Meiko performance at Gion Corner

See Ancient Japanese Arts and Geisha on Stage

Meiko performance at Gion Corner

In the famous Kyoto district known as Gion, you will find a theatrical stage show of the Japanese performing arts. Gion was originally developed in the Middle Ages (!) and eventually became one of the most exclusive and well-known geisha districts in all of Japan. After your day of strolling through the shrines, peeking into shops and sampling colorful sweets, I highly recommend an evening show at the Gion Corner. I've been Read More

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Favorite Gems in Laguna Beach

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As a California native I have always been drawn to the coast. When I first started driving in Los Angeles, I was constantly getting lost and always ending up at the beach. Between Los Angeles and San Diego we have some epic coastal scenery; it's easy to stay on the freeway and miss some of the best places! Next time you're passing through or even doing a west coast road trip, check out these coastal gems. I promise you won't Read More

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Wildlife Photography at the Zoo

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I recently got my hands on some new lenses (50mm prime + 300mm telephoto zoom) and I wanted to try them out at the LA Zoo. The reason is simple: I love animals and I'm working on improving my wildlife photography. The timing turned out to be perfect. Just three days earlier one of the female hippos gave birth to an adorable baby. The pair cuddled while the papa stayed close (see photo below). Check out my photos and I'd Read More

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Amazing Snorkeling on Oahu

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Oahu has some excellent snorkeling in spots such as Kuilima Cove, Kahe Beach, Shark's Cove and Kaena. But in my opinion, Hanauma Bay is the best snorkeling on the island and I'm certainly not the first person to suggest that this spot probably has the most fish in all of Hawaii. Hanauma Bay is a Nature Preserve located just 30 minutes east of Waikiki. The bay is home to 400 species of extremely colorful fish and green sea Read More

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Secret Garden on the Island of Kauai

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The Hawaiian island of Kauai bears some of the most lush and vibrant surroundings in the world, which is the main reason I visit as often as possible. While the island's south shore is home to the popular and gorgeous McBride and Allerton Botanical Gardens, I wanted to share a secret about some lesser known gardens. Ones which I prefer because nobody else is there and I can make believe that they are my own secret Read More

salish lodge luxury hotel

The Relaxing Getaway You Crave

salish lodge luxury hotel

An hour east of Seattle, Washington is the luxury hotel that I have dreamed of visiting for several years since I first saw a photo of it. I've recently been traveling in the Pacific Northwest and I decided to make it happen - my relaxing getaway at the Salish Lodge was beyond everything I'd hoped for. Read on California residents.... you too Vancouverites! The Salish Lodge Located directly on top of a huge 268-foot Read More

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We Saw Five Blue Whales!

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This summer I found a fantastic outing with Captain Dave's Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari. I love the idea of this trip for several reasons; they have been recognized for their whale rescue efforts and have produced an award winning documentary and a great book on the subject, the tours are small in size and they take daily trips off the coast of Dana Point, California, where there are more blue whales and dolphins than Read More

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Voted #1 Best City Garden – Vancouver Chinese Garden

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Located in Vancouver's Chinatown, minutes from the hustle and bustle of downtown, is an oasis that is the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Gardens. Local residents are lucky to have such a gem nearby. Classical chinese gardens in history have been a place for reflection and escape from the outside world, and this garden is no exception.  Why Visit the Garden? Named after the first President of the China Republic, the garden was built Read More

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Road Trip Visit to the Spruce Goose

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I planned an unusual stop on our west coast road trip... As we headed north on the I5 in Oregon state, just about an hour south of Portland we stopped to explore The Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum.  Evergreen's mission is, "To inspire, promote and preserve aviation and space history, and honor the patriotic service of our veterans." The property covers multiple buildings filled with aircraft, exhibits and artifacts Read More

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Spanish Hacienda Luxury Hotel in La Jolla, California

san diego estancia la jolla luxury hotel lounge seating

Spanish Hacienda style luxury hotel & spa, La Estancia La Jolla is nestled atop the coastline bluffs of La Jolla, California. I read about their gardens in several magazines so I had to check out the sprawling 10 acre property. I could try to describe the relaxing, colorful and quiet hotel grounds, but instead I'll show you.... (see below for discounts). How to Get a Discounted Rate at La Estancia La Jolla La Read More

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Kyoto’s Golden Gem: Kinkakuji Temple

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Kinkakuji, Temple of the Golden Pavilion, is a Zen Temple in the ancient Japanese city of Kyoto whose top two floors are entirely covered in gold leaf. It is designated as a National Special Historic Site and is one of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto World Heritage Site. The view was perhaps the most awe-inspiring sight on my visit to Kyoto. Beyond that is an education and immersion into one of the world's best Read More

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Native American Culture at an Indian Pow Wow

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I recently had the pleasure of experiencing Native American culture firsthand at a dance and feather-filled pow wow. This type of cultural celebration is something I love to see on my travels and share.   Native Americans from the Band of Paiutes in Nevada, Utah, Canada and their guests gathered for the 25th annual Snow Mountain Indian Pow Wow in Las Vegas, Nevada. They came together to join in cultural song and dance and Read More

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The Best Dam Photos Ever – A Masterpiece

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I recently visited the ever-impressive Hoover Dam, taking some time to appreciate the vision and ingenuity it took to "Make the Desert Bloom" with the creation of the dam. The dam is only 30 miles from Las Vegas, so if you're in the area, you should visit. The dam was built by over 5000 engineers and laborers who overcame huge obstacles to achieve something so monumental. And they got it done 18 months ahead of schedule and Read More

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Well Preserved Southern Gem – Savannah’s Tybee Lighthouse

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Near Savannah, Georgia is the Island of Tybee where the immaculately preserved Light Station can be explored, courtesy of their historical society. Tybee Island was named "Savannah's Beach" in 1950 and has long been a quiet getaway for residents of Savannah. The Island holds a strategic position near the mouth of the Savannah River which made it an ideal location for the lighthouse, first built in 1736. The lighthouse actually Read More

Netarts Oregon Coast Road Trip Sunset Silhouette

Coastal Oregon – The Road Less Traveled

Netarts Oregon Coast Road Trip Sunset Silhouette

West Coast Road Trip (continued)  We had reached the destination of our road trip (Portland, Oregon) and the journey home was imminent. Normally when heading home from anywhere I start thinking about all the things I need to get done back home... but not this time. Though we would be home in mere days I knew there were still exciting adventures ahead in coastal Oregon. The truth is, at every stop on this road trip I saw Read More

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Portland’s Got The Hip Tracks

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West Coast Road Trip (continued) Wandering around downtown Portland I came across the most colorful music store I've ever seen: Jackpot Records. They are an independent music store with a wide variety of new and used CDs and Vinyl Records. Some locals say it's the best in the city.  While it is somewhat small, it definitely packs a punch. They have listening kiosks where I found several things I'd never heard before. Read More

Camas Hotel Exterior

Where to Stay when Visiting Portland

Camas Hotel Exterior

West Coast Road Trip (continued) This one I had not planned. We finally arrived in Portland after over a week of road tripping from Los Angeles, and I hadn't booked a hotel assuming there would be tons of options in downtown Portland. As it happens, weekends get booked up quick leaving you stuck with only high priced rooms. Searching for other options, I came across the Camas Hotel. The description said "Romantic Read More

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The Unexpected Cognac, France

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I left Bordeaux that morning and had a full day ahead of me with my teeny tiny SmartCar rental (the only automatic car they had, which by the way, was the most expensive thing on the entire trip). With no agenda in sight, I hit the freeway and eventually saw a sign for the town of Cognac. I'm thinking, wait, Cognac? As in the drinking spirit Cognac? Could it be possible that's what this town is about?  I parked at the Read More

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Experimental Beauty – Rose Test Garden, Portland

Portland Test Rose Garden Striped Rose 2

West Coast Road Trip (continued) Portland's International Rose Test Garden is different than most other public gardens. It's primary purpose is as a testing ground for new rose varieties and it is the oldest rose testing program of it's kind in the United States. The Garden cares for over 10,000 plants of 500 varieties. For almost one hundred years, the city of Portland, Oregon is the only North American city to give an Read More

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Want to Meet a Baby Cheetah?

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West Coast Road Trip (continued) In the heart of the vast Oregon wilderness, over 600 exotic and native animals live a fully protected and free-roaming lifestyle. 'Wildlife Safari' in Winston, Oregon, with a full 600 acres of land, has dedicated themselves to the conservation, education and research of wildlife. I was very happy to get a chance on my road trip to see these animals in dedicated habitats in the beautiful Read More