As akid, I remember sitting at our dinner table on a Saturday night, eating a fried chicken TV dinner with the little apple cobbler dessert,(Remember that? My favorite part!) with my Mom and Dad intently watching the television as the camera floated over the blue waters and up onto the white sands of South Beach. That familiar voice would say “Live! From Miami Beach…it’s the Jackie Gleason Show!” That was my first awareness of Miami Beach, Florida.
We are off to meet friends, flying today to Miami, Florida. It’s an all day trip flying five hours from California, getting up at o’dark thirty, dodging the commute traffic, fighting the rain to get to the airport two hours before our flight. Five hours later, we landed in Miami Beach, walking out the airport doors into the warm breeze off the Atlantic Ocean. How nice, but it took all day.
Riding in our taxi, we immediately knew we were in a different place. Our driver was from Haiti, with his native language being Creole and French, his wife is Puerto Rican, speaking Spanish, and many of his passengers are East Coast people trying to get out of he cold and snow from New York and New Jersey. As we rounded the corner to our hotel, he pointed out a restaurant saying, “That’s one of the best restaurants in town if you can get in.” A light bulb went off in our heads remembering that we had seen it on Yelp when searching for the best places to eat in Miami. When we are in a new place, it’s always a priority for us to seek out great food. Since the sun was setting, and it was just a little us dinner time, we basically threw our suitcases into the room, and made a dash for Joe’s Stone Crabs Restaurant, three blocks away, hoping to beat the dinner crowd.
There are so many things to do in Maui…golf, scuba diving, hiking, zip lining, whale watching, sailing, luaus with hula girls and fire dancers, the list goes on. You would never guess what Trip Advisor’s Number One thing to do when it comes to tours and activities in Maui…See Burn’N Love, the Elvis show, at the Maui Theatre in Lahaina! That is at the top of their list!
When I was little, my dad used to take us every year to Lake Tahoe for vacation. It was a week of going to the beach, having a few water ski lessons, and being out in the beautiful evergreen forest around the lake. Our trip always culminated with a trip to the Tahoe Southshore to the Harrah’s Hotel, to see some headliner, over a dinner show, where the prime rib and baked potato is cooked to perfection and the showgirl came around to your table and snapped your family photo. How lucky I was to see big name entertainers like Sammy Davis Jr, Tom Jones, Petula Clark, Shirley MacLaine, and Frank Sinatra. I’ve been a big fan of live entertainment ever since then. There were a few entertainers that I, regrettably, somehow missed…Prince, Michael Jackson, and Elvis Presley.
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.
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.
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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.Continue reading “Hana Hou…Whale Watching in Maui”→
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
God’s earth certainly is a strange and wonderful place.
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.
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.