.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

“Pic of the Week”, January 20, 2017: Kelp Forest, Monterey Bay Aquarium

030 Monterey Bay Aquarium. Kelp Forest

The finest aquarium I’ve had the privilege of visiting is in Monterey, California.  Built alongside the old sardine canneries of Cannery Row (a site immortalized in John Steinbeck’s novella of the same name), you’ll find yourself fully immersed in the underwater world when you visit.

There’s dozens of great exhibits, but there are two that are my favorites — the jellyfish, and this one, the Kelp Forest tank.  I’ve spent a lot of time watching this latter tank because there seems to be no end as to what’s going on.   A giant shape approaches in the tank, only to be broken into thousands of individual sardines as the school splits apart.  The moving light and shadows of the kelp, the sharks …

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.All Trips / California / Food / North America / Southwestern USA

Roadfood — the best “American” food out there!

005 El Campeon Mission San Juan Capistrano.  Carnitas

When many people think of “American food” they envision fast food — McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell and the like.  These have their place — inexpensive, reasonable meals, quickly served and widely available.  Those who have traveled with children know how handy stopping at a McDonalds with a play gym can be.  Fast food is successful because people support these restaurants.  That said, except when needing a quick meal while traveling, I rarely eat at fast food chains.

That’s because I enjoy reasonably priced, family-run restaurants which prepare great food, of which there are thousands in the United States.  You might find some of these by searching “Yelp” or “TripAdvisor”, but by far the most useful website for me is

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.All Trips / Food / Nevada / North America / Southwestern USA / Travel Talk

Breakfast at Mary’s Hash House, Las Vegas, Nevada

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Anyone who stumbled onto this blog searching for “hashish” might as well leave, because that’s not what this post is about.  It’s about good food, not good weed.

The Las Vegas food scene has changed a lot since I first visited the city many years ago.  Vegas used to be a place that catered mostly to hard-core gamblers (a description that in no way describes me).  Food was cheap, often not that great, and used to lure gamblers into an establishment.  For example, I recall “all you can eat” breakfast buffets for $0.99, lunch buffets for $1.99 and dinner buffets for $3.99.  Foot long hot dogs or large shrimp cocktail — $0.99.  Those prices were hard to beat!

Fast forward three decades …

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“Pic of the Week”. December 5, 2015: Bobcats, Living Desert Museum, Tucson, Arizona

Picture 243

Bobcats are fairly common and I’ve seen them everywhere from Southern California to the Yukon; in fact, they’re the most abundant wildcat in North America, with a wide range.  But they’re shy and rarely pose for photos, so I was glad to see them at the Living Desert Museum in Tucson.

They’re about a meter long and weigh up to 14 kg (30 lbs) — about twice the size of a big house-cat.   Most bobcats are brown or brownish red with a short, black-tipped tail (from which the cat derives its name as the tail appears to be cut or “bobbed”).

They’re great hunters and usually eat small game like rabbits, birds and squirrels.

(Click on thumbnail to enlarge)

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“Pic of the Week”, November 27, 2015. The Cabins, Valley of Fire State Park

02 Valley of The Fire StateP Park  (107)

These are “The Cabins” in Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park.  Three small rooms were built from the local sandstone in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), who did a lot of similar work in the parks and remote regions of the country during the Great Depression (‘make work’ projects, like trail and road construction).  These cabins were used by travelers for camping stays in Valley of the Fire, but have been abandoned.  I couldn’t find any good information on how long they were used, but it’s clear when you visit that they’ve not been inhabited for some time.  While the setting is beautiful, I think the summer heat would have been unbearable to many — …

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“Pic of the Week”, November 20, 2015. The Venetian, Las Vegas

60 Las Vegas 2015. Venetian and Palazzo resorts (12)

Las Vegas is often described as the “Disneyland for adults”.  Like Disneyland, the city does a great job of creating a variety of illusions and immersing you into them.  Unlike Disney there’s emphasis on adult entertainment in the form of gambling, alcohol and much more if that’s what you’re looking for (we weren’t).

I especially enjoyed our visit to the Venetian, a resort that tries to recreate the atmosphere of Venice, Italy.   From the winged lion of Venice, to canals and gondolas, to enjoying excellent coffee and gelato on St. Mark’s Square, one might argue that it’s the next best thing to being there.  It was fun, anyway.

Here’s some of that looks like.

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“Pic of the Week”, August 28, 2015: Surf and Turf

01 Newport Beach Crystal Cove State Park

I love spending time in Newport Beach, one of the Orange County beaches in Southern California.  A major reason for this is beautiful Crystal Cove State Beach, a 3 mile stretch of natural beach just north of Laguna Beach.  I’ve walked the length of that beach many times.

One time while walking along the cliffs overlooking the beach we came across this artist who was doing a rather nice job painting the rugged coast.  The middle photo below shows his subject matter.

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.All Trips / Nevada / North America / Southwestern USA

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Valley of The Fire StateP Park  (122)

Tired of the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas?  Had enough of the concrete canyons and smoked filled casinos of Sin City?  Not sure if it’s day or night (there are no clocks allowed in Vegas casinos)?  Then you should do what I do as often as I can when I visit Vegas — make a trip to Valley of Fire State Park and escape into the beautiful desert world that comprises much of Nevada.  No neon lights, no massive buffets, no dancing fountains (in fact, little water anywhere)!  Beyond usual Mojave desert landscapes, Valley of Fire has wonderful and interesting rock formations that alone are worth the journey. The park is is located 50 miles (80 km) northeast of Las Vegas and …

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