It’s Spring! Bouquets to Art…

Sometimes when one is so focused on where to go next in this big, huge world, we lose sight of things close to home. A saying uttered by Dorothy Gale in the Wizard of Oz comes to mind when she was asked a question, “What did you learn?” by Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. Dorothy replied “when looking for your hearts desire, sometimes you don’t have to look further than your own back yard.” That being said, I’m sharing with you something I found in my own back yard. Even though it’s a bit overcast today in San Francisco, here is a way that a local museum is celebrating the arrival of Spring.

For the last 33 years, the DeYoung Museum has hosted an amazing event working in collaboration with more than 120 of the most in-demand floral designers from the Bay Area and beyond, who are tasked with drawing inspiration for their floral arrangements from the permanent collection of art in the museum.

IMG_8194 Continue reading “It’s Spring! Bouquets to Art…”

It’s All About the Light…Maui Plein Air Invitational Event

It’s always a great time to go to Maui, but February is one of the best times to go.  It’s the time when a lot of people are escaping the harsh, cold winters of the mainland, (rain, snow, hail, and freezing weather!), more than 3,000 humpback whales are visiting the islands, putting on their mating shows and birthing their babies, and for those of you who love art, it is the time of the Annual Maui Plein Air Invitational Event.

Prior to 1840, paints were made my mixing dry pigments with linseed oil in artist’s studios.  Plein Air, a French term for painting outdoors, first came about when paints were finally made portable and could fit in tubes, which allowed the artists to go outside to capture the natural light which was so different than painting indoors in a studio.  The artists try to capture a moment in time, as if you could tell what time of day it was by the position of the sun and the length of the shadows.

A group of talented artists for Maui Plein Air


Continue reading “It’s All About the Light…Maui Plein Air Invitational Event”

Hana Hou…Whale Watching in Maui

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My Dad had the best idea ever to send me to the University of Hawaii for summer school my junior year of college. I’ve been in love with the Hawaiian Islands ever since. Once you visit the islands to experience the beauty of its nature, the pounding of the ocean waves on the white sandy beach shoreline, feel the cool breeze of the tropical winds blowing through the palm trees, meet the people, experience the music and dancing, taste the food, and live in this ideallic perfect weather, you too will fall in love with the Hawaiian islands.img_8255 Continue reading “Hana Hou…Whale Watching in Maui”

Zion National Park, Utah

We drove a couple of hours from Bryce Canyon to arrive at another beautiful National Park. We have to thank President Theodore Roosevelt for creating the US Forestry Department to preserve and protect our National Forests in the US.  Each has a natural beauty all its own. 

We have spent a fair amount of time camping in Yosemite, and this place felt very familiar, yet then again very different. Donna was laughing at me because I said, ” It’s exactly the same, only completely different!”  It’s similar with a creek running through it, lots of wildlife living in the valley, tons of pine trees and foliage, wonderful hiking trails everywhere,  and huge, majestic rock formations…the main difference is here, it is all Navajo red sandstone mountains up above, with some of the most interesting patterns carved into the surface from years of wind and water erosion.  

Sandstone with a checkerboard mesa.

The Checkerboard Mesa close-up

Sandstone Erosion

Driving into the Valley

This is a very popular park for rock climbing. One of the highest peaks is Angels Landing, 6,800 feet above the valley floor, named because it was so high that only angels could land there. 

Feeling small next to majestic Navajo Red Sandstone

The sandstone has horizontal cracks along its surface called springlines, which allow water to trickle down the face of the rock and travel across the surface, providing water to plants and trees to grow on the face of the sandstone. 

Trees growing on the sandstone rocks
Close-up of springlines running across the sandstone surface

We wish we could spend more time here. It is magnificently beautiful. After spending a few days in these national parks, if you can, everyone should to get away from the city life every once in awhile. It’s serene and peaceful, full of splendor and awe, and puts you back in touch with a harmony for your spirit and soul. 

We are blown away by the variety and wonder of God’s beautiful earth. 

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

We drove five hours from the little city of Page through the Red Canyon towards Bryce.  The topography started to change once again and we started to see juniper trees. So much of this area, once again, has been the setting for some of Hollywood’s most famous movies and television shows…Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Gunsmoke, F Troop, Route 66, all used these rugged rocks as their backdrop.  We started to get a hint of what was to come.

Red Canyon rocks

We finally arrived at the rim of Bryce Canyon.  With our picnic lunch in hand, we sat at the edge of the rim, just trying to take it all in.  

The rim of Bryce Canyon
It has all been sculpted by water and ice plus years of stream erosion of the river beds. The red, orange, and white colors change with the sunlight and the time of day. These knobby, weird, and tall spires are called hoodoos.  The Paiute Indians called them legend people, the early settlers in this area called them fairy chimneys.  Whatever you call them, this place is just magical and beautiful!  

Hoodoo Close-up

You can hike to the valley floor…it’s 1.1 miles down, which puts you meandering through the hoodoos.  Be aware tho, that the incline is 9,000 feet from top to bottom.  

God’s earth is truly amazing!  

Monument Valley – Valley of the Rocks

We’ve traveled north into Utah to Navajo territory to the Colorado plateau, characterized by a cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 1,000 feet above the valley floor.  The Navajos called this place the Valley of the Rocks.  This rugged beauty may be familiar to you since it has been featured by Hollywood in so many westerns clear back to the days of silent movies. This is what people think of when they think of the great American West.

Through the bus window

The director, John Ford,  filmed so many of the most famous westerns here with Hollywood greats like John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart.  Stagecoach, Easy Rider, Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, Wild Wild West, the Lone Ranger, just to name a few, all were filmed here. 

We hopped into these open air tour vehicles to make our way around the valley floor.   Bumpy, winding, and dusty, but none of that mattered when you were looking at these amazing formations carved by wind, rain, and erosion over time. 

Tour Bus
Sentinal Butte

We need a horse out here…

The three sisters

I see a family…what do you see?

God’s earth certainly is a strange and wonderful place. 

The Grand Canyon – The Edge of Vastness

We arrived at the edge of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon today. As one stands here, one is struck by the canyon’s vastness.  Measuring the canyon’s width, depth, or length, you have to use words like one mile deep, 18 miles wide, and 275 river miles long.  You just have to stand at the edge and marvel at its enormity. We are minuscule in comparison, and no photo I take can convey the beauty of this place.  It is indeed breathtaking beyond belief – we could not believe what our eyes were seeing, and very time we looked again, with the change of light, it looked different.

The Grand Canyon at Sunset

The South Rim at Sunrise

We saw a line of mules heading down the trails. Oh, how we wanted to do that!  Only trouble – five month waiting list for the day ride, and a one year waiting list for the overnight trip…maybe next time.

We loved this T-shirt but didn’t feel we had earned the right to wear it. You’ve got to hike from one rim across to the other.  We were looking for the t-shirt that said “We Hiked To The Rim.”  Now that we did!

As we were looking down the trail,  two hikers were racing to the top of the trailhead.  Exhausted, the hung their tired bodies over the railing saying they had just finished their hike rim to rim!  It took them three days to cross carrying 30 pound packs.

They say that 75% of Arizona is either national parks, wilderness, or the middle of nowhere. We saw a whole lot of nowhere on our three hour drive this afternoon.  Most of it was Indian reservations.  I must be influenced too much by Hollywood but I was thinking tepees and Indians with fringe and feathers. But this is what Indian reservations really look like…a few tiny houses in the middle of nowhere with the closest Walmart or grocery store is about an hour and a half away by car. This really is living in the middle of nowhere for hundreds of miles in every direction.

That night, we saw dances by Navajo Indians…ok, they were just kids, but still fun.


We drove 125 miles north today to Sedona.  Along the way we stopped to see Montezuma’s castle…a five store 20 room domicile carved into the limestone rocks by Native American Indians in the 13th-14th century. 

Montezuma’s Castle
Cross section of the castle

The community consisted of 1500 Native Americans.  If you look closely below the castle, you can see tunnels, hallways, and windows of neighboring rooms for other homes in the rock.  Over time, the limestone has become crumbly and brittle, and in 1952, they no longer let the public walk through. 

Our next stop was to the beautiful little city of Sedona.  It’s population is 10,000, increasing about 1% per year. 75% of the people work in the tourism industry in this quaint resort town filled with art galleries, restaurants and gift shops.  People settled in this area for the 5 C’s – copper, cattle, citrus, cotton, and climate. 

Sedona’s main attraction is its array of beautiful, red sandstone formations. They are just too huge to fit in my camera, and photos just don’t do justice to convey the scale and sheer magnitude of these mountains. The formations appear to glow in brilliant orange and red when illuminated by the rising or setting sun. The red rocks form a backdrop for many outdoor adventures like hiking and mountain biking trails.  They say there is an invisible spiritual vortex running through the the city which makes it a place for many spiritual retreats.  Can you imagine looking out your family room window and waking to this view every morning?!  It is truly breathtaking beauty. 

Snoopy Rock – can you see him lying on his back?

Canyon Tour 

We are off on a short visit to a few of the most beautiful natural sites in the world – The Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Park with Gate1 Travel.  We start our trip in Phoenix, Arizona, with a hike through the Desert Botanical Garden, 140 acres in Papagos Park, showcasing 21,000 plants, with 139 species which are rare or endangered. It has been designated as a Phoenix Source of Pride.  

The desert has its own kind of beauty….strange, dramatic, and prickly, yet flowering and beautiful, providing housing for many desert creatures and birds, and able to survive with a minimal amount of water.  

A rare cresting suguaro cactus
Rare Cresting Suguaro Cactus
Flowers in the desert
Suguaro skeleton
Nobody home at the Indian house
Making flour Indian Style
Flowers among the stickers


We are finally at our last stop…another big city with lots of motor scooter traffic, and modern buildings.  What an amazing month it has been seeing so many sights and scenes that have been new experiences for us. What an incredible world that  we live in.  

Here are a few parting shots from our last city in Vietnam.  I’m so glad you could travel with us on this amazing trip! 

With the French having occupied Vietnam for almost 100 years, if you squint, you can see remnants of their influence in the old buildings in the French quarter.   

In the French quarters

Vietnam greatly discourages the buying of cars.  An $800 motor scooter has a $1000 tax. An automobile has a $300% tax on top of the sales price.  No wonder there are so many scooters! 

The shopping district

They seem to carry everything possible on their bikes and scooters…

We visited a sight of a noodle factory, where they were drying noodles outside. We had Vienamese Pho, their popular noodle soup, at every stop.  

Collecting the noodle mats
Noodles, drying in the sun

A day at the faire

We also attended a water puppet show, where the puppeteers stand waist high in water, telling stories of the life of the rice farmers.  The puppeteers are artists, making $1200/month, considerably more money than most in Vietnam.

A water puppet show

A moment of thankfulness
With Dang, our wonderful tour guide through Vietnam