Sunday, January 31, 2016

ABCs of Moab: Arches, Bridges, Canyons and so much more

The ABCs of enjoying Moab is a synopsis of possibilities put together by the creative folks at the Moab Travel Council. Use this as inspiration for your travels to the Four Corners area.

You’ll find places to visit, things to do and knowledge to put together a great plan. Indulge in Adventure Travel featuring both kid-friendly and adult appreciated activities. Use this uncommon, but replete list as a ‘First Timer’s Guide’ or as a handy reminder of Moab’s reputation for adventure. Here are the ABCs of Moab:

 Arches National Park – It has the world’s largest concentration of arches. See arches from a paved scenic drive. Get out of the car to hike to many others.

Biking – Moab is the mecca for mountain biking. There is a trail for every skill level.  There are short paved pathways for road cycling and wide shoulders for distance pedaling.

Camping – Tent campers are best located in sites with toilet facilities while self-contained RVs can find more primitive spots. Arches and Dead Horse Point parks have online reservations to be booked well in advance of arrival.

Dead Horse Point State Park – The notorious name does not reflect the quality of this superb park with expansive views, great mountain bike trails and regularly scheduled ranger programs.

Elevated Transit – This daily motor coach links Moab to the Salt Lake City Airport and has room for bicycles!

Fisher Towers – When approached from the Cisco Desert, the cool mountains behind the towers and flowing Colorado River in the foreground demands, “Stop! Take a picture!”

Golfing OR Disc Golfing – Eighteen holes of green is dazzling in contrast to the surrounding red rock sandstone surroundings. Or bring discs for eighteen baskets among the junipers.

Horseback riding – Go on a guided ride through terrain that John Wayne has ridden for films. Bring your own horse and find stalls for rent or campgrounds with corrals.
Island in the Sky of Canyonlands National Park – This district of Canyonlands, north of Moab, is like the prow of a sinking ship poking up into the air with spacious views. The Needles district is south of Moab a few hours with Newspaper Rock on the way to it. Newspaper Rock is teeming with Native American history, more rock art panels can be found in and around Moab too.

Jurassic Rock means Dinosaurs – Hike to dinosaur tracks in what we call, open air museums. Treat these sites with respect. Know before you go: Any disturbing, casting, rubbing or pouring anything into the fossils, including tracks, is expressly forbidden under federal regulations.

Kane Creek – Kane Creek is a popular region of Moab with camping, hiking, mountain biking and 4wheeling.

La Sal Mountains – A 60 mile loop follows the Colorado River, then approaches the mountains by way of Castle Valley, serving up forest climate with unique vistas of red rock far below. The loop is completed by descending into Spanish Valley and navigating motorists back to town.

Motorcycling – On the road, there are three scenic by-ways with sweeping curves and views that demand attention. On the trails, Ride with Respect is engaged here. Get oriented.

Night Life – Pick up the free publication of Moab Happenings for a list of live performances, dates, times and location.

Off-Road Vehicles – Whether in a jeep or driving an OHV, miles upon miles of trails surround Moab. Get maps from the Moab Information Center in downtown.

Photography – Iconic shapes, blooms throughout spring, summer and fall, capture the sporty fun or incredible lighting. Do it on your own, in a workshop, with a photo guide or get hints from

Quality Rock Art Panels – There are two types of rock art: petroglyphs and pictographs. The motifs pecked or scratched on the rock surface, petrogylphs, are often found on a dark patina called desert vanish. Pictographs are painted with mineral dyes or plant pigments. Examples of both are found in sites near Moab.

River Activities – on the calm water, stand up paddling boarding and canoeing is suitable. In the rapids, rafting and kayaking are enjoyed. Rent or bring your own or hire a river company to take you. Motorized jet boat tours are another manner of getting out from behind your windshield to experience the Colorado River by Moab.

Star Gazing – Rich, dark skies are breathtaking in southern Utah. Try peering through a telescope if visiting during the new moon, or hiking during the full moon.

Tempting wineries and brewery – Spanish Valley Vineyards and Castle Creek Winery provide tastings and free tours by request. Moab Brewery distributes many flavors in cans and bottles. The Blu Pig has a specially crafted beer on tap as well.

Ultra Marathons and Half Marathons – Trail marathons and paved half marathons dapple the event calendar in Moab. Ultra runners come to compete. Moab is host of the USA trail marathon championship race too. Beautiful canyons inspire rugged determination during competition. One half marathon is for women only, inspired by, Thelma and Louise, characters of an iconic movie filmed in Moab.

Veteran’s Day is free! – Throughout the year National Park Service specifies dates to enter the park for free. In 2015 it began with a free date to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. day, Presidents’ Weekend, opening of National Park Week in April, to celebrate National Parks’ Birthday August 25 (turns 100 in 2016!), National Public Lands Day September 26 and finishes with Veterans’ Day November 11 2015. Do research for free dates in 2016.

Winter Festival - The first weekend in December, holiday festivities commence with tree lighting and singing, annual craft shopping, appearances and picture with Santa, an electric light parade on Saturday night and a fun 10k Sun Run by the Moab Half Marathon folks.

Xcellent Restaurants – Pick up a free Moab Menu Guide in the lobby of hotels, campground offices, foyers of shops or find it online

Yoga – With all of the activities possible in Moab, get grounded and centered practicing Yoga.

Ziplining – High flying adventure typically strung among trees, makes Moab’s zipline especially unique. Tower to tower from sandstone mounds over amazing desert features, the tour includes a 4 mile OHV ride and a hike across a 100 foot suspension bridge. More harness and helmet fun can be had at the Adventure Park of Moab. There are 18 elements on the High Ropes course made up of cable and planks to cross.

The ABCs conclude, but the possibilities for everything fun has only just begun. Look for more adventure on or phone the Moab Travel Council for a vacation guide today 435-259-1340.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Coal Mine Canyon – A Beautiful Surprise Near Tuba City, Arizona

There are no guardrails so standing back
from the edge is a smart move when
visiting Coal Mine Canyon
It was almost sunset and I peered, cautiously, over the edge of Coal Mine Canyon. This beautiful canyon, unknown to most, is on Navajo Nation land, close to the border of the Hopi Reservation. Like many areas on the reservations, the location is unmarked. 

Many beautiful areas on the reservation where you can photograph such natural beauty or go hiking are found down dirt roads and look as though they would not be open to the public. 

Nearby is an inhabited farmhouse. As the sun set, I heard the dogs barking at coyotes in the distance.

Such is the overlook at Coal Mine Canyon. You need directions to get there. And, if we hadn’t been told that it was open to the public by a Native American man who lived close-by, we would have missed this treasure all together. 
The colors on the canyon walls are vibrant.

I had the joy of gazing over the edge of the sand and stone rim. It was rather scary as there are no guardrails or marked edges. If you go to Coal Mine Canyon you’ll find a magical deep canyon with red mudstone, bleached white rock and coal streaks. At sunset the light can play off the colors in the stone and make for amazing photography. It is a beautiful canyon.

Coal Mine Canyon, Navajo Nation
Visitors need a permit from the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Dept. for camping or hiking. The closest permit location to Coal Mine Canyon is the Cameron Visitor Center in Cameron at U.S. 89 and Arizona 64. This is 50 miles north of Flagstaff. Keep in mind that the Canyon is located on Navajo Nation land and can be closed to visitors at any time. Last time I checked, you could no longer hike down into the canyon.

The formations in the canyon make for great
Getting to Coal Mine Canyon
The road to the canyon rim is very sandy. It is an easy drive in dry weather but might require a four-wheel drive in wet weather. There are no markings or lights along the road, so it is recommended that you drive it during daylight.

Directions:  Take I-17 north to Flagstaff, I-40 east to U.S. 90 north at Exit 201, U.S. 160 east to Tuba City and Arizona 264, the turnoff for Moenkopi. Go southeast on 264, then turn north (left) onto an unmarked dirt road, between mile makers 336 and 337. Another landmark is the large windmill.  If you see an old rodeo grounds on your left, you have gone too far. Once you turn off on the dirt road head toward the windmill and then turn left. The rim will be off on your right.

More Information
Website with Permit Information:
General Information:  928-679-2303 or

5 Bridges of the West: The highest, the most romantic and the most unusual

In the west, you'll find that bridges, many over deep canyons and rushing rivers, are created out of necessity rather than for art. While these bridges are not the typical that you will think of when you hear the word, "bridge," they are all interesting in their own right. While you travel the West, enjoy a walk or a ride over some of these bridges both small and large.

This was taken before the bridge burned.
I was able to walk across during a planned Volkswalk.
America's Highest Suspension Bridge - Royal Gorge, Colorado
The bridge over Royal Gorge is America's highest suspension bridge. The bridge crosses the Royal Gorge 955 feet above the Arkansas River. I visited many years ago, before the big fire that destroyed the bridge. For me, crossing the bridge on foot was an exciting adventure. You could look down into the deep gorge and, at certain times of the day, see the train winding its way along the river.

The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park was almost totally destroyed in a wild fire in June of 2013. The ground-breaking ceremony for the new Visitor Center and beginnings of a new park took place January 31, 2014, when the bridge turned 85 years old.  A little over a year since the fire started, the park was opened.

Now there is a modern visitors center where you can relax and view the bridge, a zip line and gondolas. It is a great family destination.  More on Royal Gorge Bridge and Park.

London Bridge - Lake Havasu, Arizona
Imagine, taking a bridge in London England apart stone by stone and shipping it to the Arizona desert. That is what was Robert P. McCulloch did in 1967. Each stone was numbered and then used in the reconstruction of the bridge over part of Lake Havasu in Havasu City, Arizona. The bridge was completed in 1971 along with a canal. It serves to link an island in the lake with the main part of Lake Havasu City.

You can stay in view of the bridge at the London Bridge Resort. The canal-side resort continues the London theme by housing a replica of England’s legendary Gold State Coach.  Built in 1762 to be pulled by a team of eight matched horses, the actual 24-foot-long gilded carriage has carried every British Monarch since King George III to their coronation at Westminster Abbey.

Lake Havasu is a mecca for boaters and those enjoying fun on the water, especially during Spring Break. The London Bridge remains a tourist attraction. More on Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

Verde Canyon Railroad Trestles - Clarkdale, Arizona
A ride on the Verde Canyon Railroad just north of Phoenix, Arizona will give you a chance to relax and ride back in time to the mining days of Arizona. You'll also, depending on the season, see wildlife such as Eagles and deer.

More than any other feature, Arizona is defined by canyons, after all it is the Grand Canyon State. All across the state, great gorges in the landscape are destinations for their scenery and history. One of the most spectacular is in Verde Canyon. The Verde Canyon Railroad crosses trestles in this deep canyon containing the Verde River.
Guests in the open-air observation car have the best view and photo opportunities.  You'll experience a little Arizona railroad construction history which includes the S.O.B. Canyon trestle, Perkinsville Bridge and a 680-foot-long manmade tunnel. More on the Verde Canyon Railroad Excursions.

Rio San Antonio Bridges - San Antonio, Texas
One of the most popular things to do in San Antonio is to walk The River Walk. Part of the fun is crossing one of the many small scenic bridges along the San Antonio River. Unlike most bridges which are attractions because of their height, these little bridges are considered the most romantic. They are especially beautiful at night while strolling Mariachis add to the atmosphere.

One special place along the river, Marriage Island, is a little island where many weddings take place within view of two of the river's bridges.

A great way to see the bridges from another angle is to take a Rio San Antonio River Barge cruise which is especially festive at holiday time.

Just after Thanksgiving the entire river is lighted for the season. Barges often have musicians and carolers aboard.

Multnomah Falls Bridge - Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Multnomah Falls is a top tourist destination in the Columbia River Gorge, just east of Portland, Oregon. These beautiful falls drop in two major steps, split into an upper falls of 542 feet and a lower falls of 69 feet, with a gradual 9 foot drop in elevation between the two. The total height of the waterfall is listed as 620 feet. Beautiful Multnomah Falls is the tallest waterfall in Oregon.

There are several ways to see the falls, based on your activity level. Of course you can visit from the base and take a photo of the double falls. Most take a short hike along an asphalt path to the bridge spanning the falls. This is the bridge seen in most photos. It is a short bridge leading to the other side of the falls and a trail with many switchbacks taking you to the top of the falls. 

More on Multnomah Falls and the Columbia River Gorge.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Valentine's Day Dining Options in Portland, Oregon

No matter what the occasion, Portland is a draw for those with a love of food. But in February, thoughts of love and romance give Portland restaurateurs good reason to go all out for diners. Here is a great selection of restaurants and shops offering special Valentine's menus.
1314 NW Glisan St. Portland, OR 97209; Tel: 503-228-9535
Warm up with your loved one at Andina this Valentine’s Day.

Get cozy in the elegant, inviting dining room, enjoy authentic Peruvian cuisine, toast with a cocktail that warms from within, and listen to live Latin music.

The restaurant will be offering a three-course pre-fixe dinner for the holiday, from which guests can select from a variety of piqueos (Peruvian tapas), Platos de Fondo and a trio of postres (desserts) served spectacularly on a gorgeous platter that you can indulgently share with your partner. Each course offers gluten-free and vegetarian options to accommodate dietary restrictions. Guests can also sip on the Grenada de Amore, a romantic Peruvian cocktail crafted to pair perfectly with the holiday.

Each three-course menu is $65 per person. Festive wines, house cocktails and oysters are à la carte. Andina will be serving the Valentine’s Day menu as an option Saturday 2/13 and as the entire menu 2/14.

1818 NW 23rd Pl. Portland, OR 97210; Tel: 503-894-8904
Send your love on a trip to remember by dining at Portland’s small slice of Spain, Ataula. The romantic dining room and exotic cuisine are the perfect spot for a night that will transport you to the streets of Catalon. Ataula will be offering luxurious specials that include iberico jamon. Ataula will be serving special dishes Feb. 12-13 and will not be open on Sunday Feb. 14.

1733 NE Alberta St. Portland, OR 97211; Tel: 503-287-2400
Treat your sweetheart to an elegant menu from the talented Chef Sarah Pliner at Aviary. The restaurant will be open on Valentine’s Day Sunday, serving a special 4-course meal for the holiday. Each 4-course meal is $65 per person, with an optional $35 wine pairing. Aviary’s bartender, Justin Garcidiaz will also be serving up a duo of romance inspired cocktails. The Thorn and the Petal are named after Portland’s famous moniker Rose City, and leave you feeling both the burn of lust and sting of love.

Bollywood Theater
2039 NE Alberta, Portland OR 97211; Tel: 971-200-4711
3010 SE Division, Portland OR 97202; Tel: 503-477-6699
Take your Valentine to India with the heartwarming gift of masala chai from Indian street food eatery, Bollywood Theater. Chef/Owner Troy MacLarty partnered with the Reluctant Trading company to bring the most authentic, robust chai blend possible over from India. Delicious served hot or cold, this beverage is sure to transport you and your loved one to the bustling, colorful streets of Mumbai with just a sip. The chai tea and Bollywood Theater’s other collaborations with The Reluctant Trading Company can be purchased here or

410 SW Broadway, Portland OR 97205; Tel: 503-228-7222
Imperial heats things up for Valentine’s Day dinner with a menu of specialties from their wood-fired grill. Celebrate the holiday with loved-ones at James Beard award winner Chef/Owner Vitaly Paley’s Imperial, Willamette Week’s 2015 restaurant of the year. Have Bravo’s Top Chef finalist/Eater Portland’s Chef of the Year 2015, Executive Chef Doug Adams prepare a feast to remember.

The evening’s menu will be à la carte, including a few specials like Scallops a la Plancha with persimmon and blood orange, Crispy Parsnip and Foie Gras, Duck Confit with sweet potato, sweet onion salad, and Foie Gras Terrine with pickled huckleberries and sorrel, as well as fresh oysters on the half shell and Pastry Chef Danielle Bailey’s menu of irresistible desserts. Toast to the occasion with a classic Honeymoon Cocktail, a mixture of Calvados, cointreau, benedictine, and lemon juice, or Bar Manager Lindsay Baker’s newest creation, the Horizon with cognac, tea infused vermouth, and a thyme liqueur. Cheers!

Little Bird Bistro
215 SE 6th Ave. Portland, OR 97204; Tel: (503) 688-5952
Little Bird will be offering a decadent, three course prix-fixe meal perfect for spoiling the one you love this upcoming Valentine’s Day on both Saturday Feb. 13th and Sunday Feb. 14th. Indulge in a selection of Little Bird’s most tempting dishes while soaking in the romantic ambiance of a French-inspired Bistro in downtown Portland. Guests will also be able to imbibe the special Valentine’s Day cocktail, Amer Amour, a gorgeous sparkling sipper.

The regular a la carte menu will not be available, however there will be multiple choices for each course. Guests will be able to add oysters to their meal as well. Three-course prix-fixe dinner $60 (gratuity not included).

Reservations are available now. Please call the restaurant to book (503)-688-5952 Little Bird will not be taking reservations online through OpenTable or via email.

SE Wine Collective
2425 SE 35th Place, Portland, OR 97214; Tel: 503-208-2061
Start off your Valentine’s Day festivities by sharing a fabulous bottle of bubbles and a delicious Cultured and Cured Board of artisanal cheeses and meats with that someone special for $20 a person (two people minimum). Who doesn’t love a little day drinking? The Collective will be open 1-8pm and serving its regular a la carte menu in addition to the holiday special.

Stop by for drinks or to pick up your Valentine’s Day presents.

Salt and Straw
838 NW 23rd Avenue, Portland, OR 97210; Tel: 971-271-8168
Open 10am - 11pm
3345 SE Division St., Portland OR 97202; Tel: 503-208-2054
Open 11am - 11pm
2035 NE Alberta St., Portland, OR 97211; Tel:
Open 11am - 11pm

What’s more quintessentially Valentine’s Day than treating loved ones to lots and lots of chocolate? Every year Salt & Straw partners with the best and smartest, small-batch, artisanal chocolatiers throughout Portland, like Xocolatl de David, Missionary Chocolates, Alma Chocolate, Woodblock Chocolate, and Cocanú's Chocolates to show off each of their unique chocolate making styles, techniques and ingredients through scoops of ice cream. This menu goes way beyond chopping up yummy chocolates and mixing them into ice cream. The ice cream wizards collaborated closely with these chocolatiers to humbly recreate their incredible chocolates in ice cream form. Taste through with a flight, pint, or cone and find yourself taking a guided tour of the city in the form of February

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Beautiful Sabino Canyon: Put it on your Tucson to-do list

Sabino Canyon, easily accessible from the more urban areas of Tucson, is a must-see during your stay in southern Arizona. Sabino Canyon is a part of the Coronado National Forest. It lies in the eastern foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains.

You’ll enter Sabino Canyon after driving through some scenic urban areas. If you are fortunate to stay at one of the hillside resorts such as Loew’s Ventana Canyon Resort, you’ll be just a short drive from the canyon.

Sabino Canyon is home to towering canyon walls, huge Saguaros and many species of desert plant and birds. It’s a beautiful place to visit.

Visitors Center and Bookstore
The Sabino Canyon Visitors Center should be your first stop. There you can pick up maps, learn about trails, the shuttle schedule and get ready for your trip into the Canyon. After your visit, it is a great place to pick up a souvenir.

There are extensive hiking trails in Sabino Canyon.
However, I stuck close to the road and enjoyed beautiful views.
An open-air shuttle takes visitors into the canyon. Hikers can get off at any stop and enjoy a day on the trails. Others may enjoy riding the tram to the end, getting off and taking photos before returning to the Visitors Center on the bus. The shuttle cost is: $10.00 adults, $5.00 children 3-12.  Children 2 and under are free. For additional information about the shuttles Sabino Canyon Tours provide please go to

Walking the Road into Sabino Canyon
We opted to begin our time in Sabino Canyon by walking a mile or so up the paved road. It’s a great way to get into the canyon without worrying about rocky trails or… mountain lions!  Many people walk this road. It is especially enjoyable because the shuttle is the only vehicle you’ll encounter on your walk. It is mostly flat and paved. The main road ascends from 2,800 to 3,300 feet and crosses Sabino Creek over 9 stone bridges. It is a favorite route for both hikers and bicyclists. If you walk the entire road, it is 3.8 miles up and 3.8 miles back (most take the shuttle one way).

Hiking Trails
Hiking trails range from easy to difficult. When we were at the Canyon, the Telephone Line Trail was recommended to us. This hike overlooks Sabino Creek. The panorama of Cottonwoods lining the creek bed below is beautiful during the fall when the leaves change to harvest gold. Get off at tram stop #9 and walk down to stop #1. Trail Information

Heed the warnings!
Mountain Lions
Yes, Mountain Lions, and other wildlife, have been sighted in Sabino Canyon. There is some concern because the Mountain Lions have been active during daylight. Mountain Lions at Sabino Canyon hours and have stalked people. They suggest that if you are hiking a trail, you do not hike alone, you carry a hiking stick, avoid hiking below cliffs or close to brushy areas where cats may lurk. Do not hike at dawn, dusk or after dark and keep your children close-by. My advice? Walk the road. It’s a beautiful route.

Sabino Canyon is only 30 minutes from downtown Tucson. It is a beautiful, easily accessed Canyon with a nice road and bridges built by the CCC. The creek that runs through the canyon provides added interest and attracts birds. It is a very scenic area and will provide a marvelous opportunity for photographers.

Enjoy the cliffs, mountains and saguaros of Sabino Canyon
More Information:
Fees are $5 per car and are collected as you enter the parking area. Sabino Canyon is open 24 hours/day, year-round. The Sabino Canyon Visitor Center and Bookstore is open every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Address: 5900 North Sabino Canyon Road, Tucson, AZ 85750
Phone Number: 520 749 2861

Photo Credit: Elizabeth R. Rose

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Portland day trip idea: Waterfalls and Shirley’s Tippy Canoe for lunch

Head for the Gorge during a winter sunbreak. You won't regret it!
When the sun shines and the Pacific Northwest rain takes a break for the day, why not get out and enjoy a winter day in the Columbia River Gorge? You don’t need hiking gear to enjoy the sights. You can take a driving trip that will last you less than a day.

The Historic Columbia River Highway (Historic Route 30) turns 100-years old this year. It’s still used daily by those exploring the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. So before throngs of tourists come to celebrate, take a winter drive on the old highway.

We exited I-84 at Troutdale (exit 17) and drove through the quaint gallery district and across the Sandy River via a one-way bridge and turned right. Soon we were on the old highway and entering the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

A field full of bowling balls?
There were people fishing on the Sandy River and we passed two riverfront restaurants, Tad’s Chicken and Dumplings, and Shirley’s Tippy Canoe. The later was busy with breakfast customers and we vowed to return for lunch.

An unplanned stop along the road was to investigate a field of red and green “bowling balls.” On closer inspection we found that the farmer was growing acres of cabbage… very large heads of cabbage. In the distance we could see snowy Mt. Hood.

The highway then took us toward the Women's Forum Overlook at Chanticleer Point, which was to be our first planned stop. The stunning view looks out over the massive Columbia Gorge and Vista House. It was windy and so we jumped back into the car and followed the signs toward Crown Point and Vista House, another viewpoint stop. In the distance were snow-capped mountains and down below, the Columbia River.  Vista House is open for winter hours - 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday only, weather permitting.
Vista House with snow-capped mountains in the distance

And then it was off down the hill to explore some waterfalls, which were absolutely gushing with water. We were sticking to the falls which were immediately accessible from the highway, not wanting to risk slipping on the muddy trails. Our first stop was to see LaTourell Falls plunging almost 250 feet over the cliff face.  You’ll be able to see the falls as you drive across the bridge over LaTourell Creek.

Next, we stopped to see Wahkeena Falls, a beautiful 242 foot cascading waterfall. While there are five waterfalls accessible from the old Columbia River Highway on the way to Multnomah Falls we were looking forward to time at the famous falls before lunch and before the parking lots filled up.

Multnomah Falls is always amazing but is especially
impressive with the winter water flow.
Multnomah Falls drops in two major steps, split into an upper falls of 542 feet and a lower falls of 69 feet, with a gradual 9-foot drop in elevation between the two. The total height of the waterfall is listed as 620 feet. Beautiful Multnomah Falls is the tallest waterfall in Oregon. It is amazing to behold. Visitors come from around the world to see Multnomah Falls. And in winter, you may even see a small secondary waterfall to the right as there is so much water.

Although there is a lodge and restaurant at Multnomah Falls, we had already decided to have lunch along the rushing Sandy River. So we retraced our steps along the Historic Columbia River Highway seeing the waterfalls from a different direction and arriving at Shirley’s Tippy Canoe in very short time.

Tippy Canoe, once visited by Guy Fieri and featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, is an interesting place. It has a fisherman vibe, a long bar, several dining rooms and a summertime patio.

But I recommend going there for the food. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. They pride themselves in making foods from scratch and you can find some local delicacies there like Yaquina Bay oysters.
The Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich hit the spot!

We perused the sandwich menu and noticed that you can split a meal for $3.50 extra providing each diner with a full side such as French fries or a salad. Since we hadn’t hiked in the Gorge we thought splitting a Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich and two salads would be perfect. The honey mustard dressing was house made. The sandwich was also made from quality ingredients… chicken breast, slice of Swiss cheese and ham. It was delicious and the bill for two came to $20.

We were headed back into Portland before 3 p.m., so our day in the Gorge, even though it was not a long one, afforded us some beautiful views and a relaxing lunch.

This day trip is ideal if you can get away on a weekday to avoid the crowds. Winter is an ideal time to take the drive as the waterfalls are overflowing.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Discover Wild West ghosts in Arizona

Arizona is a land full of exciting history and unexplained phenomena. With old mining ghost towns, historic hotels and Wild West towns with a history of violence, you'll find some interesting destinations in Arizona, especially if you are a fan of the supernatural.

The stained glass at the Gadsden Hotel is worth a visit.
Can you picture Poncho Villa on a horse on the stairs?
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Haunted Hotels
Arizona's Wild West history makes the state an ideal place for ghostly activity.
Way down south on the Arizona-Mexico border you'll find The Gadsden Hotel in Douglas. The Gadsden is home to a headless ghost who has been seen in the hallways and in the basement. Legend has it that this is the ghost of Pancho Villa. 

Legend has it that that Pancho Villa rode his horse up the stairs and chipped the 7th stair from the bottom. And the chip is still there for visitors to see.

Employees, staff members and guests alike have seen a rather startling apparition wearing old-fashioned, khaki army clothing and with a cloth cap perched on its headless shoulders. More about Hauntings at the Gadsden Hotel.

Walk through the Monte Vista lobby and
cocktail lounge. You never know what you will
Up in the Arizona high country you'll find an old railroad hotel. The Monte Vista Hotel opened on New Year’s Day of 1927 and during the 1940’s and 1950’s was a popular spot for Hollywood guests.  More than 100 westerns were filmed nearby. One of the ghosts you'll hear about at The Monte Vista is the phantom bellboy who knocks on doors and then vanishes. Sometimes the bellboy is joined by the ghost of a woman. This female ghost has been seen outside of the Zane Grey suite. Another ghost, a former bank robber, is said to haunt the saloon. More about the Ghosts of the Monte Vista.

Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park
A visit to Yuma in southwest Arizona is not complete without a visit to the scary looking historic prison. The first seven inmates entered the Territorial prison at Yuma, Arizona on July 1, 1876. These seven inmates were locked into cells that they had constructed with their own hands.  During the time the prison was open, 111 of the prisoners died, mostly from tuberculosis.

Watch re-enactments at the old prison in Yuma
Source: Gathering of the Gunfighters
You'll find many of them buried in the prison graveyard, which is within walking distance of the prison. Legend has it that ghosts still inhabit the cells.

Remains of the prison include cells, an entrance gate and a guard tower. A museum at the park houses artifacts and interpretive displays of prison life a century ago. Park hours are 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily. Entrance fee is $6 for visitors 14 or older and $3.00 for those 7 – 13 years of age. Those six or younger get in free. Read More About Yuma's Territorial Prison.

A great time to go is during the Gathering of the Gunfighters at the prison. Gunfighter re-enactment groups in traditional dress will bring the Wild West alive.

Ghostly Towns
Bisbee is thought to be one of the most haunted towns in southern Arizona. Founded in the late 1800's as a mining town, Bisbee has been the scene of mining accidents, saloon brawls, and tragedy in general. Bisbee, with its old brick buildings and hillside stairways is a fascinating place at Halloween. Visiting Bisbee.

Jerome is another hillside mining town. And, like Bisbee, has many intact old buildings with ghostly inhabitants. More on the Ghosts of Jerome.

Vulture Mine
The old Vulture Mine, and Vulture City, just outside of Wickenburg, Arizona is said to be one of the most haunted places in Arizona.  Paranormals have been invited to visit the ramshackle buildings on the site and have held ghost tours.  The conclusion. It's definitely haunted! You can visit Vulture City on Saturday mornings and see what’s left of the town and the mine.

Ghost Tours
Bisbee is an amazing old mining town in southern Arizona. Visitors can take a walking tour of the 125-year-old town. The 90-minute guided Old Bisbee Ghost Tour tells the stories of local haunts, including Nat, the miner, who owed money and paid with his life; and the lady in white, who saved three children’s lives.
Bisbee is an old mining town with hillside hotels
and plenty of stairs.

The Old Bisbee Ghost Tour takes place on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday  evenings and begins at 7:00 pm MST. Tickets (save $2 by reserving online) cost:  Adults - $15.00, children Under 12 - $13.00, free private tours are available upon request. Here's more about the Old Bisbee Ghost Tour.

Jerome: Tours of Jerome, located near Sedona, offers daily ghost tours. Whether you believe in ghosts and haunted spirits or not, you will be fascinated and entertained by this trip into Jerome’s back streets while hearing local legends and visiting sites known to be haunted by spirits from the past.

More Information

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Seattle's Pike Place Market: Photo

Some things never change. I've been stopping by Seattle's Pike Place Market for over 25 years. The same neon signs, the same stairs and the same view of Puget Sound. It's an exciting place to visit. Fresh flowers, local fruits, arts and crafts and the famous "fish throwing fish mongers" are all there.  Established in 1907, Pike Place Market was the area's first farmer's market. That was before urban farmer's markets were popular and "locally sourced" were buzz words.

This photo is an example of the vibrant, yet enduring, scene at Pike Place Market.

Photography copyright: Elizabeth Rose Photography

Monday, January 11, 2016

Lincoln City, Oregon: A destination for art glass lovers

If only I had room for an art glass collection!
The Oregon Coast is filled with beautiful sights. With rugged cliffs, beaches for walking and wildlife like sea lions and shore birds, the Oregon Coast is a big draw for visitors year round.  One doesn't think of sparkling, hand-blown glass as a coastal asset but places like Lincoln City are a destination for artists, collectors and admirers of glass art.

Glass Floats on the Beach
One of the most fun and rewarding Lincoln City events begins in October each year when hundreds of glass floats are hidden on Lincoln City beaches. The event runs through Memorial Day.

Finders Keepers takes place with local hand-crafted glass floats being placed along the 7-1/2 miles (12 km) of public beach in Lincoln City, from the Roads End area to the Cutler City area. It’s “finders keepers” for those who walk the beach and find a beautiful float. The floats are hidden above the tide line and below the beach embankment, with "float drops," happening throughout the Finders Keepers season.

Check out the special drop dates for the 2015-2016 season.

Glass Art Studios
When I visited the Taft Historic District of Lincoln City I was treated to a feast for the eyes. The Jennifer Sears studio  was actually making glass floats for the Finders Keepers event. At the studio you can watch glass being blown or sign up for a lesson and learn the art of glass blowing.
A sunny day is the best time to
admire the art glass at Lincoln City galleries

Throughout the extensive gallery were works of glass art by artists in residence. I was taken with the beauty of the vases, glass fish, floats and even glass jewelry. In one case I found a wine stopper with a miniature jellyfish design blown into the glass. Wouldn't that make a great gift!

You can also shop for glass art across the street at Volta Gallery.  Here you will find the glass creations of Kelly Howard, Daniel Millen, Jonathan Myers, and others. They represent the Jennifer Sears Glass Art Studio and the emerging glass blowing movement on the Oregon Coast.

These galleries and studios are located on SW Hwy 101 at the south end of Lincoln City.

Another glass studio, Alder House III,  can be found by driving farther south and turning east (away from Siletz Bay) onto Immonen Road and traveling about 3/4 mile. Alder House III is an open studio welcoming visitors to watch as crafts-people ply the 2000-year-old art of turning molten glass into beautiful objects. I did not have the opportunity to visit Alder House but found that it is the oldest glass blowing studio in Oregon.

Visitors to the Alder House are offered the unique experience of watching art in its creation. Anne and Buzz Williams and Mike Smith are happy to share information about their art and the techniques used to create their magnificent works. Alder House III is open from 10 until 5 daily from May 1st until the end of November.

Lincoln City
Lincoln City is one of the larger towns on the Oregon Coast. Located west of Salem, the Capital, Lincoln City is easily accessible from Portland, Oregon as well as the central Willamette Valley. Lincoln City has larger hotels and a Casino/entertainment venue, Chinook Winds. There is always something to do in Lincoln City. There is a kite festival, culinary classes as well as opportunities for crabbing and fishing. There are beaches to walk and trails to hike.

Photography copyright: Elizabeth Rose Photography
Glass art is from the Jennifer Sears Studio

Hope, B.C.: Pet-friendly, reasonable and scenic

Hope is known for its wood carvings
Hope, British Columbia is considered a gateway to some of B.C.'s most scenic destinations. The town is located only 45 minutes over the border north of the United States.  Hope is a great place for a vacation in itself, especially if you have a dog traveling with you.

Hope is surrounded by beautiful mountains and some of the accommodations overlook the confluence of the Fraser and Coquihalla rivers.

As you wander with your dog through the parks and along the sidewalks of Hope, you'll see the iconic chainsaw carvings that Hope is known for.  The carvings all began when some of the large trees began to die due to disease in the early '90's. Pete Ryan, the woodcarver, was instrumental in this effort. You'll see bears, a tribute to a police dog and so much more amongst the beautiful carvings.

There are motels that accept dogs. One excellent place to stay is the Swiss Chalets Motel, with little cabins dotted throughout the grounds. The pet charge is $10 per night. The owner is attentive and helpful. We were directed to a two-bedroom cottage with private picnic area and lawn. Cinnamon, the blogging hound, was ecstatic!

Of course the rooms and furniture were dated but there was evidence of renovations being done. Our cabin with two enclosed bedrooms, living room and kitchenette was under $100 per night. The accommodations were clean and, even though some of the units are close to the road, we weren't bothered as we slept.

As you leave Hope, be sure and drive the scenic Frasier Canyon with its seven mountain tunnels. Yes, Hope is a crossroads for B.C. travelers, but spending a few days there would make for a great mini-vacation.