Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Friday, September 30, 2016

Edinburgh to Inverness

To visit our latest blog about our trip to Scotland September 27–October 12, 2017 follow the link.

Our wifi was terrible in Edinburgh so I was unable to post anything.
We have excellent wifi here in the Lynver Guest House in Inverness but blogger isn't playing nice with my iPad. 
On our first day in Edinburgh we walked from our hotel to the Royal Mile. On the way we discovered an interesting old cemetery and a steep trail that went up the backside of Edinburgh Castle. 
Unfortunately when we arrived at the top of the steep trail we discovered it was blocked off because that part of the castle was being repaired. We turned around and went off on another branch of the trail further down the hill. This one popped us out at the start of the Royal Mile. 

We decided to walk down the Royal Mile and head for the Palace of Holyroodhouse. On the way we stopped in a few shops without buying anything and decided to visit the Scottish Parliament. Wow! What a place! 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

On the way to Edinburgh

Got out of the house by 7:30. Traffic was light until we got to Los Angeles where a couple of accidents and a car abandoned in the middle of the number 3 lane took care of that for the rest of the drive.
Oh well, we made it to LAX where we boarded our Air France flight to CDG in Paris.
We love Air France! Everyone is so wonderful and the food is delicious, especially when you realize they have to reheat it.  We had the Chicken with Catalonian sauce, rice with mixed grains, that included a starter of marinated scallop and pheasant terrine a yummy chocolate dessert. Served with plenty of French red wine. Yum!

Chris watched a couple of movies, one very bad and very long and the other was Deadpool which we've seen before and really enjoyed. 
Now we're sitting at gate K36 waiting for our flight to Edinburgh which should be here in about an hour.

We're here! Edinburgh airport was great, we got through customs pretty quickly!
Took a taxi to Channings Hotel in Edinburgh, got checked in and just finished dinner in the pub downstairs. 
I had fish and chips with smashed peas and a glass of Sangiovese and Chris had a Vegan Indian curry with a Bellhaven Best Scottish beer.
We are now all cozied up in our room and I'm enjoying a Japanese Scotch whisky. I'm sure we'll be sleeping very soon.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Trip to Scotland

After a year of planning, our trip to Scotland is less than a month away. I've made a packing list hoping to bring enough but not too much. I don't love being weighed down with luggage. If my list proves to be optimal I will post it here.

Places to stay in Edinburgh and the Highlands booked and confirmed and our rental car confirmed. Once again we used authenticireland.com and Maggie to book our trip since she did such a great job for us when we went to Ireland.

Oops, there were a couple of wrinkles in all of this meticulous planning.

I sent an email to The Sheiling in Ullapool inquiring about ferries. I received an email back from the innkeepers telling me they had decided to go on a trip to the south so the Sheiling had transferred our reservation to another guest house. What??? I'm certainly happy I contacted them. They had apparently outbooked us to the guesthouse next door without making certain our travel agent knew about it. Oh and in case you were wondering; the ferries run year-round.

All is well we are booked into a very nice place in Ullapool, the Eilean Donan.

The next wrinkle was our booking at Ben Tianavaig in Portree on the Isle of Skye. This one really disappointed me since I'd been chatting a bit with them on their Facebook page and was looking forward to staying there.
They sent a notification to our travel agent that they had decided to no longer take 3rd party bookings. This is fine but did they have to cancel all the 3rd party bookings already confirmed?

Once again Maggie found us a nice place, Viewfield House on Skye within a 10 minute walk to the center of Portree.

Looking through Rick Steves Scotland I found a very nice and highly recommended restaurant on Skye. It's called Three Chimneys, they only have 16 tables and book up far in advance. We've booked a reservation and are looking forward to an amazing meal. The restaurant is about 26 miles from where we will be staying in Portree.

I've added Verizon's TravelPass to my phone so we'll have international coverage while using our domestic plan in Scotland. Yippee! It costs $10 a day if you use it. If we don't need data or only use wireless we won't have to pay for that day. This should be much better than 2014 in Ireland when we were buying data 25MB at a time and kept running out. Plus it stays on your phone and only activates when you're in another country.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Homeward Bound

Slept like a rock, took a bath in a giant soaker tub and had coffee.
Went to the Aria hotel had a lovely breakfast and now we're waiting for the bellman to come get our bags. This is the life. 
I can't wait to get home and see our kitties. 
Just stopped at the Barstow Carl's Jr. for lunch. Gourmet fare at its finest!

Back on the road to Bakersfield. 
The sky is so beautiful out here on hwy 58. 


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Leaving Williams, AZ headed for Vegas

Got up this morning, took a shower and washed my hair. Decided to leave the bandana and bandage off when we went to breakfast at Old Smoky's, a family owned and run cafe a couple of blocks from our motel, The Lodge on Route 66

I could tell the waitress was trying not to look at my long row of stitches starting above my eyebrow and into my hairline so I told her what happened. That began a conversation with her mom, the owner, about where they had moved to Arizona from, San Diego; and places we should come back and visit. I found out she had never been to Petrified Forest National Park so I showed her some of my photos. She's going now!
After a totally uneventful 2 hours on the road we decide to look for lunch. We found a place in Henderson called Great Harvest Bread Co. Freshly baked bread, cheery service, free samples  and delicious, reasonably priced sandwiches. We had hit the jackpot!
We're now in our room at the Vdara in Las Vegas, no smoking or gambling, yes!
Our room at the Vdara
Had dinner at Joseph Serrano in the Aria and as usual (we've been here 3 or 4 times) the food and service were wonderful, I don't know how they do it. 
White Anchovies with Piquillo pepper and parsley oil

Spanish Tortilla
Fried Crispy Gambas
Black Rice
OMG yum!!!
Then we came back to our room to this beautiful view. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Drive to Williams, AZ and the Petrified Forest National Park

We headed out this morning thinking it would be a fairly long day in the car so we wouldn't have time to visit anything. Well...we hadn't realized that The Petrified Forest National Park was along our route. We couldn't pass that up!
Have you ever been there, if you haven't you need to go, it's amazing! 
There is the Painted Desert which is unbelievably beautiful.
The Painted Desert
The petrified logs are over 200,000,000 years old! They are almost pure Quartz at this point and just gorgeous. 
Petrified wood
Petrified wood
Then there is Blue Mesa which is a breathtaking 1 mile hike down to the valley and back from the top of the Mesa. 
Blue Mesa
Blue Mesa
Blue Mesa
The above photos weren't edited in any way. I took them with my iPhone and posted them. The scenery and day were so beautiful I don't think I could have taken a bad photo if I'd tried. 
We finally had to say goodbye to The Petrified Forest National Park and continue on to Williams. 
On the way I called the Red Raven restaurant in Williams and made reservations for dinner. We ate there in October 2013 when we stayed in Williams and were thrilled to eat there again. The food and service are top of the heap and the prices are quite reasonable. My salmon with cilantro pesto, mashed potato and grilled asparagus was $20 dollars. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mesa Verde and Durango

Today we went to Mesa Verde National Park and Durango, Colorado.
Downtown Durango
We stopped in Durango for lunch and a little shopping. I wanted a small day pack with a water bladder because my hip belt was so heavy with 2 full bottles and other things it was pulling me off balance when scrambling over rocks. There's a very nice shop in Durango that carries women specific hiking accessories. I was able to find the perfect pack there. I can't wait to try it out.  
After that we wandered around town for awhile, it's a really nice little town. We found a great place to have lunch called Three Peaks Deli & Grill.
3 Peaks Deli and Grill
After lunch we headed to Mesa Verde. Mesa Verde has many well preserved or reconstructed cliff dwellings. You can visit and walk through some of them and others are just tucked into crevices on shear rock faces. 
Spruce Tree House
Cliff Palace
Long House
Balcony House

Monday, May 18, 2015

Canyon de Chelly

Sunday was a rest from my injury and travel day so I didn't write a post. Anna and Vic of Desert Hills B&B were wonderful and even gave me the beautiful red bandana I've been wearing to cover up my bandages.

Today we drove 2.5 hours to Canyon de Chelly in Arizona from Farmington, New Mexico to see the ancient cliff dwellings there. There  are no services whatsoever once you turn onto 191 until you get to Chinle and no cell service at all anywhere on the reservation, which is pretty much the whole drive. 
There is no fee to get in as far as we could tell and it's totally run by the Navajo. 
We went to the visitor center first and while Chris got information at the front desk I listened to an old Navajo jeweler tell wonderful stories about the time Ansel Adams came to Canyon de Chelly. According to him the famous native woman with child was his mother and little brother and the young Navajo girl is his sister. His jewelry was beautiful but the piece I wanted depicting his mother with his little brother on one side in silver, and turquoise and coral on the other was snapped up by a woman from Virginia who beat me to it. 
Canyon de Chelly overlook into the valley where The White House is

We drove to many Overlooks to view the old Navajo cliff dwellings most of which are far across a canyon. 
The White House is named for the long wall in the upper dwelling that is covered with white plaster. It is not a Navajo structure but an ancient ancestral Puebloan structure built and occupied centuries ago.
The White House

Face Rock
A storm started moving in as we were leaving in fact lightening hit our van and the thunder boomed at the same time. That was exciting. 
We headed back to the 3 Rivers Brew Pub for dinner then to our B&B. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Chesler Park Trail Hike

Another rainy morning in Moab, birds are singing outside our window and the air is fresh.
Driving along 191 on the way to The Needles, 40 degrees and it's pouring rain. I don't think we'll be doing any hiking today. 
I was wrong, the rain stopped and the sun came out so we decided to hike the Chesler Park trail out of Elephant Hill in The Needles. 
Chesler Park trail

The trail starts out steep with stairs formed into the rock but that doesn't last very long and soon you're walking on dirt and slick rock.

Chesler Park trail
After about 1.5 miles we came to what they call the Joint Trail which is like walking through a slot between the rocks. Pretty cool!
Joint Trail

We hiked for awhile and came to some steeper portions and a little more challenging terrain but nothing too hard. We got to the end of the trail and took a bunch of photos then started back.
The Needles
The Needles
Cactus Flower
On the way back as I was scrambling up a fairly steep rocky section I managed to injure myself on a protruding tree limb. It cut a large gash in my head. We managed to stop the bleeding enough to begin the hike back down to the car, two miles away. 
Three hours later I was in emergency at Monticello Hospital being treated by the very competent staff in the ER there. 
I can't wait to go back sometime and do more hiking in the area. Next time I'll try to avoid the hazards.

I found this blog page about the area and thought I'd share it. It's a nice write up of this beautiful trail.

Friday, May 15, 2015

From Arch to Arch in Arches National Park

Got up this morning to the fresh smell of rain so we will do short hikes as weather permits and see some sites from the van.
We managed to do quite a bit of hiking in Arches. 
We hiked out to north and south Windows, Turret and Double Arch in our first hike.
North and South Windows
Turret Arch

Double Arch

Then we drove up the road and hiked out to Sand Dune, Broken Arch and Tapestry Arch.
Sand Dune Arch

Broken Arch

Tapestry Arch

We had cloudy skies but except for a few drips we lucked out. It was beautiful weather for hiking except for the strong winds and they were only unpleasant in the exposed areas. 
Our wonderful innkeepers Vic and Anna who own and run Desert Inn B&B did our laundry for us while we were out hiking so we came back to freshly washed and dried clothes, that was truly a treat. 
By the time we got cleaned up it was 6:00 pm and we were ready for dinner. We ate in Moab at a place called "Twisted Sista's". If you are ever in Moab you have got to eat there, the food and service is amazing and the prices are totally reasonable. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Canyonlands Island in the Sky and Dead Horse State Park

Mountain Biking Group on Shafer trail

Shafer Trail, Island in the Sky, Canyonlands

Today was a rainy, unsettled day so we decided to spend it driving through Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse State Park.

Mesa Arch

We did a few short hikes out to overlooks and an arch in Canyonlands. 
We then decided to drive out to Dead Horse State Park to see the point. 
Dead Horse Point

Dead Horse Point
I'll post more photos later, they're on my camera.