re both enjoying the connection. Her partner is totally un-aware.

She’s infused. He’s not.

I move from the stream and become one with the music. I see silly get-ups that pretend to be special. Lacking in any energy, they fall short of their expectations.

Lisa drives me home. I don’t feel like walking. She’s searching for fulfilment, like all of us. I give her encouragement, wishing her the best.

Unless we search inwardly, instead of outwardly with falsehoods, it’s never going to happen.

Traditions
September 9, 2010

The trade winds are blowing, and as the air passes over your skin it feels like velvet. It encases you in a paradise of the senses. A short burst of rain called a blessing shower on the sunlit street is followed by a rainbow of immense proportions and a heady floral perfume. You’re surrounded by unending beauty, exotic flora and immense expanses of blue, indigo, sea and sky. Welcome to Hawaii.

For the last seven or eight years, this has been our tradition. An extended Labor Day weekend in paradise. Craig meets us at our hotel with gifts of white ginger and jasmine leis. Their smells are so intoxicating that other guests checking in at the hotel want to experience their enchantment too. They grab our leis and pull them close to their noses. The first timers look sad and feel left out.

We arrive with no agenda except to have a series of unending moments to relax and rest. We have seen most of the attractions on the islands and this trip is for ‘now’. The past two months have left me drained and worn out. My energy is on low and to make matters worse my weakness allowed a summer cold to take hold of me, one day before we left for this trip. With total exhaustion, I really thought I had nothing left to give after clients consumed every ounce of energy from me these past weeks. Then, because they never stopped asking, I ended up giving more. I felt ready to drop to my knees by the time we had left work. I needed this break.  Just to recover.

After getting our room, we changed and made plans to visit our favorite place for a welcome drink and take in some new energy. Laughter, tales and more laughter filled our evening. The view from this balcony overlooking  Hawaii and past memories, brought me great solace. With the time change, I faded quickly and left Eberhard and Craig to reminisce and hit the dance bar next door. I went back to our hotel room and crashed.

The next morning I woke early. I was feeling my flu’s worst symptoms. I showered and went downstairs for a few supplies from the local ABC store. Since we were three-hours ahead, I thought I would check voicemail at work. There were already messages. All demanding this and that, even though we had posted announcements that the office was closed, weeks in advance. I couldn’t deal with it at this time. My throat sore and almost closed and a hoarse cough every few moments, all I could manage was to take some medicine I had bought. I saved the messages and climbed back into bed.  I fell back into a deep, deep sleep. We woke around noon and went to another tradition. I know it sounds silly but this one is Denny’s. Most reasonable on the island for the best value and service. Steak and eggs. Feed a cold they say. Afterwards, we made our way to the beach and walked along Waikiki, letting the ocean and sand squeeze between our toes. I mentioned to Eberhard how good it felt to be away. I could feel my soul beginning to breathe again. By the time we had finished our walk, I was exhausted again. We headed back to the hotel and climbed back into bed. One more power nap and I woke at 3:30pm. I re-checked messages from work. Many more were there, all last-minute. All in panic mode. Emails were just as many and just as frantic. Over the next two hours I filled the unending void of neediness till the weekend encased all those on the other end of the phone and emails.

The sleep had helped ease some of my flu symptoms. Tonight we would take in a few more traditions and tomorrow we were planning our first catamaran sailing. However, as good as my intentions were, I didn’t last long into the evening. I headed home early for more rest. I woke the next morning feeling the best I had felt since I arrived. We met up with Craig and walked to where we’d catch our catamaran. When we got there, we found out that the tickets were sold out a week in advance. Next year we will book on-line early before we leave. It can be a new tradition. We filled the last few days with beach hugging, eye candy and small pleasures like another favorite restaurant with lobster and crab.

Our trip always ends with the Halekulani Hotel. The night before we head back to the mainland, we always meet here around 5:00pm for cocktails, appetizers and the show the hotel puts on for the guests. It’s my favorite of all the traditions. We treat whomever is with us and spend a few hours here for the experience. This year was no exception. While the trio was taking their break and guests were trying to catch the ‘green flash’ as the sun sets on the ocean, we met two new friends. We took photos for them and likewise. They made arrangements to join our table and we sat and got to know each other better. By the end of our time together, they had invited us to San Francisco, Bali for one of their fortieth birthdays in November and then paid our tab. Craig said it was payback karma for all the years we’d done before.

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