Friday, February 27, 2009

When we were in Western Australia we found a boutique winery in Mumballup, halfway between Yabberup and Noggerup.

Mandalay Estate Winery is one of very few wineries in Western Australia that make zinfandel...our very favorite! While we were there they told us about their daughter, Liz, who was getting ready to open a restaurant in San Francisco.

The restaurant, South, is in South Beach San Francisco, an up-and-coming culinary center. Liz is partners with two other ex-pats, Anna Weinberg from New Zealand, and Luke Mangan from Australia. Luke also owns Salt in Tokyo, and Glass Brasserie in Sydney, and has published three cookbooks.

This is a place where you can experience the taste of down under in an intimate, neighborhood restaurant. The wine list features wines from the southern hemisphere, and the menu includes specialty items from New Zealand and Australia.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Las Vegas, Baby!
I love Las Vegas! There's something about the energy there that gets me so excited! I'm not much of a gambler...George and I usually allot ourselves $20 a day for gambling (big spenders!) but I hate to lose so I rarely will even spend that!

But what I really like about Las Vegas is the hiking there. Red Rock Canyon is fabulous! One morning we went early and hiked with the Bighorn Sheep. They followed us for about an hour.
Another favorite spot is Arizona Hot Springs. A 5.6 mile hike passes through a beautiful slot canyon, past the shore of Lake Mohave, and to a series of hot springs accessed by a steep ladder. Bathing suits are optional!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

This year should be an explosion of color for desert wildflowers. With the snow in December, and the rains in February, the stage is set for a spectacular season.

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, just 15 miles away from Lancaster in Southern California, is known for displaying an ocean of color when the time is right.

I think the time is going to be right this year. The bloom is usually between mid-March and mid-May. The duration of the bloom varies from year to year.

The Reserve's website will have up-to-date information regarding the bloom. I sure would like to buzz down there for a couple of days to see it. I'd love to take my camera!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Visit the Grand Circle in Southern Utah

Take time this year to visit some of our national treasures. The Grand Circle route in Southern Utah has some of the most spectacular scenery that I've ever seen. Just seeing it is a lesson in geography!

Delicate Arch, in Arches National Park, is worth planning for. Take a hike late in the afternoon and watch the sunset from there.

Bryce Canyon is another geological marvel. We got up before sunrise to get some good pictures. It was in early May, and the temperature was 8 degrees. But it was worth every shiver!

We stayed at the Best Western Ruby's Inn at Bryce. They have good RV spots, and lots of motel rooms, plus a great restaurant for breakfast. Even that early in the year there were bus loads of foreign tourists.

SkyAuction for Super Deals

SkyAuction is like a cross between eBay and Priceline. It’s similar to eBay because you bid on an item within a certain amount of time, and you can continue to “up” your bid until it closes. It’s similar to Priceline because its focus is strictly travel. offers:
Air/Hotel Packages
Vacation Rentals
Car Rentals

And just about any combination or single item you may want. Keep your eyes on the Hot Travel Deals and Auctions Closing Soon. Frequently you can find a vacation rental for a week for just one dollar. On top of that dollar there’s a Tax and Service Charge for the week.

Here’s an example of what’s available today at a bid of One Dollar:

One Mile from Heavenly Ski Resort7 Nights at Lake Tahoe Vacation ResortSouth Lake Tahoe, California
Tax and Service charge for the week is $295.

This is truly BUDGET TRAVEL!

Priceline Does it Again!

While planning an April trip to Phoenix we needed to rent a car. Being a Hertz Gold Club Member we first went to the Hertz website to see what price we could get. For the week that we needed the car the price, including service charges and taxes, was going to be more than $500.
Even though we’re loyal Hertz customers, this was just too much to pay. I got on, ready to accept a rental agency that, in my opinion, is not as professional as Hertz. I put in a bid of $18 a day, and with service charges and taxes the total was $221. That was more like it!
I hit the key to confirm my bid, and waited a minute or two while the computers searched cyberspace for a willing company. And low and behold, I got my price! Not only that, I got a Hertz car!
Once again, Priceline has come through for us. We’ve used it for flights, hotels, and cars, and have yet to be disappointed.

Just spent a fabulous four days in Bend, Oregon with eleven of my favorite people. We had clear blue skies and cool weather, creating the ultimate skiing conditions. We arrived at the lodge at 8:30 a.m. to find NO CROWDS! We parked up front, went straight to the ticket window to get our lift tickets, then straight up the mountain without waiting in line. It was amazing! Where are the people?
I skied on Saturday, snowshoed on Sunday, and cross country skied on Monday. So much fun! But the rest of our group skied on Monday on an EMPTY mountain in perfect skiing conditions.
While the lift tickets are very expensive, our trip was budget…$245 per couple for four nights lodging and all meals everyday. (THANK YOU FOR THE MEALS, COSTCO!) We rented a five bedroom house and made all of our meals. A really affordable ski trip!

I just finished an article about a photo tour of Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona. What a fabulous experience that was, and I got some great shots. Pictures of slot canyons have always intrigued me, and seeing one was even better than I imagined.
While we were there I could hear some quiet flute music in the background. “Chief” Ray Tsosie was playing the flute for his own tour, and we were lucky enough to be there while he played. I wandered through the canyon in search of the beautiful music, eventually coming upon a lone Navajo man sitting on a rock playing quietly. It wasn’t until later that I learned he does that regularly.
Photo tours with Antelope Canyon Tours are $5o. Regular tours are $32.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

This is the entryway. These are going to be the final shots of the house. I must get back to the business of travel writing!


Dining room

And the new front yard. It's been a long but fun seven months. The house is ready to accept guests! And we are too!