Lucky Girl…

How blessed I feel to have the friends I have, the opportunities to travel and visit with them, and the good fortune that they are as loving and generous to me as family! I just returned from a visit with my friend Sara ( you have seen her visiting me in Cali this summer) from her home in Alameda, CA. She and her husband Charlie welcomed me into their home with open hearts and arms. From the moment I arrived we were off and running visiting Oakland, San Francisco and the surrounding area.

There were so many great moments to share but I will just stick to the highlights. Our first day Sara acquainted me with local downtown Alameda, some beautiful historic homes and her favorite shopping areas. Here are just two of my favorite homes:

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We ended the day with a relaxing stop at Julie’s Coffee and Tea Garden and headed home to rest up for the next day’s adventures.

Day Two, we traveled to Muir Woods about an hour and a half away. We found the trail along with a few hundred other people. The scent of the pines was my first invitation into the woods, it was majestic and beautiful!

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After our hike we ventured out to Stinson Beach where we had lunch with the seagulls!

Day Three, we headed for the Pacific International Quilt Fest XXIV! This is one of the best quilt shows in the country. There must have been a thousand entries but I snapped 132 photos of just my favorites. Here is just a sample of the talented fiber artist there:IMG_0470 IMG_0460 IMG_0424

This final quilt was shot from three angles, head-on you see Oprah, standing from the left you see Mother Theresa, and standing on the right you see Jacqueline Kennedy, it was so innovative and beautifully done. IMG_0468



There were hundreds more, all exceptional. Needless to say we left totally inspired and itching to get quilting!

Day Four, Sara arranged for us to go on a Sidewalk Food Tour of the Mission District in San Francisco! Oh my goodness, aside from the good eats we were treated to some history of the area and enjoyed the architecture and some street art as well.IMG_0589



Our tour guide Casey was excellent and well-informed and we would love to do another area of the city with her on a future visit. I could go on and on with lots more pictures but I will just wrap it up with some of the food! Our favorites Ali BaBa’s Falafel, Dandelion Chocolate,  Craftman and Wolves Bakery, Delfine’s and Tartin.

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Lastly I want to mention where we began our tour in front of The Writing Center 826 Valencia, a place where children 6 thru 18 learn the love of reading and writing.  A phenomenal program for underprivileged kids. If you’re interested hit the link Pirate store and learn more about how to help keep the program growing.IMG_0536

We walked miles, rode BART, laughed and ate our way through the week. Sara made it all happen, while Charlie watch us come home each night exhausted but so satisfied! Thank you again Sara for a wonderful experience!

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Vancouver, British Columbia

It might not seem like the optimal time to visit Vancouver but it actually proved to be a wonderful time to enjoy the changing Fall weather. This city is so diverse in both it’s inhabitants and it’s make up that it provided a great reprieve from the monotony of Northern Arizona’s hot climate. Mike and I headed up to Canada and were pleasantly surprised to have some beautiful sunny days along with some light drizzles in between.

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While Mike attended to work I was able to roam the city and do some shopping and sight seeing. There was a local film festival but I  discovered it was quickly sold out. I looked into seeing a hockey game but the team was out of town. We finally settled on an evening out and went for dinner and drinks and some live music at Guilt & Company, we loved the lounge/club atmosphere and they had some interesting cocktails choices.


During the day I ventured into China Town where I always find something new and interesting. I especially loved the street murals.IMG_0278

And then found myself wandering into the downtown areas to discover some new favorite places, Chintz and Co. has an abundance of home furnishings and decorator items along with loads of beautiful artificial plants!

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I was lucky enough to stumble upon a great place for lunch. The Dirty Apron Delicatessan, a cooking school, where you can taste their creations. While pricey it was definitely worth it!


Saturday we chose to roam through Stanley Park to enjoy some natural scenery, there are about 1000 acres to explore, so we walked along the seawall and visited the Aquarium. It never disappoints and we had a fun day.IMG_0369

The Museum of Anthropology at UBC on the University campus is another favorite destination for us. It has a remarkable collections of native arts, like totem poles, and native history with indoor and outdoor displays. IMG_0328 IMG_0372 IMG_0306 IMG_0297

As is evident we are never at a loss for things to see and do in the city of Vancouver. We hope to continue to explore the surrounding areas which are just as outstanding and beautiful! We recommend it!

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Last Couple of Days in Tahoe


If this little gal looks familiar, you are correct, it’s Charlie!

Our time in Lake Tahoe was coming to an end and we were pleasantly surprised when our friends, Jim and Tove Seiger and Charlie stopped over to pay us a visit. They were up in Carson City helping their son move and we had a terrific day with them. Their son Brian visits Tahoe regularly and shared a beautiful beach cove with them, we were happy to take their lead and discover it for ourselves.IMG_0258IMG_0255


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Lake Tahoe

Exploring Lake Tahoe this week and we are blessed with spectacular weather! Arrived last night and even though the leaves on the trees are beginning to turn, the evening was just a slight tad on the cool side. This morning we joined my cousins Norma and Mario, with their spouses along with her daughter Paulette with her spouse Brad and friends, for the Candy Dance Craft Fair in Genoa. (See details at Town of Genoa)image

Genoa is a quaint little town just literally down the road from Tahoe. We arrived early with several in the group enjoying a Bloody Mary breakfast. I headed for the coffee stand!

We then took this group picture and went our separate ways for a few hours to browse the booths and shop. We regrouped around 10 o’clock planning to stay til noon but the sun was hot and we left early. This is very popular event in it’s 95th year! Here are a few of my favorite sights:imageimage

Above Mike and I in the oldest salon in the county. The dog is my dream dog. I did not take pictures of the booths as there were hundreds and could not choose which to feature but of course took the one of the quilts. Returning to the lake area we find Sprouts Cafe for lunch which we would highly recommend, delicious and healthy, but go early as it is quite popular!image

We then took a ride around the lake and as you can see from theses photos the water levels are down just like most in California. I read that in Nevada nine countries are primary natural disaster areas because of the drought. In this last set of pictures you can see where the water level used to be! Extremely saddened to see this but the lake was beautiful nonetheless and I will take more pictures soon.image

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Just returned from a wonderful time in Portland, OR. My husband Mike had business there and as he does once in a while, he paid my way and I was happy to tag along! Not only is Portland a favorite city for it’s green, lush, scenery but also for the great spirit of community and the young lively nightlife. Also, I have a dear cousin and a nephew that live there and it is always wonderful to get to see them and see the city from their perspective.


While Mike worked I managed to walk along the river walk near Willamette Park each morning, even on a gray day it was beautiful. I quickly found a favorite place for coffee each day at JoLa Cafe, and then covered the 3 to 4 miles into town.



We had remarkable weather for our stay with tempreatures in the 80’s which made walking in the early morning really pleasant and comforatable. I found some favorite spots downtown for shopping and getting something to eat! Of course a trip anywhere is not complete unless I find the local yarn or fabric shop and Knit and Purl did not disappoint! The salesgirl directed me to my next favorite shop Blue Star Donuts, but I only allowed myself one visit there as it was deadly! knitandpurl

Coffee with Creme Brûlée Donut for Lunch

Coffee with Creme Brûlée Donut for Lunch

Another of her recommendations was the Jet Boat Ride on the Willamette River which we signed up for on Saturday morning. It was informative, and exciting and takes about two hours, but be prepared to get wet!!  Portland is famous for it great food and we wasted no time in finding a place that we loved so much we return the next day for lunch. If you are in Portland make sure you go to Olympia Provisions and treat yourself. There are two locations and we tried them both and preferred the one on Washington. (although it is hard to get into as they only have 11 tables)FavMeal

On Saturday we went down to Oak Grove to listen to my cousin Martin (Champ) Velez play congas with the salsa group Palante. They were fabulous and we had great fun meeting up with my nephew Oly and his wife Jarani.Palante

Sunday after a great pancake breakfast Champ made, Eileen and I walked to the local shops in the Albert Art District near their home. I purchased more yarn at Twisted her favorite shop and we walked around the small but charming nursery enjoying the plants.



Lastly we walked along some great street art!streetart2


It was a wonderful trip, too short but not soon forgotten!

Coming soon a week in Lake Tahoe, stay tuned!

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Mea Culpa…

Today is August 30 and as I look back at this blog I see that I only posted once in July and nothing thereafter until today. What’s up? I have languished this summer away, on the one hand, and yet really did have loads of fun and a wonderful time in California! I did lay low, relaxed much more than in previous years, I hiked less but did get in my daily walks on the beach, I had a little company and my family came by several times for dinner and a BBQ, I missed some opportunities to have more friends visit and involve myself in more activities by choice,  but most unfortunately I have failed to share it with you and for this I apologize. Here are a few pictures of my days:



A small harvest of veggies

A small harvest of veggies

Breakfast with Sara

Breakfast with Sara

A Quiet Morning Knitting

A Quiet Morning Knitting

Another Beach Sunset

Another Beach Sunset

My Brothers with Wives and My Mom

My Brothers with Wives and My Mom at our BBQ

I can only reason that after our epic trip to India and Nepal I needed to decompress, refresh myself, and experience some introspection, spending most of my time with my thoughts and feelings. As  you can see I didn’t even take many photos. But I promise to do better. We have several trips in the works… some short and sweet (like a visit to Portland and Lake Tahoe) and some major ones (like traveling to the countries of Columbia and Panama) so the blog will pick up momentum as the year progresses. Thanks for your faithfulness to my musings and I want you to know I really do enjoy sharing my life travels in this unique way with you. All the beauty in the world is meaningless without sharing it with the ones you love!


I am back in Sedona enjoying the last of our ‘Monsoon’ weather, feeling refreshed, and challenge by what lies ahead. In fact I had a new experience just yesterday with my best friend Linda, we went out to a local vineyard owned by another mutual friend and arrived at 6 a.m. to spend 3 hours picking grapes! This harvest of over a ton of grapes will produce their very own label of wine. It was such a pleasure to be part of this annual event!




This is Linda Rachel standing before the harvest of over 50% more grapes (over a ton total) than last year. She and her husband John hope to continue this annual event and produce more beautiful wines! I was thankful to have the experience.IMG_0015


I hope to reward your patience with more pictures of our further adventures soon! So don’t neglect to check the blog and I promise not neglect to post.

Especially wishing you all as wonderful a summer!

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California Dream’n

After having mom for a month in Sedona we return her safely back to California and I begin my one month stint as dogsitter for Charlie and my stay in San Clemente. This year the drought is very evident and the garden is minimal. Tove and Jim have done a fine job revamping the yard and putting systems in place to not let any water go to waste. Lots of drought tolerant plants and beautiful succulents planted this year.


Mike spends this first week with me and we enjoy the beach and the cooler weather. While Sedona has lots of heat, the temperatures here are mild to cool, so far. Lots of overcast mornings perfect for walking and cycling. We take advantage of fresh sushi and evenings out on the patio. And especially enjoy the sunsets on the beach.IMG_1268 IMG_1265 IMG_1263

Mike is back in Sedona for now and Charlie is my true companion. I find her a bit lazy this year and not as anxious to catch lizards or fetch the ball but we are having a great time just the same. More pictures to come as I am certainly too relaxed to post more just yet…

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It finally is summer. After some pretty mild weather in the beginning of June, the heat is ON! We are experiencing heat reaching triple digits and we are making good use of our new outdoor patio. In just a couple of weeks I am off to California to house-sit for my friends and be with my beloved Charlie the dog ! Hope to enjoy the ocean and maybe get some relief from this heat. I really look forward to my time there and this year my husband will join me, some of the time, which will make it more exciting! Looking forward to sharing lots of pictures with you all. More recently my mother has been visiting here in Sedona for about a month and we are having a great time!  We get out walking, having lunch and generally just enjoying the town.   She just celebrated her 89th. birthday and as a belated present we took a trip out to Winslow, AZ. While this was new experience for her and the weather was rainy we had a wonderful time. I highly recommend La Posada Hotel for the lovely ambiance, history and incredibly delicious food at the Turquoise Room. The restored 1929 railroad hotel has a great southwest feel and the extra bonus of some great artwork by the owner’s wife.      Another highlight of her visit was when my sons were here for the week in celebration of Father’s Day and we all participanted in learning to make a traditional Puerto Rican meal of Arroz con gandules, Tostones, and Pasteles. She out did herself and we had the best meal ever!  IMG_2184 Wishing every good dad I know a blessed, well-deserved, love filled Happy Father’s Day!

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Austin, Texas

After settling in at home for a week we headed out to Texas to visit our oldest son, Michael. It’s my first time in Austin and I found it to be a lively, entertaining place with great food and beautiful scenery.  

    We had a great visit. I walked the river trail and Michael took us to his favorite places. We listened to some great music and walked the local farmers market. We got a good feel for his new city life. Although we realized he’s been there close to a year now! He is loving this great town, we hope to return soon!

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Last Days in Kathmandu…


Beautiful and Stunning! Mount Everest from the cockpit of a chartered airplane. My husband Mike and I had the opportunity of viewing the Himalayas and take pictures with a small group of about 25 people. It was a fun ride as this would be the only way I would ever see these mountain peaks!!

Our last day in Kathmandu, we have a flight out at 7 p.m., finds us having breakfast at a favorite restaurant near our guest house.IMG_1233

We then take a taxi to the other side of town to visit Patan and Durbar Square for a last visit of some ancient temples. Our driver leaves us a few blocks for the square as the street is blocked off because it is a festival day. We walk along side many motorbikes and other locals and tourists.

Overview of Square (we were standing just next to the pond at the far left)

Overview of Square
(we were standing just next to the pond at the far left)

After about 10 minutes we arrive at Durbar Square. We stop and take in the view and I tell Mike to wait so I can take a picture of the temple before us:

Durbar Square (Before)

Durbar Square (Before)

We are standing near the open square with buildings on three sides. I snap the shot and then the earth begins to jolt and then ungulate strongly! Mike says, “Get down it’s an earthquake!” We are standing near a pond in the center of the square, he pushes me down and lays over me as we both watch in disbelief as the temple before us implodes! Suddenly we are covered in debris, unable to breath for a few moments, we wait for the quake to stop. As we look up we see this incredible sight and I snap another picture:



The one temple is destroyed in an instant, people are standing in disbelief, screaming and running, it becomes like a war zone. We look at one another and immediately head back down the street we entered. It takes us some time to traverse the crowds heading in the direction of the temples. We are headed out of the area as quickly as possible, looking for a taxi to return us to our hotel. After several attempts we find a young man and his girl sitting in a taxi, Mike knocks on the window yelling “Kathmandu?” the man says yes and we hop in and off we go! The young man is fearless navigating over sidewalks, rubble, the chaos of people, animals, emergency vehicles, hospital beds with patients being rolled out onto the street and finally after about 30 minutes we are within walking distance of the hotel. We get out and walk, not really knowing if we will find our guest house standing. We pass multiple businesses closing the gates of their shops, we realize to rush home and check on family members. Later we hear the earth quake is a 7.9, a major quake!

We arrive safely back at the hotel to find everyone there out in the parking area. There we will spend the next approximately 6 hours waiting, collecting our possessions, watching our guide working with his superiors to make an exit plan for us. The staff at the hotel responded to all our needs even though there was extensive damage:

After an unsuccessful attempt at making our flight (the airport was closed and all flights out cancelled) we are transported to another hotel outside of the city. We spend the night in the outdoors with our group, all grateful for the efforts of our tour guide Anand and especially Nick Cowie, whom both make us feel safe and cared for. We cannot say enough about their organization and how they help got us through this crisis.

Our overnight camp where Nick and his family welcomed us!

Our overnight camp where Nick and his family welcomed us!

Fran and the girls after our night out...

Fran and the girls after our night out…


Symbol many homes have at the entrance door.

The next day we head out to the airport, at 9 A.M., once more to attempt the masses of people vying to leave Nepal. Our guide Anand again goes above and beyond his obligations as he makes sure we are all able to obtain our boarding passes and fly safely to our next destinations. While a second earthquake hits (6.7) at the airport and all of us have additional challenges in leaving the country, we do make our flight at 7 P.M. that evening!

While there is much more of the adventure I could share, it would make this post very long indeed. I will just say that I can’t speak for my husband, but will never pass this way again!  I loved the people that shared this adventure with us! Each one touched our lives in a special way and we are so grateful that every single one of them made it home safe and sound. We felt God’s hands upon us, as well as the love and prayers of all our friends and family!

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