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


Link to:  Beautiful beaches and hiking trails on Vancouver Island

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


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



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.