Category Archives: Travel

The Passion of Flamenco, It Holds You Fast

Sevilla, España

All around you, swift, so swift,
it comes, it goes, and then returns …
you think you hold it fast, it flees
you think you’re free, it holds you fast.

Continue reading

Mr. Edwards and the Open Road, #Friday Fictioneers

Every time I think I can’t possibly find a story within the photo prompt, Mr. Edwards, my novel time traveler, nudges me and begs for another 100 words.  The poor man tries to squeeze every last thrill out of his 100 word life.  We should all do the same.

Will he ever get the girl? Will he ever get his own novel life? Those are the unanswered questions which in fact do not worry him in the least.

We can all learn from Mr. Edwards, “It’s the journey that matters not the destination. Don’t wait until the last page to really live.”

Photo credit @The Reclining Gentleman

Photo credit @The Reclining Gentleman

Mr. Edwards and The Open Road

By Tracey Delaplain

In a supreme effort to impress Ms. Fanny before the dastardly handsome Juan Wayne would steal her heart in chapter 17, Mr. Edwards divined the brilliant idea to take her on a road trip, whereby he could woo her without interruption. He tiptoed out of chapter 13, his appearance on the page would after all not be missed until chapter 17, whereby without an intervention, the widow Fanny would reject his fumbled advances.
The fact that Mr. Edwards had never driven and had forgotten to pick up the widow was of no consequence. He appropriated a chariot and took to the open road. Speeding down the causeway at 10 mph he welcomed the police escort.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

I know, I know, I’m over Mr. Edwards’ 100 word allotment but give the guy a break he so loves to steal a few extra words.
For more flash fiction from my pals at Friday Fictioneers go here.

Sailing in Alaska with Sound Sailing, The Princess Addition

Tracey Delaplain, MD

 

This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.
John Muir

There is no better place on Earth to experience the grand show of nature than in Alaska and no grander way to witness marine Alaska than from a sailboat. It’s safe to say that this vast wilderness will mesmerize you as she slowly unfurls her wonders. A trip with Sound Sailing into Glacier Bay National Park will bind you to Southeast Alaska in a way that is difficult to express in words or to capture in photos.

Your complicated life may seem less complicated away from your phone and the Internet. Glacier Bay National Park remains unconnected and untouched much as it was in John Muir’s day.

 

Life is simpler in Alaska.

You will learn to be still, watching a brown bear and her cubs. You will embrace the quiet, as you listen to the creaks and groans of a calving tide-water glacier. You will be humbled in the presence of nature’s royalty, as you watch a hunting pod of orcas glide past you in utter silence. You will understand team work for the first time while listening to the “killing song” that rallies a dozen humpback whales to the surface in a feeding frenzy within a coordinated bubble net. You will welcome renewed faith in nature’s families while observing a raft of otters nuzzling their fluffy pups, protected on their mothers’ bellies. You will hold your breathe as a mountain goat kid descends a sheer rock face under the watchful eye of its nanny. Everywhere you look there is renewal and the messengers are juvenile humpbacks, orcas, and bears. Oh my!

 

Sound Sailing
sound Sailing
Sound Sailing
Sound Sailing Alaska
This trip is for anyone with an adventurous spirit but you should consider your own limitations before booking. You don’t have to be an uber athlete to enjoy yourself but reasonably good mobility and a love of the outdoors will serve you well. There are only 6 guests aboard and you will either love or hate the intimacy. We have been blessed with amazing strangers who left as friends on both of our trips. You can book as a couple, a group or a single passenger.

Thankfully Sound Sailing does not compete with cruise ships. The only nightly entertainment is fishing, a rowdy dice game, paddling a kayak, a shore hike or a good book. There’s no shopping or real towns to visit. There’s no dress up night or dance club and (un)fortunately on sailboat BOB you will get dirty, wet and up close and personal with nature. An orca or a sea lion may be close enough to touch from the cockpit, a bear may join you on its beach and a breaching whale may splash you. If that’s too close then by all means take a cruise ship.

I fully admit that I am a luxury traveller with a bit of “Princess” in my blood. I booked my first trip with Sound Sailing as a gift for my husband’s birthday. I’m nice like that. The second trip was for me, because I have fallen in love with Alaska.

There are several luxury ways to not really see wild Alaska, aboard a cruise ship or ferry for example. I chose the path less traveled and booked a cabin on BOB, a 50 ft sailboat owned by Captain Blain and First-mate Monique Andersen operating as Sound Sailing . BOB is cozy yet comfortable. The cabins and heads are small but functional. The bed is comfortable but not luxurious, I’m a bed snob and I slept well on the firm mattress and flannel sheets. The accommodations are best described as a luxury RV on water. You have everything you need but no excess.


Pack for comfort and adventure.

The weather is unpredictable and you could experience four seasons of weather together on any given day. Plan your packing around layered dressing, and expect to wear everything at least twice. Yes really.  Pack 1/2 of what you think you’ll need, you will thank me when you are carrying your “no wheels” duffel bag through the airport. There is no place to store hard luggage.

Comfortable easy dry pants, Columbia, North Face and Patagonia are brands to check out but be advised that they only come in ugly natural colors and black, cotton or dri-fit t-shirts, long sleeve SPF or bug proof button down shirt, fleece vest and a fleece jacket can be combined to keep you warm or cool. Throw in underwear, wool socks, a pair of shorts and a yoga pant to complete the wardrobe.

It rains in Southeast Alaska. A lot! A waterproof jacket and pants (I prefer Gortex because it breathes) and knee-high rubber boots are non-negotiable. Most of our adventure clothing came from Sierra Trading Post where bargains can be found. Rubber boots are essential but they don’t need to be expensive. You will need them to explore tide pools and glaciers on shore, hiking the wet forests or fishing on deck. Fur lined slippers and a small fleece blanket are my go to luxury items, definitely not needed but oh so comfy when I’m cold.

Even a princess will only need simple toiletries: shampoo, facial wash, sunscreen, deodorant, colored Chapstick for formal nights :-), hair ties, and a hair brush. Need I say it? A cute baseball hat for “hat hair days”, which are pretty much every day after you leave your hotel. You will not be taking long hot showers or blow drying your hair. I have perfected the two basin wash and rinse, “good enough” daily clean up. I brought disposable wash clothes that can be moistened and used for a quick clean up if there’s no hot water or you’re too lazy to shower. Don’t be surprised when the men go native without shaving or scrubbing for a few days. 😉 This is luxury camping on the water at its best. Water conservation is a necessary inconvenience.

Nature’s gourmet food
The food on board is designed around your personal tastes and requests. Our meals were abundant with fresh produce, crab, salmon, halibut and shrimp. There’s plenty of snacks and dessert every day. You are welcome to bring alcohol aboard but plan accordingly because there’s no place to replenish your wine supply en route.


You come to Alaska for the adventure but the people will bring you back.
The crew is gracious and knowledgable. You may feel like family at the end of a 7-10 day trip and it’s hard to say goodbye to Alaska even though you will be craving a loooong hot shower and a fluffy king sized mattress. After the shower, I guarantee that you will begin planning your next trip aboard BOB.

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This is not a sponsored post and the opinions expressed are my own. The only payment I’ve received is the treasured new friendship with BOB and The Andersens.

Healthy Strategies For Eating Out, Let’s Be Honest

Whatsfordinnerdoc

Ahi with daikon radish and carrots with wasabi cream. Edamame in chili oil.

I wrote this post a few weeks ago and boy do I need this advice myself. STAT!
I’m celebrating my 32nd wedding anniversary in Hawaii and there are ample opportunities to eat out. I have a small galley kitchen where I can prepare simple meals but it’s soooooo easy to go out to eat. In preparation for this trip, I packed my favorite knife and a few spice mixes. I made a rough list of meals that can be made simply and I will shop at the local farmer’s market and the local fish market. We are celebrating so I’ve made two reservations at spectacular ocean front restaurants and I will indulge from champagne to dessert. However, every meal is not a celebration and forgetting my wellness goals for 10 days is not an option. With the beautiful scenery and lovely climate I will have no problem walking and hiking every day. Here is my advice for eating out and staying true to your goals without deprivation.

Let’s be honest, don’t you feel better when you eat well?

Have your health goals firmly in mind before you step into a restaurant. Confirm out load or in your head your dietary convictions.
– A vegetarian is never looking at the meat dishes and no one second guesses her requests. Make the menu work for you. A vegan’s choices are limited and she has probably done her homework before she picked a restaurant. You can learn from friends with strong dietary convictions. You have every right to have your own dietary convictions.
– People with real gluten allergies never ask for bread or pastas.
– Paleos never look at the pasta, breads, dessert menu, or alcohol. (Although, I think even a cave woman would have liked a glass of wine and dark chocolate occasionally. Just saying)
– Personally, I eat a low carbohydrate diet, with an abundance of vegetables, fruits and fish. I choose not to eat simple carbohydrates or deep fried foods so I never eat pasta, bread, sandwiches, pizza or fried foods.

Limiting the menu IN ADVANCE to a few choices, based on your personal wellness goal or dietary limitations, is a low stress way to avoid land mines. If you wait until you see the menu before you set your goals then you will probably succumb to the temptation of eating foods that don’t further your wellness goals.

Share an entree or have 1/2 boxed up before you sit down to eat it.
How many times have you eaten everything on your plate knowing full well that you would have eaten 1/4 or 1/2 of that amount at home? You feel stuffed and disgusted with yourself.
Have a “go to meal” before you look at the menu
– My “go to” is Caesar salad with chicken or fish, with dressing on the side or lemon wedges.
– Vegetable based soups or side dishes
– Grilled fish or chicken with no buttery sauces

Don’t drink your calories.
Ask for water and drink a full glass before your meal comes. Limit alcohol to non-sweetened drinks and set your limit before you go out. “One and Done”

Be mindful and savor every bite.
Put down your fork and talk with your companions, put away your phone, people watch, enjoy the music or artwork. Dining out should be an experience to treasure not an excuse to overeat.

Need I say this? NEVER EAT IN THE CAR. It’s bad for your upholstery, your driving skills and your waistline.

I leave you with a warm Aloha (the breath of life)

Whatsfordinnerdoc

Sisterhood of the Traveling Wine Glass, Day 2, Platypus Tours

Day Two with “The sisterhood of the traveling wine glass.”

Napa Valley

We had no plans for our second day in Napa so my sister suggested a full day wine tasting tour with Platypus Wine Tours. I admit I was reluctant to spend a day with strangers on a short bus driving around Napa, but in the spirit of “the sisterhood of the traveling wine glass”, I threw caution to the wind and off we went with Platypus. As it turns out there is no safer or more pleasant way to explore the Valley than with Platypus Tours. Our tour guide and driver, Mike was delightful (with a sassy top note and a lingering finish).

I really don’t know if you can arrange to see the smaller venues on your own. I wouldn’t know where to start nor do I want to do my own research especially on a quick trip. Platypus and your driver have done all the work for you. According to Mike, he chose our venues after he got a feel for the group. Our group was apparently fun but not rowdy, thoughtful but not snobbish. Makes you wonder where the rowdy, snobs get to go. I’m glad I didn’t find out.

Our first stop was at Grgich Hills Estate in Rutherford.

Grgich was the largest winery on our tour and the tasting was in a lovely courtyard overlooking the vineyard. It is open to the public and I would recommend it to the white wine enthusiast although their Zin, Merlot and Croatian Grgic Vin were delicious as well.


Miljenko “Mike” Grgich first gained international recognition at the celebrated “Paris Tasting” of 1976 when the respected French judges declared the 1973 California Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, the finest white wine in the world. Putting California on the wine map. Their Chardonnay and Fume Blanc are still made in the French style. They are delicious, complex and pair well with food.

Grgich Hills is an organic and solar-powered vineyard.

And then the real Platypus adventure began!
Hopper Creek Vineyard

Napa, Platypus Tours

Our experience at Hopper Creek Vineyard was priceless. We tasted incredible wines and were entertained and educated by charismatic Darren, our tour host. In 45 minutes with Darren I increased my wine appreciation by 100%. He was funny, irreverent, engaging and probably a wine genius. We learned to appreciate the wine with all of our senses and if you come to my house, I will show you my wine parlor tricks for dating wines and sorting out the subtle differences between blinded wines. This is a must see vineyard but only if Darren is around to entertain your senses.

Hopper Creek is a boutique six-acre Yountville vineyard that produces about 3.5 tons of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot per acre annually. They purchase additional premium grapes from top growers in Sonoma County to round out their portfolio with Chardonnay, Zinfandel, and Petite Syrah. You can purchase wines at the vineyard which is open for retail sales but you won’t find their wines anywhere else.

An urban winery?
St. Clair Brown Winery is a gem. They serve delicious food paired with their incredible hand-crafted wines in the middle of an outdoor urban garden. They bring beauty to the center of Napa.

 

St. Clair Brown Winery, makes small lot, incredible hand-crafted wines. All aspects of the wine production are conducted in their state-of-the-art facility in downtown Napa.
They make about 200 cases or less of each of the wines that they produce. Their portfolio includes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Rosé of Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and a sweet Muscat.

A must see in Napa!

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Napa, Platypus Tours

Last stop Razi Winery

Courtesy of Razi

Courtesy of Razi

Courtesy of Razi

Courtesy of Razi

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Razi Winery is small with a beautiful modern tasting room where the delightful owner pours generous servings of his top notch wines. The setting is relaxed and intimate. I bought two bottles of exquisite Cabernet Sauvignon that will be even better decades from now. (Translation: stupid expensive but so yummy.) I justified the cost by telling Mr. D that I will store these precious bottles until my first grandchild is born in 5-10 years. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it. I’m sure my sister will help me drink them when the time comes, at which time I will thank her again for suggesting Platypus Wine Tours for our perfect day together.

Be well and savor the journey. Oh and be brave and make new friends. Never drink and drive. Please drink responsibly. You knew there had to be a health lesson in here somewhere.

Two Days in The Napa Valley, Wine Country. Sisterhood of the Traveling Wine Glass

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Today’s health message: Relax and enjoy the journey.

My sister and I try to meet for a girl’s weekend every Fall which I have just this minute named “The sisterhood of the traveling wine glass”. I had nothing planned for my week off from work so I called my sister on a whim and suggested a trip to Napa. Being Nevada girls who’ve grown up on shaking ground we completely disregarded the recent Napa earthquake. The sisterhood is fearless. We once traveled to Hawaii two days after a typhoon that left Maui with extensive flooding and closed beaches, so why would we let a few earthquake aftershocks deter us? We wouldn’t and we didn’t.

At the last minute, I found a perfect little house to rent on VRBO.COM with 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, a kitchen, wifi and an outdoor courtyard with a hot tub for less than the cost of a downtown hotel room. Continue reading