Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

More Doha, Qatar in Transition

I’ve had such great feedback from all my friends for whom these photos bring back a lot of memories. So, a few more.

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January 6, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Building, Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Photos, Qatar | | 2 Comments

Sea Star at The Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet

It took me months to narrow down where we would stay on Vancouver Island’s west side. There are all kinds of accommodations, high end with a spa and well known restaurant, camping, and everything in between.

What matters to us? We like having enough space, and we really like natural wood finishes. Most of all, for me, I want a view of the water.

I booked the Terrace Beach Resort not knowing if it was as good as it promised. When we arrived, it didn’t look like much from the road, it looks like an old fashioned fishing village. We signed in, and were taken to our cabin, #9 Sea Star. It has three stories, bedrooms on the top floor and the bottom floor, and living room and kitchen and main bathroom on the entry level. Oh, and a huge deck with a hot tup and grill. And leather furniture. And oh wow. The view. It is also next to a hiking trail we wanted to hike.

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Here is the view 🙂

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Living room area

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Upstair bedroom

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Upstairs hot tub with that view 🙂

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Attention to detail – candles for those unexpected power outages

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The kitchen

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And 🙂  the sunset!

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They have a wide variety of cabin types, each one different. There is a beach, perfect for sending the kids down; you can watch them from the balcony. There is a modern TV, and a modern kind of fake fireplace, there are books and CDs you can rent. Or you can hike the Lighthouse Trail 🙂

May 14, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Building, Hotels, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Travel | 1 Comment

Summit Lake Lodge and the Sterling Highway

We hate to leave Homer, a truly wonderful place on God’s earth, and even more glorious in the full sunlight:

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We drive along the Sterling Highway en route to Anchorage, a totally different day from the rainy day we drove from Seward to Homer. On this day, we are caught in traffic, all the fisherpeople heading to the Kenai river, lined up to catch salmon. The scenery is beautiful, and AdventureMan spots a moose and her calf (not pictured) grazing near the highway.

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We stop for gas and a pit stop at Grizzly Ridge, and the restrooms are immaculately clean:
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We start getting hungry. We actually stop at one place, but the food is all tired looking, and not fresh, so we continue on. AdventureMan spots Summit Lake Lodge and we agree this is the right pace to stop:
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After lunch, we stretch our legs a little; Summit Lake Lodge is on a beautiful, huge lake:
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There is a beautiful ice cream and coffee shop on the Lodge grounds where we enjoy a huckleberry ice cream before we hit the road again on our way to Anchorage.

July 15, 2014 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Building, Environment, Hotels, Restaurant, Road Trips | , , , , | Leave a comment

Secret Addiction: Alaska The Last Frontier

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Every Sunday and Monday I get a bunch of hits on an entry I did back in August about where the Kilcher family “really” lives. The Kilcher family is featured on a Discovery Channel show called Alaska The Last Frontier. It was a joke because I had no idea where they lived; we just wanted to explore the roads around Homer and that was a house I saw – and there were a lot of really nice homes in Homer, homes that looked like they had a lot of self-sustaining features – barns, corrals, heavy farm machinery, solar panels, chicken coops, etc.

As it turns out, by accident, we were pretty close when I took that photo. When you look on Google maps, you will see, off East End Road, a road called Kilcher road. Makes sense to me that would be where at least some of the Kilcher clan live.

Do you watch Alaska The Last Frontier? It is a reality show, and kind of hokey. Like I grew up in Alaska, I’ve been in Homer, it’s not like they are Little Town on the Prairie. They are just miles away from a wonderful grocery and department store, hardware stores, some very nice restaurants, sweet summer market – they have doctors and veterinarians, they are not out in the wilderness where their only access is the weekly bush pilot – if he can get in through the wildly blowing snow-storm, if you catch my drift.

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And yet . . . Sunday evening comes around and I have to get my fix. I am addicted. Yes, they are hokey, but I guess it is a kind of quixotic hokeyness I like. They hunt, and they eat the meat they hunt. I grew up that way, and what I just hate are hunters who hunt because they think it makes them big men, especially if they hunt farmed animals. The Kilchers shoot animals they can eat. They even eat bear, which, if you’ve ever eaten bear (shudder) takes a lot of something – red wine, spices, barbecue sauce – to cover up that gamey taste.

They hunt to fill the freezers to have meat through the winter, but they also build things, and have all kinds of guy-toys – bulldozers, cranes, snowmobiles, tractors, ATV’s. They build bridges, a huge garage – you know, manly Alaska sorts of things 🙂

The women garden, keep cattle, milk cows, knit, raise chickens for eggs, do a lot of the fishing – I admire that. I think it is a good thing to stay close to the earth, even having to figure out how to get water from the spring into your cabin (pretty nice cabin, spectacular view.)

They camera work and editing are amazing. Mostly they edit out the most modern conveniences – we can tell they are ‘on the grid’, i.e. they have electricity, because the lighting is electric, but they pretty much crop out any appliances, and any other nearby homes, the Homer spit – LOL – the Homer Spit is about the most prominent natural feature in Kachemak Bay, and you never even see it on Alaska The Last Frontier.

So it’s a little deceptive. I can live with that. I admire the Kilcher family for their commitment to doing their best to be self-sustaining, good neighbors, while bowing to the inevitable convenience of buying Levis and flannel shirts at the Safeway down the road. No, they don’t show us those things; it probably wouldn’t have so many followers if they did. It’s still a lot of fun following the series, and I am guessing – hoping – that the season finale will feature a new birth, and a new member of the Kilcher family.

I have one suspicion, based on having lived in Alaska for many years when I was a kid. Alaskans love Hawaii. Every year, the Discovery Channel films the Kilchers from spring thaw to hard freeze of winter . . . I am betting your find the Kilcher family on the beaches in Hawaii during at least a part of those long hard winters 😉

January 21, 2014 Posted by | Alaska, Blogging, Building, Community, Cultural, Entertainment, Environment, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Values | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Have You Seen the Photo of Qatar’s New Stadium?”

. . . our son asked us after work today.

 

We both looked blank. No, no we haven’t.

 

He brought up the photo on the iPad. Oh. NO. Noooooooooo!

 

LOL, who sold this idea to the Qataris?

 

People are already calling it the Vagina Stadium. Oh NOOOO!

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I know just the Qatar skyscraper to partner with this new stadium; I shuddered as it was rising on the Corniche:

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Hilarious!

November 18, 2013 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Building, Doha, ExPat Life, Humor, Living Conditions, Qatar | | 3 Comments

Seville’s Palace Cafe for Breakfast

We had a favorite place for breakfast, Adonna’s, but first they discontinued AdventureMan’s favorite – Biscuits and Gravy – and then they discontinued mine, which was Cinnamon Roll French Toast. What to do? Where to go? We go often to The Scenic Diner, but we wanted something different.

We checked out a few places but nothing felt right. Then we remembered the Palace Cafe at Seville, a place we had wanted to try for breakfast for quite a while.

They had a good crowd, but we were seated immediately and coffee and tea arrived within minutes. As we ordered, AdventureMan said “oh! We haven’t had beignets here; let’s have those!” and I applaud the waitress, who didn’t bat an eye, didn’t say a thing, not a single thing about all the times I have been there with GCCDC groups and ordered beignets for all the tables, because they are so good.

When they arrived, I told AdventureMan how often I had them before; I just couldn’t let him believe a lie. These beignets are like the ones we ate in New Orleans, a little like the lightest deep fried donut you ever ate. So much air, and powdered sugar – that can’t be all that bad for you, right? Right? Aren’t they beautiful?

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I had the Palace eggs, which comes with grits or hash browns or fruit, and it was perfect:

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AdventureMan had the breakfast croissant. He said it was a pretty good croissant – he still misses our breakfasts in France.
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There were families there, children playing while the adults visited. There were adult groups, there were buddies. It was active without being noisy.

It was also one of the best breakfasts we have had in a long time. We love this place.

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October 24, 2013 Posted by | Building, Character, Eating Out, Food, Living Conditions, Restaurant | , , , | Leave a comment

The Berry Patch Cabin in Eagle River Camp Grounds

As we were hiking through the Eagle River Camp Grounds, we could hear a dog barking, barking as if he were having a lot of fun. We saw a cabin, and one of the park rangers playing with a big brown happy dog. We walked over; he had just finished cleaning out the cabin and it was empty. He asked if we would like to take a look.

I hope you are sitting down. The rental of this beautiful cabin, per night, is $45.

This is the interior. You can see where people can sleep, downstairs and up. Maybe room for 8 – 12 people.

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From the table, this is your view:
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View from your front porch:
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You have to bring in your own equipment, including propane to run the heating stove, and your own bedding. There might be running water. You would need all your sleeping gear, food prep, and there are many electrical outlets in the cabin for charging up all the electrical gadgets you probably can’t use. I think we did have phone coverage in the area. 🙂

Although it feels remote, you are not that far from Juneau, and there are major grocery stores even closer. There is a Fred Meyer – where you can pick up just about anything – near the airport.

I dream of bringing our grandson here with us one summer. We’d have to be sure he was old enough to be careful about bears, and any other wildlife. At the same time I dread the logistics. Maybe if I think about it for a couple years, it can become do-able . . .

September 2, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Building, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, Environment, Exercise, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Road Trips, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Sinkholes in Florida

Dont you just love Google? Today I asked Google to find “images sinkholes Florida” hoping I could find some graphic which would show me how often they occur in parts of the state, which is very very long. There it was.

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It is not something I ever worried about until the neighborhood we bought a house in near Tampa suddenly had a rash of sinkhole damage and property values plummeted. I was lucky, not only was I not in the “band” of sinkholes, but my house sold very quickly, at the same price we had paid. I breathed a sigh of relief and moved on.

You never know where a sinkhole will suddenly appear, but as the graphic above demonstrates, some places are likelier than others.

Here is an article from today’s AOL Weather News:

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – Sections of a building at a resort near Orlando’s theme park district collapsed into a sinkhole late Sunday, forcing the evacuation of 105 guests in the structure and also dozens of visitors staying in two adjacent three-story buildings.

APTOPIX Sinking Building Resort

Watch out for those blue zones!

Sinkholes are as much a part of the Florida landscape as palm trees and alligators. Florida has more of them than any state in the nation. Earlier this year, a man near Tampa died when a sinkhole opened up underneath his bedroom.

PHOTOS ON SKYE: Astonishing Sinkholes Around the World
Experts say sinkholes aren’t occurring at a greater rate than usual but that the high-profile nature of recent one in populated areas has drawn attention to them. There also has been a rise in sinkhole claims in Florida, but insurance officials believe some of those claims are questionable. Here are some answers about why sinkholes form and their costs.

WHY ARE THERE SINKHOLES IN FLORIDA?

Florida’s peninsula is made up of porous carbonate rocks such as limestone that store and help move groundwater. Dirt, sand and clay sit on top of the carbonate rock. Over time, these rocks can dissolve from an acid created from oxygen in water, creating a void underneath the limestone roof. When the dirt, clay or sand gets too heavy for the limestone roof, it can collapse and form a sinkhole. Sinkholes are caused naturally but they can be triggered by outside events.

WHAT TRIGGERS SINKHOLES?

Although sinkholes are formed naturally, they can be triggered by heavy rainfall, drought followed by heavy rainfall, tropical storms and human activity. The most common actions by humans that cause sinkholes are heavy pumping of groundwater to spray on oranges and strawberries during freezes to keep them from being damaged, well drilling, excavating, creating landfills, leaking broken water lines and pounding or blasting from construction.

WHERE ARE SINKHOLES MOST COMMON IN FLORIDA?

Three counties in the Tampa region are known as “sinkhole alley.” Two-thirds of thesinkhole damage claims reported to the state Office of Insurance Regulation from 2006 to 2010 came from Hernando, Hillsborough and Pasco counties. Sinkholes are less common in South Florida, home to the state’s two most populous counties – Broward and Miami-Dade.

HOW MANY SINKHOLES OCCUR IN FLORIDA?

The state Office of Insurance Regulation says reported claims from sinkholes have risen in recent years. More than 2,300 claims were reported in Florida in 2006 but that figure jumped to almost 6,700 claims in 2010. There is no geological explanation for the rise and state insurance officials believe many claims are questionable. There must be structural damage to a home for a policyholder to claim a loss from a sinkhole, but insurance officials say claims are often paid without that proof.

HOW MUCH DAMAGE DO SINKHOLES DO?

The state Office of Insurance Regulation says sinkhole claims in Florida cost insurers $1.4 billion from 2006 to 2010.

August 13, 2013 Posted by | Building, Environment, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Florida, Geography / Maps, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Statistics, Technical Issue | , | Leave a comment

Minaret of Aleppo’s Umayyad Mosque Destroyed

Taken from AFP News

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BEIRUT: The minaret of Aleppo’s ancient Umayyad mosque was destroyed on Wednesday, Syrian state media and a watchdog reported, with the regime and the opposition blaming each other.

An archaeological treasure in Aleppo’s Unesco-listed Old City, the mosque has been the centre of fighting for months and had already suffered extensive damage.

With insurgents and the regime caught in a stalemate in the key northern city, the ancient mosque has fallen in and out of rebel hands several times.

The Umayyad mosque was originally built in the 8th century but was apparently destroyed and then rebuilt in the 13th century.

It has recently fallen back into rebel hands, but has been left pockmarked by bullets and stained with soot.

Antique furnishings and intricately sculpted colonnades have been charred, valuable Islamic relics ransacked and ancient artefacts, including a box purported to contain a strand of the Prophet Mohammed’s (PBUH) hair, looted.

Rebels say they have managed to salvage ancient handwritten Quranic manuscripts and have hidden them.

On Wednesday, as reports broke of the minaret’s destruction, activists uploaded video shot at the scene, but there was no video immediately available showing the moment of the blast that caused the collapse.

As with multiple other attacks in Syria’s spiralling conflict, which the UN says has left more than 70,000 people dead, the regime and the opposition blamed each other for the damage.

State media said jihadist Al-Nusra Front fighters blew up the minaret, and accused the group classed by the United States as a “terrorist” organisation of seeking to blame loyalist forces.

But rebels, the opposition and activists all said the army was responsible.

“Tanks began firing in the direction of the minaret until it was destroyed,” one rebel said in a video posted on YouTube, insisting rebel snipers were not stationed inside the minaret.

“We were afraid that it would be targeted,” he said.

“The Assad regime has done everything it can to destroy Syria’s social fabric. Today, by killing people and destroying culture, it is sowing a bitterness in people’s hearts that will be difficult to erase for a very long time,” the video added.

Meanwhile, an activist who identified himself as Zain al-Rifai said he saw an army tank “fire several shells directly at the Umayyad mosque, including at the minaret”.

He also claimed the force of the explosion was magnified because of landmines planted by the army in the mosque complex before the rebel takeover.

“When the army was in control of the mosque, it planted mines across the complex. When the rebels took over, they demined the area, but couldn’t come near the minaret for fear of snipers.

“When the tank shell hit the minaret, it must have caused the mine to explode,” said Rifai, who works with the Aleppo Media Centre, a network of citizen journalists on the ground.

Responding to regime claims that the jihadi-Al-Nusra Front had blown up the minaret, Rifai asked: “Why would an Islamic group blow up a minaret?”

The main opposition National Coalition, recognised by dozens of states and organisations as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, mourned the ancient minaret’s destruction.

“The deliberate destruction of this minaret, under whose shadow Saladin… and (10th century Iraqi poet) Al-Mutanabbi rested, is a crime against human civilisation,” said the Coalition.

April 24, 2013 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Building, Cultural | , , | 2 Comments

Mobile Museum of Art

We were so efficient at the Mobile Botanical Garden that we had plenty of time to hit the nearby Mobile Museum of Art. Actually, we loved the whole park area; there is the Botanical Garden, the Museum of Art, also walking paths, a huge water . . . something, it might be a river or a large lake with a dam in it, I don’t know what it is, but it is a large amount of water. There are athletic fields and even some offices, not large office buildings but some smaller outlying kinds of state or county offices. It’s a nice park, it has a nice feeling, a lot going on.

It doesn’t hurt that it is one of the prettiest days of the year, not hot, not humid, and no mosquitos!

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I love it that not all the art is inside the building. There is statuary outside, along the walking path, and this huge made-from-found-objects butterfly at the entrance. It is wonderful. As you enter the museum, looking through miles of glass out through trees at the water, you immediately think “what a place for an event!” thinking wedding, reception, small chamber group performance, etc. Truly beautiful spaces; I would show you but they have a really strict policy about photographing inside the building, so I didn’t.

They have some surprising pieces, surprisingly good for a small museum. They have some very odd pieces, par for the course in a small museum. They have an amazing art glass collection, beautifully displayed in a room with gorgeous natural light that allows each piece to shine. They had an exquisite visiting exhibit based on a Vietnamese classic, with intricate, ethereal pieces.

Too much to take in on one visit! I think our favorite piece in the exhibit were some gorgeous silvery angel wings on a wall near the gallery entrance on the top floor. When you get closer to the exhibit, you see it really, REALLY is silvery – it is silver spoons! The bowls of the spoons form the outer part of the feathers, hundreds of spoons, and the base of the spoon the lower part. It is whimsical and surprising, and made me whoop a little (trying to be respectful in a museum 🙂 ) with delight. We are eager to go back and to take our little grandson, as he gains in ability to focus his attention 🙂

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Driving Directions From I-65
From I-65, take the Springhill Avenue Exit (Exit 5) and head west on Springhill Avenue. Go approximately 1 1/2 miles and turn left on John D. New Street (traffic signal). Take an immediate right onto Museum Drive. The Museum is the first building on the right.

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March 20, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Building, Community, Cultural, Customer Service, Education, Exercise, Living Conditions, Road Trips | , , , , , , | Leave a comment