Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Possibly being the only person in the Mainland United States to have never been to Hawaii, I got my chance last summer, when my husband worked a 6 month stint on the beautiful island of O'ahu.  Every day (for 12 days), while waiting for him to return from work, I strapped on my new walking shoes, and with camera in hand, did just that...I was a walkin' fool and, not being able to hit the bricks in Vegas during the summer due to oppressive desert heat, I relished every mile walked.
O'ahu is the third largest, and most populous, of the Hawaiian Islands. The state capital, Honolulu, is located here, as is Waikiki, Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, and the North Shore, most notably.
44 miles long and 30 miles across (607 square miles), the length of the shoreline is 227 miles.
This is the Waikiki Beach looking from one end, with the hotels - to the other, with the looming Diamond Head volcano...which I also walked!
Peaceful, breezy, friendly, GREEN - I would trade these little beach crabs for our scorpions, any day!
The world-famous neighborhood of Waikiki was once a playground for Hawaiian royalty.  Waikiki’s very first hotel, was built on its shores in 1901. Today, Waikiki is Oahu’s main hotel and resort area, and most every room is just two or three blocks away from the sea.
Legendary Hawaiian waterman, Duke Kahanamoku grew up surfing the waves of Waikiki. This Olympic gold medalist in swimming actually taught visitors how to surf at the turn of the century, and was later known as “The father of modern surfing.”
The bronze Duke Kahanamoku Statue has become an iconic symbol of Waikiki, and was never for want of beautiful leis, during my daily jaunts past.  The surfboards are actually locked up, overnight, much as you would find bikes being locked up on the mainland - in all actuality, the surboards are probably safer locked there overnight than bikes would be, here, even for a few hours.
Not huge waves while I was there (the biggest are to be found on the North Shore - the opposite side of the island, but it was the wrong time of year for those, also), but I found the beauty and motion of the water to be relaxing enough to want to spend an hour or so, each day, just sitting and breathing it all in.
Sailboats, swells, swimmers, and surfers...SWEET!
And speaking of the surfers (another life sized bronze along the beachfront)...
They came in all sizes - the little girl with the board on top of her head couldn't have been more than 5 or 6, and was heading out with her dad.  My concrete pier vantage point proved to be a favorite entry to the waters below, though I cringed each time one of them hurtled off the wall, as the rocks were visible below the water.  Yeah, it's one of those "Mom" things, I know...1) Don't go swimming for 30 minutes after eating and, 2) Don't do flips into the water, over rocks - obviously, they'd all done it before.
More surf jumpers, and one of the "coolest" dogs I will ever see, guarding his owner's gear while soaking up some rays in his Eastons, brah!  Sat there by himself, for the entire hour I was there, and never tried to remove the glasses - nor did anyone try to take them from him.
Hope you catch a most excellent wave this week - back next Tuesday with a further look around the island - there's so much to see - in the meantime, HANG LOOSE!

Saturday, February 23, 2013


I'll bet it was better than what I saw.  Whether it was my frame of mind...or the screaming kids (on something that wasn't necessarily billed as a "kid's show", but the matinee time might have been a clue, if we had been paying attention) yelling in our ears from behind, and kicking seat backs while the parents let em' go...or a seemingly very talented troupe of performers TRYING way too hard to be "artsy fartsy" for artsy fartsy sake alone...or a combination of all three, and then some.  Whatever it was, we walked.
See the bike with all the people above - THAT was what I saw good today.  A little travelling troupe out of Australia, in a fabulous new theater venue in Las Vegas (just because it's a fabulous setting doesn't mean it's fabulous).  Don't want to drop a name (believe me, we weren't in Kansas), at risk of offending blogging friends, and as I'm sure the talent itself in the troupe is immense (they certainly were a charming group).
(Cast from Cirque's fabulous water show, "O")
However, when you come to a town with eight (give or take) Cirque Du Soleil shows (the pinnacle of "artsy fartsy") in residence, you'd better be on top of your game.  There was a hint of "Cirque envy" in the feel of the show (starting with cast members walking through, and interacting with the audience before the start of the show, as in any Cirque show here in Vegas...and the costuming), though I would probably liken it to Circus Camp "Trys" Cirque.
I'm sure the 4,000 little ones (OK, that may be an exaggeration) in the audience enjoyed it, and if I could have blinked my eyes and had my two at a much younger age, in tow, I'm sure I may have liked it - may.  As it was, the kid in our ear, kicking the seats from behind (how do responsible parents allow that to happen?!), and lack of enough to hold our interest, had us packing it in at the intermission, sadly.
The Smith Center was lovely, as always - lunch beforehand, and a drink in the beautiful lobby of a fabulous venue with a dear friend (photo above from my dear friend's blog, ONE CREATIVE CAT) who was lucky enough to get two tickets, where I was not (and we are ALWAYS thankful for anything that comes our way in the lines of entertainment), proved to be a nice diversion to an otherwise heartbreaking day...and I thank her for that.
I liked the bicycle people, I'll give them that...the juggler lady with the red balls (that's not a dirty joke) had promise until they started bouncing around the stage and they were scrambling to get them back on her feet (and now it REALLY sounds like a dirty joke)...yes, I liked the bicycle people.
This might have helped.  It also might explain where my brain is at today, and that maybe nothing could have helped.  I'm sure the kids saw something wonderful in it - I'm sure there were some adults who probably loved it too.  I do hope your weekend got off to a fabulous start, and I hope you saw something WONDERFUL today.  Tomorrow I will be riding that squirrel and hoping for a better performance, all the way around!  XOXO

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Sitting next door to the Bellagio and its beautiful gardens is the most recent and, by far, most extravagant jewel in the Las Vegas crown - The Cosmopolitan opened its doors in December 2010.
Not to be missed - billed as the most expensive hotel ever, the centerpiece of the Cosmo is "The Chandelier" - a three story bar boasting 2 million glass crystals.  Playing tourist for the day, I snapped some shots of the artworks (aside from the jaw-dropping bar) that make up this grand Vegas adventure...
Evident as soon as you enter from the parking garage (actually, the parking garage is an amazing work of art, itself...large lighted signs indicate just how many spaces are available on any level, as well as green/red lights over each parking space so you know where to aim on your travels down any aisle), the artwork throughout the hotel and casino is spectacular.  The blue gal welcomed us as we were waiting for the elevator from the garage...the pink blown glass chandeliers, while I can find no information on them, I have a suspicion are Chihuly glass - someone correct me if you know for sure...
The lobby of the hotel boasts an ever-changing display of artworks - large columns of LCD screens feature moving displays of some very beautiful art pieces, while mirrors on the ceilings capture visitors below.  This day we were treated to peacefully twirling and undulating sea anemones...
that eventually changed to black and white moving graphics on all the columns.  I had heard, since the opening, that one of the displays had what appear to be people trapped inside of the columns.  I always called "malarkey" since on my numerous trips through, with out of town guests, I had never seen it...until last week.
These images were all taken within minutes of each other - like I said, the display is in constant motion - along with your mind.  Cosmo's now famous tag line?  "Just the right amount of wrong", which was exactly what I was thinking as I was snapping away - almost like a voyeur.  This really was cool, though.  There was a wolf in there, too...don't ask.
Glass and crystals abound...
Some of the most interesting and beautiful pieces are on the ceiling.  The upper right, and lower left photos are of chandeliers constructed entirely of ball chain...teeny tiny ball chain!  The yellow and orange stained glass lighting can be found above a bank of escalators.
Fabulous shopping and eateries can be found on the upper levels of the casino...if you squint at the lower right photo, you can see what it spells out a little easier...it was changing so fast, I had to snap the shot quickly, before it disappeared, which is why it's a little fuzzy.  I hate subliminal messages - they make me thirsty!
And, if you get hungry while exploring, and are up for a Cosmo version of "Where's Waldo", you can try and find the little joint known only as Secret Pizza...there is no particular name it's known by...nor is there any signage leading you to it.  Nor, is it advertised as even being in the hotel - AT ALL!  But it's there, and it's worth finding!  Don't ask - try and find it on your own...once you have, the aroma and a long hallway covered with record albums leads back to a little slice of NY pizza heaven.  If you're absolutely stumped and desperately hungry, you can ask a hotel employee, or get ahold of me.  Definitely worth finding!
And more glass and crystals!  I can attest to some mighty spectacular rooms at the hotel (my husband's company installed the elevators and escalators, and we were treated to a night there, before the grand opening).  Even if you're not staying, this is an absolute MUST SEE on the Vegas Strip.  And, by all means, do the silly touristy thing and succumb to the subliminal - have a "Cosmopolitan" at the Cosmopolitan (I liken it to holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa in your souvenir travel photos of Italy).  I admit - I downed one, the first time I went.  Damn sign!

Monday, February 18, 2013


I love kites!  In search of anything to lift the spirits right now, this was timely enough...my dad just sent through this enchanting video of world champion kite flier RAY BETHELL...graceful and beautiful.  And amazing - the only thing that would have been MORE amazing, would have been if the guy could have filmed it himself.  Enjoy ~ may your spirits soar today...

Sunday, February 17, 2013


Chance of a lifetime, twice within 6 months.  The legendary B.B. King in concert last evening, this time with my son in tow.  The consummate entertainer with an ever strong/clear voice, and those instantly recognizable guitar licks, all at 87 years old - I don't know that I could perform for a solid 1-1/2 hours at my age (even if I DID know how to play the guitar, OR could sing...and OK, fine!  I can't tap dance either, dammit, but would definitely throw that into my show, if I could).  B.B. and Lucille put on one hell of a show, STILL.  The thrill was definitely all ours, Mr. King.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


"There is no remedy for love but to love more"...
Henry David Thoreau
February, already...VALENTINES DAY, already.  Wishing my family and friends, near and far, the sweetest day EVER!  Wanted to share some heartfelt items that arrived last week, after a lucky, LUCKY day of wins resulting from the Grow Your Blog party.  My wins were numerous, and as they kept mounting that day, I felt the need to buy Powerball tickets.  I also felt a need to spread the love.  I offered up each "gifter" the chance for a "do-over", or an exchange between us.  The gifters all opted for the exchange...we are having some fun, now!
These goodies arrived from the first two wins, right before the weekend.  YES!  We ARE having some fun, now.
My first win was from Maggie of THE MAG RAG - Maggie is an absolute delight (you know how you sometimes get an instant "good" feeling about someone?  I've made some wonderful friends through this blog, some of whom I've actually had the great pleasure of meeting up with), and I have a sneaking suspicion that Maggie's gonna' be around for awhile.  An incredible artist, with a genuine heart (she is an illustrator for Simplicity Patterns - one of my favorite books).
I won a BEAUTIFUL hand soldered necklace, encasing a piece of antique lace - soldering is no easy task, and this is impeccable.  She also enclosed a card with one of her gorgeous angels on it...too pretty to let go of, this will be framed and hung in a special spot.  All this, and more, is available in Maggie's ETSY SHOP (The MagRag).  I shouldn't be the only one lucky enough to enjoy her artistry - run, don't walk...she even made that stinkin' cute gift box up there!!!
And, as if THAT fun wasn't enough, a whole envelope of handcrafted hearts - lots and LOTS - showed up in my mailbox the very next day.  Cut, pieced, embossed,  and sewn - these are pretty darn cute, and I know a lot of love went into their making.  The handiwork of Andria of DRAWING NEAR - Andria is planning on opening an Etsy shop, SOON.  Until then, you can find her at her wonderful blog.  All in all, an awful lot of fun! 
"Love, love, love.  Love, love, love.  Love, love, love"...
The Beatles
P.S.  "Love you more"...ME

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

YEAR OF THE SNAKE 2013 - Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens on "TRAVEL TUESDAY"

Chinese New Year is being celebrated in truly spectacular style at the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, in Las Vegas - with 22,000 flowers, 660 trees and shrubs, and more than 200 magnificent, colorful Koi...and a snake.  A very BIG snake.  A very big FAKE snake.  You can thank me later for not starting off with a snake picture!
To symbolize prosperity, good fortune and nobility, an 18-foot-tall Chinese money tree stands at the entrance to the gardens. The centerpiece of the display, it features 384 over sized gold-leafed I-Ching coins (traditional Chinese symbol for money) on its branches, with more surrounding the base.
A 9-foot-tall "friendly" King Cobra, covered in 5,000 blue-and-gold silk scales, is perched atop more coins to signify that one’s wealth and good fortune will be protected for the next 12 months.
A 35-foot Chinese junk boat with a 38-foot mast inspired by 15th Century fishing vessels, floats in one pond.  Carved from teak, mahogany and cedar, it weighs a staggering 3,000 pounds.  1,800 carnations, spider mums and Fuji mums brighten the clothing of six “lucky” children playing near a beautiful pagoda. 
Feng Shui, the art of using surroundings to bring about harmony, balance and positive life energy, guided the design of the gardens.  Ancestral "ding pots" burn incense for good luck and protect against bad fortune, at the entrance.
Each garden encompasses water to ensure a positive flow of energy, and the three friends of winter - pine, bamboo and plum, symbolizing perseverance, integrity and modesty.
The legend of the Year of the Snake is that Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on the Chinese New Year, and 12 came that make up the Asian zodiac. The sixth was the snake, and people born in this 12-month calendar are said to be refined, intuitive, introspective and enigmatic.
The exhibit is free to the public, and open 24/7 daily until March 3.  On your way out of the display, be sure to walk a few more feet into the lobby to see an extension of the colorful display, but especially to "ooh and aah" over the "Fiori di Como" chandelier by world renowned glass sculptor, Dale Chihuly. This stunning art piece is comprised of 2,000 hand-blown glass blossoms.  And, if you're "feeling the love" of that big ol' Snake, continue on into the casino (the backdrop for the Oceans Eleven movies) to test out your new found good fortune...
YEAR OF THE SNAKE: 1905 1917 1929 1941 1953 1965 1977 1989 2001 2013

SNAKE 2013
The Snake person is almost off the charts in terms of intelligence, able to think things through in a cold and calculating manner. Attractive and charming, you are skilled at persuasion and can garner support in the attainment of your personal goals. In the next few months, the perfect opportunity will appear. After conducting a thorough cost-benefit analysis, strike quickly but pay attention to details. Big gains if you do everything right. Curb your tendency to carry and nurse a grudge and you'll leave your critics far behind.

Love Match: Ox, Rooster, Dragon

Notable Snake People: Anne Frank, Bob Dylan, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Placido Domingo, Audrey Hepburn, Darwin, Indira Gandhi

Sunday, February 10, 2013

BEE GEES and GREGG ALLMAN - I Get By With a Little Help From My Friend, Part Deux...

Having a bit of a rough week, a Girl's Night Out in Vegas, with my friend Jackie, was just the ticket.  A call with an announcement that the last two tickets to a performance of THE AUSTRALIAN BEE GEES SHOW had been procured, and we were out the door, sans husbands (not that mine would have ever entertained the thought of sitting through "disco"...again - "in the same lifetime".  And THAT is why the "kill joys" are left at home!).  Me, on the other hand - she didn't have to ask me twice!
Dinner beforehand was fabulous.  So much so, that we even let the persistent little gal with the camera and darling foreign accent take our picture, where I normally opt out due to witness protection and such.  It was such a great "friends" moment that she even made the sale - we felt like tourists in our own town, and sometimes it's best to just go with the flow.  So glad I wore my slimming black, though it does nothing for wrinkles.
And a lot of times in Vegas, it SO pays to see the smaller shows in the more personable showrooms.  We had wanted to see this for the past two years, and it didn't disappoint.  The most fun I've had in a month (OK, except for a gigantic win with the same best friend at Bingo, a few weeks back).  She's always along for the fun stuff!  She actually told me that her husband would have sat through the show, as he was a Disco King, back in the day.  I told her I had actually seen the REAL Bee Gees, back in the day.  I still have the only concert program I've ever bought in my life, and it must have been because of the white pants...
1979 - 21 years old (you do the math), with another friend in tow, that evening - the "Spirits Having Flown" Tour.
July 2nd, 1979, to be exact - McNichols Arena in Denver, CO, which is no longer there - and neither, very sadly, are two of the three brothers, but the music lives on.
Last night brought back some wonderful memories, thanks to a vigilant friend on the ticket watch.  One of my favorites, with beautiful harmonies - "New York Mining Disaster 1941".
And, since my spirits are on a musical high this morning, we took in another favorite last month, that I neglected to write about at the time.  We treated ourselves and laid out the cash for tickets (same friend AND her sister - we had a whole Vegas WEEKEND - post to follow on Tuesday) to another favorite - GREGG ALLMAN, at the Pearl in the Palms.  Great concert venue - in fact, it's proving to be one of my favorites here.  FABULOUS concert - another uplifting evening with friends - the PERFECT ticket!
Here's hoping your spirits are happy today, and you find your perfect ticket for a perfect week - see you Tuesday!  Thanks, friend!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Before heading from Red Rock State Park back into Sedona proper, you've probably worked up an appetite - we stayed in that area of the town this trip, and stumbled upon a FABULOUS, family owned and operated restaurant that I know we will go back to - just down the road from the rocks...
6446 Highway 179 #221, Sedona, AZ 86351 - 928.284.1939
I wish I had taken a photo of the entire meal that evening...they started us with a salad that was included in my meal (that was under $10.00, I might add!) of a 4-cheese Calzone...a calzone that filled the entire dinner plate and could have fed two of us, at least.  OUT OF THIS WORLD DELICIOUS!  Can't rave enough about this little place - personable wait staff, and the owner was delightful.  If you're in the area, and are looking for an alternative to the plentiful Mexican fare found throughout the area, THIS IS YOUR PLACE!
Tlaquepaque Village, 336 State Route 179, Sedona, AZ 86336 - 928.282.4648
Equally fabulous, in the traditional SW flavors, our old standby of El Rincon (inside of Tlaquepaque Village) fit the bill the following evening.  ALWAYS great food - spend the day shopping (window or "for real"), then relax on the patio in the shade of the beautiful large sycamore trees (umbrellas overhead - your food is safe), or inside in the comfort of the air conditioning, if it's too hot (by evening, it's always cooled down to just about the right temperature).  Grab a margarita and some green chile - it's one of our favorites...could be yours, too.
336 State Route 179, Sedona AZ
Shops Open Daily 10a.m. - 5p.m.
Restaurant Hours Vary
As I said, the restaurant sits inside TLAQUEPAQUE ARTS AND CRAFT VILLAGE - billed as "The Art and Soul of Sedona".  This is Sedona's premiere shopping/gallery experience...over 40 specialty shops and exclusive art galleries - there's something for everyone here.  My picture taking took place in the late afternoon, and I waited out tourists for just the right shots (they're there - just behind walls and trees...I can out wait anyone for a clear shot)...it's a hoppin' place during the day.
Beauty in every nook and cranny...
Life-sized bronze sculptures from resident artists; ivies climbing walls; dinner plate sized magnolias (to go with the dinner plate sized calzone); and these benches.  I realized, on this final destination stop, that these same benches had been in every park in every town gazebo on our travels - they may have been painted different colors, but they were identical in each town.
Yucca in bloom...
You WILL fall in love with this enchanting area...
Make sure that you walk into at least one of the galleries located within the village, just to look, if nothing else.  Most have an "artist in residence" working on current pieces, and are more than happy to explain creative processes.
The bottom piece was a work in progress by artist MICHAEL TRCIC for the final casting, which now resides with my folks.  A margarita might just be in order once you're done shopping, so you can sit and beat yourself up, and ask yourself if you really "needed it", once you're done.  Yes, you deserve it.
And, feel better about yourself because at least you didn't buy this larger one, though it would look spectacular in your yard!
Crazy matador gracing the outside of the men's room; hiding your head like you didn't buy a beautiful bronze (and you're really happy for it, actually); beautiful arched doorway leading to the parking area; and a sleepy bronze bear - relaxed and satisfied after a day of taking it all in.
The artwork is plentiful at each and every turn throughout the village, and the entire town of Sedona, for that matter.  Just about anything from trading posts to Chico's (there's one in every port, you know) can be found - something for everyone, for sure.  If it's not there - you didn't need it, but you did need the bronze!
A parting shot from one of my favorite, happy places.  Next week we hit Vegas, for a quick look around - Chinese New Year/Year of the Snake at The Bellagio is up next.  Hawaii to follow.  Happy Travelin' Tuesday...be safe out on those roads, wherever they may lead.