This morning as I read my New York Times, I noticed a full page ad for a Harry Potter contest to coincide with the release of the latest film in the series. My sons are such big fans and it seemed like a fun exercise to have them enter.
Getting sucked into a series of books can be a marvelous experience. You become so invested, almost intimate with the characters. Much to my surprise, I am completely taken by Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy and have been burning the midnight oil as I gallop through the three books. I keep putting the reins on my reading because I don’t want it to end.
This summer, on a trip to the Pacific Northwest’s Olympic Peninsula, I insisted we take a 50-mile detour to visit Forks, Washington, home of the Twilight saga. Twilight is a series of four vampire, teen romance novels by Stephenie Meyer. It follows a teenage girl, named Bella, who moves to Forks, Washington and falls in love with a 104-year-old vampire named Edward Cullen.
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Lake Tahoe reported a foot of snow the other day. Two weeks ago I got word that almost four feet had dropped on Jackson Hole. A few days ago a little farther north, Big Sky Montana got a foot, with more falling and a lot more on the way.
It must be ski season.
A few years ago I went to Yellowstone in winter to see wildlife, cross-country ski to Old Faithful, ride the snow coach, and tool around on a snowmobile in the national forests outside the national park. On the way down from Bozeman we drove right past Big Sky and I made a mental note to come back and check it out. Continue reading »
I was recently in St. Louis and was pleasantly surprised about how spiffed up it has become. I attended Washington University there in the ’60s, and pretty much confined myself to its lovely campus. St. Louis itself was considered unwelcoming to us undergraduates.
No longer. Forest Park, the green spine that connects Washington University and the suburbs to the downtown area, has been beautifully reclaimed and in a space 60 percent bigger than New York’s Central Park, visitors and citizens can jog and bike along groomed trails and boat in large waterways.
One excellent excursion is to bike up to the famous Gateway Arch that was built to celebrate St. Louis’s colorful past as the provisioning place for western expansion. The arch, designed by renowned architect Enno Saarinen, is awesome. Continue reading »
If you’ve ever read the children’s book Eloise or the young adult book From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, you probably had fantasies about living alone in NYC as a child. I grew up in the Big Apple and was lucky to have parents who loved art and shared their love of music, theatre and fine art.
I fondly remember visiting the vastness of Metropolitan Museum of Art, marveling at the classics, journeying to Papua New Guinea and Egypt, giggling at the Greek sculptures and noshing at the, then, very fancy café with all the Upper East Side lady lunchers. Most of all I cherished the multicolored little button you get with admission, which I used to save in a jar.
Every time I return to Manhattan I make a pilgrimage to the Met, no matter what is showing. I bring my own kids and rush through, plying them with candy and promises of a ride on the carousel, much as my parents did.
Recently, on one of the hottest days of the year I had a few hours to make my manic tour of the museum. After a whirlwind visit to the American Woman fashion exhibit—that rocked as much as the original song and the Lenny Kravitz cover—we had about a half hour to kill. I was with a colleague who insisted we head up to the roof garden, a somewhat hidden and unknown asset to the majestic museum. Continue reading »
Everyone knows that the Hawaiian Islands are romantic. But perhaps you don’t know how much more romantic they are off-season. I recently returned from a September sojourn in Kauai and Hawaii (the Big Island) and the unhurried and uncrowded islands were a special treat.
Like many people, when my kids were young, I had to arrange most of my vacations around my children’s schedule — which meant trips around school holidays. I had gotten in the habit of traveling to Hawaii around Christmas even when I could have gone other times. Big mistake.
This September, we had perfect weather every day of our two week vacation (not so likely in December) and all dining and tourism options were open and easy. Continue reading »
The Seattle area coffee is legendary. The birthplace of Starbucks has created a revolution in America, and I for one am indebted to the place. I used to cherish my NY Greek coffee-shop, take-out cup of Joe, but now I am somewhat of a coffee snob.
Brewed Awakenings, Roundup a Latte, Grounds for Perfection, Espresso Yourself and Mocha Motion are just a few of the catchy/kitschy names for coffee shops on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. I love coffee, but more, I love the ritual of coffee and am a sucker for the drive-through. It’s still novel to me and is a treat every time. Continue reading »
Want a romantic getaway near Seattle? I just tested one for you. My boyfriend and I went to celebrate our fourth year together at the Willows Lodge in Woodinville and coupled our getaway with dinner at The Herb Farm. If we had been really savvy we would have realized that Earth, Wind and Fire was performing at Chateau St. Michelle Winery right down the street (Woodinville is a wine center and St. Michelle has concerts all summer) and alas I only found out about the concert when we arrived - and there is no way you could go to both a concert and the nine course Herb Farm dinner!
So, here’s what’s romantic about the Willows-Herb Farm pairing. Everything. Continue reading »
I have visited Harlem numerous times in my life but never really as a tourist. So there I was recently on a big tour bus, heading uptown on a sweltering day, escorting a group of French executives and feeling I was exploring the neighborhood for the first time. We went with the New York Visions Travel Group on the Harlem Spirituals Gospel Tour.
The architecture was majestic, the history epic, but to see the area fixed up and yet still tattered on the edges was uplifting and depressing at the same time. I really got to absorb the information as I was doing some translations into French…stories of freed slaves, rent parties, jazz, the crack years and now the resurrection of the famed quarter.
Our guide was an animated actress/French expat who, despite her arrogant attitude, gave a great tour. We made a pit stop at the Schomburg Library, a public library that is a research center for Black Culture. My dad had done research there in the ’70s and ’80s and I had vague memories of visiting as a child. Then we headed to a church to witness and participate in a gospel-music-infused service. Continue reading »
“This has got to be the craziest sport I’ve ever done,” my friend George said to me as we rested on our mountain bikes gazing down a precipitous slope toward pine forest and spiky mountains in the distance. “Here we are in one of the most beautiful places on earth and when we’re on our bikes we can’t even look at the scenery!”
The mountain bike trails from the top of Sun Valley’s fabled Bald Mountain (9150 feet elevation) wind through meadows, switchback down sheer slopes, weave through pine forests, and really get the adrenaline flowing. We were cruising (or rather, braking) down eight-mile-long Warm Springs Trail because the friendly fellow who sold us tickets for the gondola to take us to the top sized us up and said, “Take Warm Springs Trail. You’ll see when you get up there that you have two choices, Cold Springs and Warm Springs. You folks want Warm Springs. It’ll be a lot better for you.” Then he grinned and said, as if questioning our resolve, “Cold Springs is not for the faint of heart.” Continue reading »
Before I start on this post — let me make a big apology to Walla Walla lovers. I too love this place but I have gotten too casual about it (I go quite often) and so when I first wrote up this blog post, I really didn’t check my spelling, facts, etc. the way I would for most places. So, the result, predictably, was lots of errors. Fortunately, this site has keen observers and they have made corrections. I humbly put them in, grateful — and embarrassed.
My sentiments still stand…the names of inns and restaurants have been changed to their rightful spelling.
Very high on my list of romantic getaways is a wine country retreat. Most people have at least name recognition with the wine country of Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Rosa, and the contiguous valleys that go all the way up Humboldt county — but little Walla Walla is a jewel that is less known — but no less worthy.
This town is in the wine region of Washington state and is home to more than over 100 wineries, about 80 of which are open to the public either on weekends or by appointment. The quality of the wine is superb, the scenery is stunning, and there are fine restaurants and places to stay. Continue reading »