Type A traveling

Are you the type of Type A person who creates a spreadsheet for every trip you take?  Do you pre-schedule every tour, hotel, method of transportation, etc ahead of time?  Do you pack so many things in to the day you don’t make any time for getting lost?  Is this just how your brain is wired?  Are you swimming in a sea of paper maps, guidebooks, and smartphone apps?

Or do you just roll with it?  Buy your tickets a day or two in advance?  Don’t book a hotel and just run across one when you get there?  Hope there will be affordable transportation at the airport when you land?  Skip all of the typical tourist destinations of your location and just chill in a bar or cafe to get the vibe of the locals?

Are you somewhere in between?

What kind of traveler are you?  What kind of traveler do you think I am? 😉

Snow Shoes and Winter Colds – Lake Tahoe

Christmas is over.  The presents are unwrapped.   The family has been visited.  Merriment has been spread.  I have a cold to show for it like I do most years.  What to do now?  Find some snow and bring the snow shoes!

I love to snow shoe for a lot of reasons.  Its easy on the body and its free. You can just find some snow, put them on, and go for it.  Unlike skiing which requires expensive lift tickets and dealing with crowds, and for me a whole lot of bruises the next day.

A lot of people enjoy skiing and snow boarding for the rush.  For me I have always preferred a slower pace so I can see and hear and smell and observe the small things like icicles, and bird foot prints, and beautiful vistas.  For these reasons snow shoeing is right up my alley.

Part of highway 89 is always closed in winter for obvious reasons.  We like to drive until we find the road closed and then snow shoe the rest.  In this case we went to Vikingsholm at the magnificent Emerald Bay lookout.  We shoed until we got tired which isn’t boding well for my cold the next day.

We were the only ones there!  We hiked down the trail in thick perfect powder making the first foot prints that didn’t belong to a bird or a deer.  It was awesome and quiet.  The only noise came from the Paddlewheeler giving visitors a nice cold boat tour.  Other than that we heard running water, drips from the icicles, birds calling, and the wind.

 

 

I took this photo because I just couldn’t believe we were there with absolutely no one else.  It’s an amazing feeling to have such a popular and spectacular location all to yourself.  You just have to work a little bit for it I suppose.

No those aren’t Yeti feet.  They are mine!

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If you look closely you can see the tiny tea house built atop the island in Emerald Bay where the original owner would frequently visit many years ago.

It was pretty darn cold

Have you ever gone snow shoeing before?  If not, how do you enjoy the snow?

Happy Holidays everyone!  Thanks, as always, for reading.

Cee’s Shoe & Feet challenge!

To see more information on the glorious Lake Tahoe click here to see my list of things not to miss.

 

Cee’s Odd Ball Challenge – Ireland Edition

Odd ball items can be found anywhere.  But, here is a collection of photos I don’t think I have shared yet.  Check out the off ball side of Ireland for Cee’s photo challenge!

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Random Donkey Carving in Antrim

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Guinness in Baby Bottles Sign

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Jail art seen through a cell door at Kilmainham Gaol

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More Irish Donkeys

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Waterless Boats in Galway

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Large Building full of “stuffed” animals.  This deer lived a long time ago and was massive!

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Animal Graveyard at Powerscourt Gardens

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Animal Graveyard at Powerscourt Gardens

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Strange Stones at Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland

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Guinness Street Art in Dublin

 

To see some of my other photo challenges click here.

Postcards from Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is an amazing place.  The vistas are gorgeous in any direction one looks.  Squaw Valley, and this view particularly, has always been one of my favorites.  Sometimes, like I did today, I just drive down to see it, hop out, take a photo, wave, and then continue on to my destination.  It just makes me happy.  The snow here is making everyone in California hopeful for a drought-less summer this year.  (We will need a whole lot more than this.)  I hope the view brings you some joy as well.

Victorian Christmas in Nevada City

Merry Christmas everyone wherever you are in the world. Enjoy a reblog from a Christmas past visiting a local Gold Town called Nevada City for Victorian Christmas.

Bulldog Travels

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. After what felt like a year without a single rain drop in California it seems all of the missing rain was dropped in only a few week’s time. Along with all this water the leaves have all dropped and the temperatures have cooled. The malls are full and the UPS drivers seem to go past the house five times per day delivering their joyful packages. Lights are up on the house and fire places are smoking. Bakes goods are plentiful, pot lucks are seemingly daily events, and consequently my pants are fitting tightly. All of these things mean one thing! Christmas time is here again!

While UPS drivers and pot lucks are certainly a sign of the season where, you ask, does one go in Northern California to feel truly in the holiday spirit? The gold country is often where I flock…

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Tikal, Guatemala…a location fit for Star Wars

I just binged watched the Star Wars Trilogy in anticipation of the new movie coming out this week.  In case you were worried, YES I do have tickets and yes I am ridiculously excited about it. That said, I remembered George Lucas used Tikal as a back drop for one of the rebel bases in the first movie (episode IV).  I realized that I never posted about Tikal so here you are…

My huz and I took a trip last year to Belize.  We took a short day trip in to Guatemala to check out Tikal.  It took a little bit of planning to get there since crossing the border from Belize in to Guatemala isn’t quite as easy as crossing the California/Oregon border.  I had read in the guidebooks that you can do all sorts of tricky stuff like pay people, take a cab from one side to another then get separate cab, blah blah.  I didn’t really want to get stuck anywhere doing something shady so we did what I rarely do and booked a tour.

From San Ignacio, Belize we paid somewhere around the equivalent of $75 per person for the tour which physically pained me.  We were picked up at our AirBNB, like we were rock stars, and were shuttled to the border.  A guide helped us through the border crossing where we got a passport stamp.  Another driver and guide picked us up on the other side and drove us about an hour or so to Tikal with a nice coffee stop along the way.  My reluctance for paying money for a guide quickly dwindled away after I realized he was answering my thousands of questions intelligently and with humor and with a keen enjoyment of people.  He shared endless stories about his home village growing up, his desire for his grand children to be raised as he had been, the economy, politics, etc.  (People are no different anywhere, are they?)  He was an archaeologist and was extremely knowledgeable.  (At this point I thought I was getting a great deal for a guide, driver, entrance in to the park, and lunch!)

The driver, whose grand daughter was also names Jenny, was kind enough to give me one Guatemalan Quetzal bill for my foreign money collection. He refused to take my money in exchange for it which I just thought was the sweetest thing ever.  (Nevermind, the bill was worth less than a quarter coin.  I still thought it was incredibly kind.)

I digress from the reason I am writing this post!  Our guide took us on a half-day hike/walk through Tikal National Park pointing out every species of bird and plant along the way.  Bird watching was very fun for me in Belize and Guatemala because we had a birding book at our disposal which made us feel like we knew what we were doing.  (But, we most didn’t and I gained a respect for people who bird watch.  It’s hard!  And even harder to photograph them!)

Tikal is a world UNESCO Heritage site reaching its status in 1979.  Tikal is found in the Peten Basin and is the largest Mayan site with monuments dating back to the 4th century.  The park is covered in thick brush and rain forest.  As you walk through it you would be hardfast to realize that mere feet beyond where you stand are multiple temples hundreds of feet tall.

Highlights at the park are the Great Plaza, the Central and North Acropolis, the Plaza of the Seven Temples, and the plaza ball court.  Lots of Stela are on display many of which can still clearly show the images.

Bring your hiking boots and a bottle of water because if you want to get to the top of all of these structures you are going to have to hike and sweat to get there.  It is hot and muggy and it is a long way up.  The sun is merciless but the views are epic.  The irony is that the best view, in my opinion, is of the temples themselves.  When you are on the top of them you cannot see their grandeur for you are standing atop them.

I could have easily spent multiple days hiking through the park and checking out each and every site in great detail.  Sadly, because we were on a schedule we had to get back home.  I am very glad we did it.  I was able to see another set of ruins I had always dreamed of in a country I had never visited.

Can you think of any other awesome locations used in film that are must sees?  Have you visited any of them?

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We got a kick out of the automotive relics laying around in addition to the Mayan archaeology

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You get your workout climbing up and down

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I admire the perfect angles

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Having fun with a strange selfie

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This stela has seen better days

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The top of one of the temples is towering over the canopy

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Marker stones

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This is one of the less busy sections of the park with fewer crowds so I gravitated towards it

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They are doing a nice job of trying to protect the stela that remain

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Humans aren’t the only ones that climb the temples although our guide said this was highly unusual

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I find these temples stunning. Can you imagine what they looked like when they were only just built?

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If I were George Lucas I would have used these buildings in my movie too!  They are stunning, mysterious, epic, and impressive.

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Very nicely preserved stela.

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This man was in charge of pulling weeds from the temple and was only tied on by a rope.  You cannot really tell from this photo but it was a long way down and it was very steep.

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Mayan Mask that one had to perform a feat of Yoga in order to capture on film

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View from the top

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More masks at the top.  If memory serves this has been restored and was not original.

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View from the very top by a hot and overheated, likely sunburned, and slightly acrophobic photographer.

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For adventures in Belize click here or Uxmal,Mexico click here.

Kinsale and Southern Ireland Sunshine

Bob Ross used to speak of “happy accidents”.  When planning a trip to Ireland a few years back my brother suggested visiting Kinsale because a co-worker of his thought it was the best part of Ireland.  The idea of trying a new city appealed to me so we set off.  Kinsale is located in far Southern Ireland due south of Cork City.  It is nestled in a beautiful bay with the tiny village built directly on the water.  Kinsale is an idyllic Irish village full of energy, food, bars, music, and life.  I enjoyed the city so much I made sure to take my parents to the city on our recent trip.  When we arrived we joined a local Farmers market, visited some antique stores, walked to the castle, enjoyed some ice cream, and walked around the marina.  All things that are done on a perfect day in the perfect place…

Nearby Charles Fort is a lovely way to soak up the Southern Ireland sun with a view of the Old Head and Kinsale Village.  Guides are helpful in describing the history of the Fort and even Titanic history as this was its last stop before meeting the famed Iceberg.

Kinsale is a splendid place to spend several days and make day trips around the region.  The roads in and around Kinsale are not for the faint of heart but are arguably some of the most beautiful vistas and scenery in all of Ireland.  Take the southern road both East and West or head north to Cork and Blarney.  I would highly recommend visiting Drombeg Circle and even a day trip to Clonikilty.

I am grateful to my brother’s un-named friend for introducing me to a region of Ireland that has proven to be one of my favorites.  Has anyone else gotten a random tip that turned out to be a really happy accident?

 

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Would you paint your house this color?

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The harbor is so breathtaking on a clear bright day like this

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The photo does not even remotely do justice to how beautiful this village is.

For more on my Irish Musings please click here…

Dublin Ireland’s General Post Office

Why would anyone give a rip about visiting a post office if not to mail a letter or package? Generally I try to avoid visiting them as much as I do the Department of Motor Vehicles.  However, in this case Dublin’s famous General Post Office, or GPO, played a huge part in the Easter Rebellion and is therefor a historic landmark. In 1916 rebels holed up on the Georgian GPO with adversaries posted across the street and down O’Connell street for days.  The building was all but destroyed during the rising and later restored with the granite façade remaining original.  Bullet holes still adorn the iconic columns of the GPO as do nearby sculptures.  These bullet holes, as well as many other such historic ideals in Dublin are kept as a reminder rather than repaired.  The building is iconic and important for the Irish Republic and Dublin representing a major historical event and Irish nationalism.  Within the post office, and on display in the front window, is a statue of Cuchilainn sculpted as a reminder of the rebellion.

Can anyone think of other seemingly inconsequential structures made important due to historical events that took place nearby or on site?

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GPO


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Cuchilainn


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Look closely at her elbow and you will see a bullet hole

To read more about my most recent trip to Ireland I welcome you to click here…

Mendocino in the Fall

Fall in Mendocino means mushrooms.  Mendocino is surrounded by ocean, redwoods, and hills therefore the fall colors do not blaze as brightly here as they do on the drive through the wine country to get there from Sacramento.

Mushroom hunting

My husband and I dream of owning property here one day.  But, in the meantime it really does not get any better than camping at MacKerricher State Park.  It is $35 per night and one is surrounded by Redwoods, ocean, Cleone Lake, mushrooms, curious seals, deer, wine cork stealing bunnies, and even a Giant Whale Skeleton on display for kids.

 

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She is smart enough to sniff and walk away!

Looking for seals or wayward sailors

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After realizing she looks a lot like a seal with legs

MacKerricher is my favorite campsite in California located in one of the prettiest areas of California.  MacKerricher sits just north of Fort Bragg.  Fort Bragg is a tough old logging town which is finding its footing with breweries, shops, and tourism.  Fort Bragg has newly renovated its famed Glass Beach formed from years of waves crashing against an old garbage site.  My favorite place to visit in Fort Bragg is the Mendocino Botanical Gardens.  It is and will remain my happy place.

Just a hop, skip, and a jump down the road is the village of Mendocino.  This iconic village is where Eric and I got married five years ago!  (Happy Anniversary to us!)  We relived the big day by having dinner at our favorite restaurant 955 Ukiah Street Restaurant.  The next day we picked up a baguette from Cafe Beaujolais and picnicked on the ocean.

Just north of MacKericher is a beach near Pacific Star Winery where the tide pooling is stellar.  A nice little blue grab game out to assert his domain.

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Mr. Blue Crab

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Not that you can tell with the iPhone but those are seals out there lounging in the sunshine

 

 

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Low tide allows for shenanigans like this

The amazing part about the Pacific Ocean is that we left weather in the 40’s and found clear weather in the 60’s on the ocean.  The weather is typically the opposite of what is happening in the Sacramento Valley.

Happy Fall everyone. I am trying to hang on to the last bit of it before winter takes hold.  Is it cold and wintery where you are already?

Remnants of an old dock at MacKerricher

For further Mendocino and Mushroom adventures click here.

Just takin’ a little walk…over the Golden Gate Bridge!

Don’t look down!

My cousins and their Egyptian foreign exchange student came to visit San Francisco for business/pleasure from Phoenix.  Deciding not to plan ahead my cousins and I , both San Francisco tourist veterans in our own right, set to decide what important sites their new “daughter” must see.  The conversation went like this, “What do you think she should see?”  “I don’t know, what do you think she should see?  All I know is I am hungry.”  “Anything you want to do that you have never done before?”  “Ah, no. I feel like I have done everything.”  Then my cousin asked me if I had ever walked over the iconic Golden Gate Bridge?  Well, heck.  I never had.  I guess I just never wanted to deal with the wind and the crowds.  So we set out…

The parking Gods were with us.  Someone pulled out right in front of us.  Parking was only $5!  Parking is NEVER only $5 in San Francisco.

It turns out there is a lovely gift shop at the bridge.  I don’t know why this comes as a surprise to me but it does.  Near the gift shop there is a cool representation of what it takes to build this magnificent bridge.  Did you know that those gigantic orange cables holding up that thing is made of thousands of of smaller cables?  There are a few interactive toys/models to show folks the engineering behind the bridge too.

And then there is the bridge!  Just walk on out there.  Put earthquakes out of your mind.  Put tsunamis from the Rock’s new movie out of your mind.  Pay no attention to the police officer yelling at someone doing something they aren’t supposed to over the intercom.  Take some fun little selfies. And then behold the beauty that is the Marin Headlands in one direction and the most beautiful city in the United States in the other.  (Reference some of my favorite lesser known spots in SF: Botanical gardens, ChinaTown, Japanese Tea Garden, Coit Tower…)  You have a birdseye view of Alcatraz and Angel islands.  You can see the new span of the Bay Bridge and all its glory connected by Treasure island.  You can see Berkeley and Oakland.  You can see seals frolicking in the water below.  Wait, don’t look down!  You can see sailboats at 90 degree angles.  You can feel the vibration of the bridge moving by both natural forces and the hundreds of cars zooming by.  It is loud, very loud and the wind is whipping up in your ears making it seem even louder.  You dodge runners and bicyclists as well as other tourists walking with their cameras up not paying attention to anyone or anything around them.  We turn around 3/4 of the way over the bridge because it is a long darn bridge and the loudness and the wind is getting to us all.

It never fails to surprise me that every time I go to the City I have a good time and can experience something new.  I know it will be this way for the rest of my life.

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It’s hard not to stare at this view


Do you think there is anyone out there that doesn’t recognize this bridge?


Such a beautiful city and the Golden Gate only makes her that much prettier

Used to have toll takers now what do you do if you don’t have a fastpass?

Cousins everywhere!  I never thought I would have an Egyptian cousin or a cousin from Pacific Grove and look at these two lovely ladies!

Try your hand at how much tension is required to raise a bridge

 

To read about my other San Francisco exploits click here!