Stepping Away…

Thank you for stopping by my blog. Monday Musings is currently on hiatus while I tend to other projects. I’ve left links below to some of my more popular topics in case you’d like to browse. I promise most of them include gorgeous photos.

Or you can pop over to my bookshelf or excerpts if you want more information on my books.

I’ll see you all in a few months. Happy reading!

Link to:  My experience with torn and detached retinas

Link to:  Cruising around historic Cuba

Sunday Funday Adventures – Exploring the Okanagan

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Link to:  Beautiful beaches and hiking trails on Vancouver Island

Link to:  Monkeys and more at Sandos Caracol and Riviera Maya

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Link to:  Fun in Palm Desert and San Diego, California

Steamboats on the Old Man River, trolley cars and beignets…Adventures in New Orleans

Icebergs and rowhouses…Exploring Nova Scotia and Newfoundland

Favourite Furry Pets – And a few not so furry ones, too

 

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The Year in Pictures

2013 was a year of highs and lows, some sweet moments and many bittersweet ones.  Overall, I’m glad it’s behind me and am hoping this coming year is a better one.

On January 8th, my baby peanut, Roxy, turned ten years old.  She’s such a tiny, lively little girl, it’s hard to believe she’s actually an elderly lady.

1301 10th birthday

After having ten boys in a row born into our family (one nephew, 7 great nephews and two grandsons), we welcomed a precious little girl, great-niece Josie Rae, in January.  It took nine years, but the drought is finally over.

In February, Hubby and I went to California for ten days.  We visited Hubby’s dad in Palm Desert, then carried on to San Diego for a few days.  What fun we had.

1302-1 Murray Canyon hike

1302-2 San Diego Bay

I blogged extensively about the trip.  You can catch up on those posts here.

I’ve been away

Roxy’s Great Adventure

Glorious La Jolla

SeaWorld

Balboa Park

Pines to Palms

Indian Canyons

An Easter walk in the sunshine. (Yes, it’s only March)

1303-3 Easter

In March, my sister, who’d been battling cancer for many months, got the test results we’d all hoped for.  Her cancer is gone.

In April, I was notified that my novel, Show No Weakness, was up for a RONE Award (RONE = Reward of novel excellence).  This round of the contest called for reader votes, which I felt sure I had no chance of getting, but thanks in large part to the loving support of my huge family (and lots of begging on my part), by time voting closed I was in the running for 1st place.

In May, Hubby and I went to Vancouver to do some research for my wip and have a little R&R in the process.  The weather was picture perfect and we had a most excellent weekend.

1305 Juniper Point, Howe Sound

I blogged about it here and here.

We’d brought Roxy with us to Vancouver.  I used a blanket pinned together to carry her while hiking and it got me thinking.  Then I saw a guy with his arm in a sling.  BINGO!  I bought a sling and it works perfectly.  She actually quite enjoys riding in it.

1305-4 Roxy's Sling

My youngest son returned home in May to film the second in the Nightmare movie series.  A Sister’s Nightmare.  In this movie, his credits were Director’s Assistant, Under Water Camera Operator, and Video FX Coordinator.  He also revived his acting role as a cop.  I haven’t watched the movie yet, but knowing him, he likely popped up in a few other cameos as well.

1306-1 A Sister's Nightmare

1306-2 A Sister's Nightmare

1306-2a A Sister's Nightmare

We celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary in May.  This was my tribute post to my hubby. They’d Said We’d Never Last

1305-1 Our 35th Anniversary

A perfectly wonderful month ended on a bad note, when Hubby’s right knee began giving him so much pain, he could no longer walk his 15 km route and has had to take extended time off work.

At the beginning of June, I received an email telling me that Show No Weakness placed first in the voting round of the RONE Awards and had moved on to the final round.  Simply amazing and humbling.  Winners to be announced in Vegas on August 9th.

Hubby and I traveled to New Orleans in June, to join my sister and her hubby.  Despite Hubby’s gimpy knee, we had a marvellous time.

1306-4 Jackson Square, St Louis Cathedral from Washington Artillery Park

As I always do, I posted many pictures and told many stories about our trip.  You can check them out here.

Getting there

Algiers & French Quarters

Steamboat Natchez

The Cemeteries

The Garden District

City Park

Happenstances

City Tour

Trip Home

New Orleans Statues

Having grown up in Calgary, my heart went out to the citizens of that city and the surrounding areas when they were hit by devastating flooding the middle of June.  My old high school was situated right on the banks of the Elbow River, and my fears were confirmed when I came across some Facebook pictures, showing the flood waters and resulting damage.

1306-3 Flooding at St Mary's

1306-3a Flood damage at St Mary's

1306-3b Flood damage at St Mary's

The end of June found this empty-nest Mom in bliss, when my middle son and daughter-in-law, who live back East, came to visit for a week.  My youngest son also came out, so our family was complete for the first time in far too long.

1306-7

We gratefully squeezed in as many special moments together as we could.

1306-8

1306-8a

1306-8b

1306-8c

My son thoroughly enjoyed playing with (and spoiling) his two little nephews, who also had great fun getting to know him.

1306-6

1306-6a

Daisy came along for the visit.

1306-5a Roxy & Daisy

1306-5 Daisy & Roxy

Canada Day, July 1st.

1307-1 Waterfront, Canada Day

1307-2 Canada Day

My oldest son had occasionally mentioned that he might accept a transfer out-of-town, if the promotion was a good one.  I couldn’t comprehend the possibility of my last child moving away and taking my grandchildren with him, so I didn’t take his comments seriously.  Then one devastating day in July, he told us he had interviewed for a new position in Alberta.  A few days later he said he’d got the job and they’d be moving ASAP.  I was beyond crushed.  I cried so many tears in the following few months, and was obviously not dealing with it well, but that’s how I felt and I couldn’t make myself feel any different.

We took a trip up Kelowna Mountain in July.  We’d heard lots about the suspension bridges that had been built on Kelowna’s south slopes and finally decided to check them out.

1307-5 Kelowna Mountain

I posted pictures and my thoughts on the project here.

Knowing my grandsons would soon be gone from our daily lives, we spent as much quality time with them throughout the summer as we could.

1307-4

1307-4a

In July, another adorable little great-niece was born into the family, Talla Olivia.  That’s two for two with the girls, after such a long stretch of boys.

I got an email from my publisher in August with the words “Congrats” in the subject line.  It took a few beats for me to realize she was telling me my novel won the RONE Award for its category at the Vegas conference that evening.  I was shocked and totally excited as can be attested to in this blog post.

This is the badge I received.

2012_RONE_Winner(Contemporary - Cowboys Cops and Jocks) - 300

I scratched another item off my bucket list in August, when I convinced Hubby to float down the Penticton River channel with me.  This is a popular activity for locals and tourists alike, but in the 19 years we’ve lived in the Okanagan, we’d never tried it.  I loved it, not so sure if Hubby shared my enthusiasm though.

1308-3 Penticton River Channel

1308-3a Penticton River Channel

1308-3b Penticton River Channel

1308-4 Penticton River Channel

1308-5 Penticton River Channel

1308-6 Penticton River Channel

In mid-August, after much contemplation, I began job-sharing and noticed almost immediate improvements to both my pain and energy levels.  This was my blog post.

It was a gut-wrenching day for me, in August, when my son left for his new job in Alberta.  He went alone, his family staying behind a few weeks longer.

1308-7

Our youngest son came to town to say goodbye and get in some last-minute wrestling with his nephews.

1308-7b

I stole snuggles whenever I could.

1308-7a

We managed to squeeze in a fun day of boating with DIL and the grandsons.

1308-7c Boating

Continuing with my current theme of being a tourist in our own province, we took the little boys to O’Keefe’s Ranch in Vernon, having never been there before.  We all had so much fun, stopping off for dinner at McDonald’s, followed by a sleepover.

1308-8 O'Keefe's Ranch

1308-8a Sleepover

I thought the day my son moved had been difficult, but it was nothing compared to when he came back to collect his family.  I felt empty and sad and bitter and angry and lonely and completely heartbroken…

1308-9 Last visit

My kids are my world and never, ever, did I imagine a time when none of them would live near me.  People kindly offered platitudes to make me feel better, but it didn’t help.  Nothing could make me feel better.  I felt bereft, literally as though I was mourning a deep loss.  I truly am happy for all of my boys.  And proud of them.  They’re off living their own lives.  They’re happy, they’re healthy, they’re successful.  I’m just not happy for me.

1308-10 Last day

We offered to keep our son’s dog, Shasa, with us until they’d bought a house.  Shasa loves me dearly and for over two months she was my little shadow.  It was kind of like having my Sweetie back again.  Except Shasa shed less and barked more.

1308-11 Shasa

My grandson started in Kindergarten in September and about three days in, he lost his footing jumping down from the monkey-bars and broke his little arm in two places.  I don’t who I felt worse for, him or his poor mommy.  Despite needing a huge cast, he was a real trooper about it.  And thankfully, his arm healed quickly and completely.

1309-1 Broken arm

A few weeks later, at the young age of five, he lost his first tooth.  We just happened to be on Facetime together when it happened, so even though we were many miles apart, I got to experience the exciting episode with him. He lost another tooth in October.

My middle son and DIL travelled to Greece in September.  They had a wonderful trip and returned with many gorgeous photos, along with memories to last a lifetime.

Athens

1309-2 Athens

Saratorini

1309-3 Saratorini

My filmmaker son came home again in October to film the third instalment of the Nightmare movies, A Daughter’s Nightmare.  This time around his credits included Associate Producer, Unit Liaison and Second Unit Camera Operator.  Because of a snafu with wardrobe, his cop role morphed into him becoming an undercover cop.

1310-2 A Daughter's Nightmare

1310-3

He also enjoyed the opportunity to work with Richard Karn on this movie.

1310-1 A Daughter's Nightmare, with Richard Karn

Because of Hubby’s knee injury, I had to help out with the leaf raking in the fall.  It was quite the job and I actually enjoyed it.  Most importantly, my body didn’t complain too badly the next day.

1310-4 Backyard leaves

My oldest son flew home in October to attend his company’s awards dinner where he was presented with an award for Best Personal Achievement of the Year.  A real honour and well deserved.  After several months in a hotel, he and his family took possession of their new house on Halloween.

1310-5 New house

It took awhile, but my gorgeous RONE trophy finally made its way home to me in November.  I’m so very proud of it.

IMG_0793

In November, I delivered my son’s dogs to them in their lovely new home and stayed to visit for a few days.  When I asked my three-year-old grandson what colour his brother’s new school was and he said green and red.  My DIL said she thought it was brick.  We found out later, the important part of the school was indeed green and red.

1311-2 Playground

We spent a fun day at the Science Center.  His uncle, the engineer, would be proud of how quickly my five-year-old grandson figured out the concept of water damming.

1311-3 Science Centre

A bonus to my trip was reconnecting with my cousin, Susan.  We grew up together but hadn’t seen each other since the mid 80’s. She now lives mere blocks away from my son, so we’ll be able to visit whenever I go out there.

I’m not sure how the locals feel about it, but I enjoyed watching the jack rabbits from my son’s front window.

1311-4 Jack rabbit in yard

In mid-November, I received the exciting news that Show No Weakness is a Chatelaine finalist in the Chanticleer Books Blue Ribbon writing competition.  The winner will be announced by January 15th and will move on to compete with the winners from all the other categories.

Usually my oldest and youngest sons like to grow Movember moustaches, but this year my middle son joined a group at his work to raise funds for prostrate cancer research.  I’m not a fan of facial hair, but I think my brown-eyed boy looks rather handsome.

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At the beginning of December, I convinced Hubby to visit his dad in California.  He’d had a setback with his knee and I thought a trip to somewhere warm would do him good.  What I didn’t foresee was how much I’d miss him.  I found I hated coming home to an empty house and eating dinner alone.  We had a cold snap while he was away, but thankfully only one snowfall, which my wonderful young neighbour shovelled for me.

As soon as I found out my son and his family were moving away, I started to dread the Christmas holiday.  I didn’t know how I’d possibly find any happiness without my family around me.  I even sold my magnificent tree, buying a small table-top one instead.  It’s not nearly as splendid, but I’ve actually grown to quite like it.

1312-1 New Christmas tree

Hubby, my youngest son and I had a quiet Christmas morning.  My traditional cinnamon buns were a flop, but we ate them anyway.  We talked at length on the phone to the rest of the family, and my DIL thoughtfully shared video of the little boys opening their presents.  These were two of my favourite presents under the tree this year.

1312-2

I’d thought we’d be spending Christmas dinner alone, but my sister arranged the use of the clubhouse at my mom’s complex and about forty of us attended.  Putting on a dinner for that many people is a feat in itself.  Everyone brought a dish or two and a few of us did the coordinating.  It made for a very busy day, which left little time to feel sorry for myself and miss my loved ones who weren’t there.

New Year’s Eve was spent much the way I always spend it.  Hubby headed off to bed early, I quietly read until it was time to watch the ball drop.  Then I kissed my little dog and went to bed.  Another year has come and gone.

Goodbye San Diego, Hello Pines to Palms

We spent our last morning in San Diego wandering along San Diego Bay on Shelter Island.  The day was sublimely perfect.  The sky so blue, it almost hurt the eyes, and the sun held a warmth that spoke of summer, even though it was only February.
These little ducks greeted us at our door every morning, looking for snacks.
8-1 Shelter Island, San Diego

The marina

8-4 Marina, Shelter Island
8-6 Marina, Shelter Island
The lovely walkway along the bay
8-14 Shelter Island, San Diego Bay

Mosaic tile fountain at tip of Shelter Island

8-12 Fountain at tip of Shelter Island

San Diego Bay
7-91  San Diego Bay

 

7-101 San Diego Bay

7-103 San Diego Bay

Aerial treats for Hubby
7-94 San Diego Bay
7-96 San Diego Bay

An eagle enjoying its breakfast
8-7 Shelter Island, San Diego

The tip of Point Loma, with Cabrillo National Monument State Park and Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery
8-9 Point Loma, Cabrillo Nat Park, Fort Rosecrans cemetery
The small white markers on the top left are grave markers at the military cemetery. I’ve been up there, and all those rows upon rows upon rows of white markers are both awe-inspiring and very sobering to see.
8-10 Fort Rosecrans cemetery

The Friendship Bell and Girl in Red Shoes, commemorating the friendship between the Port of San Diego and the Port of Yokohama
8-13 Friendship Bell & Girl in Red Shoes

A Tribute to Tuna Fishermen
8-15 Tribute to Tuna Fishermen, Shelter Island

Shelter island Fishing Pier
8-17 Shelter island fishing pier
8-20 Shelter island fishing pier

Along the walkway were these cute little whirly-gigs. Some days the wind had the little guys paddling like crazy. That morning, there wasn’t even a breath of a breeze to help them along their way.
8-25 Shelter Island, San Diego Bay

Nice little protected boat launch area, free for public use
8-27 Shelter Island, San Diego Bay

A statue on a pole in front of the yacht club
8-31 Shelter Island, San Diego Bay

The Best Western Island Palms, where we stayed
8-22 BW Island Palms, Shelter Island
8-32 BW Island Palms, Shelter Island

Fountain and foliage in the lobby
8-36 BW Island Palms, Shelter Island

I’d planned our route back to Palm Desert carefully, as I had our route out to San Diego, but somehow I messed up. I thought we were stopping at Riverside, so plugged that into the gps. We were cruising along, chatting about our trip, when I realized we’d missed our turn-off. Consulting my notes, I found my error. We should’ve stopped at Riverside on the way down to San Diego. Annoyed with myself for screwing up, and upset that we might have to waste time backtracking, I asked Hubby to make the first available turn off the hwy.  Without knowing where we were headed, we ended up at the Temecula Duck Pond.
8-43 Temecula Duck Pond
This little duck pond was the perfect place for me to relax and sort out where we were and where we wanted to go.
8-44 Temecula Duck Pond
As it turned out, we were right where we should’ve been. On the right track, both mentally and physically, we carried on our way, thankful to have avoided a detour.
Despite being at quite a high altitude as we traveled through the Santa Rosa mountains, I didn’t expect to see this sign in southern California
8-50 Santa Rosa Mtns
And I sure didn’t expect to see this
8-48 Santa Rosa Mtns

8-49 Santa Rosa Mtns

Everyone should experience the Pines to Palms Hwy. Once. It’s beautifully scenic. And it’s hair-raisingly twisty. I confess to hyperventilating on some of the hair-pin curves—and I wasn’t even driving. The view of the Coachella Valley from the vista point was well worth the effort to get there. The snake-like highway we traveled can be seen in these photos.

8-62 Coachella Valley vista point
8-63 Coachella Valley vista point

I’ll wrap up my trip highlights next weekend with our hike in Indian Canyon. Jump to that post HERE or start from the trip’s beginning HERE.

Balboa Park in the Sunshine

Day seven of our vacation in California was spent at the beautiful Balboa Park.  The San Diego Zoo is also housed at this location and we debated trying to fit it in too, but decided that the zoo, being so large (and relatively expensive), deserved an entire day to itself, so we hope to return to visit it one day.

When we arrived, we caught the free tram at Inspiration Point and took a tour through the park before getting off at the Plaza de Panama on El Prado.

7-5 Plaza de Panama

Along with acres of hiking trails, Balboa Park is full of museums and gardens, some have free admission, some cost money.  We weren’t there for the museums (although I’d have loved to check out a few of them), we just wanted to wander around, look at the ornate faux Spanish-Renaissance buildings and enjoy the gardens.  A must-see on my list was the Botanical Building, and good thing it happened to be free, because Hubby wasn’t in the mood to spend money when there was so much to see for free.

7-21 Botanical Building & Lily Pond

7-11 Botanical Building

Carnivorous Pitcher Plant, one of my favourites.

7-15 Botanical Building

7-17 Botanical Building

This is a Moreton Bay Fig tree and it was impressively massive.

7-22 Moreton Bay fig tree

The Casa del Prado building, which houses the civic youth ballet, junior theater and youth symphony.

7-24 Casa Del Prado Theater

7-26 Casa Del Prado

7-28 Casa Del Prado

The fountain in front of the Reuben H Fleet Science Center, beautiful with blooming fruit trees.

7-30 Rueben H Fleet Science Center

Casa de Balboa, home to Museum of Photographic Arts, Museum of San Diego History and the Model Train Museum.

7-34 Casa de Balboa

This little fellow was very friendly until he figured out we didn’t have anything to feed him, then he quickly abandoned us for easier pickings.

7-35 Squirrel on El Prado

One of the museums I really wanted to go into was the Museum of Man.  The exhibit was called Instruments of Torture.  Hubby’s not much of a museum kind of guy, so I had to content myself with admiring its exterior.

7-39 Museum of Man

7-43 Museum of Man

Alcazar Garden

7-47 Alcazar Garden

House of Hospitality and Visitor Center

7-49  House of Hospitality

7-53 House of Hospitality

El Cid

7-50 El Cid

In front of the Museum of the Living Artist

7-51 Museum of the Living Artist

7-52 Museum of the Living Artist

Casa del Rey Moro Garden

7-58 Casa del Rey Moro Garden

7-55 Casa del Rey Moro Garden

Spreckels Organ Pavilion

7-60 Spreckels Organ Pavilion

7-61 Spreckels Organ Pavilion

The Air & Space Museum was another I’d have liked to explore.  It was showing a Ripley’s Believe It or Not on the Wacky, Weird and Odd.  Right up my alley.

7-62 Air & Space Museum

An interesting phenomenon, if you can call it that, in that part of San Diego is the low flying planes.  We live close to an airport flight path so are used to planes flying overhead, but not so closely overhead you can see the landing gear and definitely not with an average of a plane every three minutes.  We had to take a little break and watch them for a while.

7-2 Balboa Park

7-66 Balboa park

I thought this was so cute – little cars getting all juiced up.

7-65 Balboa park

I don’t know what this flower is called, but it’s breathtaking.  And one of my favourite colours.

7-68 Balboa park

Kate Sessions is called the Mother of Balboa Park.  This is what the inscription on her plaque says:  During her life, Kate Sessions created gardens and landscapes for all to enjoy.  In 1892 she began transforming the surrounding area from scrub covered land into what is now Balboa Park.  She introduced hundreds of our favorite plants and trees.  Her vision continues to enrich our lives with beauty.

7-71 Kate Sessions - Mother of Balboa Park

Founders’ Plaza

7-74 Founders' Plaza, Balboa Park

7-75 Squirrel at Founders' Plaza, Balboa Park

Earlier, while on the tram, I’d spotted a sign that said Redwood Circle, and hoping we might see some giant redwoods, we tracked the place down on foot, and much to my amusement, found that it was a small park surrounded by a footpath and nary a redwood to be seen.

7-80 Redwood Circle

There were plenty of squirrels, at least, to assuage my disappointment.

7-78 Squirrel at Redwood Circle

At that point, we’d seen most of everything we wanted to see and the day was getting late.  Rather than wait for the tram, we opted to walk back through the park to Inspiration Point where our vehicle was parked.  We traversed Cabrillo Bridge.

7-83 Cabrillo Bridge

Entrance to Balboa Park from Cabrillo Bridge, with Museum of Man to the left.

7-44 Entrance to Balboa Park from Cabrillo Bridge

Hubby decided we should take a ‘shortcut’ through Palm Canyon.  It didn’t actually end up being a shortcut (of course), but it was a nice walk through the trees, some of which were even palms.  I don’t know how he does it, but Hubby spotted another little gecko or lizard.

7-87 Palm Canyon

We realized at some point we likely weren’t going to get to where we wanted to go while in the ‘canyon’ so we took a steep path back up into the park.

7-89 Palm Canyon

We had no idea where we were, but somehow, we came out near the road we had to take to the parking lot.  Lucky us.

I’d like to say, and so ended a lovely day, but no, first we had to go on a little adventure on the way back to the hotel.  When Hubby missed a turn, the gps decided to send us on a heck of a wild goose chase of a detour.  I finally had to reprogram the address to get it set in the right direction.  What should have taken 10 minutes, ended up taking 40, but we got to see parts of San Diego we’d never have seen otherwise and all’s well that ends well, as they say.  It just took a little longer to end…

Jump to next week’s post HERE or start from the trip’s beginning HERE.

An Enlightening Day at SeaWorld

I confess I had misgivings about going to SeaWorld.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about all those magnificent creatures held in captivity and forced to learn tricks to entertain the masses.  After spending a wonderfully enlightening day there, I still have mixed feelings, but I also have a better understanding of SeaWorld’s purpose.  Their mandate is huge.  They rescue, rehabilitate and often release many marine animals every year.  They also educate the public on the part they can play to better the environment for marine life.  But this post is not about the political/moral rights and wrongs of keeping animals in captivity, it’s about enjoying how amazing, intelligent and beautiful these creatures are.

Hubby and I eagerly arrived right when SeaWorld opened.  The first spectacle we came across was a group of flamingos right out in the open.  Usually when you think of flamingos, you envision something like this.

6-88 SeaWorld

What we saw were these comical characters strutting their stuff.  I had no idea flamingos were so tall, some came close to six feet.  And very personable too.

6-4 SeaWorld

Next we went over to Dolphin Point, to watch the frisky little characters cavort and entertain.  This friendly fellow came right up to the window to say hello to me.

6-16 SeaWorld

Apparently dolphins can develop kidney issues as they age and they need to stay hydrated to prevent this.  Part of the staff’s husbandry duties is to insert a tube down their throats and pour fresh water directly into them.  The dolphin seemed completely relaxed and okay during the procedure.

6-11 Hydrating the dolphins, SeaWorld

Next stop was the Bat Ray feeding station.  They’re very friendly and would allow us to pat them as they came begging for food.  This big guy practically climbed out of his pool in hopes that I might give him a snack.

6-24 Bat Ray, SeaWorld

A bat ray viewed from below.

6-27 Bat Ray, SeaWorld

We really enjoyed the Story of Shamu, put on by SeaWorld’s education department.  It explains the purpose behind their programs and introduces the killer whales in a casual setting.

6-41 The Shamu Story, SeaWorld

This isn’t the clearest picture, but the height that immense mammal reached was impressive.

6-40 The Shamu Story, SeaWorld

This is one of my favourite photos of the day.  Take a look at the white heron just to the right of the trainer’s shoulder.  Mr Hopeful, looking to scrounge any leftovers.

6-50 The Shamu Story, SeaWorld

Tidal pool creatures:

6-63 Tidal pool, SeaWorld

6-68 Tidal pool, SeaWorld

We saw all kinds of turtles:

6-80 SeaWorld

6-85 Sea turtles, SeaWorld

6-99 SeaWorld

6-100 SeaWorld

Walking through the submerged viewing tube at the Shark Encounter exhibition was very cool, but difficult to photograph because of the low lighting, and well, because you can’t exactly ask the menacing creatures to stop swimming for a moment while you snap their picture.  This poor quality picture still manages to give me shivers.  Cue the Jaws music.

6-115 Shark tank, SeaWorld

I LOVE penguins.  They’re just too cute.  These little fellows are from warm climates such as South Africa.

6-121 Heat loving penguins, SeaWorld

6-126 Heat loving penguins, SeaWorld

This is a baby penguin.  He’s about the same size as the others, but doesn’t have his markings yet.

6-125 Heat loving penguins, SeaWorld

The Antarctic penguins are kept inside, in an icy polar environment they’re accustomed to.  I found them so very entertaining and comical, I could’ve sat there for hours – but it was darn cold.

6-127 Antartic penguins, SeaWorld

6-128 Antartic penguins, SeaWorld

These striking fellows are the largest of the penguin family, the Emperors, and they stand a good three feet tall.

6-133 Emperor penguins, SeaWorld

There was also a Puffin exhibit.  Such cute little sea birds with their bright orange beaks, but my photos couldn’t do them justice.

6-140 Puffins, SeaWorld

At the Wild Arctic exhibit, there was supposed to be walruses, polar bears and belugas.  I was disappointed to only find a single walrus.  He was a fine large fellow but, like a child, I wanted to see the bears and whales too.

6-144 Walrus, SeaWorld

The Animal Connections exhibit offered up some common and not so common creatures.  Who would’ve thought a porcupine could be so cute?

6-148 SeaWorld

I’m not sure what exactly this big guy was, but he looked as though he’d been assembled with beads.  The pattern of his scales (?) was incredibly intricate and beautiful.  (Edit:  He’s called a Water Monitor)

6-151 Water Monitor, SeaWorld

We returned to the killer whale stadium for the afternoon show.  These large mammals are affectionate and intelligent, as well as beautiful, and I really fell in love with them.

6-153 Orca Show, SeaWorld

6-159 Orca Show, SeaWorld

6-169 Orca Show, SeaWorld

After that show, we rushed across the park to the Blue Horizon Stadium to catch the dolphin show.  I love dolphins about as much as I love penguins (and I really love penguins).  I was very impressed with the story, the setting and the skill of the people, dolphins, pilot whales and birds involved in this production.

6-186 Blue Horizons show, SeaWorld

6-191 Blue Horizons show, SeaWorld

6-192 Blue Horizons show, SeaWorld

6-197 Blue Horizons show, SeaWorld

Another of my favourite photos of the day.  Just look at the happy expression on that dolphin’s face.

6-201 Blue Horizons show, SeaWorld

6-204 Blue Horizons show, SeaWorld

Then we had another mad rush to get to the Sea Lion and Otter Stadium for the final show of the day.  And, surprisingly, I have to vote it as my favourite.  I’d heard of trained seals, but had no idea the intelligence of Clyde and Seamore, the Sea Lions, and bright little OP Otter stole the show.  First came an entertaining and amusing skit.

6-211 Sea Lion show, SeaWorld

6-215 Sea Lion show, SeaWorld

Then came their own version of Survivor.

6-221 Sea Lion show, SeaWorld

The tribe speaks.

6-230 OP Otter, SeaWorld

Finally the sea lions performed some dance acts with their trainers.

6-232 Sea Lion show, SeaWorld

6-236 Sea Lion show, SeaWorld

As would be expected, SeaWorld is filled with a multitude of aquariums.  We spent hours gazing at every type of sea life imaginable.  I’ll leave off with a few of my favourite shots.

This purple blob is actually a rock fish.

6-242 Rock fish, SeaWorld

6-244 SeaWorld

6-247 SeaWorld

6-249 SeaWorld

6-250 SeaWorld

6-253 SeaWorld

6-255 SeaWorld

Please come back next weekend and share with me our day at Balboa Park. Jump to that post HERE or start with the trip’s first post HERE.

Glorious La Jolla, Marine Life, Sunshine & Ocean Views…

I continue today with more from our trip to California.

Sunday morning we left Roxy in Palm Desert with “Grandpa” while we set off for San Diego.  We’d been there once before and completely fell in love with the coastal areas, especially La Jolla (Pronounced La Hoya) and eagerly looked forward to renewing our acquaintance.

We opted for a shorter route than the one we took last time, reaching the Pacific Ocean at Dana Point.  The weather was mild and sunny, and we meandered slowly through all the coastal towns, preferring to take the quiet coastal roads rather than I5 whenever possible.  We stopped for lunch in Oceanside and happened upon a popular spot called Breakfast Club Diner.

5-1 Breakfast Club Diner, Oceanside

It opened at noon and a line-up formed quickly, so we were fortunate to find seats right away.  It was a funky place, very west coast surfer, and the food was abundant and tasty.  I’ve never seen such a huge burger as the one Hubby ordered.  He left feeling confident it would hold him for many hours to come.

5-2 Breakfast Club Diner, Oceanside

We arrived in San Diego around 2:00 and made La Jolla our first stop.  La Jolla is so gorgeous and this is by far my favourite area.  We started our walk at Casa Beach.  The harbor seals have taken over the cove which was initially intended as a children’s pool.  Not everyone is happy about this, but it’s my thoughts that there’s plenty of beaches to go around, let the seals have this little protected area, especially during pupping season.

5-13 La Jolla

5-18 La Jolla

This tiny pup was born that very day.

5-25 Newborn seal, La Jolla

A little farther up the path is Seal Rock, where the sun-loving sea lions have their off-shore reserve.  It’s amazing to watch these sea lions wiggle around and sun bathe on this very tall rock.

 

5-27 Sea lions, La Jolla

5-30 Sea lions, La Jolla

One sea lion in particular, as you can see in the far right on this photo, teetered on the very edge, and terrified that it’d fall off right before my eyes, I had to move on.

5-29 Sea lions, La Jolla

This brought us to a part of the path we’d never taken and I had no idea, last time I was here, such a large number of sea lions congregated in the area.  Pelicans and cormorants also have colonies here, making it an entertaining feast for the eye (not to mention an interesting aroma for the nose).

5-34 La Jolla

5-53 Commerants, La Jolla

The last time we were in San Diego, I spotted a huge cave while on the City Tour bus.  We weren’t able to go back and see it for ourselves so it was high on my must-sees this time.  There are actually six ocean-carved caves in this rock, all accessible from the water, only one from land.  Snorkelling around the caves is a popular activity and I wish I was brave enough to try it.

5-44 La Jolla

5-47 Caves, La Jolla

Access to the cave is through Sunny Jim’s gift shop.  We paid our $8.00 and began our descent.  I had no problem with the 145 steps, but I did struggle a little with the change in lighting from the brilliant sunshine outside.  My depth-perception disappears in low-light situations and a few times I worried about my footing going down.

5-67 Cave, La Jolla

Arrival at the cave was a little anti-climatic.  For safety reasons, the ceiling had been shotcrete to prevent rocks from falling on people.  I understand the reason, but it really took away from the authenticity of the cave.

5-66 Cave, La Jolla

The view of the water was pretty enough, but people had left their mark with garbage and graffiti, which was a real shame.

5-60 Cave, La Jolla

I wonder if this was an actual proposal?  And if she said yes after he went through all that work defacing a public railing to ask her?

5-63 Cave, La Jolla

The 145 steps back up were much easier than the descent, I guess my eyes had adjusted to the lower lighting.

Back out in the sunshine, we reversed our steps to return to our vehicle.  Amazing what you see in the same spot from a different perspective.  We’d completely bypassed this other small cave on the beach when we went by it earlier.  That’s me down there in the pink coat.

5-82 La Jolla

The rocks were too slippery for me to negotiate and I had no intention of turning an ankle my first day there, so I had to be content to view it from the outside and take some pictures of the sun-tanning pelicans.

5-80 La Jolla

Our hotel, the Best Western Island Palms, was a pleasant surprise.  We loved the location, with the marina on one side and San Diego Bay on the other.  The room was more than adequate for our needs, with a king-size bed, a mini-fridge and microwave.  And we really liked all the counter space and the large shower in the bathroom.  (And the best part is it was free, booked with airmiles)

5-91 Island Palms hotel

After quickly settling in, we explored the area, walking the length of the marina, then crossing over and walking back up the Bay side.

6-1 Marina, San Diego

6-2 Marina, San Diego

5-106 San Diego Bay

5-108 San Diego Bay

There were the most interesting flowers blooming, I don’t know what they were, but I really liked them.

5-98 Island Palms hotel

5-99 Island Palms hotel

Hubby was happy to be so close to the naval base with the opportunity to see some aircraft.

5-102 San Diego Bay

We ended the evening with 2 for 1 appies in the hotel bar (still stuffed from lunch) and after a very full day, we hit the pillows early.  Sea World awaited us in the morning!!

Jump to next post HERE or start with the trip’s first post HERE.

I’ve been away…

I just got back from a ten-day trip to California and I must admit while away I did absolutely no writing, next to no social media (nothing but Facebook, didn’t even keep up with my emails) and very little reading.  Which is rather shocking, if you know me.  I did get plenty of fresh air, exercise and sunshine.  We started our trip in Palm Desert, to see Hubby’s dad, who winters down there, then we continued down to San Diego for a few days, before returning to Palm Desert for more fun in the sun.

Palm Desert, California

4-8 View

La Jolla, San Diego, California

5-38 Sea lions, pelicans, commerants, La Jolla

What made this trip different for us is we took Roxy, our ten-year old yorkie/chi, with us.  She’s been on a few road trips, but never on a plane and I’m so proud of the way she handled the entire experience.  She was a little trooper on all the flights, doing much better than I would’ve done stuffed in a bag under a seat for hours.  No doubt she’d have preferred to snuggle on my lap (I would’ve preferred that too), but with minimal little squeaks of displeasure, she settled in and slept the flights away.

1-2 Roxy, Kelowna airport

1-9 Roxy's bag on plane

She adjusted just as well to staying at “Grandpa’s”.  In no time she had the run of the place and a place of honour on Grandpa’s lap.  We left her with my father-in-law while we went to San Diego and it was a real relief to know she was in such loving hands.

2-4 Roxy  backyard

10-98 Roxy

Both Hubby and I have been suffering this past winter with worse than usual aches and pains.  Aging really sucks.  Our first day in Palm Desert, the pain just melted away in that incredible dry heat.  Of course Murphy, that irascible old fart, had to remind me a few times that I’m no longer a youngster and can’t do things the way I used to, especially the long hikes, but I thumbed my nose at him and enjoyed myself despite the blisters, sore knees and ankles, and touchy lower back.  My hubby fared better than me and hardly experienced a twinge the entire trip.  (Although now that we’re home, he’s stiffened right up)

Nursing my blistered feet and aching ankles during a hike through Murray Canyon

10-83 Seven Sisters waterfalls, Murray Canyon

The weather in San Diego, glorious sunshine every single day, was a few degrees cooler than Palm Desert and the breeze off the water really triggered the pain in my neck (no, I don’t mean the hubby, I’m talking about a genuine neck pain that’s far more annoying than he is).  I’ve used those adhesive heat pads before with much success so thought I’d try a version of them out there.  My sensitive skin had other ideas, so now I not only have a pain in my neck, I also have a pain on the skin of my neck.  GRRRR…

I might be getting older and slower, but balancing it all, the trip was a resounding success.  We spent time with a cherished family member, explored new places, saw glorious new sights and had a few outstanding meals (the ravioli at Bella Vita in Palm Desert is to die for!!).  And we did it all on an incredibly cheap Airmiles budget.  Whoo Hoo, I love free stuff.  🙂

Over the coming weeks, as I sort through and edit the 1200 photos Hubby and I took, I’ll post some of my favourites here and share our trip’s highlights.  I hope you’ll join me. Start the journey HERE.

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