Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Come Whatever May

In April I was on reserve.  That means that I only fly when the company needs me, usually at the last minute.  This can be a good thing, but can sometimes be challenging for packing.  You can have as little as two hours to get yourself dressed and to the airport, so I keep two suitcases  at home that are packed and ready to go.

I pack one suitcase with a Hawaiian/Caribbean wardrobe, and one with warmer clothing for Europe/Japan.  Then you have to consider whether it is summer or winter in South America, where the seasons are the opposite of ours in North America.  When I first began flying (many, many years ago)  I once misunderstood an assignment and ended up in winter in Dayton, Ohio (not Daytona Beach, Florida) with only a bikini and a sarong.  I haven't repeated that mistake!

For my first trip in April, I answered the call, grabbed my smaller suitcase and headed to Honolulu where the weather and surf were perfect for watersports.   Today I was too tired to kayak, so I lazily spent the afternoon swimming and playing in the water.

My room this trip was in the back of the hotel, with a view of the mountains, and St. Louis Heights.  Some low clouds moved in through the mountains toward evening and it got a bit cooler.

I walked over to HI Steaks and brought one of their delicious plates back to my room.  I sat out on my balcony and enjoyed sliced steak, a big scoop of brown rice and a salad.  Delicious.

I had stopped briefly at Rock Island Cafe to get a creamy milkshake at their old fashioned soda fountain.
It is a fun place, filled with memorabilia, both on display and for sale.  I like to go there for pizza and their
delicious soda fountain items.


It is located in King's Village, whose entrance was just below my balcony.  It is a unique shopping center, with many interesting shops and several restaurants.  Rock Island Cafe is at the entrance to King's Village, the red roof in the photo below.  A statue of Elvis greets you at the door.


There is also a museum of the King's Guard on the ground floor.  The King's Guard is a drill team that
preserve the history of the 1800's in Hawaii.  Hawaii has the only royal palace on US soil, and the uniforms of the Guard are replicas of those worn by the guards of the palace of King David during that era.  Each day at 6:15pm the King's Guard perform a Changing of the Guard and flag lowering ceremony, followed by a  drill exhibition at Kings Village.


The view of St. Louis Heights was beautiful at night.  My daughter lived there several years ago, and I have often enjoyed the view of Honolulu from her lanai.  Now I enjoy the opposite view.

The next day I had coffee in the rocking chairs on the porch of the Mauna Surfrider.  It wasn't very crowded, so I had the porch to myself, where I enjoyed the blue sky and the swaying palm trees.

We fly back to the mainland tonight.  I wonder where my next trip will take me?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Costa Rica

In March I had a trip to San Jose, Costa Rica.  What a beautiful country this is.  The air is fresh, the mountains visible in the clear skies, and all the plants are green and/or blooming....and it stays this way mostly year round!

We stay at the Marriott San Jose, a hacienda style hotel, where the adobe roof and the dovecotes  are part of the charm.  The review below will tell you a bit about it.

San José - Costa Rica Marriott Hotel
The first Marriott in Costa Rica was the ‘Costa Rica Marriott Hotel’, located in the country’s capital San José. This majestic hotel is set on a flourishing 30-acre coffee plantation, a beautiful hacienda that captures the elegance of the 16th century.  It’s an ideal hotel for both, business and adventurous Costa Rica vacation, where guests can enjoy a combination of luxury, comfort and natural beauty.
The Costa Rica Marriott Hotel was voted as one of the best hotels in Central America and Mexico.


I snagged the photo above from the company website.  Click on the link for more hotel information.

Everything about the hotel is charming, including the old wooden doors to each room.  Like any Marriott,  the beds are well appointed and very comfortable.

I tried to research more history about this hotel, since it looks like it really could have been an old hacienda that was converted.  Nothing was available about it's past before the the Marriott, so I am assuming that it was built to look like this.

This is the beautiful view from the patio where breakfast is served,

and these are the tables where you can sit and enjoy.

They have the best breakfast of any hotel I have stayed at.  They have made-to-order omelettes, many other warm and cold accompaniments and side dishes, creamy yogurt, assortments of warm breads, and the best fruit anywhere.

And, of course, the Costa Rican coffee. Que Rico!

The pool area is always inviting, but we leave too early in the morning to really enjoy it.  A Costa Rican vacation is up there somewhere high on my list, and it will include a couple of nights to stay and enjoy this hotel.

The link below is a great travel blog from a family who stayed here and explored the surrounding area by car.  It contains some wonderful photos and decribes a daytrip to the La Paz Waterfall.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Early February

Early in February, before I went to California, we had one of our occasional ice storms, followed by a rare, heavy snowfall.  We even made the New York Times with our weather, which we usually only do with our heat wave.  Here is an excerpt below from the New York Times.

"A rare winter storm hit much of Texas
early Friday with sleet and snow, creating chaos on icy roads around the state and hampering travelers trying to get  to the Super Bowl near Dallas." 

below from the Dallas Morning News. 

Dallas bore the brunt of the storm.  Snow forced officials to close the city's in-town airport, Love Field, the corporate home of
Southwest Airlines, from 3 a.m. until noon.  The snow also forced airlines to cancel more than 300 flights at the region's main airport, Dallas/Fort Worth 
International Airport, creating headaches for people trying to get to the Super Bowl in Arlington, which is between Dallas and Fort Worth, on Sunday.

I awoke early in the morning expecting a dusting  
of snow.  Instead it continued to snow, and 
accumulate, until midday.  

As the snowfall became lighter, people began to venture out of the surrounding highrises to play in the snow.  The doggie playgroup didn't seem to mind all the white stuff at all.

I hadn't used my snowshoes in Dallas for about 9 years, but this was the day to get them out and head across the street to Lee Park, then along Turtle Creek.  I was so excited to be off that I forgot my camera, so you will have to imagine how beautiful it was. 

When I returned from my walk it was beautifully clear,  the sun had started to set, and the park and the "Grande Dames" of Turtle Creek were washed in gold.

Long after the skies turned dark, until after 10pm, people were out frollicking in the park.  We may have to wait another 10 years or so to enjoy this pleasure again.

Within a few days, I was filling my shopping cart with spring blooms and eating outside on the patio at Bread Winners.


After my trip to California, I had seen enough sunshine.  I headed off to chilly London to finish the month of February.

As soon as we got to the hotel, I changed clothes and headed out.  I hopped on the #49 bus to take me to Chelsea Farmers Market.

I hadn't explored where the bus went after King's Road, and my feet were tired, so a warm bus was much more tempting today than walking.  I decided to stay on the bus and see where it went.

I often take photos from a bus or car of places that I want to return and visit.  That way I have a record of where they are and why they looked interesting.

Think I'll have to return to My Old Dutch Pancake House.


I crossed the Thames on a bridge I haven't been over before.  Not too long after this the area became less scenic, so I got off the bus, crossed the street and took it back the other way.

I got off the bus at Chelsea Farmers Market,

walked through the market a bit, and passed  another restaurant which is a nighttime favorite.


The Marketplace Restaurant is nice in the summertime, with these lovely tables for sitting outside.

But it is wintertime when I really love this place.  I have written about it in earlier blogs, and return here often.

The good food, the mulled wine, the warm fire in the room,
and the cozy blankets to wrap your legs if you are chilly, make this one of my favorite wintertime pleasures.

They serve breakfast, which is delicious on a cold morning, lunch and early dinner.
Early dinner is perfect for me.  I have been up for more than 24 hours now, and it dark early in London this time of year.  So I am back on the bus and headed toward my cozy bed.


Monday, February 28, 2011

Life on Hold (or at least slowed down)

This has been a year of crazy events, and my blogging has suffered for it.  The year began with my daughter's father being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.  I have known this man since he was 19 years old, and he rarely even has a cold.  How could this happen? 
He went to the doctor with a painful leg, was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis and immediately hospitalized..
In the course of treating this, the leukemia was discovered.  Had he not had this symtom, it would have probably been discovered too late for effective treatment.  Who knew that a potentially fatal bloodclot could save your life!
No one is prepared to hear news like this, and it instantly changed the world for him.  He is very fortunate to have a loyal group of friend who stepped up to drive him to USC and City of Hope for his way too frequent appointments and chemotherapy sessions, and to care for him during the sick times that followed.

Shortly after his diagnosis, I had a scary heart event and was taken to the emergency room.  I was diagnosed with SVT, which is something I was born with and often shows up later in life.  I was told that it would never kill me, and given a medication which would keep my heart from racing out of control.  Unfortunately, it sapped me of my usual high energy level.  I was already thinking that I would soon need hip replacement surgery, so I put the thought of having a heart proceedure on hold.

My poor daughter was terrified of what was happening to her parents.

Amanda and I went in February to visit her father in California.  He lives in a beautiful old neighborhood next to La Verne's Heritage Park.


Guy walks here most everyday, working to keep his body strong while the chemotherapy ravages it.

The trail through the park runs along a ravine that leads into Oak Mesa Park,

 past a field with views of Mount San Antonio, better know as Mount Baldy.

It is the highest peak in the San Gabriel Mountains, and the highest point in Los Angeles County.
It formed the backdrop for my childhood, but even that long ago was often obscured by smoggy skies.
On clear days in the wintertime, it is a joy to view as it's cap of snow peeks over the palm trees.

Guy's house overlooks a working orange farm,  operated as it would have been in 1915.

On Saturdays, in the winter months, families can visit the farm, pick a bag of oranges to take home, and learn about the past of California's orange farms.


The Weber House, pictured above, is one of the oldest remaining houses in La Verne.  It was built in the 1880's and moved to this site and preserved by the La Verne Heritage Foundation.  Read it's history below.

I have memories from my childhood of the miles of orange groves that surrounded us, and the almost overwhelming, heavenly frangrance of the orange blossoms.

I also remember the frantic work that would begin when a freeze was predicted that would threaten the orange crops.  All night you could smell  the smudge pots and hear the sound of the windmills that kept the air circulating.  You can read about how smudge pots work, and about their history in California orange groves below.


A few beautiful California sunsets later Amanda and I returned home.  Guy would finish his chemotherapy, have a bone marrow transplant in March, and continue to work to recover his life.......perhaps not quite as he knew it.

I continued to deal with worsening pain until July, then had a total hip replacement.  In August I had my heart repaired.  No more pain, no more heart events.   Life is precious, and I am catching up on my blogging so I can better recall some of it's best moments.