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Expat wanderer

Sunset Over Venice

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November 15, 2016 Posted by | Beauty, ExPat Life, Sunsets, Venice | Leave a comment

Cheminus, Victoria, Fan Tan Alley and the Grand Pacific in Victoria, B.C.

I will admit it, I was a little depressed leaving Ucluelet. If you are a frequent reader, you will know I am a believer, and sometimes my heart is just so full of gratitude to our enormously generous and open handed God that I can’t even think of the words to adequately give thanks. I take comfort in knowing he knows my heart. Ucluelet and Tofino were everything we hoped they would be. I could imagine myself living there happily. And leaving . . . it was painful.

We had a nice drive to Victoria, stopping in Chemanus for lunch at a small cafe which surprised us and knocked our socks off. It looked like something from the forties. Owls were everywhere. Most of the menu was breakfast offerings, nice, but breakfast. We ordered the spinach salad and the Scallop and Crab Cakes – have you ever heard of Scallop and Crab Cakes? We hadn’t either.

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OWL

We split both the salad and the Scallop and Crab Cakes. They were both taste treats!

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The Scallop and Crab Cakes were made the way my good friend who is Chinese makes Crab cakes – good, tasty ingredients and no distracting filler. These cakes were meaty, full of whole small scallops, crab meat, some green onion, pimento and some minimal binder. They were truly extraordinary. They were accompanied by an apple slaw, tart and tasty. It was a great combination.

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We made a stop at the Butterfly Gardens near Buchart Gardens so AdventureMan could take some photos of rare butterflies, or at least butterflies we don’t get to see in Florida. They had some awesome specimens.

Then on, on, into Victoria. Highway 17 empties right into downtown Victoria, and ends almost right at the Grand Pacific Hotel, where we are staying. While we were checking in, the concierge told us it would be another 10 minutes, but that we had been upgraded. I hoped it was an OK room; I had chosen our room on the basis of a view of Victoria Harbor. With trepidation, we headed for our room.

 

This is the Grand Pacific from Victoria Harbor

Grand Pacific fm Victoria Harbor

 

Lobby

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Our bedroom

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Our office/sitting room

 

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Bathroom

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Our view of Victoria Harbor (and Empress Hotel)

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Night time view. Sigh. Isn’t it lovely?

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Sunset peeking through the overhanging clouds.

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May 20, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, ExPat Life, Hotels, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Sunsets, Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

Tofino Sunset

Not quite sunset, but approaching sunset from our cabin in Ucluelet. Sunset in May is around nine at night.

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May 18, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Photos, Sunsets | 4 Comments

Seaview Resort in Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island

You can’t believe what you read on the internet. When I research our trips, I “vector” our choices. I take a look at them on TripAdvisor, then I take a look at them on Google, then I might look at them on Google Earth. It all matters.

The Seaview Resort is not a resort, or at least not what I think of as a resort. It is 7 cabins, and most often on TripAdvisor, they are referred to as “tiny.” By reading the description of each cabin carefully, and by reserving early, we got the cabin we felt might be right for us, and it is.

The Seaview resort is located in the midst of a residential neighborhood, and right on the beach, not across the street from the beach. We have Cabin #1, and there are Irises in bloom in back where we park, and lavender growing in the garden next to it. It has a fully stocked kitchen, and a tiny living room with a couch and a tiny dining table with two chairs. I pulled in one of the the lounge chairs from the deck when AdventureMan grabbed the sofa for his nap.

You can look out the big sliding glass doors, or sit on your deck, or sit in the outside lounge chairs, or the seats around the beach fire-pit, or in the boat. You have the run of the resort. There is a large family having a reunion here, and another family in another cabin. Honestly, I can’t imagine more than two people in a cabin, but they claim to sleep four, and I can imagine four people who really get along could squeeze in and be OK as long as it doesn’t rain.

We love this place. It is private, and we like private. We can watch the water to our hearts content. We can watch the light change on the mountains. I can write up some blog entries – the WiFi works great. We are happy.

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And here is the icing on the cake:

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May 12, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, ExPat Life, Hotels, Living Conditions, Photos, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Sunsets, Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Farewell, Edmonds

We had a big mid-day meal, celebrating my Mother, celebrating just being able to be in the same room together for a meal, my Mother and my two sisters and some of their families. As sunset neared, we weren’t big hungry, so we just picked up some takeout from a nearby grocery deli and picnicked on the Edmonds beach.

I saw a wonderful photo opportunity; I was going to capture the Edmonds Ferry as it was heading into the sunset. Just as the ferry began its departure, a man stood in the exact place I had designated for the ferry to enter the sunset, on his phone, waving madly, waving farewell. Waving and waving. And not leaving.

So. When you can’t get the photo you want, grab the photo you have.

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Farewell, Edmonds!

May 8, 2016 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Humor, Photos, Road Trips, Seattle, Sunsets, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Pensacola Sunset 3Jun15

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June 3, 2015 Posted by | Pensacola, Sunsets, Weather | Leave a comment

Tiepolo Sky

Just back from a quick trip to Seattle for a wedding, driving home. and there is the most beautiful sky!

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A long time ago, working on my undergraduate degrees, I took a minor in Art History, and spent happy hours at the Seattle Art Museum on projects for my classes. Up on the ceiling of one of the rooms (this is in the old Seattle Arts Museum up on Volunteer Hill) there was this wonderful Tiepolo ceiling, with clouds and blue sky and . . . God? I can’t remember anything but the sky part, and tonight’s sky in Pensacola reminded me of that ceiling.

May 19, 2015 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Biography, Education, Pensacola, Sunsets | Leave a comment

The North Cliff Hotel in Fort Bragg, California

When AdventureMan and I saw this hotel on TripAdvisor, we had a feeling it was a good place for us. Space? Yes, lots of it, and a balcony, too. A grand view, 180 degrees, with, yes, crashing waves on rocks! Check! And just for grins, throw in a whirlpool tub with a view of the sunset, oh my, what heaven. AdventureMan really enjoys a good massage, and these long days of driving and hiking leave him eager to try the hot swirling waters in the privacy of our own room.

When I call the North Cliff Hotel, I first ask if they have any rooms available, and then I ask if the military discount is also available for retired military. It often isn’t, so I always ask.

“Of course it is!” she replied, “You served your time, didn’t you? Of course you get the discount!”

Wow. That totally sealed the deal. We wanted to stay there anyway, but having that nice discount made it even nicer.

AdventureMan was so helpful; I said I wanted to take photos before we messed up the room, soaked all the bathtowels and robes, etc. and he was patient with me.

What I didn’t know was that I had somehow set the camera on black and white, so I got all these sepia toned photos, weird because it was an accident, but nice because I like how they look.

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There were people who complained about the fog horn. Folks, it’s the coast. If you want the coast, and the crashing waves, you’re going to have to welcome the fog horn. It’s a safety thing . . .

We loved this place, and we loved the quirkiness of Fort Bragg altogether, it felt more like a real-people town than Mendocino.

This is what the sunsets looked like from our room:
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May 1, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Hotels, Road Trips, Sunsets, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Monterey, CA; A Sentimental and Nostalgic Journey

One of the (many) highlights of our trip was spending time, once again, in Monterey, California where we had attended the Naval Postgraduate School and the Defense Language Institute. We used to lie in our bed in La Mesa Village, and we could hear the seals barking. We discovered that with our mighty ID cards, we could get a wonderful suite at the old Del Monte Hotel, now Navy Lodging on the campus of the Naval Postgraduate School.

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The Del Monte is one of those magnificent hotels built to welcome post guests to destinations served by the railroads. The Ahwahnee is another such, as are Yellowstone and Glacier Lodges. The Navy took it over during the war, and used it as a rest and rehabilitation center, then later turned the hotel campus into a school specific to Navy needs of navigation, engineering, strategy and decision-making.

We had a two room suite with a bathroom and a kitchen. It was spare, but very spacious. Having space, for me, is like breathing. Having high ceilings makes all the difference.

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This was the sunset from one of our windows:

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After settling in, we went out to revisit our old haunts. The biggest shock was La Mesa Village, where we once lived. When we got to Monterey, and saw our quarters, I cried. They were little three bedroom units in groups of four. We were lucky, we got an outside corner unit, so we had more windows and more light than many others, but we also had black linoleum. It was horrible. I cried.

AdventureMan found someone leaving who had carpeting cut exactly for our unit, and bought it to cover the linoleum floors. It was pretty hideous, a greeny-gold kind of shag carpet, but it covered the black linoleum. I thought he was a rock-star.

We couldn’t even find our old unit in La Mesa Village. Now, they are all duplexes, two story, I think they tore down all the old units and built new, modern ones. Each is painted differently, and they look very California suburban, no longer like military housing, except that one or two units have flags outside.

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We head down to Asilomar, always one of our favorite drives, and feast our eyes on the coastal rocks and the crashing waves. It is a glorious spring day, people are all barefoot and enjoying the sun.

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We stroll along the Monterey waterfront, which has changed also. It was always touristy, but it used to be sort of grungy, and now it is clean – and kind of bland, full of shops full of tourist kitch made in China.

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When planning the trip, we spent a lot of time looking for fun places to eat, and this was the place we agreed on instantly, the Bistro Moulin. Good thing we made reservations, they were turning people away as fast as they showed up. It’s an adorable place, very welcoming, and the food was fabulous. It got too crowded to take photos with discretion; we started with a pate, then I had the Petrale Sole, which was fabulous, and AdventureMan had Mussels in Wine Sauce which were more fabulous than my Sole 🙂

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We were totally caught by surprise by the most nostalgic moment on this part of our trip. We were enjoying ourselves so thoroughly, being back in Monterey and Carmel, just relishing soaking in all the good times available, and then, as we got back to our room, we heard a trumpet. The long, haunting notes of Taps began to play, and it was as if we were still young students at the PG school, everything stopping to pay homage to the end of the day and its sacrifices.

We were equally surprised to be greeted by Reville the next morning!

April 27, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Biography, Counter-terrorism, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Renovations, Restaurant, Road Trips, Sunsets | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sedona Airport Vortex, Watching the Sun Go Down

I do not want to be insensitive, or to offend anyone who understands vortex energy and has experienced it in Sedona, and finds him/herself consequently “on the path.”

In fact, I do not consider myself an insensitive person, so although I am by nature a little skeptical, I was willing to give vortex energy a chance.

I never experienced it.

In fact, every time someone started talking about vortex energy, I had a hard time keeping my face straight.

I DO believe in positive energy, and in energy, and how we interact with one another.

It may be a language misunderstanding; I do believe in holy places, and I have experienced the feeling of knowing I stood on holy ground.

Sedona is reputed to have special energies, and special sites for this energy. I only know this much because I went to a blog called LovesSedona.com where they explain the energy sources and where to find them and how anyone who comes within a quarter of a mile and has any sensitivity at all will feel the energy of the vortex.

We were near every one of the four vortexes; right at one. I felt awe at the beauty of Sedona, unending awe at this beautiful place. We met some wonderful people. But a special energy? I guess I am just not sensitive enough, but I allow that YOU might be, so I refer you to LovesSedona.com, from which I share the following information about Sedona Vortexes and their energy:

What is a Vortex?

A vortex is the funnel shape created by a whirling fluid or by the motion of spiraling energy. Familiar examples of vortex shapes are whirlwinds, tornadoes, and water going down a drain. A vortex can be made up of anything that flows, such as wind, water, or electricity.

The vortexes in Sedona are swirling centers of subtle energy coming out from the surface of the earth. The vortex energy is not exactly electricity or magnetism, although it does leave a slight measurable residual magnetism in the places where it is strongest.

There are four main energy vortexes in Sedona. The subtle energy that exists at these locations interacts with who a person is inside. The energy resonates with and strengthens the Inner Being of each person that comes within about a quarter to a half mile of it. This resonance happens because the vortex energy is very similar to the subtle energy operating in the energy centers inside each person. If you are at all a sensitive person, it is easy to feel the energy at these vortexes.

If you are planning a trip to Sedona, here is a map to help you easily locate the four main energy vortexes. On the map, a diamond indicates the location of a vortex. Although the Sedona area has many hiking trails that only a vigorous hiker can enjoy, the vortexes are all easy to get to, and no strenuous hiking is required to get to any of them.

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One of the Sedona traditions is to go up to the airport and watch the sun go down from the airport viewpoint. It is supposed to be a very special Sedona experience. This is what it looks like in low season. There are probably three hundred and fifty people here to watch the sun go down, take selfies with the sun going down, take photos of your friends with the sun going down, etc.

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When you go, there are many many many many people, in fact if you have ever been in Key West to catch the green flash of the Key West sunset, you will have a deja vu feeling. This is a very funky kind of gathering, everyone is there, locals, tourists, probably a pickpocket or two.

We got there just in time to park, walk over, and catch the sunset. Sedona is laid back and has a wonderful sense of humor about all this, and individual Sedona residents volunteer to be The Ambassador, who shows up and maintains some order and good will as the people stream to the viewing place and then stream back to the parking lot.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it is going to be chaos once the sun goes down. As everyone else is watching the last gleams of the sun (and it is getting pretty chilly, I might add) we head for our car to head back down the mountain before the teeming hoard. The Ambassador on this night is a very tall woman, dressed as a Sheriff, I think, but a Sheriff in a dress. She is very good at keeping order.

We have made reservations for massages while we are here, and are trying to find where it is. When we get our confirmations, it is at a different location than we thought, so we have to find it again. I am confused because the lady says it is nearer to where we are staying than the original site, and the place where we think we are going is almost next door to the hotel. After a while, I figure out that where we have reservations is NAMTI, and the spa near us is NAMASTE, not the same. NAMTI is only a block away, we find it and we know where we will be going tomorrow.

A totally great day in Sedona, Arizona.

April 21, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Environment, Events, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Road Trips, Sunsets, Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment