Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Denver to Moab: Snow and Ice, Sun and Heat

 

Sometimes an early start might not be the best choice. We loved the easy access to the highway, and the quick Google Earth designated by-way that helped us avoid all but four or five minutes of the Denver morning traffic, but as we headed into the mountains, I had a pit in my stomach seeing a long red stretch between Denver and Glenwood Springs, and not a lot of options.

 

The sights of snow, truckers putting on heavy chains, and then a big sign that tells us the tunnel is blocked due to an accident, none of these are good signs. Our rental car is low to the ground, and not heavy. We watch the temperature drop as we rise higher, and tell ourselves this is the beginning of a great adventure, and every adventure entails a little risk, it adds spice. Right?

We see cars that have slid off the road, and it is starting to snow heavily. The temperature falls below 30 degrees (F) and we watch for ice, and black ice. Fortunately, there are not a lot of people on the road. We are guessing they know better. Worse, many, like us, have California plates, a sign of a Denver rental car.

“No one on the slopes,” AdventureMan observes.

“The snow is too sticky,” I reply, instincts still strong from my Alaska days.

We think we have passed through the worst, when we come to Vail and take a break for a stroll and a cup of coffee. We were enchanted. If we didn’t already have reservations for tonight, we would get a room in one of these very German, very charming hotels.

 

Safe in Glenwood Springs, where we stayed two years ago on our way to Denver, where we took the plunge in the sulphery spring fed pool. We look for the Italian restaurant where we had a great meal, but it is closed. On the other hand, there is a great barbecue place, looking open, looking warm. Smoke is where we are meant to be 🙂

 

 

They have five different kinds of barbecue sauce. We order a starter of onion rings so we can taste test all the sauces.

 

AdventureMan is really cold; he needs tea to warm him up inside and out. He wraps his hands around his hot hot cup of tea.

Very quickly our meals arrived. AdventureMan ordered a barbecued pork sandwich with a side of baked beans. He said it was as good as anything we have eaten in the South, very tasty.

I had the pulled chicken with cole slaw, and there was so much chicken I couldn’t eat it all. I couldn’t even eat the bun at all. So much food, I hate to waste it but we have miles to go, and we are heading into hotter temperatures, so we leave all the left overs behind.

As we leave Smoke, a few snow flakes catch up with us . . .

 

 

Interstate 70 is a piece-of-cake now, snow and ice free, temperatures rising. Very shortly, we come to the turn-off to Moab, and then, the turn off to Dead Horse Point State Park and Canyonlands. AdventureMan says it is one of the best $15 we have ever spent; suddenly we are in a new world, full of natural glory.

 

 

 

 

What is really fun is that the next afternoon, we were down, way far down, in this same canyon, searching out petroglyphs.

 

 

 

 

This reminds me of decades ago, in Tunisia, where villages would be built atop cliffs like this. The rock formations on top look a little like the ghorfas, storage caves, except there are no TV antennas.

 

 

The sun is getting low by the time we are ready to stop hiking around, even so, we keep stopping for one more glorious sight. But now, it is time to check into our hotel, another Fairfield, this one bills itself as “the closest hotel to Arches National Park”. Our room is spacious, and clean, the whole hotel is very very new. The beds are wonderful . . . except once again, they have this crackly plastic cover that makes for sleeping hot.

Moab is a lot of fun, full of energy. There are a lot of athletic looking people going hiking, going boating, going biking, going rafting, going rock climbing. They are all ages, and from all kinds of places. We drive up and down the main drag, looking at other hotels and motels, and really get a laugh at the one TripAdvisor kept telling me was right for us; it is a little dive with tiny rooms and limited parking lot and looks very very noisy.

We had heard the Twisted Sista was our kind of place, and when we got there, we believed it. After our hearty lunch at Smoke, we wanted light. We both ordered French Onion Soup and the Mediterranean (or was it Greek?) Salad, and the soup was fabulous (we did scrape off all the cheese, there was really a lot of cheese) and the salad even better. We had dessert; AdventureMan ordered some chocolate bombe, and I had a puckery lemon sorbet, just what I love! So tart, and just a little sweet.

The Mediterranean Salad

After dinner, we took a drive, figuring out where we wanted to go the next day, and caught the last gleam of light on the hills as the sun went down.

 

 

May 26, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Eating Out, GoogleEarth, Restaurant, Road Trips, Sunsets, Weather | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

OwlsNest

 

OWL

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

SpinachSalad

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.

ScallopCrabCakes

 

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

GrandPacificLobby

Our bedroom

GPRoom

Our office/sitting room

 

GPSittingRoom

Bathroom

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Our view of Victoria Harbor (and Empress Hotel)

GPHarborView

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.

SunsetTofino

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.

Cabin1

 

ViewFromCabin

 

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SeaviewResortInterior

 

SeaviewResortIris

 

BeachAndMountains

 

SeaviewResortLavender

 

SundownerStation

 

And here is the icing on the cake:

SunsetQualicum

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.

FarewellEdmondsFerry

 

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!

00TiepoloSky

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.

00DelMonteHotel

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.

00DelMonteHotelSuite

This was the sunset from one of our windows:

00SunsetFromDelMonte

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