Sunday, December 27, 2020


 August 7, 2020

Five months into The Great COVID-19 Epidemic of 2020, we were getting pretty tired of staying home, but we were hesitant to travel. However, when our son Sam proposed meeting up in Northern California to explore the Redwood and Sequoia National Parks and surrounding areas, we figured that was a trip we could make pretty safely at the time. The numbers of cases were down and we would be in a place where we could be outdoors almost all day.

The plan was to pick up Sam at the Redding Airport, so we got an early start and headed north. It is a 600-mile drive, and not always particularly interesting.

About the only excitement was this silo and mailbox painted with cherries. Yup, pretty boring.

Of course, Bob did have to take a side road when he saw a sign for the Tule Elk State Natural Reserve. It is located in the No-Man's Land 20 miles or so west of Bakersfield and three miles off the 5 freeway. Never heard of it? Neither had we.

Monday, December 14, 2020


February 17, 2020

We had to be at JFK Airport by early afternoon for our flight home. Andrew was at work and we had the morning to kill, so we decided to go grazing in one of our favorite neighborhoods--Flushing, which is located in the borough of Queens.

The more I learn about Flushing, the more I wonder why I had never heard of it before Andrew introduced us to it in 2018. For example, it has the third busiest intersection in NYC, behind Times Square and Herald Square. Even now that I know about it, I never hear of anyone else who has been there.

Until about 1970, the population of Flushing was mostly white with a smattering of Japanese and South Koreans, but in 1970 a wave of Mandarin-speaking Taiwanese arrived in NYC and started to settle in Flushing. At the time, Manhattan's Chinatown was inhabited by primarily Cantonese speakers, so it makes sense that a separate neighborhood was formed. Flushing is now substantially larger than Manhattan's Chinatown (72,000 and 48,000, respectively), and is in fact the world's largest Chinatown. By the way, there actually are several other smaller Chinese neighborhoods in New York City, where 6% of the overall population is Chinese-American.

On our first trip to Flushing two years prior, Andrew took us to his favorite dumpling spot, White Bear, a little hole in the wall on Roosevelt Avenue. 

Saturday, December 12, 2020


 February 16, 2020

Every time we visit Andrew we try to explore a different part of New York City or the surrounding area. On previous trips we have gone to places like Albany, Hyde Park, Valhalla, and Long Island's Sagamore Hill.

On our full day in New York, we rented a car and drove along the south side of Long Island, all the way to the Hamptons and the Montauk Lighthouse on the far end.

This obelisk near Jones Beach looks like a World War I or II memorial, but it is actually a fully functioning water tower that supplies the area with all its fresh water. Built in 1930, the inspiration for its design was the bell tower of St. Mark's Basilica in Venice, Italy (picture on right). The Jones Beach Water Tower is somewhere between 188 and 231 feet tall, depending on whom you ask, and extends more than 1,000 feet underground.

Jones Beach Water Tower

We got out at Jones Beach and walked around a bit. It was cold and windy.
Jones Beach

Andrew found this empty egg sac of a skate, which we were amazed he could easily identify. He said it is also called a "mermaid's purse." 
Skate egg sac or "mermaid's purse"

Monday, December 7, 2020


 February 15, 2020

By mid-February, winter is almost over in Southern California, so it was hard to face a day that only made it to 26° by noon and reached a high of 31° in the afternoon.

Andrew had to work, so we were on our own until evening. We desperately needed to catch up on sleep, having slept on the plane the previous night and then spending a very active day in NYC ending with a late night at the theater, so we slept in and got out of the hotel by about 10:15 AM. We had theater tickets for a 2:00 matinee, so we decided to eat lunch and then head to Broadway.

When we visited New York in January 2018, Andrew introduced us to Katz's Delicatessen. We thought we could get a quick bite to eat there, so we took an Uber from the hotel to the East Village. 

We underestimated the Saturday crowd. The line stretched from the counter to the door . . . 

. . . and a solid block further outside.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020


February 14, 2020

In February 2020, about a month before the Covid outbreak in the United States, we flew to New York City for our sixth visit. We had two main purposes for the trip. First and foremost, we wanted to see an art show in which our son had a major piece of work. Second, Bob had given me tickets to Hamilton on Broadway for Christmas (and after Christmas we also picked up tickets for To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway).

We took a JetBlue red-eye flight, which is our standard method of travel to NYC, and made our way to our hotel in Queens, where we dropped off our luggage and showered. We met up with Andrew and set out to find some lunch in one of our favorite NYC neighborhoods: Flushing (the real Chinatown), which Andrew had introduced us to when we visited in August 2018.

On our way to lunch, we peaked inside the Flushing Post Office, completed in 1934, the middle of the Great Depression. The murals were painted by Vincent Aderente, an Italian-American muralist.

We had lunch at a place Andrew recommended named Dumpling Galaxy. New York Magazine calls it Flushing's best restaurant. It is located on the upper level of a shopping mall full of Chinese stores.

Just looking at the menu was worth the visit. So many yummy options!

Friday, November 20, 2020


 November 6-10, 2019 

You know, it just seems WRONG to write a post on food that my husband was not there to eat with me.  Usually I rely on his food photos, at least in part, for my blog because he is so much more obsessive about taking pictures of food than I am. I didn't have that option this time, and I can tell. My food pictures are a little sparse. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, I ate all of my meals away from the hotel--well, except for the very last one. It was my goal to 1) eat local dishes and 2) not gain ten pounds. The goal first was easy, the second was hard. The criteria for my choices of dining establishments were that they had to be within walking distance of my conference and they had to get at least four stars on Yelp. Olde Nola Cookery looked like a good place to begin.

I ordered redfish etouffée, which the menu defined as "Fresh Gulf redfish blackened then topped with crawfish etouffée. Served with vegetables and red beans."  My vegetable was collard greens. Delicious.
Redfish Etouffee with Collard Greens and Red Beans

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

LOUISIANA: NEW ORLEANS, Part 2 - National World War II Museum and New Orleans Museum of Art

November 6-10, 2019 

I visited two really good museums while I was in New Orleans: The National World War II Museum and the New Orleans Museum of Art.

1. The National World War II Museum

At the end of a long day of conferencing, I grabbed a taxi (Uber was SUPER slow in New Orleans, but a cab was always waiting at the hotel) and headed to what Congress designated in 2003 as America's official National World War II Museum. The museum's website states, "The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world--why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today--so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn."

Originally called the D-Day Museum, the museum opened (appropriately) on June 6, 2000. It is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution and is worth much more time than I was able to give to it. Since its opening it has had many expansions and added many new exhibits. It is a must-see museum, whether your are a war buff or history aficionado or neither. Just go.

I started in the European theater section, and was reminded that the United States lost far fewer of its service members than its enemies did.

The war was also NOT a popular cause in the early years.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

LOUISIANA: NEW ORLEANS, Part I - Bourbon Street, Two Churches, and Four Books

 November 6-10, 2019

As part of my job as the coordinator of a community college honors program, I have the option of attending a national conference every year. In 2019, that conference was in New Orleans.

Heck yes, I'll go!

The conference was great, and I LOVED the location. It was my second visit to New Orleans, but my first visit had been brief and about fifteen or sixteen years earlier.

The conference was held in the Sheraton Hotel on Canal Street, just blocks from the French Quarter, and so that is also where I stayed.

Even the hotel décor screams "NEW ORLEANS!"
Sheraton Hotel

Sheraton Hotel

Here is the view of Canal Street--the Champs d'Elysee of New Orleans--from my room. One interesting fact about this street is that with three lanes going each direction, it is supposed to be the widest thoroughfare in the United States called a "street" instead of an "avenue" or "boulevard."
Canal Street

Same view at night:
Canal Street
Add caption

Of course, being close to the French Quarter can be, um, shall we say "enlightening"? 

Monday, November 2, 2020


September 29-20, 2018

One of the things I like to do as we travel is visit LDS Temples. Currently there are 168 around the world, with 24 under construction and 39 announced that haven't begun construction yet. That is a lot of temples, and I'm not likely to see them all, but it is fun to see one when I can.

The Toronto Ontario Temple was completed and dedicated in 1990.

LDS Temple

Like every LDS Temple I have ever visited, the grounds are exquisite.

Saturday, October 31, 2020


 September 29, 2018

On our second day in Ontario we drove along the Bruce Peninsula. Toronto, our starting point (marked with a red oval below), is on the shores of Lake Ontario. The Bruce Peninsula (the red pin on the map) pokes out into the Canadian portion of Lake Huron, almost dividing that lake into two parts.

At the far northern end of the peninsula lies Bruce Peninsula National Park, shown on the map from Wikipedia below. Covering 60 square miles, it forms the core of UNESCO's Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve. (That's a totally new UNESCO category for me.)

But first, we had a drive of about 290 miles to get there, and like just about every road trip we've ever taken, there was a lot to see along the way.

This was a definite first for us. We've never seen a turtle crossing sign before.
Bruce Peninsula

Thursday, October 29, 2020


September 28, 2018

(NOTE: The only advantage of not being able to travel because of the COVID pandemic is that it gives me some space to go back and catch up on recording some of our previous travels that I had not been able to get to. This is one such trip.)

In September 2018 Bob had a Friday business meeting in Toronto, Canada. I wanted to go along, so we decided to add an extra day, then fly home on Sunday. We took a red-eye flight from LAX to Toronto, arriving at 6:46 am. We had time to check into our hotel and shower before heading to Bob's meeting, which was held at Trinity College, part of the University of Toronto.

While Bob was in his meeting, I had a couple of hours to wander around. I started by going off the campus to see what was nearby. 

1. The Church of the Redeemer is an Anglican Church that was built in 1879. Sadly, the church administration had to sell of some of its land in the 1980s, and a massive Four Seasons Hotel was built on the property. However, the money from the sale allowed the church to remain solvent and to complete necessary renovations.
The Church of the Redeemer

The Church of the Redeemer

It doesn't have a particularly spectacular interior, but it does have some really beautiful stained glass windows. They were gifts to the church during the early 20th century.
The Church of the Redeemer

The central window behind the altar depicts Christ on the Road to Emmaus.
The Church of the Redeemer

These are the windows on either side of the above window. They show scenes from the life of Christ and parables: Christ and the children, Christ in the house of Mary and Martha, and the Good Samaritan.
The Church of the Redeemer