Traveler’s Log

Heading westward in southern France towards the end of our incredible European adventure has me thinking upon a few things.  Our travels have taken us 13,000 kilometers and we have stayed in 17 different places, including, apartments, villas, homes and hotel rooms. By the time our trip ends, in Lisbon, Portugal, we will have stayed in 24 places and have traveled close to 20,000 kilometers (12,000 miles).   My kind husband is becoming quite tired of loading and unloading the car (34 times so far and this does not count our trip in California before we left for Europe along with packing up our whole house into storage).  Sometimes we are parked close to where we are staying and it is easy, but other times we have hauled our bags down the side of a mountain, through busy city streets, and up several long flights of stairs.  I have to say that this packing and unpacking is the worst part, even though, at times, we are ready to try our next location, it can get pretty tiresome.  We have all become professional packers though, and I really am proud of how little the girls complain as they resign themselves to the task at hand.

trip so far

With staying in so many different places we have had to get use to lots of different kitchens and lots of different beds.  I do appreciate nice cooking utensils and appliances, it really makes a difference.  We have learned a lot of what works and what doesn’t for vacation rentals…

We will have gone to the supermarket in 10 different countries.  The most unusual market so far has to be in Prague.  We have had to really rely at times on the pretty pictures on the packaging in order to have the slightest idea of what might be inside.

One of the most useful tools we have used is the translation app on my iPad  this has come in handy when having to read cooking instructions in Czech…  Also, a very handy app, has been the conversion app on our iPhone.   Whether being used for temperature (cooking or weather) distances, weights or currency, it has been very helpful. We have used the Euro, the British Pound (GBP), the Czech Koruna (CZK), and the Swiss Franc (CHF).  Hopefully helping our girls to build good math skills in the meantime.

The most memorable gift from our travels, along with all the incredible places we have seen, the time we have spent together as a family, and the food, has to be the wonderful people we have met.  We have met lovely people all over Europe.  It really has helped to make our experience so special.  With the language barrier being very tough as times, these connections with people have helped us so much to enjoy and understand the places that we have been.  It gives me such faith in humanity…there are good people everywhere!

Well, I must sign off as we have to go and pack…

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Hot, hot, hot!

Well we are done with Palm Springs, thankfully! As much as I love Palm Springs and its environs in the winter, summer is another story.  There is much to appreciate in the Coachella Valley with its desert landscapes, mid-century architecture and wonderful resorts but as much as you try, the heat is just oppressive and there is only so much of being in the pool (which is the only place that makes being outside bearable).  I have had a hard time not being outside, we are very spoiled here in Southern California! 

We have had fun though and have tried to make the most of the heat.  Palm Springs was the best place for us as we try to stay on budget. We do have a pretty big trip planned for the next 6  months so we  needed a place where it was easy on the bank account.

While in Palm Springs we have been lucky to be able to see lots of friends and family, plan a few more stops for our European adventure, get the girls in some French classes and swim classes, watch lots of the Olympics (loved it!) visited the Palm Springs Art Museum and began our online homeschooling.  This was especially good on the really hot days when there was not much else to do anyway…
Don’t tell anyone but both girls learned how to drive a golf cart and a golf ball (you can tell people that part) but not the driving the golf cart part, not sure exactly the “rules” for that one. They enjoyed driving the golf carts much more than the golf balls but still did amazingly well, they get it from their dad! Not an easy sport. Takes a lot to get that little ball all the way to that little hole!

Trying to come up with fun indoor activities, we headed to the bowling alley, they have got to do something about the slimy finger holes in the balls and the shoes! Just saying…yikes!
Now we are in Idyllwild, it is 20 degrees cooler and very nice to see some greenery. Idyllwild is a sweet little town in the mountains with lots of art galleries and great hiking trails. I am excited to be able to be outside without sweating. Next, we head to San Diego to spend our last weeks in the States before heading abroad. Looking forward to seeing family and friends!

Here is my very handsome husband in Idyllwild.  It is so nice and beautiful, such a nice change from the desert!

The girls love it here and are out searching for forest faeries as we speak, so sweet!  It is strange with everyone getting ready for back to school and we are well, not…  So excited for our traveling adventures to begin!

California road trip continues…

A long, long, long time ago in a place called Sacramento…I was born. I have not been back to Sacramento for probably 20 years and needless to say it has changed a lot, but not the places I remember, like Old Sacramento which is as cute now as it was then.

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We had really lucky with timing, as we visited the Capitol building when the last Senate session was meeting, just before their summer recess. One important issue they were voting on was the bullet train, which passed, by the way. It was such a great lesson in politics and history which is exactly why are taking this adventure in the first place.

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A trip to the Railroad Museum and the Governor’s Mansion completed my walk down memory
lane, and our tour of Sacramento.

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It was really fun visiting Sacramento, we drove by a house I lived in and my old elementary school, so many changes but so many things stay the same, as well. Next stop Chico…

And the California road trip begins…

First stop Solvang. Located in the beautiful San Ynez Valley, Solvang is a quaint (yet touristy) Danish-like village complete with aebleskivers!

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Just outside of Solvang is a miniature horse ranch named Quicksilver where American miniatures roam freely in picturesque pastures.

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Back on the road to feed the ostriches in Buellton, right off the 101.

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Next day we head to Cambria with a walk along Moonstone Beach.

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Incredible Elephant Seals.

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And of course no trip to the central coast of California is complete with out a stop to the fascinating Hearst Castle.

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Finally, we found a last minute fireworks show in Paso Robles!

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Next stop, Sacramento!

A Good Day

There is a lovely place in Malibu called Solstice Canyon where one can take a leisurely 3 mile hike.  Last week I went on this hike with a dear friend and our very happy dogs. The canyon was all a bloom, as this warm winter has tricked Mother Nature into an eternal spring. Many wild flowers were showing off their charm.  A few miles into the canyon we came across a skeleton of a once lovely house.  All that is left is beautiful stonework from the foundation and fireplace. You can see the framework of several pools outlined in stone.  Unfortunately, which happens all too often in this area, a wildfire destroyed this once incredible home in 1982. I have been here before with my husband and daughters and we wondered what it must have been like to live here.  To the side of the house is a waterfall and then the small creek wraps around in front of the house.  The house is tucked back in the canyon in a truly magical spot.  It must have been exceptionally private and incredibly peaceful to live here.  I wonder how this home was built so far back in the canyon and who would have built this incredible place.

When we returned back near the parking lot we stopped and spoke with a distinguished older man who was also walking his dog.  He told us that this whole area had belonged to his family before it was sold to the state.  I asked him about the house and he said he had grown up there.  Although they lived in Santa Monica, his father insisted that they come out to the home every weekend.  His family had cattle and they kept horses on their ranch.  He had what looked like tears in his eyes as he spoke about his memories on living in the house with his family.  I guess his mother was fearful of the Japanese attacking the coast of California (during WWII) which is why they had built a bomb shelter on the property, it doubled as a place to store food.  He still lives in the Los Angeles area and happened to be visiting his daughter and grandchild who live close by.  I felt so lucky to have run into him and it was obvious how much this place meant to him.  It is so important to be connected to the land and one’s past.  I enjoy nothing more than being in nature.  We are so fortunate to have this beautiful canyon open to the public due to this man and his family.

Once I returned home, I looked into the history of Solstice Canyon and found that his parents, Fred and Florence Roberts hired noted African-American architect Paul Williams to design the home in 1952.  Before that time the family had a small cabin on the property.  The home designed by Paul Williams was featured in Architectural Digest. They had cattle and various exotic animals on the land, including reportedly, camels, buffalos and giraffes, a miniature Hearst Castle.

If you ever find yourself in this area, I would highly recommend a hike through this beautiful canyon.  It is good for your heart and your head!

For more information here is a link to the Malibu Surfside News:

http://malibusurfsidenews-blog.blogspot.com/2010/11/nps-rangers-and-former-residents-share.html