Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

A Trip to Syracuse

Sculpture at Stone Quarry Art Park

A Sculpture at Stone Quarry Art Park, Cazenovia

At the beginning of the month, Evan and I went to Syracuse to spend time with his family. It was an absolutely wonderful trip — and the perfect time of year to make it. We went to Treman state park, Ithaca, Green Lakes State Park, the Stone Quarry Art Park, and Rochester to visit a friend and her new baby. We saw lots of wildlife and plants, the Erie Canal and ate lots of good food. Check out my iPhone photos from the site in the Flickr slideshow below, or check out Evan’s photos from his nice camera.

A Beautiful Day at the Huntington

Sunday, after an incredible night in Pasadena celebrating our friends’ wedding at the gorgeous Langham hotel where we danced, took a ton of silly photobooth photos, invaded the lobby/sitting room and spent the night sharing a room with some friends, we decided to take advantage of our location. I’d wanted to go to the Huntington for a while, and we hadn’t made the time to head out there, so since we were already in the neighborhood, we decided to head on over.

The admission price was pretty steep — $20 each — and there weren’t any hats on sale at the gift shop, so we were worried we’d get horribly sunburned, but we decided to go anyway, and I’m very glad we did!

Huntington Cactus Garden

We started with a walk through the expansive cactus garden. I could not believe how many different types of desert plans lined the walkways and went as far back as I could see. It was like we were in a Dr. Seuss book, with all the fun, bulbous shapes and twisted trunks around us.

Huntinging Cactus Garden

Then we went to the lily pond and sat in the shade, watching the ducks and red dragonflies chase each other around. It was incredible to see somewhere in LA so full of life and beauty.

Huntington Rose Garden

Then we walked through the jungle area, up to the rose garden, and then on to the serene Japanese gardens with their koi pond, bridges and delicate plants.

Japanese Gardens and the Huntington

We also went into the conservatory to see the tropical gardens, and we saw the corpse flower, though it hadn’t started to bloom yet and didn’t smell at all.

We didn’t go into any of the museum buildings, and we didn’t make it all the way to the some of the farther gardens. We’ll definitely have to go back to see more — and we’ll have to bring the good camera!

Check out more of my photos on Flickr (all taken on my iPhone).

A Relaxing Weekend in Ojai

We found some trees that change color in Southern California!

We found some trees that change color in Southern California!

OK, this post is only more than a month late, but I did want to share…

Over Halloween weekend, Evan and I decided to get out of LA for a bit. He’s been working 6- or 7-day weeks, and he finally had a full 2-day weekend to relax for the first time in more than a month. Also, neither of us really like celebrating Halloween, so it was the perfect weekend to get away. We considered Palm Springs, or Santa Barbara, or even Solvang, but they all seemed troublesome and pricey that weekend — there was a giant Phish concert out in the desert, and Santa Barbara has a major Halloween celebration, so we thought of some place a little closer and quieter — Ojai.

We were only going for one night, and we only decided to go a few days before the weekend, but thankfully things weren’t too busy and we were able to book a beautiful room in a very cute and cozy bed and breakfast called Inn Harmony. Inn Harmony is on a residential street just a block away from the main shopping and restaurant area. The yellow house had only a few rooms and it really felt like staying in a friend’s beautiful guest room. The furnishings looked new and were a mix of classic shapes with contemporary funky fabrics, the bathroom was quite modern, and we even had our own little balcony. There was a wine and cheese happy hour, a nice yard and porch where we spent time reading, and an absolutely adorable and friendly little Havanese dog.

How could you not love that face?

How could you not love that face?

Ojai turned out to be a great little vacation spot. We went on a nice hike which crossed back and forth over a small stream and gave us some beautiful views of the Ojai valley. There were so many hikes in the area that we had a hard time choosing which one to do. We also had a nice dinner at the Ranch House, where we sat on their heated patio in a lush garden. We got a very private table that was on its own platform amid the trees, and shared a bottle of wine and a nice meal.

One of the views from our hike

One of the views from our hike

We also went wine tasting at the Old Creek Ranch Winery, which was just outside of Ojai. We tasted a large selection of their small runs of wines and were impressed with all of them, especially the now sold-out sauvignon blanc and the sangiovese. Though they buy their grapes from other vineyards, they do make the wine on the pastoral property, and there were plenty of people picnicking with their families and dogs.

Ojai turned out to be the perfect weekend retreat for us. We relaxed, spent time outdoors and had fun checking out the little shops that featured the very talented local artists, like Steven Spiro. It was also really easy to get to — it only took about an hour and a half to get there. I’m excited to find another weekend when we can go back.

France and Ev’s Vegas Vacation

Over Labor Day weekend, Evan and I went to Vegas. It wasn’t a party-and-gamble type trip — in fact, neither of us gambled a cent. We were there for an occasion — Evan’s best friend Adam’s wedding.

Adam and Evan

Adam and Evan

When Evan headed to Vegas on Thursday for the bachelor party, I didn’t quite know how to picture his group of friends. A huge contingent from his high school in Syracuse was there — so much so that everyone was calling it their 10-year reunion. I had a great time meeting all of them — we live pretty far away from where Evan grew up, so it’s really interesting to see glimpses into that part of his life.

Being in the wedding party, Evan had a lot of different responsibilities while we were in Vegas, so while he was busy rehearsing for the wedding, getting his tux and running other errands, I spent my time sitting by the pool and wandering around the casinos and malls, feeling pretty overwhelmed by how large and noisy everything was. I’ve been to Vegas quite a few times, but its immensity always seems to get to me.

Evan toasting the bride and groom

Evan toasting the bride and groom

The rest of the weekend seemed to be a blur of dinners, drinks and dancing. The wedding was nice, and Evan gave a very sweet toast to Adam and Rosie, where he talked about growing up with Adam. He made everyone laugh when he shared that Adam had asked him for something sexy to say in Spanish to his bride when they were first dating. Who knows, maybe the cheesy Juanes song lyric Evan gave him was what brought them to their wedding day.

Adam getting a little surprise on his way to find the garter

Adam getting a little surprise on his way to find the garter

Rosie also surprised Adam by blindfolding him before the garter toss and letting their roommate Bucky toss her train over his legs and take her place. He wasn’t expecting that one at all.

Feeling the updraft at the Hoover Dam

Feeling the updraft at the Hoover Dam

On Sunday, about 10 of us went to visit the Hoover Dam. It’s really massive, and creates a rather wild updraft. We all spent time hanging our heads over the side and feeling the wind, and I spent a lot of time trying to prevent a wardrobe malfunction with my dress. I was only partially successful, and ended up having a Marilyn Monro moment mid-dam. Thankfully some of the girls had hair clips, and we tried to tighten up and weigh down the skirt.

Sunday night, Evan and I got tickets to see Santana at the Hard Rock. Boy, does he put on a concert! It started with a ton of energy that lasted for 2 hours straight — they really didn’t take any breaks between songs. Lots of people were dancing, and we really enjoyed all the amazing music.

In all, it was a great weekend. Evan got to catch up with old friends and I got to meet most of them for the first time. We did some typical Vegas things, going to clubs and casino bars, and we also got away from the madness at least a little bit by going to some off-strip restaurants and the Hoover Dam. We also got our room at the Luxor upgraded to a suite, which was quite cool.

You can check out more photos from the wedding and Hoover Dam on Evan’s site.

Thanks, Adam and Rosie, for having us be a part of your wedding and helping us have a great time in Vegas!

A Beautiful Walk Through Phipps Botanical Garden and Oakland

The elegant Phipps Conservatory Glass House

The elegant Phipps Conservatory Glass House

Friday was a beautiful, sunny day, so I decided to go check out Phipps botanical garden and conservatory, Schenley Park and some of Oakland’s other sights.

Frabel Longfellows at the Phipps Conservatory

Frabel Longfellows at the Phipps Conservatory

The botanical gardens, almost entirely housed inside a giant glass house, were lovely. To add to the already impressive array of trees and flowers, there were also Frabel glass pieces dispersed throughout the gardens — lizards and frogs in the amazon room, floating, lacy bowls on top of a fish pond, fairies in the butterfly room and my favorites, the “Longfellows,” near and in many of the water elements.

A Brachiosaurus at the Carnegie Museums

A Brachiosaurus at the Carnegie Museums

After spening time in the gardens, I did a quick walkthrough of the Carnegie Library and also poked my head into the Carnegie art museum. It was near closing time so I didn’t buy a ticket, but I did go to the Pitt campus to check out the Heinz Chapel and the Cathedral of Learning (both closed for weddings) and took a look at the military museum from a distance, too (also closed for a wedding).

Heinz Chapel

Heinz Chapel

Oakland was such a pleasant place to wander and relax that Evan and I returned the next day to explore a bit more of Schenley Park and have a late breakfast at Pamela’s, a rather famous Pittsburgh diner chain. The pancakes were delicious.

Check out this slideshow of photos from the conservatory:

Check out more Pittsburgh photos on Flickr and Facebook

A Whirlwind Tour of Niagara Falls

The view from our hotel room

The view from our hotel room

For the weekend, Evan and I went to Niagara Falls. I’d never been there before, so I was really excited to see the falls — and to return to my homeland, Canada. We had a great room on the top floor of the Sheraton Fallsview that had an incredible view of both the Canadian and American falls. We were just glued to the window every time we were up there.

A very misty morning at the falls

A very misty morning at the falls

We of course did the requisite wander by the falls, and we rode the Maid of the Mist — a boat that takes you so close to the falls you are completely enveloped in its mist and can’t really see anything. It felt like being hit by a giant storm at sea. Everything got soaked and it was so windy it was hard to keep my eyes open. And I only realized after I was drenched that my mascara wasn’t waterproof. Oops. The ponchos they gave us helped, but our pants, shoes and sleeves still got pretty wet.

Emerging from the waterfall's "mist" completely drenched

Emerging from the waterfall's "mist" completely drenched

Once we were done with the touristy falls sights, though we ventured toward the very quaint and charming Niagara on the Lake. We stopped at the botical gardens and butterfly conservatory, which was fantastic. The gardens weren’t in bloom yet, but there were tons of butterflies flying around in the indoor garden, which just created a magical experience. I tried to capture it on video.

Evan also took some great photos of the butterflies.

ButterflyIn Niagara on the Lake, we had tea and scones at the Irish Tea Room, and the night before, we had a wonderful dinner at the Stone Road Grille. We wandered around the cute shops on the main strip, bought some cookies, and checked out Lake ontario. We could JUST make out Toronto in the background.

The view of Lake Ontario

The view of Lake Ontario

We also found out that Niagara has a wonderful wine country, so we went to the Peller and Hillebrand vineyards for some wine tasting. They both had excellent chardonnays, geverztraminers and ice wines and we bought a couple of bottles to take home — apparently you can’t get much Canadian wine in the U.S. at all.

It was a marvelous weekend, filled with new sights, good food and of course, excellent company. I really miss traveling. You can check out more photos in my Niagara galleries on Facebook (more of the photos of me and Evan) and on Flickr (more of the landscapes and butterfly photos)

A Few Days in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh

Thursday morning, I arrived in Pittsburgh to visit Evan, who has been working there since the beginning of April. While he was working during the day, I spent my time wandering about the city, taking photos.

Thurdsay, I walked across the Smithfield Street Bridge and started exploring downtown and the Cultural District, where all Pittsburgh’s big theaters are. I also crossed the bridge into the Northside and walked around the Commons and by the Andy Warhol Museum. I also checked the few things at Station Square, where Evan is living, which mostly involved a walk through a mall and a peek into the beautiful historic train station converted into a restaurant, the Grand Concourse.

Friday, I decided to head up to Mount Washington, and took the Monongahela Incline up to the top. Then walked along the ridge of the mountain until I reached the Duquesne Incline (which is much quainter and cuter and has exhibits about the incline’s history in its top station). I rode the incline down and walked across the Fort Pitt Bridge to Point Park and walked around downtown again, this time making it all the way out to the Strip District before heading back.

Friday night, Evan and I got to explore the city together. We went to the Warhol Museum, where we saw a great collection of Andy Warhol’s work and learned a lot about his life. There was also a special exhibit: The Vader Project, which was really entertaining. We got to see 100 Darth Vader masks as interpreted by different artists. Some of the projects were really impressive artistically and others were conceptually funny. I’m not a big Star Wars fan, but I did enjoy the exhibit.

After the museum, we went for a very tasty dinner at Eleven. The service was a bit strange, but the food was delicious (see my Yelp review for more details).

Here are a few of my favorite photos from my wanders:

The Duquesne Incline, with Downtown Pittsburgh in the background

The Duquesne Incline, with Downtown Pittsburgh in the background

Crossing the Fort Pitt Bridge into Downtown

Crossing the Fort Pitt Bridge into Downtown

A Downtown office part with lots of metallic buildings -- Pittsburgh is steel city and its downtown architecture shows it

A Downtown office part with lots of metallic buildings -- Pittsburgh is steel city and its downtown architecture shows it

One of the most delightful things I cam across in Downtown Pittsburgh: A transformer/robot sculpture made of models of Pittsburgh's bridges

One of the most delightful things I cam across in Downtown Pittsburgh: A transformer/robot sculpture made of models of Pittsburgh's bridges

There are tons more photos in my Pittsburgh galleries on Flickr and Facebook