Christmas (2019) in Costa Rica with the family was a special treat this year. We arrived in Liberia, Costa Rica, on December 22nd, and picked up the rental cars then drove to our beautiful house on the Papagayo Peninsula. There were a total of ten adults and four kids staying together in this 7-bedroom house. The Jackson family(7), Josh and Aminda Parafinik’s family(4), Andrew Roberts and Sunny Trann, and a friend of Josh’s from Phoenix. Kevin’s company, EXP Journeys, was doing a program for a family staying at the Four Seasons Hotel near us. So Kevin and “crew” were working most of the time we were there, while the Moms and kids got to play. Our house was beautiful and spacious, plenty of room for everyone to relax and enjoy this place. The infinity pool was the biggest hit and we certainly spent plenty of time in it. Continue reading
While we were in Phoenix, AZ, for the month of November we took several side trips exploring the area. We drove scenic route 89 from Wickenburg to Prescott, along a beautiful winding road with great views of the mountains and valleys as we climbed higher in elevation. Prescott is at 5,367ft and it was much colder than Phoenix. We went shopping on Whiskey Row for warmer clothes. The main street was originally known for the establishment of many saloons, gambling parlors, opium dens, and houses of prostitution. The town-site of Prescott was officially founded in 1864, as the Territorial Capital of Arizona. Many of the old wooden buildings on Whiskey Row were destroyed in “The Great Fire” of July, 1900, and replaced with more permanent concrete, brick, and stone buildings which are still intact today and give the town a very old-western appeal. While shopping we were told to visit the Superstition Meadery, founded in 2012. Needless to say neither of us had tried Mead before so we were ready to sample it. Their mission at the Meadery is “To Reintroduce the World’s Oldest Fermented Beverage to Mankind”, and we wanted to sample the range of craft beverages, many of which are the top rated in the world. Oak barrel aging is the secret to many of the products they make at Superstition Meadery. The flight of Mead and Cider we tasted was excellent and we even bought a bottle to go. We stayed the night at the historic Hassayampa Inn, opened in 1927, with on-site bar and restaurant and very stylish rooms. We went for dinner at the El Gato Azul, a friendly, quirky little restaurant in walking distance from the Inn. Continue reading
On Monday, November 11th we checked into the Sonesta Suites Scottsdale situated in the heart of Scottsdale’s exclusive Gainey Ranch neighborhood for three nights. It was the celebration of the ’69 Mets 50th Reunion, and 9 Engineers from the Metallurgical Department at UBC along with their wives arrived for Happy Hour on the patio greeted by our hosts Alex and Karen Currie and the reminiscing began. Then it was a short walk to dinner at the Famous 48 Restaurant. The Famous 48 Local Kitchen & Bar gives a nod to Arizona, the 48th state, and we all enjoyed the American classics and favorite Arizona dishes prepared with the highest quality and freshest ingredients in season. Continue reading
After leaving Seven Feathers RV Resort we drove to Lone Pine, CA, and we stayed at the Boulder Creek RV Resort for two nights. Death Valley National Park was established in 1994, enlarging the park by 1.3 million acres. We have never visited here before and we were excited to spend a day exploring some of the Park. Death Valley is the largest national park in the contiguous US, and the hottest, driest and lowest of all the national parks in the US. It is this unique combination of low elevation and dryness that makes Death Valley the hottest place in the USA and one of the hottest on earth. On November 1st, we visited the Park, on a beautiful sunny day, not too hot. The road into Death Valley, SR 190, was narrow, winding and steep in some places.
On October 26th, 2019, while staying at Seven Feathers RV Park in Canyonville, OR, we drove over to Crater Lake National Park for the day. Visiting this iconic Park for the second time was still a special treat, to see that brilliant blue color of the lake is still so impressive. There wasn’t as much snow this time but we couldn’t drive the entire Loop road around the lake yet, but we drove along the West Rim Road as far as we could. The Rim Road is a 33-mile loop that follows the caldera rim around Crater Lake, and was finally finished in 1919. We stopped at every view point there was to get different perspectives of the lake. There are eight main viewing areas with roadside parking, and it is 7,900 feet at its highest point. We stopped at the Rim Village for lunch at the restaurant that was open, before heading back. Crater Lake became the Nation’s sixth national park on May 22, 1902, by President Theodore Roosevelt. Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading
After leaving Bellingham on October 18th, we stopped in Portland, Oregon, where we stayed at the Columbia River RV Park situated on the Columbia River. We had not stopped in Portland before and wanted to explore the area. We visited Multnomah Falls at the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, it is the tallest waterfall in Oregon at 620 ft. in height. It was a rainy day as we left to drive to the falls, but it cleared up as we arrived to view the impressive two tiers of waterfalls cascading over basalt cliffs. Some interesting history about the waterfall; it formed around 15,000 years ago at the end of a hanging valley, and was created by the Missoula Floods. The name comes from the Multnomah tribe, and according to legend, the waterfall was formed after a young woman sacrificed herself to the Great Spirit to save Multnomah village from a plague by jumping from the cliff, and the Multnomah people were saved. After her death, water began to flow from above the cliff, creating the waterfall. If you can believe legends from long ago! The waterfalls were even noted in the journals of Lewis and Clark during their expedition down the Columbia River Gorge in October, 1805.
We began our 3 week Trans African Safari on September 17th in Windhoek, Namibia. We gathered together in the Terra Africa Guesthouse. At the Guesthouse we met Pat and Dan Bowen from Wisconsin; Joe and Carolyn Harley from Calgary; and four Australians: Steve and Toni Pearce from Newcastle; and Keith and Paulette from Melbourne. Along with Pat and Harry Koehler from Calgary and us makes twelve in our group. Our guide was Thulani from Zimbabwe, and our driver was Thamu.
We spent 3 weeks exploring Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, experiencing the wildlife, culture and scenery only Africa can deliver. From marveling at the Victoria Falls to the breathtaking magnitude of Namibia’s dunes and big game interaction – this tour combined all the comforts of lodge accommodation with an unforgettable safari experience.
Bob, Keith, Carolyn, Paulette, Patty, Dan, Pat, Joe, Steve, Toni, Pat and Harry Continue reading
Cape Town and Table Mountain
September 11, 2019, finally the day has arrived to depart for our trip to Africa. We spent one night in Seattle and flew out of Tacoma/Seattle Airport on Thursday, September 12th, arriving in Cape Town Friday, the 13th at 11 o’clock in the evening. We stayed with Pat and Harry Koehler for three nights at the Blackheath Lodge Boutique Hotel in Sea Point on Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard. The Lodge has a rich history dating back to the 1880s. Its Victorian design, spacious interiors, high ceilings and wooden floors are combined with eclectic touches of African style and charm. We had a beautiful spacious room with high ceilings and elegant decor. The next morning we met Pat and Harry at breakfast before heading out on our first day exploring Cape Town. Our guide Wasfie Hattas, picked us up in the van at 9am, our first stop was to the Old Biscuit Mill Market where Cape Town meets for culinary delights and fine local designs. We explored the Old Biscuit Mill and experienced some of South Africa’s most innovative and creative designers, artists, photographers and connoisseurs of fine taste and decor. We sampled some of the delicious food, even vegan delights, and enjoyed the colorful art and clothing stalls. Continue reading
Before our African Safari we spent time in Bellingham, staying at the Cedars RV Resort in Ferndale, where we stored our RV when we will be in Africa. We got together with a friend of Bob’s from high School, Marguerite and her husband Don Shepherd. One day we walked the South Bay Trail, connecting downtown Bellingham to the Historic Fairhaven District. This iconic waterfront walk is 2.5 miles one-way and is mostly flat, including the Taylor Dock over the open waters of Bellingham Bay. We started in Fairhaven and stopped at benches along the way to soak in the views of the distant Canadian mountains for it was such a clear day. On our way back we stopped for dinner at Keenan’s Restaurant watching the beautiful sunset from our table. Another night we went out with Don and Marguerite Shepherd to the Hotel Bellwether, situated on Bellingham Bay, to listen to the Chris Fegler Band and have dinner. What a spectacular view from our table of the Squalicum Harbor Marina and the vibrant sunset. Bellingham is a fun city to live in and we certainly enjoyed our time here. Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading
On August 5th, 2019, we packed up the e-bikes for a 4 day bike tour of the Gulf Islands. We drove the Jeep to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal parking lot, and rode our bikes onto the Ferry heading for Galiano Island. Galiano is named after the Spanish explorer Dionisio Alcala Galiano, who explored the area in 1792. Galiano is 27.5 kms long and never more than 6 kms wide. We arrived at the Sturdies Bay Ferry Terminal on Galiano Island and rode our bikes to the Woodstone Manor where we left our bags before riding out to Montague Harbour Provincial Park, one of the most popular parks in the Gulf Islands. We stopped for lunch at the Crane and Robin Cafe on Montague Bay, and we had the best meal of salmon burger and jackfruit tacos. We continued the ride out to the Park and stopped for a quick dip in the ocean. Then back to the Woodstone Manor where we checked into our room, the Bridal Suite, for one night. The Woodstone is truly a special place with only 12 rooms, a unique dining Room & Patio offering meals prepared by their executive chef, and situated on 9 private wooded acres with pastoral views. We had the most beautiful, peaceful pastoral view from our room. We spent the evening sitting outside by the Patio fireplace talking with the owners Stefan and Roxanne Orlitzky, and later joined by Tommy Transit, who drives the local bus on the Island. The next morning after a delicious breakfast with Tommy Transit, who sold me his book, “Bus Tales”; we rode our bikes out to The Bluffs Park, which is Galiano’s oldest wilderness park, established in 1948. We rode up the steep gravel rode to the top of the Bluffs and had beautiful views looking out to Active Pass. One more stop at the Woodstone Manor to enjoy a fabulous lunch before heading out to the Ferry to Saltspring Island. Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading