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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Zion National Park

(Z post)
 Zion National Park in Winter.  Bundle up and enjoy a picture tour both from the car and on foot of this beautiful park.  I read an interesting comment on my Q post (Quiet on another blog), that said summer is noisy and winter is quiet, thus the person preferred winter. 

 Does make you feel quiet, and it was during our time in the park.  Not many people there.  Hubby is the one in the red coat in front of you, the other couple my younger brother and his wife.  I blogged about this park previously HERE, if you'd like a bit more commentary.

Pop in Often, remember Menu Mondays for dining tips, Traveling Tips on Thursday, and any day for vacation destinations. (5)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Yellowstone National Park

(Y post)
You could probably post daily for a year about something regarding Yellowstone National Park, so I won't pretend to do it justice in one post here.
  • The part was established in 1872.  Can you imagine the foresight to establish a park just 7 years after The Civil War?
  • It's the very first National Park
  • There are parts of Yellowstone in 3 different states: Wyoming, Montana and even Idaho.  The largest area is in Wyoming
  • There are 5 entrances: East, North, NorthEast, South, and West.  It's important to know where you want to go in the park to select the correct entrance.  Not all gates are open all year long, and traffic can be so heavy through the park that getting from the wrong entrance to where you want to go difficult and time consuming.
  •  The park has 1,000 miles of trails, and 2.2 million acres of land
  • Has the worlds, not just the country's but the worlds largest collection of geysers
  • It's nearly an intact natural ecosystem
  • There's hiking and biking trails, camping, ranger programs, historic buildings
  • It has 12 camping grounds and over 2,000 camping sites; not including the back country.  Seven of the 12 areas are managed by a private company, Xantera where reservations can be made, the 5 smaller areas are controlled by the park on a first come basis. 
  • Camp sites typical fill as early as 11 am, often requiring you get in que by 7 am for a specific spot.  The key is to be flexible, and plan ahead and always have a plan B.
  • Wolves were re-introduced to the park in 1995 and 96, after finding none in 1994.  Currently there are 300 and their descendants.  Without the wolves the balance of predators and the food change were disturbed. 
  • In a typical year more people are injured by Bison in the Park, then Bears.  Stay the appropriate distance from ALL wild animals, don't put yourself and your family in danger for the sake of a stupid picture.  When you do something stupid, typically the animal has to be put down.  You're instructed to stay at least 100 yards from bears, 25 from Bison.
  • Camping in the back country is free but requires a permit that can be obtained 48 hours ahead in person, there's a fee to reserve ahead of time on line or through the mail.
  • The park is larger then the 2 states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined.

It was quite an experience camping and hiking in Yellowstone.  Old Faithful was disappointing as, it didn't do much when we were there, the thermal areas have a nasty smell like rotten eggs.  In general, though we enjoyed our time there we thought The Tetons were prettier and enjoyed our time there more. (Pictures from a free on line site, not mine.  Old Faithful didn't do anything even close to this when we were there.  You sit around the circle, waiting for it and we saw just a small trickle.  Others in our group said they'd been here several time and never saw it erupt like this.  We understand from the Rangers, they had to clean it  because people used to throw things in it...which is why you now have to sit back from it.

Pop in Often, remember Menu Mondays for dining tips, Traveling Tips on Thursday, and any day for vacation destinations.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X Out Your List

(X post)
Ok, this was a tough letter to come up with something appropriate for a travel blog.  First thought of X marks the spot, but then I used that on Flat Stanley's X post, and I used Xenia a city in Ohio for the X post on Oozing Out my Ears....soooooooo here goes.

We always print a grocery shopping list before we leave home.  Through practice, we've learned the best way to save money on a vacation is to eat in, it's also the most relaxed; but shopping in a strange local can be a challenge.....IF you're not organized.  We are very organized.  In fact, we think we have this whole travel thing down to a science.
  • Print the list before you leave home
  • Have items you always use and always need on the list, so you know meals ahead of time, and purchase items that can be used for several meals at a time
  • Always review the list after the trip to see where changes should be made...locations can alter what you need on the list, as well as the time of year you're going.  The weather/time of the year always determines how often we grill out vs fixing dinner on the stove or in the oven
  • X out the items as you find them in the grocery, saves time you're not constantly thinking what do I need AND you don't tend to buy extra items, thus you save money
  • We X out tonic when we travel in January to Hilton Head, there we tend to drink more Martini's and don't need tonic for a refreshing Gin/Vodka and tonic....the opposite is true when we travel to Florida or Aruba in Spring or Fall
And there you have my X post.

Pop in Often, remember Menu Mondays for dining tips, Traveling Tips on Thursday, and any day for vacation destinations.(5)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Thornton Winery

Welcome to Thornton's Winery
(W post)
located at 32575 Rancho California Road, Temecula, CA  92589.  We've been to Temecula several times now and have tried several different Wineries, but I believe Thornton's would be our favorite.  We had a fabulous lunch, and
wine tasting.  There were 3 of us, one got all reds, one a mix white, rose, and 2 reds, and
I had a flight of champagne. 
With your flights you get a description to help you remember which ones you liked.  See my 2 stars.  We ended up ordering a case of Champagne, 6 bottles of each.
Desert was beautiful and delicious.  We shared it, all of us were full.
Walked around the gift shop and this gave me a idea of something I perhaps should try with all my saved corks.  I've got several zip lock bags full of them.  Though it's been a little over a year since I saw this...and well the corks are still in the zip lock bags.  lol
Still needing to do a bit walking to help with being so full, the gift shop wasn't enough.  We toured the grounds, which are quite pretty.
I went through the gate and got Jane, and hubby before they started down the steps.

A good day, a full day.  We headed to San Diego from here to spend a few more days before heading home.

Great place for adults.

Pop in Often, remember Menu Mondays for dining tips, Traveling Tips on Thursday, and any day for vacation destinations. (5)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Villa Paraiso, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

(V post)
Villa Paraiso Manzanillo, LaPunta, Pennisula de Santiago CP 28860  ManZanilla, Colima, Mexico.  Villa Paraiso translates to House of Paradise.
As you make your entrance into this 12,000 ft. sq. house built into the hillside you are transformed by Nestor the manager and his awesome house staff.
Fun, friendly, professional and very accommodate they really pamper you during your stay.  Though this picture was taken later outback, kitchen and dining room through those doors...we were initially greeted with a tray of Martgueritas, and fresh warm towels to wipe up after the trip from the airport. 
Lunch was served after the house tour concluded and everyone selected their bedrooms, in the Palapa where we virtually lived through out the week.  The bar is to your left, one pool to your right, another pool up and to your right, and another pool further up.
From the main hall way, on the same level as this upper pool, looking down to bar, Palapa and infinite pool.  The edge of this upper pool you see is a waterfall with anther pool just beneath it...the level where you see the orange chairs.
This eating space is on the same level as the orange chairs and one of the pools.
Though we had breakfast and dinner inside at the dining room table, with lunch in the Palapa daily.
Can you see why we lived in the Palapa?  Bar behind us, infinite pool to the left.
Standing just outside the Palapa, you see lounge chairs and lower level pool, the red dot above is the upper level pool; while off on the right you see 4 of the 6 bedrooms.  This is an open air house, though you can close you bedroom door at night and turn on room air, if you feel you need it. (if you click the picture you'll be able to see the red numbers and dot)
Each room was decorated differently.  This blue room on the lower level and had a seating area to the left before the door that lead outside.
Each room had it's on bathroom and outside shower.
To your left was a floor to ceiling custom cabinet with shelving and drawers, in addition to all the space behind the mirrors.
Standing outside the 2 bedroom on the upper level  bedrooms (#1 and; 2 in the other picture) you can see the infinity pool, hammock and bar area.  The space beneath are the other 2 bedrooms.
Even the stair cases were beautiful.  With the house being built into the side of the hill, there's lots of up and down, so you do get some exercises between drinks.  lol
One of the many views.  This is taken outside the upper level bedrooms.

If you're looking for an affordable group vacation, do yourself a favor and contact Nestor, the manager at or visit their facebook page. 
Be sure and let them know Sandy sent you.

Pop in Often, remember Menu Mondays for dining tips, Traveling Tips on Thursday, and any day for vacation destinations.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

ULLR in Breckenridge Colorado

(U post)
Meet ULLR, a Norse God by Richard Jagoda in Beckenridge, Colorado.  One of many outdoor art pieces.

Ullr is thought to be the son of Sif, and the stepson of Thor in Norse Mythology.  Information is a bit sketchy, but it's believed he was a major Prehistoric God, The God of Hunting, Bow, Shield and Ski.  It's prounced Ooh-ler.  Legend has it that he flew the sky on his wooden ski's so fast he made stars as he passed.

This past Janaury, 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of The Ullr Fest in Breckenridge.  The fest started in 1963, to pay homage to and give thanks to, The God of Good Snow.  The fest has grown through the years, but has always been a "party", celebrated by locals.  There's a parade down Main Street, live entertainment, food and drink a plenty, bone fires, Ullympics, and ice sculpting.  He's become known as The God of Winter and Snow.

The festival ran from Jan 6th through January 12th this year and is scheduled for Jan 5th-11th, in 2014. 

Pop in Often, remember Menu Mondays for dining tips, Traveling Tips on Thursday, and any day for vacation destinations.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Temple Square, Salt Lake City Utah

(T post)
Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City is totally surrounded by large heavy ironed fences.  Though the grounds are "opened" to the public for tours, you may not enter on your own.  You must be part of a tour group and be escorted at all times.
This is the site that most think of when they think of The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but this is not the Tabernacle, this is The Salt Lake City Temple which is in the center of the 10 acres square.  This is the largest of the 140 temples.  You do not get to tour even with your escort inside this building.  In fact, not all Mormons are permitted to enter this building.  It is considered very sacred and one must have a temple recommend to enter it's premises.  The requirements, as I understand them are to be baptized and request a recommend one year later.  You are then interviewed by a Bishop and the Stake President to determine your "worthiness".  There are different types/levels of recommends; but from my research it seems generally a recommend is good for a period of two years provided all conditions are still meant.
A little better view, it's not easy to get a good picture.  The sealing of spouses, and children to parents takes place in the Temple.  Sealing is an additional ceremony joining couples which means they are married, even after death vs a civil marriage which is til death to us part.  It's possible to be sealed to multiple spouses, even if a divorce has taken place.  So, while the official church stance is that they do not support plural marriages in this day and age; some argue that to be incorrect.  Not all Mormons practice sealing, therefore without being sealed and or having a recommend, not all Mormons can enter the Temple.
This is the beginning of Mormon Tabernacle Choir practice, the main reason for our signing up for the tour.  We were very disappointed.  We were permitted only a very short stay to hear the choir.  The Tabernacle is open to all; but at no point are you permitted to look or tour on your own.  It's frankly, a rather uncomfortable feeling.  There are so many guides and helpers, and other volunteers there you feel they are watching your every move.
The grounds are beautiful, with flower beds everywhere, water falls and sculptures.  DD and I sat down on a bench to check time, review the map and determine when and where we might want to eat.  In those few brief minutes we were interrupted 3-4 times by 3-4 different "watchers".  Did I mention, uncomfortable.
Inside The Assembly Hall, the 3rd area in the square is a large display of religious paintings.  They are floor to ceiling as you can see and are quite impressive.

I've forgotten how large this sculpture is, but believe it's about 3 x life size.  It's surrounded by circle seating.  During our tour (assume this is standard), everyone had to sit while some preaching went on.  I don't know if they actually tell their tour guides to convert people, but it certainly seemed that was the primary goal.
This was probably my favorite of the many outdoor sculpture depicting a family and handcart.  It a memorial to the hardy Mormons who walked pulling and pushing their belongings 1,350 miles from Iowa City to Salt Lake in 1850.  Nearly 3,000 completed the journey, though 250 died in route.  Many of the 1,350 were British Converts.

We signed up to hear the choir practice while staying in Park City, at Marriott's Summit Watch.  They provide transportation from the resort to Temple Square and back for a reasonable fee.  The tour was not at all what we thought we were signing up for, and therefore we were very disappointed.   Had we known the nature of tour, we probably would not have gone.  Still, being prepared with the right expectations, can make a difference in your level of enjoyment in any activity.  So, if you go; be better prepared and know you're not going to get to hear much of the choir and or learn much about the choir...that it's primarily to tell you how wonderful being a Mormon is.  The tour description really didn't convey that.

I would not recommend doing this with small children.  I believe it was about a 6 hour field trip from the resort, and best geared towards adults wearing good walking shoes.  The other item worth noting is everywhere you go, even to eat is church related with Mormon murals on the walls....really over loaded if you're comfortable with your own religious choice.   You're pretty restricted how far you can venture there in downtown Salt Lake, in order to get back in time to hear the choir, even for a short while before the bus ride back to the resort.
Pop in Often, remember Menu Mondays for dining tips, Traveling Tips on Thursday, and any day for vacation destinations.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sunsets Newport Coast California

 (S post)
We have incredible sunsets almost every night we stayed at Marriott's Newport Coast Villas.  We fixed our cocktails and watched the sunset over Catalina Island, from the comfort and privacy of our balcony.  The time it takes to drink a good Martini and the time it takes for sunset to drop into the ocean were well matched.  Then it was time for dinner.  Turn on your sound and enjoy.

This was probably our best part of each day, enjoying the magnificent beauty.  Nature is an awesome thing.

Pop in Often, remember Menu Mondays for dining tips, Traveling Tips on Thursday, and any day for vacation destinations.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Reason to Take Vacations

(R post)
Do you take a vacation to relax?
To recreate?

To research
To rejuvenate?  Sorry, can't show a picture of a massage.
Would you settle for a scarey facial picture?  Don't make me laugh it'll crack!

Do you vacation to enjoy Restaurants?
Deciding which R word is the most important to you and those in your traveling entourage is the key ingredient for successful planning.  If you're a person who likes to be on the go doing and seeing constantly a quiet, relaxed resort is probably not going to make for an enjoyable vacation.  Obviously the reverse also is an issue.  Finding a location with balance is the key if people in your entourage like to do different things.
  • Example, years ago hubby and I traveled in large groups for winter vacations/ski trips.  Right there is the key, I was going on vacation which to me means to chill out, they were all going on a ski trip and that's all they were interested in doing.  They didn't want to explore what else was in the area, they didn't want to sight see, they didn't want to sleep in.  They wanted to be the first and last on and off the ski lift.  The compromise was I didn't ski everyday, I did other things and then we would collect back up for cocktails before dinner.
  • Now days, hubby and I like to travel alone (unless DD is able to join us).  Far less complicated.  He can golf, I can do my thing and we can pick days to do things together.  Balancing all those R's...makes for a great vacation.
Discuss and plan a bit before hand, don't assume everyone's idea of what vacation is is the's not.  What are you reasons for wanting to go on vacation?

Pop in Often, remember Menu Mondays for dining tips, Traveling Tips on Thursday, and any day for vacation destinations.


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