Thursday, 31 January 2008

Vive le Cirque!

Yesterday I discovered a reason to come to Las Vegas - Cirque du Soleil! I had gambled on that idea, came to LV, and they delivered. This is absolutely the best show that I have ever seen. As I understand it, the show Mystere is one of the more "low key" shows that they do in LV and this was THRILLING. I may even have to come back here to catch the show Love (no tickets available for the dates we were here). Canada can be proud of what we have here - this is an out-of-this-world class show. I recommend it to all. Vive le Canada et vive le Cirque!

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Ghost Rider in the Sky

Couldn't resist taking this picture yesterday at the ghost town of Rhyolite, NV. This is supposed to be the largest ghost town in Nevada and it does have a couple of interesting features but a lot of it is behind metal fencing so there aren't many good photo ops. There's a house built out of beer bottles that some guy built in 1906 and it's obviously important to the historical people 'cause they've refurbished the roof. The most interesting thing here to me was the statue garden - just a few hunks of art out there on the desert, just outside of Death Valley, CA. As a confirmed cyclist this was my favourite. Why do you think someone would have a scuplture of a penguin out here on the desert?

Thursday, 24 January 2008

The Verdict Is Out!

Yeah, it's true. San Francisco's streets are steeper than those of Nelson or Rossland. There's more of them, too! I've just spent the past two days walking around SF and that's the Golden Gate Bridge over there. I had wanted to post a steep street for this item but I'm too lazy to find it in my files right now. This is a great city to visit on foot because there's lots to see and the variety in the architecture is so interesting. A bike is okay, but you're going to have to push it up an awful lots of streets. I don't think I could drive here - it's amazing how people have their cars parked on these VERY steep streets and most of the garages are so narrow there's hardly room to open a car door. Garages here are not for projects! I loved my walk over the GG Bridge this a.m. and would recommend it to any hikers in my reading crowd. The constant work to keep that thing painted is a feat almost as big as the bridge itself. If you like to walk and to climb steep hills then SF is a super place to visit.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Camping: California Style

We got into CA last Friday and I felt there was almost an immediate difference from Oregon. Right away, cheap liquor and casinos are being advertised and they are plentiful along the side of the road. The coastline isn't nearly as dramatic, although there are lots of good "bits" along the way. The highway isn't nearly as well maintained. One thing that I found frustrating is that information at any info bureaux was very limited to the immediate area and each county has a publication outlining the state parks and municipal parks, etc. The parks themselves aren't nearly as well maintained as OR parks either and it was a bit of problem even figuring out which ones were open. However, the parks are pretty low-key and I was surprised to find ourselves using pit toilets - but well-designed ones that don't smell. I also like the unisex toilets that seem to be a mainstay in CA. Highway 1 - the coastal highway - is amazing as it twists, turns and goes in, out, up and down every headland along the coast. The estuaries are plentiful and beautiful. Like B.C., this is an expensive place to build and maintain roads. Parts of the highway are falling into the Pacific, as well as a few homes we saw along the way. The picture here was taken at Manchester Bay about two hours north of SF and you can see how "tame" the coast appears. I'm continuing to rave about OR and that's one problem with travelling north to south - the best stuff is first!

Friday, 18 January 2008

Camping Oregon Style

For the past week we've been enjoying Oregon State Parks along the stunning coast of Oregon. I'd really recommend them as a place to stay. They're clean and nicely laid out, and every one has been in a superb location. Most parks have had recycling stations and they are being very environmentally conscientious when it comes to water and washroom comfort. The washrooms aren't heated and the water is warm, at best, for a shower. However, when living out of a camper van who is going to complain about free showers? Another thing I love is that checkout time is 1 p.m. so there's lots of time to spend exploring or walking in the a.m. In the so-called "discovery season" the rates are very reasonable. The park pictured here is at Nehelam Bay, just outside of Manzanita, OR. So let's hear it for Oregon State Parks!

Shopping American Style

I loved this billboard, discovered in Portland. I continue to be amazed at the ease of American shopping - no carts to purchase and everyone is always so helpful at the till. We still haven't found that we need to pay deposits on any cans purchased and at least Oregon has facilities to recycle them. The thing that I've found most amazing is at the Jantzen Centre in Portland, the stores were absolutely empty. Has America shopped itself to death? For groceries, I've been frequenting Fred Meyers who has stores throughout Oregon now. In 1965, I remember being shocked that he was open all day, all year long. His stores are big and clean and actually pretty appealing now that I've become part of the Big Box Generation. I'm still seeing lots of heavy Americans enjoying shopping at the grocery store. Will this billboard ever make a difference?

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Up To Town Girl

My bike has been safely stowed in the garden shed for over a month now. In my continuing effort to reduce driving, I'm now a regular walker to town. To do this, I walk about .5 km uphill to the forest and enjoy a 40 minute walk into town. Because I walk "up" the lake (northerly direction), the title today seemed appropriate. There's one spot on the route which seems to regularly get clear skies. Some of the conditions this past few days have been interesting - we had rain on Friday and a good high temperature on Saturday but Sat. was my most difficult walk - a sheet of ice in some areas - covered with water. During the last two days I've had to deke out to the highway for the long downhill because the other road is far too icy. When the Purcells are visible the gravel road behind the golf course is the most majestic part of the trip - absolutely breathtaking. I'm pleased to see myself continuing to do the walk even with the ice - I take two ski poles to help on the journey but it's probably time to get a pair of those slip-on crampons. More snow is scheduled for today!

Tuesday, 1 January 2008


The holiday season is the time for traditions and lots of eating and I thought it was time to write about both of those items. One thing I'd love to see become a regular tradition is the purchase of a Christmas bouquet like the one pictured at right. I got this bouquet from my kids and son-in-law on December 24th. It just looks so good and I've loved having it as part of a new tradition.
The title of today's blog refers to an old family recipe which continues to be a success. I'm referring to Texas Beans. I'm not sure where my Mum found this recipe, but I know that it's a hit all the time. I served it at a dinner party in mid-December and everyone loved it around our Christmas table. It's super simple - take a large package of frozen snapped beans (and if they are 10 metre beans from the summer garden it's even better) and spread half out in a shallow dish. Add a layer of sliced onion and top that with one tin of mushroom soup. Repeat and then add lots of grated cheese to the top. Bake for about 90 min at 350.
A new family recipe (nfr) that I tried out this year was one for sticky toffee pudding as a Christmas dessert. I got the recipe from the December '06 issue of Chatelaine. It was a hit and perhaps another new tradition has begun. Hope all of you enjoyed the feasts and traditions of the season - both old and new.

New Year at Kaslo Bay

A fairly new tradition in Kaslo is a fundraiser for the Langham Cultural Centre. All the brave souls in the picture at left went into Kootenay Lake today at noon. I sponsored four of these people who had to submerge themselves to the neck and then get out of the water. No wet suits are allowed. The guy in the Santa hat is the Director of the area that is part of our regional district - a complicated B.C. system of political administration. I don't know how much money was raised today but I do know that one guy raised over $1000 so I think they should get to their goal of $2008. Happy New Year all!